Volkswagen Passat Timing Belt and Water Pump
Service Warning (click)
The late-model VW and Audi cars have a somewhat tricky timing belt removal procedure. According to the manufacturer, the entire nose of the car must be removed to access the front of the engine. Unfortunately, they are correct. They created a clever term for this process, it is called 'bringing the lock carrier into service position'.
There is absolutely no clearance between the radiator and the front of the engine. Even a simple drive belt replacement can be an arm-scraping ordeal. This article is applicable to vehicles such as the Passat, Jetta, A4, A6 and others. Some specific areas of this procedure vary year-to-year, but the overall process is very similar. Vehicles with transversely-mounted engines share many of the same procedures for disassembly, but do vary in some areas such as engine work.
Perhaps there is some secret trick to doing this timing belt with the front end on, but it doesn't seem like it would save much time and would probably result in a come-back, considering that a mirror and flashlight would have to be used to line up all of the timing marks and clean the gasket surfaces. This article will guide you through the task of removing the front bumper and related components. The vehicle shown is a 2001 Passat with a 2.8L engine. There are some minor differences between different model years and chassis, but the same basic steps apply to all vehicles with a lock carrier. This guide is intended to assist the technician in performing the repair. The procedures depicted below are by no means the only way to complete the task.
The first step is to evacuate the air conditioning system. The lines will have to be separated from the condenser later, and you can continue to work while the A/C system is emptied.
Next, remove the rubber seal that runs across the radiator support and the plastic cover over the hood latch. Now release the metal clip (1) (picture above), then spread the plastic tabs (2) apart and remove the hood latch release arm. Remove the upper 3 Torx-headed screws that retain the front bumper to the radiator support and the Phillips head screws that go through the rubber bumpers.
Inside both fender wells, remove the three visible Torx screws and the one semi-hidden screw (arrow).
Remove the marker light housing by pulling on the white ring and releasing it from it's attachment and sliding the housing forwards. Part of the air intake ducting will have to be removed to access the passenger side ring. Newer vehicles incorporate the marker lights into the headlamp housing, and are removed as an assembly once the bumper cover has been removed.
Now remove the bolts that were underneath the marker light
Note: Due to the number of fasteners that must be removed throughout this repair, a cordless impact gun or a drill with a bit driver attachment will greatly reduce the length of the job.
Remove the bumper cover by pulling outwards on the corners, then pull forwards from the front. This is much easier with a helper, especially on newer vehicles that have connections for fog lights and turn signals in the bumper cover.
It should take approximately ten minutes to get to this point.
Now remove the headlight assemblies and the braces underneath them. The headlights are retained by three Torx screws, two in the top (underneath plastic covers) and one in the outboard side at the bottom. The braces have several Torx screws pointing to the rear of the vehicle and one Allen bolt pointing upwards at the rear of the brace. Newer models are similar.
Remove the two bolts retaining the bumper assembly and set it aside. Now drain the coolant with the petcock on the bottom left (driver's side) of the radiator.
Remove the upper radiator hose by pulling up on this clip, then wiggling it gently back and forth as you pull backwards. This can take a few minutes, as the o-ring that seals the connection tends to get stuck. If, however, the hose is stubborn and will not release, insert a flat head screwdriver through the radiator support, placing the tip on the end of the hose. With a partner helping, simultaneously pull on the hose and tap on the screwdriver with a small hammer. This should be enough to break the connection. This procedure is not found in any VW shop manual, so be very careful (the hose costs about $70). Remove the lower hose and intercooler tubes (if applicable) at this time as well.
Remove the A/C hoses from the condenser, making sure to hold both sides of the connection with a wrench. Also, unclip the two horn electrical connectors and the A/C switch connector in this area.
Remove the transmission cooler lines at the threaded fittings near the engine oil pan as shown in the picture above. If the line fittings are difficult to remove due to rust and corrosion they can also be disconnected at the radiator, however, this method is a little more time consuming.
There is a bracket on the backside of the radiator support that runs vertically up to the hood latch, remove the bolt at the bottom end of this bracket and the hood latch assembly. Next, remove the electrical wires from their clips on the backside of the support and feed them out the bottom, between the bracket and radiator support (newer vehicles have several large connectors near the power steering reservoir).
The only things holding the radiator support to the car should now be six or eight large Torx bolts at the bumper brackets and two smaller Torx bolts at the top of the fenders. Remove the larger bolts first, then with a helper holding the lock carrier, remove the last two Torx bolts at the top of the fenders.
Slowly pull the lock carrier away from the car, making sure nothing else is attached.
You did it!!! Now the actual engine work can be done. It should only take about 45 minutes reach this point.
Note: due to a previous 'repair', many of the wires on the lock carrier were not properly positioned or routed. It was deemed best to not disturb them more than necessary. That is why the lock carrier remains attached to the vehicle in the following pictures.
The remainder of this article focuses only on the V6 engine. From this point on, four cylinder repairs will vary.
Start by removing the three engine covers, drive belt and belt tensioner.
Next, remove the black tube that runs up the passenger side of the front of the engine, and the three pieces of timing cover. The fan clutch is rather tricky to get off, as it is usually too tight to break loose by applying extra tension to the belt and turning the nut with a wrench. Unless you work at a WV dealership, you probably don't have the special spanner wrench needed to hold the pulley while turning the nut. The easiest way to do this is to insert an Allen wrench into one of the slots on the front of the pulley and turn the pulley until the wrench wedges up against part of the housing or one or the retaining bolts. Now you can apply pressure to the fan clutch nut (left-hand threads!) and break it loose.
In the picture above you can see, with the fan clutch removed for clarity, how to hold the pulley. Next, remove the Allen bolts holding the crank pulley on (not the large 12 point bolt), the crank pulley and the cover behind it. Also remove the three Allen bolts holding the power steering pulley on. Now you have full access to the timing belt and all related components.
This is the thermostat housing circled above. As you can see, it was leaking from a crack on the right side. Even if this job is being performed just because the timing belt is due by vehicle mileage, always replace the thermostat housing. There is an updated housing made from cast aluminum that is much stronger than the original plastic. This will prevent you from having to do the job again in two weeks for free.
If you are removing the camshaft drive pulley for any reason be aware that the camshaft is NOT keyed to the cam pulley. The camshaft is instead keyed to the small flange with two holes (A) located between the camshaft retaining bolt washer and the cam pulley. If you have to remove the camshaft pulley (i.e. to replace camshaft oil seals) the pulley will freely spin on the camshaft. You will need to have the special tool used to align the camshafts. Some technicians have reported success by carefully marking the relationship between the retaining flange (A) and the camshaft pulley. If you choose this option, be aware that a misaligning the pulley by 3 degrees is likely to result in a check engine light after a day or so. If you choose to mark the flange to pulley relation, you should record a cam/crank sensor relationship with a scope to ensure that you correctly reassemble the engine.
Aside from disassembling half of the car to access the timing belt, there is nothing different about this job than from any other timing belt. Follow the manufacturer procedures for aligning the timing marks and tensioning the belt, and then start the assembly process, going in reverse order of disassembly.
While not a bad as it may seem at first, this repair is certainly complicated. There are many bits and pieces to keep track of. To make matters worse, book time for completing various similar repairs is inconsistent. Expect to spend about six hours the first time, charge accordingly. Subsequent repairs will be much quicker, once the procedure becomes familiar. As always, take your time and do it once.
ASE CMAT L1