Settlement for Defective Timing Chains and Tensioners

Audi's EA888 2.0-liter engine has a history of tensioner problems that can lead to a loose timing chain and catastrophic engine failure. A series of lawsuits eventually led to a settlement that offers an extended warranty and potential reimbursements for owners.

There’s an important deadline coming up for owners who previously paid for repairs to their timing chain system or damaged engine from a timing chain failure, and want VW to pick up the tab. Owners only have until January 25th, 2019 to file a claim. More information is available on TimingChainLitigation.com.

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 of 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.

Model Years
A3 2008-2012
A4 2009-2013
A4 Avant 2009-2012
A5 2010-2013
A5 Cabriolet 2010-2013
A6 2012
Q5 2011-2012
TT 2009-2012
TT Roasdster 2009-2012

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 VWProblems.com

Reimbursements for timing chains and tensioners

Owners only have until January 25th, 2019 to file a claim. More information is available on TimingChainLitigation.com.

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.

Reimbursement table for out-of-pocket engine repairs due to timing chain

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

More details on the engine repair reimbursements.

Story Timeline

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What Owners Are Saying

“Since the moment I purchased this vehicle in 2012, I've had nothing but constant issues. This vehicle has stopped in the middle of the street on the freeway (surprised I was not hurt because of this). I've had engine lights on, check oil level lights on, alternator going bad, esp lights on, bearings replacement. You name it, its happened.”

2009 A4 owner in Las Vegas, NV

“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 Moncure, NC

“At 85000 miles I had to replace my timing chains. After many weeks of complaining I got Audi to cover half the price of parts. This was manufacturer defect you would think they should have covered all the costs. I changed the oil religiously.”

2006 A4 owner in Ellicott City, MD

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com 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

  4. Contact Audi

    Audi Support

    2200 Ferdinand Porsche Drive Herndon VA 20171 USA

    More info for international customers

    This site is not affiliated with Audi.