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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I started to post about this car in the new members thread, but thought it would be better to move it over here, since this seems to be a better place for it.

I bought my Passat in 2010, I believe, as a one-owner trade with 90k miles, and it currently has 200k. Until the recent timing belt failure (more on that later) the only time it failed to run for me was then the MAF sensor died. I kept up with the maintenance fairly well, and the car has been remarkably reliable for me.

Before the Passat, I was driving a 1998 Volvo V70 T5 wagon (along with my exes 2000 V70r Wagon) and I wanted a car with a stick that was more fun to drive than the Volvos. I decided I wanted another European wagon with a stick shift, and decided to look for B5 Audis. I quickly discovered that, at 6'5", the Audis were simply too cramped for me. Which was a bummer, because I was so excited to do an R2S replica. Doing some digging, I learned that the same basic drivetrain was in the B5 Passats, so I started looking at them. I had test-driven several over the years while car shopping and had always been impressed with their overall competence, but I had never driven a 4motion.

As soon as I test-drove a 4motion with a stick, I decided this was the car for me. Tons more interior room than the Audi, exceptional visibility, great turning radius (compared to the Volvos) and the 5-speed had a light, easy action. I found one at a VW dealer in West Hartford with under 90k, and I bought it.

My 'method' with all my used cars is to make sure all the deferred maintenance is attended to, and to look for opportunities to improve performance and gain fun with every worn part that needs replacing. The first opportunity came a few months later with the failing motor mounts. I chose to replace them with RS4 mounts. My initial thought was "Hell no, these have to come out" when I fired it up for the first time. The Buick-like quiet in the cabin had been replaced with actual engine noise, and I was a bit shocked. But when I started driving home on back roads, I was elated. The slightly floaty handling of the car was gone, because the motor and transaxle were held more firmly to the chassis; I could actually throw the car around a bit! I was, and still am, a little shocked what a huge difference to the car's personality this one small change made. Not only was it worlds better than my old Volvo on the same roads, the car even had a better ride/handling balance than my wife's MkVI GTI.

The second mod didn't necessarily improve the performance, but I got a set of H&R adapters so I could run Porsche rims.

(I will post more later)

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PassatWorld Elder
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If you really want to excite your senses, throw in a set of Bilstein PSS9's. You'll swear you're driving a car bolted to rail. Insane handling performance with those gems. But then you'll need some tires that'll be able to stick to the road.

I ran 19" wheels wrapped with General Tire UHP's, (before the version they have now, which kinda suck) P235's up front and P265's in the back (on a V6 FWD 5sp manual) and PSS9's.
I could turn corners at 40 - 50 mph, make sling slot lane changes that would make your head hit the door window.
 
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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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34 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't know anything about the PSS9's, but I've had no luck with Bilstein shocks in the past. Here in New England, they're simply too harsh for our road quality. I'm running Koni Yellows with H&R sport springs now and that's a decent compromise, here.
 

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PassatWorld Elder
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I'll admit I wasn't a fan of the Bilstein's either after having them on my 98 Ford Explorer. I swore I would never by those "junk" shocks again. They lasted less than a year and cost me a ton.
The PSS9 is a completely different type of shock. They're built like little tanks.
The biggest advantage of the PSS9's is they have no gas charge. They have mechanical valving in place of a gas charge on the one side of the shock piston. So theoretically speaking, as long as the shock seals hold out the shock will never lose its effectiveness to damping the ride.
The PSS9's also have 9 adjustment settings from dead stiff to Cadillac float on a cloud ride. The adjustment dial is easily accessible without remove anything from the car.
The only drawback to these, the price is steep. But if you're serious about how your ride is...

Myself and veteran member keithwbloom had these installed on our cars. I don't know of anyone else off hand here this group that has them.
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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34 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That was always the issue with the Bilstein I had, the gas charge was just too stiff, and non-adjustable. I would love to have adjustment accessible without removing the shocks, again.
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
So, loving the 4motion, and still having the idea of an RS2 avant replica in my head, I started looking for a 4motion, 5-speed wagon. I finally found one, enthusiast-owned, but in Minnesota, so a plane ride and a road-trip was necessary. Here's a pic after I got her home and put the Porsche wheels on her.


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PassatWorld Elder
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I'm not a fan of the wagon but I it sure looks good for its age. There's a back story to the wagon thing.
I like all Passat's as long as they are black on black, manual gearbox sedans. :p
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not a fan of the wagon but I it sure looks good for its age. There's a back story to the wagon thing.
I like all Passat's as long as they are black on black, manual gearbox sedans. :p
Well, spoiler alert, I didn't keep the wagon. I loved the utility and size of it, but honestly, it just looks homely compared to the sedan, so I gave up the idea of making an RS2 tribute.

Also, there was a death in the family at that time, and I got divorced not long after that, so in the decision to keep the wagon or the sedan, I kept the sedan. 6 months before I purchased the wagon, I had a stage 1 APR tune and diverter valve, plus TT downpipe installed on the sedan, so that sealed the deal for me.
 

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PassatWorld Elder
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The Bilsteins on a 4Mo do not ride nearly as bad as on a FWD. I had them on my FWD sedan and had to take them off after a trip through OH, PA, NJ and back to TX. The Konis were great on my 4MO, but the adjustment was a real hassle with having to remove them.
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Bilsteins on a 4Mo do not ride nearly as bad as on a FWD. I had them on my FWD sedan and had to take them off after a trip through OH, PA, NJ and back to TX. The Konis were great on my 4MO, but the adjustment was a real hassle with having to remove them.
My earlier Koni Yellows had external adjustment for the front shocks...the Passat shocks needing to be removed sorta negates the adjustability, to me. I got them cheap and I'm happy with the ride, but that's definitely a drawback.
 

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My earlier Koni Yellows had external adjustment for the front shocks...the Passat shocks needing to be removed sorta negates the adjustability, to me. I got them cheap and I'm happy with the ride, but that's definitely a drawback.
IME only a drawback if you want to change the setting or didn't set it to desired stiffness the first time. I ran Yellows one full turn from soft and it was way better than the wallowy stock shocks. Even softer than the Bilstein HDs I have now with sport or stock springs. Handles great without being too jarring on bumps or potholes.
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sorry for not posting more, but I'm still dealing with getting this car back on the road. I installed a new master cylinder yesterday, and now the pedal won't move at all...ugh!
 

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2001.5 B5.5 1.8T stick Sold :-((
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I'll admit I wasn't a fan of the Bilstein's either after having them on my 98 Ford Explorer. I swore I would never by those "junk" shocks again. They lasted less than a year and cost me a ton.
The PSS9 is a completely different type of shock. They're built like little tanks.
The biggest advantage of the PSS9's is they have no gas charge. They have mechanical valving in place of a gas charge on the one side of the shock piston. So theoretically speaking, as long as the shock seals hold out the shock will never lose its effectiveness to damping the ride.
The PSS9's also have 9 adjustment settings from dead stiff to Cadillac float on a cloud ride. The adjustment dial is easily accessible without remove anything from the car.
The only drawback to these, the price is steep. But if you're serious about how your ride is...

Myself and veteran member keithwbloom had these installed on our cars. I don't know of anyone else off hand here this group that has them.
I had those PSS9 too and they are the best, period
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update: the pushrod inside the brake booster broke and bent the master cylinder in the process, so I'm replacing both. Not fun, but I need brakes!
 

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Sky


So, back to how the car ended up dead and in the garage all summer...

One day back in April, I went to leave work and the car started, but was making a weird noise. I turned it off, checked under the hood and saw nothing amiss (as if that would help) then started it again. I figured I would get home and do some more digging, but the car died almost immediately when I put it in gear, and ended up where you see it here.

I took it to my normal mechanic who told me the head was shot, and would cost roughly $5k to replace. I didn't like that answer, so I started digging and ended up here:

Car Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting


I decided to pull the head and see if it could be repaired rather than replaced. I figured that since it died at idle, the damage would be limited.

Automotive tire Wood Motor vehicle Gear Gas


Pretty sure these missing timing belt teeth aren't a good thing.

I still don't know what caused the belt to lose teeth, as the tensioner wasn't frozen up and seemed to still be in adjustment. I used a manual tensioner from IE when I did the timing belt about a year prior, and I have to say that I think the fact that the manual tensioner left a big gap in the timing cover that the factory tensioner provided certainly led to this excessive level of corrosion. I immediately determined to run the factor tensioner and lose the "because race car" cool of the manual tensioner because of this.

Motor vehicle Automotive engine gasket Automotive exterior Automotive tire Gas


You can see the 'eyebrow' marks left by the valves on the pistons, but they looked very slight to my eyes. I was generally surprised how clean the engine was internally for having 200k miles. The head didn't look horrific, so I took it to Eastwood machine shop in Somers, CT to have it looked over.

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I dropped the head off on a Friday. Based on past experience dealing with machine shops in the summer months, I expected a long wait, so I wanted to get the head in as quickly as possible. The shop called me on Monday, told me the head looked good, with only 3 bent valves. They recommended that I replace the hydraulic tensioner, based on the mileage, and I agreed. My head was done the next Friday for $1k and change, with new guides, seals, tensioner and a complete head gasket kit.

I decided to fix the car up to get another 100k out of it. Maybe a foolish plan, but time will tell. The turbo was passing oil and had a bunch of end play, so it came out, along with the repaired-twice downpipes and catalytic converter that was throwing codes. I was going to simply replace the K03 with a new one, but got to thinking, "why not a K04?"

My general m.o. when working on my cars is "can I spend a little more than the price of stock replacement parts and get a bunch more fun" and that's what I decided to do, here. The K04 was roughly double the cost of the K03, but the only other required components were a set of green injectors, a tune, and VR6 MAF sensor housing. So for roughly $1,400 more than the cost of stock parts, I could get a bunch more performance.

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2004 VW Passat 4motion, 5sp 1.8t; ko4, green injectors, VR6 MAF housing, Techtonics exhaust
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
The age and mileage of the car, and the corrosion from the horrible liquid road salt used here, meant that I had more to repair than I initially thought, of course. I'm a big believer of "while I'm in there" maintenance, so while I had everything open and accessible, I decided to fix every issue I knew of or suspected. Mechanically, I had the alternator and stater rebuilt, replaced the gaskets on the oil cooler housing, new coolant return line for the turbo, new crank position sensor, new power steering pump, new secondary air pump, new hi-flow catalytic converter from 034 motorsport, and a full stainless exhaust system from Techtonics Tuning.

Corrosion wise, I blasted all the pulleys and brackets on the motor that showed rust, including the bumper support/turbo tube. I also stripped the calipers and coated them with POR-15. I also had an issue with my jacking points. Over the years, I had partially crushed the pinch welds using the wrong jack, so I had to beat them back into the proper shape, then stripped them and treated them with POR-15, then new seam sealer keep them sealed from the elements. You can see the pinch weld here behind the wheel. I don't have a "before" picture, but they looked like they lost a bar fight, and they turned out pretty tidy for beating them back into shape with a sledge hammer and vice grips!

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And it's a shame this beautiful piece of pipe work and welding has to be hidden, but here's the mid-section to the Techtonics exhaust system:

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2.5" downpipe and single section, then 2.25" when it splits into dual exhausts. Borla mufflers at the back.
 
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