VW T4 cambelt /bent engine/ crap garage trauma…

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  • VW T4 cambelt /bent engine/ crap garage trauma…
  • k-sugden

    Hi the main cambelt failure will have resulted in valve to piston contact damaging both. First write to the garage telling them you are going to trading standards if they continue to deny responsibility. Trading standard they will probably ask for an Engineers report. you should be able to find a suitable engineer here.
    http://www.iaea-online.org/ Trouble is its unlikely to be quick or cheep.


    Premier Icon eviljoe

    Thanks for the link Keith, I didn’t think it would be quick 😥

    Premier Icon cloudnine

    Im thinking they didnt replace with new tensioners when they changed it.
    Did they change the water pump when they did the cambelt?

    Premier Icon eviljoe

    Cloudnine, that’s my thinking too- no they didn’t change the waterpump

    Premier Icon eviljoe

    Hi Everyone,

    Bear with me, a bit of a saga this….

    So I have a 99 2.5 tdi short wheel base t4, bought in 2008 with 40 000 on the clock. Changed the cambelt as soon as I got it.

    A few weeks ago, as I got to 119 000 I decided to get it changed, as every 80 000 is recommended, so took it to the garage that regularly does my MOT.

    So I go and pick it up after the work has been done , and find it sluggish, so much so it won’t get up the hill to my house. I call up the garage, and they come out- they had forgotten to re connect the turbo hoses. They reconnect them and I go on my way…slightly perturbed

    2 weeks later, a clattering starts to come from the engine. Fearing the worst I pull over and get Green Flag out to come and pick me up. The garage that does the recovery ( a different one) opens up the engine and finds the cam belt tensioner has failed, leaving the cam belt loose . As I was on my way to Leeds (the other end of the country) I have no choice but to hire another vehicle from them to continue my journey. Whilst I’m away I get the van delivered to my original garage to sort out the problem. They do the following ;

    Check Fuel Suppy: No fuel
    2 Gallen Fuel £14.00
    No Fuel Supply
    Remove Diesel Stop solenoid And test, Working OK

    Check Timing:

    Timing Belt Slack: Fault Tensoner Broken.

    Replace timing belt kit

    Vehicle Still Not Starting: Suspect Alarm Fault:
    Bypass Alarm System. Still Not Starting
    Transported Vehicle to diesel Specialist: £60.00
    Fault found Injecton Pump Timing Tensoner Damage Due to Main Cambelt Failure

    Diesel Specialist does the following;

    Replace Injection Pump Belt and Tensoners. £180.00
    Vehicle Starts and Drives

    So when I get back from up country, I go and pick up the vehicle- they say that the fault lies in the faulty Tensioner, and they will recoup the cost of the repair from suppier, as well as the cost of my hire vehicle for a week.

    Four days later, as I am towing up a main road, there is a thunk, a fluttering sound, then the engine dies. Luckily I can just coast it into a layby, and I call Green Flag again….

    The recovery garage (same one as previously) open it up again, and find the following-

    No 1 valve broken
    A hole in the piston
    injector damaged
    head damaged
    and they suspect a damaged crankshaft.

    They recommend getting another engine to put in it.

    Slightly more than miffed (but reasonable) I call the original garage again, and point out that I have had 80 000 miles trouble free driving out of that engine til they changed the cam belt.

    They deny culpability, saying

    2.5tdi’s a re notoriously unreliable
    They are already out of pocket , and have decided not to try and recoup from the parts manufacturer, leaving me out of pocket for the car hire also.
    They do not know if a compression test was done on the engine by the Diesel experts
    They feel the problem is a co incidence, and not their fault.

    After some persuasion they send the diesel expert’s report, which confirms that no compression test was done….

    Which leaves me looking at a hefty bill for a new engine.

    So, saga finished, it leaves me with a couple of questions you could help me with-

    If there had been any problem with a cam belt wouldn’t a garage automatically do a compression test? What reason would they have for not doing one?

    Could it be that the dropped valve is a complete co-incidence?

    I feel that they are culpable, but I don’t know how to force them to deal with it – is there any professional body I could go to? Obviously they know there is only so long I can go without a vehicle,but neither can I afford a new engine in one go!

    Any advice/ similar experiences much appreciated



    Premier Icon molgrips

    You could try small claims court. That’s what I’m about to do. Work has to be done to a reasonable standard of competence, and you should be able to build a case with the help of the internet or a friendly garage.

    Premier Icon cloudnine

    waterpump is driven by the cambelt and is recommended to change it when you do the cambelt. The tension from the new belts can (and usually does) cause the old water pump to fail. Will fubar your engine for the sakes of a £50 pump.

    Right i’m ging to comment on this topic for you as i have first hand experiance of this engine and similar problems (i’m a qualified mechanic)

    Firstly , when the cam belt was replaced at 119,000 miles , did the garage replace both the cambelt & tensioner & also the pump drive belt & tensioner ? Cam belt & pump belt are at opposite ends of the engine & must be replaced at the same time .

    The reason i mention this is i have seen cam belt tensioner failure like you describe when the van broke down the first time caused by the failure of the pump drive tensioner . I’ve actualy seen this happen twice on differant vans owned by the customer because they would only pay for the cambelt & tensioner to be replaced . Thus leaving a pump belt and tensioner that had allready done 80,000 plus miles .
    When the pump tensioner fails it sets up a vibration down the cam shaft into the cam belt and basicaly rattles the new cabelt tensioner to peices . In both cases , the vehicles where still running but down on power/running rough and had a rattle from the cambelt cover .
    Repair was simply replace all belts and tensioners and time up correctly (fuel pump timing must be done using diagnostic equipment)

    Neither of these vehicles had any further problems after the repair was completed . Failure of the cambelt tensioner didn’t cause any valve damage , as i say both vehicles were still running .

    This post is getting a bit long winded so i’ll leave it at that for now , if you’d like to know anything else let me know .

    Premier Icon eviljoe

    Thanks Honkie,

    That is really useful information, and it does sound very possible in my case. As I remember, I wasn’t offered both belts, although I must check on the receipt (unhelpfully still in my glove box 15 miles away..) the belt change cost £275, which did seem extremely reasonable at the time, but cost wasn’t a factor in using the garage- they had MOT’d the vehicle several years and I thought they would be fine. Would a garage not then automatically assume that I would want both belts done? If it had been put to me in the terms above I certainly would have made sure both were done. The diagnostic kit for fuel pump timing- would this be standard garage kit?

    I thought it was standard practise to do a compression test if there had been any problem with a cam belt? What reason would the garage have for not asking the diesel expert to do one?

    Is there any thing in what the garage says about the 2.5tdi being an unreliable engine?

    Thanks for your assistance on this one- very useful to get a full grasp of the facts before deciding what to do next.

    Premier Icon Stoner

    eviljoe – sounds like youve had a shocker.

    Coincidentally I took our T4 into my local VW nut to have it’s 110k love and fondle last week. It’s its third timing kit change as it’s a camper and the coachwork value makes it much more important not to get to an engine write-off point.

    A full timing kit including the water pump is a couple of hundred quid – it. I also had a new front and mid pipe incl cat fitted. Total bill was c.£800 – but I dont resent that kind of money for a proper job. The engine is a great one and deserves to be looked after properly.

    The 2.5l engine is a very reliable engine – it’s used in loads of cars and vans with different power maps. Mine is rated only 88bhp but I think the same engine can produce over 120bhp without too much modding.


    2.5tdi’s a re notoriously unreliable

    Well that’s bollx for a start, so I wouldn’t trust much that they said after that.

    …no they didn’t change the waterpump

    Complete amateurs who didn’t bother finding out how to do the job properly then.

    Sorry 🙁


    Is there any thing in what the garage says about the 2.5tdi being an unreliable engine?

    I’ve had my 2.5 tdi for 5 years and have had two cambelt failures, 1st was knackered water pump but salvageable engine (i.e. no cracked pistons). 2nd time round after 60k spontaneous cambelt failure despite using genuine parts, reputable garage, new water pump tensioner’s etc. not so lucky new engine time. By the time i’d sold ancillaries, head, block etc. wasn’t too much of a hit but still frustrating i’ll be getting cambelt done every 30 – 40k as this is the achilles heel of the 2.5 tdi engine.

    Sounds like you may have a good case against the garage but if they’ve cut corners they’re probably a slippery bunch!


    2.5tdi’s a re notoriously unreliable

    Well that’s bollx for a start, so I wouldn’t trust much that they said after that.

    Is it? Volkswagen/Audi and BMW got slated recently for having some of the worst engine failure rates, something like one in every 23 fails catastrophically. Think there was only Vauxhall was worse.


    honkiebikedude, presumably there is a database of information on this that should be followed to do the job properly is there? I’ve heard of AutoData etc. Would this type of database recommend tht both belts and tensioners are replaced or would this be an experience “in the know” situation?

    Premier Icon eviljoe


    Yes, it is a right royal PITA, especially as I have several long drives in the next few weeks for work. I’m probably going to need to buy a cheap secondhand run around to keep going…

    I had 80 000 miles happy motoring on the cambelt fitted by a reputable vw expert when I first got the van, it does seem an almightly co-incidence that all this has gone wrong in the few weeks after having the belt changed a second time.

    I shall have to investigate AutoData.

    Looking at getting an Independent Engineer’s Report, with a view to taking it to small claims- has anyone had one of these? What is the likely cost?

    I’m at work right now so not much time to reply , sorry .

    Couple of points i’ll give advise on though, firstly , in my experiance the 2.5 tdi engine in the T4 is a cracking engine and certainly not unreliable . The 2.5 in the T5 on the other hand doesn’t appear to be as bullet proof ( i saw three differant engines with piston damage last year but that’s another story)

    If you brought your 2.5 T4 to me you would certainly have both belts , both tensioners , pump belt guide pulley & water pump replaced . This is recognised good practise and the way the job should be done . The problem arrises when people cut corners by not replace the pump belt as it’s seen as safe if it fails due to not having anything to do with actualy driving the camshaft .

    To put it in simple terms..

    ..Cambelt snaps/fails = certain engine damage
    Pump belt snaps/fails = engine stops because fuel is no longer delivered by the pump

    Other reasons for not replacing pump belts could be the garage didn’t realise it had a seperate belt ? as has been mentioed , autodata has all the info on replacing both belts so this shouldn’t be the case . Or the garage doesn’t have the diagnostic equipment to set the pump timing once the job is finished (this is an important part of the job and the last thing that should be done prior to roadtest , failure to set pump timing correctly can cause poor starting , loss of power &high fuel consumption )

    Sorry it’s turned in to another essay , hope what i’ve writen makes some sense/helps

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