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Everything you should know about buying a used, high-mileage VW Touareg for under R100k

The Touareg was a game-changer for VW.
The Touareg was a game-changer for VW.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The prices of new cars are eye-watering these days. The cheapest new car retails around the R150,000 mark. Despite manufacturers and dealerships offering finance deals that make buying a new car more attractive, many people have no choice but to opt for a second-hand vehicle from an affordability point of view.

The value proposition of buying a vehicle that has already suffered a significant amount of depreciation is tempting. With the amount of car one can get for relatively little money, compared to buying new, is reason enough to consider the second-hand route, but knowing what one is in for is paramount.

I embarked on a journey with a 2007 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI Tiptronic in August 2018. The specific vehicle had 232,000km on the clock when I bought it – mileage that most people rarely ever drive a vehicle to, yet here I was starting my time with one. My needs necessitates a vehicle like the Touareg – a capable tow vehicle (for my race car) with ample space, a raised ride height and off-road ability.   

Cosmetically sound, with a few character marks here and there.
Cosmetically sound, with a few character marks here and there.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

I did my research before buying. I spent my time canvassing the internet for common issues, real world experiences and speaking to people who own and work on the older Touaregs. Knowing what to look for initially can potentially save one a lot of headaches in the future. I got the official service and repair history from Volkswagen after supplying them with a VIN number. From here I could see what work had been carried out by Volkswagen dealerships during its time under a motor plan (and beyond).   

It had a full service history at Volkswagen dealerships up to 210,000km, and then had another service at an independent mechanic before I purchased it. The first generation Touaregs are incredibly comfortable for long distance trips. The air suspension combined with the general solid build quality and more than powerful 3.0 V6 TDI engine means no road is too far a stretch for the Touareg.

Seeing as it was a premium SUV when new (costing R509,000 new in 2007), it features many convenient luxuries - heated leather seats, climate control, auto xenon headlights, auto wipers, cruise control and a variety of small things like double sun visors  to block sun from the side and the front at the same time. This car comes from an era before handsfree Bluetooth and Android Auto/Apple Carplay, but features a very good sound system.   

Air suspension still works as it should.
Air suspension still works as it should.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Towing my race car with it is an absolute breeze. Thanks to its 3,500kg towing capacity, air suspension and sway assist, one can tow with great confidence. The physical weight of the Touareg is significant as well. It’s a heavy car for its size, but it’s due to the over-engineering that is employed and the high level of build quality. It features permanent four-wheel drive and has a centre diff-lock as well. My fuel consumption measured via a logbook over the course of ownership is averaging 12l/100km.   

In the time I’ve owned it, almost four years and just shy of 80,000km (it’s on 311,000km), the maintenance and repair work done has been minimal for a car with so many kilometres. I service it myself every 15,000km. It takes nine litres of a specific VW specced oil, so it’s a bit pricier than a normal car.    

The aircon compressor pump seized at 292,000km, and I replaced the air suspension’s compressor pump’s head and piston ring at the same time as preventative maintenance. The starter failed at 302,000km, and I had all the drivetrain fluids done then as well – gearbox, transfer case and diffs. Those have been the only repairs thus far, although I do need to look at the suspension bushes and I suspect one of the air suspension’s bags has a small leak. All repair work is carried out by an expert mechanic.   

I have replaced front brake pads a few times and I fitted new Goodyear Wrangler Adventure AT tyres at 252,000km. They have done 60,000km, and still have a good 50,000km in them.   

My servicing costs have amounted to R14,600 and further maintenance (including a new set of tyres) is R38,700,  or a total of R53,300. Take into account that the initial purchase price was under R100 000, and after four years of ownership and 80,000km it has basically cost me the same as the cheapest new car on the market today – a Suzuki S-Presso.   

My experience with buying a cheap, high mileage premium SUV hasn’t been without its hiccups, but the value I’ve had out of it far surpasses the use I would have had out of a new Suzuki S-Presso. With second-hand car prices rising thanks to the price of new cars, production constraints and general market demand, I will also take less of a financial knock when selling. With the wealth of information available in online communities and forums, some research can mitigate most of the pitfalls of buying second-hand.


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