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Hi guys,

Seems like this is a very knowledgeable forum on these great but darned picky cars so I was wondering if I could get an opinion.

I have an '03 Golf TDI that I've had since new. It now has 282,000kms on it. I'm trying to decide whether I should keep or ditch the car at this point - I just got back from the dealer where they quoted me $5500+ to fix all issues (um?) I do stupid amount of kilometers on it - roughly 1500 weekly.

The main issue is the turbo. When I am at highway speeds and accelerating it can suddenly go into limp mode. This has been happening for probably over a year at this point - I've never really been overly bothered by it because it's a 5-speed and I simply turn the car off and let it coast down the highway a few seconds and turn it back on and we're back in business. I had the car in for an oil change so asked them to diagnose just to see if it could be something simple.

The summary they came back to me with: the code it's throwing is overboost. They took it out and replicated the problem and say high normal spec is 1900mbar and it's getting to 2600mbar before throwing itself in limp. The vane actuator appears to be free and good, they say either it is sticking or binding for some reason. They say the only solution is another new entire turbo unit.

Question One - is it going to damage or prematurely wear anything else by doing this? It only really does this a few times a week and I just shut it off, turn it on and continue on my way. It hardly seems worth throwing any money at if I can just manage it like that. If I toned my driving down a little it would probably never even do it.

Question Two - is it true that this vane actuator is actually the issue, and can only that be replaced? Seems foolish to replace entire turbo if so.

The car needs substantial other work (apparently the axle shafts are shot and need replaced, and the brakes are in extremely bad shape) so I need to decide whether to spend another dollar on the car or if I should figure something else out.

Thanks so much for your help :)
 

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For starters, you can go somewhere other than the dealer for your service... Not only do dealerships represent the most expensive option with regard to labor and material charges, but they're also somewhat limited in the way they go about repairing things... (for example: they normally replace an injection pump rather than open it up to replace the $20 temperature sensor, or replace a turbo instead of replacing the $115 - $140 vacuum actuator...)

Look for a good independent garage - even if the logistics may be a bit less accomodating (no loaner cars, possibly very busy on occasion), it'll be worth your while. I can recommend one who's highly regarded over on the TDIclub: Brandon Pilkey, who runs DCB Auto Repairs in the 400 and Finch area (141 Oakdale unit 4, to be precise... 416-747-0400).

Good luck,

Yuri
 

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Read the VNT actuator test article to isolate the problem source. The actuator can be replaced separately.

No, it will not damage the engine, that's the point of limp mode.
 
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