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Greetings From California, Where Son's '98 1.8T Wagon Burns Money and Mom

778 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Urlik
Hello Everyone. :hatoff:

Hate long posts? :mad: :banghead:

:sleep: Skip the fluff and go to the words between the red letters.

The," Why Post This Here?"
Didn't see an open, "Welcome Thread" nor a valid "Introduction Thread" that wasn't locked so I'll introduce myself here - hope it's not too presumptuous and I'm not committing any forum related faux pas.

I wish I could say I'm here to contribute my vast knowledge about cars. That may come later. I landed in this forum for the same reasons many others have, in search of solutions pertaining to VW vehicles. I hope our results benefit future visitors as well.

More Than You Want to Know About Me

I'm female, a former flight attendant :airplane: turned reservation sales representative, then travel agent. I was employed by the county courts for awhile during which time, I had the displeasure of working at the Simi Valley Court House during the infamous Rodney King Trial. I'm now a self employed artist, writer, and an active volunteer for our local school district. I also volunteer for an organization helping victims of traumatic brain and spinal injury explore healing through adaptive art.

I'm happily married for 22 years and we have two sons. One son in community college and another in high school about to turn 16 and eager to get his driver's license. My husband is a civil servant at a local Naval base and a Veteran Army Ranger :salute: who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes when I was busy trying to keep passengers buckled in their seats.

All You Really Need to Know Is Between Here

The What

I've searched the forum and found several possible solutions to repair our son's
98 VW PASSAT Turbo 4 Cylinder 1.8 Wagon beyond the $3000+ in repairs we've sunk into it since we purchased it two years ago.

Our current issue is passing California emissions for a smog certificate to renew registration, which to this point, has racked up about $1000 in parts and labor, fees, and diagnostics. The mechanic that replaced the catalytic converter said the old one was empty, stripped clean, or gutted and informed us that the "Check Engine Light" had been deliberately disabled which makes me wonder how it passed the initial smog test when we bought the car in the first place. :hmmm:

In Search Of...?

I'd like to give background on what's been done to the VW Wagon, hoping that combination, details about how it's running, and information about the 4 OBDII codes it's throwing will lead to an honest summation of what we're dealing with and logical steps to remedy the problems and pass the California Emissions Test without going broke.

I'm also looking for guidance in the feasibility of replacing a disabled "Check Engine Light" ourselves.

I would appreciate anyone willing to help us determine the quickest, least expensive solution(s) and if all else fails, direct us to an honest, fair, competent mechanic with integrity.


I read the required post that clearly state there are already answers on this website to questions about any problem one could possibly have with the Passat if we just look. It's true. I found an immensely useful post listing all of the OBDII codes and what each indicates so I was able to research and locate information on likely problems and possible solutions and I am deeply, truly appreciative. I think it's awesome that some of you have taken the time to freely share your expertise.

With that in mind, I'm a little hesitant to start a new thread with the combined ingredients of our current dilemma for one or two good, solid answers. The last thing I want is a bunch of disgruntled gear heads but I don't know the logical sequence or process of elimination and this post is already too long.

We can't afford another $115 diagnostic, to throw good money at repairs that aren't immediately critical, or to pay someone $80 an hour for something we could probably do ourselves with a little guidance, specific videos, and/or clearly labeled diagrams or photographs. :wrench: Even if it's realistic to only do a few repairs on our own, it would be a great help in saving money.

And Here

Mindset and History or More Fluff About Me and Mine

My son and husband are hesitant to tackle the issues fearing their lack of experience might make problems worse. I'm the one in the family with a can-do attitude for DIY repairs probably because my first car was a used 72 Chevy Vega that broke down regularly and I sort of assisted an upper engine rebuild on a 78 Mercury Marquis I inherited in the mid 80's. Besides that, I'm stubborn and prefer self reliance. I loathe depending on others especially when there are too many experts willing to take advantage of customer ignorance or impatience, perceived or otherwise. This gives the good guys a bad reputation.

I had no father around to teach me but came from a long line of men who liked tinkering with cars. In the 1920's and 30's my great granddad and his family owned a car dealership and machine shop in Raton, NM. It was way before my time, but the general attitude I came away with was, you'd better learn how to fix it yourself if you want to keep it running. I know I can encourage this household to do the same if I can garner concise information from a knowledgeable source. It's only a car.

Thanks for your time and any suggestions you have to offer.

Have a Bountiful Day!
~Deb :)
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Greetings Deb and family of a Passat.

Our family also owns a Passat a 2004 vintage one with the 1.8T engine.
It seems you cannot work on these with out a OBDII code reader at a minimum.
Ours thru the P0171 code today (lean Bank 1 code) ancrank casd ran very poorly.
Turned out the crank case breather check valved failed.
replaced check valve,she purrs now.
if you can get a code reader and have a good service manual you will be miles ahead.

Regards, Olive
Glad to hear everything worked out well with the least amount hassle and cost for you, Olive. The only thing better than an easy fix is having nothing broken in the first place. :thumbup:

Contents moved to B5 Garage
Good, I was about to move the whole thread there but now I won't.
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