Digging Out

Winter is finally, finally starting to release its grasp on the northeast. I got my WRX through Mass. inspection with no problem, so I’ve turned my attention to the Jetta — first by digging it out of a snowbank. A cracked windshield and some separated fiberglass bodywork later, I got it into the garage. A job I’d been dreading, replacing the gasket between the exhaust manifold and the turbo, turned out to be some work but not as much as I’d thought. This not only quieted the car down a bit — necessary to pass inspection — but also gave the engine a bit more pep. It helps when all of your exhaust actually goes through the turbo instead of leaking out upstream.

The budget isn’t yet there for new tires, but I do have four that, if one is inflated immediately before inspection, will earn the sticker. The loose fiberglass is simply the trim pieces that cover the rocker panels, blending their lines into those of the bedside quarter panels. A few rivets patched that up. Although I have a pair of front springs for a VR6 Jetta waiting for installation, I’m going to wait on that until after the car has a shiny new sticker. It’s just one less thing to potentially go wrong between now and then.


Fortunately, being a 2003 model, it’s now 15 years old and exempt from Massachusetts emission testing, bypassing one major hurdle. This car, like most older VWs, shines its Check Engine light proudly, like a beacon to attract like-minded, emission-cheating VWs. I’ve pulled the code, which revealed an error in the evap system — no cause for alarm unless I have to pass an emission test.

Only two tasks remain. One is to get the cracked windshield replaced, which I’ll be doing through my insurance. The other is amend my registration and update the car’s color from grey to black. It’s going to be tricky enough to push a Jetta that doesn’t resemble a Jetta through inspection as it is, and I don’t want to fail because the color on the registration doesn’t match the car. We still plan to Plastidip the whole thing something interesting later this year, but I can deal with the legal ramifications of that another time.

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