2002 Golf GTI – Passed to Josh

My kid wanted to learn how to drive a manual gearbox and the winter beater was rusting away so when I saw this going cheap, I jumped on it.


This is my 2002 VW Golf GTI 1.8T and so far I love it! For safety it only needed front rotors and it passed emissions but the CEL came on a few days later.  Pulled the scanner out and found code P0420 – catalytic converter efficiency below threshold, will have to look out for a high flow cat.  Had a look underneath and the resonator is on it’s way out and the hangar between the cat and the resonator was broken – welded it back on and put some JB weld over a leak at a joint.

Took the lad out for a drive and the airbag light came on.  After a bit of Googling I found that a common culprit is the seat belt clip wiring, in particular loose wires in the connector under the seat.  When I checked my clip, I noticed it was wrapped in insulation tape – obviously a previous repair here.  Sure enough as I removed the tape, I found a wire had come out of the clip so I soldered it back in place and taped up the clip.  Then disconnected the battery for 10 mins to clear the light and … it came straight back on!?!  I found a local guy selling VAG scanners for under $50 that can read and clear codes for engine, airbag, ABS and transmission (I know you can get them cheaper but I didn’t want to wait for shipping).  Hooked it up and pulled the code (it was the seat belt clip) and cleared it – now it stays off.  One thing about this scanner, it seems that you can only clear any and all codes in one go, you cannot clear just an airbag code and leave the CEL for example.

Noticed the other day that about 1/2″ at the OD of a front rotor was not being touched by the pad.  Thought perhaps the pads were hung up so I took the caliper off and made sure the pads and sliders were not binding.  When I looked at the opposite side, the inside pad looked like some gravel had worn a groove in it so it was leaving bands of wear on the rotor and the pads were worn uneven in like wedge shapes.  At this point I decided to put new pads on the new rotors – not sure why this wasn’t at least suggested in the safety inspection??

To Do List

  • Replace cat – CEL error code 16804
  • Fix rust behind front wheels – got a pair of silver fenders from super-neighbour Troy
  • Replace muffler – got rear skirt with muffler tip cutout, again from Troy
  • Fix rust over windshield 2
  • Replace vacuum S pipe – temporary tube in place until more motivation kicks in

Completed Tasks

  • Replace driver’s seatbelt clip – pick up from Troy
  • New windshield
  • Troy installed Stage 1 ECU – cracked windshield during install
  • Replaced driver side parking brake cable
  • Replace passenger side parking brake cable – caliper was sticking
  • Replace fuel filter – not done, can’t remember why I was thinking of changing the filter?
  • Fix arm rest lid latch – velcro
  • Clean throttle body
  • New rear rotors
  • Install new front pads
  • Install new rear pads
  • Fix rust over windshield 1 – wire brushed windshield rust and painted flat black, if it holds I might fill over and smooth it out – it started rusting again!

6 thoughts on “2002 Golf GTI – Passed to Josh

  1. MTOAuth

    Noticed a half inch of the outside of the DS rotor was not being worn by the pads. Thought the pads might be hung up or sticking but I had a look and found that they were unevenly worn. Picked up and fitted new ones, don’t want the rotors wearing unevenly as well.


  2. MTOAuth

    When I took the PS wheel off, I noticed that the locating screw has been sheared off. I suspect it was recent as it is still shiny, probably when the new rotors were installed for the safety cert?? If it was, that should have been stated IMO. It’s not a big deal but it was a real PITA trying to hold the wheel against the rotor and line it up while getting a stud started on a few threads. I’ll think twice before paying them to do any more work for me.


  3. MTOAuth

    I love the GTI and it is a blast to drive but the accelerator pedal is too low relative to the brake for me to practice my heel and toe technique. Not really a big deal but since I didn’t have much else going on and it is handy to use H&T on the odd occasion so I decided to make up a pedal pad. I found a sheet of aluminum and bent it close to the radius of the pedal, then drilled two holes and screwed it in place on the pedal. Then I removed it and hot-glued two pieces of rubber foam together holding them on the curved plate while the glue dried. Did a little shaping on the foam to smooth out the edge and then installed it all on the pedal. It looks a bit stupid but it works a treat, only problem is that the brakes are a bit grabby so I need more practice pressing the gas without impacting braking.

  4. MTOAuth

    Found this Magnaflow high flow cat going cheap locally, super smooth deal, looks a lot like the RX-8 cat inside. That should fix the CEL, I’m assuming the O2 sensor thread is the same, flange will have to go, might come in handy later. There’s a used cat-back Magnaflow exhaust on Kijiji for $350 but it’s just a bit of tube and a couple of mufflers at the end of the day, I think I can make one for much less. A new challenge … and project begins, I love it.

  5. MTOAuth

    Noticed a little patch of damp underneath the left side of the engine yesterday, looks like coolant. Had a quick look around but can’t really see where it’s coming from, will have to wait until I get the 924T back together before I get stuck into it.

  6. MTOAuth

    Put some ‘stop leak’ in the coolant tank, seems like it might have done the trick.

    Got 0% done on the exhaust challenge, the dying RX-8 and dirt bikes have taken my attention. Since the RX-8 is off the road, I had to get the Golf back on the road quick so just welded up the small cracked section of exhaust right at the middle hanger for now.

    Also put new rear brake pads in because the old ones had seized onto the rotors in the few months it was stood after winter, need to get the rotors changed now as the pedal is pulsing on braking sometimes. The right rear brake hydraulic line got broken while doing the pads because I stupidly tried to bend it out the way to access the caliper bolt – something that i didn’t even need to do! There’s a nut on the side with the rubber gaiter that can be moved to disengage the bolt so the caliper can be removed. The line that was on there was a flex line from the caliper going to a steel line with many bends going along the wheel arm to a connection in front of the torsion bar. The replacement line was just the flex part with a standard fitting so I had to cut the steel line and buy a flaring tool so I could connect to the new flex line.

    On the third day of driving the Golf, I got in to come home and the engine would turn over but there was no sign of any ignition, ugh, had to get a lift home. After pulling some codes and doing a bit of research it seemed that the fuel pump relay was acting up. The fuel pump would run nice with the relay bypassed but it wasn’t priming when turning the ignition on. Got a new relay from Prak and popped it in … still no priming but fired right up! I guess it doesn’t always do the priming thing and there are about 4 other circuits that run through the fuel pump relay, one of them is ignition which explains why there was no spark.

    Now I notice that the idle often gets a bit rough and I can feel the vibrations, it also drops about 40rpm and recovers – with all the problems on the RX-8 I really don’t like this. A couple of times now it has cut out immediately after starting, but it has not stalled in traffic … yet and always restarts right away. I started looking for a vacuum leak and found a large crack in a tube on the right of the intake. A while back Hugo kindly gave me an S tube that he had bought for his Golf and never installed, I dug it out and found that it was this tube that was cracked. It goes into a pipe with a stock hose clamp on, the type that cannot be undone and is difficult to access so I replaced the tube with a piece of rubber hose for now. At first it seemed like it was idling great but after a day or two it is right back to how it was. I’m getting jarred off with it now, last winter this thing ran awesome and was super reliable, I really don’t want to be chasing little issues and hunting for vacuum leaks again, had enough of that with the RX-8, ugh!

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