ATTENTION ALL EUROVAN OWNERS!

Filed in Eurovan, Parts, Repair, Shop Talk by on January 29, 2013 4 Comments

Do you own a 1997-2003 Eurovan? If so, you need to be made aware of a very common problem that your van may currently have. Recently we’ve seen an increased number of Eurovans coming through our shop with timing chain related failures. Whether you have a 12-valve VR6 engine (1997-2000) or the later model 24-valve VR6 Engine (2001-2003) you may have this potentially catastrophic problem and not even know it.

Eurovan Timing Chain

Worn out camshaft drive gear.

Different Problems We’ve Seen

One of the more common problems we see is a worn out camshaft drive gear. As the chain moves around (just like the chain works on a bicycle) it wears the teeth down to the point that it could slip, potentially causing major engine damage. We are unsure whether this wear is caused by a poorly manufactured part, lack of vehicle maintenance, or a several poorly manufactured parts. Another problem we see quite often is timing chain wear that results in what we call a stretched chain (as the links in the chain wear the chain begins to grow in length). Because the chain is now longer than it is supposed to be, it puts increased stress on other parts such as the gears in the system, tensioners, and chain guide rails. If caught soon enough, often only the guide rails show signs of major wear. If left long enough, the gears go bad and even the guide rails break.

What Happens When You Have a Complete Failure?

If you have a total failure in this system, your van will stop running. If you’re lucky, you’ll just have to get your van towed to your trusted Volkswagen specialist and have the timing chains, guide rails, and tensioners replaced.(this is very involved job and generally takes a couple of days at the best to complete). If you’re one of the unlucky ones, your valves could contact the pistons. If this happens, the minimum you’ll have to do is not only the whole timing chain job, but also a complete cylinder head rebuild, and even possibly a complete engine rebuild costing you thousands of dollars, and several weeks at the repair shop.

Eurovan Timing Chain

Timing chains, guide rails, tensioners, and camshaft drive gear.

How to Tell if Your Van has Timing Chain Related Issues?

The beginning stages of timing chain issues can be subtle and hard to tell to the untrained ear. They start making a very subtle scraping or light crunching like noise that can be heard towards the back of the engine. As they wear, they begin to make more noise and become more apparent. If you have substantial wear, you may even be throwing cam shaft related engine codes, meaning your van may stop running at any moment. If your check engine light is on, get it checked ASAP to make sure you do not have timing related codes in there. If you do have those timing chain codes, STOP DRIVING YOUR VAN NOW before it’s too late.

How Can You Help Prevent this Failure?

There is no substitute for proper maintenance. We recommend changing your engine oil at least every 5,000 miles with a high-quality synthetic engine oil. I know VW says different, but it is simply a sales pitch when they sell you a vehicle. All engines require regular oil changes or you will have problems.

Eurovan Timing Chain

New teeth and back in business!

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Comments (4)

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  1. anne says:

    Hi there!
    We just had this nasty job done for 7k in seattle.
    We got the Van back and now it is running poorly and the mechanic told us” too bad, your tcm needs replacement now and we aren’t going to fix it” do you think they should fix it? they unplugged it to do the timing chain right? should we pay or should they just do it? Any advice is welcome…thanks
    Anne

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    • Phil G. says:

      Anne, our beloved 2000 Eurovan is going to be heading into the shop (soon) for a suspected timing chain issue. It still runs but the clicking noises are severe and we are losing large amount of oil (possible cracked timing chain cover).

      Did you take it to a dealer or independant mechanic? Any neighborhoods I should avoid?

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  2. Hi Anne. Thanks for visiting the site!

    There is a lot involved with your question. It would be best to
    discuss this issue over the phone. Feel free to contact us whenever. We
    are more than happy to help.

    805-549-0100

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  3. Charles says:

    This weekend I replaced the head gasket on our 2000 Eurovan. After reading lots of info about the timing chain guides, I had the upper chain guide on hand in case I needed it. Good thing because a piece had broken off adn there was a crack in another location. I noticed that the upper tensioner was a bit sticky, so I have one of those on order.

    Does anyone think it would be possible to “scope” out the drive gear by removing the upper cover? I would hate tp go through the effort to remove the trans and flywheel to find out that it was not critical.

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