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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to be a VW driver up until 3 years ago when I sold my mkIV. I'm looking to be an owner again, but I am interested in an older diesel. I would plan on DD it, and I would put the money into it to make it road worthy.

I was really looking to see if these diesel engines were pretty reliable, or if they are a pain to keep on the road, and if the common issues are cheap and easy fixes, or if they were expensive and time consuming. I also wanted to know how cold it can get before they have running or gelling issues

I tried doing some searching and I couldn't seem to find a thread that would help, so if there's a link to a good thread, post it up.

Any info is appreciated!
 

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You also will want to read a lot over at vwdiesel.net. Its THE resource for the old IDI diesels. Plenty of people run these cars as DDs. And if you are running straight diesel, you shouldn't have issues with gelling...where it would get cold enough for that, there are the right additives in the fuel you buy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks guys. One more step closer to getting a caddy! If I were to look into a caddy, where do they normally rust the most at? And If I were to get an NA engine, can you just throw a turbo and intercooler on them or is that just a pipe dream?
 

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Biggest problems I've found on diesel MKI's are horrible previous owners. Cheap old guys like to rig wiring, and cheap out on every fix. Just my personal experiences though. Rust at the strut towers. You can turbo an NA - its best to go with a mid 81 + 12MM head bolt motor. They hold head gaskets better than the 11mm HB motors.
 

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Putting a turbo on an NA is done all the time. Most of the TD cars you see are just that, not factory TDs. Another reason to go to vwdiesel.net. Lots of good info there and plenty of builds for inspiration.

Oh and if you are looking at a caddy, they never came with TDs from the factory. They were all NA. Many have added turbos later though.
 

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Diesel problems: Timing belts break. They are good for 60,000km. After that you are into "drive and pray". If they break, the engine is an expensive paper weight or boat anchor.

Head gaskets: are junk. The only reliable one is the metal one from the 1.9 litre motor. It fits the 1.6. Probably would fit the 1.5 but I never tried it.

Cylinders: wear out in a oval pattern. This results in a lot of piston slap and is difficult to hone out. I think it's the high compression but never figured this out. If your motor is pushing oil out through every orifice and has no power and a lot of black smoke, your cylinders are probably oval. The only solution is to bore them out and fit oversize.

Cold start: I have figured out many ways to start these things when they are cold. Such as bringing the battery inside at night so you have more cold cranking, pushing them down hills and letting the clutch out, spraying WD 40 in the air intake, just leaving them running........ They are hard to start when they are cold. The 1.5 is the worst. The 1.6 is better. The 1.9 is light years better. If you have a choice, get a 1.9 IDI turbo, they are the best that VW produced. It went downhill from there with all the TDI electronic nonsense. If you do find a 1.9 replace the crank pulley with the one with the modified pulley key....... or you will need a new engine soon.

Chris
 

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Cold start: It went downhill from there with all the TDI electronic nonsense.
Chris
LOL. TDI's don't even need the glow plugs till -6c (20f) or lower. I started mine today at -4c with no glow plugs and a tired battery. 430k and not only that but it is a M-TDI with no cold start advance. The electronic engines start even better then that.

For the old style 1.5 and 1.6, it is good you are looking at them in the winter. Any of them you go look at make sure the owner does a cold start for you.. it will tell you a lot of information. If it fires up without too much trouble or smoke then chances are the glow plugs are good, and it has some compression lol.

If you have good glow plugs and an over sized battery, I wouldn't have any doubt in its starting abilities. My brother runs a truck battery (1000cca) and has brand new glowplugs. His motor also has over 700k on it, it starts pretty easily and trouble free down to about -30 or -35 Celsius.
 

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diesel can be expeisive to maintain. if you need help be prepared to pay there are few mechanics who wont charge you more then the cars worth to fix things like a headgasket. If your handy and paitent it can be worth it.

i dd my old td jetta (mk2 but same engine, as td mk1's) and it was pretty good till i thought i was able to master a diesel and it hasent run againa nd never will its parts now
 

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diesel can be expeisive to maintain. if you need help be prepared to pay there are few mechanics who wont charge you more then the cars worth to fix things like a headgasket. If your handy and paitent it can be worth it.

i dd my old td jetta (mk2 but same engine, as td mk1's) and it was pretty good till i thought i was able to master a diesel and it hasent run againa nd never will its parts now
I disagree, I have spent no more money on any of my diesels then I have on any of my gas engines. Both need timing belts, both need coolant, both need oil changes.

Unless it is a newer TDI motor then you do not need to worry about running premium synthetic oil.

However, it really does depend on how good YOU are with mechanical skills.. because with any car every mechanic will try and take you for as much as they can. :thumbdown:
 

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I disagree, I have spent no more money on any of my diesels then I have on any of my gas engines. Both need timing belts, both need coolant, both need oil changes.

Unless it is a newer TDI motor then you do not need to worry about running premium synthetic oil.

However, it really does depend on how good YOU are with mechanical skills.. because with any car every mechanic will try and take you for as much as they can. :thumbdown:
:thumbup:

Our TD has cost us a decent amount, but we went all out on it with a full rebuild. We did all the work ourselves though. Honestly, I would own an IDI if I was doing the work the majority of the time. Its hard to find people who know these cars enough to wrench on them. They aren't difficult though and they aren't expensive to keep on the road. We invested in the rebuild because we knew then we wouldn't be touching the engine (other than to do a timing belt job) for a good long time. Now its just fine tuning and cosmetic stuff to get it where we want it to be, but it runs great and gets 51mpg highway with no problem.
 

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alternators and injection pumps is the only issues I've ever had with my diesels. went ABF and a full rebuild (or reseal) and never had another issue. greatest most reliable car I've owned, just reallllllly slow.
 

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diesel can be expeisive to maintain.
Can't agree... they may be expensive to fix (really not any more than any other Mk1), but cheap to maintain...

See if PO has any record of the last timing belt change; if not then let that be the first thing you do.
 

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For a 1.5 or a 1.6, to replace the head gasket takes about 30 minutes. I used to do mine about once a year when it started to leak oil out the front. It is not a difficult job. The most time consuming part is the scraping but even that can be sped up with the right tool. When I discovered the metal 1.9 gasket, then I stopped needing to replace the head gasket, but I got a lot of experience with quickly removing and installing the exhaust clamps from the toilet bowl and with locking and re-setting the cam and crank.

Diesel maintenance is cheaper because you can easily do it yourself.

Chris
 

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I daily drive my 1.6D 75 miles a day. I have ghastly an older diesel for the past 5 years. Hardley no problems and if any, cheap to fix. If its real cold I got a block heater. Their only 24 bucks at an auto store.
 

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So will a 1995 1.9 diesel head gasket fit on a 1981 1.6 engine??
Not in the sense that chu-mean. 😉

Seriously though, let's start from the beginning. Tell us what you have and what you want to accomplish. Vortex technicians are standing by to show off how much we know about your old diesel.
 

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So will a 1995 1.9 diesel head gasket fit on a 1981 1.6 engine??
No.
They will only fit a block with hydraulic lifters.
There's an extra oil drain hole in the front,
that your '81 mechanical block/head lacks.

On the 1.5 and 1.6:
Both have an intermediate shaft, with bearings that normally last about 150,000 miles.

If you want it to start in the cold you will probably need to build or buy a freshly rebuilt engine.
Then it'll start below -20F, best to use the block heater though, when you can.

I do prefer the VNT-15 turbo, compared to the stock turbo setup.
Even though it needs some custom made parts like exhaust and turbo controller.
 

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Putting a turbo on an NA is done all the time. Most of the TD cars you see are just that, not factory TDs. Another reason to go to vwdiesel.net. Lots of good info there and plenty of builds for inspiration.

Oh and if you are looking at a caddy, they never came with TDs from the factory. They were all NA. Many have added turbos later though.
Hi there I bought a 1981 golf 1
Not in the sense that chu-mean. 😉

Seriously though, let's start from the beginning. Tell us what you have and what you want to accomplish. Vortex technicians are standing by to show off how much we know about your old diesel.
I'd like to know how much new sleeves for a 1.5 would cost and what reliable source can I buy them from?
 
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