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Discussion Starter #1
It was only a question of time, right? A national class action case has now been filed against VW for the massive turbo sludge failures in its 1998-2004 longitudinal mount 1.8T. Am I missing something here? Did VW really shrink the size of the oil pan on these cars simply to fit the engine into a longitudinal application?

My interest in the answer to this question and several other questions of a technical nature is professional - I happen to represent the consumer class. Anyone have an interest in explaining the technical issues of turbo sludge to a novice? Email me privately if you do to [email protected].

Does anyone on this forum beleive that 3.7 quarts of petroleum based oil was ever not going to be a problem with a 1.8T?
 

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Welcome ALB. I've posted your thread in a place where it will get more attention. Personally, I think 3.8 quarts works just fine. I've driven my 99 almost 125K miles without any issues. If VW has erred, it's not in the sump capacity(which, by the way, is identical to the Audi A4 Longitudinal engine's). Their error was in the belief that American consumers would change their oil at the recommended intervals. They also blew it by not mandating full synthetic, although they eventually did.

Welcome. This should be an interesting thread.

Kenny
 

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I don't think it stands much chance as it's oil failure.
It also only hapens in America, because IMHO there is a culture of 'I know better' and ignoring what the manufacturer states you must use for oil etc...
 

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Two iterations of Auto-Rx (for precaution sake), 99K (switched to synthetic and big filter at 40k) and nothing so far. If they do, and they probably will, find a way to swing it as an oil failure, their penalty will be much lower, seeing as how the Audi A4 Longitudinal engine has the same capacity for the sump.

Hell, I'd like a new turbo or engine for the hell of it too, but if it ain't broke, I ain't going to fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The Audi A4 (1997-2004) has appraently experienced the same incidence of turbo sludge failure and these models are included in the case. The A4 and the Passat 1.8T both have the samller sump.

As to the timeliness of oil changes, what about the fact that the Jetta 1.8T does not have any reported incidence of turbo sludge failure, not does the Audi TT 1.8T. Are the owners of these cars more attentive to the change interval, or does the 4.8 quart (30% greater capacity) oil sump have something to do with it?
 

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Here's a copy of what I sent. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Hi Irwin,

The root cause of the VW 1.8t's sludge problem is simple (as far as engine mechanics are concerned, anyway), but where the blame lies is tricky to determine.

All turbochargers get much hotter than any other-oil-cooled engine part. (hot enough to glow red, in fact, as a result of being blasted with freshly-combusted exhaust.) The turbocharger is both lubricated and cooled with a constant, high-pressure supply of engine oil. Understandably, unless the engine manufacturer has seen fit to equip the engine with an electric oil pump (which VW did not do), the flow of fresh, cool oil into the turbocharger stops as soon as the engine shuts off -- but the turbocharger remains glowing-hot for several minutes afterwards.

The problem with this is that no commonly-available mineral oil can withstand this temperature for very long before congealing into tar. Synthetic oils (such as Mobil 1, Amsoil, and Pentosin) are more inert and are less likely to congeal because they don't contain reactive carbon atoms (that is to say, all of their atoms are happily joined to long chains of other atoms), but any oil will burn when heated to such an extreme and left to sit, unmoving, for a long time (such as overnight after a hard evening commute).

One might think that this tar, being as sticky as it is, would stay inside the turbocharger, but there are two factors that allow it to spread into the rest of the engine:

1. The oil in the turbocharger is circulated AT HIGH PRESSURE.
2. The turbocharger gets more than hot enough to temporarily melt the tar and allow it to be evacuated.

- - -

What does all this mean? It means that the sludge problem in the 1.8t has much less to do with the oil capacity of the engine than some people insist, and much more to do with the driving style of the owners. (no, I don't work for VW.) On the one hand, most people who own turbocharged cars have no idea that the turbocharger has such a tough job and that it needs special treatment -- they simply assume that the engine designers will have "taken care of the problem." Unfortunately, they didn't. All VW did was put a note in the owner's manual that the car needs to be idled for a couple of minutes after driving more than a few miles. (that's not nothing, to be sure, but it lacks an explanation of WHY the car needs to be idled, and WHAT will happen if it isn't idled.)

- - -

There are a number of preventative solutions to the sludge problem:

1. Change the engine oil every 3000 miles AND NO LESS FREQUENTLY, UNDER ALL CONDITIONS.
2. Allow the car to idle for a few minutes after each use, possibly with the assistance of an automatic cooldown timer.
3. Install an electric oil pump and coolant pump to evacuate the heat from the turbocharger and prevent the engine oil from sitting and congealing inside the turbocharger.

Solution #1 is the easiest solution for the user to implement, because it involves a minimum of effort and no modification to the car. Solution #3 is the easiest solution for VW to implement (and I believe they did, in more recent years) because it doesn't pose the problem of owners asphyxiating in their garages with they cars idling away for minutes after they park. Solution #2 is the solution I went with, because it lets me avoid having to deal with the problem manually, time after time.

ALSO, allowing my engine to idle means that my turbocharger gets cooled off even faster as a result of the cool, fresh air being drawn through it, while the exhaust gas is routed past the turbocharger so its heat doesn't get absorbed.

- - -

Unfortunately, there is no convenient means of repairing a sludged engine. The most complete and effective means would be for each sludged engine to be removed, sent back to the factory for complete teardown, cleaning, and rebuild, and reinstalled into another car needing a new engine.

Cleaning oils are much more accessible for the average owner, but VW would have to develop a sanctioned procedure for using them, and the service would have to be performed in a VW-licensed repair shop to maintain quality control and warranty validity. (this may be the best compromise, for engines that have not yet been damaged by sludge.)

Other than that, the only thing that can be done is for each and every 1.8t owner to change their oil every 3000 miles whether they want to or not, to use fully-synthetic (not blended) oil whether they want to or not, and to allow their engine to cool off for a couple of minutes whether they want to or not. Turbochargers are fun, but proper operation of a turbocharged car demands more careful treatment. No way around it.

- - -

I hope this helps; to sum it up, VW could have done more to idiot-proof the system, and some owners could have done more to not be idiots. It falls to the courts now to determine which party is more at fault.
 

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The Audi A4 (1997-2004) has appraently experienced the same incidence of turbo sludge failure and these models are included in the case. The A4 and the Passat 1.8T both have the samller sump.

As to the timeliness of oil changes, what about the fact that the Jetta 1.8T does not have any reported incidence of turbo sludge failure, not does the Audi TT 1.8T. Are the owners of these cars more attentive to the change interval, or does the 4.8 quart (30% greater capacity) oil sump have something to do with it?
Did the TT have a requiremnet for Synthetic oil?
I think the early passat manuals did not specify synthetic and early on many VW dealers changed with dyno oil. I know my 02 V6 manual says either VW502.00 or whatever the current API rating was. They also allowed for 5w-30 dyno for full service, not just top-off. I believe this was the same manual given to 1.8T owners. its worth a look.
I also wonder if VW should ahve mentioned turbo cooldown in the manual. that said, I'm not going to eb too sympathetic to a case where VW should ahev told people these things. I would think a strong case (morally, if not legally) would rest on if VW told people to do the wrong thing, which it seems to do.
I might also look at how the sludge warranty is handled. it basically requires dealer changes.
Also note that I think the transverse 1.8Ts (jetta/gti/TT) might be different than the longitudinal in teh Passat/A4 in ways besides sump capacity.
Now, i've worked for a law firm and am a law student, so i know just enough to screw myself up. However, I think I sort of understand how these work. you are taking on a huge risk and need a good cut and will be willing to settle to make sure that this is not a net loss. I urge you however, to remember that to the people who ahve been hurt, it costs thousands of dollars. Please know that a fair settlement for those who's failures were due to VW is a free repair, not a coupon for 5% off drivergear. I'd like to see the terms of the warranty extended to 10 years and much more lenient to thoe who DIYed and those who bought used, with compensation for those who had to pay.
Also, if the result of this lawsuit is that basically no one can sell a turbo engine in the US, i'll be very mad.
Oh, also, it wasn't sludge, but coking.
 

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I got 200k miles out of my '99 1.8T before the oil pump went out on it. I ALWAYS used full synthetic every time I changed my oil. I did eventually have a sludge problem but I can't complain about going 200k without a problem. That being said I went 256k with my Civic SI and the inside of the engine looked just as good as the day it came off the showroom floor using nothing but full synthetic.
 

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Don't forget the lack of heat shielding on the turbo oil lines in the early B5's.:thumbup:

The requirement for synthetic should have been in place since the beginning but was likely viewed as a major marketing obstacle when the model was introduced. After the model reached a fair to good level of acceptance, the high incidence of failures gave VWOA cause to make it a standard, but still not a backward requirement for sludge coverage. All that said is you needed proof of all oil changes. If a lawsuit gives you a chance for discovery on internal memos/emails regarding this topic between the different VW divisions/departments, I'd be very surprised the topic wasn't addressed prior to introduction.

I would agree that all changes at intervals no greater than 5,000 miles and close monitoring of oil levels, which can also be somewhat variable in the 1.8T, with the heat shield upgrade, would lead to a very low chance of sludge, even with dino oil. Using synthetic and checking the level regularly, I think problems should be minimal, even if you miss the interval by a few thousand miles.
 

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Since you are a lawyer, are you merely interested in profiting off this, or do you have a Passat of your own with the same issue and you wish to learn more about how to deal with it?

Just curious.
 

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I also wonder if VW should ahve mentioned turbo cooldown in the manual. .
In the manual for my 2004 it does mention this, though not directly related to the turbo. It does state that all engines should be allowed to idle for a minute after high speed driving. I forget the exact wording. I can look it up if need be.
 

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In the manual for my 2004 it does mention this, though not directly related to the turbo. It does state that all engines should be allowed to idle for a minute after high speed driving. I forget the exact wording. I can look it up if need be.
Would be interesting to see. I don't think my 02 v6 manual says it.
I'll have to give it a looksee.
Where abouts is it?
 

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Did VW really shrink the size of the oil pan on these cars simply to fit the engine into a longitudinal application?
In my opinion they did...along with reducing the recommended oil change interval. The only other previous water-cooled Volkswagen engines with an oil sump capacity under 4.0 quarts (including filter) were the 1.5L and 1.6L normally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engine used in 1975 through 1980 VW Rabbits, Sciroccos, Jettas and Cabriolets.

A common upgrade (even for these smaller engines) was to switch to the larger 4.5 quart sump (~4.8 quarts w/filter) found on the 1.7L and 1.8L normally aspirated VW engines used from 1981 through 1992 in Golfs and Jettas.

That the factory chose to 1. Reduce the sump volume and 2. Add a turbocharger to these cars, along with sporadic cases of customer neglect, played a big role in the sludge problems. Note also that later iterations of the longitudinal 1.8T engine had larger oil sump capacities of roughly 4.2 or 4.3 quarts with filter. VW also changed the recommended oil filter size around the 2003 model year...the newer (larger) filter holds an additional 0.25 to 0.3 quart (every little bit helps).

As for finding any documentation (of there being a potential problem with engine sump volume) in the discovery phase, I'm not holding out hope. Germans don't typically keep such emails or reports lying around and any of that is likely long gone.
 

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As for finding any documentation (of there being a potential problem with engine sump volume) in the discovery phase, I'm not holding out hope. Germans don't typically keep such emails or reports lying around and any of that is likely long gone.
Given that the lack of syn may have been a VWoA decision, they are subject to US laws there. I don't know the requirement for US companies, but I'm sure this guy does. I would be very interested in seeing what comes up.
I'd also be inetrested in seeing what is in euo manuals. Do they specify synthetic only?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I don't own a Passat or an Audi 1.8T - if I did, I could not represent anyone, since I would be a member of the class. I do represent five Passat and A4 owners, all of whom followed the maintenance schedule, all of whom had engine failure from a clogged pick-up arm screen, and all of whom were left with no other remedy when VW denied their claims for warranty repair. This is not a coupon case. In addition to requesting that VW pay for reasonable engine repairs and increased maintenance charges, we are asking that the court order VW to come clean and explain the true nature of the problem to consumers in order to educate them to what they should be doing. Has anyone looked at the August 2004 "warranty extension" letter VW/Audi sent? If so, did that look like an honest company informing the consuming public about the true nature of a problem? Incidently, the case has been consolidated into one national case at the request of VW.
 

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i think the sludge issue 'cause' was a combination of these things:
-dino oil
-inexperienced owners in regards to turbocharged engines
-known PCV issues
-stretching the limit of the maintenance schedules

i think when any 3 out of 4 of these things are present, the engine will sludge. the engine is not inherently sludge prone, but it is sensitive to the 4 issues i listed.
 

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Would be interesting to see. I don't think my 02 v6 manual says it.
I'll have to give it a looksee.
Where abouts is it?
For Model Year 2004 - Booklet 3.1 "Controls and Operating Equipment", page 103, section titled "Stopping Engine" (in bold print)

Do not stop the engine immediately after hard or extended driving. Keep engine running for about two minutes to prevent excessive heat buildup.
 
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