I'm not a Fiero owner anymore, but still have the itch to fix and modify stuff. So I started working on my 2002 VW Jetta TDI. It has the 1.9 liter turbo-diesel (engine code ALH), with a 5-speed manual gearbox. I've owned it since 2015. I do most of the maintenance myself. But recently I decided to kick things up a notch. In addition to basic maintenance, the Jetta will also be getting some upgrades.
Here's a quick overview of the car:
I decided to start by upgrading the suspension. The suspension bushings were getting old and tired. And the handling was starting to get sloppy. Part of the solution was to install Energy Suspension urethane sway bar bushings.
Stay tuned for more updates!
[This message has been edited by Blacktree (edited 05-02-2020).]
Shortly after replacing the sway bar bushings, I also replaced the rear axle beam bushings. The Jetta has a very simple rear suspension. The axle beam is a U-shaped piece that functions as both the control arms and the sway bar. So upgrading the bushings has the same effect as upgrading control arm bushings and sway bar bushings on a typical suspension.
I didn't want to completely remove the rear axle, so I did an "axle tilt" job, similar to the cradle tilt on a Fiero.
Altogether, I paid less than $100 for the sway bar and axle beam bushings. And they made a big improvement in handling. The car feels flatter in the turns, plus it tracks straighter on the highway. The rear end does pick up a little more road noise, but it's not obnoxious.
I had to put the upgrades on hold, to address a problem. The A/C compressor clutch decided to uninstall itself while I was driving the car. Thankfully the car has a belly pan under the engine, and it caught the parts. But the compressor clutch was damaged. Luckily, the compressor itself wasn't damaged. So I just had to replace the clutch.
Apparently, this is a common problem. The nut that holds the clutch hub will back out, and the hub will fall off the compressor. So when I installed the new hub, I used a Nyloc nut.
[This message has been edited by Blacktree (edited 05-11-2020).]
A few years ago, I installed a light bar for fog lights. The first set of fog lights that I installed were kinda weak, so I replaced them with better ones. Now the new ones are so bright, they're blinding other drivers at night. Instead of swapping out the fog lights again, I decided to install a brightness control. LEDs don't respond very well to voltage changes, so I decided to use a PWM unit (pulsewidth modulation). It basically strobes the light, really fast. You can change the apparent brightness of the lights by changing the length of the on and off pulses.
Here's a video of the install:
[This message has been edited by Blacktree (edited 05-15-2020).]
I had to take a break from the upgrades (again) to fix another issue. The Jetta suddenly developed a nasty coolant leak. It took awhile to find it, because the faulty hose was hidden behind other stuff. The offending part was a short section of hose that connects between the cylinder head and a T-fitting, underneath the vacuum pump.
It's common for these engines to leak oil from the vacuum pump. And the pump is directly above that hose. The oil must have softened the rubber. I replaced the seal for the vacuum pump when I replaced the timing belt a few months ago. So this shouldn't be an issue anymore.
OK, back to the upgrades. I decided to install a PCV catch can, to reduce the amount of gunk buildup in the intake manifold. That's a common problem with direct injection engines, and even more of a problem with direct injected diesels. The oil vapors from the PCV system mix with soot from the exhaust gases in the EGR system to make a nasty black residue. It can build up so thick, it starts to choke off the engine.