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My Turbo is shot, should I replace it or try to put in a different engine?

1234 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  2004NBTURBOS
I bought a 2000 Beetle 1.8L Turbo in September. I've only driven it for a few months, but the gas mileage has been horrible and it's been sluggish. I finally took it to the garage, and my mechanic said the turbo has gone out and it doesn't work anymore. There are also other problems - the intercooler is cracked, the intake needs to be replaced, the valves, and I think there's more, but I don't remember everything. The mechanic said it would be $3700 with labor to fix everything.

I usually work on my cars, so I was going to try to do everything I can myself. What I'm looking for right now is options. I was thinking of just replacing the turbo - but I've heard a lot of bad things about turbos that have been replaced. Kind of like, once it goes bad, it's never the same again.

So I could replace it with a new one, but could I take the turbo out and put in a different engine? Maybe an engine that doesn't need premium gas? I'm sure someone's done that, but I don't know where to even start with research. I know it will probably be a lot of work, but if it's possible, I'd like to go that route - it would be a new engine, it would be cheaper to run (it's .40-.60 more a gallon for premium where I live), and hopefully it would last longer. Anyone have any ideas for me?

I'm also trying to fix everything as cost effectively as possible, so if anyone has any advice on where I could get quality parts a little cheaper, that would be great. I know sometimes you get what you pay for, and I'd rather pay more for better parts, but if there are any shortcuts you've found, I'd appreciate the information. Thanks :)
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It really depends on how much money you want to put into the car and how much time your willing to put into it ; the most cost effective way would be to repair it yourself (no labor costs). I would look at getting the turbo rebuilt; the other parts, would be available at your local junk yard. I would also; think about how much longer the engine will last (how many miles?) and what you want to do with the car long term; its a old car and not worth much. Consider, overall the whole car; how is the suspension, trans, clutch, brakes, interior, body etc., what else is going to need repairs? Putting a different type of motor; requires allot of changes and would be a pretty major undertaking; easier to just get a different car but it has been done before. Bad turbos; many times, point to other issues: bad oil pump or clogged oil pickup tube. This can cause oil starvation; thus cam bearing failure in the head and bottom end crank bearing failure as well. I would fully evaluate the condition of the engine (pull valve cover, check cam bearings; pull pan, check crank bearings, do a compression check, look for sludge and clogged pick up tube etc.); before throwing money at it! Needless to say; fully rebuilding it or a replacement engine, would be a solid solution for a long term reliable car. Again, it all comes down to time, money and how long you want the car to last. Hope this helps, let us know what your goals and budget is.

This place; rebuilds turbos, we sent ours in and they ended up replacing the center section with new parts. Not all turbos are rebuild-able (too damaged) but you might give them a call and see what options they have for you.

Turbo City - Rock-It Parts
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Well, I have $2,000 more until I own it free and clear - so I'm pretty invested, I got it for $4,000. I don't think I'm going to get much selling it, and even so, I'm scared that if I go through the car buying process again, I could end up with worse problems. I want to just stick with what I know and try to get this car in working order. I'm ready to devote most of my free time this spring/summer working on this car, so I'm confident I can put the labor into it. It has 121,000 miles on it so far, (117,000 when I bought it). My hope is that I can put some money into it this summer and have a pretty reliable car.

My first instinct was to sell it when I found out about the problems, but then I would probably lose money AND not have the car. I'm hoping to spend $3,000 or less (preferably less!) and have something for at least another 100,000 miles. Either way I'm losing money. I don't have a flat out budget, but I'm just hoping to buy components as I can to get it to work out.

Good call looking into the cause of the turbo problems, that IS really the first logical step.

I do know it leaks oil - a lot; that's another reason I took it to the shop. The mechanic said most of the leaks were from the turbo and the intercooler. I would have to add a quart like once a month.
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Well, I would start by evaluating the condition of the engine and go from there (top/bottom end, compression). These are not the most reliable cars out there (european cars; require allot of attention and maintenance, especially high mileage ones); if you are looking for a trouble free, low maintenance car... look for a toyota or honda. If you are "in": expect to continue to do repairs to the car as time goes on (even after the engine is repaired); any car at 100k will have many parts that are going to need to be replaced and at 13 years old, it is getting to the point where things just wear out. By the way; is it a auto or manual trans; the autos are definitely failure prone and expensive to fix; if a auto, I would really think long and hard about fixing it, probably sell it and go on to the next one. Investing in a scan tool; like VCDS or even a cheap handheld model like a MaxScan VAG 405 will get you a long way to bringing some sanity to your repair, troubleshooting processes. You have allot of work in front of you my friend; are you ready? :) Keep posting; we will do our best to help you out! :cool:

Amazon.com: MaxScan VAG 405: Electronics

Ross-Tech Store: VCDS
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Im gonna jump in with my two cents worth.
First and foremost, you need a good European mechanic.
You CAN NOT take these cars down to your local shop and expect them to give you a good price on any work.
Second...take it one problem at a time. Fix or replace the turbo. People do it everyday. Second...confirm the inter=cooler is bad. My guess is the blown turbo is dumping oil into it.
Third....why does your mechanic think it need a valve job?? The car would be blowing smoke from the exhaust with the shot turbo. I hope he/she dosent want to do a valve job because he/she sees excessive smoke out the tailpipe. Unless he/she did a leakdown test, I dont see how he/she would say it needs a valve job.
Fourth.....the 1.8T can be a wicked fun car. Motor swaps are a PIA. Any turbo is going to need premium fuel.
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