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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I haven't made a separate thread in awhile since I started working on my build thread but recently I was asked about the subject of balance shaft deletes for the integrated oil pump/balance shaft assembly on the EA113. I made a pretty extensive write-up on the thread I was originally asked on but I decided I should create a separate thread dedicated to it so that it gets more visibility and is easier for people to find when searching for this kind of thing. Eventually, when I have time, this info will make its way over to my build thread but for now here's a separate thread on the subject. I hope it is helpful and dispels any misconceptions about when/why/how to do the balance shaft "delete" since there is a decent bit of misinformation out there around the community. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Disabling the balance shafts is definitely a good idea for track-duty but, speaking for the VW FSI unit at least, it isn't exactly about how much power you're making or even necessarily about how much you abuse the car per se. While those things certainly don't help they are in more of an indirect relationship to the main killers. There are 2 major risk factors for the oil pump/balance shaft integrated unit:


1) The balance shafts rotate at twice the RPM of the crankshaft and the balance shaft assembly does not tolerate greater than 14K RPM (7K engine RPM) very well; past this point the bearings in the balance shafts are at risk of failing which will then cause the shafts to seize. Also the sprocket that is connected to the crankshaft via chain and drives the balance shafts is liable to sheer off. If either of these things happen, the oil pump will no longer function. These things are NOT going to happen the very first time the engine exceeds 7K RPM. It’s not THAT risky. I have done plenty of pulls over 7K RPM (my car redlines at 7.4K RPMs with current tuning) from BEFORE I deleted my balance shafts. It might not even happen after a 100 times. You can't really put a number on it, but it is increasingly likely with that kind of driving.


2) The other major cause of balance shaft failure is poor maintenance. Bad oil change intervals (OCIs), bad oil, low oil level, low oil pressure, etc. It all takes a toll on the pump hard. I strongly believe, for good reason, that most premature failures of the balance shafts that were NOT due to #1 above are due to maintenance oversights. I think that is the main reason behind the somewhat prevalent oil pump/balance shaft assembly failures that give it a bad rap; while the balance shaft bearings and sprocket is a weakpoint I haven't seen compelling evidence to believe that there is an inherent mechanical problem that is a ticking time-bomb without being aggravated by one of the above two situations.




Reasons to delete / methods to delete:


That said, obviously if your tuning allows you to rev that high then you may consider the balance shaft “delete”. There are several different methods. The simplest (free) method is cutting ONE (the smallest) gear inside the unit that connects the balance shafts to the main gear/shaft which is connected to the oil pump driving sprocket. By doing so, the balance shafts no longer spin. They become, effectively, dead weight inside the pump and no longer pose any threat to the pump's operation. They also free-up rotational weight on the crankshaft which lets the engine rev more quickly.


Another option is to remove the shafts and weights from the unit entirely. This has the additional benefit of increasing oil capacity which can help against oil starvation during the kind of hard right-hand cornering you'd do at a race track) and also may help with oil temps slightly. BUT removing them entirely is much more difficult to do DIY. There is a company (iABED) that offers this service but it is expensive. It is much easier to cut the gear as described previously. It’s a free mod if you have the tools and capability. However, it’ll wind up costing you a $1500 oil pump if you screw up.


The safest and reversible option is the VIS “freewheel” which replaces the sprocket for the balance shafts with a freewheeling sprocket that will not allow the balance shafts to spin. No cutting required. The downside to this mod is that you are then relying on the VIS sprocket's own bearing to not fail because if its bearing fails it won’t be a freewheel anymore… it will start spinning the balance shafts and the risk of balance shaft failure will return. You’d have no way of knowing except feeling the additional rotational weight on the crankshaft return which should cause noticeable slowness in engine revs again. Well that and also the balance shafts would start balancing out engine vibration again which should be very noticeable. So technically and remotely attuned owner/driver would notice something is up with their VIS freewheel if it's bearing failed. I can't vouch for said product but since it is designed specifically for this purpose and probably for rotational speed well beyond what it actually sees, I imagine it has a low likelihood of failure.


Lastly there is the overrated and needless 1.8T oil pump conversion which I bring up ONLY to tell you NOT to do it! It is a cash grab idea that USP or some other vendor came up with. The only thing productive about that pump swap IS deleting the balance shafts and that can be done on the stock pump with the same effect. The 1.8T oil pump conversion can contribute to slightly suboptimal oil pressures. It was, after all designed, for a motor that has a few differences than its newer, larger 2.0T rendition. I’m not talking majorly different oil pressures (only say ~5PSI less) so this isn’t enough to cause immediate issues, or even short-term issues, but in the long-term suboptimal oil pressure can have only one effect; increased engine wear and shortened longevity of engine internals. Impossible to predict at what rate or how long the wear differences will take to add up to anything noticeably impactful but the moral of the story is that if you want to keep your VW for as long as you possibly can then you won’t do the 1.8T oil pump conversion. And why would you since you can do the balance shaft delete for less.




Reasons NOT to delete:



Even though I made it clear that people who maintain their vehicle properly and who do not have a rev limit over 7K RPM are at very low risk for balance shaft failure, it probably still sounds like a nice idea to delete them anyway based on the benefits I described above. Well, not necessarily… I should call out the fact that those balance shafts DO serve an important function. They aren’t just there for their own good. They are there to keep the engine running quieter and smoother with decreased engine harmonics and vibrations.


The way the balance shafts work is by canceling out the first-order vibrations from the asymmetrical I4 engine’s cylinder firing order which do not inherently cancel themselves out like, for example, V engines. Some people think that the decrease in vibrations allowed for by the balance shafts is because they are balanced with the rotating assembly at time of engine manufacture and counterbalance the crankshafts weight… that is not true, technically speaking, which consequently means the engine does NOT need to be re-balanced after they are deleted. So it doesn't have anything to do with weight. Rather, the reason the balance shafts cancel first-order vibrations is because they actually create their own second-order vibrations in the opposite direction. One balance shaft spins opposite the direction of the crankshaft to physically cancel out the directional vibrations from the engine and then the other balance shaft spins opposite that first balance shaft to cancel that shaft out. The net result is not complete vibration reduction since there are not additional shafts to keep cancelling each previous shaft and sequentially reduce vibration down to effectively nothing... but the result is still substantially reduced vibration overall.


Naturally, then, the end result of “deleting” them is huuugely increased engine vibration and a much angrier sounding engine. At certain RPM it sounds somewhat close to the Audi 5-cylinders. That might sound cool but that’s not the point; the point is it sounds like an “angrier” engine because IT IS an angrier engine. It’s angry because it’s producing a ****load of vibration and under more strain. Reducing vibrations is important for long term engine health and increasing them has the opposite effect. Trust me, when these balance shafts are deleted engine vibrations increase dramatically and not only will this make driving less comfortable it will also have a long-term impact on reliability of certain parts. Do NOT underestimate the impact of significant vibrations. They can do everything from loosen bolts over time, cause weaker materials like plastic more risk of cracking, cause seals/gaskets to fail earlier than normal, wear out harmonic balancers faster, prematurely destroy sensitive electronics, and increase strain on engine internals. Vibrations are the #2 killer for track/race cars (behind the #1 which is heat). Every Spring I thoroughly inspect everything on my car and torque check every critical bolt on my car, special attention to those that bolt in anything connected to or near the engine, precisely because I have such ridiculously stiff mounts and no balance shafts. God forbid my engine or trans mount bolts work themselves loose and I go out to the track that way…


So I urge folks to really weigh-up whether you stand to benefit more from removing them than you do by keeping them AND to assess their risk-factor in keeping them, based on the info I provided. Basically, with the above info in mind, do you stand to benefit more in the short-term by deleting them for specific reasons mentioned or not? If not, then the more long-term health of the engine dictates you keep them.


Oil Pump Before/After Delete:





Other Considerations:

The above takes care of all subjects related to the balance shaft failure risks and deletion methods, etc. Now I should address the only other theoretical risk factors with the factory pump. These are if the sprockets themselves fail or if the tensioner wears out and the chain driving the 2 sprockets, and thus everything else, develops too much slack and starts slipping, etc.

The only way the sprockets could fail is if the teeth get rounded out or the bolts securing them were to shear. You might hear reports of this but I VERY seriously doubt that this happens on its own, even for the most modified setups, as long as everything else is functioning correctly. If the shafts are spinning with no resistance and the chain is tight/tensioner in good shape there is virtually no reason that these simple sprockets should ever fail. They are basically just along for the ride with the chain. I think any reports of sprocket failure are mis-attributed... I strongly suspect that if they do ever fail it is a direct result of balance shaft failure itself or chain tensioner wear/chain slack leading to chewed up teeth. These people then pull the pump and deduce that the sprocket caused the failure because it was chewed up or sheared off (when in reality it was the other way around and the sprocket suffered the consequences of a balance shaft or chain tensioner issue).

Moral of the story: if you "delete" the balance shafts and you make sure your chain is very tight when you are in there, then you have insured this oil pump will pretty much never fail in and of itself. With proper maintenance (proper oil and oil change intervals) throughout the life of the car these particular tensioners are unlikely to wear to that degree as they are pretty durable, but it is still always smart to check on them and maybe replace them on higher mileage motors if you are already in there for a pump "delete" or have general concerns. Keep in mind if you have a chain slack issue you should hear it from down there.
 

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I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable and thank you for all the information man. I have the balance shaft delete on my R and yes, all of the above regarding vibrations and angry noises are true :laugh: I do not track my car and she isn't my daily so I don't mind hopping into something this rowdy every weekend to hoon with. It's not uncomfortable and definitely something you can live with - but if you want a refined drive stay away. I did it due to the limiter moving to 7600 rpm and the risk of the pump failing as mentioned above. :wave:
 

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My 2008 Passat BPY has developed an intermittent low oil pressure warning. I sold the car to my son about a year ago, and he just reported the problem to me yesterday. I think the car has a tick over 160k miles now. I've rebuilt the turbo due to failed internal bearings (20k miles ago) and even though I have the Rev A camshaft, it's still in pristine condition with follower changes every 40-50k miles. I also replaced the cam chain and tensioner 20k miles ago.

Right now we are considering our options to keep the engine running. I suspect the low oil pressure is coming from worn balance shafts, but I need to know more about the oil lubrication system down there to be sure. There are no bad/strange engine noises. Are the shaft bearings pressurized by the oil pump, or do they merely rely on an oil bath system by sitting in the pan? If pressurized, shaft/bearing wear would explain the loss in oil pressure.

ECS Tuning sells a modified oil pump with balance shaft delete that would cost less than $500 after core exchange, assuming the balance shafts haven't seized and the pump isn't too worn already. Rock Auto sells a new stock VW pump and balance shaft assembly for a little over $1100.

My son is 18 and delivers pizzas for income for now. He has the money for either fix saved up. We want to keep the repair cost as low as possible, while correcting the problem and hopefully allowing him to get another 40k miles out of this car.

What's the easiest way to determine the cause of low oil pressure on this engine? FWIW, I installed an oil pressure gauge with a sensor on the turbo oil inlet when I rebuilt the turbo. He's not driving the car right now, but if he does I told him to pay close attention to that gauge if he gets another warning. That would confirm that it's not just a sensor problem.

I'm assuming the oil pump assembly can be removed from the engine easily? The car does have the 6MT transmission, if that makes any difference. Does the harmonic balancer and timing belt have to be removed to remove the oil pump assembly?

What, if any, are other likely causes of intermittent low oil pressure?

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Yes please have your son pay close attention to the gauge at pretty much all times to get a sense of where the oil pressure is at idling after a cold start as well as idling after the car has been driven for awhile, plus when revving at various RPM (after being warmed up) and try to report this info back. Or, better yet, hook up a good pressure tester to the actual port where the factory pressure sender is located. Gauges with turbo oil inlet for reference read fairly close to the same pressure as the factory location but not quite. It may seem very difficult to get at the factory sender to remove it and thread in a pressure gauge but it is actually not bad at all if you approach it from the right angle with only the intake removed. I can try to described the approach if you need me too. The tools you would need are simply a nice hooked mechanics pick of some kind to be able to unclip the connector to the sensor and then a 6" ratchet extension with the right size socket for the sensor which I am pretty sure is 24mm (but it may be as low as 21mm can't remember for sure). With the connector off you can come in pretty much level with the front top-side of the transmission right towards the sender. It ain't that bad. Put the gauge in, start the car up, and let the oil get to operating temp (which usually takes a good 10 minutes AFTER the water/coolant temp gets to operating temp and THAT takes a good few minutes after the dummy gauge on the dash says it has because that gauge is a liar). So basically let the car run for at least 20 minutes (30 minutes if it is cold out), then check the gauge and compare it to this specs:

17-30psi at for idle oil pressure at normal operating temp and 39-65psi for 2K RPM rev at normal operating temp.


As candidates besides the oil pump/balance shafts, well, it sounds like the car has been well maintained (correct?) so if you have never had a cam follower blow up, if you changed your cam timing chain long before it starting breaking up, etc. and if you use VW spec full synthetic 5W30 or 5W40 oil and proper change intervals, etc. then I don't imagine that the engine itself has worn enough that it would be a simple matter of increased bearing clearance/tolerances in the engine, nor do I imagine that there is oil sludge buildup in the oil passageways, so that pretty much leaves a partially clogged oil pickup screen or the oil pump as culprits. If the above assumptions about the cars maintenance, the oil you use, etc. are true then the pickup screen is probably not clogged with anything so my attention would be on the pump. Fortunately you'll obviously be seeing the pickup screen in the course of inspecting the pump anyway so you can rule that out. I wouldn't bother going that far until after you have confirmed with a mechanical gauge hooked up to the factory sender location that there is indeed low oil pressure.

One thing that gives me pause about suspecting the oil pump though is that typically it is either working well or it is not so typically you either have good oil pressure or suddenly you don't and things get bad fast from there. I can't say I've heard of it having intermittent issues that weren't pretty immediately bad when the oil pump has failed in any significant way, nor do I see much way that it could sort of "half-work" based on its design (unless it the pickup were clogged of course). The parts are lubricated simply by being in an oil bath.

Removing the pump does not require removal of the t-belt or crank pulley. It simply requires removal of the oil pan (which has 2 tricky bolts requiring a very narrow 10mm swivel socket or a 5mm ball tip allen tool) and then removal of a couple plastic guards around the oil pump, then finally the pump itself. The oil pan bolts are not stretch bolts. The oil pump bolts ARE stretch bolts and it is STRONGLY advised you replace them all. To get the pump out you have to remove one of the sprockets to get enough slack in the chain to remove the pump, simply depressing the tensioner does not give quit enough slack to free the sprockets attached to the pump from the chain. I can't remember what size torx the sprockets use but I think it was a T40.

If you do confirm the oil pressure is indeed low according to my instructions above then I strongly recommend the best option for you is to install the VIS or Wasa freewheel because it is reversible so if you find that the oil pressure issue persists after effectively disabling the balance shafts via the freewheel, you can easily uninstall it and return the car to a civil and tolerable daily driver (because with the balance shafts not spinning the car will have a significant increase in NVH). Read all about the freewheel and the NVH, etc. in my big post above. The fact that is is reversible is perfect for a situation like yours because it is cheaper than ANY of the other options (except the chopping the balance shaft gear), it can be undone, and best of all you don't actually have to remove the pump lol. You are just replacing a sprocket with a freewheeling one. I may also have a Wasa freewheel available to sell you so I can save you a bit of money and wait time (if you are in the USA) because Wasa is in Sweden.

But again, let's not trust the oil pressure warning/sensor just yet, let's get proper data on the oil pressure trends with a gauge before going any further.

That's about all I got for now, if I think of any other details I'll add em later but it's late and my brain is pretty tired... there are only a few common causes of oil pressure issues on the BPY and I think I brought them each up.

Edit: Your son doesn't happen to do any really spirited driving on sharp roads or on/off ramps does he? These cars' oil pans are known to allow oil to slosh to one side and temporarily starve the pickup tube to the oil pump during very hard cornering OR even moderately hard cornering if the oil LEVEL is a bit low and that will absolutely trigger the oil warning light briefly. May want to check with your son on that just in case. On that note, it would be good if your son reports any trends in general behind the appearance of the warning if it seems to happen under any particular conditions and how often it happens. That may give us some insight
 

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Thy_Harrowing-

Thanks for the reply. You may remember me as the forum member who posted photos of my Rev A cam HPFP lobe in pristine condition at 136k miles when I replaced the cam chain and tensioner. We discussed the possibility that moly additives I have used in the engine over its service life may have contributed to that result. OCIs have generally been done at 7500 miles, with some going longer and possibly over 10k slightly. I've used various oils- mostly VW 502 spec, but I've even used some diesel engine oils for a couple changes. All oils were full synthetic, with the most often used oil being Mobil 1 0W40. The car has been APR Stage 1 93 octane tuned since it was nearly new, and I am the original owner.

Before selling him the car, but after rebuilding the turbo, I did notice a fall off in indicated pressure at the turbo oil pressure gauge (but not to zero, and no warning from the car) if the oil level was low and I took a right turn on/off ramp aggressively. Topping up the oil level corrected the problem. I'm not sure how he has driven the car since he bought it roughly 10k miles ago.

When you describe removing the intake- are you talking about just the intake cover that holds the air filter, or do you mean the intake plenum on the front of the engine that holds the injectors? I had attempted to remove the plenum once before when I was going to clean the intake valves myself, but gave up when I could not get to the bottom support bracket bolt. I had the dealership do a walnut shell blast of the valves instead. In any case, I would not want to chance damaging an injector seal. I do have a cheap oil pressure gauge kit with multiple adapters here. I'm a bit nervous about letting the engine run long enough to fully warm up.

One question I still need answered: are the balance shaft bearings lubricated via oil bath in the pan, or are they pressurized via the oil pump? See this video for my concern about just going to a balance shaft delete system if these bearings are lubricated via oil pump pressure and any discernable wear in these bearings can be felt. The issue with this car seems to be an extreme. However, if tolerances have opened enough to detect any kind of movement in the balance shaft end, it would seem nothing short of a full pump assembly replacement would restore pressure to the engine, unless one of the delete solutions also blocks off the balance shaft bearing oil feed hole. That's why this question is critical to how we proceed depending on whether I can detect any wear once I drop the pan.

https://youtu.be/g-CNcOSYO_M

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The answer was in the previous post but it was pretty buried. The answer is that the lubrication of the oil pump components rely on the fact that they are bathed in oil. That is all. For all it's apparent complexity it's actually a fairly simple unit in terms of how it operates. That being said, there are only a few modes of failure to of the oil pump and they are all readily apparent after removal:

- balance shafts seized (semi-common)
- sprocket bolt sheared allowing total lost of chain driven function (semi-common)
- sprocket teeth rounded allowing chain slip (less common)
- tensioner worn down low enough to allow poor tensioning/chain slip (less common)

Note for the above that the "commonality" of each is more so relative to themselves, not that any of the above are really all that common in the grand scheme of things, especially not for well maintained cars.

Speaking of which I do remember that conversation we had way back and I did recognize your username I just didn't link the two until you pointed it out. I do recall that your results seemed good but I also recall that you had an insane amount of varnish in your head because of the moly stuff you use. I don't remember any specifics we discussed about that subject though but if you do a manual pressure test as I have described and it confirms a low oil pressure condition then I would be curious to see what your oil pickup tube looks like after removal. I wonder if that rampant amount of varnish could have buildup to the extent that it is restricting passageways (which would not be just the oil pickup tube mind you). I find it pretty unlikely but just a thought to throw around (and again I don't honestly recall how bad it was or what we discussed about it, I just remember it stood out to me). It is conceivable that with all the additives and occasional non-VW spec oils you have used that you have some sludge or buildup issues in general. Unlikely as it may be it is something to keep on the table and it's why I always recommend people just stick to VW spec approved oils and skip the additives and other attempts to outsmart the engineers. Some additives can confer positive attributes (like how that moly probably helped your Rev A cam lobe) but they can come at costs too because the engine and oil specs were not designed with them in mind.

I still maintain that your path forward is to:

A) gather as much info as possible first, including any contextual info your son has regarding WHEN and HOW OFTEN the oil pressure warning light goes off to see if their are any trends; as well as doing a manual oil pressure test and anything else you can do to get as much clarity around the issue as possible first
B) remove oil pan and observe its contents (any debris, any sludge, lots of varnish?) and inspect oil pickup screen (any obvious blockage?) and inspect chain tensioner, sprockets, sprocket bolts, etc.
C) If none of the red flags in B above come up then probably your don't have an issues with your oil passageways, pickup, or any external aspects of the pump which means that next step would be to either remove the pump and inspect it off the car OR leave it on the car and just install a WASA/VIS freewheel to see if anything improves (if it does then the balance shafts were the issue, if it doesn't the issue is elsewhere and we'd have to cross that bridge when we get there)

RE: the oil pressure test... I was referring to the air intake to the turbo NOT the intake manifold/plenum so doing the manual oil pressure test is pretty easy
 

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Yes the balance shaft bearings are pressurized with oil.
If you remove the pump/balance shaft assembly there is separate hole for feeding oil from the block back into the assembly for lubricating the bearings. It can be hand tapped and plugged with 1/8th NPT socket head.
If your already removing the assembly, then may as well cut the gear rather then buy the VIS gear. I used a Dremel with cutoff wheel(1-1/2in diameter?). With stock engine mounts the increase in vibration is hardly noticeable.
Remember to install new metal gasket and stretch bolts.
With all that said, the only case of low oil pressure caused by balance shafts I've heard of is the video you linked.
More common causes:
Chain tensioner
Oil pickup tube
Oil filter or assembly
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Yes the balance shaft bearings are pressurized with oil.
If you remove the pump/balance shaft assembly there is separate hole for feeding oil from the block back into the assembly for lubricating the bearings. It can be hand tapped and plugged with 1/8th NPT socket head.
If your already removing the assembly, then may as well cut the gear rather then buy the VIS gear. I used a Dremel with cutoff wheel(1-1/2in diameter?). With stock engine mounts the increase in vibration is hardly noticeable.
Remember to install new metal gasket and stretch bolts.
With all that said, the only case of low oil pressure caused by balance shafts I've heard of is the video you linked.
More common causes:
Chain tensioner
Oil pickup tube
Oil filter or assembly
Curious, I've had this assembly apart and don't recall seeing evidence of a pressurized feed system but I do recall oil galleys to feed oil up inside of the unit to bathe in oil. Perhaps my memory is faulty though.

Cutting the gear is obviously the cheapest method and I described and pictured this in my write-up, but I absolutely do NOT think it is the best choice for Sandman's situation until and unless he becomes 100% certain that the oil pressure issues are indeed because of the pump/balance shafts (which as we have both agreed is not particularly common despite how often people talk about it). Until he is 100% certain that is the cause then deleting that gear is ill-advised because it is obviously not something that can be undone. The VIS/WASA freewheels are the second cheapest option and completely reversible. The reason that is a considerable factor is because they probably aren't going to like the resulting NVH increase and downsides I mentioned in my write-up so if they can avoid permanently disabling the balance shafts then that is preferable unless, again, they are 100% sure the balance shafts are the root cause.

The intermediary plate (which you referred to as a "metal gasket") does not need to be replaced but the stretch bolts absolutely do as I had described in my first post.
 

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Curious, I've had this assembly apart and don't recall seeing evidence of a pressurized feed system but I do recall oil galleys to feed oil up inside of the unit to bathe in oil. Perhaps my memory is faulty though.

Cutting the gear is obviously the cheapest method and I described and pictured this in my write-up, but I absolutely do NOT think it is the best choice for Sandman's situation until and unless he becomes 100% certain that the oil pressure issues are indeed because of the pump/balance shafts (which as we have both agreed is not particularly common despite how often people talk about it). Until he is 100% certain that is the cause then deleting that gear is ill-advised because it is obviously not something that can be undone. The VIS/WASA freewheels are the second cheapest option and completely reversible. The reason that is a considerable factor is because they probably aren't going to like the resulting NVH increase and downsides I mentioned in my write-up so if they can avoid permanently disabling the balance shafts then that is preferable unless, again, they are 100% sure the balance shafts are the root cause.

The intermediary plate (which you referred to as a "metal gasket") does not need to be replaced but the stretch bolts absolutely do as I had described in my first post.
I looked it up and don't see any mention of replacing the "intermediary plate" in the manual. I guess I was mistaken? Not a very VAG thing to reuse a part like that.

Before I cut the gear on my balance shafts I saw the video that Sandman333 linked to. Because of that, I specifically looked and found a pressurized lubrication channel.
If there is in fact an oil leak in the balance shaft bearings, then installing the VIS/WASA freewheel will do nothing to help the situation.

Unfortunately, an oil pressure gauge is only going to help confirm that the oil pressure is low. It won't help diagnose where the leak is.

As for engine vibrations. I have aftermarket engine mounts that are only slightly stiffer then stock. I don't find the vibrations after the delete to be bad at all. And no passenger has ever commented on it. With stock engine mounts, the vibrations are probably only going to be slightly worse then the old 1.8t that had no balance shafts.
 

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In thinking about this, wouldn't the balance shafts have to be lubricated by pressurized oil from the pump to even be able to be the cause of low oil pressure if the bearings are worn or they are seized? Three reasons:

1. If they simply rely on oil bath, a worn bearing clearance would never be a leak source in the pressurized oil system.

2. These balance shafts spin at 2x crank shaft speed, or 13k RPM assuming a 6500 RPM engine redline. I wouldn't think a simple oil bath lubrication system would be anywhere near sufficient at those bearing/journal angular velocities to keep parts from touching and seizing very quickly.

3. If it were oil bath, that would have the balance shafts themselves submerged in the reserve oil in the pan. Spinning at such high speed would cause considerable drag in the oil and likely whip the oil into a froth. This would be very bad for power, fuel economy, and engine longevity. Considering that VW designed a small windage tray to cover the exposed crank aft of the oil pump assembly, I think it makes little sense for the balance shafts to be submerged for lubrication.

I'm curious where a full engine oil level would be in relation to the oil pump / balance shaft assembly. Once I drop the pan I should be able to figure that out by just looking at the exposed end of the dip stick. If this were simple oil bath lubrication, the full mark on the dipstick should be well above the middle of the balance shaft. Any low oil level would seem to leave the shafts with no lubrication. I'm betting it's oil pump pressurized and the warning about engine damage due to overfilling the oil would first be realized if the balance shafts became submerged and induced massive drag as they churn through the oil at high speed.

If this is the case, cutting the gears or installing one of the free wheel solutions will not restore oil pressure if the problem is balance shaft oil bearing clearances that have opened up; without also plugging those oil bearing feeds. I would think these clearances being outside spec is the only way for the balance shafts themselves to be the actual cause of the low pressure - there has to be an obstruction or leak somewhere. Of course, it could be as Thy_Harrowing said and this may not be a balance shaft issue, but rather a plugged oil pickup tube or sludge somewhere else. Yes, the engine has a lot of varnish, but the top end showed absolutely no sign of sludge when I opened it 20k miles ago.

Thy_Harrowing, do you have a picture of the engine oil pressure sensor and its location? I'm very confident that the sensor I installed at the turbo is accurate. It's an electronic sensor that I got from ECS Tuning as a kit that's meant for this application at the turbo, but it would be good to get another reading from elsewhere on the engine.

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I looked it up and don't see any mention of replacing the "intermediary plate" in the manual. I guess I was mistaken? Not a very VAG thing to reuse a part like that.
Correct, no mention of replacing it in any shop manuals. I agree it doesn't seem like a very VAG thing to do in general but there are other such parts that are re-used (e.g. the one between trans and engine) so it isn't entirely unprecedented either.

Before I cut the gear on my balance shafts I saw the video that Sandman333 linked to. Because of that, I specifically looked and found a pressurized lubrication channel.
If there is in fact an oil leak in the balance shaft bearings, then installing the VIS/WASA freewheel will do nothing to help the situation.
If this pressurized lubrication channel you refer to is solely responsible for feeding oil to the bearings of the balance shafts (which, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe is what you are positing), and if there is in fact a leak that is causing the balance shaft bearings to not be properly lubricated, then YES installing the freewheel WILL help the situation because the freewheel accomplishes the same thing as removing the gear that both you and I removed to "delete" the balance shafts for free. The freewheel accomplishes the same thing as removing that gear we removed, it makes the balance shafts NO longer connected to the oil pump functionality itself, so at that point whether the balance shaft bearings are being lubricated properly or not is completely irrelevant because they no longer spin and they no longer have anything to do with the oil pump functionality

Now, if we are saying that this leak you refer to is hindering the entire pumps ability to make oil pressure at large then, yes, the freewheel won't help but then neither will any other of the balance shaft delete methods because at that point we have a much larger problem with the pump itself. But I have never heard of such an issue.

I have only heard of balance shaft seizure, sprocket teeth or sprocket bolts stripping/shearing, or tensioners wearing and allowing slack. If it is balance shaft related and those balance shaft bearings are not being properly lubricated then any of the "delete" methods will work because the oil pump shaft and oil pumps pressurization ability will no longer be linked to the balance shafts operation at all. If it is sprocket or tensioner related it will be immediately obvious when he drops the pan but I highly doubt that is the case because if it was his issue would be catastrophic not intermittent.

This stuff will all make sense and fall into place if you guys look at my heavily labeled pictures in my OP.



Unfortunately, an oil pressure gauge is only going to help confirm that the oil pressure is low. It won't help diagnose where the leak is.
That is absolutely correct and I had absolutely no expectation of it helping us diagnose WHERE the pressure is being lost; my intent was that it would help us either corroborate the low oil pressure indicator coming from the factory pressure switch is TRUE or NOT so we know if the sensor is correct. That is the first most basic and simple diagnostic step to take in this situation. No sense in diving so deep in to this before we even know that or know how low the pressure actually is. Actually, on that note, I will say that knowing how low the pressure actually is AND at what RPMs/under what driving conditions it is low CAN give me some subtle hints as to where the problem may be so I slightly retract my statement above; that info COULD indirectly give us some clues that could lead us a certain direction (emphasis on "could" because it isn't a guarantee). In any case, it is still the correct first basic diagnostic step in this situation.


As for engine vibrations. I have aftermarket engine mounts that are only slightly stiffer then stock. I don't find the vibrations after the delete to be bad at all. And no passenger has ever commented on it. With stock engine mounts, the vibrations are probably only going to be slightly worse then the old 1.8t that had no balance shafts.
Yes the stiffness of mounts does make a HUGE difference, I agree with you from personal experience as well, but I think generally speaking deleting the balance shafts unnecessarily should be avoided. That's because while NVH itself is pretty subjective, what is NOT subjective is that the engine mounts are basically just an NVH filter. Yes they prevent the occupants of the vehicle (and anything on the chassis side of the mount) from experiencing a lot of the increased NVH if they are soft enough BUT everything that is on/connected to the engine and does not have a NVH filtering/isolating mount between it and the engine WILL be subject to absurd vibration increase. How do I know it is absurd? Because I have nearly solid mounts so I feel most of what the engine and all the parts, bolts, electronics, etc. attached to it feel... it's bad. And this matters more than I think you guys are appreciating as I said in my OP which seems to have slipped past everyone:

"Reducing vibrations is important for long term engine health and increasing them has the opposite effect. Trust me, when these balance shafts are deleted engine vibrations increase dramatically and not only will this make driving less comfortable it will also have a long-term impact on reliability of certain parts. Do NOT underestimate the impact of significant vibrations. They can do everything from loosen bolts over time, cause weaker materials like plastic more risk of cracking, cause seals/gaskets to fail earlier than normal, wear out harmonic balancers faster, prematurely destroy sensitive electronics, and increase strain on engine internals. Vibrations are the #2 killer for track/race cars (behind the #1 which is heat)"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
In thinking about this, wouldn't the balance shafts have to be lubricated by pressurized oil from the pump to even be able to be the cause of low oil pressure if the bearings are worn or they are seized? Three reasons:
As someone who overthinks literally everything, I can't believe I'm saying this but... you're overthinking it. The reason that balance shaft issues results in oil pressure problems for the engine itself is because the balance shafts are directly linked to oil pump shaft and when the balance shafts fail the oil pump shaft, etc. stops working properly. It's that simple. It has nothing to do with the bearings being pressure fed oil or not. Please re-read my OP and also ESPECIALLY pay close attention to the notes I made in the pictures with lines pointing to various parts of the pump because I basically dissect the pump, how it works, and how doing the balance shaft "delete" helps protect the oil pumps actually purpose in creating oil pressure.

Yes, the engine has a lot of varnish, but the top end showed absolutely no sign of sludge when I opened it 20k miles ago.
The top end does not usually show signs of sludge so that is not a valid way to assume the same for the bottom end and oil passageways. The only way is to check them

Thy_Harrowing, do you have a picture of the engine oil pressure sensor and its location? I'm very confident that the sensor I installed at the turbo is accurate. It's an electronic sensor that I got from ECS Tuning as a kit that's meant for this application at the turbo, but it would be good to get another reading from elsewhere on the engine.
I can get you some pictures and try to mock-up what the approach to the sensor looks like when I get some time. In the meantime I would like to point out that I NEVER suggested your gauge or sensor themselves were inaccurate, I specifically explained that it is the actual location at which they are getting pressure readings that varies a little from the factory location that VW engineers use and on which they base their oil pressure specifications for the engine. Those pressure specifications I gave you in my first response were with the factory location in mind, not the turbo oil inlet. The readings will be pretty close between the two spots (5-10% variance max) but that's still a margin for error and I wouldn't want to allow for it. I think an oil sensor at the turbo is fine for general monitoring but I would not use it when I need to perform an actual diagnostic step and compare the results to the recommended oil pressures from VW.
 

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This stuff will all make sense and fall into place if you guys look at my heavily labeled pictures in my OP.
I appreciate your contributions and thoroughly read them.

In the video above, the mechanic is showing how a failed (loose) balance shaft bearing can lead to low oil pressure. The oil flows freely out the bearing a such a high rate that the pump can't generate enough pressure.

You can fix by replacing the assembly $$$.

Or plug the dedicated hole out of the block that feeds the bearings. But if you do this you then have to stop the balance shafts from spinning. VIS/WASA freewheel or cut gear. I vote cut gear since the assembly will already be removed to plug hole.

Yes the stiffness of mounts does make a HUGE difference, I agree with you from personal experience as well, but I think generally speaking deleting the balance shafts unnecessarily should be avoided. That's because while NVH itself is pretty subjective, what is NOT subjective is that the engine mounts are basically just an NVH filter. Yes they prevent the occupants of the vehicle (and anything on the chassis side of the mount) from experiencing a lot of the increased NVH if they are soft enough BUT everything that is on/connected to the engine and does not have a NVH filtering/isolating mount between it and the engine WILL be subject to absurd vibration increase. How do I know it is absurd? Because I have nearly solid mounts so I feel most of what the engine and all the parts, bolts, electronics, etc. attached to it feel... it's bad. And this matters more than I think you guys are appreciating as I said in my OP which seems to have slipped past everyone:

"Reducing vibrations is important for long term engine health and increasing them has the opposite effect. Trust me, when these balance shafts are deleted engine vibrations increase dramatically and not only will this make driving less comfortable it will also have a long-term impact on reliability of certain parts. Do NOT underestimate the impact of significant vibrations. They can do everything from loosen bolts over time, cause weaker materials like plastic more risk of cracking, cause seals/gaskets to fail earlier than normal, wear out harmonic balancers faster, prematurely destroy sensitive electronics, and increase strain on engine internals. Vibrations are the #2 killer for track/race cars (behind the #1 which is heat)"
Sorry but you haven't convinced me that deleting the balance shafts is going to cause a significant decrease in reliability.
The predecessor to this engine, the 1.8T, didn't use balance shafts. As well as the majority of inexpensive 4 cylinder engines.
I'm fairly sure that the balance shafts where only added for user comfort.
I have more then a decade of practical experience maintaining industrial equipment (including large vibrators ironically) and am fully aware of what extreme vibration can do to equipment.
I have placed my hand on my engine while it is running, just like i do for the equipment I maintain, and the vibrations are nowhere near where I would start to worry.
 

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Sandman333: I would recommend dropping your oil pan to inspect the pickup tube for debris and the balance shafts for play like in the video. If there isn't a significant amount of play, then look somewhere else for your leak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I appreciate your contributions and thoroughly read them.

In the video above, the mechanic is showing how a failed (loose) balance shaft bearing can lead to low oil pressure. The oil flows freely out the bearing a such a high rate that the pump can't generate enough pressure.
Interesting, well that mode of failure is news to me. Even if it is a possibility I have personally literally never once heard of it and I read threads in forums and other media groups pretty voraciously. That being said, we can't totally discount it as a possibility so it is worth at least exploring if it comes to that. It just wouldn't be the first thing I'd go looking for or expecting.

You can fix by replacing the assembly $$$.

Or plug the dedicated hole out of the block that feeds the bearings. But if you do this you then have to stop the balance shafts from spinning. VIS/WASA freewheel or cut gear. I vote cut gear since the assembly will already be removed to plug hole.
If it were to come to that where Sandman is forced to delete the balance shafts and cannot use them ever again due to the above issue/fix method then I do agree that cutting the gear makes the most sense because at that point the primary advantage of the freewheel is a totally moot point since he would need to keep the balance shafts disabled permanently anyway. The only reason to do the freewheel is to if there is a chance the owner may want to restore the balance shafts functionality or to avoid removing the pump but neither of those benefits will apply in Sandman's case IF this internal pressure leak winds up being the problem in the first place. If it is not the problem then he may want to reconsider that.


Sorry but you haven't convinced me that deleting the balance shafts is going to cause a significant decrease in reliability.
The predecessor to this engine, the 1.8T, didn't use balance shafts. As well as the majority of inexpensive 4 cylinder engines.
I'm fairly sure that the balance shafts where only added for user comfort.
I have more then a decade of practical experience maintaining industrial equipment (including large vibrators ironically) and am fully aware of what extreme vibration can do to equipment.
I have placed my hand on my engine while it is running, just like i do for the equipment I maintain, and the vibrations are nowhere near where I would start to worry.
Balance shafts are extremely common on inline engines with displacements of >= 2.0L... the larger the engine (and therefore the larger/heavier its rotating assembly, rods, etc.) the worse the primary and secondary order vibrations due to the asymmetric design of inline engines. The main reason the 1.8T did not need a dedicated balance shaft assembly is because it just wasn't that necessary.

True it is not totally necessary in a 2.0T, depending on how one defines necessary I suppose, and you are absolutely correct that VW used them primarily in the interest of added user comfort (which I believe I did acknowledge in my original post in this thread), however, it does not change the fact that what I said above is true. I do not believe I said that deleting them is going to cause "significant" decrease in reliability, especially not in any short order of time, but it will contribute to some degree of decreased reliability overall and in the long term. Of that you can be sure. I'm not going to claim to what degree or how soon because I can’t validly do that but it can take a toll on some parts (based on personal experience) and there is a reason balance shafts are used on larger displacement inline engines beyond just the primary marketing interests of driver comfort. I'm not saying this in and of itself is a good reason not to do the balance shaft delete at all, it's just a good reason not to do it if you don't have to or don’t have a specific reason to, so it is something to bear in mind in general. That’s why I like to bring it up. If Sandman determines he must delete his balance shafts to resolve this oil pressure issue then it's as simple as that and all this stuff about vibrations is NOT a good enough reason to stop him from proceeding. But I think he should make damn sure he really has to delete them before he does since there is a little more to it than driver comfort. That is all.

Putting my hand on my engine doesn’t give me the sense that it produces a ridiculous amount of vibrations either, but wanna know how I know it does? Because with my balance shafts deleted the vibrations from my engine transferred through my nearly solid mounts is enough to shake the entire front of my car. The entire bumper, radiator support, hood, dash, and steering wheel all visibly ripple and make plenty of noise from the vibrations. These are not smooth running engines lol. Imagine plastic parts, bolts for some parts under constant load (like mounts themselves), and electronics being subjected to this constantly and in the long-term.


Sandman333: I would recommend dropping your oil pan to inspect the pickup tube for debris and the balance shafts for play like in the video. If there isn't a significant amount of play, then look somewhere else for your leak.
These are certainly good steps to take as we have both suggested and it very well may come to them, I just think for the many reasons I have already explained that a simple manual oil pressure test from the same spot that the factor oil pressure switch is located to rule out a faulty switch and to accumulate some data on just how low the oil pressure is and its behavior at different RPMs is a better first step to take in this (or pretty many any instance where there is an oil pressure warning light). Again, it is a very basic first diagnostic step and the info you get from it is important before diving in further. If nothing else, even if we FULLY expect that it will just confirm what the warning light has already told us, at least we have baseline data to compare to later after the solution (or suspected solution) is reached; much more reliable and thorough to do that kind of comparison than to just see if the warning light doesn't come back. Basic diagnostic/testing principle there. Don't you agree?
 

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Sandman333 why not connect the oil pressure gauge per VW instruction at the oil filter bracket along with the oil pressure switch then you can observe what the actual pressure are when you are getting the oil pressure warning. This is a modified gauge I made to resemble the VW tool($300)that at the moment has been set up for MK2 testing, just need to add a ground wire and the connect the switch wire.




You can also do the same with a smaller mechanical oil pressure gauge installed in car with the proper Tee fittings in m10x1.0 at the oil bracket along with the factory pressure switch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
^ Glad somebody agrees and sees the logic of doing this basic first diagnostic step before getting carried away with things
 

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As soon as I figure out where the factory oil pressure switch is and how to mount my mechanical gauge to it, I'll be doing just that.

@Thy_Harrowing - the mass oil leakage at the bearings for the balance shafts is exactly what I was talking about as far as causing low oil pressure. Old, tired V8 engines (or any engine, really) with low oil pressure usually have this problem- excess clearance due to wear at the main and connecting rod bearings, letting too much oil flow reduce pressure throughout the engine.

He told me he got the warning 3 times in one day. Once he was driving in 3rd or 4th gear, unknown RPM. Another time he was pulling into the parking lot at work, so the engine was likely near idle. He could not remember the circumstances for the third time. Obviously the oil pump has not failed completely, as the warning only lasted a second or two each time. This would seem to eliminate seized balance shafts, causing a sheared sprocket bolt and no oil pump operation.

I'll probably get to the oil pressure test on Friday, and regardless of those results I'll drop the oil pan to inspect the bottom end this weekend.

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GTI's-

Interesting observation about your setup. The product page for the electronic oil pressure sensor I installed at the turbo oil feed had one review that recommended no teflon tape be used, as the sensor needed a ground and the tape may isolate it. I have no idea whether teflon tape is electrically conductive, or whether the oil itself would provide a path to ground, but I followed that recommendation and did not use teflon tape. It looks like your setup does use it. I haven't had any leaks in 20K miles.

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