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Discussion Starter #1
It might be time for some community think. I'm open to suggestion.

2003 B5.5 Passat GLX FWD wagon, ATQ motor, Tiptronic 01V automatic with 339000 miles, never had the heads off, original owner, all stock, all original, no mods. Darn nice body, no rust, minimal dings, decent paint. It's been a love/hate relationship, as I believe anyone with experience on these probably shares.

Lost ALL compression on #2. Moderate to advanced amateur, but old school, no VAG-Comm, never had nor found immediate access to one. Besides maybe when it was under warranty, it's never been read.

With a leak down test I'm unable to get any compression on #2. Cams look normal, valves opening and closing, piston goes up and down. Bought an articulating Vividia Ablescope borescope (a whim, I can use it on other stuff--and why I haven't bought VAG-Comm, can't use it on anything but another VW/Audi, and I'm not planning on buying another new VW/Audi any time soon--had enough of this one. May buy one if I get it going again :) ). I see the valves open and closed. Besides a bit of an oily mess, I didn't see anything majorly wrong with the valves (using the borescope). No obvious burns, no missing pieces. Don't see any cracks in the piston, and I think I still see cross hatching on the cylinder wall! No obvious scoring. The other cylinders on the right side all leak test ok, or at least in the green (if you want real % leakage, you need to know what pressure you're pumping in and what pressure is being held. My cheap old Milton tester is only a percent with some regulated input value--I think it's like 10-20 psi with a regulator, but it doesn't have an input regulator value, and I can pump 120psi in and still only get 10-20psi out, but it tells me the gauge is working and the other cylinders at least give me a good value, so I have a good reference. I've pumped in 20 to 25psi and I can still pull it through that cylinder's firing stroke (some resistance with oil poured in). Scared of breaking my hand or arm doing that to the others.

I poured normal 0W-40 in the cylinder thru the spark plug hole--didn't want to immediately contaminate with something like gear oil--that's the only way I even got a wiggle out of the leak down tester, and it only wiggled, still 100% leakage when moving the crank slightly back and forth. All the oil (and I filled the cylinder after a couple trials!) eventually drained out with air pressure applied.

Never had rings completely die on anything, but I've never had anything get to 339K. A testament to it, but it's been a good bit of work to get it there.

I hear no real noises other than the obvious miss. I'd think cracked rings would cause some sort of noise and possible scoring, but I really hear nor see anything obvious.

History: Since 80,000 miles, it's used about 1-1/12 quarts every 3000 to 4000 miles, which has always been topped off when needed--I understand VW considers this normal-ugh. I replaced 30 valve seals at probably 120k to try to alleviate that (a portion of the hate in the relationship). It never changed anything. I never saw any obvious smoke coming from the tailpipe when I drove it, though when my daughter started driving it, I could occasionally see a small blue puff possibly on some minor acceleration when I drove behind her, but it was always minor, if at all. Oil leaks were always addressed, so it wasn't loosing it there. Eventually though I believe it poisoned the catalytic converters. A few years ago, on its second set of VW cats (first set had flex pipe problems and trying to fix misfires--it did, temporarily), it was very near to the junkyard. Couldn't figure out why the car wouldn't accelerate at all. With nothing left to loose, I took a spade bit on an extension and completely reamed out the catalyst honeycomb. Has run like a champ since. I could still see through the honeycomb before the surgery. I dunno, but it cured it. Fixed the throwing of codes by installing an variable orifice extender on the rear O2 sensors. It ran fine and didn't throw codes, and passed emissions (on the east coast!). Research indicates a VAG-Comm may be able to turn off the rear O2 sensors, but again, never had a VAG-Comm. The most common code thrown through its life has been misfires.

I've never had the oil pan off, never removed the heads (though I was close when I did the valve seals as I lost a valve keeper in the motor when reassembling. I found it in one of the oil return holes with a final desperation inspection with the help of a VERY small but strong magnetic tool on a flexible copper handle from the Snap-On tool man that happened to be in the dealership lot when I bought a spare keeper!), and am not looking forward to removing the engine on this beast. But I'm considering a poor man's rebuild by replacing all piston rings, cleaning up the valves and valve seats with a Dremel brass wheel, lapping the valves, and putting it back together. Maybe buy the head gasket set WITH 30 valves from FCP for under $500.00 depending on what is found when opened. I don't really know if the 2.8 can even be bored, though I have seen reference to +0.020 pistons for it--that's less than the typical normal +0.030 boring of a muscle car block.

The Good:
Body is in overall good shape, no rust, or really even beginnings of it.
I completely overhauled the front and rear suspension w/ Lemforder or VW parts and Bilstein B8's at 300000.
I know its history, and its maintenance.
Transmission shifts well, even better since a few dump and refills before the 300000k suspension rebuild. I take temp w/ a Fluke DVOM w/ temp probe.
I replaced the heater core w/ an all metal VW replacement before the 300k suspension overhaul.
ALL coolant hoses (including under the intake/throttle body) have been replaced.
Except as listed in The Bad, everything works.

The Bad:
Normal wear and tear at 339k
Leather seats need the bottoms redone, it's now an open hole in the drivers side.
Center instrument panel multifunction information display (the red info and mileage computer) has nearly complete fade out when warmed up (even ultimately in cold weather) since 80k. Was going to send that to some rebuilder in Massachusetts on a local German mechanic shop recommendation-first things first.
ABS module needs replacement, disconnected (lifted) the plug on the unit so I can at least read/clear any codes.
Radio reception on the Monsoon has slowly degraded to nearly complete non-reception (I bought the CD changer when new--but that too now is sometimes intermittent with errors though I can coax it back to not quite complete normal operation). I don't think it's just an antenna on the radio. Feel free to comment on this too, but again, first things first.
The Tranny has 339k on it. I understand the torque converter was a weak link in this vintage. I am scared I do an engine just to have the tranny blow on me a few miles (or just a few thousand) down the road. It shifts well, but...
Rear cargo cover ends disintegrated on 2nd replacement.

I believe I can handle working on this, but I still have to buy the right long bit driver to remove the headbolts. I'd have to be really quick though. I (sort of) have a good place to work on it, but I'm sure it would not be looked upon highly by my employer if I did so. I'm by myself for the most part, but the errant visitor is possible. If it was at my house, it would be apart already, and why I ask for suggestions.

Has anyone had this type of issue with compression (and oil consumption) and fixed it successfully at a reasonable cost and timeframe?

What year blocks will fit the ATQ, or what interchanges may be made? If I could find a well priced, low mileage replacement (or whole engine/tranny package) I'd be willing. I've been looking, even considering a complete donor vehicle, but nothing yet. I'm in Maryland.

I'm sorry for wordiness, but trying to give as much relevant detail as possible. I look forward to useful comments and suggestions.

Thanks,

K.
 

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As it sounds like the car is in good shape and driven quite a bit, I would replace the engine. I would replace the front seal on the trans as well as get a rebuilt torque converter (since it's going to be out). That pretty much fixes the trans issues that might pop up.
I've not see a 2.8 loose all compression in a single cylinder with intact valves. Interchange engine is the AHA, but keep your intake and updated PCV. The ATQ would be the most popular as it was also used in the Audi B5 and A6.

Check out www.car-part.com as it should list engines by distance and mileage. It shows an engine with 116K for $500 about 29 miles from you. Another has 48K on it for $1K, but 94 miles away.
 

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Maybe a valve is hung up, seized piston rings or maybe even broken rings. It happens.

PZ has good advice.

My personal experience...
My first Passat I purchased is my '98 GLS V6 FWD 5sp manual sedan. I bought it July 4th 2006 with a bad motor. CCT's were trashed, had a cracked oil pan and the oil pick-up tube was plugged with bits of plastic from CCT shoes. Other than the motor being junk, the car was in GREAT shape. I parked the car with intentions to get it going again, but then life got in the way.

Fast forward to 2013, I purchased a 2001 GLS V6 FWD 5sp auto sedan for my wife. Long story short with that car, it ended up being a boat anchor, however the motor itself was pretty decent with low mileage. I ended up pulling out that motor and swapping it into my '98 GLS and then stripped the 2001 GLS of worthy parts and then scrapped it. I can't remember for certain, but I think I paid $1100 for the 2001 GLS and got $500 for scrap. So basically a complete running motor and various spare parts for $600.
That '98 GLS has been my daily driver ever since and has done numerous trips across the country. Two complete round trips from Milwaukee, WI to Phoenix, AZ and countless trips from Phoenix to Burbank, CA. I get about 29 MPG's all day long in that car.

I guess my point being is, if you like the car and you don't want to be married to another car payment or buy another used car which is basically someone else's headache, stick with what you've got. You obviously know the car inside and out. Getting a used motor or even a junked car to steal the motor from I think is worth every penny. Especially if you have the ability to do your own wrenching.
Pulling a motor out and swapping in another motor could be done in a few days time if your diligent.

As PZ stated, I would buy a new torque converter and put that in while everything is apart.

All AHA and ATQ engines used between 1998 and 2005 are readily interchangeable. You stated yours is an ATQ. All you would have to do is just keep your original emissions stuff, intake, throttle body and ECU.
Everything else is interchangeable. I've done it AHA to ATQ and ATQ back to AHA. Easy peasy.

The Poly Drive tool for the head bolts is readily available.
The other stuff you mentioned like the radio, that's an easy fix.
Member VAGguy has got a Monsoon he's dying to get rid of. $30 shipped!
Monsoon Radio Here

The dash display, $175 to have OEM displays fixed by an old member from here in this forum.
Display Repair by Matt Litke

ABS module can be had for $100 for a Bosch 5.3 ABS module. $150 for a Bosch 5.7 ABS module.
Here's at least one reputable on-line repair place.
Cheap ABS Repair

Seat bottoms can be readily had for about $70 all day long.
I buy stuff from here quite often. They have seat inventory all the time.
Seat Sample Here

I really think you could revive this car for cheap and keep it on the road for many years to come. My winded .02 cents worth.
 

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Maybe a valve is hung up...
I doubt that with an intact piston, all compression air could quickly leak past the rings, even in the unlikely situation that all of them were broken. I vote for a stuck or severely burned valve. With that kind of leakage, you might be able to hear the sound of air noise at the exhaust pipe, or intake duct (with throttle open) while doing the leakdown test. If that's what's wrong, then pulling that head for repair might be the solution.
 

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I doubt that with an intact piston, all compression air could quickly leak past the rings, even in the unlikely situation that all of them were broken. I vote for a stuck or severely burned valve. With that kind of leakage, you might be able to hear the sound of air noise at the exhaust pipe, or intake duct (with throttle open) while doing the leakdown test. If that's what's wrong, then pulling that head for repair might be the solution.
Maybe I should have explained more. What I was referring to is that maybe a chunk of carbon got built up on a valve seat keeping the valve partially open all the time.
The majority of the Passat engines I've opened up have had the piston rings seized inside the piston grooves from excessive carbon and burnt oil build-up.
I can't remember the exact number of engines I've gotten inside of, but it's around 20 +/- a couple. This does not make me an expert by any means, but the trend of problems/failures are eerily simular across the engines I've worked on.
 

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with piston at bottom of power stroke, you can put a lot of air pressure thru plug hole to hear the leak as YL suggested, you'll hear it for sure, if indeed it is a valve.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
In theory, the "acoustic test" sounds plausible. In practice, I've always found it darn near impossible to source leakage by sound, at least without taking manifolds apart for a stethoscope close by. It just seems to come from everywhere, and I'm not talking just this engine. Yes I can hear where air is escaping from the exhaust side when it opens, and more from the intake side when it opens, but on the firing stroke, it comes from everywhere, including the dipstick, but not more places than others. I can make the oil burble and spit from this one's dipstick tube if I add enough air and leave it there for a bit at like 20-25 psi. I've always been suspect of at least the oil control rings since the valve seal job not helping with any oil consumption at all. And I swore at least 13 years ago I wasn't going to do rings. Did I lie to myself? :rolleyes: Definitely in a hate part of the relationship.

So I really at least need to get to the point where I can remove the head(s). 1/2" Polydrive ordered--Not going to find a Snap-on guy today, or tomorrow. Easiest is usually the most plausible. I don't disagree the valves might be the source, if it wasn't for the DOHC's being in the way, I might be able to fix it in 5 minutes with a plastic mallet. A couple strategic taps to the valve spring head may fix the whole darn thing! But I'm suspect of rings seizing w/ carbon at least (remember the long term oil consumption (that's supposedly within VW specs-hmph)). And the heads have to come off if you're attacking the pistons, at least eventually, right?

I would think the heads should be able to be removed in car, no? Always more PIA of course, but possible? Gotta stand the car in the air to get the Cats off. Been there/done that. But do heads come off w/ exhaust manifold attached? Am I able to get to the exhaust manifold before the motor comes out? It looks pretty tight, but then again, the whole thing is too tight. I bet the W8 is a MF. Or am I now at the pull motor stage? VW mech wanted to know how I was going to do valve seals in vehicle years ago. Greenie I guess. He said VW didn't train him to do it that way. Yes I have a Bentley hard copy, third thing I bought for the car after OEM CD changer and roof racks. Hard to find factory manuals for any cars today unless you work for one. Not thrilled with AutoData like stuff, maybe I'm too cheap too, but I want factory, haven't found a way to get into any factory manuals for my wife's 2015 Civic. Told you I didn't plan on buying another (new) VW/Audi anytime soon, the love/hate thing. Though I don't mind buying new (hate the payment), cause for 3-4 years any major work is someone else's problem, and then it seems I drive them till the wheels fall off--nah I can fix that! And yes, PZ, it seems we drive alot. Her's has 136k since 9/2015 (Passat was originally hers), where does she go? I dunno, don't wanna. I'm a bit out from anything, but really? And you know what I've done to her Honda? Oil changes, Trans oil chgs like every 2 or 3 oil changes (CVT--cheap insurance), 1 coolant drain/fill, just started 3rd set of tires (she let set 2 go unbalanced too long, and had a bit of flat spotting, thought she should have new ones for winter just in case, but they had life left), and just flushed the brakes for first time. It's still on its original brake pads--gotta order new ones soon though, they're getting pretty thin, at 135k+. Still, it feels like a Tonka Toy, not like the Passat, but it's not the first time she bought a Honda when I tried to steer her to VW. And I still have her 89 CRX HF. Didn't have to do much to that one either. (I) Totaled right front corner now 8+ years ago 1.5 yrs after a complete suspension rebuild so I have 3 good corners on a CRX. Could pull 35mpg driving like a fool (it wasn't an Si, so couldn't get too foolish), and break 60mpg in mild weather w/ windows up, a/c off, babying it. Need a shell, but they're getting harder and more expensive to find now. Yes AP, life does go on while you're busy making other plans. Hondas don't feel as nice, but man they're Energizer Bunnies, and she doesn't care what it feels like. I could buy her a Yaris, I wouldn't do that, I have to work on it. Maybe test drive an Acura next time. Expensive Honda. I digress.

How rebuildable are the heads? Std. 3 angle valve job possible? Recommeded? Not much room/meat w/ 5 valves. I have prices of like 700 for the pair from one place, and 1200 EACH head from another, and of course that's just a guestimate.. Won't know til they/I see them. Or can I inspect for cracks/burns and just go at seats and valves w/ brass wheel if all ok instead of cutting,then relap valves, and leak test w/ fuel if no defects noted? Do valve seats wear if they aren't burned, just by normal action of the valve? Is grinding seats recommended on these motors? Seats replaceable? Would be more in's the machine shop's (MS) realm, but are valve guides available? Understand from MS they are, but been told you don't knurl these, they're brass and you don't knurl brass (think thats the way it goes, not steel...) I saw AP's stoning of a head elsewhere. Not familiar, I assume it's some sort of fine honing stone, or will just a flat sharpening stone do? I was just going to go at surfaces w/ a scotchbright wheel on the pneumatic angle grinder.

And in advance, who is a good source for torque converters (TC), trans parts? Found IPT in NJ--I could drive there, and Cobra in Sebring, FL? Yes/no? Any others? On the surface IPT sounds better, but looks like the 01V converter is like 650.00 or so and listed under the Audi's. I'd have to contact them first, but any ideas, suppliers?

Well it looks like I was just looking for cheerleaders (sorry) to whip me up into another frenzied episode of VW Saga. But please don't leave yet boys and girls. We're just getting started.

K.
 

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Well to help ease some of the anxiety about all this speculation at the moment. The heads are very rebuildable. These heads aren't like old Ford's and Chevy's of the day. The valve springs on the Passat head are pretty small in comparison to the old V8's. So with that the valves don't hammer the valve seal as hard so pitting and deformation is actually pretty minimal.
The last few V6's I've ripped apart and got running again were done a very cheap budget. I mean cheap. I pulled the heads off, soaked them in my parts tank overnight, had the valves removed by a local shop and then I soda blasted the combustion chamber on the heads and also the valves. All the valves were checked with Dykem on the valve and seat faces and all checked out ok.
It's a very cheap way to check the sealing surface of the valve face and seat.

I've had a couple sets of heads where the valves and seats were ground. Price including stripping the heads, boiling, grinding and reassembly using brand new valve stem seals (the old valve guides were retained) was $350 per head. Interestingly enough, the biggest cost factor was the re-assembly of the valves. The valve keepers are tiny, and require a very long tool to get them to slip into the valve retainer. I just had one face of the seats ground to match the valve faces. The wear was so insignificant, only a dusting of the faces were required.
You have to do your homework on the shops that do the headwork though. I found out, in the area I lived in anyways, the original shop I was going to have the work done at, told me point blank, they send VW heads out to another shop. I got them to tell me what shop it was so I just went straight to them. A special jig is required to dis-assemble and assemble the valves into a V6 and 1.8 head. I've always dis-assembled my own heads, but not the Passat heads, no siree.

As far as pulling heads in the car? Yeah sure it can be done but it's cramped. Seeing as you have a torque converter issue at hand, I would just pull the whole motor and transmission out as one and be done with it.
Other members here can attest, there was a point in time (2012 to 2015) where I was pulling engines and transmissions out in my sleep. For all of the work that's required to pull a motor, it really is only a couple of extra steps and the engine and trans can come out together. I find it much easier and much less painless, especially going bottom side and messing around with the bell housing bolts and exhaust. Just so you know, all of the engine and trans pulls I've done, I've done them all by myself with ZERO help. It's a very manageable and doable thing.

Well, I was going to drop a few pictures here to show how it's done but PW is being a bitch right now and won't allow it.

I'll check back later.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad to hear it can be done solo, cause I don't have help. Love the jackstand stand., Then again, you can't remove a head while it's being suspended by the loops on the heads, can you? And I see the Cats weren't even removed, just the clamps. Yes, pulling keepers and reinstalling them is NO FUN. I never wore glasses when I did that valve seal job on it back in like between 2008 to 2010, and I think I was wearing 2.0x readers by the end of the job just to be able to focus on them. Reading is now impossible without at least cheap 1.75x readers. I blame the computer (and the car). Maybe I'm spending too much time reading, but saw bad posts about TPI Trans Reman TC's in the TDI's which also use the 5HP19. Don't like to see them.

I may start disassembly tomorrow. It'still got to be put in the "service position" which will take a couple hours for me. My service position is like yours, 15 more minutes and cracking the A/C lines, and the whole front of the car is gone. It's not bad once the "lock carrier" or core support is completely gone, but it's ridiculous that you really have to go that far to do the job with any comfort/efficiency. I appreciate yours, and everyone's support and input. Will report as I progress..

JK.
 

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I've left my a/c intact when I've pulled motors on the Passat. For the V6, you flip the condenser next to the passenger side wheel. The once the front is off, unbolt the compressor and put it near where the airbox was. There is enough give in the lines to do that easily.

Since you suspect the rings and TC, pulling the whole motor/trans is far easier. I even leave the heater hoses attached to the engine, just push them down the hole below where they attach to the heater core. I do remove the intake and flip it on top of the cabin filter area with the fuel lines attached. I've had issues with them leaking in cold weather once they are removed.
 

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I like PZ's suggestion about leaving the a/c connected. Saves yourself about $150 for an a/c recharge. In my case though, the a/c was already compromised so it didn't matter.

Those 2 pictures I put up is exactly how the engine/trans came out. The other thing I do which is a huge time saver, instead of pulling all the wires off the engine and it's sensors, I just disconnect the engine harness at the ECU and the whole harness comes out with the engine. Only a few periphery connections to remove.
Leaving the whole exhaust on and removing the Bosal connections behind the rear CAT's is gold. No messing around with exhaust what-so-ever.
 
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