Help with acquiring my first ALH

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
Hi all, I apologize for the lack of introduction. I am obviously new here, but I have been in R&D for my RBV planning on using an ALH, which all has been done before. I am in need of some advice from guys who know more/have done something similar (whether they have done a swap or not, or just long time TDi owner particularly the ALH). Right now I have found a guy near me selling a 2003 jetta manual TDi that has a check engine, and I wont lie, this guy has a heavy asian accent and does not speak good english. The vehicle does start and run, has "low power" when it drives according to him, and he is asking for only 800 bucks for the whole vehicle (donor vehicle for my project). I have yet to go out and look at it yet. The kicker is:

1) He said there's some sort of leak or possible issue regarding a cylinder (again, this was very hard to understand what he was trying to tell me about the issue with it)
2) He wants to keep the injection pump to put it onto his personal jetta that he drives, that's a 2001 manual as well. He ALSO said that if I help him install the pump from the engine I would be buying onto his jetta, He would let the donor vehicle go for 500.

My question is simple: All things considered (I have been shopping around for a TDi for about2 months now), is this not a really good deal? Even for 800 bucks towing it away as is, would this be a good deal? I am afraid that someone else will jump on this before I do and ill miss out bigtime!

I plan on most likely going through the engine anyways and installing a 190bhp kit from PerformanceTDi (or equivalent kit), and possibly even contemplating slightly sized up pistons (I have some mills and a lathe). There is also a small, small change I go the M-TDi pump route but still need to do more research on that as I have heard it is quite limiting/lacking in some areas.

Thank you any and all who can help me come to a decision, and regardless of how it pans out, I know I'm doing a TDi on my RBV project so I will be checking in again soon here, lots of great info.

Matt
 

jmodge

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
The best advice/opinion I have for anyone who’s thinking of performing a swap, and is going into with no TDI experience is this;

ONE, find a car you can get on the road. It’s the best way to learn about the engine and where you can find support. Such as advice and proper parts. It’s a bit of a learning curve that you won’t get by tearing it apart and guessing about what to ask people, as opposed to the experience of keeping it going.

TWO, purchase a VCDS cable and download the program. This step can be number one, as you should have it when you look at cars.
 

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
The best advice/opinion I have for anyone who’s thinking of performing a swap, and is going into with no TDI experience is this;

ONE, find a car you can get on the road. It’s the best way to learn about the engine and where you can find support. Such as advice and proper parts. It’s a bit of a learning curve that you won’t get by tearing it apart and guessing about what to ask people, as opposed to the experience of keeping it going.

TWO, purchase a VCDS cable and download the program. This step can be number one, as you should have it when you look at cars.
Thanks for the input! Haven't explored a VCDS cable. I don't think having the luxury of an operable donor vehicle with an ALH will be a reality for me. Unfortunately, the cost of a best up jetta or bug with one is vastly less expensive than one that runs (obviously) or a pulled tdi (which is surprising to me.

Also, if I were to buy a 98-03 tdi injection pump are there any red flags to look for? And would a pump from an auto trans vehicle work with a manual trans set up? Just don't know if maybe it's tuned differently.
 

turbodieseldyke

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Location
Free Mustache Rides
TDI
98 jetta
Also, if I were to buy a 98-03 tdi injection pump are there any red flags to look for? And would a pump from an auto trans vehicle work with a manual trans set up?
1. Just get a running vehicle. Trying out parts from different guys, you won't know which part(s) are preventing it from running.
2. Yes. Pumps from AT cars are bigger (11mm head vs 10mm), but work the same.
the cost of a best up jetta or bug with one is vastly less expensive than... a pulled tdi (which is surprising to me.
Motivation to get rid of it. Full vehicles need parking space and registration/non-op to maintain. They also get the wife wondering when it's going to be fixed or disappeared, whereas an engine can sit on a small pallet in the shed and she'll never think about it.
 
Last edited:

addes426

Active member
Joined
Oct 29, 2020
Location
Friendly, WV
TDI
1.9
I'm in the same boat except I've already bought my diamond in the rough. Now I'm trying to determine if I'm in over my head. I'm stubborn though so I'll probably ride it out.
 

jmodge

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
I'm in the same boat except I've already bought my diamond in the rough. Now I'm trying to determine if I'm in over my head. I'm stubborn though so I'll probably ride it out.
If you made the acquisition with the idea that you would save money on fuel, then yes, you are definitely in over your head.
If you did it with the thought you are adopting a lifelong hobby with a learning curve that’s length is determined by how many miles/hours you spend operating it, then you’re in the ballpark of up to your chin.
 

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
Welp, I still owe an intro lol but I thought I would update that unless the owner of the donor vehicle flakes on me, I will be picking up the ALH TDi tomorrow and towing it back to my house where eventually (hopefully within a couple months) I will get around to pulling the engine, ecu, and whatever else I need, and then scrapping the rest of the 2001 jetta for parts to recoup some money. Fingers crossed, next on the procurements list is some parts to go through/refresh the entire engine, and upgrades. Stay tuned and thanks for the help. I look forward to leaning on/learning from yall on this forum.
 

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
Welp! $750 later and I have my 2003 jetta DV with the ALH. I haven't pulled it yet but I can't wait. Right off the bat, one of the injectors isn't anywhere near seated which is obvious by the oil leaking out, and smoke came out for the very small amount of time the engine spent running when we backed it up in order to get it loaded onto my car dolly. Also pretty sure it it's very low on oil which is why I really didn't want it running to begin with, but whatever, I'm gonna rebuilt the entire thing. Also, the PO kept trying to describe to me what I am pretty sure is probably blow rings on one of the pistons, so maybe I will button it up with some oil and test for blowby. I haven't checked the cam for lobe wear to see if there's any signs of using incorrect oil type yet, but again, at this point it doesn't matter cause I'm planning on rebuilding everything. Moral of the story, I got it for 750 bucks and in 2024, I am happy and thinking that it was an absolute steal. including the cost of gas and the uhaul dolly, total investment is probably about $825. Now, question for you all:
With me keeping the engine, ECU, all needed wiring/harness, and maybe the clutch pedal(?), how much money could I expect to recoup from parting out the rest of the 2003 Jetta? Or perhaps I could just post the whole vehicle up for sale for maybe $500? Also, when I figure out if I want to do a mechanical pump, I could possibly be selling the injection pump which I'm sure could go for at least $250 based on what I have seen locally.
 

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
I thought I'd update/close this thread out with a brief update. I have the engine on the stand, ECU pulled, and currently in the process of pulling the two main harnesses (harnessi?) As well as the pedals, and maybe the gauges even though I know I will not be using the gauges. After that, gotta get this eye sore jetta out of here before the wife kills me. Since the engine has been mounted on the stand, my garage has smelt absolutely awful. Almost like a eggy (not quite Sulfur) gross oil smell. I drained all the oil before mounting it. Of course i plan to clean it to the point where it looks brand new because I'll be rebuilding most of the engine. But does anyone know what this smell is from? I attempted to put up some pictures of it living on the stand but being on my phone now, I don't know how.

I have the transmission, both left and rear front axles kept for sale too if anyone wants them cheap DM me.
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2002 (swap from 2L gas); 2016 A3 e-tron
The most off-putting smell from the fluids in the car that I've come across - and that sounds like meets your description - is the transmission oil. That should be sealed up inside the transmission, so not sure how you'd have that smell if it's just sitting off by itself.
But if you crack that open....you recognize immediately that this is a flavour you don't come across with regular engine work.
 

99RBV

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2024
Location
Camp Pendleton
TDI
ALH
Okay yeah you're totally right, as I split the trans off the engine before even consolidating it all on a pallet let alone mounting the engine to the stand. The smell is 90% gone now after about the first week. Thanks! Now the time will come soon to figure out the best product to use on concrete floors to clean transmission fluid and oil stains.
 

jmodge

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
Okay yeah you're totally right, as I split the trans off the engine before even consolidating it all on a pallet let alone mounting the engine to the stand. The smell is 90% gone now after about the first week. Thanks! Now the time will come soon to figure out the best product to use on concrete floors to clean transmission fluid and oil stains.
dry Portland cement, work it in with a brush after removing as much of the oil with sawdust or kitty litter. Looks like new, ashes from the woodburner work ok also.
 
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