James’ | MK4 GTI

What happens when you buy a rusty MK1 Toyota MR2 and have to sell it a month later? You buy a MK4 VW Golf GTI!

I’ll be truthful, with all the myriad cars for sale online I wasn’t in the market for MK4 GTI, but just as the moon does with planet earth I found myself gravitated towards the advert. Priced at a reasonable £600, I haggled it down to £475, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be any worse than the MR2 I’d spent my savings on!

As with all pre-car purchases I hit the forums, spoke with our editors and a few friendly faces around the office to understand all potential problems I may face. Now with the expectation of the odd “it’s not fast…” comments it turns out the rep wasn’t too bad. So off I trotted to buy the car.


The car

Price: £475
Year: 2000
Engine: 1.8T GTI 20V
Horsepower: 150
Interior: Recaro Seats, CD changer and tape deck
Trim: Wood effect
Alloys: 16 inch
Colour: Black
Scratches: Yes
Dents: Yes

I had the car, it was cheap and it actually drove alright! But I didn’t trust the woman I bought it from as she didn’t even know where the oil went, so I thought best get it serviced straight away. Now as a person that doesn’t like to spend too much, rather than drop it off at a garage and blow £300 on a major service I decided to tackle it myself…


Fuel filter and some grease!

On the first day I had spare I decided to change the fuel filter as this thing looked like it hadn’t been done in a long time. This would be a nice and easy job – if the car had been maintained! The fuel filter was almost rusted onto the bracket and nothing was easy to unclip. After a short battle including getting fuel on my face and putting the fuel filter on the wrong way (little tip: the arrow on the filter is there for a reason) I succeeded, and hopefully the Golf will be running a bit sweeter. 

After this I decided to tackle one of the most annoying noises on my car (and they seem to come from everywhere at the moment) – the squeaky door, which needed a loving touch on the hinges with some grease…


Oil filter, oil, spark plugs and more oil

Naturally the next part of the service was the oil, which I believe hadn’t been changed in a very long time! I got onto Europarts armed with a 30% off coupon and bought some decent oil along with a sump plug, filter, spark plugs and window wipers.

The job started as it should by draining the old oil, but then the time came to remove the filter. It was a Sunday afternoon and most shops had closed, I had no oil in my car and realised I didn’t have the oil filter removal tool; not good! In the end I found some rope and got to work creating a makeshift filter remover. It worked too, saving me a tasty £15 from Halfords.

img_1577How to remove an oil filter with rope.
  • Wrap rope around filter
  • Tie a knot
  • Wrap more rope around filter
  • Grab a spanner and thread rope through the end
  • Turn spanner and begin to wrap rope round spanner
  • Once tight against filter grab an adjustable spanner and turn rope-spanner
  • Filter comes loose
  • Admire your work
  • Panic when oil pours out of filter

With the oil successfully changed it was time to change the spark plugs. Simple job again, I hear you all scream, and it was simple, but finding oil in a spark plug chamber wasn’t a welcome surprise! There was not a great deal of oil but enough to make me start questioning my purchase for a split second. I needed the car for work the next day and it wasn’t too bad so I cleaned the chambers and changed the plugs regardless. As it looks like it’s just a rocker cover gasket it’s not a difficult fix.

So with everything changed and the sun beginning to set I started her up. To my surprise she started first time but then I noticed white smoke coming from the engine and exhaust pipe! After a quick panic and a Google search I realised it was just a bit of oil in the bores burning off.

After a quick drive round the block, I got back, changed the window wiper, opened a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels and enjoyed watching Planet Earth 2: Iguana vs Snakes.

The future for the car

Enhance performance
ECU Remap, turbo upgrade, air intake pipe, front mounted intercooler, new hoses, air filter, Exhaust

Enhance handling
Upgrade suspension kit/anti-roll bar, bushes, brakes, and tyres

Styling & interior
Wheels, stereo, replace tatty interior parts, sort dents and scratches out.

Once all upgrades are done we’ll put it head to head against an office rival from Banzai magazine’s Honda “I like to scream” Civic Type R EP3

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