Thinking of Buying a VR6? then look no further than the VR6 Owners Club comprehensive buyers guide that covers most VR6 variants!
The VR6 is now an aging beast, and if looked after will provide you with a lot of fun and many miles on the road! Like any car they have their "weak spots" and faults (lets not forget the infamous Corrado sunroof!).
Read the following guide, print it out and take it with you when viewing any car!
Remember the basics
- Make sure the engine is 'cold' when you go to see the car, if it’s warm there is probably something the seller wants to hide – The VR6 engine tends to go quieter once up to temperature which could mask a worn bores / piston rings.
- Look for signs of accident damage - body panels not lining up, difference in body work panel colors.
- Make sure the engine is cold and start it. There should be no smoke (although steam is ok until the engine is warm) from the exhaust (blue smoke = worn oil seals / guides, white = leaking water seals), you do get some soot build up around the exhaust over time but not much. It'll rattle until it warms up.
- Check for any water / oil around oil cooler, drivers side of the head.
- Check condition of coolant system (Thermostat housing, ensure heaters blow warm and that heater core / matrix has not been bypassed, general condition of hoses, seals around sensors, Water pump and Auxiliary / electric water pump)
Listen to the sound of the Timing Chains - A distractive noise can be heard between 1,000 RPM - 2,000RPM if the chains are worn / stretched - can be costly repair ! (Or follow our guide if you are a club member and competent with a spanner!).
Body & External
Check for accident damage around inner wings and the boot floor, including seams.
The rear panel (above the spare wheel as you look in the boot) has a VAG sticker which gives all model information, if this has gone, the car may have had rear end damage and been rebuilt/resprayed.
Rusty creases in the inner part of the front wings may mean the car has had some front end damage/repair.
Above rear bumper - check that the two vertical 'seams' at each side of the rear panel are perfect, straight and even, with no bubbling/rust coming through (possible evidence of poor rear end damage repair).
Also look for rust on the chassis and under the bonnet and door sills and check the valance under/behind the front bumper/lower spoiler for rust.
Check body for:
Common places for rust are:
- Bottom edge of the rear window
- Where the front wings meet the sills
- Bottom edge of the door apertures, where the two ends of the rubber seal meet (especially on 3-door models)
- Leading edge of the bonnet, caused by unrepaired stone chips.
- Misaligned panels (inc doors, bonnet, boot)
- Stone chips on the bonnet are quite common. Although this can just be an indication of motorway driving.
- Lights for cracks including spots.
Chassis plates - check the VIN plate on the cross member at the back of the engine bay matches the log book and the sticker inside the boot.
- Look out for ripped/worn/saggy seat bolsters
- Sunroof – does it tilt and slide.
- Check for damp carpets in the footwells – could be due to heater matrix or could need new inner door membranes.
- Check that the ventilation control panel functions completely. The fan should work in all four positions and the "direction" dial should also work.
If the car has heated seats, check that they work. The seat base and the backrest should both heat up. Listen for the click from the under-seat relays as you turn on the heated seats. If the relays click, but the seats don't heat up, you're looking at a heater element failure. These are common and the elements are difficult to replace without damaging the seats.
Wheels & tyres
- Kerbed alloys
- Worn tyres (especially uneven wear)
- Missing centre caps
- Signs that the wheels are fouling the arches
- Check the condition of the spare wheel, and more importantly, that it has one!
- Also check that the jack, wheel-brace, spanner and screwdriver are present
All VR6's have 5-stud hubs.
• Listen for any knocking sounds from the suspension and check to see if there is any leakage from the dampers.
• Under rear wheel arches - look at shock absorber top spring plate, check for corrosion and ensure there is a gap between the plate the top of the strut spring sits in, and bodywork.
• A decent set of coilovers be a plus point because if you intend to add them yourself, you will need to budget approx £500 for an average (price-wise) setup.
- Check handbrake. Lots of ‘clicks' to engage?
- Condition of disks.
- Warped disks (brake judder).
- ABS – There should be an orange ABS light in the dash to the right of the driver.
(It has been known for cars with faulty ABS for the warning light to just be removed!!
If the light is permanently on, it could mean:
• ABS sensors might need cleaning
• ABS sensors might need replacing
• Brake fluid level is low
• ABS control unit might need replacing
• Brake pedal sensor might need replacing
In general, if the light is on and it isn't one of the top 3 faults above, it could be an expensive thing to fix.
• Check for seized rear brake callipers as this is a common fault (although easily rectified)
The important thing with any engine is regular oil changes with decent oil.
- Oil cap (mayo)
- Water (mayo)
- Check oil level & colour
- Engine noise (tappets and knocking)
- Smoke from exhaust
- Oil leaks – after a drive, check for any signs of oil leaks.
Listen out for noisy fuel pumps
Listen for any noise from the timing chain. Slight noise (rattle) can be acceptable.
The guides and tensioner could need replacing once mileage approaches 100k+. £200 for parts alone and it's quite labour intensive as it can be worth doing the clutch whilst you're at it.
- Puffs of blue smoke on start-up (especially from cold) and over run. It could mean it has bore wear (time for a new block!), but it does mean you need the rings checking out.
- The crankcase breather pipe is weak and often cracks, resulting in slight oil spillage onto the exhaust manifold (causing burning oil smell inside the car). The crankcase breather pipe comes off of the plastic inlet tract between the airbox and throttle and goes into the cam cover. This is a cheap £20-£30 fix though.
Check that the larger bottom pully on the water pump runs true if it has a wobble this means your water pump is on the way out, you will be looking at about £250 to replace.
- As with any car, check for any signs of the exhaust knocking/rubbing against the underside of the car or listen for any signs of the exhaust blowing (hole in the exhaust)
The standard exhaust is heavy and runs close to the rear axle and so a knocking from the rear on dips/bumps might be fixed with new rubbers.
- Heater – does it function on all settings?
- Heated windows
- Electric windows
- Electric Mirrors
- Ensure central locking works, ensure Full Closure alarm works with key as well as alarm fob.
- Does the stereo automatically switch on and off with the ignition
- MFA computer (check mileage), and that all functions work:
- Time, Miles travelled, Time elapsed, Average speed, Average MPG, Oil temp, Outside Temp
Also check that the MFA is not flashing or that it doesn't rest itself once the ignition is turned off. Both are signs of clocking.
- Doesn't pull to the side when driving or breaking.
- Any knocking, droning, clunking or any other noises
- queaks from belts such as power steering belt
Make sure coolant temp needle gets to 70 degrees quickly and doesn't pass vertical.
- Log book (No. of owners)
- Service receipts
- Dealer stamps in service book
Check that the History corresponds with/backs up the mileage
The UK Golf ‘Highline’ model
- Check the Log book, it will state if it is a highline.
- Highlines only came in Purple Violet Pearl aka ‘Mulberry' or Black.
- Black pillar trim.
- Different VR6 badges.
- Wooden gear knob.
The Highline has 6-spoke alloys as standard.
Check for a rust on the rear hatch around the rear windshield and the bottom area of the doors.
The rear spoiler should extend/retract around 55mph.
Check the state of the roof gators. If they're perished it might cost you a few more £ then you expect.
Look for broken/worn out seat bolsters (especially the driver's side).
Check if you get a first aid kit inside the armrest of the back seat and the emergency triangle hide between back seats.
When checking electrical windows don't be surprise when you try to operate both of them in the same time and they don't work. It's not an electrical fault - windows have been set up this way by the factory - you can use just one of them.
Some later vr6s need a bit longer moment to start and it's ok. As far as the engine idle ok and sounds sweet on revs it's nothing you should worry about.
The badly maintained cars often get cracked chain guides. So listen to any rattling when you start up on the cold engine
The most common electrical issues:
- Inoperable radiator fan
- Sunroof doesn’t work
- Rear wing doesn't extend
- Automatic seatbelts don’t work
- Flickering headlamps
- Wipers don’t work (all rado's get a problem with a standard set of wipers and lots of people upgraded them for a lupo's set). The wiper arms don’t have enough tension against the windshield and when you try to use them, they’ll just smear the water all over. There are available a few fixes online showing how to trim down the spring inside the arm to apply more tension.
The UK Corrado 'Storm' model
- Only from April 1995 onwards. Some were registered later than N-reg, however.
- Only Classic Green with beige leather or Mystic Blue with black leather
- 250 of each colour
- The log book will not identify the car as a Storm
- Colour coded grille
- BBS Solitudes
- 'Storm' badge on gear-lever surround and rear panel
Edited by VR6Pete