Passing smog test on VW golf diesel engine

I have a 2000 TDI Golf . Turbo went about 5 yrs ago,rather than replace the turbo at a cost of $3,000. I let a mechanic remove it. No problems, drove cross country from RI to CA 3 yrs ago.
Current problems: no power on the long steep hills of San Diego and my car won’t pass the newly required regulation for Diesel smog tests. My check engine light has been on for way more than 5 yrs. A mechanic once told me that there wasn’t a problem, it was that he tinkered /w the computerized control board. ??
Question: will the fact that the Turbo has been removed prevent me from passing a smog test?
and is it worthwhile to replace it with a used Turbo.?..which are hard to find . I live on a very limited income and buying another car isn’t an option even if I could sell this one which isn’t possible now in CA

Obviously when you remove the turbo you’re going to take big hit in power, especially on a diesel. Your ECU is probably still calibrated for the turbo, meaning that it’s probably running pig rich which will cause excessive emissions and poor fuel economy.

Unfortunately you have neglected this car, and getting it running properly again will not be cheap.

In California a vehicle will not pass with the Check Engine Light ‘ON’. That is an automatic disqualification.

If the smog check technician is doing his/her job, there will be an emissions equipment check list to be completed. Their certification is on the line if they pass a vehicle that is missing any of the required equipment. I am sure that the turbocharger would be on that list. Also if the tinkering with the Engine Control Module involved software modifications, the ECM would have to be returned to Original Equipment Manufacturer specifications.

You might be able to get this TDI passed for this year’s registration by going to a smog referee station of the California BAR. But you would still have to return the engine to original and incur additional expenses up to the limit before it could be exempted for this year.

Good luck on this.

You can buy a turbocharger for a 99-03 TDI for $995.95 from, sold on an exchange basis. A mechanic would need a few hours to install it for a total of much less than $3000.

I am a little surprised that your comments regarding the loss of power w/o turbo assist are not more profound. A VW diesel w/o a turbo is a very slow car; barely able to keep up with modern traffic.

A good source of TDI knowledge is