A3 1.4TFSI Engine Rattle On Cold Start... Timing Chain?

ChieftainA3

Registered User
Hi all,

My 1.4tfsi developed a problem last weekend... so basically when i turn the car on a cold start I hear a loud rattling towards the front of the engine. It only lasts for 1-2 seconds and then it's ok, no sounds during driving.
If I turn the engine off then back on the car is ok. However, this seems to happen randomly but always on a cold start.

Searching around the forums there's a few possibilities including, loose air box, secondary air pump, cam belt tensioner and also the timing chain.

The car is due for a full service and it has been very hot lately so I have the car on auto AC so these could be the factors behind the first two possibilities, however it's the timing chain that worries me because I called the local Bosch approved garage who have previously worked on the car, to book a full service and told the mechanic, immediately he asked if its a 1.4 then he says he's got one in the garage right now that they are working on, they found it to be the timing chain. So googled away and indeed the 1.4TFSI was prone to timing chain issues especially the med-high mileage cars (surprise surprise mines reaching 90K on the clock)

So I ask how much will it cost... £1300! (not sure if that includes labour but i would imagine so?), I am so gutted as it's been working fine. I've read here and other forums that it could also be the tensioner but I can imagine the amount of work to be the same time.

I thought with the money I will save with a 1.4 rather than buying a 1.6 etc would be good and probably now end up paying £1000+

so my questions are...

1) does anyone have experience of this problem?
2) Can anyone verify the cost of changing the timing chain?

thanks!
 

Retroman

Audi A3 2010 Sportback 2.0 TDI 170 (CBBB engine)
I have worked on timing chain issues but not on an Audi engine. In my experience, worn/slack timing chains get noisier on a warm engine when they expand slightly and the oil thins down slightly. More noticeable at idle. A noise restricted to cold starts only, suggests to me a momentary engine oil circulation issue - I'm unsure as to the type of chain tensioner used in the Audi 1.4 engine but many use engine oil in the hydraulics of the tensioning process and so I wonder whether it is a tensioner issue as opposed to the chain? Some tensioners e.g. BMW can be changed externally without a strip-down. Changing a timing can can be a big job - even ones at the non-gearbox end can involve a day's work.
 

SootySport

Registered User
As retroman says, Audi chain tensioners are usually oil pressure operated hence the rattle from cold. May just be poor oil circulation or bad batch of tensioners. Lots off cogs and pulleys on your engine hence the cost of replacement.
Looks like your at the mercy of your local garage and their knowledge of 1.4 TSI problems. You always have the option of asking an Audi specialist for an assessment as well, I would.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
As retroman says, Audi chain tensioners are usually oil pressure operated hence the rattle from cold. May just be poor oil circulation or bad batch of tensioners. Lots off cogs and pulleys on your engine hence the cost of replacement.
Looks like your at the mercy of your local garage and their knowledge of 1.4 TSI problems. You always have the option of asking an Audi specialist for an assessment as well, I would.

Yeah at their mercy :( so how much would Audi typically charge for a assessment? I guess it's worth asking for a second opinion too.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
I have worked on timing chain issues but not on an Audi engine. In my experience, worn/slack timing chains get noisier on a warm engine when they expand slightly and the oil thins down slightly. More noticeable at idle. A noise restricted to cold starts only, suggests to me a momentary engine oil circulation issue - I'm unsure as to the type of chain tensioner used in the Audi 1.4 engine but many use engine oil in the hydraulics of the tensioning process and so I wonder whether it is a tensioner issue as opposed to the chain? Some tensioners e.g. BMW can be changed externally without a strip-down. Changing a timing can can be a big job - even ones at the non-gearbox end can involve a day's work.

I'll see what the mechanic says but are tensioner replacements usually a cheaper job?

I started the car today and no rattling noise at all, when the engine is warm, like the other day I drove to MK I didn't hear anything and the car seems to be normal.
 

samisnake

Registered User
what oil are you using and when was it last changed?
i changed oil on the same engine about 4 months ago to an oil which wasnt ideal. occasionally had the noise you describe after the car had been sitting overnight. warm/within a few hour starts were fine, just cold starts.
changed to a 504/507 certified oil (castrol) a month later and havent heard it since. would tie in with what retroman said about the tensioners being hydraulic, if the oil is too thin, itd drain from the tensioner overnight. id try changing the oil first, its cheap and easy to do

if you are changing the tensioner, itd be crazy not to change the chain while youre there, as the labour is the same.
 

ch1z64

C'mon you's bhoy's in Green
VCDS Map User
Silver Supporter
Maybe worth looking around and find your own chain and tensioner ( if that is the problem ) and get garage to fit .
 

Retroman

Audi A3 2010 Sportback 2.0 TDI 170 (CBBB engine)
Not suggesting your car has had poor/infrequent oil maintenance but as a general rule IF oil servicing has been neglected, abrasive sludge/goo typically builds up around the camshafts and timing chain areas. As your issue seems only intermittent and on cold starts, why not try a couple of quick succession oil/filter changes say 1 month apart - to naturally wash away any deposits which might just be inhibiting perfect oil circulation from an immediate cold start.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
Not suggesting your car has had poor/infrequent oil maintenance but as a general rule IF oil servicing has been neglected, abrasive sludge/goo typically builds up around the camshafts and timing chain areas. As your issue seems only intermittent and on cold starts, why not try a couple of quick succession oil/filter changes say 1 month apart - to naturally wash away any deposits which might just be inhibiting perfect oil circulation from an immediate cold start.

You might also have a point, since buying the car, roughly over one year now, this will be my first full service. Only because the warning popped up on the dash. I'm hoping the full service will give it a new lease of life although the car has been running smoothly all this time. Fingers crossed it's something small, but yes I might just do what you've suggested!
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
There is a way of checking on OBD Eleven and presumably VCDS without having to take things apart.
Take a look at a post I made recently as it may help if you can find someone local with the OBD reader:
Preventative Maintenance Audi S3 (BHZ & CDL)

thanks! gonna read up now :)

So just to confirm, I need a tool like the -
ELM327 Wifi OBDII Scanner,Gemwon OBD2 Wifi Adapter Car Diagnostic Tool Code Reader Check Engine for Android and IOS(Wifi-Black) - found on Amazon

and then I didn't quite catch the App the guy was using...

If you can recommend the tool and app would be great help!

thanks!
 
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ChieftainA3

Registered User
thanks! gonna read up now :)

So just to confirm, I need a tool like the -
ELM327 Wifi OBDII Scanner,Gemwon OBD2 Wifi Adapter Car Diagnostic Tool Code Reader Check Engine for Android and IOS(Wifi-Black) - found on Amazon

and then I didn't quite catch the App the guy was using...

If you can recommend the tool and app would be great help!

thanks!

don't worry, I'm being thick! lol
 

Daveyonthemove

Well-Known Member
VCDS Map User
Sorry for late reply, i had an early night.
The app is called OBD Eleven but it only works with their own obd dongle.
I don't know for sure if the free version would read the info, but they do have a credit system where you can earn free credits by watching ads.
From what I have seen, it's coding that needs credits, but I haven't had mine long and haven't used it very much at all.
Sorry I can't be any more help on that front, but ultimately buying this device will still be far cheaper than having the engine stripped down and can be used for other things in the future.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
Sorry for late reply, i had an early night.
The app is called OBD Eleven but it only works with their own obd dongle.
I don't know for sure if the free version would read the info, but they do have a credit system where you can earn free credits by watching ads.
From what I have seen, it's coding that needs credits, but I haven't had mine long and haven't used it very much at all.
Sorry I can't be any more help on that front, but ultimately buying this device will still be far cheaper than having the engine stripped down and can be used for other things in the future.

oh no worries lol, I was up watching the video's and trying to figure what I would need to buy, but you're right in any case, at least I would know what I'm talking about and the mechanic can't BS me. I can use it when buying another VAG car in the future... I mean if I knew about OBD I would have used it before buying this car. Am I right in thinking that this dongle will only work on VAG?
 

Patrick24

Registered User
Hi all,

My 1.4tfsi developed a problem last weekend... so basically when i turn the car on a cold start I hear a loud rattling towards the front of the engine. It only lasts for 1-2 seconds and then it's ok, no sounds during driving.
If I turn the engine off then back on the car is ok. However, this seems to happen randomly but always on a cold start.

Searching around the forums there's a few possibilities including, loose air box, secondary air pump, cam belt tensioner and also the timing chain.

The car is due for a full service and it has been very hot lately so I have the car on auto AC so these could be the factors behind the first two possibilities, however it's the timing chain that worries me because I called the local Bosch approved garage who have previously worked on the car, to book a full service and told the mechanic, immediately he asked if its a 1.4 then he says he's got one in the garage right now that they are working on, they found it to be the timing chain. So googled away and indeed the 1.4TFSI was prone to timing chain issues especially the med-high mileage cars (surprise surprise mines reaching 90K on the clock)

So I ask how much will it cost... £1300! (not sure if that includes labour but i would imagine so?), I am so gutted as it's been working fine. I've read here and other forums that it could also be the tensioner but I can imagine the amount of work to be the same time.

I thought with the money I will save with a 1.4 rather than buying a 1.6 etc would be good and probably now end up paying £1000+

so my questions are...

1) does anyone have experience of this problem?
2) Can anyone verify the cost of changing the timing chain?

thanks!
My mate had the exact symptoms on the exact engine, he went through audi to inspect etc etc but they couldn't fine a fault and neither could an independent garage... I think it's a case of, dare I say it, got to live with it? I will ask him when I see him if he had any updates on It.
 

Daveyonthemove

Well-Known Member
VCDS Map User
Yes, OBD eleven is a VAG only tool.
Other apps exist for other data analysis though. Torque is a great app (android only) but needs a different cheaper OBD reader. You can get the pro version and obd dongle for around £10. very handy for live data logging.
 

SootySport

Registered User
Not suggesting your car has had poor/infrequent oil maintenance but as a general rule IF oil servicing has been neglected, abrasive sludge/goo typically builds up around the camshafts and timing chain areas. As your issue seems only intermittent and on cold starts, why not try a couple of quick succession oil/filter changes say 1 month apart - to naturally wash away any deposits which might just be inhibiting perfect oil circulation from an immediate cold start.
This is a good call, may have been on the dreaded Long Life service regime which we all know is not good for our engines long term. Also changing the oil twice is something Cheiftain can do himself.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
My mate had the exact symptoms on the exact engine, he went through audi to inspect etc etc but they couldn't fine a fault and neither could an independent garage... I think it's a case of, dare I say it, got to live with it? I will ask him when I see him if he had any updates on It.
Cool! lemme know, would be interested to hear how he fixed it...
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
Yes, OBD eleven is a VAG only tool.
Other apps exist for other data analysis though. Torque is a great app (android only) but needs a different cheaper OBD reader. You can get the pro version and obd dongle for around £10. very handy for live data logging.
£10! hmmm i'm on their website and they are charging £35 for the dongle and £21 for the pro software... did you buy your's from ebay?
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
This is a good call, may have been on the dreaded Long Life service regime which we all know is not good for our engines long term. Also changing the oil twice is something Cheiftain can do himself.
Yeah... I'm gonna try this too, about time I learned a few things lol
 

Daveyonthemove

Well-Known Member
VCDS Map User
£10! hmmm i'm on their website and they are charging £35 for the dongle and £21 for the pro software... did you buy your's from ebay?
No mate, you have misread .
There are OTHERS for different diagnostic and live data reading which can be had for approx £10. Torque (pro) is only a few quid, and the ELM 327 dongle can be had cheap. They can give you live data, but unable to read VAG fault codes.
OBD Eleven is best bought from their website to ensure you get the correct package and not a fake. Yes it's dearer, but it is able to read codes and clear them as well reading live data and coding the car to do things.
If you want to get VAG specific data and clear codes, get OBD Eleven.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
No mate, you have misread .
There are OTHERS for different diagnostic and live data reading which can be had for approx £10. Torque (pro) is only a few quid, and the ELM 327 dongle can be had cheap. They can give you live data, but unable to read VAG fault codes.
OBD Eleven is best bought from their website to ensure you get the correct package and not a fake. Yes it's dearer, but it is able to read codes and clear them as well reading live data and coding the car to do things.
If you want to get VAG specific data and clear codes, get OBD Eleven.

Thanks... will have to place that order soon :)
 

guysy

Registered User
I've recently bought an A3 1.4t, I am aware of the problems they can have, when starting my engine I get the rattle for 1-3 seconds then it dies down, the car has good service history but I will do an oil and filter change to see if it quietens down before looking into other options.

Can anyone recommend the type of oil and any favoured brands? Thanks.
 

SootySport

Registered User
I would stick with VAG oil specs as in you handbook, Quantum brand and the spec will be in your handbook.
As mentioned earlier, 2 oil changes about a month apart to rid the engine of oil and sludge then oil change every year regardless of mileage.
When I had my S4, I could here a "Woosh" of fluid when starting the engine. This is just the oil being pressurised in the tensioner and is normal.
The rattle you hear would be the hydraulic cam followers filling up with oil to achieve the correct gaps. I would have thought with a more modern engine there would be anti drain down valves to prevent the oil draining back down to the sump.
Anyway, don't panic yet, just make sure the correct grade of oil is in there now and the rattles should lessen.
 

Retroman

Audi A3 2010 Sportback 2.0 TDI 170 (CBBB engine)
I don't like long life engine oil service intervals and there is no such thing as a long life oil filter - they start to lose their full efficiency after around 8,000 miles. You can't change engine oil too often and regular changing maintains and lengthens engine life.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
So far this week I've not heard any rattling, I've been trying to record the noise... anyway I've ordered the OBD11 but probably won't get it in time for the full service tomorrow :/ I suppose I can at least ask how the mechanic came to the conclusion it's the timing chain, if indeed it is. But since the car isn't rattling all the time, I suppose is a good thing for now, besides I don't have £1300 to spend lol. Like SootySport said, I'll give it a month and change the oils again.
 

Daveyonthemove

Well-Known Member
VCDS Map User
He may have heard about the timing chain problem, or experienced it himself and thought the symptoms are close enough to diagnose that as the issue.
He could be spot on, but if he isn't then it's an expensive mistake at your cost.
Look at all other cheaper options before committing to the timing chain, BUT don't forget to monitor it as it is a serious problem if that turns out to be the cause.
 

ChieftainA3

Registered User
So got the car back, the mechanic says everything is fine so I said what did his computer say and he assured me there were no error codes to suggest otherwise. Also because it's a cold start issue it's hard for him to test and I didn't have a video/audio file to show him.

He suggested to monitor it and see if it becomes more regular then he can keep the car overnight and do a cold start in the morning.

I will definitely run the diagnostics with the OBD11 when it arrives but a quick question... If it was a timing belt issue will it actually show on the error code or should it be a visual check of the timing belt?
 

samisnake

Registered User
Sorry to hijack the thread, but what oil is best for this engine? 5W40, 5W30 or 0W30?

Thanks
more important is that it meets vw specs 504/507, or 502.
youll find 504/507 is 5w30 and is longlife, and 502 is 5w40 on fixed interval.

whichever you go for, change it at regular intervals eg. 10k miles/yearly, whichever comes first.
 

Tempz

Registered User
Cheers ^

I’m on fixed yearly service but use 5W30. Will this have any adverse impact on the engine?
 

Daveyonthemove

Well-Known Member
VCDS Map User
The 5W 30 oil will be fine.
I think the VAG oil (Quantum) is a rebranded Castrol Edge, so the quality is very good.
If it isn't Castrol Edge, it has identical lubrication and anti friction properties from what I have seen.
 

SootySport

Registered User
The 5W 30 oil will be fine.
I think the VAG oil (Quantum) is a rebranded Castrol Edge, so the quality is very good.
If it isn't Castrol Edge, it has identical lubrication and anti friction properties from what I have seen.
That wouldn't surprise me as I have spotted bulk cans of Edge in VW/Seat/Audi dealers and other vag specialists. I don't use it myself as it is a lot more expensive than Quantum and only comes in 4litre. Packs :wtf:
 
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samuelh_888

Registered User
VAG Quantum oil is made by Fuchs.

I noticed on the UK Audi site the other day that they're recommending Castrol.
 
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