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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
I have a 98 2.0 5spd with nearly 200k. After reading horror stories about timing belt failures I decided to replace the belt/tensioner/water pump before it breaks. It was a pain to change, but I put it all back together and it runs great. However, after seeing it all disassembled, it makes me nervous that this one rubber belt is so critical to the engine.

My question is this: what are common errors that people make when reassembling; what should I double check?
Also, is there an easy way to remove and replace the inspection cover for preriodic checks? I had a really hard time getting this cover on and off.
 

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The main things to be careful with are the camshaft timing and the belt tension. Hopefully before you started the engine you turned the crankshaft two revolutions so the cam timing mark lined up and then checked the crankshaft pulley mark. Setting the tension can be a little tricky when the belt is new. I applied a little clockwise force to the crankshaft to keep the belt taught between the crank and the cam pulleys as I set the tension.

After the engine is reassembled the upper timing belt cover can be removed without any tools. Undo the two clips and then carefully work it up and out. Getting it back on is a little trickier, but not too bad. You can inspect the belt and adjust the tension with the cover removed. Again, tricky but it can be done. When the timing belt has been replaced I would recommend rechecking the belt tension after a few hours of running once the new belt relaxes a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks,

Yes, I did rotate the crank multiple revolutions and double checked all the TDC marks. Additionally, I used a method found in a vwvortex post: Mark two adjacent teeth on both the crank and camshaft sprockets. On the old belt, mark the teeth that set between these marks. After removing the old belt, mark the new belt by lining it up with the old. Double check by counting the teeth between the marked teeth on both belts. Install the new belt such that the marked teeth fit in their marked locations on each sprocket. By doing this, the cam/crank are aligned exactly as they were with the old belt.

You are able to adjust the tension with only the inspection cover off? It would be a tight reach; do you not worry about the specified torque on the tensioner nut? I dont think my torque wrench could fit with the engine mount installed.

What hoses do you disconnect when removing the inspection cover? I only disconnected the fabric covered vacuum line and the rubber line going straight into the manifold. Reinstalling the cover was a bad time and I hope it didn't rub on the new belt too much while I tried to negociate the cover in there.

Has anyone ever had an issue with the inspection cover rubbing on the timing belt? It makes me nervous since you can't see how much clearance there is after putting it on.

Side note: I'm lucky my water pump never blew apart, as I was surprised to find the factory plastic impeller pump still on the car at 194k miles.
 

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Yea, it is tight adjusting the tension. I loosened the nut enough that I could move the tensioner but it would hold in position after I moved it. I then used my adjuster tool by putting just one peg into the forward-most hole in the tensioner and pulling up or pushing down to rotate the tensioner. I then use my calibrated hand to torque the nut again. Check for proper tension after tightening the nut. Oh, and use a 19 mm 12 point socket on the crankshaft center bolt to keep clockwise tension on the crank (Don't forget to remove it afterward!).

The upper cover has tabs that fit into the center cover. I think everything has to be together properly for the clips to line up right again.
 

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I too had a very hard time getting my upper timing belt cover to snap back in place. What I found out to be the problem was, there is a thin piece of sheet metal guard type thing, on the right hand side kind of behind the belt. . Some people call it a useless piece of sheetmetal. Well, mine must have gotten slightly distorted, and it would not let the cover push all the way back on. I finally discovered it, and bent it just a sliver, and whammy, the cover just about fell on and clips snapped in place. It gave me fits for awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What kind of tension do you like to see? When I set the tension I used the alignment marks on the tensioner.

Thanks
 

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After I got the new belt on, and set the timing belt tensioner to it's marks, it seemed pretty snug to me. Believe me when I tell you, I'm no mechanic, but the car is running good, for how long, who knows!
 

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5/23/10 <3
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Not that it isn't important on a 2.0, but the 1.8T and TDI are much more critical for getting things exactly right, TDI being the most picky as those engines are operating on some seriously tight tolerances.

As long as you followed the instructions, I wouldn't worry too much.

Checking it though isn't really a good way to verify a thing. Plenty of belts have looked fine and still let lose. Or another component fails like the tensioner. Just keep the belt changed every 60k or 5-6 years, whichever comes first. And replace all parts in the path of the belt.
 

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Yea, it is tight adjusting the tension. I loosened the nut enough that I could move the tensioner but it would hold in position after I moved it. I then used my adjuster tool by putting just one peg into the forward-most hole in the tensioner and pulling up or pushing down to rotate the tensioner. I then use my calibrated hand to torque the nut again. Check for proper tension after tightening the nut. Oh, and use a 19 mm 12 point socket on the crankshaft center bolt to keep clockwise tension on the crank (Don't forget to remove it afterward!).

The upper cover has tabs that fit into the center cover. I think everything has to be together properly for the clips to line up right again.
This is the way I did mine too, except I admitt forgetting to tension the crankshaft. It would have made it far easier. Mike03
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just finished a 600 trip mile on the new parts. Ran great and got 31.6 mpg; looks like I can relax now.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Speed makes a difference. I usually drive a little under 70 mph, allowing it to slow down a bit going up hills and gain as much speed as I can going down hills. This may irritate other drivers, but this method has allowed me to get 21 mpg from my truck with a 350 v8 :)
Driving 80 mph or faster will greatly reduce your mpgs due to aerodynamic drag. It used to be said that optimum efficiency comes at 55 mph and decreases by a percentage with every mph after that. Not sure if 55 is still true of all modern cars, but the trend is still correct.
Also, manual transmissions are more efficient in most vehicles compared to their automatic counterparts.
 

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I never saw over 30mpg in my 2.0 after they added ethanol to fuel :( I would regularly get 30-32 on the highway doing 70. I even got 36mpg once!

I get 30-31 in my 1.8T now though. My '99 didn't have cruise control though so I'm sure it helps that I have it now!
 
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