Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
12/27/22 9:33 a.m.

One of my nephews just scored a crazy deal on a 2001 VW GTI. He's a mechanic, and a guy showed up to his shop with the car, looking to solve an intermittent misfire. Then, as he was talking to my nephew, he said that he would offer the car to anyone at the shop for dirt cheap (think well under Challenge money). My nephew said let me run to the bank, paid the man, and drove it home. He's now the 3rd owner. Guy included a stack of receipts, spare parts, and even a Thule roof rack. He just put Bilsteins and H&R lowering springs in it this year at the tune of over $2k! 

I got a chance to look over the car over the weekend, and it's extremely clean for a 20+ year old VW from MA. Undercarriage is in great shape, and the only rust is a tiny bubble on one of the front fenders. There are clearcoat issues on the roof and hood, but there's not a dent on the thing. Headlights are foggy, but that's an easy fix. The interior has very minor wear with no rips/tears in the leather, and get this, everything works! It's obviously been well maintained. It has 160k on it, and being a 2001, it has the 12V VR6. 

The misfire issue randomly comes up after the engine reaches operating temperature. He started it for me, and it ran OK, but I did notice a faint knocking that could be the injectors (I remember my 2002 Jetta's injectors being very loud). Oil was not sparkly. He's been doing some research and found that the misfire could be one of three things: 
-Loose timing chain
-Bad Hall Effect sensor
-Cracked coil pack

He also said the clutch works but is on the weak side, so he's ordering one of those as well. 

I tried to exorcise all MK4 VW knowledge from my brain after ditching my 2002 Jetta, which was an epic pile, but clearly these are different animals. If it's made it this far, it has to be worth messing with. What things should I tell him to look out for? Any pitfalls with the VR6 I should know about? 

iammclovin804 Reader
12/27/22 9:47 a.m.

Cracked coil pack is the most likely culprit imo, especially if it's the original. If he's planning on doing the clutch it's a no brainer to do the timing set at the same time since it's on the trans side of the engine. 

Brotus7 Dork
12/27/22 9:56 a.m.

I agree with the coil pack. I'd throw plugs in it at the same time.

If he plans on keeping it for any period of time. Obdeleven or vagcom are fantastic VAG specific scan tools that pay for themselves.

docwyte PowerDork
12/27/22 10:25 a.m.

Probably needs timing chain and timing chain guides if it hasn't already been done.  I had a 99.5 Mk4 VR6 that I bought brand new.  It was wildly unreliable.  Sunroof would open/close by itself.  It kept breaking motor mounts and then the engine would move enough to yank the wiring harness from the dme just enough to throw it into limp mode.  Of the Mk4's, the VR6 would be the last one I'd buy unless it was an R32.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
12/27/22 10:35 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :

Oh, don't get me started with what I dealt with when I had my then-new 2002 Jetta GLS! That's my all-time worst car I've ever owned, and nothing will come close. Just an awful, miserable heap. 

With this era of VW, either you got a great car that lasts forever or the worst car you can possibly imagine. There is no in-between. Judging by the fact that this one made it to 160k miles and still runs at all being a New England car all its life, I'm guessing this is one of the former rather than the latter. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/28/22 8:37 a.m.

Before going further pull the plugs for a look, do a compression test, and plan on plugs, oem wires and at least testing the coilpack. It may need chains/guides but I have never seen that cause a misfire. 

docwyte PowerDork
12/28/22 10:34 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

I've owned three cars brand new.  The Mk4 GTI VR6, a hawkeye Suby STi and my Mk7.5 Golf R.  The Mk4 taught me to never, ever buy the first model year of a car.  The Suby taught me to never, ever buy a Suby as the interior/exterior quality isn't to my liking.  The Golf R taught me that buying the last of the model run is a good idea.

Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/31/22 9:03 a.m.

A few years back I passed a similar car to this in gray here in CT.  Stick, bone stock, 3 owners from new and a pile of receipts.  After reading up on the VR6 I decided to pass, but I have regretted it in the years since.  

I like to think I'm a glutton for punishment, as I always lust after the cars that will hurt me the worst financially lol.

Looks like he got a good one!  Hoping it's a simple fix and he can enjoy some trouble free miles from it.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
1/1/23 11:59 a.m.

In reply to Loweguy5 :

He messaged me yesterday and told me that he's gone ahead and replaced the plugs, coil, and I believe a cam position sensor. He also replaced all the filters and the cabin air filter, cleaned the interior, and started cleaning the engine bay. He found a substantial rodent hotel under the hood in the process and cleaned that up as well. His plan is to nurse it along for now and see if the misfire returns, and if it does, he'll keep troubleshooting until he finds it. He's really thorough, so I'm sure he'll find it. He's also planning on a clutch replacement along with the timing chain replacement when the time comes, but he mentioned it's something like a 14 HOUR job to do those. That's gonna sting! 

I really need to get him to join here and do a build thread. 

Peabody MegaDork
1/1/23 12:09 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

In reply to docwyte :

With this era of VW, either you got a great car that lasts forever or the worst car you can possibly imagine. There is no in-between.

I think with any era of VW they all eventually become the latter.

Thanks for posting this. A kid at work has one that looks so good I've been intermittently shopping them.

I need to stop that now.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
1/1/23 1:31 p.m.

In reply to Peabody :

He's even got me looking at old VW's. And I certainly know better! 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/1/23 1:35 p.m.

The timing chains are a big job but definitely diy-able. There is a good how to on a mk4 in the 12v vr6 forum on vwvortex written by vgrt6 iirc

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