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I just bought a 2005 passat TDI and was reading about the balance shaft problem and how rare the engine really is. The car I bought has a 140,000 miles on it. It runs and drives great. How can I find out if the chain has been converted to gear drive? If this engine died someday is there a Jetta engine that could be swapped in it fairly easily??
 

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No Jetta engine will fit. All Jetta bodies use an east-west transverse engine. The mk4 Passat uses a north-south longitudinal engine. The only other TDI engines that will fit are European engines and they had the same problem until around 2005-2006 when they switched over to gears.

Gear and chain sound very different. I have some videos of it and will update the FAQ to include them, have been very busy overall and forgot about the videos. The dipstick also has some resistance at the very end on one of the modules but unless you have felt both I don't think you could tell the difference.

Some will say that you shouldn't even drive the car but I'd say that every problematic mechanical part has a different failure lifespan and rate. Could you go to 200,000 miles? Maybe. But the longer you go the greater the risk of failure. I suggest changing it as preventative maintenance ASAP, especially if you're doing the timing belt at the same time. Chains have failed as low as 60,000 miles but most last longer than that.

Take a look through the mk4 Passat buying guide for other catch up maintenance and common problems,
welcometomyturbodies
 
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