Which Volkswagen TDI Years to Avoid and Why? (Reasons)

A TDI engine is a turbocharged engine, that can be preferable to a non-turbocharged engine due to its greater power. Without compromising fuel efficiency, a TDI engine can have excellent torque output. It also saves fuel due to its smaller size. But TDI engines are not free from problems.

The TDI years to avoid are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Some common problems include- oil leak, injector failure, timing belt failure, clogging of EGR valve etc.

Reading this article, you will find out which years have the worst problems. You will also be able to pick the best TDI engines based on non-problematic model years.

Volkswagen TDI Years to Avoid (List of Years)

The most prominent issue while talking about TDI is the “Dieselgate” scandal. VW started advertising diesel engines heavily with its ‘Clean Diesel’ campaign. But fraudulent act by the VW marked historic damage to the company’s reputation.

VW used ECM software to pass emission control testing. When the vehicles are out of testing, the emission controls were disabled producing 40 times more than test values of Nitrogen Oxide.

This breach of pollution regulation came out in open in 2014. Consequently, VW had to purchase back the TDIs and later started reselling them after repair. 

The models affected by this scandal are worth avoiding. Considering this and other engine factors, the TDI years to avoid are:

  • 2005 Volkswagen TDI
  • 2009 Volkswagen TDI
  • 2010 Volkswagen TDI
  • 2011 Volkswagen TDI
  • 2012 Volkswagen TDI

Worst Year of Volkswagen TDI

The worst year for TDI is debatable. Experts tend to recommend steering out of TDIs altogether after 2005, others report less amount of issues for newer TDIs. But the vehicles affected by the scandal are a safe choice to steer clear of.

With all this, the worst year of TDI is 2009 with its common rail fuel system. HPFP issues first appeared from this model and being the oldest of the bunch with the modified engine, it was not offered any redeemable upgrade as its newer versions.

Read Also: Which Volkswagen Golf GTI Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

What Makes These VW TDI Years Worth Avoiding?

Here, we’ll look into why certain Volkswagen TDI years are best to avoid, like due to reliability problems, emission scandals, and performance issues. This will help you make smarter buying choices.

2005 TDI Problems:

Before 2005, 1.9 TDI ALH engines were used, which were highly reputed and immensely popular among users. ‘Pumpe Düse’ engines, in short, PD engines, were used instead of the ALH engines around 2005. The PD engines used fuel injectors that were driven by camshafts.

The problem with this upgrade is that the upgraded version was a step down in terms of reliability. Cam wear problems became an inconvenient issue in the TDIs with this new engine update.

The camshaft management requires particular oil and even after careful management with this oil, the wear problem can occur. Timing belt failure was another serious issue that arose for this model year.

2009 TDI Problems:

Re-equipment with a common rail fuel system of the engine was the new upgrade dating around 2008. Engines after this period exhibited high-pressure fuel pump problems. So the 2009 model TDIs can be bothersome with HPFP issues. 

Furthermore, the elephant in the room for TDIs of 2009 and later is the emissions cheating scandal. As the cars were repaired and the engines were made to be more aligned with pollution rules, there were some compromises with the original structure. 

2009 TDIs complaints include necessary replacement for the diesel particulate filter and a catalytic converter which cost around 4,000 dollars.

Read Also: Which VW JETTA Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

2010 TDI Problems:

2010 TDIs are worth avoiding for the scandal issue as well. The Jetta, Beetles and Golf vehicles containing TDI were repaired for having low emissions but the repairs also generated new issues.

EGR filters and ECM programs were introduced in the 2010 models which made increased the EGR flow at a level.

Users reported problems concerning DPF regeneration. If the TDIs don’t reach sufficient speed, active regeneration of DPF cannot be carried out.

Failure of active regeneration drains oil into the sump which increases oil consumption and may even hamper the engine. 2010 models like 2010 Golf TDIs also had problems with HPFP which were quite expensive to fix.

Read Also: Which VW Beetle Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

2011 TDI Problems:

The 2011 TDIs have the same issues concerning the scandal. There are good TDIs in this model year but an inconvenience would be the need to change fluid for auto DSG every 40,000 miles.

HPFP failure was also prevalent in the 2011 TDIs. Intercooler icing is another issue reported by users.

2012 TDI Problems:

2012 is another model year to avoid in light of the “Dieselgate” issue.

Problems regarding HPFP and intercooler icing were found in these model years as well.

Users also complained about the recurring check engine light. The problem lies with the efficiency of DPF. The DPF needs to be flushed out so that it does not fill up with ash. But such maintenance can be a hassle for the owners.

Read Also: Which Volkswagen New Beetle Years To Avoid and Why?

Which Volkswagen TDI Years are Safe to Buy?

Speaking of reliable TDIs, the 2001-2003 models with manual transmissions are the best of the bunch. With reviews on high reliability, the models can be bought without a second thought.

The classic 1.9 ALH TDI engine is considered the best TDI engine which was used in the 2001-2003 models.

There are few differences among the model years. ALH can offer a smooth experience with better mileage than newer models. This is because the ALH engines are less emission heavy.

The engine is said to work great for about high mileage if oil changes are maintained properly. Well documented 2015 or 2016 models are found to be reliable as well with excellent performance.


Owning a TDI can be a marvellous experience. But it should be noted that TDIs are a good fit for car enthusiasts. Negligence or irresponsible driving can hamper TDIs in irredeemable ways. 

An average owner can struggle with a TDI for its regular and sincere maintenance needs. The models affected by the scandal are not necessarily bad but require timely maintenance to hold up which can be hard on users.

Read Also: Which PT Cruiser Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

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