Time to "End of Life" my '03 Golf TDI?

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Bought new and never returned to a dealer until it was almost 12 years old for rust repair under warranty. 155K miles, uses no oil, but increasing niggling problems- rust hole at the front of a rocker panel, rusted out steel wheels developing leaks around the valve stem, AC quit, oily smoke when cold, a failed glow plug that busted off when I tried to replace it, the brake hydraulics were getting suspect, and I needed to replace a rusted out rear brake backing plate before it took out the ABS sensor, etc..

So I order up the parts, figure the hub will get ruined so order that and a stub axle too. May as well replace the suspect rear springs as long as I'm in there. Get the car up on the lift and goes pretty well, even the hub slides on the stub axle without the usual battle. But the ABS sensor can't be removed without destroying it, so I wait a few more days for another ABS sensor... Which doesn't fit. Then I manage to bleed 3 brakes as the left front bleeder broke off despite liberal application of penetrating oil.

So now the cars been taking up space in my shop for a couple weeks and I really need to get the Golf 7 in to fit a bash plate before winter. So I give the brake pedal a few pushes to see if it's still firm... Not much resistance. Then I look for leaks and notice that I'd forgotten that the whole right rear caliper is still off and I'd darn near pumped the piston out of the caliper. Managed to push it back in and put it all back together, but some brake fluid leaked out and after I put it all back together the brake pedal is still soft. Stuff like that happens when a repair drags out for weeks and you forget what you'd done. The car is in worse shape than I started, and looks like I need to spend hundreds more- 2 or 4 calipers depending on whether I can get that busted left front bleeder screw out without trashing that caliper. And did I mention the rusting brake line I noticed?

Then what else is going to break?

The A4s are great cars, but rust never sleeps and aftermarket parts quality gets dodgy after a decade or two. Here in the rust belt cars are a lost battle after 10-15 years, though their now galvanized bodies look great. My Golf 7 TDI's a keeper and I can buy most any new car, cash. So should I pull this Golf 4 out back and forget it, or is it worth another few hundred dollars in parts?
 

jmodge

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
Rust sucks, I think there might be more salt on our roads than in the ocean
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Sorry, no children handy, never mind handy children or adults for that matter... Just this 70 year ol' lady playing mechanic. Rust is like death and taxes around here, though this A4 is resisting the rot a lot better then my '98 Ranger pickup whose deceivingly solid cab belies everything that has rusted away underneath.

This morning I re bled the right rear caliper I damn near forced the piston out of with a slight fluid loss when I must have disturbed the seal. Pedal is now sorta firm, but not as firm as I'd prefer and it's not leaking. Before I spend several hundred more I'm tempted to call it good, shop for a new car, and hope I never need to drive it again. Love my Golf 4, but when they're going for $1k on Craig's List it ain't worth dumping a lot more $$$ into it.
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
Though it sounds like a lot of work, if it don't need a turbo or injection pump, it shouldn't be too costly. You may need to repeat bleed the 4 wheels and the clutch. No tolerance for brake fluid leak. Take your time, you'll get it roadable, if not saleable.
 

GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
You could look for a used set of calipers it would be a bit cheaper that way, or you could post it in the wanted/ for sale forum if your just wanting to sell it. If i was closer i might have been interested...
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Problem is, the "sheeple" have fallen in love with big SUVs and trucks, so small cars are undervalued. I have friends who actually believe that you need a full size pickup to pull a fold down camper and that gas will be $2 a gallon forever. Thus while a year ago an A4 TDI typically sold for 10-20% of new price, today even a perfect one will bring maybe 10% of new price. So it's hard to justify $500 for new calipers and master cylinder and some lines when the whole car won't be worth much more afterward.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
You could look for a used set of calipers it would be a bit cheaper that way, or you could post it in the wanted/ for sale forum if your just wanting to sell it. If i was closer i might have been interested...
We may have met before- I bought a used A4 Golf hood from a guy up by Cambridge a few years back. Been following your Beetle rehab and I'm impressed by your skills! I'm about 200 miles away, a bit southwest of Marshall, MN
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
................................snip......................................155K miles, uses no oil, but increasing niggling problems................................snip......................................
If the rust monster don't get it, that car could go another150k.
 

Steve140

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2002
Location
Komoka, Ontario
TDI
2000 & 2011 Golf TDIs
I keep my 2000 Golf as my winter warrior now. I have a newer one that I don’t want to drive in the salt. Every fall I touch up the rust spots with some tremclad silver paint, and fix what needs to be fixed. I probably spend more than what it’s worth but I’ve had this car forever. 600,000 km now. Still love the car.
 

GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
We may have met before- I bought a used A4 Golf hood from a guy up by Cambridge a few years back. Been following your Beetle rehab and I'm impressed by your skills! I'm about 200 miles away, a bit southwest of Marshall, MN
I could be wrong, but if he was a forum member it was probably GreenGeeker (great guy BTW. he's been doing all my advanced mechanical work for the "red beetle rehab"). I've only been a member for 3 years, though I have been here since I was 15. Thank you, it's been a lot of fun to work on that car!

the price for tdi's in MN has been fluctuating a lot lately. I have seen a fine looking wagon on CL for 2 weeks now for a grand, but just sold my GlowBug for about double that. So right now it's all in what people are willing to pay and finding the right buyer. IDK what you have down there for junk yards but up here we have a place where i can get good used mk4 calipers for $8 each. so maybe you might find some for around that price if you do a lil calling around.
 

GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
What you have going for you though is that it has 150k on it! around here (MN) that's harder to find. I think it might be worth more then you think. not trying to sway you one way or another, but just to keep in mind...
 

JB05

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Location
Il.USA
TDI
Golf,2005,anthracite blue
This past Summer I had to cut out the rust from the front of my hood as well as the two fenders, and patched them up and painted them. Also I replaced both frozen rear calipers with new TRW's from idparts. All due to rust and salt.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Historically a TDI in running condition no matter how old was worth 10-20% of original price so it was safe to spend even a thousand $$$ on repairs. Right now Craig's List has this Golf, asking $1500: https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/wsh/for/d/saint-paul-park-2002-vw-golf-gl-tdi/7211782251.html
That car's pretty much a twin of mine, black 2 door 'cept mine has a manual trans, and mine has less rust. Meanwhile the cheapest CR I found was a 2009 for $4400 and most are over $6000 while two decade old Cummins 12 valve powered pickups go for crazy money... Seems to me there's a market inbalance there, but the again maybe a lot of used TDI buyers are won over by the 2009 and later TDI's half again more power than an ALH and the emissions warranty?
 

GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
Well if you decide to sell it definitely through it on the forum!

12 valves are crazy expensive even with all the rust, I just use my 1.9 as a farm vehicle😁. Only time I need something bigger is for bringing cattle home, and to the butcher.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
I keep amazing the locals with what a TDI can haul- Got one of the cheap 4x8 $400 trailers from Fleet Farm and added a plywood floor, tie downs, side boards, etc. and I've hauled a small diesel tractor, motorcycles, 1200 pounds of wood pellet fuel, etc.! I'm currently dickering on a new Ford Transit Connect van or SUV partly so I can get a bit more capacity for hauling, now I have to take the implements off the tractor to get it below the hitch's 2000 pound rating.
 

fatmobile

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2019
Location
north iowa
TDI
an ALH M-TDI in a MK2, a 2000 Jetta
Is your Golf a 2-door?
The one one craiglist is a 2 door automatic.
There is a 4-door manual on there that they are asking way more for.
 

Jr mason

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Location
Andover, Ohio
TDI
01 Beetle 5 speed
To me assessing a cars value goes beyond it's monetary worth. The other question is could you buy something as reliable for what you can get out of yours. If the answer is no and you have to pile a bunch of Benjamin's on top of the sale of your car the true value of your Golf just went up.

Of course if there are structural or safety concerns this all goes out the window. I completely feel your pain on fighting rust. I live just off Lake Erie in the snow belt of Ohio, we average north Of 100" a year. We don't get real cold either which allows for the super duper acceleration of oxidation compared to if it got and stayed cold for months.

I would love to find a parts car with your mileage. I'm close to double and have some tired components that could use freshened up. Namely a vnt and injectors. But she still runs well enough to get down the road and still gets pretty good fuel mileage.

P.S. I just replaced both front calipers. They have a lot of miles on them but if you like I can make sure the piston pushes back in like it should and send it to you for the cost of shipping.
 

Rrusse11

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Location
PA Deutsch Country
TDI
2002 Golf, 5spd; 05 Jeep CRD
So let me get this right, you object to spending $s because "it ain't worth it". Cars ain't worth anything in and of themselves, their a hole in the road you pour money into, to borrow a marine analogy. They cost to go down that road,
and they keep costing, ALL the time, (think insurance sitting in your driveway). The economic arguments are absurd in my view, to listen to the banks you're better off in debt. BS!!
Now rust is a killer, I'll grant you that, and can and does compromise safety. But to regard vehicles as "investments"
is crazy, unless you're buying vintage porsches and ferraris et al. Fix it and run it till it won't run no more is my approach, especially if you're capable of doing at least some of the repairs and maintenance yourself. At least you know what you've got, any used replacement is just another money pit.
Lol, and this ends the rant,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 

turbocharged798

Veteran Member
Joined
May 21, 2009
Location
Ellenville, NY
TDI
99.5 black ALH Jetta;09 Gasser Jetta
In my experience, any TDI you get for $1000-1500 is going to be a rolling dumpster fire. I have bought a few of them over the years and they usually end up needing a ton of work to get where I find them roadworthy. A lot of people will just drive them into the ground and not fix a darn thing. People usually don't sell nice well maintained TDIs, they usually sell the ones that need work and have problems.
 

jmodge

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
In my experience, any TDI you get for $1000-1500 is going to be a rolling dumpster fire. I have bought a few of them over the years and they usually end up needing a ton of work to get where I find them roadworthy. A lot of people will just drive them into the ground and not fix a darn thing. People usually don't sell nice well maintained TDIs, they usually sell the ones that need work and have problems.
Not to mention some of the $3500 TDI's that are rolling dumpster fires
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
OK, I understand that some folks are running TDIs and other vehicles into the ground because they can't afford or can't get financing for a new better vehicle. But my own experience from my own vehicles and the fleets I've worked in like Hostess, UPS, and the Postal Service is that in most cases keeping a vehicle about 10 years is right. After that things get ugly- I saw the whole back of frames replaced on Hostess step vans and containers full of core diesel engines imported when they tried to keep them 15 years. When management first extended the replacement interval to 18 years and then for the last 8 years before liquidation they got no new vehicles at all it got really ugly- Seemed like every Hostess depot had as many dead trucks as running, and the bankruptcy filings listed six figure debts owed to several truck rental companies. Up through the early 90s UPS tried running trucks for 20 years, they cut that back to 9 after they found they were often spending far more than 20 year old trucks are worth on major repairs. At the Postal Service they're often replacing rusted out frames on the little LLV carrier's vehicles, the newest of them is 23 years old and those frame replacements cost $10,000 and up, but they've no replacement for them yet. In my experience with 5 VW Golf diesels and a Ford Ranger here in Minnesota I've found they're reliable for the first 10 years, then you usually need exhaust, brakes, suspension, and a bunch of other odds and ends. After 15 years it gets really ugly, seems like a 2 hour job takes all day and you end up replacing 4 parts instead of the 1 that's actually bad because they're all rusted together. My 23 year old Ranger is a great example of that, I've wasted too much time on it already and despite having a relatively rust free cab and box and good drivetrain everything underneath is a rusted out disaster, and replacement parts are down to pretty much poorly fitting Chinese copies. My 17 year old TDI is headed the same direction, although at least VW parts are more available and a little better quality.

There's a reason the big fleets seldom keep a vehicle over 10 years- Especially with todays analytics they can damn near predict the cost of every part down to darn near every last nut and bolt on a vehicle and their trade intervals are tending towards 5 years or less on cars unless they're in financial trouble.
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
........................snip.......................................

There's a reason the big fleets seldom keep a vehicle over 10 years- Especially with todays analytics they can damn near predict the cost of every part down to darn near every last nut and bolt on a vehicle and their trade intervals are tending towards 5 years or less on cars unless they're in financial trouble.
Yes, they drive the piss out of them, they suffer abuse from drivers and they lose money if they're down even 1 day.
There are also reasons many of us drive our cars to the end, we know the car, repairs are easily anticipated and dealt with. My opinion is you should fix yours, it may only be at half life. But you should do whatever makes you happy.
 

Genesis

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 26, 2003
Location
Sevier County TN
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon
It also depends a great deal on where you live and operate the vehicle. In the states where roads are routinely salted in the winter the issues are a whole different thing than a vehicle that is garaged (so the sun doesn't destroy the interior and paint) in southern states -- even if you live on the ocean, as I did for 2 decades. Every single bolt I've tried to remove on any of my vehicles over that time has come off with HAND TOOLS. Try that up north and you'll be on your way to the store for an impact or even air chisel plus the compressor to drive it.
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
For your climate, I agree with your analysis, Gearheadgrrrrl. If it were a West Coast car, it'd be 20-25 years.

If I were you, I'd plan to pull the engine and any useful/saleable pieces, clean them up, and part the car out. You'd be surprised how much an already-pulled, clean ALH engine on a pallet will go for--you should be able to recover $2500-$3700 by a well planned part-out, versus $1250 for a 'runner'.

I learned this when my A4 needed major repairs--it was vastly cheaper to buy a used-up, rusted 'runner' and tow it home, use the good parts to repair my car, and sell off the valuable left-overs after taking time to pull the parts, clean them up, and sell/ship individually on the club. I then gave the carcass to a wrecker for free...about broke even on the repairs, versus it would have cost me $2500 to purchase the used, individual parts from a yard--factoring in shipment and time/gas to pick up parts 500 miles away
 

Ed27

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Location
Florida
TDI
2001 4dr, 2000 2dr Golfs both 5 speed stick
gearheadgrrrl@ Do you have another car that gets the same MPG as the Mk4? If not fix it. Before my Golf I drove the 3 banger Geo Metro talk about weird things that bug you. I'll keep my Mk4 as long as it gets me from A to B with its less numerous weird habits.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Yes, they drive the piss out of them, they suffer abuse from drivers and they lose money if they're down even 1 day.
There are also reasons many of us drive our cars to the end, we know the car, repairs are easily anticipated and dealt with. My opinion is you should fix yours, it may only be at half life. But you should do whatever makes you happy.
Well, I'm one of those fleet drivers, and I don't fit that stereotype. Got paid by the hour so I had no incentive to push the truck to it's limits, and I'd try to clean out and wash the truck at the end of shift even though some of the managers discouraged the practice.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
Agreed on the effects of rust, after 10-15 years fixing anything on the underside of my rust belt cars becomes a major battle. On the other hand I have 5 BMW motorcycles from 13 to 38 years old and they aren't any harder to take apart when they were new as they never see salt. First couple years I had the Golf 7 TDI I managed to take it to Florida every winter, after a couple Minnesota winters I can see the difference in it's slowly rusting underside.
 

gearheadgrrrl

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Location
Buffalo Ridge (southwest Minnesota)
TDI
'15 Golf DSG, '13 JSW DSG surrendered to VW, '03 Golf 2 door manual
gearheadgrrrl@ Do you have another car that gets the same MPG as the Mk4? If not fix it. Before my Golf I drove the 3 banger Geo Metro talk about weird things that bug you. I'll keep my Mk4 as long as it gets me from A to B with its less numerous weird habits.
I've got a Golf 7 TDI, it's definitely a keeper!
 
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