VW Transporter 1.9 tdi engine introduction

The VW Transporter 1.9TDI engine is reputed to be one of the most reliable “bullet proof” engines ever fitted to a VW Transporter. Here we will take a look at the common VW Transporter 1.9 tdi engine problems that you may expect to find in this model of engine.

Which models had the 1.9 diesel engine

The 1.9 diesel engine is most commonly found in the VW Transporter T4 and T5. The Transporter T4 was sold as a 1.9D with 60BHP (up to 1995) and then was phased out with the later 1.9TD (turbo, indirect injection) which produced 7BHP more with the use of a turbo! Do not get too excited however, the 1.9 Diesel has never been a quick machine even with a turbo…

The 1.9TDI was then introduced in 2003 when the VW T5 hit the road generating a maximum BHP of 101BHP, this was then discontinued completely for the T6 range when the engine options were simplified down to just a 2.0L Petrol and a 2.0L Diesel (of varying BHP)

The 1.9 diesel engine is the lowest tuned and therefore the slowest engine used in any of the T4 and T5 models. It is thanks to the engine simplicity and low state of tune that has led it to be known as the most reliable engine ever found in the Transporter range.

Why is the 1.9 better than the 2.5 Diesel?

This topic is up for debate however the 1.9 diesel generally has the better reputation for reliability. The 1.9D ran in a lot of models over many years (including lots of VAG cars). The VW Transporter 1.9 tdi had relatively few engine problems

The engine and gearbox combination in the 1.9 was well tried and tested by the time it arrived in the later T4’s and T5’s.

The 2.5L was brought out later and uses a much more complex timing mechanism that make them harder to work on. They suffered from premature camshaft wear, leaking water pumps, early belt failures and clutch replacements are awkward and expensive in comparison. Sticking to the service intervals, belt replacements and quality oil is especially important for the 2.5L models.

That said, the 2.5L (which I own) is much more lively and pulls so much more enjoyably than any of the 1.9’s! If you want the best driving experience then the 2.5L is far superior.

VW Transporter engine 1.9 diesel sluggish

One of the most common complaints/problems reported is that owners find their 1.9D /TD /TDI sluggish. Keep in mind that these were never fast machines. The 1.9D was 60BHP, the 1.9TD was 67BHP and the later TDI was sold in 90BHP and 101BHP trim. As both the T4 and T5 range are starting to age it is likely that some of this horsepower has been lost with worn components.

There are a few things worth checking however.

  1. Check the accelerator cable, they stretch over time and you may not actually be using the full power available if the throttle is not opening fully. This is a vey common problem and an easy fix – just replace the cable or adjust it
  2. Check the timing on the engine – Setting the timing can be a bit of a pain on these machines and even garages get it wrong. If the timing is slightly off you will have lost power.
  3. Service/replace the injectors – carbon build up can cause loss of power. Sometimes adding some fuel additive to your next tank of diesel will help clean up some of the internals
  4. Check your air filter/fuel filter. These sap power if they are old and dirty.

VW 1.9 diesel engine life expectancy

The VW Transporter 1.9 D TD TDI had very few engine problems. The 1.9D, TD and TDI all have a great life expectancy if looked after.

It is not uncommon to see these engines reaching in excess of 300,000 miles, some of the older models even have engines that have topped 500,000 miles and still going.

Some say that these vehicles are more likely to reach the end of life due to body corrosion than engine failure.

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