Notes: VW gave the Tiguan a facelift with new headlights, a fancier grille, and improved performance. Unfortunately they didn't address what gave most 2010 owners headaches --- engine problems.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
90,850 miles
Total Complaints:
17 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace cylinder head / engine (10 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
  3. replace timing chain / tensioner (3 reports)
2011 Volkswagen Tiguan engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Owner Comments

problem #17

Aug 072020


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


VW jumped time and engine destroyed with no warning. Now I have no car and need a new engine - estimates at 6500.00.

- Joanne M., Campobello, SC, US

problem #16

Apr 202020

Tiguan 4motion 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I just bought the car with 61,000 mile, I was so happy to get the car with low miles . I was driving the car from work went suddenly stop in the highway. went I staring to star the car won't move the engine I was lock the timing chain have jump out the track. I am working on the car right now I will replace the timing chain hoping the engine will be fine. I never see a so poor design on timing tensioner like this one before a car with 61,000 miles will break down because of timing tensioner, I won't recommends to anyone to buy this peace a jump. I probably I will have to replace the engine and would cots to much money. wish me luck.

- Nelson M., Arlington, US

problem #15

May 182019

Tiguan SE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,043 miles

Via an internet search, I learned there's been a class action suit file regarding timing chains and tensioners. But it's only valid to 100K miles. That's unacceptable when the part is supposed to last until 130K. Even worse, I just bought my car last June (10mos) of ownership and I'm paying for a repair that's a known cause and have no way of receiving compensation. VW needs to consider it a recall and make repair on all vehicles under 130K.

- Kristen W., Bridgeton, MO, US

problem #14

Jan 212019

Tiguan Trendline 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,885 miles


January 26, 2019 I'm about to bring my car to the VW dealer body shop since my car was a victim of a hit and run in my residential place. I notice that the engine doesn't start. I thought it was cause by battery problem. I sought the help of my neighbor to boost the battery, however the car doesn't start. so I decided that it be towed to the dealer. It is the same dealer that will repair the accident part. First they replace the battery, but according to them the timing belt had already skipped. Since I don't know anything regarding mechanical I assumed that the problems arise from the timing belt. I sought a second opinion from another mechanic by bringing since the quote of the VW dealer is too expensive. The second mechanic said that he cannot give me a quote unless he opens the engine and determines the extent of the damage. So I decided to take the car to another mechanic and this is the time that he gave me quote of $1750, way below the price given by the dealer. However when I pick up the car, the engine light came on and he told me he will fix fuel sensor and it will cost me another C$69. As of to date I really don't know if my car is still reliable with the engine light on and sometimes the Wrench icon is coming out.

- eric esplana, Lasalle, QC, Canada

problem #13

Oct 052018

Tiguan SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This vehicle was well maintained no warning light outside of " Parking Brake Malfunction" prior to vehicle shutting down. VW Dealer states that it could cost me up to $10,000-$12,000 to repair with used engine. This isn't right or fair.

- Anthony M., Denver, CO, US

problem #12

May 302018

Tiguan S 2.0L Tsi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,225 miles

Chain tensioner screw up under 120k, screwing up valves and chains. Cylinder head had to be refurbished.

- Iran L., Mesa, US

problem #11

Jul 132018

Tiguan SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,266 miles


Purchased this car 12 months ago and since then put 8,000 miles on it. The moment I drove off the lot, the low oil pressure light flashed and went away. I thought it was a glitch but brought it in anyway. I was told it just needed a new oil filter. Once that was fixed issue came back a month later was told I needed a new Turbo. It seemed to be resolved for a few months, then low and behold "Low Oil Pressure". Scared me and my wife being we had no choice but to pull over and call a tow truck yet again. This time they checked oil pan and found metal shavings in it and stated I needed a new engine. Seems like this is a major problem with this car from what I have read online. I'm just lucky the engine didn't blow up or have any major issues when my 2 year old was in the car.

- Chris S., Duluth, GA, US

problem #10

Jul 252018

Tiguan S 4 Motion 2.0L Turbo

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

My wife started the car in our garage, and the catalytic converter warning light was on. We checked the owner's manual, and it said to drive the car "slowly" to the nearest dealer which we did. The dealer reported "likely timing chain tensioner failure" and recommended replacing the engine and turbocharger for approximately $9400. Both the dealer and I talked with VW "Customer Care" about the problem, and since the car is out of warranty, and there are no recalls on the timing chain tensioner, they offered not one dollar of help. The repair cost is far greater than the value of the vehicle, essentially totaling the vehicle. If there is a class action suit against VW for this problem, l would like to know about it.

- mardenner, Eugene, US

problem #9

Feb 022018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I'm 63 years old and bought this vehicle not even one year ago. I planned on this being my last vehicle however now I have to replace 3 out of 4 cylinders or replace the engine. I have always heard good things about VW but would I buy another one? Not so sure. I still work everyday and not only have to pay for repairs but also a rental.

- Janet A., Johnston, US

problem #8

Jan 232018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Dealership replaced my cam seal. Within 24 hours, my car died on highway with engine light blinking. Dealership says not their fault. Second opinion at VW dealership says the cam seal replacement was performed incorrectly and the engine was not re-timed per process. Repair dealership says their process does not call for re-timing! How can there be 2 different processes for the same task? $6800 damages to my motor as the timing chain failed and the screen was sucked into the motor. Will never buy another VW!

- Michelle B., Cameron Park, US

problem #7

Oct 232017

Tiguan SE 4 Motion 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,368 miles


Engine light came on. Manual indicated catalytic converter. Brought into shop. At shop would not start. Diagnosis fee $350 to find out timing chain had jumped and head damaged. Choice of new engine $8500, used engine $8250 or head $6500. All maintenance was performed up to this date to include the carbon build-up issue noted elsewhere last year. Never recommended any other work to replace tensioner. I replaced timing belts on other cars when recommended, funny how a chain was thought to last longer so mfg has no recommendation. I bought this car new. I had just sold my older Honda Accord two weeks earlier as I did not think I needed an extra car. Should have sold the VW! VW should cover part of this cost but no. Last VW I'll buy.

- Phil C., Randolph, NJ, US

problem #6

Sep 142017

Tiguan SE 2.0L T

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Had the 2011 Tiguan in for an oil change. Two days later the check engine light came on as well as the EPC light. I had to have it towed in. They are telling me that the Timing Chain tensioner needs to be replaced and the tensioners are leaking oil. The loss of oil can cause the issue with the chain. It can cost me over $2,000. I see there are many others with this same issue.

- Dan D., Gorham, US

problem #5

Dec 062016

Tiguan Comfort Line 2.0L Tsi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

click to see larger images

timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage timing chain tensioner defect / engine damage

On December 6th, 2016, my wife's car would not start in the driveway. The temperature drop was significant from the day before (-10 degrees C to -24 degrees C), her 2011 Tiguan would not start in the morning. The car was left for the day and we tried again that night after a full heat under a tarp thinking the issue was a frozen gas line. The car was turned over a number of times and then required a boost. The car was boosted with no progress. While turning the engine over, at a point the engine would no longer turn over. No dummy lights showed, no errors or codes. We pushed the car into the garage and gave it one more shot with significant warming for an entire day with not progress.

We had the car then towed to a local dealer in South Calgary, the dealer attempted the same process and then phoned to indicate they would like authorization for more assessment. We provided authorization and they then phone back indicating that they drained the oil, of which they only found 1.5 L (the dip stick was checked the weekend before and all levels were excellent), they also indicated that there were metal fragments within the oil (the whole jumping to pull the oil and look for fragments was a bit suspicious). They then indicated that they tried to turn the engine over by hand. They indicated that they were able to move it backwards lightly but no movement forwards.

I then approached VW Canada, indicating that I was within my 5 years of warranty but only over the km warranty by 10,000km (6,250miles). They indicated that because I didn't get all my maintenance work performed by the dealership and the fact that they feel that total engine failure at 100,000km is "normal" they declined to assist in any way.

I then had the vehicle towed to a highly skilled VW mechanic in Calgary (known as the "best"). A one hour diagnosis indicates a timing chain failure associated with the tensioner. I will be commissioning the repairs, sad thing is I don't think I'll be purchasing another VW in my lifetime after the treatment both from the licensed dealer and from VW Canada.

I believe there is one class action lawsuit in New Jersey currently filed in May of 2016 on this issue, however, I don't know of any in Canada at this time. Please let me know if anyone else has encountered these same issues as I wouldn't mind pursuing this further through something in Canada.

Update from Mar 6, 2018: For those looking for a class action law suit for the tensioner issue please use this link:

Currently it is Merchant Law Group LLP

With poor treatment that I received from VW, I wish Merchant Law Group all the best. This is one issue that should have received significantly more attention and coverage than the emission scandal that was more about cheating government regulations than the quality of the car (although it says something about the type of company VW really is).

- stevekab, Calgary, AB, Canada

problem #4

Nov 042016

Tiguan SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Seems quite a few people have had this happen to them. Tensioner failed resulting in engine damage. Why wasn't the tensioner recalled?!

- cahobson, Denver, CO, US

problem #3

May 202016

Tiguan 2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Went back to dealer 2 times for excessive oil consumption. Nothing accomplished. 3rd time oil and engine light both came on. Was told that timing tensioner was bad and engine had jumped time. After calls to VW of America dealer finally agreed to turn it in to used car 12000 mile or 12 month warranty. We only bought this car in March of this year and had only driven it less than 1000 miles when this happened. It is still using excessive oil. Don't know yet what if anything VW will do about this but it should never had happened at all. All of this did wind up costing us more than $500.

- tdeyo, Baltimore, MD, US

problem #2

Jul 072016

Tiguan SE 4 cyl 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

My 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan recently experienced a tensioner failure resulting in full engine damage and need for expensive restoration. The estimate to fix is quoted to be $5900.00.

This car is certified pre-owned from a dealership where all service has been provided. Not once was I told that the tensioner has been known to fail on these vehicles as is published in multiple online forums and a technical service bulletin by Volkswagen corporation. The dealership is unable to negotiate with corporate for coverage of this repair because they claim the case was opened and closed and VW will not provide any assistance.

I owe $7500 on the vehicle and have driven it for less than 3 years. It has 81000 miles and should be able to go 120k plus if the tensioner was not faulty. Not once did the dealership suggest I purchase a new tensioner to avoid this costly repair and VW corporate refuses to cooperate since they have not formally recalled the part or created a service campaign for this defect. I believe these practices are fraudulent and should not leave the customer pumping money into a ticking time bomb.

In the end, I believe I will be scrapping the car. I love her, have enjoyed driving her immensely, but I am unwilling to spend a dime on this issue which is no fault of my own and should not occur. If I were to complete the repairs, I fear I would be at risk of having more costly repairs from reports of water pumps, oil leaks, and rear main seal issues. This has been an absolute nightmare and will continue to be so as I pay off the vehicle for the next 2 years.

I will NEVER buy another Volkswagen or do business with this dealership ever again. Such a shame since they had the opportunity to negotiate and rectify this situation. I hope one of these law suits is successful!

- weiselnj, Hamilton, NJ, US

problem #1

Mar 242016

Tiguan SE Tsi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

VW of America is aware of timing chain tensioner defect for many years without recall or even notifying owners to get it fixed prior to causing engine failure. VW refused to repair or pay for me to get it repaired somewhere else even though failure occurred while car still under warranty. Engine failure due to timing chain tensioner defect is very common and catastrophic engine failure will occur.

This is a problem for all TSI engines models cars that has the defected timing chain tensioner installed. You will only know about it when it's too late and cost you thousands to repair

Shame on you VW for making such defective cars and cheating on emissions.

- alkrd2009, Brentwood, NY, US

Not what you are looking for?