VW 1.9 TDI Engine Review Problems And Reliability

The Volkswagen 1.9 TDI engine itself has become an icon not only in the United States, but also in Germany. However, the ARL variant is very popular and you will recognize it by the red letters TDI. Today a few words about him and his weaker brother ASZ.

1.9 TDI engines can be divided into two types in terms of power supply – injection pump and unit injectors. The first ones were weaker, but after the introduction of unit injectors (PD), the power increased until 150 HP was obtained.

This was achieved in the unit with the ARL code and it was the most powerful engine with the 1.9 TDI code, commonly used in several models, although the BPX and BUK units were actually the most powerful, but they were only used in the Seat Ibiza Cupra.

1.9 TDi BKC engine

The BKC 1.0 TDi engine was installed in well-known models of Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat and Audi. Can it be considered a successful design? Find out more about this power unit in our article!

Volkswagen has produced many good engines in its history. The BKC 1.0 TDi engine definitely belongs to this group. Check the technical specification, design solutions, and the characteristics of the motor!

What were the characteristics of the BKC 1.9 TDi engines?

The production of 1.9 TDi units started in the 90s and was continued until 2007. Motorcycles can be divided into two categories, the first of which are products from before 2003, and the second after that date.

In the first case, the German manufacturer used a much less efficient, turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection with a power in the range of 74-110 HP. After 2003, other design solutions were chosen. The engines were equipped with the Pumpe Duse injector system with power from 74 to 158 hp. Units produced after 2003 are usually referred to as 1.9 TDi PD. A characteristic feature of these engines was that their use was associated with high fuel economy.

BKC, BXE, BLS and other engines – what do the abbreviations mean?

Like other manufacturers, the Volkswagen Group has assigned codes to specific drive units. They are installed in all vehicles belonging to the concern – we are talking about Audi, Skoda, Seat and Volkswagen cars. Their listing is as follows:

  • BKC, BXE and BLS with 105 hp are installed on Audi A3, Seat Altea, Leon, Toledo, Skoda Octavia, VW Golf, Jetta, Passat, Touran;
  • BJB with a power of 90 HP is installed in Seat Altea, Toledo, Skoda Octavia, VW Caddy;
  • 90 hp BRU inserts into VW Golf, Touran;
  • The 90 hp BXJ is used in Seat Ibiza, VW Golf, Golf Plus, Touran cars.

1.9TDi BKC – design solutions

The BKC 1.9 TDi engine, like the other units in this group, is considered by many to be one of the best series of motorcycles created by Volkswagen. It adopts a mass air flow sensor with a hot wire, as well as an aluminum alloy intake manifold .

The designers also decided to install a Garrett, KKK or Borg Warner VGT turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. The unit also has an EGR water cooling system and a cast iron exhaust manifold.

What else characterizes this BKC engine?

The Volkswagen engine also has an engine-driven, low-pressure pump that transports the fuel to the high-pressure pump, which contributes to the high efficiency of the drive unit. It is driven by four camshafts with the help of valve shafts. High-pressure injectors were also used:

  • Bosch 27 850 PSi with solenoid valve injection nozzles;
  • Bosch EDC16;
  • Bosch EDC17 ECU.

Operation of this VW diesel engine – what should you watch out for?

The BKC 1.9 TDi engine is considered a stable operating unit, but some problems may arise during its use. They may be related to:

  • oil spills;
  • injector damage;
  • clogged EGR valve;
  • damage to the timing belt;
  • rattling timing belt;
  • DMF dual mass flywheel failure.

Sometimes the head gasket also fails. All problems should be handled by an experienced mechanic. However, they can be avoided by regularly inspecting the BKC engine, as well as performing basic servicing.

The BKC drive unit is one of Volkswagen’s successful products. With proper treatment, it can travel a large number of kilometers without causing major problems. What’s more, with virtually the same design as the BXE and BLS models, it’s easy to find replacement parts and expert engine advice on the user forum. For these reasons, buying a BKC engine can be considered a good choice.

1.9 TDI Red

You will recognize a car with an ARL engine by the fact that the 1.9 TDI marking is red. Of course, many users have bought such a designation for their 90 HP machine, just like BMW drivers bought more M badges than BMW M released cars from the factory.

On the other hand, the 130hp versions differed visually in that only the DI was red and the T remained silver. These are engines that in some models represent top versions, an example of which is the Škoda Fabia RS equipped with this unit (ASZ).

However, the color scheme is not a rule and the same Fabia with a 100 HP engine may also have a red DI. Besides, Volkswagen had different approaches to the color scheme since 2003, and eventually ended up with a silver TDI for each version.

Simple Design and Great Performance

Let’s focus on the 1.9 TDI ARL engine, which is the favorite of tuners dealing with tuning and diesel modifications. It made its debut with the ASZ in 2000, therefore it complies with the Euro 3 standard and does not have a DPF filter. It does have a catalytic converter and an EGR valve, as well as a turbocharger with variable geometry. Contrary to appearances, also a simple design compared to more modern units – e.g. an 8-valve head.

ARL factory develops a power of 150 hp and torque of 320 Nm. The 1.9 TDI ASZ engine is structurally similar, but with a factory power of 130 HP and a torque of 310 Nm. However, it has many common parts and solutions. It has outlived several years longer than the ARL, which ended in 2005. It was also used in more models.

Maximum power and torque are parameters given by the manufacturer, but in fact, a fully functional unit generates better.

  • Healthy, serial units usually show more on the dyno than the manufacturer says, and this is because the VAG group always communicates the minimum parameters that the engine should have and therefore there are often “bonuses” in the form of additional KM and Nm.
  • The fact is, if a motor has less power or torque, there is some kind of defect or wear. It can be both engine contamination and something more serious, such as insufficient injectors or turbochargers, or problems with the air intake.
  • Therefore, before buying a car, in which you see a project or plan its operation for several years, it is worth spending the time and those 51-64 USD on testing on a dynamometer.
  • In my opinion, when buying any car equipped with a TDI PD unit, you should be guided primarily by the technical condition of the engine.
  • Very quickly in a year or two, we can spend twice as much on repairing a breakdown than the car cost.

Expensive or Cheap?

Is the 1.9 TDI engine that expensive to repair? No. The comparison of the mechanics is good, because this car with 1.9 TDI can be bought for $520-$1290. As for an engine designed for high power and great performance – cars with a factory engine accelerate to 100 km / h in about 9 seconds – it is quite cheap to maintain and repair. However, the age of this construction and huge mileage do their job. Worse if we buy a neglected car.

That’s why it’s worth looking for art from a person who had a heart for a car. It is good to “overpay” the $520-$780. If the previous owner took care of regular service and fixed faults in the accessories, the unit will last 250,000-300,000 km. with factory parameters and on many factory parts. You should absolutely not be afraid of such mileage, but you can expect some expenses related to the wear of some components and elements.

The old generation injection system can be regenerated. Replacing the injectors costs about $520-$650 plus labor. Sometimes this is accompanied by a tandem pump, which is responsible for creating a vacuum and feeding fuel at the same time. The cost of a new one is $170, but we will pay a quarter of this amount for regeneration.

After purchase, it is necessary to replace the timing drive, complete. The belt with rollers, water pump and other elements to be replaced cost about $130 and you need to add the cost of replacement, which in 1.9 TDI engine is not a big challenge for a mechanic.

Unfortunately, during the revision of the top of the 1.9 TDI engine, it may turn out that you also need to replace the camshaft with shells and hydro tappets – $260 plus labor. If you do it comprehensively with timing gear replacement, you will pay less.

1.9 TDI Engine Problems & Reliability

  • A typical problems of 1.9 TDI engines are oil leaks, especially from under the valve cover.
  • It is made of plastic and due to high mileage and high temperature, it deforms after years. This causes oil leaks.
  • It also has an integrated crankcase ventilation valve, the so-called pneumothorax and appears only as an original product. It costs about $170.
  • Unfortunately, many 1.9 TDI users – not just the ARL variety – struggle with this “ridiculous” price by buying a used lid or a different ointment with sealants, which unfortunately does not solve the problem for long.

I am pleased with the low prices of parts, which are much more expensive in more modern engines. The AutoSpruce expert lists some examples in one breath:

  • N75 boost control valve (cost about $40)
  • Flow meter – about $117
  • Map sensor – about $26
  • Camshaft position sensor – approx $40
  • Shaft position sensor – approx $40

These are not large individual expenses, but if someone finds an engine in which these elements are still original, when they start to fail, the number of defects can irritate. Even the serious ones are not particularly expensive.

The turbocharger itself costs about $260 and here, of course, you should add at least twice as much for a comprehensive replacement. If you have any modifications planned, it is better to have a trusted person repaired. Usually, if there is an engine tuning planned, the turbo is replaced with a bigger one. It is similar with the intake system and intercooler.

Sometimes the gearbox also requires regeneration, which costs about $155. The clutch works with a dual-mass flywheel, but as befits a Volkswagen, replacements are available at a reasonable price – about $364 for a complete set with a clutch and clutch actuator.

How much can you get the 1.9 TDI ARL?

Of course, if the budget has no limits, the engine does not. Reasonable tuning closes with a power of approx 200 HP and a torque approaching 400 Nm. There is no need to interfere with any mechanical components. After modifying the boost, intake and exhaust, you can target over 200hp and over 400Nm.

  • The 1.9 TDI engine is very resistant to loads and high mileage.
  • The crank-piston system in 130 and 150 HP units can easily withstand modifications at the level of 300 HP and 550-600 Nm , thanks to the pistons and connecting rods reinforced in relation to the weaker versions.
  • The potential for tuning is so great that you often see cars with such a unit in parallel races, competing in the diesel class. Designs at the 250-300hp level are no exception, and the 500Nm torque does not make a big impression on the subject.

What car models with ARL can you buy?

The 1.9 TDI engine with this specific marking was installed in three models and it was quite short, but so many cars were sold that there is no problem with buying it after 15–20 years. It is worth noting that there is a choice not only between bodies. The Seat Leon and VW Golf combined ARL with four-wheel drive (optional). The Toledo is front wheel drive only.


An ASZ or other 150hp varieties are also a good solution. Basically, the ARL was only found in compact cars: VW Golf IV, Seat Leon I and Seat Toledo II. However, a version with the same power, but with the designation BTB, went to VW Sharan and Ford Galaxy.

The ASZ version appeared with 12 models from the Škoda Fabia RS to the Sharan. When buying, I would advise you to suggest the condition and actual, although difficult to determine, mileage rather than the marking. If the 1.9 TDI engine is 130 HP, it gives good performance and there is a potential to increase it.

I know from experience that the most noteworthy are cars that the previous owner has already owned for several years and has receipts or invoices for repairs and service.

Then the 1.9 TDI engine mileage of the order of 250,000-300,000 km should not discourage you. You can buy a beautifully looking copy from beyond our western border, without repair history, but it is possible that it will require a lot of investment in a moment. Better to buy a car from an enthusiast.

4.9/5 - (35 votes)

1 thought on “VW 1.9 TDI Engine Review Problems And Reliability”

  1. having battery problems with vw tdi golf 2003. three batteries within 2 years doesn’t seem normal. car refuses to start if weather is cold and then batterie dies. tried charging then after acouple of times it just plain dies and then new battery. cycle starts all over again. what make of battery does this car need? or is something else the cause? any ideas?


Leave a Comment