97 TDI Passat (119,000 miles)



Hi- please help!

Here are the main problems:

1. Coolant leak-

*no coolant pooling under the car

*no change in the color or smell of exhaust

*mechanic says may be the head gasket

2. won’t start 10% of the time

*turns over but won’t ignite

*w/in the last year replaced both started and ignition switch

*have not replaced the timing belt yet

3. mechanic says its not worth fixing, but he would be happy to give us $250 to take the car off our hands- but this make and model retails for $4,000 and trades for $2000- is he trying to take our car?

Please offer advice!

thank you!


TDI VW’s are in high demand due to rarity and biodiesel fans.
I would get a 2nd opinion. You likely can get more money for it as-is but you have the hassle factor to deal with.


I guess I should clarify- we don’t want to sell if it would be cost effective to fix. Any insight into why we may be having these problems, costs to fix, and feedback as to is it better to sell or fix. Still runs fine, just have to keep an eye on the coolant level.


I would say you need a new mechanic. As noted TDIs are in demand because of changes in fuel and pollution requirements no diesel 2007 VW were imported. There will be 2008 models however.

I sugest that you may want to stop by http://www.tdiclub.com/ and you may be able to find a good local mechanic and you will find a lot TDI people who can offer on-line help.


These guys are right. Your “mechanic” is trying to get your car. Fix it.


Find another mechanic. I bet he would like to take it off your hands for 250 bucks.

He’s the mechanic and he says that you “may” have a head gasket problem?
Why is there any “may” about it. It’s verifiable by any decent tech.

The no-start is a bit more difficult, but since it’s on an erratic basis I might be leaning toward a faulty glow plug fuse, glow plug relay (burnt points), or possible corroded wire connector on that circuit.

For what it’s worth, I knew a guy some years ago who bought a very, very clean VW diesel with the understanding that it needed engine work; or so the VW owner had been told. Expensive to say the least but the car was only a 150 bucks.
He got to looking it over after buying it and the problem was… a bad glow plug fuse. A dollar, less than 5 minutes, and the car was running like a top.