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DIY 2006 Jetta TDI BRM VNT Actuator Removal/Repair

It has been known for several years that the VNT Actuator for the 2005.5 - 2006 TDI Jetta is not available through VW Parts or aftermarket channels. When it fails, the entire turbo and exhaust manifold are sold as a unit and must be replaced. This article details how to remove and repair it without removing the turbo or exhaust manifold from the vehicle.

After an exhaustive 16 hours of trying many tools and attempts at removing the VNT Actuator, a combination of tools and method was finally achieved.

A single shallow 1/4 inch drive 10mm socket was ground to a height of 15mm and was used with a Wobble Extension. The Wobble Extension allows for 15° of swivel. Modifications were not done to any other tools. The following tools are required to remove and repair it.

Shallow 1/4 inch drive 10mm Socket ground to 15mm *
Deep 1/4 inch drive 10mm Socket
10mm Straight Ratcheting Wrench with no offset
17mm Flare Nut Wrench
1/4 inch drive Medium Wobble Extension
3/8 inch drive Short Regular Extension
3/8 inch to 1/4 inch Drive Reducer
Hose Clamp Pliers
Cable Operated Hose Clamp Pliers
Inspection Mirror
Clear Silicone
Blue Threadlock

* Note: Home Depot Husky brand 1/4 inch drive 10mm shallow socket is perfect for grinding to 15mm. The hex pattern is cut right through to the bottom of the socket, which allows for it to be ground into a micro socket. Model: H4D6P10MMC | Store SKU: 1000775531, $1.99

Remove Intake Pipe and Vent Tube. Protect turbo inlet and oil inlet with a cap or rag. See below.

Release EGR Cooler Changeover Valve N345 from bracket to provide more clearance in the work area. Tuck it through the vacuum lines and rest it against the corner of the valve cover as shown.

Release oil line with 17mm Flare Nut Wrench.

Cover Turbo intake with rag or cap to protect the turbo.

Take note of the orientation and position of the tools in the above photo. The VNT Actuator will be removed with the tools in the same postions shown.

The ground 10mm socket gains access between the cold and hot side turbo housings, while the 1/4 inch drive Medium Wobble Extension provides the required 15° offset to clear the cold side turbo housing. The 10mm socket and wobble extension are only used to remove the rear upper mounting bolt. A universal joint coupled to an unmodified 10mm shallow socket will not fit between the turbo housings because it is too long.

A 1/4 inch drive 10mm Flex Socket may work. I don't have this size, so can't confirm.

The rear upper mounting bolt will be removed with he ground 10mm socket, 1/4 inch drive Medium Wobble Extension, 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch Drive Reducer, 3/8 inch drive Short Regular Extension. A single long wobble extention will flex too much and won't be able to release the bolt due to the amount of torqure required.

The front lower mounting bolt is removed with a 10mm Straight Ratcheting Wrench with no offset. Access is extremely restricted and the amount of wrench sweep is minimal. The bolt will be removed one click at a time.

Before the lower mounting bolt can be released, the VNT Actuator shaft will need to be fully extended due to the nuts on the shaft blocking access to the lower mounting bolt. Looping a rope around the VNT Lever and anchoring two heavy weights to it will draw the VNT Actuator shaft down to it's fully extended position. As is visible above, the VNT Lever and shaft assembly blocks access to the Front Lower Mounting Bolt.

Once the VNT Actuator mounting bolts are removed, the lower VNT Actuator shaft nut can be removed from under the vehicle. In order to remove it, the EGR Cooler Actuator must be partially released. Remove the top right bolt, but only loosen the lower left bolt. Then the EGR Cooler Actuator will drop and swing out of the way to allow access to the lower VNT Actuator shaft nut.

At this point, a deep 10mm socket on a long 1/4 inch drive Wobble Extension will release the lower VNT Actuator shaft nut. Now the VNT Actuator can be removed from the vehicle.

To repair the VNT Actuator, first record the position of the upper shaft nut by noting the number of threads marking it's location from the top of the shaft. Then remove the two nuts.

Remove the clear cone shaped dust cap at the top of the shaft. This will expose the leaking red coloured rubber diaphram. Apply a sufficient amount of clear silicone to seal the leak, but still allow the diaphram to flex. Allow the silicone to set and cure for 24 hours.

After it has cured, apply a vacuum to the vacuum port to test if it holds a vacuum now. Installation is the reverse of removal. Set the top VNT Actuator Shaft nut to it's original position before it was removed. Apply Blue Threadlock to the VNT Actuator Shaft nuts to complete the installation.

If the vehicle needs to be driven while the silicone cures, set the VNT Lever position to a medium boost with a piece of wire. Anchor the other end of wire to the top of the oil line.

As a normal course of Turbo Boost diagnosis, the VAG 1687 Diagnostic Tool is to be used. I made the above one assembled from commonly sourced parts for a cost of around $40. The Black Cap is a common plumbing 2" ABS end cap (NIBCO 5817 2 HUB CAP ABS DWV). The OD is 70mm which is the exact size required to mate with the turbo intake pipe.

Adjust test pressure up to 0.5 bar/7.3 psi. CAUTION! DO NOT pressurize system above 0.5bar! Doing so may force oil into the intake system which can damage the engine.

4 Posts
Another Helpful Hint - tool selection

Given that I used this thread to successfully remove the first (front) bolt on my BRM, I thought I would share a tool trick that I used in addition to the ones pointed out so well here.

I shaved my socket down a bit more than was posted in the thread - more due to the fact that I used a cutoff wheel instead of a grinder. I then had to clean up the surface so ended up with a shorter socket. I used this socket along with a standard 1/4" swivel (I don't yet have a wobble 1/4" but will have to get one to finish the job - on the back bolt).

Anyway, once you crack the 10mm front bolt loose, it is pretty easy spinning - so I just grabbed my trusty claw fingers (4 finger version - not the 3 finger crappy dollar store version) and it clamped nice and tight on the bolt and allowed it to be removed with ease.

I think this will also work on the rear bolt and it will (or at least should) work like magic on putting it back together.

Thanks for the info in this post, and I will post any further tricks as I go.

Here is what I am going to attempt once I get this actuator out.



4 Posts
Update on more tool tricks

So, the first bolt came out relatively easy (that's always the way - it trick you into being complacent for the second bolt).

The second, back, bolt was not fun at all. I ended up dropping many tools in the abyss and spent likely an hour fishing out those to try again, only to keep dropping the damn things.

Anyway, between the short socket as modified above, three wobble extensions (I sheared 2 of the three in my set since the bolt was so tight) and a 3/8" 10mm clawfoot on two 3/8" x 3" extensions, i got it to break lose.

After loose, it backed out easily with my claw hook springy thing.

Now for the repair.

5 Posts
Thanks for all of the info in this thread. Really helped big time.

Dropping tools in to that void..... I swear its hard to not freak out.

I was not able to use the ratcheting wrench as recommended for the front bolt. I don't see how this is done.
I am replacing with idparts new actuator. I used a flat blade screw driver to push down the actuator. (no vacuum so manual push down) This is instead of using rope and weight to pull it down.
I used a 10mm swivel socket as pictured in this thread.

For the back one I used the cut down 10mm socket. swivel extension (home made using cutting wheel)
Took off the top oil line for more room. This was a pain because the tube was frozen to the nut. Soaked over night with PB Blaster. Then used channel locks on oil line to hold it from rotating.
Line wrench on the nut. Now that it is out I notice the threads that go in to the turbo are lose. Like it will spin out. (wondering what kind of sealant to use before tightening or if this is bad)

So now I have spent way to long trying to get the new nuts in. Talk about a pain. I wish I had a 4 pronged magic tool like shown in this thread. I don't see how you do this with out.
Tomorrow I will be heading out to obtain one. :banghead:

The replacement part has a slightly thicker bracket. Comes with new bolts (3 of them) Sure one will get lost lol.
The new bolts have washers on them (non removable)
This makes the front bolt even more of a pain.
The back one should be a non issue because the cone at the bottom of the actuator where the rod comes out is higher. The rod is longer.

2 Posts
This thread helped tremendously! I cannot thank you enough. The tools mentioned worked perfectly, the wobble extensions are a must, made the job way easier. I have a question for snocrazy. You said you replaced you actuator with the IDparts replacement, I am in the same process as well. Im putting the new unit on at the moment and am wondering, since the rod is in fact longer as mentioned, how do I know where to set the top nut to? I'm lost at this part of the process and any help would be greatly appreciated.

OP - thanks for the great write up, helped a ton! Turned a long frustrating job into a shorter and less frustrating procedure! :thumbup:

1 Posts
Without removing oil line (more precisely worded: despite unnecessarily removing oil line).

Special thanks to CDN TDI for his elaborate and comprehensive tutorial, without which I would not have even started this project.

I have a slightly different experience that might perhaps help someone avoid the oil line mess. Instead of a wire and weights, I just used a tough string and tied it to the axle as a helper pushed the actuator down with a screwdriver. Instead of a ratcheting wrench, which I couldn't figure out how to wedge in there, I used a socket on a wobble extension. I used the socket for both the forward (lower) and rear (upper) bolt. I did not have to cut it down, but I did have to fiddle a while to get the socket straight. I removed the oil line but it turns out I did not have to. It didn't help, and took a lot of work to get off and on again. Here are the steps:

1. Extend the actuator so as to expose the forward (lower) 10mm bolt, and tie it down so it stays extended.

2. Using a regular 10mm socket with a 1/4" ratchet and a 6" wobble extension, remove the forward (lower) bolt. You may have to bend the oil line a little to get it out of the way. Be careful so as not to kink it. Make sure the socket sits squarely on the bolt or you'll end up rounding the edges. I pressed hard on the socket and it sort of popped into place. I unscrewed the bolt slowly and was lucky enough that the bolt didn't drop but stayed with the socket as I pulled out the extension.

3. Using the same 10mm socket, 1/4" ratchet, and 6" wobble extension, remove the rear (upper) bolt. You may have to bend the oil line again to have good access. This bolt is harder to see. I had to position my head all the way over next to the fender to have a clear view, but to do the actual ratcheting, I had to feel my way. Again I pressed hard on the socket to get it square against the bolt and slowly unscrewed it.

4. This is an unnecessary step. I thought it would be easier, when I go to reinstall the rear (upper) bolt, if the oil line nut were out of the way, and so I removed it, but this was both unnecessary and troublesome. It was unnecessary because I ended up installing the rear bolt the same way I removed it, that is, with the 10mm socket, 1/4" ratchet and wobble extension. It was troublesome since the oil line nut does not screw onto the turbo body as I expected, but to a little adapter which itself screws into the turbo body. That adapter was pretty corroded where it met the oil line nut. The result was that when I turned the line nut, the adapter turned with it and so the oil line could not be loosened. Now it was too late; I had to remove the nut and adapter. It was not possible to just re-tighten the nut and have it also tighten the adapter. It had to come off and be reinstalled, first the adapter, then the line nut. Between the adapter and the turbo body is a copper crush ring. If you have to reinstall the adapter, make sure to use a new ring.

I had to somehow get the adapter to stay put while I unscrewed the line nut, but there's no room! And the adapter, although it has a hex part, is made of soft metal. It's easy to round the corners. It was assembled at the factory with a deep 14mm socket, but you can't use a socket with the oil nut and line in the way. I was ready to just cut the line, but decided to first try to make a tool that would fit. I took a short 10mm open-end wrench and filed it down so that the U was narrower and flatter and fit around the adapter. I also used a little heat, warming the line nut with a torch. The poor wrench was sacrificed, but together with a little heat, it worked.

Between the adapter and the turbo body is a copper crush ring. Make sure to use a new ring when you reinstall the adapter. This new crush ring is the answer to snocrazy's question about how to seal the adapter. Clean the surface, slip the crush ring onto the adapter, and screw the adapter onto the turbo body. Snug it up good so that the copper ring makes a seal. Then position the oil line, and screw down the line nut, not quite as tight as you screwed down the adapter.

5. Remove nut at bottom of actuator stem, remove actuator, reinstall repaired or new actuator onto VNT lever, reinstall bottom nut. Do this as CDN TDI described.

6. Using a punch as a guide to find the hole and center it, reinstall the front (lower) 10mm bolt on the actuator bracket. I used a 4-finger claw to reposition the 10mm bolt at the hole and then turned it in about one turn. This may require a few tries, so be patient. It might help to oil the bolt before positioning it. Once the bolt is started, you can use the 10mm socket, 1/4" ratchet, and 6" wobble extension to tighten it. When you're turning the bolt with little resistance, it won't matter, but when it gets harder to turn, make sure the socket is square against the bracket so you don't round the bolt corners. Don't tighten it fully.

7. Again using the punch as a guide, find the hole for the rear (upper) 10mm bolt. Use the fattest punch that fits so that there's little play. Now tighten the forward (lower) bolt from step 6. Again use the 4-finger claw to position the rear (upper) bolt at the hole and give it one turn. Be prepared to try again and again, so be patient; you'll get it. Tighten the bolt the rest of the way with the 10mm socket, 1/4" ratchet, and wobble extension.

8. Buy Mr. CDN TDI a beer.

5 Posts
Sorry I never replied. I just lined up the old with the new. Pretty much eyeballed it. This worked fine.

I am at it again. The replacement IDParts actuators bracket broke. Sure wish I could send them a bill for having to do this nightmare project a second time.
I had to walk away last night before flipping out. I completely forgot about this thread!

I welded and reinforced their crap bracket. Maybe this one will last till the car dies.
Just hit 200,000 miles. Hope to get at least 300k out of it after all of the fixes I have done.


5 Posts
Finished repairing the actuator from id parts and got it installed. They did get back to me and blamed me for improperly installing it causing it to break.
What a joke. They did not offer me jack. It was obviously a weak weld that caused this. Having to tackle this project 2 times on the same car is enough to make any one freak out. This job is one that requires much patience. It will test you big time. These online shops that will not stand behind their products really upset me. I will go out of my way to avoid purchasing from them in the future. If I would have known I was going to have too do this job 2 times, I would have just replaced the entire turbo.

Why my actuator broke - failed in the first place.
I know it was tied to my limit screw on the turbo. It was allowing the vanes to close so much it would choke the engine out. You could hear the turbo surging - bouncing. Some times the car would bog and chug black smoke. Then it would clear and take off like a bat outta hell.
This was adjusted properly using the method in this link when the idparts actuator was installed.
I would make sure to check this if you have a failed actuator. My bet is this is the cause of the failure.
Mine would hold no vacuum at all when it was broke. Why I had to push down to get front bolt instead of using vacuum pump.
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