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


*UPDATE 5/16/18* – The class action lawsuit mentioned below is proceeding through the system and it appears that owners of vehicles that have suffered engine damage (up to and including complete annihilation) may be able to receive some kind of compensation based on the vehicle mileage.  I don’t have specifics, but if you are one of those people that have suffered premature engine failure, seek a lawyer working on this case, as there are several agencies working across the country that will be able to include you in this.  Please, however, do not contact us.  We can sell you a thousand parts for your VW, but we will not be able to help you with this specific lawsuit.  Again, seek a lawyer for more information.

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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

VW/Audi 2.0t Timing Cover - LowerMany 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.

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.

Timing Chain Cover - Lower
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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.

Camshaft Bracket - Rear
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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.

Timing Chain
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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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21 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.

  2. John French

    Cam tensioner went out, tore it done and did repairs. Failed to notice the lobes on the cam were not where they were suppposed to be located. reassembled and had compression on number 4. no compression on 1-3. Took it back apart thinking I had lifter issues from the intake valves making contact with pistons. To my shock all of the lobes for 1-3 were not located properly. I assumed that this like every cam I ha seen before was a cast and ground to spec piece. Apparently VW figured out how to assemble a cam from pieces. New cam is underway. Hopefully I didn’t damage the new intake valves. leak down test appears ok.

    Word of advice LOOK at the cams, make sure the lobes have not relocated.

    • Adam Goral

      Hi Alan, later EA888 family engines, such as that CHHA, shipped with updated tensioners with the specific defect fixed. You should be OK, but be sure to always do regular oil changes with a high quality synthetic oil (Such as ROWE), as these parts are considered to be maintenance. Just something to keep in mind, thanks for checking us out.

    • Pat

      Recalls are reserved for safety items and concerns that could cause injury or death, ie Takata airbags and mk 4 brake light switches. Auto manufacturers comply with recalls rather than get nailed by the NTSB and losing badly in court.
      Crummy designs that lead to expensive repairs so not constitute a recall. Maybe a service action/campaign, but that would be a voluntary repair initiated by the vehicle manufacturer, not the NTSB. Once in a while a class action suit victory by a group of consumers will prompt a vehicle manufacturer to perform a service action, but those situations are quite rare.

  3. Leonardo Calbusch

    My 2013 jetta – engine number CPL 002733 – is about to be repaired because the mechanic says the engine had suffered this tensioner issue. Both tensioner and chain will be replaced, I’m just waiting the parts to be delivered.But I’ve read over internet foruns that my engine have the new tensioner already. How can I be sure? I also have read that once my engine is open would be a good ideia to simply remove the tiny camshaft bracket screen, to avoid the dislodgent problem. Should I do that?

  4. Adam Thanks for the update!
    One thing that needs to be checked on the 12-13 year cars is some did get the updated chain adjuster and chains. I have seen a few on the list that should have the updated parts but did not. It is very easy to check just need to remove the plug and look in.
    It looks like they will only go to a 100K? on mileage under there fix so this leaves thousands and thousands of engine out there. As I say the hand grenade pin been pulled and just wait for the BOOM!! Here at http://www.DRVOLKS.com we do many upgrades on the engine as I said in the early post the engine is hard to work on and you need the right toolkit.

    • Adam Goral

      This should have the updated version, must make sure you use a high quality oil and change it regularly, as all newer VW 2.0ts have some fragility in the timing dept.

      • Zakaria Chehab

        Thanks for the quick reply Adam. So the CAWA is a newer engine in the ea888 family? It says on the sticker that mine was manufactured on 5/2011. I’m wondering because I’m not sure if the CAWA was introduced at a later stage worldwide or only to the North American market, as I’m located in The Middle East market.

  5. Barbara Closson

    Do you know who is representing South Carolina owners and/or how would I find out? Thank you My car has already cost me thousands for the timing change mentioned.

  6. Jeff

    So my 2010 VW CC is experiencing apparent misfiring, but mostly until the engine gets warm/hot; I had all plugs changed, but the symptoms continue. Is this associated w/the timing mechanism or potentially something else?

    • Adam Goral

      It is very common for the ignition coils to fail around this time, 8-10 years in. When you say misfiring, what exactly are you experiencing? Do you get the flashing check engine light that would signal a misfire? If so, get the engine scanned for trouble codes so you can see what cylinder it is on. Here’s a link to the ignition coils from the OE supplier to VW: https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/77840/Ignition-Coil-07K905715FA/ . Other common causes for misfires are vacuum leaks and air leaks in the intercooler/turbo system, so check for small cracks in the vacuum lines and intake hoses that might be leaky when cool but seal once warm.

      • Jeff

        Thx Adam. No, the ‘check engine light’ isn’t coming on. No codes registering either. Symptom is only at startup when pushing the accelerator…anywhere between 5 mph to 70 mph I feel the slippage or hesitation or sputtering. Once the engine heats up (typically after 3 – 5 min of driving) all is good.

    • AZ

      Yo, fellow 2010 CC owner. Get your upper intake off and clean it all out. YouTube will guide you. I’m at 130k and badly needed a cleaning. Not too difficult, but a few annoying steps. Might just replace the intake wheel you have it off. I didn’t replace mine but then on assembly has codes for replacement. It’s a faulty design that fails, but if you’re under 125k it’s under warranty.

  7. Brandi

    I have a 2014 VW Jetta. It is in the shop now. Broken timing belt. VW says I have to pay 6,000 because I can not provide proof of oil change service!! That this some how is my fault. No check engine light or oil light. Went to start it up and it wouldnt start. What do I do now???

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