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Most expensive service: 85,000 km in a VW Jetta 2.0L TDI

It hasn't been very long since I updated the thread and a sudden impromptu update on a Team-BHP thread means something isn't quite right. Here goes the story.

BHPian vishy76 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

85,000 km Update

It hasn't been very long since I updated the thread and a sudden impromptu update on a Team-BHP thread means something isn't quite right. Here goes the story.

Yokohama BlueEarth AE51s

Immediately after the previous service, I was quite happy. The car was doing well, and I also swapped out the 4 year old Michelin P3STs (Served me impeccably for 45K km) for a new set of Yokohama BluEarth AE51s.

A lot has been said on the forum about these tyres, so I won't go too much into depth. Having said this, I will say they are a good compromise considering the lack of options I faced due to the import ban on tyres. The only ones available were these and Goodyears, and there was no way I was going back to the crappy NCTs. They aren't as silent as the Primacy series and nor do they offer leach like grip levels associated with the Pilot Sports, but overall, they are good VFM and tyres I don't really mind having on the car at this point.

The reduction in road noise and the decrease in steering weight was evident right off the bat. Overall ride also felt a tad supple, but the change wasn't day and night (goes to how the Michelins had aged very well).

The Oil leakage saga

It had been about 2 months since the car had been serviced at the FNG. I had very elaborate plans for the Jetta including a clutch and flywheel change followed by a headliner upholstery change immediately after, post which I hoped to write off my expenses for the year. Little did I know what was to come.

October and November were tough for me personally. So much so that I even failed to keep track of the Jetta. The car kept serving my dad well enough with no issues. December 7th, 2020. I had done the usual chore of feeding the street dogs in the locality when I decided to check the oil levels. This was a completely out of the blue ritual, but something inside me told me I just had to. I am generally very lazy when it comes to going down and doing it, but this time I didn't faulter. I did the usual job of opening the bonnet and going for the dipstick. It was around 9 in the night so all I planned to do was pull out the dipstick, give it a wipe, put it back in and use a torch to check levels.

I did exactly as mentioned and to my horror, what came out of the hole was a bone dry dipstick. Not a smear of oil on it. I did know that oil levels fluctuate with engine temperature and the engine was at about 80-85 degrees, but I had never seen a completely empty dipstick. I flashed the torchlight on the engine bay and saw something I had never seen before. Everything around and below the oil cooler area was covered in oil. All the way down to the sump guard. In fact, the sump guard itself was drenched in oil around the edges. I had a can of Castrol Edge lying in the boot with about 700ml of oil. Assuming the car had leaked even a litre in the worst case, topping up all of this should have ensured that at least a smear of oil would make it to the dipstick. I hastily poured it down and pulled the dipstick out. Nothing.

At this point, I knew the issue was getting out of hand. I asked my dad (who couldn't understand how serious the issue was) to not drive the car for the next few days. I contacted VW who wanted to tow the car in straight off. I was still confident it wasn't a fast leak and decided to get in touch with an FNG a known had suggested. The guy was kind enough to send in a mechanic with a can of oil 4 days later. The 4 days had also given me enough time to do a proper physical inspection and conclude that the leak had originated around the oil filter housing. I also turned the ignition on and off multiple times (obviously without starting the engine) to see if I do get an oil level low warning (the Jetta has a sensor in the sump to detect low oil levels), but nothing came up.

The mechanic topped up around 1.5-1.7L of oil, and it was only then that the dipstick finally indicated the oil in the sump had reached the top. He then fired the car up and almost immediately, a very small spurt of oil started emanating from the periphery of the filter housing. He was confident it was a very slow leak and with the amount of oil topped up, the Jetta would easily make it to the garage. I gave him the go ahead.

I received a call the same afternoon, claiming the oil filter had not been installed correctly by the previous FNG.

There are 3 O-rings that are a part of the filter assembly. Two sit inside, while one sits on the periphery of the filter cover. It appears one of the inner rings had not been installed correctly, leading to oil accumulation inside the housing and excessive pressure buildup, pressure the cover ring was not designed to take. It eventually gave up and oil started leaking out of the cover and onto the oil cooler, sump guard, the oil sump itself and also reached the compressor below.

Finally, all of this was cleaned, a brand new filter installed, and new engine oil poured in. Total bill was around 5.5-6K and I was satisfied that the issues had been left behind. (I was wrong again)

Around Jan, I again started noticing oil deposits on the oil cooler and sump guard. This time however, the leak was caught on time and was very minute. Barely 300ml of oil was lost before it was attended to. The top cover seal was changed and a new drain plug gasket was put in. This marked an end to the oil filter leakages and did give me a lot of relief.

The car did well enough for the next two months with no incident, but in March, I had to send it to VW to get the radio unlocked. The FNG who had worked on the car in October 2020 had disconnected the battery, leading to the HU going into security mode. My dad was also complaining of some clatter emanating at idle from the engine bay.

With all these complaints, the Jetta went over to VW. Since I still had very little confidence in the FNG which had worked on my car in October, I asked the SA to do a complete inspection and tell me what all needed replacing. The estimate as expected was quite a large one with a number of issues being highlighted as below:

  • The biggest issue was a tappet cover leakage. The entire cover would need replacing which would cost around 20K
  • Both lower control arm bushes and link rods at the front had worn out completely. Total estimate was around 4K for the link rods and 14K for the control arms
  • The timing belt rollers had some play in them and the kit would need changing. This would come to around 12-13K
  • The serpentine belt tensioner had gone bad leading to the sqeauking noise at idle. Replacement cost would be about 4.5K
  • A wiper washer nozzle had gone bad. Would cost around 1K to set it right

The S.A also advised I switch back to VW spec Shell 505 01 5W40 oil instead of the Shell Helix Ultra 5W40 505 00 I was using, apart from a complete service. He offered to change all filters and fluids for around 9K which I felt was fair. I gave him the go ahead for all these and the car took a week to come back since the link rods, control arms, tensioner and tappet cover weren't in stock.

As the timing kit was anyways being changed, I also gave the SA the go ahead to change the water pump (around 2.5 years old now) as a precaution and the brake fluid (3.5 years old and well overdue). I have attached the bill below. The total came to about 85K post a bit of haggling, with the Tappet cover making up a massive 20K+ of the total amount.

This is a lesson learnt the hard way. A badly tightened oil filter gave me nightmares for 2 months (Not once mind you, TWICE). It just goes to show how lax certain FNGs can get when it comes to servicing cars. All said and done, I wasted a grand total of 17K undoing what the incompetent FNG had done to my car. I have decided to get all routine servicing done at VW henceforth and major wear and tear (suspension, clutch etc.) at another trusted FNG.

I am not very happy with how VW directly replaced the control arms in their entirety (instead of the bushings only), but I guess its company policy end of the day. Part costs are high, but in all honesty, I genuinely don’t mind paying up the extra for quality imported parts as compared to the cheap localised crap VW resorts to using for the Polo and Vento. All said and done, my stock suspension needed touching at 85K km, an achievement considering the condition of the roads here.

All the parts replaced in one frame. This is by far the most expensive service done on the Jetta:

The timing kit consists of 2 rollers, 1 idler pulley, and a tensioner bearing. Kindly note that the water pump is NOT included in the kit. It has to be changed separately. The rollers had some grease oozing out of them and had developed play. The belt was slightly frayed at the edges. Tensioner bearing was in almost perfect nick. The idler pulley was not returned to me for some bizarre reason:

The serpentine tensioner pulley. Again, the nylon bearing is missing from the returned part. The newer part has a metallic bearing. The serpentine belt has also been localized now and costs around Rs. 400:

The link rods. As you can see, the outer boots have split exposing the ball joints inside. I was also able to move the rod ends by hand, something that should be virtually impossible:

Control arm bushings could have gone on for another 5-7K km, but I didn’t want to wait for them to start making noise. You can clearly see they have split. If the arm itself is intact physically (very rarely does a control arm suffer structural damage), you can get away with changing only the bushing. A quality bush kit from Febi or Myle costs around 4-4.5K all inclusive:

The piece de resistance of the entire saga. The tappet cover. As expected, it’s made of plastic. A total of 5 seals are a part of the cover. 4 seals are for the injector periphery (1 for each injector) and one seal outlines the tappet cover perimeter and seals it to the engine head. The latter is available for 3.8K on boodmo, but the former are not supplied separately by VW. Most FNGs resort to putting in OES seals:

The water pump. Was a pleasant surprise seeing little to no corrosion on the pump. The previous one that came out of the car felt like it had been salvaged from a shipwreck in comparision. On a related note, VW has also switched to G12 EVO coolant from G13. G12E has a purplish tinge to it as compared to G13:

The choked washer jet. Mercifully, this one is shared with the Vento and Polo instead of the Passat. The Passat uses heated jets which cost 6K a piece. This one was much cheaper at 1K:

The Jetta feels a lot tighter to drive now. The front end used to be all over the place before after encountering a pothole or speed-breaker. Changing the link rods and control arms has brought that firmness back to the front end. The overall NVH levels remain more or less the same, and I don’t expect any difference until the flywheel is changed. I do have complete peace of mind now that the timing kit has been changed though. Better to spend 15-16K proactively on a new kit than to spend 10x that rebuilding the engine head.

Things that will need looking into:

- The sagging headliner cloth has decided to come off entirely now. It has to be changed compulsorily. Have received quotes varying from 5.5K-12K for setting it right.

- The flywheel continues to create a racket when the clutch is held at the biting point. No slippage has been observed in the clutch itself though, so I think it should hold up till the 90K km mark.

- The rear suspension and the front dampers are surely on their way out. My guesstimate says they will hold up till the 90-95K km mark provided I put up with the harsh ride quality.

- The gearshift linkages and shifter tower are two things I am keeping an eye on. Notorious for failing on the MK6 Jettas, the shifter linkage snaps and the gearbox gets stuck in third gear.

- Lastly, the primary radiator fan has been suffering (making a loud whining nosie) for the past 2 years, ever since the car was driven through flooded water. Might have to get the motor assembly overhauled and the hub cleaned.

Both me and my dad considered replacing the car and had a look at some options. The top two contenders were the Harrier and the Tiguan. The Compass was too small for the price it demanded and I didn’t even want to look at the Seltos/Creta duo. Here’s what I think about them.

Tata Harrier XZA

What I liked

  • Striking looks and stance
  • Good equipment list
  • Excellent rear legroom and seat comfort

What I didn’t like

  • Overall plastic quality and fit and finish on the inside were not upto the mark
  • Reliability was a huge question mark
  • Tata’s after-sales in this part of GJ is not the best

My dad wasn’t ready to even TD the Harrier. He walked out of the showroom and asked me to enquire about the Tiguan Allspace.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been smitten by the Tiguan. A lot of it felt unmistakably Jetta, and that wasn’t a bad thing at all. Also went for a short test drive.

What I liked

  • Understated looks paired to solid build quality
  • Excellent equipment list
  • Great ride and handling balance, almost sedan-like
  • The added advantage of the 4motion AWD system
  • Spacious cabin, albeit a rudimentary 3rd row

What I didn’t like

  • No 2.0 TDI. The TSI is an excellent engine, but my sort of running warrants a diesel only and the home ministry wasn’t too happy with the 9.8 km/l figure on the TD car’s MID either
  • Part costs were unchartered territory considering this was a CBU
  • Overall reliability of the 2.0 TSI and the DQ381 GB was again unproven
  • Not what I would call a proper upgrade in terms of performance as compared to a remapped Jetta considering I would be paying 30+L end of the day

Contemplated on this one a lot, but it didn’t make sense buying a TFSI in haste and then regretting FE figures or buying the car itself.

A used Tiguan 2.0 TDI also came my way but again, I would be splurging 20+L into a used car which essentially had the same engine again, with more features thrown in and an AT gearbox. Didn’t make sense.

In the end, decided to keep the Jetta for another 2-3 years. The car is fundamentally sorted and most of the expenses that lie ahead are general wear and tear which shouldn’t be a huge issue.

Conclusion

I have said this many times over and will say it again, I have accepted the Jetta for the good and for the worse. She's not perfect, has her share of reliability issues (most of them minor thankfully), and isn't a car a non-nonsense man would want to own. Some have even said the car has brought bad luck to me with the oil leaks and the huge bills. The devil inside then is quite convinced that the Jetta is a troublesome companion to own.

However, the angel thinks otherwise. My car has not been a garage queen at all. Haven't detailed it, never showered attention on it and never really bothered about cosmetic upkeep at all in all honesty. The car sees industrial backroads meant for heavy duty trucks and lorries chiefly on a daily basis, has to make the annual pilgrimage to Surat, Rajkot and Ahmedabad several times a month, and has also covered the entire west coast of India taking us on several road-trips without as much as an electronic glitch. Granted, issues do exist, and the very people I marvel at for engineering this car are the ones I curse many a times and oft.

All said and done however, the current value of my car as it stands is determined by what can replace it. And this question is one which I don't have an answer to (unless members can come together and raise about 80L in funds following which I might book a 530D).

A parting shot of the interiors. They look as good as new if you excuse the sloppy headliner upholstery:

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