I drive a 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon with 125,000 kilometres on the odometer. The timing belt replacement period is 160,000 but I had it replaced after 10 years/100,000 km. The only immediate benefit was that the removal of a “squeaky bearing” sound which would disappear when the motor warmed up. I presumed this was the water pump that’s often substituted during a timing belt change. Was this wise or was I spending my money too soon? — Jan
The 1.9-litre ALH engine from your VW is an interference engine, which means at least one of the motor valves extends to the piston’s path. The technology of an interference engine dictates that the valves are not fully open when the piston reaches its entire extension. This design leaves only enough space inside the combustion chamber and contact of those components won’t ever happen under normal operation.
If the timing belt breaks, the inner engine synchronization will be lost and a collision of motor parts will happen.
For vehicles that see less than average mileage, deciding when to do this essential service is a favorite inquiry. It will become a particularly crucial decision when dealing with an interference engine. The hassle of being stranded in the side of the street following a timing belt failure will be immediately forgotten once you’re handed the repair quote to replace the belt and also fix the engine damage brought on by the failed belt.
Ten years is quite little time on a first belt. I generally recommend no longer than eight, five to seven being best.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about repair and maintenance? E-mail , putting “Lou’s Garage” in the topic area.
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