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Hi from the Kitsap County area in Washington state,
I just ran across this forum today while researching late model VW TDI's. I don't have a TDI but did have a 79 Mercedes 240D I converted with an Elsbett kit to run on vegetable oil two years ago. We're looking for a used car and the TDI idea keeps surfacing. I need to brush up on reliability, which model provides the most bang for the buck, which years score well in safety tests (2005 and newer?) and figure out what we can afford. I assume there are some preferred years out there? Any advice will be appreciated. Also, what are sources for ads other than craigslist?
Thanks.
 

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Take a look through the buying guides.

The 2005.5 newer Jetta are 5th generation (mk5) and have all modern safety technology like ABS, stability control, yaw control, and have very good safety ratings. The early 2005 was a mk4 car.

Unfortunately they also tend to have bad camshafts and flywheels. This can be fixed with a new single mass flywheel so that you'll never have that problem again and a new camshaft. More details in FAQ section on these issues.

If you want bang-buck, check out the 2002-2003 models, they have an older engine but get better mpg, lighter body, lower price, they still have their issues but I'd call them minor.
 
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