Buying review of the Audi A3 (8P) 2003-2012 Common Issues Engines Inspection

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Hello everybody,

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I will mostly review European cars since I know most about these types of cars.
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I today’s review we look at the Audi A3.
Even though this car shares a lot of components with the Volkswagen Golf, the Audi is more premium then the Golf. Audi has a good reputation when it comes to making beautiful interiors. Also the exterior features are more upmarket then the Volkswagen.
Engine and components wise the Golf and A3 are very simalar, it depends on you if you want to spend more for looks.

But is that worth the extra cash over a Golf ?

Today we will have a look to see if this is a reliable car and what are some of the issues that you should look out for when buing such a car.

Strong points of the car

It holds its value
Its premium compared to the Golf
It comes in a three, five dour and convertible
Wide variety of engines

Weaker points of the car

Avoid the 1.6 engine, it only produces 100 HP which is not sufficient for this type of car.

We will review the second generation A3, with internal code 8P.
This car was produced between 2003 and 2012, a very long time.
But it had a few facelifts and adjustments to the engines during its life cycle.

The first facelift in 2005 when the A3 got a single frame grill, just like the rest of the line-up.

The second facelift came in 2008.

As you can aspect from a small premium car, it has lots of engines to choose from. Ranging from diesel to petrol engines.
It was also for sale as the very potent RS3 model, a small hatchback with 250 horsepower and a Quattro 4 wheel drive system. This generation A3 saw the transition from the old fashioned naturally aspirated engines, to small displacements combined with turbochargers. The FSI and TFSI engine line from the Volkswagen group.

The RS3 has the same engine also the GolfR32, a 3.2 liter VR6 producing 250 HP and a big potential for tuning.
This is the ideal car for people that do not want a big sedan, but still want a car in which 4-5 people can sit.

When it comes to engines there is plenty to choose from, for those that do lots of miles there are the robust TDI engines.
These diesels might not be as reliable as the previous generation but they are still quite solid.
The petrol powered units range from between 106 HP in the 1.6 petrol to 250 HP in the 3.2 VR6.

Various car journalists called the steering feeling in the Audi vague, this point has been improved over the years but this generation is still lacking some steering feeling.

Is this a bad thing ?
Not really, it is just a comfortable setting, if you want more engagement buy a BMW 1 series or a Ford Focus instead.

Now lets check if this car is reliable.

Timing chains

Together with the introduction of new engines, the timing chain issue appeared.
Timing chains make sure that the engine runs in a certain sequence, it is hold in place by chain tentioners.
These chain tentioners can wear out over time, this will result in the timing chain not being kept in place.
The problem usally starts when you hear a rattling sound when starting the engine, this is a good indication.
You should take immediate action, if you keep on driving and the chain breaks then you could destroy your whole engine.

FSI & TFSI engines

These engines can also have issues with their timing chain, but there is also another issue to look out for.
Apperantly early FSI engines burnt their valves, this required a new cylinder head. During the lifecycle of the A3 this issue was solved.
You can only find this is the early production models.

Diesel engines

For the TDI, turbo diesel injection engines there can be an issue with poluted EGR valves.
These valves can be cleaned, if the problem reoccurs the EGR valve needs replacement.

For the 2 liter TDI the timing belt need replacement every 4 years or 100.000 KMs.

ABS module failure

It’s all over Google, cars with a failed ABS module. The same issue was reported for the Golf Mk5.
Don’t ever a Golf or Audi with the ABS warning light on. Offcource the light comes on when you turn the ignition key but it should
go away while the car runs.

Steering rack

Some buyers seem to complain about issues related to the steering rack of the car.
This is not really a technical problem but more of a preference of the driver.
There is not much feeling in the steering wheel since the steering rack is focused on comfort then on direct and engaging driving.

Differential problems

Some buyers seem to complain about issues related to the differential, especially with the Quattro 4 wheel system.
The quattro systems is a 4 x 4 ( four by four) haldex system.

Do it yourself diagnostics on your Audi

If you are little but tech-savvy you can run a diagnostic tool on your laptop and connect it to the ECU of the car.
This will give you insight in the error messages that the computer of the car recorded. You can then do the diagnoses of the car yourself.
The software is available for a small fee, but you need to be able to connect your laptop to your car’s ECU.
For that you need to proper connectors.

S-tronic transmission

Then last but not least the S-tronic transmission.

This is an semi-automatic gearbox from Audi that allows for manual shifts, these gearboxes can be prone for trouble. It is recommended that you chance the clutch plates every 100.000 KMs, while this is not neccacery in every case, there is plenty of documentation online that suggests otherwise.

Thanks for wathcing this car buyers review of the second generation Audi A3.
I hope it was useful for you, if so, you can subscribe to my channel and be updated with future videos automatically.

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