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Inching closer to the dreaded timing belt replacement...

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
Hey, was wondering how many other forum users replaced their MKV timing belt themselves, or paid to have it done (whether dealer or anyone else)? I'm a bit over 90K miles at this point and 10 years, so it's something that's been on my mind. The problem with these cars is the residual value questions the expenditure unless you plan to keep the vehicle longer term.

I'm not sure what I want to do at this point, but the car has been fairly reliable powertrain wise. It's the other stuff that sucks up time, but, again, those that have replaced the timing belt themselves or paid somebody else to do it, can you tell me about it? Especially if you paid somebody, including the dealer - how much did it cost you, and were there any issues?

Thanks.
 

avenali312

Go Kart Champion
Location
Smyrna, GA
Ride
2015 VW GTI
I did it myself with the help of my dad. It was relatively straightforward, but extremely time consuming. We took the better part of two days (probably about 8 to 10 hours total) to be meticulous about it following a DIY found on here.

I ordered the Blauparts kit since it was highly comprehensive and came with everything needed for the job (including a new water pump, which is highly advised to replace with the timing belt since you're in there anyway). They even included a free gift of a thermostat, which I ended up needing a few years later.

https://www.golfmkv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=135872
 

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
I did it myself with the help of my dad. It was relatively straightforward, but extremely time consuming. We took the better part of two days (probably about 8 to 10 hours total) to be meticulous about it following a DIY found on here.

I ordered the Blauparts kit since it was highly comprehensive and came with everything needed for the job (including a new water pump, which is highly advised to replace with the timing belt since you're in there anyway). They even included a free gift of a thermostat, which I ended up needing a few years later.

https://www.golfmkv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=135872
8 to 10 hours really does not sound all that bad, for THAT job, tbh... but, that is one job that makes me nervous. A mistake that causes timing to be off can cause a world of problems.
 

avenali312

Go Kart Champion
Location
Smyrna, GA
Ride
2015 VW GTI
8 to 10 hours really does not sound all that bad, for THAT job, tbh... but, that is one job that makes me nervous. A mistake that causes timing to be off can cause a world of problems.
Yeah, luckily my dad retired from the world of engine maintenance, so he took care of that part. One tooth off can make a very big difference haha.
 

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
Yeah, luckily my dad retired from the world of engine maintenance, so he took care of that part. One tooth off can make a very big difference haha.
Well there ya go - that part is HUGE. If I had somebody that has done a timing belt replacement, before, and was willing to help me, then I'd definitely consider doing it at home. That said, it ain't an easy job, even if you know what you're doing - so I give you credit either way.

Hopefully I'll hear from some people that have paid for it, as well, and how much they paid. Even if people confirm they've driven on the same belt for 200K miles, that's helpful as well.
 

clarence35

New member
Location
LA
I'm not sure what I want to do at this point, but the car has been fairly reliable powertrain wise. It's the other stuff that sucks up time, but, again, those that have replaced the timing belt themselves or paid somebody else to do it, can you tell me about it?
I bought the ECS Tuning timing belt and thermostat kit and replaced it myself about a year ago at 90k miles on my 08 GTI. I used ECS's provided PDF instructions and they were spot on, very clear. I also read Zach L's informative DIY post on this forum before starting, his tips on putting on the new timing belt were helpful.

I had never done a timing belt before and, honestly, it went without a hitch. I removed everything in a few hours on a Saturday night and put everything back together the next day Sunday. I did buy some new (but cheap) tools from Harbor Freight (sockets, a flex-head ratchet, swivel u-joints, and pliers) to help make access easier deep in the engine bay. If you're considering DIY, it's very doable, and way cheaper than buying a new car to avoid the maintenance.
 

Brigand253

Ready to race!
Location
WA
I did the job myself with my Dad's advice for the tougher parts. I went with the Blauparts kit because it was very complete. I ended up not using the GRAF water pump they send though because I read hit/miss reviews on its reliability (went OEM instead).

The toughest part of the job for me was getting the engine mount bracket out since my car has the one-piece timing belt cover. In hindsight, I should have replaced the one-piece with the two-piece when I did the job.

Another thing I did to make sure I kept timing was mark the old belt with paint on the cam and crank gear before taking it off, and then mark the new belt on the same EXACT teeth. Install the new belt matching all paint marks and you're good to go.
 

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
I bought the ECS Tuning timing belt and thermostat kit and replaced it myself about a year ago at 90k miles on my 08 GTI. I used ECS's provided PDF instructions and they were spot on, very clear. I also read Zach L's informative DIY post on this forum before starting, his tips on putting on the new timing belt were helpful.

I had never done a timing belt before and, honestly, it went without a hitch. I removed everything in a few hours on a Saturday night and put everything back together the next day Sunday. I did buy some new (but cheap) tools from Harbor Freight (sockets, a flex-head ratchet, swivel u-joints, and pliers) to help make access easier deep in the engine bay. If you're considering DIY, it's very doable, and way cheaper than buying a new car to avoid the maintenance.
It is interesting the percentage of MKV owners that have taken this rather complicated job on. I definitely have all of the tools to do it, and I even have a new GTI as well, in the driveway --- so, I'd be able to take as much time as I need. It just concerns me that if you run into a problem and have the front cover of the engine off, then you've got a REAL problem. You have a vehicle that is undriveable that is also in pieces. Also, it's a fairly high risk, higher reward undertaking... but, I'm honestly not clear on what the current going rates are for this job. There is a good independent shop over the hill from my house, so I'd definitely ask them for a quote as well, but I'd definitely at least consider doing it, myself.

What were the most time consuming issues you ran into? Also, WTF was VW thinking of when they decided to go with a belt instead of a chain? Although, I'll at least give them credit for using a rather long life belt... but they had to know the book time a job like this would require when they placed a 110K - 120K mile belt in their new MKV design.
 

avenali312

Go Kart Champion
Location
Smyrna, GA
Ride
2015 VW GTI
I did the job myself with my Dad's advice for the tougher parts. I went with the Blauparts kit because it was very complete. I ended up not using the GRAF water pump they send though because I read hit/miss reviews on its reliability (went OEM instead).
I was a bit disappointed to see that the water pump had a plastic propeller, but it seemed well enough made so we used it. It lasted the 40k miles before I traded the car in with no issues.

The toughest part of the job for me was getting the engine mount bracket out since my car has the one-piece timing belt cover. In hindsight, I should have replaced the one-piece with the two-piece when I did the job.
Same here. Also should have installed the two piece haha.

Another thing I did to make sure I kept timing was mark the old belt with paint on the cam and crank gear before taking it off, and then mark the new belt on the same EXACT teeth. Install the new belt matching all paint marks and you're good to go.
My dad also did this. Seems like the one of the easiest ways to prevent a major timing issue.
 

clarence35

New member
Location
LA
Also, it's a fairly high risk, higher reward undertaking...
What were the most time consuming issues you ran into? Also, WTF was VW thinking of when they decided to go with a belt instead of a chain? Although, I'll at least give them credit for using a rather long life belt... but they had to know the book time a job like this would require when they placed a 110K - 120K mile belt in their new MKV design.
It seems high risk in the sense that you could damage your valves, yes, but if you are pretty good at following directions and mark your teeth (and, optionally, the belt), there's no uncertainty. You simply test by rotating the crankshaft two times and seeing if the cam gear is lined up to its original mark at TDC. Either your car is properly timed (and both marks line up) or it's not -- if it's not or you're not sure, take off the belt and start over. You can only cause damage by turning the engine on. Just make sure you have a torque wrench and tighten everything correctly (the ECS PDF lists all torque specs).

For me, the most time consuming part was removing the engine mount and timing belt cover. It's hard to describe how to do it because it involves tilting and repositioning the parts to just the right spot. Once you do it, it makes sense and putting it back together is easy. I also understand some people have to deal with rusted out/stripped crankshaft bolts, but I live in LA with little rain or snow so it wasn't a problem at all for me. In comparison, I found replacing the thermostat to be a tougher job.

Re: timing chain versus belt, I agree that a timing chain is often less maintenance than a belt since it's not designed as a wear part, but they can have tensioner or guide issues that can cause catastrophic problems too (e.g., VW's 2.0 TSI engine). I've owned an s2000 and 986 Boxster S, and those two cars are also known for timing chain guides that can deteriorate over time.

I've owned my 2008 GTI since new and will try to keep it another 10 years/100k miles. One timing belt change to make it 200k miles seems like perfectly reasonable to me (shops here in LA charge around $1,000 to $1,500), but I can understand the frustration for people just buying the car used and needing to spend another $1k immediately.
 

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
It seems high risk in the sense that you could damage your valves, yes, but if you are pretty good at following directions and mark your teeth (and, optionally, the belt), there's no uncertainty. You simply test by rotating the crankshaft two times and seeing if the cam gear is lined up to its original mark at TDC. Either your car is properly timed (and both marks line up) or it's not -- if it's not or you're not sure, take off the belt and start over. You can only cause damage by turning the engine on. Just make sure you have a torque wrench and tighten everything correctly (the ECS PDF lists all torque specs).

For me, the most time consuming part was removing the engine mount and timing belt cover. It's hard to describe how to do it because it involves tilting and repositioning the parts to just the right spot. Once you do it, it makes sense and putting it back together is easy. I also understand some people have to deal with rusted out/stripped crankshaft bolts, but I live in LA with little rain or snow so it wasn't a problem at all for me. In comparison, I found replacing the thermostat to be a tougher job.

Re: timing chain versus belt, I agree that a timing chain is often less maintenance than a belt since it's not designed as a wear part, but they can have tensioner or guide issues that can cause catastrophic problems too (e.g., VW's 2.0 TSI engine). I've owned an s2000 and 986 Boxster S, and those two cars are also known for timing chain guides that can deteriorate over time.

I've owned my 2008 GTI since new and will try to keep it another 10 years/100k miles. One timing belt change to make it 200k miles seems like perfectly reasonable to me (shops here in LA charge around $1,000 to $1,500), but I can understand the frustration for people just buying the car used and needing to spend another $1k immediately.
Thanks, that's helpful. I did buy this car used as a second vehicle, but when I bought it, the car only had about 28K miles on it and was still under the VW 4 year warranty. If I could get a professional to do it for only $1K, even with me supplying the parts, I think I wouldn't bother.

I was watching some videos on YouTube and none of them are particularly great -- they're all helpful, just not great. One video, the guy wasn't using half of the correct tools, but his instructions were helpful none-the-less. One of the videos was from an actual shop mechanic, but he doesn't talk in any of the video, and also doesn't show the mounting of the timing belt (supposedly due to liability concerns) -- so, that video offered limited help as well, but I did note that he mentioned that Bentley's book time on the job (with water pump replacement) was something like 5.2 hours or something close to that. At $100 - to $125 an hour labor, that would be less than $700 labor. An OE timing belt and water pump, even at dealer prices shouldn't be too bad (I'd hope, at least). So, I think I need to call the dealer to at least set the base line on what a VW dealer mechanic would charge for the job with all OE parts.

Oh, also, I noticed the mechanic actually removed the lower timing cover AND one of the pulleys before he removed the top engine mount -- and he removed it from below the car, rather than above the engine bay.
 

clarence35

New member
Location
LA
I was watching some videos on YouTube and none of them are particularly great -- they're all helpful, just not great. . . .
Based on your response and how much you've researched already, I'd bet you could do this job yourself and you'd find it much easier than your initial concern. Understanding how the timing belt keeps the engine properly timed is half the battle (if you know how it works, it will be pretty clear what you need to do to get the new belt on correctly and, at the least, it will be clear if it's *not* on correctly). The other half of the battle is just having the right tools (triple squares, regular and wobble extensions and/or u-joint) and organization to remove everything and put it all back together.

Have you read through the ECS installation guide PDF? It goes through step-by-step in great detail and might give you the slight push of confidence to go do it.

http://bd8ba3c866c8cbc330ab-7b26c6f3e01bf511d4da3315c66902d6.r6.cf1.rackcdn.com/PDF_16133_VW_2.0T_FSI_Timing_Belt_Installation.pdf
 

ShawnDread

New member
I also did the job myself with the help of a friend. Both of us had done basic wrenching, but nothing this big or difficult. It took eight hours, all of a Saturday. I had the one piece cover and the engine mount removal was the hardest part. I didn’t get the two piece replacement but confess that I left a bolt out when replacing the cover.

We were very careful to mark the old belt and both toothed gears before removal. Counted and recounted the belt teeth.

I bought the kit but didn’t use the thermostat parts yet. I followed their how-to as well as the one here that others have used.

I’ll add that my ‘06 had 123,000 miles when we did the job, and the original belt had no signs of wear. Same experience when I did the cam follower—way past due but no signs of wear.
 

MagicMK

Ready to race!
Location
PA
I also did the job myself with the help of a friend. Both of us had done basic wrenching, but nothing this big or difficult. It took eight hours, all of a Saturday. I had the one piece cover and the engine mount removal was the hardest part. I didn’t get the two piece replacement but confess that I left a bolt out when replacing the cover.

We were very careful to mark the old belt and both toothed gears before removal. Counted and recounted the belt teeth.

I bought the kit but didn’t use the thermostat parts yet. I followed their how-to as well as the one here that others have used.

I’ll add that my ‘06 had 123,000 miles when we did the job, and the original belt had no signs of wear. Same experience when I did the cam follower—way past due but no signs of wear.
That's interesting - thanks. I think my 08 would likely have the two piece cover, but after watching some videos, I've noticed there are definitely some tricks to the installation. It's a testament to the quality of those Conti belts VW used that they go 123K miles and over a decade without incident. You really don't hear too many stories of snapped GTI timing belts... at least in the MKV series.

I have 3 cars, so, I can take my time on the job if I wanted, but I'm only at 90K now, and I have to at least price the cost of the job at a few dealerships... the great thing about the timing belt job is it's mostly all labor. What I mean by that, is that any job that requires expensive VW parts gets marked up a s-load due to the high price of VW dealership parts (the cost of dealer parts is inherently high). The fact that the job is mostly labor, means you at least get to maximize the value of the labor without having to pay some of the extortionist dealership prices on parts. That said, I'm really considering doing the job myself (esp if I keep the car much longer - I have a new GTI as well, so I'm not certain how much longer I'll keep my MKV).
 

XavierNusum

YouTube Cert Mech
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
Ride
2007 United Grey GTI
This thread has been really helpful to me since I'm planning my first timing belt/water pump replacement over the holidays.

It's interesting that the Blauparts kit has some less desirable parts. I've heard that about ECS but not Blauparts. I honestly think the job will be tough, but very possible with my moderate level of wrenching experience. I have replace the thermostat on my 07' GTI and that was a bugger! After a successful TB replacement, I think I might tackle the intake valve cleaning.

BTW, the local VW specific shop in my area charges $550 for the service and kit. Mind you no specifics are given on what/who's parts they use.
 

avenali312

Go Kart Champion
Location
Smyrna, GA
Ride
2015 VW GTI
This thread has been really helpful to me since I'm planning my first timing belt/water pump replacement over the holidays.

It's interesting that the Blauparts kit has some less desirable parts. I've heard that about ECS but not Blauparts. I honestly think the job will be tough, but very possible with my moderate level of wrenching experience. I have replace the thermostat on my 07' GTI and that was a bugger! After a successful TB replacement, I think I might tackle the intake valve cleaning.

BTW, the local VW specific shop in my area charges $550 for the service and kit. Mind you no specifics are given on what/who's parts they use.
I used the Blauparts kit for mine and drove the car for about another 50k miles before I traded it in. I had zero issues related to anything in the kit over those 50k. I have no idea if the contents of the kit have changed in the last few years though.
 

XavierNusum

YouTube Cert Mech
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
Ride
2007 United Grey GTI
I used the Blauparts kit for mine and drove the car for about another 50k miles before I traded it in. I had zero issues related to anything in the kit over those 50k. I have no idea if the contents of the kit have changed in the last few years though.
That's what I'm used to hearing about Blauparts! I just checked their enhanced kit and it lists a Graf pump which is pictured to have metal propellers. I think I will probably go with them.
 
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