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    Thread: DIY -- changing the thermostat

    1. Member VeeRsixx's Avatar
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      '04 R32 Black Magic
      10-17-2009 05:41 PM #1
      This is a quick DIY about how to replace the thermostat in your R32.
      It seems that a lot of them are getting stuck and are causing a MIL at this time of the year, particularly as the cars are turning 5 years old. In my case, it generated DTC 18613 P2181. Make sure your cooling fans are operating properly before proceeding, as it will save you time.

      Removing the entire [plastic] thermostat assembly from the side of the head is the easiest way to do this, and is the recommended method in the Bentley service manual. There are helpful diagrams in the manual, but i cannot post them because they are copywrited. I would advise you to review them prior to this project just because it helps.

      Required tools:

      - hose clip pliers, unless you want to use a more difficult method like vise-grips, etc.
      - 5mm hex bit
      - ratchet for the above
      - 6" extension for the above
      - T-20 torx bit / wrench to remove plastic plenum(s) under engine (bellypan)
      - normal assortment of screwdrivers
      - nitrile gloves and a small piece of plastic sheeting, 2 mil thick is ok

      Required parts:

      - thermostat: 022 121 113
      - gasket ring for the above: N 901 368 02
      - gasket between t-stat assembly and head: 021 121 119 A
      - G12 coolant and distilled water to mix 50/50 or so and refill the system

      Other parts upon your choice:

      - coolant distribution (crack) pipe O-ring: N 101 392 01
      - new green-top coolant temp sensor: 059 919 501 A
      - O-ring or 'seal' for the above: N 903 168 02
      - retaining clip for CTS above: 032 121 142
      - the 3 metal clamps for the coolant hoses on the thermostat assembly:
      N 909 265 01
      N 906 871 01
      N 906 872 01

      To replace the entire plastic coolant flange on the side of engine if it is suspect or warped:

      top part that bolts to head: 022 121 117 C
      bottom part under the thermostat: 022 121 121 E

      DON'T OVERTIGHTEN ANYTHING PLASTIC, IT WILL BREAK !!
      I could not fit a torque wrench in the area needed.

      ------------------------------------------


      Ok, here we go, basic prep:

      Use the torx T-20 bit to remove the center and left side belly pan (plastic plenums) under the car. I chose to drain all of the coolant out prior to this job because i did not want excess to spill onto my shifter assembly, the grounding point that is near it, the SAI pump, starter, and the associated electrical connectors. It is manageable if you use some old towels to clean up what leaks out. I am not proud; i drained the coolant into a [new] cat litter pan.

      Wear eye and hand protection; try not to take a bath in G12; it is toxic. Please make sure to dispose of or recycle it properly in compliance w. your local laws. It cannot be dumped outside or flushed down a sewer.

      ----------------------------------------

      Time to start, cooling things off w. fans.
      Remove the engine and battery box cover:

      Remove the center and left side plastic undertrays (bellypans, whatever..) so you can drain the coolant. When you have the plastic shields off, get under the car and look up towards the left side of the radiator and observe the connecting hose and how to remove it. It is held in place by a metal clip over the plastic 'quick' connector. Pry the bottom prongs loose w. a screwdriver, then pop the whole clip up and off where the green arrow is pointing:

      I threw this together quickly, so my arrows, circles, pics, and whatever are not very good.

      This what the lost coolant looked like when completely finished; the black debris is dirt that was washed from the engine bay on its way down to the kitty pan:

      Remove the battery and battery tray:

      This is what we are going to remove:

      Put in some plastic to protects the vitals:

      Take the biggest hose off first, note the hose-clamp pliers:

      All 3 hoses removed:

      Remove these bolts w. the 5mm. hex bit:

      Use the 6" ratchet extension to get the smallest one last (to the left you can see where the 2 longer bolts have been removed):

      Here are the bolts on the garage floor. Not sure why i took this pic:

      Pull the t-stat assembly away from the head. Pull it back straight and smoothly off of the 'crackpipe'. We don't want to dislodge the other end which is on the other side of the head at the water pump.

      Remove CTS and its retaining clip:
      Remember to replace the O-ring.

      Up and out !

      Now there is easy access to the thermostat:

      I cleaned up the flange on the head w. only a paper towel:

      Here is the infamous crack pipe O-ring. Lube a new one w. coolant and replace.

      NOTE: NEVER twist an O-ring. Just apply firm pressure and push straightly. It won't hop over the lip on the flange, don't worry-- but if you twist it will tear and be ruined !

      All cleaned up and on the operating table:

      I took this shot for ian (Daemon42). In an old thread he talked about etching in points of grip on the small hex bolts w. a Dremel. Mine seemed to have them from the factory, dunno:

      Take out the 3 5mm alllen bolts:

      Carefully pry out the old thermostat w. a flat blade screw driver. Put the new one in after lubing the new gasket w. coolant:

      Replace this important gasket. Pry the old one out very carefully w. a small flatblade screwdriver, then lube the new one w. coolant before working it back into the channel in the plastic housing:

      Back in:

      Buttoned up:

      Done:


      Post Script:

      Gaskets and O-rings:

      Hose clamps and clamp pliers:

      Correction to pic above: the smallest clamp, the rightmost one, is p/n N 906 871 01

      -------------

      credits to the Above-and-Beyond crowd:

      graeme86
      vwapasionado
      newcreation
      BLU R32 (Joe)
      all the rest of 'ya

      edited to correct a part #.


      Modified by VeeRsixx at 6:51 PM 10-20-2009

      past dubs: (all black) - 1984 GTI - 1992 GTI 16v - 2001 GTI VR6

    2. Member newcreation's Avatar
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      10-17-2009 05:45 PM #2
      Good Job Rob proud of your work!!!!
      -JAMES-
      DRIVEN/Built /UM Turbo R - VR NATION

    3. Member rabbitgtibbar's Avatar
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      10-17-2009 06:23 PM #3
      Quote, originally posted by VeeRsixx »
      Wear eye and hand protection; try not to take a bath in G12; it is toxic.

      I recently changed the t-stat in my wife's car ('03 Jetta) and noticed that when the coolant got on my bare hands it would start burning after a few seconds (the coolant itself was cool), so heed this warning.

      Descartes thoughtlessness was the bane of his existence.

    4. Member Gundem's Avatar
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      10-17-2009 06:35 PM #4
      holy s***... No wonder labor is that expensive.

      Nice job on DIY


    5. Member Daemon42's Avatar
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      04 R32T, 95/98 4runner
      10-17-2009 07:02 PM #5
      Quote, originally posted by Gundem »
      holy s***... No wonder labor is that expensive.

      Nice job on DIY

      Honestly anyone who's done it more than once (a mechanic) should
      be able to do that whole job in under an hour. Certainly easier
      to do it the way he did, removing the whole housing rather
      than trying to get just the T-stat cover off and back on again, in-situ
      as I did.

      Added to the FAQ/DIY thread.

      ian


    6. Member robocopywriter's Avatar
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      10-17-2009 09:33 PM #6
      ha ha just what I was thinking. I took mine off just to change to a green top sensor when I was going my cams. It's not that big a deal. Everyone says what a POA it is. If you want a POA try changing the thermostat on a 16v.
      Rent my house in Greece.

      http://kastro-greece.com

    7. Member Basil Fawlty's Avatar
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      10-17-2009 09:53 PM #7
      The local dealership quoted me 370.00 to do this job.

    8. 10-17-2009 11:42 PM #8
      Excellent documentation Man.
      I am glad to see that you got rid of the damn code...

    9. Former Advertiser
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      10-18-2009 11:15 AM #9
      for a great DIY!

    10. Senior Member PowerDubs's Avatar
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      10-18-2009 12:08 PM #10
      Quote, originally posted by robocopywriter »
      If you want a POA try changing the thermostat on a 16v.


      Whhaaaa?? I changed the thermostat on my first 16v in a parking lot with minimal hand tools. I didn't even have a jack, I drove the passenger wheel up onto the curb and crawled underneath.

      -Josh
      06 Phaeton 4-seater 6.0 W12 | 04 VW R32 | 03 Gti 24v VR6 | 12 Kia Soul 1.6 stick
      01 ZRX1200

    11. 10-18-2009 12:44 PM #11
      great DIY write up. this reminded me of a heart transplant.

    12. Member Slampig's Avatar
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      10-18-2009 03:49 PM #12
      got to do this sometime

    13. 10-18-2009 04:37 PM #13
      So how much did everything cost to do the thermostat change? Also does everything have to be bought at a VW dealership or will a auto parts store carry the parts required?

    14. Member AaronD's Avatar
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      10-18-2009 04:53 PM #14
      next weekends project..unfortunatley. thanks this should make it quicker than the way ive done it before on 2.8's

    15. Member VeeRsixx's Avatar
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      '04 R32 Black Magic
      10-20-2009 06:58 PM #15
      Quote, originally posted by Dartdude »
      So how much did everything cost to do the thermostat change? Also does everything have to be bought at a VW dealership or will a auto parts store carry the parts required?

      IM sent about where to buy parts. Best prices are online. Items are not available at the "usual" auto parts stores. These are impex prices:

      Absolutely required:

      thermostat - $56.53
      gasket for the above - $2.75
      gasket from housing to head - $5.00
      1 gallon G12 coolant - $20

      total = $84.28 plus shipping

      Should do it while you are in there:

      CTS - $22.69
      CTS O-ring - $1.25
      crack pipe O-ring - $2.80

      = another $26.74 plus shipping

      let me know how it goes, good luck !

      past dubs: (all black) - 1984 GTI - 1992 GTI 16v - 2001 GTI VR6

    16. Member VeeRsixx's Avatar
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      '04 R32 Black Magic
      10-20-2009 07:01 PM #16
      Quote, originally posted by Patryk@DouglasVW »

      Thank you Pat, that really means a lot to me coming from a technician like you. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons i decided to proceed was because in an obscure post somewhere i found that you said most of the cars w. my DTC normally don't come back after the thermostat is changed.

      past dubs: (all black) - 1984 GTI - 1992 GTI 16v - 2001 GTI VR6

    17. 10-22-2009 04:35 PM #17
      I think I found what my problem was.

      The plug that is in between the two open holes is broken so hopefully the local VW store has one in stock.


    18. Member TXR32's Avatar
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      10-22-2009 04:55 PM #18
      Well done

    19. Member Kstyle's Avatar
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      10-22-2009 05:07 PM #19
      1stvwparts has some cheap prices, thermostat: $36.74

    20. Member itej's Avatar
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      10-30-2009 05:17 PM #20
      great write-up!

      is there a way (i seem to remember seeing it in a thread, but now i can't find it to save my life) to diagnose the t-stat before ripping my car apart and doing a heart transplant?

      i've got the green top sensor in, but it's not OEM so that's probably the issue, but while i'm in there replacing that i'd like to do the t-stat if it needs to be done, too... but obviously i'd like to know that before i dive in

      .:PNW

      my fast wants to know if your fast can come out to play

    21. Member Daemon42's Avatar
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      10-30-2009 08:07 PM #21
      If the car overheats when the car is not moving (and the fans are working
      properly), then the t-stat is stuck closed.
      If the car overcools when the car is moving then the t-stat is stuck open.

      ian


    22. Member MKranz's Avatar
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      01-14-2010 08:51 AM #22
      Just did this. (Twice actually, thanks to my not paying attention to the thermostat/o-ring order.) The total coolant required when you drain the system from the lower rad hose is just shy of 2 gallons. That's 1 gallon of G12 and 1 gallon of water. I think I had a smidge left over.


      Modified by MKranz at 8:45 PM 1-14-2010
      I'mafastcopilot

    23. Member r32vw04's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 03:29 PM #23
      fun fun.... I gotta do this on my .:R this weekend. I've done on my old 2.8 vr Getta so we'll see how close the two car are for the t-stat fix. Will be taking pictures for others, plan on not taking off the house from the motor but just pop the 3 5mm bolts loose and take off the bottom of the housing and replacing the t-stat only. Wish me luck...
      Don't hate what you can't afford, you will sleep better...

    24. Member Daemon42's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 03:36 PM #24
      Trust me when I say that "just pop the 3 5mm bolts loose" is MUCH more painful
      than taking the whole housing off the motor. There just is no room to
      work on those allen head bolts. It's a 30-40 minute job that'll take
      you an hour an a half if you do it that way.

      ian


    25. Member Wilhelm0075's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 05:33 PM #25
      My buddy and I just did this job. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I decided to change a lot of stuff while we were in there, namely the thermostat, coolant temp switch (still had the oem one in there) the housing and all the gaskets. The biggest pain was trying to drain all the coolant and getting the housing off the crack pipe. It would be helpful if they didn't build these engines dry with no sort of lubricant to get these things off . Luckily my buddy works at a VW dealership and I get parts cheap and the mechanics gave us some hints. Gloves probably would have helped


      Modified by Wilhelm R32 at 2:34 PM 1-28-2010


      Modified by Wilhelm R32 at 2:36 PM 1-28-2010

      Professional wiener dog herder/craft beer drinker

      So many Mustang mods they do not all fit in the signature box

    26. Member Mike Solo's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 05:36 PM #26
      I have to do this, I just got the same P code in vag-com.

      Now, the question is, do I replace it with the stock thermostat, or the Induktion low-temp thermostat? Not sure if I shouldn't bother since I'm no longer FI.


    27. Member MKranz's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 06:04 PM #27
      Quote, originally posted by Daemon42 »
      Trust me when I say that "just pop the 3 5mm bolts loose" is MUCH more painful
      than taking the whole housing off the motor. There just is no room to
      work on those allen head bolts. It's a 30-40 minute job that'll take
      you an hour an a half if you do it that way.

      Seconded... You'll lose a good 1/2 pound of knuckle skin trying to get at those bolts. And they're facing away from you. You'd need some magical mirror that will hover behind the t-stat to see those bolts.
      I'mafastcopilot

    28. 01-28-2010 06:30 PM #28
      Quote, originally posted by Mike Solo »
      Now, the question is, do I replace it with the stock thermostat, or the Induktion low-temp thermostat? Not sure if I shouldn't bother since I'm no longer FI.

      Mike brings up a good point- Is there a BETTER aftermarket thermostat to replace the stock one with for guys without forced induction? Would it matter what type of outside temps you operate the car in winter and what are the benefits, detriments to using a lower range stat?

      Awesome DIY- so good


      Modified by BLU R32 at 6:31 PM 1-28-2010


    29. Member Daemon42's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 06:41 PM #29
      I've been running the low temp thermostat and low temp fan switch for quite
      a while on my turbo R, and I have not seen it over-cooling in the winter time
      and it's been out in sub zero temps.

      ian


    30. Member Mike Solo's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 07:09 PM #30
      Ian, would you bother with either if you weren't still turbo? I purchased both of those parts from Induktion but sold them, uninstalled, to the guy who bought my FT360.

    31. Member Daemon42's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 07:22 PM #31
      For a daily driver, not really needed.
      For a car that spends more time on the track, probably worth it.

      ian


    32. Banned Bolan Vdub's Avatar
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      01-28-2010 08:05 PM #32
      I did this May 2007 and it wasn't hard...
      But, had a lot of stuff off, cuz of the FT360 install...

    33. Member
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      08-23-2010 05:20 PM #33
      Changed out the thermostat and CTS this afternoon, and killed a MIL (lower [coolant temp] limit exceeded)
      in the process! I must say, I was hesitant to pull as hard as I ultimately needed to in order to loose the
      plastic elbow at the driver's side, bottom, of the radiator. You really have to muscle it off of there. I sup-
      pose I could say the same thing about getting the thermostat housing pulled off the crack pipe. Yeesh. I
      was certain I would break something, but it all worked out.

      Goodbye, MIL.
      (Oo)=R32==W======(oO)

    34. Member AaronD's Avatar
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      08-23-2010 06:11 PM #34
      ug, i gotta do this like this weekend or next...ive been holding out for almost a year haha..i hate this job but i got everything ready so might as well...

    35. Member GLI_DRIVER's Avatar
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      08-23-2010 07:02 PM #35
      i gotta do this like this weekend
      This is super easy and you don't really need to remove the battery or drain the entire radiator etc.

      Once you replace the t-stat you will wonder why you waited. Easier than an oil change.

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