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Old April 4th, 2016, 18:30   #1
Humpty
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Default Is the bew a good engine?

hey guys im wondering how the bew is compared to the alh. I've heard about the bew having cam problems is this true? And how common is it? In my search of a tdi I've learned that finding a clean alh 5mt takes a lot of patience. I've started looking into the bew and I'm wondering how reliable it is past basic maintenance. I've heard it gets slightly less mpg but also has a little more " spirit" if you know what I mean, lol. Also, how is the bew compared to te alh in terms of mods? Thank you
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Old April 4th, 2016, 21:17   #2
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The BEW is an alright engine, the first of the PD engine type(higher injection pressures with more precise timing allowing for better power and lower emissions compared to the ALH). It had cam issues, as does the BRM(found in the 2005.5-2007 Jetta TDI). It's not a "common" problem, it's an inevitable problem. The BRM certainly had it worse off for cam issues than the BEW. So you will run into cam issues with either engine, but if the car had correct oil it's whole life, it will take hundreds of thousands of miles to wear out, but most don't use VW spec oil, so it accelerates wear.

ALH is a clear winner in terms of fuel economy, mod-ability, reliability, and longevity. For power, the ALH was rated for 90hp/155 ft/lbs of torque. BEW at 100hp/177ft/lbs of torque. It's not a huge difference, albeit, slightly noticeable. Another thing to consider, is that the BEW can have injector problems. VW quoted my neighbour $1,000 CAD per injector for his BEW! He found a junker TDI and replaced all 4 for $200. They only had 80k miles on them and 30k down the road with these "new" injectors, they've gone bad again. I've heard similar stories.

To say the ALH is bulletproof, is an understatement. If you know diesel trucks, it's like the 7.3 of powerstrokes. Undoubtedly the most popular and the best diesel put into their cars. The ones that followed certainly declined in reliability and economy.

I'd say, find an ALH and mod it. They are an amazing engine, and they are generally known as the diesel engine that made diesels attractive again in passenger cars.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 01:05   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Humpty View Post
In my search of a tdi I've learned that finding a clean alh 5mt takes a lot of patience.
Finding a clean one in the rust belt is very difficult now.
Try finding a clean ALH 5spd without a sunroof and it takes even more patience.

Are you using that TDI for sale search engine?...Didn't somebody on here create that? I can't find it now...
Maybe somebody else can chime in here.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 03:26   #4
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Just my opinion,
Coming up on 9 yrs of ownership of a bew. Not one minute downtime in 200,000
miles. Beetle has been used hard. Find one that has had proper maintenance, and take a shot.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 03:52   #5
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my personal golf has over 370k miles on the stock cam.... it smokes a little on cold startup because of worn guides and seals but runs great with a 1749vb and tune to match ...
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Old April 5th, 2016, 03:57   #6
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I think the BEW is as good an engine as the ALH, and I say this having driven at least 100,000 in each one, if not more. Yes, they have cam issues, but none of the ones I've seen or wrenched on have shown any cam wear (as opposed to the BRMs)

I think there is a love for the ALH as being the best of the best - it's a great engine, but I think the BEW loses a few people because it's a bit different.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 10:14   #7
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I like my BEW just fine. I have had some hiccups with it but what car doesn't. As far as PD engines go, from what I understand the BEW and the Passat equivalent (brm? dunno) are the most reliable of these engines.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 11:04   #8
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If your getting second hand (and what ALH, BEW or BRM isn't second hand at this point?) its all about the maintenance. I haven't had a single problem with the engine. Other than wear parts and a few predicted failures (trans solenoids, in-tank fuel pump) I have had no problems. The cam problem was over-hyped and seemed to relate more to the thinner profile of the BRM cam lobes and incorrect oil than to a overall design flaw or material failure.

BEW has a simpler protocol for T-belt change and a little more horsepower but it doesn't lend itself to modification like the ALH does. Changing the injectors in the BEW would be a huge PIA compared to the ALH. Knock on wood I have had no evidence of injector failure and haven't seen any threads on that issue that would cause alarm. I would say the BEW is a reliable workhorse and the ALH a fun engine to play around with so you have a choice.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 11:13   #9
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BEW is a fine engine. From reading here over the years, they seem to be a miss-understood, harder for some to diagnose.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 12:22   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RT1 View Post
BEW has a simpler protocol for T-belt change and a little more horsepower but it doesn't lend itself to modification like the ALH does. Changing the injectors in the BEW would be a huge PIA compared to the ALH. Knock on wood I have had no evidence of injector failure and haven't seen any threads on that issue that would cause alarm. I would say the BEW is a reliable workhorse and the ALH a fun engine to play around with so you have a choice.
It should be noted that as far as injector changes go, the BEW is a lot more complicated however the stockers will get you to 160hp where the alh although easier to change will have to be changed to achieve this. To get to this power range is easier on a BEW. Less playing around for sure. Bolt on turbo, tune, go fast. Much more power than that and you need to further tear down either engine for head studs anyway so why not do injectors while its apart.

Last edited by bmali98; April 5th, 2016 at 15:24.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 19:38   #11
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My BEW had it's cam done at 220k currently at 300k now. However, I think the original owner took it to joe mechanic who put crap oil in it. Either way it's not a huge job especially if done in tandem with the timing belt.
Just check the cam every oil change or every other if it looks good. Records of using quality oil, and regular maintenance of course, would add a lot of confidence to the purchase.
Just an egr delete and tune makes it move really nice. Now a vnt-17 makes it great and the mpg's will compete with an ALH's.
I would buy another one in a hearbeat.
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Old April 6th, 2016, 13:33   #12
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Everything is a trade-off. I think that some of the bias is due to the fact that there are more ALH engines out there?

I'd almost consider an BEW (I think the engines look cool!) if not for the fact that I'm already stocked with ALHs and I have tools for the ALH. Less complications with TB changes? No IP (to do funky things)?
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Old April 8th, 2016, 20:19   #13
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I'm a BEW owner and I love mine. I drive the SNOT out of it too. I'm constantly revving mine hard, and towing a lot of weight. ( firewood, dump runs from House renos, picking up tools / shelving units etc from classifieds. I've put over 200k on my engine, the stock turbo SUCKS. Replace it with VNT 17 minimum and your golden.

Timing belt is more durable
Alternator is 100x easier to replace
Bottom end is bomb proof
Much more crisp sounding engine compared to ALH
More power stock
More tidy engine appearance
Much nicer cluster
Etc etc

To be honest the only benefits in a ALH are those wide lobs on camshaft and that stock VNT 15.
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Old April 8th, 2016, 20:36   #14
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The BEW engine is the best thing ever invented.
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Old April 8th, 2016, 21:09   #15
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I'd avoid it like the plague, unless the previous owner has proper documentation that it has already been done. I had a 2004 VW Beetle (BEW) that I sold in December. My aunt was the original owner, and I had every service record from the dealership on time by the book. I took the valve cover off at 175k miles to inspect, it was very very worn. Time for a new one.

To me, that's unacceptable for an engine to need a cam at such low mileage. Or ever, unless it has like 800,000 miles. That's completely ridiculous and unless VW high-pathetically speaking were to pick up the tab, is downright terrible. $1500+ to have replaced.

I doubt my current Camry has cost $1500 over the last 209k miles in total for maintenance over the last 16 years. The Beetle I had, was around $9,000-$10,000.

Good luck. Look for an ALH.

(I better put my shields up for the flames I'm about to receive)
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