Car has 245.000 miles and nearly stalls when put into any gear. Replaced plugs, cap&rotor, tested coil, fuel pumps also. On very fixed income, what next ?
idle drops off when shifted into gear on 1990 Volkswagen Jetta
MAF air flow sensor, idle air control sensor, throtle body cleaning, air filter
First do you have your DTC codes? Engine light on codes. You need to go to Autozone they will read them for free for you. Then see what I have written hear after that. You need to look at your fuel pressure it maybe the cause. Have you changed the fuel filter? Sounds like no fuel, or maybe the other problems these car have no power sounds like it maybe weak ignition due to the ground wires from the distributor on the front of the block corroded on these models, but only if you have a distributor, ignition DTC code set. Clean and reattach the ground wires, if this does not fix it check this next. You may have the dreaded P0300 code series. Which stand for misfire. Which can be caused by all kinds of things. The older VW have problem sometimes with a code throwing off for ignition. This can be the timing belt has jumped and is all worn out common on the VW if you have not changed the belt. It was supposed to be changed at 60K miles sometimes if a technician changes it they sometimes mis by a tooth or two and they get it the tining wrong by a lot, get this checked by someone who has done a lot of VW timing belt changes not their first one. If it has only skipped one tooth on the belt your lucky, too many more on the timing belt jump and the piston hits the valves as they are to far out of time. Well get the codes read and come back with what you have. I would bet on the timing belt out of time jumped and your two shakes from destroying the engine as the valves will hit the pistons. I have four VWs and the older ones before 1995 are the best. The VW water pump on the early pre 1996 2.0 or 1.8 is external to the engine where it belongs. The internal water pump on the 2.0 engine VW uses now is absolute junk, and unacceptable for reliability really dumb VW has a hole in there head on this new water pump. The old design water pump is external and will not cause this timing belt jump problem or the sudden failure the new internal VW 2.0 water pump causes. The old style water pump is golden for reliability, and when it does fail it gives you a clue,it may leak, and may squeak. It is not like the new pump it just fails, and the instant overheat and you have to pull over like now. Some times you can cheat the new 2.0 engine water pump failure by turning on the A/C this will force the radiator fans on high if the water coolant temp drops out of the red, or the idiot light shuts off you can drive it some where to get the pump, and timing belt replaced. Well I have four VW's, and do all my own work as most of the VW dealerships have kids that have not got a clue on the cars problems, or they do and they won't give you an honest answer, the water pump on the 2.0 is junk. I would recommend changing it at 25k miles and the belt, timing belt tensioner pulley and the pump at 50k. Well good luck the cars have their problems to bad VW won't address them. I have four as I have said. The cars have also window regulator problems or window motor problems. I throw them out and put in a whole different brand motor and regulator. VW gave me an email that said don't tell the internal working problems of this window motor so I won't say what is wrong with them other to say go look up VW after market 123 window motors not the Brose brand original motor they are the ones with the problem. There are other real common problems on these cars the mass air flow design is also junk, the Chysler system is one thousand percent better on this part. Well good luck VW has its head in the ground like an ostrich on its cars. Unless you are a pro like me fixing these go get a Honda, Toyota or one of the other top three rated cars. Stay away from VW's unless you want to learn how to turn a wrench like me for forty years.