VW TDI forum, Audi, Porsche, and Chevy Cruze Diesel forum banner

Newbie Timing Belt Change Help

2812 Views 16 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Tomspassat
I've read quite a bit of the posts here, but not close to all of them so forgive me if I'm repeating something.

I've got a 2002 Golf TDI (ALH) with 160,000 miles on it.

I've done most or all of my own work for the last 6-8 years, including replacing a timing belt on a standard gas car. I've got many standard tools (jack stands, socket sets) and the Bentley manual. I started with the assumption that I could change this myself without much worry, but I saw a post elsewhere saying that if you don't have/know how to use VCDS, you shouldn't be attempting this on your own. Any truth to this?

I'm planning on buying the diesel geek set and renting the metal nerd tools (unless talked out of it).

Couple of questions:
In the ALH timing belt walkthrough, it indicates that you can wait until it's practical to use the VCDS. What exactly happens if you don't tweak using the VCDS and/or how long is practical? Could I make the fixes at my house in CT and drive to OH, where a friend has access to the cable?

About the VCDS, what are the normal thank you's for borrowing one? Haven't had to use it yet, but should I just buck up and buy one as the car's getting older and I'm putting some serious miles on?

Planning on replacing the water pump at the same time: Should I follow "timing belt part 1", "water pump replacement", then "timing belt part 2"? Any adjustments necessary to that plan?

I'll also do regular maintenance (oil change, fuel filter, air filter) at the same time. Are there other things that are convenient to do while the engine is apart?

Sorry for the long post and thanks for any help.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
No prob, better to ask if you're not sure and thanks for the detailed question. Please post a follow up when you're done! If your timing belt has never been changed you are severely overdue and should have it changed as soon as possible. Seriously, if you have another car to drive I wouldn't drive the TDI.

You absolutely do not need VCDS to do the timing belt. Saying that if you don't know how to use VCDS "you shouldn't be attempting this on your own" is fear mongering. However, if you have no mechanical skill or experience then I'd say start with something simplier or watch someone else do it so you can learn before doing something that will cost a lot of money if it gets screwed up.

As long as you use the timing belt tools and the belt is correctly set, the injection pump will be set to where it will start and run fine. Worst case it might be a little off but no harm (assuming a stock car with normal use). Just find someone to tweak the timing when you get the chance.

If your friend has a genuine Ross Tech VCDS they can mail it to you and the software will work since it follows the cable (except the very old cables). It's also a good time to check the injection quantity, see the FAQ for the procedure. If you only need it to check the timing I'm told the generic cables off ebay will work with shareware versions of the software. They can't do advanced stuff and have almost 0 resale though.

Planning on replacing the water pump at the same time: Should I follow "timing belt part 1", "water pump replacement", then "timing belt part 2"? Any adjustments necessary to that plan?
correct. Only the fuel filter is really touched during this procedure. If the camshaft seal is leaking you should replace it, otherwise leave it alone. You can clean the engine but cover the alternator, disconnect the battery, and blow air out of any plugs. Use a small stream of water rather than the sharp, full strength nozzle setting when washing to prevent water from splashing up into places it shouldn't go. Obviously you don't want water entering the oil or air intake path since it could contaminate the oil or cause hydrolock.
See less See more
You can save the oil change for another day but the car will be up anyways. Remember to remove the filter first to let the housing drain into the oil pan.

I bought the car at 90,000k (in 2007). The timing belt was changed at 80,000 by the previous owner (a salesmen for VW). I'm making the cautious assumption that he didn't bother with the 100k kit then and changing it at 160,000 instead of 180,000. I figure he knew he was selling it soon when it was done and he got cheap work through his own service department, so why would he update to 100k.

I've done quite a bit to the car (new alternator/pulley a year ago, new cat right after I bought it) so I'm pretty comfortable under the hood. I'm also enlisting my father in law who knows nothing about VWs but has been toying with muscle cars for 40 years and has ran a few diesel pickups in his day.

TB-day is a week from Saturday, assuming the parts and rental tools get here by then. Thanks for the help and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions in the next couple of weeks.
The idler pully should have a date stamped on it which will let you know when it was made.
I hadn't thought of looking at the parts numbers. Perhaps I can buy myself another 20k (or at least a more convenient time).
I would not wait 20k miles 180k is just far too long for the water pump and rollers. They are marked with a date of manufacture but I forget if they're on the inside or outside face.

In addition, you're not really saving much money by waiting a few months but you could prevent major damage by doing it as soon as possible. I had a timing belt break, literally, the week before I was going to have it changed (it was already overdue but I was at school so I put it off). After that I learned my lesson.
I hadn't thought of the age of the water pump or rollers either. If everything goes according to plan, I'll be attempting this weekend after next when my father-in-law is around as an extra pair of hands (and he'll be bringing some air tools and a nicer torque wrench than mine with him, so that's always a bonus).
About to start

Got the parts and tools (both from BORA) yesterday. Father-in-law comes in tonight. Should start taking things apart Friday night. If everything goes according to plan, we'll be done on Saturday. I'll be sure to post back if we have any questions.
Coolant Question

I managed to get most of the disassembly for the timing belt change in this evening before it got dark. Ran into a couple of questions though, both about coolant.

1) when I took off the coolant reservoir and the coolant glow plugs, a bunch of coolant came out (which I caught as best I could). Should I have (or should I now) opened up the radiator and let the coolant drain to prevent this?

2) my coolant sure looked orange, which sounds like it was probably not a good thing. I got the car at 90k and it's run fine since. I think I saw it start to overheat once 2 summers ago (maybe 6 months after I got it). If I remember, I just threw some extra water in there and it's run fine since. I may well have thrown in some generic coolant (really can't remember - it was before I had done anything but change the oil in it). Is it possible that I just put in so little non-g12 coolant that it didn't sludge up (yellow+red = orange)? I didn't see any sludge in the reservoir and it certainly wasn't brown.

I have 1.5 L of g12 that came with my Bora parts kit. I was planning on reusing some of the coolant. With the existing coolant looking orange, I'm not sure what was in there before (possible I added a bit of non-g12, but that there was non-g12 in there before I got it). Is the best plan just to flush the current coolant out, get another 1.5 to match what I got in my kit and start over?

At what point will it be easiest to flush everything out? I'm at the point where tomorrow morning I will double check all my TDC, then take off the existing timing belt and change out the water pump.

See less See more
1 . Yes since it'll be cleaner.

2. Orange in the drain pan or in the coolant tank? It should be red or maybe dark red. If not, flush it - it's contaminated. Don't reuse the old stuff. You know to split it 50/50 with distilled water right?

I'd flush it before putting on the new belt and pulleys so that they don't get water splashed in the bearings.

Thanks Griz.

First thing this morning, I went out and got another 1.5 L (so I have 3 L total now) of g12. $20 from a foreign parts wholesaler around me in New Haven, CT.

I also went and got some more PB, as I realized I was out when I was trying to spray the balancer last night.

I flushed the coolant this morning (while my father-in-law went to pick up at 6mm allen socket, cause my hex wrenches were doing nothing but stripping the balancer bolts even after the spray).

What came out of the block was definitely red, so perhaps what was in my reservoir was just mostly water from the last refill.

2 hours of "work" this morning and all I've managed to do is spray liquids and buy tools. These things sure go faster when you have the right tools around.
See less See more
My suggestion: take your time and when you're done, double check everything. The EZ outs can be substituted with a clamp wrench. You have to really bite into them to get them out.
Day two results:

Lots of new tools to play with including 4 different trys to get the harmonic bolts out (1 of the 4 came out with the allen bit, the other 3 took PB, PB, PB, PB, time, getting stripped, more time, then EZ out - which wasn't easy but was eventually effective).

Coolant system is completely flushed (at least as much as I can get it without a pro-garage).

Got the new rollers and water pump on and torqued. Belt is almost in place, but rain came in before we could torque the cam sprocket and the tensioner. Maybe for the best, as we both got tired and another check of the TDC in the morning with fresh eyes can't be a bad thing.

Tomorrow, we put it all back together. That's the easy part?
When using EZ outs, you have to really press them on to let their teeth bite. Hitting them with a hammer will foul the edge though. You could also chisel the outside edge of the allen head to give the teeth deeper areas to bite.

In the morning, double check torques and the lock tools/marks. Because of the moisture from the rain you may notice a few tiny specks of rust on the cam lobes - just wipe them off by hand and they'll go away. I assume you shut the hood and covered the exposed camshaft.

After everything is back on, turn the engine twice by hand at the crankshaft bolt and double check the locks. If everything is OK, you did a good job, good luck!

Got everything back together and took it for a ride. The power feels a bit different (as expected).

Thanks for all the help.

Anyone in CT have a VCDS and a free night? I've got some home brew that will just about be ready in a day or two.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.