Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Hi,

I am looking at potentially buying an Audi or VAG TSI car for around £3500-5000 I have read all of these have timing chain issues. I’m mainly looking at the 1.4 TSI or 1.8 TSI. Potentially the 2.0 TSI, although I’d prefer the lower tax and better fuel economy of the smaller engines.

I do about 700 miles a month.


Does anybody know which engines are affected or have a list?

I’ve searched Google but can’t seem to find a list. I’d prefer a belt engine given the issues with the chains.

Edited by Dazl1212 on 02/08/2017 at 16:11

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

I am looking at potentially buying an Audi or VAG TSI car for around £3500-5000 I have read all of these have timing chain issues.

Not all engines have timing chain issues. Some do but they are in the minority. The Mk 1 human hear will tell you if something is wrong.

From approx early 2103 the 1.2 and 1.4 TSi's in Golf's, Leons, Octavias and A3'shave a belt but you will be lucky to get one for your budget unless it has done a huge mileage.

Simple, buy the best car you can find with one owner, the lowest mileage and a full VAG history. Then look after it.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Thanks for the reply, so its the same as any other car whereby the only stuff you generally hear about are complains as most people dont take to forums when they have a reliable car?

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

Thanks for the reply, so its the same as any other car whereby the only stuff you generally hear about are complains as most people dont take to forums when they have a reliable car?

Correct

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - badbusdriver

Most people would, and should, prefer a car with a timing chain. No belt which can snap!. With a car which has a timing chain it is important that the service schedules have been followed rigorously, especially regarding oil changes, so make sure any potential buy has evidence to back this up.

Had a quick look on autotrader at potential candidates within your budget with up to 60k miles. Youngest was a 2011 skoda octavia 1.4tsi se with 53k. Leons seem to be next, with cars around 2010 cropping up, followed by VW's at around 2009. Most of the cars which cropped up were 1.4, but i did see a couple of 1.8tsi passat CC's if that floats your boat.

One other thing worth pointing out, i'd have thought if there was known timing chain issues with these engines, your searches would have supported this claim. Also, whoever told you this may have been specifically referring to the 'twin charger' vag engines. These had both a turbo and a supercharger, and have a poor reputation for reliability. I dont know if it was specifically regarding timing chains though.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

There is a lot online about the 1.4 TSI engines suffering camchain failure due to the Timing Chain Tensioner. I was looking to see if any particular engine codes didnt have this issue or had belts instead. Apparantly you can change the tensioner to a stronger one to protect you from it happening.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - John F

Most people would, and should, prefer a car with a timing chain. No belt which can snap!.

Not necessarily. Modern 'aramid' belts only break when something they drive breaks. Chains are more susceptible to manufacturing problems, more prone to wear 'stretching' and are very particular about the oil quality. I asked on a different thread whether anyone could remember a belt break. The only repliers that could mentioned cars of the last century (and one or two more recent notorious French cars). Forums are rife with chain problems.

I often respond here to extol a reliable car - our Mk1 1.6Zetec Focus, better than the equivalent Golf, belt still fine at 17yrs and 124,000m.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Big John

Re the 1.4 tsi (just turbo - avoid twincharger) -there are a few around with mis-manufatured chains and as you know a few issues with the tensioner. However the vast majority have had no issues.

Basically the newer the better (post 2011/2 had revisions) and a good service history is a must. Look for evidence of oil burning as well.

The EA111 is the engine with the cam chain (oil filter up hight front left of the engine, turbo at front)

The EA211 is the totally different later engine (oil filter low level and turbo on the bulkhead side of the engine) - probably out of your price range. this was introduced at different ages for different cars but started appearing in 2013

The potential timing chain issues are well documented of the EA111 but the majority are OK and newer ones (post 2011/12) are sorted (I have a CAXC in a 2014 Skoda Superb). Service history/oil changes cruitial and never allow the engine to turn backwards (even parked in gear!) as if the tensioner isn't 100% it will release.

They drive very well indeed and are suprisingly ecomonical (my average 45.9mpg)

Many dont have a DMF, they don't have an EGR valve (function done using variable valve timing) , they have an external clutch slave cylinder (not the unreliable concentric version) and they have a water pump fed by an auxiallary belt (not timing chain/belt)

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - pinkpanther_75

I've owned a few of these - several 1.2 TSi's (105 bhp) and 2 1.8 TSi (160 bhp)

The early iteration of the 1.2 TSi can suffer with poor quality timing chains, which become noisey, prior to failure. I had this engine in a 2009 Yeti and it was rattling by 1 year/10k miles. My neighbour also had his chain replaced (under warranty) on a 2 year old 2011 Fabia. I understand these issues became relatively rare after 2013/2014. Certainly the 2 2014 cars I owned with this engine exhibited no issues over 30k miles. This engine then moved to a timing belt, before it was discontinued with the advent of the 3 cylinder 1.0 TSi.

The 1.8 (and 2.0) TSi engines are known to suffer both excessive oil consumption and timing chain tensioner failure (often at start-up). There is a considerable thread relating to this specific issue on a Skoda related website. Try googling: 1.8TSI and 2.0TSI engine failures

I've had 2 1.8 TSi engined cars and both were quick, relatively economical (averaged mid 30's) and reliable in the time I owned them. A close work colleague did suffer a seized 1.8 TSi at 4 years old, following a year of high oil consumption, which the local main dealer were at a loss to explain.

As previously stated the twin charger engine is best avoided, given both its complexity and propensity for excessive oil consumption (VAG state 1 litre per 600 miles is acceptable!!).

Good luck sourcing a suitable car.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Thanks for the help guys, so nothing really to worry about if the car has a decent history.

My other option is the Alfa Romeo Mito ive not heard bad things re-reliability but Al;fs history worries me.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Engineer Andy

Thanks for the help guys, so nothing really to worry about if the car has a decent history.

My other option is the Alfa Romeo Mito ive not heard bad things re-reliability but Al;fs history worries me.

I would suggest you read the Car-by-car review and owners' reviews (review heading) for this and any car you are thinking of first.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Will do, thanks :-)

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

There is a lot online about the 1.4 TSI engines suffering camchain failure due to the Timing Chain Tensioner.

That is because they have sold a lot of cars using the TSi engine and the people with issues are the only ones who post. Doubt you will find many who say their car is OK.

With regards to the dual charged engine, many of these were bought by young idiots (or old idiots) who had them chipped way beyond their original sensible power levels. When they were more common (i.e. before they had been destroyed by chipping) the owners were quite happy to post on various forums that they would sell the car before it was 3 years old and the abuse it had suffered would be the next owners problem.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - iFocus

I had a 2009 VW Golf 1.4 TSi 122 and it's chain 'failed' on 3 occasions.

I bought it from a VW main dealer with a FVWSH and with 43,000 on the clock and by the time it was rejected under the SOGA in 6 months later, it'd had 3x chains, 2x tensioners and 1 oil pump.

I did love the power delivery of the engine but the reliability factor was attrocious. In the 6 months I owned it I had a courtesey car for over a month!

It was on variable servicing and you could easily hear if there were issues with the timing chain as the rattle was unmistakable.

My saga did put me off ever buying a VW product again but you might be lucky and get one with no issues.

Like others have said go off condition, service history and just listen to the engine! If it's rattly when it starts and doesn't quieten down straight away, walk away and find another one.

I know some people say they like chains in cars but I prefer the simplicity of a belt, much cheaper to change at service intervals, hence why a lot of manufactorers have reverted to them like Ford and VW recently.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Engineer Andy
I know some people say they like chains in cars but I prefer the simplicity of a belt, much cheaper to change at service intervals, hence why a lot of manufactorers have reverted to them like Ford and VW recently.

Timing chains should be fine if:

a) the systems are designed properly;

b) they are manufactured to a high standard (its well-documented that the VAG ones were not for a time when the component supplier was leaned on by VAG on price so they didn't replace a worn component stamping machine to save money to keep the contract, resulting in many faulty parts getting through), and;

c) the system is kept well-oiled with the correct type of oil. Long service intervals ain't good in this respect. HJ says for ALL cars this should be at least once a year, and especially for chain-driven ones.

The vast majority of Japanese-designed cars that have and do have chain-cam engines have not had any reliability issues related to the chains. From my pov, its sad that, whilst VAG have sort of learned their lesson, they've gone for a cheaper (to make) belt-driven system, which is fine, but it does transfer the cost of it from manufacture to maintenance, and I would've thought in the end results in a higher cost to the owner over the life of the car.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

the system is kept well-oiled with the correct type of oil. Long service intervals ain't good in this respect. HJ says for ALL cars this should be at least once a year, and especially for chain-driven ones.

That is good advice but its advice that is sadly ignored or even critised by several posters.

The vast majority of Japanese-designed cars that have and do have chain-cam engines have not had any reliability issues related to the chains.

As I stated on a post on another thread Nissan Micra's of the 2003 to 2010 could have cam chain issues if not filled with the correct 5w30 semi synthetic oil (which is about £16 for 5 litres at Asda and other shops) yet our local Nissan dealer filled ours with 10w 40 mineral to save us a tenner.

From my pov, its sad that, whilst VAG have sort of learned their lesson, they've gone for a cheaper (to make) belt-driven system, which is fine, but it does transfer the cost of it from manufacture to maintenance, and I would've thought in the end results in a higher cost to the owner over the life of the car.

The cam belt on the current TSi needs changing according to use, this is what VAG told me when I questioned them prior to buying the Leon because there was confusion at the local dealers who differed in their advice on maintenance requirements:

"we recommend the cam belt is first checked at 60,000 miles, and every 20,000 miles thereafter. If there is no damage at these points the cambelt will not need changing. If the belt is not changed, regardless of condition, it must be replaced at 120,000 miles or when the vehicle is 5 years old, whichever comes first"

But if you find out what maintenance is needed before you buy there will be no nasty surprises. If you are not happy walk away. Over an average vehicle life withe the TSi engine a belt will be required twice and when you look at lifetime costs its a tiny fraction of the total you will spend.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Engineer Andy

the system is kept well-oiled with the correct type of oil. Long service intervals ain't good in this respect. HJ says for ALL cars this should be at least once a year, and especially for chain-driven ones.

That is good advice but its advice that is sadly ignored or even critised by several posters.

The vast majority of Japanese-designed cars that have and do have chain-cam engines have not had any reliability issues related to the chains.

As I stated on a post on another thread Nissan Micra's of the 2003 to 2010 could have cam chain issues if not filled with the correct 5w30 semi synthetic oil (which is about £16 for 5 litres at Asda and other shops) yet our local Nissan dealer filled ours with 10w 40 mineral to save us a tenner.

From my pov, its sad that, whilst VAG have sort of learned their lesson, they've gone for a cheaper (to make) belt-driven system, which is fine, but it does transfer the cost of it from manufacture to maintenance, and I would've thought in the end results in a higher cost to the owner over the life of the car.

The cam belt on the current TSi needs changing according to use, this is what VAG told me when I questioned them prior to buying the Leon because there was confusion at the local dealers who differed in their advice on maintenance requirements:

"we recommend the cam belt is first checked at 60,000 miles, and every 20,000 miles thereafter. If there is no damage at these points the cambelt will not need changing. If the belt is not changed, regardless of condition, it must be replaced at 120,000 miles or when the vehicle is 5 years old, whichever comes first"

But if you find out what maintenance is needed before you buy there will be no nasty surprises. If you are not happy walk away. Over an average vehicle life withe the TSi engine a belt will be required twice and when you look at lifetime costs its a tiny fraction of the total you will spend.

The 'keep well oiled advice' is, other than keeping the tyres in good shape, the best advice for anyone running a car. Relatively cheap to do that saves £000s in replacement parts and keeps the car on the road.

One of the reasons I didn't (and still don't) consider a Nissan for my next car after my Micra (the previous [and by far the best] version to the one you mentioned) was their tie-up with Renault - I could tell very early on that engineering standards were being, in my view, reduced to save costs (the factory in Sunderland is still good, its the engineering designs that I think aren't so good as they used to be). My local dealer was fine, so I can't really comment on where those standards dropped (I changed over to Mazda in 2006).

My issue with VAG was that when they changed over from chain and belt-driven engines, they should've dropped the prices (or at least held them for longer) to reflect the lower cost of manufacturing (the cost of the change should've been borne by VAG, not the customer) and higher maintenance costs. Fair enough if the belts last a reasonable amount of time, but it still works out at over £700+ (assuming at least two in the car's whole life) - not huge over a 15 year period, but still...

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Thanks again for the help everyone. I think I may skip the 1.2 and 1.4 Tsi. I believe the mk5 golf gti is a belt and am I right in thinking most of the 2.0 tfsi mk2 Leons use the same engine? Audi a3s of similar vintage as well? That maybe the way to go. I only do around 100 miles a week so the saving on fuel between the 1.4 and 2.0 is not worth the hassle.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76
I know I've said before but you don't have the budget to be looking at TSi Golf GTi's etc. Buy a circa £3,500 example at your risk but if you want a car that will actually get you where you want/need to go reliably for a few years then forget all these complex turbocharged motors and stick with something much more straightforward. I fear you're about to learn a painful lesson in how not to buy a car... Live within your means.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/08/2017 at 19:29

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - corax

SLO, you need the car equivalant of a medical health checker. They can punch in the details and get the answer at the bottom, even if they're disappointed by what they see.

I sense a growing weariness and exasperation. Save your fingers, you'll never convince some people until they learn the hard way :-)

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76

SLO, you need the car equivalant of a medical health checker. They can punch in the details and get the answer at the bottom, even if they're disappointed by what they see.

I sense a growing weariness and exasperation. Save your fingers, you'll never convince some people until they learn the hard way :-)

What else would I be doing anyway, talking to the wife? At least someone might listen to me here...
Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - galileo

SLO, you need the car equivalant of a medical health checker. They can punch in the details and get the answer at the bottom, even if they're disappointed by what they see.

I sense a growing weariness and exasperation. Save your fingers, you'll never convince some people until they learn the hard way :-)

What else would I be doing anyway, talking to the wife? At least someone might listen to me here...

SLO, you are a true philosopher as well as a fount of car knowledge. Brilliant!

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212
I know I've said before but you don't have the budget to be looking at TSi Golf GTi's etc. Buy a circa £3,500 example at your risk but if you want a car that will actually get you where you want/need to go reliably for a few years then forget all these complex turbocharged motors and stick with something much more straightforward. I fear you're about to learn a painful lesson in how not to buy a car... Live within your means.

To be fair bud, I'm willing to pay up to £5,000

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - oldroverboy.

For £5000 you will get a nice Kia rio 2013

this one £4500

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-search?sort=price-asc&...0

ok to drive rest of 7 year warranty if full manufacturers service history, ultra reliable.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76
"To be fair bud, I'm willing to pay up to £5,000"

Good luck!

You're looking at a car with a history of engine problems, a known ABS control module issue, rust problems and one that ranks as the second most complained about car on HJ's site. An unwise purchase on your budget. Go find a Honda Civic, Mazda 3 or Ford Focus and do yourself a favour. www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/new-cars/2016-12/top-10-.../
Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

I still think you will find a good, genuine TSi for your budget (perhaps not a VW - have you looked at the Leon) and despite what others say I do not think having a turbo makes for an unreliable and complicated engine. Tiurbo's are totally reliable if the cars are serviced regularly with the correct fluids. Take your time, there will be a genuine car out there.

But if you decide to go down an alternative route there is only one solution, The Ford Focus 2.0 in Titanium trim. It has good performance from a pretty flexible engine, good handling, good ride (the Titanium is on sensible tyres and suspension) and there are loads out there.

The Honda Civic much loved on this site is the polar opposite. The performance needs loads of revs to extract it which is hard work but you soon forget about that since the ride is so poor you soon want to get out of the thing, we did and we tried 2.

Our neighbour had a Mazda 3 2.0 petrol which he found ahrd work and disapointing after a Mazda 3 1.6 diesel. When he changed it he bought another 1.6 diesel for its better all round performance.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

I didnt think turbo meant I unrealiable either. Yeah its one more thing to go wrong. I had a Golf tdi a while ago. I paid £800 for it used it for short journeys for two years and all that went wrong on it was a fuel hose split and a new coil spring on it. I also had a 1.8t Octavia vrs and the engine was spot on apart from a rough idle which I think was the MAF unfortunately everything else went wrong on it. I'm tempted to just get another mk4 golf a really tidy well maintained one. I loved that car but got rid as I had a company car. I was going to take out an extended warranty but I can't if its over 12 years old.

Edited by Dazl1212 on 05/08/2017 at 12:13

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76

I didnt think turbo meant I unrealiable either. Yeah its one more thing to go wrong. I had a Golf tdi a while ago. I paid £800 for it used it for short journeys for two years and all that went wrong on it was a fuel hose split and a new coil spring on it. I also had a 1.8t Octavia vrs and the engine was spot on apart from a rough idle which I think was the MAF unfortunately everything else went wrong on it. I'm tempted to just get another mk4 golf a really tidy well maintained one. I loved that car but got rid as I had a company car. I was going to take out an extended warranty but I can't if its over 12 years old.

The best Mk IV you can find with the brilliant 1.9 PD TDi would be a good bet. It's a better car than its replacement and worth spending a few quid tidying the paintwork if you can find a good one. Turbo doesn't always mean unreliable but it does add complication and turbocharged cars don't take the skipped oil changes and general neglect you all too often find under £5k. The early 1.4 TSi engines don't have a great reputation but it's rarely the turbo itself that fails, in fact VW are pretty good regards turbo reliability, the 1.9 TDi's being the perfect example. These can run to more than 500k with care.
Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76
I find the Civic fine and the Mazda 3 is a hoot to drive even in 1600 form. I've driven plenty of them over distance and flogged loads without a moments bother. They're both firm but not uncomfortable but try a few before deciding for yourself, as you can see opinions differ. On a tight budget it's not about 0-60 times or barnstorming top speeds it's about longterm reliability and these three fit the bill. That's not to say I'm not a fan of the current VAG TSi engines, I frequently recommend Leon's and Superbs so equipped and had you a £10k upwards budget I'd be happy to do so. Fully agree with Skidpans Focus 2.0 recommendation but don't overlook the 1.8 either, it's perfectly adequate for all bar the most extreme boy racer.
Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Being honest its the torque that puts a smile on my face as the majority of the cars I've owned have been diesel. I've been pottering around in a 1.4 hdi pug for the past 6 months. Just doing my 14 mile round trip to work and back. Its not much fun at all. I did drive a 1.6 focus and found it extremely Dull compared to my 1.9 TDI 110.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Volvo s40 2.4i?

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76

Volvo s40 2.4i?

Good car. Based on the same floorpan and suspension set up as the Mk II Focus and Mazda 3 but the 5cyl is greedy and most are autos. The T5 is a hoot if you can find one though. Basically a more subtle Focus ST. 30mpg at best though, probably closer to 25 day to day...
Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Id have a t5 on a heartbeat but my insurer won't Insure me on that for some reason, same with Honda but I can get insured on a focus St. Its weird. Are the Alfa mitos bad? They seem like marmite from what I've read.

Edited by Dazl1212 on 05/08/2017 at 13:14

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - SLO76
Strange you can insure a Mk II ST yet not an S40 T5. I'd try another search, it is on a lower grouping. As for the Alfa Mito, I've never driven one. They did get panned by the motoring press from day one however so I'm in no rush to. A Fiesta would be a better bet, even a nice Mk V 2.0 ST is affordable for your budget. It uses a strong normally asperated Mazda L series engine that'll run and run if looked after. Probably one of the more robust hot hatches plus fast Fords are always an easy sell if you keep it standard and look after it.

Edited by SLO76 on 05/08/2017 at 13:16

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

It was the D5 I cant get insured on, I can get insured on a T5 its quite a bit dearer though but Im due a payrise at work.

The only thing is that the milage on the ones on my budget seems high and they seem to be being sold way over what my insurer thinks its market value is. I'd prefer it to a focus ST as i think that its less likely to have been thrashed or badly looked after.

Plus I think theyre aboslutely stunning cars.

Edited by Dazl1212 on 05/08/2017 at 13:45

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - skidpan

Being honest its the torque that puts a smile on my face as the majority of the cars I've owned have been diesel.

That is why I drive a TSi. Most cars I drove from 1996 were turbo diesels and any petrol I drove was poor in comparison once you left the confines of town. Then I discovered the TSi in 2013. Drove better than any diesel that preceeded it simply because there is no lag and it has a nuch wider power range.

Volkswagen Golf - VAG TSI/TFSI timing chain issues - Dazl1212

Thanks for all the advice guys, Im tempted to just buy myself another cheap runabout for this year as I cant really afford to run a T5 (insurance is too high so may need to get another years no claims behind me) or afford to buy a decent TSI etc.

Might go for a hyundai Coupe or something similar.

 

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