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you & your car

2012 Volkswagen Jetta.Photographer: Andreas Lindlahr

I have a Jetta with 185,000 kilometres on it and am told it is time to replace the timing belt. My mechanic says I should also replace the water pump at the same time. And he says the total bill will be about $1,000-$1,200. Would you agree? – Ronnie

It is definitely time to replace the timing belt before it goes and you are facing an immense bill for a rebuilt or replacement engine.

The water pump has been a busy little apparatus for that length of time as well. If it should start to fail after replacing the timing belt, your mechanic will have to remove the new timing belt to get at the pump. Therefore, it makes sense to do the two together.

The problem with timing belt replacement is the labour involved in removing many components and, sometimes the engine itself, to get at the belt. In the old days, mechanics could literally stand inside the engine compartment while working on the engine. In today's crowded engine compartments, they are lucky if they can get a hand in there, let alone tools.

You don't say where you are living and what your mechanic/technician charges by the hour but those numbers do sound on the high side. Something more in the order of $600-$900 might be more average. But, if your mechanic is someone you trust, it might just be he or she is allowing a little leeway in case of unseen difficulties and more time and replacement parts than simply gaskets, the pump and belt.

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