CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Timing Belt for VW Golf

I’m in a unique position of getting a 2002 Golf with just 59,000 miles. Should I be worried about timing belt? It’s old but not a lot of miles.

Any consensus as to what to do? Many thanks in advance from a new member!

Rubber items–including timing belts–deteriorate just from aging.
That is why the replacement schedule for those belts is always expressed in both odometer mileage and elapsed time, with a “whichever comes first” proviso, such as…Every 105k miles or 8 years, whichever comes first.

So, if that timing belt has never been replaced, it is probably about 4 years overdue, and should be replaced before it snaps and causes very expensive engine damage.

And, as I always suggest with used cars, if there are no maintenance records available, you have to assume that no maintenance has ever been done. I would suggest taking a look at the maintenance lists for both 90k miles and 120k miles, and having everything on those lists done a.s.a.p.

Agree with VDCdriver … if this was my car, I would change the timing belt right after I bought it including the water pump if there was no valid maintenance receipt.

Yup, I would change it immediately, along with the water pump.The low mileage, paradoxically, makes it likely the previous owner did less regular maintenance.

I would also change all fluids:

Coolant
Transmission (especially if automatic)
Oil

Most of us don’t have your owner’s manual handy. Please tell us what it says and we’ll go from there.

After 12 years, it is due to be replaced if you can’t verify if it was replaced before. I would do it ASAP since you never know when it will give out. Any of the 3 engines available are interference engines, and if the belt breaks, you might as well walk away from it since it will cost a lot to fix. Way more than the $800 or so it will cost to do it now.

Thanks to everyone for your input. Sounds like the smart move is to do the timing belt and water pump. Genuinely appreciate your help!

At 12 years, the safest method is to replace the timing belt. If replacing is just economically unfeasible, then at least have the timing belt, tensioner, and water pump visually inspected.

If the belt breaks, your engine will be destroyed. Any solution would cost more than the car is worth.