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Kalamykid
Kalamykid, Shop owner/ Tech.
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 4325
Experience:  I HAVE OWNED MY OWN SHOP FOR OVER THREE YEARS. I HAVE THE TOOLS AND SOFTWARE TO ANSWERE ALMOST ANY Q
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My daughter was driving home, there was a jolt of some kind

Customer Question

My daughter was driving home, there was a jolt of some kind like a bad shift then apparently no power, she pulled over, the car went progressively slower then stopped on a small hill. The engine was apparently still running at this point and she turned it off. Now when you turn the key it doesn't turn over, I can see the camshaft pulley through a small crack in the cover and when you turn the key it doesn't move, the belts on the balancer are turning however and driving the a/c and power steering pump. I'm stumped. Any thoughts??
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

What is the year make and model of her car?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
2003 vw Passat gl 1.8t
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

And you said you can not see the cam gear turn when you turn the engine over correct?

Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

If the cam gear is not turning but the crank gear is, then the timming belt must have broken.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Correct, but apparently the engine was idling before she turned the key off but this might not be true.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I can see the timing belt and it's still under tension, was replaced six months ago.
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

If the car was still in gear and moving it may have felt like it was still running. Can you feel the belt or just see it?

Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

It is possible the the teeth on the belt have stripped off and the crank gear is just spinning on a smooth section of the belt where the teeth have come off.

Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

If the belt had no problems, then the cam gear would be turning when you try to start the engine. The problem has to be in the timing belt, it is either broken, or the teeth have stripped off of it.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I could feel itand it was tight. I tried to turn the camshaft, even just a little bit but it felt solid as a rock. I did only have a tiny wrench though poked through the holes in the pulley wheel. All fluids seem fine, oil is good, coolant etc.
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

The valve springs will make it hard to turn the cam gear with a small wrench. But it is possible that the cam has frozen up and will not turn at all. You will need to pull the timing cover off and inspect the belt, as well as see if the cam gear will turn.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
What would cause teeth to strip off the belt if the crank is turning with the starter?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
What would cause the cam to freeze up if the motor has oil and it was running down the road just fine?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
If the cam is frozen would the starter still be able to turn the crank? I can't hear any reciprocating piston noise when the key is turned...
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

If the timing belt was put on to tight, the cam may have galded up the head where the cam rides and this would have welded the cam to the head.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
After nine months of driving? Don't you think it would've happened sooner?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
you think the cam froze in the head thus the head is trashed? Assuming pistons are ok as crank turns freely. Thought this was an interference motor?
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

I am not showing this engine to be an interference engine. If the cam gaulded up then the cam and head will both be bad. And no, it would have taken time to do the damage. But the belt may be the only thing bad , you have to inspect it to see for sure what is going on. All I can tell you for sure is the cam should be turning when you try to start the engine, but you said it is not. This tells me the timing belt is broken or the teeth are stripped off.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Alright mate, so long as it's not an interference motor it seems like it'll be repairable. Thanks for your time, I'm going to trailer it to my shop and tear it down.
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

Let me know what you find when you get the timing cover off.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Will do. I appreciate you being in my corner.
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

You are very welcome.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi, so I took a look at my shop, I only had a few minutes but here's my take on things, let me know what you think. The crank turns but the cam doesn't, the belt is still tight but with a 16mm wrench on the cam it's possible to turn it a couple degrees. What if the water pump died? It could strip the teeth off the belt? Then the belt rotates as far as the crank and stops and spins..... thoughts?
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

If the belt is tight, and the cam gear does not spin when the crank is turned, then the teeth have to have been stripped off. Can you turn the cam two full turns slowly?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I didn't try to move it that much, I think the teeth are still on the majority of it so it's probably trying to engage with the crank and or try and spin a seized water pump. We had coolant problems prior to the accident when I had to replace the belt so it's quite possible the water pump was on its way out. I know, should've replaced. It with the belt...
Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

Sorry but YES you should have.

Expert:  Kalamykid replied 8 months ago.

Did you have a chance to tear it down and check the timing belt?