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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old March 8th, 2018, 08:09   #1
300k_logician
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Default 2000 ALH Jetta Timing belt...

Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum (full disclosure: I have been reading it anonymously for a while), and I have an issue with my timing belt.

I replaced it at 298,000, and it was probably overtensioned for 30 miles or so before I realized that was why the engine was making an odd 'roar', when I released the excess tension.

I have put 9,000 miles on it since, and reading in the TDI FAQ section, I was informed that inspecting the timing belt at every oil change is a good best practice.

I was bit bit complacent my last oil change, and I didn't double check the oil level after getting my car level on the ground, and I drove about 100 miles with less than appropriate oil levels. The next day before work, I checked it and panicked and dumped too much oil in. Sooo it was overfilled for 3,000 miles or so.

And now when I approached the engine to change the oil again, lo and behold, there was a nice splatter of oil right on the upper timing belt cover. And the belt appears to be about 3-4 mm offset around the injection pump (towards the engine). The camshaft pulley seems to have the belt on straight. The water pump is a bit offset. I can't see the crankshaft from the top. I didn't fully investigate which way the belt was rotating (it started to rain).

Typically, I baby the engine and keep it under 2,000 RPM unless I'm on the freeway or getting on. One such time in particular had the intercooler clog up and push it in limp mode (it was a steep on-ramp), and since the upper timing belt cover is warped directly over the injection pump where the oil splatter was, I'm inclined to think that it was related to the breather being over-pressurized. A few drops of oil did end up on the injection pump hoses.

Anyways...

Do y'all have any advice? I have drained the excess oil out, wiped the oil off the timing belt cover, taped the warp over with duct tape, and no new oil has shown up. Should I go ahead and change the belt? What rollers/pulleys would be the most likely to need replacement?

Thanks.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 19:29   #2
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If it was my car I would replace the belt again.

Not clear (or missed it) if you replaced all the rollers, water pump, tensioner & cam gear.
Gear is recommended at 300K.

I might not change the rollers if they were replaced already.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 21:57   #3
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Generally I'd say just keep an eye on the belt and if it starts looking bad then redo it. But I've had a belt go and the pain of replacing a head is not worth just being complacent.

Could just be the roller in between the cam and the IP that is bent and causing the belt to misalign on the IP gear?

Better safe than sorry with timing belts though.
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Old March 9th, 2018, 03:56   #4
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Did you do a complete belt change the first time? New belt, rollers, tensioner, water pump etc?
If so based on what you are saying, I would probably replace the belt and the tensioner alone. Of course if all those other parts were not changed I would change out everything by using one of the complete belt kits from a trusted vendor.

Idparts, metalmanparts, cascadegerman one of the others.

Also get a new timing belt cover, someone here on the forum may have a spare they’d sell you or hit up, a salvage yard. You do not want something falling into the path of the belt I had that happen and it’s a great way to ruin your day.
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Old March 9th, 2018, 07:22   #5
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If it was overtightened enough to make noise I'd change it. It is, however, pretty common for there to be a bit of an offset on the IP pulley in terms of where the belt rides (rather than being exactly centered) toward the engine -- mine has always been that way since the car was new.

The overtension is most-likely to cause a water pump seal failure eventually -- that will give you some warning before it gets ugly (coolant will start to leak) but the possibility of a bearing failure in one of the rollers or the tensioner cannot be ruled out, and those are sometimes no-warning failures that result in a damaged cylinder head at best, so.....
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Old March 9th, 2018, 08:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300k_logician View Post
I was bit bit complacent my last oil change, and I didn't double check the oil level after getting my car level on the ground, and I drove about 100 miles with less than appropriate oil levels. The next day before work, I checked it and panicked and dumped too much oil in. Sooo it was overfilled for 3,000 miles or so.

And now when I approached the engine to change the oil again, lo and behold, there was a nice splatter of oil right on the upper timing belt cover. And the belt appears to be about 3-4 mm offset around the injection pump (towards the engine). The camshaft pulley seems to have the belt on straight. The water pump is a bit offset. I can't see the crankshaft from the top. I didn't fully investigate which way the belt was rotating (it started to rain).

Typically, I baby the engine and keep it under 2,000 RPM unless I'm on the freeway or getting on. One such time in particular had the intercooler clog up and push it in limp mode (it was a steep on-ramp), and since the upper timing belt cover is warped directly over the injection pump where the oil splatter was, I'm inclined to think that it was related to the breather being over-pressurized. A few drops of oil did end up on the injection pump hoses.

Thanks.
How low was the oil? I doubt it was too low to cause a problem unless you only put a quart in. I routinely drove my '98 until the low pressure alarm would beep on a certain fast curve on my weekly commute. I have 350k on it.

Then how overfilled was it? Seems you are concerned it was blowing oil out the breather into the intake system?

Intercooler clogged up with oil as you say won't cause it to go into limp mode. A runaway would be the result. I think you're confusing it with a clogged intake.

Is your oil splatter perhaps coming from the vent port in the EGR valve?
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Old March 9th, 2018, 11:21   #7
Rob Mayercik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300k_logician View Post
I replaced it at 298,000, and it was probably overtensioned for 30 miles or so before I realized that was why the engine was making an odd 'roar', when I released the excess tension.
(emphasis mine)

Um, how did you "release the excess tension"?
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Old March 9th, 2018, 11:24   #8
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I've yet to see an ALH that the TB doesn't run over toward the engine on the Injector Pump Sprocket with it being basically perfect in alignment on the Cam Sprocket.

If oil showed on the dip stick, it wasn't "too" low to hurt anything.

If you overfilled by a quart or a little more, no problem.

Driving at 2000 RPMs or less is not good for your TDI engine. But, before you give it an Italian Tune Up (taking the RPMs up to 3500 to 4000 thru several gears), I suggest you remove the Turbo hose at the bottom of the Intercooler and drain the oil.... it will have oil in there. I use clean rags to absorb oil out of the bottom of the IC.

As others have suggested and allude to, most likely the TB is fine. But, to have piece of mind, change it and the tensioner... assuming you changed the other TB contact parts at the last TB change.

The oil splash could have come from the weep hole on the front and back side of the EGR or at the Turbo hose fitting at the EGR.

I doubt your engine has been damaged!
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Old March 11th, 2018, 16:26   #9
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Wow, thanks for the replies, guys. I was away this weekend, just got back.
Anyhow...
I bought a kit from RockAuto, which turned out to not be what I expected. It included a timing belt tensioner, and the idlers, and a water pump, some oil seals (which I didn't use), and a stretch bolt for the crankshaft (also didn't use, didn't include a crank gear). It came with a serpentine belt and tensioner, but not the post that the timing belt tensioner sits on, and finally a water pump. This was a gates kit.
The item was poorly packaged, and the water pump had shifted around the box and punctured holes in it during transport. I belive that it collided with the serpentine belt tensioner. Since the surface of the water pump pulley had lots of new imperfections in it, I decided to play it safe and buy a metal bladed Italian built water pump from NAPA.

With respect to salvage yards for timing belt covers... Once I saw a MKV TDI at Pick-N-Pull. A smart human had already pulled the engine. There's plenty of gas powered ones for interior parts, but I'll check around a bit more. The gap is currently covered in duct tape.

For the oil level, I think it was just below the dip stick's bottom or barely on it. The starter had noticeably more difficultly cranking, which is what prompted me to check the oil level. I think I put about two quarts in before I realized how much oil was actually left over. When I checked the oil afterwards, there were dots that reflected the light from my flashlight, which my panicked brain thought were metal shards. However, since adding the oil and continuing to drive it, it has been just fine, so I think it was probably bubbles.

I did clean the intercooler twice before I inspected the timing belt using the tutorial by mickey, once less than a week before the steep on-ramp, and so they were about six days apart.

It's very probable that it's coming from a vent port. I cleaned the top of the engine with some cleaning wipes and toothbrushes, but I have not seen significant oil splatter, which would be expected since I drained the excess oil. There has not been any significant/noticable loss of oil or coolant.

I released the excess tension by touch. This was done by removing the upper timing belt cover, reaching down and unscrewing the bolt enough to adjust it with a pair of hose clamp (bent needle nose) pliers. I don't know the proper torque for it, so I just did what felt closer to the right tension. It might still be wrong...

If that injection pump is typically offset... then that's good news.
In terms of keeping it below 2,000 RPM, that's my typical city shift point. I regularly cruise on the freeway in light traffic conditions at 75MPH, which causes the engine to go above 2k. There's a dumb cloverleaf ramp I drive on coming home, and I always rev it above 2000 RPM since... it's unsafe to impede traffic at low speeds. I think in 5th gear 60 MPH is about 2000 RPM.
What would you suggest as a regular city driving shift point?

I will take a closer look at the EGR.
What's the best practice for OE parts from the dealer? The stretch bolts for the motor mounts were excessively priced in my opinion.
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Old March 11th, 2018, 16:27   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyBees View Post
...
Driving at 2000 RPMs or less is not good for your TDI engine. ..
Seriously? C'mon, Andy, the idle is 903 or thereabouts, and 1900 is where the peak torque happens, and it is also where the best fuel economy happens. And you are saying that you should not drive it there because it is not good?

You are correct however, when you say the engine was not damaged. Never going above 2k rpms might not be the best, but you can cruise at 1500rps all day long with no ill effects and great mileage.

PH
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Old March 11th, 2018, 21:26   #11
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Originally Posted by Powder Hound View Post
Seriously? C'mon, Andy, the idle is 903 or thereabouts, and 1900 is where the peak torque happens, and it is also where the best fuel economy happens. And you are saying that you should not drive it there because it is not good?

You are correct however, when you say the engine was not damaged. Never going above 2k rpms might not be the best, but you can cruise at 1500rps all day long with no ill effects and great mileage.

PH

Powder Hound, you're much aware that I've been around long enough to know the idle RPM and where Peak Torque is. The OP mentioned babying the engine and keeping RPMs below 2000. Maybe I misunderstood what the OP was alluding to. I was thinking this guy is changing gears at or below 2000 RPMs. Maybe I should have phrased that part of my comment differently with more clarity. But, you know the engine needs some high RPMs to create good boost to blown-out the Intercooler, such as when going through the gears to get up to speed.

Sure, as you've stated, around 2000 is the best RPM for good MPGs, no doubt, especially if the circumstances allow! I will not argue with that at all.
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Last edited by AndyBees; March 11th, 2018 at 21:39. Reason: Clarification
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Old March 11th, 2018, 21:43   #12
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Originally Posted by 300k_logician View Post

I released the excess tension by touch. This was done by removing the upper timing belt cover, reaching down and unscrewing the bolt enough to adjust it with a pair of hose clamp (bent needle nose) pliers. I don't know the proper torque for it, so I just did what felt closer to the right tension. It might still be wrong...

What's the best practice for OE parts from the dealer? The stretch bolts for the motor mounts were excessively priced in my opinion.
Your comments on the belt tension I find worrisome. Maybe it's a communication thing.

Torque on the tensioner nut has nothing to do with setting belt tension. That is set by lining up the indicator marks. The nut is torqued to hold that setting. What procedure did you follow? There's a good one on this site.

When you used the snap ring pliers to load it you turned it clockwise?

There are several good vendors that have the bolts and support this site.
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Old March 12th, 2018, 04:23   #13
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What KXLD said.

The bolt has a torque spec, but it's frequently difficult to get a torque wrench on it (especially while holding the tension at the correct setting.) HOWEVER, if the bolt was overtorqued enough to cause the tensioner to make noise I'm very unhappy because you probably side-loaded it to make it do that, which means the locating tab was probably NOT in the notch, and THAT means the tensioner is likely damaged on the back where you can't see it. Or worse, the stud has been damaged. If the stud snaps you're screwed just as badly as if the tensioner itself fails.

There is exactly one "correct" tension for the belt as well, which is to have the indicator in the middle of the notch. While it's not clear what you made less-tight (the tension on the belt or the nut's torque) neither is a good situation.

To set the tension you may need an inspection mirror so you can see the nub and notch and you either need snap-ring pliers (if you can get 'em in there) or one of the tools available that have the double-pins that fit in the holes, and the inner hub must be turned clockwise -- after *verifying* the locating tang is in the notch so you DO NOT load the base of the tensioner body when putting the nut on!

The timing belt system on these cars isn't that complex but it is extremely intolerant of screw-ups and the cost of them is usually at least a cylinder head rebuild.
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Old March 12th, 2018, 05:20   #14
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Seems that there's enough doubt about (a) how accurately the timing belt service was completed originally; (b) steps taken to "correct" errors; and (c) ancillary (oil) damage to the belt, that it would be prudent to take some steps to avoid early component failure and cylinder head damage. I'd be inclined to replace the belt and timing belt tensioner, and this time make sure it's secured and tensioned correctly and that the belt area is free of engine oil. And to do this of course you'll also need new engine mount bolts. For peace of mind I'd think it's worth the time and expense.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 00:32   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Genesis View Post
What KXLD said.

The bolt has a torque spec, but it's frequently difficult to get a torque wrench on it (especially while holding the tension at the correct setting.) HOWEVER, if the bolt was overtorqued enough to cause the tensioner to make noise I'm very unhappy because you probably side-loaded it to make it do that, which means the locating tab was probably NOT in the notch, and THAT means the tensioner is likely damaged on the back where you can't see it. Or worse, the stud has been damaged. If the stud snaps you're screwed just as badly as if the tensioner itself fails.

There is exactly one "correct" tension for the belt as well, which is to have the indicator in the middle of the notch. While it's not clear what you made less-tight (the tension on the belt or the nut's torque) neither is a good situation.

To set the tension you may need an inspection mirror so you can see the nub and notch and you either need snap-ring pliers (if you can get 'em in there) or one of the tools available that have the double-pins that fit in the holes, and the inner hub must be turned clockwise -- after *verifying* the locating tang is in the notch so you DO NOT load the base of the tensioner body when putting the nut on!

The timing belt system on these cars isn't that complex but it is extremely intolerant of screw-ups and the cost of them is usually at least a cylinder head rebuild.
I had issues when I performed my first TB job (my car). I'd tightened the tensioner nut very lightly but when tensioning it pulled the nut along and bound it up, causing the tab to jump out of the slot. Not sure exactly how the tab got messed up like this, but it did. I caught this issue and rectified: with about 50k miles on this TB job I'm starting to think I'm out of the woods
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