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Old August 1st, 2012, 00:41   #1
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Prescott, AZ
Default What's wrong with my car? (P.S. does anyone want to buy this car?)

Alright, folks, give me your best. Right now I'm trying to keep my chin up but the situation is not good.

The specs:

2002 Golf TDI, 145,000 mi. Ran Bio from 2006 (60,000 mi)-2011. All maintenance done: always used AmsOil full synthetic, did the timing belt, new clutch, air filters, intake manifold cleaned out, etc. Pretty much by the book. Always used TDIClub recommended mechanics except for a few emergency scenarios.

Recent history:

Nov, 2011: Traveling in CA. Starts running rough and then won't start at all. Take it to a general mechanic, not VW specific. Fuel injection pump busted. Can't be repaired. Replaced, along with many fuel lines. The little environmentalist finally gives up on the bio thing.
Dec, 2011: car is parked outside in rainy Portland, OR and only driven every 3 weeks in order to keep it running while I travel overseas.
March, 2012: won't start. Taken into shop where a gallon of water is siphoned from the engine. Mechanic recommends further work, but carsitter takes it anyway. 3 weeks later the car is driven a few miles and then parked again, and then...
May, 2012: won't start. Sits a month.
June, 2012: Taken back to the shop. More water siphoned from engine. Diagnosed cracked intercooler which may have filled with water due to lack of fender (ok, so I drove over a few bumps...believe me, I'm kicking myself for it now). Intercooler and fender replaced. However, now the car is spewing black smoke unless the engine is really, really warm. Smoke is thick and smelly and extremely obvious. Runs rough. Diagnosed extremely low compression in cylinder 2, somewhat low in cylinder 3. They say a rod may be just slightly bent due to the second hydrolock but it isn't worth fixing. I have a new carsitter pick it up from the shop and drive it more regularly over the next month.
July, 2012: I return from overseas and bring it to my fabulous, trustworthy mechanic in Bend, OR, a few hours from Portland. Still spewing black smoke but it seems to disappate about a half hour after startup. I get 38 mpg over the mountains with a roof rack on. My mechanic looks at it for hours, tinkers with a few things, can't figure it out. He says:

1) This business with the hydrolock is fishy--even with a cracked intercooler and no fender, one would have to drive through DEEP water, not just the average Portland puddle, to fill it with water.
2) The fuel injectors have not been pulled off recently, so he is mistrustful on how the compression test was done--through the glowplugs, perhaps? Do people do it this way?
3) There is a thick, black, hard substance inside the intake manifold and nearly entirely disabling the EGR valve. The substance is shiny and very hard and does not smudge onto the fingers or cloth when touched. This is likely not related, but really, really weird. The intake was taken off and cleaned at a machine shop about 15,000 miles ago, but to my knowledge and his, no chemical solvent was ever run through it.
4) Based on several factors (antifreeze level, I think?) it seems unlikely it is a leaky head gasket, but not impossible.

So. Folks. What I want to know is:

1) What on earth could it be BESIDES a bent rod or a leaky head gasket? And if it is a bent rod, am I right in saying it would have to be just barely bent in order to not be ridiculously loud on startup, which it is not?
2) What is in my intake manifold? Is there any way to know when it got there/who put it there? Is there any non-liquid substance that would have this reaction when mixed with water, which I know was pulled through the engine at great enough volume to cause hydrolock at least twice?
3) I will be traveling again shortly and don't want to park the car again. Can I sell it? What can I sell it for/what is it now worth? Should I travel in it the next few months before I go overseas, or is it a time bomb?
4) Ya want it?

I know this is a lot of information but I'm hoping someone will find this interesting and dig into the possibilities a little. Thanks!
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Old August 1st, 2012, 07:07   #2
Veteran Member
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Wi
Fuel Economy: Used to get 45, but big wheels, big brakes and a roof rack, 36mpg now

Was it just a crack or was there a chunk missing? Even with the intercooler UNDER water, with a crack its only going to leak in so fast, and when your driving your almost always under some amount of boost, which would prevent water from getting in I would think.

Compression test is through the glow plugs.
2002 Golf GLS TDI 5spd-288,000 miles
Panzer FMJ Skid Plate, PP520's on Flow Balanced Injectors, H&R 28mm Rear Swaybar, Eurosport X Brace, TT Shifter, 42DD shifter Bushings, exhaust restriction reduction, Eibach Pro Kit Springs, Koni STR.T Struts/Shocks, TT front control arms, spindles and brakes, 17" wheels w/ Potenza Summer Tires
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Old August 1st, 2012, 07:16   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bend, Oregon

Your trustworthy mechanic thought it odd that the compression wasn't tested through the injectors?

I find THAT odd that he thinks it's odd.

A bent rod isn't doing any good in there and it won't get better. If you want to keep the car, get it fixed. I know how to properly do the compression test.
Can rent movies at BlockBuster.
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Old August 1st, 2012, 07:39   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Northern Minnesota-55744
Fuel Economy: 52+ average lifetime '01

You DO NOT have to drive thru very deep water to hydro lock a TDI, let alone one that had a opening in the intake system. A few ounces will bend a rod(s). Although the water probably didn't enter the cracked IC, since it would have some boost pressure there, so perhaps it came in the usual way-in the air intake. Hard to say.
The details given are rather odd or communicated from the "mechanic" poorly. A "gallon of water siphoned from the engine"? Perhaps the fuel tank?
Low compression is a probably bent rod(s). Compression is checked thru GP holes. It won't start/run well cold since it won't compress air to ignite fuel properly. It may run "better" warm. Engine is fixable in the right hands. It will be butchered in the wrong hands.
DON"T continue to run it. Its not going to get better until its repaired and more damage can result.
It doesn't hurt the car to sit while you are away. I would never leave it in the hands of a "car sitter". That's asking for big problems.
If it weren't so very far away it would make another good project car.

2001 Jetta TDI GLS Silver-current driver (salvage)permanently vented-Panzer Plate-Sprint 520s-ScanGauge-CheckTemp III-ZeroStart heater-CAT 2 filter
2003 Jetta GLS Black w/leather (New Project Car) fixer-upper w/broken TB
2004 Cadillac SLS (wife's)
1999 GMC Suburban (It's MN-you need one)
197? Shibura 2cyl diesel 4WD tractor-loader/brushhog (very handy unit)
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Last edited by jettawreck; August 1st, 2012 at 09:04.
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Old August 1st, 2012, 10:29   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Oregon, WI
Fuel Economy: 13.7 c, 12-15 towing hwy. 17-19

The intake is from starting the car and letting it idle/short tripping it. Leave it sit on a battery tender while you are gone and call it good.

a rod bent a couple MM will lower compression over 100 points. IT COULD have bad spray pattern and melted the flame bowl in the piston as well. That'll lower compression a lot.
Jason, Service work available. www.jasonTDR.com
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Old August 1st, 2012, 23:05   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bend, Oregon

Compression is definitely low on 2&3. There are no combustion gasses in the coolant.

It looks like the intake hose with the snowscreen was replaced as was the tubeing after the filter all the way to the turbo. This was done by Hillside apparently in response to the water in the intercooler and engine. If there was a leak before the turbo it could suck water, but if there was a leak after the turbo there would be a boost leak.

Cam looks a bit worn, but nothing there is causing the valves to not open, causeing low compression.

My analysis is that somehow water got in the engine and a couple of the rods are bent a bit. It smokes, it's low on power, fuel mileage is a bit low, but not horrible. To answer her question on fuel mileage: the engine isn't at 50%, it's maybe more like 80%, so mileage would drop some, but not horribly. Someone stop me if my thinking is out of line there.

Best of all, I spent a wonderful couple of hours and I have a cool rock taken from the source of the Ganges River.
Can rent movies at BlockBuster.
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Old August 2nd, 2012, 00:34   #7
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Prescott, AZ

So yeah, we're going with the bent rod theory. Low compression in 2/3 for sure, 4 is looking iffy. But it drives ok. Whitedog was really helpful and encouraging, especially regarding driving it; we looked at quite a few other options, and all signs point to this being the problem, so the damage has been done. Hey-at least it's not a head gasket! Thanks again, whitedog, for all the help and the lively conversation!

I'll check the thread periodically so if anyone has more to add go ahead and holler...and this vehicle is definitely for sale, so message me if you're interested!
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