If you are here, I’m sure you have seen a TDI badge on the back of a Volkswagen and wondered what it meant. You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be going over what TDI stands for, the history of TDI, different types of TDIs, what vehicles have a TDI, and more.
What Does Volkswagen TDI Stand For?
TDI stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection and is what is used by Volkswagen to identify a vehicle with a turbocharged diesel engine. A turbocharger, commonly referred to as a turbo, is a turbine-driven, forced induction device that increases an engine’s power output by forcing more compressed air into the combustion chamber. Direct injection is when fuel injectors spray highly pressurized fuel into the combustion chamber. Therefore, TDI stands for a Turbocharged Direct Injection diesel engine.
VW TDI Pros
- Better fuel efficiency
- More torque than a similar-sized gas engine
- No spark plugs
- Generally more reliable
- Longer engine lifespan
- Don’t depreciate as fast as petrol engines
- More towing capabilities
VW TDI Cons
- More expensive to purchase
- Greater emissions
- More expensive to repair
- More expensive to fuel up
We think it is worth mentioning, Volkswagen also uses SDI as a marketing term for vehicles with Suction Diesel Injection. Put simply these are badged vehicles that feature a naturally aspirated (non-forced induction) direct-injection diesel engine.
History of Volkswagen TDI
Believe it or not, the first TDI engine was not put into a Volkswagen Group vehicle. Mercedes Benz was the first OEM to put a TDI engine into a vehicle, Mercedes-Benz 300SD Sedan. However, the first Volkswagen TDI was introduced in the 1989 Audi 100 TDI Sedan. It was powered by a 2.5 TDI straight five-cylinder two-stage direct injection diesel engine that put down 118hp and 203lb-ft of torque. Ever since then, Volkswagen has been making technological advances with the TDI. In 1999, the common rail injection was introduced. In 2000, PD or “Pumpe Düse” unit injectors were introduced. However, in September of 2015 the US EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group. This is commonly known as the “VW Emissions Scandal”, “Dieselgate”, or “Emissionsgate”.
VW Emissions Scandal/Dieselgate/Emissionsgate
This was a rough time period for the Volkswagen Group because essentially they ended up having to pay over $14.7 Billion in settlements. Volkswagen allegedly input “emissions defeat devices” on over 11 million vehicles worldwide, which would fake beating emissions testing and meet EPA’s emission standards. However, a group of scientists at WVU (West Virginia University) was awarded a grant to conduct emission tests on diesel vehicles, 2 of 3 being Volkswagen’s. This was the initial discovery of the “defeat devices” and the downfall of the EA288 2.0TDI and the EA189 2.0 TDI engine. Volkswagen had to authorize a $10 billion buyback program and buyback all affected TDI’s.
Vehicles Affected by Dieselgate
- 2009-2015 Jetta TDI
- 2010-2015 Golf TDI
- 2012-2015 New Beetle TDI
- 2012-2015 Passat TDI
- 2009-2016 Touareg TDI
Now, this isn’t to say that the TDI engine is not reliable, it was just an internal Volkswagen issue that we will never know if it was on purpose or accident.
Different Types of TDI’s
When we reference different types, we are referring to all of the different Volkswagen TDI engines. Since the TDI’s introduction in 1989, there have been many variations. Unfortunately, the TDI will be slowly phased out as many automakers are being forced to switch to electric vehicles. See below for all of the TDI engines Volkswagen has produced.
- 1.2 TDI
- 1.4 TDI
- 1.5 TDI
- 1.6 TDI
- 1.9 TDI
- 2.0 TDI
- 2.5 R5 TDI
- 2.7 V6 TDI
- 3.0 V6 TDI
- 4.0 V8 TDI
- 4.2 V8 TDI
- 6.0 V12 TDI
What Vehicles Have A TDI?
VW TDI’s Common Problems and Reliability
Since we currently haven’t written common problem guides for all VW TDI engines, we will list common problems seen in the more popular TDI engines. For starters, common problems seen in the 1.9 TDI are oil leaks, fuel injector failure, clogged EGR valve, timing belt failure, Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) rattle, and head gasket failure. 2.0 TDI common problems are fuel injector failure, oil pump drive shaft failure, clogged Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), timing belt tensioner failure, cracked cylinder head, and DMF failure. 3.0 TDI common problems include timing chain tensioner failure, fuel injector failure, premature glow plug failure, clogged DPF’s, clogged or leaking heater core, and High-Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP) failure.
As you saw above with the pros of diesel engines, they tend to be more reliable than gas engines. Although they may be more expensive to acquire, if properly maintained, diesel engines will last much longer than gas engines. As crazy as it sounds, we have seen multiple 1.9TDI’s last over 400,00 miles. If properly maintained, VW TDI’s are bulletproof engines.
Volkswagen TDI Conclusion
A common question when it comes to Volkswagen TDI’s, “Is Volkswagen Still Making TDI Engines?” As of 2021, the TDI engine is still being produced for another 5 years. Volkswagen has pledged to not develop any gas or diesel-powered engines after 2026. To wrap this up, we hope you have learned what TDI stands for, the history of the TDI, different types of TDIs, what vehicles feature TDIs, and common problems and reliability of TDIs. Let us know your experience with the TDI or which engine or vehicle you’re in the market for in the comments below!
Lastly, here is a post we wrote about the most popular 1.9TDI engine, “The 5 Best Mods for the Volkswagen 1.9TDI ALH Engine.”