How to do an A3 timing belt, ( Lot's of pictures)


Zehntes Jahr der Veteran
Oct 13, 1998
Boise, Idaho
2013 Passat TDI, Newmar Ventana 8.3L ISC 3945, 2016 E250 BT, 2000 Jetta TDI
How to do an A3 timing belt, ( Lot\'s of pictures)

OK I did my timing belt and took a bunch of pictures I will keep the captions to a minimum and let the picture do the talking. 2000_1228_072622AA.JPG
This is a picture of the tools and the computer including the Uwe Ross cable. 2000_1228_073949AA.JPG
Here is a picture of the parts needed, notice there is a pollen air filter, most A3 TDI's do not have the filter but I installed one due to my wifes allergies. 2000_1228_081126AA.JPG
This is a picture of the engine with the cover removed 2000_1228_081319AA.JPG
Remove the intake hose going to the air box then, 2000_1228_081524AA.JPG
remove the air box cover and MAF sensor and set to the side where it won't get stepped on! 2000_1228_083022AA.JPG
Next remove the belly pan, a trick I have found to make removing the special washer things is to use a long small tipped screwdriver and unscrew them as depicted in the photo. 2000_1228_083448AA.JPG
Next using a 10mm socket remove the four bolts that hold the rear portion of the belly pan on, lower the aft portion and slide the four front tabs from the underframe and take the belly pan out from under the car. 2000_1228_090137AA.JPG
remove the timing belt cover, 2000_1228_090554AA.JPG
remove the (3) plastic thread protectors, 2000_1228_090751AA.JPG
remove the (3) 10mm nuts and pry the (3) metal rings off the valve cover so you don't lose them when you pry off the cover in the next step, 2000_1228_090956AA.JPG
GENTLY! pry the valve cover off be careful not to damage the injector lines (the screwdriver was resting on the line for demonstration purposes only), 2000_1228_091115AA.JPG
here is a picture of the valve cover gasket, it is ok to reuse it so be careful not to damage it. 2000_1228_091740AA.JPG
using the special VW special tool or a big socket turn the camshaft until... 2000_1228_091758AA.JPG
...the camshaft's alignment slot is horizontal (Note that the slot is off centered and the slot should be flush with the deck of the valve cover deck and... 2000_1228_092138AA.JPG
...Flywheel TDC mrk lines up with the little aluminum arrow on the bell housing. 2000_1228_093728AA.JPG
Now insert the camshaft locking bar and... 2000_1228_093822AA.JPG
...the injection pump lock pin. By doing this these will hold the engine from turning for one of the upcoming steps. 2000_1228_092421AA.JPG
Now get a 13mm socket and go under the car and loosen the power steering pump bolt until it is just loose (DO NOT remove the bolt) and... 2000_1228_092453AA.JPG
loosen the other bolt on the other side of the pump. Don't worry you will not be able to move the pump by hand what you will do is...

] tures/2000_1228_092614AA.JPG
get a crescent wrench and turn the geared nut until the belt is loose enough...

] tures/2000_1228_092738AA.JPG
to remove without any struggle, then turn the nut back a turn or two this will help you remove the main serpentine belt. 2000_1228_092910AA.JPG
next get a big screwdriver and insert it into the tensioner as shown, gently pry the tensioner away from the belt (up) until...

[url=" Belt Pic tures/2000_1228_092935AA.JPG
you have removed enough tension to remove the belt. I suggest replacing the belt and found mine to be shot after 60,000 miles. 2000_1228_093911AA.JPG
Get out your allen socket (highly recomended and DO NOT USE AN EXTENSION or you WILL strip out the allen socket). Remove all four and under no circumstance loosen or use the center nut to hold the crank. The camshaft locking bar and injection pump pin will do that for you. 2000_1228_100258AA.JPG
Remove the outer pulley (should be easy) and tap on the harmonic balancer with an Sledge hammer (I'M JOKING!) use a rubber mallet and tap on it. A bit of rust and corrosion build up on the shaft and make it difficult to remove. Tapping on it will loosen it up and make the struggle a bit less painful. 2000_1228_100540AA.JPG
Get some green Scotch Brite and clean up the crank shaft from the corrosion ( do not use steel wool). Next get a 10mm socket and remove the two bolts and one very difficult to reach nut. 2000_1228_100700AA.JPG 2000_1228_101626AA.JPG
This is how you reach the 10mm nut to remove the plastic lower cover- one 3/8" to 1/4" reducer and a 10mm deep socket and a 3/8" rachet. The bolt that the nut screws onto has a blind head on it so it will not fall into oblivion. If you look up into the motor you can see where you can stick a screwdriver behind it to push it back in for reassembly. 2000_1228_102001AA.JPG
Here is a picture of the lower cover, Note wher the hole is for the 10mm nut. 2000_1228_103133AA.JPG
Here is where it gets fun loosen up the tensioner using a 13mm socket, Don not remove the tensioner yet! 2000_1228_103252AA.JPG
Now using the holding bar loosen the 19mm bolt on the camshaft. You should not rely on the camshaft lock bar to hold back the forces when trying to loosen this bolt it can deform the lock bar or crack the camshaft 2000_1228_103401AA.JPG
Oncve you loosen the bolt only remove it about this far. This will keep the pulley from frlying off the shaft in the next step 2000_1228_103511AA.JPG
Using a punch and a hammer hit the inner diameter of the pulley. This will unseat it off the camshaft. The bolt will keep the pulley from flying off and possibly breaking something. Don't worry as long as you hit the pulley near the center as shown you cannot break anything. It will take a pretty good tap to knock it loose so don't worry if it takes a couple of blows till you get it right. If you have a special puller you can use that as well but the punch method is what VW uses in the manual. 2000_1228_103711AA.JPG
remove the pulley and the... 2000_1228_103810AA.JPG
...tensioner and remove the belt from the engine. 2000_1228_104104AA.JPG
Insert the new belt and... 2000_1228_104535AA.JPG
tensioner. I have found thatwrapping the belt from the crank around the intermediate shaft and then around the pump works best at removing excess slack from the belt. 2000_1228_104827AA.JPG
Once all the slack is taken up insert the cam pulley and the bolt but DO NOT TIGHTEN! 2000_1228_105318AA.JPG
check that the engine is still at TDC. If its notjust remove the pulley enough that you can move the crank one way or the other until everything lines up. The cam and injection pump are locked so you don't have to worry about them moving. I have used a screwdriver to help hole the flywheel by jamming it in the TDC hole. 2000_1228_105623AA.JPG
Now get out your two feeler guages and start with a .010" feeler insert one on each side +/- a few .001" to make sure the camshaft is perfectly flat with the head. This is critical to amke sure the cam is exactly where it needs to be relative to the crank. 2000_1228_110132AA.JPG
Using the tensioner setting bar tool gently tighten the 13mm nut till it is just snug, then rotate the tensioner until the two marks line up and then tighten the nut down. 2000_1228_110353AA.JPG
Once you make sure the engine is at TDC, the camshaft is set, and the injection pump lock pin is in place tighten the cam pulley. again make sure that you hold the pulley with something so you don't put too much stress on the cam lock tool or timing belt.
after removing the cam lock tool and the injection pump lock pin turn the camshaft one complete revolution. You will feel resistance against the cylinders compression so it will take a good amount of effort. This serves two purposes, one it makes sure that the timing on the cam and crank are correct, second it allows the timing belt to center itself on the pulleys. Once you go through a complete revolution and you did not feel the engine hit anything (you shouldn't) then get in the car and bump the motor a couple of times. All you are looking for is a quick bump Do not start the engine yet. NOTE: What you need to do is put the air box and intake tube back on the inlet and reconnect the MAF sensor wire, if you don't it will throw a code! the engine will run fine but the code will be stored regardless until you can clear it. After a couple of bumps go ahead and start the engine but only let it run for a second or two. It should start on the first try. If you let it run for more than a second oil will go everywhere! 2000_1228_115945AA.JPG
Reinstall the lower plastic cover (have fun putting the 10mm nut on
) and inspect that there are no oil leaks around the crank seal. If everything is satisfactory reistall the harmonic dampener, NOTE: the Dampener mus align itself with the holes, they are offset and can only go on one way. There is a notch 2000_1228_102052AA.JPG located at the 7 o'clock position that goes through one of the holes in the dampener. It's easy to do just look through the dampener holes and make sure you can see all the threaded holes. I highly suggest using Blue Locktite when reinstalling these bolts. 2000_1228_121046AA.JPG
Reinstall the fan belts in the same order you took them off. 2000_1228_120926AA.JPG
Re tighten the power steering pump belt, Do not over tighten and make sure there is a little play use your good judgement, if you over tighten this can wear out the water pump bearing and that is a pain to change! 2000_1228_121655AA.JPG
Clean off the valve cover deck with a paper towel and reistall the valve cover. 2000_1228_143405AA.JPG
Here is a picture of my Pollen Air filter 2000_1228_151733AA.JPG
If you have a a cable and computer this is where you check the timing 2000_1228_151947AA.JPG
Start the car and run the software (in that order) click on Data Blocks, then click on the Basic Settings bar the screen will then display the data blocks in "Basic Settings" and look at Blocks 2 and 9 compare them with the Bentley manual graph. I lucked out the timing is where I prefer to have it set - Advanced. Anytime you are checking the timing the engine MUST be in Basic Settings. This removes all ECU timing corrections, you will hear the engine change pitch when this is selected. 2000_1228_085425AA.JPG
Reinstall the timing belt cover 2000_1228_154005AA.JPG
Reinstall the air box, and the other things you took off double check everything and your done. 2000_1228_155237AA.JPG
The finished product! I have found that after around 25,000 miles the timng needs to be checked again due to belt stretch. You will notice an increase in performance with a noticable increase in smoke output and lower mileage around this time. Most people attribute this to the engine "breaking in" it's actually the belt stretching from normal wear.

In another post I'll put together a pictorial on setting the injection timing.


[This message has been edited by Drivbiwire (edited December 31, 2000).]


Jan 11, 2000
Re: How to do an A3 timing belt, ( Lot\'s of pictures)

Pete, Great work and in my opinion much better than the Bently manual! It would be great if the pictures could actually be posted to the site and the entire proceedure archived, perhaps in another thread. I realize that for someone with a 28.8 kbps modem the download time would be very long, but worth the wait for the excellent information you have posted, Hurry up and post the A4.

Turbo Steve

Top Post Dawg
Jan 11, 2000
Re: How to do an A3 timing belt, ( Lot\'s of pictures)

Great effort and work Pete! Thanks a million for putting this together.


Moderator at Large
Jun 16, 1999
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
2006 Jetta TDI
Re: How to do an A3 timing belt, ( Lot\'s of pictures)

... and with a subtle selection of menus and keyboard clicks, into the archives it goes! Thanks!

Brian P.
'96 Passat TDI mit UPsolute