Sometimes little oopsies happen. If you’ve neglected the timing belt, on your Volkswagen diesel and all a sudden the engine dies, and you’re coasting to a stop, chances are good that you’ve had Piston to Valve contact (P2V contact). But your car isn’t dead! Many times you can have the head rebuilt and fix the car for a reasonable cost.

I hate it when this happens!  Sometimes bad things happen to good cars. The owner should have come seen me for a timing belt. This was a dealer maintained car with 200,000 miles. The dealer had put 2 timing belts on already. One at 60,000 and another at 120,000. I guess they should have put one on at 180,000. Volkswagen TDIs can actually go with a 100,000 mile belt if you buy the 100,000 timing belt kit.


Owner had already pulled the cover when I got the car, so we knew it was P2V contact.


I pulled the valve cover and there under the cam you can see the valve pushing up through the lifter.


EGR was a mess.


Intake was a little clogged also. If they would have come seen me for a timing belt, I would usually suggest cleaning this at the same time.


Easiest way to pull the head is with the intake and turbo still bolted on. It’s heavy though, so have a buddy or a cherry picker.


From this angle you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with the head.


But here you can see the bend in the valve. If someone would have put a timing belt on without doing the head, then this valve would have broken off and made mincemeat of the head and pistons.


After you remove the cam you can see spider cracks in the lifters indicating the valve pushed up through the lifter. The lifter on the right was jammed or held upwards and the cam spun into it making the line mark.


I saw the documentation from the 120,000 mile timing belt job and they did put a water pump on it. But it was a plastic impeller. Notice how flat the O-ring is. Even in this picture you can see the o-ring doesn’t protrude up above its groove. This is probably just due to the mileage.


And here is the cause of the failure. The antifreeze had leaked on the belt and caused it to break. The leak was from the flat water pump o-ring, not the weep hole.


It’s a shame a 50 cent o-ring caused the P2V contact and caused a 2000 dollar problem.


Piston contact was very minimal. A repair after P2V contact requires measuring the piston projection and comparing between cylinders to determine if the rods are bent. This car had piston projection all within 4 thousandths of each other and minimal damage to the piston faces. This car went together without a hitch.