Engine head rebuild timeframe due to timing belt break?

#1

Hello, Cartalk World. Long time reader, first time poster. On November 13, the timing belt on my Audi TT snapped, causing complete loss of compression. Since the engine is an interference design, all but one of the 20 valves were bent, even going so far as to leave a small dent in the top of each piston. My question is, what is an average amount of time that a repair of this nature takes? My car is still in the shop. I’ve visted in person twice, and called several more times over the course of this repair. I want to give the mechanic his space, and I genuinely like the guy, but two months seems ridiculously long to fix a car, even a repair this major. (replacing timing belt, tensioner, water pump, head gasket, oil filter, spark plugs, thermostat, air filter, all intake and exhaust valves and their lifters, resurfacing of engine head.) I don’t want to be a jerk customer (especially when I see my TT in 55 pieces spread throughout five boxes in his garage!) I’d also allow for some delays due to the Thanksgiving and Xmas holidays. Can I get some responses from y’all? What do you think?

#2

I really can’t say…It all depends on part availability. If parts are readily available then just a few days…What is the guy saying???

#3

It shouldn’t take anywhere near this long. The head goes to a machine shop for a day or two and you rebuild the engine. Assuming all parts are available it should not take much more than a week, two weeks at the most.

Why does the mechanic claim it’s taking so long?

#4

About a month into it, I got a call from his office assistant that he had torqued his back while weight lifting. Two weeks ago it was a call that he had been in a car accident, and was okay, just a little sore. He has promised the car back to my “by Christmas,” then “before the new year,” and now “in a week.” I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I realize that these could be bogus time-buyers, but I also like to give people I meet the benefit of the doubt. Probably more than they are owed, but I grew up in southern PA, not NJ (where I live now) and I like being the way I am in a sea of impatient, short-trusting “city folk.”

Sigh. I agree that parts availability is part of it. I was told on my last site visit (after pointedly asking about it specifically) that he now has all the bits and pieces. My gut feeling is that he is young (looks to be about 29-33) and has been running his own shop for only a year or two with his Master certified dad. I think his business skills are just lacking, and it’s showing in his professionalism or lack thereof. My family has been through a very tough time the past month with people in the ER or surgery, a sick baby, and the normal hectic nature of the holidays. Having my car back by now would have really helped ease some of that craziness.

I guess there is not much for me to do at this point other than wait and get my car back. He works with VW and Audi’s specifically, and I was enjoying the idea of using him for future mods to my TT once the economy improves, but I don’t like not knowing when his work will be done, so that decision is now up in the air.

#5

I’ve seen many good mechanics who open their own shop fail because of lack of business skills. They have all the business they need…and they work like crazy and long long hours…But they really have no idea how to run a business.

I find the same problem with Engineers I work with. Many are very very skilled engineers…but haven’t a clue on how to run their department or manage people. They don’t understand when I cut their budgets by 30% because their department isn’t generating enough revenue. Great engineers…but no business sense what-so-ever.

#6

This is beginning to sound like a song by Dr. John. I was in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time. He was my mechanic, but he gave me the wrong line. You have been in the wrong place for a long time. When he’s done, you will have avoided driving your car in the Winter. Now you have to be nice to the mechanic or the bill will be higher than Cheech and Chong. He said his name is MECHHHHHHAAAAAAANNNNIIIIICCCCKKKKK.

#7

Two months is too long and if they were running into a delay in parts procurement then it’s their duty IMHO to inform you from the get go.

While I understand some parts for a TT may be harder to find than a Chevy it is also their duty to dig a
round and find them. If worse turns to worst, then…
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Parts-Accessories_Car-Truck-Parts-Accessories__VW-Audi-Valves-A4-A6-TT-FULL-SET-2-7-2-8-3-0-30-valve_W0QQitemZ170288002468QQddnZPartsQ20Q26Q20AccessoriesQQadiZ2865QQddiZ2811QQadnZCarQ20Q26Q20TruckQ20PartsQ20Q26Q20AccessoriesQQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item170288002468&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245&_trkparms=72%3A727|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318

And a pretty fair price on a set of valves I might add.

I’m also adverse to something lying around in pieces this long. The longer is sits the higher the chances of parts starting to go missing or even be stolen by another customer who sees an opportunity to get a cheap part when the owner or tech’s back is turned. (And yes, the latter does happen.)

#8

That’s a darn good price for a full set of valves. I have an '01 TT with the 4-cylinder engine, so that’s not the correct set of valves for my car, but I catch your drift. I have the Bentley manual for my car, and it’s experiences like this that make me wish I had a safe place to work on my own car. I’m certainly not qualified to do an engine rebuild, but stuff like exhaust systems and oil changes, etc. I could do. Also, a good point about the car sitting around in (many) pieces for so long. I was thinking more about contamination in the cylinders due to the head being off this long, but stolen parts is also a real concern. Sigh.