[Vwdiesel] Strut service w/o alignment

Lee Hillsgrove hillsgrove at adelphia.net
Wed Sep 24 21:06:06 EDT 2003

> Been meaning to ask you Hayden, you've had a tdi Golf or two, right?
> What years are the best from the home mechanic aspect, still 97 to 99-1/2
> like the Passats?

 I'll jump in with a comment or two, as an owner of a '98 Jetta TDI.

 For those of us who are most comfortable with the older IDI diesels, the A3
or B4 TDI chassis is a good step up. They lack some of the gee-whiz stuff
that the A4 TDIs have, like the VNT turbo and recodable instrument clusters,
and are arguably the most reliable of the TDIs we have available to us here
in North America. A4s are plagued with MAF sensor failures as well as a
higher rate of turbos grenading, especially with the combination of
performance modifications and higher altitudes. The VNTs are on the ragged
edge of surge in a stock configuration up high, and increased boost will
drive them over if the operator is not aware of the situation and tries to
floor it at 1500 rpm. Snapped turbo shafts are the result.
 I would consider a computer running Vag-Com to be a mandatory tool for the
home mechanic. You wouldn't believe the stuff you can do with it, and it is
required to change the timing belt. Speaking of that, it's an easier job on
an A3 or B4 as well due in part to the way the engine is mounted. The A4s
have a mount in the way, so you have to support the engine while disengaging
the mount, or the engine will fall out. It's held on by stretch bolts, too,
so don't reuse them. They've been known to let go if not replaced and
deposit the engine on the ground, or darn near.
 About that oil pan - on an A4 it's thin cast aluminum, so don't jack under
it, even to support the motor. A3/B4 use a stamped-steel pan. Seems that the
A4s hang a little lower, and wipe out the oil pan with even casual contact
with road debris unless you install a steel skidplate in place of the
plastic cover down there.
 A4s use a dual-mass flywheel mated to a clutch that is not as strong as the
older ones. Of course, mine, which is chipped and has 2 1/2" exhaust, slips
in colder weather, but I don't know how the PO treated it. At least I only
need to put in the VR6 clutch disk and pressure plate to upgrade it. A4s
require ditching that dual-mass flywheel, too.
 That said, I wouldn't be afraid to own an A4, and probably will someday. It
just seems that as with almost anything, the older models without all the
bells and whistles are just easier to work on in general.


More information about the Vwdiesel mailing list