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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
During a long highway trip in my '05 Golf TDI, the engine suddenly became louder with a deep, throaty chugging sound and I lost power. No limp mode. Given the power loss I suspected that I was now down a cylinder, but continued on for 150km at a reduced speed and managed to get to town. It got progressively worse as I went along. I went straight to an import shop that specialized in VW to have a mechanic listen to it. As soon as I fired it up he confirmed that it is most likely what I feared - the cam is worn out and I've finally perforated a lifter. Or two. Seems plausible with 420 000km on the clock and a PD engine. He was clear that was only a best estimate and would obviously have to open the lid to confirm.

This car has been a money pit since I got it, so I'm reluctant to spend significant money on it at this point. It does have a few additional issues as well. On the other hand, I've grown very interested in wrenching since acquiring the car and figure I don't have much to loose if I try to fix it myself. This could be an excellent learning opportunity.

I am a novice and the job is beyond my experience, but I feel fairly confident that I can do the work with some guidance from this fine site and elsewhere. It seems prudent to also change the timing belt, water pump, etc at the same time as they're due in 20k anyhow.

I am very unsure about three things:

a) assuming the problem is what I suspect, what additional damage may I have caused by driving 150km in that condition?
b) will I be able to recognize these problems if there are any?
c) given my lack of experience with these tasks, and the potential for having created other problems, what are my chances of success?

I will remove the valve cover for a preliminary inspection, but figured I'd get some advice before touching anything. I had to continue my journey without the car, so I'll have a good bit of time to conduct research before I can lay a hand on it.

Looking forward to your opinions.
-craig-
 

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cam job pre destroying head $1000 with parts.... after destroying head.. last one was almost $4000 with a used head... still getta spend the 1k... new parts/labor was not going to change... except used head + additional labor now get included.. and used good heads big $$ needing a new cam.. 04/05/06 i beleive each year are different.. i know 04 has a split intake port the 06 lacks.. not sure what a 05 uses..

when you loose a hole, its from the lifter breaking into many pieces that in turn destroyes the head... at least that ive seen.. by 187k miles on the last one..

but imo.. when it screwed up and lost the hole it was mostlikely too late... just the additional drive time insures you could have owned a nice used honda vs buying additonal parts.. or a nice 2000 lexus or 03 jetta wagon tdi with 168k on the clock.. both gotten for under $2k this past month.. both really nice cars... had some really lucky clients recently...


i do know where a good core 04 split port head is though... has bent valves from tensoner stud breaking off... just not sure if owner will part ways with it... his inlaws has a 04 pd wagon.. and he a hoarder type... but i did get my last cam job of parts from him as he decided to clean house of his pd parts stash, his pd got totaled 10 or so mo ago.. replaced wth older ve pump style wagon..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for your thoughts. If the head is most likely to be damaged then I think I'll probably call it a day and hitch a lift to the scrapper. But, if I open it up and it's not too gory, could there be a chance it escaped harm? For instance, if there's just a hole in the lifter as opposed to it being shattered? I guess that's unlikely, but just out of curiosity...
 

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imo to loose compression tells me a valve is stuck open... if stuck open all the metal of the lifter is busted up holding it open... but yes pull vc as its free to do and look (people need to do this every tb job imo, i have no issue even looking for free, as i know 80% of the time its due think winning lotto ticket as easy good labor paying job, sux parts so damb much)... but if paying labor.. those $80/hr prices with parts/gaskets of good quality just so you have a base line # you can skimp on quality and labor... and bring #s down...
 

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Hey, I have an 04' BEW engine that needed a camshaft replacement when I bought it. Car was mint and I paid $2200 Canadian. Put in another $1200 or so for new Camshaft, lifters, and associated parts. I think the car had been driven probably 100-200 km with broken lifters (that I know of) and possibly more before that.

I created an imgur album of the pictures I took while replacing my camshaft

Here are some choice pics showing what I found when I took everything out:



So, clearly the lifters for intake/exhaust on cylinder 2 were totally frigged. The other lifters looked like they weren't doing so hot either. Here's a closeup of my lifters:



Of note particularly is how spectacularly destroyed the cylinder 2 lifters were, and how close to cracking in half one of the lifter on cylinder 4 was.

Here's a closeup of the destroyed cylinder 2 lifter along with its contact area on the camshaft lobe:




I also pulled the oil pan off and rummaged around down there with a magnet to try and get any remaining bits of the lifters sopped up that had returned to the oil pan via the oil return passageways. Probably wouldn't have gone this far unless I had accidentally dropped a bolt down one of those return passages while replacing the camshaft :yum

Since all of my lifters still had bottoms to them, the valve stems/guides didn't get any debris in them that I could see. The lifters are such a tight fit in their recessed bores that they would have to be totally destroyed to expose the valve stems/guides.

There could be an issue of a valve getting stuck open due to debris inside the lifter shimming itself between the bottom of the lifter and the camshaft, thus keeping the valve open. Not sure if the engine is an interference engine between the valves and piston... but that would wreck your top end if so. Could also bend the valve just by way of the valve being open when the diesel explodes in the cylinder while the valve is not seated i guess.

Other than bent valves, I would imagine the only other damage that could occur would be to the injection rockers (see bottom of my first picture) and possibly the stems/springs of the unit injectors. I didn't pull my injectors or my head, so not 100% sure if there was damage to those on mine, but I can tell you that my rockers seemed fine.

Its definitely a bit of a gamble to drop big money on a new camshaft without knowing 100% if that will fix things. I would recommend taking out the camshaft and lifters, cleaning things up, blowing compressed air around to see if any more bits dislodge (focus on recesses/areas around the unit injectors). Not sure what you would use to press on them or if they would be able to move at all while the cylinder was at top dead center but I could see you possibly being able to actuate the valve stems manually by pressing on them after you take the lifters out to check if the valve stems are bent. I don't think pulling the head would be too much extra work if you already have the camshaft out, and decide to take out the intake manifold too for cleaning while you're at it.

In my case a new camshaft/lifters 100% fixed my problem and I have not noticed any badness since then, however I also have not taken another peek under the valve cover since then either. Just crossing my fingers and driving with a light foot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Tom, thanks for the detailed reply and excellent pics!! Very helpful. Guess I might as well looking into the process / pricing for replacing the head. Seems kinda daunting, but can't hurt to investigate.
 

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If I were you I would probably just replace the camshaft, lifters, camshaft bearings, and put it all back together and see if that solves your problem before replacing the head. Worst case scenario you need to pull the head after all, but you can salvage the new camshaft and lifters for the "new" head. That is unless you can find a guaranteed to be working head for cheap.

Also, FYI Volkswagen dealers just replace the whole head instead of the camshaft only (I asked my dealer).
 

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Just about anything can be repaired or rebuilt, that's what I do for a living. Don't forget to consider the big picture (what ever that is for YOU) when making this decision though. 420K km is a lot of wear and tear...on ANY car or light truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yup, certainly some wear and tear going on... It also needs an ASV, rear rotors/pads, tires pretty soon. Intermittent overboost issue that I haven't figured out yet. Replaced the turbo actuator which helped but didn't completely fix it so I assume it's something in the vacuum system but needs further testing. Accidentally crumpled two of the jackpoints when rotating tires, not sure what to do about that. Timing belt is coming due soon-ish. Now with this camshaft thing it's officially a project car.

I'd spend less time and money in the long run if I were to ditch it for something in good shape and fewer kms, but am also eager to get my hands dirty. If keeping it, I imagine the most sensible thing would be to get something else for daily use while I putter on this one.

Will update with pics when I get back to it in a few weeks.
 

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:rolleyes::rolleyes: too bad a worn cam will give overboost issues as the valves do not open to let air in/out properly... will cause all kinds of codes due to lack of air and the car does not know why... :eek: i tell people with pd cars over 150k on clock to inspect cam before ever dealing with odd codes.. cause to fix what a code calls for is wasting money if cam a issue as the cam is the cause... the car has hard time telling of a mechanical issue and converts it into a electrical issue... think of a analog to digital conversion... things can get fuzzy/blotchy and the computer is taking its input and creating a output even if wrong as the mechanics are messing it up

things like maf, misses, boost, black smoke, odd noises can all be the effects of a bad cam or electrical part.. and im installing cam #3 on cars that have worn out cam #2 so need to inspect them every t belt/or if new to you with no hitory when you feel the car has a issue before spending money on a code with any referance to air flow... if air flow can cause the code.. its free to look.. save lotta time to just look and cross it off the list.. to look last will cause ya to waste time/hair/money... why last.. it will be bad and once fixed no more issue... so imo front of list.. check it off... think if this was done before vnt can it may have saved the head if its ruined now...

t belt with cam job... only the motor mount and water pump not removed to do cam... so add in hr more to do belt.. as removing mount/pump pretty simple at this point
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am certainly learning a lot in hindsight here, that's for sure. Would've looked at it way sooner if I'd made the connection between cam and airflow. I never picked up on that in my reading and my mechanic didn't make the suggestion. Sigh.
 

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craig boychuk While I commend anyone who is willing to maintain and repair their own vehicles and machines (especially these days), at some point you have to ask to what end and is it worth it. All respects crsmp5, but absolutely NO everyday use modern vehicle should go through 2 or 3 camshafts.
 

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i agree... why ill never own a pd... no one should have to buy cams... i just wish i had a history/parts mfg list for the 2 under 100k life so i know what to not buy...

the 187k destroyed head car was dealer maintained.. they even sold him a turbo and cat.. but still never pulled the vc... the valve retainer was gone and valve just plugging hole via anti gravity..

the issue is... most help me is 150-250k at this point.. those cams fail in that range... so gotta check it cause if its bad.. any thing you wasted time money on till that point becomes wasted... and its not hard to check to know hey.. looks good.. or well its got wear but not toast.. then the hmmm i need to fix it.. then the opps now ive done it... id rather catch it before it needs it now.. the check engine light gives boost/map errors at this point... by the gotta fix now it will have common limp issues with boost/map errors.. so the time between light first starts and i cannot seem to fix it is not long..
 

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craig boychuk...The cost of specific learning has to be weighed as well. Will you ever buy another used VW TDI in the future? The product is now dead and will quickly approach extinction in our part of the world over the next few years. Best wishes either way. ;)
 

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dead in this side of the world??? no... i still drive mk1 na diesels... client (he is building his 20 year supply now) just snagged a 03 tdi wagon 5 speed with 168k on the clock for under 2k... so unicorns still exist.. will always exist.. its the enthuiest that keeps them alive.. and IMO when the hpfp issue in diesel gate cars cost $13,000 to resolve way before dieselgate started it was the end of a enthusiast car... no way in hell a car repair should be 1/3 the price of a new car... its like a pd cam... expect 1k every 150k to do a cam... much like 200-1k for a t belt job on a diesel every so many miles... its just part of the cost of ownership.. i just know what im willing to pay and how cheap i am...
 

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Model 2015's are the last year VW will sell TDIs in "this part of the world". They are dead. The numbers that exist now will recede to the bone yards as folks buy newer vehicles and as the cost of rebuilding "the TDIs" exceeds their worth and usefulness...even for die-hards. Was not getting political, just stating a fact to keep it in perspective. Cars are consumable products.

I commend craig's desire to learn however, as most people these days can't even change their own oil or air filter.
 
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