Timing Belt for 2004 VW Jetta

My dealer repairperson tells me that at 90,000 I need to have the timing belt changed on my 2004 Jetta…costing “about $1,000.”

Can anyone tell me if this is necessary?


For the authoritative answer to your question, rather than random opinions that could be incorrect:

  1. Open glove compartment
  2. Find booklet containing the VW maintenance schedule
  3. Determine the manufacturer’s mileage and elapsed time intervals for timing belt replacement
  4. Determine which other vital services you have skipped prior to reading the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule

Those who fail to read and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule invariably come to regret that omission.

It is most defintely necessary, if not sooner. Check you INSTRUCTION MANUAL!!!However, the price quoted seems high. I would go to an independent garage that knows VWs and ge a quote. If the belt drives the water poumpo it would also make sense top replace the water pump at that time.

What is different from one make of car to another? Many car makers recommend changing the timing belt at 100,000 miles. Of course, the car dealer would like you to cut every maintenance interval in half. That makes more money for him (sometimes, her).
Go independent shop / mechanic. Save muh-lah.

spend “about $1000” now, or a few grand later when the engine breaks

Try a independent shop for another price quote.

Lastly what engine do you have. It makes a large differnce. The least is the 2.0L non turbo(base), the 1.8T approaches that cost.

In this case VW recommends changing the replacement belt (and tensioner) after 100,000 miles. They are better parts that the original ones.

Different cars have slightly different designs and parts so they don’t all last the time amount of time and as in this case, they may change designs, improving the original.

You likely can have it done cheaper by and independent mechanic. Getting the work done is only necessary if you want to avoid being suddenly and without warrning, stranded in the middle of nowhere and find you have done far more than $1,000 of unnecessary damage to your engine.

Yea, this one is necessary. Consider it on a cost per mile bases, $1,000 divided by 100,000 miles equals 1? per mile. How many cents per mile do you pay for fuel?

Thank you for your answer…but the manual, which I in fact did read, states the timing belt should be only checked, not replaced, at 60k and 90k…thus my question.

Well, shame on VW for that ridiculous advice. As we know, most car manufacturers are attempting to portray their vehicles as needing very little maintenance. This strategy may sell more cars, but in the long run, this may wind up alienating those who followed the “shortcut maintenance” advice.

A timing belt can appear perfectly normal when checked visually, and can fail shortly thereafter. The VW owners who follow this advice and then suffer a timing belt failure will likely never buy a VW again.

You are correct to question this information in the VW maintenance schedule. Hopefully, you will heed the advice of the forum members who advised you to change the belt a.s.a.p. No car ever suffered from being maintained better than the manufacturer specified.

Does your car have the 1.7l 4 cylinder. If it does, the answer is absolutely. This engine is lovingly referred to as an “Interference” engine. What this means is that when the belt snaps the valves and the pistons crash into each other and the engine gets trashed. How do I know this. Simple, my son refused to take his “old Man’s” advice and didn’t get the belt replaced on his Passat (uses the same engine) and the belt snap while he was tooling down the highway at about 85 mph. When it was all over it costs almost $7,000.00 to replace the engine. The $1,000.00 is short money.

‘Does your car have the 1.7l 4 cylinder’


It’s a 1.8 engine !

Which engine? There were 4 engines available for 2004: 1.8T (turbo), 1.9L TDI (turbo deisel), 2.0L, 2.8L VR6. They all have slightly different schedules. But, that said, the engines are all interference engines, and will very likely sustain significant damage if the belt breaks. At 90K miles, it’s probably a good idea to change it given the age of your vehicle (rubber will break down over time). And, yes, it is an expensive job. While you are getting the belt replaced, you might want to consider replacing the water pump. At 90K miles, your are getting close to needing a new one, and they will have everything disconnected already.

BTW, when VW says check, that’s what they mean. And, the result of the “check” can be a recommendation to replace. Otherwise why check it in the first place. I mean, you are asking them to look at the belt, and use some judgement in assessing its condition. They start checking the belt at 60K miles. The recommendation is left up to the mechanic, but in this case, I’d go along with the recommendation.

From one VW enthusiast to another I know alot about these cars you need to replace the timing belt and water pump ( you should use a water pump with metal impellers from aftermarket because the vw oem ones are made out of cheap plastic and fail early.) you need to change your timing belt on the 1.8T engine at least every 100k miles if you don’t be ready for catastrophic failure because these cars have very bad timing systems that are rigged to blow if you don’t maintenance them on time. always i do it every 90k or 10 years and keep up with 5k synthetic oil changes and this car will last you hundreds of thousands of miles, timing job costs 500 at a average shop in the US look around…