The engine of your car has many components that work together to make the car run. Most cars today have a four-stroke combustion process: the intake stroke, compression stroke, power stroke, and exhaust stroke. During those four strokes, the engine’s camshaft rotates once and the crankshaft rotates twice. This process is carefully timed to control the opening of the valves in conjunction with the pistons. Coordinating and holding the camshaft and crankshaft in place are the aptly named timing belt, made of rubber, or timing chain, similar to a bike chain. The timing belt or chain runs through various pulleys, or tensioners, that keep the proper tension on the belt at all times.
The tensioner uses either spring tension or hydraulic pressure to maintain tension on your engine’s timing belt. Your Audi likely uses hydraulic pressure, which requires high pressure hydraulic oil to keep it running. If this oil leaks out of the tensioner and is not addressed, not only will your engine face accelerated wear, but your timing belts will fail which could result in catastrophic engine damage. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to the potential warning signs of a tensioner leak in your vehicle.
Oil leaking from a car engine is not an uncommon sight. It’s required in many areas of your car’s engine. How can you tell if this oil is coming from the camshaft tensioner? There will be additional performance issues that indicate a problem with the tensioner or the components it supports, the timing belt and chain:
If you hear a loud grinding or ticking noise when you start your engine it could mean the timing belt is loose or malfunctioning. The grinding noise could also originate from a worn out tensioner pulley itself which would lead to timing belt wear.
A leaking tensioner could lead to irregular wear on the timing belt, causing fraying on the edges or even causing it to break.
There are many accessories in your car’s engine that are controlled by a belt system. If you notice them start to break it could be due to a leak in the tensioner causing your timing belt to break. You could run into problems such as your engine overheating, a broken A/C system, or a dead battery.
If your engine starts to act up when your engine reaches between 2000-4000 RPM it could be due to a loose or worn belt that may be slipping during acceleration.
Smoke or heavy fumes coming from the exhaust could be a sign that your timing belt is worn and overdue for a replacement.
If the starter on your car works but the engine won’t turn over it could mean that the timing belt or timing chain has snapped. This is particularly dangerous because pieces from the timing chain can get lodged into other areas of the engine doing serious damage leading to complete failure to run.
Repair of this part typically includes replacement of the tensioner as well as the entire timing chain set including all of the chains, the gear set, and the guides. If your engine has various components that rely on the timing chain set, such as the water pump, those may also be replaced. A high quality, synthetic oil may help extend the life of your timing chain and tensioner. However, the best way to ensure top performance of your vehicle is to talk to an expert.
Camshaft tensioner leaks have been an issue in some Audi models causing the intake and exhaust valves to contact the piston while the engine is running and leading to significant damage to the engine and costly repairs to the driver. A certified Audi repair shop would be aware of this issue and make sure to provide the service to your vehicle before it becomes a serious repair. Not only does that save you money, but it provides peace of mind that your vehicle is safe and won’t leave you stranded.
The German auto repair specialists at St. Matthew’s Import can help you by providing you with the brand specific knowledge needed to keep your Audi running smoothly and working with you to create a maintenance schedule that prevents any unexpected engine failure and keeps your Audi performing at its best. St Matthew’s Import located in Louisville, KY is here for all your service needs, whether you need standard maintenance or more intensive repairs.
* Blue Audi TT image credit goes to: johannes86.