Despite enjoying a good reputation, there are some fairly common Audi 1.8 TFSI engine problems that owners should be aware of. Some of these issues are exclusive to the 1.8 TFSI. Others listed are known to plague most of EA888 family. Audi owners report these problems more than any other.
The quiet and responsive 1.8-litre TFSI comprises part of the EA888 family of engines, designed and put together by Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen Group. Originally introduced in 2007, the 1.8 TFSI has since found its way into cars throughout the VW Group’s lineup. With Audi including the engine in a broad range of its vehicles.
This petrol engine is famed for hitting the sweet spot between price and performance. It has exceptional fuel consumption levels and delivers more than enough power when needed. Unlike some other petrol engines, the 1.8 TFSI delivers plenty of low-end torque too, making it great for town and city driving as well as long-distance cruising.
Audi 1.8 TFSI Engine Features
The 1.8 TFSI is now into its third generation. Over the years VW and Audi Group have sought to refine the engine and rectify faults. Superseding some of the EA113 family of engines, some of the 1.8 TFSI’s standout upgrades include:
- Lightweight and quiet: Thanks to refinements over the EA113 assembly and the use of better casting techniques, the 1.8 TFSI weighs just 135kg. With the addition of count-rotating balanced shafts and a rigid basic structure, the engine is famed for being quiet with little to no cabin vibrations experienced by owners.
- Chain-driven cam: Doing away with a belt and the problems that accompany them, VW Audi Group instead opted for a chain-driven system in the 1.8 TFSI. Promising maintenance-free operation and better power efficiency, cars with the 1.8 TFSI engine are expected to last longer being made of more durable materials.
- Turbocharged: Featuring a K03 Borg Warner turbocharger in Gen 1 and 2 and an IS12 in Gen 3, the Audi 1.8 TFSI combines and integrates everything via a single high-quality, allow module. This allows the engine to reach peak torque in just 1.2 seconds.
Which Audi cars have the 1.8 TFSI engine?
A popular choice for almost 15 years, the 1.8 TFSI can be found in a lot of Audi’s lineup, including the following:
This generation of EA888 engines can also be found in the Volkswagen group’s other brand lineups, including VW and Skoda vehicles.
While the engine is well-regarded, it is not without its faults. As part of the EA888 family, some of the Audi 1.8 TFSI engine problems are shared by others variants and can be found across a range of different vehicles.
Excessive Oil Consumption
Affecting the second generation EA888 engines more than others, the 1.8 TFSI is known for its excessive oil consumption. The manual states around 0.2 ml of oil will be used up for every 1000 km (620 miles) driven. Owners report this to be dramatically underestimated however with frequent top-ups needed.
The main cause is the engine’s looser, thin piston rings, with the Gen 2 engines suffering worse than others. These “looser” engine parts were designed to cut emissions by reducing friction heat within engines. While this helped meet emission targets, it also introduced oil seepage problems.
All petrol engines will consume some oil over time. However, owners who notice blue smoke and oil warning lights should ensure their engine is regularly topped up. Gen 2 engine owners can, if they wish, replace the pistons and rings with tighter Gen 1 parts to mitigate the problem somewhat.
For the DIY mechanics reading, get your required parts from DIY Car Service Parts. Simply enter your registration to get suitable part recommendations for your specific car make & model.
Stretched Timing Chain
Another of the common Audi 1.8 TFSI Engine problems is stretched timing chains. This tends to affect the Gen 1 and Gen 2 1.8 TFSI engines most. While a timing chain is made of harder materials than a belt, they are composite parts with links and rollers wearing against each other over time. Despite the term “stretch” being used, it’s actually the wear and tear on these individual components that cause problems.
As the chain wears, these components begin to separate and misalign. causing misfires, rough idle, and sensor fault codes on Audi dashboards. Most owners report problems around the 80-90k miles mark.
The 1.8 TFSI engines are prone to timing chain stretch due to their excessive oil consumption leaving the part under-lubricated. Prolonging the life of a timing chain depends on good quality, clean oil lubricating components and keeping parts running smoothly. Longitudinally mounted, Gen 2 models are especially affected such as the Audi A4. This is because the 1.8 TFSI engines often find themselves low on oil and, as such, shortens the life span of the timing chain. While chains don’t need direct maintenance, keeping on top of oil top-ups can help prevent a costly £7k+ fix.
There is also a litany of complaints by owners who report substantial engine troubles as a result of the chain tensioner failing.
The chain tensioner is a mechanical device within the engine. It is responsible for maintaining tension in the timing chain. Allowing slack to form in the chain can cause underperformance and vibrations within the vehicle. If a tensioner fails it can allow so much slack to form that the chain will skip, potentially seizing the engine as valves make contact with pistons.
Some cars with the 1.8 TFSI engine are known to experience this problem, affecting older models made before May 2010. These engines used a different tensioner part (06H 109 467 N) that has since been revised. Those affected should contact an Audi garage if concerned.
Ignition Coil Failure
Plaguing a lot of the EA888 family is ignition coil problems cause the onboard computer to throw up various errors as well as the “check engine” light. The ignition coil takes electrical energy from the car’s battery and allows it to be used for combustion in the engine. These are relatively inexpensive parts that play an important role.
As well as warning lights, you can tell if you are experiencing 1.8 TFSI ignition coil problems as your engine will struggle or completely fail to start. Early signs of failure include rough turbo performance when reaching a high RPM as well as a rough idle.
While these can be replaced yourself, it can be difficult determining whether a problem lies with ignition coils or the spark plugs. Unless comfortable performing this yourself a trained mechanic should be consulted.
Intake Valves Carbon Buildup
Carbon buildup is a result of fuel being injected directly into engine cylinders. It is a problem for almost all direct injection engines. Peering into an engine’s intake valves and cylinders, you may notice black soot-like deposits forming. This is a result of improperly burning fuel.
While carbon buildup is an expected part of combustion, this problem affects Gen 1 and Gen 2 1.8 TFSI variants of the EA888 family especially. The looser pistons as compared to Gen 3 and other engines mean the combustion is often incomplete. This can be exacerbated by cheaper, lower-grade petrol and short, stop-start journeys.
If carbon buildup is left unchecked, owners will begin to notice poor fuel economy, rough idle, and even engine misfires. Carbon buildup can be “blasted away” by a high-rpm drive on the motorway. However, a regular, professional valve cleaning is highly recommended.
Premature Water Pump Failure
Affecting other EA888 variants too, the 1.8 TFSI experiences a common issue where the water pump will fail prematurely. This is due to a plastic compressor wheel within the water pump component that begins to exhibit problems around the 20k mile mark.
A 1.8 TFSI water pump failure will begin as a high pitch squeal from the engine block. You will also notice coolant leaking, with a pool underneath your car’s front end forming. The temperature gauge will also give a high readout as the 1.8 TFSI will be inadequately cooled.
In this case, a new water pump is needed which can be performed at home by owners if required.
Another component in the 1.8 TFSI engine system that leaks coolant is the thermostat housing. This regulates the amount of coolant entering the engine depending on the load and current temperature. The thermostat is vital to ensuring performance is not compromised by overheating.
A problem has been identified by 1.8 TFSI owner that report the housing seal itself stops being water-tight and drips coolant within the engine compartment. This leak will likely not be as significant as a water pump failure and often goes unobserved. Eagle-eyed owners report noticing coolant marks under the bonnet on mountings and around the engine itself. In more severe cases you might notice visible pools of coolant.
It can be tricky with a 1.8 TFSI to determine whether a coolant leak is a water pump or a thermostat so if in doubt consult a trained professional.
Is The TFSI Engine Reliable?
All things considered, the TFSI series of EA888 engines are reliable and have been used successfully by Audi for over a decade. Despite some of the issues above plaguing the engine, most owners report the 1.8 TFSI to be reliable, delivering great fuel economy and more than enough performance for most.
The reliability of the 1.8 TFSI, however, depends largely on the upkeep of the vehicle. In particular, the engine requires oil changes more often than its equivalents. This especially affects Gen 2 variants of the 1.8 TFSI that use thinner piston rings. This has been largely responsible for taking away some of the engine’s shining reputation.
In order to maintain a 1.8 TFSI, oil should be topped up regularly to help prevent wear on the timing chain. Oil and filter changes should be conducted every 10k mile or less. Some owners report 6k as the optimum amount of miles before changes.
Additionally, preventative measures can be taken by replacing spark plugs every 20k miles and having the engine’s intake valves cleared of carbon buildup every 50k miles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 1.8 TFSI a good engine?
Considering all combustion engines involve hundreds of different components working in unison, no engine is without its problems. Most of the problems affecting the 1.8 TFSI are on the less severe end of the scale. Overall then, it’s fair to call it a good engine.
How long do 1.8 TFSI engines last?
A 1.8 TFSI should last 150k+ miles. Having been out for 15 years, there are now plenty of owners reporting these engines exceeding 200k miles too. While some owners report no Audi 1.8 TFSI engine problems, most, however, have had to deal with some of the above-mentioned at some point or other.
What sort of oil does the 1.8 TFSI use?
Most cars with the 1.8 TFSI engine will need good quality 5w30 spec engine oil. However, some cars with the engine report in their manual that semi-synthetic 10w40 oil is suitable too. Check your car’s manual or the under-bonnet sticker to discover which oil is best for your vehicle.
Just like its sibling engine the 2.0 TFSI, this 1.8 version has its own share of owner reported problems. A good maintenance schedule is key to reducing the severity and frequency of these issues. That said, overall the 1.8 TFSI has been known to be a reliable and economical engine over the years. This is especially true when compared to direct competitors.
If you are currently having issues with your vehicle an On-board Diagnostic (OBD) scanner will help you diagnose the issue for as little as £25. We have put together a list of The 4 Best OBD-II Scanners for 2023 to help you decide which one best fits your needs.
If you have suffered your own Audi 1.8 TFSI engine problems, please leave us a comment below. Happy motoring!