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
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
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?
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.
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.
email@example.com (Ian) wrote in message
Ian: I have heard of them failing at 46k miles.
Sad, but true.
This is typical, stick with it. I believe eventually they'll come
There are many who have had a similar experience, and from what I see
on the internet, Audi often pays at least something.
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.
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.
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
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
engine light went on, then all my lights went out. Thank goodness I was
downhill and had an opportunity to pull over. I had about 78K miles on my
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
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
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!
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.
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
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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