Which Used Volkswagen Engines Are the Most Reliable?

Reliability can be an issue with some Volkswagen models, from sedans to SUVs. However, German cars are often more reliable than you might think – provided they are properly maintained. This is especially true of the engines used in VW vehicles. If you’re looking for a reliable used Volkswagen, consider a model equipped with one of the powertrains described below.

If you are looking for a reliable Volkswagen engine, the 1.8T EA113 and EA888 should be on your wish list.

One Volkswagen engine keeps popping up in discussions and lists of the “most reliable”: the 1.8T. Mr. Haynes believes the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is VW’s best engine. ItStillRuns compares it to the small-block V8 LS in terms of durability and tuning. And “with its own car,” the 1.8T could easily cover more than 200,000 miles on the road, reports the Euro FCP. But you have to figure out which 1.8T to take.

The original version, the “EA113 TFSI,” was launched in 1995, reports Haynes. And in 2007, it was replaced by the first generation of the “EA888” 1.8T STI, reports Car Engineer. Volkswagen still uses this engine, although it is in its third generation, reports Motor Reviewer. And it is the EA888 that is considered one of Volkswagen’s “best and most reliable engines,” reports MagicAutoRepairs.

Volkswagen MkIV GTI 1.8T EA113 1999 Engine | Volkswagen

Volkswagen has used the EA113 1.8T engine in a variety of vehicles other than Volkswagens. It has been used in Golfs, New Beetles, Jettas and Passats, but the Audi TT and A4 have also used it, according to Grassroot Motorsports. These vehicles later used EA888s as well.

The VW 2.0T EA113 and EA888 engines are also a reliable choice.

However, the 1.8T is not the only EA113/EA888 engine. Volkswagen also produced the 2.0T EA113 engine, which is based on an earlier four-cylinder FSI 2.0 without a turbocharger, reports Motor Reviewer. And VW still uses the updated 2.0T EA888 version in many of its products. You can find 2.0T variants in Motor Reviewer reports of used Golf R, Tiguans, Audi Q3 and Q5, Passats, Jettas, CC and Audi TT.

The 2.0T EA888 engine inside a yellow 2007 Volkswagen GTI Pirelli Edition 2007 Volkswagen GTI Pirelli Edition 2.0T EA888 Engine | Volkswagen

Based on the same architecture as the 1.8T, the 2.0T is just as reliable, especially in EA888 form, report r/Volkswagen sub-Reddit users. It has also won numerous “best of” awards from Ward’s Engine and enjoys significant after-sales support, according to DriveTribe.

The EA888 has several updates over the EA113 model.

It is not always clear whether Volkswagen has the EA113 or the EA888 engine. Both models are very similar in the 1.8T and 2.0T versions, but there are some visual differences, reports Bar-Tek Motorsports. The gauge on the EA113 is located in front of the valve cover, while the gauge on the EA888 is on the side. And on the latter, the oil filter is on the left, not the right.

If possible, it is worth comparing the EA888 to the EA113, as Volkswagen has made some engine modifications. According to GT Innovation, the cam bearing on the EA113 high-pressure fuel pump, which connects the camshaft to the pump, wears out over time. And when it breaks, your engine can go with it. Volkswagen has corrected this with the EA888 engine, reports a user on the VW Vortex forum.

Second, the EA113 “FSI” engines are known to suffer from carbon deposits. The EA888 with direct injection also suffers from it, but to a lesser extent users of the VW Vortex forum. They also consume less oil than the older 1.8T and 2.0T engines, despite their somewhat prestigious reputation.

CONNECTION: The best way to clean the engine is with small nuts.

This reputation is due to a design flaw in the VW EA888 “Gen 2” engines, VW Tuning explains. These 2.0T engines have thin piston rings. But there is a solution: install Gen 1 or Gen 3 rings. In addition, Volkswagen engines require synthetic oil, and if it is not topped up, sludge will form, users of the TDI Club forum report.

The EA888 VW engines are not immune to defects either.

But while the Volkswagen EA888 engines have some improvements over the EA113, they also have some weaknesses. The main one is the timing chain, which is known to stretch across the Gen 1 and Gen 2 engines.

Not only is this annoying, since chains are supposed to last longer than timing belts, but it’s also something of a time bomb. If you stretch it enough, it can pop out and collide with pistons and valves,” explains Deutsche AutoParts. And if it breaks down completely, you’re left without an engine. Very often owners have filed a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, which the automaker eventually settled, reports VW Problems.

Fortunately, this problem is at least partially solved on the Gen 3 engines. According to VW Tuning, the cause of timing chain stretching and failure is a faulty chain tensioner. Volkswagen has upgraded the tensioner for the Gen 3 EA888 engines, and the upgraded part is also available for earlier engines, according to eEuroParts reports.

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The EA888 engines are also known to suffer from ignition problems with coils and water pumps, reports a user on the VW Vortex forum. But again, the newer parts seem to avoid these problems. In the case of the water pump, this is because the original has plastic parts that degrade and break over time. Modernized replacement pumps have stronger metal impellers and housings.

Finally, as with any engine, VW or otherwise, seals and hoses deteriorate over time. In the case of the EA888, however, the PCV valve is particularly susceptible to this phenomenon. And if it is not replaced in time, the rear seal of the main engine may fail, reports Deutsche AutoParts. But it’s easy to spot, because you’ll often notice irregular idling speeds, misfires and check the engine lights in advance, reports Rusty AutoParts.

Do these problems ruin a relationship?

Of course, we recommend that you have your car inspected before you buy it. This is why users of the VW Vortex forum strongly recommend making sure your used VW has a full maintenance history. After all, many potential problems with a used Volkswagen engine are due to inadequate or neglected maintenance.

RELIABILITY: There is a big difference between “reliability” and “longevity.”

However, with proper care, the VW engines described here can be reliable, according to EnginesWork reports. This is even the case with the PCV valve, which is a maintenance item in other cars; I just replaced one in my Miata. In addition, many problematic original parts have been replaced with more durable parts. Otherwise, these parts are available, including kits to convert the EA113 camshaft to the EA888 configuration.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the most reliable VW engine?

The 1.8-liter TSI EA888 is one of Volkswagen’s best and most reliable engines.

What is the best used Volkswagen to buy?

The five most used Volkswagens you can buy for a low price – AutoInfluence

Are used Volkswagens reliable?

The second possibility is that VW assembles the cars well, but uses inferior parts that prematurely deteriorate after a few years. Before that, they are very reliable. . . If you go back a few years, it’s the same thing: decent reliability on recent cars, but much lower than average on older models.

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