Article Updated: January 26, 2023
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.
The VW 1.4 TSI comes in two different versions: the EA111 (2005 – present) and the EA211 (2012 – present). The EA111 has won many awards, including multiple ‘International Engine of the Year‘ awards. With that said, many say this is a great engine, but like most engines, they are a list of common problems. The EA211, being developed after the EA111, doesn’t have as many shortcomings as the early EA111’s had.
VW EA111 Engine
The EA111 is unique in the sense that it has two different versions: one’s a less powerful four-cylinder (with just a TD02 turbocharger) and a more powerful four-cylinder twin-charged one (with an Eaton-Roots supercharger AND a K03 turbocharger). The less powerful, one turbo, EA11 puts out 122-131 bhp (89-96 kW) & 148-160 lbs-ft of torque @ 1500-3500 RPM. The more powerful, supercharger AND turbocharger, EA111 puts out 140-179 bhp (102-131 kW) & 162-184 lbs-ft of torque @ 1250-4000 RPM. For the size of the engine, you would be surprised by the acceleration.
VW EA211 Engine
The EA211 supersedes the EA111 and surprisingly it is an entirely new engine. Unlike the EA111, this engine only has a turbocharger that puts out 122-150 bhp (89-110 kW) & 147-184 lbs-ft of torque. Surprisingly, the EA211 is lighter than the EA111 due to new and improved internals. Something to note, is both of these engines get excellent mpg. The overall goal of the 1.4’s was to bring the power of the 2.0’s, but with better fuel economy, which Volkswagen definitely delivered.
Something to note before going into the common problems, PLEASE make sure the parts and guides we provide fit/apply to your specific application! If you need help looking for parts or guides, leave a comment and we will assist you in any way we can!
VW 1.4 TSI Common Problems are Applicable for:
The 7 Most Common Volkswagen 1.4 TSI Engine Problems
- Excessive Oil Consumption
- Ignition Coil Failure
- Timing Chain Tensioner Failure
- Turbo Wastegate Sticking
- Engine Warming Up Slowly
- Carbon Buildup
- Faulty Oxygen (O2) Sensors
1. Excessive Oil Consumption
Excessive oil consumption is a problem that is most seen in the early versions of the EA111’s, and not so much on the EA211’s. If you notice that your vehicle’s oil is consuming more than normal oil (1qt every 1,000 miles), then this could be occurring. If you feel this could be the case, it needs immediate attention as serious engine damage can occur if neglected. In the early EA111’s, the pistons and piston rings weren’t the most reliable, which causes this issue. Some precautions that you can take are: get a consumption test done to confirm there is nothing wrong with the pistons, use the correct oil listed in your VW manual, and use high-quality fuel.
Symptoms of Excessive Oil Consumption:
- Performance loss
- Increase in oil deposits
- Engine warming up slowly in cold temperature
- Reduced fuel economy
- Lower than normal oil levels for a set duration
- Blue smoke emitting from the exhaust
If your vehicle is noticing any of the symptoms listed above, take it seriously. This could cause serious engine damage to the pistons if neglected and would put more stress on the engine itself. If you believe your vehicle is consuming an excessive amount of oil, take it to your local shop and have them take down your oil levels then go back 1,000 miles after and see if this is happening.
2. Ignition Coil Failure
Unfortunately, ignition coil and spark plug failure are common in most turbocharged engines nowadays. The ignition coils and spark plugs play a big part in combustion. Essentially, the ignition coil takes the voltage from the battery and creates a spark to the spark plugs to ignite the vehicle’s fuel. If these aren’t functioning properly, your vehicle will experience misfires.
Ignition coils are supposed to last up to 100,000 miles, while the spark plugs last around 30,000 – 60,000 miles. A good rule of thumb is when one spark plug or ignition coil goes out, we advise replacing all of them, just so you won’t have to worry about worn parts mixed with new parts.
Symptoms of Ignition Coil Failure:
- Engine misfires (P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, or P0304 Fault Code)
- Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminating
- Decreased acceleration
- Rough idle
- Engine not starting
If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, we advise using an OBD scanner to confirm it is an ignition coil failure. After confirming, this is a simple DIY that shouldn’t take more than 2 hours. If you decide to take it to a shop, you will be looking at a bill of around ~$200.
Ignition Coil Replacement Options:
Buy Here: 1.4 TSI OEM Ignition Coil Replacements
DIY Difficulty: Easy
3. Timing Chain Tensioner Failure
Tensioner failure is very common in Volkswagen’s as they were not built very durable out of the factory. The tensioners in this engine are no exception. A timing chain tensioner ensures the tension of the timing chain is at the engine’s optimal tension to drive many important components of the engine. Timing chains were implemented in the early EA111’s, but the EA211’s switched over to timing belts.
If the tensioner happens to fail, the timing of the engine could be off which would cause serious engine damage to the pistons. If you have an EA111, we highly suggest getting ahead of this repair, because once you replace it with a more reliable tensioner, you shouldn’t have to replace it again.
Symptoms of Tensioner/Timing Chain Failure:
- Poor engine performance
- Metal shavings in oil/oil pan
- Engine rattle while idle
- Loose timing chain
- Engine shuddering
Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement Options
There are really two things you can do if you feel your tensioner has failed: replace just the tensioner or replace the timing chain kit. We highly advise changing the entire kit, so there aren’t new products mixed with old products. This DIY is not for somebody that hasn’t done a lot of work to an engine, it is very difficult. If you plan on taking it to a shop, you’ll be looking at a bill ~$1,000 depending on where you go.
DIY Difficulty: Difficult
4. Turbo Wastegate Sticking/Rattling
Turbo wastegate sticking/rattling is unfortunately not more common in the EA111’s, it’s actually equally common in the earlier versions and later versions. The wastegate in a turbo is essentially a valve that regulates boost pressure. It controls the speed of the turbine and ensures that the turbine is not spinning too fast causing boost pressure to rise indefinitely.
There are two ways a wastegate can be stuck: open or closed. If it is stuck closed, your turbos would over boost, if stuck open, the boost will be REALLY laggy. Either case is not good on the turbo’s and would cause a lot of stress on them. If this went unattended for a certain period of time, your turbos could blow, which will be a costly repair. However, if you get ahead of it, this could be a simple repair of the wastegate or the actuator.
Symptoms of Turbo Wastegate Sticking:
- Dramatic decrease in fuel efficiency
- Engine flutter
- Poor engine performance (mainly acceleration)
- Oscillating boost pressure
- Rattling noise from the turbo
- P2563 or P00AF fault codes
After determining that your wastegate could be the issue, there really is one way to fix the issue: replace the wastegate or replace the turbo. This is not an easy DIY, so make sure you know your way around the engine if you choose to do it on your own. If you are looking to take it to the shop, you would be looking at around ~$400 for the wastegate replacement or ~$2,500 for turbo replacement.
Turbo Wastegate Replacement Options:
DIY Difficulty: Difficult
5. Engine Warming Up Slowly
This problem is as it states, the engine takes a very long time to warm up and occurs on both the EA111’s and EA211’s. When we say, “takes a long time”, we’re talking about 10 – 15 minutes just to give context on how long. After digging for a little, it has been determined that this problem persists because of the way the engine was built. Since these are smaller engines, this means there is smaller displacement which in the end means less heat generation. Unfortunately, there isn’t much one can do to alleviate this problem it just comes with the engine because of its size.
Something we suggest is starting your vehicle 10-15 minutes before you have to leave, to give it ample time to warm up. Something worth noting is do not push on the engine if it is not at the optimal temperature as this could lead to serious engine damage.
6. Carbon Buildup
Since the 1.4 TSI has a direct injection fuel system, carbon buildup will happen naturally. Fuel is injected at high pressure directly into the combustion chamber which results in a slow buildup of carbon in the engine’s valves and ports. When this happens, the vehicle will experience sluggish engine performance, engine misfires, and clogged fuel injectors. As the engine gets closer to 40,000 miles, chances are is that there is a bunch of carbon built up already. Again, this is natural and is hard to prevent 100%, but there are things to do to limit the amount of buildup.
Symptoms of Carbon Buildup:
- Sluggish engine performance
- Engine misfires
- Clogged fuel injectors
- Engine knocking
- Poor fuel efficiency
- Hard engine starts
Ways to Prevent Buildup:
- Run your engine hard once a month for 20-30mins (4500RPMs)
- Use the highest quality fuel possible
- Ethanol fuel injector cleaner
- Change your oil regularly
- Manually clean the valves every 20,000 miles
- Get the valves walnut blasted every 45,000 miles
If you didn’t know this was a thing until now, or are looking for a used VW/Audi that has 50,000 miles or more, we suggest starting off with a walnut blasting service and using the preventative measures after. As crazy as it sounds, some enthusiasts claim to unlock up to 20 horsepower loss due to the valves and ports being clogged. On top of that, an engine with clean valves and ports, improved throttle response, better idle, and an engine that will run like new.
7. Faulty Oxygen (O2) Sensors
O2 sensors are not just prone to failure in Volkswagen vehicles, but many modern vehicles on the road today. An O2 sensor measures the amount of oxygen emitted by the vehicle’s exhaust. Some of these engines have one o2 sensor, while others have two o2 sensors. So make sure to figure out what year you have and how many there are. Without a functioning o2 sensor, an engine will run irregularly, produce a rough idle, waste gas, and emit black smoke from the exhaust.
There are a few reasons why these fail: normal wear and tear, gunk or soot on the sensor, using low-quality fuel, or lack of maintenance. A vehicle will more than likely go through at least one set of o2 sensors during its lifecycle. However, they should last up to 100,000 miles.
Symptoms of Faulty O2 Sensors:
- CEL or MIL illuminating
- Fault codes P0141, P0138, P0131, P0420, or more
- Decreased fuel economy
- Engine misfires
- Poor engine performance
- Failed emissions test
- Black smoke emitting from the exhaust
O2 Sensor Replacement Options:
When it comes to o2 sensor failure, there is really only one option and that is to replace it. The sensor is a more expensive part, but a pretty straightforward DIY if you know where the sensor or sensors are located. The majority of the time, there will be an upstream and a downstream o2 sensor. So as long as you know where they are located, it’s a simple plug-and-play DIY. A mechanic or dealer will likely charge around $200 – $300, mainly because of the parts.
Volkswagen 1.4 TSI Engine Reliability
As with many of Volkswagen’s engines, if you follow the maintenance schedules religiously and use the correct fuel/oil, the 1.4’s are very reliable engines. Although you may be questioning their reliability because of the list of common problems above, we can’t stress enough that not all engines are created the same. If you are thinking of buying or already own a 1.4, we’ve seen them last up to 200,000 miles.