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Slew of issues with 98 Beetle. Coolant, transmission, etc.

1715 Views 14 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  tedybear
So my wife made the decision to buy a 98 Beetle 3 years ago. Well 2 years down the road, the thing started asking for money. Here is just a laundry list of issues this thing is having and what has been fixed.

- Radiator started leaking. Fixed.

- After radiator repair, side flange begins shooting coolant out the top which looks like a crack. Test drove the thing after the radiator was replaced. Got the flashing red coolant light on the way back. Thing threw smoke into the driver's compartment. I thought it was on fire.

-Exhaust pipe fell off the muffler. Repaired. Falls off another place. Thing is unbearable loud.

-Transmission is doing the jig. You can feel it moving when shifting. 5-speed manual. Checked mounts. I do not believe they are all there as only one bracket is bolted in, and it does not look like the proper place. Looks like the silver part hanging down. However, the bracket will not reach it.

-Car runs very rough to the point of stalling unless brake pedal is depressed for about two minutes. (Possible vac leak or needs tune up?) I know it's begging for a tune-up. But, the other issues are higher on the totem pole.

Thankfully, when me and my wife were driving home after a started repair, we got the red flashing light with no choice but to drive it home 8 miles. We turned onto our road and it stalled. I thought the engine was done for. However, after it cooled off for an hour, it fired right up. So I do not believe I damaged the engine. I believe the flange failed due to the heat. This was before the radiator was replaced.

My main question however is this. Why in the world would the car run just fine with the brake pedal depressed. But, run like crap when it's not pressed on at all to the point of stalling?

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Please, get the car scanned; post any and all trouble codes, we will do our best to help (most auto parts stores, will do this for free). There are a number of possibilities; on the stalling issue: (e.g. crank/speed sensor, dirty throttle body/clean/adapt, fuel pump failing, low fuel pressure, worse when hot, cracked coil packs, bad plug wires, plugs, etc.). Before throwing a bunch of parts at the issue; scan for codes, that way you can intelligently troubleshoot the problem.

The red flashing light; means it is low on coolant. "smoke in the compartment"; can you elaborate? Possibly, the heater core leaking/steaming? A pressure test of the cooling system; maybe in order, to diagnose all coolant leaks at this point. You could have a auto repair shop; do this for you or invest in a coolant pressure testing tool kit, from a place like harbor freight:

Radiator Pressure Tester Kit
Pittsburgh Automotive - Item#69258

Radiator Pressure Tester Kit (google for a extra 20% off coupon)

The exhaust issues; you could take it to a muffler shop and have them diagnose, fix whatever has failed or fix it yourself (put it on jack stands and inspect,diagnose the problem, replace parts that have failed). The flex pipe is a common failure; you can usually have a new one welded into place, for a reasonable price without having to replace, the whole exhaust system or cat.

As a baseline, from which we can help you; you need to post any and all trouble codes, the car is presently throwing. This will help; figure out what steps are needed to diagnose/troubleshoot the car, what steps you need to take next, to do this process.

You might want to purchase a cheap vw scanner, so you can scan for trouble codes and fix things yourself, not have to take it to a shop/auto parts store for code checking; look on amazon for vag 405 or vs450. Either one; is less the $50 and amazon can get it to you overnight, if you need it that quick.

At the age/mileage of a car like this; there are going to be a wide range of repairs that are going to be need to be done, to keep it on the road, running reliably and quite a bit of maintenance will be required on almost 16 year old car . Just break it down and do a "triage" evaluation, to figure out what is the most important and go from there. Make a list and we will do our best to help! I think the cooling leaks, should be fixed first (don't want to destroy the engine by overheating it); then, figure out the drivability issues (get the car scanned for codes) and then go from there... lets get this car, back on the road and running right! :)
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the flashing coolant light just means the reservoir was low on coolant, put some distilled water for now if you want.

The cracked coolant flange has to be replaced they're just plastic and usually crack when the car overheats. ebay has those cheap.

the brake issue sounds like a vacuum leak somewhere in the car so you need to find that. on the 2.0 check the braided rubber line on the left as you face the engine, that's a common issue with the 2.0 I read.

I feel sorry for ya you have loads of problems ahead of you on a car that old, either put some money and fix them wright or sell the car and break even.
I would put coolant into the thing. However, the flange is literally cracked so bad it is shooting coolant. I can not drive it anywhere. It goes 2-3 miles down the road it will run out of coolant and the process of overheating begins. I got a quote on the exhaust repair for $55 and my father is gonna bring down a scanner to see what it is throwing. I know I hooked it up before to a scanner and it threw two codes. One I can not remember for the life of me. The other was a evap code. I have ordered a new flange to at least make the car semi-drive able...though, not safe imo.
Probably a lean code from a vacuum leak. The tube that goes from the brake booster to the intake manifold cracks, and is a common failure. Easy to fix also! :)

Sent from AutoGuide.com App
And this will cause it to almost stall the engine until it warms up? It's getting fixed regardless. Just curious. again.. as long as I hold the brake down, she's fine. Let go of it. Feels like it is running on two cylinders, and has stalled before.
I also wanted to add. Would the leaking coolant flange cause the system to blow no heat due to it losing pressure? If so, That's good news for me. If not.. more trouble. lol
You need to fix all the leaks in the system; I would have it pressure tested or do-it-yourself by buying a coolant pressure test kit. In my experience when there is an air pocket in the block; when this happens the heater typically doesn't work, I have fixed that problem by using a vacuum based coolant filling tool. The tool that I have is called the uview airlift; it ism"t too expensive, works excellent but does require shop compressed air to work.
I also wanted to add. Would the leaking coolant flange cause the system to blow no heat due to it losing pressure? If so, That's good news for me. If not.. more trouble. lol

Fair even money bet. If the coolant falls to low in the system air can get into it and you'll have a huge air pocket that will have to be purged or "Burped" out of the heater core. We went through this with ours when I changed out the hoses and thermostat. Stupid thing sucked in just enough air and we had no heat in the car. Took several tries to finally get the air pocket out. Not saying this is exactly what happened to yours, but it's pretty much possible.

Just a side bar note on the vacuum leak. Any introduction of air beyond the mass air flow sensor will cause a whole host of engine issues. All air introduced to the engine has to be metered so it can judge the correct air to fuel ratio. While a tiny leak will not cause a huge headache? Brake Boosters on the other hand use a large hose setup, normally a check valve, and then there is the booster itself. I've seen check valves fail, the hose fail...and at times (rarely...but possible) the booster itself fail.

Get that figured out and fixed and I think you'll be surprised at how well things will quickly fall back into place.

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Well after all that.. the head is cracked. Thanks for the help, everyone. But.. to the junkyard she goes. Thanks again.
The 2.0L; is a extremely common motor; I'm sure you could find a used head or a whole motor for dirt cheap or get a rebuilt head with a 1 year unlimited milage warranty, from these guys for $275.


They WILL take; you old head as a core, no charge for cracked heads!

We will accept your old cylinder head no matter what is wrong with it as long as it includes all the parts that our head came with. You will never be charged extra because your old head is damaged. Cracked head? OK! Bent valves? OK! We have no up-front core charge. Our comprehensive inventory includes heads for domestic or import models and a 12-month unlimited mileage guarantee.

What have you done so far; is the head off and how did you diagnose the problem?
That's fine and all. However, I do not have the money or skill to begin venturing into this. I already owe my father in law enough money over this car. I gotta take the parts back and get what I can out of it to pay him back. It is just not an option for me. Thanks though.
She's running like dog crap, and spewing thick white smoke out the exhaust.
Well, there does come a time; if you need basic reliable transpo to look for something else more durable/trouble free.. I would recommend, a toyota corolla or honda civic. Good luck and sorry the new beetle is down for the count! :(
Sad to hear such news. Even worse part is that without knowing what area you are in? Some members are helpful with lending a hand with basic repairs....

I'll be heading once again to the local Pick'n Pull yard for a few more detail parts.

$41 with a $10 core for a cylinder head. Even less when they run a weekly special. There are always options other then a scrap yard. (for anyone thinking about this option? It's actually a good one. Find a 2.0 with the correct engine ID if possible, and look for one with rear end/side damage.)

If the car is in good shape otherwise? I would list it for sale on CraigsList Take lots of photos and be honest about what it needs. If the right buyer comes along, you're apt to make more $$ then what a scrap yard would give you. Plus the car might have a new lease on life.

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