Common Problems With The Audi/VW EA189 1.6 & 2.0 TDI Engine

We’ve recently reviewed the common problems of the Volkswagen/Audi EA288 engine. Today, we’re moving forward with our VAG diesel engine reviews and the next one in line is the older, but still popular EA189 engine, which was also available under the 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI badge from 2007 to 2015.

Proper research before you purchase a car with a certain engine is always important. This will make sure that you get an engine that is actually good and not an endless money pit that will drain your pocket as well as your nerves. And this is why we are here to help you out.

First, we are going to cover the specs of the EA189 engine, then we are going to discuss the EA189 engine problems, and we are also going to learn which models have this engine. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

EA189 History & Specs

The EA189 is an engine that was produced by Volkswagen between 2007 and 2015. This engine was one of the engines that VW probably wants to forget.

Mainly because this engine was part of the highly discussed Dieselgate scandal which arose in 2015 when some German automakers including VW were caught red-handed for faking some of the emissions testing on some of their diesel engines and had to pay really hefty fees. 

But luckily for them, they somehow managed to survive and overcome this scandal without losing much of their customer base.

Unfortunately, one of the victims of this scandal was the EA189 engine which came in three different variations. As a 1.2, 1.6L, and a 2.0L. 

After the scandal, for the 1.6L engine, there were improvements in the intake system and they installed a flow straightener to improve the readings of the MAF sensor, while the 2.0L engine only got software updates.

The following specs are for the 1.6L TDI.

  • Displacement: 1.6L
  • Cylinder Bore: 79.5 mm
  • Piston Stroke: 80.5 mm
  • Block Material: Cast Iron
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Head Design: DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder
  • Fuel Injection: Common Rail
  • Turbocharger: Yes
  • Firing Order: 1,3,4,2
  • Compression Ratio: 16.5:1
  • Horsepower: 74- 114 hp @ 3750 rpm
  • Torque: 144 – 184 lb-ft (195 – 250 N-m) @ 1,750 rpm

The following specs are for the 2.0L TDI.

  • Displacement: 2.0L
  • Cylinder Bore: 81 mm
  • Piston Stroke: 95.5 mm
  • Block Material: Cast Iron
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Head Design: DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder
  • Fuel Injection: Common Rail
  • Turbocharger: Yes
  • Firing Order: 1,3,4,2
  • Compression Ratio: 16.5:1
  • Horsepower: 109 – 177 hp @ 3750 rpm
  • Torque: 184 – 295 lb-ft (250 – 400 N-m)@ 1,750 rpm

EA189 Diesel Engine Problems

Common Audi and Volkswagen EA189 engine problems include:

  • Timing Belt Tensioner Failure
  • Oil Pump Drive Shaft Failure
  • Injector Failures
  • Glow Plug Failures
  • Clogged DPF
  • Clogged EGR
  • Dual Mass Flywheel Failure
  • Turbocharger Failures

We briefly listed the common EA189 engine problems, now we can move on and further elaborate on each of these problems. In the following chapters, we are going to learn what each of these problems represents, as well as the symptoms it causes and how the problem should be tackled.

Timing Belt Tensioner Failure

This engine is using a timing belt to adjust the engine timing, unlike other VW or Audi engines that use timing chains.

Every 100,000 miles or every 5 to 7 years or so, you will need to replace the timing belt. 

And another important thing to add is the timing belt tensioner failure. These engines are using spring-loaded timing belt tensioners.

These tensioners over a long time can loosen up and allow the timing belt to become loose. Whenever this happens, you will start to experience ticking noises from the timing cover, as well as the check engine light since your timing could be off.

The important thing is to react quickly and replace the tensioner. Or else, the engine can end up being totaled.

Oil Pump Drive Shaft Failure

This engine also has some problems with the oil pump. This is the pump that pumps oil and directs the engine oil throughout the engine in order to keep everything well lubricated.

This oil pump is using a hex drive shaft. This hex drive shaft can wear out and start to slip. Once this happens, the engine could end up being starved of oil.

There are many complaints on this issue on forums with people ending up furious. They had to pay over 200 pounds to get this hex drive shaft changed.

This is why if you have one of the earlier model years of this engine, especially around 2009, you should definitely be aware of this issue.

Whenever this issue appears, there will be rattling noises or engine ticks. Also, the oil pressure will be quite low. Make sure that you don’t miss any of these symptoms.

Fuel Injector Failures

Fuel injector failures are another common problem on these Volkswagen engines. So, why do injectors fail?

Well, most often they fail because people are using low-grade diesel. This is not your regular Volkswagen PD setup from the golden age of Volkswagen diesels.

These injectors are much more sensitive to bad fuel and they will not like whenever you add low-grade diesel used for tractors or other heavy-duty equipment.

Also, the injectors can fail by themselves. They can either leak fuel or clog up. Especially when the car has reached 150,000 miles or so. The more mileage, the bigger the chance that you will experience one of these failures.

The only way around this would be to replace them with new units and call it a day.

Glow Plug Failures

Glow plugs are another very common problem with these diesel engines. So, what are glow plugs and what do they do?

Glow plugs as their name implies are glowing, they create heat and help the engine start better when it’s cold.

Diesel does not use spark to ignite but compression and heat. So, glow plugs are essential for this purpose.

Not a lot of people know that these glow plugs have a lifespan of about 100,000 miles and they have to be replaced.

If you don’t replace them, you will start to experience problems such as the check engine light and difficulty starting.

Clogged DPF

The EA189 engines are using something known as a DPF or diesel particulate filter. This is a special filter that was designed to reduce NOx particles, and each modern diesel vehicle has this piece of equipment.

It collects the soot, and then it burns the soot out, this cleaning process is called DPF regeneration. And if you have a DPF, regeneration is key for DPF life.

If you don’t regenerate the DPF, the DPF will clog up and cause you many problems. Problems like the check engine light, engine stalling, and difficulty starting. 

Read more about the symptoms of a blocked DPF filter.

The engine will be pretty much obstructed and the only way around will be to manually clean the DPF at a shop, which can be expensive.

Clogged EGR

EGR valve failures are also common on the EA189 engine. So, what is an EGR and what does it do?

The EGR is the gas recirculation valve. This is a special emissions valve that returns some of the exhaust gasses into the intake manifold in order to burn again in the combustion chamber.

This EGR is prone to clog up at 100,000+ miles and fail internally. Then you will start having some issues with the engine.

There will be a check engine light, limp mode, and overall poor engine work. The only way around this problem will be to clean the EGR or replace it.

Turbocharger Failures

Turbocharger failures are also common on higher miles on this engine. Turbochargers are expendable components. In the same manner as glow plugs and injectors.

They have a service lifespan of 150,000 miles (ca. 241,402 km) or so and they start to fail. The shaft will start to get loose and the turbo will start to create whistling noise.

The only way around this problem would be to replace it or refurbish the turbo at a special shop.

Dual Mass Flywheel Failure

Another problem that is not connected to this engine but is still a common issue is the dual mass flywheel failure.

This dual-mass flywheel is located between the engine and the transmission. It makes sure gear changes are smooth and that the torque and the power from the engine are smoothly conveyed between the engine and the transmission.

Dual mass flywheel problems on the EA189 engine are known to occur once these engines reach 150,000 miles (ca. 241,402 km). The flywheel will slowly deteriorate and start to creating problems such as excessive vibration on start-up, rumbling between gear shifts and shuddering when releasing the clutch.

The only way around will be to replace it. This can be expensive, but trust us, it’s a lot cheaper than having a dual mass flywheel fail catastrophically and cause all kinds of problems.

Which Models Have The EA189 Engine?

Now let’s see which models had the 1.6L TDI EA189 diesel engine between the 2007 and 2015 manufacturing dates:

  • VW Polo
  • VW Golf Mk6, Mk7
  • VW Touran
  • VW Caddy
  • VW Vento
  • VW Jetta
  • VW Passat B6, B7
  • Seat Ibiza Mk4, Mk5
  • Seat Leon Mk2
  • Seat Altea
  • Skoda Fabia Mk2
  • Skoda Roomster
  • Skoda Octavia Mk2
  • Skoda SuperB
  • Skoda Rapid
The VW Golf’s 6th generation was commonly equipped with this diesel engine.

And the following models have this EA189 2.0L TDI engine between 2007 and 2015:

  • VW Golf Mk 6
  • VW Jetta Mk 5
  • VW Tiguan
  • VW Passat
  • VW Transporter
  • Audi TT Mk2
  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4 B8
  • Audi Q5
  • Seat Leon Mk2
  • Seat Altea
  • Seat Toledo Mk3
  • Seat Exeo
  • Skoda Octavia Mk2
  • Skoda Yeti
  • Skoda SuperB Mk2


What Are The Common EA189 Engine Problems?

Common problems with this engine include timing belt tensioner failure, injector failures, turbocharger failure, injector failures, EGR and DPF problems, and oil pump shaft failure. Overall, many of these issues are normal diesel problems that occur at higher miles and are nothing too serious.

Is The EA189 Engine Reliable? 

The EA189 engine is pretty reliable. The only drawback is mainly the Dieselgate scandal which threw a shadow on these engines and after 2015 they were replaced.

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