VW Broken timing belt and car manual

The timing belt broke in my 2001 VW Beetle. The car was still under the 100,000 warranty. Repairs ran over $4,000. The car has always been very well-maintained according the manual. The manual’s first mention of the timing belt is to have it checked at 105,000. Is it reasonable for VW to cover the repair costs? If not, will a lawyer be of likely help?

The car was within warranty, and you can show that all required maintenance was done? The timing belt wasn’t required to be touched in that time? It sounds like VW would on the hook for this one, unless they can show that you abused the car or failed to perform required maintenance. By the way, at 105,000 the belt would be replaced, not just checked.

A known weak point on VW models and the subject of a class action lawsuit against Audi for exactly the same engine and problem, I believe the action was successful and Audi ended up refunding the repair costs.

You don’t quote the failure mileage but from a common sense view, if the vehicle was under warranty and you kept to the recommended service intervals at a VW dealership (in which case they okayed the timing belt) then you have a case, but good luck to you. I’ve heard of VW worming out of this problem with every excuse under the sun “Your not the original owner” is a fave I’ve heard of.

Strictly speaking VW should pay, a good attorney could argue that the 105,000 is documented, your car had only n,000 miles and premature timing belt failure is a know problem. Therefore your service dealership is guilty of either negligent or lacking diligence. Depending on which state you’re in, you might be able to take this to small claims.

I’m surprised that there was no mention to check the timing belt anytime before having it changed at 105k, that is poor business practices if that is the case. If Audi has had to pay out on timing belt failures you may be in luck as the Beetle is about the same car as the Audi TT.

This is a very typical VW story. My neighbor had exactly the same thing happen. VW will try to tell you you abused the car and try to weasel out. They are liable, and you may have to threaten court action.

First thing you should have taken it to a VW dealer no one else for this repair. If you took it to a non-VW dealer for the repair you are out of luck of ever getting compensated for this. Otherwise you can take issue.

I will say VW recommends the belt condition be checked on a periodic basis as part of the 20k if I recall correctly from a VW nut friend. If you did not perform these checks they have a way out.

What does the owners manual say about replacing the belt based on TIME. The belt was 8 years old and 5-6 years is about the limit IMHO.
Rubber degrades over time just like tires, hoses, and other belts on the car.
An 8 year old belt on any car made can pop at any time so this is not a “VW only” problem.

And does your manual really say to CHECK the belt at 105k or replace it? A visual inspection of a 105k miles belt may not reveal anything and there is no way a belt should only be checked at 105k; it should be replaced, period.

I want to echo what ok4450 stated. While the manual may well state that the timing belt should be replaced at 105k, I’m sure that there is also an elapsed time specified for replacement–perhaps something like “every 6 years or 105,000 miles, whichever comes first”.

If I am correct, then VW can definitely deny warranty coverage on the basis of failure to replace the belt as specified in the maintenance schedule. I am always amazed at how many people manage to miss the elapsed time details on maintenance procedures, and this looks like one of those situations, IMHO.

According to the fingers on the end of my left arm that I sometimes use as a calculator, 2001 to 2008 is 7 years. There is no maintenance needed for a timing belt and tensioner pulley other than possibly a belt tension check but this should be specified in your owner’s manual. Hold your VW dealer’s feet to the fire and have your 100,000 mile warranty pay for the repairs if you have not exceeded any time limit that your warranty papers and owner’s manual might specify.

Watch for language that might specify whether the time limit, if any, is from the build date and not the delivery date to the first owner. If this is not mentioned, then it should be delivery date to the first owner.

I had an issue some years ago with a VW that resulted in no response from their US corporate headquarters. At that time there was no internet. Now I would attempt to get VW in Germany involved to let them know how the US branch is doing. You might want to mention to your dealer that you can do this if you don’t get satisfaction where it is deserved. Another option is to go to another nearby dealer to ask for advice. He might help with suggestions on how to proceed if he has a competitive dislike for your dealer.