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Need help prioritizing repairs

2002 VW Passat with 92,000 miles needs:



1) Camshaft adjuster valve & knock sensor (to fix slow oil leak)

2) Headlamp restoration (What is this?? We just did this last year.)

3) Timing belt (We know this is critical. We will need this at 110,000 miles so we could do it now while they do the other items)



The quote from our mechanic (who is not a VW dealter and has a good reputation) for all of this with parts & labor is $3450, which seems very high. We are going to get a 2nd opinion, but we were curious if others had any thoughts.



Are all of these items critical?

I think most of the labor for #3 has to be done to do #1, so I think those two should go hand in hand. I also have no idea what a “headlamp restoration” is. Is there something wrong with your headlights? Are the lenses getting yellow and fogging over?

At any rate, the price seems pretty extreme-- you could practically get a new engine in there for that. The timing belt should probably be maybe $600 or $700 tops. Did he break down his estimate between jobs and between parts and labor?

On #1, the only problem is a slow oil leak? Is this leak “critical”. Perhaps you can live with the leak.

On #2, this sounds like polishing the plastic lense of the headlight. Not doing it shouldn’t be a big deal. You had it done before and couldn’t see a difference anyway.

On #3, this one you should do soon. Your timing belt is 8 years old and beyond the age requirement and therefore due for a change now. I won’t wait for 110K miles, that is 2 years away based on your miles driven per year. A timing belt failure would ruin the motor.

I’d pass on 1 and 2 and go for 3 now rather than later.

On “headlight restoration” I recently had my car flunked on inspection for headlights that were too cloudy - this was nitpicking as they weren’t all that bad.

The offer was to “restore” them for $130.

I took some Maguiar’s PlastX (around $8 for a bottle), about 10 minutes, and some elbow grease and then brought it back for my inspection sticker.

If it is bad enough to be noticed, it IS that bad. Anything that reduces you ability to see is serious in my book.

Frankly I really hate the fancy modern PLASTIC headlight covers. Let’s go back to cheap effective sealed beams. They really can make cars look good with them if they want to. It is time we tell the designers NO whenever they want to do something that is a step back.