Volkswagen’s MK7 Jetta, the successor of the MK6 Jetta, was introduced at the Auto Show in Detroit in 2018. MK7 Jetta, A7 Jetta, Seventh-Generation Jetta, Sagitar (China-market) are all names this Jetta goes by. Like many previous generations, the MK7 Jetta featured many trims: S, SE, R-Line, SEL, SEL Premium, and in 2019, the GLI was announced. Kind of like the MK6 Jetta, Volkswagen was focusing on selling volume with these as well. Meaning the interior and some technology features suffered to save cost.
New to the MK7 Jetta, was the 1.4L TSI engine that was the only engine option in all of the Jetta’s, except the GLI, which has the 2.0L TSI EA888 engine featured in the MK7 GTI’s. A facelifted version of the Jetta will be produced in the model year 2022, which will do away with the 1.4 TSI and feature an all-new 1.5t. The 1.4L TSI engine puts out 147hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which is impressive for the scale of the engine. The transmission options in the 1.4L engine were: a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic. In the GLI, a 6-speed manual comes standard with the option of a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Before getting into the list of problems listed below, we want to note that the MK7 Jetta has only been out for a few years. The facelifted version coming out in MY 2022 could resolve all the issues, but only time will tell. This post will be related to the 1.4 TSI engine since it is the most common. Please make sure any of the parts listed below fit your vehicle before ordering. If you are needing assistance looking for parts or guides for a different engine, reach out in the comments and we’ll assist in the best way possible.
Common VW MK7 Jetta Engine Problems
- Ignition Coil Pack/Spark Plug Failure
- Water Pump Failure
- Scraping Transmission – Torque Converter
- Excessive Oil Consumption
- Timing Belt Failure
1. Ignition Coil Pack/Spark Plug Failure
Ignition coils and spark plugs are very important when it comes to combustion in the engine. For some reason, many engines are prone to premature ignition coil or spark plug failure, especially if a vehicle is being tuned for more power. Ignition coils transform the lower voltage supplied by the battery into the higher voltage needed for the spark plugs to create a spark to create combustion in the engine.
Typically either of these fails due to normal wear and tear or altering the engine’s performance outside of its optimal performance. That’s why we highly advise changing both the spark plugs and coils before modding a vehicle. Under good practice, these should be changed every 60,000 miles. So depending on how long someone tends to hold onto the vehicle, they should go through one or two sets throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle.
Symptoms of Ignition Coil/Spark Plugs Failure:
- CEL/MIL illuminating
- Cylinder misfires (P0300 – P0304 Fault Codes)
- Poor engine performance
- Engine stalls
- Rough Idle
- Engine not starting
Ignition Coil/Spark Plugs Replacement Options:
Replacing ignition coils or spark plugs is one of the easier services to DIY, but only if you have the proper parts. If one of the coils or plugs goes out, it is always best to replace them all at the same time to avoid further headaches down the road. If you aren’t comfortable doing this DIY, a dealer or mechanic will typically charge around $150-$200.
2. Water Pump Failure
Water pumps on Volkswagen’s and Audi’s don’t have the best rep. The majority of the time, the material that they use to build the water pumps out of the factory are not the strongest, which leads to premature leaks or failure. Water pumps are crucial to an engine’s cooling system. It pushes coolant from the radiator into the engine to ensure the engine temp is at optimal levels.
Water pumps fail for a few reasons: poor engine maintenance, normal wear and tear, or a faulty unit. As you can imagine, without a functioning water pump, an engine will quickly overheat which could lead to major engine damage if ignored. Water pumps should realistically last for 60,000-90,000 miles.
Symptoms of Water Pump Failure:
- Engine overheating
- Low coolant indicator illuminating
- Loud whining noise coming from the engine
- White steam coming from the engine
Water Pump Replacement Options:
Since the newer 1.4 TSI’s in the MK7 Jetta’s now have a timing belt, versus a timing chain, we would highly advise changing both at the same time. You have to remove the timing belt to replace the water pump. This would usually be an easier DIY, but it is a little more difficult in the new Jetta’s because of the updated engines. A dealer or mechanic would likely charge around $400.
DIY Difficulty: Intermediate
3. Scraping Transmission – Torque Converter
This is a big issue with 8-speed automatic transmission at around 10,000 miles. It is the scraping, grating, or scuffing noise in between the engine and transmission at lower speeds in higher gears. Come to find out after research, it is a defective torque converter. After looking into it more, the issue doesn’t stem from Volkswagen, but the maker of the transmission itself, Aisin.
However, there is a lawsuit against Volkswagen for them describing this situation as “normal”. Many customers have complained to local dealerships about the noise, but have gotten a “that’s normal” response from almost all the mechanics. Given, creaks and rattles in an interior may be normal for most vehicles, but a scraping noise coming from the transmission is far from normal.
So you may be asking, why is this on the list? Well, come to find out if you drive a 2019 Jetta with the 8-speed automatic transmission and have this noise, it damages not only the resale value but also comfort and safety. As of now, this is not covered under Volkswagen because they claim it to be normal. If you are wanting to read more into this, there’s a full Reddit thread here.
4. Excessive Oil Consumption
Excessive oil consumption is common in the 2019 model years, again. On average customers were seeing this happen around 13,000 miles. Normal oil consumption is around 1qt every 1,000 miles, so if you are experiencing oil loss quicker than that, it’s something to be taken seriously. This has caused many engine stalls at speeds of 35mph and faster, which is obviously dangerous. So again, if you feel that your Jetta is consuming oil at an abnormal rate, go get it checked out. We recommend getting a consumption test done, use the correct oil listed in the VW manual, and use high-quality fuel for precautions.
Symptoms of Excessive Oil Consumption:
- Abnormally lower than the normal oil levels
- Increased carbon buildup
- Engine warming up abnormally slow
- Poor engine performance
- Decreased fuel efficiency
- Blue smoke coming from the exhaust
5. Timing Belt Failure
As stated in the water pump problem, Volkswagen switched back over to an “upgraded” timing belt for the new 1.4L TSI engines. Timing chains have a higher likelihood of lasting the vehicle’s lifecycle, whereas Volkswagen claims this timing belt will. After seeing how the timing belts in many previous VW’s are, we don’t buy it. Timing belts are very important to an engine because it syncs the timing of the cams.
If a timing belt happens to break, it is rare, it will cause catastrophic engine damage. According to Volkswagen, the timing belt should be visually inspected after 150,000 miles and every 20,000 miles after. Generally speaking, timing belts last 60,000 – 100,000 miles.
Symptoms of Timing Belt Failure:
- Ticking noise in the engine
- Decreased oil pressure
- Engine misfires
- Engine not starting
- Smoke coming from the engine
- Damaged valves and pistons (worst case)
Timing Belt Replacement Options:
Replacing timing belts is not the easiest DIY, especially on the new 1.4 TSI’s. There isn’t really an option to repair the timing belt, so buying a replacement belt and replacing the old one is the best route. As stated above, we would advise replacing both the water pump and timing belt as they are in the same area. A mechanic or dealer could charge up to $1,000 just to replace the timing belt because of how difficult it is to get to it in this engine.
Replacement Timing Belt: https://amzn.to/3nwJ2eW
DIY Difficulty: Difficult
VW MK7 Jetta Reliability
How reliable is the MK7 Jetta? It’s hard to tell again given that these were produced three years ago. Scrolling through forums, the most miles we have seen is 40k with no issues. The MK7 Jetta ranked 21st out of 36 compact cars, so just about average. What we do know is that the 2019 model year has gotten a bad rep because of the transmission noise, which leads to poor resale value. Just like many Volkswagen’s and Audi’s, if the maintenance schedules are followed religiously, this Jetta will last a long time. Reliability aside, there are many complaints about interior and exterior rattles.
If you want to check out more Jetta content, here is our write-up on the common problems for a Volkswagen MK6 Jetta.