When it comes to VW 4-cylinder gasoline engines, the 1.8L 4-cylinder direct injection engine is the king. This engine first came out in 2007, but it was later followed by the 2nd gen 1.8L TSI that came out in 2008 while the 3rd generation 1.8 TSI came out in 2011. These later iterations were primarily focused on solving issues, but they also came with worthy power and efficiency upgrades.
This engine offers between 120hp and 180hp and 170lb-ft and 240lb-ft of torque. It is commonly used on VW, Audi, Seat, and Skoda models. In this article, we are going to list all the common VW 1.8 TSI engine problems and tell you what you need to look out for when in the market for one of these.
To start off, these issues include problems with oil depletion which is likely the biggest complaint with the first two generations. The water pump is prone to failure, especially with the EA888 engine family. Ignition coils are somewhat of a standard problem on various VW engines while overheating/thermostat issues are also relatively common.
Last, but not least, we need to mention timing problems which are not as common as they used to be, but are so dangerous that they also need to be mentioned. All in all, if you want one of those, be sure to do a pre-purchase inspection and survey the engine thoroughly.
Oil Depletion Problems
The 1.8L TSI has had a very rough time with oil depletion issues, especially the 1.8L unit which is arguably the worst one of them all. Going through immense quantities of oil is a twofold problem. First of all, this will raise your maintenance costs, but the worse problem is that those who aren’t aware of this can easily be faced with immense engine issues.
The piston rings are the culprits for this issue and will need replacing whenever needed. If you notice vast amounts of blue smoke coming out of the exhaust, it is likely due to a faulty piston ring. A good idea would be to go with GEN 1 1.8L TSI pistons as those tend to be a bit more durable in this regard.
Water Pump Failure
The 1.8L TSI engine takes advantage of a plastic compressor wheel which is the main reason why the water pump can fail almost every 20,000 miles or so. As most of these engines are being pushed towards 200,000 miles, it means that you can potentially need to replace the water pump as much as 10 times.
The symptoms of these problems include high-pitched engine whines, high engine temps, a check engine light, and potentially coolant leaks. The only way to fix this problem is to replace the water pump, but some did say that you can also replace the plastic compressor wheel with a more precise one which should take the strain off the water pump.
Ignition Coil Problems
Ignition coils are used to convert energy from the battery to the spark plugs which then kickstart the combustion process. However, if you notice your 1.8 TSI not wanting to start, or it starts misfiring, it can very well be due to ignition coil problems. The good thing is that these don’t’ fail too often, but when they do, you should replace them all at once.
Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to figure out if the problems stem from the spark plugs or the ignition coils which is why many VW specialists believe it’s best to replace all the spark plugs whenever you replace all the ignition coils. You can often spot these issues with models such as the VW UP or the VW Tiguan.
The thermostat housing on the 1.8 TSI is known to develop leaks which can sometimes churn out all of your coolant which will leave your engine extremely vulnerable to overheating. If you notice your engine temps are exceeding the optimum limit, be sure to inspect the water pump and the thermostat housing as these two are known to fail.
It is said that you will also have to pressure test the entire cooling system to locate the leak and then fix it however possible.
Stretched timing chains/belts are also a relatively common problem with VW engines, particularly older ones. Be that as it may, newer engines are also prone to timing problems which can be proactively solved. If you fail to solve these early on, they are likely going to cause massive engine damage.
These problems tend to take place every 80,000 miles or so when you can encounter a check engine light, the chain skipping, rattling, or even small shards of metal in the oil. Be sure to replace the tensioner and the chain immediately in order to minimize the damage.
Is The VW 1.8 TSI A Good Engine?
Despite its less-than-ideal reputation, most owners deem the 1.8L TSI to be a really good engine as it offers enough power, yet it is still fairly efficient and easy to live with. The 2nd generation of the 1.8L TSI is by far the worst while the 3rd iteration is by far the best.
All in all, we can conclude that the 1.8L can be a great engine if it is maintained properly and if not abused during its lifetime.
Is The VW 1.8L TSI Engine Still In Production?
The 3rd gen 1.8L TSI is still in production, the 2nd gen was discontinued in 2011 while the first gen was discontinued sometime in 2008/2009. The 1.8L TSI is likely to continue its lifespan for the next few years when it is going to be replaced by hybrid iterations.
It is not clear if the 1.8L is ever going to get the hybrid treatment as VW offers it with the comparably smaller 1.4L Hybrid and the 1.5L Hybrid and Mild Hybrid models.
Is The VW 1.8L TSI A Strong Engine?
With up to 180hp, the 1.8L TSI is more than good enough for most commuter applications, but it does fall short of its bigger brother, the 2.0L TSI which is a much more powerful engine. The 1.8 is not made for racing or performance driving which means that it is not widely considered a strong engine, but some did tune it upwards of 300hp without the engine falling apart.