The 7 Most Common VW 2.0T TSI Engine Problems
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.
Article Updated: January 19, 2023
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The 2.0L Turbo TSI, commonly referred to as the 2.0T TSI, engine was introduced in 2008.5 and used up until 2014 in a number of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. More specifically, this engine was found in the Volkswagen GTI, Jetta, Passat, CC, Eos, Tiguan, and Beetle, in addition to being found in the Audi A3 and MK2 TT. Not to get this engine confused with the TFSI, we’ve written an article explaining the difference between the TSI vs TFSI.
While we like to say that every engine is generally reliable when properly taken care of, these engines do have a laundry list of known common problems. While this list may be daunting, most of these issues are common across all German, turbocharged vehicles from our experience, not just Audi’s or VW’s. For all replacement parts linked below, PLEASE ensure they fit your vehicle before purchase.
These Common Problems are Applicable for:
Volkswagen / VW:
MK5 GTI 2008.5-2009
MK6 GTI 2010-2014
MK5 Jetta 2008.5-2010
MK6 Jetta 2011-2014
B6 Passat 2008.5-2010
TT (MK2) 2008.5-2014
The 7 Most Common Volkswagen 2.0t TSI Engine Problems
- Leaking / Clogged Fuel Injectors
- Water Pump Failure
- Misfires / Faulty Ignition Coils or Spark Plugs
- Timing Chain Tensioner
- PCV Valve Failure
- Boost Diverter Valve
- High Pressure Fuel Pump Failure
1. 2.0T TSI Leaking or Clogged Fuel Injectors
This engine uses direct injection, in which fuel is sprayed directly into the engine’s cylinders, rather than into the intake ports. There are numerous benefits to direct injection, including fuel efficiency, improved emissions, lower engine temps, etc. But it also has its downsides as the fuel injectors tend to become problematic over time.
The fuel injectors are responsible for spraying or injecting the gasoline into the cylinder. Each of the TSI’s 4-cylinders has its own fuel injector. These fuel injectors are extremely high-pressure (aka why there is a need for an HPFP, high-pressure fuel pump, which is a problem we’ll discuss later), spraying gas at nearly 1,500 PSI of pressure.
Injectors are exposed to high heat levels and enormous amounts of pressure. Over time, this pressure and heat can cause normal wear and tear and lead to the fuel injectors leaking. Additionally, they can get gunked up or clogged. As either of these issues persist, the fuel injector can flat-out fail.
Symptoms of Bad Fuel Injectors
When injectors fail, they either fail open or fail closed. If they fail open, they endlessly spray way too much fuel into the cylinder. If they fail closed, they spray zero gas into the cylinder. The end result is either too much, or not enough fuel being sprayed into the engine’s cylinder. The most notable sign of this will be cylinder misfires.
Fortunately, fuel injectors usually only fail once at a time, rather than all 4 at a time. Here are the common tell-tale signs of failure:
- Poor idling, acceleration, and overall performance
- Loss of power, acceleration
- Dripping gas from the engine
- Engine misfire fault codes
Common Engine Misfire Fault Codes
- P0301 (cylinder 1)
- P0302 (cylinder 2)
- P0303 (cylinder 3)
- P0304 (cylinder 4)
Diagnosing and Replacing Failed Fuel Injectors
Diagnosing problematic injectors can be more difficult than some other problems. If you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, the problem could also be bad spark plugs, ignition coils, or excess carbon build-up. These issues are a lot easier to diagnose, so we recommend checking plugs and coils before replacing your injectors. We cover this further down under the spark plugs and ignition coils problem.
Replacing the injectors requires removing the intake manifold, which is not an easy task for a moderate DIY’er. As we mentioned, these commonly only fail one at a time, however, since they are not the easiest to replace, we recommend replacing them all at the same time. Genuine injectors are only ~$70 each, so just bite the bullet and replace all 4.
Buy Here: VW 2.0T TSI Injectors
Cost of Injectors: $70ea, $280 in total for Genuine parts ($200 for aftermarket brand)
Shop Repair Cost: ~$600-800
DIY Time: 2-3 hours
2. 2.0T TSI Water Pump Failure
Water pumps are responsible for propelling water (coolant) through the engine system and radiator. Like fuel injectors, they are highly pressurized and subject to high levels of heat.
On this engine, the factory water pump is manufactured with a plastic housing and many other plastic components. High pressure, high heat and plastic don’t really go very well together as you can imagine. Over time, as the water pump is subject to this heat and normal wear and tear, it can become prone to leaking.
Water pump leaks are generally caused by two things: deterioration from the gasket, or a crack in the housing. On some VW’s, these water pumps are known to fail every approx. 50,000 miles. There have been a number of relating lawsuits and recalls due to the likelihood and commonality of failure across all VW engines.
Symptoms of Water Pump Failure
- Low engine coolant light
- Engine overheating, going into limp mode
- Leaking coolant around the water pump
- Leaking coolant on your garage floor
- Engine codes (P3081, P2181, P0087, P00B7, + more)
Engine overheating or frequent low coolant levels (after replacing coolant) are the most common tell-tale signs of a bad water pump. These things tend to fail pretty quickly, rather than over time, so you’ll likely know it when it happens.
What to do when your water pump fails
Your water pump is going to fail when you’re driving it. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it will be at idle when you’re in your driveway, but it’s usually not. Do not keep driving your car if your water pump fails. The worst thing for an engine is heat. Excess heat will warp internals and kill an engine. If you are overheating and have a failed water pump, pull over to the side of the road and get a tow truck. If you’re 1,000 feet away from a repair shop, fine, idle the car over to it. But otherwise, get a tow.
Water Pump Replacement Options
First of first, enter your VIN and see if you have a recall for your water pump: https://www.vw.com/owners-recalls/. If you don’t try calling a dealership and see if it is covered under an extended warranty. With the lawsuits, VW and Audi offered an extended warranty on a number of models.
If you don’t have a warranty or a recall, you’ll need to either DIY it or have a shop replace it. When you replace it, upgrade your water pump to one with an aluminum housing. Getting an aluminum housing water pump will mitigate any issues caused by the plastic on the OEM pump. And they are practically the same price. When replacing the water pump, ensure you have the proper coolant to top your coolant off.
Buy Here: VW 2.0T TSI Water Pump Replacement
Dealership/Mechanic Repair Cost: $600 – $1,000
DIY Cost: $150-$250 for the aluminum replacement pump
3. 2.0T TSI Engine Misfires & Faulty Ignition Coils
Misfires are the bane of forced induction vehicles. Cylinders are powered by three components: oxygen, spark, and fuel. Any one of these three components can lead to a misfire. However, on this engine, misfires are most commonly caused by a lack of spark. Without a spark, the cylinder will not create any combustion, resulting in the cylinder not functioning or creating any power. Additionally, it can lead to a build up of fuel in the cylinder, which then ignites, from excess heat, out of time with the rest of the cylinder.
The ignition coils send electricity to the spark plugs, which provide the spark for combustion. When an ignition coil goes bad, it doesn’t send any electricity to the spark plug. The end result is misfires and poor performance, idling, etc.
We recommend replacing both the spark plugs and ignition coils every 40,000 to 60,000 miles.
Symptoms of Bad Ignition Coils
- Engine misfires
- Rough idling
- Poor acceleration, loss of power, lack of driveability, etc.
- Fault codes for Misfire (P0300 through P0304)
Diagnosing a Bad Ignition Coil
As we mentioned on the fuel injectors above, misfires can be caused by: ignition coils, spark plugs, or fuel injectors. We always recommend testing the coils and plugs first, which is relatively easy to do.
Say you are getting a P0302 code, this means you have a misfire in cylinder 2. What you want to do is take the ignition coil from any other cylinder, say cylinder 3, and swap it with the coil in cylinder 2. If the misfire code moves the new cylinder (P0303), that means it’s a bad ignition coil. If the misfire stays on cylinder 2 (P0302) that means it is not the ignition coil.
Next, if it’s not the ignition coil, you can follow the same procedure with the spark plugs in those cylinders. Swap them and see if it moves. If it does, then its caused by the spark plugs.
Replacing Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils
Both the plugs and coils are relatively inexpensive. Like injectors, these usually tend to fail 1 at a time. However, if one has failed, the others are likely not far behind it. We always recommend replacing all of them at the same time. DIY’ing is easy here so you can DIY it to keep costs down so you can afford to replace all of them rather than just 1 at a time.
VW 2.0T TSI Replacement Ignition Coils and Spark Plugs (HIGHLY suggest replacing all of them)
DIY Replacement Cost: ~$200
4. Timing Chain Tensioner Failure – 2.0T TSI
Timing chains are responsible for controlling engine timing and turning the intake and exhaust camshafts. The tensioner is responsible for applying tension (keeping the chain tight) to the guide rail, which then keeps the tension on the chain tight.
On pre-2013 2.0T TSI engines, the tensioner was prone to early failure. While the chain was recommended to be replaced every 120,000 miles, the tensioner is known to fail way sooner and very suddenly. When the tensioner fails, it causes the chain to loosen, as all tension is lost. A loose timing chain is prone to jumping, which results in the piston hitting the valves and bending the valves.
To put it in simpler terms, a chain jumping could kill your engine and result in $3,000 or $4,000 of replacement costs, if not more. The failure is due to a design flaw in the tensioner, which Audi and VW fixed in 2013. These have been known to fail even on engines with 20,000 miles or less.
Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain Tensioner
Unfortunately, these things fail suddenly, and you’ll know exactly when it happens. You typically won’t get any warning signs here. However, sometimes you might get lucky and get a warning sign which will come in the form of a rattling noise from the passenger side of the engine.
- Engine dies
- Engine won’t crank, turn over, or start
- Rattling sound from passenger side of the engine (only warning sign)
Replacing the Timing Chain Tensioner
Due to the commonality of the problem, and it being caused by a design flaw, a class-action lawsuit was filed, and settled in late 2019. There were recalls done on all affected models. Check if you have the recall here: https://www.vw.com/owners-recalls/.
The solution here is simply replacing the tensioner with the updated part. We recommend doing this on every one of these engines if you haven’t replaced it already. Even if you’re only at 20,000 miles. The old tensioner can fail at any time and lead to costly repair costs, so it’s a highly recommended preventative maintenance replacement.
Hopefully, you are covered by the recall or a warranty, but otherwise, the parts will cost around $600 and labor is around 5 hours, so you’re looking at something in excess of $1k to upgrade the tensioner.
Buy Here: 2.0T TSI Replacement Tensioner
DIY Skill Level: Highly advanced
5. PCV Valve Failure
The PCV valve, which stands for positive crankcase ventilation, is responsible for capturing gases made by the engine and re-circulating them back through the intake system where they are further burned down. The valve primarily captures oil fumes and unburned fuel gases and is important for reducing emissions.
These unburned gases are harmful for your engine as they contain hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, water, sulfur, acid, and a few other substances which are prone to corroding metal and creating “sludge” build-up which can affect the overall performance and function of other engine systems. Overall, the un-burned fumes are bad for you engine, so enter the PCV valve to recycle and re-burn the gases.
A failing or bad PCV valve is bad for the environment, but also bad for your engine, and can create numerous performance and other issues. Some potential issues include: misfires, oil leaks, excessive fuel and oil consumption, lean AFR’s, etc.
Symptoms of a Bad PCV Valve
- Misfire fault codes (P0300 to P0304)
- Rough, poor idling
- Intake whistling noise (see link below for example)
- Lean air-to-fuel ratios (AFR’s)
- P0171 fault code (Bank 1 too lean)
- P0507 fault code (Idle air control system)
Replacing a PCV Valve
Whether the PCV valve completely fails, or gets stuck in the open or closed position, you’ll need to replace the valve itself. The part itself is ~$150 and a relatively easy DIY for someone with DIY experience under their belt.
Buy Here: 2.0T TSI Replacement PCV Valve
6. Boost Diverter Valve
A diverter valve controls boost pressure and recirculates boosted air, called “charge air” back into the engine. The diverter valve is similar to a blow-off valve, except a blow-off valve releases the charge air into the atmosphere, whereas a diverter valve re-circulates it through the intake system.
Under full throttle, the diverter valve will be closed off, funneling all of the charge air into the engine. When you let off the accelerator, it opens up, releasing the air back into the intake stream. When the diverter valve goes bad, it will not be able to fully-open or fully-close. The result is leaking boost, or not delivering enough charged air to the engine, which significantly reduces performance and puts excess strain on your turbocharger.
Earlier models used a rubber diaphragm, similar to my explanation above, which was the main failure point. The diverter valve eventually received an upgrade from the diaphragm style to a piston style, which fixed any leak issues. Failure is more likely on tuned Audi’s and VW’s which are running higher-than-stock levels of boost pressure or psi.
Symptoms of Bad Boost Diverter Valve
- Boost pressure (psi) drops under acceleration, or is “under target”
- Performance loss, lack of acceleration, noticeable power drop, etc.
- P0234 fault code – over-boosting (too much PSI)
- P0299 fault code – under-boost (too little PSI)
- Increased intake sounds during acceleration
Diverter Valve Replacement
Fortunately, the diverter valve is only about $60, and is a pretty easy DIY for anyone willing to get underneath their car. The below forum thread also discussed upgraded diverter valves. For people running tunes/chips/etc., a stock diverter valve will wear and tear more frequently. And a perfectly healthy diverter valve might still leak boost if you are trying to run a ton of it.
Because of this, you may want to explore upgrading to a performance diverter valve. Alternatively, you could add a blow-off valve – to each their own on this choice. Both a DV and BOV accomplish the same thing, they just have a different way of doing so.
Buy Here: 2.0T TSI Replacement Diverter Valve
7. HPFP Failure – High-Pressure Fuel Pump
Remember when we discussed fuel injectors at the beginning of this guide? Yeah, you can thank those things for this problem.
Fuel injectors pump really high-pressure fuel into the engine. This creates the need for the HPFP to be responsible for pressurizing and creating the high-pressure fuel for the injectors to spray into the engine. All of these engines also have an LPFP, or low-pressure fuel pump, which is responsible for pumping the gas from the gas tank to the HPFP system.
When we see the HPFP fail, it is usually due to either the solenoid that controls it or the internal pieces within the pump (notable, the “pintle”) not functioning properly. The end result of a bad HPFP is no high-pressure fuel, aka fuel with low pressure.
Without enough fuel pressure, the injectors aren’t able to properly feed the engine with enough fuel which can create a number of problems. In rare cases, it can prevent the car from starting, if the pressure is that low, but usually it is high enough to start the car. However, you will likely be misfiring left and right, have a huge loss of power, poor idling, etc. all varying depending on how bad the HPFP is.
Symptoms of a Failed HPFP
- Check engine light and fault code for low fuel pressure
- P2293 fault code (fuel pressure regulator valve)
- P0087 fault code (fuel rail/system too low)
- Misfires (again!)
- Poor or slow acceleration, overall performance, idling, etc.
- Long crank/start times
Replacing your HPFP
With a stock, good HPFP, your fuel pressures should be approximately 40 bar. On a bad HPFP, you will probably see single or low-double-digit numbers. If you aren’t throwing an obvious check-engine code, you will need to read your fuel pressures to verify it’s bad. The first step is to test the LPFP and make sure that is functioning properly by hooking it up to a low-pressure fuel gauge.
DIY Level: Intermediate (1 hour)
Buy Here: 2.0T TSI Replacement HPFP
HPFP Cost: $120
Volkswagen 2.0T TSI Reliability
When it comes to the overall reliability of this engine, we covered it a little bit above, but it can be very reliable if maintained properly. Again, we would highly advise replacing the timing chain tensioner if this hasn’t already been done, but other than that, they are pretty solid. If you are modifying this engine with just bolt-ons, the reliability likely won’t change much. However, once a tune or upgraded turbo gets put on, that is when reliability will take a hit. Anytime you push an engine past the stock threshold, reliability will always take a hit. We have seen many of these engines last well into the 200,00 miles without any major engine issues. If you, or someone you know, owns or owned a 2.0T TSI, let us know your experience in the comments below!
Vw vehicles are really good cars
Hey, you guys are doing good stuff for us, thank you!
I just picked up an “011” Tiguan sel 4motion. What kind of not to drastic, wallet friendly ( or not ) upgrades or mods are
Possible or available to help the little guy out?
How to loose 2.0t oil filter
Hey Guys, I’m trying to fit an engine like this in a mk3 golf, but i’m still histant about taking this decision can any one help with any experience?
Very good job of helping with us VW Tiguan owners .
That is our goal. Thanks for the feedback.
Considering a 2010 tiguan with 118000kms on it don’t know what to expect from the engine or where to buy all the replacement parts mentioned above to keep it on the road as I am in Africa we may only access used parts of the same engine with the same problems