Last week I replaced the water pump on my 2000 Audi A4 Avant 2.8l. Because this is such a big job it’s standard practice to change the timing belt and all associated tensioners at the same time. It’s also standard practice to have someone who knows what they are doing do the work. Rough estimate for this job would have been ~$1100. At this point I have to thank my neighbor John for helping me with the job and my father-in-law for letting me use his car while mine was out of commission. The first time I had this done I chose not to attempt it myself because I didn’t have the room in my garage or a way to get around if I didn’t finish the job in one weekend. This time I hadn’t even considered doing it myself. Then one weekend I happened to see my neighbor out snowblowing and I told him about my car. He emailed later with an offer to help me do the work and we could even use his much cleaner garage.
With that I started to sort out parts and instructions and soon came across Blauparts.com. Like a lot of places, they are kind enough to have several kits put together that include all the parts that most likely need to be changed and really good instructions. I ended up ordering the enhanced timing belt kit. They also rent all of the necessary special tools you need to complete the job. Many of the write ups I found had ways of finishing the job without the Audi tools but for $35 it was worth it to have the tools I needed.
The standard shipping got all of the parts to me the next day and it was clear that these guys take pride in what they do. Everything was extremely well packed, not the box of local newspapers with the parts just thrown in that I am used to.
With the included instructions the job went smoothly. We took our time and worked a couple hours a night over about 5 days. There were only a couple minor problems. First, was getting to the engine block drain plug. It is a 6mm hex bolt but it is in a position that the standard length hex socket will not reach. We ended up using one of those allen wenches that come with cheap furniture. We also needed it for the bolts on the fan pulley bracket. That was the second problem. Two of the bolts on the fan pulley bracket were a little stripped. We were able to get them out OK and elected to put them back in rather than hunt down replacements. We were able to torque them properly so it will have to be a problem I deal with the next time. We were also able to fix a steering fluid leak while we had it apart.
One reason this is such a big undertaking is that you have to get access to the front of the engine. This requires, at the very least, moving the carrier/radiator into service position. It wasn’t much more work to just swing it out of the way all together so that is what we did. This gave us all the room we needed. After that is out of the way you just need to remove a bunch of old bits and put on the new ones. Easy, peasy.
One area that I was a little worried about was maintaining the timing. The tools I rented included a cam alignment tool and a pin that locks the crank in position. It turns out that my timing was probably already off by a tooth or two. We made the decision to take the belt off and align the cams with the tool, since that is where they are supposed to be anyway. Unfortunately this didn’t result in a major power gain but it didn’t cause a problem either.
One thing that was a little irritating was not related to this job. When I ordered my parts I also bought new motor mounts and figured I would replace them at the same time. I could not find any how to on the motor mounts and the Bentley manual doesn’t seem to reference them anywhere. Once it was back together I needed to bring it to my regular mechanic (Tony at Auto Authority) to have the exhaust fixed so he did the mounts also.
Blauparts will probably get more business from me. Aside from the aforementioned valve cover gaskets I will need to replace the breather hose assembly and brakes soon. They happen to have a handy kits for both with instructions. Even though I’ve done my brakes before I’m sure I’ll learn something from their instructions.