First timer... questions, issues...

Coldlogik

Active member
Joined
Jan 16, 2022
Location
Appleton, WI
TDI
97 Passat TDI
Hey guys first time VW owner, first time diesel owner, first time euro owner. Just bought a 97 Passat TDI sedan with 330k from a guy for $700. He told me it was running well and he was driving it 120 miles a day every day for like 6 months straight until the water pump went bad (he told me he knew it was since water was spraying out the pulley). Have a couple questions, the car is going to be started on Monday morning, they are going to do the water pump, timing belt, tensioner, and serpentine belt. The guy said the speedometer wasn't working anymore as well so gonna have them look at that as well, passenger front door will only open from inside, and the driver window wont go up but will go down. Besides an oil change and tune up, as well as the forementioned repairs is there anything else you would suggest for them to check on, as in typical problems for a TDI with this many miles etc... Thank you so much in advance and look forward to hearing from everyone.
 

garciapiano

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Location
Southern California
TDI
1997 Jetta TDI (1Z)
Congrats on the purchase – it sounds like it was a good runner before you got a hold of it. If the car is spewing coolant as you say, you may want to ensure that it didn't overheat at some point. My first order of business would be to have the mechanic do a leakdown test to ensure that there is no head gasket leak. If there appears to be an issue with compression or head gasket issues, I would say run, far away from the car.

A water pump is a straightforward fix, however, removal of the timing belt is effectively required for its replacement. The timing belt and its associated rollers and tensioner should be replaced when you acquire a new TDI, unless you have explicit paperwork that it was done at a specific mileage and date. It makes sense to replace the other belts at the same time as well, since a separate belt drives the water pump/power steering and you don't want that one to snap. Interval on the belts is 60,000 miles, but I replace them after they age out after 5 years, regardless of mileage.

Now, whether a shop is familiar with the timing belt procedure on the AHU and has the proper tools to do the job on a 25-year old car is a whole 'nother can of worms. The issue with these old cars is that they quickly mechanically total themselves, not solely from the cost of the parts, but from the labor required to do the work. There is a lack of skilled technicians that have worked with TDIs of this vintage, as there just weren't that many made/imported to USA.

I'm not trying to scare you off from owning this car, but know what you're getting into – the only reason I own this car is because I think these are some of the most reliable and well-built VWs ever made. There are plenty who will disagree (rust is an issue) – but having owned a Mk4 (1999-2005) era car, I can safely say that these older ones have far fewer electrical / chassis issues than the Mk4 cars, believe it or not.

As for delving into fixing other issues or refreshing other aspects of the car, I guess it depends on how much you like it. If you are just in a VW because you got it for cheap... well... I would get a different car, quickly.

There are resources all over this forum for the B4 Passat. The forum is not as busy as it used to be as many owners have moved on to newer cars. I have not owned a B4 Passat, just a Jetta. The Passats have issues with the speedometer / cluster going bad and the door handles, as you have noticed. There are fixes... just perform a search. Mechanically, the engines are very similar between the A3 (Jetta) and B4 (Passat).
 

Coldlogik

Active member
Joined
Jan 16, 2022
Location
Appleton, WI
TDI
97 Passat TDI
Hey thank you so much for the advice and thoughts regarding this tdi. Yeah I didn’t only buy this because of the price but it was a factor. Mainly wanted to save a vintage car from the junkyard and felt like knowing what the previous owner said and what other VW enthusiast said to me regarding the car and the engines reliability I figured I could possibly get lucky and for a few hundred dollars have an extremely well running fuel efficient car, especially considering the previous owner had already bought all the aforementioned parts (belts pump tensioner door receiver etc etc). I will for sure talk to the mechanic about a leak down test thank you for that! Oh also forgot to mention there’s practically no rust and it’s dent free, the body and interior are in amazing condition.
 
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ToddA1

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Location
NJ 08002
TDI
'96 B4V, '97 B4 (sold), '97 Jetta (scrapped)
I do the water pump without doing the timing belt. Remove alt, unbolt ac compressor but do not disconnect hoses. There’s enough slack to rest it on top of the engine. I secure it with a bungee cord. Remove large bracket/hardware, that secures the pump to the block, then replace. If youre not replacing the entire assembly it’s easier to fight those 8 bolts on the bench.

I think the above is faster than adding the timing belt job, but since you’re doing the timing belt, it’s kinda a moot point. I don’t see the timing/serpentine idler roller or cam seal mentioned in your list.

-Todd
 

Coldlogik

Active member
Joined
Jan 16, 2022
Location
Appleton, WI
TDI
97 Passat TDI
I guess the main reason I wanted them to do the timing belt is I have no idea the last time it was changed. Most of you seem to think I should avoid doing it. I could do that if that’s the general consensus here.
 

garciapiano

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Location
Southern California
TDI
1997 Jetta TDI (1Z)
I guess the main reason I wanted them to do the timing belt is I have no idea the last time it was changed. Most of you seem to think I should avoid doing it. I could do that if that’s the general consensus here.
Only avoid doing it if the engine has been damaged by overheating. Otherwise, definitely do it.
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
Hey guys first time VW owner, first time diesel owner, first time euro owner. Just bought a 97 Passat TDI sedan with 330k from a guy for $700. He told me it was running well and he was driving it 120 miles a day every day for like 6 months straight until the water pump went bad (he told me he knew it was since water was spraying out the pulley). Have a couple questions, the car is going to be started on Monday morning, they are going to do the water pump, timing belt, tensioner, and serpentine belt.

  • Make sure they use only VW or quality parts, there are a lot of Chinese Replacement Auto Parts (CRAP) out there that will have you replacing it again in short order.
  • Make sure they replace the roller on the timing belt as well and it MUST be tensioned so the little hgalf moon is on the top of the tensioner, which is backwards from the gas VW engines. I have seen VW dealerships mess this up.
  • I also recommend replacing the serpentine roller when the belt is changed since I have had them go bad before the next belt is due, and it will leave you stranded.
  • Make sure they do not overtighten the V-belt since it drives the power steering pump and will wipe out the bearing if it's too tight.
  • The oil these use is 5W-40 synthetic DIESEL rated oil, not 5W-30 or regular car oil from a bulk drum.

The guy said the speedometer wasn't working anymore as well so gonna have them look at that as well...

It *may* be the speedometer gear, but they don't often go bad. Unfortunately the capacitors DO go bad in the cluster. There are many posts on here about changing them.

passenger front door will only open from inside

Common problem. If you remove the door handle from the car (no need to take it all the way off), you will most likely find the roll pin in the door handle has backed out. Put some Loctite on it and push it back in. I've seen too many of these to count. Please note that the screws on the passengers door handles are backwards threaded, so to loosen them you need to go clockwise.



It may also be the main pin, so have a look.



the driver window wont go up but will go down.

Another common problem. Where the door opens next to the car is a black bellows that the wires reside in. Over time these wires break apart and need to be repaired. The bellows uncrews from the car (ccw) and it backs out all as one piece, so the vacuum hoses and electrical. Peel the boot back some and you'll see which wire is broken. I like to solder them because it makes for a smaller connection than a crimp connector.





Besides an oil change and tune up, as well as the forementioned repairs is there anything else you would suggest for them to check on, as in typical problems for a TDI with this many miles etc...

Yes, have them change the transmission fluid. It uses ONLY GL-4, do not believe any of that "backwards-compatible" crap of the GL-5 unless you want to pour liquid brass out of your transmission. You might want to open the ECU and have a look at the hose inside, it's known for developing a split and causing something called 'limp mode', where you'll lose power all of a sudden and it'll fall flat on its face.

Also, do not use just any antifreeze. If it's pink it's the OEM VW stuff, don't add just anything to it or you could be doing a flush in short order. The same thing for the power steering fluid, which should be green.

Change the air filter, and if there is a K&N ir filter element on it, remove it since they are known for killing the Mass Air Flow sensor in these cars.


...especially considering the previous owner had already bought all the aforementioned parts (belts pump tensioner door receiver etc etc). ...

Find out where he got the parts from. There is a purveyor of junk parts in North Carolina and his parts are known for destroying VW's. His name is Prothe but he also goes by Hans or Rothenbacher. Avoid them at all costs, no matter how enticing the prices seem. If the parts the previous owner aren't reputable (ContiTech, Gates, or VW belt) then consider getting the correct ones. The timing system is too critical to play nickles and dimes with considering the engine will die if something isn't up to standards.

Welcome to the boards.
 

Coldlogik

Active member
Joined
Jan 16, 2022
Location
Appleton, WI
TDI
97 Passat TDI
Thanks for all the help and warm welcome. Got the car running and put new tires on it. Drives really nice, but seems like its gonna need at least new struts, they aren't terrible so at least I can use it for now. Only 2 real problems now at this point, passenger front door wont latch when you shut it, that just started happening this morning and it already was at the point where it wouldn't open from the outside. I checked the mechanism on the door and put it into the closed position, and used the handle inside to open it and the mechanism flipped to the open position so Im very confused why it wouldn't latch shut. The other thing is the hand brake is non working, being a 5 speed its fairly important to have a working one. Im guessing its just rusted but im unsure, you can't even pull the handbrake up its just frozen in the down position. Otherwise no leaks, plenty of power, and even started while outside in my driveway over night and it was -9F this morning.
 

gboss

Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Location
Haddon Heights, NJ
TDI
(2)1997 Passat, 2014 Golf
Sounds like you have all the B4's greatest hits at once! Windows, door handles, door bonk, and cluster!

Door bonk is probably my least favorite.

But, I like the car so much, I deal with all those stupid issues. Gives the B4's some special "character"
 

Coldlogik

Active member
Joined
Jan 16, 2022
Location
Appleton, WI
TDI
97 Passat TDI
Sounds like you have all the B4's greatest hits at once! Windows, door handles, door bonk, and cluster!

Door bonk is probably my least favorite.

But, I like the car so much, I deal with all those stupid issues. Gives the B4's some special "character"
Well I had the driver window repaired, new regulator, and the cluster was repaired, apparently it was just a wire that had snapped and they repaired it so it works fine now. But yeah I didnt know anything about this bonk issue, and I was already aware that the door handle wouldn't open from the outside. So I just have to like lubricate the hell out of the locking mechanism, what should I use?
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
Door bonk happens when the door latch freezes and won’t work until it’s thawed. Sometimes it’s the result of water getting into the latch mechanism and sometimes it’s due to over lubrication. It may also be worn out, I’ve seen that a bunch.

Heat the latch with the door open and see if it works when warm. If so, you’ll need to clean it out and then use a light lubricant like silicone or graphite and not an oil or WD-40. All they’ll do is gum it up worse.

Here is a video I made years ago. Keep in mind the torch is on low, you don’t want to overheat it with too much heat and melt the internals.

 
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Starion_slider

Active member
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Location
CT.
TDI
1996 B4 sedan
Welcome to the B4 passat. All totally normal problems in the winter. Still wayyyyyyy more to come hahaha. Mine really pisses me off sometimes but ive been driving it over 10yrs and still love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just keep wrenching and repair and drive then repeat.
 
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