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1998 VW Passat B5 1.8T
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A little back story, I got this car as a project, is fun to drive, when its running :/
Everything was running fine, drove it over 1500 miles from WA state to SD with the only issues being in the suspension. I did notice it didnt seem to have as much power as it should going through the mountains almost as if turbo was lagging, but nothing major, other than sucking down gas like no other. I was getting maybe 120 miles to a full tank! Driving my Denali was cheaper.

i purchased the car from a guy who runs an Audi repair shop, and this car was bought for his guys to have something to work on to avoid lay off when covid hit. They claimed to have re done the coolant system, and replaced the ECU. As well as halfway gutted the interior (looking for a headliner btw if anyone has one laying around lol).
When i got to SD we had replaced the spark plugs and one ignition coil, as we were told it “misses every now and then” from this one coil as it needed to be replaced. I did this in hopes to improve my power issues. When doing the plugs, one of the spark plugs snapped in half when removing it. Was able to get it all out with handy dandy magnet, and replaced. I got BOSCH Immodium plugs. I also want to add the CEL is on, hut i cant get a connection when trying to pull the codes, just an error. I have tried multiple scanners.
Car sat for about a week without being started as there was lots of snow and below freezing temps. After about a week i was able to dig her outta the snow and start her up, couldnt get the heat to work for the life of me. I tried daily for about a week letting her warm up for 20-30 min drive around the block, no heat still, then park as its below 20 and very chilly. Finally decided to try and drive her a while to see if i can get things flowin and she did eventually “defrost”, heater would start working on and off and temp guage finally raised but would keep dropping. Then the heat would only work if going above 80mph, almost like it was because the engine was able to warm up to a certain point before the cold air cooled it back down. Im also missing the bottom half of my front bumper, exposing the radiator partially, so figured when on freeway the radiator may be getting too much of the ice cold air flowing thru it.
Anyways, then it started to overheat the next day, if i let her idle too long or go over 70mph but would quickly cool down at lower speeds. Never fully overheated though.
That same day i noticed a weird almost ticking sound coming from what sounded like the back seat. Not sure what it was or if its relevant but dont want to leave anything out.
The next day, i filled her up at the gas station and she didnt want to start when i went to leave. Took a good few minutes to get her to start.
Later that day i was heading to a friends about 60 miles away, and after about 5 min on the freeway, i heard a noise almost like a tick, and i had the heater on high. I reached and turned to heater off so i could hear the noise better, and the car completely dies on me! Try to pop the clutch, and cant get her to start. Pull off to the side of the freeway and take a look under the hood, everything seems to look fine nothing obviously broken or out of place. Try to start her up and the starter just spins making almost a whining noise.
Had AAA tow her to the nearest approved shop, they call today saying they thing the crank shaft broke, and that only the back 2 pistons are moving? And that my engine is toast, quoting over $6k to replace!
I really dont think this is the problem. Hoping someone may have had a similar scenario that can shed some light?

could it be the serpentine-belt tensioner pulley? I was told the water pump/timing belt was replaced when the prior owner had it in his shop but i cant say for certain.
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

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First a couple of questions for you.
Are you wanting to do work yourself, or are you going to rely on someone else to do all the wrenching?

Well I suppose the first order of business is the no start issue.
The best way to find out what's going on, remove all the spark plugs and using a socket/ratchet on the front crankshaft pulley bolt, turn the engine by hand.
Looking through the spark plug holes with a flashlight, see if you can see the pistons moving up and down.

I've never heard of a crankshaft breaking on B5 Passat. Not saying it can't happen but I find that hard to believe.

$6k is ridiculous. You can get a whole car for parts for around $1k maybe less, pull the engine out and swap it into your car.
I did that with my 1998 GLS V6.

All the other stuff is mute until this gets figured out.
 

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1998 VW Passat B5 1.8T
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Discussion Starter #3
My boyfriend and I are hoping to fix it ourselves rather than pay someone else to fix it, if possible. We are going to do the spark plug test tomorrow once we get her back from the shop to see if what they were saying about the front 2 pistons not moving is actually the case.
Im wondering if whatever it is, was also causing the gradual overheating? Which is what led me to think serpentine belt tensioner. Especially since it died right as I turned the heater off, which would change the accessory load correct? Another option that came up was the starter? Could that cause the car to die when driving though?
im praying that it isnt the timing belt tensioner. The shop said the timing belt was still there, but didnt sound like he looked much further into it than that.
 

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A little 101 education on your car.
The serpentine belt does not drive the water pump. The timing belt does that. Water pump cannot be seen just by looking into the engine bay. Covers on the front of the engine need to be removed to get a glimpse of the water pump. All you'll see at that is the toothed pulley for the water pump.
Turning the heater on/off has zero effect on the load of the engine or it's belt(s).

It has occurred on occasion where the impeller on the water pump beaks loose from the impeller shaft causing the impeller to not spin resulting in no coolant flow inside the cooling system. That will for sure overheat the engine.

The possibility of the engine dying because of the starter does exist. There is a power cable to the starter that is relatively close to the exhaust system. Some people have experienced the cable touching the exhaust pipe, melting the insulation and ultimately shorting out the electrical system.
I highly doubt that is the case as it would kill the battery before to long. A very strong burning smell would accompany that.
 

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Red arrow: water pump
Yellow arrow: timing belt tensioner and idler pulley
Blue arrow: timing belt

102399
 

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A little 98 AEB info: The timing belt does not drive the water pump. It runs off of a small belt from the power steering pulley. External water pump on those. :p
I would remove the upper timing belt cover and confirm that the belt is rotating when the engine is cranked. Then I would do a compression check. I expect the shop did one and did not find compression on the 1st and 2nd cylinder, but you should ask them how they know 2 pistons are not moving.
I've never heard of a 1.8T crankshaft breaking, but I have heard of rods failing. They usually lock up an engine or go out through the side of the block. I have heard of the camshafts breaking, mostly due to oil issues.
 
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The crankshaft did not break in the middle. 99.99999999999999% guaranteed.

Your heat and cooling problem may have just been air in the system from when the prior mechanics “redid” the cooling system. Make sure it is bled and full.

Of course, you have to resolve the staring issue first. Now, they may have put Junior on it and he incorrectly diagnosed a broken timing belt. If that’s the case, the valves will also need to be replaced or the head swapped. That’s $600 + a lot of DIY hours or $1500-$2000 from a (different) shop.
 

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A little 98 AEB info: The timing belt does not drive the water pump. It runs off of a small belt from the power steering pulley. External water pump on those. :p
My lack of knowledge because I've never worked on an AEB.
 

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Suppose it would help if the OP gave us a bit more info as to the engine code.
 

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1998 VW Passat B5 1.8T
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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you for all the info and suggestions! We will be digging into her today and see what we can find. Im praying it is not the timing belt, however i have a feeling it may be. She does have 225k miles on her, and no telling what was actually done from the previous owner/shop. Fingers crossed for a less catastrophic outcome though! I will update what we find.

side not - any ideas on why im unable to pull my CEL codes? Im sure that would help tremendously in diagnosing this.
 

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True, but the only 1.8T engine code for 98-99 was the AEB.
Well, my lack of 1.8 knowledge is obvious. Maybe I should just stick to giving out free advice to the V6 crowd. :unsure:
 
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No one (or even two) problems would cause all the symptoms noted. The "whine" from the starter points right towards the timing belt. Sure you want to spend any more time on this car?
 

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i purchased the car from a guy who runs an Audi repair shop, and this car was bought for his guys to have something to work on to avoid lay off when covid hit
This may be a record for the most things wrong with one Passat. Seems the Audi shop owner's guys didn't do anything to make the car run right. There are plenty of these cars out there that run properly, so maybe time to ditch this one.
 

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My boyfriend and I are hoping to fix it ourselves rather than pay someone else to fix it, if possible. We are going to do the spark plug test tomorrow once we get her back from the shop to see if what they were saying about the front 2 pistons not moving is actually the case.
Im wondering if whatever it is, was also causing the gradual overheating? Which is what led me to think serpentine belt tensioner. Especially since it died right as I turned the heater off, which would change the accessory load correct? Another option that came up was the starter? Could that cause the car to die when driving though?
im praying that it isnt the timing belt tensioner. The shop said the timing belt was still there, but didnt sound like he looked much further into it than that.
Reasons for it to die while driving.....there are two relays, one for the ECM/ECU and one for the Fuel Pump in the different fuse/relay boxes, one accessed in engine bay and one under the driver's side dash. Fuel Pump could have gone bad. Also I think there are some fuses you should check in both fuse boxes. The crankshaft sensor could also be a cause along or the ignition module located over the air filter box. I will assume that the negative cables are in good shape to the body and the engine.
BTW is the driver's floor soaking wet? There is a Convenience Control Module under the carpet that can create a lot of issues if it gets flooded.
Starter drive might be bad if it is only whining and not cranking over the engine or the flywheel lost some teeth. If the timing belt teeth broke that might cause the problem too. Check the engine belt timing.

Gas mileage is affected by many factors such as incorrectly timed engine, different sensors and/or a clogged catalytic converter/muffler and can be discussed after you get your engine running.
If the Passat has an aftermarket radio, that could prevent you from reading the DTCs. Disconnect radio wiring and you should be able to pull codes if the ECM/ECU is getting power.
Yes you have an external water pump driven by a V-belt and a faulty thermostat might cause cooling issues. Heater core might be internally blocked by debris and you might be able to clean it out by carefully blowing/removing out the liquid inside of it and pouring in some diluted CLR. Let that sit for a while and then flush with clean water in both directions. Fill up the heater core and reconnect to heater hoses. There is also a bleeder hole on one of those hoses.
 
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