coming from toyotas-what's the cheapest to maintain TDI

sky44

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
New Paltz NY
TDI
none yet
i want to spend about 11,000 bucks on a VW turbodiesel car.
i'm not looking for fancy features, power everything etc. i NEED reliability. i'm aware that VW is more of an "enthusiast" car than most things toyota makes, and i'm fine with this. i'm mechanically inclined and willing to do a lot of things myself (i've done a timing chain on a 1989 toyota pickup among other things...)
so what years should i avoid?
what models?
what should i look for when test driving a car?

what will a year's maintenance at 30,000 miles a year cost me in parts?
any jobs a backyard mechanic with reasonable tools can't do in a weekend?

i can deal with taking care of a car. the fuel economy of a TDI as well as the potential to run biodiesel makes it very attractive if we're just talking a couple 30 dollar filters once a year and some intercooler cleaning.

if i'm gonna be dumping 200 bucks+ into junk electrical parts every couple of monthes this isn't going to work for me.

so gimme the straight dope. :)
 

dieselnewbie

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2004
Location
Northwest Indiana
TDI
2000 Silver Jetta TDI
Sorry to say that almost nothing on a TDI costs a couple of hundred bucks. I would say that if you're used to Toyota's reliability, then stay with a Toyota. If you'd like to tinker, finesse, tweak, and occasionally swear at your ride, then buy the VW. Seriously, stay away from the VW TDI if reliability and cost of ownership are your chief concerns. When they run right they're awesome cars to drive, but when they're quirky you'll pull your hair out trying to fix them.
 

Bob_Fout

Oil Wanker
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Location
Indiana
TDI
2003 Jetta - Alaska Green (sold) / 2015 GTI 2.0T
Model year makes a big difference on how "finicky" they are.

dieselnewbie, many things were fixed between your 2000 and my 2003.

2003 and 2004 are the most solid years for the MK IV body jettas (or 2003 - 2005 for the MK IV golf).

In the past 4 years my money has been spent on nice things for my car, not fixing things.
 

ymz

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 12, 2003
Location
Between Toronto & Montreal
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon, 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
What vintage Toyotas are you coming from? I believe that all newer cars cost a bit more to maintain... (ever hear of the Toyota sludge issues???)

At 30,000 miles/year, you'll be changing the timing belt system every 3 years or so... if you do it yourself, the kit of parts will run you about $300 plus some specialized tools (that can be rented, borrowed, or bought used)... If you go to a "Guru" that will run you around $600... Brakes should cost more or less the same on most cars (again, if you do it yourself, you'll save a lot of money...)

These aren't especially cheap cars, but there are two important advantages to getting a TDI: The support network to be found here that appears to be unsurpassed by that for any other vehicle, and the availability of a highly specialized tool named Vag-Com... I don't believe that there are reasonably priced OBD scanners of this sophistication widely available for just about any other car... (and I'm not talking of just simple emissions codes... Vag-Com can do a lot more...)

Please go over the "how to buy a used TDI" threads:
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?p=708161
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=75359

Good luck with your choice!! (I'd recommend a 2003 Golf or Jetta over the other model years, but that's just me...)

All the best,

Yuri.
 

dieseldorf

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 11, 2000
Location
MA
TDI
ex- 1996 wagon, ex-2000 Jetta
sky44 said:
i NEED reliability.
It's the wrong car for you. Look at a 5spd Corolla, that's what you seek.

Welcome aboard!
 

dremd

Veteran Member
Joined
May 31, 2007
Location
South Louisiana
TDI
06 sprinter. 03 jetta wagon premium with 6 speed ALH swap, 14 JSW
Well I'm kind of a vw newbie, but I can Kind of answer your question.

Avoid Auto Transmissions, many would say avoid DSG's as well.

Next decide on ALH VS PD Some claim that there are some durability issues with the PD, but most seem to be doing great. The ALH's are getting older (2003 or older) so that may influence your decision.

Someone put VW reliability perfectly on this forum " I have no doubt that the engine will start and the car will drive, but weather the radio will work is up in the air".
 

thebigarniedog

Master of the Obvious
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
Location
Fail Command (Central Ohio)
TDI
1998 Jetta tdi
First, please understand that when you check off the "TDI Box" you get no options. I AM TALKING ABOUT THE MK4 Jettas not the MK5 (on the MK5 they had to give you the options because the thing is butt ugly --- my opinion). You get a basic stripped down Jetta when you checked off the TDI box on a MK4. True you can get manual leather seats and power windows but not much more. VW saved the good options for their gasser versions --- such as the 6 speed manual transmission. Most people on this forum spend most of their time upgrading their MK4 vehicles to essentially what you would get if you bought a GTI (I often think it would be easier for some to remove the gas engine and replace it with the diesel at some point:rolleyes: ).

You will pay a premium for the diesel because of the cost of fuel. I have driven both and my opinion is that I prefer the Jetta over a toyota. Maintenance depends on the mileage of the vehicle your buying, your ability to make informed decisions (the local lube guys would dump chicken fat into your oil pan if you aren't looking or if you don't know what needs to be there). If it was me I would look for a 2003 Jetta. The 2003 is the last year for the ALH engine. This engine gets a little better mileage but has ten less hp's then the PD engine that came in 2004. The Pd engines seem to be more sensitive from reading these post and can get screwed up with less attention to detail (best way I can phrase it).
 
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Bob_Fout

Oil Wanker
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Location
Indiana
TDI
2003 Jetta - Alaska Green (sold) / 2015 GTI 2.0T
The R32 and GLI (not 100% sure about the GLI).
 
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sky44

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
New Paltz NY
TDI
none yet
how are 98's?

i'm looking to spend under 10,000.

i'm fine with tinkering, maintenance, occasional quirkiness, i just don't want a money hole that can't be fixed. I'm a lot more mechanically inclined than most people. i run and maintain lasers and abrasive waterjets for a living. I'm defintiely an enthusiast.

i don't expect the AK47-esque reliability of a toyota. i just want a car that isn't going to ruin my life. ;)

VW has the only diesels in the game really. i'm hoping to run biodiesel at some point. could save me about 20 bucks a week. maybe more as fuel prices go up.

it's excellent to see that there's a good community of enthusiasts who stand behind these cars.
 

thebigarniedog

Master of the Obvious
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
Location
Fail Command (Central Ohio)
TDI
1998 Jetta tdi
VFchicago88 said:
hmm i dont recall any MK4's gassers getting 6sp manual transmissions.....

Check out ebay Item number: 160179609938. It is a GLI (my dyscexia acts up Gti or Gli) and it's a 6 speed manual. Yep Mk4 other than Tdi's had the availability of a 6 speed manual on certain trims.
 

TonyJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
Location
Tucson, Az
TDI
'15 Jetta TDI SE / '06 Jetta TDI DSG Pkg0 / '96 Passat TDI
sky44 said:
VW has the only diesels in the game really.
That's what I've found...And as such, they generaly have the best mileage & range. For my needs, hybrid's or electric cars don't cut it! It also helps that I'm putting together my own fleet of diesel vehicles.:rolleyes:

sky44 said:
it's excellent to see that there's a good community of enthusiasts who stand behind these cars.
That's the other part that's motivating me to buy an older Jetta/Golf. I thought about an older corrola, but I kept coming back to the fact that there is just no other community out there than can help me and others keep their cars going. And with a well cared for engine, it's reasonable to expect 350-500k out of it.
Don't get me wrong, I know its older and will need more TLC. As a 2nd vehicle, I can afford to have it down until I can fix it over the weekend. If it drives anything like my wife's '06...it'll be FUN, too!

Tony
 

bugablue

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Location
stoughton, saskatchewan, canada
TDI
98 beetle
Hey, I have a 98 beetle tdi. I bought it used with 191,000 km, and now have 275,000 km on it. I have done the following.
Front wheel bearing - ~150 parts and labour.
Relay 109 I really don't remember what that cost, not much
Mass Airflow Sensor ~100 parts.
Fuel I have saved over the last year from driving this car instead of my previous 99 cavalier Z24 $3000
 

dariod

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Location
Windy City
TDI
2000 Jetta GLS TDI
Well I have a 1993 Lexus GS300 (toyota product) that has a 220k miles without any problems everything is top notch quality ( electronics, materials, leather and pearl white color :D ) While on the other side my Jetta TDI saves me on gas but it is made so cheap that everything that is plastic it is fallin appart oh well saves me on fuel compared to Lexus :rolleyes:
 

cowboyjack

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2005
Location
Vail, Arizona
TDI
1998 Jetta TDI
It's a mixed bag. I have a 98 Jetta AND a 1995 Toyota T100 Truck.

I have done almost nothing to the truck besides timing chains and an AC compressor in 170,000 miles of trouble free driving. V Belts, tires and one set of brakes, one set of spark plugs. That's it. Total.

My Jetta, which I bought with only 48,000 miles in 2006, has taken a fair amount of tinkering, much more than the Toyota, but nothing like British sports cars.

Most of the tinkering has been enjoyable and it is a TON of fun to drive and gets about 45 mpg. Timing belt, vacuum lines, brakes, radiator fans (freak failure, I think), tires and several small fix-its. I considered the skid plate an essential addition. It requires particular oils, fluids, coolants and filters, not all of which are at Wal Mart or the local car parts store, but readily available online, dropped off at my door by the big brown truck. (Post office won't drive out to our house, go figure.)

Nothing out of line for a ten year old car, but it ain't my Toyota.

I'm soon adding Koni shocks, better headlights and Sprint 520 nozzles, because I can, not so much cause it needs it. I'm sure I'll have to do an intake clean out sooner than later and I want to do a mufflerectomy, EGR delete and add an Aligator Chip, which will probably mean a new clutch. And I really should buy Vag Com to get a better handle on what the car is doing.

I FULLY expect to run this car out to 250,000 miles, smiling all the way, and then reconsider my next steps.

This board has been an invaluable resource of information and advice, along with my Bentley manual. I also have access to a TDI guru 2 hours away if I really can't figure it out or don't wanna do it. I COULD change a timing belt, but don't wanna do it in a gravel driveway.

Cheaper per mile? Toyotas by a wide margin. Fun per mile? Few cars cheaper than the A3. Maybe Miatas, but I can't get the dogs, horse feed, or two by fours in a Miata.
 
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sky44

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
New Paltz NY
TDI
none yet
thanks for all the advice guys.

i'm thinking i want to go with an older TDI. none of the newer stuff with the crazy electronic integrated alarm. so i guess pre-99.

i want the power of the TDI engine though, so an old TD won't cut it, plus those cars are starting to pass their prime anyway.

basically my logic on goin with an older car is that A)lower purchase price
and B)less to go wrong/cheaper parts if it does.

ideally i'd get a 2000+ golf..... i dunno if i should be making that kind of financial commitment on a car that will need tinkering though... :confused:
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
Maybe folks will say otherwise, but you should be able to find a '99 or 2000 Golf for well under 10K. I found two, although one had a blown head. If you want low problems, go for an '99.5 or an '02 Jetta or Golf GL. Crank windows, manual mirrors, no heated seats. Find one from a private party when you can learn about the car's history and how it's been treated. And then budget 1K to 2K (if the timing belt replacement is suspect) for repairs to get it up to snuff. Find a TDI expert where you can observe and help to do the once over so you can learn to care for the car yourself.

I think my experience is unusual but I've had very, very few problems with my '02 Jetta. I've had to replace some parts as it's gotten up in miles but the car's been dead reliable. As good as my Camry. And a lot nicer to drive.
 

sky44

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
New Paltz NY
TDI
none yet
it seems like complexity went up in 99, but so did quality...

maybe i'll go with something of that vintage....
 

toastblows

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Location
minnesota
TDI
2003 jetta GLS
sky44 said:
it seems like complexity went up in 99, but so did quality...

maybe i'll go with something of that vintage....
99 is by far the worst year in the mkIV....2003 is the best in the 99-03 ALH style engine. Simply use MSN's used vehicle tool...it mirrors what most gurus here will tell you about this year range of TDI's.

I think the vw jetta went to hell round about the time Mexican production came into the spotlight...just personal opinion. Corolla's are solid, stick with reliability you can trust. ;)
 

hevster1

Vendor
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Location
Columbia NJ
TDI
98 NB
bugablue said:
Hey, I have a 98 beetle tdi. I bought it used with 191,000 km, and now have 275,000 km on it. I have done the following.
Front wheel bearing - ~150 parts and labour.
Relay 109 I really don't remember what that cost, not much
Mass Airflow Sensor ~100 parts.
Fuel I have saved over the last year from driving this car instead of my previous 99 cavalier Z24 $3000
I own the same vehicle and have put about 7k in parts into it since purchase. Mileage 82k when purchased, 195k now. In my opinion you have been lucky.
 

bam_bam_dip

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2004
Location
Belton, TX
TDI
99.5 Jetta TDI GL
compu_85 said:
Sorry Peter, I will have to agree with toastblows... I wouldn't recommend a 99.5 either.

-Jason.
Dang it guys, I wuz gonna try to sell him my 99.5 for 9500, but youze ruint it. :rolleyes:

My 99.5 has taken 2 timing belts and one set of Bilstein TC's. And a bit of tweaking, but nothing more than little minor headaches.
 

sky44

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
New Paltz NY
TDI
none yet
oh man...

i'm starting to get scared here.


how about a mid 90's jetta or something? mechanical inject, minimal electronics.... i could pick a nice one of those up for 4 grand, sell me car, throw the cash in teh bank and rebuild the injector pump or whatever else might blow up and still be waaaay ahead of the game.

seems like the newer VW's are a rich man's toy. :(
 

compu_85

Gadget Guy
Joined
Sep 29, 2003
Location
Springfield VA
TDI
... None :S
well, there are no mid 90s jettas with a diesel here in the US. Early 90s (1.6l na or 1.6l ECOdiesel) or late 90s (1.9L TDI) only.

-Jason
 

Honeydew

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Location
Florida
TDI
13 Passat DSG
sky44 said:
...i don't expect the AK47-esque reliability of a toyota...
That is a good analogy. The TDI and most German cars are more comparable to the M16/M4. Higher cost, well engineered, high-performance machines that can be frustratingly quirky occasionally and respond well to proper maintenance. They work well bone stock and folk can't seem to stop modding them once they start.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White (SOLD); 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, silver
sky44 said:
oh man...
i'm starting to get scared here.
how about a mid 90's jetta or something? mechanical inject, minimal electronics.... i could pick a nice one of those up for 4 grand, sell me car, throw the cash in teh bank and rebuild the injector pump or whatever else might blow up and still be waaaay ahead of the game.
seems like the newer VW's are a rich man's toy. :(
Didn't you mention driving 30k miles a year? I'm not sure a 12-15 year old car will work for you.

I bought my 2003 Golf new in the summer of 2003, and have been putting about 55k miles a year on it since then. It is the perfect car for someone who drives a lot. Routine maintenance, plus fixing a few of the common problems... overall it's been very economical.

My recommendation is a 2002-2003 Golf, Jetta, or Jetta wagon. The New Beetles are fine, just a little bit less useable space and somewhat harder to work on because of cramped engine compartment. I also recommend buying from a private party who has complete maintenance records, who has used the right synthetic diesel-rated motor oil -- not buying from a dealer who probably bought at an auction and has no records, and not buying from the 4th or 5th owner.

I also recommend finding a local "guru". The best guy in your area is probably Jason aka TDIJETTA99 in Port Jervis.
http://forums.tdiclub.com/member.php?u=32243
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
compu_85 said:
Sorry Peter, I will have to agree with toastblows... I wouldn't recommend a 99.5 either.

-Jason.
And this from a guy who has one. I was thinking of my Golf: German built, Luk clutch. But you guys have more time with this year than me.

There's a nice looking '98 in the classifieds now. I don't know the car or the seller, but that car with some $$ left after the purchase to make sure it's in top shape might be a good way to go.
 
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