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Volkswagen Jetta TDI

After posting this as a comment, it occurred to me that it could be useful as an instablog for those thrifty investors who would like to drive a new car every two years for the cost of driving a used car, without having to pay for any repairs or service.

The below information applies to the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and the numbers are verifiable by way of,, and

In 2006 we paid $22,600 cash plus tax for a 2006 Jetta TDI. We put on 39K miles, averaged 39 MPG. We traded it in on a new 2009 Jetta TDI, $23,900. Dealer allowed us $19,500 trade-in, we paid $4400 plus tax of $264 = $4664. We received a tax credit of $1300 at year end. Total out of pocket for new TDI was old car plus $3364.

This saved us $500 on 40K mile service, $400 on tires, $300 on new brakes, all repairs were under warranty, and gave us a brand new TDI with new 50K mile warranty and 3-year free service.

Total for 2 new TDI's (one at a time) was $22,600 + $1356 tax + $3364 (tradeup cost) - $1200 (tires, brakes, service we avoided buying) = total of $26,120, or $13,060 per car.

A competing dealer has now agreed to limit our spread to $3000 every 2 years. So we'll be trading up at year's end on 2011 TDI Jetta for $3180 tax incl., again saving us 40K service of $500, tires at $400, brakes at $300, and another brand new car with ANOTHER $1300 tax credit. Total for 2nd tradeup is $3180 - $1300 tax credit - $1200 maint. costs = $680.

Total cost of 3 BRAND NEW Jetta TDI's (one at a time) = $26,800, or, drum roll... $8933.33 per car!

Did I mention they average 39 mpg, which cut our fuel cost in half compared to our mini-van that averaged 17 mpg? (saves $1800/year on 20K miles, a 7.5% return on the original $22,600) 

The Jetta is the best car we've ever driven, with the smoothest transmission in the world, and better mileage than any car except a hybrid. And the car keeps getting better with each revision. It also holds the record for best coast-to-coast mpg average at 58 mpg, better than any hybrid. (our best hiway mpg has been 54 mpg).


Update as of August 2, 2010.
The dealer that had promised us a $3000 spread, backed out of their agreement. So we did some shopping around and decided to get a sportier model, a 2010 VW Golf TDI. This car had a higher price of $24,700, but the dealership offered us $20,000 on our two-year-old Jetta TDI, which was $500 higher than the Kelly blue book value. The VW Golf TDI came with an $850 clean diesel tax credit, less than the $1300 we had received in the past.
Our total cost was $5700 plus our 2009 Jetta TDI. If we subtract out the $850 tax credit and the estimated $1300 in tires and maintenance, our actual cost with tax is $3550. If we keep the car for two years, this particular upgrade will be about $1800 per year. So far the new car is averaging 44 miles per gallon highway, and has the same world-class automatic transmission. It's also a blast to drive and it's even quieter than the 2009 Jetta (which is very surprising).
The actual total cost for the three new cars one at a time is $26,120 plus $3550 = $29,670, or slightly less than $10,000 per car, each with a three-year full warranty and a 60,000 mile/5 year powertrain warranty. Each of these cars again has saved us $1800 per year on fuel compared to our minivan, which averaged 17 miles per gallon, and they each came with three years of free service so we pay nothing for maintenance, oil changes, tire rotations, and nothing for repairs.


Disclosure: Disclosure: No position in Volkswagen or any car company.