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2001 Passat troubles

Hi
We have 2001 Passat with 2.4l turbo engine with 160000 miles on it. It is a great car.
The car has had regular maintenance and a rash of expensive repairs in the last year.
The current problem is a second blown heater core ( first was 3 years ago) and the shop is telling me that they suspect that the head gasket is the cause. The oil has no indication that it has been mixing with the antifreeze so I am confused by this diagnosis. The car did not overheat - it just spewed smoke through the vents in the passenger compartment until It was brought to rest on the side of the road very quickly.
Does anyone have any suggestions? The bill is going to be over $2000.00- Fix it or no? The car is in great shape otherwise because of all the money that has been spent on it.

Thank You

Is there any visual signs of wetting on the spark plugs? Any much cleaner than the others? This might also confirm a coolant leak to the inside of the cylinders.

Pressure from the cylinders can leak into the coolant system and not be seen in the oil. I would ask if you were loosing any coolant before this heater core leak? The radiator cap is supposed to vent the system at 15 or 18 lbs depending on the cap, maybe higher on newer cars but that much pressure should not be allowed in the system because other releases of pressure should have let it go first.

I would assess the radiator cap, bypass the heater core temporarily and see if the car looses any coolant. If it doesn’t, then just replace the heater core.

The only evidence that the shop noted was around the head gasket- I went to the shop and peeked into the engine area yesterday and I did not see anything. The cap is a interesting suggestion . I noticed that it was covered in an orangish paste a few weeks ago and I thought that was strange. I took the car in and a flush and fill was done but the cap was not replaced. Hmmm???
Any more thoughts?

Thank You

What engine does your car have : I never heard of a 2.4 Passat engine ?
Have you always used VW G12 coolant ? Have you mixed other coolant with the original ? If so you’ve caused a lot of problems .
The cap having orange goo is a sign of cooling system problems for certain .
The one thing in your favor is the basic VW engine rarely suffers head gasket problems .
You might start by finding a more competent mechanic .

For more information try the VW web site Club B5 .

http://www.passatworld.com/forums/42-volkswagen-passat-b5-discussion/

We have never mixed the coolant but the coolant that was put into the engine recently is recommended for VW, BMW and Audi not the VW brand. So I was told by the shop. Have I been duped? I am pretty sure the engine is a 1.8l turbocharged so I am incorrect.

Thanks