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What about VW TDI engine?

kmmcdonaldkmmcdonald Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Well, I'm considering purchasing a new Golf
(have to get _something_--two non-licensed,
non-insured morons just totalled my perfectly
good 1986 Mazda 323) and am very attracted by
the TDI engine. Anyone have any remarks on the
durability of this engine (according to theory,
should be significantly better than the gas
engine, but that's theory...), starting in cold
weather, real-world MPG, emissions, or anything



  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    I've got a TDI in my New Beetle. Get it! It's another brilliant piece of engine design from VW.

    Forget everything you've ever heard about diesels. It's quiet, clean (meets TLEV emissions standards for all 50 states WITHOUT additional controls), very peppy, and awesome pulling power. When I went to run some errands two saturday's ago, the thermometer read -4F. The glow plugs warmed after about 5 seconds, and the car purred on the first try. It's also torquey enough to start the Beetle moving from a dead stop in first gear without giving it gas!

    And it gets great mileage. We picked ours up on 16 December. On 11 Jan (ok, we were out of town for a week and left the bug, but still...) and almost five hundred miles later, we filled the gas tank for the first time. About 43 MPG in mixed highway and city driving. Plus, diesel in Connecticut is taxed at a different rate, so it's CHEAPER than regular. And as far as fuel availability goes, I can't speak for your area, but here, it's good. Of the seven gas stations reasonably close to our home and work, six have diesel. Ironically, only one of those actually advertises the fact on its sign, and all of the others only have it at one pump, but they do have it.

    And you're right. In theory, it should last a lot longer than a gas engine. My neighbor has a 1971 Mercedes diesel which (according to him, anyway) has never had any major engine work performed. Just belts, glow plugs, oil changes, etc.

    There are only two drawbacks that I know of: 1) after about a week, the underside of the back of your car (near the tail pipe) is covered with dark grime, which you can only see if you bend down, and which comes right off with a little soapy water; and 2) if you ever run out of gas, the check engine light comes on and stays on until you see your dealer.

    But don't take my word for it. Check out Motor Trend magazine's Import Car of the Year (New Beetle) article (Feb '99 issue), or look at the long term road test for the New Beetle here on the Edmunds website.

    Go for it! Happly Dieseling. Prrrrrrrrrrrrr.
  • darenjpdxdarenjpdx Member Posts: 14
    I, too, purchased a Beetle TDI. Just got delivery 2 weeks ago. The engine is great. Living in Oregon there are lots of hills, mountain passes, etc, and I was concerned about comments that the car is underpowered. They're wrong. This car cruises over the steepest passes in 5th gear. It will accellerate in 5th uphill at 1500 rpm. I think this has to do with the abundance of torque. I think it's a bit slower to accellerate quickly from a dead stop (like a stoplight), but still plenty snappy. And the first trip got me a fraction over 50 mpg (really!). The second tank netted 47.5 mpg--with about 1/4 city miles. I've only been in town for the past 1 1/2 weeks and it seems the tank is emptying quicker, but it'll still take weeks before I need a fill-up so I don't know what the mileage will be. It's a great engine--- and it's something a little different. Good luck.
  • pinheadpinhead Member Posts: 33
    For some great discussion and technical information on the TDI you must go to

    The site is FANTASTIC.

    Go for the TDI !!!!!
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Thanks for bringing us Fred's home page, pinhead! Most intersting!!

  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    Good call on the hills, darenjpdx. The TDI feels much spunkier than the GLS going uphill, especially if you need to accelerate.

    Now I know Connecticut doesn't have mountains quite like the Rockies, but some of our inclines are very steep (7-8%) over short distances.
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    The official word from a TDI owner is: "Underpowered, shmunderpowered."

    Yes, compared to a Viper. But because of the torque range of the diesel, it has much better low RPM pulling power than the gas engine. If you think you're running out of power, and you're above 3000 RPM, shift to a higher gear and bring the RPM back down to around 1800-2000. Your TDI will FLY.

    Complaints about underpowered cars probably come from people who are used to driving gas engines, which don't generate peak torque and HP at the same RPM's. They wonder why at 4200 RPM their diesel isn't pulling as hard.... (Hint: maybe its not designed to :) !!!).

    You only run out of steam above about 3600 RPM in 5th.... by which time you're already going 90MPH or so. If you want to qualify for the Winston Cup, find another engine. If you want to go from point A to point B at mostly legal speeds, it's a terrific engine choice.
  • darenjpdxdarenjpdx Member Posts: 14
    Just a quick update on mileage in my Beetle TDI. A half tank of in-town stop-and-go traffic over short distances to work resulted in only 34 mpg. My Grand Cherokee 6 cyl gets under 11 mpg in the same setting. But the next tank took me to 450 miles with more than a quarter tank left and netted 47.7 mpg (all highway miles).
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    This is a repost from the New Beetle board. I thought the experience was appropriate here, too.

    I just pulled into a Full Service station (in New Jersey, where they have so much unemployment that you can't pump your own gas), and the yo-yo already had the regular fuel hose out and was ready to fill my poor TDI with that nasty stuff. I said, "Fill it up with diesel, please," and he
    TANK. Then he caught himself and said, "Did you
    say diesel?" I told him I had. He replied, "I
    didn't know these things were diesels." Sigh.

    Well, at least I didn't actually PUT unleaded in my tank (unlike the Edmunds crowd).
  • DanaRDanaR Member Posts: 37
    I've owned a VW diesel since 81 and can say that they're extremely durable. My Rabbit was still running like new after 230,000 miles when it was wrecked last year. I bought a NB TDI and after 10,000 miles, can say its another winner. I was stunned by the power compared to the Rabbit! Others have already commented on the great low-rpm acceleration, and I agree. And I like the deep growl the engine makes.

    A trip from Portland, OR to Sacramento was covered in less than one tank (49) mpg at speeds up to 85 with the AC blasting. It was just cruising along at low rpms without any strain.

  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    Just filled the Bug again. MPG? 51.2!!!! Kewl, man!

    At this rate, I'll soon be able to afford food again.
  • tnt2tnt2 Member Posts: 115
    Since mid Dec., when my wife bought her NB TDI, she has saved enough in fuel bills to pay more than half the payment. 42 avg. local on winter fuel! Might have to buy one for myself with that kind of justification.
  • govugovu Member Posts: 62
    When I stopped by my VW dealer the other day to check on the arrival of my TDI New Beetle, I took a Jetta TDI out for a spin. After my half hour out, I walked away more excited than ever. What a beautiful engine! Plenty of oomph and a total joy to drive. I can't wait! I'm seriously considering not being so picky in my color choice so that I can get my hands on one now.
  • lucien2lucien2 Member Posts: 2,984
    you know, I cannot understand Road and Track Magazine's attitude about the TDI. They say it is too slow, but then the track numbers show that it is only 1 sec. slower than the gas engine (and let us not forget that the test driver may be shifting as if in a gas powered car, over-revving the tdi, losing out on the torque, and therefore not turning in the best run). I actually cancelled my subscription, primarily because the editorials are always strident, anti-environmental, anti-safety rants. C'mon, guys! We can be responsible and still drive sporting cars- VW tdi proves it. Moreover, LOTS of cars are available in Europe with a tdi of some kind. The U.S. market is way behind. I for one don't believe gas prices will stay low forever, and then where will the gas sucking insurance nightmares these editors love so much be? In the driveways, making room for all you TDI owners to zip around the twisties! I don't own one, but am seriously considering it. I wish there were more choices than VW and Mercedes. I really need a wagon, but can't afford to spend over 18K or so. Golf may be a compromise, or I might wait for the Ford Focus, which promises to be sporting and effecient (and ULEV compliant...). Of course, the new Ford 1.8l TDi will be a Europe only power plant...*sniff*
  • arjay1arjay1 Member Posts: 172
    The praise just keeps on going. I bought a Jetta TDI in July of 1998. I have 19,000 miles on mine and it has been perfect. I have averaged 47 MPG overall, you will get spoiled by that. The fact that you can routinely drive 600 miles between tanks is wonderful. I have not had any trouble starting in the morning and that is accounting for sub zero weather. The diesel is quiet compared to the Mercedes 300D I traded (it is loud when cold in the morning, sounds like a John Deere and I like it). Great car and great engine. Can't wait for the V6 TDI to come from Europe. Then I can finally get me Passat.
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    Lucien --
    Now you know why I subscribe to Car and Driver and Motor Trend, but not Road and Track.

    C & D measured the TDI at about 0.4 seconds slower (11.2 0-60 vice 10.8 for the gas). That's less than the average human's reaction time. I completely agree that anyone who complains about the TDI's lack of speed or power probably doesn't understand the differences between a diesel and a gas engine and is driving them the same way.

    Two days ago, we had a huge (8") snowstorm, and I confess I was worried that the diesel's high low range torque would cause it to spin the wheels. I shouldn't have worried. With 4.5" of unplowed snow in the driveway, my wife (in the TDI Beetle) purred out of the snow just as easily as I did in my Explorer, even crunching through the barrier of snow thrown up at the end of the drive by the snowplows without a hitch.

    And Lucien, if you really want (or need) a wagon, check out the Passat wagon. Don't know if you can get it with a TDI, but both C & D and Consumer Reports loved it.
  • lucien2lucien2 Member Posts: 2,984
    well, I did test a Passat and loved it, but I hesitate to commit that much disposable income to a car payment. New Passat is out of reach, unless I save a big down payment- I bet that if I have a 6k chunk of cash laying around I may have a problem handing to a car dealer..I may wait until a few Passats show up used, for around 18K or so. For the moment, I'll keep tinkering on the old 4Runner.
  • rdeschenerdeschene Member Posts: 331
    lucien2. Yes, with $6000 cash around, it much easier to put it into an RRSP or IRA than a car (depreciating asset) downpayment, isn't it?
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    .... that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the stings of your friend's arrows for lack of a new vehicle, or to take arms against a sea of dealers...

    Sorry. Carried away there.

    Actually, I've frequently stated on other boards, few people really need to buy a car today. Most of them just WANT to buy a car today, because a new one is usually nicer than an old one.

    For my money, if you have $6K lying around, invest it in a growth fund at about 25% return, then add $250 per month (which is much less than the average car payment, plus you don't get in trouble if you have a bad month and can't pay). In three or four years, you'll be able to pay CASH for a new vehicle. I put $1000 in a college fund for my son when he was born, and have religiously added $100 every month since. He's now 27 months old, and I have $4750 in the fund. This means that I've made over $1000 in dividends and capital gains in 2 years. With a little more aggressive strategy, you can do the same thing over a shorter period and get a car. But you have to be willing to wait....

    I think it's important NOT to fall victim to the new car bug; don't get less than you want today just so you can have a new car. Save for the one you really want!

    On the other hand, marrying someone rich is also a good strategy...

    Also for the record, I've only ever owned one car that wasn't a VW. I think they're worth the extra money.
  • travis169travis169 Member Posts: 1
    I have a question for the TDI owners out there. How long does it take before you get heat from the vents? I love the thought of 50 MPG, but is that thought all I will have to keep me warm while I'm driving?
  • pinheadpinhead Member Posts: 33

    I have a 99 NB TDI and we have had 15 deg F mornings for the last week or so. Heat has NOT been a problem! Don't worry about it.

    Starting. Also not a problem. Go for it!
  • rdeschenerdeschene Member Posts: 331
    Travis169. Hedge your bets, man. And no, I don't mean: "sell S&P500 puts at the current price"... well not necessarily.

    Price out electric car heaters and get measurements so you can figure out where in the car you would put it. If worse comes to worse, this is what you would have to live with. I've driven in toques and mitts through several winters, just waiting for my gas-fired car to warm up. If you're in the contiguous-48 it shouldn't be any worse than that.
  • darenjpdxdarenjpdx Member Posts: 14
    The TDI heats up just as quickly as any car I've ever driven and provides tons of heat to the interior. Don't worry about it.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,052
    This is off-topic, but... The bull market will not last forever, and I only invest money I know I won't need for 5-10 years. The thing to keep in mind is that if you invest money for a new car and the market goes down, you will have to ride it out (leaving your money in) for at least another 1-2 years. It's also important to pick a good fund, most of them don't even beat an S&P index fund (a fund that requires zero brains to manage). For more info, check out

    Paying cash is definitely the way to go.

    For something on topic to add substance: Does anyone know if/when the TDI will be available with an automatic?
  • dae3dae3 Member Posts: 55
    I read a review that said the TDI doesn't have any power to pass at highway speeds and that passing on a two lane road would be dangerous. Is this just another case of the reviewer not knowing how to drive this car or is it a fair evaluation. If an owner could respond that would be a great help.
  • govugovu Member Posts: 62
    The owners will be able to give you a better testimony (of which I hope to be included -very- soon), but in my test drives I've had no problem with that. Sure, it's not a V-8 by any means, and it's certainly not going to be like driving a Corvette, but the engine had plenty of pep. The way I was driving it, my girlfriend thought that maybe I should buy a car with a little less under the hood.

    The owners I've talked with have been very enthusiastic about the engine. It seems like the TDI owners LOVE their cars even more than those without TDI, if that's possible.
  • pinheadpinhead Member Posts: 33
    I have a 99 NB TDI and there is plenty of power. And if you want more, 115hp and 185 ft/lb is a chip away!

    I love my TDI, but it honestly took about a week to learn how to drive it properly.

    Hwy cruising is a blast, 70 mph is a lazy 2400rpm. Need to pass? Push your foot down and you'll be @ 85-90 before you know it. The most fun is passing the gas stations!
  • dupperdupper Member Posts: 6
    I own a 1996 Passat TDI wagon. GVW is about 3200lbs, the largest US auto VW makes with a TDI engine. In the 64K mile I have put on this car passing power, starting, heater performance and overall quality of this vehicle has NOT been a problem. Those among you out there in the baby Beetle , Jetta'a and Golf's who may be concerned re. the above, don't worry about it...enjoy the ride past the fuel pumps, just my .02
  • mjb56mjb56 Member Posts: 170
    Whoever wrote the review claiming that the TDI NB lacks sufficient passing power has no clue how to drive this vehicle. Just got mine out of winter storage and I forgot how much fun it really is. The only time I see power drop off is at 85-90 mph. Then it flattens out a little, but who in their right minds wants to drive like that. Trust me, power is not a problem with this car. Oh, and by the way, my last tankfull showed 44-45 mpg in mostly city driving.
  • ddeebleddeeble Member Posts: 2
    A couple questions for you TDI pwners out there! I am now in the process of picking my next car (I currently drive an '86 Mustang that gets in the teens for mileage and commute 120 miles to work each way) and the TDI engine in the New Beetle seems like a dream come true - 49MG!!! My wife and I crunched numbers this week and it looks as though the gas savings alone will cover the entire cost of the car! My questions are these - I have seen a couple of postings stating that the TDI s 50-state compiant, but when I go to there is a California Emissions option listed at $100. I may be buying the car out of state since TDI's appear to be in short supply in California and don't want to get dinged with the $300 polluter penalty the DMV levies. Has anybody done this before and what was your experience with the DMV? Second: As I stated before, TDI availability, as far as I have been able to tell, is atrocious in California (I live in Sacramento) - does anyone know a dealership anywhere in the U.S. which seems to have a decent supply of TDI New Beetles (or who the 5 largest VW dealerships in the U.S. are)? The only one I have been able to find so far in Sacramento was a black TDI with damage to the hood incurred during shipping (and they still wanted $2500 over MSRP!) I would greatly appreciate any help you may be able to provide!

    Thanks you all!
  • dae3dae3 Member Posts: 55
    Does anyone know if the new Golf is available with the TDI. I haven't seen one. I know it was supposed to be an option.
  • lucien2lucien2 Member Posts: 2,984
    yup, it is available in both the GL and GLS. Have no idea about availability, though.
  • drkdrk Member Posts: 2
    TDI Turbo Longevity -
    I presently drive a 1996 Audi A4 Quattro (2.8 V6), and am planning a move back to VW, as much as I enjoy the performance of my A4.
    I've leased a 1995, then a 1997 Jetta, and pounded on them both relentlessly with no trouble. Now I want a diesel.
    Is anyone using Turbo Timers (made by HKS for Toyota Twin Turbo Supras, Toyota MR2 turbos and other similar vehicles) in their VW TDI motors to ensure that oil flow is not interrupted to hot turbo bearings after running the engine a bit, then shutting it down?
  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    drk, I wouldn't worry about the longevity of the turbo. My father owns an 85 Audi 5000 turbo with nearly 200k miles. Modern turbos are designed to last the lifetime of the engine. If you have any worries, just use synthetic oil. If you are still curious about Turbo Timers, try asking in the news group. There are quite a few diesel aficionados there.
  • JDMJDM Member Posts: 2
    I'm looking for information on the performance of the VW 1.9 TDI engine. I'm very interested in purchasing a Jetta diesel, but I live in Michigan and was told that diesels perform poorly in the Winter. The person I spoke with said that diesel fuels thickens up in the cold weather and causes poor or non-starting conditions. I'm also told that the #2 diesel fuel sold in the states is inferior to the grades sold in Europe and this also causes problems. I'mm looking to purchase within 2 weeks and now the wife is getting cold feet on the diesel. I would appreciate any help on this. Thanks. JDM
  • govugovu Member Posts: 62
    Take a look at the rest of the posts on this list. There are also some links to some other places. Every TDI owner I've met -loves- his or her car, it seems. All of the raving has gotten me over my doubts.

    By the way, have you been able to find a TDI that you can get in two weeks? That seems to be the biggest problem with them. I've been on top of the NB waiting list since February, and my dealer hasn't gotten any TDIs in during that time.
  • JDMJDM Member Posts: 2

    I've not actually seen a NB TDI in my area. Only Golfs and Jettas. I spoke with the dealer in Michigan and he said that TDI's are hard to come by. All dealers compete for vehicle allocations. No factory orders like domestic car companies. You just need to find a dealer in your proximity that has clout VW NA.

    Has anyone who has owned a TDI had to use fuel additives, like Stanadyne products. Does VW recommend any or do they have their own?
  • odyceeodycee Member Posts: 33
    A friend at work just bought a Jetta TDI last week at Bob Lewis San Jose. He said there is plenty of TDI at this dealer. The dealer sold 30 cars on the same day he bought his car. This is a high volume dealership and you won't be ripped off as much. He bought his car for $19.6K + taxes+license, about $1200 over invoice.

    I'd not buy car outside of state because when you register you'll have to pay penalty + taxes unless you lied that you just bought it used last week. I got away with it because my dad live in that state and I register it there and drove 7000 miles quickly in order for CA consider it a used car. You can do it but a bit more messy. Good luck.
  • zmanzman Member Posts: 200
    Hey, all of you New Beetle TDI owners. I just put down a deposit on a '99 NB TDI that my dealer says is coming in three weeks. My question is whether this engine is more or less environmentally friendly than its conventional gas-powered counterparts. I know it gets better gas mileage, but does this engine spew out pollutants at a higher rate? I've tried to find info on the internet, but I can't seem to find anything.
  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    zman, check out Fred's TDI page.
    It's loaded with info and links.
  • mghurlemghurle Member Posts: 9
    I've got a quote for a Golf GL TDI for $303 over invoice from a dealer in Georgia. Does anyone out there have any experience on the price factor? Is this as good of a deal as it sounds, or has anyone else gotten better? I live in St. Louis, and the dealers here won't come lower than $700 over invoice; I wonder about the rest of the U.S. (p.s. getting to another city to pickup the car is no problem, I work for an airline; so no extra cost in the trip!)
  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    Have any of you checked out the vw newsgroup,
    There are some die-hard diesel fans there. I like the idea of a diesel, but with gas as cheap as it is, I don't think it will fly here. The newsgroup members are often writing about how happy they will be when gas prices shoot up.
  • zmanzman Member Posts: 200
    Thanks lounger. Fred's TDI page was great, and I feel even better about the purchase because of the relatively good emissions figures. Now if I can figure out where I can buy "bio-diesel" fuel. Fred's says it is available in "limited geographical areas." Anyone out there have experience with this stuff?

  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    Your welcome, zman. But I think you should really thank Fred. The only thing that comes to my mind about bio-diesel, is that I remember something about the use of rapeseed oil, which I think is the same as canola oil, as a fuel in Europe. I doubt that it is available stateside.

    Try doing a search at or try asking the vw newsgroup that I mentioned above. There are probably diesel newsgroups as well. I am new to newsgroups. If you are new as well, I recommend you observe their etiquette if you don't want to be flamed. The best way to learn is by observing. If all else fails, ask Fred.
  • jagat1jagat1 Member Posts: 31
    Hi.I'm new to this thread and interested in a Golf TDI automatic.My understanding is autos start to trickle unto dealers.

    Any TDI auto owners out there,Southern California(LA) in particular? What are your "real world" experiences/
    driveability? Your buying experience/s i.e. invoice>>retail?
    Appreciate your inputs greatly!! 8-)
  • alextalext Member Posts: 63
    I'm waiting on a Golf IV TDI manual here in Van Nuys. I called VW of Van Nuys and they said they wouldn't be available until this fall.
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    I was changing jobs and got away from the boards for a while. Let me catch up.

    Post #23 -- No kidding?! I'm not really a Financial Analyst, that's only my job title. :) My point is simply that you're better off saving money (by any available means) and paying cash -- or at least a big down payment -- than buying less car than you really WANT.

    For the rest -- see my earlier posts. It's got the same starting and heating capabilities as either of my gas burners. And I'll reiterate. It's a DIESEL, dummy. It has very different torque (spoken: "Acceleration") characteristics than a gas engine.

    Say you're cruising at 45 behind some fuddy-duddy in his Buick, and the speed limit is 55. How would you pass him? In my V8 (gas) Mustang, I'd drop into second gear, rev to about 4000 rpm, and smoke him. Try this in a diesel and you will find yourself in the shop with a dead engine. Instead, shift into 4th gear, get your rpm to about 1800, and floor it. You'll take off. Maybe not quite as fast as a Mustang, but hardly sluggish. Still, the average driver's instinct is to rev higher for more acceleration, which is the opposite of what a diesel IS DESIGNED to do. IMNSHO (that's not-so-humble opinion), anyone who complains about the TDI should go buy himself a Viper or learn how to drive a diesel. There's no middle ground.

    I drive a fairly high performance car, and a diesel. I'm sure not a professional, but I don't call either of them sluggish. But I don't drive them the same way, either. And, if you shift properly, your TDI won't run out of juice until about 90mph. Do you need to go any faster?
  • ejsejs Member Posts: 36
    >And, if you shift
    >properly, your TDI won't run out of juice until
    >about 90mph. Do you need to go any faster?

    VW must think so, or they wouldn't have built a spoiler that automatically deploys at 93 mph. :)
  • BwummerBwummer Member Posts: 46
    Point taken! But that's on the Turbo Gas Model, not the TDI. Besides, it's probably a safety issue (lift from aerodynamic effects).

    HOWEVER -- if I really want to drive that fast, the Beetle (with or without TDI) wouldn't be my choice of a vehicle. Ferrari 550 Modena (top speed about 190) would fit the bill nicely. And it only costs about 20x what an NB does!
  • turkeybirdturkeybird Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the great postings. Has anyone had experience with a TDI/automatic transmission combination? How does the TDI fair when passing other cars, etc., when it's combined with the auto. trans.?

  • turkeybirdturkeybird Member Posts: 3
    ...One more question: how different is the price of diesel #2 and unleaded gasoline?

    Thanks again.
This discussion has been closed.