I went to a dealer shop because the engine has been shaking badly for several months. I don't know much about a car so I wonder if they diagnosed it honestly or not.

This note is what I got from the engineer:

  • ECM stores misfire faults
  • There are intake air system leak faults
  • Can watch timing value blocks and the timing is jumping all over the place
  • Upper timing chain is stretched
  • Vacuum pump is leaking heavily, it will have to come off to do timing chains, so this is a good time to replace it
  • Water pump is also leaking

They quoted me prices for the work they are recommending:

  • Replace timing chain ($2000)
  • Replace catalyst ($1700).

I cannot afford it but are the timing chain and catalyst the reason to make engine shaking? How to minimize the cost to fix the engine shaking problem?

  • 2
    For what it's worth, always good to get a second opinion from a different reputable mechanic if you aren't sure about an initial diagnosis
    – Dalton D
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:26
  • Is this the 2.5?
    – dlu
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 18:10
  • Yes, it is 2005 NEW JETTA SEDAN 2.5 PZEV AUTO
    – ben Heo
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


Have you pulled codes from the ECM? Apparently the codes p1340/17748 are associated with timing chain problems. That might help you verify the diagnosis.

Timing chain failures are rarer than belt failures, but they are just as catastrophic. A timing chain failure can cause enough damage to effectively total the car. You definitely want to attend to this, and it is logical to replace the water and vacuum pumps while you are there.

The engine shaking is due to something being out of balance, it seems possible that the timing could be far enough off to unbalance the power production and cause the shaking.

If you are inclined to learn about cars, and have the time to do some work on your car, you might consider doing the chain yourself. It's not a trivial project, according to this post, DIY: 2.5l Timing Chain Replacement, from VW Vortex the VW estimating manual suggests about 14 hours for the task and the timing chain parts (in 2011) ran to about $400 and specialized tools costing $200 were also needed. The author of the post said it took him about a week and half to do the work. From that perspective the estimate from VW doesn't sound too bad. Keep in mind that projects like this (either at a mechanic's workshop or DIY) tend to grow. There will be accessories and seals that make sense to change and you may find that you want to do work on the clutch or renew engine mounts… Be sure to get a good picture of the scope of work that anyone bidding on the project is including in their estimate and also ask about what other items might make sense to replace or inspect at the same time.

Some likely candidates would be:

  • Oil seals
  • Serpentine belt and tensioners/tensioners
  • The water pump
  • The clutch if you have a manual

There will also be some fluids (oil, antifreeze).

The catalyst is a whole other question, I don't see it as being related to the shaking problem. An option with the catalyst might be to "delete" it depending on local regulations and how the ECM works.

  • You're more than welcome!
    – dlu
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 18:54

One of the best ways that you can reduce the cost of maintenance is to get somebody else to pay for it…

So, take a bit of time to look for recalls or extended warranties that relate to your problem. These are often not well advertised, so spend a bit of time with the Google and see what you can learn. It does appear that there may be a recall related to your car – MK5 2.5 Timing Chain Recall / Class action Suit?.

For whatever it might be worth, I have a VW Jetta Wagon with rust perforation. VW's warranty covers rust damage for, about, 12 years. When I took the car in to have it evaluated for repair I had to explain the warranty to the dealer…

In my experience, good mechanics, especially independent ones, are often on top of the warranty and recall situation of the cars that they work on. So if you find one who talks to you about warranty/recall issues (and thus probably gives away some work) consider it a good sign.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .