Buying a used...Volkswagen Caddy

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012

The current shape of VW’s well-constructed and popular light van made its debut in 2004. Steve Banner reveals what you should look out for before buying one, and what you should pay

Making its UK debut back in 2004, the sturdily built current-generation Caddy was initially available solely with a 69hp 2.0-litre SDI PD naturally aspirated unit-injection diesel engine. Versions fitted with the more powerful 1.9-litre TDI PD turbodiesel pumping out 104bhp, and also featuring unit injection, followed later and were subsequently joined by another 2.0-litre diesel: a turbo TDI PD generating a meaty 140hp.
With a 3.2m3 cargo area and a maximum payload capacity of 819kg, the Caddy was marketed with a Direct Shift Gearbox that could be employed in either manual or automatic mode, and it also came in long-wheelbase Maxi guise, with a 4.2m3 cargo bay.
VW’s smallest light commercial received a makeover in late 2010 and was fitted with Euro5 diesels. But we are interested in the earlier models and whether they make a sound second-hand buy.
Check the back door handle works and that the door can be opened and then shut securely. If you encounter difficulties then the handle’s cable has probably been over-stretched and needs replacing,  so ask the vendor to cut the price by £100. Before you do that, however, check the vehicle’s paperwork and ensure the cam belt has been changed on schedule, which in most cases will mean five years/60,000 miles. If it hasn’t and the van is over the age/mileage deadline, then it could fail. If that happens the engine will require an expensive rebuild and may even have to be replaced. A need for a belt change justifies a £330 price cut.
If you are thinking about purchasing a Caddy that has clocked up 100,000 miles or more, it is worth seeing if the diesel pump’s electronic control unit has been swapped. If the original engine ECU is still in place it is likely to be on the verge of expiring, and it’s a £500 job to change it. When it gives up, the engine will refuse to start because the ECU also controls the immobiliser.
Take a test drive and listen out for a loud humming from the gearbox as the vehicle exceeds 40mph. If you hear it, the gearbox is likely to have an irreparable fault and will need replacing: so talk to the current owner about a £1000 cut in the asking price.
During the drive, ensure you make use of the heating/ventilation system’s booster fan. You may find that it will only work at its highest speed and that warrants a £100 price reduction.
Tip a bucket of water over the windscreen and doors, wait a while, reach into the cab and see if the front foot-well carpets are damp. If they are that probably means that either the drain in front of the windscreen is blocked or the door seals need replacing. Get between £50-£100 knocked off to cover the cost.
When we first drove the Caddy some eight years ago we said it felt solid, safe and secure on the road with a smooth gear change and brakes that bite hard and effectively. The suspension seemed quite capable of coping with most UK road surfaces and engine noise wasn’t an issue.
However, the electric power steering provided insufficient  feedback and needed to be better-weighted. The gear stick sat too close to the fascia, so you risked catching the controls for the CD player with your knuckles and unexpectedly leaping from one track to another every time you swapped cogs.
How much is your pre-owned Caddy likely to cost? Auctioneer Manheim recently disposed of a 2007-registered 1.9-litre with 66,000 miles recorded for £5650 while an identical model from the same year that had covered 154,000 miles went for £2150.
A 2008-vintage 1.9-litre with 79,000 miles to its name sold for £5100, and a 140hp 2.0-litre Maxi, 2008-registered and at 70,000 miles, for £5425.

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