Piston Slap: Time To Pounce on a Jetta TDI?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap time to pounce on a jetta tdi

Stephen writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’ve toyed with the idea of turbocharging a 2.sl0w just for giggles and TORQUE, but the quest has to make some sense economically, or else the finance minister will not approve. Then it hit me: just how LOW in price have those older dirty diesels gone, anyway? You know, the ones with that lovely 236 pounds-feet of torque.

In other words, can I just get the torque without the spending abyss and busting my knuckles? Small data-set wise, four-cylinder manual Jettas with 64,000 miles average a diesel premium of only $675. At that consideration point, say 2010-ish Jetta, there is no economy for the project and I could jump right into the lovely torque.

So my question to you, on behalf of Torque Lovers Everywhere: is it time to pounce on diesel?

Sajeev answers:

Sounds like making a 2.sl0w go fast(er) is a terrible idea. You are better off starting with a better Volkswagen TDI project, or doing a motor swap into said older Jetta. I’d rather have a MkIV Jetta TDI (1999-2006) anyway, as I showed its beauty in detail, and its TDI is a superior-ish platform — at least compared to the 2.sl0w in terms of performance upgrades.

I’d wait longer if you’re interested in a newer, “2010-ish Jetta.” They have the real connection to the scandal, and older ones are too depreciated to care about public perception of the brand. We still don’t know the extent of the fallout (i.e. the numerous city/ county/ state/ country level lawsuits for damages incurred, VW’s cost to fix current TDIs, etc.) and it’s impact on TDI resale value.

Perhaps there will be more used VWs pouring into the market, which means even more inventory and lower prices for diesel/torque junkies such as yourself. So wait several more months.

And while it won’t make MkIV Jettas any cheaper nor lower the barriers to entry of a LS4-FTW swap, that’s still what I’m bankin’ on, because if this can happen…

[Image: Volkswagen]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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3 of 76 comments
  • Tedward Tedward on Mar 31, 2016

    This is a really good submission. I've been getting this question a lot and I've been ducking a direct answer. Not bc I think registration will be a future problem, but bc it's almost impossible to predict where resale will go in the future. Fwiw I'm 100% sure it climbs eventually. The problem is you're looking down the barrel of future negative pr in the meantime. Unlike other current auto scandals this one is still getting some mainstream front page attention. A best case scenario is you buy one now cheap, vw removes a certain number from circulation, that removed number is sufficient to bring supply below demand. I won't tell someone to spend based on a best case though.

    • Pleiter Pleiter on Mar 31, 2016

      Historically, TDI was a several k premium over equivalent VW gasoline; some of that was trim, consumer electronics, etc not the motor. It seemed like VW marketing was holding the motor hostage by making people buy all of the filigree as well as the motor. But when I observe a few comparatives where the TDI was a hundred bucks LESS than their gasoline counterpart, it signaled a threshold-crossing of some sort. Hence the question to Sajeev.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Mar 31, 2016

    Sure, a car that won't pass emissions without a huge reduction in performance, and may have issues getting registered, is a mad buy. Do it!!!!!!!!

  • Lou_BC You'd think cops would have an understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
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