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Discussion Starter #1
Is there any way to tell if a timing belt for a 2002 Passat V6 (ATQ engine) has been replaced at some point? Any clues or things to look for that might indicate that the timing belt has been replaced? Is it possible to get started on the replacement job and determine whether or not the timing belt has been replaced, before getting to far into the job?
 

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I have read of no definitive way to determine by sight how old the belt is. Of course if it shows visible delamination or cracks or missing teeth it's obviously in need of replacement, but conversely if it looks good it might be new or it might be really old.

The more reputable the shop, the more likely they placed a sticker towards the front of the engine compartment giving mileage and date of a belt change. The more assiduous the prior owner, the more likely that regular maintenance (and changing the belt and WP and tensioners) was done. OTOH, it's not uncommon for owners who face belt replacement to sell their car instead of putting money into it.

These cars have interference motors: if the valve timing goes awry because the belt breaks or a tensioner fails, the valves and the pistons will run into each other and, at least, the head(s) will have to come off for valve replacement. Thus, the common refrain here is if you don't know that the belt and ancillaries have been changed...change them now. VW's current recommendation is this work should be done every 7 yrs/70K miles.
 

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Unfortunately there is no way to tell by looking at the belt as dbrick said. Even if you went through the trouble of putting the car in service mode and pulling off the covers to look at it you're close to half-way to doing the job anyway. If you do the job yourself it's about $300 in parts and an afternoon to a weekend's worth of time depending on your experience. If you have a shop do it you're looking at $1000-1200. If you're planning on keeping the car for a while and you have no actual documentation of the belt being changed it's cheap insurance to just do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks kutcht1, it looks like that Subaru has some sort of cover that can be easily removed to inspect the timing belt. With the Passat V6, it sounds like once you get to the point where you can inspect the belt you are so far into the project that it wouldn't make sense to not replace the belt, unless, of course, the belt looked brand new, like in the video where he talks about a brand new belt having casting marks from when it was manufactured and maybe if the printing on the belt was super clear, etc. I don't know how many miles it takes to wear those brand new markings off a timing belt.
 

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It's quite easy to remove the passenger side upper timing belt cover. Depending on who made the belt, you may be able to make out the lettering after 50K, but it will be faded.
 

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It is always a crap shoot even when someone tells you that it has been changes (but does not have documentation of the work) I do not trust it. It normally is not the belt that fails as it is the other components that the belt rides on, pulley or tensioner failure is more common, then causes the belt to fail. I am in a similar situation with mine as I supposedly only have about 45,000 miles on all mine but I think I will be changing it this summer just so I know.
TomK
 

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It is always a crap shoot even when someone tells you that it has been changes (but does not have documentation of the work) I do not trust it. It normally is not the belt that fails as it is the other components that the belt rides on, pulley or tensioner failure is more common, then causes the belt to fail. I am in a similar situation with mine as I supposedly only have about 45,000 miles on all mine but I think I will be changing it this summer just so I know.
TomK
He brings up a good point. It's not only the belt you need to worry about. There's also idler and tensioner pullies waterpump, etc. Any of those components fail and it's almost always repair or replace the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The attached pictures are from a timing belt that I assume has 118,000 miles on it. I'm not certain of the miles because I bought the car with 90,000 miles and it had no documentation that the belt was replaced, so I assume the timing belt had never been replaced.
There are a few tiny cracks on the smooth side of the belt and you can see some of the white text on the belt.
P1040218.jpg P1040219.jpg P1040220.jpg P1040222.jpg
The image below is a new timing belt for comparison.
P1040223.jpg

68077162.jpg
 

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Good thing you are changing it as it looks like it did not have much more time. Must be the original belt judging from the slickness of the belt and those cracks. Also has a very worn Audi logo.
TomK
 

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When we opened up my 2000 Passat 2.8 30v ATQ that had allegedly gotten a new timing belt, it was clear that it might have gotten a new BELT but they didn't replace anything else. The water pump was clearly much older than the 15 months that the previous owner and I had driven it. The previous owner bought it from a mechanic, and he took me to the mechanic who swore up and down he'd fixed everything. Maybe he had, but he was not particularly competent and I suspect the original owner was not his son, but a customer who decided it needed enough work he might as well get a new car.

If you replace it yourself, the main hassle is getting other stuff out of your way. You'll definitely need the tool to hold the two cranks in synchronized TDC. Dennis at PitRow got me a Continental timing belt kit that seemed to have high quality parts for only about $400 with his shop discount.
 
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