Buyers Guide

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This guide is work in progress! There are notes still scribbled here.

The aim of this guide is to help potential buyers check for problems before buying their Lupo (or Arosa). Every make and model of car has its design problems, many of which are minor, but some can be costly to fix. This guide will assist people when they first see their prospective purchase, helping them quickly spot the common problems. General mechanical faults are not included, as the list would be endless- every single component on a car has the potential to go wrong. The idea is this guide can be used as a check list while inspecting a lupo or arosa.

Club lupo (and Arosa) members add their discoveries of common ailments in paragraph form ideally with clear photos, sketches and drawings if possible. Until the data is collated by category and arranged into sections and sub-sections, it makes sense to simply add the info at the bottom of this page as it comes in. Please try to keep to facts, not opinion, writing impersonally in the 'third party', without using 'I noticed' or 'we decided', which works better in the club's forum pages. Instead, try and use phrases like 'it was noticed' or 'it was decided', 'a decision was made'...


Bear in mind that this is not a problem solving page. It is a problem identifying page, only for common or frequent problems.


To start with, it is probably easier to go with a model, classification, headline, general description of the common problem. Please try and keep with the same formatting, as it'll make editing much easier later on. So here it begins...

Pre-2001 (Y Reg)

Pre-2001 Lupo's had control switches such as hazard lights, and rear window demister located under the radio. Switches for heated seats would also be part of this panel. Below, there is the standard heater controls and then a second cubby.

Most Pre-2001 Lupo's came with stubby wing mirrors as standard (even the E models) and some extra colour matching on the interior.

Post-2001 (Y-Reg/51)

Post-2001 Lupo's had the control switches such as hazard lights, and rear window demister located under the heater controls. Below the radio is either a set of cup holders, a cup holder and a coin tray, or a blanking tray with neither.

Most Post-2001 Lupo's came with either one stubby and one larger wing mirror, or two larger wing mirrors.


All Models

Cam belt

All Arosa's/Lupo's have belt-driven camshafts. Any seller claiming otherwise is wrong/lying. The original schedule for a replacement was 60,000 miles or 5 years, whichever came first. After reports of premature engine failures, this was revised and is now 40,000 miles or every 4 years. It is vital to ensure the cam belt has been changed (or is not overdue) before buying the vehicle. A cam belt can fail at any time and all engines are interference therefore an engine write-off is almost guaranteed. Ask to see a receipt for the cam belt replacement, or ask to see the service book. Do not be sold on cock and bull stories like "my brother works for the AA and got his mate Bill to do it for me". Without some form of documentation (even a part receipt is better than nothing), you really have no guarantee that it's been done. It could literally snap on the way home and you would have very little recourse.

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's.

Damp in Boot

Symptoms: Interior water leak. Damp in boot area.

Details: Water or damp is found in boot or in the spare wheel area. Not obvious where it gets in. Hatchback seals look ok.

Cause: There is a design issue with the rear wiper motor, where water can leak into the interior when the rear washer is pressed. Washer fluid ends up inside.

Failed Rear Washer Jet

Symptoms: Rear washer squirter not working.

Details: When the rear wash squirter is pressed, no water comes out. Sound can be heard from pump. Washer tank has fluid in.

Cause: There is a joint in the water supply pipe running from the front to the back which separates. It is located behind the rear left hand side lower panel.

Intermittent/Erratic/Failed Indicator

Symptoms: Intermittent indicator flashing, or no indicators at all.

Details: When the turn indicator stalk is activated to turn left or right, erratic light flashing happens. It doesn't affect the hazard switch. All light bulbs are ok.

Cause: A design flaw inside the turn indicator switch mechanism causes the contacts to not close correctly once they begin to wear out.

Difficulty Shifting Gears

Symptoms: Difficult gear shifting.

Details: More effort than expected is needed to engage a gear from the neutral position. No crunching or whirring sounds, simply difficult to engage a gear.

Cause:The clutch pedal mechanism has a serious design flaw. The level of the pedal at rest is lower than the brake pedal, indicating that a weld in the pedal box assembly has broken. Gear changes are being carried out without the clutch being able to fully disengage. Note: Some Lupo's (GTI for example) have hydraulic clutche pedals?

Hum from Front Wheels

Symptoms: Loud humming sound from front of car, wheels, which gets louder as the car goes faster, or during cornering.

Details: Sounds gets much louder with speed, sometimes causing severe vibration in extreme cases.

Cause: The front wheel bearings are not robust enough for the car's front wheel weight, often only lasting about 50,000 miles. When worn out, they create noise directly related to vehicle speed.

Cracking/Creaking Doors When Opening/Closing

Symptoms: Loud cracking/creaking when drivers/passenger door is opened or closing.

Details: Noisy doors, may feel jerky or heavy when closing.

Cause: Check strap bush has worn out.

Rust spots on roof channels

Symptoms: Barely noticable to significant corrosion around the roof channels.

Details: Blistering, discolouration, rust bubbling at the join where the roof insert covers the seam.

Cause: Poor paint coverage during manufacture. Insufficient paint application allows moisture to attack the steel. This affects 1 in 3 cars, across all models. Deterioration is more visible once roof inserts are gently lifted out from the rear, with tailgate open.


The rear bump stops perish, pretty much every single Lupo/arosa has had perished bumpstops. Not a problem in itself but it leaves the shaft of the shock absorber open to the elements and these quickly corrode and start to leak. Another side note on this the cup that hold the bump stops on the rears has started to rot through. Available new from vw at £8 a throw but these are now on back order. Simple enough job but could save £60 a shock, Don't be put off buying a Lupo because of it but haggle due to the shock absorber risk.

All models: check the metal around the big rubber bush on the hinge point of the rear suspension beam- both sides. They can rust out requiring a complete replacement rear suspension beam/trailing arm.

Damp carpet in front footwell caused by leaking foam seal behind door card in front door.

RUST: Check sills/inner sills/seatbelt mounting points/arches/roof/rear beam etc

Relay 109 failure- total system shutdown.

All S Models

Central Locking

The Central Locking system in the Arosa/Lupo is an electric solenoid driven system, as opposed to pneumatic pump systems found in the older Polo's of that era. The biggest advantage of this system, is that most issues are reasonably straightforward to diagnose and replacement mechanisms are cheap and easy to install. The biggest disadvantage, is that the mechanism used by VW/SEAT around that time, is a fairly primitive one and problems are fairly common, hence making sure the central locking is working when you are viewing the car is essential, if you plan on avoiding any future hassle.

Assuming the car you are viewing is a standard Lupo S model, the car should lock instantly (about half a second) off the key in the drivers door. It should also fully lock off the passengers door. The boot should lock and unlock based on the state of the vehicle, check this as boot locking issues are rare but have been seen before. Finally, there is a button on the inside of the drivers door to 'soft-lock' the vehicle, preventing hijacking from outside the vehicle. Test this locks both the drivers door and passenger door while you're inside. Pressing the button should simply lock the vehicle. If either mechanism locks, and then instantly unlocks then there is a problem. It's possible that it is just a loose wire going into the mechanism however it can also be a sign that the mechanism is on the way out.

Electric Windows

Electric Windows are reasonably reliable, but it is worth checking them nonetheless. The drivers door switches should be able to open both sides and should also have one-click open/close feature. Electric window switches are a common failure point, but they are very cheap and easy to replace. If you confirm the windows are working but the switches are not, you might be able to bargain some extra money off for an easily fixable issue. Test all window switches in the vehicle thoroughly. If the seller claims both drivers side switches are broken, then you can roll the windows down using the key, by holding it in the lock (roll-up) and unlock (roll-down) positions. If the windows fail to operate in this case, then walk away.... you're potentially looking at a new regulator and a hefty bill.

Any sounds of straining may indicate a failing regulator, but may just indicate the mechanism needs lubricating. Use common sense.

1.0

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's.

Ignition timing misfiring and poor starting. Caused by defective ignition coil pack.

1.4 16v 75bhp

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's.

1.4 16v 100bhp

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's.

1.4 Tdi

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's. TDI specific: Gear synchros particularly 3rd gear. Listen carefully for any scraping noise around the crank pulley area as that will likely be the balance shaft chain imminently converting your engine to the scrap when it fails. Misfiring is usually the injector loom in the head breaking down but could be more significant like injector or worse.

1.7 SDi

The SDi is perhaps one of the safest long-term bets when considering buying an Arosa's/Lupo's. The engines are notoriously reliable, cheap to run and easy to service.

Despite this, there are still some things to look out for when buying one.

Firstly, starting an SDi is notoriously easy on the starter motor. As little as one or two turns should be enough to start it. If it is taking a lot of cranking to get it going then there might be something wrong with the injection pump, or the fuel supply. There is no in-tank fuel pump, so it could just be a case of a blocked fuel filter or strainer.

SDi's shouldn't be smokey, when warm and should be smooth. The engines do tend to vibrate a lot, but listen for any odd knocks. The power when accelerating should be strong with good torque without needing to rev it hard to get going.

Avoid ones with nasty cone filters in the engine bay. Aside from the sellers lack of understanding, these act as a significant detriment to SDi's which have a cold air intake from down the front of the vehicle and use large canonical filters (almost certainly bigger than a standard cone filter).

Proof of oil changes are important, ask which oil has been used. SDi's tend to run their best on fully-synthetic 5w40.


1.7 SDI Fuel filter seals can leak allowing air into the diesel suction pipe causing erratic running. Engine timing can sound like it is too advanced (knocky, like the engine is worn out), caused by excessive soot/oil buildup in the induction manifold and ignition chambers. Often caused by stuck egr valve. Apparent lack of power caused by poor fuel flow- blocked fuel tank strainer mesh or fuel filter. Black smoke at full power and high revs caused by blocked air filter- incorrect air-fuel mix. Blue smoke on hot high milage engine after idling for a few minutes, caused by worn valve guides or worn out engine oil (too runny). Intermittant loud knocking sound caused by dirty/clogged fuel injectors.

Tax

Pre-2001 (R, S, T, V, W, X) SDi's are registered before March 2001, and therefore pre-VED. As such they do not qualify for the super low tax and are lumped with all vehicles over 1.6L. As such any pre-Y reg SDi's will cost £235 a year to tax and this will keep rising (it was £220 in 2013).

Post-2001 (Y onwards) cost just £30 to tax per year.

Noted Issues

Harsh Idle

Symptoms: Agricultural or sickening vibration when car is idling.

Details: When the car is started (especially in the cold), vibration can be extremely harsh, almost unpleasant. When the car is moving, the ride becomes much smoother.

Cause: Can be a sign that the engine mounts are slightly worn, but SDi's idle rev/tickover is slightly high, lower this to fix.

Eratic Running

1.6 GTI

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's. GTI specific: Panels. They should be aluminium. If they are damaged, it could get quite expensive (the bonnet, doors and wings are aluminium) Exhaust - if it needs replacing and you want a oem one. Factor in a 4 month wait and a cost including fitment of £650 (excluding CAT) Gearbox, make sure this is ok

3L 1.2 Tdi

Noted Issues

Here are a list of known problems that can affect all VW Lupo's and SEAT Arosa's.


Notes...

Contributions pasted from club lupo forum by: joeyunos, skezza, weslangdon, sausage, mattarosa, mk2


Topics to elaborate on... Paste>>> Check the following very carefully as well as all the usual stuff like brakes, tyres, lights, interior etc etc

Gearbox Pedal box Door straps Heater controls Front wheel bearings Roof channels Electric windows Central locking system Rear wash wipe Indicator/wiper stalk switches Rear shocks and bump stops

both keys? radio code?


Non Gti Pedal box. Make sure this is not broken.

All models: check the metal around the big rubber bush on the hinge point of the rear suspension beam- both sides. They can rust out requiring a complete replacement rear suspension beam/trailing arm.

Damp carpet in front footwell caused by leaking foam seal behind door card in front door.

RUST: Check sills/inner sills/seatbelt mounting points/arches/roof/rear beam etc

Relay 109 failure- total system shutdown.


Engine common problems: PLEASE ADD...

1.6 Gti

1.4

1.0


1.4 TDI