8 Common Audi/VW EA288 2.0TDI Engine Problems & Reliability

If you’re living in Europe, and you’re buying a used Volkswagen, chances are the 2.0 TDI engine is your best bet. This popular engine is known to be highly reliable, but it seems to vary from engine to engine, some love it, others hate it. So what’s the deal?

Doing your own research before you purchase a car with a certain engine is always a good idea. We say that from our long experience working on cars. There is no engine that is bulletproof. 

Each engine is susceptible to problems. Some of them to a larger extent and some of them to a lesser extent. It is up to you to find the right engine. But you shouldn’t worry. That’s why we are here to help you out.

First, we are going to cover the EA288 engine specs, then we shall discuss the EA288 engine problems and see what’s wrong with this engine. We are also going to cover the models which have this engine. So, let’s dive into the topic.

Basic EA288 Engine Specs

The EA288 engine is an inline-4 turbo diesel engine that was introduced in 2012 and was based on the EA189.

If you don’t know, the EA189 was the engine that uncovered the Dieselgate scandal in 2015. And the EA288 practically replaced this cursed engine.

The EA288 was also affected by this Dieselgate scandal but to a lesser extent.

The EA288 engines share the same displacement, bore, and stroke as the EA189. There are two engines in this EA288 family. These are the 1.6L TDI and the 2.0L TDI. But in this article, we are only interested in the 2.0L TDI.

The 2.0L TDI comes with the following specs.

  • Displacement: 1.6L
  • Configuration: inline-4
  • Bore Size: 81 mm
  • Stroke: 95.5 mm
  • Block Material: Cast Iron
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder
  • Compression Ratio: 16.2:1
  • Fuel Injection: Common Rail
  • Turbocharger: Yes
  • Horsepower: 74 – 236 hp
  • Torque: 225 – 500 N-m (166 – 369 lb-ft)

Common EA288 2.0 TDI Engine Problems

Common EA288 2.0 TDI engine problems include:

  • Affected By Dieselgate
  • Fuel Injector Failures
  • Carbon Deposits In Intake Manifold
  • Water Pump Failures
  • Clogged EGR Valve
  • Clogged DPF
  • Turbocharger Failures
  • Dual Mass Flywheel Prone To Fail

So, we learned the EA288 engine problems, now let’s move on and further elaborate on these issues. We are going to cover how these issues occur, as well as the symptoms they make and also how they are tackled. So, let’s dive in and start elaborating on these problems.

Affected By Dieselgate

What is worth noting is that this engine was also affected by the Dieselgate scandal. This engine along with the EA189 were both affected.

But the EA288 was affected to a lesser extent. Some of the engines were recalled and were sorted out by installing new software. Specifically the one on the VW T6 bus.

Many people do not even care about this in Europe but in the USA things were a bit different. That’s why we thought it was worth noting that this engine was also affected.

Fuel Injector Failures

Fuel injector problems are common on these high-mileage engines. These components tend to fail on diesel engines much quicker compared to gas-powered engines.

This is the case because diesel engines are using highly advanced injectors with common rail fuel injection.

This means that fuel is injected at extremely high pressure and whenever you add poor-grade diesel, the injectors can get damaged.

They are extremely sensitive to bad fuel. This is why we recommend owners always add top-quality diesel and not go for the cheaper one.

Also, whenever the engine reaches high miles/kilometers, you will start to experience problems with the injectors or the high-pressure fuel pump.

You have two options, either to rebuild them or to replace them. Both ways are expensive. So, before buying one high-mileage diesel engine, we recommend that you are aware of possible problems with these components.

Carbon Deposits In Intake Manifold

Carbon deposits on the intake manifold are also common on the EA288 engine. Especially on units that have high mileage.

These deposits usually stick to the intake flaps that open and close. And whenever there is too much carbon on these flaps, it could prevent them from opening and closing correctly.

This is why we often recommend removing the intake manifold every 50,000 miles or so in order to clean the deposits while they are cleanable.

Since if you delay this process, the flaps can end up stuck and cause engine running issues. Carbon deposits are a common headache on diesel engines and you should consider this preventive maintenance to avoid big headaches in the long run.

Water Pump Failures

Another very common problem with this engine is connected to the water pump. This model uses a variable displacement water pump that often breaks down and when it breaks down it starts to create a rubbing sound.

The only way around this problem is to replace the water pump with a new unit and call it a day. It can be expensive but it is the only way around this problem.

If you cannot replace the water pump, the pump can start leaking coolant or fail completely causing the engine to overheat and you will have engine damage.

Water pumps are pretty crucial components and they are no joke. This is why if you notice strange sounds coming from the water pump, make sure that you sort out the problem as soon as possible.

Clogged EGR Cooler

Problems with the EGR cooling system were also noted on this EA288 engine as well. So, what is an EGR valve and an EGR cooler, and what does it do?

The EGR is the exhaust gas recirculation system. This system is important for the emissions and is designed to redirect some exhaust gasses into the intake for the purpose to reduce NOx.

NOx and diesel engines go hand in hand, so this device is a must on every diesel engine that is produced nowadays.

This component allows exhaust gasses to flow and in many cases, it can end up clogged up with carbon.

Removing this component and giving it a good clean from time to time is a good idea. Since if you don’t clean it, the EGR will malfunction internally once it gets too clogged up and can fail permanently.

In this situation, you will have to purchase a new EGR for your car, which can be somewhat expensive. Common symptoms with this component are the check engine light, limp mode, loss of power, and poor engine work.

Clogged DPF

A clogged DPF is also a big headache on these engines. So, what is a DPF in general?

The DPF is also known as a diesel particulate filter. This is a special filter that is installed on newer diesel engines to make them compliant with environmental laws.

This filter basically collects the soot and whenever it is time to burn off the soot it starts a process called regeneration. During this process, it basically cleans itself off.

What happens is that a lot of owners are not even aware of this component. They do a lot of city driving and the DPF doesn’t even reach the regeneration process. This process only happens on highway cruising speeds above 3,000 rpm.

So, the DPF ends up clogged up completely. In this case, the only way around is to clean it at a special shop or replace this component. And replacing it is very costly, so, that’s why we recommend that you regenerate the DPF in order to avoid paying these hefty fees later on.

Turbocharger Failures

Turbocharger failures are also common on this engine. These engines are using a turbo in order to deliver more power.

Turbochargers are expendable components and whenever they reach 150,000 miles or so, the shaft inside will start to lose balance and the turbo will wiggle around and start to create whistling noises.

The way around this problem is to replace or refurbish the turbo at a special shop that is dealing with these turbines. Also, a very expensive problem to fix.

Dual Mass Flywheel is Prone To Fail

And the last problem on our list is the problem with the dual mass flywheel. This component is found between the transmission and the engine.

This component is present only in manual cars. What can happen is that the dual mass flywheel can fail whenever the car reaches 200,000 miles or so.

In this case, you will have to replace it, which is another very expensive repair.

Which Models Have The EA288 Engine?

  • Golf VII, VIII
  • VW Passat
  • VW Arteon
  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4
  • Seat Leon
  • Skoda Octavia RS


What Are The Common Problems With the EA288 Engine?

Common problems with this engine include injector failures, turbo failures, dual mass flywheel failures on manual cars, EGR and DPF failures, carbon in the intake manifold, and water pump failures.

Is The EA288 Engine Reliable?

Yes, it is a pretty reliable engine. Much more reliable than the early 2.0L TDI engines. But it still has those common diesel problems that happen on higher miles. So, you have to be prepared to tackle them if you get a used car with this engine.

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