Cam Followers and Oil Changes – A Warning

This topic will be more and more prevalent as the MKV’s move up in mileage.  I’m starting to see forum posts pop up about how the 2.0 FSI engine’s follower went, or how the cam is chewed up and how expensive the replacement is.  Out of warranty, getting the cam fixed at the dealer is anywhere from 1500 to 2000 dollars.  Yes, that expensive.  Parts alone is around a grand.

The Problem

Certain engines are susceptible to a fatal flaw in the fuel pump/cam design that results in accelerated wear to the fuel pumps cam follower.  This is not a problem for the newer TSI/EA888 engine design, but it is a concern for every BPY owner.  You own a BPY code motor if your engine says FSI on the cover.  If you are affected, the cam follower will wear through and in the end, destroy the cam lobe that the fuel pump uses to drive the direct injection system.  No one is quite sure of what the exact problem is.  It most likely stems from a combination of incorrect hardening used on a batch of camshafts and inadequate oil protection.  The high pressure fueling system in this engine relies on a flat tappet design which is sensitive to oil protection qualities.  Combine that with the oil destroying nature of direct injection engines and you have depleted oil trying to protect a system that is prone to wear.

It needs a good supply of oil and a robust oil at that.  The oil should have a large amount of anti-wear additives to prevent damage in direct contact situations.  Oil used in this engine has to withstand extreme pressure and temperature without shearing as well as hold up under heavy fuel dilution.  This engine pretty much destroys all the oil it contacts.  High shear rates, high temps, and high fuel dilution.  Changing the oil often is the only way to prevent damage due to oil breakdown.  Volkswagen’s recommended 10,000 mile interval is not appropriate.  The oil will not last.  I won’t go into what makes an excellent oil, I just don’t have all the info there.  Go to www.bobistheoilguy.com to learn more about construction of oil.  You’ll learn a ton from the forums and also see that there are a few discussions regarding the wear of this particular engine part.  Pay particular attention to posts about direct injection engines.

Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Regular checks on the health of the system are recommended as well as making sure maintenance is done on time and with quality materials.  Popular recommendation is to pull off the high pressure fuel pump and check the follower every other oil change, which would be a 10,000 mile interval.  As you establish the trend of wear, you can reduce it to maybe every 20,000 miles.  You can only reduce the interval if the cam follower does not look damaged.  An engine with this problem will show aggravated wear in 10,000 miles.  My initial follower looks excellent for the mileage.  The picture below is my first follower at around 57,000 miles.  It could probably have gone another 10,000 or more.  You can check it yourself with just a few basic tools.  An excellent writeup is located here > Golfmkv.net – Fuel pump removal and follower check

~57000 miles - excellent wear, notice the gradual wear from inside to the outside, this follower is wearing as designed

In summary:

-Check your follower at 10,000 mile intervals.  You can stretch it a 20,000 miles if the follower wear is established as low.

-Change your oil at 5000 miles.  Do not push this.  Use a good quality oil, not the dealership 5w40 Syntec.  Mobil 1 0w40 is decent, Castrol Syntec 0w30 Euro Formula is a common recommendation.  My personal recommendation is Lubromoly 0w-40 or 5w-40.  You can find a decent oil from many online vendors such as DBCperformance, ECS Tuning etc.

What do you do if you have damage already and are out of warranty?

-Well, it’s going to cost money period.  You can find an independent garage and purchase the parts yourself.  Or you can bite it and go to the dealer.  You can also try contacting Volkswagen of America and see if they can help you.  Be polite and see how far you can get.  They might goodwill it if you’re lucky or at least split the cost.

About 10,000 miles on new follower, there is no wear

25 thoughts on “Cam Followers and Oil Changes – A Warning

  1. Pingback: Cam Follower and Oil Change Article « markFive GTI

  2. what year GTI do you have and can you explain a little about one time use bolts for the HPFP? thx!

    • I have a 2007 GTI. Are you talking about the 3 torx bolts holding the HPFP on? They are supposed to be replaced after removal, but I have reused them several times without issues. I am not the only one who reuses them as well. Just be careful when you are putting everything back together, do not use excessive force. Let me know if you need more info.

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  7. Hi

    Interesting article.

    Is this a problem regardless of whether you have had additional tuning? I’m engine code BWA.

    • It has happened to stock engines as well as modified ones. The increased fuel requirements from a remapped car seem to accelerate any wear though. Most of the cases I’ve read about on the forums seem to be from the U.S. Have you checked the wear on yours?

  8. I haven’t checked yet, I am at 41000 so after reading this I will be as I was thinking about remapping at some point. These articles are good for raising awareness for us GTI owners about the parts which wont last with mods.

    Greg

    • I was going to mention that maybe there is a difference in the oil used overseas. Do you know if the UK GTI is able to run in stratified mode/lean burn?

  9. Yes they do but I think this only if you use the 98 RON fuel or above. The GTI can take 95 RON but it wont run the same. There are only a couple of retailers in the UK offering 98 and above the rest are 95 or 97.

    I currently use 5w 30 Castrol Edge which is supposed to be the approved fuel for variable service interval engines. I suppose switching to a to 5w 40 would protect the engine a little more in high temperatures?

  10. Pingback: Fuel pressure problem with S3, please help!!

  11. My dealer just called me and said they had to replace the cam, followers and pump in my 2007 GTI 60k miles I think. Under warranty thank goodness!
    Is there damage now to my pistons, rings or anything else due to the faulty design/parts that they now are replacing? I would think that shavings have been circulated through the oil passages to the rest of the engine. Am I right?

    • I think that you should be alright. The oil filter most likely caught all the shavings. Your pistons and rings should be ok. Do you know if the cam follower was destroyed? The oil should be changed though and keep an eye on future oil consumption.

  12. good day< I changed my HPFP, but the cam follower are worn bad. will it work if I use the new FSI cam follower without changing the cam shaft it self ?
    if yes were wil I be able to purchase ?
    please help

    • Hello, you should be able to use a new cam follower without changing the camshaft as long as the camshaft is not damaged. If the old follower was broken through, the camshaft will be damaged. You can buy them at the dealership or online depending on where you are located.

  13. I had to take my 2008 GTI cause it was accelerating. Found out that the Cam Follower was damaged.
    The bad news is that it was going to cost me a lot of money and I was not happy with the fact VW did not let me know about the problem.
    The good news is that the certified car was still under warranty (within 2000 miles to expire) and they fixed for free
    The car runs great and a blast to drive. At 71K miles, I am thinking about getting rid of it

    • I can understand that some owners might not want the extra maintenance. Unfortunately, the fun of these cars comes with that burden. If extra maintenance is not a problem for you, you can check the follower every other oil change and see if wear is an issue. As far as I know, the warranty for the cam follower issue has been extended to 120,000 miles: http://changegears.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/cam-follower-warranty-extension/. Barring any other unforeseen issues, the car should serve you well. My car has 120,000 miles and is still kicking!

      On Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 6:44 AM, markFive GTI

  14. I have been taking care of the gti. All maintenance required and recommended by VW. I even get it serviced by a VW dealer.

    The car is a blast to drive, but I want the car to be reliable and trouble free. The gti is not all trouble free and burns oil. It is also expensive to maintain and fix. If anyone wants a white , 4 door gti, 2008 with 71k miles….

  15. I am looking at a 2007 4dr with the FSI. I was pumped about finding this car until I started reading about this cam problem. Should I steer away from this and try to find one with the TSI engine? I already have (have found a TSI), they are almost identical except one is a 2008 w/TSI, with 10k more miles. But they are about the same price.

    I’ve always wanted a GTI since I test drove a Corrado back before I bought my first car (328i E36). I figured Once I got older and got a real job I would try to find one. Well here I am looking…

    • Hey George. I don’t have any experience with the TSI motor so I don’t feel qualified to make a recommendation. Have you checked out golfmkv.com yet or vwvortex.com? My particular motor has been nothing but good to me on the cam follower issue but I do check regularly. I have about 133,000 miles on my car and I’ve changed the follower maybe 3 times. None of the followers showed any signs of troublesome wear. VW did extend the camshaft warranty to 10 years or 120,000 miles. The TSI’s have their own set of issues (what car doesn’t?) but I’m not well versed on those. In any case, make sure to have the car scanned and checked out before buying.
      These cars require a little bit more owner awareness than I’ve seen with other cars so if you’re looking for a more maintenance free experience, this is not the car.

      If you have more questions just reply here!

  16. This is a really good piece of information for people like me who can do the mechanical work themselves but still need the technical data. I have been taking care of my 07 GTI for many years and would rather do the work myself when issues come up but finding the correct precise information with pictures and or videos takes a lot of time. Thanks for taking the time to explain the details.

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