Dear Doctor Diesel,
Reading the letters about the Kombi going in to limp home mode and your reply suggesting the diagnosis of a faulty turbo being wrong, I have to tell you our experience. We have suffered this with our SEAT Altea 2.0-litre TDI 140 for about four years. We had black smoke and a very noisy turbo whine, and it always occurred in 4th, 5th and 6th gears, usually on the motorway. Also, the engine was very sluggish and the fuel consumption in mpg had increased from mid to upper 40s mpg to low 30s. Eventually we took it to a SEAT dealer who diagnosed that the turbo was faulty, and needed replacing at a cost of £2,050. The SEAT dealer explained the problem, which is basically the internal wastegate sticks due to the turbo sooting up and so it fails to open under a full load causing a “spike” and this initiates a turbo overload and it shuts down and goes to limp home mode. On a ten year old car, £2,050 was not financially viable, but we found a specialist near home (Arden Bridge Services in Redditch) who supplied a reconditioned turbo and fitted it for £600 including VAT. The car is transformed and feels so much smoother, faster, and more economical. It feels like a different car! I’m not sure if this is a design fault, or just bad luck, but the garage that repaired the car have done a “large number” of replacement turbos on this engine type. So your Kombi reader has been given the correct information and it looks like a new turbo will do the trick, as long as he can find a good garage to do it.
Rob O’Connor, Bromsgrove
Thanks for your note. There have been further developments with the Kombi as above. But there’s no black smoke, just a sporadic tendency to hesitate and cut out when asking for power, which disappears after an ignition restart, and then doesn’t happen again for a good while. I and Scotts Garage think that the turbo is gummed up in some way – quite possibly due to sticking vanes. We think the turbo is fundamentally alright, but needs a good clear-out, which doesn’t happen in normal motoring as Wiclif drives mostly for economy. I’m very glad that you got your problem sorted and your turbo replaced at a very reasonable cost, but we don’t think at this stage that it needs to go as far as that, and most of the time the old Kombi rattles along OK. But I’ll mention Arden Bridge Services of Redditch in the column, who sound as if they are a good outfit, charging a fair price. The Altea uses a different turbo from the 2.5-litre TDI Kombi too, although I accept that similar problems do afflict many of such variable geometry turbos. Thanks again, and best regards,
Dear Doctor Diesel,