passat manual transmission swap...or not?

dkiikka

Member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Location
Ohio
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon
I have a 04 passat tdi with 250k miles that I bought new. It's now our "second" car that hauls my dogs and 13' Scamp around. The transmission failed suddenly and I am 99.7% sure is toast with 4 error codes and dribbling oil, unknown to me, for 30 miles before I made it home.
It has a geared bsm, on the 3rd camshaft and timing belt, 4th right axle and flooded TCM in the past.......other than that it's comfortable and always driven great. I've done all work since 100k. It's the devil I know.
My dilemma is; is it worth saving by converting it to a manual or scrap it out and buy something else? It's not worth much as is and probably wouldn't be worth much more (to others) if converted to to a manual. But to me...
Dutch Auto has a swap kit with an EEN for a total rough cost of $1800-$1900 to my door. It seems to include everything including a new Valeo clutch set and new outer CV joints. Quality German has an FHN kit for $1500 that has a used clutch-flywheel set no shipping included, so maybe around $2300 to my door with new clutch. Labor is free.
I need to make a presentation to the financial committee on how to regain the function of our second vehicle, either fix or replace. Would I be beating a dead horse with 250k miles by converting the Passat?
Thanks for any thoughts....?
 

d24tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Location
MT
TDI
97 AHU in a Toyota pickup
Can you get a replacement vehicle that fits your needs equally well for the same ~$2500 (don't forget the cost of ECU tune for manual swap, and that number takes you at your word that you consider your time to be free) that you would have equal confidence in as you would in this car with the transmission swap completed?

If the answer is no, and you still like driving the car and know the history, might be worth it. I think the way you're thinking about it is the right way (at least it makes sense to me), looking at the cost and value not in terms of its resale value but rather its value to you relative to alternatives. Almost never pencils to do something like this from the perspective of resale value, so anyone considering it on that basis would best forget about it. But if it gets you a practical and reliable vehicle you expect to get good use out of, and you don't mind the work, and the cost is similar to or less than an equivalent replacement, it could be a logical decision, even if by conventional reasoning putting $2500 and significant time into a broken old car with 250,000 miles would be hard to defend.

Put differently, if it's a decision between $2500 to regain use of a car you like and that works for you, versus a greater cost to replace it with something you like less or that doesn't suit your needs as well, then it doesn't matter that you're spending more than the car's value to keep it going and in fact that's probably the right decision. I (and probably most of us still keeping these cars on the road) face this kind of logic often and so far it has worked out this way for me most of the time.

But if any of the above is not the case, or if you and/or your counterpart already were looking for a reason to replace it, might make more sense to move on. Sounds like the car doesn't owe you much either way, fortunately.
 

vwztips

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2009
Location
Greenville, SC
TDI
2005 Passat GLS Wagon TDI 5 spd manual w/BSM delete 2012 Tiguan TDI/DSG 2004 Audi TT R-line Conv 2011 BMW X5 35d
I vote fix it.

Buying another used car with unknown service history may put you in much deeper financial hole.

At least with the Passat, you know what you have
 

bbob203

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Location
Louisville, ky
TDI
b5.5v
I would keep it. I’m at 349k on my body and transmission. The engine has 270k BSM delete and original cam which is fine(not sure why you’ve gone through 3 cams). My transmission is starting to act up I think the Torque converter is going out after my recent 3,000 mile road trip. I’m likely going to find a good used Automatic transmission and install a new torque converter I have in my stock of parts.
 

JELLOWSUBMARINE

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Location
yes
TDI
2011 JSW 2008 E350 6.0
My vote is convert. The wife breifly convinced me to sell my 04. Bought from the 1st owner in perfect well maintained cond. 225k threw a transmission code several times but overall looked and drove like new... Regret...
 

tikal

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2001
Location
Southeast Texas
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon (chainless + 5 MT + GDE tune)
I would keep it. I’m at 349k on my body and transmission. The engine has 270k BSM delete and original cam which is fine(not sure why you’ve gone through 3 cams). My transmission is starting to act up I think the Torque converter is going out after my recent 3,000 mile road trip. I’m likely going to find a good used Automatic transmission and install a new torque converter I have in my stock of parts.
The BHW cams have shown more than anecdotally to have premature wear-out. Few companies have provided alternatives that address this design flaw but cost more $$$.

For owners that have never experienced this problem, well it obviously does not exist :)
 

bbob203

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Location
Louisville, ky
TDI
b5.5v
The BHW cams have shown more than anecdotally to have premature wear-out. Few companies have provided alternatives that address this design flaw but cost more $$$.

For owners that have never experienced this problem, well it obviously does not exist :)
Oh yea for sure they wear out but 3! I have a motor in my garage thats at 315,000 the cam is toast which is why I’m making it a hybrid 2.0ALH. Anyhow I was lucky to get a car with only 80,000 on the motor and I’ve run schaeffers or rotella 5w40 exclusively for the last 200,000.
 

papasmurf

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2014
Location
Orlando
TDI
1997 jetta tdi, 2004 passat sedan tdi, 2005 passat wagon tdi , 2005 passat sedan tdi
One thing to consider is the clutch. I have researched and read so much on peoples experiences and I myself keep coming back to needing the clutch flywheel package that Whitbread sells. I have a stage 2 malone tune and I also do some towing so I have to get whats best or I will be doing it the right way later. His combo it right under a grand and lets you use the 240mm flywheel with the 5 speed and bhw starter. The next best thing is sending off what you get from Frans to southbend and having them reline it and do their magic.
 

dkiikka

Member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Location
Ohio
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon
Thanks all for your replies. I count 5 yeas and 1 thoughtful maybe. The full cost will probably be closer to $2500+, I forgot about the $300 reflash.

bbob203, I've replaced the cam twice, once at 100 and 200k when I did the timing belt replacements. A few of the lobes had most of the chamfer on the lobe edge worn away. The first 100k oil changes were done with questionable oil. I've used Liquimoly ever since, however even at 200k the chamfers were worn again. The PD engine has very narrow lobes that are subject to high contact pressure. I think I read somewhere that the narrow lobes were a design compromise.
My auto trans had 2 oil and filter changes. Before I did the second one at around 245k, I noticed that when cruising in a higher gear that the engine rpms would randomly come up 100 rpm for a few seconds then go back down, without any change in speed. I thought an oil change may help. I may have caused its demise by the recent change but others would say i was lucky enough to get 250k. Replacing it with a "good" used one would be my first choice but they seem to have such a bad reputation that I have not even considered that as an option. And as I mentioned, the TCM has been flooded several times, not due to the sunroof drains but the drain under the battery getting clogged. This problem came to my attention when all of the shifter lights lit up, then noticed all the water on the passenger floor. I then had learned what transmission limp mode is. I now have a reminder on my phone to annually remove the battery and clean the drain out. However, now when I start the car there is a chance that it imediatly goes into limp mode. If I turn it of then start the engine again, all is fine (except for a few error codes it throws). Its never gone into limp when driving. I thought it's just too much to consider a used tiptronic along with a questionable TCM. I think that the manual convert is the way to go if I keep it. Just need to sell this to my wife.
Hopefully we can make a decision in the next week......
 

bbob203

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Location
Louisville, ky
TDI
b5.5v
I have a pretty complete 5 speed swap I would sell as I’m going to find a good used auto for mine rather do a swap. I will get it all organized it has a whitbread flywheel but will need a pressure plate and disc.
 

dkiikka

Member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Location
Ohio
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon
Bbob203, why did you decide to get a used auto vs proceeding with the manual swap? If I thought I could find a used auto that had life left in it I would go that way. I just don't know how to evaluate one and most are without any warranty. I think my wife may not like the car as a manual at this point even though she wanted one when we bought it in '04. And it would be a lot less of my free labor.
If I move on the manual swap, what parts do you have that you are looking to sell?
 

bbob203

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Location
Louisville, ky
TDI
b5.5v
Bbob203, why did you decide to get a used auto vs proceeding with the manual swap? If I thought I could find a used auto that had life left in it I would go that way. I just don't know how to evaluate one and most are without any warranty. I think my wife may not like the car as a manual at this point even though she wanted one when we bought it in '04. And it would be a lot less of my free labor.
If I move on the manual swap, what parts do you have that you are looking to sell?
The 5 speed swap came out of a car I bought mostly for the engine. I was never set on using it for sure. I would trust an auto with less than 100k on it but definitely would use a new TC... my current is just starting to act up at 350,000. I think these trannys are better that people give them credit for just seems the TC’s are the weaker link. My reasoning for a good used auto is that I drive a lot with other people in the car who may end up having to drive on long trips and they can’t drive a manual especially in city traffic. I would like a 5 speed manual but it will limit my ability to take breaks from driving on long trips.
 

tikal

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2001
Location
Southeast Texas
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon (chainless + 5 MT + GDE tune)
Oh yea for sure they wear out but 3! I have a motor in my garage thats at 315,000 the cam is toast which is why I’m making it a hybrid 2.0ALH. Anyhow I was lucky to get a car with only 80,000 on the motor and I’ve run schaeffers or rotella 5w40 exclusively for the last 200,000.

The way I have read here in TDIClub is that there have been some earlier cam batches worse than later ones. Using the right HDEO or 505.01 (5W40) would help but sometimes despite the oil being used you still get early wear-out and by 'early' I mean around 100K rather than lasting you double that or triple.
 

dkiikka

Member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Location
Ohio
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon
I have decided to move on from the Passat. It's been a really tough decision. I was sure I was going to do the conversion.
After watching an old episode of Kung Fu where a lesson was to be wise enough to know when let go of something before that thing possesses you. The Passat immediately came to mind and the path was clear...
I'll post it in the for sale section soon.
Thanks all again for your input.
 

imo000

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Location
Cambridge
TDI
2009 M-B ML320 Diesel & '05 Passat TDI Manual 5-Speed
You are not going to be able to get another car for $2K (cost of the swap)
 

Warthog

Veteran Member
Joined
May 16, 2004
Location
Clemson, SC
TDI
see Bio
I bought a conversion 05 Passat TDI from vwztips a long time ago. It had about 218K miles on it and now has turned over 300K.
Unless you have other bigger problems, do the conversion.
 

PickleRick

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Location
Greenville sc
TDI
05 GLS BHW sedan 5 speed conversion. BHW Carver SantaCruz in progress
2k is a little tight. If you dont add power via tune.
My kinda budget 5 speed swap
Tune 400 matt Whitbread
5 speed v6 passat (one 600 one 300)
Balance delee shaft parts and timing belt 400
Whitbread fx300 clutch and fw 1300ish

Cv axles came with v6 5 speed junk gasser.




Parts i should have replaced and you should consider during the swap i ended up replacing since or right before the swap

Tandem pump and gasket chesp ebay version going strong 20k miles 175
Rear coolant flange thingy (cheap ebay maybe 30)
Rear coolant and heater core hoses (free at my shop or a couple bucks a foot)

AC fan, ecu relay under hood and ac relay under dash. These all fail and are common issues. I had junk spares from scrapped passats but they wont last as long as new. 45 plus each.

Check tie rod ends inner and outer. I needed new ones and all control arms.

I spend a year parting out passats, made a couple hundred and then 125 each for shell at scrap yard. Sold a wagon for 250 to a guy on cl.

I now have a stock pile to convert my other 05 passat sedan to 5 speed minus tune, bs delete and flyweel clutch kit.

I don't see it as a 2k swap unless you use a cheap 1.8t clutch flyweel kit with a stock hp tune.

2500ish plus from frans plus flyweel clurch, axles and tune.

That you doing all labor.

I dont convert them and sell them because 3000 bucks plus a 500 dollar car is only a 3000 dollar car if it's clean enough. My labor is worth more than that.

I may be forgetting stuff. It's rum day at the lake and i gave sunscreen in one of my eyes.
 
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