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$1200 to replace a 1999 Passat Timing Belt (2.8L V6)

I have a 1999 Passat (2.8L V6 engine) with ~92,000 miles on it. The dealer says it needs a timing belt (plus tensioner, etc.). He wants $1,200 to do it.

Does that price sound reasonable?


An independent VW specialist will do it for much less.
Granted, the parts are expensive (there’s several tensioners and the water pump gets replaced too) but I think $1200 is a little high.

It doesn’t sound too bad to me. I believe the front bumper has to removed and there is a special support tool for the process. Not the most maintenance friendly design.

Why are you taking it to a dealer. Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Shop around. Any decent mechanic can do this, and probably for less than the dealer. Why are you still taking a ten-year-old car to the dealer?

That free cup of coffee, and free tv, in the cozy waiting room isn’t really free, is it?

Plus, the coffee is usually REALLY bad.

Hey joseph do you have that entire paragraph cut and pasted somewhere for fast access? lol

Last time I was in a dealership the PUBLIC ACCESS channel was on. I’ll take the crappiest coffee in town over that.

To the O/P: Find a mom & pop mechanic they will have you out of there for hundreds cheaper. I like mom & pop, i.e. independents because you can deal directly with the owner if there is a problem.

“Hey joseph do you have that entire paragraph cut and pasted somewhere for fast access? lol”

Exactly my thought when I saw that…great minds think alike. He probably has a shortcut key to that paragraph!

It’s gotten worse! I had a 1982 VW GTI and the thing started bleeding me at 40k miles. First it was new shocks and struts. Then the brake line erupted and I almost got killed. Then it was a new steering rack. Then it needed new CV joints. Then the 2nd gear synchro began to protest. I traded it in for a Civic at 85k miles. That was the beginning of my love affair with reliable Japanese cars.

If you plan on keeping it, plan on spending a lot to maintain it. The dealer will screw you blue, so find an honest mechanic. Even reliable Japanese cars start needing labor-intensive replacements between 110k and 160k miles like CV axles, shocks, struts, alternators, starters, rotors, calipers, front end parts, etc. Transmission rebuilds are common in older vehicles. If the engine and transmission are both on the way out, you’re better off dumping it.

And based on how many people he’s helped along the way, I’m sure glad continues to post it, along with all the time he invests to share his mechanical knowledge.

Consumers would be doing themselves a BIG FAVOR if they rejected any motor vehicle that uses a rubber timing belt. This cheesy design has turned into a profit center for repair shops and cost car owners hundreds of millions of dollars a year in repair work that was built into their cars at the factory. QUALITY automobile engines do not use rubber timing belts, nor do they present their owners with $1200 “preventive maintenance” bills…

I too like timing chains (or gears) better than belts, but the $600 or so (on a car other than a VW) to do this repair, perhaps twice or maybe three times in a normal car’s lifetime isn’t so bad. I’ve had engines with stretched/jumped timing chains too that needed replacing, and all of those at some point in their lives needed water pumps as separate repairs, while my cars with belts have had them done with the belt. I suppose you could throw in the slight savings on gas and quieter operation as well with timing belts vs. chains. That said, I’d still prefer steel to rubber any day.

Many timing belts are replaced for under $400 and at a 105k interval. Many times this work makes other preventative maintenance “free” eg just parts for all accessory belts and water pump in that price.