VW/Audi 2.0t Timing Chain Problems – A Must Know Guide


If you have a late model VW 2.0T and you are wondering about things to keep an eye on, VW/Audi 2.0t timing chain problems should be at the top of your list.  The engines in question are in the 2.0 TSI family, and include the CCTA, CBFA, CAEB, CAEA, CDNC and CPMA code numbers.  These engines went into hundreds of thousands of cars between 2008-2013.  The specific defect in these engines is the chain tensioner responsible for the timing jumping teeth.  With the timing messed up, the valves will hit the pistons and bend ie. total failure.  Most reports of engines failing right at startup.

This is an older style tensioner without the flat metal bracket against the chain guide

Later engines of the same EA888 family featured an updated chain tensioner, which is used to update early style cars.  Luckily if you have an early TSI engine, the preemptive repair is not that big of a deal.  The part is cheap and not too hard to replace, just tedious because you have to access the timing cover.  On cars with transverse mounted engines this is done through the passenger side wheel well under the fender liner.  On longitudinally mounted engines, you will most likely have to remove the bumper to replace the tensioner.

In 2016, this defect was causing so many engines to fail that a class action lawsuit was filed, and many cars were recalled to have this part replaced.  That does not mean that yours has, and if you don’t know the specific service history of your car you should replace this part.  If you don’t, you are conceding to live with the fact that you have a potential ticking time bomb under your hood.

Genuine VW Updated TSI 2.0t Timing Chain Tensioner

This is the updated upper cam chain tensioner, in Genuine VW/Audi

Many reports claim the updated style tensioner (which we carry on eEuroparts.com) started going on cars somewhere between 2012 and 2013.  You can differentiate the older style between the new one by looking for a metal bracket on the part that contacts the chain guide.  One source specifically cites the defective 2.0t timing chain tensioners being replaced with updated versions in July 2012, but we can’t say for certain.  If you have any TSI engine Passat, Jetta, Golf, GTI, Tiguan, CC, A3, or A4 made before the end of 2013, this all applies to you.  VW/Audi 2.0t Timing Cover - Lower

If you are going to replace your upper tensioner, we recommend also getting a new lower 2.0t timing cover since they are stamped metal and often bend during removal because they are stuck on with sealant.  There is no specific gasket for this.  This is a common source for leaks after replacing the tensioner.  Many customers choose to replace other major timing components while they are in there replacing the tensioner, such as the chain and timing guides.

Other things that are really good to replace while replacing the tensioner would be the Cam Bridge Bracket, which fits over the ends of the cam gears, and a timing chain.  On the Camshaft Bracket there’s a fine screen that commonly dislodges and gets sucked into the narrow oil passages, effectively becoming everything it is fighting against.

You also can choose to replace the timing chain, although most cases of complete timing chain failure is due to the tensioner failing and causing a ‘chain reaction’, sorry for the pun.  If you replace the timing chain you will also need to rent special tool to lock the camshafts, and you might as well replace the brittle plastic guides at the same time.  This is of course a big DIY day, versus just replacing the known defective tensioner and going on your way.  Be sure to look for cam chain stretch.  Up to you.

Shop for the parts for your car by heading over to eEuroparts.com and putting your vehicle in the selector.  We have a huge selection of OEM, Aftermarket, and Peformance parts with prices that beat all competitors.  Just look for yourself and see!

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2 thoughts on “VW/Audi 2.0t Timing Chain Problems – A Must Know Guide
  1. Tim Evans

    I have a 2014 Jetta GLI 2.0 which is experiencing the tensioner failure and I’m being told all my chains are stretched and that my camshaft needs to be replaced. Is this something that is common, the camshaft replacement seems much to me.

    • Adam Goral

      Hi Tim, since these camshafts come with the gears on them, it’s not that out of the question that a stretched chain and tensioner failure did damage to the cam gears and chamshafts themselves. You’re lucky you didn’t bend a valve. Can you supply a VIN? We’d like to look further into it and make a kit for your car. Thanks Tim.

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