Audi A6 Timing Belt

Not wanting to risk engine damage caused by a failed timing belt, I had the dealer replace it at 75K miles (much sooner than the 105K in the 2002 A6 3.0 owner’s manual). Prior to the belt replacement the car ran like a top with no engine noise and had been dealer maintained at all the right intervals from day 1. After the replacement, the engine sounded like a sewing machine.

Dealer: “It’s probably valve damage, but that’s just a coincidence-we didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t go near the valves.”

What’s the real story? What could the dealer have “messed” up so that the car was running when I picked it up, but with engine noise that more than one mechanic, upon listening, confirms is valve damage? The engine now runs so rough that it can’t be left on and the “check engine” light flashes.

Can it be repaired for less than its total value? Should it?

Take the vehicle to an independent garage and ask they inspect the timing belt installation. If the timing marks don’t align properly, the timing belt was installed incorrectly which will bend the valves.


Just goes to prove, no good deed goes unpunished.

If the valves are damaged, it’s NOT a coincidence. Even though they didn’t go “near the valves,” the camshaft timing is determined by the timing belt. If they installed the timing belt incorrectly the valves would have been damaged the instant the engine was started.

They will never admit they installed it incorrectly, however, so someone else is going to have to take the timing belt covers off and determine whether or not the camshaft timing is correct.

If you let the dealer inspect his own work he will assure you it was correct and “something else” must have caused the valve damage.

Tester is right. I would also make sure the timing is checked.

Listen to the above comments. It’s nonsense what your dealer says - their actions directly caused this problem, unless you’re leaving somthing out. And if it is valve damage, they are responsible to fix it, regardless. If that means getting you a clean 2002 Audi to replace it with, that’s their problem.

Thank you all for your prompt and thoughtful comments.
As for repairs, I’ve gotten estimates that range from $5-7K (or more), which approaches the value of the car. Of course in order to “force” the dealer to make the repairs at no cost or to replace the car I’ll need to go to court since, as you appreciated, bringing the car back to the dealer is useless.

Small claims court was designed to handle just such situations as you have now. Most claimants don’t use a lwayer. You need all the proper paperwork to prove the garage caused your valve problem. Judges are normally sympathetic to the aggrieved party.

Docnick: I appreciate your suggestion, but small claims court is normally limited to $2500 or $3000 depending on the state and my damages are about 2X that (of course, something is better than nothing).
The biggest hurdle is getting the “proof” that I need. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be easy since there’s a possibility that the mechanic at the original dealer realized he messed up when the car was started and opened the car up again to re-set the timing belt. If that happened I won’t find anything when an independent mechanic checks it out now. Only time (and more money) will tell.

“there’s a possibility that the mechanic at the original dealer realized he messed up when the car was started and opened the car up again to re-set the timing belt.”

I would bet that this is exactly what happened.

So you have to 1. get the engine inspected to confirm the presence of bent valves and whether the cam timing’s off; 2. assemble all paperwork; 3. get as many witnesses as you can that can testify that the car ran fine IMMEDIATELY prior to the ‘work’; 4. get some expert (the inspecting mechanic? a teacher at a local car repair program at a community school? a different mechanic?) to testify that the ONLY way to bend valves is through bad cam timing or a broken belt; and 5. (unfortunately, it sounds) hire a lawyer.