TSI-160 Turbo

Living with a Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160 (118kW) – Part 2, Turbo Replacement

It’s been a little over a year since I posted the introduction blog article on this car and more specifically on the unusual twin charged engine it has. Unsurprisingly over the last year or so I’ve found a few things that need a little work but generally the car has been excellent, needing minimal thought but certainly has some aspects to be aware of for prospective owners to keep the the engine working correctly.

When I bought the car it was a bit lacking power compared to what I was expecting and when accelerated hard in one gear (which due to a seemingly large gap between the supercharger and turbo rev ranges required revving it high) and changed up it would randomly have no power at all. I managed to trace this to a couple problems both related to the turbo wastegate. Firstly the requirement to rev it high was caused by serious wear on the wastegate pivot meaning the wastegate didn’t fully close so the turbo wouldn’t spin up properly. A temporary bodge to get round this is to tighten up the actuator rod to take up the slack but while this sort of helps it actually wears the housing even faster but it can get you by while you wait for a replacement. The second problem of lacking power after a high RPM change was that the wastegate actuator rod was actually bent and touching the turbo housing so it was actually getting temporarily stuck when fully extended so going into the next gear the turbo was basically just dumping the exhaust out the wastegate rather than doing anything useful. So this definitely needed looking at!

First off let me just say I initially looked at the position of the turbo nicely sat at the top front of the engine and thought a couple hours and it’d be done. I was wrong, very wrong! It looks lovely and easily accessible but it just isn’t as easy as it looks for many reasons mostly relating to it not being a turbo mounted to a manifold. the entire exhaust side manifold and turbo are a single unit so you need sufficient clearance to pull the whole unit out.

There it is under the heat shield – looks simple right?

I used various guides to do this swap and generally was in a rush (that didn’t work out so well) so I have very few photos of this but the information is fairly widely available anyway (try searching for guides to the mk6 Golf with the same engine) this is to highlight a few points people may find useful. I suggest referring to workshop manuals for a handy guide with diagrams of each section you need but strongly recommend an ad blocker before you do.

  1. The hard plastic boost pipe which runs from the supercharger to the turbo inlet is retained at the turbo end by a single M6 torx bolt with the threads tapped into the aluminium casting. On the rebuilt unit I bought this thread turned out to be ruined to the point it was impossible to tighten. I suspect this is because undoing the captive fastener during disassembly tries to push a metal sleeve out of the plastic. This is fine in itself but I think it wears the aluminium, similarly tightening it back in will also be hard on it. The reality is the pipe should be pulled back a little at a time as the screw is undone to prevent the load on the threads but this is a bit awkward to achieve as the pipe has very little ‘give’ in it. I strongly recommend checking this before you start – I had to call in a favour because having spent a lot of time swapping the turbo it was rapidly approaching closing time for all the shops to get anything to repair this and without it the car shouldn’t be run. If you’re in any doubt just buy an M6 helicoil kit and put a shiny new insert in place in the aluminium casting because there is only the one screw and if it fails your car will not be happy! Helicoils in softer materials are actually stronger than directly tapping the material the right size because the insert is a stronger material than what it’s going into and because they’re fitted by screwing into a larger thread in the parent material than the desired final thread they have a larger contact surface area in that material.

2. To fully undo all the bolts of the manifold flange you have to undo the alternator mounting bolts and twist it out the way. To do this you have to take off the alternator belt by releasing the tensioner then remove the top mounting bolt for the alternator entirely and slacken the other. This requires removing the engine bay undertrays as well but if you’re doing this job save some time and just pull them all off now. The alternator can then be rotated down and away from the block to get at the bolt. Someone out there might have some creative way of getting at that bolt but I had nothing that would get at it from any angle and couldn’t see any other way if could be done because it’s in a recess with manifold one side, oil filter casting the other and alternator in front of it.

3. Remove the radiator fans. In the picture above you can see how tight this is relative to the turbo and so you need to do this to have enough clearance both to get tools in to undo the manifold nuts and also to remove the the turbo itself from the exhaust studs. Removing these is done from the underside and also involves removal of the pipe between the turbo outlet and intercooler to give sufficient space. You need this removed to change the turbo anyway so it’s no inconvenience.

You’re looking to remove pipe sections 15, 16 and 17 for clearance. Item 11 are two bolts holding the charge pipe to the engine. The radiator sits between the charge cooler and this charge pipe.

The fan module can be removed as a single unit downwards with both fans in place by simply removing the four bolts holding it to the radiator and unplugging it at its electrical connector (item 13 on the bottom edge in the image above).

4. Buy a fitting kit off eBay or somewhere – there are load available but this is the simplest way of making sure you have all the replacement seals and gaskets you might need. Get the most comprehensive one you can find if you can’t easily go to get more parts once this car is apart!

5. The oil drain hose from the turbo is an absolute pig to get at.

The part I’m referring to here is number 12 above and consists of a section of solid pipe at the turbo end with a very short section of hose crimped on. I used a socket on a series of extension bars to get the bolt out of the turbo end but the block end is very awkward to get at because you can’t see it from any angle and the access is tight because the bolt sits virtually under the downpipe. Good luck! When you’re struggling to put it back on after changing the turbo don’t forget the gasket. Also this pipe is apparently common for leaking because the bolt doesn’t get put in sufficiently tightly or the gasket gets damaged during reassembly. I’ve highlighted this below in red.

6. The coolant hard line on top of the turbo needs to be removed which leaves an open rubber hose end. An M8 bolt fits perfectly to block this and stop coolant pouring out over everything so have one to hand before you take it off.

7. Carefully check the boost control hoses – apparently these commonly crack and certainly in my case they were quite degraded around the turbo. You can buy the proper replacement VW part if you wish but it may be cheaper to just order some 5mm vacuum hose and put a run in. In my case I didn’t notice the damage until I started taking it apart and managed to get a random bit from a friend. His wasn’t the common stuff it was thin walled and reinforced so the standard clamps didn’t fit but luckily with some persuasion I managed to fit the thin hose into an offcut of the original one. When combined with a suitable hose clip it’s working fine and has been for ages – that said I do not recommend this option!

Damaged section of hose in red above. The image below shows the hose I replaced marked in red going from the turbo housing back to the boost control solenoid and then the second similar line from the solenoid to the wastegate actuator marked in green.

Unfortunately as I mentioned earlier I didn’t take extensive photos of this replacement but I hope these few points help someone out there!

Good luck!

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