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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I hope somebody here will be able to give me some pointers as I am loosing my hair with this one.

I have a 1998 Golf 4 with the 1.6sr 8v engine (the infamous AKL). Since I bought it about 5 years ago I have steadily been working on the car diagnosing and replacing several things. The car is now about 320.000km. Other than slight misfires at idle, the car was running pretty well. A couple of weeks ago I decided to do the timing chain on it and since then it has been a downhill ride. When doing the timing I replaced a few other bits, such as water-pump, coolant and thermostat and the alternator belt. The timing chain itself was replaced together with the tensioner and I must say that when I checked the timing marks it did not exactly align. I also wanted to replace the crankshaft front-seal as a precaution, since I was going to be doing the timing I figured it was worth doing. Once I pulled the crankshaft sprocket I found that the index on the inside had been sheared and the actual sprocket had rotated some 20° or so, but it was pretty solidly held in place with the bolt. I thought at this point I had found the problem with the slightly irregular idle and slight lack of "power". I promptly changed it with a new unit (the index had not been damaged on the actual crankshaft) and fitted all the new bits. I immediately started getting puzzled because I could not getting the timing marks to align exactly. It always seems that I am about 1/2 tooth out on the top camshaft sprocket (either advanced or retarded). If I retard it the car runs "lazy" - for lack of a better word - and consumption is poor. No error codes are logged. If I advance it, car seems to run immediately better, consumption improves but I get the camshaft implausible error and of course I start getting misfires after 4000rpm and it is virtually impossible to push the engine above 5200 - 5400rpm. Retard it again and it goes back to being lazy. This laziness was present before when I got the car and was solved when I replaced the camshaft position sensor. I even thought (cos a tiny bit of the plastic on the sensor was broken) that I had damaged the sensor when I replaced the timing chain and have changed it again but to no avail. I have checked and changed the timing some 10 times so far and always end up with the same issues.
On a side-note, the crankshaft position sensor is also very recent and I am sure it is working well, so the implausibility code which the ECU throws out when it compares the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors signals seems "plausible". The problem is that no matter what I do, I cannot get the timing marks to align correctly... I have though that the head has been skimmed, but cannot imagine such an amount of skimming that would make such a difference (1/2 tooth). Having said that when I did a compression test (very recently), I have found all cylinders reading above 14 bar which does sound quite high for this engine (and the variation between cylinders was no more than 0.2bar and all were getting there pretty much in the same short amount of time).
Has anyone ever had/heard of such a problem before? Could I truly be looking at an over-skimmed cylinder head?

P.S.- I have also checked the teeth "design" of the water pump and on the new timing belt and all seems to match up with the existing gears...
 

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Are you sure it's the right belt/chain and sprocket/gear? You never know I've seen wrong parts in the wrong box a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
To be honest they are not original VW parts. Anyway, everywhere I have looked for this engine (AKL), I see that the specification for the number of teeth in the timing belt is 138. I have also compared the design of the teeth (square edge or rounded edge teeth) and everything seems to match between the originals bottom and upper sprockets and the non-originals water-pump and timing-belt (by the way, the timing belt is from Continental which is a reputable company, so I don't really expect such a major issue from them). Nonetheless, I have to double check the actual number of teeth on the belt I got. It maybe be that there is a mix up in the kit... Thanks for the tip!
 
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