Page 2 of 2011, 2012 VW Jetta TDI review and buying guide

Please also see page 1 of the VW Jetta TDI buying guide for lots more info

Standard radio: The RCD 510 premium 8 radio is touch screen, 6cd in dash changer, color, and accepts SD cards for music.  It also does a2dp streaming bluetooth music (like playing music from your bluetooth equipped iphone or android cell phone over the radio).  In Canada, Comfortline w/o the multimedia pack use the base RCD 310 radio. As mentioned earlier, late 2012 build models are starting to get phone interfaces if they have a phone button. This is new to North American head units.

Clean diesel: The TDI engine is a common rail 2.0L engine.  See 1000q: common rail engine vs. pumpe duse and direct injection for some technical details on the new systems.  It's advertised as a clean diesel because it meets emissions standards in all 50 states and Canada.  The biggest difference is the diesel particulate filter which collects soot and burns it off during a self clean cycle.  See 1000q: DPF FAQ for more details.  The filter is why the car is not recommended if you take only 5-10 minute short trips where the car never warms up and never go on the highway.  It won't blow up but this type of driving habit will shorten the life of the filter.   Compared to a Jetta with the 2.5L gasoline Jetta engine, the TDI has less CO2 emissions per mile.  See 1000q: direction injection, pumpe duse, and common rail for a comparison to older TDI technologies.

DSG transmission: This is the optional automatic transmission.  DSG is dual shift gearbox.  This new type of transmission is a wet dual clutch automatically shifting manual transmission instead of a conventional planetary gear type automatic.  See 1000q: DSG FAQ for details.  Regardless of what the EPA rating is, everything else being equal, the manual will get slightly better mpg due to lighter weight and less parasitic losses under real world conditions.  A leadfoot will always get lower mileage regardless of transmission.  The fluid must be changed every 40,000 miles.  See 1000q: DSG fluid service for the DIY.

KESSY keyless entry start and exit system:  This is part of the navigation package and is sometimes called keyless access.  VW keyless access unlocks the doors if you pull on the handle and if the key fob is within 5 feet.  It also enables the start button.  This means you can leave the key in your pocket or purse and enter/start the car without touching the remote fob.

One quirk of KESSY is that if you leave the car without shutting the engine off, the engine will continue running.  If a first driver goes somewhere else with the key, the second driver won't notice that they don't have the key until they try to restart the car (won't start).  Also, if the key is inside the car, the doors won't lock from the outside.

Below is a demo video of KESSY - a common mistake is to put your hand inside the handle with locking - just touch the lock button.

Why not a hybrid?
Why mention hybrids on a TDI website?  Because if you're looking for a high fuel economy car you might cross shopping with hybrids like the Prius.  Everything else being equal, the Prius will get better mpg, especially in the city.  Even still, I still prefer the Jetta, especially if you do lots of highway driving or want a station wagon.  For more details on why a VW Jetta or VW Golf TDI is a good choice over a hybrid, see 1000q: general TDI buying guide and checklists.  VW TDI are great all around cars which combine resale value, safety features, handling and driving enjoyment, and fuel economy.  Even still, the best car for you is a car that matches your needs, not mine.  For some more opinions, see the link above.

Below is a video review of the Jetta TDI and Audi A3 TDI vs. the Insight and Prius.  Below right is a review of the new Jetta


Here's another 2011 VW Jetta review.

Tax credits and sales tax exemptions with the VW TDI

The 2011 VW Jetta TDI has a $650 tax credit if you take delivery by Dec 31, 2010.  The credit has since expired but this section will stay up for reference: 1000q: Tax credits and exemptions with the TDI.

Other misc stuff to know before ordering

Your dealer can "order" as many cars as they want but they are only allocated a certain number of cars to sell.  Therefore, make sure they know their allocation.

What do you get vs. the VW Jetta SEL gas engine car other than the engine and DSG transmission option?  Electric power steering vs. hydraulic power steering (saves energy).  The SEL does have rear disk brakes, the SE has rear drum brakes.

Color choices and color codes in parenthesis
Thumbnail picture below of all modern VW paint colors.  The Jetta's colors are Black uni (a1a1), Platinum Gray Metallic (2r2r), Reflex silver Metallic (8e8e), Candy White (b4b4), White Gold Metallic (7b7b), Tornado red (g2g2), Tempest Blue Metallic (c1c1), Toffee Brown Metallic (4q4q).

Biodiesel in a VW Jetta TDI
The 2.0L TDI CJAA and CBEA engine will run on biodiesel but VW only allows up to 5% biodiesel (B5).  There hasn't been wide scale long term real world evaluations yet.  The concern vs. older TDI engines is the emissions system and engine oil dilution.  The exhaust traps particulates in a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and burns them out in a self clean cycle (post combustion injection).  During a post combustion injection cycle, the engine injects a little extra fuel after the engine combustion cycle.  The concern is that biodiesel will get into the engine oil and dilute it.  The difference vs. earlier TDI is the "self clean" post injection of fuel.  Petrol diesel evaporates easily out of the engine oil but biodiesel tends to accumulate.   A little biodiesel can be easily tolerated but the long term effects aren't known on the new common rail TDI engines.  On average, the self clean cycle occurs every 4-600 miles or once/tank. Some states have bio fuel mandates and in response to Illinois having some biodiesel in the fuel, VW will cover up to B20 in TDI registered in Illinois. To the right is a thumbnail of the letter they sent out Feb 2013.

There is also concern about poor quality fuel increasing the rate of DPF filter clogging.  For more basic information about biodiesel and VW, see 1000q: intro to biodiesel.  For pictures of the emissions system and details of how it works, read 1000q: DPF filter FAQ.

Complaints and common problems with the 2011 VW Jetta TDI

These issues are not specific to the Jetta but affect all engines of this type. Keep in mind that problems can get blown out of proportion on the internet and your car does have a warranty. However, there will always be a few lemons regardless of brand.

Some TDI have some minor problems with hiccupping or hesitation.  There are theories that this is related to the emissions tuning: the exhaust flap creates backpressure exhaust flap for the low pressure EGR system and it could cause a temporary hesitation when combined with certain throttle positions.  It appears to be most common when cresting over a hill or lifting off the pedal at a certain position.  If it happens to you, please post it in the VW TDI help forum.

HPFP failure

A few engines of this type have had high pressure fuel pump (HPFP) failures. It's not yet known what the exact causes are but there are some good theories involving low fuel lubricity in the US, misfueling with gas, water contaminated fuel, or design problems. There are enough reports to suggest that there is a design issue that has resulted in some failed fuel pumps. VW-Bosch have revised the pump design a few times since introduction to the US market in 2009. Symptoms include stalling, running problems, and metal flakes in the fuel system. See 1000q: fuel filter change article to see some pictures. There is no break-in of the fuel system that will produce flakes of metal large enough to be visible.

Transmission issues

The DSG transmission is great compared to an automatic but there are some complaints.  One of them is hesitation from a stop.  If you quickly take your foot off the brake pedal and give more than a little acceleration, it can take the clutches a second to engage.  One example of when this could appear if you're trying to pull out before traffic reaches your intersection or darting through a gap in traffic.  Learn how the transmission behaves and plan accordingly.  Many report that if you wait a split second or gently press the first inch of the accelerator pedal, it won't hesitate.

Please read 1000q: DSG FAQ for maintenance, quirks, and other common issues with the DSG transmission.  VW has extended the warranty on some DSG in the past, see the DSG FAQ for more details.  The fluid must be changed every 40,000 miles if you want the transmission to shift well.  See 1000q: DSG fluid service for the DIY.

VW 2.0L TDI engine fuel line recall in Oct-Nov 2011

There was a fuel line recall during late 2011 to replace the fuel lines and/or install dampers on all the unaffected engines. The fuel injectors induced a harmonic in the fuel lines which weakened the metal. In a few cases, the lines split or leaked. As a result, all lines were replaced or had dampers installed to change the vibration of the metal. Here is what it should look like if the recall was done.
vw jetta tdi fuel line vw jetta tdi fuel line

VW Jetta TDI chip tuning and power modifications

Some chip tuners who specalize on TDI engines are KermaTDI and Malone Tuning. They do chip tuning for the neweset CRD 2.0L TDI engines 2009 and newer models. These engine all use the 2.0L CBEA-CJAA engine. Stock power is 140 hp, 236 lb-ft at the engine. Chip tuning has been tested on these models with great results. While high altitude, build variation, and dyno variables will cause small variations in actual and measured power, your average engine will make about 170 hp and 320 lb-ft torque after a chip flash. While the hp increase doesn't sound like that much, a 20% increase is quite a lot. The total torque of about 320 lb-ft is more torque than many 6 cylinder engines. Everything else being equal, a chip tune will not lower the fuel economy either, although you may find yourself using that extra power (fuel more) while you enjoy the car!

The big difference vs. 2006 and earlier TDI is the diesel particulate filter. See the DPF FAQ for VW and Audi linked earlier for more details on this system. If you have a DSG transmission it can limit the torque from a chip tune. For best results, a DSG transmission software flash will raise these limits. It's also possible to remove the DPF system with a TDI engine DPF delete tune from Malone Tuning. Note: always comply with all emissions laws where you live/operate the car.

Delivery inspection

The most common reported problem when taking delivery of your car is.....

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Removing the shipping blocks

The engine oil technical specification and service bulletin

Fuel filter problems and how to check for bad HPFP

Getting a replacement key if you lose one

The exhaust filter for the clean diesel system

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