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Oh dear

Had you guys missed me? No worries, I never left. I’ve just been posting less. My Golf’s been running a bit shit lately, culminating in this afternoon’s trip home via AAA while coming back from a machine shop. I dug in this evening, first replacing the thermoswitch (three position thermally activated switch in the radiator- mine failed a bit ago and I finally correctly diagnosed it on Sunday. Part took a few days to get in) and tightening up all the grounds, as I had a serious misfire, requiring me to take the aforementioned tow home. Please excuse the rust in the following pictures. This is an old car that’s had a hard life, but I still love it.

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Inspecting timing, I set the timing mark on the cam at the (I think) 6 degree before top dead center mark. See this distributor? Note the angle with respect to the connector. They’re supposed to be a little more than parallel. Notice that mine is about 25 degrees off that mark.

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So, let’s turn the motor by hand until the distributor is roughly where it should be. Yeah, looks about right. But where’s the cam at now?

Illustration for article titled Oh dear

Oh. That’s... not right. A little over three teeth. I didn’t bother looking at where the crank was because by that point it had gotten too dark for that sort of shenanigan and besides, there’s a factory plug that’s kinda hard to turn blocking inspection of the crank marker.

But what caused cam and distributor to fall so far out of sync?

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Oh. That’s a lot of oil. Oh dear.

My guess: the camshaft oil seal did me wrong and chose not to do its job. The belt looks fine to me, and the PO claimed the timing had been done about 5k before I had bought the car a little over two years ago, so that’s approximately 20k miles. I really don’t drive that much. However, he also said the miles were correct on the odometer, but a fellow Oppo ran the VIN a while back and I noted that the miles had decreased on records twice. Being old and above 100k miles, the title was marked “Exempt” so whatever. By my calculations, the miles are at least 46.5k less than indicated. Now reading ~126, that puts us at about 172.5k, which is riiiiiiiight about when I’d expect a cam seal to fail. Whatever.

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Really need to get one of my other cars set up to be a daily, as this one’s not doing too hot. Random shit keeps breaking at the worst times, and all in I’ve probably spent upwards of 7k on consumables, broken “non-consumables”, and service when I found myself in over my head, all in two years for a $1400 car.

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