While it might vaguely resemble a grenade, the incident-provoking bit was just an important Audi part.
Late last month, officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department responded to a report of a possible explosive device at an apartment complex just south of the downtown core. In a move done out of what the department called “an abundance of caution,” portions of the building were evacuated while members of the SLCP’s Hazardous Devices Unit came to inspect the offending piece of equipment. Fortunately, residents ultimately had nothing to be afraid of — because the “explosive device” was just an Audi timing belt tensioner.
For what it’s worth, while the offending mechanical bit only measures around four or five inches long, the cylindrical shape and pin at the top do make it vaguely resemble a grenade. So while savvy gearheads might have immediately recognized the piece for what it was, it’s somewhat reasonable to understand how — an obviously paranoid — person could mistake it for malicious, especially given the waves of violence that have shaken communities across the country. In the SLCPD’s press release, it doesn’t sound like any charges will be filed in relation to the incident, and the owner of the part hasn’t been identified.
In an interesting twist, on Reddit an Audi enthusiast grifrowl noted that while the timing belt tensioner of interest will get the job done, it’s not an OEM part. And given that most Audi engines are interference engines — meaning if the timing belt goes, the valves will collide with the pistons — the potential for this little unit to cause massive damage is quite real indeed. Which is exactly what made grifrowl’s headline, “Well it’s not OEM so I guess that headline is accurate,” so funny. That said, here’s hoping that the shadetree mechanic gets their part back, and that this incident was the most stress-inducing part of a stressful operation!
Photos: Salt Lake City Police Department