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2012 Audi A5 - Timing Chain Jumped/Engine Shot

2012 Audi A5 Cabriolet 96,000 miles. Car started shaking and seemed to want to cut off. I made it 8 miles to my home and when I shut it off it would not start back up. Hauled it to a local mechanic (Audi Certified) and he said the timing chain had “jumped”. Cost to repair would be $12,000 as he said a new motor was needed. Needless to say, it’s still sitting in our garage. Oil changes on a regular basis and all other maintenance was done as recommended. Absolutely no warning of this problem and car is in almost new condition. Any known fix for this issue? I see where a class action suit was filed for the exact problem but participation ended in Jan 2019

Yes, according to your mechanic, $12,000 for a new engine.

You already know the fix. Now it is time to shop around. Used, Rebuilt, or New engine? I think you can get that $12k down a bit.

I would opt for a rebuilt or even a low mileage used engine.

Who did the oil changes? Unfortunately there have been too many mechanics who will take your money and NOT perform the services rendered. Unless you do it yourself or see them do it - you have no idea. Oil changes is one of those services.

I would want more information before I decided what to do. Unless there’s a hole punched in a piston, I would probably R&R the head(s) and install a new chain set. That should be far, far less than $12k…


Too late for this engine, but since you gonna get it back on the road one way or another, might save you from the trouble in the future…

Did you follow “severe” maintenance schedule for BOTH time and mileage thresholds?
Did you make sure that proper (“European”) spec oil was used, together with the proper oil filter?
Using any of “quick lube” shop chains?

Audi/VW engines have timing chains which are quite “touchy” and require good maintenance, otherwise you get them “stretched” prematurely.


Define regular oil changes.

Volkswagen/Audi have a specific oil quality specification. A co-worker asked me to change the oil on his 2014 Jetta, a non turbo 2.0 L engine, we stock Mobil 1 that meets most manufactures specs for synthetic oil but not Volkswagen 502 specs.

If the oil is changed at a dealer you are getting their oil but at a small shop do they stock the specified oil? Will they wait 2 hours for the proper oil to be delivered? I don’t know if the timing chain failures are caused by oil quality but it is something to consider.

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I just want to point out a possibly little known factoid… Many “mechanics” will tell you that you need a new engine because of some sort of mechanical failure. In reality this isn’t always true… the reason they will tell you this sort of thing is because they dont actually want to do the actual mechanical repair themselves. Due to time involved, liability etc…so they just say you need a new engine.

There are many levels of failure in this instance… All depends on how far out the timing got…and the state of the valves and pistons. From your story my feeling is that it is a mild one or two…even three teeth out of time. This will surely bend valves and contact the pistons…the further out you get the more contact you will get until ultimately the valve will smash its way into or thru the piston…or it will fracture off and then start dancing around in the combustion chamber doing all sorts of evil business.

I’m betting you are still at the bending phase and all that is essentially needed is to remove your cylinder head and replace the bent valves…or buy a used working cylinder head to install to save time etc… So…with a little homework a good mechanic can ascertain just where you are at with the damage level and can know with a reasonable amount of accuracy the path to take to remedy the situation.

The lazy tech tells you that you need a new $12K engine… The tech who just bought your car for a song and a dance will pull the cylinder head on the weekend and have it up and running again for under $1000 by Sunday afternoon. Either by repairing the old head…or throwing a known good used head on the engine…and of course making sure the valve train is repaired also.

That’s basically how I see it…and I have bought, repaired, enjoyed and sold too many vehicles where this scenario could be applied than I care to recount.


I am going to go against the grain here. I would get a second opinion, but only for the purpose of seeing if this is repairable for $4000 or less. It should be possible for a competent mechanic to remove the spark plugs, look inside each cylinder, and check for damage to the cylinder bore or piston. If there isn’t any, and all we are talking about is bent valves, it should be possible to have this repaired with a rebuilt head, new timing chain kit, etc. for less than $4000.

If there is ANY other damage, such as a cracked/broken piston, deep scratches inside a cylinder, I think you should cut your losses, and get rid of this car, for whatever you can get for it. I’d post it on Craigslist as “for parts or repair”, and ask for $2500. Be prepared to haggle down to $2000. Then I’d put that $2000 toward a different car.

Here’s why: Your car, with the mileage it has, is worth about $11k, according to Kelley Blue Book. Even assuming you can get this engine–with a known defective design–repaired for $6000, who’s to say that’s a long-term fix? Similarly, a junkyard engine would be out of the question, because even if it still runs, who’s to say this problem won’t occur very soon? And then, of course, suppose you put thousands into repairing this engine, and then the CVT transmission or AWD system (if equipped) starts acting up?