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Rebuild engine or junk?

I?m the original owner of an ?84 gas Jetta with 270K miles on it. The car is in pretty good shape, but when the fuel distributor went out recently (and was replaced), the shop guys also found compression problems in one of the cylinders.

The upshot is I need to rebuild the engine or send the car to the junkyard. I had hoped to keep it running indefinitely since it has worked well as reliable, economical transportation with a little bit of class. It still averages 30 mpg in mixed driving. In your opinion, would the $4500 it costs to rebuild the engine be money well spent?

Where else can you find a car that you know the history of, that you know is in good shape, that has a brand new (rebuilt) engine, that you like, for $4500?

If a similar engine was used very long after 1984, you might be able to find a salvaged engine that has relatively low mileage. It is a long shot, but give it a try.

I would have a hard time spending 4500 bucks on an '84 Jetta with mileage that high.
You would have a 4500 dollar engine with high miles everything else attached to it; all of which is subject to failing at any time.

(And especially considering this car should be a CIS injected version. Great cars but the CIS is a pretty dicy system.)

Just some food for thought. Did the shop tell you the reason behind the low compression on the one cylinder?
If the problem is related to the cylinder head (valve burnt, etc.) and the car burns no oil then why not fix the cylinder head only?

The valve lash is adjusted with shims and this procedure should be done every 15k miles or so. If a valve tightens up due to the lash closing too much compression will be lowered. However, if this is the case adjusting the lash at this point won’t cure anything. The valve and valve seat are likely burnt.

No matter how much you love the car, it’s time to say goobye. If you bought a new VW low end model you would be pleased to note how many improvements have been made. My neighbor had a 1984 Rabbit diesel which woke up the whole neighborhood every morning (he left early for work). They were no doubt sturdy little cars, but it’s time to move on.

Next year you will be able to buy a new Mazda 2, the younger brother to the 3. It will have lots of ZOOM-ZOOM, like other Mazdas, and will run circles around your Jetta, even with a new motor.

This is just my humble opinion, but I’d have to be ten levels into multiple bottles of liquor to consider dropping $4500 on a 25 year old car.

Since I’d be dead if I actually did that, I don’t think I would do this. Time to move on.

Personally I would junk it unless it was the 84 Jetta GLI version(GTI with a trunk).

I think the OP should get another opinion because low compression in one cylinder does not automatically mean a new engine is needed.

Valve lash adjustment at best or valve job/cylinder head replacement at worst and since cylinder heads can usually be gotten at a reasonable price (50 used/few hundred on a reman around here) I think it may be feasible to keep the thing going a while longer.

Couple of hundred on a head, couple of hundred labor, couple of hundred on incidentals (fluids, timing belt, etc.) and the OP should be able to get out the door for under a grand.

270K miles?? Drive it into the ground and move on…

If you are really devoted to the car, find another engine, rebuild that engine, and swap yours out. Yours is just plain worn out in every way. Why not start with one that has less miles on it? How much could a recycler charge for a Jetta engine from that era?

Or, do the reasonable thing and get a 3 or 4 year old car that just came in from a lease, and keep it another 20 years.

My old Sable had well over 400k miles on it and was still running/driving well when I sold it.
Two seventy ain’t that bad.

Besides, it hasn’t been clarified this car even needs valve work. It’s a very simple procedure to pop the valve cover and check the valve lash along with replacing a shim if there is a tight valve problem on that cylinder.

Thanks for your response. Sounds like good advice. The diagnosis that led to replacing the fuel distributor hadn?t included checking out the cylinder?-my (shortsighted) object at the time was just to get the car running again. I?ll get the cylinder problem nailed down and then proceed from there.

Thanks for your response. Reportedly there isn’t a good 1.7L to be found. A rebuilt 1.8 with a 3-year/50K warranty is priced at $2100.

Thanks for your response. Sounds like good advice. The diagnosis that led to replacing the fuel distributor hadn?t included checking out the cylinder?-my (shortsighted) object at the time was just to get the car running again. I?ll get the cylinder problem nailed down and then proceed from there.