Car clinic: Skoda is recalling Octavia 1.4 TSI engines - as an owner should I be worried?

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Car clinic: Skoda

Q. I have seen reports that there are problems with the engine in the Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI and that the company is stopping production. As the owner of an Octavia, should I be worried?
JP, Aberdeen

A. The TSI engine was developed by the Volkswagen group, owner of Skoda. TSI stands for turbocharged stratified injection. A small, lightweight engine is fitted with direct petrol injection and a turbocharger, or in some cases a turbo and supercharger working in tandem. The technology is intended to maximise efficiency while retaining power.

There are two versions of the 1.4-litre TSI engine — both with the generic name of 1.4 TSI, which may be how the confusion has arisen. The first has just a turbocharger and generates 120bhp, and is the one in your Octavia. There are no underlying problems with this engine that we are aware of. The second version is fitted to some higher-performance cars in the VW group. It has a supercharger as well as a turbocharger, develops 158bhp and is known as the “twincharge”.

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The twincharge engine has gained a reputation for problems with the timing chain and is being replaced in several models by a different engine. This change does not affect your car. Anyone whose car does have a twincharge engine needs to be scrupulous about having the oil and filter changed according to the service schedule and about using the recommended grade of oil. For complete peace of mind, consider taking out an aftermarket warranty but ensure that you shop around for quotes.

Incidentally, the VW engine that replaces the more powerful 1.4 TSI uses active cylinder management, which allows the engine to switch from four to two cylinders when power is not a priority, saving fuel on long runs.

Sunday Times Driving car clinic expert: Tim Shallcross

Tim Shallcross used to train AA patrols to fix cars. Now he advises the Institute of Advanced Motoring – read more from Tim here.

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