Knot headed repairs

Doug Jr

Sep 27, 2020
2011 Sportwagen
Recently drove 470 miles to visit my 94 yr old Dad. Upon reaching the exit off I-10 west within the Florida panhandle, then slowing for the exit the TDI slipped into "limp" forcing an exit into the immediately to the right fast food place.
Not new to mechanical repairs, I let it sit a few minutes as it acted as though the fuel pump had overheated or gave up the ghost. It restarted a few minutes later & operated well out to my brothers property where I was staying for a few days. I had no more issues while there, filled the tank, headed the 470 miles home but getting 300 from my brothers on I-10 East, it came out of Cruise and back into "limp". Sat on the highway again for 10 minutes or so, stretched my legs, fired it up went immediately to the next exit advertising diesel, wheeled in and filled up thinking if the pump is overheating a full tank will drop the fuel temp from the return function and I might make it home and I did.
That's the background on this saga. I drove my lifted 2 door Yukon for the next few days, did some research on the car, it's well kept with records dating from the 1st purchase, I acquired it @ 105,000 miles as the 2nd owner out of Palm Beach, Florida. In the past I was a VW service manager then Tech Rep for VW so I'm familiar with the VW, Audi & Porsche products, idiosyncrasies & warranty index repair numbers concerning specific repeat part failures, as in "Jetta series Lift pumps", so I order this part as well as a primary and fuel filter from a Washington state Dealership that does a great wholesale business.

Yesterday I had time to replace these parts at a buddies shop, since the car now has 115,000 miles, it's not that unusual for the fuel lift pump to have failed if not replaced in the past, within the records there was no work showing this specific repair nor the primary fuel pump. I replace the primary pump, the fuel filter (surgically clean there) went under the seat pulled the combo float/lift pump assembly setting it to the side noticing that it was unusually not discolored for the mileage showing but contained what appeared to be the bacterial growth seen in older diesel tanks that have sat for years without use. But, when I pulled a handful out of the cup the lift pump resides within it was fibrous not vegetative. I took a light looked into the tank expecting to see growth but it was clean as a pin except for the "marine bilge diaper" floating just off the bottom of the tank.
Some knot head, likely used the diaper to clean up diesel when replacing the lift/float assembly, it fell in the tank, was not seen nor retrieved before it was resealed and away the car went. Floating just above the bottom of the tank, the lift pump suction lifted the diaper covering the inlet, shutting off the fuel supply to the primary pump forcing the "limp" mode & no start until sitting in the off position the suction loss allowed the diaper to float off the suction port, when the car would restart. Additionally the diaper hindered the float position at times disallowing an accurate fuel gauge reading.

Some folks should practice something other than mechanical repairs because this was simply boneheaded & lacking the necessary attention to detail required for professional standards.

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Veteran Member
Jun 18, 2015
Greenville, MI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
That was $h!tty