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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Warning: Long (tl;dr at bottom)

This forum doesn’t seem to be as lively as it used to be. But that's time, I guess.

This “build” thread will read a lot like a confessional. And in many ways, it is. What I intend for this thread is a transparent, brutally honest account of my Jetta’s history, my own blunders throughout ownership, lessons learned, and my current efforts to restore her.

As I write this, in December of 2021, the car is about 200 miles away from clocking 100,000. With such a milestone, it feels prudent that I reexamine my ownership of “Lynn,” my 2008 Volkswagen Jetta S 2.5 and my efforts to restore her to a better life.

My other goal with this thread is to own up to where I fell short, when I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t in order to “fit in.” I 100% understand if people aren’t interested in backstory or feel that this is too self-indulgent. Frankly, it is. If you do get something out of this, or can relate in any way, that’s awesome. But honestly, I’m writing this for my own sake. It feels strangely overdue on a personal level.

I’ll try to break this into sections so it’s not just a wall of text.

Background
I came to own this car by accident when I was 17. Following a traumatic action/event by a family member whose truck I was using since turning 16, that family member held use of the truck “above my head” as a means of control. Simply put, withholding my only means of transportation was their only action to ensure that I forgave them.

In 2008, VW had a fantastic deal on the package-one Jetta and Rabbit and I could afford payments by financing out for six years (something I don’t recommend in hindsight). Regardless, I bought the car as a “**** you” to that family member. It was my ticket to independence.

After initially wanting a Rabbit, I was talked into the Jetta, which was the same price but had more room. I took delivery of the Jetta in August 2008 when it had just 18 miles on the clock. In fact, the vehicle had to be put under my mom’s name at the time—17 wasn’t old enough to finance.

I had only a tenuous understanding of how to drive a manual. I stalled countless times in the week that followed. My most common mistake? Trying to start from zero in third gear although I swore, I was in first gear. Obviously, this was the car’s fault. Because, you know, I had three days of experience under my belt and was already an expert.

Good move(s): Buying a black car, buying a manual, buying the “S” trim (no chrome around windows, no sunroof).
Bad move(s): Buying a black car in a northern climate.


Tire Car Wheel Sky Vehicle


Starting Modifications
I had always loved cars, albeit on a superficial level. Aside from being able to change oil, I had little to no mechanical expertise. I fell hard into the DubKorps (RIP) and VWVortex forums at the time, quickly getting the modification bug. Dubsesd, BluMagic, KyleCrish and others had such inspiring builds. Guys around New England all knew each other and had cool club names. I immediately felt insecure about things like ride height, natural aspiration, and halogen headlights.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I robbed myself of the happiness of having a new car at such a young age by comparing it to the polished and perfected builds of others. I hate this in hindsight.

Good move(s): Washing the car every week or two.
Bad move(s): Washing the car and then drying with cotton terry rags, “debadging” the trunk without a heat gun and using a credit card as a scraper to remove badge adhesive.


Car Wheel Tire Vehicle Automotive side marker light


Insecurity
My mental health has always been something I battled. I grew up in a family that was comfortable financially, but lacked kindness and tact, despite pure intentions. To this end, I grew up playing musical chairs with antidepressants and ADHD medications. Insecurity was a byproduct.

So, when I fell into the “scene,” I immediately felt self-conscious and that I didn’t belong. I was immediately willing to entirely remold who I was as a person in pursuit of acceptance. I changed my username on Volkswagen forums to “sticky euro,” which literally means nothing of significance to me or anyone, but it has “euro” in the name. I've asked to change this to something more genuine, but haven't heard back yet.

Regardless, I started seeing lowered VWs everywhere in my area (Rhode Island at the time). I learned that lowered VWs wave to one another. But when I waved, no one noticed me, which hurt. I didn’t have the chops though – my car wasn’t lowered, I didn’t have aftermarket wheels, and I really had no idea what I was doing. I was just a lost teenager who was still discovering who I was and who I wanted to be.

Eventually, I convinced loved ones to chip in on a set of wheels, 18” Karthoums that I still have today. I was able to install them myself while working on a high school internship at Scott Volkswagen, the dealership where I bought the car, funny enough.

Good move(s): Interning with a master technician in the service department of my local VW dealership.
Bad move(s): Compulsively obsessing over my need to fit into the “scene.”


Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Automotive lighting


Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle


Insecurity Part II: Electric Boogaloo
Though I finally had the wheels I had longed for, the car still felt like it didn’t have the basic qualification for recognition in the VW scene: a low stance. I obsessed over getting a set of coilovers and what height I sought. It felt like the missing piece to the puzzle; it’s what I needed to feel whole and feel like I belonged.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Nothing would make me feel that.

Somehow, I talked my old man into buying me a set of Koni coilovers for Christmas one year. Mind you, I had no idea how to install them. But, at last, the person I was and the person I wanted to be would finally be one (lol).

With the help of a family friend who was a lube tech at the time, we (read: he) installed the coils and an ECS Tuning dog bone mount for the subframe. Finally, I could post pictures of my lowered car with clickbait-y thread titles and judge people for their stock ride height, which was "cool" at the time.

Good move(s): Choosing Koni coilovers for a sporty ride with adjustable dampening. Going for drives on twisty roads with all the windows down. Not slamming the car.
Bad move(s): Not building the car at my own speed. Hinging my entire identity on having a lowered car. Seeking approval from others.


Wheel Tire Automotive parking light Car Automotive side marker light


Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tail & brake light Land vehicle


Kidding Myself
Now that I had covered the “entry fee” to “recognition” in the VW scene, I finally thought I belonged. I started saying things like “lower it,” bragging about being “static,” putting a bunch of crappy decals on my rear window, and going to local VW meets. While I did meet a lot of great car folks in my area, I undoubtedly did so with a pheromonal desperation to fit in. “ACCEPT ME” might as well have been tattooed on my forehead.

Wednesday nights at the Applebee’s was the place to be. Nights were spent talking about Top Gear, ****ting on SRT-4s for reasons I didn’t understand, and eating half-priced, microwaved appetizers. All in all, it was a fun time. Though it was apparent that there were two personalities present: those who were genuinely enjoyable to be around and just loved cars, and those who took it all too seriously and seemed to permanently be in a pissing match about their builds, while also simultaneously seeming disgruntled about owning the car at all.

Though the main issue persisted: I loved my car, but having modifications wasn’t an elixir to feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

Regardless, I went to shows like Dubs in the Sand and Dust Off. The car was even featured at the Koni booth at Waterfest. I was also in the “readers rides” in one of EuroTuner’s last issues (RIP).

For modifications, I added GLI side skirts and rear valence. I bought a poorly fitting grille without a license plate mount and one of those sub-par Votex front lip spoilers off eBay.

Good move(s): Getting comfortable meeting new car people. Not modifying the engine or drivetrain as I surely would have destroyed it. Taking my time learning how to do more and more complicated fixes, modifications, and tasks. Learning how to better care for the car’s paint.
Bad move(s): Wasting money on cheap eBay parts. Though it was fun, drag racing at Waterfest.

Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle


Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Automotive tire


Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Land vehicle


Car Wheel Land vehicle Tire Vehicle


Thread continued below (maximum number of images reached on this post).
 

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'08 Jetta, '16 Fiesta ST
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Complacency
This would be the longest chapter of my ownership, where I didn’t actively maintain the car much, save for swapping summer and winter tires. College and grad school took precedent and the Jetta sat in storage on and off for a few years. After grad school, modifications were few and far between. I had a full AWE exhaust on the car for a while before growing tired of the drone that was a likely product of my own poor installation.

During this time, I really enjoyed the car for what it was. My then-girlfriend and I went on a harrowing time-speed-distance rally where we ended up stranded on a ski mountain. I drove the car all over, to work, on road trips, anywhere.

But the cracks began to show. I lost my garage space that I had for years and had to park the car outdoors for longer periods of time. Rust began to bubble up under the front fenders and in the trunk area. The ECU completely crapped out on me once. I had to replace the clutch—the result of drag racing, learning to drive on the car, and teaching others to drive manual. The adhesive on the GLI side skirts began to come undone, the golf ball shift knob began to wear, and my headlights began to haze. I was rear ended by some ding dong in his Impala, saw swirl marks in the paint everywhere, and the coilovers were in rough shape.

I hadn’t been to a VW show in years at this point, but still loved the car. I hated seeing it deteriorate. I was able to get both front fenders, the hood, and the trunk replaced under the VW corrosion warranty. The paint matched the other panels surprisingly well. But this was lipstick on a pig.

Good move(s): Enjoying the car for what it was.
Bad move(s): Not being more religious about upkeep.


Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Snow


Sky Tire Car Wheel Cloud


The Misunderstanding
As many of you know, being lowered can be tough on your axles. I came to learn this the hard way, blowing the front left axle twice. The second time, I even replaced the passenger axle myself, thinking that since the front left blew the first time, the front right was the next to go. But no. It was the front left again.

I was in a bind for time and, frankly, was frustrated at myself that I had got it so blatantly wrong. I had it towed to a shop on the day I left for a vacation. In my absence, the tow truck driver curbed the hell out of one wheel.

The shop I brought it to usually did great work. I had brought the car to them previously for little things like brakes and inspections. But this time, they suggested I fix the now leaking suspension, among a few other items. I declined, saying I’d do it. I’m not sure what they heard, but I came back to the car back at its stock height on new suspension. I was pissed, but honestly was exhausted from it all.

A small part of me was relieved though. The higher height meant a softer ride. But all in all, the very thing that made the car the most fun was now gone. It became boring to me. Coupling that with the fact that I had recently purchased a Ford Fiesta ST meant that I grew bored with the car.

After changing jobs, I finally had time to devote to the car. But it became apparent that I needed a garage of my own to really make progress in a way that worked for me.

Sky Tire Car Land vehicle Cloud


Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Automotive tire


Car Wheel Tire Vehicle Cloud


Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Land vehicle


Good move(s): Sticking with the car, not selling.
Bad move(s): Sticking with the car, not selling.


Today
The last few years had been a whirlwind. I got married, got a great job where I can work from home, and moved to Pennsylvania so my wife could be closer to her family. But at last, the biggest obstacle was overcome: I had my own garage.

And this is where things stand now. This also marks the end of my novel. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Automotive parking light Car Vehicle Land vehicle Wheel


Mechanically, the car is in great shape. But a huge item has been bothering me. In 2011 or so, I installed an AWE cat-back on the car. It was stellar quality, but droned quite a bit on the highway. And making so many long road trips to college (RI to PA), the drone got to me. In an effort to quiet the noise, I installed butyl-backed sound deadener under the rear seats and trunk, which did **** all. No difference whatsoever. And I did a horrible job installing it. I wish I could punch my past self in the face.

Since that time, I’ve been lugging around the weight of that sound deadener, knowing it would be a pain in the ass to remove. That’s where this restoration starts: with the slow, painful, exhausting removal of this hellish material with a heat gun and a scraper.

Progress so far:

Earliest photo:
Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting Bumper Motor vehicle


Today:
Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Bumper


As you can see, I’ve gotten to a lot of it, but still have some considerable length to go. There were early teething moments. I made some rough scratches because I'm a moron who used a metal scraper instead of a plastic one. I figured that one out fairly quickly.

The bare patches with different color paint/metal are where the OEM sound deadener was installed. This came out as a product of using the heat gun. To my knowledge, the OEM stuff is tar-based, which many people have had success removing by hitting it with a rubber mallet after cooling/freezing it with dry ice, canned air, etc. The catch is, this does not work for butyl-backed sound deadener. Ask me how I know.

So this is my life now: burns from a heat gun, super-heated glue goop that sticks to everything and makes a huge mess, and a lot of patience. It feels like a literal atonement of sin. Progress is brutally slow.

Following this, the car will be washed and retired to jack stands for the winter for other goodies.

Automotive parking light Grille White Hood Light


On my list:
  • Finish removing all the sound deadening, which involves removing the side panels in the trunk. Getting all the butyl goop off of everything that the sound deadener touched.
  • Needs repairs: glove box handle, hood latch (bottom), plastic shrouds that hold on to my ECS skid plate (a great investment).
  • Fluid changes: oil, coolant, brakes.
  • H&R Ultra-Lows (purchased) that will likely be wound higher than many folks would anticipate. The intent is drivability and reliability. I’m going for timeless here.
  • New engine mounts.
  • New subframe mounts.
  • Likely: bushing replacements throughout suspension.
  • Restore the Karthoums. I’m thinking of contracting a local powder coating business, but am open to other suggestions if folks have them. I think they’re not bent, but want to make sure before investing in a restoration. I’ve never powder coated anything before so I have no idea how the process works. Also, I’m not sure if they’d need the tires dismounted or if they have the ability to do it themselves. We’ll see.
  • New brake disks and pads. The dust shields are also destroyed from years of New England winters. I might even paint the calipers, which are filthy right now.
  • Remove the GLI side skirts so the car can get the paint correction it so desperately needs. I have a random orbital buffer, but am on the fence when it comes to doing this myself, as this would be my first attempt. I’d probably practice on the headlights first. I know it’s a totally different surface. If folks have feedback here, I’m open to it.
  • Reinstall GLI side skirts with a better adhesive job. I’m not pleased with how past me installed them.
  • New headlights.
  • Fog lights, wiring + euro switch.
  • Maybe LED tails. Though I’d imagine I need VAG-COM to set them up, which I don’t have.
  • New shifter. The golf ball one is just so worn.
  • Better exhaust. I’m thinking of leaving the resonator, installing a Magnaflow 11375 for the middle muffler, and then straight piping from there. My aim is a little sound, but no drone. I know this isn’t an exact science. Feedback here is welcome.
  • New front lip spoiler. I’d love an OEM Votex and am willing to pay for it for the right fitment, but it seems like this item has been discontinued?
  • Keep enjoying the car for what it is. I know it wouldn’t be as fast as my Fiesta. But I just want it to feel a little more alive. It feels so much slower by comparison. I think the weight without the sound deadener will help here.
Wish List:
  • Money.
  • I’d love to do a black headliner on it, but it’s hard to find one that’s black and doesn’t have a sunroof cutout. Also, I’d need the 10,000 other bits that would need to be changed to match. There’s nothing wrong with the current one though and I feel like I’d be playing with fire. I know that headliners can be a big VW weakness.
  • GTI/GLI/R32 steering wheel without buttons, much like the European R32 wheel. I’d need to install a new clock spring and wheel bolt. I briefly had another GTI wheel on the car, but took it off to sell. It was in horrible condition.
  • New tires. The Yokohama Advans I have on now are horrible in the wet and too squishy in the dry for my taste. I miss the Michelin Pilot Sports I used to have on this car.
I feel like I owe this to the car. At this point, it’s been a constant in nearly half of my life. It’s been there through my heartbreaks, victories, countless road trips, laughs, and warm memories. It’s my first car. All its value is sentimental. And it still has a lot of life left to give.

TL;DR: This is my mea culpa for ownership of my Jetta. Though I’m the original owner, younger me was a fool who did everything half-assed. It needs lots of love as a result of my past misgivings. It’s finally going to get that love.

Edited for formatting/images.
 

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First off, this was an awesome read for many reasons, evolution of the cars story, your own, growing up, etc. Good for you on being really honest about yourself and insecurities.

Secondly, I am really excited to see you bring this car back to life! It is huge to have your own garage space. I went from rental house to rental house for around 6 years, then lucked into buying a house in 2019 with a nice 2 car detached garage. It feels so much better to have a dry protected place to park, and to do work. Now I've fallen into the trap of stocking up on tools and wanting to build a new work bench.

Keep us up to date on your progress!
 

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It is huge to have your own garage space. I went from rental house to rental house for around 6 years, then lucked into buying a house in 2019 with a nice 2 car detached garage. It feels so much better to have a dry protected place to park, and to do work. Now I've fallen into the trap of stocking up on tools and wanting to build a new work bench.
Trap? trap?!? No, sir, that is a value-added, quality of life issue. Build the bench, and they (the tools and projects) will come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First off, this was an awesome read for many reasons, evolution of the cars story, your own, growing up, etc. Good for you on being really honest about yourself and insecurities.

Secondly, I am really excited to see you bring this car back to life! It is huge to have your own garage space. I went from rental house to rental house for around 6 years, then lucked into buying a house in 2019 with a nice 2 car detached garage. It feels so much better to have a dry protected place to park, and to do work. Now I've fallen into the trap of stocking up on tools and wanting to build a new work bench.

Keep us up to date on your progress!
Hey, thanks. I really appreciate that. It's been a long journey and I'm eager to get going on it. The biggest hang up at this point is time. I work in public relations, which never stops and has a lot of late nights. I've really only been able to get to the car on weekends.

And frankly, I have to get better at remembering to take photos along the way!
 

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Agreed, that was a very well written story that I enjoyed reading. It brought back a lot of similar memories for me. I thought I was hot sh!t when I got my lightly used '03 Jetta TDI back in 2005. Got on the forums here and instantly discovered that my car actually sucked, until I modified almost everything on it, including dropping about 3 or 4" of ride height. So I also bought Koni coilovers, a mandatory skid plate, and started blacking everything out on it. Made it a few years until I finally realized that it truly sucks to drive a slammed car, and have to swerve around every pebble and pot hole in the road. So did I go back to stock? Hell no, I made lift spacers and bought 26.5" all terrain tires instead, and went the complete opposite direction - also kinda dumb. After 10 years and 120k miles with the car, I finally jumped out. Now I am back in a jetta, an '09 2.5 this time, and having fun doing a lot of the same dumb mods as a 38 yr old instead of a 25 year old. Good for you to keep yours, and work on freshening it all back up to snuff.
 

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How much weight of sound deadening did you actually install? Seems you would know from having purchased it and done the install, right? Yeah it sucks that it doesn't cut down on exhaust drone.

Those karthoums are awesome btw. Gold/bronze would look amazing on black, I say. And yeah Pilot Sports are the best summer tires evar.
 

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11 JSW TDI • 09 B6 2.0 TSI • 03 B5.5 2.8 4Motion • 07 MINI COOPER S, "The Chili Pepper"
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Kudos to you for the cathartic posting and self-analysis. If you can't be honest with yourself and objective, you're much more likely to continue making the same mistakes.

You are not alone in wishing you could go back and undo some of what you did. I've had many, many vehicles (60? 70? more? Hard to even remember all of them now), and oh how I wish younger me had the wisdom and patience of older me....and hadn't squandered the resources I had at the time on foolish things.

I'm jealous of the garage. I am stuck with a single car, unheated, underpowered garage that's mainly used for housing my wife's R56 Mini Cooper S and storage of all my goodies. My JSW is relegated to outdoors....and the New England roads have been pretty harsh to the front end of it. The list of needs is growing, somewhat faster than I can keep up with - pano sunroof is f***ed and not quite closed, so I can't even take it through the car wash as often as I wish. But I'll manage through and take enjoyment where/when I can.

You are fortunate that you're the original owner. I wish that I could say the same.

Happy motoring -
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Agreed, that was a very well written story that I enjoyed reading. It brought back a lot of similar memories for me. I thought I was hot sh!t when I got my lightly used '03 Jetta TDI back in 2005. Got on the forums here and instantly discovered that my car actually sucked, until I modified almost everything on it, including dropping about 3 or 4" of ride height. So I also bought Koni coilovers, a mandatory skid plate, and started blacking everything out on it. Made it a few years until I finally realized that it truly sucks to drive a slammed car, and have to swerve around every pebble and pot hole in the road. So did I go back to stock? Hell no, I made lift spacers and bought 26.5" all terrain tires instead, and went the complete opposite direction - also kinda dumb. After 10 years and 120k miles with the car, I finally jumped out. Now I am back in a jetta, an '09 2.5 this time, and having fun doing a lot of the same dumb mods as a 38 yr old instead of a 25 year old. Good for you to keep yours, and work on freshening it all back up to snuff.
I appreciate that and can certainly relate to your experience! It was therapeutic to write. It feels like I'm righting a wrong, in a way. All in all, I've grown to realize that as long as you're having fun with the car, nothing else matters. People have opinions, but that shouldn't matter much as long as you're enjoying yourself.

How much weight of sound deadening did you actually install? Seems you would know from having purchased it and done the install, right? Yeah it sucks that it doesn't cut down on exhaust drone.

Those karthoums are awesome btw. Gold/bronze would look amazing on black, I say. And yeah Pilot Sports are the best summer tires evar.
That's a great question that I'm excited to answer. I've used the same trash bag throughout this removal and hope to weigh it once done. Probably not as much as I'm imagining. Maybe like 20 lbs? But what's also making this a tougher job is the fact that I put two or three layers in spots. Lots of bourbon has been consumed removing this junk. I'm not pleased with my past self.

Good call on the gold/bronze. I've been thinking of that a lot myself. I've been considering it a lot, but will have to see the color palate when the time comes!

Kudos to you for the cathartic posting and self-analysis. If you can't be honest with yourself and objective, you're much more likely to continue making the same mistakes.

You are not alone in wishing you could go back and undo some of what you did. I've had many, many vehicles (60? 70? more? Hard to even remember all of them now), and oh how I wish younger me had the wisdom and patience of older me....and hadn't squandered the resources I had at the time on foolish things.

I'm jealous of the garage. I am stuck with a single car, unheated, underpowered garage that's mainly used for housing my wife's R56 Mini Cooper S and storage of all my goodies. My JSW is relegated to outdoors....and the New England roads have been pretty harsh to the front end of it. The list of needs is growing, somewhat faster than I can keep up with - pano sunroof is f***ed and not quite closed, so I can't even take it through the car wash as often as I wish. But I'll manage through and take enjoyment where/when I can.

You are fortunate that you're the original owner. I wish that I could say the same.

Happy motoring -
Thanks! I certainly sympathize with your garage situation. How's the Mini to drive? I'm such a sucker for a tiny, fast cars, which is hilarious because I'm 6' 1" and look enormous in my Fiesta ST.

Do you think the sunroof drain is clogged and keeping the roof open? A friend of mine had a similar issue with his Pontiac G8 and only figured it out once the interior flooded twice. Obviously, that's a totally different car, but who knows. Perhaps it's similar on yours?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Mini update: I needed a break from work last night and called it a day earlier than normal, which gave me some time to get back to the removal. But what I hoped would take an hour took two. But that's how my projects usually go. I'm horribly consistent at underestimating how long projects should take.

Because the sound deadener I installed also covered a lot of the factory/OEM sound deadener, much of what VW installed has also been coming up. I've just decided to remove it all for now. Part of this means removing the side panels in the trunk to get to the rest of the deadener that's behind/underneath said panel. So I pulled the two trim "screws" on the trunk threshold, the plastic screw above the trunk opening and the one closest to the fold-down seats, which I broke off and now have to fish out from under the rear seat shelf (ugh), and got to it. This is after getting the majority of the OEM sound deadener out:
Automotive tire Automotive lighting Bumper Automotive exterior Floor

Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Bumper Petal

The rust-colored crud you see above gave me a heart attack because, well, I thought it was rust. It's not. Instead, it's an oily, hardened version of the remaining sound deadener. See, to credit my younger self, I was pretty religious about a clean interior. when I pulled out the back seats in fact, there was hardly anything in terms of dirt/food, etc. But following one oil change I did myself years ago, I spilled old oil in this corner of the trunk before bringing it back to Advance Auto Parts for recycling. This is also where I learned the value of pouring the old oil into the empty oil container instead of just bringing the entire oil drain pain with me like the fool I was, and likely still am.

Anyway, this left corner of the trunk is where I spilled a fair amount of it, probably like 8-12 oz. I did a pretty good job of removing it from the carpet/fabric bits, but underneath, it looks like it congealed and hardened the factory sound deadener, which made it way harder to remove. Lots of patience, lots of plastic razor blades, another glass of whiskey, and an hour passed before it was removed:
Automotive tire Automotive design Motor vehicle Mode of transport Bumper

Then, I noticed that what looked like dust beyond the lip to the left of that area where the sound deadener was (if that description makes sense). Nope - it's more dried up, powdered oil that was really tough to remove. Working in this area is such an awkward space:
Automotive tire Tread Bumper Fender Automotive exterior

So, it took more time to remove all that. I wasn't able to get all of it, but got most. I'll make another attempt with a toothbrush or something like that when the replacement floor drain plugs come in from ECS. All six in the back seat/trunk area are in rough shape and are either covered in sticky goop or with oil. At like $1.50 each, I just ordered new ones to not have to use any more goo gone. My life smells like goo gone at this point. Here's where I left things:
Automotive tire Plant Motor vehicle Tire Bumper

Edit for picture formatting.
 

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I appreciate that and can certainly relate to your experience! It was therapeutic to write. It feels like I'm righting a wrong, in a way. All in all, I've grown to realize that as long as you're having fun with the car, nothing else matters. People have opinions, but that shouldn't matter much as long as you're enjoying yourself.


That's a great question that I'm excited to answer. I've used the same trash bag throughout this removal and hope to weigh it once done. Probably not as much as I'm imagining. Maybe like 20 lbs? But what's also making this a tougher job is the fact that I put two or three layers in spots. Lots of bourbon has been consumed removing this junk. I'm not pleased with my past self.

Good call on the gold/bronze. I've been thinking of that a lot myself. I've been considering it a lot, but will have to see the color palate when the time comes!


Thanks! I certainly sympathize with your garage situation. How's the Mini to drive? I'm such a sucker for a tiny, fast cars, which is hilarious because I'm 6' 1" and look enormous in my Fiesta ST.

Do you think the sunroof drain is clogged and keeping the roof open? A friend of mine had a similar issue with his Pontiac G8 and only figured it out once the interior flooded twice. Obviously, that's a totally different car, but who knows. Perhaps it's similar on yours?
Oh, the Mini is fantastic. Eventually I'm going to buy another one for myself.....probably the Coupe model, and definitely an "S". I've started something among family and friends with that car - there are now 3 more in the extended family, and a family friend just bought one for his wife to drive. My brother bought the 'original' reconfigured version, a 2005 S model. They were supercharged, and while I haven't had a chance to drive it (he's in SoCal) he says that it's like driving a car with a V8 in it. Tons of low end power. And the family friend, who has a 2015 (might be a 2016), is 6'4"....and says that he's got more room in that car than he has in the Highlander it replaced.

As for the pano roof, no - it's mangled. From what I can tell, it must have gotten stuck or misaligned and the motor has enough torque to cause the crappy metal brackets that the glass mounts on to twist. It's a horrendous design. I really wish VW had just stuck with the tried, tested, semi-reliable design they had been using for 30 years. Some clown somewhere thought it would be a great idea to have the rear seat passengers be able to look up at the sky, so this ginormous piece of glass has to be maneuvered up and over that.....SMFH. All service for sunroof requires removal of headliner and entire sunroof cassette from inside of vehicle, which is a 6+ hour labor op requiring multiple service techs.

Not always a good idea to consume while working on the car....can lead to additional errors that you find later LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well part of why I asked how much weight it was upon install, is because I am somewhat confused why you are spending so much energy to remove it. Why not just leave it in? If it's under 30 lbs.... who cares. :p
Haha my wife said the exact same thing. And I really don't have a rational answer for you either. I think just knowing that it's there, sloppily installed, sticking to everything like the spare tire, the carpet, the trunk floor carpet. It just ate at me. Plus I'd say it goes with the whole atonement thing. I want to undo all the crappy stuff I did to it. But, yeah, it's 100% irrational lol.

Oh, the Mini is fantastic. Eventually I'm going to buy another one for myself.....probably the Coupe model, and definitely an "S". I've started something among family and friends with that car - there are now 3 more in the extended family, and a family friend just bought one for his wife to drive. My brother bought the 'original' reconfigured version, a 2005 S model. They were supercharged, and while I haven't had a chance to drive it (he's in SoCal) he says that it's like driving a car with a V8 in it. Tons of low end power. And the family friend, who has a 2015 (might be a 2016), is 6'4"....and says that he's got more room in that car than he has in the Highlander it replaced.

As for the pano roof, no - it's mangled. From what I can tell, it must have gotten stuck or misaligned and the motor has enough torque to cause the crappy metal brackets that the glass mounts on to twist. It's a horrendous design. I really wish VW had just stuck with the tried, tested, semi-reliable design they had been using for 30 years. Some clown somewhere thought it would be a great idea to have the rear seat passengers be able to look up at the sky, so this ginormous piece of glass has to be maneuvered up and over that.....SMFH. All service for sunroof requires removal of headliner and entire sunroof cassette from inside of vehicle, which is a 6+ hour labor op requiring multiple service techs.

Not always a good idea to consume while working on the car....can lead to additional errors that you find later LOL.
Lol you're right! That's cool. I drove an original mini that wasn't an S and even that felt like spritely. I'm sorry to hear about the sunroof. That certainly sucks no doubt about it. There is always the option of doing a "delete" kit that goes in its place:

But that's not for everyone I'd imagine.
 

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Haha my wife said the exact same thing. And I really don't have a rational answer for you either. I think just knowing that it's there, sloppily installed, sticking to everything like the spare tire, the carpet, the trunk floor carpet. It just ate at me. Plus I'd say it goes with the whole atonement thing. I want to undo all the crappy stuff I did to it. But, yeah, it's 100% irrational lol.


Lol you're right! That's cool. I drove an original mini that wasn't an S and even that felt like spritely. I'm sorry to hear about the sunroof. That certainly sucks no doubt about it. There is always the option of doing a "delete" kit that goes in its place:

But that's not for everyone I'd imagine.
That stuff matters, it would eat at me too knowing there was a half assed job hiding under there ha, so I get it
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Small update: I found someone who was selling a pair of GTI headlights (without bulbs) for $100. So I drove like 90 minutes to buy them. He said he's not sure they work, but they at least include the igniters and headlight range control modules. I don't know if they include levelers and I don't think they include any bulbs. But he said they were pulled straight off a GTI, so who knows - they might?

Regardless, this was in a rather rural part of PA where I knew there were some pick-and-pull-style junkyards. One in particular caught my eye, as it listed quite a few MKV Jettas among their inventory. I took a shot and struck gold:
Car Wheel Tire Land vehicle Vehicle


In one junkyard run, where it rained the whole time, I snagged:
  • Another set of GLI/GTI headlights.
  • OEM fog lights (I should have spent the time taking out the wiring too). I didn't grab the Euroswitch because it was in rough shape and only had the front fog setting.
  • A "Highline" CECM for said projector headlights.
  • The brushed metal interior trim from the GLI.
  • Two driver's door door latches. Mine's broken and I grabbed two because I didn't want to get home and realize one didn't work as I know a lot of other MKVs had this issue.
  • The GLI's steering wheel (sadly, it was a DSG). I'll see if there's anything I can do with the wheel's paddles. I'd leave them on if they could somehow be programmed for the radio volume or something like that. Regardless, the wheel needs a lot of work, so we'll see how it shakes out. Worst case, I'll refurbish and sell it.
  • Floor pan plugs of various sizes.
The junkyard cost? $140.

I really wish I spent more time there in hindsight. I began to remove parts of the black headliner like the hand grips, A, B, and C-pillars, but ultimately left them behind. They weren't in the best condition, I was soaked and exhausted by then, and couldn't figure out how to remove the sun visor lamps on the fly. I also briefly thought about stealing the leather interior. The front seats were in great shape, though they had rusty rails. But the back seats had a few significant tears.

The calipers would have been a nice grab too, but the whole car was resting on the brake rotors, which was on really loose gravel. It would have been a huge production and I didn't have the right tools either.

All in all, it was a great grab, but was a bit sad. That GLI was in pretty decent shape, all considered. It really didn't seem like it would have belonged in a junk yard just yet. I think the windshield said that the engine had a knock, but otherwise, it seemed ok. Who knows though.

I also saw a somber reminder of what I'm working to avoid. It's sad seeing your own car in a junk yard. It even had tinted windows like mine.
Car Wheel Vehicle Tire Automotive tail & brake light


I also bit the bullet and bought the enthusiast version of VAG-COM and a cheap Lenovo laptop to run it on:
Material property Font Cosmetics Eyelash Gadget


So now, my garage is a huge mess once again and I still haven't finished removing the dynamat. Regardless, I'm pretty sure I can make a set of working headlights out of the two pairs I have. Plus all the headlight mounting tabs/clips look to be there. Though we'll see - I've been let down on this sort of thing before.

Automotive parking light Automotive lighting Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle

Lego Machine Composite material Engineering Cable


Letting everything air dry. It was all pretty soaked from being out in the rain for so long.
Engineering Machine Auto part Metalworking hand tool Toy


Pro tip for your next junkyard run: bring a tarp. I grabbed one last second as I was heading out the door and it proved to be a big help.

Edit for formatting.
 

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That's some great stuff right there. I'm in western CT. I don't recall EVER seeing a 'pick and pull' style yard here. It's sad, as some of my fondest memories of childhood were the days spent rambling around the boneyards outside Chicago with my father, as he was always in the middle of repairing one of the various Beetles he was driving at the time. I don't think he ever spent more than a $100 for a car when I was a kid.

I would have JUMPED on those seats. It's literally 4 bolts holding them in, as I'm sure you know......
 

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BTW, good job on stepping up to the Ross Tech interface. I had the original for years and years, as I was driving C4 Audis/B5 Passats. When I went to scan codes on my daughter's new B6 Passat found that I couldn't do it, and was forced to upgrade to the current HEX V2 interface. I bit the bullet a little harder and got the 10 car license, so should be good for awhile LOL....
 

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Small update: I found someone who was selling a pair of GTI headlights (without bulbs) for $100. So I drove like 90 minutes to buy them. He said he's not sure they work, but they at least include the igniters and headlight range control modules. I don't know if they include levelers and I don't think they include any bulbs. But he said they were pulled straight off a GTI, so who knows - they might?

Regardless, this was in a rather rural part of PA where I knew there were some pick-and-pull-style junkyards. One in particular caught my eye, as it listed quite a few MKV Jettas among their inventory. I took a shot and struck gold:
View attachment 140152

In one junkyard run, where it rained the whole time, I snagged:
  • Another set of GLI/GTI headlights.
  • OEM fog lights (I should have spent the time taking out the wiring too). I didn't grab the Euroswitch because it was in rough shape and only had the front fog setting.
  • A "Highline" CECM for said projector headlights.
  • The brushed metal interior trim from the GLI.
  • Two driver's door door latches. Mine's broken and I grabbed two because I didn't want to get home and realize one didn't work as I know a lot of other MKVs had this issue.
  • The GLI's steering wheel (sadly, it was a DSG). I'll see if there's anything I can do with the wheel's paddles. I'd leave them on if they could somehow be programmed for the radio volume or something like that. Regardless, the wheel needs a lot of work, so we'll see how it shakes out. Worst case, I'll refurbish and sell it.
  • Floor pan plugs of various sizes.
The junkyard cost? $140.

I really wish I spent more time there in hindsight. I began to remove parts of the black headliner like the hand grips, A, B, and C-pillars, but ultimately left them behind. They weren't in the best condition, I was soaked and exhausted by then, and couldn't figure out how to remove the sun visor lamps on the fly. I also briefly thought about stealing the leather interior. The front seats were in great shape, though they had rusty rails. But the back seats had a few significant tears.

The calipers would have been a nice grab too, but the whole car was resting on the brake rotors, which was on really loose gravel. It would have been a huge production and I didn't have the right tools either.

All in all, it was a great grab, but was a bit sad. That GLI was in pretty decent shape, all considered. It really didn't seem like it would have belonged in a junk yard just yet. I think the windshield said that the engine had a knock, but otherwise, it seemed ok. Who knows though.

I also saw a somber reminder of what I'm working to avoid. It's sad seeing your own car in a junk yard. It even had tinted windows like mine.
View attachment 140154

I also bit the bullet and bought the enthusiast version of VAG-COM and a cheap Lenovo laptop to run it on:
View attachment 140155

So now, my garage is a huge mess once again and I still haven't finished removing the dynamat. Regardless, I'm pretty sure I can make a set of working headlights out of the two pairs I have. Plus all the headlight mounting tabs/clips look to be there. Though we'll see - I've been let down on this sort of thing before.

View attachment 140158
View attachment 140159

Letting everything air dry. It was all pretty soaked from being out in the rain for so long.
View attachment 140160

Pro tip for your next junkyard run: bring a tarp. I grabbed one last second as I was heading out the door and it proved to be a big help.

Edit for formatting.
Might seem dumb but I get a ton of usage out of one of these cheap (about $100) canopies

Rectangle Shade Tints and shades Table Electric blue

It would make working at a pull-a-part in the rain much more enjoyable.

I throw mine up in my driveway behind the garage too if I am doing a big project and need garage space + more. Bring it car camping to set up over the back end of the car and then set the tend up at another edge and it creates a really nice dry vestibule type area
 

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i am quite impressed with your journey and maturation. seems like you have the introspection part down pat... it's unfortunate that more people aren't more thoughtful... and self aware... the world would probably be a better place...

i sometimes miss the local pick-n-pull and scores such as the one you nabbed the other day... it really is a great feeling... especially if you know how much the dealer and or used part retailers want for the same parts you just got for pennies on the dollar. there are a few cars i've had that would not have stayed on the road as long as they did without the pick-n-pull... i am fortunate that here in portland there are 4 within a 30 minute drive... and that's not including the independent scrap yards of which there are too many to count...

i'm old now. many more trips around the sun than most of the ppl in this forum... when i got my gti i took a totally different approach... i made a commitment to myself to stop wrenching on cars myself... stop going to junkyards and searching all over god's green earth for parts... and instead... since i've had the car it's mostly been worked on by a highly regarded and reputable shop here in town... and i've found it to be quite liberating... the other thing i did... was get a car that was already done. all the parts in all the vw magazines that i lusted after for so many years... were on the car when i got it... and the work was done by a master mechanic... to a high degree of quality... not by a boy racer in his back yard... really it's made all the difference... i just don't have a lot of the problems i normally would with a gti w/ 170k on the clock... i was very lucky to have found a car with little to no deferred maintenance... where everything has been either significantly upgraded... or replaced with OEM parts.... very few ppl would consider me a man of means... so sometimes i have to wait until i have save enough $ to get some stuff done... like it took me 6 months to get the cash together to replace my front suspension... but luckily for me i don't need to use the car every day... and the suspension wasn't totally blown... so waiting half a year to get it done wasn't as much of a hardship as it might sound... now i'm saving up for a new clutch... gonna go stage 2 to match the rest of modifications that have been done to the drivetrain... it will probably be sometime in late spring early summer when that happens... again... my clutch is on the way out... but it's not shot... and i actually know how to use a clutch... so i'm not killing it when i drive... i think i should be able to make it without it pooping the bed on me before i can get it fixed.... (you can't see me but i'm knocking on wood)

i will admit to not being able to stay off the pick-n-pull narcotic... and i have been back since i got the gti... mostly for trim pieces... and other cosmetic items... stuff i could have easily ordered online... but i needed the fix...

i am jealous of your garage and commitment to DIY... this is probably one of the best threads i've read in this forum over the years... thanks for sharing your journey... will be checking in to see how you're doing from time to time...

p.s.

we had a car sharing service here in portland for a few years that had mini coopers... drove a bunch of them. was impressed... but i'm 6'5" and despite the ample head and leg room... the gti cabin feels a bit more open to me... but i was surprised how quick those cars were... bone stock out of the box.... i can imagine with some tasteful tweaks those cars would be a hoot to hoon.
 
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