VW Group cars with 1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 engines Gen 1,2 & 3 continue to arrive in the aftermarket, but this unit has been made infamous for its oil-burning problems. Many ask themselves a simple question: should I take a risk and buy such a car? We advise on how to solve this dilemma.
Cars from the VW Group with a 1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 engine are generally good cars, but the engine marking is a nightmare for both owners and buyers. The engine is characterized by great dynamics with relatively low fuel consumption.
For example, the Škoda Octavia II with the weakest 1.8 TSI variant accelerates to hundreds in 8.1 seconds. This is the level of early GTI hatchbacks, so it is hardly surprising that the car is interesting. The more so that approx 20%-25% cars with gasoline engines after 2008, it is 1.8 TSI. Prices from $4415 to $7790 look equally inviting.
1.8 TSI / TFSI Engine Generations
Often in interviews or publications, some inconsistencies can be found about the generation of TSI / TFSI engines. Which one has a problem with burning oil – the first or the second? Both, in fact. It all depends on whether it is the 1.8 TSI or the twin 2.0 TSI, which has an almost identical design.
The point is that the first generation of the 2.0 TSI engine is the EA113 family – the 1.8 version was not offered here. This is a completely different engine than the one described here. The second is the unit from the EA888 family, presented in 2007, which was already offered in two capacities – 1.8 l and 2.0 l – and this is the problem of oil combustion.
The third generation of the 2.0 TSI engine, and at the same time the second 1.8 TSI, is still the EA888 family, in which in 2011, among others, revised pistons and dual fuel injection system (direct and indirect).
Theoretically, this generation is not affected by the problem with oil combustion, but until 2014 this phenomenon still occurred, only on a much smaller scale. In 2015, the previous versions were replaced with the so-called generation 3B, in which the problem was completely and practically eliminated.
Therefore, when we refer to the trade name – 1.8 TSI or 1.8 TFSI or the EA888 family – the problem is with the first generation engines. When there is talk about the 2.0 TSI / TFSI engine, it can be assumed that the problem is with the second generation.
1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 Engine Problems & Reliability
- The problems is that the creation of a new generation of the 1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 engine is not tantamount to introducing it immediately into the model range. Simply put – the fact that the car comes from a specific year does not mean that a newer generation engine works under the hood, so the year of the engine presentation should not be treated equitably with the year of the car.
- It is mainly about the excessive consumption of engine oil (over 0.5 l / 1000 km), which is the result of accelerated wear of the piston rings.
- However, combustion itself is one thing, but it produces a lot of carbon deposits. As a further consequence, accelerated wear of the turbocharger or incorrect operation of the timing tensioner, and thus chain stretching.
- It can be assumed that almost all mechanical problems with the 1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 engine stem from the combustion of oil, and their indirect cause is carbon deposits in the engine and oil channels.
- This is without a doubt a factory defect that was noticed quite quickly. Theoretically, the Volkswagen concern removed it in the engine produced since 2011 (model year 2012), but it practically happened only in 2015, when the last generation of the 1.8 TSI / TFSI EA888 engine was presented after modifications.
Which 1.8 TSI / TFSI engines are safe?
While the 1.8 TSI / TFSI engine generation does not always match the car’s production year, defective engines were completely removed from the offer by 2015. This means that cars produced since 2015 are completely free from the drawback of excessive oil consumption.
It is worth noting, however, that a large group of cars from 2012–2015 already have improved engines. First of all, corrections were made to Audi models and new models, and when, if not in 2012, the Volkswagen Group’s range underwent the biggest change?
This year, not only a new range of compacts was presented, but also in 2011 the Audi A4 was facelifted, in 2013 the facelift Skoda Superb was presented, in 2014 the VW Passat B8 was presented, and a year later the Skoda Superb III. Improved engines have already been used in all new and refreshed cars.
The safest option is to buy a 2015-2018 car, although there are opinions that sometimes too much oil is consumed in these cars. This is most likely due to the rather intensive use, lack of care for getting in, and we are talking about a much smaller scale of the problem. Cars from the year 2012 upwards can be considered relatively safe, while those from 2015 as the most recommendable. Below is a list of cars that you should consider when buying.
Recommended 1.8 TSI / TFSI models:
- Audi A3 8V (180 HP)
- Seat Leon III (180 HP)
- Škoda Octavia III (180 HP)
- VW Golf VII (172 and 180 HP) – especially recommended
- Audi A4 B8 – restyled (170 HP)
- VW Passat B8 (180 HP) – especially recommended
- Skoda Superb II – restyled (160 KM)
- Škoda Superb III (180 HP) – especially recommended
- Audi A6 C7 – restyled (190 hp) – especially recommended
- VW Touran II (180 HP) – especially recommended
It would seem that the prices of cars with a risky, non-recommended engine should be significantly lower than others. Unfortunately this is not the case. For example, gasoline versions of the Škoda Octavia II cost from $3115 to approx.
However, among them, the 1.8 TSI versions cost from $4415 to $7790. If we take into account the risk of adding from $780 to $2600 for the car, when there is a problem with taking oil, it makes it clear that this version is simply not worth buying.
In 2018, the VW Group withdrew from the 1.8 TSI / TFSI engine and replaced it with 1.4 and 2.0 engines. In my opinion, these two units are the better choice.
How many 1.8 TSI / TFSI repair methods?
Due to the large number of cars used by Polish drivers, independent garages quickly responded to their needs. Various repair technologies have developed.
- Of course, the most expensive is at ASO, which offers replacement engines for about $7790. These are units after regeneration and modification. You can also try to repair your engine, although the opinions about such services are rather low. Sometimes an ASO reduces the problem rather than eliminating it.
- However, apart from ASO, it does not have to be cheap either. Complete engine regeneration in one of the large, well-known independent services costs about $2600, provided that nothing but the oil problem requires repairs. This can also apply to a turbocharger or, for example, worn camshafts as a result of running without oil.
- For a large amount of money, we get a practically fully regenerated unit, in which, apart from the assembly of the third generation (improved) pistons, we also have listed, among others cylinder liners, timing drive or a remanufactured head. The 1.8 TSI / TFSI engine is covered by a 2-year warranty with no mileage limit. Pricey, but the offer is tempting, especially if the car is to serve for years.
- For those who do not have such a budget, other services offer a much cheaper repair consisting in modifying pistons with rings. The pistons are not new, but remade, i.e. appropriate grooves are cut in them and better rings are mounted, which are not only to fulfill their role better than the factory ones, but also to last much longer.
- A set of modified pistons costs $240, plus rings and seals, as well as disassembly and assembly. The repair costs about $780, which is three times lower. There is no warranty for this service. One of the major problems is the lack of regeneration of the cylinder liners, which are usually damaged when working with worn rings.
- There is also a third, less frequently mentioned, method which is somewhat alternative. You can buy a set of parts for a “small repair”, consisting of with revised pistons and rings, timing gear, seals and bushings. Such a set costs about $1040, but you should add labor. Its cost should be around $520-$780, depending on the website.
Which method is effective?
- Of course, the answer depends on the source to whom we ask this question. I called the piston modification service and did not find out if this is the best method. However, you can find the opinions of satisfied users after such a repair, although it should be noted that this mainly concerns people who reacted quickly to the problem. So in fact the only part that was repaired was the piston itself with rings.
- A workshop offering complete engine regeneration ensures the effectiveness of its repair and at the same time confirms it in the form of a warranty. No wonder, as it carries out a comprehensive renovation, so there is no risk of, for example, installing new pistons to worn cylinder liners. Does that mean it’s better this way?
- Even if we assume that it is, there is always the question of price. With an expense of $780 and the certainty that the cylinders are in great condition, it is worth taking the risk and maybe it will be possible, instead of spending $1800 more.
- In addition, it is not without significance what happens next with the car. If it is to be of use to us, a complete engine repair may be a better option, but if the car is to be sold, the cost will be around $2600 will certainly not return on resale.
- The third method is usually practiced by mechanics who receive a car with a problem and who do not want to delegate their work to others. They choose the cheapest method with piston modification or the so-called “little renovation”. Actually, it all depends on how much the car owner wants to spend on it.
However, I do not think that buying a used engine is a game worth the risk, unless the car has a damaged engine and its owner wants to get rid of it.
I am not able to say clearly what you should choose, because it depends both on your budget and the purpose of the car. Certainly, with these cheaper repairs, you should verify, among others cylinder liners and camshafts.
However, I am happy to read the comments of people who have already repaired such an engine and what experience they have in this connection. I also refer to the opinions of AutoSpruce users.
Got 1.8 TSI / TFSI? Don’t wait for the problem to get too big. If you already have a car with such an engine, it is not worth selling it right away for fear of a problem. If your car does not use more than 0.2 liters of oil per 1000 km, it is only worth checking the timing chain and cleaning the unit from carbon deposits every 100,000 km. If you like your car, you can try to verify the cylinder and rings and possibly modify or replace the pistons with rings for new ones.
When can you be concerned? First of all, when you observe more than 0.2 l / 100 km of oil consumption, and in particular 0.5 l, it is not just about the oil itself. Burning it and creating more carbon deposits can block the flow of oil to the tensioner and stretch the timing chain, cause it to jump and damage the engine.
In addition, if you consume the oil excessively, you must check its level frequently. If it is not enough, the unit will be seized up. The problem simply cannot be underestimated, although you can ride with it.