Manufacturing defects on T5 and A5

“Norwegian ambulances cannot handle emergencies” states VG.

Newspapers across Norway have reported problems with Volkswagen T5-based ambulances. Almost all of them have got their engines replaced. Some have had several engine replacements. The problems are associated with Volkswagen’s Common Rail diesel biturbo engine with engine code CFCA. It has 180 hp and a torque of 400 Nm at 1500-2000 rpm.

The Norwegian importer and dealership, Møller Bil, have replaced all the faulty engines completely free of charge to all hospitals involved in the scandal. The bills have probably been covered by The Volkswagen Group in Germany. Without such an effective follow-up, the engine issue might have escalated to larger dimensions. It might be known as a problem far beyond being a problem with some ambulances.

“The vehicles are too heavy for this type of engine,” claims a representative from Møllergruppen, the importer’s holding company. The bodywork is built in Finland and sold through VBK, a Norwegian coachbuilder. Somewhere else I have read that “… the ambulances work under much more critical conditions than ordinary vehicles.” This refers, among others, to the fact that many engines go straight from a cold start to full throttle. One press spokesman also claims that “just a few ambulances are affected.”

The scope is far greater.

The engine code CFCA is delivered to T5 Transporters and Caravelles across Europe. CFCA engines produced in 2010 and 2011 are involved. It is easy to verify this. Although the 180 PS engines were not particularly widespread in Norway during these years, I find an alarming high number of T5s for sale on the web based market place “Finn.no” where it clearly says that the engine has been replaced.

The problems are serious.

Volkswagen has not made any public announcements as to what may have caused the engine problems. On certain web forums, some involved technicians have explained that manufacturing defects have caused inferior alloy of the cylinder liners. There is also another recent theory that a faulty oil cooler has sent metal shavings into the oil stream. I think the first explanation is more plausible, because a defective oil cooler would have been far easier to spot and replace.

Anyway, it is a an error made at one of Volkswagen’s production plants. And the effects are the same. Excessive wear on the cylinder walls, pistons and piston rings. The first sign of damage is that oil consumption increases. As the wear increases, a number of subsequent damages may occur, as well.

The same fault may affect more than one engine type.

It is not unlikely that the same manufacturing error may affect other engines within the same corporation. If you own an Audi A5 2.0 TFSI 180 hp produced between 2010 and 2011 (engine code CDNB, possibly CDNC), you will sooner or later get the same problem as Norwegian ambulance drivers. We are talking about the same symptoms, – serious damage to the cylinder walls, pistons and piston rings and an excessive oil consumption.

The first thing you’ll notice, is high oil consumption.

According to Audi’s specifications, an oil consumption of 1 liter per 2000 kilometer is considered normal. It is only when the consumption exceeds this level that you can claim a warranty. In the US, Audi has admitted manufacturing defects, and granted extended warranty for affected owners up to 8 years or 80,000 miles (128,000 kilometer). In the UK, Audi has admitted some engine problems in the wake of a BBC program. In Norway, affected owners are followed up through their regular service programs. Owners with A5s who got their cars before the country specific 5-year warranty was introduced in 2011, have probably got their problems fixed even if they have fallen outside the old 3-year warranty period. It is nevertheless worth noting that Norwegian dealers follow a though justice regarding their responsibility. Only owners who have followed the service program meticulously, are supported. If you are unable to document one single oil change, or have had your car chip-tuned, you have lost all chances of being followed up.

I suppose the Norwegian importer, Møller Car, continues to follow up on T5 and A5 owners even after the regular warranty expires. But at some point in time their responsibility must expire as well. Then the owners are left to themselves. Perhaps secondary owners who have no idea that their cars had a serious hidden fault.

The problems are not related to what is called “Monday cars”, which only affects certain cars in production. It applies to all the aforementioned engines. The question is not “if”, but rather “when” problems arise. Owners spending few miles on the road, changing oil more frequently than Volkswagen/Audi’s longlife service program, using indoor parking – and driving carefully, may get their engines to last longer than average.

But for how long?

That’s the question you should ask yourself if you own one of the affected cars, or are considering buying one. Even if everything looks fine today, it is a considerable risk that the problem appear later in the car’s life time cycle. When you can no longer count on getting any support from the dealers?

VG June 14, 2016: Norwegian ambulances cannot handle emergencies. (Norwegian text)

Excerpts from ads posted on the Norwegian market place “Finn.no”:

Cylinders are drilled up at Oslo cylinder service, and Audi has dismantled and replaced all of the parts. (At 112,000 kilometers)

For those who know this engine in particular and wonder if pistons and rods are replaced, then the answer is “yes.” This was done by Audi Asker and Bærum at 53,000 kilometers.

Motor was exchanged at about 35,000 km due to high oil consumption, which has been a known problem for these engines.

Engine replaced by Volkswagen dealer at 110,000 km. Full documentation enclosed.

Engine recently replaced at Møller. 185,000 kilometers.

The engine is replaced on February 18, 2016 at 153,243 kilometers as a warranty issue …. (a known problem with Volkswagens).

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for your post. Very interessting to read that all CFCA engiens face this issue.

    “Our” actual theory is kind of a mix: It says that the EGR cooling unit (not the oil cooler) sends aluminum oxide into the cumbustion camber. This particle destroy the surface of the cylinder.
    But none of this is confirmed by VW.

    Not only 2010 and 11 are affected. 2012 and 13 defently facing the same issue. And most probably all CFCA engiens will be affected (if the EGR is the trouble maker) since the new version (D) was introduced in Nov 2015 while the T6 production started mid 2015.

    Any idea about the average kilometer reading when the oil leakage starts?

    BTW: I dont think its linked to the weight since the T5 is avaibale with much smaller engines which doesnt face this issue.

    Thanks
    Alex

    Like

    1. Hi. First to your question on kilometer reading. I have a 2011 T5 with a CFCA engine that is now junk due to the above mentioned problem, massive oil loss/smoke. My engine has 268 000 km on it, but I would say the failure started some 10 000 km ago and then the oil loss just rather rapidly increased. I think it has outlasted most of its peers, from what I can tell. The earliest failure I have read about was 64 000 km (or around 40 000 miles). My engine was a factory new VW dealer replacement (short block part number 03L 100 036 RX) installed in January 2012 under warranty as the original failed at 120 000 km. If I were to guess on an average, from what I have read, that would be about it.

      Now, here is a question for you. Why would the EGR-problem you suspect only affect the CFCA engines? My guess is that it would affect the whole series of EA189 type engines, that is all the other id codes as well, such as CAGA, etc. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Volkswagen_Group_diesel_engines).

      VW appears silent on this engine problem, but “rumours” seem to support that they fixed the cylinder wall problem during 2012 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/VOLKSWAGEN-T5-2-0-cr-ENGINE-cfca-CODE-/272467696963?hash=item3f70571d43:g:QaEAAOSw8w1X9OXF&vxp=mtr).

      Ken

      Like

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