Project Resurrection: Rebuilding a Junkyard Bound TDI

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Back in the great Craigslist days of 2016 I came across a 1998 Jetta TDI forsale 400miles from home. Well, it was actually an AHU engine as the owner was no longer able to get the car to pass CA Smog tests anymore. Since he no longer had to commute from Sacramento to Merced, he decided to sell. I ended up convincing him to sell me the whole car 'as-is' and well the rest became history. Drove it back 400miles home and it sat for a number of years. The plan was to build a California 'Winter' Car: Lifted TDI on All Terrain tires.




 
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Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
So in late 2023 I ended up having time to bring this car out of slumber. The list was long, timing belt, water pump, ignition switch issues, suspension, steering, brakes, interior, leaking trunk all on top of fixing the coolant temp issue.





 
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Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Like all enthusiasts, first order of business was the suspension lift. Maintenance can wait. I can pump the brakes to stop, and lift the clutch pedal to shift. I found a B4 Passat Wagon VR6 in a junkyard and stripped it of the parts I needed: Front & Rear Springs. Purchased new shocks, struts, mounts, bellows & bump-stops. Everything went on smooth, but the front suspension didn't sit even. So I purchased some early MK2 strut bodies, cut them in half and extended them an inch or two(cant remember). The result, a decent lift with good suspension dynamics. Coupled with a set of Goodyear Wrangler 195/75R14 tires and we had clearance Clarence.







It was just all too well timed that I got a flat.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Next up was the interior:

-3.5 Cabrio Steering Wheel
-Deluxe Radio w AUX input
-VDO Boost Gauge
-Monster Mats
-New Shift Boot

I had swapped the interior too, the sheep skin covered seats were ok, but were ugly and worn. I ended up buying a set of Sport Plaids from a GTI, had them repaired with a little reupholster work, and cleaned them up with a bit of vacuum extraction. The seats were probably the easiest and most satisfying upgrade so far.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
The interior transformation made a big difference in comfort. Tossed the old seats out and shampooed the carpet.








Bonus shot of all the dirty extracted water from the carpet.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Fun! I liked my '98 Jetta, hated to sell it, wish I didn't.

Nowadays, many parts for them are difficult to find. Kudos to bringing it back to roadworthy!
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Wife’s car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
Did I miss the after interior shots. You said you put in plaids from a GTI which is an MK5 or 6 correct? Was there any issues fitting them to the seat rail system VW seems to use?
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Did I miss the after interior shots. You said you put in plaids from a GTI which is an MK5 or 6 correct? Was there any issues fitting them to the seat rail system VW seems to use?
These are MK3 Sport Plaids, you might need to weld in a bracket or two for MK5/MK6 seats.

Took some time to compile the photos of the seats before & after. I didn't have a picture of the bolster repair that was done. Though I went to a junkyard and found a mk4 that used the same exact fabric on a MK4 seat, cut an oversized section and took it to an upholsterer with just the Sport Plaid seat cover and he charged under $100 to make it look OEM again. It probably cost me $125 to repair after buying the seat cover from the junkyard. Why'd I take the seat cover off before giving it to him for repair? He couldn't guarantee he would be able to take it off without damaging the tabs securing the fabric, and it was around an extra $100 for him to do the R&I.



This is what I used to "shampoo" the seats and carpet: small shop vac & a bottle of Chemical Guys Fabric Clean diluted in a spray bottle. You could say its essentially did a fabric extractor does, but with more effort.



Process was Spray, Scrub, Vacuum. It worked out very well.



Here's a 50/50 & after. This process worked better than expected


Once they were both clean, I installed new seat guides & greased the rails. I did the same with the back seats.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Is this written up anywhere?
I used this link as a reference, but lifted the car my own way as well. I drove another car that used more of the B4 suspension components and didnt like how rough the front suspension was so I opted for the MK2 Shocks to give a softer front ride. I also just found RisingTuning that makes a 30mm spring spacer to give the car a lift.

I did a lot of google searching and found Frankencar's posts to get an idea of what I was getting into. I had a bunch of photos that I lost that covered this but this is exactly what I used:

Front Suspension:
-Early MK2 Strut bodies that used shock inserts:
-Cut the strut in half and extended 1" and raised the bottom seat 1" to compensate for the extension so that the shock didn't sit lower.
-Installed new Sachs strut inserts
-B4 VR6 Front Spring
-OEM MK4 VR6 Front Strut Spacer to level the front suspension w the rear
-MK3 Meyle HD Strut Mounts & New Bearings

Rear Suspension:
-B4 Sachs rear shock
-B4 VR6 Wagon Spring
-MK3 Rear Strut Mounts

Here's an image of the strut body I took recently, you can see the beefy welded in section.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Fun! I liked my '98 Jetta, hated to sell it, wish I didn't.

Nowadays, many parts for them are difficult to find. Kudos to bringing it back to roadworthy!
I have amassed a small hoard of the 'hard to find' parts, but parts aren't really that hard to find anymore as there's still a lot of support from European models and the guys here all have some of what you'll need. Being that this is a California car, its helped a lot on the wear and tear you see on East Coast vehicles, but all in all, I haven't had any issues sourcing parts.

I do plan on selling the car sooner than later... this was one of those projects I never finished and now that its getting closer to completion, I'm looking for the next project. I just want this car to be 100% solid before its sold.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Wife’s car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
These are MK3 Sport Plaids, you might need to weld in a bracket or two for MK5/MK6 seats.

Took some time to compile the photos of the seats before & after. I didn't have a picture of the bolster repair that was done. Though I went to a junkyard and found a mk4 that used the same exact fabric on a MK4 seat, cut an oversized section and took it to an upholsterer with just the Sport Plaid seat cover and he charged under $100 to make it look OEM again. It probably cost me $125 to repair after buying the seat cover from the junkyard. Why'd I take the seat cover off before giving it to him for repair? He couldn't guarantee he would be able to take it off without damaging the tabs securing the fabric, and it was around an extra $100 for him to do the R&I.



This is what I used to "shampoo" the seats and carpet: small shop vac & a bottle of Chemical Guys Fabric Clean diluted in a spray bottle. You could say its essentially did a fabric extractor does, but with more effort.



Process was Spray, Scrub, Vacuum. It worked out very well.



Here's a 50/50 & after. This process worked better than expected


Once they were both clean, I installed new seat guides & greased the rails. I did the same with the back seats.


Very nice, Great job!!
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
So now we fastforward a bit a few years after the car sat a while. I found another MK3 TDI in a yard about 1.5 hours from home and wanted a few parts as spares(I should have taken some more stuff but I didn't know what the real hard-to-find parts were. I still don't know everything). More so I wanted the entire induction system for a MK3 1.8t Swap I have planned for my GTI. This was a 1998, and it was hit in the front. Looking back, this thing was really clean, should have taken the whole motor.





 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Then a package from the UK showed up with a PD130 Intake manifold. I actually have 2 of them. Just not sure if I want to do the EGR delete as California smog laws are far more strict than lenient.



I also bought an engine cover.

 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
I started driving the car more, while Timing Belt parts were ordered and waiting for delivery. Plus I was ordering hardware to replace certain bolts because well, I'm going this far, why not make it all look good too.

So driving around I kept getting an intermittent check engine light. If I took freeway onramps a little too spirited, I would get an 'Internal Control Module Memory Error'. Then roughly 20-40 miles later of normal driving, would disappear. Drive hard, CEL, drive normal, it goes away.


I got annoyed of it enough to research this issue, and turns out it's pretty common. Changed this little vacuum tube inside the ECU and the problem went away. It never caused a noticeable performance issue, but the CEL was annoying enough. Had to ziptie the ends as the factory spring clamps were too small for the thicker hose.

 

JordanTr

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2022
Location
Kimberley, BC
TDI
1996 B4V x3, 2006 Dmax, 2005 Allroad, 2005 BHW
Getting to be the nicest "junkyard bound" car there ever was. Nice work!
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
As the Jetta became my new daily driver (I let a family member borrow my MK5 Fahrenheit Jetta), I needed more creature comforts for the interior. The interior lighting always seemed too dim to give enough useable light at night. So I dusted off my 3D Printer and printed a base to accept a few COB style LED lights to fit into the dome light. Soldered it up, and it was exactly what I was after(Interior shot soon to come).

 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Then going down the route of electrical repairs, I finally tackled the trunk seals for the wiring harness. The trunk never leaked, but it was kinda ugly to see the wires hanging loose. Every MK3 I've ever own has had these seals either missing or cracked, but I've collected a few good ones from junkyard cars. I de-pinned the harness and ran the wires through the grommets. Quite a bit of dielectric grease was used to slide the wires through, the seal was TIGHT. Don't worry, the trunk jams were cleaned after these photos.


 
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garciapiano

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Location
Southern California
TDI
1997 Jetta TDI (1Z)
Then going down the route of electrical repairs, I finally tackled the trunk seals for the wiring harness. The trunk never leaked, but it was kinda ugly to see the wires hanging loose. Every MK3 I've ever own has had these seals either missing or cracked, but I've collected a few good ones from junkyard cars. I de-pinned the harness and ran the wires through the grommets. Quite a bit of dielectric grease was used to slide the wires through, the seal was TIGHT. Don't worry, the trunk jams were cleaned after these photos.
snip
It's all about these little touches. I'm pretty sure these cars never had the grommets on the trunk from the factory, at least on the trunk lid. Some kind of mass oversight. I've never seen it on any Mk3 I've ever seen, or in the junkyard. What's the part number for that piece?
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
I took a quick pic today and saw 1H5971907C on the upper one I used on the trunk.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Now the brakes. This was a fiasco. Driving the car around I'd have to pump the brake pedal then one day, I didnt have to anymore. (Still had to lift the clutch pedal to shift every so often). So I decided to treat the car and order some ATE front rotors and Pagid pads. While at it I adjusted the rear shoes and now the handbrake travel wasnt so high and the car stopped much better.



So one day I felt really optimistic and wanted to treat the car. Filling up with Diesel Kleen additive for weeks, doing all this maintenance, made me feel all giddy. I was going to bleed the brakes. Dude, was I wrong. I siphon the brake master and get my brake bleeder out.



Only the front right caliper was not bleeding. AT ALL. No fluid coming out of the bleeder, took the bleeder out and nothing. Moved onto the rear drums, and they BOTH wouldnt bleed. So I figured let me take the bleeder off, and pump the brakes. Nothing. Got more aggressive with the brake pedal, and I lost all fluid motion. F***! I destroyed the brake master. Car sat for a week while I waited for FCP to deliver new ATE Wheel Cylinders & Calipers.
 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Weeks prior I installed new control arms & balljoints, and I noticed my driver side balljoint was missing 1 bolt and the other 2 were loose. I know I tightened them, but I didnt thread lock them. Lessen learned. So in the week waiting for parts, I decided to replace the tierods I previously ordered. The ones on the car were the original VW parts, lasting the test of time since 1998 and 285,000 miles. Rented a puller and they wouldnt come off. Blasted the shaft with PB Blaser and hit the spindle a little to shock it. Nothing. Then as a last resort I took a 20lb dumbbell and set the entire weight of the car to get it to set free and with a swift hit from a hammer, it broke free. New ones were installed w anti-sieze so this wouldn't happen again.


 

Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Brake parts finally arrived and just about everything within the hydraulic system has been replaced on this car: Brake Master, Front Calipers, Brake Hoses, Rear Wheel Cylinders, plus Clutch Master & Slave Cylinder. I've wanted to see if the stainless steel clutch hose options make a true difference, so I ordered a few fittings & a Braided AN Hose to replace the clutch hose. I'll report back once they're installed, but I will say bleeding the clutch sucks on these cars, the clutch pedal feels limp like air stays in the system until you drive the car around.
























Had I known any better, I could have taken these wheel cylinders apart and cleaned them to unclog.
 
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Ajlal24

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Location
California
TDI
98 Jetta TDI, 2012 Golf TDI
Next order of business was the Timing Belt. I purchased a Continental kit from another forum member years back, but still ordered a new Water Pump, Serp Pulley, Coolant Reservoir, Coolant Hoses, Crank Sprocket & Pulley; plus since I was in there, I bought a new AC Pump for good measure. This amazon counter hold tool worked great to tighten the crank pulley, but note you need two people to torque the bolt down properly.



 

RexNICO

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2013
Location
South West OH
TDI
2011 Tiguan, 2011 Q7

I do plan on selling the car sooner than later... this was one of those projects I never finished and now that its getting closer to completion, I'm looking for the next project. I just want this car to be 100% solid before its sold.
Be interested to see the For Sale post when time comes.
 
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