Wrench Blog
Categories:

digitaldownpour.com:

Other sites:


Sat Mar 17, 2007
11:09
A fellow Vortexer was parting out a 1998 VR6 GTI, so I made a deal to buy the front and rear black leather seats along with the smoked rear tail lights. Claire and I swapped out the seats this afternoon, and then Claire swapped the tail lights. All we need now is a set of black leather door panels that will fit. I did get the GTI door panels thrown in with the seats, but GTIs are 2 doors and our Golf is a 4 door.

Here is Virginia with the smoked tail lights:
Smoked tails on 1996 Golf

And here is the interior with the new seats installed:
Leather seats in 1996 Golf Leather seats in 1996 Golf


25645 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sun Feb 04, 2007
16:51
Last summer I replaced the main bearings in our 1996 Golf (her name is Virginia), and I really should have done the rod bearings at the same time. I just got back from my trip to Australia last week, and was welcomed with single digit temperatures. In that kind of cold, I noticed Virginia was awfully noisy until the engine warmed up, and it sounded like it could possibly be rod knock. The rod bearings are pretty easy to replace, so I decided to do it - plus, I already had the new bearings sitting around somewhere.

The job went real smooth, and even though the old bearings weren't worn quite as much as I expected, they were still pretty trashed. Lots of pitting and scoring in all of them. The upper halves of the bearing shells showed far more wear than the lower halves.

Here are some pics (click them for larger views):
old connecting rod bearings

old connecting rod bearings

old connecting rod bearings

old connecting rod bearings

And here is a picture of the tiny bits of plastic I found in the bottom of the oil pan. I found these last time, too. The black pieces are hardened gasket maker material, and I think that the reddish brown pieces are from a broken dipstick tube (you VW owners out there know how often those things break). There's nothing else I can think of made of that color plastic that could get into the oil. (click for a larger view)
bits found in the oil pan



26864 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sun Mar 12, 2006
22:02
Last weekend we took a trip to visit friends in Keene, which involved driving down a particular stretch of Route 101 with a speed limit of 65mph. Traffic flow along that section of road is pretty much 80mph. We were in our 1996 Golf, which currently has a very short 5th gear installed - so 80mph is well over 4000rpm. After about 20 minutes of cruising with the engine at higher rpms, I noticed that the oil pressure light started to come on every time we had to come to a stop and let the engine idle. I had noticed for a while that the engine was starting to develop a pretty nasty sounding knock (not like a knock caused by cheap gas or incorrect ignition timing) and it seemed to be getting slowly worse. During this trip, it was bad enough so that the motor pretty much sounded like a diesel at higher rpms under light to medium load. Needless to say, I took it pretty easy on the poor thing after that.

Now, poor oil pressure only at idle is often a sign that the main bearings are getting worn beyond their allowable tolerances (or that they are badly scored). A worn or malfunctioning oil pump is also a likely candidate. Our 96 Golf only has 125,000 miles on it, so I was surprised to see this happening at all. The 96 and later ABA engines, though, use lesser quality internals - so I wasn't going to rule out main bearing wear without doing some checking. I talked briefly to Klaus and Wolfgang over at Atlantic Imported Auto Supply about this, and they informed me of a fairly common problem on these ABA engines. Apparently, the plastic oil baffle surrounding the pickup tube for the oil pump is notorious for cracking and breaking, which can cause small bits of that hard plastic to clog the screen at the end of the pickup tube. They suggested that I pay close attention to that.

If my only symptom were the oil pressure (without the knocking and rapping), then I would have assumed an oil pump problem... but the noise really made worry that the main bearings were in tough shape. The only way to really tell is to tear into the bottom of the engine block and investigate. My dad was in town, visiting for the weekend, so we both spent Saturday doing a little bit of open-heart surgery on that ABA motor in the 96 Golf.

The oil pump, main bearings, and lower rod bearings can all be accessed by removing the oil pan. On these engines, the oil pan is quite easy to remove because there are no exhaust pieces or subframes in the way. Behold:
Photo of Golf main bearing work


You'll definitely want to drain the oil first:
Photo of Golf main bearing work


All of the bolts holding the oil pan into place are easy to get to, except for the two closest the transmission - those 2 can only be accessed by removing that small aluminum plate covering the very bottom of the bell housing. That plate is very easy to remove and once it's out of the way you get to those 2 tricky bolts by using a "wobble" extension (a socket extension with the end formed so that the socket will wobble just a few degrees in any direction). On the ABA engines (and some others) you can use either a socket or a torx bit to remove the bolts. They use nice bolts that are 6 point on the outside, and torx (star) on the inside. So no need to panic if some of them are stripped out! Oil pan bolts being removed:
Photo of Golf main bearing work

Here is a closeup of the head of one of the oil pan bolts:
Photo of Golf main bearing work


Even after all the bolts are removed, oil pans can be a pain to break loose. The gasket material often causes it to stick, but enough persistence will get it done. The oil pump will be in plain sight, staring you in the face once the oil pan is removed. The two larger bolts going up through the bottom of the pump body are the ones that fasten it to the engine block - remove those, and it will slide right out. Do not try to remove that plastic baffle around the pickup tube unless you absolutely have to. It's quite difficult to remove without cracking the clips that hold it in place. Here is a view of the bottom of the oil pump and pickup tube/baffle.
Photo of Golf main bearing work

And here is a view of the top of the pump, showing the input shaft and the teeth of the pump gears (which actually pump the oil):
Photo of Golf main bearing work


If you look closely at the picture showing the pickup tube, you can see a couple of dark flecks caught in the screen. We also found pieces of old gasket material in the oil pan. If enough of that junk got sucked up against the pickup tube screen, that could really inhibit oil flow and cause poor pressure... however, I couldn't really see that being the problem in this particular case (where oil pressure rises again as the engine rpms are raised slightly). It seems like a blockage against the screen would keep restricting oil flow through all engine speeds, until the blockage had a chance to fall back away from the screen. Here is the inside of the oil pan with a little bit of oil pooled inside - even though there is a lot of junk floating around in it, you really can't see it in the picture:
Photo of Golf main bearing work


The plastic pickup tube baffle showed no signs of being cracked or broken, and we could find no trace of that hard, black plastic in the oil. Since the oil pump was out anyway, I decided to check it out using the procedure from the Bentley book (the VW shop manual), which involves measuring the backlash and the lateral play of the pump gears. It all checked out - the pump had minimal (if any) wear. At this point, I was excited to measure the main bearing tolerances. The main bearing caps can be seen clearly with the oil pan and oil pump removed, as seen here:
Photo of Golf main bearing work


The bearing shells farthest away from the oil pump will normally exhibit the most wear, so we started by measuring the clearance of the #2 bearing (#1 bearing cap is a little more difficult to remove - more on that in a moment). Plastigage is used to measure the bearing clearance - it's just a thin strip of plastic that gets installed, sideways, between the crank journal and the wear surface of the bearing shell. When the bearing cap is torqued down, the plastic gets squashed. The bearing cap is then removed again, and the width of what remains of the plastic strip is used to judge the clearance. Here is the #2 crank journal, with residue from the plastigage still visible:
Photo of Golf main bearing work

And here is the #2 bearing cap with the bearing shell still showing the plastigage:
Photo of Golf main bearing work

Even though the wear was still within spec, there was visible scoring that went well down into the copper layer of the bearing.

The #1 main bearing cap is tricky, because the heads of the bolts are so close to the plate that covers the front main seal. The space is so tight that a socket will not fit around the bolt head. An open-end wrench can be used (barely), but that is not recommended (you run the risk of rounding off the bolt heads). The #5 bearing cap is even worse to get to - not only is it very close against the plate for the rear main seal, but it's also right up against the toothed wheel that triggers the crankshaft position sensor. The only way to remove #5 without splitting the engine and transmission and removing the clutch and rear main seal plate is to use a socket with very thin walls. A thin walled socket is also really the only good option for the #1 cap. My dad has a real knack for hacking together special tools and modifying tools for special purposes, so he butchered one of my 1/2" drive 17mm sockets on the bench grinder, and we ended up with a magnificent thin-walled socket:
Photo of Golf main bearing work Photo of Golf main bearing work


That couldn't have worked any better for those stubborn #1 and #5 bearing caps. We plastigaged the #1 bearing and found it to be a little more worn than #2, although still within spec. That scoring on #2 worried me, so I decided it was worth the little extra effort to change the main bearings while we had everything apart. #4 was also scored (even worse than #2), and #5 turned out to be the most worn (surprising, as it's closest to the oil pump). We didn't bother plastigaging #5, since I had already made up my mind I was replacing all of them. Here is the very strange thing I found, though. The ABA main bearings are each made up of 2 bearing shell "halves". The upper halves all have oil passageways in them, and all of the lower shells are solid... except for #3. #3 has the grooved shells both top and bottom. This is clearly stated in the Bentley manual. The lower shell of the #3 bearing that I removed from this engine was not grooved - it was solid. I have no idea why.

The trickiest part was removing and reinstalling the upper shells (between the crank journals and engine block), but we managed. By the time the sun started to set, I was done installing the main bearing caps, oil pump, and oil pan. After re-tensioning the timing belt and adjusting the power steering belt tension (it was getting kind of sloppy), we were ready to fire it up. We started it and let it run for a few seconds, and the oil pressure light was on constantly, regardless of engine rpm. We figured it was just the oil pump being dry, and since we had used plenty of assembly lube when installing the new bearings, we gave it another 30 seconds or so of running to try and build some pressure. No luck. You know the kind of tricks your mind plays when things like this don't go like you expect - you start to backtrace and think of anything that you could have done wrong. What a lousy feeling. Everything had gone very well up until this point. Finally, we removed the ignition distributor and rigged up a device to drive the oil pump using an electric drill. After lots and lots of spinning, we seemed to have resistance in the pump again (it felt like it was drawing oil). So we reinstalled the distributor and gave it another try... and success! We had oil pressure and the motor sounded great - no more ugly rapping noises. The Golf has made quite a few small trips since then, and it just runs great. I'm happy.

26952 views 6 comments, click here to view them!



Sun Jan 08, 2006
10:32
A few days before Claire and I went down south to visit relatives we had a very cold morning. It was right around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Our 96 Golf had always seemed to be harder to start in very cold weather, and this particular morning it just would not start after several attempts. When we finally did get it started, it ran funny and the check engine light was on. At that point, I didn't have time to look into it before we left for our trip, so I left it until we got back. When we got back and I hooked the car up to my laptop running vagcom, this is what I found for a code stored in the ECU:

VAG-COM Version: Release 512.1-UD

Control Module Part Number: 037 906 259
 Component and/or Version: MOTRONIC M5.9 HS V08
  Software Coding: 00000
   Work Shop Code: WSC 09446
1 Fault Found:
17988 - Throttle Actuator (Bank 1): Malfunction
 P1580 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent


Seeing this made a lot of sense to me, because I have heard that the electronic throttle actuators used in OBD-II Volkswagens are prone to sticking and jamming during colder weather. I cleared the code and it hasn't returned yet, although I expect that it would be a problem again once the temperature drops. I hope that some cleaning and silicone or white lithium grease will do the trick to keep this from becoming a problem again.

24617 views 2 comments, click here to view them!



Wed Nov 30, 2005
19:42
Our new Golf has been on the road for close to a month now, and all is well. One thing I have noticed about the OBD-II A3 Volkswagens is how slowly the engine RPMs drop between gear changes. The OBD-I VWs have a small hydraulic device on the throttle body that causes the throttle valve to close slowly, achieving nearly the same effect. I believe this is done to make the cars easier to drive. It allows the driver to make easy, relaxed shifts without jerkiness during clutch engagement. If the RPMs drop quickly, then you must either shift quickly or quickly raise the engine RPMs again as you re-engage the clutch in order to avoid an ugly mismatch that can cause the car to buck or jerk. Anyway, the reason I mention it is because the OBD-I cars can be made to behave more naturally by removing that small hydraulic device. The OBD-II A3s, however, appear to behave this way due to the program in the ECU, and so only an ECU update will get rid of this annoying trait.

All in all, she's a great little car that we are very happy with.

23058 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Thu Nov 03, 2005
19:54
The black Golf had a state inspection appointment for Tuesday of this week (that was November 1), so my plan was to drop it off at the garage (Car Works) after dark on Monday. That would lessen the chance of being pulled over for driving an uninspected vehicle. My dad offered to follow me to the garage and give me a ride back. Anyway, we went to start the Golf Monday evening, and the battery was weak enough so that the starter wouldn't crank. Kind of a pain, but no big deal - we jump-started the car and drove down Route 125 to Car Works. When we got there, I opened the door to get out of the car, and the alarm started going off! The factory VW alarm simply blares the horn over and over - the sound slices right through you. The normal way to turn off the alarm is to insert the key into a door lock, and turn it. I was frantically unlocking and locking doors to shut the thing up, to no avail. The alarm simply would not deactivate. By this time everyone at the shop was wondering what the heck was going on outside. I had to run inside and borrow a wrench so that I could disconnect the battery. We spent a good 30 minutes there in the parking lot trying to figure out what the heck was going on - the alarm goes off when the battery is disconnected then reconnected (that's normal behavior for VW alarms), but we had no way to turn it off. I will spare you the painfully long version of the story, but we finally managed to get me into the driver's seat of the car, with the alarm deactivated, so that I could drive it back to the house (the car won't start if the alarm is active). After hours of investigation without getting much of anywhere, we started to get desparate and were checking everything that was even remotely related to the alarm and central locking systems (not only was the alarm acting up, but the central lock function seemed to stop working as well). This car has the vacuum pump for the central locking system located in the same housing as the central lock control module. We tested the vacuum pump to see if it was working, and it was dead as a doornail. Just for the heck of it, and because the central locking system is sort of related to the alarm system, we decided to see what would happen with the central lock control module and pump disconnected. Sure enough, the alarm behaved normally again. Going back to the central lock module, my dad pried the cover off the box, and some water poured out. The module itself is just a small circuit board, and it was extremely corroded and stank of burnt electronics. We got the car back to the garage around 11:00pm.

I got a call on Tuesday from Car Works, saying that they didn't like the amount of play in the front strut mounts. I had replaced the bearings in the mounts, but not the rubber bushing that takes up the space between the bearing and the body of the car. So I took the car back that night, spent a couple of hours replacing those bushings, and the next morning I made arrangments to drop the car off again. It is now back at the shop, waiting for a sticker.

26242 views 4 comments, click here to view them!



Sat Oct 22, 2005
20:00
At long last, our "new" Golf is ready for state inspection. Today I replaced one of the turn signal bulbs, a front corner marker bulb, both rear license plate bulbs, and one tail light bulb. The brakes are all taken care of now, too. The parking brake cables needed a lot of adjustment - that's kind of a pain because the rear section of the center console has to be removed in order to get to the cable adjusters behind the base of the parking brake lever. I had thought that the brakes would need to be bled, but once the parking brake was adjusted, the brake pedal felt nice and firm.

So, that's it. That's all she should need to pass inspection. Since purchasing the car, I have done the following work to it: New Neuspeed stainless steel cat-back exhaust system, new master cylinder, new braided stainless steel brake lines, new front strut inserts, new upper strut mounts, new rear wheel cylinders, new upstream oxygen sensor, new mass airflow sensor, realigned front doors, adjusted parking brake, replaced a bunch of exterior light bulbs. Looking back on it, that's quite a bit! Including the $1000 that I paid for the car itself, I think I have just over $2000 into it - and that's including the stainless exhaust sytem, which was almost $600 by itself. I could have gone for a plain aluminized exhaust system for around $200, but I really wanted a high quality stainless system. In this part of the country aluminized exhausts just dont' last very long, and I don't enjoy doing exhaust work. At any rate, she is one *sweet* Golf for just a couple grand.

I now need to make an appointment at Car Works (our local VW/Volvo specialists) for an inspection, and an alignment (because I had the front suspension apart). I think it should pass, but you never know.

350 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Wed Oct 19, 2005
18:42
I meant to post this yesterday, but didn't get a chance. The front doors on the black Golf are now aligned so that they open and shut correctly without rubbing against neighboring body parts. It really was kind of a pain, but well worth the effort. The doors had to be completely removed in order to access the torx bolts that hold the hinges to the body. The hinges have elongated holes, which allows for adjustment.

21725 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sun Oct 16, 2005
13:30

This morning I replaced the MAF (mass airflow sensor, or "air mass sensor" as VW calls it) in the black Golf. I replaced it with a remanufactured sensor that I purchased from Impex. I don't know what "remanufactured" means with these things, but it looks brand new to me. You can get the reman sensor for roughly $70, versues nearly $300 for the new.

Once the sensor was replaced, it was once again time to run through the tedious procedures for setting the readiness codes, using the vag-com software. There are portions that require the car to be driven under certain conditions while at the same time examining the feedback from the vag-com application. It would be very difficult and incredibly dangerous to attempt that on your own; fortunately, my dad was around to ride shotgun and keep an eye on the laptop while I drove. I am always worried that stuff won't work, so imagine my delight when when we finished all 20 procedures and saw the following screen, telling us that the readiness codes are now set:

Screenshot of readiness codes


24588 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sat Aug 13, 2005
21:52
It's been a while since my last post. You may have noticed there is now a link over to the left to get an RSS feed. I doubt anybody will subscribe, but hey - it's there if you want it.

So, the new oxygen sensor is now installed. Since the purpose of this blog is to document my mechanic-ing, here is a little writeup outlining what was involved.

Here is the target of our operation, the old oxygen sensor. This is the upstream (or forward) oxygen sensor so it lives, as you see here, threaded into the rear of the downpipe (just ahead of the catalytic converter).
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work

Here is a point-of-view that I'm all too familiar with.
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work

Okay, step one is to unplug the electrical connector coming from the oxygen sensor. In this case, the plugs for both oxygen sensors meet their mating plugs in the back of the engine bay, toward the side where the airbox is mounted. The engine mount in that rear corner has a small bracket mounted to it that the oxygen sensor plugs snap into, to keep them from floating around inside the engine compartment. These two pictures are looking down past the air intake at the plug for the upstream oxygen sensor, disconnected from it's mating plug. You can't see it, but just behind my hand in the second picture there is a brown plug, which is the connector for the rear (downstream) oxygen sensor.
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work

With the electrical connector unplugged, and the clips/zip-ties removed from from the wire, the sensor itself can now be removed from the downpipe. In the first picture below, you can see a special oxygen sensor socket slid over the sensor. Unless you're willing to cut the wire off the sensor, you need more than just a really deep socket - you need one of these, which has a channel cut into it that lets the wire get out of the way. Of course, you can also use an open-ended wrench if you happen to have one the right size. It can sometimes be a real struggle to remove an old oxygen sensor. I usually have good luck letting the car run for several minutes, and then squirting some penetrating oil (like PB Blaster or Aero Kroil) around the mating surfaces. In this particular case, it worked quite well - very little effort was required to remove the old sensor.
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work


Here is the new sensor (Bosch, of course) - I recommend OEM for these things because I've heard too many stories of people using aftermarket sensors that don't respond as quickly. For older cars, it's probably no big deal, but for anything 1996 (OBD-II) or newer, that could be a problem. This Bosch sensor even came with anti-seize compound on the threads - how nice is that!
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work


Here is the new sensor being installed.
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work


With the new sensor installed, I fired up the vag-com software on the laptop again to take a look at things. As expected, it showed that the upstream oxygen sensor was now perfectly within spec all of the time. Unfortunately, I continued to get "multi-trim fuel bank too rich" DTCs when trying to set the readiness codes. Below is a picture of the Go Mango laptop running the vag-com software. Notice the USB-to-OBD adapter running from the laptop to the diagnostic port in the dashboard of the Golf.
Photo of Golf oxygen sensor work


I've been doing some research about this multi-trim message, and somewhere in the VW Vortex I found this really handy posting on the ross-tech website: http://www.ross-tech.com/vag-com/cars/fuel-trim.html. It looks like I need to take a closer look at my Mass Airflow Sensor. I'm not getting any codes that indicate a MAF problem, but it's worth checking at this point.

25960 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Wed Aug 03, 2005
23:29
Shift linkage is now taken care of. I removed the bolts holding the bracket to the steering rack, chased the threads with a tap, and reinstalled the bolts using some red loctite.

In other news, the new oxygen sensor for the black Golf arrived today. Sweet.

24669 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sun Jul 31, 2005
11:44
I found an OE upstream oxygen sensor for the 96 Golf at Autohaus Arizona for $72.92 so I went ahead and ordered it. 2 day UPS delivery was only $9.31 extra - so even with fast shipping it was cheaper than the next best price I found. Sweet.

26747 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Fri Jul 29, 2005
22:32
So, last night I took a stab at setting the readiness codes on our A3 Golf. After replacing the cracked ignition coil, I wanted to give it a try to see if that was the cause of my DTC indicating a rich-running condition. I am still getting that same DTC part-way through the readiness procedure, so now I am leaning toward the upstream oxygen sensor as the culprit. The duty cycle for the upstream sensor is intermittently out of spec, I have noticed.

I meant to post this last night, but I just didn't have the time.

24662 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Mon Jul 25, 2005
21:31
This evening my dad stopped by with a spare ignition coil to try on the A3 Golf. Once the old coil was removed, it didn't take much looking to see that it was badly cracked. It still had some throttle hesitation after swapping the coil, but in the course of fiddling with things, we ended up removing the connector from the throttle position sensor and then reconnecting it... and then it ran just fine. I think the connector may not have been fully seated.

So now I'm really eager to hook the laptop back up and see if I can get those readiness codes all set. More news tomorrow, I'm sure.

18539 views No comments yet, click here to post yours!



Sat Jul 23, 2005
23:12
As promised, here are some pics of the "new" Golf:

1996 Golf picture 1996 Golf picture 1996 Golf picture


25206 views 2 comments, click here to view them!



Sat Jul 23, 2005
11:41
This is another background post, regarding our "new" 1996 Golf. This black beauty came from LaPlata, MD (just a few miles from the Maryland/Virginia border), the previous owner was getting rid of it for a song because it had issues he didn't want to deal with. Those issues were, primarily, brake fluid leak, wheel bearing noise, and of course the "check engine" light was on. My father and I have done crazier things than drive to southern Maryland, buy a car, and tow it back all in the same day... I just can't remember any offhand.

We rolled into LaPlata a little before 6:00am after driving all night, and by 9-ish we were back on the road with the Golf in tow. Before too long, we had an incident with a truck driver honking crazily at us and trying to catch our attention with excited gestures. So we pulled onto the side of the highway and inspected things - turned out the rear drivers' side wheel bearing was loose. We limped to the next exit, found an empty parking lot, removed the wheel, and tightened the bearing a whole bunch. That would be the source of the bearing noise the previous owner was complaining about. I think when that bearing was installed one (or both) of the outer races didn't get pressed completely into place, and as the car was driven they slowly seated themselves, leading to excessive play. At any rate, we completed the rest of the journey without incident.

I'll post pics of the car later, but she's definitely a looker - especially for a 4 door. No rust (gotta love those southern cars), good original paint, and fewer-than-usual dings.

The problem with the brakes, which the previous owner had supposed was a bad master cylinder, turned out to be an external fluid leak at the passenger side rear wheel cylinder. It was leaking so badly that brake fluid peed out everywhere when I removed the drum. The cylinder on the driver side was beginning to leak as well. I replaced both rear wheel cylinders, as well as the master cylinder (I had already ordered it, and the old one will come in handy the next time I need to do a big brake conversion on a Rabbit) and both of the flexible, rubber brakelines up front that attach to the calipers. I replaced them with braided stainless steel lines to tighten up the brake pedal feel that little extra bit. I bled the brakes using an el-cheapo one man brake bleeder that seemed to work okay, but there's still a little air in the lines so I'm going to pressure bleed them.

The next issue to tackle was the check engine light. My dad and I use the Ross-Tech vag-com software to interface with our Volkswagen ECUs, so I fired up the little orange laptop and took a look at which DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) were active. Of course, being an A3 Volkswagen, it was: G40 (Camshaft Position Sensor, Implausible Signal). In english, that means "someone didn't know how to do the timing on this vehicle". After a couple of attempts at setting the valvetrain-to-crankshaft-to-intermediate timing, I got it right on the money and the ECU was happy again (no more check engine light).

After clearing the DTCs (necessary to shut the check engine light off in this case), the "Readiness Codes" also get reset. I could write a whole book on readiness codes, but they're basically a bunch of TRUE/FALSE conditions that all OBD-II (1996 and newer) vehicles store in their ECU. They are all directly related to emissions equipment on the vehicle (evaporative emissions system, catalytic converter, oxygen sensors, etc) and all of them must be TRUE (or READY) in order for the vehicle to pass New Hampshire state inspection. So at this point, all of my readiness codes were FALSE (NOT READY). There are a series of procedures that can be performed to enable the readiness codes one-by-one (these procedures vary depending on the vehicle), or it can be done by simply driving the car under all possible driving conditions for several days. So what I found while trying to enable these codes on our new Golf is that a few of them were failing. After a lot of hassle and troubleshooting, I found that the ECU is reporting a rich condition under some of the "driving conditions" and that is keeping some of the readiness codes from being set. I suspect a spark issue based on the car not starting a couple of times after it had rained, and poor throttle response under most conditions (I think all of my cars have had ignition issues at one time or another).

Along the way, I also replaced the front struts and strut mounts, as well as the exhaust. For the exhaust I went with a cat-back system from Neuspeed... yes, the stainless one. You've probably seen it - it looks pretty hot on an A3 Golf, with those dual up-swept outlets. I opted for the version with two mufflers and one resonator, just like the stock system. I didn't want this to be a loud car, but I didn't want it to sound stock either. The sound, I must say, is impeccable. Very subdued, but deep and a little bit throaty at the same time. It's the polar opposite of my obnoxious sounding little A2. On a related note, I was very impressed with the quality of the Neuspeed system. The welds were top quality, and the over-axle pipe mated to the front pipe using a flange rather than the usual slip-over connection. The clamp for joining the front pipe to the catalytic converter was also top quality. The fit was superb, and it was a breeze to install.

So, all in all I'm feeling great about this little car. I'm really excited to get it through inspection and have Claire (my wonderful wife) start driving it on a daily basis.

24657 views 1 comment, click here to view it!


A1 parts for sale:
intake air preheater hose
Item: Intake air pre-heat hose (from exhaust manifold shroud to air box), for Scirocco 2 (1982+)
Condition: New
$12


A2 parts for sale:
A2 GTI dual round grill, with inner lights
Item: GTI dual-round grille with inner lights, bulbs, and lower trim strip
Condition: Used, lower trim strip is weathered.
$35

parcel shelf strap
Item: Parcel shelf strap, 3 available
Condition: New
$3.50 ea.

A2 valve guides, 8 valve
Item: 8 (eight) valve guides, German, standard size, for 8 valve head
Condition: New
$24

wheel cylinder
Item: Wheel cylinder (for rear drums, obviously), 2 available.
Condition: New
$12 ea.


A3 parts for sale:
parcel shelf strap
Item: Parcel shelf strap, 3 available
Condition: New
$3.50 ea.


A4 parts for sale:
ALH water pump
Item: OEM Water pump, ALH engines
Condition: Used, 130,000 miles
$20