Common VW EA888 Engine Problems

by | Oct 9, 2022 | Audi, VW | 0 comments

Volkswagen introduced the EA888 engine with two different displacement options: 1.8t and 2.0t. In 2007, 1.8t TSI/TFSIs debuted, and since then, they’ve been updated three times, into versions known as Gen1, Gen2, and Gen3 of the 1.8 TSI EA888.

The 1.8-liter K03 turbocharged inline-four is used in all generations except Gen3, which has an IS12 turbo. The 2.0 TSI/TFSI followed the 1.8 in March 2008, and it too has three generations: the 2.0 TSI EA888 Gen1, the 2.0 TSI EA888 Gen2, and the 2.0 TSI EA888 Gen3.

The 2.0 TSI and TFSI engines each have a turbocharged K03 engine that is 2.0 liters and has four cylinders (except for the Gen3 model, which featured an IS38, IS20, and perhaps 1752S turbocharger). These engines are also being upgraded and manufactured today.

The EA888 replaced Volkswagen’s successful EA113 engine, although it has a reputation for being less dependable. Because of the Gen2 for the 1.8 and 2.0, this engine has a poor reputation owing to its excessive oil consumption. This article will discuss the most often occurring issues with the Volkswagen EA888 motor. To set the stage, we’ll do our best to narrow in on exactly which engine generation is most affected by these issues.

*Before purchasing any of the following replacement alternatives, please check the specifications to confirm they are compatible with your car. The vast number of EA888 engine variants over its six generations prevented us from compiling a comprehensive list of their respective model numbers.

Common Problems with the EA888 Engine Apply to the:

  • B6/B7/B8 Passat (2005 – Present)
  • MK5 GTI (2006 – 2010)
  • CC (2008 – Present)
  • MK7 Golf
  • MK5 Jetta (2006 – 2011)
  • MK7 Jetta GLI (2018 – Present)
  • MK7 GTI (2014 – 2020)
  • MK6 GTI (2009 – 2014)
  • Tiguan (2016 – Present)
  • (2014 – 2020)
  • MK6 Jetta (2010 – 2018)

Seven Common Problems with Volkswagen’s EA888 Engine

  1. Ignition coil malfunction
  2. Excessive use of oil
  3. Leak in the thermostat housing
  4. Failure of the Water Pump
  5. The Intake Valves Have Carbon Buildup.
  6. Timing chain stretched.
  7. Weak PCV Valve

1. Ignition coil malfunction

Most turbocharged engines have the issue of the ignition coil failing. The ignition coil or coil pack is an integral component of every internal combustion engine. It modifies the voltage from the battery to spark the spark plugs, which in turn ignites the gasoline, resulting in combustion.

We wouldn’t say it’s a common problem, but if your engine misfires, it’s either the spark plugs or ignition coils. Inadequate spark plug gap, leaky valve covers, moisture incursion, and aged or faulty spark plug ignition cables are all potential causes of failure. Now the question is, how do you recognize a faulty ignition coil?

A malfunctioning ignition coil will exhibit the following signs:

  • Motor fails to start
  • Misfire
  • The vehicle’s engine management light (sometimes known as a “check engine” light) is illuminated or flashing.
  • The trembling of the turbocharger at moderate to high RPMs
  • Cold/Warm Rough Idle
  • Smell of gas
  • The engine is stalling

We recommend acquiring an OBD scanner if you want to attempt to diagnose a failed ignition coil pack on your own. Any of P0300, P0301 (misfire in cylinder 1), P0302 (misfire in cylinder 2), P0303 (misfire in cylinder 3), or P0304 (misfire in cylider 4 ) will likely be returned if you turn on the CEL due to misfires (cylinder 4 misfire). If you have received any of these error codes, we highly recommend changing all of your coil packs so that you can prevent the inconvenience of any of them failing unexpectedly in the future. If you’re not too handy, you may take it in for a self-diagnose at the dealer and expect to pay roughly $230.

Replacements for the Ignition Coil Pack in a Volkswagen EA888:

2: Excessive use of oil

Gen 2 EA888 1.8 and 2.0 engines are affected. This is really the crux of the problem that has resulted in the Volkswagen EA888 engine’s widespread negative reception. If your engine is drinking too much oil, it’s because it’s operating beyond the typical operating range for that particular engine. Now, if this isn’t fixed right away, it may become both frustrating and expensive.

Volkswagen produced EA888 Gen 2s with factory-installed piston rings that are excessively thin, leading to this issue. If you own a Gen2, you can’t use the pistons and rings from a Gen 1 EA888 to fix your engine. Or maybe it’s only the PCV valve that’s broken. Is your engine experiencing this issue, and if so, how can you tell? A list of symptoms follows.

Excessive use of oil might cause the following symptoms:

  • Engine or spark plug oil buildup
  • Exhaust spewing blue smoke
  • There seems to be less oil in the engine compared to how long you’ve been driving.
  • PCV (pressure control valve) valve malfunction
  • Fragments of metal found in the oil

All generations should take immediate action if they experience any of these symptoms, as described above. Low oil levels, the result of excessive consumption, increase the strain on the oil that is still there, and may lead to the formation of oil deposits in the engine. To begin troubleshooting, we suggest switching out the PCV Valve and seeing if it helps. If you don’t think the piston rings are the issue, you may have your mechanic do a consumption test. If it is the piston rings, a repair at a shop will cost you between $5,000 and $6,000.

3. A Leak in the Thermostat Housing

It is sadly typical for gen3 EA888 engines to have a leak in the thermostat housing. Coolant exits via the thermostat housing, which also conceals the thermostat that controls the flow of coolant.

There are four basic causes of thermostat housing failure: faulty components, regular wear and tear, sludge, and overheating. The thermostat housing should only need to be replaced every 60,000 miles, unless the part is broken or you don’t take care of your car as you should.

Water damage from a leaking thermostat housing:

  • Due to a coolant leak, the engine has stopped working
  • Overheated engine
  • Engine temperature readings that fluctuate
  • Low-temperature lighting
  • Weep hole causing leakage of cooling fluid

Changing the thermostat enclosure is a simple DIY project, and we suggest doing it at the same time as replacing the water pump and thermostat. If you are doubtful if the issues you are experiencing are related to the thermostat housing gaskets, a pressure test should be performed before doing this DIY. The estimated cost to diagnose and correct this issue at a repair facility is $200 to $300.

4. Water Pump Breakdown

The breakdown of a vehicle’s water pump is a widespread issue in modern transportation. During the course of your vehicle’s lifespan, you are almost certain to experience the failure of at least one of its water pumps. The health of your car depends heavily on the performance of the water pump since it moves water from the radiator throughout the cooling system and then back to the radiator.

Wear and tear, the improper coolant, damaged bearings, and insufficient coolant are only few of the common causes of water pump failure. Your vehicle’s overheating problems will only become worse if the water pump isn’t working.

Warning Signs of a Failing Water Pump

  • Overheated engine
  • There’s a really high-pitched engine noise
  • Loss of coolant (Low coolant light turning on)
  • The radiator was releasing a plume of steam
  • The water pump became gunked up

If the thermostat housing stops working, you should replace it also, since the two parts are inextricably linked. You may save a lot of money by replacing your own water pump. Take your car into the dealership, and expect to pay about $700. If you decide to do the project on your own, our advice is to get a water pump kit so that you won’t have to deal with the hassle of using a combination of new and used components.

5. Clogging of Intake Valves with Carbon

Many of the newer direct injection automobiles on the road today have recurring issues with carbon accumulation. When an engine consumes fuel, carbon deposits form on the intake valves and may build up to the point where airflow is restricted. It’s important to remember that you may take preemptive efforts to lower your carbon footprint. Below you’ll find examples of intake valves in both their obstructed and unclogged states. We estimate that this congestion will happen to your car at least once over its lifespan.

Intake valve carbon buildup symptoms:

  • Inefficiency in fuel use
  • The engine is knocking
  • Failure to start when cold
  • No power, and the engine dies

Preventing Carbon Buildup in Intake Valves

  • Maintaining a high RPM over a prolonged period of time (often 25-35 minutes at 3000 RPM or more).
  • Fuel up with 93+ Octane for maximum performance
  • Cleaning the valves manually on a regular basis
  • Utilize an oil catch container *While we don’t advise going this way, you may give it a try
  • Walnut blasting every 60,000 miles

We advise that if your car has more than 45,000 miles on it, you inspect the intake valves. If there seems to be a significant amount of buildup, we recommend bringing it to a shop ($600) or physically cleaning the valves yourself. Though it’s not the simplest option, doing it yourself may save you money and frustration if you’re mechanically savvy. If you want to keep the valves from becoming clogged up again after you’ve cleaned them, remember to take the precautions I listed above.


6: Timing Chain Stretched

Among 2.0-liter Vw EA888 Generation 1 and Generation 2 engines, the issue of a strained timing chain is particularly evident (More specifically CAEB, CDNC,  CPMA, CAEA, CBFA and CCTA). To ensure that the gearbox rotates at the same rate as the engine, a timing chain links the two rotating components. If the timing chain completely breaks, the car will not start.

The major cause of the timing chain elongation that has come to our attention is the use of higher-than-average power for a prolonged period of time (i.e., Stage 2 power for more than 45,000 miles). It should last as long as your car does, and if extra wear and tear isn’t inevitable, you may just have to repair it once. Since the timing chain is not often included in planned maintenance, this problem is typically not discovered until a few of the problems listed below start to manifest.

Indications of an Elongated Timing Chain

  • The vehicle’s engine management light or “check engine” indicator has come on
  • Error codes P0506, P0016, P0011, P0341, P000A, and P052A
  • Chain’s timing has gone above the 126mm (5 in.) maximum range
  • Transmission is slipping
  • The car won’t crank
  • A bunch of metal fragments in the engine oil
  • Unrefined Commuter

Timing Chain Replacement VW EA888

7. Weak PCV valve (Positive Crankcase Ventilation)

The PCV Valves in Volkswagen engines are notoriously unreliable (particularly in turbocharged engines), leading to an all-too-common issue. There are a several names for this component:  crankcase ventilation valve, oil separator, or breather valve.  To put it simply, your vehicle’s emissions are managed by the PCV valve. Any exhaust from the crankcase is sent into the engine’s combustion chamber, where it is burnt, protecting both the vehicle and the environment.

Reasons for PCV failure include the following: a torn rubber diaphragm on top, a stuck orange check valve due to a weak spring, or oil seeping from the primary PCV valve gasket. In the event that your PCV valve should malfunction, serious sludge buildup as well as oil leaks may become common. Among the first areas to look for an oil leak is here. Since all Volkswagen EA888 engines feature turbochargers, the PCV valves in these vehicles may not survive as long as they would in a vehicle without turbocharging.

Symptoms of a Failing PCV Valve:

  • Possible misfires due to air leakage – P0300
  • P0171 is a system lean code
  • Norms for waiting at stops
  • Leaking oil/higher oil use
  • The engine was making a loud whining/whining noise.
  • Idle roughness
  • Low efficiency power

If you’re familiar with engines, changing a PCV valve isn’t the hardest Do It Yourself project. If you’re planning on doing it yourself, the total cost will be limited to the cost of the necessary pieces, for which we suggest spending between $125 and $200 on the kit. If you took this to a shop to have it done, the cost could be anywhere from $150 to $300, contingent on how much they have to replace.

VW EA888 Engine Reliability

How dependable is Volkswagen’s EA888 motor? Despite the various issues mentioned above, the EA888 engine family as a whole is quite dependable if properly maintained. The Gen 2 was the most well-known model in the series, and due of its problems with high oil consumption, it was responsible for the EA888 engine’s poor image. Volkswagen’s persistence in developing the engine has helped it remain around to today.

These engines do offer applications with enough power, torque, and tunability, however stage 3 reduces the dependability of the majority of engines on the market. We’ve seen EA888 engines run up to 200,000 miles if correct service intervals and high-quality oil/fuel are utilized.

Dmitry Petrov

Dmitry Petrov is an engineer who specializes in materials science, and has a deep passion for all things related to automotive technology. He is a true motorhead at heart, and spends much of his free time tinkering with engines and studying vehicular dynamics.


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