Product review: Blauparts.com Timing belt kit

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.

Blauparts rental tool kit for timing belt

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.

Nice, clean surface for the new water pump.

 

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.

Some tips:

  • Take your time.  It’s not a job you want to have to repeat soon.
  • Do your valve cover gaskets at the same time, I wish I did.  I was too nervous about doing the water pump let alone removing the cams but if the instructions are as good with that kit it shouldn’t be a problem.  Now I have to do it later which means repeating a lot of the work I just did.
  • Go the extra step and move the carrier out of the way. You have to drain and flush the cooling system anyway.  Swing it out of the way and give yourself some space.

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.

I am gearing up to do my timing belt as well. I’m thinking its going to be a winter project for me as i have other items on my plate for now.

Now that several months have passed for your timing belt change, what else would you have done had you thought of it. I’m going to try to package as much as possible because this is such a large job.

BTW this would be my first timing belt change on any car… why not start with an audi :)

thanks for your review.

If you have any seepage from your valve covers I would do those(I didn’t, see below). I don’t think there are any special tools needed and you will have easy access while everything is apart. If you need to do the timing chain guides also Blauparts has the kits for you, with instructions and tools if needed. If you have doubts about your alternator this would be a good time to swap it out. I’m not sure what kind of job that is normally but it is right there when everything is apart.

One thing that I did wrong cost me most of the money I saved by doing the water pump myself. I intended to change my plugs while I had everything apart but when I went to put the first one in I noticed that the place I bought the plugs from gave me two different sizes. I put the old plug back in but apparently did not tighten it properly. That plug eventually worked its way out until the last couple threads couldn’t hold on any more and the plug blew out. Then I had to have my mechanic fix the threads and he needed to remove the valve cover to do it. So I had him do the gasket since he was in there anyway. I also had to get new plug wires because the one that blew out was destroyed and my leaky valve cover ruined the others on that side.

Other than that, just read the instructions a few times until you are comfortable and get all the tools you’ll need up front. If you know someone with a little knowledge, get him to help.

Buyers beware of Blauparts.com. I purchased a Timing Belt kit from them a few years ago for my 1997 Audi A4. Halfway through the life cycle of one of the tensioner idlers it failed (45,000 miles), breaking the timing belt, sending the pistons through the head, and destroying the engine. I contacted Blauparts to see what their response would be. Weeks later they e-mailed back stating they are not the manufacturer for that part, but they would like to take a look it. In the e-mail, they included a return authorization. Blauparts: the failed part you sold me cost me thousands of dollars and you want me to send it back so you can look at it? No apology, no sense of responsibility, nothing. Shame on you Blauparts!

Sorry to hear about your misfortune. Fortunately I have not had a similar experience. One concern that I had was with my own abilities and the chance that I would do something wrong during installation and shorten the life of the parts I was installing. The instructions that they provided included at least a few warnings about how to do things right to try and avoid future problems. It also sounds like you may have limited their ability to do anything to address the problem by not sending them the part to examine. I have to say, I’m not sure any mechanic would warranty an idler after 45k miles let alone take responsibility for a blown engine. I’d do business with them again.