The Worst Volkswagen Tiguan Model Years You Should Never Buy

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a commendable compact SUV for many reasons. Depending on which trim you get, it can have a lot of cool features like a Wi-Fi hotspot, a digital gauge cluster, and Apple CarPlay. The VW Tiguan also has excellent standard safety features, even if some of its crash-test scores aren’t at the top of its class.

So, if you’re interested in a used Volkswagen Tiguan, some model years are better than others. While some are well-regarded, others are known for severe repair and maintenance issues and low reliability ratings. The Tiguan may be one of Volkswagen’s most popular vehicles, but some models are truly a nightmare to own. Here are the worst Volkswagen Tiguan model years you should make sure to avoid.

What’s wrong with the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan?

A Volkswagen Tiguan on display at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland
A Volkswagen Tiguan at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show | Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Car Complaints lists the Volkswagen Tiguan’s debut model year (the 2009 VW Tiguan) as the model with the most reported issues. Maybe it was just finding its footing, but some of these problems can be a bit of a hassle to fix. Most of the things that needed to be repaired were part of the car’s engine and cooling systems.

One of the most common complaints was a broken plastic intake manifold. According to many customers, dealers told them that this was a common problem for the Tiguan. Thankfully, since the problem occurs so early in the car’s life, some owners could get it fixed under warranty. Meanwhile, even more drivers complained about a water pump failure. One owner even commented that they replaced their VW Tiguan’s water pump three times in under 20,000 miles. It’s not a cheap fix either, costing drivers an average of $910 for parts and labor.

The most expensive problem 2009 Tiguan owners had was a faulty timing chain tensioner. Failure to replace this part caused some owners’ cars to stall while driving. The problem was so severe that many owners took part in a class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen. Eventually, a settlement was reached, but some owners couldn’t benefit from the terms. The timing chain tensioner failure usually showed itself at around 93,000 miles. According to the settlement, only 25% to 45% of the repair cost would be covered in this case.

The settlement also states that Volkswagen Tiguans with over 100,000 miles are not eligible for the extended warranty. To make matters worse, some owners missed the January 2019 deadline to file their claim. These owners had to pay an average of $3,240 to replace the timing chain.

The problems with the 2010 VW Tiguan

The 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan had slightly fewer complaints than the 2009 model year, but owners were still experiencing many problems. The engine continued to malfunction with main oil seal leaks, excessive oil consumption, and a skipping timing chain. Some owners also reported that the engine’s turbocharger and ignition coils were faulty.

Some 2010 VW Tiguan models also developed engine failure. Over the course of several miles, a rough timing chain was at risk of causing irreversible damage to the engine. Owners who didn’t take part in the class-action lawsuit had to pay an average of nearly $4,000 for repairs. That quite a sore spot of VW Tiguan reliability.

The 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan is even worse

Car Complaints cites the 2011 model year as the worst Volkswagen Tiguan. As you can probably guess, the defective timing chain was still a reoccurring problem. However, some owners saw this issue earlier than when others reported it for previous Tiguan models. A few VW Tiguans developed a rough timing chain after just 80,000 miles. Some owners were also quoted even higher repair costs to fix the engine – as much as $12,000. Additionally, many owners said that the engine stopped working with no prior warning.

The good news is that the new Volkswagen Tiguan models show signs of improvement. The 2022 model is incredibly safe and efficient. While older models may be cheaper, buying one with a large potential problem is quite a gamble.

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