NOTE: First things first, always look at the past history of the MOT of a car. This can tell you exactly what has failed on the car in the past and what has had to be replaced before its next MOT.  It may give you an indication on how hard the car has been treated during its life.  MOT CHECKER HERE

Its also worth doing a HPI check on your potential purchase: HPI CAR TEXT CHECK


While the engine is extremely good, it is also characteristically quite noisy. This only really becomes an issue when there is a specific problem that could be masked. For example, a rattle that goes soon after start-up but then reappears a couple of miles later may indicate a problem with the camshaft-driven fuel pump.

The turbo’s diverter valve (dump valve) uses an electronically controlled rubber diaphragm to dump charge air back into the intake system. The diaphragm can split, though, leading to a loss of boost (lacking in power) and a fault light appearing on the dashboard.

The engine cover contains the air filter and it can be troublesome to remove, leading to broken and damaged covers. While this doesn’t cause problems, a replacement cover can be expensive when replacing from VW main dealers.

Coil packs tend to go in groups, so a misfire could be a telltale that the packs are faulty or on their way out.

Changing the timing belt can be awkward, as the exhaust down pipe has to be removed to obtain access. If the bolts come out with no trouble, then it’s a straightforward job; if not, they need drilling out. It is recommended that changing the water pump and thermostat at the same time (every 70,000 miles or four years).

Agin it is strongly recommended that an oil change every year or 10,000 miles to prevent the oil from degenerating and causing problems.

Suspension, wheels and brakes

The MK5 GTi can suffer from uneven tyre wear, particularly at the rear because of the amount of suspension adjustment available. If the rear camber and toe angles are incorrect, the inner edges of the tyres will wear far faster than the centre sections or outer edges, so a careful check is essential to save you spending out later.

There have also been issues with rear springs breaking, so check for an uneven stance. This is not a disaster, as springs are readily available and it’s a straightforward repair if you wish to tackle this yourself.

The rear bushes on the front wishbones can become weak, which can lead to the caster angle changing and feathering of the inside of the tyres.

The brakes are generally very good but be aware that when the pads need replacing, the discs generally do too. If the car is to be modified this is an ideal opertunity to upgrade to sports discs and pads.


The six-speed manual transmission shouldn’t give you any worries. However, a heavy clutch could indicate its on its way out.

The DSG gearbox should be smooth and effortless, but a complete service history is a must. If it hasn’t been looked after properly, it can hang on to gears, hunt around and give very jerky changes. Anything wrong will be expensive to put right so cars with lots of receipts would be preferable.

Chassis, body

As with other Volkswagens, the body is very well put together. Just make the usual checks for consistent panel gaps and paint colour to ensure the car hasn’t been in a crash or is put back on the road as a cat C.


The interior is well built and uses quality materials as would be expected from VW/VAG, but make sure the condition of the seats pedals and surfaces matches the mileage of the car your looking at.

‘Air conditioning compressors can fail,’ ‘so always check the air con works when going to look at a car. If it doesn’t, it could be a high-pressure switch or it could be the compressor – originals cost £1000.’


Minor service £155
Major service £380
Cam belt change £570 inc. water pump, thermostat and aux belt change

What to pay

An early MK5 GTI can be had for as little as £2.5k, but expect it to have fairly high miles around the 140'000+ area and the interior to be a little shabby. Especially the bolsters on the drivers seat. 

If it’s a late, low-mileage example you want, then a 2008 model with around 50,000 miles - 80'000 will be around £6.5K - 8k

Expect to pay around £500-700 more for DSG and £500 more for five-door cars.

Report added 2018.


Engine In-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo
Max power 197bhp @ 5100rpm
Max torque 207lb ft @ 1800rpm
Transmission Front-wheel drive, six-speed manual (DSG optional)
Tyres 225/45x17 (225/40x18 optional)
Weight (kerb) 1336kg
Power-to-weight 150bhp/ton
0-62mph 7.2sec (claimed)
Top speed 145mph (claimed)
Price when new £19,995 (2005, 3-door)