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While the MK7 GTI is considered one of the most reliable GTI models ever made, some new problems have arisen regarding the camshaft. VW models equipped with 1.8t and 2.0t engines may begin emitting a knocking noise that is a symptom of a much bigger issue. It’s not just the MK7 GTI that has this variable valve timing problem, though. There are several Audi, VW, and Porsche cars that use the GEN3 EA888 turbocharged engine that could be affected by a failing camshaft position switch.

VW 1.8t and 2.0t Knocking Noise

The issue affecting the MK7 GTI involves a knocking noise under the hood. However, it isn’t just GTI owners that should worry. Any 1.8t and 2.0t EA888 Generation 3 engine is susceptible to this knocking noise. It occurs when the engine is low on oil and causes a failure with the variable valve timing system.

The problem involves the mechanism that controls variable valve timing within the camshaft itself. The cam adjuster is responsible for changing the phase of the camshaft. It has different positions to maximize either performance or efficiency, dependent on driving conditions. The adjuster changes the timing of your engine using engine oil. Higher oil pressure will advance timing to improve performance. Lower oil pressure retards timing to maintain efficiency.

A magnetized system controls oil flow inside the cam adjuster. This tells the camshaft position where to be for the correct timing. The knocking issue occurs when there is not enough oil to pressurize the system. This doesn’t allow the camshaft to adjust properly and causes oil to blow past the camshaft seals. As the adjuster bounces between timing positions, a knocking sound emanates from the engine.

A red Volkswagen GTI
The MK7 GTI | VW Group

Fixing the MK7 GTI Camshaft Problem

Unfortunately, the only way to fix the camshaft problem is to replace the camshaft altogether. Owners can top up the oil in the engine to safely drive a short distance. But they shouldn’t do more than get it to the nearest shop as gently as possible. Because of the compromised camshaft seals, your engine is now susceptible to further issues if driven too hard or too far. This can cause oil burn, further oil pressure problems, and internal engine damage.

Between parts and labor, the camshaft replacement can cost thousands of dollars. However, it isn’t a fix you’ll want to cheap out on. Replacing internal engine components is no joke, and paying trained professionals to do the work is better than dealing with this engine issue repeatedly.

A VW GTI engine
The engine of a MK7 GTI | VW Group

Which Models Could be Affected?

The GEN3 EA888 engine comes in both 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter displacements. VW models using either of these engines could be subject to the camshaft fault and require extensive repairs. Affected models include 2014 VW Jetta and Audi A3, Volkswagen GTI and Golf R, VW Beetle, VW Passat, Audi TT, VW Tiguan, Audi Q3, and Porsche Macan.

Preventing Engine Problems in Your MK7 VW GTI

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the camshaft issue plaguing the MK7 VW GTI and Jetta models. The most important factor is to ensure that your engine oil is always at the proper level. As noted by Paul from Deutsche Auto Parts, the 1.8t and 2.0t VW engines only have this issue due to low oil pressure. Keeping your engine oil at the proper level will ensure your engine maintains proper oil pressure and the variable camshaft can do its job properly.

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