Do timing belts have replacement recommendations based on age?

bizzle

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Do our ALH timing belts need to be replaced based on age if we don't put enough miles on them?

We haven't put 100k on our bug in the past 5 years since the last timing belt. I'm about 50K away from, actually, and at the rate we're using it I doubt we'd hit that in the next few years.

BMW recommended 5 year intervals on the belts (at least on the M20) along with the mileage, whichever occurred first. Should I also replace my VW's timing belt regardless of mileage under these conditions?
 

hskrdu

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2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
Yes. From memory the ALH belt was 5 years. The belt is generally fine, but everything else in the pathway may need attention. A quick search will reveal the same question with more answers and further discussion.
 

bizzle

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Southern California
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Thanks for the quick response. I never had this problem before, but now that we've had wagons and kids and work a few miles from home I guess I'll be doing it based on age from here on out :)

It occurs to me that if I'm replacing solely due to age, will it be safe to replace the belt alone as long as I do a full TB service in another 50K (basically maintaining the 100K service interval with periodic belt replacements within that mileage interval)?
 
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AndyBees

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Southeast Kentucky
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Silver 2003 Jetta TDI, Silver 2000 Jetta TDI (sold), '84 Vanagon with '02 ALH engine
FWIIW, the TB on my recently acquired 03 was installed in 2012 and is at 100k miles. Planning to change it in March. By then it will have about 103k on it.

On the ALH in my Vanagon, the water pump locked up at 50k miles but luckily the TB did not jump time.

So, I guess you could say, "Do I feel lucky?"

And, a side story, an ol' 84 Jetta that I've owned since 2001 has a 21 year old TB on it..... it broke last week. I knew it needed changed but just kept putting off doing the job. Interestingly, it broke while the engine was idling. Since it is not licensed nor insured it doesn't get driven. So, I usually start the engine about once per month and let it idle for a few minutes. But, I do suspect a critter may have got in there and chewed on the TB.
 

Genesis

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Sevier County TN
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'03 Jetta Wagon
They DO deteriorate on time, but it's very, very hard to know how much. The outside atmosphere where you are has a huge impact on how much the compounds in the belt deteriorate and that varies from place to place in a big way, so the "time" interval is (very) conservative for MOST people.

Would I change just the belt? Probably not, simply because it's enough work to get the darn thing out and back in that if you have to do it twice you'll swear LOUDLY. If VW hadn't run the engine mount THROUGH the middle of the belt, forcing removal to get it out and in, I'd be of a different opinion.
 

hskrdu

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Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
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2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
It occurs to me that if I'm replacing solely due to age, will it be safe to replace the belt alone as long as I do a full TB service in another 50K (basically maintaining the 100K service interval with periodic belt replacements within that mileage interval)?
If I'm changing the belt, I'm changing everything in the TB kit. It's not that costly in terms of parts, and if it's once every five years, it's cheap insurance. For our ALH's (3 over the last decade), I also changed out many of the extra items (deluxe kit) at 10 years / 200k miles.
 

WildChild80

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I ways change the crank seal and cam seal along with everything else, I've pulled tensioners that felt perfect but interference engine's don't like piston valve contact and it something fails and causes contact, guess what...you're gonna put an entire timing belt kit in anyway plus another head assuming you didn't bend rods. That's why I just replace and not worry

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Nero Morg

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So what about using the PD oil pump while doing the timing belt? Can't really find a straight answer on "could you stay with the stock or should you upgrade."
 

oilhammer

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outside St Louis, MO
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There are just too many to list....
I go with the 10 year rule, and I haven't yet run into any modern VAG products that make me think otherwise. I did a 1998 New Beetle last year that had less than 20k miles on it. The belt still looked OK, but obviously looks do not tell you much, hence the replacement interval.

Had a 2003 ATQ Passat in here today with its original belt at 126k miles... owner has no money. :(
 

WildChild80

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So what about using the PD oil pump while doing the timing belt? Can't really find a straight answer on "could you stay with the stock or should you upgrade."
Had I known that was an option I would have put the bew chain and sprockets when I had my 3 in pieces...here's to next time

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Studs

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Chicago
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2003 Golf 4D/ GL Auto
I go with the 10 year rule, and I haven't yet run into any modern VAG products that make me think otherwise. I did a 1998 New Beetle last year that had less than 20k miles on it. The belt still looked OK, but obviously looks do not tell you much, hence the replacement interval.

Had a 2003 ATQ Passat in here today with its original belt at 126k miles... owner has no money. :(
I read with interest of the 10 year rule by Oilhammer. I have a 2003 Golf with the timing belt replaced at 88,000 miles in Nov 2011. The car now has 156,500 miles and year away from the 10 year mark. Question is..... Can I put this off until the 10 year interval or am I risking a potential end game.
 

Genesis

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Location
Sevier County TN
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'03 Jetta Wagon
Remove the top cover and look.

Are you taking a risk if you wait? Yes, but calculate the risk. What's everything look like?

Just understand what the damage is if you're wrong.
 

Genesis

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Feb 26, 2003
Location
Sevier County TN
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'03 Jetta Wagon
Any checking (cracks, etc) on the belt surface, its general condition, evidence that any of the rollers are not running smoothly (grooving, discoloration, etc), debris at the bottom (material being shed off the belt), evidence of trouble in the tensioners (e.g. oil leaks or other evidence of trouble on the tensioner), any evidence of oil leaks from the cam seal, etc.

This is a check you should do at every oil change anyway. If you see anything that looks off it requires immediate investigation.
 
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