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1993 VW Jetta

Advice?

     
7:26 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks to the boost in support we were able to get a good deal on a replacement car.

Staying within my budget, I've gotten a 4 door 1993 Jetta with a gas engine. I don't know what the engine's displacement is and I am unfamiliar with any variations on the Jetta.

The VIN number is:

3VWRL01H6PM046035

Perhaps anyone who is knowledgeable will know what to look for from this code.

It's got a 5 speed manual shift transmission. It performed very well during the test drive (I was operating the vehicle). Brakes and steering showed no problems during driving both fast and slow. Transmission shifts and clutch action were predictable and flawless. Engine power was profuse even with 3 adults in the car.

Odometer reads 211561 km.

The body - slight surface rust only. Under the doors, no rust is visible at all. On one rocker panel (right side) slight rust is evident. Paint is original and in good condition for it's age. No evidence of collision damage under the hood. Underbody is nearly flawless. Wheelwells are flawless. This car has been rustproofed by it's previous owner.

Any thoughts on what I should look out for or beware of?

Are timing belt or water pump failures catastrophic to engine components?

Any cylinder head issues? Valve adjustment issues?

Thanks.

9:36 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My suggestion is that you should have it painted bright red. I think red is a neat color.
If I could afford to buy a car I would want it to be Cherry red.
10:08 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Damn snowman, you just had a windfall and you're thinking of buying a rusty car almost 13 years old. I don't think there's really anything advice I could give that would help. :(
10:44 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hey - my current car, an aging Grand Prix, is 23 years old, quite a heavy guzzler on gas and rusting rapidly. It just developed another exhaust leak and is starting to become unreliable in ways which do not merit investing repair costs - due to it's age and already advanced state of "skin cancer" and perforations.

Because the car has been this way for some time, it has been expensive to use it, to keep on top of it's deterioration. Salt is used here in winters and washing it down when temps are below freezing is a sure way to freeze the doors shut.

For about a year I've needed to replace it because the car is a necessity here. Because I haven't been able to do so up until now, others have had to lend transportation at their inconvenience when someone needed to be taken somewhere.

This VW has extraordinarily little rust, even on the bottom and along brake lines.

For my limit of about $4000 base cost, it's all I can afford when taxes, licensing fees, smog tests and other costs blend into the total (total now $5600).

Anything I wanted which was younger (GM compact, 1997-ish) and wasn't an abused rusted wreck started at about $8-9000. Add the same tests, fees and taxes, you're talking about $11-12,000 for a used 7 year old car, and that's not only wrong but completely unaffordable.

11:00 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Apparently I couldn't afford to live in Canada while maintaining my current standard of living. :)
2:21 am on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I wasn't always this broke or poor.

In 2000 I had a brand new 2000 Toyota! But remembering private business owners dabbling in stock market and technology speculation back then.......well I think we all remember how fast that cement bird fell.

So while some may see this deal as a gyp, from where I'm coming, upgrading from a dying 83/84 to a 93 is a huge step forward, especially if I'm not picking up bits of rusted metal from the ground (literally) or worried every time I see a cop car, wondering if he'll pull me over because he suspects the car is a heap.

2:22 am on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree that prices for used cars in Canada are just stupid, and for the most part they are a load of rustbuckets due to the winter conditions.

Seriously: snowman, can you or your wife get finance? You can lease a brand new Toyota Echo sedan for $250 (CDN) a month all-in (4 year deal - it'll be less if you go for 5 years). Maintenance is $50 a year max (two oil changes) and it will never break down. Gas mileage is superb - you'll not get better for any non-hybrid car. A Hyundai is even cheaper monthly, but you'll pay more for gas.

If you go for another old clunker you're never going to get a good deal - and with the weather conditions here, you need a new car.

11:06 am on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hey Snowman, as a long term owner and fan of various volkswagens I can tell you your choice is ideal. The jetta is a saloon version of the golf/rabbit. ie it has a boot/trunk. If it is 5speed it is over 1500cc. They are a very reliable car generally and run best when they have exceeded 100000miles. I would think yours is a carb model rather than injection. I would recommend a full service including the cam belt and tensioners before embarking on any journeys. Also change the transmission oil for good quality synthetic MANUAL transmission oil. It will ease any notchy gear changes if it is high mileage. Watch out for the corrosion on the rocker panel. Although they are easy ish to replace (i just did my rabbit gti pickup) You may be shocked to find what lies behind. Also take a look at the bonnet slam panel for signs of replacement or repair as they will collect a little water in some areas. Look under the bonnet/hood (didn't know i was bi-lingual)where the hinges go up under the a-post. This is a common area for rot. Otherwise they are a very good if a little uncommon car. I would recommend mk11 and mk111 golfs/rabbits/jettas every time. They are generally bullet proof if well maintained.

One other thing, if the water pressure light flashes on the dash (its on the same gauge as the water temp) don't worry. The sender units screw up all the time. Mine flashes continuously. Just make sure coolant is flowing thru the radiator. Take the cap off and run up to temperature til the thermostat opens and you will see coolant pump back into the top of the rad. If this doesn't happen its time for a pump.

Thats about all you need really.

Good Choice

Ska

1:14 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the info! :)

What's the life span on the timing belt? Is it expensive/difficult to replace? If if fails does it completely destroy the valves and pistons? Is the water pump driven off of the timing belt as well?

encyclo - I used to have an Echo, a 2000 year model. GREAT car! But in 2001 most of the people at work lost their jobs, including me. That and the downturn in tecnology led to my bankruptcy. It's been discharged, but I have no job now. My wife is working part time at a subsidized job for disabled people. It pays very little and she has just been accepted by the disability program for support. That's how it worked out.

2:47 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What's the life span on the timing belt? Is it expensive/difficult to replace? If if fails does it completely destroy the valves and pistons? Is the water pump driven off of the timing belt as well?

The life span on an older jetta/golf/rabbit is supposed to be 40k miles. I would change mine every 20-25kmiles to be safe. That includes the tensioners as well. It is an easy job to do and should only take an hour. MAKE SURE YOU GET THE TIMING MARKS LINED UP PROPERLY otherwise you will have the same effect as a broken cambelt. Smashed valves and pistons. A good workshop manual will show you where the timing marks go and how tight the belt should be. On your jetta the water pump is driven by the cambelt and is also very simple and cheap (25) to replace.

Anything else just ask!

Ska

5:34 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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BTW this car would sell for around 500 in the UK. Maybe less.

Ska

5:46 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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this car would sell for around 500 in the UK. Maybe less.

When I moved to Canada we started looking for a used car, but I quickly realized that we couldn't afford one - we could only afford a new car. I really can't understand user car prices here.

Anyway, back to your Jetta: is it the last of the old, square-looking ones or the first of the newer, more rounded ones? I have a friend with one of the older ones, and it is incredibly reliable, but when it does go wrong, parts can be expensive.

As long as it's not this one [dyna.co.za]... ;)

6:11 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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HAHAHAH! No, it's definitely not that one!

This one is kind of square looking.

I went to Canadian Tire today and got a Hayes manual on the car. The local VW dealership has one, a full manual. I went there today. Their manual costs $103 + tax. YIKES!

I got a written quote from the service manager to change the timing belt and whatever other hardware it should have. I'm also going to have the coolant flushed and have any thermostat or hose issues looked at before I start using it. In my experience the thermostat is the most neglected of all car part, and a manfunctioning one has the greatest impact on fuel efficiency, either running the motor too hot or (in most failures) too cool as I've seen it.

According to him, the timing belt is rated to 120,000 km. The car has 211,000 km, so either it's terribly overdue or it's just about due.

According to him as well, the tranny leaves the factory with synthetic fluid and unless it's leaking, never requires changing.

We'll see what happens.

8:36 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Snowman, what about my 92 Golf [jokesinthemail.com]?
8:56 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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!LOL!
7:38 pm on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Oh Boy, bad luck!

The car has been in for repair and maintenance.

Well, I learned yesterday that you cannot install Bosch platinum 4-electrode plugs in the 2.0L Jetta engine and expect it to run properly.

The misfiring problem was caused by a defective plug. Replacing all of them under warranty with a good Platinum set didn't eliminate the misfiring, it only caused it to happen at a higher throttle setting.

I went to the local VW dealer and asked about this. VW said the 4 electrode plug causes misfiring. The right plug for this engine is a Bosch FR8DS. Expensive, about $16 each. There are 4 plugs. 16 X 4 = $64 + tax = $73! YIKES!

But it completely solved the problem, the engine delivers plenty of power at all throttle levels, without a hint of hesitation or misfire.

Yesterday there was a new problem. A noise that sounded scary, like a banging or tapping from the motor! Yikes! I thought I ran out of oil! But no, the motor has lots of oil!

I took the car to the dealer around 5 pm. He called the mechanic (boss) and I took the car there. What the problem was? Three days ago the mechanic's young assistant changed the coolant and thermostat. It looks like the assistant either forgot to put a bolt in or did not fully tighten one bolt.

One bolt was missing near the water pump. That caused the metal parts to become loose and make the scary sound! The mechanic boss checked all of the other bolts and made sure everything was nice and tight. I drove home and it sounded fine!

Now the transmission is jumping out of 3rd gear by itself if I accelerate lightly, under 2000 rpm. To give an idea how slow that is, 2000 rpm in 4th gear yields 60 km/hr (35 mph).

It sounds like 3rd gear might be worn out. It is noisy too. So is 2nd gear but it doesn't jump out of gear by itself.

I took it to the repair shop - a transmission shop here - that is responsible for warranty repairs to this car as per the signed agreement when I bought it.

In a day and a half it seems somehow there is significant bearing damage as well as possible gear damage to the transmission. How? There is no oil leaking at all, no stains in the driveway.

When I picked it up it was like mint! Shifting, road performance, everything was mint and quiet! I've only driven it locally, the longest one way distance to my wife's work - about 13 km one way.

The transmission shop road tested it this morning and to honour the warranty I've had to leave it there and not drive it to keep it from growing worse than it is.

I've only put about 200-300 km on the car since I picked it up this past Friday. I sure hope the warranty folks will honour the agreement and provide support after such a short time lapse, otherwise I may have to talk to the dealer and demand a refund on the car.

I like this car. It's nicely suited to a small family and has enough room to be comfortable. I don't want to junk it or give up on it. The body is in great shape and it has very good road manners. It's just sad (or usual bad luck for me) that this happens.

7:49 pm on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like Barney Fife's first car.