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Diy cambelt change A3 2.0Tdi for Fairly competent/ confident DIY mechanic. How hard??

LCY CAB Oct 26, 2010

  1. LCY CAB

    LCY CAB New Member

    Hi all.
    Just wondered, would it be within the scope of a fairly confident diy home mechanic to do a cambelt change on an A3 2.0tdi without any major probs, or need for any really special tools??.

    Have always done all my own repairs and servicing etc, and am pretty confident.
    Have heard and seen it could be a pretty involved job. Thinking whether it would be worth doing myself to cut down on costs of labour etc.
    Can get all the parts no problem.

    Any replies and help would be much appreciated.
  2. sdk778

    sdk778 Member

    Ok, now bear in mind it is an involved job but it can be done on the driveway at home.

    First off you will need a selction of good quality tools.
    A good socket set with sizes 10, 13, 16, 17, 18 and 20.
    5mm allen head socket.
    6mm allen head socket.
    7mm allen head socket.
    8mm allen head socket.
    Selection of extension bars.
    Hose clip pliers.
    Trolley jack.
    Axle stands.

    Next up, some consumables.
    G12 Coolant.
    Power steering fluid (mineral type, not ATF!)

    Assuming you will be changing the water pump, advised, then that is the need for G12 and grease.
    PAS fluid is to top up the resovoir afterwards as it is easier to drain the bottle rather than work round it.

    This guide applies to changing the belt, tensioner, water pump and balance damper, (Latter two both advised).

    Ok, jack up the drivers side of the car and remove the front wheel, undertray and lower arch liner covering the crank pulley. Then up top drain the coolant and remove the expansion bottle, 2 x 10mm bolts and multi plug. Then unclip the hoses from the intercooler to intake pipe and remove the PAS bottle, 1 x 5mm allen bolt. Unclip the PAS hoses from bottle and drain the bottle.

    Now remove the intercooler pipe from the intercooler, large fiddley hose clip and then unclip it from the intake.

    Back underneath, unclip the lower intercooler to turbo pipe at both ends, undo the 10mm securing nut and remove.

    Back up top, remove the aux belt by turning the tensioner with a 15mm open ended spanner and removing the belt.

    Remove the upper cambelt cover. Now, time to support the engine.

    Using a trolley jack and a stout lump of wood on the jack paddle, raise the jack to just take the weight of the engine and remove the two 18mm bolts formt he mounting, then undo the two 16mm or they could be 15mm headed bolts formt he other side on the mount, remove the top part of he mount and then ensure the engine is now resting nicely on the jack continue to remove the lower cambelt covers, there are two,
    one in the middle and one behind the damper on the crank pulley. To remove the crank damper undo the 4 allen bolts and pull off the damper.

    You will at this point see the remaing bolts securing the lower cover, undo and remove.

    Now, back to the engine mounting, this is the fun part!

    There are three bolts holding this to the engine block, one at the front, two at the back, using a 16mm socket undo the front one and the rear upper one, you may need to raise the engine on the jack a few inches to reach the upper rear bolt, then lower the jack untill you can see the rear lower one through the wheel arch, undo and remove bolt.
    The engine mounting can be removed but it is a pain in the ****, best to leave it there and work round it, not that hard once you see it.

    Now to time up the belt.

    Use a good quality socket on the crank bolt and turn the crank clock wise untill the pointers on the cam are lined up with the indicators, check the crank is the same.
    It is advised to lock the engine in this position but in the event of no locking tools, mark everything with Tipex, touch up pen, wifes lipstick, your lipstick, anything that can be seen.

    Ok, still interested? Then I will continue.

    Remove the centre tensioner bolt or nut, it will be one or the other and remove the tensioner and belt, then undo the two 10mm head bolts from the balance damper and remove. Then there are three 10mm bolts for the water pump, again remove and lob in the bin.

    So, you now have an engine in bits and wet feet.

    Clean up the water pump housing well, then do it again, fit the seal to the new pump and smear with grease, chuck it in the hole and bolt down well.

    Check your timing marks again, visually.

    Fit the new tensioner and fit the belt over the crank first, then pump, cam and tensioner, then fit the vibration damper once the new belt is in place. Happy that everthing looks timed up still release the pin from the vib damper and the belt is now tensioned.

    Turn the engine by hand on the crank 2 or 3 times and check the timing marks, all should be well.

    There you go, new belt, pump and vibration damper fitted.

    Refit everything you removed in the appropriate order, ensure you tighten the engine mountings well.

    Once all is together re-fill the coolant and PAS fluids, turn the heater to HOT and start her up.

    Let it run for 10 mins topping up the coolant as required.

    The PAS fluid will need to be bled, easy enough, turn the steering wheel lock to lock slowly three or four times, top up as necessary to the required level.

    Now, this is a guide only, not a promise, I accept ****** all responsiblity if anything goes wrong, follow the guide and use your common sense, its fiddley and nerve racking but straight forward.

    Cost of the bits is around £150 - £200, IIRC this is costed as a 3 hour job via Autodata, so assume a bill for minimum of 3 hours labour plus VAT.

    Hope this helps.

    Usmxn likes this.
  3. LCY CAB

    LCY CAB New Member

    Hi Si.
    WOW!!, many thanks for that it's brilliant. Cheers for the time and effort in writing that up!

    Have all the right parts and tools for the job, tbh had most of them anyways with the exception of the timing tools etc which i've just purchased.

    Going to definitely have a go myself in the very near future.

    Just to say again, really good detailed guide!. Maybe this should be in the FAQ section if it's not already???.

    Thanks again.
  4. sdk778

    sdk778 Member


    Welcome pal.
  5. sdutton007

    sdutton007 New Member

    I have the exact same question as the OP but my 2009 A3 8P3 2.0 TDi doesn't have a power steering reservoir - would the rest of the process be the same or are there other differences?
  6. tim0205

    tim0205 New Member

    Excellent guide, will be making my attempt soon
  7. EXSpartan36

    EXSpartan36 Active Member VCDS Map User Team Phantom Audi A4 S-line owners group saloon TDi Manual

    Good write up! I've done this on a 2011 TT 2.0TDI it is pretty straight forward when you have the timing tools. I dont know how the A3 is laid out in the engine bay but I didn't have to fully remove the PAS and Coolant bottles I just moved them out the way.
  8. vag-tech

    vag-tech Site Sponsor Site Sponsor Team Ibis VCDS Map User Audi A3

    Even with the comprehensive write-up and the correct tools, renewing a timing belt/kit on a modern vehicle is something I would dissuade even the keen ammeter from attempting. IMO having experience in completing this sort of work is essential and, with the number of variables involved and the margin for error being so small, the risk is significant.
    EXSpartan36 likes this.
  9. adamss24

    adamss24 Well-Known Member

    Yep, garage NexT door did a timing belt for a Saab, the belt snapped and all valves are bent... It was a bolt thar sheared...

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