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ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/19/18 9:48 p.m.

I must admit I’m ALL OVER THE PLACE with car questions, it’s an illness, OK?

2004-ish

Whats the upkeep and reliability for these Diesel Beetles? Should I forget about them as a reliable (won’t leave me stranded) daily driver? Not all that concerned with interior quality and such. More interested in powertrain longevity etc.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
10/19/18 9:56 p.m.

The standard service position for the new beetles is worse then most Audi's. I am not kidding i see remove entire front of the car on some of the services that people do. A golf would be a better pick and be more usable daily.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 12:52 a.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe :

Reliable? Again, powertrain-wise as window regulators etc. and interior fitment are a distant 2nd

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/20/18 4:46 a.m.
wearymicrobe said:

The standard service position for the new beetles is worse then most Audi's. I am not kidding i see remove entire front of the car on some of the services that people do. A golf would be a better pick and be more usable daily.

But you need to do this exactly never,

 

The only problems I have really ever seen with these cars are intake manifolds plugging solid with soot and other carbon,, and the occasional lift pump.  The VNT turbo fails with regularity in the binds-up mode, which is a unified failure module (no matter what fails, you replace the assembly), but this is a repair done from underneath.

 

The biggest issue with TDI Beetles is that it pegs you as a green hippie who was sold a bill of lies that Diesels are green, and/or that VW is green.  whynoltboth.jpg

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/20/18 5:31 a.m.

Diesel or not, 2004 was right at the peak of MkIV chassis E36 M3tyness. Even if you can tolerate the crayon smell from the interior and crumbling plastics, the electronics have a mind of their own. 

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
10/20/18 7:08 a.m.

*sigh*  Its not like it is a VW Phaeton or something.   Wait, that isn't a good example, is it.

It's hard for a VW fan to be a VW fan.  

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
10/20/18 7:23 a.m.

Seems like a lot of politically-motivated VW hate resides here.  OP:  Sorry you can't get a straight answer.  I find the cars intriguing, but have no specific knowledge about them. 

The magazine did do a project Beetle TDI, but it was a 2013.

Read about it here:  https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/2013-vw-beetle-tdi/

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 7:28 a.m.

I honestly couldn’t care any less about being “pegged” as anything. I’m 100% positive that if they actually saw me get out of the Beetle any thoughts of me being a hippie would disappear but like I said, I wouldn’t care anyway.

 

 I honestly don’t think ANY of my favorite vehicles are considered in any way known for reliability or at the very least being low maintenance.

LR Discovery, MK 4 VW’s And Audi’s, I’m kinda stuck here which is exactly the same place I’ve been for decades now.angry

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 7:34 a.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

Thank you for your thoughts! And thank you for the link as well!

This place and these guys have been infinitely helpful and I get NO attitude at all despite repeatedly asking about every vehicle I’ve never owned.

In a perfect world it would be great to have a hundred people who have (in this case) owned exactly the car I’m referring to reply with long-term ownership reports but it’s not a perfect world so I’ll take the second-hand anecdotal stories too.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/20/18 7:39 a.m.

A 2004 would have a 1.9L PD engine.  It is generally considered in TDi circles the 2003 and older ALH engine is the most reliable as it is a more "basic" engine.  It is the most efficient, least "green" (minimal emissions controls) and generally easier to modify for more power if that is a desire.  The ALH isn't quite the 12V Cummins of VAG diesels, but it's close.

Chassis-wise, any VAG product from that era is a crap-shoot.  Some are pretty good. Some aren't.  Probably the holy grail of VW reliability was the early (01 to 03) base model Golf with the ALH engine and pretty much zero options - even manual windows. I'm still annoyed with myself that I couldn't buy the one Dr Boost was selling a few years ago.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 7:43 a.m.

In reply to Ian F :

 

 

 

Thanks for the input!

And I must repeat (from my many other threads) that I’m used to gutted XJ Cherokees, gutted Samurais and pickups with 40” Super Swampers so I’m not exactly a discerning type when it comes to chassis dynamics.

7rx
7rx New Reader
10/20/18 7:48 a.m.

I have a 2001 Jetta TDI with the ALH engine. I think they used the ALH until 03 and then switched to the BRW. I have no experience with the newer engine. I currently have 445k on it. I purchsed it with right at 100k on the clock. Other than timing belt changes every 100k it has only required regular maintenance items.

I have done all of the timing belt changes and maintenance myself. (Only in the shop when I smacked a deer with it 5 years ago.)

Changed a setting in the computer to change the EGR activation point to prevent the intake from clogging up as knurled mentioned.

I'm still on my original turbo. Although mine will stick from time to time (Goes into limp mode and has no power. Key cycle brings it right back to normal. I would change it but with this many miles on it I'm just trying to get to 500k and then get something a little newer)

On its second clutch. Fly wheel replaced with a single mass flywheel as the DMF sometimes goes bad on these. Hard to believe clutch lasts this long. Probably because they only have 95 HP.

Last year I put new nozzles in because I was getting smoke on start up. Really helped the power output and made it much more fun to drive! I think I went one size up from stock and would highly recommend if you end up with a TDI. I still regularly get 47 MPG average. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/20/18 7:49 a.m.

Any of them from 99.5 to 04 will be a Mk IV. The 04 just had a different engine. Chassis dynamics are "ok".  Arguably better than other compact cars of the era, but they aren't sports sedans. 

If there is one concern about the Mk IV it is low ground clearance. A metal skid plate is a must if driving on rough roads could be in the future. The aluminum oil pan hangs rather low.  I have an aluminum skid plate on my car and it's saved my ass at least twice - one time sacrificing itself when I hit a construction ditch at speed.  Does make oil changes a bit of a PITA, but worth it.

High torque and kinda small clutches means they can wear fast, but it seems to depend on how you drive.  My '03 has 329K miles on the original clutch.

7rx
7rx New Reader
10/20/18 7:50 a.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Yeah PD not sure where I got BRW.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 8:02 a.m.

So for a low-budget type such as myself would a 2003 Mk IV Golf or Jetta (or even Beetle) TDI be the one to look for?

1SlowVW
1SlowVW New Reader
10/20/18 10:11 a.m.
7rx said:

In reply to Ian F :

Yeah PD not sure where I got BRW.

You’re thinking bew which is the 04-06 engine code. PD refers to the injection style.

 

Having owned and worked on both I would go alh(99-04) over bew if I had the choice.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
10/20/18 10:59 a.m.
Knurled. said:
wearymicrobe said:

The standard service position for the new beetles is worse then most Audi's. I am not kidding i see remove entire front of the car on some of the services that people do. A golf would be a better pick and be more usable daily.

But you need to do this exactly never,

Seeing as my wife’s is in that exact configuration so they could replace a50$ AC compressor valve right now at the dealership I can pretty much say that. 

Tk8398
Tk8398 Reader
10/20/18 11:01 a.m.

I know someone who has a 98 beetle with like 400k on it that they drove to the Arctic ocean and back.  I don't think they are much worse to work on that any of the others, the cowl under the windshield comes out without too much trouble and leaves a lot of space to reach the back of the engine, and occasionally you will have to take the front bumper off but that's about it.  All the struts, suspension bushings, ball joints, etc will need replacing by now, and the PD engines go through cams pretty fast, and you have to use expensive oil from the dealer and change it often.  Pretty much all parts have to be from the dealer, because 99% of VW aftermarket replacement parts are horrible.

JtspellS
JtspellS SuperDork
10/20/18 11:28 a.m.

For the chassis a MKIV is really just plain bad IMHO but the beetle has so many nitpicks on top of a MKIV that I would not do it unless you were able to get a smoking deal or are actually enjoy the chassis.

 

As far as the engine we do testing with the 1.9's at work and I can tell you they can take quite a beating and keep rolling, and as others have said LOW power but they never quit, though I perfer the dirty 2.0 TDi's the 1.9 is like the 7.3 powerstroke lol.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/20/18 12:02 p.m.
ebonyandivory said:

So for a low-budget type such as myself would a 2003 Mk IV Golf or Jetta (or even Beetle) TDI be the one to look for?

In my opinion yes. My 2003 wagon was fairly reliable until I let it sit for 5+ years (not the car's fault - just my lack of motivation).  Not sure now... but eventually I'll probably dump more than it's worth into getting it functional again.  As mentioned, 2003 was the last year for the ALH engine and by that point in the Mk IV run, VW had at least some of the bugs worked out so they were a little more reliable. As modern cars go, they aren't that bad to work on and there is a ton of online support via TDiClub.com. When I bought my car, I pretty much assumed it had no warranty since I blew past 50K miles in less than two years. As such, it has never been to a dealer for service and the only person to ever turn a wrench on it has been me. I even did most of the recall work myself, since the only cost was a brake switch and paying $5 for the updated switch was less of a hassle than having a dealer do it.

Odometer miles on these is less important than service history. Most people bought these because they drive a lot - between 5/03 and 11/13, I put 329K miles on mine (bought new). I also serviced it per the letter and when something broke I fixed it. TBH, I'd be leery of a car with under 200K at this point in its life - why does it have so few miles? 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/20/18 12:54 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Great input!

The manual is a good one? You think a well-maintained example with 200,000 +/- could make a reliable daily? 

I have no rational reason for wanting to have a Diesel (obviously other than gas mileage and longevity) but I’ve been wanting a Diesel in my life

1SlowVW
1SlowVW New Reader
10/20/18 1:08 p.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

Manual is best, clutches usually go in the 150k range and it’s preferable that it be replaced by a single mass set up as the dual mass flywheels are less than awesome.

Wally
Wally MegaDork
10/21/18 6:45 a.m.

I’m not a fan of VWs but I have thought about looking for a cheap one so I could finally have a diesel pickup.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/21/18 7:16 a.m.

In reply to Wally :

Where do you run the obligatory 6” chrome stacks?

Curtis
Curtis UltimaDork
10/21/18 9:04 a.m.

At our shop we used to say, "if it weren't for 99-05 VWs, we'd be out of business."  That's an exaggeration, but not too far off.  We saw them a lot.  Our invoice software was really intuitive and let you search your profits by make.  VW always topped our list.  Since we were also a transmission shop, Dodge came in second.

Unless VW has finally released parts to the aftermarket, you'll find that they are frustrating.  VW made some really E36 M3ty choices with parts.  The vent hose from the oil canister was made from flex loom that wasn't split.  Seriously.  It was super flimsy plastic corrugated tubing that disintegrated at the thought of hydrocarbons.  To add insult to stupidity, they made a very proprietary shrouded o-ring connector on each end that meant you couldn't just replace it with proper $3/ft hose, you had to buy the actual part, it was ONLY available from VW, they never kept them in stock, and they cost $181 wholesale.

For 12 cents worth of plastic.

VAG years also did some funky things with OBD.  If you put in an aftermarket stereo and didn't use the right kit, it set a CEL.  Then, unwitting techs plug in their code reader and discover that it is fried because the stereo installation now sends 12v to a pin in the ALDL that is only supposed to have 1.5v.

And don't get me started on things like timing belts.  In a beetle, you have to remove a motor mount right in the middle.  It is about 4" long and 3" wide and it has to fit between the engine and the strut tower which has about 7/8" clearance.  Or, how about alternators and AC compressors where the shop manual says you have to remove the whole front fenders/bumper assembly.

AND WHAT THE berkeley IS THAT SMELL?  We used to call them crayons.  A tech would come in for his next job and I'd say "go do the timing belt on the yellow crayon."

Having said that, they were fun to drive.  Ergonomics and space were pretty good, and I love the ALH TDI.  Not too tough to modify.  Stout rotating assemblies are good to about 300 lb-ft before they start bending connecting rods.

A lady I'm seeing has a '16 bettle.  Light years ahead in the interior quality department.  Time will tell if it's a good one.  I will say that it has 23k on it and already had two recalls.

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