Audi A4 timing belt failure at 73K

I have a well maintained 1998 1.8T A4 Quattro. The timing belt just broke on the I95 in North Carolina and the car was towed to the dealer in Greenville NC who had to replace the
Cylinder head, valves etc. etc . etc. at a cost to me of $3,600.00 I spoke with Audi Customer Service and requested they open a file because the Audi advisory to dealers is to replace this belt at 90K PLUS miles and I was well well short of this. Now this advisory has to have a significant comfort margin for Audi, because a timing belt failure (as my costs show) is a very dramatic event just about trashing 1/2 the engine.
At first Audi Service followed up and researched the issue in an effort to decide whether Audi should offer in 100% of a percentage of the cost of this major repair. After telling me a decision would be reached within another day they suddenly went quiet on me for a week (despite having ALL my contact numbers). I rang them this morning and they told me that they feel NO responsibility, because the car is out of the warranty period (I guess 50K miles). Hmm I countered that the strict warranty was NOT the issue. The issue was that I maintained my car well (mostly at Audi dealers) and I follwed their own advisories strictly and was 20% in miles under the mileage for such a change.
Well to cut it short Audi Customer Service just repeated NO. I asked for a Supervisor to return my call. A "Brad Marshall", who said he was the max level I culd speak to at Customer Service, called me and reiterate the party line. No repsonsibility out of warranty. He also REFUSED to give me any name of any person higher up the corporate ladder. Hmmm
So in summary even if you strictly follow Audi dealer advisory maintenance schedules and have a major failure (and a timing chanin is a major failure because it has NO fall back safety precautions to limit damage like some other cars) Audi fells it is not at all concerned for the owner and feels not even a tiny bit of responsibility. Not even 10-25%. NOTHING.
Q: Has anyone else had similar experience?
What is concerning me here is that I am now getting unofficial feedback now that some dealers tell A4 owners to change timing belts between 60-70K Miles, so there has to be a history of failures here, which Corporate Audi has chosen to ignore. Probably because they would have to offer compensation in cases like mine.
Well my feelings are that I would NEVER buy another Audi after this experience.
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I think that you should contact the government agency which orders recalls. Blowing a timing belt on an Interstate can be dangerous and if this is happening very often they should order a recall.
And maybe you should talk to a lawyer. I don't see how Audi is not responsible for their published maintenance directions. What if the maintenance directions said that the timing belt never needed replacement? Could they escape responsibility simply because problems would not occur until cars were well out of warranty?
Bob

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A couple of other points I should note.
The car had 73K Miles on it.
Also the car was checked out for an "engine noise" issue by East Coast Honda/VW about 10 days before it broke down. They said everything was fine w the engine and suggested the usual engine oil etc change which was done by them. I do understand this Dealer becomes an Official Audi Dealer on Spetmeber 1st but even so the VW people are part of the same group and have full training on the 1.8 engine.
Now what has shocked me is that Audi Customer Service say they acknowledged this ALL in reaching their decision. Yikes is all I can say.
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Ian wrote:

After reading this newsgroup and audiworld.com, I have found it safe to change the belt at 60,000 miles or six years, whichever comes first. Some sources say 5yr/60,000 miles, but this may be extreme. I had 52,000 miles when I changed my belt, tensioner, water pump, etc. on my 1997 A4 2.8q.
Too many horror stories like yours :(
The 5valve/cylinder engines are supposed to be better than the old (pre-1998) engines in belt/tensioner design, truly good for 90,000 miles, but a belt on an interference design engine is risky.
Good luck with your case.
--
Vic
2000 Mustang GT
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snipped-for-privacy@jardine.net (Ian) wrote in message
Ian: I have heard of them failing at 46k miles. Sad, but true.

--snip--
This is typical, stick with it. I believe eventually they'll come around. There are many who have had a similar experience, and from what I see on the internet, Audi often pays at least something.
--snip--

....
.....
An Audi dealer once told me that the only way that Audi will take responsibility for the belt failing early is if the owner has a "timing belt inspection" which can only be properly done by taking the t-belt off the engine. Naturally, at such time, it would be pointless to replace the old belt, and golly, at this point, wouldn't it make sense to put on a new one? Essentially, it is bulls hit. I think what it boils down to is that each audi owner must somehow know when his belt will break and replace it before then. But I doubt the 46k mile person could have fathomed his breakage still inside the warranty period. For that one, I don't know the outcome.
> Q: Has anyone else had similar experience?
I believe if you look at websites such as audiworld.com, audifans.com and vwvortex.com, you'll find hundreds of similar stories.

In the Audi and VW world, this is a known phenomenon. Timing belts break prematurely, in both the 2.8 litre entines (12v and 30v) as well as the 1.8 litre turbos (20v). I can't say if one breaks before the other. Similar in the old 20v 5-cylinder cars, but not as often and not as early.
It is just sort of "known" that one must replace a timing belt around 60k miles in Audi cars for the past 10 years or so. Having said this is "known" I'm *not* saying that you stop pursuing the issue with Audi of America. Keep hammering away. Many people, myself included, (and I'd say you, too) believe that if the owner's manual recommends replacing the t-belt at 90k, then it should last to perhaps 120k most of the time. (i.e., a safety margin) It *IS* absurd that Audi "knows" about this problem and has not addressed it. You are quite correct. This is not a warranty issue, yet a failure occurred at substantially below the recommended service interval.

Some believe it is better to buy a 4-5 year old audi with 70-90k miles. In many cases, the previous owner will have replaced the t-belt once by then.
Eventually I believe you'll see follow-up postings from others who have had the same problem.
Keep hammering away at AoA. I think you'll get something.
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Is this failure record on the timing belts, just for the 1.* A4's or are the other A4 and S4's possibly affected by premature timing belt failure?

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Tell them that you'll write a letter to Audi's president in Germany. (Find out the name of the president first, I am sure it is publicly available somewhere). Let them know that the names of the people who denied your request will be prominently mentioned. If they still do not compromise - do write the letter. Will it work? maybe but hey, what do you have to lose. Frankly, legally you probably cannot do much, it is obviously a design flaw and therefore their fault but it will likely take a government action (what are chances of that happenning? ) or class-action lawsuit to prove it.
Good luck

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probably not going to get you much - when this happened to me I wrote a letter to the VP of AoA. Got a crappy letter back from his assistant 5 weeks later denying my request.

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I originally sent this to you via email, but then realized that your posted email address may not be your actual email, so here's my lengthy sob story...
Ian -
Sorry about your timing belt experience - my heart bleeds money for you - here's what happened to me...
I have a 1999 A4 1.8T - my timing belt broke on the way home [yes! 5pm commute traffic in Southern California - not pretty!] - I heard a snap and my engine light went on, then all my lights went out. Thank goodness I was going downhill and had an opportunity to pull over. I had about 78K miles on my car, and I had it serviced *religiously* at my dealer every 5k miles.
When I first got the call back that it was the timing belt and possibly valves, etc...yada yada yada...$2000 [it ended up being more], I was resigned that it was the fate of my car. Then I called back and asked when the recommended change was supposed to take place [I thought it was impossible for me to miss something like that], and I found out on the '99 model, it was at 105K! I asked my service rep, 'don't you think something's wrong here? I see you every 5k miles, and the timing belt goes out 27K miles before it's supposed to?'. She told me that I could call Audi and request for them to cover the cost of the replacement. When I called Audi Customer Service, I spoke to a useless service rep that told me they would review my case and call me back. After I hung up, I knew I got nowhere with her and decided to write a letter to the VP of Audi USA [I got a response about 5 weeks later, from someone in his office - he may as well have ignored it]. My car was in the shop for about ten days - during which of course I had not heard back from the Audi Customer Service. I see now from your experience that it's their M.O. - to say they will call back but they never do. Two days before my car was done, my service rep at the dealer had the sense to call me for a status on my call to Audi Customer Service. When she heard they hadn't called me back, she told me she would contact them [I guess usually what happens is the customer calls ACS, they call the dealer, the dealer verifies you have serviced your vehicle properly, then ACS make a decision]. My dealer service rep got Audi to cover 1/2 the cost down the line - parts and labor - so my half ended up being about $2170.
Ian, I wish I could tell you that the story ends there. I have found that my car is just not the same anymore. When I got it back after the timing belt fiasco, I lost a ton of the quick accelleration I loved in my car. I thought I finally got the peppiness back after my 90K service, but the *day after* my service, one of my coil packs went out...well here's a more comprehensive list of mishaps:
81k miles - replace rear quattro unit - leaking axle seals $150 84k miles - replace ignition module - car towed in $643 [included 85k service] 89k miles - ABS unit replaced - My ABS lights kept coming on and beeping - $1500 [with my frequet buyer discount - and included 90K service] 89k miles - day after I got my car back, I stalled - major loss in power - replaced ignition coil pack [$105 including labor - with my discount] - 4 day job due to part on order - they covered my car rental 89k miles - the *day* I picked up my car - we placed bets on how quickly I would return - I said 1 month - service rep gave me 4 days - I returned after going 1/4 mile. Another ignition coil pack went out. At this point I told them that there must be something else going on, that they were just fixing symptoms. They agreed to keep my car, and guess what? There was a crack on one of the valves replaced in Dec which was causing the coil packs to short - so major job again - replacing all valves - fortunately covered under warranty. A week later, I get a call - they found that the turbo needs to be replaced - at this point, my service rep told me she got her manager involved and they have calls into Audi Customer Service to cover all of my repairs. Last Friday I got news that EVERYTHING would be covered by Audi - including the rental.
I do love my car when it works, but it's just too frustrating to keep up with the repairs at this point. At least when I get it back I'll have most of the major parts replaced. If you have a good dealer, I would recommend you get them involved on your behalf - the dealer can at least verify that you have been diligent about maintaining your car.
Good luck - you'll need it!

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Perhaps you should ask the US government (Or at least the State of California) why the VAG service interval is totally different for the remainder of the world, yet incredibly high in the USA??
Perhaps you could sue them.
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Ian wrote:

...
Isn't there a time limit on the timing belt in the manual for some dates of manufacture, as well? Something like 5 or 6 years?
At any rate, I have the 2.8l 30V engine in my Passat 4Motion, and my waterpump broke at < 45,000 miles (< 3 years old, covered under warranty). In the manual it states to replace the timing belt at 105,000 miles (or at 60,000 miles for CA - go figure. Afraid of CA lawyers?). What did I do? I replaced it, of course, at less than 45,000 miles ...
I would have done so just from reading this newsgroup, but my service manager also strongly recommended it. I think Audi service people who do not recommend a timing belt change after 5-6 years are not doing their job. And I can't fathom why Audi does not make this a standard recommendation.
- D.
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I have a BMW and a c-5 roadster and a 95 ford bronco.spirited dring has cost me oil changes, brake pads and tires on the c-5 Bronco, 140k. a watr pump, and last week a fuel pump. Tires and oil changes. the BMW same deal. They all have timing chains. I was looking to buy an Audi. Hearing this crap, No way.....

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Design flaw? Please elaborate on your theory, oh wise one...
On 29 Jul 2003 06:37:48 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@munich.com (Avantium) wrote:

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