Simple VW TDI Car Maintenance for Turbos and Fuel Injectors

Oops! the turbo is bad-bent fan blades. far cheaper to change the oil.
Oops! the turbo is bad-bent fan blades. far cheaper to change the oil.
Diesel purge in action.
Diesel purge in action.
The arrow points how a tiny particle has worn the turbo shaft and gold is exposed.
The arrow points how a tiny particle has worn the turbo shaft and gold is exposed.

You are reading this because you own the VW TDI diesel car with 45 MPG. The 2005+ engines are very well built and with basic maintenance can last well past 250K. Diesel engines have to be better built than any gas engine due to the incredible PSI internally they create. The fuel injectors operate at near 26000 PSI, and their turbo does not have bearings.

To keep these two items in top shape because replacing is dire. The fuel injectors are several hundred for one (there are four) and the turbo, should it blow, is an easy $4000 (parts and labor). The fuel injectors can become clogged or not spray the pattern when new and when it happens, you will know it by how it runs. Likewise, if you suddenly have a ton of black smoke pouring out the rear end, your turbo has died. Usually, with periodic maintenance, both can last for the life of the car.

The VW diesel engines love the highway. Love high speeds like on the autobahn. It helps clean them out from soot. Usually, the cars already use cleaner diesel, so the soot issue is no longer a real concern. But again, it can be where the EGR is concerned.

The turbocharger design on Volkswagen TDI engines does not use bearings. Rather, the turbocharger shaft floats on a small film of oil that coats the inner race of the solid brass bearing. A particle in that film will function as a piece of sandpaper and grind away the surface of the shaft and bearings. When this occurs, the gold plating begins to show and may be grooved. As time moves on, eventually the shaft will wobble and the turbo fan will impact the walls of the turbo, bending the blades or pitting the surface, which should be super smooth. The cheapest remedy is simply to change your oil and filter no later than every 10,000 miles. Changing every 5000 miles may required if dusty conditions exist. This is the prime reason to keep the engine with clean oil. Remember, the turbo has no bearings.

If you suspect the injectors are clogging, use Diesel Purge ($8). This will clean any soot that has gathered on injectors over the years. The process takes around 30 minutes and directly enters the fuel injectors from the can. To do so on 2004+ models, to the following:

  1. Disable the fuel pump in the gas tank by removing the fuse for it.
  2. Locate the black fuel filter on the left side. There are four rubber hoses.Two come from the fuel tank and two connect to the fuel rod that supplies the it to the injectors. Disconnect the two from the fuel filter that connect the fuel rod.
  3. Insert to plastic tubing pieces into each end of the rubber hose and then insert the other ends into the can.
  4. Place the can in a secure place or have someone hold it with gloves.
  5. Start engine and run the engine for a few minutes at 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500, 4000 RPM. The can will get hot. Allow the engine to idle and continue it again. Make sure you watch how much cleaner is left.
  6. When done, reconnect the two lines to the fuel filter.

That is it. If they were clogged at all, you should better idling and performance.

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Comments 12 comments

hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

Hello Perry,

I own a 02 Jetta TDI with 230K miles on it and I've worked on other Jetta TDI'S. After 150K miles, the fuel injector tips wear out and must be replaced to regain proper fuel atomization to eliminate tail pipe smoke and to restore fuel economy and power. TDI's over 150k miles with working turbos is considered rare. They usually wear out; even with use of synthetic motor oil and short oil change intervals. Also, the TDI's intake manifold has a bad habit of accumulating soot that can clog up over 80% of the intake opening where the EGR connects to the manifold. Just cleaned one out last weekend. Not replacing the ATF and filter will result in irratic shifting patterns which could be corrected using synthetic ATF.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

I have an 06 TDI Jetta with 178K. The turbo was replaced at 105K, the tranny is fine so far, no rattles in N, How can one determine if the intake at the EGR is clogged without taking off, any symptoms to look for? last March, my timing belt broke and required a new upper head. Still getting 30\45mpg so I guess the inject tips are still ok. Car still has power.


hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

Reduction in power and fuel economy are the basic symptoms of a clogged intake combined with worn fuel injector tips. The dishonest shops will tell you that you turbo's shot. I was going to mention TB replacement on my last post being a 100k service item. If you've got the 01M designated transmission, you've got to change the ATF and filter or you will have problems; although VW says it's a 'fill for life' fluid; total bs. If the fluid change doesn't work, then it could be transmission shift solenoid(s), solenoid cable or stuck/worn transmission valves in the Transmission Valve Body.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Yes, tranny oil change every 40K. What happens if one overfills the oil? does it just burn off, leak out ? I ask because, I have a small leak that occurs within 10 minutes after stopping the car and then it stops, just enough to stain the driveway. It is not the turbo oil supply in\out.


hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

If the fluid is installed properly, you can't overfill. There's a red tube inside the pan that allows excess fluid to drain out if the lower drain plug is removed. When filling with new ATF, start the engine, allow the trans fluid to get to 90 degrees then fill with fluid until fluid reaches the peak of the tube. Excess fluid will drain out. Sounds like your drain plug may be missing .


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Sorry, this is not a ATF, but engine oil. It is black.


hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

Oil leaks are hard to trace with a dirty engine. What I've done to uncover an oil leak is to cover the alternator (aluminum foil) and power wash the engine. From that point on, I try to isolate the source of the leak. Could be a loose valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, worn cam and crankshaft seals, etc. If there's too much oil in the engine, you can drain via the oil filter canister. Just did a fuel injector tip and glow plug replacement on the same TDI I worked on last week. Restored around %20 power. Owner will get back to me on the fuel economy improvement. I bought an Italian brand called Bosio. Supposed to be better than VW OEM.

Used slightly oversized Bosio's on my Jetta and installed an upgraded version of the factory Turbo. I then had the ECM firmware modified. With the increased fuel delivery and the computer controlling more boost from the turbo, the car really moves. .. with no impact on fuel economy. That's the beauty of Turbo Diesel compared to Turbo Gas.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

What is involved when replacing old fuel injector tips?


hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

First time was a little tricky. 2nd time no problem. Once the injectors are unbolted, they won't pull out. So you use a little penetration oil and a 15mm open end wrench to gradually wiggle it side to side. Then use pliers to pull them out.

The injector tips are screwed on with a metal cap. To remove them, the injector must be secured in a vice. Then I use a 14mm long impact socket attached to an impact driver, to torque them loose. With the old tip exposed, gently pull it off noting the location of the fuel hole. Align the new tip with the hole and mounting pins and screw on the cap. The new brass washer is dropped in the injector mount hole and the injector re-bolted.

Prime the injector tubes but keep the injector lock nut loose. Crank the engine over for a few seconds until fuel is detected from the injector nut. Then tighten everything up and crank the engine for around 8 seconds and the engine should start.

The short, short version on how to do it.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

What is the cost and how long does it take to do it?


hardlymoving profile image

hardlymoving 3 years ago from Memphis, TN

Took me less than 2 hours taking my time and $179 for 4 injector tips. Go to IDparts.com


Suzy Frame 3 years ago

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