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Volkswagen Tech Letters

Nov 16, 2004
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'03 Jetta GLI
Having lost my way for a few years I finally got back into a VW. My Jetta GLI is barely two weeks old and I'm already thinking about all the stuff I can do to it. How difficult is it to install a cat-back exhaust? I've never done it before, but if it's a bolt-on procedure I can't imagine it being too difficult. Although I installed a P-Flow and P-Chip myself when I had my Corrado I never got around to doing the exhaust, so I have no experience to fall back on. Is it as simple as putting the car up on stands, unbolting the stock pipes and putting in the new ones, or is there cutting, bending and welding involved that require a professional touch?
Brett Chapman
Toluca Lake, CA

As long as you have the right tools, removing and installing a new exhaust on your Jetta will be a pretty straightforward procedure, very much like you have described. All of the high quality cat-back systems on the market today simply bolt up to the factory hangers. The most difficult part of the install is actually the removal of the existing exhaust system, since the bolts and clamps are subject to rust. Since your car is relatively new and you live on the West Coast, you shouldn't have much of a problem. To make it easier to remove, spray some penetrant on the nuts a couple hours before you try to remove them. Also, if you don't plan on reinstalling the old exhaust, it is easier to just cut it above the rear torsion bar. When you go to install the new exhaust, install the entire system and then align it before tightening it down.


16V GTI
I am looking into buying a 1991 GTI. What are the major things I need to be looking for prior to purchase?
Michael Brueckner
via the Internet

The 1991 GTI is definitely one of the nicest cars VW ever produced, but it has its share of issues, as do all cars that are more than 13 years old. The first thing to do is try and find one that has very little or no rust, which might not be the easiest thing if you're on the East Coast. While the 16V is more powerful, it doesn't come without some additional problems, the main one being the timing belt, which should be replaced every 40,000 miles if not sooner. Another weak point are the electrical connections and grounds, which need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Check the exhaust manifold for any cracks or leaks. Also look at the distributor. Check for any oil seepage into the distributor, as the seals are prone to fail over time. While they can be replaced, they aren't readily available and you'll most likely have to replace the whole thing. Last but not least is the transmission. Make sure it's not making any unusual noises and that it's free from leaks.


Exhausting the Possibilities
I have a question regarding the online tech procedure titled "Installing Neuspeed's 1.8t Bolt-on Kit." The center section of the Neuspeed exhaust was mated to the factory catalytic converter using exhaust paste (which I have) and some kind of clamp apparatus. I need to get my hands on a clamping apparatus like the one you guys used. Where can I buy one? My Bosal exhaust was not joined properly to the factory catalytic converter on my 1997 VW Jetta four cylinder. Because of that, it makes a horrible rattling noise when I drive it. I'm now in need of a new catalytic converter because the current one is old, and I want to join the new catalytic converter with my exhaust system properly.
Matt Ellison
via the Internet

I believe you're looking for the factory sleeve that clamps your exhaust to the catalytic convertor. Check with Techtonics Tuning (www.techtonicstuning.com) as they carry this piece for use with their exhausts or mating other exhausts to the factory catalytic converter.


1.8T Challenge
One of the 1.8t Challenge entrants, Larry Victor, used Tarox rotors on his A4 and I've been unable to find someone who distributes them. Could you help? I have a 2002 Passat 1.8T GLS and have already had to resurface the rear rotors and replace pads.
Jerry Terry
via the Internet

Tarox rotors are distributed primarily in the U.K., and if you really want them you could check with www.amber-performance.co.uk, but with extra taxes and shipping you'll probably wind up paying a premium. BMP Design in the good old U.S.A. also carries Tarox systems for the Mini Cooper and may be able to import a pair or two for your Passat. Your other options are Zimmerman, ATE or Brembo rotors. I would suggest looking into some of the new cadmium plated offerings that resist rust on the outer and inner hub portions of the rotor surface. Check out ECS Tuning (www.ecstuning.com) as they offer a wide variety of O.E.M., and aftermarket braking options for your Passat.


2003 VW Jetta
I have changed a few things on my car, a 2003 Jetta 1.8T (Neuspeed cold air intake, exhaust, and turbo inlet pipe). I am stumped on where to go next. I don't see too much on Jettas so I need a little help as far as performance.
Jason
via the Internet

The sky is basically the limit on performance modifications for your Jetta. If you haven't modified your suspension yet, that would be the next place to look at. A wide variety of aftermarket shocks and springs and anti-roll bars are available for your car. Options range from fully integrated kits such as H&R's Cup Kit and KW's Sport Suspension to separate spring and shock combinations by Neuspeed and H&R. If you're looking at more engine performance, you can look at the various turbo upgrade kits available which range from Neuspeed's K04 kit (www.neuspeed.com) to APR's Stage III kit (www.goapr.com), which can put down around 280hp. Numerous other kits are being released at this time as the 1.8T tuning industry really is heating up.


2001 1.8T
I have a 2001 Jetta 1.8T--apparently I was wrong with my assumption of my car having 180 hp. It was not until 2002 that the 180 hp came out, right? Well, if so, then what do I need to change to get the 180 hp (or close)? I saw the tech letter about the compression change, downpipe size, and turbo type (AWW vs. AWP). Obviously, I don't want to spend the money to change the compression right now, but would the large downpipe help or hurt? The larger intake size (that I have) and larger downpipe of the AWP in theory would be best, but would this hurt airspeeds/velocities and hinder torque due to the lower compression ratio? Personally, I feel the difference between 9.3 and 9.5 is not much, but I'm not an engineer. I know with my experiences with other types of motors (V8s) going bigger (carbs, heads, intakes, etc.) has hurt low-end torque but aided top-end power. This is my first turbo car. I don't know a lot about turbos, but I believe they react differently to change as opposed to naturally aspirated motors, since the air charge is forced and not drawn by vacuum. Am I right? I would like to do things right the first time and save the headaches and money, so could you set me straight about turbo motors? And, finally, does my car have the straight K03 turbo or the Hybrid K03/K04, or am I way off base with the turbo that is in my car?
Jim Cassidy
via the Internet

You are definitely on the right track. Your Jetta does in fact come with the 150 hp AWW variant of the 1.8T engine and this engine does in fact have the hybrid turbo, as does the 180 hp AWP version. The fact that you have slightly lower compression allows you to run slightly higher boost levels, if you choose to. The size of the downpipe that you want to use is going to depend on what plans you have for your car overall. Are you just going to "chip" the engine? Plan on adding a larger turbo? Intake? All those factors need to be considered when upgrading items such as the exhaust and downpipe. Most of the setups that I've seen which retain the factory turbo and a "chip" use a 2.5-in. turbo-back exhaust, which includes the downpipe and high-flow catalytic converter. This is a good setup that allows for quick spool-up and limited loss of low-end torque, and reduces the chances of over-spooling your turbo at higher boost levels.


Squishy Suspension
Hi, I recently purchased a Golf Gti 1.8T with 180hp. I have found the factory suspension soft with a tendency to wallow over uneven surfaces. I want to replace the factory suspension to improve control and hopefully lose very little comfort. Very important: I do not wish to lower the car! I'm thinking of replacing the shocks and maybe the springs too.
Rodrigo Ahumada
Santiago, Chile

If you don't want to lower the car and want a fairly compliant ride, I would suggest Neuspeed Softsport springs or H&R's O.E. sport springs matched with Neuspeed/Koni adjustable shocks and struts. This combination allows you to set the dampening level of the shock from almost as soft as stock to very firm. These two springs will lower your car, but only slightly and probably no more than 10mm. Another option would be Shine Racing's Real Street Springs mated to Bilstein HD shocks. Again, this option would provide a relatively compliant ride while keeping your car at close to stock height.


A/C Removal Pulley Kit
I own a 1991 GTI 8V and have been looking everywhere for an A/C removal pulley kit. I would really like to get rid of the cancerous compressor dead weight in my car. Could you please help me locate the retailer that sells this kit?
Carl West
via the Internet

The best thing to do is locate a non-A/C 8V car and use parts from it. You'll need the following parts: a crankshaft and water pump pulley, non-A/C alternator adjustment bracket (one with the teeth), and the V-belt for a non-A/C car. Simply remove the A/C and related items and then replace them with these parts. You can find them at most any VW wrecking yard. Here's the part numbers to assist you in finding the parts you need: crankshaft pulley: 026 105 255; water pump pulley: 026 121 031; belt: 050 903 137; and alt. arm bracket: 026 903 247B. Also, after swapping the parts make sure that the alternator pulley is mounted with the following parts in this order for clearance purposes: nut-pulley-washer-spacer-fan-alternator.


Rabbit G-Lader
I was reading in the March 2003 issue about the Rabbit G-Lader engine install. I have an '84 Rabbit GTI that's due for a new engine. I want to do a 1.8T install/swap. In the article I read the owner knew of people who had done the conversion to 1.8T (albeit at $14,000). Who would you recommend to have this done?
Chris Rhodes
via the Internet

There are numerous places that can do a good job at swapping a 1.8T engine into your Rabbit. It's not an easy swap, but a good shop can do it with the right amount of time and money. I'd suggest talking to local VW enthusiasts to find the shops in your local area that may be able to handle this type of project. Then, contact the shop and discuss what you want to accomplish with your swap. You can also check out VW Internet resources such as VWVortex (www.vwvortex.com), which has forums dedicated to engine swaps.


Rebuilt VR6
I want to build a project car and I'm thinking of a rebuilt VR6 MkIII Golf. Has this ever been done? If so, where could I find some help? I'm 16, so my budget is tight. Afterward, I would modify the suspension to fix that awful body roll and maybe a Z-Engineering supercharger. Which is the most reliable engine mod? What do you think?
David Fischer
Champlin, Minnesota

The MKIII VR6 is a great car to modify and the incredible amount of aftermarket parts available makes it a reasonably affordable project. As for modifying your car, the basic bolt-on modifications for the VR6 include a "chip" or ECU upgrade, intake and cat-back exhaust. These mods have proven to be pretty reliable over time and provide an honest 15-20 hp. The next step would be to install a set of cams or go the forced induction route with either a turbo or supercharger system. However, the first thing you should do is modify the suspension, which is definitely one of the MKIII's weakest links. H&R and Neuspeed both make excellent sport lowering springs for the MKIII and combined with a good set of shocks such as Konis or Bilsteins they'll yield excellent results. Another alternative would be the Shine Real Suspenion, which does not lower the car but provides excellent handling. I would also add a front upper strut tower bar to increase torsional stiffness and improve turn-in and steering response. These basic modifications will greatly improve any MKIII GTI.


Radiator After-run Recall Kit
I have an '85 Jetta two-door that I've owned since new. It has 320,000 miles on it. Last fall I put it in for a paint job and some new trim pieces, including a set of MINILITE EV2000 7x15-in. wheels. This summer I experienced some overheating trouble. Turned out to be the connector for the radiator fan. Anyway, I bought a new Bentley manual that covers '85 to '92 Jetta IIs. It's mentioned in the manual that a recall kit was available with the wiring for an after-run switch that attaches to the head. The dealer carries the switch and mount but not the wiring or a diagram to install it! Do you think that the info exists to do the retrofit? Can you help?
Brian
via the Internet

Check page 134 of your Bentley, the after-run radiator cooling fan wiring diagram. These were added to the 1986 and later Jettas and should be easy to wire into your car.


MkIII Reliability
I once owned an MkII 1990 Jetta 8V Digifant, I spent a lot of money fixing that car to working order. I then bought my current car, a 2001 Hyundai Accent, and I can't stand the fact that I can do relatively nothing to make it better. I don't want a really fast car, not yet at least. I can't yet afford that 1997 911 Turbo S or GT3 I want so badly. I do want a car that handles really well, brakes well and shifts well. My current car, as you can guess, does none of these things and I can't find any ways to change that.I was thinking of buying an MkIII Jetta, a '96-98 2.0-liter. I don't want to pay too much for insurance, I live in L.A. and insurance is terrible for twenty-something's like myself. How reliable are these cars? Will an MkIII give me problems? I know a lot depends on the previous owner, but if I get a good vehicle, what are the problems these cars have? For example, I know the MkIIs had a tranny that needed to be rebuilt once it went over 100,000 to 125,000 miles.
Mario Cornejo
via the Internet

The later 1997 and on MKIII Jetta 2.0s have proven to be fairly reliable. As with any used car, the car's history will play an important role in how trouble-free it will be in the future. As with most VWs, the main culprits are usually electric, and common issues with the MkIIIs include window regulators, headlight switches, speedometer failures and ignition switch problems. The engines and transmissions are pretty rock solid and with normal maintenance don't exhibit a lot of the problems the MkIIs had. With the release of the MKIVs, prices have dropped dramatically on MKIIIs and if you're looking for something a little faster, I'd seriously consider a Jetta GLX VR6. You will get a lot more bang for your buck with that car.


MkII Jetta Queries
How much does a MkII Jetta weigh and what modifications are required to install a 1.8T engine into one?
Wesley
via the Internet

Depending on the model of Jetta, it should weigh approximately 2,300 to just over 2,500 lb. As for the 1.8T swap, the swap itself is pretty straightforward. The major issue will be doing the wiring and changing in the instrument cluster. To make the swap easier I'd look for an early Passat or A4 1.8T with the throttle cable, rather than using a later-model DBW engine, although those can be made to work as well. I'd also consider upgrading the front subframe to the MKIII subframe, along with the entire "Plus" suspension components and braking system. You'll then need to upgrade the rear brakes to a 5-lug system as well--but that's pretty simple if you use Corrado parts.

2.0 in a Rabbit GTI
I have some questions about my 2.0-liter 16V Passat motor that I'm putting in an '83 Rabbit GTI. I want to do the carb conversion and nitrous, so where can I find the internals to beef it up so it can handle the juice?
Chris
via the Internet

The internals for the 16V engine are pretty strong to begin with, and if they are in good shape they should be able to handle the nitrous, depending on how big a shot you are planning on using. The crankshaft is forged, as are the rods and pistons. In fact, VW continued to use the same rods on the early 1.8T engines, including the 225hp version from the TT. If you do want to beef up the bottom end, I'd suggest Pauter (www.pauter.com) or Carillo (www.carrilloind.com), both make rods for the 16V engine. You can reuse the stock pistons if you'd like. I'd contact the manufacturer for a retailer in your local area.


GTI VR6 in Need
I just got a '98 VW GTI VR6 and I'm having a hell of a time finding aftermarket go-fast mods. Can you point me in the right direction?
Dave
via the Internet

There are numerous places where you can get engine, suspension and other modifications for your GTI VR6. These include Neuspeed (www.neuspeed.com)
ABD Racing (www.abdracing.com)
Eurosport Accessories (www.eurosportacc.com)
RPI Equipped (www.rpiequipped.com), to name a few.


Upgrading a VR6 to R32 Performance
I have a dilemma. I just paid off my 2000 GTI GLX. It only has 21K miles and looks like new. My total investment for this car including finance charges was $33K. I think most people forget to factor in the cost to finance a car. I would love to buy the R32, but I will be losing much of my investment with a trade-in. What can I do to match R32 performance? I've seen stats that indicate the lower curb weight of the VR6 gives it an advantage. Will it seem reasonable that 3.2-liter short blocks will become available from the salvage yards or tuners in the near future? Would a cam (DSR 256), GIAC chip and 2.5-inch exhaust close the gap? Have you had experience with the 85mm pistons that are now available? How can I bring the VR6's handling close to the R32's? There are so many shock/spring combos, it's hard to choose the right one that can handle the 405 freeway, Mulholland and the streets of downtown LA.
Mick
via the Internet

As you already know, cars are not a great investment in terms of getting a return on that investment. However, we shouldn't be buying them for investment purposes, but for the sheer pleasure we get from owning them. That being said, you can turn your GTI into an extremely fun and fairly fast car. The problem is that the R32 comes that way from the factory and needs very few if any modifications. Since the U.S.-spec version of the R32 hasn't been on our shores that long, very few independent tests have been done on the car by major publications, including European Car. However, we do know of several U.S.-spec R32s which have already made it to their local drag strip and run 13.9-second quarter miles. You really can't compare the magazine times to that of the manufacturer's, especially VW which is typically very conservative with its published numbers. As for the upgrades you mentioned for your VR6, those upgrades should yield about 25 additional horsepower and your lighter GTI should put you pretty close to stock R32 performance, at least in a straight line. If you're concerned with ride comfort, I'd suggest Neuspeed Softsport springs with Koni adjustable struts. This combination will only lower the car about half an inch and allow you to adjust the firmness of the shocks. You can soften them up for daily driving and then firm them up when you want increased performance. With a good set of Z-rated tires you'll be all set.


MKIV Golf
I recently purchased a 2000 GTI with a VR6. What would it take to put a 24V head on, or to put the R32 3.2-liter with a six-speed into my car? My car is front-wheel drive. I'm not looking to convert to AWD as that is too expensive. If I could get the 3.2-liter in my car with the six-speed would I be able to put some sort of cap on the rear driveshaft exit hole (just cutting the driveshaft flush at the tranny)? Where do I get this engine?
Anonymous
via the Internet

Due to differences in the block design for cooling purposes, you cannot swap a 12V head for a 24V head. As for the 3.2L swap, you would be able to swap the engine in with minimal modifications. In fact, you could use your existing five-speed transmission as long as you install a higher rated clutch and possibly a Quaife or Peloquin limited-slip differential. If you do want to use a new 02M six-speed transmission, I'd look for one from a front-wheel drive VW as it would make the swap much simpler and the gearing would be better suited to your FWD car. Since the R32 is just now hitting U.S. shores, you're going to pay a premium for an engine. Same with the transmission. I'd check Copart (www.copartfinder.com) to see if any surface in the not-too-distant future.


1980 VW Rabbit Engine Swap
I own a 1980 two-door VW Rabbit. I just recently purchased a 1990 European-spec 1.8-liter 16V complete with close-ratio five-speed tranny. The engine has the 50mm intake but also has the European fuel delivery system. I'm planning on dropping the engine in soon, but I was wandering what precautions or steps I should take beforehand. Are the fuel and intake systems going to give me issues because they are both on the passenger side? Are there any parts I should replace on the car or engine before the transplant?
Peter Connolly
Marblehead, Massachusetts

It sounds like you have your hands full with this swap. While the intake and fueling on the passenger side do make it more difficult, it doesn't mean it's impossible, just that it will take some more creativity on your part, especially with getting the fuel lines and such to fit correctly, not to mention ECU wiring, etc. However, you would be much better off to use the intake and fueling off a U.S.-made 16V Scirocco. This would allow for everything to simply bolt into the Rabbit. You could also offset the cost of the swap by selling that 50mm intake manifold.


Golf MKIV 1.8T Cold-Air Intake
I have a 2000 Golf 1.8T GLS with a GIAC chip. The chip was installed last year and I'm looking to purchase a cold-air intake. Many VW owners swear by it, others say it's a waste of money and that I should just focus on getting an exhaust upgrade (currently have the stock exhaust). What are your thoughts on cold-air intakes? Which make and model would you recommend? What about the exhaust, what should I look for?
Roberto Baccega
Montreal, Canada

Most of the cold-air intakes (CAI) for the 1.8T are very similar. The major difference is in tubing diameter and the material they're made from. Some are aluminum, some are plastic, some are powdercoated or chromed steel, some are made in carbon fiber. While CAIs have proven to provide benefits, they're most beneficial when they are clean. Due to their location down in the front of the car they're subject to lots of road debris and get dirty quite quickly. A dirty CAI is not going to work as well as a stock filter, so you need to make sure that you keep it clean. There are so many different CAIs out there and they all provide similar gains. GHL, Velocity, AEM, Neuspeed, EVO, and Carbonio all make intakes for your car. As for exhausts, there are so many out there for the 1.8T it would take about two pages to list them all. I'd suggest looking for a complete turbo-back system rather than a cat-back, as the larger downpipe included in the turbo-back system will provide substantial gains as well. Several companies produce these systems like APR, Techtonics Tuning, Brullen, Eurosport, Neuspeed and Milltek.


1993 Vento GT
I'm living in Germany working with the U.S. Military and own a 1993 Vento GT with a 115-hp 2.0-liter. I was wondering how much is different from my motor and the 2.0-liter from the States. The 2.0 liter in the States has the crossflow intake system, whereas mine still comes in through the rear of the motor. Will parts from the 2.0-liter Stateside motor work in my German-spec motor?I'm also wondering if there is a 16-valve motor that will swap easily in my car? I am looking for a cheap and easy swap to get me a little extra power with some bolt-on possibilities. I don't want to do the VR6 swap, which I heard was a simple swap. It's not a cheap motor to buy.So if you could help me find out what my options are it would be greatly appreciated.
Jason Ryo Osterman

As you've noted, the U.S. crossflow 2.0-liter is different from the 2.0-liter engine in Europe, although their size and power output are the same. Most of the parts related to the intake, exhaust and fueling system are going to be different, as well as internal parts directly related to the crossflow head. I would think that some of the parts would be interchangeable but probably very few. As for doing a swap in the car, the VR6 would be an easier swap and the price of the engine has dropped considerably as they become more readily available at wrecking yards, etc. If you're looking for power, I would look at doing a VR6 swap.


TDI Exhaust
I have a 2002 VW TDI, and I'm looking at aftermarket exhausts to go with my Upsolute chip. I was wondering what you think the best exhaust for a TDI is? I was looking at a Techtonics unit, but unfortunately they do not have the turbo downpipe for the TDI model. I've seen models that are built for the 2.0, 1.8T, and VR6 not having specific models for each of those engines. Are those particular units compatible with the TDI also?
Matt Hubbard
via the Internet

You will need a TDI specific downpipe for your car if you want it to fit correctly. You can contact a good local muffler/exhaust shop and have one fabricated for you, or you can check out Supersprint (www.supersprintna.com), which makes a nice downpipe for your TDI. GHL is also in the process of producing one for the TDI as well. North American Motorsports (www.namotorsports.com) sells GHL products, so you might want to contact them and see when the downpipe will be available.


Late Model Jetta Diesel Questions
I recently bought a 2002 VW Jetta TDI, and I have no idea what I can do to it. If you could point me in the direction of a good Web site I would be much obliged. I just want to soup it up a bit (more horse, better boost, the chip, and maybe a new turbo) But I have no one to talk to about this subject.
Cole
British Columbia

One of the best TDI resources on the Web is Fred's TDI Club (www.tdiclub.com). Also check out VWVortex.com's TDI forums. (www.vwvortex.com). If you can't find the information you want concerning TDIs on these two sites, it probably doesn't exist.


Fox Swap?
I have an '88 Fox wagon. I was wondering if there is an engine that can be swapped as easily as the Honda swaps. I'm sick of seeing the same cars tearing up the concrete and I want a sleeper to spank them with.
Scott Gregory
via the Internet

You can definitely swap different engines into a Fox, one of the most common is using the 2.0-liter 3A "bubble block" engine from Audi. Others have swapped in the venerable 2.0-liter 16V into their cars. One guy even put an Audi 2.8-liter V6 in his. None of these swaps would be considered easy, but they're definitely possible. While the two 2.0-liter engines I mentioned will bolt right in, you'll need to figure out how to mate the fueling systems and electronics and ECU from those engines to the Fox, as well as be ready to have some items, like the exhaust system, custom made for your application.


A1 Golf
I just bought a '79 Diesel Golf. I'm wondering what kind of performance mods and body kits are out there. I also want to know how to increase the torque and horsepower of the engine. I know that since it's a Diesel, it will gain more torque than horsepower. Also, I want to know where I can find an exhaust for my Diesel car. I know if I put on a gas-engine exhaust on my Golf, a lot of smoke will be produced. Where can I get a performance exhaust for a Diesel Golf?
Houawa Moua
via the Internet

As far as body kit pieces go, pretty much anything designed for an A1 will work on your car. You can go with factory kits as well as aftermarket. It all depends on your budget and whether you want to go mild or wild. Check out RPI (www.rpiequipped.com) and also ABD Racing (www.abdracing.com) as both carry a wide variety of body kits for your car.

As for performance enhancements for your diesel, there aren't a lot of "kits" out there and you'll be pretty much on your own in terms of finding parts to improve performance. Check out the forums over at www.vwdieselparts.com; they contain all you'll ever needed to know about VW diesel engines. As for performance exhausts, a Techtonics Tuning (www.techtonicstuning.com) exhaust, with a 2.25-in. diameter and an extra resonator should work, even though they're designed for gas-powered cars. You can add a short Techtonics Tuning dual downpipe with a stainless-steel "flex" coupling where the cat would be on a gas car if you use the stock diesel exhaust manifold. It would also be a good time to invest in some new motor mounts to prevent engine movement, which could damage the exhaust system.


2000 VW Jetta 2.0L
I own several VWs, a '97 Golf K2, 2000 Passat V6, and 2000 Jetta 2.0-liter. The Jetta has started (from time to time) to refuse to accelerate under load when cold. The check engine light came on with a code for a misfire in cylinder number one. I replaced the wire; light problem solved. But the engine's refusal to accelerate under load continues when cold. Once it's warmed up everything's fine. No more engine light, either. The engine has 55,000 miles and has received all factory recommended service (plus extra oil changes). What are your thoughts on the problem?
Mike Voell
via the Internet

Hey Mike,
This sounds like a bad Mass Air Flow (M.A.F.) sensor problem to me. It might not be a bad idea to also go ahead and change the plugs, plug wires and coil as well, since if one plug wire one already went bad the others are probably not too far behind. Replacement M.A.F.s can be found for a good price at www.vwparts.com.


Jetta Hill Climb
I am in a big dispute with my father. I own a 2003 VW Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg. My dad owns a 1990 VW GLI 2.0-liter Wolfsburg. He says that his Jetta is quicker than mine up a highway that has a 20-degree slope. Could you give me all the performance facts on both of these cars?
Keahi Hattis
via the Internet

This would be an interesting race as both cars would offer similar performance, depending on what speed you're going when you hit the hill. A 20-degree slope is very steep and the car in the right gear for its torque curve would be the one that would probably get there quicker. While your car has more power and torque, it's also considerably heavier than your dad's GLI. Both cars' performance statistics from the factory are very close in terms of 0-60 acceleration, both being quoted in the mid to high 7-second range. However, in-gear acceleration is what's going to make the difference here and the shorter gearing of the GLI might make up for its slight hp and torque disadvantage. When all is said and done, it would be too close to call.


GLS Tech
A friend of mine has a 2002 Jetta GLS, which has had a lot of mechanical problems since she bought it. The rear windows fell without any action by the driver. The transmission made a noise (like a knock) while driving and sometimes it takes a few minutes to take the drive shifter (it's an automatic) from neutral, especially while waiting for light changes. I have heard that these models had some defects from the beginning and that there was a recall.
Eduardo A. Escribano-Romn
via the Internet

You're correct that there have been two recalls issued for Jettas of that year. Unfortunately, the recalls did not cover the issues you mentioned. The first recall was for short circuits can occur within the electronic control unit of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and also for brake light switch malfunctions. Volkswagen has also extended the warranty on some cars of that model and year for window regulator and coil pack malfunctions. However, the window regulator warranty extension was for the front windows only. I suggest you contact your local dealer and give them the VIN number of the car and all the recalls applicable to the vehicle will be identified, as well as the extended warranties.


New Seats
I currently have a '77 Rabbit with a 16V conversion. When I bought the car, it had seats from what I believe are a MkII GTI. Can I install seats from a newer VW in there without changing the rail system? If not, it is possible to take the rail system out of whatever car I'm taking the seats from? What I'm thinking of is taking the seats from a MkIII GTI or newer from a parts lot in town. Would this be a sound choice?
Jonathan Dorsey
via the Internet

Pretty much all MKII seats should bolt right into your MKI Rabbit. The MKIII seats would need to have the lower rails modified, as the seat rail track is wider in the MKIII. I would look for some GTI or GLI seats from a MKII or go aftermarket.


Wheel Weight
I'm a little stumped on the issue of how critical wheel mass actually is. I have a '97 Jetta GLX with the 2.8-liter VR6 engine. I have the original wheels and tires on the car, but I need to replace them soon. I have called The Tire Rack and I'm strongly considering the SSR Competion wheel, measuring 7.5x17 inches with a 215/40-17 tire. The wheel weighs only a measly 13.2 lb. They are also quite expensive, considering some of the other offerings. Another wheel I'm considering is the ASA LW5, same size, weighing 18.1 lb at a fraction of the cost of the SSRs. How critical is each additional pound of wheel mass? I understand that I should at least put on something that is lighter than what came stock on the car. Also, are these two wheels very strong? I live in the Snow Belt and have some very rough roads. Any other wheel recommendations or other advice would be great.
Mike Overweg
via the Internet

The rule of thumb is lighter is always better when it comes to wheel weights. However, don't forget about the weight of the tire as well. Some tires can be as much as three or more pounds heavier than others in the same size, so be sure to check that as well before ordering your car's new shoes. As for the 4.9-lb difference per wheel, it would equate to adding about 33 lbs of weight to your car in terms of affecting performance, which is negligible. The SSR and the ASA are both high quality wheels and are quite strong, although neither is going to fare well against a major pothole. If that's a concern, a 16-in. wheel might be a better choice, and it'll be lighter as well.

Bad Fifth Gear
My '85 VW Cabriolet has more than 220K miles but still runs strong. I have the original engine, and the compression is within specs. I have also added many modifications myself: Neuspeed throttle body, dual-exhaust manifold and TT down pipes, adjustable cam gear, suspension and braking upgrades. The car is lots of fun to drive. However, within the last year I consistently hear a high-pitched squeal when I am in fifth gear, especially under load or climbing hills. Is this a sign that my transmission is going? A mechanic told me that as long as it doesn't pop out of gear the transmission, although worn, is OK for now. I had the gear oil replaced with quality oil from Redline, which really made an improvement with shifting, but just a little improvement with the sound. Is there some additional service needed? Also, I have a Neuspeed 272-degree camshaft that I never installed. Does it make any sense to install it on a car with such high mileage and possible transmission problems? If it does, can I use the existing value springs?
Michael Janisch
via the Internet

Unfortunately, that high-pitched sound you hear is the sound of a bad fifth gear needle bearing, which is a sign that your tranny was low on fluid at one time. This tends to affect fifth gear the most. With that many miles, it would probably be in your best interest to just rebuild the entire transmission or find a lower mileage one at a junkyard. If you decide to rebuild it, now would be the time to do the differential bolt kit and maybe put in a lower ratio fifth gear to reduce your engine rpm while highway cruising. As for the cam install, if you aren't consuming a lot of oil and compression in the motor is good, and you have no coolant leaks or other indications that your head gasket is failing, there isn't any reason not to put it in there. As for using the existing valve springs, with that type of mileage, I would definitely replace the existing springs with some heavier duty ones. In fact, I would do it even if the car had less mileage as added insurance.


Dire Need Of Help
Please help me find the right cam for my car, I drive a 1995 GTI VR6, and I can't figure out which cams are good for me. I know I don't want a long duration because I really love the big torque curve. But at the same time I want to get a wicked top end. If you could recommend a setup that would work for me (without any form of forced induction because I don't have the money) please help me, because I'm drowning in the sea of parts and I'd prefer to be floating.
Scott Lucas
via the Internet

There are so many different cams for the 12V VR6 that I can understand how difficult choosing one is. One of the all-time favorites is the Dynospot Racing street cam (www.dynospotracing.com) that can be installed along with a Garrett Integrated Automotive Corporation (www.giacusa.com) chip tuned especially for this pair of camshafts. It's a good all-around combination that offers good street performance at a reasonable price.


Bigger Turbo
I have a 2001 Volkswagen 1.8T and I was looking at installing a bigger turbo. I have looked at many different kits, including the Neuspeed's K04. My question is what other modifications would I need to be make to the car for a successful operation, including the drivetrain? Will I need to make any modifications to the fuel system in order to make the bigger turbo function properly?
Travis VanOrmer
via the Internet

There are a lot of things to consider when upgrading the turbo on your 1.8T. One of which is whether or not you want risk losing your driver's license! Joking aside, you need to look at what you really want out of a turbo upgrade. Do you want big horsepower numbers that will drop your quarter mile times at the local drag strip? Do you simply just want a little more power to increase the fun factor in your car as a daily driver? If it's the latter, the Neuspeed super K04 kit is looking very good, and at a suggested retail price of $1999 it's half the price of some other big turbo upgrade kits currently available. The other nice thing about this kit is that it comes with all necessary parts. You won't need to add anything else or modify the fuel system independently. Since the increased power output of this kit isn't extreme, you also won't need to upgrade a lot of drivetrain parts other than the clutch. However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to upgrade your brakes to the larger 12.3-in. units found on the higher performance MkIV VWs and add to that some high performance brake pads, fluid and stainless steel lines. This is a relatively inexpensive upgrade that will increase braking performance considerably.


New Beetle Mirrors
I've owned a New Beetle since 1998. All things considered I think it's an excellent car, and I don't plan on getting rid of it anytime soon. However, one thing I've never managed to get used to is the positioning of the outside mirrors on this car. The driver's side mirror, in particular, is directly in my line of sight whenever I need to look to my left. This means whenever I take a left-hand corner I have to slow down to a snail's pace or crane my neck to avoid hitting something (or someone)--and, since I live in a city, the number of times I have almost plowed down innocent pedestrians because I just plain couldn't see them is downright frightening.

For the first few months I owned the car I figured I'd eventually get used to this "front blind spot," but I never have. Yes, I am short (5'6"), but cranking the seat up only makes the driving position awkward. Since New Beetles now come with mirrors mounted about six inches lower than they did back in '98, what I'm wondering is whether I can retrofit a pair of these newer mirrors to my NB. I don't mean the newest ones with the built-in turn signal indicators. I mean the plain ones that were made approximately from 2001 to 2003. How difficult would it be to mount a set of these mirrors? Is it even possible, or would I have to swap out the doors, too? If I could just get rid of that front blind spot, I'd feel safer, and I think the pedestrians around here would too!Also, does anyone else with a MkIV VW who lives in a cold climate have a problem with their emergency brake freezing? Mine does whenever it gets below 30 degrees, which is like six months of the year up here. Any advice on how to combat this problem?
Dave Lucsko
via the Internet

Today is your lucky day. Yes, you can swap the new mirrors for the old. In fact I've found a Web site that has all the information you need, including a step-by-step process for completing the swap along with pictures and tools needed. Just go to www.bugmod.com/mirror_swap.htm.As for your parking brake freezing, check the cables and the rubber accordion boots for holes and tears, which could let moisture in and freeze the caliper. You'll most likely wind up replacing the cables to remedy the situation.


Boosting a 1.8T or a 2.0-liter
I'm interested in purchasing a '98 Jetta and I'm hoping to get a 1.8T, but may have to settle for a 2.0-liter. I'm really interested in coaxing a little extra horsepower out of my car, but unfortunately I will only have about $800-1000 per summer to put into it because I also have to pay for some of my university expenses. I was thinking about putting in a cat-back exhaust system (not sure what type yet) and an Injen cool air intake system. I've also had people suggest I put in cooler spark plugs and even that I get it chipped. However, I don't really know much about the chips and how they work so I guess my questions are as follows:

1. Do you agree that I should look for a 1.8T rather than a
2.0L if I am not going to be able to make any really significant changes?
2. Can you explain a little more about how the chips work, what they cost and power gains, etc.?
3. What do you think I should do and in what order?
4. What kind of gains can I realistically expect from these changes?
5. Approximately how much will each of these upgrades cost me?
Jordan
via the Internet

Unless you plan on swapping a 1.8T engine into that 1998 Jetta, you'll have to settle for the 2.0-liter or a GLX with a VR6, as the 1.8T engine was not available in the MKIII chassis and wasn't available in Jettas in the U.S. until the MKIV chassis arrived. That said, based upon your goals and your budget, you'll definitely get more for your money by investing in a VR6 Jetta.

With your initial $1000 I would invest in a suspension upgrade for the car consisting of shocks, springs, an upper strut bar and a rear anti-roll bar. If you take the time and shop around, you should be able to do this for under $1000 if you do all the work yourself. This will provide the best performance upgrade for the money.

Next, I would look into chip and exhaust upgrades and possibly cams if your budget allows. This chip and exhaust combination will yield approximately 20 hp and make a significant difference in performance throughout the rpm range. The chip and exhaust upgrade should be in the neighborhood of $500-800 depending on the chip and exhaust that you choose. I'd look into the Garrett Integrated Automotive Corporation (www.giacusa.com) VR6 chip or the Neuspeed chip (www.neuspeed.com) and the Techtonics Tuning full stainless 2.5-in. exhaust with a Borla muffler. Eurosport (www.eurosportacc.com) also offers an excellent exhaust for the car, although it's a bit more expensive than the Techtonics one.


Restoring a 1992 16V Passat Wagon
I'm restoring my 1992 16V Passat wagon. It's no 1.8T, but still fun to row through the gears even after 120,000 miles. My teenager will probably inherit it when he gets his license, so I'm planning only modest upgrades that I think it should have had to start with: a leather shift boot, Bilsteins, plus the Raceware head studs I put in a few years ago.

I've run into some problems sourcing replacement parts, though. The upholstery shop says the Sahara Beige seat cloth is unobtainable, and the dealer says he can't get it either. I don't want to put on an ill-fitting K-Mart seat cover. Any suggestion either for a source for O.E. seat fabric or a cover that actually fits? Also, the antenna base is loose and getting worse, and the dealer says I can't replace the worn-out antenna base without installing a new antenna cable since the new antennas have a different connector. The $100-plus price of the cable doesn't bother me as much as the thought of installing a cable from the back of the roof to the radio. I don't see those Fuba ads in ec anymore, do any of your advertisers have a suggestion?
Kirk Banner
via the Internet

Unfortunately, the dealer is correct that that the seat covers are not obtainable from the factory anymore, as they generally only retain parts supplies for ten years. Your only real option is to either have them recovered by the upholstery shop in a similar fabric or as you mentioned try a seat cover or replace it with an aftermarket seat. Try a Google search on seat covers and you'll be surprised at the number of companies that can make custom seat covers for your Passat. Since you're going to have to take the headliner down to replace the antenna base, you should check to see if the bolt is simply loose. If you need to replace it, call around to a few wrecking yards to see if you can find one.


Blow-Off vs. Diverter Valve?
I have a question maybe you can help me with. I noticed a lot of German cars (Audi, VW, Porsche, etc.) that are turbocharged have diverter valves as opposed to blow-off valves. I understand that a diverter valve "diverts the excess boost" back to the intake tract as opposed to blowing it off to the air like a blow off valve. Because of this the diverter valve is fairly quiet, letting out only a slight "whoosh." Is that the only difference or are there any specific performance benefits to either one? Currently I have a 2000 Audi TT Quattro, and yes I do have an aftermarket DV (Stratmosphere), but I was just wondering.
Vanderbill King II, SSgt, USAF
via the Internet

As you mentioned, the main purpose of either the diverter valve or blow-off valve is to let off excess boost. The primary reason that Audi, VW and Porsche use a diverter valve is due to their use of the Bosch Motronic engine management system and a Mass Air Flow sensor. It's programmed to expect the "extra air" which is rerouted back into the intake tract and adjusts the air/fuel mixture based upon this. Therefore it's simply the design of the system and there is no real performance benefit to one or the other.


Which Year is Better?
I was looking into buying a VW GTI and after some research I found that the 2002+ models put out more hp and torque etc. with a lot of the upgrade parts. But the thing is, the 2000 and 2001s are cheaper. So my question is, which year do you think is a better buy, 2000, 2001, or 2002?
Jake P.
via the Internet

You are correct, in 2002 VW upped the horsepower of the 1.8T to 180hp from 150hp in the GTI and Jetta. If you're looking at keeping the car stock and not modifying it, I would opt for the more powerful 2002 model, although it's going to be more expensive. If you plan on modifying the car, the potential for both the 150 hp and 180 hp engines is about the same. In my opinion, and especially with VWs, you're most likely better off with the newest version you can buy, and the later model 2001s have proven to be more reliable than the 2000s. The AWW engine found in the 2001s is essentially the same as the AWP engine found in the 2002s, but it's running less boost pressure and hence makes only 150 hp.


MkIII 2.0-liter Euro Head
I have a 1996 VW Jetta 2.0-liter I want to start working on it soon. If possible, one thing I want to do is do a 16V (Euro) head swap on it, but I cant find a place to get the head. Do you know of any sites?
Jonathan Atkinson
Augusta, GA

I'm assuming that you're referring to the Euro ABF head that came on the later model 2.0-liter 16Vs in Europe. While there is a slight benefit over a U.S. 9A head, due to the 35mm shorter valve guides and VR6 valve retainers, the heads are essentially the same. I'd just find a good 9A head and use that. You can find nicely reconditioned 16V heads at Eurospec (www.eurospecsport.com/cylheads.html). I'd also check out your local wrecking yards to see what you may find, or try the VWVortex engine and transmission classified forums (forums.vwvortex.com).


Raising a GTI
I have a 2003 GTI and need to raise it about two inches to take it on ferries and transport boats. This car has 18-inch rims and sits really low to the ground. I'd like to keep my 18s and just put bigger rubber and good struts on it. I can always switch back if needed. Do you know of any good struts that will lift the '03 GTI up in this manner?
Art Sherman
via the Internet

I'm not aware of any suspension upgrades for the MkVI chassis which will raise it up two inches over stock. However, H&R makes the "Dune Buggy" coilovers for the car. They're threaded-body strut and shock bodies with specifically designed springs designed to raise the car an inch in the front and rear or sit at stock height for those who need extra ground clearance. I think if you want to combine these with some higher profile tires, you might achieve the ground clearance you're looking for. Give Mike or Kristen a holler at Virtual World Parts (www.parts4vws.com) as they stock these coil-overs.


Easy Jetta Mods
I have a 2001 Jetta 1.8T and would like to enhance its performance. I'm not looking to do an 11.3 quarter mile but would like to push the horsepower over 200. What's the easiest way to complete this, without huge modifications or amounts of cash, i.e. chip? The second part of my question is can you recommend a place in Toronto (or Ontario) where I could get this done properly?
Steve Imrie
Toronto, Ontario

You are in luck, as the 1.8T in your Jetta responds extremely well to modifications. I would suggest a chip, cold-air intake and complete turbo-back exhaust (including a downpipe) which would push you into the 220-plus hp range. While not exactly cheap, these are all simple bolt-on modifications, with the exception of the chip which will either have to be soldered in the ECU or modified using the OBD port by a shop who sells the upgrade. As for a local shop, give H2OSport a call and I'm sure they can hook you up (www.h2sport.com/index.html).


8V Instead of 16V?
I've been thinking and thinking and the only reason that I've found for VW producing 8V instead of 16V engines is that it's cheaper to produce an 8v engine with bigger displacement rather than a "high-tech" 16v engine with smaller displacement, resulting in a more less same performance. Am I right?
Joao Silva
via the Internet

You are absolutely correct. The venerable 8V engine has been around for years and offers lots of low-end torque, which is what VW likes the most. While it's undergone numerous changes over the years, it is still a very simple and cost effective engine to build as compared to the 16V.


2.0L or 1.8T
I have a 2.0-liter Jetta right now and I was wondering if it would be worth putting money into or if it would be a better bet to try and sell it for a 1.8T. I have been reading some articles that were on ATP's Web site. So far I've put in shocks, lowered it, added a rear sway bar, front strut bar and an air intake. I have an exhaust system on the way, but I do believe I could return it if I wanted. I do realize that all the suspension stuff should fit on the 1.8T, so I was just wondering what would be the best thing to do.
Robert Lynn Smith
via the Internet

The 2.0L is a great engine and has plenty of potential, but as you say, the 1.8T responds very well to inexpensive modifications such as a chip, intake and exhaust. Your decision should be based upon what your ultimate goal is. If you're looking for big power numbers, then the 1.8T might be a better choice, since the Stage II kits from ATP (www.atpturbo.com) run about $3,000 and require a fair amount of labor to install. You can achieve 220-plus hp out of a 1.8T with the modifications mentioned above.


VW Golf 1.6: Stay or Go?
I own a 2000 Euro-spec Golf with a 1.6-liter engine in it. Can anything be done to this engine to increase the horsepower or am I better off replacing it with a 1.8T? I currently live in Germany and will be here for at least four more years before returning to the States, so of course converting the car to meet U.S. standards is also in mind. Can you give me any answers or at least point me in the right direction?
Cosby K Estell
via the Internet

While extremely economical, the 1.6-liter engine isn't going to be able to be modified to the point where it can compete power-wise with the 1.8T. If you want more power right now, you'll have to look into swapping in the 1.8T as you say, which may be a costly alternative. As for meeting U.S. standards upon your return, since your car is Euro-spec it will most likely be more cost effective to sell the car in Germany and buy a new one in the U.S. as you would have to change front and rear bumpers, lighting, etc. It's just not worth the cost. If it were me, I'd tough it out for four more years with the car you have, and then look into buying a used 1.8T GTI when you get back to the U.S.


MkII 16V
I have a MkII Golf and I want to get a 2.0-liter 16V engine. Is it possible to get 220-250 hp out of it?
Tobi Lubek
via the Internet

As they say, anything is possible, if you can afford it. The only way to get that level of power out of a 16V is to go forced induction. A good place to start is EIP Tuning and check out their complete 16V turbo kits. They are reasonably priced and have lots of options which should allow you to easily attain the figures you want. Log on at www.eiptuning.com/eip/16vturbosystem.html.


2.0-liter Tuning Tricks
I have a 2004 VW 2.0L and I'm wondering, is it possible to use the 20-valve head off the 1.8T in this engine for normally aspirated purposes?
Jess Ortiz
via the Internet

It is possible to use a 20V head on a 2.0-liter block, but there are several issues including coolant and oil passages not lining up. Also, the 20V head and cams you're likely to get are designed with forced induction in mind and might not yield the results you are looking for. You might be able to source some better N.A. cams from Europe as they had a normally aspirated 1.8-liter 20V engine. If you don't intend to turbocharge this engine, you might want to consider doing some head and cam work to your 8V.

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