What Are The Most Common Issues With Volkswagen 1.8 TSI EA888 Engine?

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The EA888 was released pretty recently, in 2007. It has had different variations over the years, with them being known as the 2.0 and 1.8 versions. Both of these engines were turbocharged, which greatly improved the performance.

What many people overlook when buying a new engine are the cons. There are many drawbacks of the EA888 engine too, which you should be aware of.

Some of the main Volkswagen EA888 engine problems are:

  1. Faulty Ignition Coils
  2. Unusually Oil Consumption At High Level
  3. Failure Of The Water Pump
  4. Too Much Tension On The Timing Chain
  5. Leak In The Thermostat Housing

All of these issues need immediate attention as they may cause irreparable damage to the engine. This article will discuss all of them in detail, including possible repair options.

The 5 Most Common VW EA888 Engine Problems

As promised, this article will now be getting into the details of all of the mentioned issues. You should read this section completely as the information here is vital and can influence your decision to buy this engine.

1. Faulty Ignition Coils

We will start with the most common issue in this article. There were many complaints from the owners of the EA888 engine about the premature failure of the ignition coils, and the problem is present in almost all turbocharged engines.

The Issue

So, what is the reason for these coils failing? Well, there can be more than one reason for the unexpected failure. The most common one is wearing and tear. There could also be moisture or faulty ignition cables.

Yes, that can happen too. So, you must be on the lookout, especially if the engine has been running without any issues for over 50000 miles.

Symptoms

Many symptoms can arise when the ignition coils are not working properly. These indications can be used to diagnose the issue as soon as possible.

They are:

  • Difficulty starting the engine.
  • Unexpected misfires.
  • CEL light turned on.
  • Sudden engine stalls.

These symptoms indicate that the coils could be failing. I must clarify that other sources could cause these symptoms, so they should not be taken as definite proof that the coils are the root cause of the issue.

The probability of the coils being faulty is quite high. Regardless, you should get a proper diagnosis before drawing any conclusions.

Repair

Before heading down to the nearest workshop, you should get an OBDII scanner to diagnose the problem yourself. If there is an error code in the P0300 range, then the coils are the ones that need attention.

The only thing you can do is replace the coils altogether. You could replace the faulty ones only, but that is not recommended. A combination of old and new hardware will cause issues due to there being a mismatch.

The job is simple enough to be done at home, but if you are not confident or don’t want to risk it, you can expect to pay labor charges.

2. Unusually Oil Consumption At High Level

This, right here, is a very interesting issue. Many EA888 engine owners expressed their frustrations when the engine would suddenly increase the oil consumption drastically. This problem is the one that has deterred dozens of people from choosing this engine for daily driving.

Reasons

Before I continue, I must clarify that this problem is present on all variants of the EA888, but it was reported more by owners of the second generation of the engine.

The reason is that the manufacturer used very thin piston rings, which are not that durable. But it does not end there. A malfunctioning PCV valve could cause the problem.

Diagnosis

Many different ways can be used to identify the root cause of the issue.

The most common ones to check out are:

  • Deposits on the spark plugs.
  • Exhaust emitting blue smoke.
  • Oil pan has metal shavings.

You must act as fast as possible because the low oil in the vehicle can cause some serious damage. Volkswagen vehicles are always known to cause major issues when the engine’s oil goes below a certain limit.

Fixing The Problem

The first thing that you should do is consumption test done. You could do it yourself or get it done by a mechanic. In this test, the vehicle’s oil is refilled, and the consumption is seen after driving for some time.

If the issue is present, you might need to change the PCV valve or the piston rings. The workshop will run a thorough diagnosis to confirm the problem.

For those who are not aware, these are extremely expensive to replace, and you can expect to shell out anywhere from $5-6k. This is quite expensive, but it will ensure that the engine is back in working condition.

3. Failure Of The Water Pump

So, next on this list is a problem that is quite common in Volkswagen vehicles. The pump failure is something that I have written about many times, and it is surprising to me that the company still has not fixed the issue.

The Problem

Although it is named the water pump, the part has one job: pump coolant throughout the engine. This coolant makes sure that the engine temperature is always at optimal conditions.

There can be various factors that can contribute to the failure of the pump:

  • Wear and tear.
  • Use of incorrect coolant.
  • Less coolant than the recommended amount.

All of these issues can cause the pump to deteriorate. Out of all of these, wearing and tearing is the issue that occurs after the vehicle has been driven for more than 100000 miles.

When the pump fails, the main cooling system of the vehicle stops working. This means that your engine will overheat within minutes of starting the driving. The high engine temperature will also lead to the failure of other parts. You may now understand how vital the pump is in the EA888 engine.

Identifying The Issue

The failure of pump can be confirmed using various means. The engine may overheat, there may be a coolant leak, or the best way to confirm is if the radiator is emitting a lot of steam.

Repair

The pump itself is quite cheap. The installation process is not too complex. You must know what you are doing. If instead, you turn to a workshop, then the labor charges will be quite high. You should do what you are comfortable with.

When you replace the pump, it is also advised to get the thermostat housing replaced too. There is a whole section dedicated to the housing down below. You must check it out, too, if you are about to replace the pump.

4. Too Much Tension On The Timing Chain

If any problem includes the word timing chain, you should treat it as soon as possible. This issue is the most critical one, out of all the ones on the market.

So, let’s see what the problem is.

Source Of The Issue

Many of you may already be aware of the function of the chain. It is connected to the crankshaft and is responsible for controlling the timing of all of the pistons and valves in the engine.

Unfortunately, owners of the 2.0t EA888 engine complained that the chain would stretch out. So, what could cause this to happen?

After a lot of research, I found out that stretching is just the elongation of the chain, which can be caused by wear and tear. Yes, that’s right, the gradual tear is something that destroys everything in its path.

Diagnosing The Problem

So, what could be done to confirm that the chain is stretched? With a part as important as a timing chain, there are many symptoms associated with its failure.

The most common ones are:

  • OBDII scanner showing P0506, P0341 engine codes.
  • The CEL light has turned on.
  • The oil pan contains metal pieces.
  • The engine is idling in a rough manner.

All of these symptoms suggest that the chain may be at fault.

Repair

If you have diagnosed the issue, then it is recommended to get the vehicle towed. Driving it will pose a risk to you and the people around you. Any issues regarding the timing chain leave no options other than getting a full replacement.

The repair will cost you a lot because of the labor charges. The job is extremely difficult and tedious, and you should not try to do it yourself. The procedure will cost you more than $1000. It is a steep price, but that is the only way to make sure that the engine will be back in working condition.

5. Leak In The Thermostat Housing

This final problem on this list is another serious one. It was mostly reported by owners of the third generation of the EA888 engine. I found it surprising that the company could not fix all of its mistakes, even in the third iteration of the same engine.

If you didn’t know, the thermostat is the part that lets the coolant go through at the right amount of time.

Reasons For Failure

So, what could cause the thermostat to fail? Well, there are several things at play, which must all be considered.

The most common ones are:

  • Wear and tear.
  • Overheating.
  • Sludge formation.

These are the main reasons which can cause the thermostat to malfunction and possibly fail. You may have noticed that the phrase wear and tear has been written yet again. The thermostat can reach its end of life after being used for over 100000 miles.

Identification

So, what could be done to identify the issue as soon as possible? Well, the first thing you should check is if there is a coolant leak in the engine. Other symptoms are imbalanced readings of temperature and the coolant light turning on, and all of them suggest that the radiator may be causing issues.

Repair

The thermostat replacement is quite easy. You can replace it yourself, without a mechanic. If the thermostat needs replacement, it is also recommended to replace the pump with it. This will make sure that all worn-out parts related to cooling the engine have been replaced.

If you want to diagnose the issue further, the best way is to do a pressure test. If there is a leak, then the replacement as mentioned above should be done immediately. The replacement will cost you $200, and if you want it to be done by a professional, you can expect to buy a couple of hundred dollars more.

What Is The EA888 Engine?

The EA888 engine from Volkswagen is a good one. The company has made a solid engine. This engine has been available in two different variations, the 1.8t, and the 2.0t.

The 2.0L variant was introduced a year later, in 2007. They had their generations, in which the company made the design better and removed some faults.

The 1.8t and the 2.0t had three generations. All of them are turbocharged engines, which is one of the main reasons they can produce more than 200 HP without any modifications. The EA888 engine was featured in many vehicles, and users loved it.

Is The EA888 Engine Reliable?

I am afraid the answer to this question is a no. The engine is not that reliable…

The fact that the company introduced three different iterations of the engine, which had no major improvements, is one of the reasons I am saying that the engine is unreliable. From the high oil consumption to the failing cooling system, the manufacturer should address these issues immediately.

But if you keep the engine maintained and used only the highest quality of oil and coolant, then the chances of these issues will drop. That would greatly increase the maintenance costs, which is something many of you may not like.

What Cars Use The EA888 Engine?

The engine has been used in many vehicles. The company made sure to make it available to as many people as possible. It was also used by more than one manufacturer, which is, of course, under the Volkswagen name:

Volkswagen:

  • Jetta MK5
  • Passat B6
  • Passat CC

Audi:

  • Audi TT MK2
  • Audi 8P A3
  • Audi B7 A4
  • A4
  • A5

Seat:

  • Leon MK2
  • Altea XL

Skoda:

  • Yeti
  • Octavia MK2
  • Superb MK2

The fact that the engine was available in so many vehicles is also why there are many complaints about the engine’s reliability.

EA888 Engine Specs

The material used for the cylinder block Cast iron
The material used for the cylinder head Aluminum only
Type of fuel used Gasoline driven
Type of injection Direct fuel injection, Mult point injection
Arrangement Inline
Total no. of cylinders 4
Number of valves per cylinder 4
Valvetrain design DOHC
Bore 82.5-mm or 3.25-inches
Stroke 92.8-mm or 3.65-inches
Displacement of the engine 1799cc, 1984cc
Combustion type Naturally aspirated, Turbocharged
Ratio of compression 9.6:1
Power in hp 170 – 310 @ 4300-5900 rpm
Torque in ft. lb 207 – 280 @ 1500-5500 rpm
Oil weight SAE 5W-30 and5W-40
Oil capacity 6 quarts w/filter
Firing order 1-3-4-2
Time between oil change 9000miles (15000-km) or 12 months

The Benefits Of Choosing The EA888 Engine

There are many advantages of the EA888 engine that you must consider before making the final decision:

  • The third generation of the engines has most of the issues fixed.
  • The turbocharged nature of the engine allows it to have better performance.
  • The fuel consumption of the engine is something that most people don’t have any complaints about.
  • Users were able to cross the 200000-mile mark with this vehicle without any major issues.
  • The engine can be tuned to your liking so that you can control the horsepower and the torque.

FAQs

How Do I Identify The Different Generations Of The EA888 Engine?

Well, the oil ports’ locations have been changed in each generation. For example, the third generation has the port on the left side. This will help you in identifying what variation of the engine you are running under the hood.

Is TSI Better Than TFSI?

Many of you may be wondering the difference between the two as the EA888 engine is a TSI one. I have good news for you. The TSI is considerably better than TFSI. So, you don’t have to reconsider your decision.

How Long Does The 2.0 TSI Engine Last?

The engine will easily be able to last more than 150000 miles. I did mention before that there were users who could cross the 200000-mile mark, which is certainly very impressive.

Conclusion

The engine is a good one. Although it does not score the highest points in the reliability department, the performance is top-notch. The company made an excellent decision by making the engine turbocharged.

The fuel efficiency is great too. But the durability of the engine is something that has deterred many people from buying this engine. It is prone to wear and tear, evident by the EA888 engine problems I listed above.

Now, all engines are prone to this too, but Volkswagen ones give up quicker. The company did not address this issue, even with newer generations. You should only buy it if you are willing to pay extra to keep it maintained at all times.

Resources:
1. https://vwtuning.co/vw-ea888-engine-problems/
2. https://blog.fcpeuro.com/the-definitive-guide-to-mk7-gti-ea888-engine-gen-3
3. https://www.motorreviewer.com/engine.php?engine_id=118