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2001 Volkswagon - timing belt replacement?


I have a 2001 Volkswagon Beetle with 55,000 miles on it. I made an appt. with the car dealership in a week . THey mentioned that the timing belt may need replacement even though it has low mileage. Can I trust them that my timing belt may need replacing or is this just a way for them to get me to spend a lot of money? Do timing belts really wear out from years and not mileage?

Yes years do matter. You are overdue for a new timing belt. You can research this more on a web site; Gates makes timing belts and the web site shows the replacement interval in miles and number of years “whichever occurs first”. Another factor is whether your motor is an interference motor or non-interference motor.

An interference motor is damaged when a timing belt breaks, the valves and pistons hit and lock up the motor. Repair involves new pistons, new valves, and/or replacing the motor. In an '01 car the repair is often more expensive than the value of the car and sends the car to the junk yard.

Timing belts are replaced by time or mileage whichever comes first. The change interval for your car will be in the Owner’s Manual or the Maintenance Schedule.

For instance, my wife’s 2006 Toyota Sienna has a 7yr/90k interval. It will have about 55k miles next year when the timing belt will be replaced since it is 7 years old. It will be expensive since I plan on replacing the water pump, timing belt tensioner, and the seals, but it is much cheaper than replacing the engine.

If your belt has never been replaced, it’s a few years overdue.

Ed B.

What does your owner’s manual say about this? If it says that it’s needed, why don’t you believe it?

It sounds like you do your maintenance by letting the dealer tell you what they want to do. Unfortunately, with many dealers, this is a recipe for paying for unneeded service and for missing things that need to be done.

I’m almost certain without checking that your car has an interference engine. Most if not all VWs are, including the TDI motors. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, you can take your chances by not changing the belt and see how long it will last. Then, when it breaks, you can scrap the car and get something else. Hopefully it won’t break in a bad neighborhood or in heavy traffic where you could get run down (this is another good reason to have this service done; sudden, unpredictable breakdowns are never pleasant to deal with). If having a reliable car is important to you, it would be in your best interest to replace the timing belt, as well as all other pertinent items, such as tensioner, water pump, idler pulleys, and oil seals.