Not the rust, though. The rust is pretty bad.

Last week I dropped it off at a tire shop and got the cheapest Chinese tires money could buy. Did you know you can get a new set of rubber for less than $200? I asked them to do a general inspection while it was there, and promptly headed off to the junkyard for some bits I knew the Jetta (and Golf) were in need of. My suspicions were confirmed: the Jetta is indeed structurally sound! The body, well... Yep, still crap.

So, here’s what is to be done still:

  • Sway bar end links (very clunky)
  • Shifter bushing (crazy vague- will probably need to play with linkage and return springs as well down the road)
  • Coolant flush- I’ve found that VW G11 coolant is hard to find without buying it on the internet
  • Oil change
  • Parking brake cables- I’ve got no qualms parking in gear, but would like a functioning cable. One is broken at the brake, and the other can’t get enough tension by design of the mechanism. I’ve got the parts already, but haven’t gotten around to it.
  • Figure out the trunk latch- it worked fine until I closed it yesterday. Now it won’t latch. To the junkyard I go I guess.

So what have I done? I had a shop put the new axle I had on, as I couldn’t get the flange off to remove broken bolts, but since then...

  • New (junkyard) hood latch
  • Fixed janky wipers- turns out, the only problems were janky switch, bad blades, and lack of car gatorade
  • Regreased and covered wheel bearings
  • Removed rusty/noisy rear disc splash guards
PVC? Deeeeeeeefinitely stock.
  • Removed damaged intake hose- on these cars, the stock intake has an accordion hose that comes off the back of the engine as well as on that draws from the fender. The goal, as far as I’ve read, of this system is to have a more controlled intake air temperature so fuel can be burnt more cleanly. The hose had a big hole in it, allowing mice to make a nice big nest in the airbox. I removed the nest and the bad hose. I do not have any intention to replace the hose, because it is a PITA and not really worthwhile.
  • Cleaned MAF
  • Replaced fuel pump with my spare- it worked great for about 20 minutes, then the sender stopped working. I have a full tank of gas now, so in a few weeks time I’ll open the tank again and fiddle with the sender.

After the MAF and airbox cleaning/hose removal, the car now idles... perfectly. Like, even better than the Golf. As in I crank it (and it cranks easier/shorter than the Golf) and it instantly settles to 800 RPM and sits there.

So, here’s my to-do list, in order of importance/what I want to do:

  • End links and shifter bushing- these should be here Thursday, from RockAuto. Not a hard remove/replace job.
  • Coolant flush
  • Oil change
  • Timing belt/water pump if necessary- I inspected what’s on there (on the outer side of the belt) and it seems “new”, as in it was probably less than a year old before it got parked. No signs of wear on it. Probably fine. ABAs are only interference engines sometimes, and cylinder heads are easy to swap out, so... meh.
  • Clean the hell out of the interior
  • Parking brake
  • Fix the trunk
  • Rust control- my plan for now is to grind the rusty bits of the rockers away, fill what’s left with Good Stuff or some other closed-cell sprayable foam, reshape it so it looks decent, coat with bed liner, and make sure to only ever jack from the subframe. I think this is a good plan.
  • Exhaust- what’s on there now is kind of crap. The tailpipe was rusted off the muffler, so I yoinked it off. It’s a bit loud, likely some leaks I haven’t looked for before the muffler.
  • Find out what else is broken. There is no CEL on right now, as the light resets when the battery is removed and the diagnostic cycle is somewhere between 50 and 200 miles. Dunno where in there it is. Right now, there’s about 10 on the odometer

I’ve been driving it intermittently the last week ish, and it’s actually much better than I expected. Somewhat sketchy, but not so sketchy that I’m afraid to drive it. I may eventually delete secondary air injection and rear O2 so it runs better and gets better fuel economy and put a mild tune on it. A chip for a stock engine costs about $100 and deletes most emissions equipment, nets a ~10 hp gain, and bumps the rev limiter to 7k (ABAs are known to rev safely to about 8500, but there’s really no point to this except noise.)

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