Mk2 Golf maintenance guide

Strong, reliable and actually very easy to work on yourself, the Mk2 Golf is everyone’s old school favourite. So if you’re ready for some weekend spanner spinning, here’s our quickfire guide on how to keep yours in fine fettle…



Keeping a Mk2 engine sweet shouldn’t prove too difficult, although it will need oil and filter changes every 5,000-6,000 miles using a good quality 10w40. Be sure to use an OE-type filter with a non return valve, anything else is false economy.
The cambelt and tensioner needs replacing every 60,000 miles/four years or whichever comes first and it’s worth fitting a new water pump – although the originals were actually pretty good. Fitting a new timing belt is a relatively simple job but if don’t fancy having a go yourself a garage will charge around £250.
Worn valve oil stem seals are a common Mk2 malady on high milers, as are running issues resulting from wear in the Pierburg 2E2 carb. You can swap it for an altogether better Weber 32/34, or alternatively carry out a rebuild and kits are only £40.80 from VW Heritage.
Another worry is rust entering the fuel tank when the filler neck corrodes; it blights Mk2s in the same way that it did the Mk1 and basically rust can drop into the tank and eventually find its way into the fuel system, resulting in poor running and possibly blocked injectors. The only remedy is to fit a new neck, drain the old tank and have it cleaned.
Other rough running could be down to the blue temperature sender located on the coolant flange on the front of the cylinder head on later Digifant cars – you can test if it’s working by removing the wiring and listening for a change in idle speed.



The precision Mk2 020 gearchange is legendary, but the whole experience can be ruined if the gear linkage, shift rods or associated bushes and ball are worn. If you are able to select reverse without pushing the gearlever down, then change the ball and socket beneath the gearlever itself which is available as part of a kit with all the necessary bushes for £18.30.
Alternatively fit a shortshift kit to tighten things up even further. Give us a call and let us advise. DSC_2604small


A Mk2 should feel feel sharp (if a little heavy on non assisted cars) but if doesn’t, chances are the mounting bushes will be past their best.
Meanwhile, regarding suspension – it’s the usual stuff like leaking shocks, snapped coilsprings and worn bushes. The front wishbone and rear axle bushes are commonly known to fail – at the front check to see if the rubber is peeling away from the metal sleeve and at the rear, you’ll know if something’s up if the car begins to feel like it’s steering itself at the back end. Thankfully all the necessary replacement parts are readily available – and they aren’t dear, with many owners preferring to fit uprated polyurethane items – a bush kit is £259.96.



Sundries such as discs and pads are dirt cheap so there’s really no excuse for neglecting Mk2 anchors. Our advice here, however, is to steer towards good quality OE brands if you are intending to keep your car for any length of time.
Generally there shouldn’t be many problems, but few owners can have escaped the dreaded seized rear caliper woes – a common issue with Mk2 brakes – diagnosed by the car not moving or excessively stretched handbrake cables. A good, long-term solution is to fit Mk3 or Mk4 replacements although you will also need to invest in conversion hoses and VW Heritage can help here with top quality Goodridge stainless steel hoses for £40.80.

Jon Sweet2


There’s nothing quite as satisfying (or messy) as jetwashing the underneath of a Mk2 to keep all those notorious mud traps free of rubbish. The key areas are obviously the wheel arches, the top of the front wings, sills and under the front and rear valence.
If rust has taken hold, no dramas because virtually everything is available in the way of repair panels, including the plastic arch trims and badges so a scruffy Mk2 can easily be made to look nice again.


Odds and sods

Mk2 heater matrixes can be problematic, so if you’ve got water in the passenger footwell – this could be why. Replacing it is a nightmare dashboard out job and something not to be taken on lightly.
If the heating only works on setting three, chances are the resistor on the fan pack behind the dash has failed. It’s basically a case of locating it on the back of the blower connector and replacing the thermal overload resistor, soldering the new one into place.
Wet carpets can be cured by regularly clearing blocked sunroof drains or replacing the plastic membrane behind the doorcards which can split or leak if speaker holes have been cut into them.
Finally, if you wonder why your Mk2 rear wiper doesn’t work – start by checking for freeplay in the mechanism itself. Assuming it’s not seized, turn your attention to the wiring which exists the tailgate which can often fray with continual opening of the boot. Talking of which, you’d be a fool to risk the old broomhandle trick to hold the tailgate open if the struts let go – they’re under a tenner.


Right, no excuses… now where’s that socket set?


18 responses to: Mk2 Golf maintenance guide

  1. I have a Golf mk2 1.8 GTI. I don’t have any heat in the cabin of the car. Doesn’t get warm. Also although I have changed the thermostat of the machine, the temperature of the car is low. Would you like to tell me how to fix this problem please?

  2. My wife’s m2 convertible auto is very jerky when pulling away if you put your foot down which I think you have to as it is only a 16 can you tell me how to fix it

    1. Hi Steve,
      This could be a number of things, but likely down to the carburettor or the fueling system.
      Methodically check through the system starting at the top.. give everything a quick visual check – split hoses, gaskets (especially the base gasket).
      If nothing obvious, give the carb a clean out, in situe, with carb cleaner – go for a drive look for any improvement.
      Check & change fuel filter, go for a drive…
      Check and change fuel pipes, go for a drive
      You could be getting these symptom from too much fuel, and almost flooding the carb. check spark plug condition to indicate rich / lean mixture.
      Best of luck!

  3. Hi, my mk2 1.6 standard carburator and has this weird beetle sound when accelerating most audible at low revs and when cold at the worst what could that be?

  4. Hi, my vw golf mk2 automatic would not change from first speed to the others after take off. This started after a broken gasket was replaced. What do you recommend please?
    Urgent please!!!

  5. Hi just recently bought a mk2 tour and when pulling off from a standing start theres a clunk and feels like the front moves a little but havent checked it out yet are there many bushes/mounts on the front end
    Cheers dave

  6. Hi i got a golf mk2 fuel injection one of the injectors is leaking but not to bad but every morning the car struggles to start and the fuel takes time te get to the engine is it possible that the fuel can go back in the tank people sy it is fuel going back to the tank kan you please tel me how to fix it thanks

  7. hi, we have a mk2 golf gti 8v. it drove fine one day but then went to start it the next day and the engine was flooded with petrol. not quite sure where to start! any help/advise would be appreciated.

  8. Hi thre wht is the size of pipe i would use for return feed pipe on water bottle which goes to top of radiator thanks

  9. hey I have 1.6 v8 mk2 and I want to change engine to turbo one do you have any suggestion?? Im in iran and I want to prepare myself for drag competion

  10. Hi I have a 91 mk2 driver. I have had the carb replaced for a webber most of the hoses have been replaced water pump fuel pump ect. Ht leads speak plugs. However, I am starting to have an issue with it bunny hopping and noone seems to be able to fix it, I have spent hundereds on changing parts it could be fine for a month or so and then starts all over again. Any idea what could be causing it

  11. #factcheck mk2 has a plastic one piece moulded fuel tank and filler neck. It will not be plagued with rust in the tank like a mk1 as there are no metal parts. The in tank pump and fuel level sender are inside the tank there are metal parts there that can rust and rubber parts that can deteriorate, especially with modern fuel. Fuel filter should not be overlooked at time of service.

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