I had my 2002 TT (only 34k miles) at a dealer due to an unrelated problem last week. Because of the service bulletin that came out last month, they inspected the timing belt for free. They said that it didn't need the published fix, but had some dry rot and should be replaced.
This week I took it to my regular mechanic, who said 1) he couldn't see anything wrong with the belt, and 2) he didn't see any evidence that the disassembly required to inspect the belt had ever been done!
Having never taken apart this engine, I'm curious to get the opinion of some experts. Are there two ways to get to the timing belt? Can you tell if someone has looked at it before? Either the dealer or my regular mechanic seems totally confused here.
I'm sure the dealer would love to replace the timing belt. Does it need it? I say yes. Your mileage isn't high enough to warrant replacement, but the age of the belt is. If you had a toyota or an older vdub that didn't hit valves, I wouldn't worry about it. Yours will bend valves, so I'd think about replacing it.
I used to always run into the issues where it didn't look like something was apart before. I've run into instances where I know something was removed/replaced a short time before I was working on the car(something I personally had apart or the guys I work with) and its surprising how fast a car gets dirty or how little a trace of a repair may show up days later.