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Old June 1st, 2002, 06:48   #1
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Houston
Default My Turbo killed my car

Just wondering if anybody has had this happen. The second dealer I towed the car to has seen it and was able to identify what happened.

In early April I drove my TDI Beetle from Houston to New Orleans. On the way back in the dark I struck a tire fragment on the driver's side. I immediately pulled off, saw just a little rubber on the bumper and no other apparent damage. When I returned home, I used a cleaner to get off the rubber.

I drove the car around Houston for another week and then headed off to Bangkok Thailand for an extended business trip. While I was there, my brother sold his old car and drove my Beetle while he looked for a new one. One day he drove it for 50 highway miles on a wet, rainy day. As he exited the highway, the car died belching black smoke. He called roadside assistance and they towed him to the closest dealer, which happened to be Archer in Houston. They got the car on a Thursday. They said they would look at it on Friday. This slipped into Monday afternoon. On Tuesday they called and asked if the car has been in a flood as the water filter was literally full of water and it was apparent that at the very least the Turbo has suffered severe water damage. They ran him around for a couple of days asking, for example, for up front payment to tear down and diagnose the problem. As a result, he had it towed to a different dealer, Momentum, in downtown Houston.

Our experience there was better. The moment the car arrived it went up on the lift. The mechanic quickly identified the problem. A small shield at the bottom of the car had broken (apparently the tire did some damage after all). The air intake is just above that panel and with the negative pressure from the Turbo the car would literaly vacum water from the highway into the engine. It just so happened that the car had not been driven in the rain. According to Momentum, they have seen "several" cars like ours because it appears that this particular piece of plastic or whatever is very easy to break -- sometimes all it takes is scrapping the bottom on a speed bump. Anyway, it killed my Turbo and various other bits of the engine to the tune of $2800. VW will not cover anything having to do with the problem. According to Momentuim, several customers have tried to slug it out claiming it is a design flaw but no luck. I ended up reporting it to my insurance which paid the entire cost less my deductible.

I hope to accomplish to two things here:

1) Warn others that if you run over anything on the driver's side you had better check the underside front to make sure nothing is damaged.

2) Find out if there are others here who have experienced this problem.
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Old June 1st, 2002, 07:55   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: SE Missouri, USA
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg on PU, 33 on Car
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

Hope you are not like a lot of people I know and carry $500 deductable. I carry $100 deductable on collision and $0 on compersensive. My neigbor with Nissan van (plastic pan he said) destroyed his engine on the interstate from road gator (semi tread) and the guy was crying because he saved a few bucks by getting $1000 deductable. [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

It could have taken out the cast aluminum oil pan that all VW's have. To avoid the problem in future have the dealer install the steel skid plate available through VW parts, or do it your self if you're of the machanically inclined type and have the time.

This skid plate of mine has already served me once when wind blew road construction warning sign into my path on I-55, about 150 miles from nearest dealer. When went back to dealer that installed plate and I showed the machanic the white paint left on the plate. He took me over to another NB on lift (gasser) and showed me damaged oil pan. My skid plate was less then a week old and possible damage to intercooler, A/C, Air box intake, and stearing gear was avoided. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

I spent nearly $400 for dealer install and no longer worry about hitting something and being stranded miles from home and dealer. Can you imagine this happening on a family vacation. [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]
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Old June 1st, 2002, 08:28   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: North Carolina
Fuel Economy: 38
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

Do you have a part number for that steel skid pan. Does it look like something that can be installed at home? Bugger
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Old June 1st, 2002, 08:50   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: L.A.
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

lynn, thanks for the post. Sorry to hear about your misfortune, but hopefully it might help someone out down the road. Especially given the low ground clearance of our cars, it's very important to check the undercarriage for damage after hitting something in the roadway!

bugger, check out this thread:


You may have to wade through a LOT of posts, but the info should be in there. perhaps someone who has installed the skid plate could post a summary of the numbers?

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Old June 1st, 2002, 10:23   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Williamstown, Mass
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

lynnredbug: What year is your Beetle and how many miles?
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Old June 1st, 2002, 14:14   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Michigan USA
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

I recently had my Golf in for some service and the tech told me that the lower engine cover was torn a bit and to keep an eye on it. He also said they were pretty expensive. Does anyone know if you can get an aftermarket lower engine cover for less than at the dealer?
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Old June 1st, 2002, 17:00   #7
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Houston
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

Thanks for the info. I will check out the skid plate.

BTW, from a fianancial planning perspective it is actually very smart to carry a $1000 deductible if you actually have the money to put aside. I keep the money in a bond fund that has averaged about 5% after expenses over the last 10 years. Given that this is the first time I have had to touch it in those ten years, I saved at least $750 on my insurance (I think it is actually more but I don't have the quotes in front of me) plus I earned about $629 in interest for a total of almost $1400. Yes, I have to pay tax on the interest so it is a bit less than that. Even so, that puts me way ahead. This kind of thinking is why I bought the TDI in the first place (fuel cost savings were a big motivator).
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Old June 1st, 2002, 20:05   #8
Join Date: Dec 2001
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

I have a $50 and $250 deductible on my cars. And I also carry higher than average coverage.


as opposed to the Texas minimum

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Old June 1st, 2002, 20:16   #9
Join Date: May 2002
Location: North Carolina. Only a fun ride a way.
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

I've heard enuogh stories about VW warranty. I just called my insurance and added mechanical breakdown insurance. I'm not taking chances.
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Old June 1st, 2002, 20:19   #10
Join Date: May 2002
Location: North Carolina. Only a fun ride a way.
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

Hey guys. Now that I think about it, I can put anything in my car, chips etc., and still be covered.
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Old June 2nd, 2002, 06:27   #11
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Oregon, WI
Fuel Economy: 13.7 c, 12-15 towing hwy. 17-19
Default Re: My Turbo killed my car

Most states don't have mechanical breakdown coverage available. As well as free glass coverage.

50/100/25? Sorry to say but that is real light in the coverage dept. You should be carrying 100/300/100 minimums. 25K in property damage is REAL easy to burn through. Just hit someone in a new Passat and you are over the 25K. I have seen quite a few large claims in my time as an agent over 50K. The cost annually is minimal unless you are real young, or have a crappy record. Look into it.
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