Lifetime timing belt - I don't think so!

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Lifetime timing belt - I don't think so!

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I can't remember if I previously mentioned that I'd decided to let our local VAG indy http://www.audiservicingedinburgh.com/ do the cam belt on my Ibiza? Well, yesterday was the day. They open their doors at 07.30hrs so I was up at just before 06.30, had a couple of weetabix (chocolate version) and drove across the city to get the car there first thing - nice and quiet driving across the city at that time of day.

Their back yard is quite small but there were 2 spare parking spaces so I slotted into one of them and wandered into the main workshop to get into reception. There was a chap i didn't recognize working on a car as i walked past and he said, sorry but there's noone in reception yet. I got chatting with him about my car and found out some useful stuff during the conversation. Another of the chaps came across and it turns out he runs a Skoda with the same engine/gearbox combination as me so I learned some more. General opinion seems to be that this later belt driven EA211 series engine family are pretty bullet proof and there's not much wrong with the gearboxes either although it's not unusual for them to be a bit "rattly", tell me about it! - great stuff and such friendly and well informed chaps.

Then the reception chap opened up and I got her booked in. I'd already decided in the end to do timing belt - complete kit but not water pump as it's actually on the other end of my engine and completely separate. Auxiliary belt (doesn't drive the water pump either but does drive the alternator and air con pump - quite a "meaty" belt actually. I also asked for an aircon service as that had never been done since I bought her 5+ years ago and to change the long life plugs as I've heard some slightly frightening stories about how difficult it can be to get the coil packs off the deeply recessed spark plugs. Finally, just because I'm getting lazy these days, I got them to do a brake fluid change too (that was 5+ years old too! (shame on you Jock!). They thought that if all went well she should be ready for pickup late afternoon.

Then I had to catch a rather crowded bus all the way back across town to get home - Definitely felt a bit tense during the journey and made sure I was sitting under an open window with mask well formed to my face - pity it steams your glasses up isn't it. Back in the front door just before 10.00 am but now I'll be slightly worried for the next week about covid.

Once home I decided to have a shower - partly because being so warm I'd perspired quite a lot (quarter hour brisk walk from the bus stop to home) and partly because I wanted to have a good scrub down! Then we got ready to go out to my older boy's house, luckily on the south side not too far away from the AVW garage, for my other grandson's birthday. I really enjoyed driving Becky our Panda over there. The garage rang at 16.30 to say they'd just finished the car so I arranged to pick it up at 17.45 just before they lock up the doors.

They'd done everything as ordered and had no problems. Total bill £12 short of £600 which sounds a lot but once you take the VAT off it and break it down to the individual tasks and the parts and materials required - all genuine VW parts used - it all begins to look like a bit of a bargain.

I wasn't expecting the car to feel any different on the journey home as it has been driving very nicely anyway. It felt exactly the same as when I dropped it off and I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome. I think the aircon was blowing colder though. Mrs J followed me all the way home in the Panda and it was a delight to see it in my mirrors all the way home. I could almost hear the "Bullitt" pursuit music in my head - as if :slayer:

As we'd stuffed our faces on Pizza and birthday cake at the party we just made a cup of tea when we got in and then, as Mrs J high jacked the TV to watch soaps I decided to give the work done on the car the once over and I'm delighted to say the work seems to have been done to a high standard with nothing missing and nothing damaged - which is no surprise to me as I think very highly of this garage. Of course they will have removed the O/S/F wheel to get at the timing belt. Many workshops will just whack the studs up with an impact gun which can leave them so tight that you've no hope of undoing them at the road so I tried the nuts with my power bar and they were "just right" - probably done up with a torque wrench if I were to guess at it.

I'd asked them to leave me all the parts removed so I could examine them later - so now for the post mortem. I wasn't surprised to see the spark plugs looked as if they would have gone on for a lot longer - they had only done just over 22,000 miles but at 5+ years old I don't regret changing them and it may make life easier for the coils. So now lets look at the main event, the timing belt. (I am pleased to see the box the bits are in is a genuine VW parts box which obviously had contained the new belt kit) the tensioner and idler both spin smoothly, are not leaking grease and look undamaged so I'm sure would have been good for many thousand of miles more and I was impressed to see the tensioner is an all metal assembly, wonder why they didn't do the same with the idler especially considering the Main Dealer tells me the belt can be a "lifetime fitment". Here's a pic of the rollers and also the very large crankshaft bolt which has to be renewed as it's a use once stretch bolt. Has to be slackened as all the pulleys on this engine are unkeyed.

P1090998.JPG

You can also see the VVT cam sprocket blanking plug which has an oil sealing ring on the other, threaded, side so they like to replace it to avoid leaks. So what's this "lifetime fitment" rubbish all about? Well, I was told by the main dealer that there is no mandatory recommended change interval on the timing belt on these engines. It gets examined at certain intervals (I can't remember what they said the intervals were as I immediately decided that wasn't for me) and only changed if it needs to be. There is a top belt cover which looks as if it could be removed to let you see the cam sprockets and a short run of the belt. Then you'd have to slowly, very slowly if you are doing a worthwhile examination of the belt, turn the engine over and examine the entire run of the belt for wear and damage. I just can't imagine too many workshops actually doing that? Also, in common with a lot of engines these days, many of the engine components, pistons, con rods etc, are pretty light weight to reduce reciprocal and frictional forces to get better fuel consumption and reduce pollution but this makes them less tolerant of abuse so I think a broken cam belt would spell the end for the engine. The cams are a bit different too with roller bearings behind the sprockets rather than plain bushed bearings again to reduce friction. I wouldn't fancy applying any large shocking forces to them, the rollers are definitely what you'd call "needles".

Next I pulled the old cam belt out of the box and got a bit of a surprise - It's a Dayco, says it right there on the belt! I've changed a fair number of Skoda and SEAT belts and, if it's the first change since new, the belts are always VW branded, so what's with the Dayco? I bought this car new so I know this is the first change. Ah well. - Then, almost as soon as I started looking at it I saw this:

P1090996.JPG

Boy am I glad I decided to renew this belt! I can't see anything which might have caused this damage. The tensioner and idler are as smooth as you like and the belt guards are close fitting and undamaged - it's a mystery. If you enlarge the image a bit you can clearly see that there are "hairy" threads pulling out of the surface of the belt. I don't think these are the main cords which give the belt it's strength but I really don't like the look of it and I'm glad it's been replaced. Would the main Dealer ever have found this on a quick cursory examination? I kind of doubt it unless the engine stopped with this bit of belt right at the top. So, "lifetime fitment" belts? Naw, I don't think so! In fact, as far as cars are concerned, "Lifetime or extended interval anything", especially gearbox lube? Naw, I know not so!

By the way, one last observation that I've long wondered about but never put much energy into finding out. Why do Dayco Timing belts - and, as far as I know, only Dayco timing belts, have white coloured teeth? Here's a pic of the old belt alongside a Gates belt I recently changed on one of the other family cars:

P1090997.JPG

Anybody know? By the way, I'm doubly mystified by the condition of this belt as, although I would choose a Gates if available, I've used Dayco before and had no problems at all. Wouldn't really expect what I saw at 20,000 miles, must be external damage somehow but I can't figure out how unless the belt was somehow damaged during removal? in which case I hope the new one was put on with greater care? naw Jock. these guys know what they are doing, it'll be fine! Still, maybe I'll just take that top cover off and give the engine a slow turn over?
 

StevenRB45

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Looks very similar to this...

75e7fes-960.jpg

This is the old style Cam belt for PSA puretech engine.

They've recalled these now as they had a nasty habit of disintegration.

New style ones are an entirely different texture and look (best described as looking more like liquorice with a smooth black texture) very different.
 

chris3234

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Just be glad it isn't a ford wet belt that's runs through the engine oil



But my guess with the damage prehaps that where the two parts of the belt where joined with it was made and hence a weak Spot
 
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The 'damage' may well not be damage, just where the 'join' is, as said above. The teeth all look good, so perhaps good for some time yet, but, like you, I don't like the idea of a lifetime belt. I'd read somewhere that they should be changed at 7 years, which for my Fabia will be January, so I'll see then what my local specialist says.

I'm intrigued that it is a Dayco belt, but the old tensioner has a Gates logo on it. I suppose VW will dual-source as much as possible, and yours got a mix. Both good brands, so no worries there.
 
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Pugglt Auld Jock
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Absolutely chris. I read somewhere a wee while ago that these "wet" belts were shedding fibers which then clogged up the pickup screen! I also came across a you tube video showing someone fitting a conversion kit for the 1.8 Ford diesel which changes it over to a chain drive. i wouldn't feel confident buying a "wet belt" engine.

I'm in the middle of trying to find out more about that "stitched" joint on the Ibiza's old belt and I've had an interesting link from a chap on a SEAT forum to which I also post which I'm trying to explore in more detail - I'll keep you all updated if I get anywhere further with it.

Have to say that at this time I'd not be buying a Dayco belt - even though they are a massive player in this field - Think I'll just stick with my trusted Gates products which I've been using "forever".
 

jackwhoo

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As pb says its a join in the fabric covering on the outside of the belt not damage . I saw the join an info sheet from one of the major belt manufacturers on the www.

Jock- if coolant level starts to drop check water pump , they can fail quite early .

Best wishes
Jack
 
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Pugglt Auld Jock
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As pb says its a join in the fabric covering on the outside of the belt not damage . I saw the join an info sheet from one of the major belt manufacturers on the www.

Jock- if coolant level starts to drop check water pump , they can fail quite early .

Best wishes
Jack
Thanks Jack and all. I've been right into the "backside" of this as much as I can and learned a little more about these belts than I previously knew.

If I've understood correctly, the strength of the belt comes from a continuous thread, glass fibre/kevlar etc, in the middle of the belt. It's wound round and round the length of the belt in one continuous spiral length with no breaks. On the inside of this band of structural thread is the tooth form which has a protective layer on top to shield it from contact with the teeth and make it last longer. That's the white layer on the Dayco belt - which I think is patented?

Now for the bit that's mainly interesting me just now. Right round the outside of the belt is a layer of material which protects the belt's structural cords from the tensioner and idler pulleys pressing/running against it. As I understand it the whole structure is hot vulcanised, like a car tyre, so bonding all the parts together. The outer layer contributes little to the strength of the belt, so is subject to little tensional force, it's there to protect. I believe, on the Dayco belt the ends of this band are sewn together (a "basted" joint?) before the belt component parts are assembled - I'd guess just to make assembly easier? Then it all amalgamates together into a homogeneous whole during the vulcanizing process? If I'm right then these threads breaking whilst in service would have absolutely no effect on belt strength? I'm guessing that other manufacturers, whilst using very similar construction, don't sew the outer band ends together, maybe just relying on accurate alignment of the parts in the mold before vulcanising? - Which would explain why I can't see any joints in the dozen or so belts hanging on a nail in my workshop right now! (mostly Gates, but 2 FIAT and 3 FORD branded belts - no Dayco though)

Anyway, I've fired off quite a lengthy note to Dayco asking all about what I've observed. If they reply I'll be back with any relevant info for you all.

Thanks too for the water pump warning. I'm highly suspicious of any plastic components on modern engines and think it's "daft" to have made a water pump out of this unstable material. - and on my engine I think it's integral with the two thermostats too, a large chunk of plastic with several seals involved! I've already decided I'll just replace the whole unit at the first signs of any problems. I do a quick under bonnet check, including all levels, roughly every week and would never leave it longer than about a fortnight. Coolant levels on both the Ibiza and the Panda are always in my mind, so hopefully I would catch it early?
 

jackwhoo

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Aye Jock you are exactly right about mechanical coolant pump assembly/coolant flanges/2 thermostats all being an assembly. Half of the assembly is metal (coolant pump and base plate) located against cylinder head , the other half is the visable plastic part (Coolant hose stubs, thermostat housings etc)

Totally agree it would be madness to not replace both parts as an assembly even though the parts are available individually. Especially as the lot has to be removed to access the bolt heads that retain the plastic half.

I think you might enjoy the challenge if you have to replace yours at some point.

According too the vag manual the coolant pump belt tension setting procedure requires 2 technicians ....I used an elastic cord and a ratchet strap instead of second person.

The procedure to bleed the cooling system is involved I do not know if vcds supports it yet.

You are very on the ball Jock and I'm sure you would spot any coolant loss in time.
Plus your ibiza may have the very good vag low coolant warning system.
 
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I think you might enjoy the challenge if you have to replace yours at some point.

According too the vag manual the coolant pump belt tension setting procedure requires 2 technicians ....I used an elastic cord and a ratchet strap instead of second person.

The procedure to bleed the cooling system is involved I do not know if vcds supports it yet.

You are very on the ball Jock and I'm sure you would spot any coolant loss in time.
Plus your ibiza may have the very good vag low coolant warning system.

I see the Haynes manual does cover it Jack. It doesn't look too horrendous but the drive belt tension seems to be applied by someone "hauling" on the waterpump with the aid of a torque wrench while someone else tightens it all up? Looks like a job for my very old beam type torque wrench? Thought I'd never find a suitable job for that ever again!

Bleeding it out worries me what with the electric secondary pump and the two cooling circuits. Mind you I'm very much feeling my age these days so, unless it hurries up and fails soon, I'll probably be calling on the lads at AVW to do it for me anyway!

I do keep a very wary eye out for both of the cars, under the bonnet checks - not just coolant, oil and screenwash but brake/clutch fluid, condition of all hoses and there are a lot of them nowadays, aux drive belt, etc etc, everything you can easily see when you open the bonnet really! Then there's tyres both for pressure and damage including regularly looking at the inner sidewalls - legacy of working for Firestone I suppose - and whilst I'm down on my knees anything else I can see like leaking shocks, damaged brake flex hoses, ball joint and rack boots etc, I just keep my eyes open. Sounds a lot but only takes minutes and I can combine it with a bit of gardening so have my "rough" clothes on anyway. I'm strongly motivated by the many horrendous and dangerous things I've seen on cars during a lifetime in and around the motor trade and also being aware that faults can develope very quickly and some are lethal.

I'm actually not sure about that low coolant warning system. I wasn't aware it might have it and I've never looked for it, I will now, sounds like an excellent idea.

Regarding the VCDS. I've not had reason to plug it in yet other than a quick scan or two to be sure there were no codes stored. I actually reset the service reminder on the dash buttons because it's so easy to do that way and, as the car doesn't have a particulate filter, I don't do extended services or anything like that so nothing else needs reset that I know of? I always update my VCDS to the latest version when prompted so it's always current but one thing has surprised me and that is that it doesn't seem to "see" anything like as many systems as it did on the older Cordoba and Fabias we previously had in the family. I'm wondering if there are certain systems it won't connect to on this much newer car - Security gateways come to mind?

I have always felt an emotional link to my cars, it's certainly there with the Panda and the older cars in the family fleet. It's different with this Ibiza though. I don't feel a close affinity with it, probably because it has components and systems I don't fully understand. I hate when one of the other cars has to be looked at by a garage, even though I know all the mechanics involved, most being friends, and their businesses, but I don't mind the Ibiza going into the garage and I don't "fuss" over her so much as the others when she comes back to me. Is this how it goes with old age?
 
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If I've understood correctly, the strength of the belt comes from a continuous thread, glass fibre/kevlar etc, in the middle of the belt. It's wound round and round the length of the belt in one continuous spiral length with no breaks.

A very long time ago, I got a visit to Gates. Briefly saw part of the production of some cambelts. They were making them on a long drum, which created a belt of teh correct length and number of teeth, but about a foot or so wide. Then it was parted off to make several belts. This is why the continuous thread can sometimes be seen along the edges where it is cut. Vee belts are made the same way, and the internal threads are often much more visible.

An interesting point about the cambelts, is that the teeth do not drive the pulleys, that is done by the main part of the belt. The teeth are there to maintain timing only, which is why an overtightened or slack belt will tear its teeth off. An overtightened belt will stretch between the pulleys, and the teeth will have to squeeze as they arrive at teh next pulley, causing the teeth to start to crack on their leading edge. A slack belt will use the teeth to drive, causing cracking on their trailing edge. That helps diagnose a belt in otherwise good condition, but an old belt can be cracking through age anyway.
 
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Pugglt Auld Jock
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A very long time ago, I got a visit to Gates. Briefly saw part of the production of some cambelts. They were making them on a long drum, which created a belt of teh correct length and number of teeth, but about a foot or so wide. Then it was parted off to make several belts. This is why the continuous thread can sometimes be seen along the edges where it is cut. Vee belts are made the same way, and the internal threads are often much more visible.

An interesting point about the cambelts, is that the teeth do not drive the pulleys, that is done by the main part of the belt. The teeth are there to maintain timing only, which is why an overtightened or slack belt will tear its teeth off. An overtightened belt will stretch between the pulleys, and the teeth will have to squeeze as they arrive at teh next pulley, causing the teeth to start to crack on their leading edge. A slack belt will use the teeth to drive, causing cracking on their trailing edge. That helps diagnose a belt in otherwise good condition, but an old belt can be cracking through age anyway.

Thanks PB. A number of years ago I emailed Gates about something to do with cambelts and I got a very nice and informative reply from them. I was interested in why the genuine FIAT replacement belts I'd seen do not have a rounded tooth form (they have a depression across the top of the tooth) whilst the gates belts seem to all have a rounded tooth. The reply was a bit complicated but part of it seems to be that Gates own the patent on that rounded tooth form - Curvilinear I think it's called?. I subsequently asked them if there was anything to particularly look for when examining a belt and cracks at the base of the teeth seemed to be the main thing to look carefully for along with, to a lesser extent, cracking of the outside surface. I was very impressed by the trouble they took in that detailed reply.
 

DaveMcT

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Jock- if coolant level starts to drop check water pump , they can fail quite early.

The water pump on my 100HP (replaced before I bought the car) was leaking. I assumed it was the water seal so got a cam belt kit and replaced it. The "old" belt and tensioner were as good as new but water pump was leaking from a core plug in pump body. Pretty annoying TBH as the belt had at least another 40K life in it.

Many twin cam Fiats have a 40K timing belt life and they will go AWOL if you take chances. My Renault 2.0 said 70K for the cam belt but if used for short journeys it should be reduced to 40K. Low engine speeds apply more shock loading to the belt. Failing belts often let go when the engine is revved. My Fiat 1.8 let go at a traffic light when the engine stopped as I let up the clutch.
 

jackwhoo

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I see the Haynes manual does cover it Jack. It doesn't look too horrendous but the drive belt tension seems to be applied by someone "hauling" on the waterpump with the aid of a torque wrench while someone else tightens it all up? Looks like a job for my very old beam type torque wrench? Thought I'd never find a suitable job for that ever again!

Bleeding it out worries me what with the electric secondary pump and the two cooling circuits. Mind you I'm very much feeling my age these days so, unless it hurries up and fails soon, I'll probably be calling on the lads at AVW to do it for me anyway!

I do keep a very wary eye out for both of the cars, under the bonnet checks - not just coolant, oil and screenwash but brake/clutch fluid, condition of all hoses and there are a lot of them nowadays, aux drive belt, etc etc, everything you can easily see when you open the bonnet really! Then there's tyres both for pressure and damage including regularly looking at the inner sidewalls - legacy of working for Firestone I suppose - and whilst I'm down on my knees anything else I can see like leaking shocks, damaged brake flex hoses, ball joint and rack boots etc, I just keep my eyes open. Sounds a lot but only takes minutes and I can combine it with a bit of gardening so have my "rough" clothes on anyway. I'm strongly motivated by the many horrendous and dangerous things I've seen on cars during a lifetime in and around the motor trade and also being aware that faults can develope very quickly and some are lethal.

I'm actually not sure about that low coolant warning system. I wasn't aware it might have it and I've never looked for it, I will now, sounds like an excellent idea.

Regarding the VCDS. I've not had reason to plug it in yet other than a quick scan or two to be sure there were no codes stored. I actually reset the service reminder on the dash buttons because it's so easy to do that way and, as the car doesn't have a particulate filter, I don't do extended services or anything like that so nothing else needs reset that I know of? I always update my VCDS to the latest version when prompted so it's always current but one thing has surprised me and that is that it doesn't seem to "see" anything like as many systems as it did on the older Cordoba and Fabias we previously had in the family. I'm wondering if there are certain systems it won't connect to on this much newer car - Security gateways come to mind?

I have always felt an emotional link to my cars, it's certainly there with the Panda and the older cars in the family fleet. It's different with this Ibiza though. I don't feel a close affinity with it, probably because it has components and systems I don't fully understand. I hate when one of the other cars has to be looked at by a garage, even though I know all the mechanics involved, most being friends, and their businesses, but I don't mind the Ibiza going into the garage and I don't "fuss" over her so much as the others when she comes back to me. Is this how it goes with old age?
Pics of vag sensor wiring and prongs in header/expansion tank 20210913_105840.jpeg 20210913_105901.jpeg
 
OP
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Pugglt Auld Jock
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Pics of vag sensor wiring and prongs in header/expansion tank View attachment 220241 View attachment 220242
Thanks Jack. Just went out and had a look at mine:

P1100011.JPG

Halleluja, looks like I've got one! It's the black plug at the back of the tank. Looking inside the tank I can see the two probes extending vertically downwards but didn't come out well on a picture. Just need to identify which of the dash lights identifies it now.

Just googled it and I see it looks like a wee thermometer floating in some coolant. Also it displays a written warning on the wee mini panel between the dials. Level has never budged since she was new so presumably Ok. I would hope she needs to get a few more miles on her and a bit more "geriatric" before these sort of problems start kicking in but nice to know she's got this wee feature.
 

jackwhoo

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With ingnition on, unplug the sensor connector at coolant tank to trigger warning system.
You will then know for sure what warning you will see/ hear/ read.
 
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With ingnition on, unplug the sensor connector at coolant tank to trigger warning system.
You will then know for sure what warning you will see/ hear/ read.
Is it likely to store a trouble code if I do this? Just wondering if I'll need to connect my VCDS to clear it and extinguish the warning, or does it work just like an old school warning light which would go out once the circuit is corrected?
 

jackwhoo

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Is it likely to store a trouble code if I do this? Just wondering if I'll need to connect my VCDS to clear it and extinguish the warning, or does it work just like an old school warning light which would go out once the circuit is corrected?
Hi Jock,
It is unlikely to set a fault code.
My experience is it works old school but there is always an option for "new and improved!"
Jack
 
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Visited my local Skoda specialist yesterday, to book the Fabia in for a service and ask about the cambelt. I've seen literature saying no interval, just annual inspection, and the same literature, for another country say 7 years or 60k miles.
Specialist says the recommendation keeps changing, so difficult to keep up with. Current recommendation from VW is 5 years or 60k miles. This has changed since my service last year. Now at 7 years and 42k, it will be done at the service. Didn't ask the price, won't change whether I know or not, and an engine is much more. Looking forward to a hole in the savings.
 

Popitinpete

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I can't remember if I previously mentioned that I'd decided to let our local VAG indy http://www.audiservicingedinburgh.com/ do the cam belt on my Ibiza? Well, yesterday was the day. They open their doors at 07.30hrs so I was up at just before 06.30, had a couple of weetabix (chocolate version) and drove across the city to get the car there first thing - nice and quiet driving across the city at that time of day.

Their back yard is quite small but there were 2 spare parking spaces so I slotted into one of them and wandered into the main workshop to get into reception. There was a chap i didn't recognize working on a car as i walked past and he said, sorry but there's noone in reception yet. I got chatting with him about my car and found out some useful stuff during the conversation. Another of the chaps came across and it turns out he runs a Skoda with the same engine/gearbox combination as me so I learned some more. General opinion seems to be that this later belt driven EA211 series engine family are pretty bullet proof and there's not much wrong with the gearboxes either although it's not unusual for them to be a bit "rattly", tell me about it! - great stuff and such friendly and well informed chaps.

Then the reception chap opened up and I got her booked in. I'd already decided in the end to do timing belt - complete kit but not water pump as it's actually on the other end of my engine and completely separate. Auxiliary belt (doesn't drive the water pump either but does drive the alternator and air con pump - quite a "meaty" belt actually. I also asked for an aircon service as that had never been done since I bought her 5+ years ago and to change the long life plugs as I've heard some slightly frightening stories about how difficult it can be to get the coil packs off the deeply recessed spark plugs. Finally, just because I'm getting lazy these days, I got them to do a brake fluid change too (that was 5+ years old too! (shame on you Jock!). They thought that if all went well she should be ready for pickup late afternoon.

Then I had to catch a rather crowded bus all the way back across town to get home - Definitely felt a bit tense during the journey and made sure I was sitting under an open window with mask well formed to my face - pity it steams your glasses up isn't it. Back in the front door just before 10.00 am but now I'll be slightly worried for the next week about covid.

Once home I decided to have a shower - partly because being so warm I'd perspired quite a lot (quarter hour brisk walk from the bus stop to home) and partly because I wanted to have a good scrub down! Then we got ready to go out to my older boy's house, luckily on the south side not too far away from the AVW garage, for my other grandson's birthday. I really enjoyed driving Becky our Panda over there. The garage rang at 16.30 to say they'd just finished the car so I arranged to pick it up at 17.45 just before they lock up the doors.

They'd done everything as ordered and had no problems. Total bill £12 short of £600 which sounds a lot but once you take the VAT off it and break it down to the individual tasks and the parts and materials required - all genuine VW parts used - it all begins to look like a bit of a bargain.

I wasn't expecting the car to feel any different on the journey home as it has been driving very nicely anyway. It felt exactly the same as when I dropped it off and I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome. I think the aircon was blowing colder though. Mrs J followed me all the way home in the Panda and it was a delight to see it in my mirrors all the way home. I could almost hear the "Bullitt" pursuit music in my head - as if :slayer:

As we'd stuffed our faces on Pizza and birthday cake at the party we just made a cup of tea when we got in and then, as Mrs J high jacked the TV to watch soaps I decided to give the work done on the car the once over and I'm delighted to say the work seems to have been done to a high standard with nothing missing and nothing damaged - which is no surprise to me as I think very highly of this garage. Of course they will have removed the O/S/F wheel to get at the timing belt. Many workshops will just whack the studs up with an impact gun which can leave them so tight that you've no hope of undoing them at the road so I tried the nuts with my power bar and they were "just right" - probably done up with a torque wrench if I were to guess at it.

I'd asked them to leave me all the parts removed so I could examine them later - so now for the post mortem. I wasn't surprised to see the spark plugs looked as if they would have gone on for a lot longer - they had only done just over 22,000 miles but at 5+ years old I don't regret changing them and it may make life easier for the coils. So now lets look at the main event, the timing belt. (I am pleased to see the box the bits are in is a genuine VW parts box which obviously had contained the new belt kit) the tensioner and idler both spin smoothly, are not leaking grease and look undamaged so I'm sure would have been good for many thousand of miles more and I was impressed to see the tensioner is an all metal assembly, wonder why they didn't do the same with the idler especially considering the Main Dealer tells me the belt can be a "lifetime fitment". Here's a pic of the rollers and also the very large crankshaft bolt which has to be renewed as it's a use once stretch bolt. Has to be slackened as all the pulleys on this engine are unkeyed.

View attachment 220179

You can also see the VVT cam sprocket blanking plug which has an oil sealing ring on the other, threaded, side so they like to replace it to avoid leaks. So what's this "lifetime fitment" rubbish all about? Well, I was told by the main dealer that there is no mandatory recommended change interval on the timing belt on these engines. It gets examined at certain intervals (I can't remember what they said the intervals were as I immediately decided that wasn't for me) and only changed if it needs to be. There is a top belt cover which looks as if it could be removed to let you see the cam sprockets and a short run of the belt. Then you'd have to slowly, very slowly if you are doing a worthwhile examination of the belt, turn the engine over and examine the entire run of the belt for wear and damage. I just can't imagine too many workshops actually doing that? Also, in common with a lot of engines these days, many of the engine components, pistons, con rods etc, are pretty light weight to reduce reciprocal and frictional forces to get better fuel consumption and reduce pollution but this makes them less tolerant of abuse so I think a broken cam belt would spell the end for the engine. The cams are a bit different too with roller bearings behind the sprockets rather than plain bushed bearings again to reduce friction. I wouldn't fancy applying any large shocking forces to them, the rollers are definitely what you'd call "needles".

Next I pulled the old cam belt out of the box and got a bit of a surprise - It's a Dayco, says it right there on the belt! I've changed a fair number of Skoda and SEAT belts and, if it's the first change since new, the belts are always VW branded, so what's with the Dayco? I bought this car new so I know this is the first change. Ah well. - Then, almost as soon as I started looking at it I saw this:

View attachment 220180

Boy am I glad I decided to renew this belt! I can't see anything which might have caused this damage. The tensioner and idler are as smooth as you like and the belt guards are close fitting and undamaged - it's a mystery. If you enlarge the image a bit you can clearly see that there are "hairy" threads pulling out of the surface of the belt. I don't think these are the main cords which give the belt it's strength but I really don't like the look of it and I'm glad it's been replaced. Would the main Dealer ever have found this on a quick cursory examination? I kind of doubt it unless the engine stopped with this bit of belt right at the top. So, "lifetime fitment" belts? Naw, I don't think so! In fact, as far as cars are concerned, "Lifetime or extended interval anything", especially gearbox lube? Naw, I know not so!

By the way, one last observation that I've long wondered about but never put much energy into finding out. Why do Dayco Timing belts - and, as far as I know, only Dayco timing belts, have white coloured teeth? Here's a pic of the old belt alongside a Gates belt I recently changed on one of the other family cars:

View attachment 220181

Anybody know? By the way, I'm doubly mystified by the condition of this belt as, although I would choose a Gates if available, I've used Dayco before and had no problems at all. Wouldn't really expect what I saw at 20,000 miles, must be external damage somehow but I can't figure out how unless the belt was somehow damaged during removal? in which case I hope the new one was put on with greater care? naw Jock. these guys know what they are doing, it'll be fine! Still, maybe I'll just take that top cover off and give the engine a slow turn over?
Sorry but got to say it, did they put the wrong belt in the box they gave you back? That would explain the dayco. I'm guessing the belt has no change interval as it could be made of kevlar.
An unscrupulous garage, if only changing the belt, may well have put any old belt in the box and not bother to actually change the belt because it has no change interval but you do have the idlers etc etc with it. Do the idlers look the same on your car?

Not suggesting for a second this garage did this to you.
 
OP
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Pugglt Auld Jock
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Sorry but got to say it, did they put the wrong belt in the box they gave you back? That would explain the dayco. I'm guessing the belt has no change interval as it could be made of kevlar.
An unscrupulous garage, if only changing the belt, may well have put any old belt in the box and not bother to actually change the belt because it has no change interval but you do have the idlers etc etc with it. Do the idlers look the same on your car?

Not suggesting for a second this garage did this to you.
Fair comment but I doubt it as both the owners - who are younger men, both qualified Audi master techs who work alongside their men on the shop floor - are friends (one is actually married to the daughter of a very good friend and neighbour of ours so we occasionally bump into them socially too). They've been very kind to me in the past even allowing use of their hydraulic press etc and I've seen them all working at close quarters and am mightily impressed by their obvious expertise. So I'm really pretty confident that what was in the box was what was removed from the vehicle and I trust them without exception.

I must have dealt with hundreds of timing belts during my time in and around motor vehicle workshops and I've seen belts with severe cracking, teeth stripped, completely snapped and other problems but I've never seen one with this "moth eaten" look. It's just made me very wary of this particular brand now. As I said previously, my favoured brand is Gates and my local factor sells mainly that brand so I'll be very happy to just carry on sourcing Gates products.

On reflection I actually find it interesting that it's the humble timing belt which has gained the reputation for unreliability when, in my experience anyway, it could be argued that it's failure of the bearings in idlers, tensioners and water pumps - especially water pumps - which are really the "bad boys" whose failures then cause the belt to be damaged. So fine, make the belt from kevlar or whatever you like and it may then last longer than the planned life of the vehicle but as long as the above mentioned components are using "sealed for life" ball/roller races which have no facility to renew/refresh their lubricant then taking the top belt cover off and having a look at what can be seen of the belt (if, in fact, anyone actually really does it with any due diligence) just doesn't cut the mustard for me. I've spent around £400 on having the belt and it's associated components renewed so I'm now set for another 5 years of not having to concern myself with it - for me, the right thing to do.
 
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