APA investigating expensive turbocharger wastegate failures on VW and Audi models

Recalls, Warranties, & Class Actions

The APA has accumulated 80 complaints from owners of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles concerning a malfunction of the turbocharger on four-cylinder engines from the 2015-2018 model years. A pivot shaft for the turbocharger wastegate, which controls boost pressure, can seize. The repair involves replacing the complete turbocharger assembly at a cost of about $4,000 at a dealership, even though the actual turbocharger is still in good condition.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer has not extended the warranty nor made a less expensive repair available. Consumers who complain may receive an offer of partial compensation from VW or Audi after the 5 year/100,000 km warranty has expired, typically in the range of one quarter to half the repair cost.

Vehicles impacted

The 2015-2018 VW Golf and GTI with 1.8L and 2.0L turbocharged engines account for the majority of the APA’s complaints, with the Tiguan, Jetta 1.8L and Audi A3 rounding up the remainder. The APA has learned indirectly that the defect continued at least until the 2020 model year. So far, vehicles with VW’s smaller 1.4L turbocharged engine have not generated complaints.

Many owners report that the first symptom of a failing wastegate is an engine service light that comes on temporarily and then disappears. Eventually the shaft binds more and the light comes on permanently.

According to VW dealers, the replacement turbocharger assembly is unchanged. To postpone a recurrence of the issue, some dealers have instructed their customers to floor the engine periodically to “exercise” the wastegate.

Cheaper repairs are available

A VW-Audi specialist may be able to loosen the shaft with heat. Unfortunately, most VW dealerships do not offer this repair; the ones that do will list it as a “service” on the work order rather than a “repair,” to ensure they are not providing a warranty on the turbocharger. This alternate fix can reportedly be done for about $500. It is temporary, the “service” lasting from months to years, and requires that the turbo wastegate actuator still be working correctly. After the repair, you should occasionally floor the engine to engage the turbo wastegate fully, which may delay the accumulation of corrosion on the shaft.
The APA has identified a specialist outside Montreal, VAG Services, that offers a cheaper repair than VW-Audi with an improved part. VAG Services modifies the turbocharger wastegate with an improved stainless-steel shaft that will not seize again, and it replaces and recalibrates the wastegate actuator if required. Cost of the repair is about $1,500, installed. Your local shop can ship the turbo from your car and have it repaired or exchanged for one with the improved shaft. If you make the trip to Montreal from out of town, VAG Services can arrange for a courtesy vehicle while yours is in the shop for a same-day repair.

Before approving any work, contact VW or Audi Canada and ask them to cover the repair. If you are unable to reach them by phone, ask your dealer to intervene, or write to the manufacturer; there is a good chance of receiving a partial offer. The APA would like to see VW and Audi extend the warranty on the turbocharger and dramatically reduce the cost of the repair, ideally be offering a repair “kit” that does not require replacing the turbocharger, or substantially dropping the price of a complete turbocharger.

If you run into this problem, please fill out APA’s complaint form help us track complaints. More information is available here.

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