2002 VW Jetta - bent valves

While on the highway my jetta made a weird whine and just stopped running. After coasting to a stop, I tried to restart to no avail. I had it towed to my mechanic and he said the water pump failed and broke the timing belt. I bought the car new, off the lot and it has 56k babied miles. After cursing VW under my breath, I told him to fix it.

The next day he calls and says two cylinders don’t have compression and the valves are probably bent. His recommendation is to replace the head. Total estimate - $5,500 - $6,000.

That seems crazy high but what do I know. Hence my post. Any suggestions for a cheaper alternative or is this the correct route and average price?

Way too high !
Take a look at VWVortex web site - lots of info there .

It’s time consumers rebel and simply refuse to buy these poor engine designs. There is no reason to expose yourself to outrageous repair costs such as this…VW, Honda, Subaru, they all need to clean up their act and stop saddling their customers with questionable engine technology. You seldom read threads like this from Toyota or Ford owners…Trying to find VW engines in a salvage yard is almost impossible, the demand is so high.

Since there is a high demand, check E-bay for a used or rebuilt head at a realistic price…

Bent valves do not mean the cylinder head must be replaced although it’s a possibility. Odds are against it.
It’s a matter of removing the head, replacing the bent valves and performing a full valve job, surfacing the head if necessary, and reassembling the thing.

I have no idea why so many mechanics and shops think the head must be replaced because of a bent valve problem. Seldom is this ever necessary.

Don’t curse VW just yet. Your car is an '02 and was likely built in '01.
This means the timing belt is 8 years old and should have been replaced already so this kind of falls back on you.
This was an accident waiting to happen unless that timing belt has been previously replaced and the water pump along with belt tensioners should have been replaced at that time.

Subaru and Honda owners are very brand loyal folks and keep buying them. Snapped timing belts, failed tranny’s(honda), headgaskets(Subaru) or other issues will not stop them as repeat buyers.

I have owned both and would not buy either again. I absolutely love my wife’s turbo Subaru legacy wagon with manual transmission but they only made it for year and sold very few.

Thanks for the info. The water pump/timing belt had not been changed. I had planned to do that at 80k miles which is what my dealer recommended.

$250 bucks is a long, long, ways from $6000…There were 24 more VW cylinder heads listed…The OP’s mechanic obviously wants no part of this repair…Time to find a new shop and have your car towed there.


Doh. Thanks for the idea. It didn’t occur to me to look on ebay. Here is the correct head for my VW.


So labor and parts (gaskets ect) any guesses to a range for the estimate?

Do a little more research before you spend any money. The head in the picture appears to use a chain-drive for the cams, not a rubber belt…The listing might have an incorrect picture posted…

Remember, you will need a top-end gasket set, timing belt, water pump, maybe an idler pulley, a few other odds and ends…Ask at the local parts store the professionals use, like NAPA, to recommend a reliable shop…

Using your ebay idea, I found a refurb shop only a few hours from my house. They have a 99.9% feedback and have been in business since 1986. So I am going to call them Monday and see what they say before buying anything. Thanks for the ideas.

I would just add that timing belt changes are time dependent; not just mileage based.
Usually around 6 years is the limit and even at that point it’s a crap shoot because a belt can give up at any time.

You should keep in mind that when you’re at the dealer service department you’re talking to a service writer or on a rare occasion, a service manager, about your car and very few of these people have much mechanical aptitude.
Much of what they relate to the customer is utter bilge and it’s done to avoid looking incompetent to the customer.