Water Pump Replacement info

This describes changing the water pump and timing belt as well as all the V-belts (a.k.a. fan belts) on a typical water cooled VW. This is a fun repair and describes the procedure that I use for my '86 Jetta with A/C. It should be the same for all second generation Golfs and Jettas with the 1.8L engine. It will be very close for most other Jettas and Golfs.

To replace the water pump, you need to remove the lower timing belt cover and once thet is gone its easy to change the timing belt as well. When this is done all the belts will be off the car so its a logical time to replace all the belts.

It is generally recommended that the timing belt be replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. It is also recommended that the cooling system be flushed every 2 years. This will accomplish both.

The shop books claim this should take 4 hours but it could take as many as 8 or as little as an hour. It is the most expensive of the common maintenance procedures on a VW but doing it yourself will save you a bit of cash since it is a timing consuming job. The parts can be had for as little as $40 for generic after market parts to about $160 for genuine VW parts from an dealer.

What is needed


If you change the timing belt you might need to adjust the timing. If you mess up, you must reset the timing. If you are uncomfortable with that task, don't replace the timing belt.

This info is to assist and supplement a reference such as the Bentley service manual. It is provided without any warrantee so use at your own risk. It assumes some basic auto repair knowledge. So in other words, if you have never looked under the hood of your car, this is not something you want to try.


  1. remove battery cable (either power (+) or ground (-))
  2. remove alternator
  3. remove A/C
  4. remove power steering pump
  5. remove water pump pulleys
  6. remove main shaft pulleys
  7. remove timing belt covers
  8. remove A/C mounting hardware
  9. remove timing belt (don't turn any of the wheels its connected to)
  10. replace timing belt
  11. adjust belt tension
  12. remove water pump face
  13. put on new gasket and new part. Leave pulleys off.
  14. replace bottom timing belt cover
  15. replace crack shaft pulleys
  16. replace steering pump
  17. replace A/C
  18. put small belt on A/C (hangs loose)
  19. put large belt around A/C, Main and water pump pulley.
  20. put middle size belt on Main, water pump and power steering pump
  21. reattach bolts for the steering pump pulleys
  22. put alternator back on
  23. adjust all belts.
  24. connect battery

Problem areas:

  • Main pulley:

    There are 4 6mm hex head bolts. These must be removed. The main 19mm hex head can be used to turn the engine it the timing belt slips and you have to readjust the timing.

  • Putting on new belts:

    This can be a real pain if you get VW belts. The adjustments won't give enough to put the belts over the edge so the easy way is to remove the pulley on the water pump. Then its real easy.

  • Timing:

    If you turn the wheels that the timing belt goes on you will have to reset the timing. Mark the timing points with something like whiteout so its easy to see. The timing mark on the toothed gears are small dots. The timing make for the crankshaft is a small cut on the outer pulley. When its aligned with the intermediate wheel timing mark (there is an arrow on the cover as a hint) should intersect as viewed from the right wheel well. The camshaft timing mark should line up with the top of the engine near the front.

  • Power steering pump:

    It is held on with lots of bolts. One is in a channel thet is hard to see but can be found with a 6" extension. If you look at the pump you will see three bolts that go into the housing. This should give you an idea where the forth is.

    If you have any questions about these, Email me at thogard@abnormal.com

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