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VW Jetta Basic Maintenance Questions (Oil changes, fluids, etc.)

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,870
    A reporter is interested in interviewing an individual who recently decided to do routine maintenance or basic car repairs on their own to save money in the struggling economy. The reporter is particularly interested in someone living in California (Southland), but all responses are encouraged. If you would like to comment on your experience, please reply to pr@edmunds.com with your name, location and daytime phone number by 5pm Pacific, Wednesday, August 17, 2011.

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    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
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  • mnty77mnty77 Posts: 4
    In April 2011, I purchased a high mileage (107k), late model (2007) Jetta Wolfsburg Edition 2.5L I5 6AM. This is my 2nd Jetta (formerly owned an '03 that was totaled in an accident involving my daughter). The miles are all highway, the car is in excellent condition and is solid and sufficiently powered. I've had some transmission issues on other high mileage vehicles that I've owned so I researched the maintenance recommendations for this model Jetta. I was surprised to not find a dip stick to check the ATF. When contacting a local VW dealer, I was told that the transmission is a "sealed unit" and does not need periodic replacement of the fluid, filter and related items (e.g. gasket). I then contacted a VW-Audio-Porsche independent repair shop that I've used for years (and trust) and they stated that ZF (the transmission manufacturer) just released a memo indicating that they recommend an ATF fluid flush every 60k miles or 7 years...which ever occurs first. Needless to say, I opted for the ATF replacement and flush which cost about $400 at the independent shop. I would like to hear more from VW corporate on this topic.
    Also, I can not tell whether I have a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) or some other model transmission...can't find identification details in the owners manual or on the vehicle.
  • I have two Jettas - a 2007 and 2009. Both of these cars have the Tiptronic 6 speed automatic transmission. I believe you can tell this transmission by the shifter. These both have a manual mode, whereby you can move the transmission lever to the right and then shift the car manually. This transmission also has an "S" mode, similar to "D". S is the Sport mode and holds the shift points to higher RPM, and is for hilly or more sporty driving. These transmissions (at least my 2007) do not show any need for service, according to the owners manual. Interestingly enough, by 2009 (same transmission) now shows a recommended transmission oil change (not really a full flush) at 50,000 miles. I just performed that transmission oil change on my 2009 at about $150.00. Don't know if perhaps VW was having some service issues with the earlier models, and decided to recommend this service in newer models to prevent problems. In any case, I will have the 2007 transmission oil changed at my next service also.
  • I am changing oil in 2008 VW Jetta 2.0T. The oil filter is on top of the engine, not the canister type. When I put the new filter on, I have to really tighten the filter for it to go all the way on. Is this normal? When I change oil in other vehicles, I can more or less hand tighten the filter. However, this one I have to tighten very much with the oil filter wrench. Thanks
  • I have used Castrol Syntec for a number of years with great results. I recently purchased a new vehicle (still using the "Dino" oil during the "break-in".... all easy highway miles).

    I have read most of the posts regarding "Synthetic Oil" and have found them very informative. Without starting a "war" between the various brands I would like to know what 'synthetic brands' the readers of this post use; why you like the brand; how long have you used your favorite brand and how often do you change your oil and filter.

    Thanks for the feedback.
  • I have used Castrol Syntec for a number of years with great results. I recently purchased a new vehicle (still using the "Dino" oil during the "break-in".... all easy highway miles).

    I have read most of the posts regarding "Synthetic Oil" and have found them very informative. Without starting a "war" between the various brands I would like to know what 'synthetic brands' the readers of this post use; why you like the brand; how long have you used your favorite brand and how often do you change your oil and filter.

    Thanks for the feedback.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Please do not append the same question in multiple forums... those of us who read all the forums tire of reading the same thing. Besides, I already answered your question and now you have to go searching for it in all the forums you appended that question to.
  • My trusted mechanic uses Amsoil synthetic in all my vehicles. Started with synthetic with my first VW (Beetle - 2008) as it was required for that car. All vehicles now get Amsoil synthetic. I change oil every 5000 miles, but if you check the Amsoil website, they have quite a bit of information on the longevity of synthetic. I am thinking of switching to about 7500 miles (or one year), based on all the information I have read on synthetics.

    Bel Air Car Guy
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited November 2011
    You have a ways to go to get to my 10,000 mile OCI (Oil Change Interval)

    Truth is, todays synthetic oils are FARRR better than what was available 20 years ago. You are throwing away perfectly good oil if it is changed out too soon.

    Besides - can you even remember the last time you wore out an engine? You will wear out wheel bearings and suspension components long before your engine wears out.

    The secret is using a larger/better oil-filter to keep the crud out of the oil between OCI.
  • fho2008fho2008 Posts: 393
    My 2008 Wolfsburg has "DSG" on the shifter.
  • Ok.... Thanks for the reply. Amsoil is only available via dealers, sort of like Amway Products.
  • Thanks for the reply. BTW... I'm new to this site; hence, the error in posting this reply in error under another thread. Sorry about that...

    I have heard a lot about Amsoil over the past several years. The problem I find with Amsoil is that it's only available via dealers, sort of like Amway Products.
  • My '97 Jetta (gasoline, automatic transmission) came to me without a maintenance manual, and none is available from VW or Amazon. The Haynes Manual from the parts store specifies change intervals of 7500 miles. Does this agree with the VW specification? Haynes does not address synthetic vs. petroleum-based oil, so I presume this spec assumes petroleum. Also, does this engine displace 1.8 or 2.0 liters? Thanks.
  • fho2008fho2008 Posts: 393
    Should be a sticker somewhere in the engine compartment that states the engine size, and after 14 years, yes it will be dirty. I would guess 1.8, but why not use the VIN # and Haynes manual to be sure?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Your 1997 Jetta should be fine with dino oil changed every 7500 miles.

    The specification for synthetic oil came about with the early VR6 and turbocharged engines. (I assume your Jetta has neither of these engines.)

    As past appenders have suggested, you can enter your VIN into a website which would decode your engine displacement. (or reference the emissions-sticker mandated by the federal government under the hood .)
  • Thank you. Very helpful.

    Jim
  • Thank you. I'll check when the sun comes up tomorrow.

    Jim
  • I took my 2002 Jetta to a car maintenance chain (whose name I will withhold) the other day and was told "word came down from the top" that all VW and Audi models from 1997-2012 now require synthetic oil, instead of the regular oil I've been using for the past 9 years. I was charged $85 for this service. Does my car really need synthetic oil or did they rip me off?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    They are partially correct. There was a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) several years ago which told the VW dealers to use only synthetic oil in the following engines

    *) All turbocharged engines ((includes diesel engine)
    *) The VR6 engine

    The ONLY VW engine which does not require synthetic oil is the basic 2.0L inline 4 cylinder.

    To answer your other question - $85 for even a synthetic oil change is a ripoff.

    I can purchase the very best oil and filter available on the market for $40....hence $45 labor for a 15-minute oil change seems steep to me. (plus I am certain they dont use the very best oil/filter)

    Most folks I know do not trust those quicky oil-change places. I can tell you at least 5 stories where such places have left parts off, stripped screws or just generally messed things up.

    Case in point - They are only now getting the word to use synthetic oil in VW/Audi engines?!?!
  • Thanks bpeebles. I confirmed with the VW dealership where I've taken my car for the past 9 years that it does require synthetic oil and has since 2004. The dealership also said they charge less for than I was charged, so I won't be going back to said retail chain.
  • In February 2011, I bought a 2003 VW Jetta w/ a Turbocharged engine. I have reguarly changed the oil and have used synthetic oil. In July, I had to have the engine completely reworked at some mom-&-pop auto shop and the mechanic put regular oil in it and said it would be fine as long as I didn't do it regularly. The car broke down again with the same problem in October and I took it back to the guy as it was covered under warranty. Apparently he didn't remember what I'd told him about the synthetic oil because he used regular oil again. Two weeks ago, when I got the car back, oil levels were normal. Now my oil is very low and my red check oil light is flashing and beeping on the dash. I will not be able to get an oil change to replace it with synthetic until Friday, so my question is this: Can I just add more regular oil to keep it running til Friday? Also, does the fact that he used regular oil twice in a row have anything to do with the fact that it's now running dry? There are no visible oil leaks and no oil is burning from what I can see.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited December 2011
    You may safely add SYNTHETIC oil to your crankcase. It is OK to mix with dead-dinosaur oil.

    HOWEVER: you have bigger problems. You need to figure out why your engine is consuming oil. Notice I did NOT say "burning" oil.... because at this point, we have no clue if the oil is being burnt or simply leaking.

    To answer your other question: NO, the use of dyno-oil in your engine a couple times will have no measurable affect on it.

    The technical reason your turbocharged engine should run synthetic oil is to protect the bearings in the turbocharger from heat-soak. Heat-soak will cook the stagnated oil in the bearing leaving behind abrasive soot (aka coke). This ONLY can happen if you shut off your engine without idling for a minute or so to allow the turbocharger to cool off.

    Synthetic oil is highly resistant to getting cooked due to heat-soak. Since you own a turbocharged engine, I am sure you are aware of the 'special' needs of a turbocharger. With this knowledge, many folks run dino-oil for the life of their engine with no ill ffects.
  • ggeeooggeeoo Posts: 94
    I took my car to a Smog Check station (Jetta TDI 2010 Sportswagon Diesel) The owner and friend showed me a notice that it was not required. The DMV thinks otherwise as they have sent me a notice to the contrary. I looked up the answer my friend was wrong . The Smog station must make a visual inspection under the hood and certify no black smoke from exhaust
    pipe. The operator of the Smog station does not hook the car up to the Dynometer however.
    This law went into effect on 1/1/2010. :(
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