11 Most Common Volkswagen Touareg Problems (Explained)

The Touareg was Volkswagen’s first ever SUV when it was first introduced in 2003, and was sold in the U.S. until 2017.

It’s known for its great handling, refined ride, luxurious interiors, good towing capacity, and very capable all-wheel drive system.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Touareg’s common problems and their solutions.

1. Driveshaft Issues

The first-generation Touareg had a rocky start in terms of reliability, with driveshaft problems being one of the most common issues owners had to deal with.

The driveshaft, also known as a cardan shaft or prop shaft, will eventually start making clunking or knocking noises when the carrier bearing wears out after a couple of years.

In many cases, the noises will be accompanied by lots of excessive vibration and shaking which can make the SUV feel like it’s about to fall apart.

This is more prevalent in the V6 and V10 models of the first gen Touareg, but the V8 and diesel models can also suffer from the same issues. 

It’s also a common problem on the first generation Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne which use the same platform and many mechanical bits as the Touareg. 

Here is what a few owners on ClubTouareg.com had to say:

“I am looking at my first disaster with 2004 Touareg V6. It has been reliable for the last 85,000 miles. According to the shop the drive shaft bearing is ready to give up. For the last 20 miles or so, the vehicle has been shaking pretty bad when I drive above 20mph. They tell me the whole drive shaft needs to be replaced at a cost of $1280.”

“2009 Touareg, 3.0 TDI. Yep, Drive shaft failure about same mileage of 83K. My wife was returning from a trip to Ohio to St Louis when she heard the clunking noise 2 hours from home. It made it home, and VW fixed for $1500.” 

“if the carrier bearing lets go completely, meaning the rubber rips out completely, will be unbearable to drive. at some point, you will think the driveshaft will be coming up through the floorboard.”

Dealers will only replace the entire driveshaft, leaving you with a total repair bill of around $1,000 to $1,500.

Volkswagen eventually replaced the driveshaft in the V6 models with the ones used for the V8 which was more robust and had a lower failure rate.

The driveshaft for the V10 models were also upgraded starting in 2008 to better handle the amount of torque they produce.

If the driveshaft and other related components are still intact, you can get an aftermarket carrier bearing for around $100 to $200 from companies like Dorman.

To avoid getting stranded with a broken driveshaft, check underneath the vehicle to see whether the carrier bearing’s rubber insulation and mount is still in good condition.

The driveshaft should have minimal play if you try to move it with your hand.

2. Air Suspension Issues

Touaregs equipped with air suspension will require more complicated and expensive repairs compared to ones fitted with regular shocks.

This is a common problem on a lot of vehicles with air suspension, so it’s not unique to the Touareg.

Common air suspension problems include:

  • Leaking or broken air shocks
  • Faulty air compressor
  • Leaking air lines
  • Faulty sensors and electronic modules

Early model years of the first gen Touareg from 2004 to 2007 also had issues with the pressure valve for the air shocks failing after a couple of years due to corrosion.

The front air shocks are usually the most problematic because they are more exposed to the elements.

In the U.S., air suspension was only offered on the first gen Touareg, although it continued to be an option in later generations in other markets. 

Here’s how a few owners described their issues on ClubTouareg.com:

“My 2005 reg decided to give me a bad day. I have a leak coming out of the front right air bag. When you put it in off road mode you can hear a significant hiss\leak if you put your hand on the damper ( where the dust cover should be ) you feel a gush of air. After a while of trying the running gear fault comes on.”

“I was able to successfully change the fittings on both front air shocks on my 2004 touareg. I purchased the valves at my local Saint John Nb VW dealer for $192.00 each and the replacement went well. The valve on the drivers side actually broke off in my garage and i was able to remove the piece that remained in the air shock with an easy out. The passenger side valve although not broken certainly looks like it is at the end of life and has been replaced.” 

“I am suspecting my ’05 may need the repair soon: it’s started to occasionally drop the nose slightly after the engine is turned off. Has even done it a couple of times when stopped at traffic lights.”

Volkswagen eventually replaced the corrosion-prone pressure valve for the air shock with a new part made out of brass which is less likely to fall apart and leak.

A new OEM air shock can cost around $1,000 to $2,000, but if it’s just the valve that’s broken, a new one only costs around $200.

If you need to replace the shock itself and want to save some money, aftermarket air shocks from Arnott only cost around $500 a piece and have a very good reputation.

Another potentially expensive part is the air compressor itself. But many owners were able to get theirs working again by having them rebuilt using a repair kit. 

3. Transfer Case Problems

Many first generation Touaregs suffered from transfer case problems that caused shuddering and noises when turning at low speeds.

In a lot of cases, the culprit was a faulty transfer case stepper motor which controls the engagement of the center differential.

When the stepper motor starts acting up, the tires start binding up at lower speeds which causes the shuddering and tire skipping noises.

A faulty stepper motor can also cause battery drain issues and excessive tire wear.

This problem is more common in the early model years from 2004 to 2005.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on ClubTouareg.com:

“My 2004 Touareg- V8 has been diagnosed with a bad stepper motor. The vehicle pulls and vibrates at low speed when slowly turning forward or backwards. Occasionally the vehicle shifts very hard in lower gears if power is applied while accelerating to enter traffic on the highway.” 

“I have a new to me lower mileage 2005 V6, and this truck never once visited the dealer for repair/update the whole time it was under warranty  (I work at a VW dealer and have all histories at my fingertips). I noticed the classic shuddering last couple weeks while it’s been colder and slippery leaves have lined my driveway exit.”

Aside from redesigning the stepper motor, Volkswagen also updated the software for the transfer case module to fix the binding and shuddering.

If the software update doesn’t fix the problem, you can replace the stepper motor which costs around $500.

Touaregs equipped with a rear differential lock also have a second stepper motor that can eventually fail.

A weak 12-volt battery can also cause the same symptoms as a faulty stepper motor, because it’s quite sensitive to voltage drops.

4. Transmission Problems

The transmission valve body in the early model years of the first generation Touareg had lots of reported failures.

When the valve body or valve chest starts acting up, shifting becomes really rough.

Common symptoms of a faulty valve body include:

  • Hard shift from 4th to 5th
  • Hard shift from 2nd to 3rd
  • Rough downshifts
  • Shifts into neutral

These problems are more common in the 2004 to 2006 models of the first gen Touareg.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on ClubTouareg.com:

“My beloved 2004 V8 just his 100k miles last week (I bought it in 2015 at 47k) and the shifting has gotten pretty aggressive over the last six months since I first noticed the hard shifts from 4-5 accelerating and from 3-2 decelerating. From discussions and a visit to the shop, it was confirmed to be the valve body.”

“Just purchased an 04 V8 with 46k miles. Problem is car hesitates in 2nd and then bangs into 3d with a big lurch.”

“I have a 2006 Touareg. I recently purchased the vehicle and I have been noticing that between 2nd and 3rd it does this jerking. It seems to only really do it when I first take off in the morning or if has been sitting.When the vehicle is warm it shifts flawlessly.” 

A new OEM valve body can cost over $1,000 but there are remanufactured and aftermarket units that cost around $500.

Before replacing the valve body, you can try refreshing the automatic transmission fluid and resetting the transmission software.

Manually shifting gears using the Tiptronic function also lets you avoid the hard shifts, thumping and lurching sensations.

5. AdBlue/DEF Issues

The diesel emissions components of the first and second generation Touareg TDI models are prone to premature failures.

The most common part that fails is the AdBlue or DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) heater, and these usually start having issues even before the vehicle reaches 50,000 miles.

When the emissions system detects a problem, the check engine light will come on. 

In most cases, there won’t be any drivability problems, but you won’t be able to pass vehicle inspections until you get rid of the CEL.

However, there’s also the possibility that the vehicle will not start if it detects an issue with the emissions system.

Owners have reported that they’ll see warnings about not having any AdBlue fluid even if the tank is full.

These problems can occur in the 2009 to 2016 model years.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience:

“My dealer-maintained, IMMACULATE 2012 TDI Lux just went in for a check engine light and the diagnosis was the AdBlue heater has gone bad. I have 51,000 all-highway miles.”

“My 2016 triggered a CEL at just over 30k miles on Friday. Result: P203B – Reductant Level Sensor Circuit Range/Performance. Dealer replaced the AdBlue heating element.”

“My check engine light on my immaculate dealer serviced 2013 Touareg just came on at 54000 miles. They need to replace the Ad Blue heater and module.” 

“37,550 trouble free miles and now dead in the water. Adblue was not low, received no caution messages about miles left, got the red Add Adblue, Engine Cannot be Restarted message. Got home turned off in garage and of course will not restart.” 

Volkswagen extended the warranty of the AdBlue heater to 10 years or 120,000 miles after a class action lawsuit.

If you are outside of the warranty period, repair kits for the AdBlue heater can be found online for around $200 to $300. 

Getting the repair done at a dealership typically costs around $1,000, but you can usually get a lower price at an independent garage that specializes in Volkswagens, Audis, and other European brands.

Related: 9 Best & Worst Volkswagen Touareg Years (With Facts & Stats)

6. Timing Chain Problems

Several of the Touareg’s engine options can suffer from timing chain issues even at relatively low mileages.

The early first generation models with the 3.2-liter VR6 engine from 2004 to 2006 had more problems than most, but the 2007 3.6-liter VR6 engines were also prone to failure.

The V8 and V6 TDI models have also had many reports of timing chain issues over the years.

Common symptoms of timing chain problems include:

  • Engine rattle at startup
  • Misfires
  • Engine stalling
  • Starting problems
  • Check engine light
  • Trouble codes for timing and cam position sensor issues

In a lot of cases, timing chain rattles are caused by worn out timing chain tensioners.

There are also lots of cases where the timing chain gets stretched and/or completely breaks apart, the latter often resulting in hefty repair bills costing upwards of $5,000.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on ClubTouareg.com:

“I’ve recently discovered that my 2016 T3 TDI with 73k miles has the dreaded noisy chain tensioner issue. You can hear a definite rattle for a few seconds at start up then it goes away.” 

“2008 Reg with 87k on it. Wouldn’t you know, timing chain “jumped time”. Went to the dealer and $6,500 dollars later I was back in the car, service manager said it was a design flaw and he sees it too often.”

“My cousin bought a 07 v-6 gas Touareg about 5 months ago. It quit on her while driving home one night about a month ago. Got it to a local shop where they diagnosed it with bad timing chains…and a $9k bill to fix it.” 

“I had a 05 V8 that had the cam tensioner rattling issue. I did not fix it right away. The cam gears wore out as in the pic. It would have been a very expensive fix through the dealer. Lucky I had an independent mechanic who fixed it at a reasonable cost.”

“I have a 04 Touareg V6 with about 110,000 miles on it. The check engine light came on about 8 months ago and at that time the deal recommended replacing the timing chain for $7,100. The car ran great so we ignored the light. Last week the car drove into the driveway just fine but would not start the next morning. found out that the car has “jumped time” and again $7,100 to replace the timing chain. No damage was done to the valves or pistons according to the dealership. I called around and found an import shop that will do the work for $4,500.”

A new timing chain tensioner only costs a few hundred dollars at most, but replacing the old one is very labor intensive since it’s at the back of the engine.

Replacing the timing chain and other timing components is an even bigger engine out repair that can cost around $4,000.

To get more life out of the timing chain components and avoid major failures, you have to change the oil at the recommended intervals because old and dirty oil causes more wear and tear on the engine internals.

The early V8 engines from 2004 to 2006 also have a timing belt in the front, as well as a timing chain, that needs to be replaced every 80,000 miles or 5 years.

7. Fuel Pump Issues

The high pressure fuel pump in the first and second generation Touareg diesel has a history of catastrophic failures that can lead to major engine damage.

When the fuel pump fails, it can send bits of metal throughout the fuel lines which can damage the engine’s internal components.

This problem can affect later all model years of the first and second generation Touareg V6 TDI with common rail fuel injection from 2009 to 2017.

The first generation T1 and T2 gas engines also had lots of fuel pump failures, but these typically lasted over 100,000 miles and only caused drivability problems when they break.

Common symptoms of a faulty fuel pump include:

  • Limp mode
  • Hesitation when accelerating
  • Hard starting or won’t start
  • Engine stalling
  • Whining noise from fuel pump
  • Poor fuel economy

Here’s how owners described their dilemma on TDIClub.com:

‘My 2009 Touareg 2 TDI’s fuel pump failed at 146k miles and won’t start. The dealer shop is telling me it’s past the extended 120k warranty and they want $10k USD to replace the entire fuel system “because of the metal shards in the system.”

“My 2014 Touareg with 79,550 mi just stopped running. VW says it HPFP. It is under extended warranty so thankfully costs for replacing fuel system are covered.” 

Other owners on ClubTouareg.com with gas-powered Touaregs reported the following:

“I have an 04 V6. I had the fuel pump go out at about 125000 mi. Drove great until the pump died. Then it would start and kill as soon as you gave it any gas.’

“I have a 2005 v8 and I seem to have a problem with my fuel pump. The car starts and idles for 30 secs and then craps out BUT only sometimes (most of the time). I think I can hear the fuel pump, driver’s side, buzzing away, BUT it goes a lot quieter when the 30 secs runs out, then it gets rough and stalls, but I can continue to hear the buzz after the engine has died.”

The Bosch CP4 high pressure fuel pump used in the V6 TDI with common rail injection is also used by other manufacturers and has the same reputation for grenading or blowing up.

Although a new pump for a TDI Touareg only costs a few hundred dollars, the fuel system has to be completely cleaned out to make sure there aren’t any metal shards that can cause further damage.

In a lot of cases, this involves replacing the injectors and all the fuel lines, and the total repair bill can easily exceed over $10,000 at the dealership.

To prolong the life of the fuel pump, many owners add a fuel additive to improve the lubricity of the diesel fuel. Some also install an additional fuel filter to catch any metal shavings and even “upgrade” to the older Bosch CP3 fuel pump which doesn’t catastrophically blow up.

It’s also a good idea to stick with gas stations that have good quality diesel since the pump is very sensitive to dirty or poor quality fuel.

On the other hand, tuel pump failures in the gas-powered Touaregs are fairly straightforward fixes. 

Since the gas engines have two fuel pumps, you can also remove the fuel pump relay labeled 404 from the fuse box under the hood to force the vehicle to use the other pump — until you are able to replace the faulty one.

8. Fuel Injector Issues

The first and second generation Touareg TDI can suffer from leaking fuel injector seals.

When the copper seals wear out, it’s common to experience symptoms such as:

  • Residue around the injectors
  • Hissing sound
  • Fuel/exhaust smell
  • Loss of power
  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Poor fuel economy

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on ClubTouareg.com:

“My wife drives a 2014 TDI Sport. We love it – best car we have ever had. 86k miles now. Four months ago she told me that “the engine got louder” and “it smells funny inside the car sometimes”. Only much later did I take a look and discover that there were leaking injector seals on three cylinders.”

“i just had the injector seals replaced on my 2015 TDI with only about 105,000 km. It made a huge difference for about 4 weeks. My lag and hesitation when i hit the throttle disappeared. However, 4 weeks after the deanship fixed this issue for me I have leaking oil from the fuel injector seal area and my lag and hesitation in the throttle is back. Sometimes I have about 3 seconds of turbo lag before any power kicks in. It’s dangerous.” 

New seals only cost a few dollars but you’ll have to make sure the seats are cleaned out and properly lapped to prevent leaks from occuring again.

You’ll also have to replace the single-use bolts and torque the new ones to spec when reinstalling the fuel injectors.

If the fuel injectors also have to be replaced, you can get new ones for around $200 a piece from different parts stores.

9. Turbo Failures

The V10 TDI Touareg makes lots of power but is very expensive to maintain especially when the turbos go bad.

The turbos can start having problems at around 60,000 miles, which causes the vehicle to go into limp mode.

In many cases, the Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) vanes, which adjusts the amount of boost throughout the rev range to maximize power and response, get stuck and inevitably reduces the engine’s output.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on ClubTouareg.com:

“I have a 2004 V10 Touareg which has intermittent turbo failure, resulting in the car going into limp mode. It seems everyone with a V10 has the pleasure of this problem!”

“I have a 2004 V10 Touareg which has intermittent turbo failure, resulting in the car going into limp mode. The limp mode happens more frequently when the car is under load, or going uphill, but can happen anywhere. It will either not go above 80km/hr, or goes into full blown limp mode and won’t go over 20km/hr. If I turn the engine off, and restart the car, the problem is fixed.”

When the VGT vanes bind up due to carbon buildup, the actuator controlling them will burn out and will need to be replaced.

However, if you don’t free up the mechanism for the VGT vanes, it will keep burning up any new actuators that you install.

Many V10 Touareg owners were able to clean out carbon and free up the VGT vanes by soaking them in strong cleaning solutions like Mr. Muscle.

If the turbo’s internal components break, you’ll need to replace the entire turbo, which requires an expensive engine-out repair. 

10. Worn Interior

The interior trim of the first generation Touareg can easily peel off and develop cracks as time goes by.

It’s also not uncommon for the coating on the buttons for the center console, door panels and steering wheel to wear out completely after a couple of years.

These issues were more prevalent in the early model years of the Touareg from 2004 to 2006.

Here’s how owners described their issues on ClubTouareg.com:

“Mine’s a December 06 and all the buttons wore out on mine, so I just replaced all of them with new ones from the dealer.”

“I have an 04 and the same peeling issues mentioned in the earlier posts has occurred. This seems to be an issue on most Touaregs. The dealer replaced the wood trims several times, but the vehicle is out of warranty and on me now.”

“I have a 2005 VW Touareg… the buttons on my dash (for the radio, air conditioning, etc.); on the roof for the sunroof, my steering wheel and the driver’s door are all peeling. It is the semi-rubberized material and it is coming right off… it looks awful.”

Replacing all the peeling buttons and trim pieces isn’t exactly cheap.

Just a single button or trim piece can cost $50 to $100, so replacing several pieces can easily become exorbitantly expensive.

Most owners just live with the unsightly interior, but if you want to refurbish the interior without breaking the bank, you’ll have to keep an eye out for used pieces online or at your local junkyard and replace them one at a time.  

11. Electrical Issues

Touaregs are filled with lots of electronics which inevitably causes lots of gremlins as they wear out and degrade.

This is especially true for the early model years which are almost 20 year old vehicles by now.

Here’s how owners on ClubTouareg.com described their situation:

“My Touareg (2004 4.2L) needs jumped nearly everytime I go to start it (has a brand new battery, alternator charges at 14v). My lowbeam headlights won’t turn on (hid) but lights are not blown, high beams won’t turn on if stalk is pushed forward; only when pulled towards self. Also the alarm decides to go off randomly.”

“I have a 2004 Touareg V6. The battery would not start it in the sub zero the other day so had to jump start it. Everything was fine after jumping it. Replaced the battery yesterday and not the seat heat wont turn on either side and the lights around the stereo volume and tuner knob stay on.”

“2010 Touareg TDI electrical problems. A few weeks ago I was driving down the highway and lost my wipers, signal lights, heater and all the digital display’s, Navigation/Stereo, brake lights and the list goes on. Then they came back on and began to pulse off and on every 5-10 seconds. Oh ya not to mention the Loud “System fault Workshop” error on my display.”

A lot of the Touareg’s electrical faults can be traced back to a weak 12-volt battery. Corroded battery terminals or grounding points are also common culprits.

If these all check out fine, you may be dealing with wiring issues or faulty modules.

Touaregs that have leaks or water ingress problems are also more prone to electrical gremlins as the excess moisture can short out and damage lots of sensors and electronic modules.

Related: 7 Most Common Volkswagen Atlas Problems (Explained)

Volkswagen Touareg Pros & Cons


  • Excellent handling
  • Luxurious interiors
  • Roomy cabin
  • Lots of creature comforts
  • Capable all-wheel drive
  • Diesel engine options
  • Good towing capacity


  • Expensive parts and maintenance
  • Electrical issues
  • Outdated infotainment

What Do The Reviews Say?

“Though likely overlooked by most SUV shoppers, the 2017 Volkswagen Touareg could be worth paying attention to if you’re searching for a comfortable and well-trimmed crossover SUV with some luxury leanings.” 

“Big-league towing capacity and a classy interior are part of the deal, too. Volkswagen says the Touareg can tow up to 7,716 pounds when properly equipped, which is considerably more than most rivals. Inside, the cabin design is pretty conservative, but it’s assembled and finished in a way that’s evocative of what you’ll find in a luxury-branded model.” 

“The Touareg also impresses with its quiet and smooth ride on the highway and composed stability when you’re going around turns. A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and respectable off-road ability round out the Touareg’s credentials.”

“The 2017 Volkswagen Touareg’s interior stakes out territory between top-level ordinary and entry-level luxury. A few luxury SUVs might look fancier inside, but the Touareg has high-quality materials and excellent build quality that’s bolstered by tasteful wood and chrome accents along with simple, easy-to-use interfaces.”

2017 Volkswagen Touareg | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Volkswagen Touareg?

Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the Touareg on Edmunds at the time of writing.



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...