Case Studies

VW Passat TDI – Engine Damage From Incorrect Oil

But why do I need to use “expensive” Synthetic oil the customer may ask. To which just one of these photos should be worth a thousand words…or a couple of thousand in engine damage. The sad thing, is that this could have been avoided, with a little care, and the proper synthetic engine oil.

This Passat has a very unique engine, one of the early VW “”Pumpe Düse” design. Developed by Volkswagen in conjunction with Bosch, Pumpe Düse means “pump injectors” (though “pump dooz” is more fun to say aloud). The electronically-controlled injectors are located at each cylinder where they create a very high pressure to better atomize and more precisely meter the fuel flow. The result is increased power, improved fuel economy and – most important for sensitive North American ears – quieter engine operation.

This car, with about 90,000 miles on the odometer, has led a hard life. See those small circular “cups” in the second row of photos? They are called “Camshaft Followers”, and open and close the engine valves when compressed by the camshaft. You’ll note that two of them have actual holes worn through on the top, this is not good. You’ll also note that the camshaft, whose lobes are supposed to have a tear dropped shape, has severe wear, and many of the lobes are now close to round! This is also not good, as the engine valves are not opening fully. But even worse, is the wear on the lobes used to drive the rocker arms, which cause the injection valves to operate. The roller arm wear surfaces are also galled and damaged, such wear should not be seen at 100, or even 200K miles in a properly lubricated engine. In addition the camshaft, cam follower and rocker arm wear, one of the very expensive “Pump Düse” injection valves has been damaged. Even the camshaft bearings, normally lasting the life of the engine, are scored from inadequate lubrication. In short, the upper engine on this car needs a complete rebuild, a very pricey proposition.

Remember, cheap oil changes are the most expensive thing you can buy for your car!

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