VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - Jase
Hello All,

On the CBC breakdown, HJ is reporting that these engines are snapping their timing belts at 70-80000 miles and alleging that this is a common problem. I was wondering whether anyone has any experience of this and whether a precautionary cambelt change at say 60000 miles (how much is this at franchised dealer?) is an effective solution.

I ask this because my sister has just bought an A3 1.8T (which looks great btw) and I had shortlisted one for my next car, but if the problem is widespread enough then I will be crossing it off the list!

Thanks in advance

CavV6 and cavWeb fan.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - FergusTheDog
All belts will go eventually but we have run dozens of VAG cars with this engine and never had one break. The belts are changed at 60k come hll or high water. In the in line variant - as in most Audis (except the A3) it's a very simple job. It is a little more difficult in the transverse engined cars but no big deal really.

The 1.8T 20v is a great engine, especially in 150 and 180 bhp variants.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - Jase
Thank you for your response FergusTheDog. From your experience, can you remember the rough cost of a Cambelt change on A3 1.8T's?

CavV6 and cavWeb fan.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - Adam Going (Tune-Up)
Hi Jase,

Not your engine, I know, but just a bit of fuel for thought.

I have a VW T4 Van, 2.5 TDi. Although quite capable, obviously, of doing everything myself, the vehicle has been dealer serviced every 12 months from new, with additional oil change @ 6 months.
Cambelt is scheduled, in print (both in the service book and in dealer information) for 80,000 miles with no additional elapsed time specification. Cambelt failed at 54,000 / 5.5 years. No foreign bodies present, no ancilliary pulleys/pumps failed, just straightforward belt failure. Had planned to have it done regardless at 60,000 but now have a major argument with VW over costs of new engine instead.

Whilst previously abiding by manufacturer's advice, I am now telling all customers 40,000 max for ANY belt.

Regards, Adam

VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - DavidHM
Without wanting to comment on the legalities of your case, Adam, I think what it shows is that age as well as mileage can cause cam belts to fail.

Of course, especially when the customer isn't a mechanic, it helps if the manufacturer's recommended interval takes that into account.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - Jonathan {p}
HJ's timing belt comment was one of the things putting me off buying a passat or audi estate with this engine. Are these engines good apart from that (and the coil and air mass issues). Changing the timing belt isnt a big issue or cost in the overall maintenance.

VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - Adam Going (Tune-Up)
Hi David,

Agree completely - age is a factor. But where makers do specify a time interval it is clear that they are generally looking in terms of 10-12K miles per year. Some Fords 80K or 8 years, other Fords 36K or 3 years, some Vauxhalls 36K or 4 years, as random examples. On this basis I was intending, as I said, to have belt replaced at 6 years regardless of mileage still some 25K shy.

My argument with VW is that (a)If they think time should be factored in they should say so (b)To publish a stated interval at all implies that that life should be atainable (c)How do they expect their dealers to sell work to the public inside stated intervals ? I have often explained to customers in the past that age must be considered. I have also explained that I find it dissapointing that VW, and many other makers, have in the past failed to specify ANY interval at all, smply saying "inspect and replace if necessary". This is a real cop-out as we have all seen cambelts that appear perfectly Ok, apart form the bit that is broken !

Such is life !! Adam
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - DavidHM
Adam, you're absolutely right about letting the public know about age as well. Also, if it fails well within the manufactuer's tolerances, I think you have a very strong case for a goodwill contribution. My post was really to draw attention to that fact in case there are any people readingwho only service their car every three years because they only do 3k a year... So many people expect a 40,000 mile, ten year old car to have as much life left in it as a 40k 2 year old and superficially, there might not be too much difference in the condition of the interior, bodywork or tyres.

Renault is usually 5 years/72k, typical Renault interval that's long on miles and short on time. At least they state a time though.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - KW
I've heard it's £250 to £300 for a transverse engine such as golf, A3 etc. but should be cheaper on passat and Audi as they are not transverse.
As for the engine itself I was told that it was originally developed by Audi/Palmer racing - would be grateful if anyone could confirm this. This engine is used up to 225bhp in the TT so I'd say it was tough! Also it get's chipped/ecu remapped to 200bhp or more by the likes of AMD, APR, etc. and I've yet to hear of one breaking!
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - LHM
Well, I can say that the timing belt may indeed fail at 130,000 miles!!! Happened last week. One of those jobs that I was 'meaning to get round to doing'......

Anyway, I'm doing it now (!), and it's not too bad a DIY job (on a '98 Passat). Not one of those 20V survived after being walloped by the pistons!! Thankfully, the rest of the head survived, so it's just a case of replacing the valves - oh, and a new cambelt (and tensioner).

The only other problem - which I'm now able to investigate - concerns the chain linking the two camshafts. This appears to have been rubbing on the cylinder head casting in a couple of places, resulting in the car being mistaken for a diesel on a couple of occasions! Not sure if it's down to stretching, or problems with the tensioner.

I guess I can't complain about the cambelt failing, but I don't accept any responsibility for the aircon clutch disintegrating or the jerky automatic box gearchanges..........

VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - DavidHM
Was that the first or second belt that failed at 130k? If it was the original one, I'm impressed that it lasted that long.
VAG 1.8 20v timing belt prob query - moojoose
Mine slipped at 73K taking out 4 teeth and all 20valves. Its also damaged the head. £2064 plus VAT for parts £750 for labour at a place near Wrexham. However another place in Chester quoted £1,800 inc VAT for an exchange engine. (Not fitted) What should i do? It\'ll cost more to fit a whole engine. The place in Chester said its a brand new one, but it sounds a bit cheap to me. A recon might have other problems.
I\'ll let you know if the 1st one is any good. The jobs too big for me!


Its worth saying that the place in Chester tried to charge me £70 for a sidelight bulb after quoting only £10. Would normally do it myself i have to admit it looked like a pain.

company names removed DD.
Cam belt - moojoose
I own a 1999 VW Passat. My cam belt slipped at 73K taking out four teeth and 20V quoted £3,000 from an independant. This includes labor and VAT and a new cylinder head.

Totally gutted (probably in need of a support group!). Just a warning to those who put off getting it changed as per service schedule

Cam belt - Pat L
What engine?
Had the belt been changed at all since new?

Hope you get it sorted as best you can. Good advice will be on its way from other backroomers.

Cam belt - Snakey
Have you tried a company such as 'German and Swedish' or Euro car parts for the parts prices?

Euro have a decent website ( and they've been good for me in the past when I've had German motors.

Obviously the labour is still a big bill but 3 grand seems a little excessive!
Cam belt - DavidHM
I've read the parts prices on the other thread; perhaps Dave woudl be able to combine the two because otherwise this risks getting a bit disjointed.

Erm... £2k seems like a hell of a lot for parts for a top end rebuild.

The VW franchise, are they not? Fitting a new engine should take a lot less than £750 in labour. The £1800 for a recon engine was from a VW franchise (I realise this is now identifiable but it's not derogatory and it is relevant).

In theory, it could have problems, but it should be at least as reliable as your other engine, which will itselfhave been partially rebuilt. £2840 + VAT is probably enough to write the car off, or very close to it - if you could put it through an auction and get four figures for it, unrepaired, you'd be well ahead at those prices.

Someone who knows the parts prices will be along, but of the two options presented, I would put in a whole new engine, rather than spending money on a rebuild. The best option IMO would be to take neither and get quotes from several reputable garages, unless you have a lot of money riding on having the car now - but a week's car hire is only £150 or so, so I suggest that you can afford to wait.

Value my car