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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.