Category Archives: TDI

Sometimes it can be the smallest of things…

I suppose I have to laugh. It is pretty funny, actually, how the strangest, most unexpected things can bring you to a halt, or at least pretty damned close.

Editor Dave and I have been working practically non-stop at wrapping up the edits on No Wake Zone, and we’re closing in on the finish, so Hooray! But Sunday afternoon I had to step away from the computer for a brief time to run some errands, one of which put me out on Route 80, cruising along in the fast lane, when all at once my dashboard lit up like it was Christmas. Specifically, the ‘Check Engine’ light, along with the glow plug indicator, which was blinking away insistently.

WTF??? Everything felt okay. Fortunately my exit was coming up, so I slowed and looped onto the Parkway, rolled through the EZpass lane, then downshifted to pull into the next exit, right after the tolls…. and…. meh. Worse than meh. We’re talking about my little turbocharged diesel Jetta with a sport-tuned suspension, which normally drives like a rocket, but the most it could do was putter along feebly with the anemic performance you’d expect from something that gets 45+ mpg, while traffic whizzed past. To say I was distressed would be a bit of an understatement.

Long story short, it was still under warranty, so straight back to the dealer it went, and was returned to me hours later in its proper, feisty, tire-smoking order. And the cause for this brief lapse into anemic performance? MICE! Apparently, still displeased about being evicted from my basement last summer, they decided the cozy warmth of the little diesel in the driveway would serve as housing, and while they were nestled in and keeping warm, one industrious rodent decided the wiring to my turbo seemed like a tasty snack.

Mice. Really. Now I have to figure out how to keep mice out from under the hood! Any ideas, anyone?

Okay, it’s back to work for me. In the coming weeks there will be a number of updates – things are starting to happen in a big way. But before I go, here’s a link to last Thursday’s Write On The Water post:
The K.I.S.S. approach to Cruising…

High score on the highway…

I achieved my highest score yet the other day, and no, I didn’t take out a list of pursuit blockers. But while driving from north Jersey through Manhattan, Queens and out to Long Island, most times in the hammer lane and passing much traffic (including several Prius…. what is the plural of Prius? Priuses, Prii?) I exited the Meadowbrook to Hempstead Turnpike and… 51.6 mpg!  That’s in real-world driving, often downshifting to weave around some minivan plodding along at 50 when the flow is 60 and higher.

Once I stopped at the first traffic light I grabbed my camera and snapped a quick shot before the light went green again.

And one other amusing note. In this photo you can see I still have a half-tank of fuel remaining, despite already loggin 301.4 miles since the last fill-up. With a 14.5 gallon tank, that comes gives me a combined average of 41.5 mpg. Not bad at all for something so truly fun to drive.

UPDATE – 06/10/11:   I can’t say what my highest score has been since the 51.6 pictured here, as I’ve really stopped watching the ‘consumption’ reading.  I just calculate each time I fill up and I’ve seen tank-averages of 46.3 mpg on multiple occasions, and that’s with me driving in my usual ways, not puttering in economy. I’ll be posting some upcoming pics showing the latest mods, but in the meantime, for anyone seeking more information on these wonderful cars, be sure to check out .

48.5 mpg…

That’s what the Jetta logged last night as we dropped the kid back off at college. That’s one Jetta Sportswagen (Golf Variant) hauling 3 adults and dorm-room gear loaded to the roof, driving through NJ, Manhattan and out to Long Island via all the usual congested metro roads. Traffic was moderate, roads were rainy and the engine isn’t even broken in yet, so I anticipate even higher numbers in the future. The car is quick, agile, fun to drive, zipping easily between lumbering SUVs, and it was very satisfying to know we’d hauled the kid and her gear back to school on one gallon of fuel.

Oh, and for all you hybrid fans, here’s something to consider. Hybrids are designed to recharge by regenerative braking (so long as those brakes actually kick in) and by the engine. It’s a system designed for stop and go driving, not highway conditions. And if you’re plugging it in to charge your batteries, unless those volts were generated via solar, wind or hydroelectric power you’re just relocating your carbon footprints, not eliminating them. I’ve read some other articles questioning just how ‘green’ hybrids truly are; it’s something to bear in mind when the time comes to get a new car. Another option: stick with a good old clunker. Keep your car (refrigerator, washer, whatever) as long as possible. We did with the Mercury until fixing was no longer practical, and at a mere 11 years that was disappointing. The Volvo made it to 17 before lack of available parts and an excess of rust took their toll. The ’93 Dodge Dakota, on the other hand, just passed inspection with perfect emissions yet again. I expect a good 15-20 years from the Jetta, more if possible.

I no longer suffer TDI envy…

It went on for years. Every time one passed I’d sigh. That soft clatter of the little diesel, faint but distinct, would turn my head every time. Back in high school my mom drove one of the earliest models, a diesel-powered Rabbit, and I recall the car’s ability to run forever on minimal fuel. Years later I’d acquired an ’82 Volvo wagon with a manual transmission, and while the car was painfully slow and sounded like an old garbage truck I was very fond of the 30+ mpg it gave me on local driving. Sadly, underbody rust took its toll and the Volvo was retired in the end. Volvo was no longer building diesels and VW, at the time, wasn’t importing any to the States. We opted for the Mercury Sable which served us well, but after 11 years and 124,000 miles it was getting tired. And this time around, I knew VW was offering an ultra-clean 50 state certified turbo-diesel, not only in the Golf and Jetta, but in a Jetta Sportwagen (the Golf Variant overseas) as well. Even better, the model features a satin-smooth six-speed manual transmission, which makes driving immeasurably more fun for me.

Over the last few days I’ve logged over 185 miles on the odometer, and the fuel gauge still hangs well between 3/4 and 1/2 tank. A little ‘consumption’ meter on the dash reports I’m getting 30 mpg in local driving, sometimes more, and on highway rush hour driving I’ve seen consistent 43 mpg. The turbo diesel is zippy and responsive, the steering agile and fun. This car makes me so happy!

And this is amusing….

There’s some interesting videos here and more information:

And here’s the TDI forum…