VW 4Motion Problems

Are you experiencing VW 4Motion problems?

The VW 4Motion is an all-wheel drive (AWD) system developed by Volkswagen to increase traction and stability in challenging driving conditions. It supplies power between the front and rear axles for better grip and performance.

Variations of the 4Motion system are available depending on the vehicle brand, model year, trim level, intended use, and regional market. VW 4Motion is available on various Volkswagen models, such as the Golf R, Tiguan, Atlas, Passat, Arteon, and Touareg.

This article explores common problems with the VW 4Motion system, their causes, and possible solutions.

Common Problems with VW 4Motion System


  1. Transmission Issues

One of the typical problems with the VW 4Motion system is transmission issues. Some owners experience more difficulties in shifting and changing gears than expected.

Similarly, premature wear of transmission components is another issue. This problem results in drivability issues, which translates to expensive repairs or replacements.

Hesitation during acceleration or delays in response also affects the VW 4Motion system. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received complaints from several 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan owners regarding acceleration hesitancy issues [1].

Most complaints indicate the problem is severe when the engine is cold, such that the car stumbles when cold and won’t accelerate. Additionally, the car jerks and bucks under acceleration when cold starting or riding from a stop light.

Related: VW Tiguan Problems

  1. Transfer Case Failures

The transfer case failure has been a concern for many VW 4Motion owners. The transfer case controls power distribution between the front and rear axles [2].

When it fails, power is not delivered correctly, resulting in loss of power to one or more wheels.

Thus, it negatively affects traction and overall vehicle performance, especially in challenging driving conditions like slippery or off-road surfaces.

  1. Electrical Glitches

Electrical problems can also affect the VW 4Motion system. Sensors and warning lights connected to the system are prone to malfunction.

These electrical faults effectively interfere with system operation and result in fake warning messages or erratic behavior. It is essential to address such issues promptly to avoid potential safety issues or negative impacts on the driving experience.[3]

  1. Drivetrain Vibrations

Drivetrain vibration has been cited as a problem by a small group of VW 4Motion owners. These vibrations primarily manifest through the vehicle’s chassis, steering wheel, or pedals, causing discomfort and concern for safety.

Vibration indicates underlying issues such as misalignment, worn-out components, or drivetrain imbalance. Determining and resolving the root cause of this vibration is important to ensure a smooth and enjoyable driving experience.

  1. Differential Issues

Differential problems have been reported in some VW vehicles equipped with the 4Motion system. The differential distributes power between the left and right wheels on the same axle [4].

Excessive noise, leaking fluid, or limited power transfer to one wheel may indicate differential problems. Timely inspection and maintenance can mitigate potential complications.

  1. Haldex System Failures

The Haldex system, a key component of VW’s 4Motion, has been related to certain problems. The Haldex system controls electricity distribution among the front and rear axles based on riding conditions [5].

Failure of this device brings about improper electricity transfer, affecting traction and stability. Some owners have reported Haldex pump malfunctions. For effectiveness, a malfunctioning Haldex system requires replacement to restore functionality.

  1. Axle Shaft Problems

Constant velocity (CV) axles are a drivetrain component now commonly found on many modern vehicles, and VW is no exception. CV helps transfer torque from the transmission and differential to the wheels [6].

Though they have a greased flexible joint and rubber boot to safeguard them from dirt and debris, they eventually wear out and require replacement.

This means that axle shafts can be a source of trouble in the VW 4Motion system. The most common symptoms of a bad or failing CV axle shaft assembly are noises, grease leaks, and excessive vibration. In severe cases, axle shaft failures result in loss of power to the wheels or complete immobilization.

Damaged or worn-out axle shafts typically cause loud clicking, popping, or grinding noises, especially during turns or acceleration.

They become louder or more pronounced during sharper and faster turns and may also cause difficulty in steering.

Furthermore, excessive vibration while driving interferes with handling and ride characteristics and the overall safety and comfort of the vehicle.

Similarly, grease on the inside edge of the tire may leak out and cause a growling noise and a steady knocking when driving at low speeds.

  1. Control Module Issues

The 4Motion all-wheel drive system relies on several control modules to function properly. A malfunction in any of these control modules affects the 4Motion system as well.

One of the common failures is the transfer case control module, which causes warning lights, lack of power to particular wheels, and defaulting to front-wheel drive.

Other control modules that can fail include the ABS, engine, and transmission control modules.

  1. Pump and Valve Body Failure

The 4Motion system relies on components like the pump, valve body, and actuator to function. After years of use, these parts can fail or malfunction, causing 4Motion problems. Failure of the 4Motion pump or valve body is among the most prevalent issues.

The pump circulates hydraulic fluid throughout the system while the valve body controls fluid flow to the front and rear axles.

If this component fails, you may notice warning lights coming on, strange noises from the pump or valve body, difficulty shifting between 2WD and 4WD modes, or loss of power to the front or rear wheels.

  1. Software Glitches

As with many modern automotive systems, software, and system bugs have been reported with the VW 4Motion system. These errors can manifest in various ways, such as incorrect torque delivery, incorrect error codes, or intermittent system failure [7].

Software updates and reprogramming by authorized VW service centers are often necessary to resolve this problem and ensure optimal system performance.

Diagnosing VW 4Motion Issues

Determining the causes of VW 4Motion problems can be difficult, as many factors can contribute to the issues experienced. In some cases, a manufacturing defect or a design flaw can be the potential culprit.

While modern production aims to minimize such problems, occasional discrepancies can slip through quality control.

Inadequate maintenance can also play a role. Failure to observe routine maintenance, such as fluid changes or inspections, can also increase the likelihood of problems arising. Experts claim that driving too hard or pushing the system beyond its capacity can lead to premature wear or failure.

Fixing VW 4Motion Problems


It is critical that you promptly address any issue and seek assistance from authorized VW service centers or qualified technicians.

Routine maintenance, adherence to recommended service intervals, and timely repairs can help prevent and resolve many of these problems. Regularly updating the vehicle’s software can also help mitigate potential software-related glitches.

If your VW 4Motion system is experiencing problems, don’t panic. Many issues are solved with some troubleshooting and DIY repairs. Here are some solutions to try before taking them to your mechanic:

  1. Check the 4Motion fuse and relay. The 4Motion system has a dedicated fuse and relay that can blow or fail, thus deactivating AWD. Place a fuse box under the hood or in the cabin to see if the 4Motion fuse needs replacing. Relays may also need replacing. Replacements are inexpensive and easy to do by yourself.
  2. Inspect 4Motion fluid level. Low or old fluids can trigger the 4Motion light to turn on. Refill or change the fluid, reset the light, and see if it goes out. VW recommends changing the 4Motion fluid every 30,000 miles for maximum performance.
  3. Examine the 4Motion sensor. A faulty wheel speed or steering wheel angle sensor can interfere with the 4Motion system. Test the sensors to see if they need replacement. Replacing the sensors usually requires removing the wheels and brakes to gain access, so a mechanic may have to do this.
  4. Check for software or module problems. Sometimes problems with the 4Motion control module or software can be corrected by performing a diagnostic scan at a VW dealer and resetting the system. Additional software or module replacement may be required in some cases.

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While some owners have reported problems with the VW 4Motion system, putting these concerns in context is essential. The general reliability and performance of the system may still be satisfactory for most users.

Volkswagen has demonstrated responsiveness in addressing the reported problems, with measures such as warranty extensions, repair programs, and improvements in design and manufacturing processes. To minimize the likelihood of encountering problems, users should follow recommended maintenance practices.

Furthermore, potential and current owners of VW vehicles equipped with the 4Motion system should conduct thorough research, seek professional advice, and make decisions based on their unique circumstances.

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