Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Golf comes home on a wrecker, due to timing belt tensioner malfunction

Not even one day after buttoning up the car from the coolant sensor replacement, I got stranded while coming back from town, running some errands.  The car just stalled and wouldn't restart.  At first I thought I might have been out of fuel, (needle was slightly above 'E', not usually a problem).  I coasted into a nearby business parking lot and checked the fuel lines, there was no air.  I opened the timing belt cover and the belt looked fine.  However, I wiggled it and there was a lot of play.  I determined that the tensioner had likely failed and the belt skipped a tooth or so.  Called a wrecker and got a "free" ride home thanks to AAA.
We were leaving for a weekend camping trip that day, so I had no chance to do anything with it. That was a little anxiety-inducing, considering the possibility that my engine may or may not have been destroyed. When I got back I finally got it apart and reset the timing.  Sure enough, the tensioner was basically not attached anymore.  The nut had come loose and all but fallen off.  I definitely remember that I tightened it "pretty hard" before (there is not enough room to get a torque wrench in there).  This time I put thread-lock compound on it, so hopefully it will be good to go.

I got the timing all set up using my tool set.  As a neat trick (though somewhat unnecessary) I set up my laptop with a USB webcam so I could monitor the TDC mark on the flywheel, while I rotated the crankshaft from below.

The timing belt was still in really good shape.  No sign of shredding at all, in fact it still had the writing visible.  Seems like the 100,000 mile belt I bought was a good choice. I replaced the "ribbed" (accessory drive) belt as that was cracking.  Pulled out the locks and breathed a sigh of relief as I successfully rotated the engine through by hand.  Got it all back together, with the whole job coming in at about 5-6 hours, taking my time.  I have realized that if I try to go any faster than that, I end up doing the job twice.

If I had the dealership or someone else do it, it would have probably cost $500-$700, and that would have been after withstanding tons of grumbling and groaning about the veg kit, other mods done to the car, the age of the car, etc. etc. 

Really feeling like I haven't got time for this crap now.  Here's to finding a new car soon.

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