Volkswagen GTI 2010-2014: reported problems, engine, interior photos

Updated: September 30, 2022
This 200-hp hot hatch is a favorite of many driving enthusiasts and car fanatics. Despite its small size, the GTI holds the road extremely well. The driver's seat is super comfortable and the interior feels upscale.
2010 Volkswagen GTI interior 2010 Volkswagen GTI
Click photo for larger image

The MK6 GTI has front-wheel drive and comes as a two-door or four-door hatch, with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.

The stock GTI with fast-shifting DSG transmission, can sprint to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. With that, the GTI is one of the most fuel-efficient sports cars. Of course, if you want to buy a used Volkswagen GTI, you probably want to know what are the common problems?

Volkswagen GTI 2010-2014 Reported Problems: Problems with an early version of the cam chain tensioner can cause a rattling noise at startup. In worse cases, the chain may skip, causing more damage. The tensioner must be replaced with an updated part. There is a way to check the tensioner part number by removing a small plug in the lower timing chain cover. Some owners advise replacing the tensioner with an updated part as a precaution. The timing chain replacement is one of the common repairs at higher mileage, as it can stretch and cause the code P0341. The repair shop may charge up to 7 hours of labor plus parts to replace the cam chain.
As with many direct-injected engines with a turbocharger, the TSI is known for carbon buildup on intake valves. This thread at shows how it looks. Symptoms include sluggishness and misfire at the cold start.
2010 VW GTI cargo space The GTI offers 15.2 cu. ft. of cargo space
Click photo for larger image
Some suggest using a special chemical sold in spray cans to clean the valves without taking the intake out, but it looks like it only works if there is a minimal carbon buildup or as a preventative measure. To clean the valves manually the intake has to come out, which involves a few hours of labor ($400-plus). There are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject.

The crankcase ventilation system (commonly known as PCV) is another trouble spot. Crankcase ventilation system failures can cause a variety of problems, including vacuum leaks, Check Engine light with lean and misfire codes (P0300, P0171), idle regulation codes, and even screeching / whistling noise coming from the engine cover that changes when the dipstick is removed.
The same system is partially responsible for the pressure / vacuum inside the crankcase. Excessive pressure inside the crankcase will cause oil leaks from many places, including the rear main seal. For this reason, when dealing with multiple oil leaks, the engine ventilation system must be inspected. The oil separator (aka PCV or breather valve assembly) is installed on top of the valve cover and is easy to replace. The part is sold online for $69-$160.

The code P2015 (Intake Manifold Runner Position Sensor/Switch Circuit Range/Performance, Bank 1) could be caused by excessive wear in the plastic components of the intake manifold flap mechanism and carbon deposits inside the intake manifold. Watch YouTube videos covering this problem. In most cases the intake manifold must be replaced. The aftermarket part is sold for $90-160 online, but it takes quite a bit of labor to replace. Once the intake manifold is removed, it's a good idea to clean the intake valves at the same time. Some vacuum leaks can be caused by the issues in the intake manifold. Read more: Vacuum leaks: common sources, symptoms, repairs

Water pump failures are not uncommon. A water pump may need to be replaced because of a failed thermostat, leaks or damage from the oil leaking on the pump. The water pump housing is made of plastic that tends to degrade over time. Anyone who has worked on German cars knows what we mean.
2012 VW GTI 2012 Volkswagen GTI.
Photo: Volkswagen
The water pump is sold online for $230-$360, but it takes a good chunk of time to replace, as it's located under the intake on the transmission side of the engine. The repair shop may charge 3.5-4.0 hours of labor plus parts and extra coolant to replace the water pump. Given the cooling system leaks, it's important to regularly check the coolant level to prevent the engine from overheating.

Other common problems include coolant and oil leaks, failing ignition coils and injectors.

2.0L TSI Engine: In the US and Canada, the MK6 GTI comes with only one motor: the famous 2.0L TSI, (CCTA Federal or CBFA California).
2010 Volkswagen GTI 2.0L TSI  engine Volkswagen GTI 2.0L TSI engine
Click photo for larger image
It is an advanced dual-cam engine with direct injection and a turbocharger with an intercooler. It has a cast-iron cylinder block with two balance shafts, one on each side of the block. Read also: Pros and cons of turbo engines.

CCTA or CBFA: In the MK6 (2010-2014) GTI, the CBFA engine comes with Secondary Air Injection. The engine code is printed on the cylinder block behind the oil filter and on the sticker on the upper timing chain cover (CCT = CCTA, CBF = CBFA). You can also tell by the 5-th digit of the VIN number (V = CCTA, D = CBFA).

Timing belt or chain: The TSI engine has a maintenance-free timing (cam) gear chain. The oil pump and the two balance shafts are driven by separate chains, making 3 chains in total.

Fuel Economy: The US EPA rates the 2010-2014 GTI manual at 21/31 mpg (11.2/7.6 L/100km) on premium gasoline. The 2010 and 2014 GTI auto are rated at 24/32 mpg. The 2011-2013 GTI auto gets 24/33 mpg or 9.8/7.1 L/100km.

Related reviews:
Honda Civic 2006-2011
Mazda 3 2010-2013
BMW 3-series 2006-2011
Mazda 3 2014-2018
Acura TL 2004-2008

Is a used Volkswagen GTI a good car to buy? The GTI is a blast to drive and has a nicely-finished interior, but it won't be trouble free and will need some repairs here and there. Parts are not cheap too. On the other hand, if you know what you are getting into and don't mind to get your hands dirty, it's a great little hatch. If you want to make your GTI faster, there are many high-quality mods available. We noticed that the online VW GTI community is very supportive and there are many "how-to" videos, so if you like fixing your car yourself, you won't have troubles finding a video on the repair.
2010 Volkswagen GTI front seats Volkswagen GTI
Click photo for larger image

As with any turbocharged engine, the 2.0L TSI is sensitive to a lack of maintenance. The maintenance schedule on the VW Canada website shows 15,000 km oil change intervals. The U.S. maintenance schedule shows 10,000 miles. In our opinion, oil changes must be done more frequently if you want your engine to last. The oil quality is important too, we advise using premium synthetic.
The DSG transmission oil and filter should also be changed more frequently to keep the transmission clean inside. It's also important to watch out for leaks and keep an eye on the coolant level, as low coolant can cause overheating.