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Cambelt Ripoff?

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    Cambelt Ripoff?

    Can anyone please advise me as to whether I might have been ripped off?

    I was recently due an MOT for my C15 Hylo (1993) and as it had not had a cambelt change for 7 years, which is the max time advised on this site, wanted this doing before the MOT as it is a diesel engine.
    My usual (trustworthy) garage didn't have time to do this before the test so I yellow-paged it with another.
    This garage were supposed to change the belt, water pump and coolant.

    When I collected the van after the work I noticed the trim on the end of the bonnet had been disturbed and pointed this out to the technician who had apparently done the work, but he said it couldnt have been him who disturbed it as he had done all the work from underneath the van.

    The trim was easily fixed but it took 2 days for the penny to drop- if he hadnt been near the bonnet then how could he have changed the coolant? And if he didnt change the coolant, did he change the water pump? And if not the water pump, the cambelt too?
    These were the questions that occurred to me.

    Of course he could have been lying about not having been near the bonnet, but my usual garage has just serviced the van and confirm that the coolant has not been changed.

    What I would like to know therefore, in order to work out the probability I have been ripped off, is the following:
    Can the cambelt on this model be changed without removing the water pump?
    Can the water pump be removed without replacing the coolant?
    If a technician were to examine the cambelt and water pump could it be established whether these have been recently replaced (I have driven 200 miles since the apparent replacement)?
    Does anyone know if any organisations like the RAC might do techncial reports on vehicles in such circumstances if one wanted to take legal action?

    I am non technically minded so any advice on this would be appreciated.

    I think unless I can feel confiden tthat at least the cambelt has been replaced I will have to ask my usual garage to redo so any advice on how to establish this would be appreciated.



    Having changed the cambelt on a number of vehicles including a C15 you cannot do the job just working from underneath. Taking the top cambelt cover off would allow inspection of the belt and it should be obvious if it is a new belt



      Hi Blipper,
      To change the cambelt on your C15 the top engine mount on the drivers side must be removed, check the nuts for any socket marks. The large nut on the end of the crankshaft will have socket marks.

      The bonnet must be opened to get access to the top engine mount.

      The water pump does not need to come off to change the cambelt

      It can be established by a technician if the cambelt has been changed by examining the belt by removing the top black plastic cover on the drivers side of the engine.

      It is well known that garages play on the fear of a broken cambelt and it's expenses incured so they just clean that side of the engine and charge you for it but don't change, it's the recession, lees work same money!

      My campervan had receipts for a new cambelt from the previous owner but when I changed the belt the few weeks ago the original Ford one was still there and it was very badly worn.

      If you live near Bristol then contact Ant at Avon Motor caravans, he's also on this forum in the "ask ant" section
      Last edited by RRH; 14-07-2012, 10:53.


        I don't trust garages. Wherever possible, I mark any parts to be replaced and always ask for any parts removed to be retained.

        Re coolant, I always take a sample and keep it at home in the freezer. Before my last coolant change in the Kangoo van, I took a fresh sample and was glad I did because I was charged for a coolant change which wasn't done. I complained to the manager about this, and other tacky work such as leaving the new (and incorrect) air filter loose under the bonnet. He assured me he would re-do the work himself. He did - it was worse. He only replaced the coolant from the expansion tank and didn't flush through the system. Then he forgot to replace a hose clip which I didn't notice until joining the M4 in rush hour on a return trip from London. The coolant had seeped out by this time, the engine overheated and I spent much of the night sight-seeing on the hard shoulder, topping up small quantities of water from a jerrican with the hose temporarily wedged into place.

        If you have any doubts that work has been completed, retain any invoices and ask another garage to check. If it's clear it hasn't been done then I would write to the original garage and would expect a refund for any work not completed. If this isn't offered then - off to Trading Standards.


          Thank you for all your replies.

          Unfortunately it seems likely the belt was not replaced and I will get it examined.

          Some follow up questions if you would be so good-

          Is there much work involved in removing the cover to inspect the belt, ie how expensive might that be?

          Would the belt/water pump have nos. on them that could be used as evidence they were not changed?

          Would the socket marks left by replacementof the belt be distinctive from any left when last replaced 7 years ago?

          Lastly, can the water pump be changed without changing the coolant- if not they cant have changed the pump?



            The cover on the top is held in place by clips. Undo all of them and pull back the cover with care and you'll see the outside of the belt. It should be dry and uniform inappearence without visible teeth impressions from the other side coming through. If you can see impressions of the teeth coming through then it's the old belt. Check the inside for any cracking by twisting the belt it should have none.

            On the end of the crank there would be socket marks becuase there's usualy oil on it and it would show if its bee undone and to change the belt it must be undone to get access to the inner cambelt drive pully the outer pulley is for the alternater.

            To change the water pump all the covers must come off on the drivers side and the coolant drained from the bottom of the radiator and the cambelt also drives the water pump.

            If you're near the Cheddar meet next week I'll take a look, I'll have my tool box.
            Last edited by RRH; 14-07-2012, 19:30.


              Get your friendly garage who you trust to have a quick look. They will be able to tell the difference between an old and a new belt. It is a few minutes of a job for them and they shouldn't charge.



                Thank you Rio and Peter

                I had explained the situation to my usual garage and they were helpful up to the point of confirming the coolant hadnt been changed. However when they asked me who the garage was they became less helpful as it turned out the boss has some indirect association with the other garage and clearly he seemed to become less keen to help.
                What youre both saying about the relative ease of examining the cambelt confirms this as he gave me the impression there'd be a lot of work involved in just checking it.

                Rio I wont be going to the Cheddar meet. Actually what I think Ill do at this stage is go back to the original garage and confront him with the evidence so far that he hasnt changed the pump/coolant and probably not the cambelt; invite him to give me my money back, the alternative being that if he doesnt Ill get a full technical report that will at least show the pump/coolant wasnt changed and go down the legal route which will cost him more plus get him bad publicity.
                Or I might get a Citroen garage to check first.

                Ill keep you posted and in the meantime thank you again for being so helpful.



                  If there's any chance of following the legal route re this, you'll need to follow the required protocol.

                  I would ask your Citroen garage to take a look and confirm whether the invoiced work has been completed or not in order to obtain the facts. If it's not been changed then I would forward a letter headed 'Letter Before Action' (you'll need to do this anyway if you're following a legal process) outlining your confirmed findings and see how they respond. They should at least voluntarily refund the cost of the work invoiced yet not performed.

                  If they don't, then you can take it further. Be warned though, it's a lengthy process and you'll need to document absolutely everything.


                    Karen thank you for your advice.

                    I havent got time to do things quite how suggest as Im going away in the van for my annual summer jaunt in about 2 weeks so need to get the cambelt changed before, so wouldnt have time to get it examined then write and ask for a response before fixing. So I think Ill visit informally and ask for my money back based on the evidence so far; if I dont recive this Ill write the formal letter you suggest (including the evidence that a garage has confirmed at the least that the water pump hasnt been changed) and asking to be repaid before I get the van examined/fixed at a Citroen garage- or else I will take both civil action and also report to trading standards if the exam confirms the pump/belt not replaced.
                    Will let you know.

                    Incidentally I noticed you based in Wye valley. Used to go to that area each year for several years til 3 years ago. Was often parked overnight in the car park next to The Boat in Redbrook/Pennallt on Thursdays- I expect you know the pub, the one with the car park in England and the pub in Wales?
                    Bit cheaper booze than London.


                      If you're taking legal action then you will need to follow the pre-action protocol.

                      However, if the garage still insists the work was completed then you'll need to have the non-work examined by a professional and request a written report if the charged-for work was not undertaken. Probably the garage you're going to would do this for you. Without this evidence, you can't really take a case to court because there would be no proof. There is time to do this before your holiday though.

                      These legal cases can be time-consuming. I'm in court myself next week with a case against Samsung which has been ongoing since last August.

                      I know the Redbrook car park well. It's one I've camped in myself during my Wye Valley 'staycations'!


                        quite frightening reading all these posts - I had similar problem re work being done with my car in Inverness (my nearest dealer 130 miles away) - They charged me an arm and a leg for work which my local expert later told me couldn't have been carried out (and he was able to prove that with photos and a long technical report - eventually the dealers gave way and "re-did" the work as well as collecting and returning my car - 260 mile round trip each time - though they never actually admitted to not doing it in the first place)

                        Makes me really appreciate the honesty of my local garage (kenny's of Dunvegan - in case any of you have problems on holiday up here) and the local very knowledgeable person who did lots of work on my C15 when I bought it.

                        One of the advantages in living in a rural community is that the few garages/mechanics know each other and are known by every one in the area - so they couldn't get away with anything even if they tried.


                          An unexpected happy ending.

                          I went back to the original garage and rather than get heavy presented the boss with the evidence including what has been said on this forum and asked him for his response.
                          The first thing he did was remove the black cover to expose the cambelt and invited me to examine for myself. Even to an untrained eye as mine I could see it was in pristine condition- completely clean, dry, no teeth marks. The writing on the belt was not worn.
                          He said his mechanic had lied to me about not opening the bonnet (in order to avoid responsibility for any damage to the bonnet) but that as his mechanic had said this and the mechanic at my usual garage had said the coolant was old he understood why I suspected I had been ripped off. However, he disagreed that you can necessarily tell the age of coolant as flushing does not necessarily get rid of all of the debris.
                          He offered to strip the engine down so that I could see the belt and pump more fully and also offered to flush the coolant again so I could be sure it had been done.
                          This was done and took about an hour. This enabled me to see all the belt, the pristine water pump and tensioners. There was no cracking on the inside of the belt. I also noted the socket marks on the crank.
                          Finally he went through his paperwork to show me the invoice for the C15 cambelt kit.

                          So I would like to thank you all for your help and advice on what to look for in establishing whether the belt etc had been changed. It is a big relief for me not to have to take this matter any further.
                          Karen, I hope you got a result with Samsung!

                          Thank you again!



                            Excellent news and I'm both pleased and relieved for you.

                            My Hearing is tomorrow and, although there's only a single tiny flaw in my case, I am not looking forward to it and will be glad when it's over. I'm relieved for you that you don't need to go through this process.


                              Glad you've got peace of mind that the work has been done that you paid for.
                              There is nothing worse than to have a doubt in the back of your mind.
                              Enjoy your camping.


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