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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Timing Belt Tensioner

Steve Vernon

Time:

8 hour8 hr

Tab:

$70

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Complete socket and wrench set, 19mm 12point, 6mm, 8mm Allen socket, Flathead and Philips screwdriver

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (2000)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)

Parts Required:

New timing belt tensioner.

Hot Tip:

Patience

Performance Gain:

Wont leave you stranded at the side of the road

Complementary Modification:

New timing belt

Volkswagen recommends changing your timing belt every 100,000 miles. While you have the belt off you should really consider changing out the tensioner as well. Even if the tensioner is not giving you trouble there is a tremendous amount of work to get to this point and replacing the tensioner may just be cheap insurance. The timing belt connects the engines crankshaft with the camshaft. While there are very specific procedures you need to perform to eliminate the possibility of damaging the engine it is still a DIY project if you take your time and pay attention to the details. Note if you do not follow the specific details and line up the crank to cam sprockets correctly you can do terminal damage to the engine so just take your time and double check everything as you go.

Note: You will be removing the engine mount on the right side. The hardware mounting bolts for the engine mounts are stretch bolts and single use only; always replace them.

To perform this job you will need to first remove the V-belt and tensioner. Please see our article on removing your V-belt and tensioner to perform this work.

The next job you will need to perform is removing the timing belt. Please see our article on how to remove your timing belt.

After you have removed the belt you are left with the tensioner and the piston compressed. The tensioner is actually two parts; the piston and the eccentric roller. If you are able to get the retaining pin into the piston you can start removing the eccentric roller. The hole in the piston can move over time which will sometimes not allow you to insert the retaining pin. The tensioner on our car was like this so we had to remove the 5X55mm stud, nut and washer to un-tension the piston before removing the tensioner parts. Use an 8mm wrench and remove the nut.

The eccentric roller is now free of the piston and can be safely removed from the engine. Use an 8mm Allen and remove the bolt securing the roller.

With the roller removed you can see the piston attached to the engine. Remove the two 10mm bolts securing the piston to the engine.

Clean the engine block of any dirt, debris or oil before installing the new tensioner.

It is a good idea to pre-thread the 5X55mm stud into the base of the piston before installation as sometime you will have a hard time pulling the retaining pin and will need to release the tension by reinstalling the nut and washer.

Installation is the reverse of removal. Please see the replacing your timing belt article for reinstallation of the belt.

After you have removed the belt you are left with the tensioner with the piston compressed (red and yellow arrows).
Figure 1

After you have removed the belt you are left with the tensioner with the piston compressed (red and yellow arrows). The tensioner is actually two parts; the piston and the eccentric roller.

If you are able to get the retaining pin into the piston (red arrow, shown on new piston out of car) you can start removing the eccentric roller.
Figure 2

If you are able to get the retaining pin into the piston (red arrow, shown on new piston out of car) you can start removing the eccentric roller. Sometimes the hole in the piston can move which will not allow you to insert the retaining pin.

We could not insert the retaining pin on the tensioner on our car so we had to remove the 5X55mm stud, nut and washer to un-tension the piston before removing the tensioner parts.
Figure 3

We could not insert the retaining pin on the tensioner on our car so we had to remove the 5X55mm stud, nut and washer to un-tension the piston before removing the tensioner parts. Use an 8mm wrench (red arrow) and remove the nut.

The eccentric roller is now free of the piston (red arrow) and can be safely removed from the engine (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

The eccentric roller is now free of the piston (red arrow) and can be safely removed from the engine (yellow arrow).

Use an 8mm Allen (red arrow) and remove the bolt securing the roller.
Figure 5

Use an 8mm Allen (red arrow) and remove the bolt securing the roller.

With the roller removed you can see the piston attached to the engine.
Figure 6

With the roller removed you can see the piston attached to the engine. Remove the two 10mm bolts (red arrows) securing the piston to the engine.

Clean the engine block of any dirt, debris or oil before installing the new tensioner (red arrow).
Figure 7

Clean the engine block of any dirt, debris or oil before installing the new tensioner (red arrow).

It is a good idea to pre-thread the 5X55mm stud into the base of the piston (yellow arrow) before installation as sometime you will have a hard time pulling the retaining pin (red arrow) and will need to release the tension on the piston by reinstalling the nut and washer.
Figure 8

It is a good idea to pre-thread the 5X55mm stud into the base of the piston (yellow arrow) before installation as sometime you will have a hard time pulling the retaining pin (red arrow) and will need to release the tension on the piston by reinstalling the nut and washer. If the pin pops out just unthread the stud.

Figure 9

This photo illustrates the eccentric roller portion of the tensioner

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