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Old 10-05-2006, 01:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: CA... No. of S.F.
Posts: 890
Looking to purchase a VW TDI for commuting...

for my Son. It will need to be an automatic and I'm thinking that up to ~$10 to $12K is our price limit.

Do any of your DieselHounds have any advice as to what year and/or models would be best to concentrate on while we shop?

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Old 10-05-2006, 07:26 AM
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Location: Richmond, Tx
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i cant back it up with a source right now, but i have heard that the 03 jetta engine was supposed to be the best engine, using the best injection system. i heard that they made many small changes to injectors and other components, but that the 03 is the best to look for. the 05's and below still need the timing belts replaced at 60k miles, and only the newest jetta (redesinged one) has a 100k belt cycle.

my best friend in college bought himself a jetta after he saw the diesel truth. he sold it 5 days ago to his brother and he rolled it yesterday trying to avoid a deer. so now that car is totaled but the engine works great still. i keep telling him to keep the engine so i can build a generator out of it.

Grey '91 350SDL 214k
Beige '81 240D 4 Speed 254k
Blue '82 300D 225k
White '95 E300D 46k SOLD
Blue '87 190D 2.5 Turbo 315k SOLD
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Beige '80 300D N/A 119k SOLD
Blue '85 300D Model 186k T-Boned
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Old 10-05-2006, 07:36 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Niagara
Posts: 54
Check out Belts have longer lives now with upgraded rollers, the VW's are great, I have 2 diesels from them. 03 engine is same as 2000 and all in between, just the roller is larger beginning in 2003 and you can get the larger roller put into a 2000 or whatever so that the belts last longer. Good Luck
1987 300 DT
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Old 10-05-2006, 09:24 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Aiken, SC
Posts: 204
I have an 01 beetle, 5 speed, bought it new to replace a 99 beetle gas 5 speed. The diesel is quieter on the highway, doesn't have the power or the gas car, but does great. I get about 46 in mixed driving, and have gotten as high as 54mpg on highway. I drive from Augusta GA, to West Memphis AR and stop for fuel. I watch, change my own oil every 5k with rotella-t synth and use an oem oil filter i buy in bulk on eBay. Read the threads about troubleshooting glow plugs, OBD2 VW's have glow plug issues, either plugs go bad, or the glow plug harness goes bad. I buy champion plugs at NAPA and replace all 4 when one goes, the harness is $35 to buy DIY, but over $100 to let the dealer do it. I'd buy a cable and use ross-tech's vag-comm it will save you many, many dollars in being able to look at vw fault codes, fix them, and clear the codes. Any of the 2000 up ALH code tdi's is the same, an auto ALH that doesn't have the updated timing belt has a belt change requirement of every 40k miles. With the new belt/roller it goes to 100k. Good Luck, Chuck
2000 C230 Kompressor "Frosty"

2007 PT Cruiser
2001 VW TDI Beetle
1999 Landrover Discovery II
1971 Corvette

Gone: 97 Cabrio, 83 240D, 93 VW Eurovan, 95 Volvo 850, 93 Chevy Astro Van, 77 VW Bus, 99 VW Jetta, 74 VW Bus
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:59 AM
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Location: New England
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Look for Steve Ahl in Ukiah or Wild Rose Motors in OC.

You're going to be paying super-premium dollars right now for a TDi, not to mention the fact you are in a CARB state.

The automatic cars seem to experience transmission failure right around 90 -125k mark...please make yourself aware of this. The auto trans can eat into your percieved fuel economy savings in a big way.

A 2003 car, in your price range, is going to have a lot of miles on it. Most of these cars are trading in hi to mid teens with reasonable miles.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:09 AM
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I have owned a 2000 model Jetta TDI and more recently a 2005 model Passat TDI. You will get far greater fuel economy in the pre-PD engine models, 2003 and before I think. My Jetta got 46 mpg average and that was upsolute chipped and driven like a banshee. On the highway doing 75 mph, I would get 55 mpg. The PD engine versions drop to an average of low 40's average mpg with similar mixed driving, and probably high 40's highway. My PD engine Passat got 33 mpg in mixed driving, which would have been more like 40 mpg before the PD engine. The newer engine does have the benefit to more easily "chip" to add a little more off the line punch and reduce the EGR duty cycle.

The vag-com is useful, indespensible I'd say. You may have problems in the 2000-2003 models with the MAF sensors repeatedly going bad prematurely, I did. Also consider some type of workaround on the EGR or be prepared to clean out the intake every 30k miles. I'd buy my daughter or son a TDI jetta in a heartbeat, but for the same money, I'd probably opt for a 96-97 E300 diesel. A little sacrifice in fuel economy, but much heavier, safer car, with more back-end resale value, though more expensive to maintain. I sold the Passat for original list price after one year and replaced it with a 1996 E300D with 136k miles as my daily driver.

Since you are wanting an automatic, consider the fuel mileage to be lower than mine was by about 2 mpg, and consider the tranny replacement cost, too. A jetta like you are seeking could likely need replacement in the near future years unless it has really low miles. An E300D like mine has an awesome transmission that lasts much longer.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:39 AM
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For the best in MPG go for 03-below pre-PD TDI's. They were the best in MPG, the 04-present are the new PD "pumpe duse" injection system like the passat TDI we have and dont get as good of fuel mileage without working for it.

The pre-PD TDI's can get 45mpg even if you drive them fast on the freeway.
05 E320 CDI
07 GL320 CDI
08 Sprinter
05 Dodge Cummins
01 Dodge Cummins

2004 E55 AMG
2002 C32 AMG (#2)
1995 E300
1978 300D
1987 300D
2002 C32 AMG(blown motor :[
1981 300SD
1983 300SD
1987 300SDL
2002 Jetta TDI
1996 S420
1995 S500
1993 190E 2.6
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:44 AM
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Location: minnesota,hey.
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you could try TDI club .com? they have a forum, too. with no 07's coming out , i imagine that they will be fetching a premium...
1984 123.193 372,xxx miles, room for Seven.

1999 Dodge Durango Cummins 4BTAA 47RE 5k lb 4x4 getting 25+mpgs, room for Seven.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:51 AM
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Location: Houston, TX
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I have a 2000 Golf with the automatic and have only had one problem with the transmission, and the dealer fixed it for free. My car now has over 140K miles on it. The problem with the tranny was a software problem and it only took about 5 minutes to fix. I get between 38 and 44 mpg, a little less running B99.

Former owner of a few diesel MB cars
1998 Lexus ES 300 In Chicago We Trust
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Old 10-05-2006, 03:07 PM
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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
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I have driven both standard and automatic jetta tdi's over long distances. I like the ideal of changing things out to get less frequent belt changes that was mentioned. Fairly expensive by the way to do properly normally. One reason the automatic gives poorer milage is not really slipage but primarily the final gear ratio. At least on the highway the revs are higher than the standard. Before commiting on one get a price somewhere on a replacement automatic. In canada it is a pretty high price. Perhaps cheaper in the states. Maybe a scarce item used as well except at a premium price. But overall a good choice for your son and the bodies are structially tough as well as having the best warranty and rust protection of any car made I believe by far.
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:08 PM
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Location: Wakefield, RI
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The owners manual in my '03 Jetta TDI indicates CHECK timing belt every 20K and CHANGE it at 100K. Its a manual. The '03 is the last of the ALH engine, supposed to be the best. I have a friend with an '05 Jetta TDI wagon, manual shift. Its a PD engine and averages 47.8mpg. The Passat with the PD engine gets less mpg's that earlier ALH engines simply because its bigger, heavier and automatic.

Check out for the complete scoop. Excellent forums.

When all else fails, vote from the rooftops!
84' Mercedes Benz 300D Anthracite/black, 171K
03' Volkswagen Jetta TDI blue/black, 93K
93' Chevrolet C2500HD ExCab 6.5TD, Two-tone blue, 252K
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:42 PM
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Location: Aiken, SC
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I forgot the auto trans thing. VW claims to have lifetime fluid, no maintenance required. Yeah Right. Uses a mineral based fluid, gota get it from the dealer for $15 a quart, and I used a Fram filter kit $20. You need to service the tranny every 50-60k miles, and it's easist if you have a vag-comm to measure tranny temp as you adjust fluid level (I couldn't make that up!)
2000 C230 Kompressor "Frosty"

2007 PT Cruiser
2001 VW TDI Beetle
1999 Landrover Discovery II
1971 Corvette

Gone: 97 Cabrio, 83 240D, 93 VW Eurovan, 95 Volvo 850, 93 Chevy Astro Van, 77 VW Bus, 99 VW Jetta, 74 VW Bus
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:31 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 472
they also had a recall on the brake light switch.if you get the glow plug light flashing thats your problem.and about 2 months ago i got a recall on my hazard switch,seems when they go out they take the brake lights also.they also like to eat rear brakes.and there is a snowscreen in the intake pipe right next to the battery,it's not bad to get too but needs cleaning quite often.
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