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That's exactly what Amanda did when she wrote to us about the trouble she's having with a timing belt kit on her Opel Astra.
I drive a 03 Opel Astra. Bought the car a few years ago, never an ounce of trouble. I dropped it into my mechanic over 2 weeks ago to get a routine service and a timing belt kit fitted.
He took nearly a week to do the work.
Said that the threads on the crankshaft were damaged from before and that he had an awful job getting the bolt out of the bottom pulley that the fan belt sits on but got a tool to get it out.
He fitted a timing belt kit and put a stud lock on a ‘new bolt’ and said the job was 100%. I paid him well for that job plus I bought the kit myself. I asked would it be alright and he said it would be grand.
Next day after I got home from college an awful banging was coming from that same area so I left the car off and he towed it down to the garage. He said that the stud lock didn't work and the bolt had come loose which wore the metal washer away causing the pulley to bang. He said he’d fix it. Got the car back yesterday afternoon plus another bill!! He said he put another stud lock on plus spot-welded the bolt. He also replaced the pulley with a 2nd hand one. I didn't hand over the money at the time. I noticed that there was a clicking noise and the pulley was slightly swaying when I got home from him (Only 10mins from his house).
Fan Belt Sitting on the Floor
Went to a soccer match yesterday evening and on the way home an awful noise came out of the car like something was dragging on the road. The whole car switched off, the battery light in the dash came on and I pulled in straight away. Looked under the bonnet, the pulley was no longer there and the fan belt was sitting on the floor of the car.
I got in contact with the mechanic and told him I wanted to leave the car there until today but he was extremely anxious to get it towed to his garage. I called out to the house today to pick up a spare car. I told him I wasn't paying him again for a job I had already paid him for in the first place. He said it wasn't his fault.. He wanted to sell me the spare car, which isn't too decent for 200 and he’d fix my car for free. I declined. So the car is in his garage at the mo.
Previously Healthy Car
Can you tell me how a previously healthy car that never had any problems at all has tuned into this? The pulley, belt, everything is mangled.. Surely he is in the wrong as I paid him initially to fit a timing belt kit plus service and now this has hapened, twice.. What do you think of the situation or what could I do or who could I talk to? Sorry for the long message but I'm trying to gain as much advice as possible.
Thanks a mill for taking the time to read this - Amanda
What a horrible story. I discussed this one with an experienced mechanic and he has seen this happen before on this car. It's highly unlikely that your mechanic caused the problem in the first place, as it would have been done on refitting on a previous occasion.
However, it's a pity he didn't communicate the issue with you earlier and warn you of the consequences of him trying to fix it. It would be a very difficult job and in hindsight should have been done by an experienced machinist.
There are not many options now unfortunately. It might be possible to drill and tap the crankshaft nose further, though I suspect not. Assuming so this could mean fitting a new or second-hand crankshaft. Realistically, it's probably as economical to change the engine and then you need to weigh up the cost versus changing the car.
Before you decide all that, give your local Opel dealer a call and try to get to talk to the service manager. Explain your situation and you never know, they may have a better solution.
I'm really sorry to be the bearer of such bad news.
Shane O'Donoghue - Completecar.ie