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VW / Audi Serpentine Belt Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

VW / Audi Serpentine Belt Replacement

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$40

Talent:

***

Tools:

Wrenches, Allen head sockets

Applicable Models:

Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Parts Required:

New belts

Hot Tip:

Take your time and follow the directions exactly

Performance Gain:

Smoother running engine

Complementary Modification:

Change spark plugs

The biggest hurdle to this project is the fact that the radiator support panel must be put into the "service position" first. This provides the access to the front of the engine that you will need to reach the belts and the various bolts you'll need to loosen and/or remove.

The process of putting the radiator support panel in the service position is detailed in another project. Suffice to say that you'll probably spend more time doing this than in actually changing the belts.

The 1.8T engine, assuming it has air conditioning, has three rubber belts that need to be changed at regular intervals, or when they become worn (for now we're ignoring the timing belt, which is concealed within the engine and behind shroud panels). Two of these belts run off of the crankshaft pulley, which is the large pulley at the base of the engine. The inner (engine side) of the crank pulley carries the main serpentine belt, which uses the power from the crank pulley to turn the alternator pulley and power steering pulley; the back side of the belt contacts a smooth pulley that in turn spins the cooling fan on the front of the engine. The serpentine belt also comes in contact with a smooth tensioner pulley, which is spring loaded to maintain the proper tension on the belt as it rotates.

The outer (front) half of the crank pulley carries the belt that transfers power from the crankshaft to the air conditioning compressor, with a grooved idler pulley between that is adjusted to provide the proper tension on this belt. Both of the belts that run off of the crankshaft pulley have ribs that run along their length.

The third belt transfers power from the power steering pulley to the water pump. As noted, the power steering pump receives power itself from the crankshaft pulley via the serpentine belt. The forward portion of the power steering pump pulley carries a toothed belt that then delivers power to the water pump pulley.

As you can imagine, the fact that you must invest so much time in moving the radiator support panel before reaching these belts means that you might as well replace them all if you have to replace one of them. Therefore, this project assumes that you will change all three belts at once.

This general image of the front of the engine compartment, with the radiator support panel moved forward into the service position, gives an overview of the air conditioning compressor belt and shows the portion of the serpentine belt that turns the alternator.
Figure 1

This general image of the front of the engine compartment, with the radiator support panel moved forward into the service position, gives an overview of the air conditioning compressor belt and shows the portion of the serpentine belt that turns the alternator. The water pump belt is obscured by the fan.

My advice, if you're replacing all three belts, is to start by getting the fan out of the way.
Figure 2

My advice, if you're replacing all three belts, is to start by getting the fan out of the way. I did not do this (I waited until the two main belts were out of the way), but it's easy enough to do and will improve your access to the other belts and pulleys. The fan is held on by four 5mm Allen-head bolts.

This wider view shows roughly where you need to position your wrench.
Figure 3

This wider view shows roughly where you need to position your wrench. Rather than swinging your wrench back and forth to loosen the bolts, you can use it to turn the fan clockwise and quickly spin the bolts off.

Remove the fan and place the bolts someplace where you won't lose them.
Figure 4

Remove the fan and place the bolts someplace where you won't lose them.

Remove the air conditioning compressor belt first.
Figure 5

Remove the air conditioning compressor belt first. Go underneath the car and loosen the two 6mm Allen-head bolts that hold the idler pulley in place. The wrench is inserted in one of them; the other bolt is in the foreground to the left of the small idler pulley. For reference, the compressor is to the left in this photo, and the crank pulley is to the right.

Once the idler pulley is loose, you should have plenty of slack with which to remove the belt.
Figure 6

Once the idler pulley is loose, you should have plenty of slack with which to remove the belt. The bolt-shaped boss on the top of the pulley bracket is intended to allow you to gain greater leverage on the bracket should you need it. I found that once the two bolts were loosened, I was able to move the bracket easily by hand.

Next, remove the serpentine belt.
Figure 7

Next, remove the serpentine belt. You must loosen the belt enough to take it off the pulleys. Use a wrench to grab this ear or boss on the tensioner pulley. Rotate the wrench to the right (clockwise) to release the tension that this pulley applies to the belt, and then pull the belt off of any one of the three main pulleys. Then you may release the tensioner. Note that I have yet to remove the air conditioning belt in this photo. As always, I make the mistakes so you don't have to! You'll see why it's easier to remove the A/C belt first in an upcoming photo.

Here the serpentine belt has been removed from the power steering pulley.
Figure 8

Here the serpentine belt has been removed from the power steering pulley. You can see the grey rubber of the power steering-to-water pump belt underneath my thumb--it runs on a smaller-diameter pulley that is also attached to the power steering pump.

The right hand bolt for the air conditioning belt's idler pulley is preventing the removal of the serpentine belt.
Figure 9

The right hand bolt for the air conditioning belt's idler pulley is preventing the removal of the serpentine belt. I found that I had to remove this bolt to free up the serpentine belt. This is why it's easier to remove the A/C belt first

This the pulley on the water pump.
Figure 10

This the pulley on the water pump. I angled this photo go give you a better view of the belt and the two pulleys it runs on--the power steering pulley is in the background on the lower right. In reality, these two pulleys are at roughly the same height. The water pump pulley is split into two halves, and the belt is removed by first removing the face of this pulley, which is held on by these three 6mm bolts.

It's helpful to hold the pulleys still while you loosen the bolts on the water pump pulley.
Figure 11

It's helpful to hold the pulleys still while you loosen the bolts on the water pump pulley. Insert a screwdriver into the back of the main power steering pulley hold it in place.

Even after bracing the power steering pulley, I was unable to loosen the bolts on the water pump pulley because the pulley simply spun underneath the belt.
Figure 12

Even after bracing the power steering pulley, I was unable to loosen the bolts on the water pump pulley because the pulley simply spun underneath the belt. My solution was to fold up a rubber kitchen glove and wedge it between the crank pulley and the water pump pulley. This didn't add a lot of resistance--just enough that the bolts broke loose with the wrench.

Once the face of the pulley was loose, the belt came off easily.
Figure 13

Once the face of the pulley was loose, the belt came off easily.

Now we've reached the turn and can start putting the belts back on.
Figure 14

Now we've reached the turn and can start putting the belts back on. I start with the serpentine belt. I didn't have a new belt at hand, so I merely replaced the old one. The procedure is no different with a new belt. I put it around the crank pulley first.

Next, I routed it around the power steering pump pulley.
Figure 15

Next, I routed it around the power steering pump pulley.

Take the remaining slack in the belt and put it between the tensioner pulley on the left, and the fan pulley on the right, creating a loop that is ready to go over the alternator pulley.
Figure 16

Take the remaining slack in the belt and put it between the tensioner pulley on the left, and the fan pulley on the right, creating a loop that is ready to go over the alternator pulley.

Just like before, use your wrench to loosen the tensioner pulley.
Figure 17

Just like before, use your wrench to loosen the tensioner pulley. This will provide enough slack to get the belt up and onto the alternator pulley. This shot provides a nice view of the fan pulley.

Next you can tackle the water pump belt.
Figure 18

Next you can tackle the water pump belt. Place it over the power steering pulley and then put the belt in position, holding it in place as you replace the front half of the water pump pulley. Once you have the pulley face onto the center of the pulley, you can rotate it in order to line up the bolt holes with those in the back half of the pulley. This is a bit tricky because you can't line up the holes visually. Use a bolt placed through one of the front holes, plus some patience and you'll get them lined up. The first one is the tricky one.

Tighten the pulley bolts to 18 ft-lbs.
Figure 19

Tighten the pulley bolts to 18 ft-lbs.

These next two photos illustrate the movement of the air conditioning belt tensioner pulley.
Figure 20

These next two photos illustrate the movement of the air conditioning belt tensioner pulley. Note that I've replaced the mounting bolt that is nearest to the crank pulley. Here the pulley is in the upper position.

And here, the pulley is in the lower position.
Figure 21

And here, the pulley is in the lower position.

Put the belt onto the pulleys, being careful--as with all of the ribbed belts--to make sure the belts seat on the pulleys properly.
Figure 22

Put the belt onto the pulleys, being careful--as with all of the ribbed belts--to make sure the belts seat on the pulleys properly.

The spec for the proper belt tension is 3/16-inch of deflection with 25 lbs of pressure applied at this point of the belt.
Figure 23

The spec for the proper belt tension is 3/16-inch of deflection with 25 lbs of pressure applied at this point of the belt. From underneath the car, pull the pulley downward to apply pressure to the belt while you tighten the two mounting bolts. That wraps up the belt replacements. If you're done at this stage, bolt the fan back on. The fan is marked "front" in order to ensure that you orient it correctly when you mount it.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Wdgsr Comments: Response to my guestion about 2000 Audi A4 quottro being transverse and not in line pointing forward. Quattros tats a re not a4 s they are a separate breed
November 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year, model and region? Some face forward in the US. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Wdgsr Comments: My 2000 a4 Quattro TT has a transverse engine with "front" to the right side of car. What's up?
November 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure. Maybe someone swapped it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sa Comments: Thank you for the excellent site. I was able to successfully change the belts on my daughter's 1998 Audi A4 with limited problems. I would still be trying to figure it out were it not for you. Thanks again.
December 1, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Sokrates Comments: I've been told I need to replace the belt tensioner and both belts...can you list the parts required? I have an 01 a4 1.8t
November 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All the parts are here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi?action=frameset&return-url=/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi%3Faction%3Dframeback%26page%3D103&catalog-url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pelicanparts.com%2Fcatalog%2FSuperCat%2F1246%2FAUD_1246_ELCHRG_pg3.htm %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item10



Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
rcirotti Comments: Simply the best belt replacement DIY tutorial photographs and explanation on the 1.8t 99 passat on the web. This is a genuine illustration and how to do I ever saw. It's not the first time however. I've seen another one of your How to Do's just as good. Thnanks Keep up the Good work
October 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
martin Comments: excelant commentary n pics just bought a a4 fixer,looked from bottom at ac belt missn is there a forward position without removing rad? rep sm vaccum hoses,now idles good when try slowly raise rpm hear a small pefft noise and cuts out, by p;aying with throttle can go 4k rpm, how got home 2 mi,ideas?
August 19, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Tow the vehicle home. Don't drive it that way. Then locate the vacuum leak. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
trlangevain Comments: Thanx guys this helped alot I have one more question I ordered motor mountsand tranny mounts I got two reg looking motor mounts but I got two regular looking tranny mounts andnone that kinda looks like an armiture with a mount at the bottom almost like a hook I have a 97 audi a4 can you tell me where it goes please?
July 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the part you have a question about? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
trlangevain Comments: Ps I don't want to go through the putting front into service position.
June 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Depending on your vehicle, you may not have a choice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
trlangevain Comments: Ok what if I am only able to afford the costs for the serpentine belt right now n just need to change that the belt split thank god right when I got back from buying it just my luck but be cuz I used all my money for the car and still need regardless can only replace what's broke so question is how and on which pulley do I move to loosen enough to put belt on?
June 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have the vehicle in our tech article, use this procedure:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/Audi_Tech/02-BASICS-Serpentine_Belt_Replacement/02-BASICS-Serpentine_Belt_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Randy Comments: Excellent instructions. I just finished using your water pump guide to replace the thermostat stuck open on my son's 99 Audi 1.8T. While doing this, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of slack in the small v-belt from the PS pump over to the water pump. I looked around for quite a bit and could not find any tensioner or the typical slotted arm bracket to adjust and increase the tension. What controls the tension on this belt?
February 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The power steering pump can be moved to tension the belt. Check for the slotted adjuster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mike Comments: very brilliant website , loved reading the laymans wording of how to replace the fan belt on my VW PASSAT 1.8 , keep up the fantastic information coming i have meantioned your website to family , friends & neighbours. its a big thankyou from me for the great instructions & the good clear explained photos. all the best , mike
December 23, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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