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VAG shit box - TT mk1 as a runaround?


SiC
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 I've been keeping an eye out for a cheap runaround recently. Our Civic has been doing the brunt of our journeys and in 7months of ownership we've covered nearly 10k miles. Also where  Mrs SiC works has lost its car park and it's been left on main roads. As we don't really want it damaged, it's not ideal. 

 So I've been keeping an eye out for something essentially to replace the Fabia I had. Small, easy to park and cheap to buy+run. Second gen (2008 on) Seat Ibiza 1.4 is on the cards and can be had for under 2k

 Anyway yesterday we were out and about. I was doing a browse of Autotrader and found a really cheap A3 2.0 TFSi. Basically a Golf GTi in an Audi suit but much cheaper. This in particular was half many go for retail. As we passed, I went to see it.

 TL;DR Unfortunately the dealer had morals. Someone else was travelling from Bournemouth and he gave them first refusal. Shame as it drove well, had an inch stack of history and even Mrs SiC gave her (rare) thumbs up for it. Did have rusty front wings and duct tape over it, but that's fine for what it'll be used for.

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 After this, it got me thinking that while I like the idea of a cheap to run car, I'll get bored of it. Even though a grand or two is not a lot nowadays, it's still enough. I've now got it in my head I want something decently fast. But there isn't a lot around for that sort of money.

 Basically the criteria is:

  - small and thus easy to park (i.e. when I'm late to the train)

  - sub 2k and ideally less is better

  - CAZ exempt so basically petrol euro 4 on

  - not too ridiculous on fuel - 30+ and really 35+ mpg

  - light steering as Mrs SiC gets annoyed with heavy to drive cars 

  - bodywork condition unimportant but not to the degree of just come out of a banger race

 There isn't a lot that meet those requirements. Putting a search into Autotrader of sub 8sec 0-60 and sub 2k brings back a lot of one car model. Despite their age now, Mrs SiC gives the nod and like them. That vehicle (if you can't read titles) is the TT mk1. 

 (Bonnet up picture deliberate as many have this as their default position)

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 I used to hate these. I keep saying I hate VAG. I also hate my job but I keep going back to every day. I mean it could be that I'm just a grumpy fucker that says he hates everything but doesn't actually.

 Anyway like I say I hate work when I'm not at it, I enjoy it immensely when I'm there. Likewise when I'm sat in a VAG product, I do enjoy the experience. Every VAG vehicle Mrs SiC has driven she's liked a lot. Even reluctantly at first (because they are so butt ugly) she actually quite liked the Fabia MK1.

 So I know something like this is a safe bet that she'll drive it. The looks have soften off in my eyes and I do quite fancy a TT Mk1. Or maybe I just enjoy inflicting pain on myself too much. Gives me something to be grumpy and moan about.

 There are a few contenders out there that I want to take a look at, any tips on what I should look out for?

 I'm after critical problems here. Door locks/regulators, dodgy switchgear and such are par for course on this age VAG. That I'm expecting to be broken.

 Thinking probably 1.8t with the 180bhp engine. Ideally no Quattro Haldex that undoubtedly has been neglected.

 Or any other similar suggestions that meet the above criteria!

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Oh and before someone says it...

No, I don't want an MX-5! (Had two, great cars but own enough convertibles)

No, insurance is not an issue as I'm getting old(er), even if not wise(r)

Yes, the TT MK2 is a better car. My intended budget won't buy a half decent. Also had one. Did quite like it mind.

Yes, I know a cheap and ropey TT will give me pain. I often do a lot of things that I probably shouldn't.

Yes, I should really be getting a Peugeot 107 or similar econobox.

Yes, you will probably all get a lot of entertainment from me trying to fix said heap of shit!

But please give any and all advice! (which knowing me I'll probably ignore, buy the worst possible example and make terrible decisions).

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If you want one, buy now whilst stocks last, they’re as cheap as they’re ever going to be. Most of the early ones still around seem to be either completely worn smooth, or in pretty good order. The latter are usually “ the good lady wife’s” runaround. 180 bhp one is fine, and can obviously be “ electronically molested”. 
I do find them a bit claustrophobic.

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My Dad has decided that he doesn’t really fit in to his Mk. 1 TT now and has mothballed it in the garage with a view to selling it when he gets around to it. It was very much babied and garaged and he drives like a nun. Want me to ask how much he wants for it? He is up in Newcastle though. 
 

All I know is that it’s red and I think the turbo version. Not my cup of tea at all. 

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Hello.


Serial VAG botherer here.  I don't actually think Volkswagen have made a good car since they killed the MK2 golf off in favour of the MK3 around 1992/3, however the truth is if you can live with the "common faults" of the MK4 golf era cars, something like  TT isn't actually a bad idea.

They're at the age now that they need someone who actually knows how to diagnose a car properly to look over one, and probably have some of the rubber bits replaced.

Carry a spare brake light switch in the glovebox, get anything you buy with the 1.8 20v Petrol engine scanned by someone with either a copy of VAG-Com or a good code reader, and have it smoke tested for any vacuum and boost leaks.

In standard form, the 1.8T 20v Engine is fairly good; they get mapped a lot and the Ko3 turbo does turn into a really good hot air pump which can cause issues if someone who doesn't have a clue just ups the boost without thinking about other things.. they're a very tunable engine should that be your thing.. but you need to add better con-rods, exhaust valves, induction, cooling and injectors if you get serious... the ECU is incredible though and can really be tweaked to support far more than the engine is suitable for.

 

TT's run a better set of wishbones thank the MK4 golf, if they've been replaced, then you'll want to ensure they've got better bushes in.  To be honest parts aren't expensive for these cars.

Under the bonnet, look for softened and sweaty breather hoses, dodgy vac lines and broken plastic. They're overly complicated under there, and any leaks can and will cause odd running issues, a smoke test as mentioned will identify a lot of this.  Although parts aren't a lot, a £20 hose here and there, can soon add up.

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7 minutes ago, Rocket88 said:

I do find them a bit claustrophobic.

Yup, I had to change the convenience module in one of these when I had a hangover. It was in the rear quarter panel and I had to remove about 80% of the interior trim while parked on a steep hill in the blazing sun. I had never been claustrophobic before but I definitely developed it over those two long hours.

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2 hours ago, Rocket88 said:

If you want one, buy now whilst stocks last, they’re as cheap as they’re ever going to be. Most of the early ones still around seem to be either completely worn smooth, or in pretty good order. The latter are usually “ the good lady wife’s” runaround. 180 bhp one is fine, and can obviously be “ electronically molested”. 
I do find them a bit claustrophobic.

I think they're probably going to be cheap for a while. They sold a shit load of them and there is still an awful lot about. I think they're the type of car that many owners treasure. Unlike something like the Clio 172/182 where they are invariably owned by young people who crash them either on the road or track!

180bhp I think is the pick of the bunch for me. I don't want the hassle of quattro if I can help it and the 225bhp is a nice to have but I believe is actually a more troublesome engine setup.

I quite like being strapped in a claustrophobic small cabin. If I'm a hugging seat, low down/laid back with not much room spare, I feel more secure and safer. Being 5ft10, I fit in pretty much everything without being squished.

2 hours ago, jamescarruthers said:

Want me to ask how much he wants for it? He is up in Newcastle though. 

Sure please do. I'm looking at scraping the bottom of the barrel, even though I probably shouldn't. My usual modus operandi is buy cheap and then spend more fixing it than if I bought decent. See my MG Midget...

Actually I quite enjoy fixing broken stuff, especially electrical. Possibly why I gravitate to this era VAG and the similar Malaise Era 2000s Renault!

Newcastle is quite far away from me in Bristol but there are affordable options to get up there if I plan ahead. E.g.

Screenshot_20220725-113141.thumb.png.95bd7cc8e668ed480b8aa06596197751.png

 

 

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2 hours ago, DaveDorson said:

however the truth is if you can live with the "common faults" of the MK4 golf era cars, something like  TT isn't actually a bad idea

I think most of the common problems are more niggly things. Nothing serious enough to cause a FTP. At least the ones that are the car is a bin job anyway?

2 hours ago, DaveDorson said:

They're at the age now that they need someone who actually knows how to diagnose a car properly to look over one, and probably have some of the rubber bits replaced.

Carry a spare brake light switch in the glovebox, get anything you buy with the 1.8 20v Petrol engine scanned by someone with either a copy of VAG-Com or a good code reader, and have it smoke tested for any vacuum and boost leaks.

I enjoy the challenge! Also have a genuine VCDS. Problem with that tool is the same as if you have a welder. If you know how to use it, you get attracted to broken (or rusty) stuff as you have the tools to fix it. 🤣

Smoke machines are becoming quite affordable now. Something possible to realistically be able to invest in if needed.

2 hours ago, DaveDorson said:

In standard form, the 1.8T 20v Engine is fairly good; they get mapped a lot and the Ko3 turbo does turn into a really good hot air pump which can cause issues if someone who doesn't have a clue just ups the boost without thinking about other things.. they're a very tunable engine should that be your thing.. but you need to add better con-rods, exhaust valves, induction, cooling and injectors if you get serious... the ECU is incredible though and can really be tweaked to support far more than the engine is suitable for.

My mate had a MK1 VRS 1.8t that became a bit of a bike between others in that friendship group. It was mapped to 220bhp odd from 50k till the last owner in our friendship group sold it at 192k. Apart from it eating MAP sensors, it never put a foot wrong. Clutch was changed at 186k. It was apparently getting quite ropey by then though.

Don't think it was even a decent map. It always used to throw it's EML on for incorrect flash CRC. Always assumed it was probably the mappers bad effort at trying to protect the map being pulled back off. Or just crap flash tools. 

That being said, I want reliability and no hassle from insurance. So I'll almost certainly be keeping it stock. 180bhp is more than enough to safely overtake and also get yourself into bother quite quickly.

2 hours ago, DaveDorson said:

TT's run a better set of wishbones thank the MK4 golf, if they've been replaced, then you'll want to ensure they've got better bushes in.  To be honest parts aren't expensive for these cars.

Under the bonnet, look for softened and sweaty breather hoses, dodgy vac lines and broken plastic. They're overly complicated under there, and any leaks can and will cause odd running issues, a smoke test as mentioned will identify a lot of this.  Although parts aren't a lot, a £20 hose here and there, can soon add up.

It's the one thing that is excellent about VAG. Parts are plentiful, cheap and easy to get hold of. Aftermarket parts are generally pretty decent quality, especially keeping to Febi/Mahle/etc. So many were made of all models that most garages have dealt with them before and know how to fix them. Also less likely to turn them away as so popular they'd be cutting a good chunk of business out.

While can a be bastard to work on, they are nice places to be sat and generally drive. Even if dull. But dull can be good thing for a runaround.

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In terms of driving dynamics, what are they like? 

So is steering and controls feather light? Numb steering with good road holding even at speed? Reasonable visibility and easy to park?

It's a runaround remember, so all these things are good traits. Mrs SiC dislikes the Boxster as it has heavy steering and was a big downgrade from the TT MK2 with it's super light steering. For me it's the opposite and why I sold the TT to get the Boxster - just a runaround I don't mind lightness.

Are they EPAS or full hydraulic steering? Kinda prefer EPAS as can often dial the assistance with VCDS. 

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28 minutes ago, SH1TE said:

Timing tensioners , oil consumption engine failure.

All good if you don't get financially strapped to it and can parachute from it if it goes down.

Coil packs and plugs common.

Early ones backwards into a ditch common 

It's why I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel. While it's decent expense to loose, it's not crippling if I did at these price levels. Plus we have spare cars so it can be a driveway ornament for a bit. Timing tensioner I should be able to DIY myself - probably no harder than the Clio 172 cambelt job?

Oil consumption - I've owned a RX8 and a TFSI, so used to getting the oil container out 🤣

Engine failure and those tensioners I think are less of an occurrence if serviced regularly. Also as above I'm going cheap for this reason. Not just throwaway cost if it does explode internally like these can do, but also cheaper tends to be higher miles. I like higher miles as, from experience, usually means someone else has footed the bill for stuff breaking. Unlike a low miles (especially older and less annual miles) where I find have more issues. 

Coil packs I think are less of an issue nowadays. Unlikely to have any of the original bad batch problematic ones left in service. 

I think it needs to be post 2001 as they all seem CAZ compliant. I imagine the VED system change is when the emissions are recorded and thus likely to be checkable. 

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34 minutes ago, SiC said:

I think most of the common problems are more niggly things. Nothing serious enough to cause a FTP. At least the ones that are the car is a bin job anyway?

I enjoy the challenge! Also have a genuine VCDS. Problem with that tool is the same as if you have a welder. If you know how to use it, you get attracted to broken (or rusty) stuff as you have the tools to fix it. 🤣

Smoke machines are becoming quite affordable now. Something possible to realistically be able to invest in if needed.

My mate had a MK1 VRS 1.8t that became a bit of a bike between others in that friendship group. It was mapped to 220bhp odd from 50k till the last owner in our friendship group sold it at 192k. Apart from it eating MAP sensors, it never put a foot wrong. Clutch was changed at 186k. It was apparently getting quite ropey by then though.

Don't think it was even a decent map. It always used to throw it's EML on for incorrect flash CRC. Always assumed it was probably the mappers bad effort at trying to protect the map being pulled back off. Or just crap flash tools. 

That being said, I want reliability and no hassle from insurance. So I'll almost certainly be keeping it stock. 180bhp is more than enough to safely overtake and also get yourself into bother quite quickly.

It's the one thing that is excellent about VAG. Parts are plentiful, cheap and easy to get hold of. Aftermarket parts are generally pretty decent quality, especially keeping to Febi/Mahle/etc. So many were made of all models that most garages have dealt with them before and know how to fix them. Also less likely to turn them away as so popular they'd be cutting a good chunk of business out.

While can a be bastard to work on, they are nice places to be sat and generally drive. Even if dull. But dull can be good thing for a runaround.

Stuff like the alternator not getting a signal causing a no start is one of the common faults, the rest are things like, Window Regulators, N75 valves causing boost issues, and the brake pedal switch, there's a few, they're all easy to sort, they tend to have youtube videos telling you how to sort them.

They are quite an easy car to drive.  I've worked on a few so spent some time behind the wheel, and they're fine, to be honest, they feel like a smaller more cramped but bit sporty golf.  They do steer in nicer when they're pushed.

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30 minutes ago, SH1TE said:

Timing tensioners , oil consumption engine failure.

All good if you don't get financially strapped to it and can parachute from it if it goes down.

Coil packs and plugs common.

Early ones backwards into a ditch common 

If they're looked after, they should be OK.  The engines are cheap enough to be almost disposable in them to be honest, but the cam belt and tensioner is such an easy job, there's really no excuse not to just do it.  Quite how long that will last, given the number of my mates who race them and buy up the spares remains to be seen though.

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Check for printing ink stains in the boot, but it you're lucky there may be a few lost stationary samples under the front seats. The indicators are usually in-operative; it's an easy fix - there's a lever on the left hand side of the steering column which will switch them on. Oh and another thing please turn off the massive electro-magnet in the front bumper, it annoys other road users.

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7 minutes ago, martc said:

Check for printing ink stains in the boot, but it you're lucky there may be a few lost stationary samples under the front seats. The indicators are usually in-operative; it's an easy fix - there's a lever on the left hand side of the steering column which will switch them on. Oh and another thing please turn off the massive electro-magnet in the front bumper, it annoys other road users.

Why would you waste 10 minutes of your life coming up with and writing that drivel?

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14 minutes ago, SiC said:

Why would you waste 10 minutes of your life coming up with and writing that drivel?

Sorry for the offence, but it's dinner time, I was bored and I had a near miss with a non-indicating Audi this very morning.... the stars aligned.

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33 minutes ago, Dj_efk said:

If you fancy a trip down to Axminster I’d be happy to help you scan your purchase on my cracked version of full VCDS.

I've invested (?) in a genuine VCDS a few years back, so I'm good but thanks for the offer 👍

They're not as cheap second hand as they used to be but genuine hex-com can be had for around 200quid or so. Well worth the money and while there is the initial cap-ex, you can easily get your money back if wanting to sell on. A good insurance policy.

Having it is one of the major reasons why I would even consider VAG of this era.

It must have paid itself couple times over the years for me.

27 minutes ago, martc said:

Sorry for the offence, but it's dinner time, I was bored and I had a near miss with a non-indicating Audi this very morning.... the stars aligned.

And we've just had a near miss with a driver in a Vauxhall Mokka on her phone and not concentrating, nearly going into the back of us. You've just wasted everyone's time posting something that gives zilch. Not anymore useful and not even funny to give a laugh.

It is a plain dick-ish comment that is calling a lot of people on here as reckless idiots just because they own an Audi.

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1 hour ago, SiC said:

On her phone and not concentrating, nearly going into the back of us. You've just wasted everyone's time posting something that gives zilch. Not anymore useful and not even funny to give a laugh.

It is a plain dick-ish comment that is calling a lot of people on here as reckless idiots just because they own an Audi.

But aren't all Vauxhalls shite? No offence to all the Vauxhall owners here.

And also, in all seriousness, no offence to any Audi owners here. It was a humorous quip which may have fallen on stoney ground.

 

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Well I'm fucked then, I own a TT and a Vauxhall...

The steering is full hydraulic afaik and has a pleasing weight to it, compared to my Insignia anyway. It grips quite well at the front, though the back end can be twitchy if you push it hard enough. A bootfull of throttle will pull it straight.

As with any turbo car, regular oil and filter changes are a good thing.

Don't bother with smoke testers; just replace all the hoses with silicone ones...

 

EDIT: Oh, and the gearing is surprisingly short, at least on the 225. I can be in 6th by 35mph, without upsetting the engine.

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4 hours ago, martc said:

But aren't all Vauxhalls shite? No offence to all the Vauxhall owners here.

And also, in all seriousness, no offence to any Audi owners here. It was a humorous quip which may have fallen on stoney ground.

 

Oh sush, just sush. You're making yourself look silly. It's not humour it's just being a fool. 

And yes Vauxhalls are shit/shite. But that's the cars, not the owners which you are implying.

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11 minutes ago, SteersWithThrottle said:

The steering is full hydraulic afaik and has a pleasing weight to it, compared to my Insignia anyway. It grips quite well at the front, though the back end can be twitchy if you push it hard enough. A bootfull of throttle will pull it straight.

Actually kind of don't want a weighted steering wheel! Would like it quite light for ease of manoeuvrability. Have heard they can be twitchy and quattro is a benefit.

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It's not heavy by any means, and is perfectly manoeuvreable at any speed, with one hand if you prefer. It's just not finger-twirl light like a modern.

The quattro is quite remarkable. I had the opportunity to test it on the way home from work a couple of months after I got it, and it still had barely legal front tyres. Several inches came down in less than an hour over the tops around Oxenhope/Pecket Well in West Yorkshire. It had drifted to a couple of feet in places, so only a single lane was still usable, which was blocked by an AA van with the driver struggling to fit his snow socks. After a few minutes he slithered and wheel-spun up to me, saying, "it's blocked mate".

It would have taken bloody ages to turn around and reroute so I thought, fuck it, let's see, and just drove through the lot, breaking a trail for everyone behind me! Got all-season tyres on the front now, and typically it hasn't snowed since...

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1 hour ago, SteersWithThrottle said:

It's not heavy by any means, and is perfectly manoeuvreable at any speed, with one hand if you prefer. It's just not finger-twirl light like a modern.

The quattro is quite remarkable. I had the opportunity to test it on the way home from work a couple of months after I got it, and it still had barely legal front tyres. Several inches came down in less than an hour over the tops around Oxenhope/Pecket Well in West Yorkshire. It had drifted to a couple of feet in places, so only a single lane was still usable, which was blocked by an AA van with the driver struggling to fit his snow socks. After a few minutes he slithered and wheel-spun up to me, saying, "it's blocked mate".

It would have taken bloody ages to turn around and reroute so I thought, fuck it, let's see, and just drove through the lot, breaking a trail for everyone behind me! Got all-season tyres on the front now, and typically it hasn't snowed since...

They are fantastic winter cars, absolutely no question. For the money you really can't get much more fun.

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      On returning home I go straight on ebay to find 'Congratulations.............'
      For the grand total of £500 I had just won this fine vehicle!
       

       
      It has 5 months MOT and after fitting seat belts in the rear for the girls car seats it is pushed into daily service.
      My gamble and subsequent use results in a perfectly reliable car that actually does what it is supposed to do.
       
      Even more importantly Mrs T loves it so a win all round.
       
      All my cars have names (most are earned over a bit of time) and this one is called 'Gwendolen' ( G reg car and from Wales originally. I hate the name but I am not going to argue)
       
      That sums up part one, more will be along later (probably much later)
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