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Q: Car sputters and shakes below 1500 rpms especially

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I have had this car for about a year, at first I would notice an occasional sputter when I was at low Rpms it's been getting slowly worse. I ran 4 tanks through it over the last month with injector cleaner. I also took the EGR off and it is pretty clean, not clogged in the least. The problem worsened within the last day or two to where it sputters and shakes pretty bad at idle and even some when I'm running higher Rpms. There also is no rhythm or pattern. It will randomly sputter a lot for 10-15 seconds then be good for a minute then sputter a bunch for 30 seconds. I'm not sure the last time the timing belt was changed but I don't know if that would make these symptoms or maybe just dirty Injectors that need to be manually cleaned or replaced? I'm really not sure what's wrong with it. Also there are no engine lights or codes on

My car has 163000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

There is a common problem with this specific year and engine of VW TDI’s. The camshaft material is not hardened enough, which leads to abnormal wear of the lobes and damage to the lifters. The fuel injectors are also controlled by the camshaft, so it affects the opening of the injectors as well. A worn camshaft will not always set a check engine light, so based on the symptoms you described, I think it’s very likely that this is your problem. A qualified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, should inspect your camshaft to diagnose the rough running issue.

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