Audi and VW 2.0T Timing Chain Problems – How to Recognize Issues, Affected Models and More


If you own an Audi or VW built from 2008 to 2013, that has a 2.0 turbo engine, the chances are that your car is affected by the timing chain issues. These problems were severe enough to spark a class-action in the 2018 lawsuit that resulted in a settlement a year later. 

The point of this guide is to give you all of the necessary information you should have as the owner of an affected VW/Audi vehicle. We’ll list the affected engines, symptoms to look for, and much more.

Audi 2.0T Timing Chain Recalls and VW Timing Chain Settlement

Before we dig into the technical side of this topic, you might want to have the latest info on the legal side of the story. Namely, back in 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the VW group by Audi and VW owners who have suffered damages due to the whole timing chain issue.

The case ended up in a settlement around mid-August of 2019. To be eligible for monetary reimbursement, you had to submit a claim by January 25th, 2019. Since that date has long passed and most claimants received some kind of compensation, the matter is considered legally settled.

In other words, if you’re one of the unlucky owners affected by the timing chain issue who hasn’t filed a claim, you’ll have to fix the problem at your own expense.

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

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

The list of affected models includes the following:

Model/Years of Audi Timing Chain Recall

  • 2008–2012 A3
  • 2009–2012 A4 Avant
  • 2009–2013 A4
  • 2010–2013 A5 Cabriolet
  • 2010–2013 A5
  • 2012 A6
  • 2011–2012 Q5
  • 2009–2012 TT
  • 2009–2012 TT Roadster

Check our Audi parts catalog and select what model you own; or simply input your specific car into the Vehicle Selector above.

Model/Years of VW Timing Chain Recall 

  • 2012–2014 Beetle
  • 2012–2014 Beetle Convertible
  • 2009–2012 CC
  • 2009–2012 Eos
  • 2008–2012 GTI
  • 2008–2010 & 2012–2014 Jetta
  • 2009 Jetta SportWagen
  • 2008–2010 Passat
  • 2008–2010 Passat Wagon
  • 2009–2013 Tiguan

Check our Volkswagen parts catalog and select what model you own; or simply input your specific car into the Vehicle Selector above.

Timing Chain Tensioner - Upper
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Audi/VW 2.0 Turbo Timing Chain Failure – The Basics

Timing chains are often looked upon as the be-all, end-all solution to engine timing and reliability. With long maintenance cycles, often spanning over 150,000 miles, timing chains almost seem like an ideal way to keep the motor running.

That is until they fail prematurely.

Audi and VW had the misfortune of designing a family of chain-driven, four-cylinder turbo engines that had a built-in design flaw.

Updated Genuine VW TSI 2.0t Timing Chain Tensioner

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

As a result, entire generations of cars from both VW and Audi were heavily compromised. The affected engines we’re talking about belong to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI and TFSI range and include versions with CCTA, CBFA, CAEB, CAEA, CDNC, and CPMA code numbers.

Just to give you a hint of how bad this whole thing was, TSI engines matching the above designations were installed in hundreds of thousands of cars between 2008 and 2013. 

Despite being 2020, many of these cars are still on the streets. If you just bought say a 2012 A4 or a 2009 GTI, you might want to check if your car has been taken care of.

Timing Chain Cover - Lower
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The Pesky Timing Chain Tensioner

Every chain is as strong as its weakest link. That adage applies to sophisticated engines above anything else. VW/Audi has managed to put together an awesome turbo motor that had it all – the performance, decent fuel consumption, and elasticity.

However, it only took a simple timing chain tensioner to mess everything up to a point where engines were bricked, cars were ruined, and many a VW/Audi reps got an earful from angry customers.

Camshaft Bracket - Rear
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How Does Timing Chain Tensioner Work on the 2.0T Audi/VW engine?

The 2.0 TSI engine is an interesting beast. One known for oil consumptions, among other things, but interesting nonetheless.

Instead of using timing belts, these engines rely on three different chains to keep the whole thing turning. You’ve got your valve assembly, oil pump, and camshaft chains. When everything is set up correctly, this configuration runs pretty smoothly.

The tensioner that has caused so many problems and headaches are the ones that apply tension to the chain that drives the intake and exhaust camshafts. Perfect, right?

As for the tensioner itself, its design depends on the generation of engine you have. However, they all work the same way by applying tension on the guide rail, which in turn applies tension on the chain.

Timing Chain
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Under normal operating conditions, the tensioner would last as long as the chain, meaning that both would be replaced in due time. However, these particular tensioners tended to fail long before that magical 120,000-mile maintenance schedule. 

Some of the reasons for failure can be attributed to oil pressure, but most had to do with the design flaws of the tensioner itself. As it so happened for a lot of affected owners, the tensioner would essentially brick the engine right as the car went out of warranty.

In most cases, the tensioner would simply collapse, resulting in no tension being applied to the chain. With no tension, the timing chain would simply fail to sync the camshafts, which starts a chain reaction you don’t want to deal with.

Timing Chain Tensioner Symptoms

Unfortunately for many of the affected Audi and VW owners, timing chain issues caused by timing chain tensioner failure are sudden. This isn’t one of those situations where you’ll notice higher than usual fuel consumption that would hint that there’s a problem.

In a vast majority of cases, the engine simply dies. This can happen either while you’re driving, or you might get a dead engine when you try to start your car. Trying to start it will result in a fast crank, which is indicative of compression problems.

By that time, your valves are probably turned to mush, your crankshaft is not doing much, and your camshafts are most likely not even spinning anymore. The symptoms are eerily similar to a belt snapping

In a small fraction of the cases, you might be blessed with some early red flags.

For example, if you start noticing a rattling sound coming from the passenger side of the engine bay, that could be one of the signs.

When Can Chain Tensioner Failure Happen?

The mileage on cars affected by this issue varies wildly. You’ll see 2009 Audis with 90,000 miles and 2012 VWs with as low as 20,000 miles on the odometer suffering from the same issue. There are no rules.

The Solution

If you’re reading this in 2020, the chances are that your 2009 Audi or 2012 Passat have already had their chain replaced. However, if that is not the case, and you weren’t part of the recall/class-action lawsuit, here’s what you need to do.

Timing Chain Tensioner - Upper
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Get a Newer Style Tensioner

To eliminate the problem, make sure that you get the newer style tensioner. You can tell the difference by looking for a metal bracket on the part that contacts the chain guide rail. Newer models will come with the bracket. We strongly suggest that you only opt for genuine Audi parts or genuine VW replacement tensioners.

While you’re at it, this is an excellent time to replace a few more things.

Depending on how close you are to your chain maintenance schedule, you might want to consider replacing the timing chain with a new one.

Furthermore, consider swapping the lower timing chain cover for a new one as well. These are made of stamped metal that is very easy to bend when you take them off. Bending the chain cover means endless oil leaks in the future.

Lastly, give your cam bridge bracket a good look. If you look closely, you should be able to see a fine screen that is known to dislodge and get sucked into the oil passages, effectively defeating its purpose.

Summary

By now, you probably think that you should have gone with a belt-driven engine. Things aren’t so bleak! Your fuel efficient 2.0 TSI is a solid engine and will serve you well as long as you stay on top of its few quirks. If you’re not sure which part fits your particular Audi or VW model, simply use our navigation tool.

Alternatively, you can always contact us, and our reps will help you out with whatever you need.

45 thoughts on “Audi and VW 2.0T Timing Chain Problems – How to Recognize Issues, Affected Models and More
  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.

  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.

        • Elee

          Hello, do you have any updates on what you did to fix this? I am having the same issue with my 2010 Audi A4. Chain tensioner and cam shaft replaced, but am still seeing EPC lights at low rpms after a bit with engine hesitations.

    • 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???

  8. i am repairing a 2010 Tiguan with tensioner failure. i find great step by step
    ” how to properly time and install timing chains on the VR6, 2.0 FSI and several other engineS THE ONE I JUST WATCHED ON THE VR6 WAS GREAT but where is the video on the 2.0T TSI ???

  9. Steve Scharschmidt

    I have a 2013 VW Jetta that is at a Volkswagen dealership now. The vehicle has 80,000 miles. The dealership said that based on mileage I have to pay 40 percent which is approximately $5,500.00. A VW customer care rep stated that I had to pay because of mileage and another told me it was due to other parts and labor for damage that the timing chain caused to other parts of the vehicle. They never gave me a final answer as to why I had to pay such a large amount let alone anything at all. This is all confusing to me as this appears to be a recall issue and should be taken care of. What am I missing? Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it.

  10. Alan

    Hi,

    Brought my 2014 Audi Q5 in for service because the Check Engine light was on. The local Audi dealer diagnosed need to replace timing chain and tensioner. Estimate for work $3,000.

    My car VIN is not listed in the class action lawsuit as qualified to participate. Car was built in 2013. Can I still file claim to be included is this lawsuit? What can I do?

    VIN: WA1LFAFP4EA053981
    Dealer: Audi Exchange (Highland Park, IL)
    Initial delivery date: 12/26/13
    Audi Q5, 2014, 2.0T

    Thank you,

  11. Kristin

    Same issue and question as Alan. 2014 Q5, 2.0T, 70K miles, purchased 11/30/2013. Check engine light is on and the Audi dealer says the timing chain is stretched. I am not happy. What are the chances of including newer models in this, or another lawsuit?

    Thanks,
    Kristin

    • Adam Goral

      This seems like a separate issue specifically, but generally the same with bad timing designs. I have no idea about a lawsuit but it’s a shame to have so many people coming forward with problems on such new cars. I assume freshly out of warranty?

  12. Heather

    I also had this problem on my Audi Q5 at 56,000kms. Check engine light came on so I took it into dealership. It took them 3+hours to diagnose the problem as a faulty tensioner causing the iming chain to skip. Cost me $2700 to replace! I purchased the Audi service package at my dealership when I bought the car and have been bringing it back to them for regular maintenance every year. I am furious to hear that this seems to be a known problem and was never checked. I am also concerned that this might have caused some damage to my engine, although the dealership says it didn’t.

    • Cheryl

      I was shocked two weeks ago with a total engine failure, 600 miles from home, because of the timing chain. I have a 2013 Q5 that I bought used and now have a $8,500. repair bill. This is my 4th Audi and have had no major problems before. This is devastating because the 2012 Q5 is covered but not my 2013.

  13. Dave

    Hi guys,
    Recently Bought a 2011 Tiguan 2.0 TSI unaware of the timing chain issues sadly.
    It has a timing chain rattle now, but checked the tensioner by removing the plug, and its the new 16K, dated 178 18 which I believe is a 2018 made tensioner. Thats good news I trust.
    However I am unable to confirm that the chain was renewed by the previous owner, hence my concern that it may have stretched.
    Also 4 codes come come up on my OBD 2 reader:
    P0011, intake camshaft position timing over advanced,
    P0016, Crankshaft position-camshaft position correlation bank 1 sensor A
    P0300, random multiple misfire detected
    AND P0301cylinder 1 misfire detected,
    all permanent!
    What is that telling me other than something is not right please?
    A retired mechanic in Australia that does not need this shit, but will do what I have to do to get the best out of it.
    Cheers

    • Adam Goral

      Diver Dave, you are right about the chain and the potential damage it may have incurred from the previous owner going too long on a bad tensioner (which has now obviously been replaced). Those codes sound like your camshaft adjustment is out of whack. In your position, I would pull the valve cover off and have a look at the chain. Try to pull it away from the sprocket in its tightest spot, halfway around the gear. If the chain is stretched, you’ll be able to pull it up slightly off the gear because the individual links have play in them. The next thing I would do is pull the oil pan off, and check for broken fragments or particles in there (maybe a chain guide?), and also the clean the oil pickup feed tube. If you have low oil pressure up top, your camshaft adjusters might not be fully engaging. There are a few ways you may not be getting perfect oil pressure to your VVT adjuster. One thing that can cause poor oil pressure to this section of the engine is something called a camshaft bracket (some call it a cam bridge) https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/49251/Camshaft-Bracket-Rear-06H103144J/. There’s a screen there that can get clogged and restrict oil flow to the solenoids. There is also a camshaft adjustment solenoid (basically an oil pressure controller of sorts) https://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/81121/Camshaft-Adjustment-Solenoid-N205-06H109257A/ that can get gummed up or be out of position if reinstalled poorly. I have heard of people using a very small shim to move the position of it out a hair because this part isn’t seating correctly, but I do not believe that is your problem. Unfortunately, on these engines there are a lot of potential problem areas (and a lot of resulting lawsuits) so until you pull the covers off and have a look, it’s hard to say why your timing is messed up. If you find the problem, please let us know! We have the best prices on all VW audi engine parts and once diagnosed, we can help get your Tiguan back to good running order.

      • Dave

        Hi Adam,
        Thanks for your prompt, detailed reply mate.
        I have removed the camshaft sprocket cover and cannot find any chain slackness. That was my first thought.
        What I did notice is that whoever (a butcher) did the previous job used what appears to be a pin punch to remove the LH thread camshaft solenoid and damaged the holes somewhat.
        Also the inlet camshaft control valve has 2 paper gaskets fitted, that look very home made, to shim out the control valve (perhaps to get the timing right).
        That raised great concerns for me about the condition of the inlet camshaft solenoid.
        I would attach photos if I knew how to on this forum.
        As I live out in the countryside, far from the big cities that have all the knowhow and tools readily available, I am waiting on a crankshaft holding tool arrival to remove the Crankshaft pulley and check things under the cover., like chain guides, timing, etc.
        Once I get the lower cover off I can perhaps assess the situation further.
        Will keep you posted once I can advance further.
        Thanks again for your guidance here.
        Dave
        TSI Cam
        TSI Cam Chain
        TSI Cam Adjuster Shim
        TSI Cam Adjuster Solenoid Damage

    • Adam Goral

      The CBFA engine is the California emission version (ie PZEV, SULEV, whatever) of the CCTA engine of the EA888 engine family. You should look up recall history on your car, and if there is no mention of any timing components being inspected or replaced, then I would highly recommend getting the timing worked out on this car before it’s too late. We have all the parts you need to do this preemptive service (as mentioned in the article). Failures can be sudden and catastrophic so don’t wait.

  14. Anne Jardim

    Hi Adam – Thank you for all of the information you have provided on the tensioner/timing chain problem. I have an Audi A3 CBFA 8P engine manufactured 11/11. Not driven much, currently 22,500 miles. I was alerted to the tensioner problem by an Audi independent workshop where I took it 6 months ago for an oil change. I cannot get a sraight answer from 2 dealers as to whether I have the defective tensioner and am covered by the settlement and eligible for preventative repair.
    Can you tell from the details given if my engine has the defective tensioner?
    Many thanks,
    Anne

  15. Cas

    I could really use some guidance/ advice on what to do. I have a 2012 A4 that falls under the settlement. My car just broke down ( 2 months ) exactly after the audi dealership advised me to replace my turbo which cost me 5k to fix they told me my car would not have any issues going forward and that the turbo was the problem. Now after I just dropped 5k (2months ago)to repair the turbo they are telling me that my timing chain is why my car broke down for the second time and it’s going to cost me 3,600 to fix. I asked them about the timing chain settlement they told me I have to pay for the repair first then go through the lawsuit to be reimbursed. I don’t know what to do at this point I’m without vehicle any help would be extremely appreciated.

  16. Russ

    I have a GTI 2010 with a 115k on it. A VW mailer I received regarding timing chains Indicated that I could get reimbursed for the cost of replacing or fixing the timing chain if that work occurred prior to mid January 2020. So imagine my surprise today when I was told by my local VW dealer today to have a door rattle fixed that my timing chain was stretched and needed to be replaced. Should I be a little bit skeptical that I could’ve been told this before last January given how much the chain had stretched? I hate to be cynical but it doesn’t seem like coincidence.

  17. JohnCone

    There are vehicle ownership situations when having your vehicle consistently serviced at a reputable dealer, like the VW-Porsche-Audi dealer in western NC, really makes a difference. This timing chain issue is one of those situations for VW-Audi owners. While it is frustrating to know that something beyond your control took out the valves on 3 cylinders of a car you’ve really been taking care of, I appreciate the fact that the timing chain failure on my engine just short of 80k miles only cost me $1,350, which was my 50% of the cost of a new complete cylinder head assembly and associated labor. Because my dealer has a warranty administrator who knows what they’re doing, and the settlement (www.timingchainlitigation.com) covered everything else (even the oil and filter associated with the 80k service), I’ve got an engine rebuilt to last at least another 120k for a pretty reasonable cost. I was extremely fortunate as well that the final portion of the timing chain tensioner failure sequence occurred in my garage. I am also fortunate to have had one of these 4 cylinder turbo engines that has never required additional oil between 10k service intervals. Hope my comments help someone through their trial, but there’s no denying vehicle “ownership” has it’s hidden and unexpected costs.

  18. adamk88

    Hey ! Maybe this thread is dead but what the hell!
    So I’m on a look out for at scirocco gen3 2.0tsi 180hp
    With the ea888 CULA engine it’s the facelifted 2015 one. The only thing that is holding me back from buying this car is the timing chain and the tensioner. So this is my last try for some good answers. Was this model built with the new tensioner? Everyone is talking about how they put a timing belt in all vw past 2014 but the scirocco gets no thoughts. It is a timing chain but is it upgraded, did they fix it in the scirocco aswell? So bottom line question, is it the new one or not ? Is it “safe” to go for the buy ? It has low mileage and done everything by the book! Thnx in advance

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