2001 VW Passat Timing Belt

I have a 2001 Passat 1.6L 4 cyl turbo with 95K miles. I went to a dealer for an oil change and inspection, and they came back with a list of things that need attention. Some I can do myself, but the big one is the timing belt/waterpump/belt tensioner replacement - they even showed me the belt through an inspection cover on the front of the engine - it showed some cracking. They want $1000. I priced it around town and the best I got was $800. My questions are:

1. Is it worth putting major $ into this car? I will need rear brakes soon, and they said the left and right front tie rod ends are also going. I have had a transmission flush and filter/gasket replacement, and know about the oil sludge problem and had the oil system flushed and sludge removed. Otherwise the car has been basically problem free. Is it a 200K mile car, like a Honda?

2. Is the timing belt demo a hoax? What is a normal expectation with the belt on this car, with this mileage?

The car is a great ride, and I am proactive about maintenance. Is it time to let it go? Comments appreciated. Thanks.

If you check the mfr’s maintenance schedule that came with the car (hopefully it is in your glove compartment), you will see the actual odometer mileage and elapsed time interval specified for a timing belt change on this engine.

Most car mfrs nowadays call for this procedure at 105k or 7 years, whichever comes first. By that standard, you are now overdue on the basis of elapsed time. However, if memory serves me correctly, I think I recall that VW specifies a lower mileage/less elapsed time schedule than is typical. And, I do seem to recall a number of posts on this forum from people whose VW timing belts snapped at around 60k.

Either way, I think that you are treading on dangerous ground if you decide to further defer this vital bit of maintenance. But, the first step is to open that glove box and read that apparently ignored booklet on maintenance.

Trust me–if that belt snaps, $1,000 will sound very cheap by comparison with the repair bill that will result.

What is a normal expectation with the belt on this car

You are on borrowed time with that timing belt. The recommended life for the original belt was 80,000 miles. The new belt will be rated for 100,000 miles. Even if the belt looked new, it is time for the change or you find yourself with a blown engine some day soon. I would get it done As Soon As Possible and drive a little as possible in the mean time.

Don't forget to get a new water pump and tensioner when it is done.  No need to have it done by the dealer.  

Everything you list is normal.  Many timing belts look new at that age and many timing belts looked new the day before they broke.  

Assuming you keep up on the normal maintenance (which includes timing belt) it should be good for another 150,000 miles or more. 

I practice what I preach, my timing belt was replace a couple of months ago at about 80,000 miles.

I appreciate the need to replace the timing belt. What concerns me is what else can I expect from my car at nearly 100,000K miles - specific to VW and based on consumer experience. Is this vehicle one that becomes really expensive to maintain from now on (given that I have maintained it well so far)? Is this a good time to sell it, or should I put the $ into it? I know this is a subjective question, but it is my first VW. My Honda and Nissan lasted into the 200K range before their maintenance costs became regular and expensive.

Yes, VDC, my previous neighbor had her Passat timing belt snap at less than 60,000 miles which was the replacement interval specified. Cost was $3000+ and VW give her a rough time even though the 60,000 miles was not up yet!!

So OP’s car is living on borrowed time. I’ve concluded a VW is not a good car for those who are not meticulous about maintenance! I have steered away several people from buying such cars, since they were not focused on the kind of tender loving care necessary to avoid costly repairs.

You can likely expect a number of electronic problems that are of a phantom nature. That seems to be the nature of both VWs and Audis as they age. Also, for some reason, VWs seem to be subject to failure of the window regulators.

And, unless you have used the correct specification oil and changed it according the mfr’s schedule, you can expect sludging issues with the engine. This can lead to engine failure if the sludging is severe.

Regarding the timing belt, if you decide to sell the car, please be a decent person and reveal to the prospective buyer(s) that it needs that work done immediately. And, of course, discount the sale price, based on the estimates that you have gotten. Only a sleazy person would try to conceal something like a timing belt that is ready to self-destruct, and I would hate to think that we were trying to help someone who has poor character.

Bad karma will follow you for all of your days if you sell this car without stressing the need for immediate replacement of the timing belt.

Well, you won’t be able to buy another car for $800-$1000. If the car is a great ride, and you have been proactive on maintenance, my suggestion is to do the recommended maintenance.

VW’s have a higher rate of problems but does not mean you will hit any. I suggest finding a VW specific independent mechnaic(hopefully good) for the 100k-200k range. Dealerships tend to be expensive and suggest repairs many independent take the wait/see approach.

You have hit the 8yr/150k mark so more major stuff(nothing yet it appears) will more likely go but not necessarily so. I could care less if this is Honda or Toyota at this mileage range people call the pricey repairs “maintenance” vs breakdown that is all.

Most people feel that they are good–or perhaps proactive–about the maintenance of their cars, even if they aren’t.

As evidence of this, I ask you to consider how proactive the OP has actually been with this car since he missed the mark on timing belt replacement by 15,000 miles or ~2 years, depending on whether you use the odometer mileage value or the elapsed time value. Failure to refer to the mfr’s maintenance schedule for this maintenance procedure makes me question whether other required maintenance has been done on schedule.

OP–Do you actually follow the VW maintenance schedule?

What concerns me is what else can I expect from my car at nearly 100,000K miles - specific to VW and based on consumer experience

You can expect a water pump, which is why it is suggested that you replace it at the same time as the timing belt because it is much cheaper since they already have that part of the car opened up.

As for other things, you might add spark plugs and other normal maintenance items. Depending on how you drive, with a manual you may be looking at a new clutch with an automatic, if you have not changed the fluid, you should be expecting a transmission problem. Both of those are about the same for all cars.

The only VW specific item relates to electrical problems. I have a 2002 VW with a little over 80,000 and the only electrical problems I have had are a low fuel light that comes on when it is not low and turns off when I am low and I have a turn signal that clicks a couple of extra times after it is turned off, I have not spent much time on that one yet.  Oh yea, I had to replace a glow plug. sort of like spark plugs in a gasoline car, mine is diesel.

These are normal maintenance and repair items. They are far cheaper than car payments.