2001 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T running rough, no power

I’m considering a 2001 VW Jetta 1.8T with 135,000 miles that the owner is selling for $1,000.00 because it is "starts and runs but it’s difficult get it accelerated and it’s just running rough ". I haven’t yet looked at the car or pulled the codes, but before I do, is there a common point of failure on these cars that leads to the symptoms described?

If it is something such as a crankshaft position sensor, then I could potentially have a good car for a lot less than the book value. If it’s something such as the timing having jumped a tooth, then that’s probably not something that I want to mess with.

Those Jettas had bad coil packs that would cause the engine to stumble, or run rough. VW had a major recall campaign to replace them. Possibly this one has a bad coil pack that wasn’t replaced.

There are plenty of other possible causes, but the faulty coil pack issue comes to mind first.

I just Googled the coil pack issue and yes, that certainly does appear to be common.

I suppose any “misfire” codes would point to the coil packs?

I could potentially get new coil-on-plugs (or updated used versions from the junkyard) and fix it right there, but I guess I would need to wait until I paid for it so the price wouldn’t go up. :slight_smile:

This is a 13 year old turbocharged engine in a vehicle that isn’t known for being driven to church by little old ladies. Based on the symptoms, the first thing I’d look at is the turbo. I’d go over everything else "compression, signs of fluid mixing, etc.) too, but definitely the turbo.

Having said that, for $1,000 with a running engine it’s a fair risk IMHO as long as the rest of the vehicle looks to be in decent shape, assuming you’re willing to take the chance and accept the results if serious damage is found. I’d offer $500 and see if you can settle on $750. But if $1K is the bottom line and the unibody seems in good shape I might take the gamble.

Thank you for the information. How do I check the turbo (i.e., a “parking lot test”)?

Also, I forgot to add that they said that it “needs exhaust work”. I haven’t yet asked them what they mean by that, but I thought that might be a clue.

It might be. If the exhaust has a rot hole upstream from the upstream oxygen sensor, that can cause bad O2 sensor signals and bad engine operation. A cat converter with a broken ceramic honeycomb or a baffle or muffler with an internal part broken free from rust can also sometimes create an exhaust restriction and cause operating problems.

Here’s a link to videos on testing a turbocharger.

With a 13 year old turbo, I’d also be worried about the internal seals. If you can remove the intake pipe from the intercooler and look for traces of motor oil. Oil here usually means bad turbo seals and the turbo needs to be rebuilt.

Here’s what I found out when I looked at the car today.

First of all, there were two codes; one was “P0118 - Engine Coolant Temperature Circuit High Input”, and the other was “P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)”.

At least one of these codes may be explained by the first photo of the exhaust problem.

When I looked under the car toward the front, I saw something hanging down (second photo), but I don’t know what it was. The driver’s side front wheel is in the background.

Assuming the photos are displaying in the order that I uploaded them, the last photo is of the engine bay. If not, I’m sure everyone will be able to tell which is which anyway.

The coolant was not mixed with oil, and a sticker on the engine said that the timing belt was changed at about 96,000 miles. When the car idled, it was noisy due to the exhaust problem, but the RPMs were seemingly steady. The tires had at least 75% tread left.

What is probably very bad news is that when I wiped off the dipstick and checked the oil (engine cold), there was nothing on the stick. I didn’t add oil to see how much it would take, though. Some yellow plastic part near the dipstick handle was broken, so I don’t know if perhaps I wasn’t able to insert it fully or not.

I’m sure I could get the seller down to $750.00; what do you guys think I might be facing repair wise? The cost of 1.8T engines with the same mileage in junkyards around me starts at about $1500.00 for the engine alone.

There is no such thing as a good car for $1000 What it is a vehicle with the potential of $3000 worth of repair bills.

Specifics would be more helpful, since I would be doing the work myself. My current car could easily have $6K or more of repair bills if I used OEM parts and had the labor done by a dealer.

The car would be a “good car” for my purposes if I will be able to get it back in shape without having to do something like replacing the engine.

I have to say it: The LAST thing you need is an old turbocharged car.

Re: the hanging chad, see the link below and tell me if it looks familiar.

I think this is a really reasonable risk. There’s no question that it’s a gamble, and the low oil leaves me wondering, but there’s a good chance you could have a decent car for a very reasonable investment. If it didn’t start and run I’d be saying the exact opposite… but it does!

I say “go for it”. Then check it out thoroughly and make a list with a cost estimate. Only then will you really know. I can tell you that there are a lot of people out there trying to pass off seriously damaged non-running vehicles for a lot more money than this guy’s asking.

@the same mountainbike

It looks like the hanging piece might be #23 on the diagram, but I’m not sure.

There are other diagrams in the series too.
But part of my real goal was to provide a realization that these things aren’t rocket science and are repairable. Do the drawings help?

Again, it’s a gamble, but I think it’s a reasonable one. Of course, it’s not my money at risk… {:slight_smile:

Yes, the drawings are helpful, thank you.

At the junkyard, I found plenty of 1999-2004 Jettas with the 2.0 engine, but none with the 1.8T. Are many of the non-engine parts interchangeable, and what is the year range?

Interesting question. Based on the photos in the link I provided, they look like totally different engines. I wouldn’t assume there are any interchangeable parts. Generally with a different powertrain there are also chassis differences too.


I agree, The LAST thing you need is an old turbocharged car

I had no idea VW put a 5-valve head into a Jetta.