A VW in its natural habitat.

Assuming you can read headlines and look at pictures, you’ve probably gotten the gist of what happened to my grandfather’s 2007 Volkswagen Touareg yesterday. Yep. It left myself, my grandfather, my mom and my aunt stranded in the middle of nowhere in Central Europe for over an hour yesterday.

I’ll admit this: I was actually asleep in the back seat when we started having problems. My mom woke me up when we were on the side of the road and said something was wrong with the car. I thought I heard my grandfather say something about overheating, so I thought maybe it was leaking coolant or something. Nope. Apparently I had misheard because what actually happened is this:

This Touareg is actually awesome because it’s the diesel V6 with a manual transmission. Yes, you read that right, it’s a stick shift diesel SUV.

That is the look of 3.0L TDI V6 with a broken serpentine belt. What’s even more interesting is how it broke; notice I haven’t said that it snapped. About 1/4 of the width of the belt broke off completely and then the whole thing was toast.

Coincidentally, this happened when the car had exactly 111,111 kilometers (about 69,000 miles) on it. However, this is actually the car’s second serpentine belt, since the first one was replaced after a recall for the exact same issue that caused this one to fail. I should also add that the car recently had a full service done and no problems were reported.

One thing that my aunt pointed out is that the timing of the failure was actually pretty good. We were driving on steep mountain roads at the time, but the belt broke just as we got onto a flat section and we were right by a place to pull over. The car also lost steering a brakes as well when the engine stopped. If we had either been on the highway or on a steep mountain road, who knows what could’ve happened.

Not an awful place to break down actually.

My grandfather called up his dealer and had them send a tow truck with a loaner car so we could finish our trip. Meanwhile, we sat inside the car listening to the radio while cows mooed (very loudly) in the background. Luckily I had a sweatshirt. Finally the tow truck arrived about an hour after we broke down. My inner 4 year old was excited to see the broken down Touareg winched onto the truck.

The tow truck and Fabia.

On the bright side, our loaner was a nice little Škoda Fabia, which I quite liked. It was a tight squeeze (the shortest of the 4 of us was 5'11"), but the car was very refined and handled well for a cheap, small hatchback. If this is what compact cars are like nowadays, count me in.

As of this writing, the car is at the dealer and we still have the Škoda. Apparently when the belt came loose it did other damage in the engine compartment (but we don’t know how serious it is. However, we’re hoping to have the big Touareg back within the next day or so, with a new, not broken serpentine belt.


EDIT: well I’m an idiot and for some reason confused the serpentine and timing belts. Either way, I believe it was the same belt that broke that had been replaced (I’m not sure how long ago though). Fixed the error.

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