Bought vw that ran with no water

Ok so i bought the 81 vw cabriolet that i thought had a blown motor well did i get lucky.I put a battery in cause other was dead and car
would turn over but wouldt start i noticed that none of the gages were working so i put gas in it and pumped a couple of times and dont you know it started right up.I was really excited cause i only paid 300 for the car which is in great condition but lady thought she blew motor cause gages werent working and the car died and the temp needle was all the way to red and smoke was coming from motor because there is a leak somewere at top of motor and was burning off the engine causing it to smoke that it so funny my gain her loss.So far im looking at replacing valve cover gasket and finding out why my gages arent working meaning all gages in instrument panel mph,rpm,gas etc.The three gages by shifter work but one fluctuates alot so any ideas why my gages that control rpm and mph and gas etc arent working? Also there is smoke coming out of tail pipe and the oil leak is toward back of valve cover and smoke is coming from exaust manifold thought maybe it was from oil leaking onto and burning off but with smoke also coming from tail pipe im lost.
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On Jun 26, 3:57 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

a) color of the smoke from the tailpipe? (white, grey, brown, something else) b) density? c) smell? d) is there oil in your coolant water or water in your oil? e) have you pulled the oil-filter and looked at it?
Your gauges ('gage' has NOTHING to do with indicator instruments: GAGE: 1: a token of defiance; specifically : a glove or capitalized cast on the ground to be taken up by an opponent as a pledge of combat 2: something deposited as a pledge of performance) may have failed for any number of reasons including melted wires or grounds due to the heat, disconnected wires due to someone groping around or similar. I believe there are also fuses that cover the instrument panel, so start with the fuse panel in general.
You write you have lots of smoke from various sources. Much as I dislike the chemistry and quite nasty pollution involved, you should obtain a can or two of "engine cleaner" spray, and thoroughly clean the engine carefully following the directions. Try to do this where the run-off will at least be controlled somewhat. Then watch it carefully for sources of oil leaks. Make sure all your hoses are intact, you might also want to flush the coolant (after determining for sure that there is no oil in it). Then check your senders for oil pressure, temperature and so forth. Lastly, do a compression-test if you have the tools. You might be quite lucky if the engine ran only "to" the Red and not "above" it. It takes genuine and nearly deliberate abuse to wreck an engine and despite rumors to the contrary it does not happen instantly. From a hefty number of seconds to several minutes depending on which fluid is missing or compromised, but usually (not always) there are several other symptoms to catch your intention before permanent failure... That is, if you are paying attention. It is those who rely only on Idiot Lights that have the worst failures.... (wearing my flame suit).
Peter Wieck Wyncote, PA
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OK it sounds like you have the makings of a good vehicle. At least the price was right! ;-)
Like pfjw said..........clean off the engine and check the compression along with the color of the spark plug electrodes. I would say if the oil level is too full that could be a cause of nasty running problems and lots of smoke. Before I start guessing...........you start checking. ;-) Valve Cover gaskets usually go bad and oil will go over the engine.
Check coolant, oil level and its quality. Sometimes if the gas gets into the oil it becomes diluted and smoke can appear along with other running problems.
Check your fuses for any electrical problems. Some people need the idiot lights, trust me, although the lights need to be checked during the starting process. It would be nice if all vehicles had both gauges and idiot lights!
JMHO
--
later,
dave
(One out of many daves)
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The color of the smoke looked brown or black dont ask about smell paid 10,000 for sinoplasty and lost sence of smell LOL anyways the coolant looked fine and oil looked ok havent taken oil filter or anything out yet just wanted to know if car would run and it is at a shop with someone i have known for years and trust.Anyways i beleive the car has had a oil leak for a while meaning couple of months the lady who had it was a gas and go type of women and did rely on idiot lights LOL little by little i will start changing everything out good thing is i dont think i need a motor cause if the motor was blown or head was cracked it wouldnt even start right?Funny thing to i have never owned a manual vw couldnt figure out how to start it or reverse it has a push button starter and you have to push down on stick to reverse LMAO
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probably not. possibly the life of the engine was reduced some by the overheating but doesn't sound like it killed it. keep and eye on the fluids to make sure the oil and water aren't mixing. then maybe change all the fluids since that poor engine has been through hell and back anyway.

push button starter isn't stock...that's weird. but yeah the push-down-to-reverse is normal of a VW.
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Fluids look good huh? Brown or black exhaust huh? Likely that is all Normal!
Sounds like a tune up along with resealing any fluids leaking out, cleaning the engine externally, changing the oil and you have a decent running vehicle. Of course you need to check out the electrical issues.
Push button starter might indicate that you have a bad ign switch which could explain the gauges not functioning too. ;-)
keep us informed!
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ah good point! didn't think of that one.
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lol That is why we have this "Think Tank" to have each other's back! ;-)

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i love this site you all have been very helpful for my first vw project anyways i dont know why the push button starter was installed but the gauges did work fine before the gas and go women got ahold of it im also thinking maybe there is a alternator issue she stated the car just died so if alternator went out that mean car was just relying on battery and completly draines it.I have had a alternator start to go out and it made my car do funny shit like radio would go on and off lights would work than they wouldnt etc...
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Possibly...my alternator brushes wore out and I was getting only about 10V at the alternator and when that happened the gauges all read lower than normal. So I guess if the voltage is low enough the gauges might quit altogether?
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On Tue, 26 Jun 2007 12:57:59 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

SNIP
Tach, Fuel, Temp gauges + Speedometer not working means someone took out the cluster and didn't hook it back up.
Fluctuating gauges are likely ground issues. Remove, clean, and re-install the engine compartment grounds stacked on the water outlet stud on the right hand end of the head. Remove, clean, and re-install the grounds behind the dash in the steering coulmn area. I usually add a braided strap from the battery ground cable on the frame/motor mount to the engine and another from the engine to the alternator case.

White smoke & antifreeze smell = blown head gasket Dark Grey smoke and maybe burning oil smell = check compression Dark Grey smoke that makes your eyes burn = too much fuel
just my $0.02
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