VW 1.8T Ticking Time Bomb

Has anyone ever experienced a premature broken timing belt in a VW/Audi 1.8T

what is premature and how high have you been revving the engine?

75K, driven by wife, never past 4500, belt failed, took out 16 of 20 valves. Was less expensive to buy head off shelf from Audi that to have a machine shop fix the old one.

Age is a factor with timing belts also; it’s not just miles. What year car is this?

This actually happened awhile ago, the car was a 2001 and it failed in 2003-2004. Tyhe first post must know something about this set up because it is a high rev turbo charged engine. Somewhat my rule is either mileage or 5 years, mileage usually occurs first for me though.

This one is off topic but I have another timing belt coming up. Toyota 4.7 in a Tudra 2wd. Year is 2006, looks pretty straight forward. Hate to say it but I am a white out type of guy when it comes to timing belts, TDC is usually when I have doubts when going back together or when I am working on a Mitsu engine, especially the V-6’s. oh yeah and that Honda/Isuzu 3.2(messy engine). 2006 Model sitting at 84K, my rule is 5 years but that belt is also twice as thick as lets say a Honda belt and yeah its turning 2 cams instead of one, on the fence cause I need to put another set of skins on it and it wont ride right unless I spend serious coin on em’. Last set was 265/65/17 Michelin Lattitudes, great ride always just getting thin.

Sure.  Many people have had it happen.  It is not limited to VW/Audi If you make a million timing belts, a few are going to fail well before expected.  Some likely fail a couple hundred miles. However while it does happen it is still a small percentage. 

However you or whoever changes the belt should look extra close at the tensioner and everything else the belt touches to make sure there is not a problem. 

In addition, it is good to note, as OK did, that time is as important as miles. 

If you were to take a look at a large sample of any make and model timing belts, you would likely see a typical bell curve, with a few failing very early most failing over a center area and a few lasting much longer.  The recommended change time is likely to be at the foot of that center section so only a few percent will fail before the recommended maintenance.

If you check on sites like Passat World, it seems most people end up replacing timing belts at about 70-75K. VW’s projected 105K life span is wildly optimistic, and the Bentley manual actually recommends 60K. Our 2004 Passat now has about 64K and I’m starting to think it’s a good idea to get it changed. If it breaks the repairs will run many thousands of dollars.

A heads up on this kind of thing, pardon the pun. I read ahead and know this was in the past for you, but just as a cautionary tale. We had a customer in with a 2004 Hyundai that snapped its timing belt at 72000 miles, and pistons became intimate with valves. Got her to donate the original engine to the school, and helped her find a low-mile junkyard engine. When the engines class did a teardown, not only did they find bent valves, but a big crack in the crankshaft. Object lesson, after interference engines, well, interfere, replacing the head may not solve the problem.

Since the car is an '01 and if it failed in '04 this would make the belt 4 years old seeing as how the car was likely built in '00. A failure after 4 years is a bit premature but things do happen out of the ordinary sometimes and it’s unlikely that any high revving had anything to do with the failure.

Environmental conditions and other influences can also play a part in belt failures. Extreme hot and cold temperatures, dusty conditions, and even faint wisps of oil and coolant vapors in the belt case can shorten the life of the belt.

Mr. Meehan is correct that a certain percentage may fail anyway even in the best of conditions.
Some good friends of mine bought a 59k miles, one-owner Honda that was only about 3 years old from the dealer a few years back and the belt broke 2 weeks later and 300 miles from home. This was their first timing belt vehicle and they had no idea what a timing belt was until it broke in the middle of their trip to the Angel Fire ski resort.

I know it’s much lower than what the owner’s manual says (80K I think), but the VW dealer I used to take my 02 Golf to always recommended replacing the timing belt at 60K miles…probably because they had seen a few of these “premature” failures.

Yes, my neighbor had the timing belt fail on her Passat with that engine. It failed at 57,000 miles (interval was 60,000) and caused $3500 in damage. The dealer had the audacity to chew her out that she had 'abused" the car.

Although only 5’-0" tall, she threatened legal action (her husband works for a law firm) and the service manager quickly lost his Teutonic arrogance. Some posters believe that these early failures are mostly due to the tensioner failing and causing the belt to destroy itself.