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My Cabriolet's engine


September 6, 2002 - Fixing it up
I have been working on the car lately, improving it bit by bit. Last month I ordered some parts from Techtonics Tuning: an oxygen sensor socket, a CO adjustment hex wrench, a one-piece rubber valve cover gasket, and a lower strut bar. I plan to use all four.

Two weeks ago I installed the lower strut bar, mostly. It attaches at four points: two are the pivots of the control arms and the other two require drilling holes in the body. I still have one hole to drill, but the rest has been completed. I think the amount of vibrations in the steering wheel has been reduced, but my observations are biased.

Yesterday I started working on the car again. This weekend I am planning to adjust the valves, replace the valve cover gasket, paint the valve cover, and finish the lower strut bar. The main reason for this is that oil leaks out the back of the gasket, pools up on the intake, drips onto the exhaust, and burns up. My friend's dad, the mechanic, has hooked me up with the special tool for the valve shims, so it should be relatively easy to adjust the valves..... I hope.

There is still more work planned before I go back to college in October.

  • I have a new oxygen sensor to install with my new socket; hopefully it won't be too hard to remove the old sensor.
  • The coolant system looks like it could be flushed. Doing this would give me an oppotunity to replace the heater control valve. I have had the heat on full for the last year or so; it would be nice to have the ability to control it.


July 28, 2002 - Smoking
For those who have been following the saga, the odometer is once again malfunctioning, only occasionally counting miles. I don't think it is worth spending time to fix it, though.

I've noticed over the last couple weeks that when starting from a standstill, I leave a cloud of smoke behind me. It would only happen when the oil temperature was over 80 degrees Celsius. Hoping that this was due to old, wimpy oil, I changed the oil. I replaced the 10W-40 that I put in a while back with straight 50. At first, I thought it fixed the problem, but today when the oil temperature was 100 degrees Celsius, I noticed another cloud left behind me. I'm not sure where to go from here.

July 17, 2002 - Odometer adventures
My odometer works again. The story is a little more complicated than that, though. I was driving to work and noticed the leftmost digit on the odometer was no longer on 1 but rather halfway between 1 and 2. A mile or two down the road, it went all the way to 2. It stayed on 2 for a few miles, but then slowly continued to increase. When the digit reached 8, it stayed there. Now the mileage on my Cabriolet is in the 800,000s! And the odometer now works normally.

Since the odometer works again, I can measure my fuel economy. I got 29 MPG on the last tank of gas. This is an improvement over the 25 MPG from before adjusting the air/fuel mixture.

I also replaced the the antenna with a new one I purchased from Rocky Mountain Motorworks. It works well; I didn't realize my radio had such good reception. Unlike what I had read, the front wheel didn't have to be removed, although that might have helped. I had to remove the wheel arch and the wheel well cover. The new antenna didn't fit the original bracket, and the new bracket didn't attach anywhere. That shouldn't be a problem unless someone pushes hard against the antenna.


June 24, 2002 - Air/fuel mixture fixed
It's been a while since I've updated the site. In that time I finished my school term and am back at my co-op job.

My car no longer has its misfiring problem. My friend's dad, a mechanic adjusted the air/fuel mixture. Apparently the engine had been running very rich. The Cabriolet has been running fine for the last month, so the problem seems to be fixed. The idle is a little rough when the engine is cold, but that is a price worth paying.

I spent some time at school cleaning the car. Carb cleaner is great! I have been using it to remove filth from the engine compartment. I discovered that the cleaner can remove the black paint on my car. That is probably not good for the body, but it helped me take the overspray off the parking, side marker, and taillights.

My odometer is no longer working regularly. I read that this is a frequent problem in old Volkswagens. It works part of the time, which makes my gas mileage look very low; I'm getting around 60 miles on full tank of gas. It should be fairly easy to fix, when I spend the time to tear apart the dashboard.


May 2, 2002 - Let there be light
I've been working on the interior and exterior lights on my Cabriolet. Volkswagen did not write very intuitive electrical diagrams, so I've spent a lot of time being confused by them. On the exterior, three of the four side marker lights work now. The fourth one, held on with Torx screws, does not want to come off. On the inside, the headlight switch lights up now, as does the green plastic ring around the cigarette lighter. I think I need to get special light bulbs to light up the three VDO gauges on the floor.

The engine has decided to start misfiring again. I checked the air flow sensor, and it was covered with grease! I cleaned it up with carb cleaner, but that did not fix the misfiring. Thinking that the fuel injector O-rings could be leaking, I sprayed them with carb cleaner while the engine was misfiring. There might have been a reaction from the fourth cylinder... I'm not sure. None of the other injectors responded. I planning to have a mechanic look at it.

I've continued driving the car with the supposedly bad water pump. It probably really is in need of replacement, but fortunately the engine has shown no sign of overheating. I wonder how long it can last.

Passing a Porsche Carrera on the freeway.


April 14, 2002 - Baby steps
Bit by bit, my car is being improved. The latest improvement is the passenger-side door. It has always sagged so much that passengers think it's locked when it's really unlocked. I read that you can fix the sagging by closing a socket in the door, but I couldn't be sure where to put the socket. Instead, I lowered the metal peg that the door latch grabs. This effectively fixed the problem.

Being sick of a rattle coming from underneith the car, I took my Cabriolet to Muffler Man in Flint to get the exhaust fixed. After a little bit, the mechanic told me he had found and fixed the rattle and sent me on my way. The car seemed quieter, but a little ways down the road I discovered the particular rattle was still there. I drove back to Muffler Man, and the mechanic banged around on the exhaust, and there were no rattles. However, there was a rattle when he hit the gas tank. My gauge works, so we suspect there is a baffle loose inside the tank. At the moment, I plan to live with the rattle. It only happens between 2500 and 3000 RPM.

I replaced the fuel filter 2 weeks ago. The car has misfired since then, but I haven't experienced more than a couple minutes of the problem at a time. (Previously, it would have problems for nearly an entire week.) I suspect the issue may be "improved" but not fixed. I have not attempted to replace the water pump yet.


March 28, 2002 - What, my car doesn't run perfectly yet?
Wouldn't it be nice if storing the car for 4 months would solve all of its problems? Unfortunately, the world doesn't seem to work that way, or at least my car doesn't work that way. The car has always been louder with more vibrations than an average car. So I took my car to Kelly Imports where they diagnosed the noise as a failing water pump. They suggested replacing that soon before it completely failed to avoid overheating. Also, while they're there, it would be a good time to replace the timing belt. The water pump and timing belt comes to $480. Ouch! I was expecting to pay a couple hundred for a new engine mount. I told Kelly Imports to hold off for now, and I'm considering replacing the pump myself. I've been advised against it, but my Bentley service manual makes it sound doable. I'll have to move the power steering pump, A/C compressor, and alternator out of the way, but it doesn't look like I have to remove the timing belt or timing belt cover.

On a separate issue, the car misfired on 3 occasions Wednesday: first on the way to work (for about 2 minutes) in the morning, and twice when I was driving in the evening. Plan of action: replace the fuel filter. It seems to start misfiring quite suddenly and then stop just as quickly. It looks like this problem is back from the fall.
On a happier note, I drove with the top down on Wednesday. It was reasonably warm out; I couldn't even see my breath!

March 25, 2002 - Spring, where are you?
I bought insurance on Friday. It turned out since I've been accident-free for 2 years, State Farm charged me $367 for my six month premium, $80 less than I was expecting. They even threw in a road atlas. I got my turn signals to work normally again on Sunday, and I drove my car to work today. Despite it being Spring, the poor car was snowed on. Fortunately for me, the car has been running fine (so far). On Tuesday, my Cabriolet is going to Kelly Imports where they will look into all the vibrations my VW has..... I suspect it has a bad engine mount.
March 22, 2002 - Preparing for spring
I've been calling and surfing to various insurance companies to get a good quote for car insurance. My best so far is $447 for six months from State Farm. That's just for liability.... it's not cheap because I'm 19, I had an accident in the last 3 years, and my car is in the 20th rating group.
On a disappointing note, it snowed on Thursday. Not enticing convertible weather!
My poor car freezing to death


January 17, 2002 - The long winter
My Cabriolet is taking the winter off. Rather than subject it to a harsh Michigan winter, I have it sitting safely under its car cover that I got for Christmas. No salt for this car! I'll probably get it out in March or April.

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