Settlement for Defective Timing Chains and Tensioners

Posted on
Scott McCracken
#engine #lawsuit #settlement
View of engine timing chain

Timing chains are the critical link between the crankshaft and camshaft. Through a series of guides and tensioners, the chains are responsible for keeping the cylinder head valves in sync with the combustion chamber pistons.

If the timing chain becomes loose, either by stretching or a failed tensioner, there are serious problems ahead.

What’s Happening in Audi's EA888 Engine

One of the main reasons chains have replaced belts in high-displacement engines is their longevity. Volkswagen, parent company of Audi, says you shouldn't have to worry about timing chain maintenance for 120,000 miles in their own maintenance schedules.

So why are Audi's timing chains failing so early?

It's likely a timing chain tensioner failure. Tensioners make sure the chain is tightly wound to the pulleys and gears. If the tensioner fails and the chain becomes loose, the timing of the engine is thrown off.

Symptoms of a loose timing chain

When a timing chain is loose you'll likely hear a rattle during startup or idling in the engine. The rattle might be accompanied by a check engine light triggered by sensors in the crankshaft and camshaft that are detecting timing issues.

With a loose timing chain you'll have trouble starting the engine or it might misfire while driving. That’s because the timing between the valves and pistons are out of sync, and the combustion part of you internal combustion engine is busted.

If a loose timing chain isn’t addressed immediately it could break, and cause catastrophic damage to the engine.

As the problems piled up, the lawsuits rolled in

Audi began releasing Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) to its network of dealerships around 2010. The TSBs outlined how to respond to customer complaints about the timing chain.

One of the most popular responses was to accuse owners of improper oil and filter maintenance, and ask for records (including receipts) before doing any warranty work.

Fed up and facing massive repair bills, the first timing chain lawsuit was filed in May of 2016. It placed blame on the tensioner system and said VW should help pay for repairs.

Another class-action lawsuit soon followed by 24 plaintiffs in 17 states claiming the timing chains "jump a tooth" in the camshaft.

The lawsuits were eventually combined in a New Jersey court, despite VW’s motion to dismiss the cases.

Volkswagen and Audi Timing Chain Settlement

As the court fees piled up, Volkswagen agreed to settle 7 class-action lawsuits in one combined action in May 2018.

Extended warranty

As part of the settlement, the following Volkswagen vehicles were given an extended “new vehicle limited warranty” to cover future repairs or replacements of the timing chains and tensioners.

A4 Avant2009-2012
A5 Cabriolet2010-2013
TT Roasdster2009-2012

Owners and lessees of the vehicles are automatically awarded the extended warranty unless they opted out of the class-action by December 3rd, 2018.

Note: You can find out which VW vehicles are involved in the settlement over at

Reimbursements for timing chains and tensioners

If you've already repaired or replaced the timing chain system, you may be eligible for a reimbursement if the service was done within 10 years or 100,000 miles of when the vehicle first entered service.

If the work was done at an authorized VW dealership, 100% of the cost will be refunded. Otherwise, a refund between $1,100 and $1,500 will be awarded depending on what needed fixing.

Two conditions of the settlement:

  1. VW says they will not be responsible for any problems associated with timing chains or tensioners repaired by an independent service center, unless the parts were ordered from an official dealer and fail within 1 year or 12,000 miles.
  2. There will be no reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs of any repairs or replacements to the timing chains, tensioners or engines if the work was performed more than 30 days after the settlement notice date by anyone other than an authorized Audi or VW dealership.

More details on the timing chain reimbursements. Still with me, good?

As part of the settlement, VW will reimburse you for expenses related to engine damage. However, an authorized dealer will need to make the determination if the timing chain was actually to blame. Who wants to place bets on if they'll make that process difficult?

Reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses will be based on the following parameters.

The same parameters apply if an independent service center performed the engine work, but a maximum amount of $6,500 will be awarded.

Table of Audi's reimbursement schedule

More details on the engine repair reimbursements.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Settlement

    Stockalper, et al., vs. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, et al.

    1. Settlement

      A VW timing chain class-action lawsuit may be nearing the end as the automaker has agreed to settle the multidistrict litigation that comprises seven class-action lawsuits.

    2. Case Filed

      An Audi timing chain lawsuit alleges Audi and Volkswagen vehicles have defects that cause the timing chains to suddenly fail without warning, causing the engines to fail.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2008-2012 A3
    • 2008-2012 A4
    • 2008-2012 A5
    • 2010-2012 A6
    • 2012 A7
    • 2008-2012 TT
    • 2010-2012 Q3
    • 2009-2012 Q5
    • 2012 Q7
    New Jersey
  • Settlement

    David Zimand, et al v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and Audi of America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      A VW timing chain class-action lawsuit may be nearing the end as the automaker has agreed to settle the multidistrict litigation that comprises seven class-action lawsuits.

    2. Case Filed

      A Volkswagen timing chain tensioner lawsuit alleges numerous VW and Audi vehicles have defects in the timing chain tensioning systems that cause complete engine failure.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2008-2012 A3
    • 2008-2012 A4
    • 2008-2012 A5
    • 2010-2012 A6
    • 2012 A7
    • 2008-2012 TT
    • 2010-2012 Q3
    • 2009-2012 Q5
    • 2012 Q7
    New Jersey

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Audi generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. There’s an important deadline coming up for Audi owners who previously paid for repairs to their timing chain system or damaged engine from a timing chain failure, and want the automaker to pick up the tab.

    A recently approved settlement benefits thousands of owners by providing them with an extended “new vehicle limited warranty” for any future repairs, plus conditional reimbursements for any previous repairs.…

    keep reading article "Upcoming Deadline for Timing Chain Reimbursements"

What Owners Say About This Problem

Our Audi A4 left us stranded 120 miles from home this past weekend. It ran fine all morning. We stopped, and when I tried to restart, it ran rough but evened out. The next time I started it, the engine continued to run rough, shuddered and stopped. It would not restart so I had it towed to the repair shop. The repairman told us the Tensioner had failed and the timing chain had jumped some teeth which had caused serious (as in you need a new engine) damage.

2009 A4 Owner in NC

Bought the car, got it inspected at an Audi dealer that did not mention tensioner issues. I had the car almost a year when it failed, i had the car towed to my mechanic thinking it was something stupid, he called me the next day and said my engine blew.

2009 A4 Owner in Quebec

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA