Engine Whine, then smoke


Nov 1, 2000
Chapel Hill, NC
I apologize, but this is going to be a long post.

This is a 1996 Passat, TDI with 183,500 miles.

The other day while driving on the highway, I hear a noise, then I notice that under acceleration the engine begins to whine. I stop at a rest stop and when I re-start the car I hear all sorts of noise and the whine when I accelerate. I continue until I get to a safe stopping point and an area where I can rent a car.

I go back to the car the next day to attempt to drive it to a stealership (I was out of town, about two hours from home) and start the car, it was cold so it took a little longer for the glow plug light to turn off. As soon as I start the car, I notice smoke coming frmo the engine. That's never a good sign. I have the car towed to the local stealership, and I am awaiting the news.

For background info: I had the timing belt changed 8K ago, I had new glow plugs installed a couple of months ago, and I just had an oil change.

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.


Zehntes Jahr der Veteran
Oct 13, 1998
Boise, Idaho
2013 Passat TDI, Newmar Ventana 8.3L ISC 3945, 2016 E250 BT, 2000 Jetta TDI
Was the tensioner replaced when the belt was? Those MUST be replaced since they use a plastic pulley. The plastic pulleys have shredded a few belts when reused usually within 15,000 miles of the replacement. Check your reciepts...

The smoke and whine could be from a timing belt getting ready to fail. Inspect that entire area. The smoke can be the result of timing going out of whack. TDI's are pretty critical on proper timing to run right.

The other possibility could be the turbo. Look for oil in the exhaust, also the engine could runaway if the turbo goes south so be carefull since the A3/B4's do not have an anit-shudder vavle that can stop a runaway condition.



Moderator at Large
Jun 16, 1999
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
2006 Jetta TDI
I betcha the EGR pipe broke. It has happened before. The whine is because with the EGR pipe broken, turbo noise is unmuffled and enters the engine compartment. Likewise, the smoke from the engine compartment is from the exhaust coming out the broken EGR pipe.

It's easy to replace that pipe, but I don't know what it costs. At least you don't have the EGR cooler to fight with on that model.