I have a "2012 PASSAT SEL PREMIUM 2.5L Auto" with about 92k miles on it.

Around 60k, I have asked my local car mechanic to do the Timing Belt, and he informed me that according to the search he ran by the VIN number the 2012 VW Passat has a timing chain - not a belt.

In addition, he said that timing chains are "for-life" and require no maintenance.

Question #1: Does all 2012 VW Passats have timing chains?

Question #2: Does timing-chains require maintenance? If yes, what kind?

  • Well, which engine?
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 5, 2018 at 17:07
  • @SolarMike "2012 PASSAT SEL PREMIUM 2.5L Auto" is the specific enough? I have updated the question with that. Nov 5, 2018 at 17:21
  • Should be, most useful to provide that info initially...
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 5, 2018 at 17:23
  • Good point. I will keep that in mind next time. Thanks Nov 5, 2018 at 17:24
  • 1
    Timing chains, as stated, are supposed to be for life ... However, you may want to take a gander on the interwebs to see if your Passat has any issues with them breaking (or skipping) due to excess wear. When I get home from work this afternoon, I'll take a look as well and see what I can find for your specific engine. The chain is a mechanical piece within the engine. It will only last for so long. There has to be a general limit for them and what can be expected, though each application is going to be different. Nov 5, 2018 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


If your mechanic says 'Timing chains are for life and require no maintenance' then please find a new mechanic.

There are loads of examples of timing chains that are designed for life but suffer from early failure of some sort whether its stretching, snapping, a tensioner or guide failing or anything else.

Examples include:

BMW N47 2.0D - Probably the most well known, simple bad design mean they snap with no warning as low as 60k.

Ford 2.2, 2.4 TDCI - They stretch, sometimes you get warning with a rattle noise, sometimes not and the chain jumps causing massive engine damage.

Mitsubishi 3.2Di-DC 4M41 - The top chain guide breaks causing a loose chain and in some cases the chain jumps.

The list goes on including VW examples that I will search for the engine codes and update my answer.

As for preventative maintenance then yes this can prevent a failure, depending any known issues then it could be as simple as taking the rocker cover off and replacing as in the above Mitsubishi case or in the BMW the engine has to be removed, sump taken off and the chain can then be replaced. In many cases there will be a upgraded kit available in the aftermarket or the manufacturer will have superseded stronger parts.

Question 1: No not all many engines especially diesels have belts.

Question 2: Yes. If the manufacture says it the chain is for life don't take a bit of notice, do your research, look through online forums, speak to mechanics and look at repair info sources such as Autodata for known faults and bulletins. You may find that the majority of people have hundreds of thousands of miles with no issues or that the chain seems to be failing very soon. Depending on what you find it may be as simple as changing a guide or changing the chain itself which can be as simple as removing a timing cover and setting the timing or may involve removing as dismantling most of the engine.

  • I had an '85 Toyota Celica with a 22R engine, a friend who was a mechanic in a previous life heard the engine idling and told me the chain was slapping against the cover. I took it apart and sure enough the chain had almost worn through the cover right where the cooling water inlet was, would have been a disaster. Replaced the chain, sprockets, tensioner and plastic guides. (yes, I said plastic)
    – Gary Bak
    Nov 6, 2018 at 20:04

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