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Old 03-20-2009, 11:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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VW TDI advice

I found a 1999 Jetta TDI 5spd on craigslist for $3500 with 130k miles that "runs great". It seemed like a decent deal and sparked my interest. I have only seen a few exterior photos and the body looks nice. I was thinking about setting up a time to check it out in person. I'm not too familiar with TDI engines. Are there some TDI specific things I should look out for (common engine problems etc)?

thanks,
jamie

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Old 03-20-2009, 12:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Rust is the main issue. Ask about the maintenance record. You need to know what oil has been in this car before. Ask when the timing belt was last changed and if the rollers were changed too as you might need to budget for that. Disconnect the lower intercooler hose and see how much oil there is in there, a couple teaspoons is alright, a quart might indicate a failing turbo seal.

Look what kind of coolant is in there, the good stuff is pinkish. Usually if it was serviced by someone not knowing what they are doing you'll find your usual green coolant. This might be an indicator other maintenance might not have be properly conducted.

Other than that the engine should pull alright to 5000 rpm, but don't worry too much if it doesn't, as long as the engine sounds good and smooth. Lots of small easily fixable issues can cause that so you can negociate the price down. Pull out the rubber hose going in the egr valve bolted to the intake manifold. Look how plugged the intake is, it might just need to be cleaned to restore performance >3000 rpm.

All the good stuff is in there Buying a used TDI FAQ -- please add - TDIClub Forums

Oh btw are we talking about an early 99 (97-99 model) or a 99.5 (99.5-2003)?
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the excellent tips and link

Quote:
Oh btw are we talking about an early 99 (97-99 model) or a 99.5 (99.5-2003)?
I was wondering the same thing but don't know enough to tell the difference . here's a photo. Click image for larger version

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looks like the newer style to me?
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Ah, that's a 99.5, known as a MK4 or A4, same as my new TDI.

Forget the rust issue then, the panels are galvanized so rust will mainly be on the surface. However, where VW relied on thicker paint in the past for rust protection, the paints lifts extremely easily on the new models. If the front fenders are rusted near the top of the arch, look carefully if they were repainted/touched up before. If not, there is a tsb for that and you can get repainted or new fenders from the dealer, even if it's just flaked paint and surface rust. The perforation rust warranty is also 12 years on those models.

Since it's an A4, ask also if the water pump was replaced at the same time as the timing belt. If not I would do a complete riming belt job replacing everything in the belt's path.

Ask if the timing belt has broken before and what repairs were performed if that was the case. Unless a complete new head was put on, run and don't turn back.

The price appear very low for such a relatively low mileage a4 jetta.
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Which do you like better overall, your A3 or A4?


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The price appear very low for such a relatively low mileage a4 jetta.
Yes, maybe even suspiciously low. ?
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Blue book is quite different for the new style @ around $5500, while the old style is around $3800.
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The A4 is definitely more refined and safer. It's different, but I miss my A3 sometimes. But then again I miss my A2 too.

Apart from rust, there is less things on a stock car that can go wrong on an A3 than an A4. But nothing that you can't deal with on the A4 (VGT mechanism and actuator, MAF, coolant migration...)

Yes the price is a bit suspiciously low, but it can be fair if the timing belt is due, if the clutch and flywheel are done, if the injection pump is leaking, if the turbo is near the end of its life. Those things go fore more or less a grand each. Just ask the owner. If you don't get straight answers, just pass.

One thing though, prices are really being driven down right now with the new 2009s flooding the market, so the blue book is probably overly optimistic about the value.
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks alote . I just e-mailed the seller a bunch of questions and if I get decent answers, I may set-up a day to check it out in person.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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How could I forget!? Is this an automatic or a manual? You really don't want an auto. They all fail prematurely but a few exceptions.
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It is a manual tranny. i'm partial to those anyway, so unless it's a car for my wife, it's gotta be a manual. I think it must be sold anyway, I haven't heard back from the guy and it doesn't seem to be on craigslist anymore . Oh well, I'll keep looking.

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