Question about 2000 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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VW Jetta 00 water temp gauge

Hi,
My water temperature suddenly went up all the way to the right as I was driving on the freeway today and started alarming, as I started driving slower it went back to the mi-mark area/190 degrees. So, I continued driving for about another 4-5 miles, as I exited the freeway and started driving a slight uphill, the temperature gauge went up again but I was not too far from my destinatination.I stopped to have lunch for about 40min, then drove the car around for 5 minutes, hopped on the freeway and there was the temp gauge going up again passed 190 degrees so I exited, but as I drove on the side streets it went back to 190/its normal. I called 2 garage shops, and they said it could be my radiator and/or my water pump. What do I need to know? Any other possibilities? I'd appreciate the feedback. I am a hardworking student and hope that this is not too serious that needs a major repair.
Thank you kindly. El

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Sounds like water pump or your thermostat the second is cheaper

Posted on Jun 16, 2009

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A couple of things here. First is that overheating is super-bad for an engine. If your temperature goes off to the left, and you see it happen, the smartest thing to do is to pull over at the first safe place and let it cool down. Once cool, check the coolant level. Must be cool or you may have to replace your face with a new one.

Because your car would get back to temperature when slowing, it means that at highway speeds, although you are going faster, you are also getting worse mileage which means that you are using more gas and therefore generating more heat. So either you don't have sufficient coolant in the system, or you do but it is not getting pushed around fast enough. For sure, the thermostat is the first place to look. Take it out and it should be closed when cool. You can leave it out and drive around and see if it overheats. If it does, then either your radiator is bad, or your water pump is bad. If it runs nice and cool, it's your thermostat. You can also take it and put it in boiling water on the stove and see if it opens. If it does, that points to water pump or radiator. Before replacing water pump (the better part of $1000 because it is essentially a timing belt replacement) you should check the front of the radiator to see if it is stuffed with detritus. If so, wash thoroughly with a hose. Or... it could be the internals. Look at the color off the antifreeze. If it is cloudy, that's bad because it's degrading your system. If it's bright, that's good.

Don't buy autozone antifreeze even if it says it's ok for all cars. You must use VW antifreeze, or you may end up replacing all you hoses soon enough. Yes, it's pricey but some things are smart to spend money on, and some things aren't.

Water pump should easily last to 100k miles, so unless it's high mileage like that, you should be ok. If you are near 100K miles and haven't done your timing belt, you are on borrowed time and should get it all replaced soon. That belt breaks, and you buy a new engine.

Not sure what your engine is, but if it's a 1.8T, then the timing belt can be done in your driveway, but it's a heck of a job. It takes about 12 hours the first time, and makes a mess because they don't have a drain plug in the engine. But there are great DIY write-ups on line. I did mine. All OEM parts for $250. Otherwise, it's $1300 at the dealer. But you have to be comfortable taking your car apart, as it will be all over your garage.

Anyway, check radiator surface dirt first, then coolant level. You can do these. Then remove the thermostat and boil it... still not a tough job. Don't have a shop do the radiator or water pump first... they are trying to gouge you. But do the timing belt if near it's required time. I had a 1998 Passat and it's timing belt tensioner failed at 89K when it should have made it to 100K miles. Luckily, it didn't fry the engine. They improved the tensioner, but I'm not sure when.

Oh yeah... driving an overheated car may warp the cylinder head. Once that happens, you need to replace the cylinder head gasket, and have the head machined down. This is a HUGE cost. It is so much better to pull over to the nearest safe parking lot and have it towed. Driving it is playing Russian roulette. At least let it cool down and see if it needs more coolant. You can always add pure distilled water (not tap water or trendy waters) just to bring it up to level to get home safely, but then you need to have whatever leak it has fixed because it should never be low.

Good luck.

Posted on Oct 31, 2013

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