2012 Audi A5 timing chain failure


Dear Tom and Ray,

I’m enclosing a copy of the letter that I have sent to Audi legal. Do you have any advise on what to do? Currently Audi is saying that because my car has 106,000 on it they will not cover the repair because the class action lawsuit only covers mileage to 100000. They have offered to pay half but the dealer says the repair could be between 8000-12000.


June 21, 2018

Audi of America
Legal Correspondence
3800 Hamlin Road
Auburn Hills, MI 48326

Dear Sir:

I am writing regarding my 2012 Audi A5 cabriolet. It is currently sitting inoperable with Audi [dealer]. I have owned this car since the fall of 2014. I was working with a regional case expert regarding my car’s timing chain failure but once I brought a class action lawsuit about this vehicle to his attention he has forwarded me to you.

My car has had many issues throughout the time that I have owned it but I was more than willing to have it serviced and fixed. Here is a synopsis of the service my 6 year old car with 106,000 miles has had.

29,622 miles – replaced water pump. (covered under warranty)
36,047 miles – maintenance
46,897 miles – maintenance
62,850 – 60k maintenance performed
79,931 miles – replaced water pump (2nd time) Cost $1325
96,827 miles – 95k maintenance performed
99,434 miles – water pump replaced for the 3rd time, oil leaking from cam ladder bearing. Cost $1661
103,294 miles – car brought in because of repeated add oil light coming on. Was told not a problem and they use oil.
106,565 miles – timing belt failure with cylinder head damage

These past two services when I had the water pump replaced I asked the dealer if they needed to replace the timing belt. As a long time Audi owner I knew that in the past when I would replace the water pump I needed to replace the timing belt. Both times I was assured by the dealer that Audi no longer ran on a timing belt that needed replacement but rather was switched to a chain.
We were told that this car needs no timing chain maintenance but that it is checked under the routine maintenance.

At 103,000 miles I brought my car back to the dealer for the engine oil light being on again and asked them to check all the things that had replaced the last two times I was in. They looked at my car and verified that all was fine and my car only needed oil.

On June 2nd I was driving my vehicle and the oil light came on again. The next morning I drove it to the gas station to get oil and when I turned it back on the engine misfired and began idling roughly. On my less than a mile drive home it continued to run rough and when I pulled in the driveway the check engine light came on. I turned the car off and it never restarted. It was towed to the dealer where they informed me of a timing chain failure.

This is completely unacceptable for a car that only has 106k miles and after doing some research have found that not only was there a class action suit for oil consumption but one for timing belt failure as well. These suits are barely out of reach of the year and miles of my car by a hair. The class action lawsuit is filed in the State of New Jersey.

Since that time I have spoken with your regional case expert and Audi offered to cover half of my repair. Upon doing some research I discovered the class action lawsuit involving these vehicles and brought that to the regional representative’s attention and told him that Audi should cover the entire repair. It appears that this is the exact problem that happened with my car. He then referred me to you. At this point I do not have legal representation I am simply asking that Audi repair my vehicle under the terms of the class action lawsuit in the State of New Jersey.

I am enclosing all copies of my service records and will be waiting to hear a response about what is the next steps will be in getting my vehicle repaired.

Lisa , this is not a contact site for Ray. I am going to bat signal Carolyn because you should never post that much info on an open web site.

@cdaquila Carolyn , would you like to do your edit thing ? Have a good weekend.

Hi all. I edited out all the identifying contact info for both the OP and the Audi personnel she named, and the legal action. I’m leaving this in the event there’s a discussion to be had about the scenario described by Lisa - I’m hesitant to name names in this forum. Thanks for your consideration.

Oh boy thanks! This stress is causing me to lose my mind and I thought it was an email

I understand. Best of luck resolving your repair needs.

The OP has apparently described a situation wherein her vehicle was frequently run low on oil, and–unfortunately–that type of situation, especially when combined with Audi’s recommended long oil change intervals, can easily result in lubrication issues. The timing chain on modern cars is especially prone to damage when there are lubrication issues.

It sounds to me like this car is a real lemon, and even if you replace the engine, it’s unlikely to reach 200,000 miles without constant expensive repairs. My advice is to dump it and buy something reliable such as a Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, etc. Lots of low-mileage used examples can be had for a fraction of the cost to repair this Audi, and will likely give you another 100,000 or more miles of trouble-free service with just normal maintenance.

OP, you mention both timing belt and timing chain. Sort of confuses the issue, and the position you are trying to advocate for. Those are two different technologies to accomplish the same thing, time the movement of the valves to the pistons. Any particular engine uses one or the other. I believe your car has a 2 L turbo engine, and uses a timing chain. Timing chain failure is generally caused by the engine running with not enough oil in it. There’s four technical service bulletins applicable to your car’s engine oil from what I see.

171782: Engine oils that meet Audi quality standards
001463: Oil filling procedure
171341: Oil consumption measurement
551538: Oil level message on display

Did you always use an oil that met Audi’s quality standards? Did you use a shop that installed the oil using a quick fill method? Did your Audi dealership do an oil consumption test? Did you notice any problem with the oil message console display? I’m presuming your car does not use a dipstick to measure the oil level, and instead just issues a warning if the oil level gets low. Is that right? I don’t see a maintenance interval for oil changes suggested. I presume you get a warning on the display when the computer thinks it is time for an oil change. Is that right? If so, did you always address those warnings promptly?

The timing chain part itself is relatively inexpensive, but the labor hours can be extensive. I’m seeing 6 hours for the camshaft chain, and 7 hours for the timing chain.

I’m not a legal expert, so can’t speak to the class action issues you mention. But if I had that problem myself and Audi was willing to do the job & cover half the cost, I’d definitely consider to go that route. But I’d want to know what measures I could take going forward to prevent this from happening again. If I wasn’t convinced I could prevent the same thing happening in the future, I’d take my licks, sell the car to an auto recycler or somebody willing to fix it themselves, and buy another car. With a dipstick.

Lisa-how often did you check the oil? How much oil did it use?

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George, some VW/Audi engines use a timing belt at the front of the engine and a timing chain at the rear.

??? Which ones? I don’t doubt it, just never heard of this.

VDCdriver is dead on with his comments about low oil levels and/or infrequent oil changes. This is not a design flaw. It’s inflicted upon the car by the owner.

“the oil light came on AGAIN” makes me wonder how many times it did illuminate. Then you drove it to the gas station to get more il. As distasteful as it may be, the better option would have been to walk and procure the oil BUT the damage may have been done by then.

I’m also reasonably certain this uses an oil pressure operated tensioner. Oil light on, no oil pressure, no tensioner operation, chain jumps, engine wiped.

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Gee, I don’t have a comprehensive list in my head but enough of the 4 and 5 cylinders that I don’t find it to be uncommon to work on one. The front has a timing belt that runs the water pump and one camshaft, then at the rear there is a chain that runs from one cam to the other. The variable timing setup is also part of the chain mechanism and is sensitive to oil pressure and volume.

Oh, now I understand. I think VW first came out with that setup in the mid ‘80s with the DOHC GTI and Scirocco. I hadn’t considered the chain a timing chain, but you’re right, it is.

There may be some culpability on your part due to the low oil level… But, you need a lawyer if you are not willing to accept Audi’s offer of paying half.

From a practical position, the car needs to be repaired or it is worth very little so pay to get it done. Accept Audi’s offer to cover half the cost ONLY IF you are not required to sign any release of liability and you expect to sue Audi for the total cost of repairs. Once the car is fixed you can pursue the return of your repair bill through legal channels.

This car does not have a dip stick. The only way to know that the car needs some oil is when the low oil level light turns on. It appears that when the light illuminated, Lisa had the car serviced. She did everything Audi expected her to do. If the timing chain failure is due to lack of lubrication, it is because the Audi Service Center did not do its job. Is it a design flaw or a dealer error? In either case, it does not appear that the OP did anything wrong. The dealer won’t own up to their error. The likely way to get this resolved is to hire a lawyer and force the dealer to pay the other half of the repair.

Audi is the expert and the dealer is their agent. Both are expected to know how to deal with low oil conditions. The car owner is NOT expected to know such technical details. The owner is expected to deal with warning alerts in a timely manner, and it appears that the OP did that.

As another person already posted, this car does not have a dipstick, and relies upon an electric sensor to illuminate a dash light when the oil level becomes low. If, by the time the sensor triggers the “low oil” light, engine damage has already occurred, that is a serious design defect, and not the fault of the owner. Also, using a hydraulic timing chain tensioner with no interlock to prevent collapse upon loss of oil pressure is another serious design defect.

Also, I disagree that “from a practical position” it would make sense to sink ANY money into this car. Sometimes in life, one has to make the painful decision to stop throwing good money after bad, and it would appear that this car is one of them.

For a lot less than the $4,000 to $6,000 that this repair would cost her, she could buy a different used car which would be much more reliable. She could tow this one home, post an ad on Craigslist, and maybe sell it for a couple thousand as a “mechanic special”. Someone who is capable of doing the repairs themselves, as opposed to paying inflated dealer prices, would buy the car, repair it, and resell it for a profit.

That would be me.

The oil sensor shows low oil level way before loss of oil pressure occurs. It works just like a dipstick. The actual reading can be pulled up on the dash display anytime the key is in and the car is sitting level.

The RED oil light comes on when pressure is too low to support the engine.

Disagree as virtually all work this way and with 100K on the engine, the positioner needs adequate travel to overcome the stretch in 100K+ miles as well as allow installation when new. Not a design defect.

With average condition the car is worth $10K. If, as you say, the car is worth $2000 in tow-away condition, there is still $8000 to play with. And Audi offered to pay half although the OP didn’t say how much that bill would be. If you think it is $4K to $6K, with Audi paying half, that is a $3000 repair on a $10,000 car. Seems she is $5000 to the good side if she lets Audi fix it and then she dumps the car.

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I had a car that had both a timing belt AND a chain

And they were both on the front of the engine

Thanks for clarifying. I’ve never heard of that configuration before, but such a thing is certainly possible. The spec’s I was looking at anyway for the 2012 A5 indicated OP’s engine didn’t use a timing belt. But if it in fact does, wouldn’t be the first time the specs published on the internet are incorrect or ambiguous.