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>From the "I've spent on day on this and an barely resist circling the 
car, kicking in every fender as I go, then starting on the glass with 
a ball-peen hammer" department:...........

I am sorry to rain on our collective Audi parade, but at the moment 
I'm half-way (about 5 hours into) changing the timing belt on my 1990 
200, and I can state with complete confidence that the combination of 
parts, adjustments and design on the front end of the I-5 engine 
stands alone as the stupidest, most incompetent, least serviceable 
design I have ever worked on, and working through this combination 
makes it the most inconvenient procedure I have ever done....since I 
started working on cars in 1967!

I would very nearly rather pull the transmission out of my 280ZX and 
rebuilt it completely rather than do this again.  As a matter of 
fact, I would personally  do a ZX transmission rebuild again (did 
one in 1986), but I will NEVER again change the timing belt on an I-5 
Audi.  I will either take it to a shop or trade the car.


First, the idiot - no, it must have been a committee, no one person 
could design something so complex and absurd -  who designed the 
tension adjustments on the alternator and air conditioner.  There is 
no excuse for the difficulty in this.  It took me more than an hour 
just to get the damn belts loose!  Lord knows whether I will ever get 
them back on.  I had to cut the AC belt off, as the one on there was 
so short that the compressor was already bottomed on the oil 
pan...and the toothed adjuster was thoroughly savaged.

Second, the decision to hide the water pump (a high-mortality item, 
remember...) behind the timing belt is bad enough, BUT the decision 
to also bury it behind a cover plate is ludicrous.  To remove the 
cover plate, you have to pull the gear off the end of the cam!!  And 
the bolt on my cam gear (rated 80 lbs/ft.) is so tight that the timing 
belt won't hold it to remove the bolt!!  Reefing on the can gear bolt 
actually resulted in jumping teeth on the timing belt.  And of 
COURSE, when I took the water pump bolts loose to rotate it and 
loosen the timing belt (a Rube Goldberg nightmare if I've ever 
seen one), the front of the engine and my working area under the front 
end get a fresh baptism of water and antifreeze.  Lovely.

My thanks to Steadiric for giving me an alternative to leaving the 
old water pump in place - with his inspiration, I took a Dremel tool 
and three fiberglass-reinforced cutting wheels, and CUT THE DAMN 
cover plate in half, discarding the lower half entirely so that I 
could get at, and remove, the water pump!!  Finally, at least I get 
SOME revenge on this stupid KrautVagen!!!

Third, the idler for the timing belt is a light press-fit into a 
recess in the front of the engine, meaning that it either requires a 
special puller to remove it, or a lot of prying that is also 
guaranteed to ruin the bearings in the idler.  Fortunately, I bought a 
new one for this job.

Finally, one of the reasons I took this assembly apart early is that 
I'm dripping oil out of the timing belt cover.  I was looking 
forward to replacing the crankshaft seal to end this dripping.  Now I 
find that the damn seal is pressed into the front of the oil pump.
It is totally inaccessible without removing the oil pump!!!  

Steadiric said they sometimes come out with a dental pick, but I 
tried this idea VERY carefully and looked at the replacement seal, 
and mine is going NOwhere.  The replacement has numerous ribs on the 
sides (I hear you snickering, but don't go there...) and is clearly 
designed to fit VERY snugly and not come out easily.  This is beyond 
stupid, this is just about enough to make me look for a match to 
throw in the gas tank!!  I will live with the drip, as at this point, 
no force on earth will make me remove that oil pump.  If it ever 
leaks so badly that I can't live with it, it will be my mechanic who 
does it, or I'll sell the damn car.

I settled for spraying the wheeeeee out of the seal with silicone, in 
the hope that it might keep it flexible or even swell it a bit.

This job has fought me every bolt and step of the way.  Assemblies 
I've had apart before are now mysteriously locked in place.  Things 
I've never heard anyone having problems with turn out to require 
tearing apart at least one additional assembly in order to get where 
I need to go.

My best estimate is that another three to five hours will return this 
car to its former oil-dripping state, with a new idler, water pump 
and timing belt.  At that point, I will have my entire free time on 
Sunday and all of Monday evening into this "simple" job.

Now I can look forward to spending more time finding the CLUNK which 
has plagued the front end of this car for the last six months.  I'm 
armed with control arm bushings to have the shop install, as nothing 
else has done it.

So, for those of you out there who have never done a timing belt on 
your Audi, my advice is DO NOT DO IT.  Take it to the dealer and 
worship the service people for taking this particular excursion into 
Hades off your hands!

With designs this BAD on the Audi, it truly boggles the mind that GM 
and other domestic makers manage to do even worse.

I will now slink off and dream about the possibility that someone 
might break into my house tomorrow and decide to attack this car with 
the 4-foot piece of 3/4" pipe laying beside it (to aid in re-
tightening the crank bolt) and save me from having to put it 
back together.............

Right now, as you might gather, this passes for light humor:

"Aside from that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln...?"

I hope all of you have a dandy day and a wonderful time at whatever 
you do!!!!!!!!

Cheers, I think.......

Al Powell, Ph.D.                 Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843