Shocks, struts, springs, and timming belt

my 6 year old VW Jetta TDI wagon with 90K miles recently went in for service. I mentioned that the front end (I think) was making a creaking sound when I (slowly) went over speed bumps, following routine maintenance and inspection I was told I needed new shocks, when I asked how much the only shock I got was the price they wanted to charge me. Calling around to a number of mechanics I got different stories and prices, One said I needed new springs not shocks, if I replaced the shocks I have a ‘hard’ ride, another said I just needed to replace the struts, and finally one suggested that since on occasion I carry 500-700 lbs ‘cargo’ in the rear of the wagon I should get adjustable shocks. Depending on recommendations of “what I need”, the price ranges anywhere from about $400 - $1200. How do I know what I need and what should I spend? One more question, it’s time for a new timing belt, does that have to be a manufactures (VW) part or can any ‘qualified’ mechanic replace the timing belt?

I don’t know why your car would need springs, unless one is broken.

Shocks and struts are almost the same thing. They’re the hydraulic cylinders that damp the motion of the body on the suspension. When they wear out the car bounces on the springs. At only 90K most people’s shocks and struts are still good. I’d get an opinion from another mechanic IN PERSON, not over the phone.

You don’t need a VW timing belt. Any qualified VW mechanic should be able to do the job. Just make sure it’s done correctly, with no shortcuts. A water pump and some other parts, such as a tensioner, may be part to the job.

sounds good, I like your answers

Nobody can diagnose this over the phone. Find a good independent VW mechanic (ask around or use the cartalk mechanic finder). Take it to them and get a diagnosis. At 90k you might need shocks/struts, it just depends. But McP’s right, not springs unless one’s broken. And new shocks won’t give you a ‘hard’ ride unless they’re sports shocks or heavy duty ones. As for adjustable ones, unless you’re suffering steering problems when you’re loaded up I wouldn’t get them.

Any qualified mechanic can replace the timing belt. Your creaking sound may be none of the above and possibly a bushing or something of that nature. Ive have theses creaks in vehicles and it was never shocks struts or springs

The timing belt is a must and any name brand belt installed by a competent tech will be fine and this should be replaced as a kit, not just the belt.
I doubt the creaking is due to faulty shocks, struts, or springs.

Is this creaking noise in the front? If so, it could just be aged and dried sway bar bushings. Often a bit of lubricant will shut these right up.