VW 1.9 TDI Engine
| | | | | | | | | | | | | |

The 6 Most Common Audi VW 1.9TDI Engine Problems

Chandler Stark

Meet Trey

Trey is an automotive enthusiast and has a huge passion for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles of all kinds. His enthusiasm started with the MK5 GTI, and he has massively expanded his knowledge over the years. When Trey is not delivering high-quality and in-depth content, we can usually find him working in his garage on his modified Genesis coupe. Trey created VW Tuning several years ago, and he is the primary visionary behind the content.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.

Volkswagen began producing the 1.9 TDI engine in the early 90’s and ran through 2007. There are mainly two different VW 1.9 TDI’s: Pre-2003 & Post-2003. Pre-2003 features a less powerful turbocharged direct-injection engine that put down 74 bhp – 110bhp and 114 lb-ft – 173lb-ft. Post-2003 1.9 TDI introduced a new fuel injector system, “Pumpe Duse”, that put down anywhere from 74bhp – 158bhp and 115 lb-ft – 243 lb-ft. Sometimes the post-2003 engines are referred to as 1.9 TDI PD’s.

The VW 1.9 TDI is most known for its incredible fuel economy, which ranged from 32mpg (city) to 49mpg (highway). If you are in the market for a 1.9 TDI, we highly suggest finding an ALH version if at all possible.

Before jumping into the 1.9 TDI common problems, PLEASE make sure the list of parts and guides apply to your specific vehicle! Any DIY’s listed below, please do at your own risk.

Audi/VW 1.9 TDI Common Problems are Applicable for:

MK3 Jetta
MK3 Golf
MK4 Jetta
MK4 Golf
New Beetle
B4 Passat
B5 Passat
MK5 Golf
MK5 Jetta
B6 Passat

MK1 A3
B5 A4
B6 A4
C4 A6
C5 A6

The 6 Most Common Audi/Volkswagen 1.9 TDI Engine Problems

  1. Oil Leaks
  2. Injector Failure
  3. Clogged EGR Valve
  4. Timing Belt Failure
  5. Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) Rattle
  6. Head Gasket Failure

1. VW 1.9 TDI Oil Leaks

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common problems in these engines and it is primarily due to the valve cover gasket.  A valve cover gasket may be one of the most important gaskets on your vehicle because essentially it prevents oil from escaping the engine.

The valve cover gaskets are rubber and they do tend to fail because of the high temperature and pressure that is put on them. Aside from oil leaking, a gasket going bad is not the end of the world for your vehicle. However, we would advise getting it fixed ASAP just because this is certainly not optimal engine conditions for your vehicle.

Other predominant areas for oil leaks with the 1.9 TDI’s could be turbo oil supply line, rear or front main seal, or the EGR.

Symptoms of Oil Leaks:

  • Burning smell or smoke coming from the engine
  • Oil drips while the vehicle is stationary
  • Oil light illuminating
  • Engine overheating

Valve Cover Replacement Options:

There are really two options when it comes to replacing your valve cover gasket: purchase a new gasket or purchase a new valve cover entirely with a new gasket. We are big believers in replacing as many new parts as possible to fix problems. But we also understand the money aspect, in which purchasing a gasket is a much cheaper option. The DIY on either solution is not too difficult and will save you more money if you choose to do so. You would be looking at around ~$200 – $600, depending on if you choose to go with just gasket or not, if you went to a shop.

Buy Here: VW 1.9 TDI OEM Valve Cover w/ Gasket

DIY Difficulty: Intermediate

2. Injector Failure

Fuel injectors are common problems in the majority of diesel engines in today’s market. Fuel injectors in the 1.9 TDI deliver fuel directly into the engine cylinders initiating engine combustion. If you have a bad injector, your vehicle will experience poor fuel economy due to not optimal fuel being pushed through the cylinders.

There are a few ways of how a fuel injector can fail: they can be clogged, they can leak, or just straight out faulty. The first two could be cheaper to fix, but we would advise replacing the entire injector to avoid further issues in the future. If you’re following the maintenance intervals closely, you should only have to replace these once, maybe twice, throughout your vehicle’s lifespan.

Symptoms of Injector Failure:

  • Engine misfires
  • Rough Idle
  • Hard starts or no start
  • Poor engine performance
  • Sporadic RPMs

Injector Replacement Options:

Replacing your vehicle’s injectors is not the hardest DIY, as long as you have the proper tools for the job. We highly advise replacing all of the injectors when you come across one or two faulty injectors to ensure you won’t be replacing the others shortly after. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, you would be looking for a cost of ~$1,000 mostly due to the cost of parts.

Buy Here: VW 1.9 TDI OEM Injector Replacement Set

DIY Difficulty: Intermediate

3. VW 1.9 TDI Clogged EGR Valve

The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve is a common problem in a majority of diesel engines today. The main purpose of the EGR system is to reduce emissions coming from the engine going out of the exhaust. The EGR valve specifically connects the exhaust manifold to the intake manifold and filters the soot/carbon that is emitted from the engine.

The EGR valve itself is not prone to failure. Usually what ends up happening is all of the soot and carbon build-up will block the valve from being able to filter properly. The clogging of the valve is something that you will probably experience once or twice throughout the life cycle of your vehicle.

Symptoms of Clogged EGR Valve:

  • Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminating (Fault code P0401)
  • Engine stalls
  • Above-average fuel consumption
  • Poor engine performance
  • Stronger than normal fuel smell coming from the engine

EGR Valve Replacement Options:

There are three options you can do to fix an EGR valve failing depending on the damage. If there is a busted diaphragm, you will need to replace it, but if it is clogged, you can clean it or get it professionally cleaned. The third is to EGR delete. We don’t advise this route. Whichever route you go, either solution is relatively easy to do but time-consuming. If you take it to a shop to get it replaced, you will be looking at ~$400.

Buy Here: VW 1.9 TDI OEM EGR Valve Replacement

DIY Difficulty: Easy

4. Timing Belt Failure

Unfortunately, this is a common problem in not just 1.9 TDI’s but a lot of Audi/VW engines. The timing belt specifically in the 1.9 TDI drives the cylinder head, injection pump, camshaft, and crankshaft to ensure they are in sync. It also drives the water pump of your engine. As you can tell, the timing belt is a very crucial component in any engine running today.

Something to pay attention to is your recommended maintenance interval with the timing belt. Replacement may vary from 40,000 miles – 100,000 miles. If your timing belt snaps, this could lead to serious engine damage. The main reason a timing belt goes bad is normal wear and tear or lack of following the maintenance intervals.

Symptoms of Timing Belt Failure:

  • Ticking noise coming from engine
  • Engine misfires
  • Engine not starting
  • Oil leaks
  • Poor engine performance

Timing Belt Replacement Kit Options:

As stated above, when a timing belt fails it can cause catastrophic engine damage. So it is important to act right away if your vehicle experiences timing belt failure. We would highly advise replacing the whole kit and water pump to ensure all the parts are new and you won’t have to worry about replacing any of the tensioners shortly after replacing the belt. Doing this DIY is difficult and the majority of the time, the engine will have to be removed from your vehicle. If you know your way around the engine and have a way to remove it, go for it, but if not you will be looking at a cost of ~$1,200 mainly due to labor costs.

Buy Here: Timing Belt Kit Replacement (ALH Engine Code)
Buy Here: Timing Belt Kit Replacement (BEW Engine Code)

DIY Difficulty: Difficult

5. Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) Rattle/Failure

This common problem exists in the Audi/Volkswagen 1.9 TDI manual engines. A Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) is located at the end of the crankshaft and has three main purposes: ensure a smooth vehicle experience when starting your vehicle, idling your vehicle, or shifting gears in your vehicle.

When the DMF starts to fail, you will start to hear a rattle, mainly due to a spring failing in the unit itself. Once you hear it rattle, like the video down below, you will want to get it taken care of immediately or there will be further engine damage.

Symptoms of DMF Failure:

  • DMF Rattle (See video below for reference)
  • Clutch slipping
  • Vehicle vibrations on the floor of the car
  • Hard clutch
  • Rough shifting

DMF Replacement Options:

Whenever you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is important to act right away as DMF failure can lead to serious engine consequences. If you know your way around your engine, then you can DIY this project, however, it is not an easy task. We would advise going the aftermarket route over the OEM because it is stronger, but we have listed both for convenience purposes. If you are looking to take this to the shop to fix it, you will be looking at a cost of ~ $600 – $800 depending on where you go.

DIY Difficulty: Difficult

6. Head Gasket Failure

Head gasket failure is not the most common problem in 1.9 TDI’s, but it’s common enough to make the list. A head gasket is a very important part in any modern engine because it serves as a seal between the engine block and the cylinder head.

The main cause of a failing head gasket is due to normal wear and tear or when your vehicle is overheating. When it does fail, this is mainly referred to as a blown head gasket, you will want to get it worked on immediately.

Symptoms of Head Gasket Failure:

  • Engine overheating
  • White smoke emitting from the exhaust
  • Oil contamination
  • Coolant or oil leaks
  • Rough start
  • Rough idle

Head Gasket Replacement Options:

Most of the time when it comes to head gasket failure, you will just want to replace it. This is a tedious DIY if you decide to tackle it yourself. You would be looking at an expensive bill at the shop due to mostly labor and having to strip some of the engine down to get to the gasket. But it could come out to ~$1,000 or more.

Buy Here: VW 1.9 TDI OEM Head Gasket Replacement Set

DIY Difficulty: Difficult

Volkswagen 1.9 TDI Engine Reliability

Just like any other engine on the market, the 1.9 TDI will last longer if it is taken care of properly. As crazy as it sounds, we have seen some 1.9’s at 250,000 – 300,000 miles and one at just over 400,000 miles. This is not to say that all VW 1.9 TDI’s will last this long, but they definitely could IF all the maintenance intervals are strictly followed.

Similar Posts


  1. What upgrades do You recommend for a 2006 VW Jetta TDI 5 speed. Mine has a stage 1 tune. 168500 miles on it. It has the BRM TDI engine. I get 44 mpg city on winter diesel.

  2. How is the best way to find TDC on 1.9 TDI ALH when the flywheel does not have a mark? Thanks

  3. I’m at 406k on my 2002 TDI Jetta (my daily driver). We also have a 2004 TDI New Beetle (275k), 2006 TDI Jetta (271k), 2014 TDI Jetta (133k), and my wife’s daily driver: a 2015 TDI Passat (143k). The 2002, 2004, and 2014 are manual trans (mine) and my wife drives the automatic trans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.