Audi Timing Chain Replacement Explained - (4 cylinder engines) - by CarHavn
Updated: Sep 21
Don't overpay for the big repairs at the overpriced franchised dealer.
Audi has a long history of manufacturing highly efficient 4-cylinder engines since at least 1972. The most recent iteration is the EA888, which power many of the most popular models including the A3, A4, A5, A6, sedans and Avants, and the Q3, Q5, and some Q7 models.
The EA888 is a technologically advanced, powerful, and very fuel efficient power plant. As it is in such widespread use, its weak spots are well-known, and proven solutions have been developed to address them. Having worked in hundreds of them, we at CarHavn know them very well.
2. What is a timing chain?
Like a fine Swiss watch, your engine has a precise internal mechanism where the power generated in the pistons is transmitter to the camshafts. The timing chain job is to transfer that power to the crankshaft, which turns the transmission. This needs to happen very precisely, as the engine turns approximately 500-7000 times a minute.
3. The Issue
Even though timing chains were supposed to be lifetime, reality has shown that they need to be replaced in the EA888 engine as early as 70K miles, and every 100K miles thereafter.
The most common condition is a tensioner losing tensile power, which leads to a stretched timing chain. A stretched timing chain is very dangerous, as it risks getting out of sync and destroying the engine internally.
A failing timing system has some specific signature symptoms in this engine.
Rattling in the timing chain area
Elongated crank times (sometimes)
A Check Engine Light or EPC light on (sometimes)
Diagnostic Trouble Codes set in the car's computer (sometimes)
The only sure way to check for timing chain stretch is to use a professional scan tool or software to measure a specific value in the engine computer - the camshaft adjustment values. We can do this for you with ODIS or VCDS.
This is a major repair that needs a highly-trained Audi mechanic, very specific high quality parts, specialist and expensive tools, and a laptop to perform final adjustments.
We can't tell you how many calls we've received from 'You Tube Certified Mechanics', generalists, or national chains that have attempted this repair only to massively fail. Our policy is to never take on jobs that have been incorrectly done. Choose your mechanic wisely!
6. Additional Work
When doing the timing chain, a number of parts need to come out. We always advise our guests to take advantage of the opportunity to save on labor, and upgrade parts like water pump, thermostat, drive belts, coils, and spark plugs, oil filter housing gasket, valve cover gasket. These can be done for the parts price alone, or a minimal additional labor.
A smooth running EA888! All of our customers can feel the difference in the way the car drives, but most importantly, you will be avoiding the high and expensive risk of a massive mechanical event in your engine.