How do I check condition of an 04 Passat engine with unknown history?

Drewser

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Starting a new thread for this and not making any assumptions. Bought a project car from someone I found through a mechanic friend. Mechanic said it needs a new engine. All I know for certain is that the dipstick tube melted and exhaust was seen in the coolant bottle. And has just over 300k (EDIT: actually 235k) miles on the odometer. It's actually only a 2 owner car...spent its first 12 years in Colorado with one person then down here in Northern AZ for a few years before the guy's sister drove it in Phoenix for a few years. Aside from copious amounts of cigarette ash, the interior and leather is in surprisingly good condition.

Picking it up on a trailer tonight and going to dig into it. Based on the partial gallon of gold GM coolant in the trunk, I'm guessing maintenance was pretty bad. I need to determine if it's worth putting money into this this engine (new EGR cooler, timing belt, water pump, extensive coolant flush, double oil change, etc.) or put a used motor in. Used motor would probably still get the timing belt changed, coolant flush, oil change, etc. I suppose. I've got $300 into the entire purchase so far so have some room to "play".

TL;DR: What's the best way to determine if it's worth putting money into diagnosing and fixing this engine? Compression check? Coolant system pressure check? Where would you start troubleshooting?
 
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Drewser

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Bringing over helpful comments from the other thread. This is in regards to resurrecting the old engine:

Anyway, short answer: it will get expensive. Long answer: google "BHW balance shaft" as that will need to be addressed, too.

There are certainly lots of other things that have been neglected. Pulling the head off is not a huge deal, though. But if it got that hot, it probably is going to need a lot of work.

I love my B5s. I've cared for them since new, they are great cars. But they are FAR easier to KEEP nice than to MAKE nice, if you understand my meaning.
I'd verify it's not the egr cooler first, i got a Passat with a "blown head gasket" but it ended up being the egr cooler. I'm still running it, but now have two more b5.5 Passats.
The transmissions aren't quite as bad as the 01m, but they aren't the best either. You can get a manual swap from Dutch auto parts, i think there's a few other guys who offer them as well.
 

Drewser

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Ok, got it home tonight. White smoke out the exhaust. Took the top pipe of the EGR and started it only to have a freaking geyser of coolant blast out of it. Got a video the second time and less came out but still obvious. So guessing EGR cooler is bad? Front fan clutch busted off with the fan too.
 

Drewser

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Bump... Any thoughts on what to check next? Trying to decide if it's worth putting some money into.
 

Tom in PT

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I think you have a money pit on your hands. Even if you spend $$$$ sorting out all the problems with the engine (and all the accessories to it, including transmission) you still have a car with 300,000 miles and god knows what else needs attention, such as suspension, brakes, A/C, etc.

Part it out and recoup your investment. A better project would be a car with 1/2 that number of miles, a good engine (with balance shaft deleted) and transmission issues (these cars are commonplace, and sell for cheap). Put in a manual 5 speed and you have a winner.

To answer your other question, what to check next. see if the balance shaft is still in there. Either pull the pan or see how much oil it takes to fill the crankcase to full. Stock, with balance shaft, is about 4.5 liters IIRC. Deleted balance shaft takes about 1 liter more to full mark.
 

Mozambiquer

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I've got a good used egr cooler that came with one of my Passats. The guy had deleted it and sent the cooler with the car in case I wanted to put it back in. I'd personally either try to delete the egr (at least temporarily) then do a liqui-moly engine flush and check it out, see if it runs well. I'd probably also pull the valve cover and also check to see if the balance shaft has been deleted or converted. With 300k miles, I would assume it must have been done, but you never know.
 

Drewser

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I've got a good used egr cooler that came with one of my Passats. The guy had deleted it and sent the cooler with the car in case I wanted to put it back in. I'd personally either try to delete the egr (at least temporarily) then do a liqui-moly engine flush and check it out, see if it runs well. I'd probably also pull the valve cover and also check to see if the balance shaft has been deleted or converted. With 300k miles, I would assume it must have been done, but you never know.
First, if interested in selling, let me know what you'd take for the EGR cooler. Guessing I can just pull the coolant lines and connect them to bypass it and block off the exhaust port as a cheap delete, yes? Or or just weld it shut and bypass coolant lines? Is it steel or aluminum?

Second, how do you check the balance shaft by removing the valve cover? I thought I had to drop the oil pan and look, though I fully admit it's a very new procedure for me and I'm still reading up on it.
 

Mozambiquer

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First, if interested in selling, let me know what you'd take for the EGR cooler. Guessing I can just pull the coolant lines and connect them to bypass it and block off the exhaust port as a cheap delete, yes? Or or just weld it shut and bypass coolant lines? Is it steel or aluminum?

Second, how do you check the balance shaft by removing the valve cover? I thought I had to drop the oil pan and look, though I fully admit it's a very new procedure for me and I'm still reading up on it.
I'd probably do $50 plus shipping. I think there's new gaskets with it as well, as well as the metal lines. On my first Passat, I cut the line from the manifold and put a metal plug in then welded it up, that was 50k miles ago. I was going to get an actual plate for it, but didn't ever find the need to do that. I ran that one without a tune (egr valve plugged in) for a long time until I got a tune for it. It worked fine, though after the tune it got a lot better fuel economy. (Rocketchip rc1.5 tune)
 

Drewser

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I don't think the tuners are allowed to delete EGR or the CEL in their tunes any more. Tuner for my powerstroke got shut down a month or so ago due to EPA investigation. Guess I'll stick with EGR for now. And that's my story.
 

Mozambiquer

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I don't think the tuners are allowed to delete EGR or the CEL in their tunes any more. Tuner for my powerstroke got shut down a month or so ago due to EPA investigation. Guess I'll stick with EGR for now. And that's my story.
Yeah they're really cracking down on that right now! A local guy got a nice cease and desist letter from the EPA...
 

Tom in PT

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As to the question "how do you check the balance shaft by removing the valve cover?" You don't do it that way. You pull the oil pan off and look for it, or measure the oil capacity as I stated. I think he meant to say remove the valve cover --- to see the condition of the camshaft etc. and then (not via the valve cover) to also see if the balance shaft has been deleted or converted to a chain driven oil pump like in the ALH engines (what is what I did).
 

Drewser

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As to the question "how do you check the balance shaft by removing the valve cover?" You don't do it that way. You pull the oil pan off and look for it, or measure the oil capacity as I stated. I think he meant to say remove the valve cover --- to see the condition of the camshaft etc. and then (not via the valve cover) to also see if the balance shaft has been deleted or converted to a chain driven oil pump like in the ALH engines (what is what I did).
Yeah, that makes more sense. I was confused lol
 

Drewser

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So this is a little embarrassing. Mechanic told me that it was 300,000 mi so I just assumed that was true. I never bothered to actually look. I had to go get the title today so I looked at the odometer to see how many miles were on it to put on the title. Turns out it's only 235,000 miles.
 

Mozambiquer

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So this is a little embarrassing. Mechanic told me that it was 300,000 mi so I just assumed that was true. I never bothered to actually look. I had to go get the title today so I looked at the odometer to see how many miles were on it to put on the title. Turns out it's only 235,000 miles.
Ah, so it still has a lot of life left! I pulled the egr cooler out of the back of my other Passat (I have three right now) and it'll be on the way tomorrow.
 

Drewser

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Update: put new EGR cooler on. Not sure it helped. Still lots of white smoke in exhaust. Undid oil fill cap and it dances around... lot of pressure, white smoke coming out. That leave me at head gasket?
 

Mozambiquer

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Change the oil, there will be a lot of coolant in the exhaust system and it will smoke white for several weeks (that's how it was with mine.) Does it have pressure coming out of the cooling system still? The oil fill cap will dance around, that's normal, since the vacuum pump dumps into the crankcase, making it a positive pressure crankcase, if it shoots the cap off then that's a problem, but just dancing is fine.
I'd run a motor flush through (liqui-moly makes a good one) and change the oil, as white smoke in the crankcase is often in those cases, steam from coolant in the oil
 

Drewser

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Change the oil, there will be a lot of coolant in the exhaust system and it will smoke white for several weeks (that's how it was with mine.) Does it have pressure coming out of the cooling system still? The oil fill cap will dance around, that's normal, since the vacuum pump dumps into the crankcase, making it a positive pressure crankcase, if it shoots the cap off then that's a problem, but just dancing is fine.
I'd run a motor flush through (liqui-moly makes a good one) and change the oil, as white smoke in the crankcase is often in those cases, steam from coolant in the oil
Would this lead to really heavy white smoke in exhaust too? Car was in my driveway pointed at my garage...with a couple revs, it filled the garage with white smoke. Copius amounts. But I reeeeeeally hope you're right that an oil change and time will clean it up. I ordered a diesel compression tester on Amazon to do some more digging next week...only have a gas one.
 

Mozambiquer

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Would this lead to really heavy white smoke in exhaust too? Car was in my driveway pointed at my garage...with a couple revs, it filled the garage with white smoke. Copius amounts. But I reeeeeeally hope you're right that an oil change and time will clean it up. I ordered a diesel compression tester on Amazon to do some more digging next week...only have a gas one.
The high amount of white smoke in the exhaust is caused by all the coolant that has been dumped into the catalytic converter, resonator and muffler. You can clean them out, or just run it. I ran mine that had the egr cooler blow, and it took at least a week for the white smoke to go away. I changed the oil several times in the first couple thousand miles and I'm still driving that car 30k miles later.
 

Drewser

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Thanks. Really appreciate your input and I'm really hoping that's the problem. The anti-freeze is the wrong stuff (PO put GM in when she started having problems I guess) so I have to drain and flush that. I added some distilled water just to get the level up. However, I'm not seeing the coolant level go down in the short amount of time I've run it. I'm also not seeing any exhaust gas in the coolant bottle as far as I can tell. Oil may actually have coolant in it...looks high on the dipstick but my sniffer is not what it used to be. Does not look chocolate milky though. If coolant was in the oil, how would it get into it other than a head gasket? Honest question, trying to think through it.

We'll change the oil and flush the coolant and run it and see what happens. Repair order that came with the vehicle said the water pump was leaking but I haven't been able to confirm that, though it's a little hard to see with the top TB cover off. It for sure needs a TB change as I have no history on it, but if I have to do major surgery I'd rather wait and do the belt and wp then.
 

Mozambiquer

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Thanks. Really appreciate your input and I'm really hoping that's the problem. The anti-freeze is the wrong stuff (PO put GM in when she started having problems I guess) so I have to drain and flush that. I added some distilled water just to get the level up. However, I'm not seeing the coolant level go down in the short amount of time I've run it. I'm also not seeing any exhaust gas in the coolant bottle as far as I can tell. Oil may actually have coolant in it...looks high on the dipstick but my sniffer is not what it used to be. Does not look chocolate milky though. If coolant was in the oil, how would it get into it other than a head gasket? Honest question, trying to think through it.

We'll change the oil and flush the coolant and run it and see what happens. Repair order that came with the vehicle said the water pump was leaking but I haven't been able to confirm that, though it's a little hard to see with the top TB cover off. It for sure needs a TB change as I have no history on it, but if I have to do major surgery I'd rather wait and do the belt and wp then.
It will get coolant in the oil with an egr cooler, mine had coolant in it, though it wasn't milky. It was just that in the oil analysis it came back as having coolant, and it really steamed from the crankcase and exhaust.
 

QuickTD

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If coolant was in the oil, how would it get into it other than a head gasket? Honest question, trying to think through it.
When an engine is injesting major amounts of coolant from a bad EGR cooler, some of it will sneak by the rings and end up in the crankcase.
 

Drewser

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Update: changed oil and coolant. Did not see noticeable signs of coolant in the oil. Coolant was gross...looked like my pee when I'm dehydrated. No doubt thanks to PO mixing GM gold with G12. Will be doing timing belt and water pump soon if everything continues to work out so will get another flush then. Also have an exhaust leak now at the lower EGR cooler connection. Argh. May need a new gasket there...

As for results, little white smoke for a few minutes, then lots and lots of white smoke as things heated up. Revved a few times and let it run for about 10-15 minutes. By end, only very little white smoke coming out exhaust. I'm thinking that was burning all the coolant out of the exhaust system and now I might be ok? If I take oil fill cap off after shutting down when hot I do get vapor/white smoke coming out. Doesn't really smell like anything that I can tell. Can't remember if that's normal...

Waiting for a new cooling fan clutch from IDParts that should get here Friday and then will drive it around a little and see what happens.
 

Drewser

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Just checked compression and looks pretty good: 420, 400, 410, 410. Put the new fan clutch on and am putting things back together. I'm thinking we just drive it and see how it does now.

One concern is balance shaft...at 230k miles, would it have gone out and been fixed by now? Or do I need to verify? I'll get a video once it's running and see if any of you more experienced folks hear anything funky. That's a new area for me.

Engine mounts are probably shot too but that's another day... Next is timing belt once I know all is ok otherwise.
 

Lotawood

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If you put the front into service position for the timing belt, not much extra work to drop the oil pan. I would want to see balance shaft situation.
You could look early then order just a timing belt kit or a deluxe delete kit that includes timing belt kit.

I bet a video with good enough sound would help. But it looks like you have had enough TDIs to know what a bad one sounds like, balance shaft chain end of life.

I haven't done a compression check on a VW, but those look like good close numbers and diesel compression numbers.
 

Drewser

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But it looks like you have had enough TDIs to know what a bad one sounds like, balance shaft chain end of life.
This is my first Passat and until Oilhammer mentioned to research the balance shaft situation, I had no idea what it even was lol.
 

Drewser

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Here's video of the engine running. I can't tell if I hear rattle or not. Considering the lack of maintenance I'm seeing and the quick lube sticker on the window LW is probably right that I should check next time I'm digging in for major surgery...

 
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