'03 Jetta GLI
Having lost my way for a few years I finally got back into a VW. My Jetta GLI is barely two weeks old and I'm already thinking about all the stuff I can do to it. How difficult is it to install a cat-back exhaust? I've never done it before, but if it's a bolt-on procedure I can't imagine it being too difficult. Although I installed a P-Flow and P-Chip myself when I had my Corrado I never got around to doing the exhaust, so I have no experience to fall back on. Is it as simple as putting the car up on stands, unbolting the stock pipes and putting in the new ones, or is there cutting, bending and welding involved that require a professional touch?
Brett Chapman
Toluca Lake, CA

As long as you have the right tools, removing and installing a new exhaust on your Jetta will be a pretty straightforward procedure, very much like you have described. All of the high quality cat-back systems on the market today simply bolt up to the factory hangers. The most difficult part of the install is actually the removal of the existing exhaust system, since the bolts and clamps are subject to rust. Since your car is relatively new and you live on the West Coast, you shouldn't have much of a problem. To make it easier to remove, spray some penetrant on the nuts a couple hours before you try to remove them. Also, if you don't plan on reinstalling the old exhaust, it is easier to just cut it above the rear torsion bar. When you go to install the new exhaust, install the entire system and then align it before tightening it down.

I am looking into buying a 1991 GTI. What are the major things I need to be looking for prior to purchase?
Michael Brueckner
via the Internet

The 1991 GTI is definitely one of the nicest cars VW ever produced, but it has its share of issues, as do all cars that are more than 13 years old. The first thing to do is try and find one that has very little or no rust, which might not be the easiest thing if you're on the East Coast. While the 16V is more powerful, it doesn't come without some additional problems, the main one being the timing belt, which should be replaced every 40,000 miles if not sooner. Another weak point are the electrical connections and grounds, which need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Check the exhaust manifold for any cracks or leaks. Also look at the distributor. Check for any oil seepage into the distributor, as the seals are prone to fail over time. While they can be replaced, they aren't readily available and you'll most likely have to replace the whole thing. Last but not least is the transmission. Make sure it's not making any unusual noises and that it's free from leaks.

Exhausting the Possibilities
I have a question regarding the online tech procedure titled "Installing Neuspeed's 1.8t Bolt-on Kit." The center section of the Neuspeed exhaust was mated to the factory catalytic converter using exhaust paste (which I have) and some kind of clamp apparatus. I need to get my hands on a clamping apparatus like the one you guys used. Where can I buy one? My Bosal exhaust was not joined properly to the factory catalytic converter on my 1997 VW Jetta four cylinder. Because of that, it makes a horrible rattling noise when I drive it. I'm now in need of a new catalytic converter because the current one is old, and I want to join the new catalytic converter with my exhaust system properly.
Matt Ellison
via the Internet

I believe you're looking for the factory sleeve that clamps your exhaust to the catalytic convertor. Check with Techtonics Tuning (www.techtonicstuning.com) as they carry this piece for use with their exhausts or mating other exhausts to the factory catalytic converter.

1.8T Challenge
One of the 1.8t Challenge entrants, Larry Victor, used Tarox rotors on his A4 and I've been unable to find someone who distributes them. Could you help? I have a 2002 Passat 1.8T GLS and have already had to resurface the rear rotors and replace pads.
Jerry Terry
via the Internet

Tarox rotors are distributed primarily in the U.K., and if you really want them you could check with www.amber-performance.co.uk, but with extra taxes and shipping you'll probably wind up paying a premium. BMP Design in the good old U.S.A. also carries Tarox systems for the Mini Cooper and may be able to import a pair or two for your Passat. Your other options are Zimmerman, ATE or Brembo rotors. I would suggest looking into some of the new cadmium plated offerings that resist rust on the outer and inner hub portions of the rotor surface. Check out ECS Tuning (www.ecstuning.com) as they offer a wide variety of O.E.M., and aftermarket braking options for your Passat.

2003 VW Jetta
I have changed a few things on my car, a 2003 Jetta 1.8T (Neuspeed cold air intake, exhaust, and turbo inlet pipe). I am stumped on where to go next. I don't see too much on Jettas so I need a little help as far as performance.
via the Internet

The sky is basically the limit on performance modifications for your Jetta. If you haven't modified your suspension yet, that would be the next place to look at. A wide variety of aftermarket shocks and springs and anti-roll bars are available for your car. Options range from fully integrated kits such as H&R's Cup Kit and KW's Sport Suspension to separate spring and shock combinations by Neuspeed and H&R. If you're looking at more engine performance, you can look at the various turbo upgrade kits available which range from Neuspeed's K04 kit (www.neuspeed.com) to APR's Stage III kit (www.goapr.com), which can put down around 280hp. Numerous other kits are being released at this time as the 1.8T tuning industry really is heating up.

2001 1.8T
I have a 2001 Jetta 1.8T--apparently I was wrong with my assumption of my car having 180 hp. It was not until 2002 that the 180 hp came out, right? Well, if so, then what do I need to change to get the 180 hp (or close)? I saw the tech letter about the compression change, downpipe size, and turbo type (AWW vs. AWP). Obviously, I don't want to spend the money to change the compression right now, but would the large downpipe help or hurt? The larger intake size (that I have) and larger downpipe of the AWP in theory would be best, but would this hurt airspeeds/velocities and hinder torque due to the lower compression ratio? Personally, I feel the difference between 9.3 and 9.5 is not much, but I'm not an engineer. I know with my experiences with other types of motors (V8s) going bigger (carbs, heads, intakes, etc.) has hurt low-end torque but aided top-end power. This is my first turbo car. I don't know a lot about turbos, but I believe they react differently to change as opposed to naturally aspirated motors, since the air charge is forced and not drawn by vacuum. Am I right? I would like to do things right the first time and save the headaches and money, so could you set me straight about turbo motors? And, finally, does my car have the straight K03 turbo or the Hybrid K03/K04, or am I way off base with the turbo that is in my car?
Jim Cassidy
via the Internet

You are definitely on the right track. Your Jetta does in fact come with the 150 hp AWW variant of the 1.8T engine and this engine does in fact have the hybrid turbo, as does the 180 hp AWP version. The fact that you have slightly lower compression allows you to run slightly higher boost levels, if you choose to. The size of the downpipe that you want to use is going to depend on what plans you have for your car overall. Are you just going to "chip" the engine? Plan on adding a larger turbo? Intake? All those factors need to be considered when upgrading items such as the exhaust and downpipe. Most of the setups that I've seen which retain the factory turbo and a "chip" use a 2.5-in. turbo-back exhaust, which includes the downpipe and high-flow catalytic converter. This is a good setup that allows for quick spool-up and limited loss of low-end torque, and reduces the chances of over-spooling your turbo at higher boost levels.

Squishy Suspension
Hi, I recently purchased a Golf Gti 1.8T with 180hp. I have found the factory suspension soft with a tendency to wallow over uneven surfaces. I want to replace the factory suspension to improve control and hopefully lose very little comfort. Very important: I do not wish to lower the car! I'm thinking of replacing the shocks and maybe the springs too.
Rodrigo Ahumada
Santiago, Chile

If you don't want to lower the car and want a fairly compliant ride, I would suggest Neuspeed Softsport springs or H&R's O.E. sport springs matched with Neuspeed/Koni adjustable shocks and struts. This combination allows you to set the dampening level of the shock from almost as soft as stock to very firm. These two springs will lower your car, but only slightly and probably no more than 10mm. Another option would be Shine Racing's Real Street Springs mated to Bilstein HD shocks. Again, this option would provide a relatively compliant ride while keeping your car at close to stock height.

A/C Removal Pulley Kit
I own a 1991 GTI 8V and have been looking everywhere for an A/C removal pulley kit. I would really like to get rid of the cancerous compressor dead weight in my car. Could you please help me locate the retailer that sells this kit?
Carl West
via the Internet

The best thing to do is locate a non-A/C 8V car and use parts from it. You'll need the following parts: a crankshaft and water pump pulley, non-A/C alternator adjustment bracket (one with the teeth), and the V-belt for a non-A/C car. Simply remove the A/C and related items and then replace them with these parts. You can find them at most any VW wrecking yard. Here's the part numbers to assist you in finding the parts you need: crankshaft pulley: 026 105 255; water pump pulley: 026 121 031; belt: 050 903 137; and alt. arm bracket: 026 903 247B. Also, after swapping the parts make sure that the alternator pulley is mounted with the following parts in this order for clearance purposes: nut-pulley-washer-spacer-fan-alternator.

Rabbit G-Lader
I was reading in the March 2003 issue about the Rabbit G-Lader engine install. I have an '84 Rabbit GTI that's due for a new engine. I want to do a 1.8T install/swap. In the article I read the owner knew of people who had done the conversion to 1.8T (albeit at $14,000). Who would you recommend to have this done?
Chris Rhodes
via the Internet

There are numerous places that can do a good job at swapping a 1.8T engine into your Rabbit. It's not an easy swap, but a good shop can do it with the right amount of time and money. I'd suggest talking to local VW enthusiasts to find the shops in your local area that may be able to handle this type of project. Then, contact the shop and discuss what you want to accomplish with your swap. You can also check out VW Internet resources such as VWVortex (www.vwvortex.com), which has forums dedicated to engine swaps.

Rebuilt VR6
I want to build a project car and I'm thinking of a rebuilt VR6 MkIII Golf. Has this ever been done? If so, where could I find some help? I'm 16, so my budget is tight. Afterward, I would modify the suspension to fix that awful body roll and maybe a Z-Engineering supercharger. Which is the most reliable engine mod? What do you think?
David Fischer
Champlin, Minnesota

The MKIII VR6 is a great car to modify and the incredible amount of aftermarket parts available makes it a reasonably affordable project. As for modifying your car, the basic bolt-on modifications for the VR6 include a "chip" or ECU upgrade, intake and cat-back exhaust. These mods have proven to be pretty reliable over time and provide an honest 15-20 hp. The next step would be to install a set of cams or go the forced induction route with either a turbo or supercharger system. However, the first thing you should do is modify the suspension, which is definitely one of the MKIII's weakest links. H&R and Neuspeed both make excellent sport lowering springs for the MKIII and combined with a good set of shocks such as Konis or Bilsteins they'll yield excellent results. Another alternative would be the Shine Real Suspenion, which does not lower the car but provides excellent handling. I would also add a front upper strut tower bar to increase torsional stiffness and improve turn-in and steering response. These basic modifications will greatly improve any MKIII GTI.

Radiator After-run Recall Kit
I have an '85 Jetta two-door that I've owned since new. It has 320,000 miles on it. Last fall I put it in for a paint job and some new trim pieces, including a set of MINILITE EV2000 7x15-in. wheels. This summer I experienced some overheating trouble. Turned out to be the connector for the radiator fan. Anyway, I bought a new Bentley manual that covers '85 to '92 Jetta IIs. It's mentioned in the manual that a recall kit was available with the wiring for an after-run switch that attaches to the head. The dealer carries the switch and mount but not the wiring or a diagram to install it! Do you think that the info exists to do the retrofit? Can you help?
via the Internet

Check page 134 of your Bentley, the after-run radiator cooling fan wiring diagram. These were added to the 1986 and later Jettas and should be easy to wire into your car.

MkIII Reliability
I once owned an MkII 1990 Jetta 8V Digifant, I spent a lot of money fixing that car to working order. I then bought my current car, a 2001 Hyundai Accent, and I can't stand the fact that I can do relatively nothing to make it better. I don't want a really fast car, not yet at least. I can't yet afford that 1997 911 Turbo S or GT3 I want so badly. I do want a car that handles really well, brakes well and shifts well. My current car, as you can guess, does none of these things and I can't find any ways to change that.I was thinking of buying an MkIII Jetta, a '96-98 2.0-liter. I don't want to pay too much for insurance, I live in L.A. and insurance is terrible for twenty-something's like myself. How reliable are these cars? Will an MkIII give me problems? I know a lot depends on the previous owner, but if I get a good vehicle, what are the problems these cars have? For example, I know the MkIIs had a tranny that needed to be rebuilt once it went over 100,000 to 125,000 miles.
Mario Cornejo
via the Internet

The later 1997 and on MKIII Jetta 2.0s have proven to be fairly reliable. As with any used car, the car's history will play an important role in how trouble-free it will be in the future. As with most VWs, the main culprits are usually electric, and common issues with the MkIIIs include window regulators, headlight switches, speedometer failures and ignition switch problems. The engines and transmissions are pretty rock solid and with normal maintenance don't exhibit a lot of the problems the MkIIs had. With the release of the MKIVs, prices have dropped dramatically on MKIIIs and if you're looking for something a little faster, I'd seriously consider a Jetta GLX VR6. You will get a lot more bang for your buck with that car.

MkII Jetta Queries
How much does a MkII Jetta weigh and what modifications are required to install a 1.8T engine into one?
via the Internet

Depending on the model of Jetta, it should weigh approximately 2,300 to just over 2,500 lb. As for the 1.8T swap, the swap itself is pretty straightforward. The major issue will be doing the wiring and changing in the instrument cluster. To make the swap easier I'd look for an early Passat or A4 1.8T with the throttle cable, rather than using a later-model DBW engine, although those can be made to work as well. I'd also consider upgrading the front subframe to the MKIII subframe, along with the entire "Plus" suspension components and braking system. You'll then need to upgrade the rear brakes to a 5-lug system as well--but that's pretty simple if you use Corrado parts.

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