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Old June 29th, 2004, 06:30   #1
Join Date: Jun 2004
Default TDI swap into an A2 Jetta: what do I need to know?

I find myself in the unenviable position of being a diesel enthusiast in North America. Add to the fact that I want to run my diesel on SVO, and the fact that an old Rabbit's 50hp will be wholly inadequate, and you see my dilemna. Compounding the situation further is a tight (nearly non-existant) budget. Oh, and I'm not going to be satisfied with a comfy, boring car - I like to drive, dammit.

Still here? Good. What I do have is a cousin who is no stranger to motor swaps, limited access to a body shop, and no fear of many knuckle-ripping hours under the hood of just about anything (I spent three weeks changing the headgaskets to get my first ride, a 78 Ford F150, which appreciated my efforts so much that it ran for almost exactly the same amount of time that I had put into it , just to give you a clue). I also have a daily driver with a big trunk to transport parts and get me around while this project works itself out.

So, now that you know all of that, what exactly am I getting myself into? I'm looking at spending a minimum amount on a solid-enough A2 Jetta, likely with a blown motor, to receive the new powertrain. Figure anywhere from "it's yours if you get it out of my friggin' yard" to a couple hundred bucks. Worse case scenario, I buy back my 87 GL, which has little to recommend it aside from a rust-free body and the fact that I already know ***'s wrong with it.

Then the tough part: procuring the drivetrain. I'm assuming that pretty much any old 5 speed will do, as long as I install the diff bolt kit from ARP. I would also assume that a 16V tranny is NOT what I'm looking for, so no need to pay extra for short gearing. I recently saw a TDI engine out of a wrecked Jetta over on vwvortex.com with 3k miles, including the harness, ECU, and peripheral components. The guy was asking 800 - which, if I had, I would be asking what ELSE I would need. I'm pretty sure that the feeder pump will be required, although maybe the gas one will work (don't know).

I've heard that this swap is a major pain in the ass, akin to a 1.8T swap. I want to ask the experts before I trust one guy's opinion. With that in mind, why bother with all of the work? For one, I like unique vehicles, for another, just because I want to be environmentally (and financially) friendly, be able to take long trips without whining about fuel costs, etc, doesn't mean I want some big, heavy car that won't be any real fun to drive (Mercedes 300SD, for example, and there's really too much to go wrong with those cars to even consider). Plus, done right, it would be a very livable car - lightweight, good power with mods, manual trans, handles well, many available parts/modifications, huge trunk with four doors, and are good looking cars with a little work. This is the only diesel car I can see being any fun to drive that I'll be able to afford. And if I could afford a new TDI, I'd still do it this way - the A2 chassis is the best, I'm convinced, for handling purposes - it's light enough for the limited travel and twist beam to be able to work well. It dosn' do as well when you add 300-1000 lbs onto what is essentially the same chassis design.

Plus, with some hard work by yours truly, I'm convinced I can have the car up and running with the veggie-oil system in place for a total of +/-$2500 if I'm patient and get the right stuff. Mind you, I'm not going to be paying anyone to swap the motor or any of that - all labor that can be done by me, will be done by me. And that initial investment won't be much to put up with when I don't have to pay for fuel anymore.

So, tell me, am I nuts, or is this doable? This is my last shot at VW's - if this doesn't pan out for me, I'm just going to bow down to the gas companies and get a first-gen MR2. So help keep this black sheep in the fold.

Thanks in advance,
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Old June 30th, 2004, 11:36   #2
Join Date: Jun 2004
Default TDI swap into an A2 Jetta: what do I need to know?

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Old June 30th, 2004, 11:55   #3
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Location: Northern Virginia
Default TDI swap into an A2 Jetta: what do I need to know?

There are a few people that have actually done this. I've heard them say its best to get the complete TDI donor vehicle. Join the VW Audi-diesel list on Yahoo and post your question. I was a member of that list for years and the same question has come up a few times. A difficult area is the accelerator cable on the A-2 and none on the TDI. Are you using the taller geared TDI transaxle? If so, the hydraulic clutch poses a problem vs. the cable in the A-2. You really need to talk to someone who has done this successfully. It can be done, but its a real undertaking.

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Old June 30th, 2004, 12:37   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Piedmont of N.C. & the plains of Colorado
Fuel Economy: 64 .1city @ 30-60 mph/ 52-53 @ 70-85 mph hyway ( 52 to just under 60 normal around town)on LSD
Default TDI swap into an A2 Jetta: what do I need to know?

One thing is you will need to upgrade to the GTI axles .

The a-2 Jetta brakes can be over heated quickly with all that power , I found out after I installed a Canadian 1.9 IDI Eco-diesel into my 1985 Jetta . I have my Eco-diesel putting out in the 110 hp 170+ lb-ft range and with a few quick starts & stops my breaks fade away fast .

The only way to do it if you haven't done this before is to start with a donor car . Which in some cases can be picked up from the $1,000 range & up .

A full wiring harness with the throttle is a must .
All of your old motor mounts & brackets should bolt onto the engine , but I would put new mounts on at the time of the swap .

You will also either need to have the new alternator & AC along with the new brakets or do a complete swap over to the old set up onto the tdi engine . If possible the new setup is better , but I don't think your alternator & ac will not work with the new brackets . The power stearing pump will not need to be changed , but it might require the new bracket .

The shifter & the hydrolic clutch ass. is a change you will need to upgrade from the old setup .

Take pictures of things that must be swapped for reference .

Take measurements before starting any of the swaps and make diagrams .

Not an easy job but it can be done if you have the skills .

Good Luck , email me if you have any specific questions ,
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Old July 1st, 2004, 16:34   #5
Join Date: Jun 2004
Default TDI swap into an A2 Jetta: what do I need to know?

Interesting. The more I read about this swap, the less I like it. I've realized that the above-mentioned vwvortex ad was a fluke - there aren't going to be a lot of low-mileage TDI powerplants going for under a grand, much less one that's going to have all or most of what I need.

I'd love to be one of an elite few with this kind of setup - a 2200lb car that can be daily driven with great mileage, essential free environmentally friendly fuel, but still has performance potential that would scare an A2/VR6 hybrid. A lot to ask, but unfortunately it seems like it would take a lot of $$$ (which I don't/won't have), a lot of work (which I wouldn't mind, within reason...but I can't tell my old boss 'sorry, the car's going to be in your yard for the next six months. Oh, and I'll be knocking on the back door asking for help with this or that nearly every time I'm over".

I think I might just wait for a nice 300SD to come my way and hope that all of the peripheral components aren't shot to hell - the motors are troopers, but if the rest of the car is falling apart... And just accept the fact that my daily driver isn't going to be as exciting as I'd like, but it'll be comfortable and what I'll save on not having to swap motors and components around can be put towards an MR2 or something.

Thanks for the help,
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