How to tell if timing belt broke and engine damage ?
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Thread: How to tell if timing belt broke and engine damage ?

  1. #1
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    Post How to tell if timing belt broke and engine damage ?

    Hi,
    Is there a way to know for sure if the timing belt broke, without taking the car to a mechanic?

    It it 2004 GLS 1.8L L4 PFI DOHC Gas, front wheel .
    It cranks / turns over when trying to start but it will not start .

    What to look for , where to look.
    Is there a way to find out myself or will I have to pay million $$$ to mechanic?
    Thank you very much for any info.
    ------------------------------------
    UPDATE (Solved) 4/7/2012 Tuesday

    OMG it was so easy once I had the info from this post.
    Kudos to "Volk14" who made it simple for me, he had all the answers:
    He wrote below :
    "You don't need any tools to check that out. Open your hood and unclip the upper timing belt cover right in front of the hood latch. It's only two metal clips. You'll see the timing belt. Have someone to crank the engine and see if the timing belt turns."

    I did the above, and the belt is tight with good teeth and gears look fine too. Timing belt does turn normally when crank.

    Now I can go-ahead and tow it to mechanic not being afraid of the worst.

    ------------------------------------
    Last edited by new2vwPassat; 04-17-2012 at 03:28 PM. Reason: Update

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  3. #2
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    Generally if the timing belt is broken the engine will crank much faster than usual, because there's no compression to fight against. You can also remove the top plastic cover over the belt. It's not hard to do, and you'll see most kinds of failure.

  4. #3
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    On some vehicles, one can look in the oil fill port and see the camshaft, or a rocker arm, or some other piece of valve gear. If they don't move when the engine is being cranked, then the connection between the valve gear and the crank (here, the toothed belt) is busted. I have a V6, 'tho, and don't know what can be seen when looking into the cam cover on a four.
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  5. #4
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    The 1.8T has a cover over the cam inside the valve cover, so it is not visible. Pulling the upper timing belt cover is the best way to check.
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PZ View Post
    The 1.8T has a cover over the cam inside the valve cover, so it is not visible. Pulling the upper timing belt cover is the best way to check.
    I remove the cover, have someone crank the engine, and see if the cam turns. If the belt is broken, the cam gear will not turn, or not turn properly.

    I do this because you might not see the damage right away. No need to worry, if the belt broke the damage is done.

  7. #6
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    I had my timing belt break on my 03 just this January and mine at least (not sure about all Passats) has whats called something like an interrupt engine (may be just the I engines) where part of the engine stops operating and it bent 12 of my valves and the head had to be repaired, all in all was about $3,200. good news for you is when my timing belt broke i was unable to even turn my engine, my mechanic said its it wouldn't without the belt. He put on a belt in order to test if any damage was caused to try and save me $2k. So in short if your able to turn your engine and it sounds like it wants to start but just isn't, the timing belt would not be the place i would start.
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  8. #7
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    ok sorry to correct my last statement it is the I4 engines VW makes are what's called interference engines, where if your timing belt breaks the valves are able to collide with one another when timing is off. Interference engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  9. #8
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    Your ' mechanic ' is wrong . The engine can turn without a timing belt . It is possible for a valve to jam things up to the point where the engine will not turn but there are many posts on this site about engines turning with a broken timing belt .
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  10. #9
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    if you turn your engine with timing belt off, because of the type of engine you will surely damage valves, it is possible depending on how long it was running with no belt that the valves didn't collide but if you force it to turn you will only cause damage as the timing of the valves will not be correct.
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  11. #10
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    here is an answer I got from "CarGurus.com"

    "ChrisandDonna answered:
    if its turning over ..but sounds different to normal its broke take the belt cover off,, if the bottom is moving and the top is not moving its broke"

    It looks like this the way to do it, Thank you

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lp81 View Post
    if you turn your engine with timing belt off, because of the type of engine you will surely damage valves, it is possible depending on how long it was running with no belt that the valves didn't collide but if you force it to turn you will only cause damage as the timing of the valves will not be correct.
    I should not try to crank it, well too late

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotts13 View Post
    Generally if the timing belt is broken the engine will crank much faster than usual, because there's no compression to fight against. You can also remove the top plastic cover over the belt. It's not hard to do, and you'll see most kinds of failure.
    This is what I got from CarGurus
    "ChrisandDonna
    if its turning over ..but sounds different to normal its broke take the belt cover off,, if the bottom is moving and the top is not moving its broke"

  14. #13
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    Unclip the timing cover and check the belt. Should take seconds. Do that and report back with results if you want advice, maybe explain why you think it may have broke. Asking the same question won't get you anywhere.
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by damian856 View Post
    Unclip the timing cover and check the belt. Should take seconds. Do that and report back with results if you want advice, maybe explain why you think it may have broke. Asking the same question won't get you anywhere.
    I think it's the belt, because the car was bought at auction "as is" and it will not start. And I had no idea that VW have this "timing belt" issue. Let me go ahead buy some tools and take that cover off.
    I should do it today hopefully
    Thanks

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by new2vwPassat View Post
    I think it's the belt, because the car was bought at auction "as is" and it will not start. And I had no idea that VW have this "timing belt" issue. Let me go ahead buy some tools and take that cover off.
    I should do it today hopefully
    Thanks
    You don't need any tools to check that out. Open your hood and unclip the upper timing belt cover right in front of the hood latch. It's only two metal clips. You'll see the timing belt. Have someone to crank the engine and see if the timing belt turns.

    Good luck and let us know what you found out
    new2vwPassat likes this.

  17. #16
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    if you were driving it, and it broke...you would absolutely, without a doubt KNOW it broke.

  18. #17
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    When mine broke on me i had no idea what happened the engine just cut out, it was quiet just could no longer accelerate, would just tick tick tick when i tried to start it

  19. #18
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    Most turbo engines are NON interference, so I doubt there is any valve damage on a 1.8T

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans98Passat1.8T View Post
    Most turbo engines are NON interference, so I doubt there is any valve damage on a 1.8T
    Oh please, honestly I despair with this site.
    Hans, don't bother to offer advice unless you are sure you know what you are talking about.
    Best to keep quiet and observe.
    SebastianLeCrab and b5rmd like this.

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Volk14 View Post
    You don't need any tools to check that out. Open your hood and unclip the upper timing belt cover right in front of the hood latch. It's only two metal clips. You'll see the timing belt. Have someone to crank the engine and see if the timing belt turns.

    Good luck and let us know what you found out
    I just did what you told me to do it was easy to do and everything looks good !!! I'm so happy.
    Now I will tow the beast to the mechanic knowing he will not BS me that timing belt is the reason the car wont start.
    Thank very much.

  22. #21
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    great to hear. had a feeling as you said it was trying to turn over. as i said previously if your I4 (interference) engine had a broken timing belt you wouldn't be getting anything but a ticking sound due to the valves getting hit by the head. I understand that most engines are opposite this logic however I had my timing belt break just a few months ago with the same 1.8 engine and knew exactly how it would react if it had to of broken.

    Once again great news for you because it's expensive.

    just some info....

    If the engine cranks over normally when you attempt to start you car, but the engine does not start, the problem may be NO FUEL, NO SPARK or NO COMPRESSION. The engine needs adequate fuel pressure, a properly timed spark and normal compression to start.

    To find why the engine won't start, remove the air inlet tube from the throttle body, push the throttle open and spray a small amount of aerosol starting fluid into the engine. Crank the engine. IF it has spark and compression but NO FUEL, it will start and run a few seconds before dying. If it does NOT start, it probably has NO SPARK.

    Another method to check for spark is to pull a spark plug wire off of a spark plug (if it has plug wires, coil-on-plug ignitions do not) and place the open end of the plug wire near a metal surface on the engine. Have a helper crank the engine while you watch for a spark. DO NOT hold the wire while doing this as it can shock you. If you see a spark, the problem is not spark, but most likely NO FUEL or NO COMPRESSION. If you do not see a spark, the problem is in the IGNITION CIRCUIT.

    Proper fuel pressure is critical for fuel injected engines to start and run. You should hear the fuel pump inside the fuel tank buzz for a couple of seconds when the ignition is turned on (no buzz means the pump is not running and the engine is not getting fuel). You can smell the tailpipe for gasoline vapors after cranking the engine. If you smell gas, the problem is likely not fuel but NO SPARK. You can also remove the plastic cap and press the schraeder valve test fitting on the fuel rail to see if there is any fuel pressure to the engine (not a very accurate test because fuel pressure must be at a certain level for the engine to start, for that you need a gauge). Even so, no fuel at the fuel rail would tell you fuel is not getting to the engine.

    the most common cause of no compression -
    Broken timing belt or chain (Belt failure will prevent the valves from opening. The engine will NOT run if the belt has broken, and it may have bent valves or other damage as a result of the belt breaking).
    Broken camshaft (This can happen on an overhead cam engine if the engine has overheated, warped the head and seized the camshaft).
    Plugged catalytic converter (Creates a restriction that causes exhaust backpressure to back up. Engine may start but usually dies within a minute or two).
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  23. #22
    PZ
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    The timing belt can still be out of time and valves can still be damaged if the belt skipped a few teeth. There have even been some that appear to be in time, but have sheared the keyway on the cam pulley and do not spin the cams. A non-running Passat at auction is there for a reason.

  24. #23
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    lp81 - Thank you very much, great how-to check: FUEL, SPARK

  25. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PZ View Post
    The timing belt can still be out of time and valves can still be damaged if the belt skipped a few teeth. There have even been some that appear to be in time, but have sheared the keyway on the cam pulley and do not spin the cams. A non-running Passat at auction is there for a reason.
    Dude! don't scare me
    I was cheap so ...will see , i could always sell it for parts if anything

  26. #25
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    I stand corrected, this engine is interference, I looked it up in the Haynes manual. So much for an easy out mate! Hope your valves are not bent!

    I they are bent, you will likely be better off buying a used complete cylinder head with valves unless valves can be had cheap. I know the stealership prices and mechanics prices for this kind of job. Labor is a killer on it!
    Last edited by Hans98Passat1.8T; 04-17-2012 at 07:16 PM.

  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans98Passat1.8T View Post
    I stand corrected, this engine is interference, I looked it up in the Haynes manual. So much for an easy out mate! Hope your valves are not bent!

    I they are bent, you will likely be better off buying a used complete cylinder head with valves unless valves can be had cheap. I know the stealership prices and mechanics prices for this kind of job. Labor is a killer on it!
    If by chance they are bent, odds are your fine though if you jammed a valve or more against a head your engine would stop trying to turn over. if you get into it and it requires valve replacement do it yourself if your able. A machine shop will charge about $550 for 12 valves and seats installed and ready for you to put back into the car.

    Another word of advice, the timing belts on these cars are rated at 105k miles. I would not chance going over this millage due to the high likelihood of large repair costs a timing belt kit is reletivly cheap and comes with a new pulley and tensioner for around $150 (parts cost)

  28. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by lp81 View Post
    Another word of advice, the timing belts on these cars are rated at 105k miles. I would not chance going over this millage due to the high likelihood of large repair costs a timing belt kit is reletivly cheap and comes with a new pulley and tensioner for around $150 (parts cost)
    Yeah... no. I don't think a single one of the long timers on the board will suggest waiting out the 105k miles. 85K is the sweet spot IIRC.

  29. #28
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    That said, I lost a bunch of teeth off my belt less than 30k into a new belt, sh*t happens with these motors sometimes, I usually recommend a 60k service schedule on these cars for the tbelt. Following the original vw rating of 105k pretty much makes sure you will be breaking a belt and a motor as far as vwoa is concerned it's time to buy a new car.

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