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Discussion Starter #1
So I've found a listing for a 2004 Variant with a 1.8t that says the car rattles like a diesel when running but has a pretty spotless body and interior. Before I drive over an hour to check out this $500 fix-er-upper, let's play "What could it be?" Any thoughts?
 

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It might be as small as a loose exhaust hanger or bad motor or gearbox mount(s)...or it could be something seriously mechanical deep inside the motor or the gearbox or one of the diffs.

At this remove, it's just guessing. Perhaps it'd be prudent to consider this vehicle as "body but no drivetrain."
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I went a looked at it, and the body is really in good shape. The engine bay, however, is another story. From the sound of it, I'm thinking it was a tensioner of some sort, but there were rotten vacuum lines, broken fittings, and an oil leak up top somewhere as well as cracks in all of the various engine covers and the plenum. Paired with a complete lack of paperwork this seemed to be a very poorly maintained Passat, which is just as safe to have as a rabid wolverine as a house pet. Pass. Even for $500.
 

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NE Iowa? Decorah by any chance? Probably wise to pass on this one as parts cost will eat up lots of $ unless you have access to some good salvage yards. There are always about 10 B5/B5.5's in the yards in Denver so parts can be cheap here but up in NE Iowa probably not so lucky.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I live just outside of Ridgeway, so you're not far off. I've had 7 VW's, 2 Audi's, a Mercedes, and a BMW, so I'm OK with searching for parts. You're right, though- no Passats in any of the boneyards around here. Parts availability isn't why I passed. Knowing not to buy a Passat that has so clearly been neglected makes me pass. Think I'll look for an older GTI.
 

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I know I'm probably too late but check the hose at the front lower side of airbox that goes down into passenger side bay area. It goes to the SAIP (secondary air injection pump). That hose could be broken, or missing completely.

Same problem I had a few years ago. My car sounded like a diesel from hell mixed with a jet waiting to take off from the runway. After some ignorance and laziness my SAIP failed, so what should've been a <$100 fix turned into a >$300 fix.
 

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I think you made a wise choice in walking away. I'm new to VW's and the 01 was the 1st I bought Sept 2015. 2nd is an 04. Just bought that last weekend.

Had I known what I know now about VW's I would have prolly passed on the 01 or talked the lady down more than I did. No service records except a parts lst from Auto Zone. I've done quite a bit to the 01 and it runs well, looks decent but still needs new carpet, headliner, and a few odd's and ends. The interior shows it's age and neglect.

When I came across the 04 it was pretty much a no brainer to me. Service record have still not been able to be obtained. It had been sitting for 6-8 months and needed to be jumped every time. It needed tires, shocks, possibly 2 axles and a few odds and ends.. It's in excellent condition, looks to have been maintained pretty well and was only a couple hundred dollars.

I swapped the front tires from my 01 to the 04 gave it a vacuum, scrubbed the exterior, added fresh fuel with bottle of Techtron. Reset the check engine light and started driving it.

It's turning out to be a great deal!!! So long as nothing major goes wrong it will be a keeper.
 
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