Volkswagen Tiguan Problems: 7 Common Problems

Even though the VW Tiguan is a mid-tier premium vehicle, it still has some problems to be aware of before buying.

The Volkswagen Tiguan suffers from intake manifold failure, timing chain tensioner failure, steering clock spring failure, water pump failure, PCV valve defects, ignition coil failure, and excessive oil consumption.

To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve broken down these issues below and looked at some Tiguan recalls you need to be aware of (especially if you have one of these models).

2023 volkswagen tiguan towing a horse trailer

7 Common Volkswagen Tiguan Problems

1. Intake Manifold Failure

This isn’t a problem you hear of often with other manufacturers, but since the Tiguan has a plastic intake manifold, it can be a problem.

The affected engine is the 2009 2.0TFSI 4-cylinder, around 55,000 miles (88,514 kilometers).

The intake manifold distributes the air equally between the cylinders, and if it gets a crack, it results in a vacuum leak.

This will affect the car’s performance because it is turbocharged, it will lose boost pressure to the cylinder under load, and at idle, it will be rough since there is unmeasured air coming into the engine because it is behind the Air-flow meter and throttle body.

The only solution for this problem is replacing the intake manifold, which can cost up to $760.

2. Timing Chain Tensioner Failure

The job of the timing chain is to keep the engines crank and camshafts in time with one another, and the tensioner is there to take up the slack in the chain.

The engine affected is again the 2.0 TFSI 4-cylinder from 2009 to 2013 at around 90,000 miles (144,841 kilometers).

Catastrophic engine failure can occur if the tensioner fails since it can make the timing chain skip a tooth on the crank or on the camshafts resulting in the valves hitting the piston.

Luckily you can hear the tensioner starting to fail because it will emit a rattling and ticking sound at startup when the oil pressure builds up.

If you can catch the problem in the early stages, you only need to replace the tensioner and timing chain, which will cost about $2,600. 

If you are not lucky, you will need to replace your engine, which can cost up to $6,500, or you can rebuild it.

3. Water Pump Failure

The first generation of external plastic water pumps on the Volkswagen Tiguan had an issue where it would crack and start leaking coolant.

This can result in the car overheating and causing engine damage, like a head gasket.

This was a problem on all vehicles in 2009 fitted with the electric water pump at around 78,000 miles (125,529 kilometers).

In most cases, the owners reacted to the water temperature warning light, pulled over as quickly as possible, and only had to replace the pump, which cost up to $910.

Some owners were so unlucky in the first year of replacements and got the nonupdated part, so it failed again in a very short time. The worst I’ve seen is this one owner who replaced three water pumps in an 18,641 miles (30,000 km) range. 

4. PCV Valve Not Functioning

The PCV valve controls the crankcase pressure by letting it breathe into the engine’s intake so the engine can burn the oil vapors.

With the Tiguan, the PCV valve isn’t letting enough air through to properly vent the crankcase pressure, pushing out the rear main oil seal.

This was at its worst in the 2010 model year 2.0 TFSI 4-cylinder models at around 81,800 miles (131,644 kilometers).

The problem with losing the rear main seal is the loss of engine oil which can result in engine damage and turbo damage since it also uses the engine oil to lubricate its bearings.

The updated PCV valve and rear main seal will set you back around $1,700.

5. Ignition Coil Failure

The ignition coils give spark to the sparkplugs to ensure the engine efficiently burns the fuel.

The 2012 model year of the petrol-engined Tiguans had ignition coil packs that failed prematurely at around 54,000 miles (86,905 kilometers).

Bad coils can result in misfires, bad acceleration, and poor fuel economy.

The only fix is replacing the coils, which costs up to $570 for four coils.

6. Steering Clock Spring Defect

The steering clock spring’s job is to connect everything electronically on the steering to the vehicle’s ECU and airbag control module.

When they turned hard to the left or right, many owners heard a snapping sound from the steering column followed by the airbag warning light illuminating.

This is common in 2012 and 2013 model Tiguans at around 39,300 miles (63,247 kilometers).

Over time, the clock spring will bind on the inside and break randomly.

The biggest problem with the clock spring breaking is that the airbag won’t deploy in an accident.

7. Excessive Oil Consumption

This is quite a normal problem in modern vehicles, and even the Volkswagen Tiguan is not spared from it.

This problem was worst in the 2018 Tiguan 2.0TFSI 4-cylinder at around 18,150 miles (29,210 kilometers).

Some owners complained of oil consumption of 1.6 quarts (1.5 liters) in approximately 1,243 miles (2,000 kilometers).

Volkswagen says normal oil consumption is a quart (0.95 liters) every 621.4 miles (1 000 kilometers), which is a lot compared to older vehicles that could get by on 100ml between services.

Volkswagen Tiguan Recalls

While many Volkswagen Tiguans have been recalled, many out there were still not repaired, so consider these problems when buying a second-hand Tiguan. 

If you own a Tiguan, take your vehicle to a dedicated Volkswagen dealer to rectify these problems as soon as possible.

2009 Recalls

  • 2009 model-year vehicles equipped with the 2.0TFSI have an engine control module (ECM) with software that may not properly control the engine idle when the air conditioning is turned on, resulting in an unexpected increase in rpm.

2013 Recalls

  • 2009 to 2011 model-year vehicles may have a faulty fuse holder for the exterior lights, which can cause the circuit to melt and also causes the exterior lights not to function, increasing the risk of a crash at low visibility conditions.

2014 Recalls

  • 2009 to 2014 model-year vehicles that run on winterized fuel in cold areas can produce bubbles in the fuel system, causing the engine to stall.

2015 Recalls

  • 2015 model-year vehicles may be equipped with certification labels that are missing the required tire pressure information, which can lead to vehicle overloading and increase the risk of a crash.
  • 2010 to 2014 model-year vehicle debris may contaminate the airbag clock spring, which can cause the clock spring to tear and result in loss of electrical connection to the driver’s front airbag.

2016 Recalls

  • 2015 model-year vehicles are equipped with driver and front-passenger seat-mounted airbag inflators that can rupture in the event of a crash. These fragments can cause injury or even death.
  • 2016 model-year vehicles can disengage the child locks in the rear doors just through normal operating vibrations like opening and closing the door. This can result in a child being able to open the door inside the vehicle or even while driving.

2017 Recalls

  • 2017 model-year vehicles may have frontal airbags that may not deploy properly, resulting in an increased risk of injury during a frontal crash.

2018 Recalls

  • 2018 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles have backup lights that are not bright enough and do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requirements.
  • 2017 to 2018 model-year vehicles are installed with front driver airbags not intended for use in models sold in the United States.
  • 2018 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles may have engine support bolts that are not properly tightened, which can cause unexpected engine breakdown or loss of engine power.
  • 2018 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles may have a rear shock absorber lower loop that may separate from the base due to an incorrect welding process, which can cause a loss of vehicle control with an increased risk of crashing.
  • 2018 model-year vehicles may have a lower ball joint nut that is improperly tightened or loose, which can cause steering, traction, or stability issues.
  • 2012 to 2015 and 2017 model-year vehicles have modifications made while the vehicles were in an internal evaluation period may cause vehicles not to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, which can cause an increased risk of a crash, fire, or injury.
  • In 2018 model-year vehicles, in the event of a crash, the passenger front airbag can tear or not deploy properly, which can cause an increased risk of injury during a crash.
  • 2018 model-year vehicles fitted with the panoramic sunroof may have a LED module that is part of the ambient light bar that may short circuit, which can increase the fire risk.

2019 Recalls

  • 2018 to 2019 model-year vehicles do not have an audible warning for the key being in the ignition and will fail to comply with the requirements of the FMVSS, which can cause the keys to be left inside the vehicle, increasing the risk of theft.
  • 2018 to 2019 model-year vehicles may have rear coil springs that can fail prematurely, which can cause loss of vehicle control and increase the risk of a crash.
  • 2019 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles have incorrect tire information labels that contain inaccurate tire dimensions and inflation pressures and fail to comply with the regulations of the FMVSS.
  • 2015 to 2016 model-year vehicles may have a defective power supply capacitor for the airbag ECU that can result in airbag deactivation or inadvertent deployment of the airbags.
  • 2018 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles have modifications made while the vehicles were in an internal evaluation period may cause vehicles not to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, which can cause an increased risk of a crash, fire, or injury.

2020 Recalls

  • 2020 model-year vehicles may have parts of the front seat frame and backrest adjuster that are not welded properly. This can cause increased injury in the event of a rear-end crash.
  • 2020 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles may have bolts that are not torqued properly on the third-row belt anchor, which can cause improper occupant restraint in the case of a crash.
  • 2018 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles, in the event of a crash, one or both front seat belt webbing may tear, resulting in adequate restraint during a crash.

2021 Recalls

  • 2021 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles, the rearview camera can malfunction during the ignition cycle, causing a black screen on the infotainment screen and causing the system to freeze.
  • 2021 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles may have bolts missing from the front seat tracks, which can cause an increased risk of injury during a crash.
  • 2018 model-year vehicles may have incorrect roof reinforcement assembly installed, causing decreased structural rigidity.

2022 Recalls

  • 2022 model-year vehicles may have a nut that secures the brake pipe near the front right wheel that is loose, which can cause a brake fluid leak that can cause a decrease in braking performance.
  • In 2021 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles and 2022 vehicles, the left or right rear suspension knuckles may corrode, crack, and break, which can cause loss of stability and increase the risk of a crash.
  • 2018 to 2021 model-year LWB (Long Wheel Base) vehicles and 2022 vehicles may have incorrectly installed rear hatch spoilers that can separate from the vehicle and become a road hazard.
  • 2021 to 2022 model-year vehicles, the manufacturing process of the eMMC (memory module for the infotainment system) may cause the rearview camera image not to display.
2023 volkswagen tiguan driving on a b road

Final thoughts on Volkswagen Tiguan Problems

The common problems of the Volkswagen Tiguan range from Intake manifold failure, timing chain tensioner failure, and steering clock spring failure. 

There are also a number of recalls you should be aware of when shopping on the second-hand market.

The best thing to do if you own a Volkswagen Tiguan is to take it to a VW dealership and have them check for any recalls that haven’t been completed.

If you are in the market for a used VW Tiguan, get a full vehicle history report and avoid any models with an outstanding recall.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful, and you can go to your next Tiguan test drive knowing what to look out for.


What Are The Most Common Problems For Volkswagen Tiguan?

Timing chain tensioner failure and Steering clock spring failure.

What Year VW Tiguan Is The Most Reliable?

The 2014 models and 2020 onwards are the models that are the most reliable and with the least amount of complaints from customers.

How Many Miles Will A Tiguan Last?

When properly maintained, the Volkswagen Tiguan can easily last up to 200,000 miles (321,869 kilometers), especially the diesel engines.
Depending on usage and damage, the body or rust-proofing will last between 13 to 17 years which is a lot better than the Ford Escape which is known for its rust issues.

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Article by

Jaco Schrader

Jaco is the automotive heart of our platform. Born and raised in Namibia, he began his journey in the automobile sector in 2012. Launching his own automotive repair business in Africa and fitting a Toyota 1UZ-FE V8 in a Ford Sierra, Jaco brings over six years of hands-on automotive experience. He’s a self-taught expert in various mechanical and electrical aspects of vehicles.

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