VW and Audi 1.8T Engine Coil Problems
Starting in October 2002, our firm began to see a number of
claims regarding problems with a coil pack on a 2002 and 2001 1.8T
engine in certain VW and Audi cars. Thanks to the
B5.5 Auto Forum
providing information concerning the coil problems, and how it may
affect your VW or Audi 1.8T engine.
This FAQ summarizes what’s known
about the problems as of early 2003 as reported in the B5.5 Auto
group forum. We hope it helps VW and Audi
consumers who experience coil pack problems – or those newly
afflicted with a failed coil pack.
What are coil packs?
A coil pack sits on top of each cylinder of the engine and serves as
the ignition coil to fire the cylinder. Coil packs have been used
for a number of years and by a number of different manufacturers.
VWAG uses them in a number of their
engines – only the 1.8Ts seem to be affected by the relatively large
failure for the B5.5. There have been a few reports of 2001.5
engines being affected but it seems to largely affect 2002 and early
2003 engines. (And, it should be noted that not just Passats are
affected. Owners of other VW models and Audi models that use the
1.8T engine are also reporting the same problems.)
There have also been some reports of
coil pack failure on W8 engines; however, dealers have advised those
owners that the coil pack in the W8 engine differ from those on the
1.8T engine. Moreover, there have been problems cited with coil
packs used on VWAG's VR6 engines; however this engine is not
used with the B5.5 and the problem is of a different nature. (VR6
coil packs apparently develop cracks on the housing -- some owners
report success by using epoxy to re-seal the cracks.)
Who’s affected by the
troubled coil packs?
As we understand it,
at some point VWAG decided to concentrate the production of coil
packs with one manufacturer (Bremi). These coil packs are referred
to as the “H” version of the coil pack. (See 1/23/03 update for a
letter reported to be received from Bremi about the coil packs they
Note: there are also preliminary
reports that "J" style coil packs may also be affected. See updates
at end of this FAQ re "J" style coil packs.
It was originally thought that the
“H” versions started to be used with the production of 2002 Passats
1.8T engines and ended in July, 2002 with the production of 2003
Passats. However, a few owners of 2001.5 Passats with 1.8T engines
have reported similar coil pack failures. Two build dates were
04/01; one was 03/01. Since VWAG uses "running changes" in their
production, it's possible that later model 2001.5s may have the "H"
version coil packs. We have confirmed reports from owners of B5.5s
with manufacturing dates of 01/01 that they have the earlier "G"
style coil packs.
B5.5s with the 2.8
liter 6 cylinder engine do not
appear to be affected by this
You can determine the date of
manufacture of your Passat by checking the sticker on the driver’s
door jamb which displays the date of manufacture.
The following picture shows the old H
style coil pack and the newer J style coil pack.:
The H style (06B-905-115-H) is on the left and the J version
(06B-905-115-J) is on the right. The easiest visual difference to
spot is the different black insulator portion on top.
If you wish to inspect your coil
packs to see what version you have, you can remove the engine cover
and should be able to visually determine which pack your Passat
uses. To remove the plastic engine cover, turn the three large
screws one quarter turn counterclockwise. they pop right up. Remove
engine cover and you'll see the coil packs -- they're the four
roundish black plastic pieces on top of the metal head cover,
If you have difficulty determining
the version from this inspection (or want to be absolutely sure),
you can remove one and check the part number. Since you already have
the engine cover removed, check the coil pack closest to you by
putting a screw driver into the left side of the wire harness and
gently pulling up until you hear a click. Ease the harness off by
pulling while gently moving side to side. Once this harness is off
you will see the information on the black plastic where the harness
once was. For more detailed pictures of this process, see also
If it has this part number: 06B
then you have the "H" version coil pack.
Based on information from members,
“J” coil packs were used starting in August, 2002 for 2003 Passat
production. We have had a few reports of failed "J" style coil packs
and we're also hearing of a new "K" style coil pack ... see updates
at the end of this post.
It should be noted that the use of
one manufacturer was a cost-reduction plan by VWAG. VWAG's design of
the “H” coil packs is not believed to have been a cost-reduction
plan; that is, the insulation problem apparently is caused by the
subcontractor's decisions rather than VWAG's.
Are all of the 1.8T engines
using the “H” coil packs going to have problems?
Not necessarily. It’s difficult to know the full scope of the
problem. While many members on Club B5 have reported failure, there
are also a number who have either not reported failure or have
reported no problems.
Generally, it has not occurred
immediately after purchasing the car and some owners have reported
that failure occurred only after more than 10,000 miles. Yet others
have reported earlier failures. Most of the failures appear to be in
areas where the weather is colder; however, some have reported
failures in warmer areas. Some have theorized that chipped engines
may be more prone to the failure; however, both chipped and
non-chipped engines have been affected.
What happens when a coil
pack goes bad – how do I know if I have it?
The problem is reported to be caused by inadequate sealant which
leaks and lets in moisture which in turn causes the coil pack to
Almost all members report that they
experienced a very rough idle and a flashing MIL
Indicator Light; also known as a CEL
– Check Engine Light) on
their dashboard. The engine is very rough and in some cases the car
It does not appear that you can
identify a potential failure in advance. (Remember, even if you have
an "H" style coil pack, it does not appear that all suffer the same
What should I do if I have
the symptoms of a failed coil pack?
are experiencing a flashing MIL (same as CEL) and have a rough idle,
VWoA recommends you do not drive the car. You should call Vow’s
Roadside Assistance (1-800-411-6688) and advise them that you have a
flashing MIL (or CEL). Typically, they’ll arrange to have your car
towed to a VW dealer. (See also the 1/23 update below)
A note about driving the car with a
failed coil pack: VWoA has told owners that driving the car may
cause damage to the catalytic converter due to unused fuel
contaminating the converter. There is also some speculation by B5.5
drivers that it's also possible the unused fuel will contaminate the
oil on the cylinder wall and get past the rings. Thus, this may
result in increased wear on the rings and cylinder wall; moreover,
if the fuel enters the crank case the oil can be thinned which may
lead to premature wear of bearings.
What happens when it gets to
The dealer will run the
diagnostic software and advise you of the problem(s). If it is the
coil pack(s), dealers have been replacing the coil pack under
warranty and the majority of CB5 members have reported that free
loaner or rental vehicles have also been provided.
NOTE: There has been wide variability
in members reporting length of time to replace the coil pack(s).
Some dealers reportedly have them in stock while others have them
back ordered. The length of back order also varies based on member
reports with some reporting fairly lengthy waits. If I have one bad coil pack,
will all of the coil packs be replaced?
We have confirmed report that as of 1/31 VWoA is authorizing the
replacement of all coil packs upon the second failure.
dealer is unwilling to do so, I'd recommend you call VW Customer
Service and ask for clarification -- some dealers may not have
received the information. Actual wording of the directive is here:
Previously, some members have had all
four coil packs replaced; however, the majority reported that VWoA
only authorized the replacement of the currently affected coil pack.
It’s generally believed this limitation was in place because of the
back orders VWAG had experienced. See also the 1/31 entry in the
update section below.
Will VWoA issue a Recall and
proactively replace all “H” coil packs?
don’t know. VWoA has not released much official information on this
problem. In a Boston Globe article (see updates at end of this FAQ),
a spokesman indicated that a recall would not be issued.
However, in a letter to dealers (see
1/31/2003 update below), VWoA says:
... even though we are getting a
huge share of total replacement part production, we do not yet have
enough replacements to replace every coil in every car that might
conceivably fail. For the time being we continue to ask that you
follow the procedures that have been established to make sure that
those customers experience an actual failure can be served.
And, in the directive to its dealers
dated 1/31/03, VWoA says:
As ignition coil parts
availability increases for these models, customer satisfaction
initiatives will be implemented to address these concenrs. The first
in this series of initiatives is outlined below. As parts
availability continues to improve for other models, you will be
notified via additional warranty service circulars.
Some consumers have reported that they are carrying a spare “J” style
coil pack with them so that it can be used to replace future H”
style coil packs if they fail. Nobody has suggested an easy way to
identify which coil pack has failed, so if you adopt this approach,
you may have some trial and error before you're able to locate and
replace the right coil pack.
At least one consumer plans to replace
all their “H” style coil packs with “J” style coil packs in hopes
that VWoA will issue a recall and they can be reimbursed.
However, several owners have reported
that dealers will not sell the "J" style coil packs except
replace a failed "H" style coil pack(s). Dealers reportedly cite the
shortage of available coil packs as the basis of this restriction.
Incidentally, several owners also report that their dealers have
cannibalized new 1.8Ts with the "J" packs in order to get the ailing
Passats back on the road.
That’s pretty much what’s known right
now – we’ll update this information sheet as more information
becomes available and hopefully will remove it when the need for it
goes away. Good driving!
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