VW Mk5 Golf TSi Engine & Timing Chain Problem
January 14, 2014
So I have an Mk5 Golf TSi GT Sports 1.4 (140) 2008 which has covered roughly 48K miles… If you have a car with a VAG twin charged 1.4 TSi engine its worth you read on. I bought it second hand from an independent garage and owned it around 18 months, covered 11K miles and had the oil and filter replaced twice.
All my TSi engine problems started on New Year’s day after parking it on a steep driveway for the first time, the car was turning over but wouldn’t start and showed “Stop! Oil Pressure Low.” After a few attempts of starting it, I had no option to have it recovered to the nearest garage. They later informed me after calling around their contacts in the industry, they had found out there was a known issue with the timing chain. But couldn’t work on the car as they didn’t have the right specialist tools required to change it if that was, in fact, the issue. They also informed me the car no longer turned over and just clicked. I then knew there was a high possibility the engine was severely damaged or in fact dead!
I had the car recovered once again to a local WV specialist garage Vasstech, who almost instantly said over the phone when I mentioned TSi “Oh that will be a timing chain slip!” They did have the tools for the job but would initially poke a borescope camera down the spark plug hole to inspect the cylinders. My worst fears were confirmed when they called back, apparently, in the first cylinder he checked the bottom of the spark plug was crushed, and he could see one of the valves heads sitting in the top of the piston. I was told from his previous experience there was a high likelihood that the majority of the 16 valves in the rest of the cylinders would have been bent or broken.
With little online research, I found this was indeed a known problem, and people were going through the same pain as me. Example 1 – Example 2
Apparently, this is an admission by VW that they acknowledge there was an issue with the timing chain on the engine back in 2012.
So it was time to start the dance with VW customer services (0800 083 3914) to see if there was any chance of a goodwill gesture. I was informed that I would have to take it to the main dealer for an initial diagnostic costing £49.99. I arranged for the car to be towed (again) to the main VW dealer, I was quickly called the same day and informed they would have to pull the head to review the full extent of the damage and what caused it, and the pleasure would cost me £860 O_o. After talking with other mechanics, I already knew that this engine is a bit of pig to work on and can take 6 hours plus just to strip the head, but even so £860! I told VW to hang fire doing any further work for a few days while I contacted customer services again.
I’d already done some initial research into having a reconditioned or low mileage engine put in the car at my own cost, which was looking to be in the region of £2500.
While in search of a trustworthy company to do the engine swap I stumble across Statller located in Sheffield via a Golf Gti forum. They were very informative and also called a timing chain issue before I even had a chance to mention it. They Said the timing chain can slip a tooth due to a problem with the tensioner when the car is not running but left in gear and rolls backwards, which obviously puts the whole thing out of sync, and it’s only a matter of time before the engine chews itself up. My thoughts instantly returned to me parking it on that steep drive, and the recovery service man turning the engine over and over again trying to get it to start!
With the various bits of ammo I’d collected from other people and around the internet, I called back VW customer services who informed me that they called the garage and weren’t willing to drop the price of the head been removed. The thing is by now I already knew that even if I did get a goodwill gesture from VW for any work that needed doing, it most probably wouldn’t be financially viable. The car was worth £6500+ working, and it was now either worth scrap value, £500 trade in or a couple of grand maybe to anyone who fancied replacing the engine themselves.
As it stands now my options are:
- Spend £860 to find out that I need to spend a further £6K with VW for a new engine hoping they will take pity and give decent enough goodwill gesture to make it viable. Hahaha yeah right!
- Sell the car as is and hope to get as much as I can for it.
- Take the risk of paying to have the engine stripped down at an independent VW specialist and hope the final cost of repairing the engine, (that’s if it isn’t terminal) is cheaper than installing a recon engine.
- Install a like for like reconditioned engine that’s had the timing chain checked, then sell the car as I wouldn’t have any faith in it any more.
- Install a different more reliable engine and keep the car for the foreseeable future. I’ve had mixed comments about this saying it’s not possible to fit a different engine as the engine bay and wiring loom are entirely different to any of the other Mk5 engines. Also the cost of changing the gearbox, drive shafts, brakes & manifold may prove too expensive.
All of these things I can ill afford to do, and it seems that I am just going to have to take the hit one way or another courtesy of Volkswagen and their timing chain design flaw. VW played their cards well pricing the initial inspection work expensive enough to make it too much of a gamble for me on there being a possible future so called gesture of goodwill!
If you’ve read this far then, you’re most probably in the same boat as me, and I’m not 100% sure where I/we stand regarding trading standards on all this, I’ll suspect they will need the initial inspection of damage to take it any further. Getting this far has been exhausting, and I hope my experience may have helped you in some way.
If you own a twin charged Mk5 Golf TSi that’s running, then I’m guessing you’re panicking a little right now, I’ve been informed this is also an issue for the 1.4 and 1.6 none charged TSi engines also. If your car has 40K miles plus it may be worth getting that timing chain checked or even changed before you end up out of pocket like me, you never know VW might give you a goodwill gesture towards the cost Ha!
TSi engines running with loose timing chains
TSi Twin Charged timing chain failure
After contacting various garages to get quotes on:
- The possibility of stripping down the engine for an evaluation and repair
- Cost of fitting replacement reconditioned engine.
All of the garages that I approached for a quote informed me that they had contacted various engine reconditioners on their books; I was surprised to find out none of the recon firms were willing to work on the engine and none of them stocked or would supply a reconditioned engine, let alone with a warranty. Wow! In one fell swoop I now only had one realistic option left; source a second hand engine from some sort of insurance write off.
This 1.4 twin charged unit was installed in VW, Skoda and SEAT cars with various states of ECU tunes. Here’s a list of compatible VAG engines that can be used:
VW Twin Charged 1.4 R4 16v TSI Engine Codes
|Engine Code||Car Model||Bhp|
|BMY||Touran from early 2006, Golf Mk5, Jetta||138|
|CAVF||SEAT Ibiza FR||148|
|CDGA||Touran, Passat B7 EcoFuel||148|
|CAVD||Golf Mk6, Scirocco Mk3, VW Jetta TSI Sport||158|
|BLG||Golf Mk5 GT, Jetta, Golf Plus, Touran||168|
|CAVE/CTHE||SEAT Ibiza Cupra, Polo GTI, Fabia RS||177|
Once you source an engine, I would advise you get it fitted by a VAG specialist and see/hear it running in the donor vehicle beforehand if possible.
VW Turbo Only 1.4 R4 16v TSI/TFSI Engine Codes
|Engine Code||Car Model||Bhp|
|CAXA||Golf Mk5 (2007 on), Tiguan (08/10->), Skoda Octavia Mk2, Scirocco Mk3||121|
|CAXC||Audi A3, SEAT Leon||123|
|CFBA||Golf Mk6, VW Jetta V, Passat B6, Skoda Octavia Mk2, LAVIDA(SAIC-VW), Bora||129|