1998 VW Jetta A3 AHU Timing Belt Replacement using the "Mark and Pray" Technique and No Special Tools.
I replaced the timing belt on my 1998 Jetta A3 using the Mark and Pray technique Memorial Day weekend 2007. It was completed using the Mark and Pray technique. -

UPDATED 9-27-2009 - Car gets 54 mpg on mid-west interstate travel. This is my son's car and has 86K miles now and purrs like a kitten.

I am only posting the photos below of each step in the timing belt replacement process using the Mark and Pray method.
Click on this link for Complete step-by-step photos of my 2002 VW Jetta A4 ALK Timing Belt Replacement using the "Mark and Pray" Technique and No Special Tools. It is a bit more complicated than the A3
Email me with any questions or comments
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My 1998 VW Jetta TDI - 73800 miles

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1998 VW Jetta TDI 1.9 Liter Engine - A3 - AHU

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Using white paint, I marked the Cam pulley to the back plate so that I could tell if the pulley moves at all and be sure it is aligned when reinstalling belt.

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Using white paint, I marked the Injection Pump pulley to the back plate as a reference again as mentioned above.

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Another look at the Injection Pump marking.

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Using white paint, I marked the Crankshaft pulley to the engine case, you know why!

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Timing belt upper routing path

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With red paint, I marked the Cam Pulley tooth valley to the belt tooth. I marked the back of the belt with a C (for Cam)

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With red paint, I marked the Injection Pump pulley tooth valley to the belt tooth. I marked the back of the belt with an I (for Injection Pump)


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With red paint, I marked the Crankshaft Pulley tooth valley to the belt tooth.

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Antoher look at the alignment

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Another look at alignment


Belt is removed and the new one is installed.


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Transfer red marks to new belt using chalk (I am using pink chalk) starting with the crank shaft mark

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Lay belts on top of one another to count teeth and visually observe the teeth are aligned. Mark the Cam position with pink chalk and write a C onto the belt.

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The final belt mark, for the injector pump should be made as shown.

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Install new timing belt from the top and work your way downward. Tape or clamp the timing belt to the Cam pulley when pink and red marks are aligned - this is temporary.

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Tape or clamp the timing belt to the Injection Pump pulley when pink and red marks are aligned - this is also temporary.

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Slide new tensioner on the post, but not all the way.

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Notice the upward bowing of the belt?

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Have a helper rotate the Cam and Injection Pump pulleys away from each other to remove the slack/bowing in the belt very slightly (you will need the extra belt length for the belt to slip right on easily.)

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Slip timing belt onto Crankshaft pulley by wiggling it a bit and walking it on.

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Here we Check and Double Check our alignment marks.

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Checking our alignment marks.

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Adjust tensioner tang and apply nut and tighten. Use tensioner wrench to tighen belt.


The reinstallation of everything is pretty straightforward except for the replacement of the timing belt cover.
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The photo shows the bolt which is on the engine side of the timing cover. When the cover touches the bolt, it slides back into a hole. THE BOLT DOES NOT SEEM TO BE ASSESSABLE from the back side and who knows what has to be done should it fall away into the hole (nowhere land?).

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The bolt slipped back into the hole and I could not get it moved forward until I took a neodymium magnet and with its great stength, sucked the bolt shank out of the hole. Then, with the shank showing a bit, I wrapped some telephone wire around the bolt to hold it in position.

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Here is how I had to pull on the wire and apply the nut to the bolt at the same time. A tough maneuver. IMHO!

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Once nut is started on the bolt/post, tighten it up all the way and install the the timing cover bolts.



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The harmonic balancer only goes on one way. This is not the way :( - just rotate a bit holes are not square

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The harmonic balancer goes on this way.



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Here is the Tensioner wrench I made in about 5 minutes using a piece of steel and two hardened 3mm bolts I found in my garage.

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Another picture of the tensioner wrench