Fuel Filter??

craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Hello all,

This is my first time here, and I hope someone can help me. I am not a mechanic, but I do know how to turn a wrench. I just need a little help with a diagnosis.
On the way to work today, my 1998 Jetta (2.0) started to hesitate on me, and was bogging down under throttle. It stalled once, and seemed to run correctly under idle although the check engine light did come one (you know the pict of the engine with a lightening bolt through it)

This car as @ 44k on it, and has never had the fuel filter (or any filter) changed. Could this be the fuel filter? and if so, is it easily accessible so I can replace it?

Also, I hadnt driven the car for about 3 days, and it had been pretty damp in the garage. Could this be a cause instead of the filter?

I appreciate your help!


  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,242
    It could be a lot of things. I hope @ least the oil filters been replaced.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40

    Yes, Actually, I changed the oil (and filter) just last week - infact. It was the first time I changed oil myself (ever!). I'm pretty sure I did it correctly.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Usually a badly clogged fuel filter doesn't correct itself, so I kind of doubt this is the problem. Certainly no harm in replacing it, though.

    Like Andy says, could be 100 things. It's hard with newer cars to guess. You may need to have the car scanned and see what codes or events come up.

    Any chance you had just filled up with gas before this happened? You could have taken up a few globs of water in the gas that finally worked their way out.
  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    Actually I did.. think it's water in the tank? Should I put in some dry gas? or just let it run for an hour or so? Will it burn it off?

    Thanks for the help!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Depends how much is in there (if it is--just a long shot guess). Sure, you could try some drygas and some very strong fuel injection cleaner. Worth a try.
  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    last night (after driving my wife's car), and started the Jetta, and let it warm up to operating temp. I reved it, and it reved freely. I called the dealership this morning, because the enging warning light ddnt go off, and they said that it could be arcing? Said that the damp weather could have done this. They also said that it could also be the fuel filter, but I'm not sure it was that, b/c it revs freely with no load. If there was water in the gas, would it rev freely like that? I realy dont want to take it to the dealership since they charge almost $100 to hook it up to diagnostics..

    Please keep the ideas coming!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes,arcing of the plug wires is a possibility, that would probably set off a code.

    No load tests really don't tell you very much.

    You could check for arcing yourself by starting the engine some night and opening the hood and looking for the arcs I suppose.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,242
    and find a good independent who won't charge the earth to diagnose it.

    It should be easy to figure out once it's on the scope.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    I'm not sure of the reason for your agressiveness. I do appreciate the help from Mr Shiftright.

    I have yet to "screw" with it. So far, I have driven the car once (which initated the problem), made a few calls, and started it last night to see if I could duplicate the problem without driving it.

    If I can do the work myself, and save a few bucks I would rather.

    Thanks for your not-so-helpful advice.

    Mr. Shiftright; Could I run the car in the garage, and spray some water over my distributer (sp?) and cables, and see if there is arcing? Would new cables solve this problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I suppose you could do that as an experiment but really if the wires are truly bad they will probably arc regardless of having water on them. It's not the water, it's the deteriorated insulation.

    I don't think Andy was aggressive (that's not like him, he is usually very helpful) but I think his point was that after a few tries you should go to a shop rather than drive yourself crazy guessing.
  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    I appreciate your help. It looks as though the car will be going to the dealer tonight, and I only hope they don't charge me an arm and a leg to change out the fuel filter, and turn off the engine warning light!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm sure they will get at least the arm. This is a hostage situation most of us are in (except maybe alcan and a few other up to date techies). We trade the number of repair options we used to have for very efficient, comfy, high tech autos and cross our fingers that we don't have to throw ourselves upon the mercy of computer diagnostics too often.
  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    HOLY CRAP!!! It turned out to be a whole bunch of mis-fire codes.. It seems as though my jetta doesnt want to be driven in the damp weather.. .. here;s my shopping list (of course I'm NOT going to have the dealer perform the work, I will do MOST myself).
    It needs:
    Cap, Rotor, Plugs, Wires = $305 parts and labor
    Rear muffler only = $355 p+l
    Hazard switch = $230 p+l
    Trunk strut (hydraulic to hold it up) $95 part only (I think I'll find a stick to do the job for now)
    the above is what I asked them to look at. this is what else they told me is wrong:
    new serpentine belt =$95 PARTS ONLY!! (THIS IS A RUBBER BELT RIGHT???)
    rotate tires, and fnt wheel alignment.. I ddnt bother with a cost..

    Oh, and on top of this, they said they will knock off $20.00. $20.00? off $1000.00+?,., great thanks!

    Anyway. I still need to pay them $81 just for the diagnosis, and to turn off the light (did I mention it ran fine on the way to the dealership?)

    I'll be putting in cap, rotor, wires, and plugs this weekend, but I have a question. To get a #2, and #3, I need to remove what I believe is the intake manifold?. Is this easy, or will it be a problem? Anything special I need to take the wires on/off? Anything I should know in advance?

    The muffler wil be fixed by a local shop, soon.

    The hazard switch will be done at a later time, before a new inspection is needed (9 months from now)

    The trunk strut, hopefully I can pick one up from the scrap yard. should only be a couple bucks I assume.

    I'll replace the serpentine belt too. Anything I should konw about this? or is it pretty straight forward?

    Thankx again for your help. Looks like I'm spending some time under the hood this weekend..

  • fish8fish8 Member Posts: 2,282
    I bet if you went to an independent garage that can work on VW's, you would probably get an entirely different story regarding price and what "actually" needs to be fixed. I guarantee the dealer saw your car and had $$$ in his eyes.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,242
    seems like a lot to go bad @ 44k miles.

    A generic strut from any auto parts store should work.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    Oh, I'm sure you're right. I think the dealer is the biggest rip off. But, like I said, I got the light turned off, and was told what was wrong with it. I'll do what I can by myself, otherwise, it will go to a muffler specific shop, and another independant shop for the hazard switch. Fortunatley, my tires will be rotated for me for free, and while i'm there,. I'll get it aligned..

    Still looking for an answer on how to get to #2, and #3 plugs, b/c the large metal thing (I think it is an intake manifold), which has the "VW", and the "2.0" on it, is in the way.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    to get to a tubload of plugs and wires in my V8 2000 exploder, I have to turn the wheels hard left to turn the back of the right front tire out, and then pull the back three pseudo-magic-bolt plastic fasteners holding a plastic fender liner onto the fender. pull that up and out of the way, it's magic to reach the 3 and 4 plugs and all four wires. I've seen this before, look for those snap-in pretend-bolts and see.
  • craniumcranium Member Posts: 40
    I replaced the plugs, wires, cap and rotor. I figured while I'm at it, I might as well replace the air, and fuel filters.

    For others reading this, I do believe it is possible to change plugs 2, and 3, without removing the intake manifold, but I opted for the removal. I figured either way, it would take me about the same amount of time, but there would be much less swearing involved if I took the manifold off first. There were 5 allen bolts in the front, (5mm), and 2 in back (6mm I think). You also had to disconnect it from the throttle boddy (4, 5mm allen bolts), and then a couple misc hoses. It really was not very hard. Once that was off, no problem getting to the plugs and wires.

    I did all this for $160, and the dealer was going to charge me $305 without changing the fuel and air filters. It took me about 4 hours, and I am really not much of a mechanic! (Although, I have not driven it, only made sure it would start and run, but the check engine light DID turn off!!)

    I'll keep you up to date on the other problems too.
    Thanks for everyone's help so far!
This discussion has been closed.