Part one: In­tro­duc­ing our lat­est auc­tion pur­chase – a £2690 108,000-miler – and mak­ing a pre­lim­i­nary job check­list.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

We had a short­list of two cars for the next GSF Car Parts-spon­sored project: a Volvo C30 or a Volk­swa­gen Golf. There are more Golfs around, of course, so the next ques­tion was which one: a reg­u­lar 1.6 FSI or a GTI? Hav­ing re­cently cov­ered an Audi A3 TDI, we were keen to do a petrol this time. The GTI is a very pop­u­lar and de­sir­able model, but which to choose?

The GTI has been around for years and the MKI and MKII are too old and too pricey these days. While the MKIII is verg­ing on clas­sic sta­tus, the MKIV cer­tainly isn’t and that model is pretty old now and we’d al­ready cov­ered one as a project. The MKVI was too new and too ex­pen­sive, so a MKV it had to be.

We looked at do­ing a DSG ver­sion – VW’S clever six-speed di­rect-shift gear­box that en­gages one gear while still in an­other. There was a de­bate over whether to go for a three- or five­door model, but we wanted one with cloth trim, as the MKV rein­tro­duced the fa­mous tar­tan seat trim of the 1976 orig­i­nals.

The pur­chase

We spent some time skim­ming through the up-and-com­ing auc­tion lists look­ing for fast Golfs. We spot­ted a sil­ver five-door DSG at BCA in Not­ting­ham– it looked clean enough and had sen­si­ble miles. How­ever, there was an­other one due through on the same day, with no pho­tos or de­scrip­tion of con­di­tion – it would only be graded the day be­fore the sale. In Tor­nado Red (a colour that VW in­tro­duced in 1987 to re­place Mars Red), this three-door, six-speed man­ual GTI was show­ing 108,000 miles with no ser­vice his­tory and scant other in­for­ma­tion. Was it a hang­ing wreck like so many of these are now?

The day be­fore the sale, some pho­tos ma­te­ri­alised and it looked OK for our pur­poses: clean and bright, cloth trim, wheels not too bad and a con­di­tion re­port that flagged up some dash­board warn­ing lights. Sounded ideal for us!

On the day of the sale, we cruised down to BCA’S Not­ting­ham branch, lo­cated the red Golf and… well, it was OK. Look­ing around the rows of cars in an auc­tion hall re­veals how ne­glected most decade-old cars are. From 10 feet away, this Golf seemed all but im­mac­u­late. How­ever, all four al­loys looked as though they’d been used for kerb tar­get prac­tice and all four were shod with bud­get Chi­nese tyres – al­beit very re­cently, as they still have lots of tread. We’ll try these in the wet and pass judge­ment, be­cause if they’re de­cent enough we’ll just roll with them for now.

Be­ing 11 years and more than 100,000 miles old, the VW had the usual stonechips and marks around it, but the big ques­tion was whether the front wings were rusty. This is a big prob­lem on VAG cars now. The driver’s side wing was per­fect – had it al­ready been re­placed? – and the pas­sen­ger wing seemed fine on ini­tial in­spec­tion, but a closer look re­vealed the usual bub­bling form­ing on the top of the arch lip.

There was also a mark on the rear pas­sen­ger arch that looked like badly touched-in lac­quer peel and there was ne­glected stonechip rust on the off­side rear arch – both of those will be dealt with on a warm, sunny day, as Hal­fords do a rat­tle can in Tor­nado Red and you can blow it in up to the arch crease for a de­cent DIY fix.

A look un­der­neath showed that the un­der­side was clean and dry. The rear VW badge was start­ing to look a bit sore and there were a cou­ple of chips in the front screen, but it looked straight enough down the sides and, all-in-all, we felt it could be a goer.

Once the auc­tion fired up, the cars were go­ing through at a rate of knots. Af­ter look­ing at the con­di­tion re­port, ed­i­tor Mar­tyn Knowles agreed to go for it if the car fired up and sounded OK. Three stan­dard Golfs went through the hall be­fore the GTI and they were mak­ing strong money – a 2006 1.6 FSI five-door in sil­ver for £2000 be­fore fees? That’s full re­tail, isn’t it?

So the guy with the keys strode up to the GTI and we opened the bon­net. The oil level was fine and the oil was clean, while the an­tifreeze level was up to the mark. The en­gine fired up and sounded good. We noted there were two warn­ing lights il­lu­mi­nated: one for the elec­tronic

power con­trol (EPC) and the other for trac­tion con­trol. The driver’s seat bol­ster that had looked tatty in the pho­tos was ac­tu­ally fine. The guy driv­ing the car through the hall con­firmed that the clutch was bit­ing nice and low. The two-owner GTI edged its way for­ward.

We were in luck, with the warn­ing lights seem­ingly putting off traders. We won the auc­tion for £2690.80 in­clud­ing fees, which is a lot less than the £4000+ these go for on Auto Trader.

First trip

Once paid, it was time to get the keys and to store it away un­til work could start. There was no ser­vice book, just a rather tatty hand­book pack. On the plus side, both keys worked and the clutch felt fine.

Driv­ing out of Not­ting­ham on the A612, then north on the A6097, we no­ticed that the EPC light had gone out, but the trac­tion light was still il­lu­mi­nated. Nev­er­the­less, the sus­pen­sion and brakes were work­ing, as was the ra­dio, and the air­con was blow­ing ice-cold air.

There were no rat­tles or squeaks, no brake jud­der or clonk­ing top mounts. The EPC light did flash back on be­fore we got to our des­ti­na­tion and the car went into ‘limp-home’ mode. Af­ter dip­ping the clutch and restart­ing the en­gine, the light went out and stayed out. Ini­tial di­ag­no­sis re­vealed a fault code for the throt­tle pedal switch, so we’ll have to in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther.

The EPC light was il­lu­mi­nated at one point but went out af­ter a while. How­ever, the trac­tion con­trol light stayed on. A ‘Ser­vice now!’ com­mand is vis­i­ble on our 108,473 mile GTI.

The near­side front wing is just start­ing to show signs of cor­ro­sion break­ing the paint.

Blis­tered paint is vis­i­ble on the off­side lower rear quar­ter. A DIY re­pair could sort this.

The GTI en­gine reaches 60mph from a stand­still in 7.0 sec­onds. GTIS with the DSG trans­mis­sion are quicker by 0.3 sec­onds.

“There’s oil in this en­gine”, de­clares An­drew Everett.

Back at An­drew’s garage, his Clarke hand-held scan tool was used to talk with the VW ECU.

We pre­fer these tar­tan cloth seats over the leather usu­ally found on other MKV GTIS.

All four al­loys are badly scuffed – we’ll prob­a­bly get them pro­fes­sion­ally re­paired.

‘P2138’ was our sec­ond fault code. We cleared both codes to see if they re­turned. They didn’t, but ‘P0441’ was pend­ing. The trac­tion con­trol light re­mains il­lu­mi­nated.

Our first fault found was ‘P0441 – Eva­po­ra­tive Emis­sion Sys­tem In­cor­rect Purge Flow’. We’ll first look at the car­bon canis­ter area for signs of leaks or split pipes.

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