Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

AC & Timing Belt issue; VW dealership nightmare

I own a 2007 VW Passat 2.0T which I used to love until recently. The compressor went out last summer 09 & this summer 2010. The first dealership replaced the compressor, washer & condenser. Two weeks after the compressor was replaced, the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) came on. Then two days later, as I was driving to the first dealership to check out the MIL, the EPC light came on and the car stopped. I had to tow the car to another dealership since it was closer. After two different explanations as to why the car stopped, I was given a 3rd reason: the timing belt busted and that was why the car stopped. However, the timing belt was only a year old, VW brand and the water pump was also a year old as well as VW brand. Apparently, the second dealership can’t explain as to why the timing belt broke and says they need to break the cylinder head in order to comply with extended warranty and to find what other damage has been done. I feel that the dealership is taking advantage of me because I am a woman and they don’t know what they are doing. The dealership claims it will cost over $5000.00 to fix the car if the extended warranty does not pay for it. I am already out of money behind a rental car. The dealership has had my car for 10 days; the last 5 days, my car has not been touched. How do I go about resolving this issue?

I think that you need to get a VW regional service representative involved. If you had the timing belt and water pump replaced in the last year, you should have a receipt for the work. If this work was done by a VW dealer, then I think that VW should make good on the job. I don’t understand the business of “breaking thecylinder head in order to comply with the extended warranty”. As a last resort, you may want to see an attorney and gethis advice.

The A/C repair should have nothing to do with a timing belt issue.
When a timing belt breaks on an interference fit engine the intake valves in the cylinder head will bend due to their striking the pistons, which of course continue to move while the camshaft instantly stops.

The dealer and corporate VW are 2 separate business entities. Think of them as oil and water which do not mix. VWOA is not responsible for any screwups a dealer makes although I do agree that it may be possible to contact VWOA and (firmly polite) see if they will apply the thumbscrews a bit to the dealer.

Since the belt and water pump were recently replaced there are really only 2 things that should cause the T-belt to break; failure to replace the belt tensioners at the time or something was left loose inside the belt cover. This should not be difficult to determine with the T-belt covers, etc. removed.

If the extended warranty is a VW authorized one that may help a bit this case. Any other 3rd party warranty will likely involved a battle that will go nowhere.

I do have a question though. The car is an '07 and the belt/water pump replaced in '09.
How many miles on this car?

Does this car have high miles? Why is the timing belt only 1 year old on a 2007?

If the car has a 1yr/12,000 miles since last timing belt work than you have a warranty on it. Otherwise good luck.

No one is taking advantage of you. They need to pull it apart.

T belt was changed at 58,000 and this was required as part of maintenance to change the belt before 60,000. The car is now at 84,000.

This is a really sad situation.

The timing belt on a Passat since 2004 if not earlier has been every 105,000 miles. I would complain loudly to Volkswagen of America of an unscrupulous dealer selling unneeded maintenance too early with shoddy work potentially to boot leading to failure.

Thank you for that info. Changing the belt at that mileage was the right thing to do.

You really need to get the cause of the belt failure clarified. If a tensioner bolt was broken, a tensioner came apart, etc. this means the bolt was overtightened and stressed or the tensioner was not replaced at the time the belt was. This would be a shop error.

These could be arguable though. How would one prove they overtightened a bolt? The tensioners, idlers, etc should always be replaced but they could say that they felt fine at the time. I do not buy this logic because you simply can’t really tell if they’re fine when spinning them by hand. They could have been in the early stages of failure at that time and it just took some thousands of miles for them to give up. This is why they should always be replaced.

If the dealer won’t stand behind this you should contact VWOA’s regional office and see if they will step in on this. They are under no obligation to but be firmly polite about being disappointed in this problem and the repair.
Before contacting VWOA make sure the shop tells you WHY that belt broke and check your receipt to see if the tensioners/idlers were replaced.

Depending on the situation VWOA may step in and Good Will warranty this one although it can be a toss-up. You might also keep us informed about why that belt broke.

I thank you for your advice. I do plan to get rid of the car as soon as it comes into my possession. I have put too much money into this car and I’ve only had it for 2 years!

I thank you for your advice. I plan to get rid of the car as soon as it comes back into my possession. I will definitely provide an answer if the dealership can give me one as to why the timing belt broke. I have put way too much money into repairs for only having the car for 2 years.

I hope you’re not considering putting 5000 dollars into the car before getting rid of it.

Let me add this. I have a feeling that the problem is not necessarily a bad car. It may be more of a matter of being the victim of a misdiagnosis and/or botched repairs. In other words, it’s a people problem not a steel and plastic one.

No way should this car have suffered a compressor failure at 2 years of age and then to have it fail (allegedly) again only a year later? Maybe the compressor was never bad to begin with and an improper replacement job was done which led to the second (alleged) failure.

If the original shop botched the compressor diagnosis and repair then it’s also possible they botched the timing belt job by either not replacing something they should have, overtightening a bolt and stressing it, etc.

Keep us informed. This could be interesting and if this leads to a contact with VWOA be sure to bring this twice failed compressor business up also.

Stay away from cars with timing belts…

Oh no! I do not plan to put that money in the car and then get rid of it. It really depends if the warranty people cover this estimated cost. I will definitely keep you in the loop as far as the end result. I hate to get rid of this car because I really enjoyed the look and I thought dependability of it. But cuteness doesn’t get you from point a to b. I am on the road too much to take a chance with this car.
Thank you for your input again.

Lol! If only my car could operate on how much I love to travel.

As of today, the reason the timing belt broke according to the dealership is because it broke. I am not a mechanic, but I don’t believe that to be a valid reason. About 2 1/2 weeks ago, the extended warranty agreed to pay for the repairs. I also called in a regional case manager. She was told my car should be done by Wednesday of next week?!? On a side note, I went by the dealership and took about 50 pictures of my car. The word to describe my poor car is “disemboweled.” There were parts filling up the trunk, parts in the back seat AND the engine was 50 feet away in the garage. I also found out after the fact the cylinder head did not need to be removed to repair the car according to another mechanic.

As of today, the reason the timing belt broke according to the dealership is because it broke. I don’t believe that to be a valid reason, but that is all the explanation I am going to receive. I do have a regional case manager working on my behalf for the last two weeks. According to the case manager, the car should be repaired by Wednesday of next week. 5 1/2 weeks later…

There is no way the (Air Conditioning) Compressor problem is related to the Timing Belt problem. And I am not sure what Washer replacement has to do with anything. The only reason to replace the condenser is if it has a leak or it got plugged with debris from the compressor failure. You really need to be concerned with the timing belt failure after only 1 year as the issue and forget about the compressor. Bottom line is that the place that replaced the timing belt didn’t do a good enough job. Or, you got an off brand or counterfit replacement belt. When the MIL light came on, it might have been an indication that the belt had skipped a notch and was close to giving out. I recenly went over 80,000 miles on the OEM timing belt. And I have had an engine destroy itself when the cam siezed breaking the key on the timing belt pulley instead of the belt. Believe me that belt is strong. If it is a good belt and put in correctly. I have heard that VWOA is no help and it is really the dealer or garage that you need to deal with. You might have to become a nuisance. Call the owner (daily) and complain, Consider walking in fromt with a sign or taking out an add in thepaper (or at least threatening to do so) and line up a lawyer.