Can a Serpentine Belt break and hit the Timing Belt?

DriverJon

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Jan 22, 2011
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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Latest adventure in independent auto shop destroying my car...

After a long, expensive haul, got it back after nearly a month. Drove it 4 days, at day 2-3 I noticed a lot of diesel dripping out under the car. Something I hadn't have happen in 13yrs I've owned the car. I really should have done it myself, but out of some perversity, and further stress avoidance, I just caved and had them fix it.

Couple days later, I get a very late message. Well, here it is: "On our road test, the drive belt came apart and broke. Probably due to the fuel contamination. When it broke it wrapped up behind the timing cover and the timing jumped. Going to get a better idea what needs to be done, and get back to you tomorrow"

Excuse me. ***!#$%ER@Y%@$^&$@#%&*I@$@$#%&*W%$^&@^*@&U^DIDYOUFK#(ING BASTARDS KILL MY CAR!!!!! OK... I'm OK. I think....

So, as I sit here tonight, after giving them $2K, and supposedly going to give them another $900 or so.... maybe I have a dead car???!???!?? OK, don't know yet, going to force myself not to think about it tonight....

Anyone out there who might know, is the title event even physically possible? Does this happen? I got 163K on the car, had the timing belt done around 130'ish, DID have the timing belt, water pump, pulley done with a new belt, (IDParts timing belt parts kit) about a couple years back. Might have changed it again sooner , not sure. Original was good for 10-11yrs...

And any useful comments on legal issues, going to the courts, likelyhood of still having a functioning engine when it "jumped timing" while driving on the road, (!!!!) would be appreciated.

Hope this isn't the end of my TDI road....
 

pedroYUL

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Shouldn't the shop insurance cover this? I would ask for a lower millage engine, as these common rail heads don't seem that easy or cost effective to repair.
 

DriverJon

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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Pedro, I don't know. Would think something like that should happen. Kinda worried that they put the "Probably because of the diesel contamination" in the text... though I don't know if that's more conversational vs a defense posture.

OK, it's not a impossible thing. Maybe I just got unlucky. Still haven't contacted them, gritting my teeth to find out if I have valves on pistons, or not.
 

turbodieseldyke

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Was the shop responsible for the leaking fuel? Your info is spread out in multiple threads that i haven't followed, so i don't know. If it was their fkup, then it sounds like they admitted to destroying your timing belt.
 

pedroYUL

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That shop, even if not responsible for the fuel leak, should have advised you about replacing whatever rubber that got contaminated with diesel.

If they didn't say, hey you should let us change X and Y too, and they took your car as-is to a road test, then the resulting damage is their fault, and their insurance must cover repairs.
 

DriverJon

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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Yeah, had two issues I wanted to keep separate, that dosen't work as well when your troubles start multiplying...

Theoretically, they didn't do anything to the aux fuel pump area. Original problem was bad turbo actuator, they fixed that 3-4mo ago. I got the code again, and limp mode a couple of times, and took it in a month or so ago. They supposedly checked everything and came to the conclusion that the signal out of the ECU was bad, replaced the ECU. Took nearly a month for them to get the ECU, and finally program it, with a few problems along the way. I got the car back, drove it 4 days, noticed on day 2-3 that there's diesel under the car. I have a white concrete driveway, where drops of oil are noticable, haven't seen any the past 13yrs... I had seen weepage in that area, i.e. some fuel hoses around the filter and pump had a bit of dampness, but, any major leakage I would notice right away. So I doubt the big leak had been going on long.

I was supposed to take my car and drive it till all the codes cleared, so I could take it back, and have them sign off on the (already paid) $2k ECU change job. After nearly a month, I didn't want to wait for them to do it in their spare time.

Anyway... I assume that you don't have to take anything apart in the aux fuel/coolant bottle area, to get an ECU in and out? Or do you?

Yeah, it may not be their fkup.. or maybe it was... don't know if they're going to deny any responsibilty. They were driving it, and it broke.

What I really want to know, what's the odds that I don't have any engine damage? A CR is an interference engine, correct?
 

Nuje

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Yeah - can you clarify on the timeline?

Sounds like they had the car for a month to do whatever work....then within a few days of you getting it back, there's diesel leaking and it takes out the serpentine belt....is that correct?

In which case, how is it not pretty obvious that they did something to cause the fuel leak? And given that they already blamed the failed serpentine belt on fuel leaking onto it....this sounds like it's wholly on them.
 

Nuje

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What I really want to know, what's the odds that I don't have any engine damage? A CR is an interference engine, correct?
The odds are not in your favour.... as in, it'd be a miracle if there wasn't damage to the valves.
 

DriverJon

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Location
Irvine, CA
TDI
2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
That shop, even if not responsible for the fuel leak, should have advised you about replacing whatever rubber that got contaminated with diesel.

If they didn't say, hey you should let us change X and Y too, and they took your car as-is to a road test, then the resulting damage is their fault, and their insurance must cover repairs.
Well, I brought it back to them saying "hey, I see a big diesel leak". Then they told me it was the aux pump, wanted to change some fuel lines. And change the diesel filter, cause it was wet. (??) I asked them about other hoses, and mentioned Oilhammer's statement of cooling hoses getting damaged, with that reservoir hose tending to be the first one to get soaked. They said yup, its soaked/soft. Had to wait 3 days, "there was only one left in the country, we got it on order'.

They didn't mention any thing else. It sounded like it was wrapped up ready to go, after their test drive...
 
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DriverJon

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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Heard back from the shop. They said it... well he was vauge, but on the test drive something happened. "Found a code for cam positioning" then looked and saw serpentine belt came loose and got under, wrapped around, something, on the timing belt at the crankshaft side. I asked, and he admitted that they towed it back to the shop.

They want to do a timing belt replacement, and retime of cams (not like its part of same job, right?) and for $1750 or so, THEN they can tell me if the engine has any damage. I ask "what do you mean *I* need to pay $1750???" "Well, they're not responsible for a belt randomly breaking on a customers car....."
 

MrCypherr

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Sounds like they messed up and giving you the run around to not pay. Clearly they dont want to help you so unless you put some pressure on them, you might be wasting your time with them. Im sure there are other trusted TDI shops in your area.
 

DriverJon

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I used to ask for some, in the OC/LA area on here... stopped, since there didn't seem to be actual specialists. Unless you ask any shop, and they'll tell you they are.... Thought these guys were good, on how they handled my first issue.. though I pretty much told them full diagnosis, where to find parts, etc...

"Trusted TDI shop" around here would be a dealer... and I think my odds of making them take it THERE, and pay the bill for it, is pretty slim.

Any ideas on how to put pressure on a shop? I've been dealing with the shop manager, could talk to the owner Monday and ask how he feels about his manager trying to get him into a court house....
 

turbodieseldyke

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The belt didn't randomly break. It broke because diesel leaked all over it, and they had foreknowledge of that. They could have test driven it with the compromised serp belt removed.

They want to do a timing belt replacement, and retime of cams (not like its part of same job, right?) and for $1750 or so, THEN they can tell me if the engine has any damage.
That's like replacing your fender, hood and bumper, and painting them, before checking for frame damage.
 

Bob S.

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Jon,

I agree with the prior responses here.

For clarification, what year and engine is in your car?

What was the failure sequence? Understood, during a road test, the S belt failed allegedly due to d2 contamination. Parts of the S belt entered into the timing belt area. From there it gets confusing.

The sequence and time line matters. What specifically happened?
1. Did the driver notice something wrong? Ie. Battery light, unusual noise, or something similar, pull over, turn off a running engine, find the S belt failure. Then attempt to restart, no restart, check for codes and found cam position index code? Or
2. The engine died when running? Coasted to stop, S belt failure found, restart unsuccessful, codes pulled?

It makes a difference to the answer of your question in probable damage.

The other issue is with the shop's competency. My suggestion is not to let them do anything further until more is known, but do not remove the car from their care, custody & control until you know what options you have. If you remove it, without appropriate steps, you may jeopardize an insurance claim by evidence spoliation.
 

DriverJon

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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
2010 Jetta, 6sp Manual, TDI.

3 mo ago, fixed bad turbo actuator.

Couple weeks ago, got limp mode and stuck turbo code again, took in. "They checked everything else" changed ECU. $2000. Took car home while waiting for codes to clear, they'd had it >3weeks already. Cruise control inoperative. Windshield cracked.

2-3 days after taking home, noticed significant diesel leakage under right side of car. Asked to check for other things like water lines soaked in diesel, like hose to reservoir, they said the one I mentioned needed changing. Waited 3 days for "only hose in the country" to arrive. Going to be $950. Changed aux pump and fuel and water hose. During final test drive, "belt came apart" and "timing jumped".

I don't know exact answers to 1 and 2. Asked questions, teased out that it was while they were driving it, and they did have to tow it back to their shop. They "found a code" saying timing was off, but state they have to do the full timing job ($1750) before they can determine if any engine damage.

Going to talk to the owner, rather than his shop manager today if I can, just trying to decide what to say, rather than swearing loudly and yelling for a lawsuit....
 

DriverJon

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Location
Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Update... got call from manager, asked to talk to owner instead. Said owner wasn't in today, was going to hang up... he said owner said to do belt w/o charging me and we'll see what happens. I agreed... though maybe I shouldn't have? Been a couple of hours... I also filed BAR complaint before they called...
 

MrCypherr

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Well I feel like that they should be doing the job without you paying because the error happened in their care. Hopefully theres no engine damage and this can be sorted out quickly so you dont have to deal with them again.
 

Bob S.

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With those sketchy details, it is hard to venture an opinion or guess. Good luck & keep us posted.
 

DriverJon

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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
Thanks.

Slight update, couple days back I showed up unannounced at the shop, after work... They did have my car up on a rack, and at my request the manager showed me the uncovered timing belt, with fibers sticking out of the crank pully teeth. No serp belt in sight. Should have demanded to see that. They were arguing that "since I said the tensioner and waterpump and pullys were done already" they would only change the belt." I was mostly agreeing... out of resigned desparation, though I'm regretting that now. Its so close to Xmas... hard to get anything done. I'll try demanding they fix it as if it was one of THEIR cars...

Talked briefly w BAR a second time... think I'm now remembering that they have little teeth, and maybe not able to do much. First BAR guy said "yeah there's mechanic's insurance, but ususaly its effectively worthless, due to deductions that are bigger than most job values." Sounds like they gather info... and you probably end up in small claims by yourself, someday.
 

Bob S.

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Location
Central MD.
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Thanks.

Slight update, couple days back I showed up unannounced at the shop, after work... They did have my car up on a rack, and at my request the manager showed me the uncovered timing belt, with fibers sticking out of the crank pully teeth. No serp belt in sight. Should have demanded to see that. They were arguing that "since I said the tensioner and waterpump and pullys were done already" they would only change the belt." I was mostly agreeing... out of resigned desparation, though I'm regretting that now. Its so close to Xmas... hard to get anything done. I'll try demanding they fix it as if it was one of THEIR cars...
Again, from the outside looking in: The primary question is: Was their Valve to Piston contact?

If not, and to quote Oil Hammer response to a similar situation that happened to me: "I would try putting a new belt on it, and see if it starts and runs OK. It may have survived." That was great counsel (OH, thank you again). I chose not to go into the water pump, tensioner etc. as they had <40K miles on them. I approached it more as a fist diagnostics step, easier & faster than pulling the head. If there was V/P contact, I was going to swap the engine out. If no contact, I would just do a shortened T-belt interval on the next R&R. Not going into the water pump & tensioner made the Timing check & T-belt job much easier & faster.

Long story short. There appears to have been no contact in my similar failure. Over 3K hard miles on it thus far. I plan on pulling an oil analysis at about 5K miles as a precaution.

If the shop is willing to help you, is the water pump & tensioner a hill you are willing to die on with the unknowns? Remember, if there was contact & a new head or engine is needed, you will have been cooperative & followed their recommendations to date, possibly bolstering any future claim.

When researching, I found reference that the engine could go up to 5 teeth out before valve/piston interference. But, no specific info was given as to whether the reference was the cam, or crank sprocket (2:1 difference).

Best of luck to you & the shop with it. I hope you are as lucky as I was.
 
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DriverJon

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Irvine, CA
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2010 Jetta TDI, 6M
So, it's been a week and a half, admittedly with Christmas in the middle of that, and haven't heard back yet. Sent txt early today, heard nothing so far. Asked to talk to the owner. No reply.

Yes, was there contact, that is the question. I sure as hell hope not. Did not know that you could go that many teeth off, before contact, sounds like (if it wasn't driving at speed) more of a chance of survival than I expected. Is that for a CR engine, or are you talking older ones?

Never got a clear description of what happened despite asking. The "Shop Manager" seems to not have that deep of a tech background? Normally, my curiosity would have me looking up all kinds of stuff, but this has been depressing enough, (and hosting the holidays asked a lot of us) that I haven't done much of that.

Shop was only willing to help me, for $1750 to do the timing job. Then, suddenly, a discussion happened, and they offered no charge to "just slap a belt on it and see". I told them to go ahead. Maybe I get lucky. Hopefully they can do that job, w/o breaking anything else. Then we can go back to fixing my lost cruise control from the original $2000 ECU replacement to fix my intermittant turbo actuator problem...

We'll see what happens...
 

Bob S.

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Aug 17, 2006
Location
Central MD.
TDI
A B4V, some ALHs & BRMs
The 5 tooth reference was vague. Unfortunately, when I took mine apart & began referencing it, I did not keep accurate measurements of the exact number of teeth that the T belt system was off. Crank, T belt & HPFP were all off. The cam 3to 4 tooth off (retarded) from the crank. IP was more.

For reference sake, mine, fortunately failed while at idle @ a stop light. It was till running. albeit with alternator & other dash lights. Was an able to drive off the road, & turn it off. It would not re-start on the index error code.

I share your thoughts that there is a better chance of survival if the S belt does not fail at speed.
 
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