What does a timing belt do?
The timing belt, or cambelt, is a vital engine component with a key role to play in keeping your motor running smoothly. It ensures the top and bottom halves of your engine rotate precisely in time with each other.
Essentially, this ribbed rubber belt with teeth synchronises the crankshaft and camshaft’s rotation. It controls the sequencing and timing of the opening and closing of the valves on the cylinders in your engine to provide the right combustion.
Camshafts, made up of the main journals, the lobes (or bulges) and the ends, control the valves in the cylinder head. A rocker head takes the spinning motion of an overhead camshaft and turns it into the movement that opens and closes the valves.
Timing chains essentially perform the same function as cambelts but may be slightly noisier. The chains generally last as long as the vehicle (and generally require less frequent replacing), although the plastic guides they run over may not.
How often should a timing belt need replacing?
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach for how often to replace yours—a lot depends on your motor’s age and condition.
There’s also huge variation between manufacturers and different engines. So you might need a new belt after 4 years, or 6, or after driving 40,000 or 100,000 miles. Consult your car’s manual—most manufacturers’ recommendations are based on time passed or miles driven, depending on which elapses first.
However, we’d always suggest treating these recommendations as a maximum, and erring on the side of caution.
The law, vehicle regulations, and your MOT
The timing belt will not be examined at your car’s MOT, but the associated issues of running a car with a faulty timing belt can lead to severe engine damage, which can.
What causes a timing belt to stop working correctly?
Like most car parts, your timing belt will wear out eventually due to cracking, snapping or tearing. Timing belts are also unpredictable, with few warning signs of damage. (Although starting issues and noise may offer clues.) Driving your car infrequently, oil leaks and temperature changes, among other factors, can all play their part.
Symptoms of a malfunctioning timing belt
You hear unusual noises coming from the engine
If a grinding or squeaking noise is being emitted from your engine, it could be a malfunctioning timing belt.
The car won’t start
If your timing belt has broken, this can cause problems with your engine that lead to the vehicle not starting.
Volkswagen (often shortened to VW) is a German automobile manufacturer founded in 1937 by the German Labour Front, a Nazi labour union.
Volkswagen is the flagship marque of the Volkswagen Group, who in turn is majority owned by Porsche. They own and operate a vast number of cars under other brand names—at the time of writing, they have 342 subsidiary companies.
How popular is Volkswagen in the United Kingdom?
Possibly its most well-known model of the current generation, the VW Golf, was the 2nd best selling car of 2018, behind the Ford Fiesta, which consistently takes the top spot year after year.
The Golf’s 64k registrations in 2018 added to the vast tally of 3.4million Volkswagen cars on the road today.
High quality, highly rated, appropriately priced cars
VW cars achieve consistently strong reviews and are highly respected by critics and drivers alike. They are renowned for investing more money into research and development than almost any other marque and distributing their wealth of motoring knowledge across the many partner brands under the VW Group umbrella.
The Volkswagen Beetle: The ‘people’s car’
A classic of its time, originally named the Volkswagen Type 1, it soon became nicknamed the Beetle due to its unique shape, and subsequently the bug. The unique looking car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche for Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap and simple mass-produced car to travel around his country’s new road network.
The new model Beetle, originally launched to celebrate the original classic in 1997, and with an updated successor in 2011, was designed around the VW Jetta platform sharing much of its build with the Jetta and Golf. VW announced in 2018 that the Beetle would finally be removed from production in July 2019.
VW’s reliability and reputation
Volkswagen ranked 17th place out of 30 car brands in the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2018. Sister companies Skoda and Seat appeared higher up the ranks at 7th and 10th respectively, while executive brand Audi a few places further down the list at joint 20th.
Recent Volkswagen recalls and reliability issues
Various recalls have been made on VW models throughout their motoring history. The following are a list of the most recent in the UK and Europe.
19/04/2019 – VW Tiguan (2017–2018)
The material used for the rear coil springs may be inadequate
13/04/2019 – VW Touareg (2018)
The suspension damper forks are defective and could break
13/04/2019 – VW Caddy (2018)
The predetermined break point in the cushion for the side airbags in on the wrong side
24/03/2019 – VW Polo (2016–2018)
On vehicles with a rear drum brake, the operational wear of the brake lining and use-related settlement of the drum brake may result in a loss of pre-tension on parking brake cables
02/02/2019 – VW Touareg (2018)
A seat belt latch may not have been sufficiently secured to the rear, right-hand seat
23/12/2018 – VW Golf, VW T-Roc, VW Arteon and VW Passat (2018)
The fitting for the headrest may have been incorrectly welded to the backrest
23/12/2018 – VW T-Roc (2018)
An incorrect adhesive bond between the upper and lower parts of the rear spoiler may have been used
20/10/2018 – VW Touran and VW Tiguan (2015–2018)
Moisture can reach the LED module of the sunroof’s ambient lighting which may cause a short-circuit
All recall information sourced from gov.co.uk data.