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    Thread: '03 Passat W8: Torque Converter and Cam Adjuster Problem in last 10 days

    1. Junior Member AbesW8's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 14th, 2009
      Moreno Valley, Ca
      03-04-2010 11:08 AM #141
      I have to agree with you...the kelly blue book on the car is only like 9000 to begin with (which you will never get from a dealer), i actually have a bad tourque converter now and what i did is a called a local dealer and told him that something was wrong with the car since it makes noise going down the road. I told them i didnt know what was wrong with it and the manager that i was talking to said "if you can drive it in, we can trade it" they offfered me $1500. fyi-it cost $4500 to replace the TC...the car does have 135,000 miles on it....and a lot of abuse I dont understand how my car is still running since i once went like 30,000 miles on 1 oil change and just barely at around 120,000 i started having the problems....maybe all the gunk inside the engine is keeping it together

    2. 04-07-2010 01:32 PM #142
      Update on my beloved '03 W8. Went in for ignition coil recall in Nov, indicated cam adjusters as well. Replaced ig coils, and cam fault cleared. Fast forward to late Feb, out of the blue, car stumbles again. Bad idle, runs rough. Sure enough, cam fault again. First thing tech says to me is, "Uhh, do you have a warranty on this car?" Bad sign. Luckily I'd purchased Carefree Car Care extended warranty from Fidelity Warranty company. They honored the repair and paid $8,000 to replace cam adjusters. But that was it for me. I'd changed the oil every 5,000 miles with full synthetic oil, followed manufacturer maintanance to the letter and the car still needs $8K engine repair after 62K miles!!?? No way. I would have loved to keep the car to 150K miles plus, but not after this experience. Audi dealer in Atlanta offered me $8,000 for the car and I took it. I really do miss the car. The engine was so pure and smooth. I miss the sound it made -- when it ran properly. But no more. Here's hoping my new 2008 A4 2.0T (with only 20K miles) will be more reliable. So long W8 owners - and good luck! I'll be just a little envious when I see you go by.

    3. 04-07-2010 08:01 PM #143
      You are SMART!
      I wish I had the sense to get rid of mine when the tranny blew at 49K miles. Since then it's had cam adjusters, NEW ENGINE, new CV joints/axles, new front end, new alternator, new gas tank, new instrument cluster, new ECU, new radiator fan, 4 sets of rims, new control module for the steering wheel mounted buttons, new home link, new carpet (from floor-to-firewall body seam/weld breaking), new emergency brake cable, new heat shield between tranny and floor pan, new seals between the fresh air intake and cabin, new wiring/cables for the starter and charging system due to wires rubbing the insulation off and shorting, and just recently a new climate control.
      Car currently needs new engine and transmission mounts.
      The car only has 101K miles on it. The only things still original on the car are the seats, head liner, door panels, paint, wheel hubs, steering knuckles, rear differential, brake calipers and radiator.
      The cheapest car I ever bought was a 1987 Mitsu Mirage 4cyl manual. I drove that piece of crap like it was stolen. At least once a week I would do a 60mph rear wheel lock-up using the emergency brakes to slide the rear wheels and red line the engine in 3rd gear to keep the car going. Then I would drop into 2nd gear as it slowed down to 45mph and I would cut the wheels hard to see how many times it would spin out before nearly coming to a stop in 1st gear. That car was 2 years old when I bought it with 20K miles on it. I blew then engine up at 125K miles (broke a piston). I replaced the broken piston and traded the car in and got $3K for the trade in which was exactly what I paid for it!!
      This $40K piece of German $h!t wouldn't last 4 weeks if I drove it like I drove my first car.

    4. 04-09-2010 03:18 PM #144
      One thing I was never good at was following "manufacturers recommendations" for maintenance. 10,000 miles is too long for any oil in my opinion. I checked the oil in my W8 at 600 miles. It was 1 quart low. I topped it and checked again at 1200 miles. Level was normal. To me, it was "broken in" and the oil needed to be changed. At 1300 miles, I changed it with AMPOIL (not AMSOIL) 10w60 racing synthetic. I turned it in to VW (lease regrettably)at 75000 miles. I changed the oil at: 1300, 4200, 9700, 15500, 23500, 29000, 35000, 41500, 48000, 53000,59500, 66000 and 73000 miles. Never had a cam fault.
      I sent the factory "wiz-bang special break-in oil" to AV Lubes for analysis. I might still have the PDF they emailed me but it went kinda like this:
      - Copper level HIGH
      - Oxidation level HIGH
      RECOMMENDATION: And I quote: "CHANGE IF NOT ALREADY CHANGED AND CHECK AT NORMAL INTERVALS" (And this was the special "Don't change for 5000 mile" special break in oil at 1300 miles)
      This caused some controversy when I posted it on passatworld back in the day until I posted the findings.
      I still say:
      Engine - 6 months or 5000 miles
      Coolant - 2-3 years
      Brake fluid - 2 years
      Trans fluid - 3 yrs / 30-40K
      How many members on here and passatworld, with or without W8's, have posted about clogged heater cores, failed or misbehaving transmissions at 90K with the "Lifetime" fluid". Extended service intervals are just marketing gimmicks to get you to buy an otherwise "it's gonna be expensive to maintain" car. While this is my opinion based on 20+ years of working on cars and working in the repair end, can you imagine any engineer saying: "Sure, leave that fluid in forever. It will be fine...." I can imagine the marketing department saying that..
      Imagine the meeting at some "luxury German brand" a little over a decade ago....
      - Guys, we want to sell more cars than we ever did.
      - But boss, our cars are expensive and they're expensive to maintain.
      - Well lets come up with a "cheaper" entry level little $hit box.
      - What about maintenance costs ?
      - We'll tell people they only need to have it serviced once a year or 10,000 miles.....
      Or something like that... This particular company had engines sludging at 40-50K because they were still using dino and never recommended synthetic until 2001 or so...

      Modified by VWGUY4EVER at 3:24 PM 4-9-2010
      Dubs of days gone by -
      85 GTI - Black 5spd
      86 Jetta Coupe - White 5spd
      01 Passat GLX - Indigo Blue 5 spd
      03 Passat W8 6 spd - Pacific Blue

    5. 04-28-2010 11:44 AM #145
      Greetings, all W8 lovers & haters, comrades in automotive ecstasy and suffering. I've recently put my W8 back on the road after storing it for 18 months, waiting for life to settle down enough to afford parts for and time to replace my clutch - I've missed driving it terribly.
      Allow me to introduce myself - I'm the bilingual mechanical engineer and W8 6MT owner who brought the "elektroshock therapy" to english-speaking attention over at the W8Forum.
      Billj3cub provided a very well-written synopsis of the issue and the less-invasive treatment options. You really owe it to yourself to try these methods before giving up on the car or going into hock for the labor involved with removing the engine to replace the camshaft adjuster housings.

      Quote, originally posted by billj3cub »
      At the risk of posting more than anyone may want to read I am copying a post I made to the W8forum with a couple modifications:
      I am convinced the application of 12v to the cam adjuster solenoids is the proper thing to do. If it is sludge/varnish/oil deposits of some type then the AutoRX/Seafoam/oil flush procedure will be helpful. If the fine stainless steel wire screen material has come loose and is jamming up the solenoids or cam adjusters then only physical cleaning or knocking them loose will help. That is where the "electroshock" therapy comes into play but is by no means the final resource you have. I would like everyone to hold on to their hats until I get a chance to examine my W8 that is showing a Check Engine Light with the P0011 code.
      If you are interested, here is a technical explanation of what I have seen so far:

      If I may add my 2 cents to the Vortex - the analysis of the issue in German-speaking circles is that the pre-filter screens are the offending culprits. Some housings that have been removed have had nearly the entire screens missing, and that on camshaft banks that were not malfunctioning - which led to the diagnosis that the screens can pass through the solenoids and adjusters with no ill effect, as long as they disintegrate in small enough pieces. The screens are a very fine (I forget the measurement) stainless mesh that is much coarser than the filtration afforded by the oil filter... so there's no additional protection offered by them after initial startup. Several owners on the continent have either removed what's left and reinstalled, or taken the screens out of the new housings altogether, with no recurrence of the problem. Multiple "shock therapies" may be needed as the screens continue to break up, but the long term has shown this to be a pretty reliable solution - and eventually the screens will be gone for good.
      As with any medical solution, the more invasive the procedure, the higher the risk of complications...
      My car (an '03 6MT sedan) suffered the dreaded "failure" at about 35k miles - under warranty and also under the first owner's purview. I bought it with ~55K on it, drive the snot out of it, and have 97k on it... so far, no problems other than the thermostat being flaky, a clutch, and fallout from slipshod work by the only dealership ever to work on it.
      It's just hard to find good help anywhere I think. I've been fixing slipshod work done by the dealership ever since I've had it; nearly all problems undoubtedly caused by a mechanic who paid little attention to detail. (I can criticize, because I've worked in that job, too - you're always under pressure of the book time, but there's still time to do it right if you care. The alternative is a comeback, which is worse.)
      Most problems I'm having stem from the fact that the tech who did the engine removal to replace the camshaft adjuster housings had to drop the engine three times before he got it back together well enough to leave the shop - found out later that he almost got fired over it. Issues he caused that I've discovered:
      1. Bent main ground strap tab between block and frame - didn't fix it, and arcing over resulting air gap resulted in a slagged connection that killed the battery and almost induced me to replace the alternator.
      2. Contaminated the A/C system with dirt, which eventually caused the compressor to seize. Still waiting to fix that one.
      3. Stripped 3/4 of the pressure plate bolt heads and "torqued" at least one with a vice-grip... I had to drill them out and source the correct replacements while the car sat on the lift last week burning shop rental fees.
      4. Stripped an exhaust flange weld nut - obviously used an impact gun to reinstall bolts that only should be torqued to ~20 ft-lbs. I fixed it by backing it up with another M8 nut. He left it loose, exhaust undoubtedly leaking.
      Overall, the W8 is/was a great car that was intended to usher in the era of the Phaeton, and never sold well. The W-engine is not unique to the Passat. It's just unfortunate for VW how they chose to treat the camshaft adjuster issue, but as anyone who has turned a wrench on a water-cooled VW knows, the factory recommended repair procedures sometime call for draconian measures that can be avoided with a little experience or true diagnosis of the fault. VW is not alone in that regard; it's just a sign of the times.
      Cheers all...

    6. 09-13-2010 05:00 PM #146
      Quote Originally Posted by Gumbyrock View Post
      Update - since we did the oil purge, we have not had the engine camshafter warning come on for 5 months. As an added note, I spoke with a reputable mechanic and he told me that he is doing one of these jobs every two weeks. He said something about not having to pull the entire engine, and that they replaced the seals around the camshaft adjuster and this fixes the problem - it only costs about 1,000 bucks for this job, but he said it is a very tight squeeze and they have to nudge the engine loose a bit. He is in Colorado, and if anyone wants his name I would be happy to furnish it if requested. (Denver).
      He also said the camshaft error is caused by sludge - this would explain why the engine flush worked for us!!
      Can you tell me who and where in Denver repaired your W8?

    7. 10-14-2010 02:17 PM #147
      Quote Originally Posted by Kevin'sW8 View Post
      Can you tell me who and where in Denver repaired your W8?
      I need the name of the repair shop in Denver as well please. Just had this issue come up on my W8 and after reading this thread am FREAKING out.


    8. 10-14-2010 02:24 PM #148
      Quote Originally Posted by Gumbyrock View Post
      Update - since we did the oil purge, we have not had the engine camshafter warning come on for 5 months. As an added note, I spoke with a reputable mechanic and he told me that he is doing one of these jobs every two weeks. He said something about not having to pull the entire engine, and that they replaced the seals around the camshaft adjuster and this fixes the problem - it only costs about 1,000 bucks for this job, but he said it is a very tight squeeze and they have to nudge the engine loose a bit. He is in Colorado, and if anyone wants his name I would be happy to furnish it if requested. (Denver).
      He also said the camshaft error is caused by sludge - this would explain why the engine flush worked for us!!
      Would you be able to tell me the name of the shop? Looking like I need to get this done. Thanks!

    9. 12-07-2010 12:51 PM #149
      Hi-didn't see this thread when I posted a Q on torque converter issue with my W8-wagon-2003. MIL light went on last month at the dealer during routine maintenance, and after $400 in labour to track problem, they told me my TC was out of spec and next would be the tranny if I didn't fix it asap @ $3K. Car just fell out of warranty and was acquired certified from VW. I have since complained to VW Canada. MIL light now is off and running fine but smells like gas in my garage when I fill up. Has anyone have info on whether this part is defective and if VW has considered a recall?

    10. n00b
      Join Date
      Jan 15th, 2011
      Harrisville NY
      2003/ VW/ Passat W8
      01-15-2011 09:33 PM #150
      No there has not been a recall for this. I keep getting the CEL with the P0741 Torque Converter Performance or stuck off code but I just reset it and roll on. All this is really doing is keeping the Transmission from "free rolling" or "Coasting" which can and eventually will burn out the trans. Don't get me wrong I love my W8 but it has been a Pain in the A$$ for repairs. Right now its been in the local Dealer for 2 weeks with an electrical issue with the CCM that they still havent figured out. I had to replace the engine last March due to the Cam position (at the time i had not seen any of these forums) but im into the car for about $12K but from the way is (when working correctly) I still think its worth it.

    11. Member Slimjimmn's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 8th, 2006
      Rochester, MN
      MK4 shaggin wagon
      07-12-2012 10:14 PM #151
      thought I would bump this.
      Last time I did tensioners I pulled the engine/trans then took the rear covers off.

      would like to know how to do it w/o removing the engine lol
      the car is on an inclined driveway and up on jack stands in the front only
      04 Jetta Wagon 2.slow------>Family man now

    12. 08-09-2012 07:41 PM #152
      Quote Originally Posted by Slimjimmn View Post
      thought I would bump this.
      Last time I did tensioners I pulled the engine/trans then took the rear covers off.

      would like to know how to do it w/o removing the engine lol
      Does anyone know if the s4 manual is a direct swap?

    13. Member gcwalla's Avatar
      Join Date
      Mar 5th, 2005
      Edmonds, WA
      09-13-2012 11:48 AM #153
      I am really curious how you replaced the cam adjusters in the car with out pulling the engine or trans? If the VW opperating table was used(it wasn't in picture) this really isn't that hard. You do have to be smart enough to know how to use the table though. It splits in the middle and make doing chains a lot easier, Especially on touareg V6s. The torque converter can be done easily enough with engine in by slightly lowering the subframe, really the hardest part of doing a torque converter is getting the starter out tp access the TQ bolts.

    14. n00b
      Join Date
      May 1st, 2012
      Columbus, Ohio
      2002/Volkswagen/Passat W8 & 2003/Volkswagen/Passat GLX
      10-11-2012 01:30 PM #154
      I was hit with the cam adjuster problem a few months ago. At around 120k miles. It hit suddenly, a little stutter when stopped at a stoplight on the way to work, and then a full blown shaking whenever stopped or slowing on the way home. After reading this forum and w8forum, I decided to try the sea foam and reversing polarity trick to "exercise" the solenoids. It worked wonders. A barely noticeable stuttering immediately after the exercising, which went away all together after about 500 miles.

      I had a lot of trouble reaching the connectors for the solenoids and ended up breaking some the latches getting the connectors apart. A couple of weeks ago I changed my valve cover gaskets and discovered that if you remove the intake manifold, it is much easier to get at the connectors. Removing the manifold was not the difficult, so that may be an option to anyone trying this technique.

      This is definitely worth trying before spending big money to pull the engine.

    15. Semi-n00b
      Join Date
      Dec 15th, 2009
      Beaverton, Oregon
      03 W8 Sedan
      11-09-2013 07:45 AM #155
      I believe this to be the ultimate summation concerning the W8 cam adjuster/P0021/P0011 code and will show there is more to this than just shock treatment of the solenoids but the short answer is; remove and clean the valve body under the solenoid! It is easy to do!! Really!!!

      The following is a focus on cleaning the adjustor Solenoid/Valve assembly which I am convinced is the heart of the problem and what should be dealt with every time. If you want to read a more comprehensive overview of the W8 cam adjustor issue then look for my long posting under user name Billj3cub at:

      Note: Regarding the solenoid shock treatment, you don't need to reverse polarity. The plunger will extend out of the solenoid regardless of the polarity.

      Another note: In the following description I call the parts a Valve and Valve Body because they are miniature versions of a automatic transmission valve and valve body.

      When doing the solenoid shock treatment, if the solenoid clicks then it is probably good. If it does not click then pretty much guaranteed the valve is stuck depressed down in the valve body, the spring can't push the valve back up, the plunger is hanging fully extended out of the solenoid (it only moves 0.070"), and you will not hear a click because the solenoid is already fully extended. The solenoid is quite powerful, especially when applying 12 volts to it (computer only applies 5 volts), but the return spring is weak by comparison so if the valve is going to get stuck, it will get stuck in the downward position. That is what I have always found. If all 4 solenoids click but you are still getting cam adjustor codes then I would disassemble and inspect all 4 solenoids using the procedure below. The valve under the solenoid is the weak link that is most susceptible to sticking, the actual cam adjuster/sprockets are very tough and very, very tolerant of wear, debris, gunk, etc. Indeed, the chambers in the adjustable sprocket assembly will chew up and spit out anything that goes in there. I will gladly pay to have anyone with a supposedly worn out adjustable sprocket assembly send it to me so I can inspect it.
      What has likely jammed the valve in the body are pieces of the super-fine mesh screen that was built into the solenoid holder and always comes apart over time. I have seen a new set of solenoids and their holder (big$$$) and the screen is a slightly thicker more robust material than original but I would never reinstall that unit, new or old, without tearing the whole screen out regardless.

      The following procedure should take about two hours from start of tear down to finish of reassembly:
      Take the intake manifold off.
      Remove the valve cover.
      IMPORTANT: Disconnect the battery so you cannot mistakenly turn the engine over then stuff rags into the cam drive openings around the chains and gears quite thoroughly so nothing can fall down there. Get even the smallest item stuck down low in the chain/gears where you can't reach it and it is game over.
      Remove the two Torx screws that hold the solenoid on. Use a strong pencil magnet to catch the screws even though you previously stuffed rags in the cam drive opening. Every caution you take will be worth it.
      Using two flat bladed screwdrivers carefully pry the solenoid as straight up out of its holder as you can. If it does not come out perfectly straight don't worry. When prying out, one of two things will happen:
      1) If the solenoid breaks off the valve body, leaving the valve body behind in the holder, then carefully clean out the 3 cracked or chipped edges of the valve body where they were crimped/staked around the solenoid. It will be obvious what I am talking about when you are looking at these parts.
      You will see the valve in the valve body with an offset oil passage hole near the center. That oil hole delivers oil to the solenoid for cooling and lubrication purposes.
      Stick a straight pick tool with a tapered shaft in that hole and gently put sideways pressure on the tool while drawing the valve straight out. If it stuck, and it will be, (remember why we are in there?) then try alternately (gently!) pushing, pulling and twirling until it eventually starts moving and you can draw it out. Take your time and don't force it. It will come out faster than you initially think. You don't want to unnecessarily score or chip the valve or the bore it rides in. Pull the spring out of the bottom of the bore with a pick tool and carefully set it aside. Every one I have taken apart that was stuck had either tiny bits of screen or large chunks of screen or something in between. The valve is really simple, just wipe it clean.
      Cleaning the valve body is more difficult. I suggest you remove all those rags you stuffed in the cam drive area, unplug the ignition coils from the other side of the motor if you have not already, hook up the battery, then have an assistant crank over the motor and let oil pressure flush out the debris until you are satisfied the body is clear. If you see the motor is all sludged up after removing the valve covers then this flushing procedure will verify that oil is flowing to the cam adjustors. You will see oil pulsing backwards out of the cam adjustor sprocket assembly supply passages toward the back of the motor then you will see oil flowing out of the supply passage toward the front of the motor. Clear out all of the oil in the valve body bore with paper towels, rags or compressed air (messy but it works) to verify any and all debris are gone. All this work takes less time to do than to say.
      A word of advise here: I am not satisfied with purging the oil while leaving the valve body in its holder. There could still be debris trapped around the valve body and its bore that may not flush out immediately. If you look at where the base of the valve body would be you will see a cut out in the holder. Stick a large screwdriver in there and twist really hard or use a bearing puller tool that has a short stubby hook to hook the valve body and tap upwards. The 4 O-rings will be quite stuck in the bore but it WILL come out. Any scratches or chipping you cause on the bottom of the valve body are inconsequential. Now clean the removed parts and crank the motor over to flush the oil out of the valve body bore.
      2) If the solenoid and valve body pull out of the holder as an assembly then you will have to pry the valve body off the solenoid then follow the procedure outlined above after 1) above. If the valve body does come out of the bore then after all the cleaning you can assemble the valve, valve body and solenoid together then apply 12 volts to the assembly and watch the valve shuttle back and forth in its body through the slots in the side of the body.

      Disconnect the battery and again pack rags back around the cam drive to protect against dropsies then carefully place the spring back in the bore making sure the spring is not crooked in the bottom of the valve body! Push down on the valve to verify that it plungs down and returns smoothly then place the solenoid straight back down into position then carefully fasten the solenoid in place with the two Torx screws. The original crimping of the solenoid to the valve body is not needed here, that was only for original production assembly. Now would be a good time to drive the solenoid with battery voltage a few dozen times to hear that satisfying "click" and gain confidence that the valve is indeed free and not wanting to hang up.
      Pull the rags out, install the valve cover, reassemble the rest of the intake, hoses and solenoid connectors. Drive the car around and be glad you did not unnecessarily have a shop remove the motor, replace the cam adjusters and solenoid assembly and blow $8,000 when all it takes is a few hours work to clean the solenoids. Think of it as regular maintenance (until all the screen material is gone) like cleaning the throttle body or replacing the spark plugs. The best part is you know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it and can easily do it again if needed. No Fear, No Worry, No Sweat. The W8 lives again.

      I am torn between the two: Had this clear understanding and procedure (and $300 verses $8,000 to have a shop do it) been known 5 years ago the W8 market would still be strong today and I would not have been able to get mine soooo cheep. But I do shed a tear for the untold millions of dollars unnecessarily thrown away and all the broken hearted owners that had to walk away from their dream car all from one unnecessary screen and one tiny valve that was easily cleaned.
      Last edited by billj3cub; 11-11-2013 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Clarification and better explanation (and those pesky typos :O)

    16. Member BIG DUB's Avatar
      Join Date
      Feb 13th, 2001
      MD/VA/DC Area
      1980 turboed moped
      01-07-2014 10:49 PM #156
      Any pics of all this my buddy brought his 03 W8 to me and I replaced the cam position sensors and the code still comes up I may do the procedure you have explained above. Did you happen to take any pics?

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