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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crisis Management: How to Deal with a TIMING BELT Failure.

You put it off just a little too long, didn't you?

All too many 1.8T owners have had timing belt failures. Funny thing is, most of the time it's not the belt's fault. The tensioner often comes loose, letting the belt skip teeth.

But anyway, your timing belt just failed, what do you do?

#1. Use AAA to get your car either to a reputable shop you trust or back to your house until you find one. Of course, this is since you have AAA (it's $88 or so a year for a primary person, less for everyone else in the household) or since a person who has AAA (ahem) was riding with you so you can get a free tow. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES tow your car to a dealer.

#2. Realize this is going to cost no less than $2000-$3000 (initially, might recoup cost) to fix. If you can't afford to be out of a car, note that you could buy a Honda Civic or something else to commute around with for this kind of money.

#3. Choose your gameplan. You have several options:

A. Buy a cheap car to get around until you can fix the TT or sell broken down TT and replace with cheap car. You wuss.

B. Replace your whole motor. As ominous as this sounds, it is most likely the best solution. A used motor in perfect working order with around 50,000 miles on it should run about $1,500 on Vortex. I'd probably expect labor to be around $500-700 for someone that charges $50/hr. When removed from the bottom via lift, the motor and trans come out very easily, however it takes a while to wire. Then after you have your new motor in, you can either part out your old motor or sell the whole unit and recoup probably the whole cost of labor. I'd also throw a new timing belt kit on for $250 if I were you ;)

Basically, you'll be replacing your motor but you'll be keeping all your wiring. This may take some adapting to work with sensors etc on your new motor, so make sure you get a wiring harness from the new motor in case you have to solder on different connectors to work with your original wiring.

Of course, there is some risk to this since you have no idea what that motor runs like. However, buying from a reputable seller on Vortex usually won't leave you with a deadbeat motor.

C. Replace the head and pistons. You'll need new pistons ($100 used on Vortex), new piston rings ($50 if I remember), new head studs ($40 if I remember right) and a new head ($1600 brand new at MJM Autohaus) a timing belt kit ($250) and probably other miscellaneous things I can't think of. You could probably find a used head in working order for $400-$800 on Vortex too.

Problem is, for all you know your valves could have snapped off and messed up your cylinder walls or marked them up with metal fragments. Your water pump could have snapped and thrown bits of impeller all through your block and radiator. This is why I didn't go this route. I didn't want to have to deal with recovering anything else that might have gotten messed up in my motor. Also, this involves tearing the motor apart and reassembling the internals, which was not something I wanted to worry about being done incorrectly.

In all fairness this is probably the cheapest route to go but it has its potential complications. However if you're looking for a good excuse to build your motor, you might as well while you have it apart.

Those are your three options...choose your TT's destiny! Good luck.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Common Problems and Common Fixes

Problem: I did a battery reset, now my temperature in the cluster LCD reads negative numbers.
Solution: Reset again.

Problem: I unplugged my seat and got an airbag light. It won't turn off even with a battery reset.
Solution: Find someone with VAG-COM or go to a dealer.

Problem: I'm low on coolant but I can't find G12 coolant anywhere. Where do I get it? Can I just use something else?
Solution: NO. Use only G12. G12 is available at a VW or Audi dealer for about $25 for 1 gallon concentrate (makes 2 gallons).

Problem: My dome light won't light up when I open the door.
Solution: Push it, punch it or remove it and jiggle it till it works. It has some sort of electrical contact issues that are usually resolved by messing with it in aforementioned manner.

Problem: My automatic windows stopped working/my windows don't do the slight drop/rise whenever I open and shut the door.
Solution: Do a battery reset...this is usually a sure fire fix. Easier thing to try is holding the window switch in the full up or full down position for 30 seconds. This will sometimes fix it. If neither do, most likely your door sensor is shot. See the fix in the AudiWorld FAQ.

Problem: My front parking light(s) don't work.
Solution: The bulbs are available online or at a VW/Audi/Mercedes dealer for $6-$10 and are easily swapped out. Mine kept blowing so i just removed them altogether. I run angel eyes for running lights now.

Problem: My turn signals are acting weird.
Solution: It's either your turn signal stalk or turn signal relay. Both are fairly inexpensive ($50-$100) and not too difficult to swap out.

Problem: My glovebox is stuck shut.
Solution: DO NOT try to force it open. You'll break it more. I have a glovebox replacement DIY farther down the page (a new one will be $300+). If you didn't manage to break the latch off or anything, you can remove the side of the dash between the dash and the door to get at hte side of the box. From there, there's a little pin that holds the box shut. You can push this pin in yourself and open the glovebox that way. From there, you can cut the pin off or something since usually the box gets stuck from the pin not wanting to retract. The pin on the opposite side should be enough to hold it up.

Problem: My headlight washers don't work.
Solution: They have their own fuse. See fuse diagram. Or, they could be leaking, in which case check the plumbing for them.

Problem: My hatch won't open as easily as it used to.
Solution: Get new hatch struts. They're available on ECS Tuning among other places and not hard to swap.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Update: LED DRLs

I've abandoned this project, but I'm going to leave the pics up to inspire others:

Behind a stock corner lens...I don't have any spare clear ones:


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