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Audi -- 2003, 1.8T, Quattro -- the worst car ever

I am flabbergasted at the number of repairs I have had to do to my 2003 Audi 1.8T Quattro–85K thus far. I have spent over 10,000$ repairing this car–the repairs include oil flanges, immobilizer, steering wheel rack, gasket, pistons/valves, etc. I have asked the dealer and Audi customer care for assistance with these repairs or some type of compensation. I have gotten absolutely NOWHERE with this. No acceptance of responsibility by Audi. We have performed all services and take great care of our cars. And, obviously, we keep thinking this must be the “last” thing. I don’t know what to do to fight Audi. I am stonewalled at every juncture.

Any advice on how I can fight for compensation?

That is in deed a lot of money for this low mileage. Checking back, our Nissan incurred $1161 and our Caprice $2410 in repairs other than routine services over the same mileage. Those would be representative figures for an economy and a full size car.

I don’t know what the standard warranty is on your car, but some Volkswagens (same company as Audi) have a 10 year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Even if the warranty had expired, Audi owes you some help in fixing these problems. Many car companies have so-called “secret” warranties; those are to look after problems that should not happen and would hurt the company’s reputation. Honda has had many of these, for instance. Toyota engines had sludging problems and they eventually made some funds available to help car owners. Even GM helped owners with intake manifold gasket problems and DEX-COOL antifreeze problems.

At this mileage the lemon laws problably do not apply, and beyond the warranty limits you have no LEGAL recourse, inless there were mandated recalls regarding these problems.

Sorry I can’t be of more help.

You are hoping each repair will be the “last” thing, which means you must be planning to KEEP this car? I’d have to ask, “Why?”

You must enjoy sharing your wealth with the Audi dealer’s service department.

I doubt you will ever get a nickel form Audi. All you can do is decide never to buy another car from them. Or keep the car and live with the problems. They’re unlikely to stop.

I suppose there are lots of reasons to not keep the car. But, when do you cut your losses and buy a new/used car? I am asking for help from other people on our options. I know we can sell the car. Judging our past decisions is not helpful. But thanks for your opinion.

I will let you know if we get any compensation.

As the AWD fleet ages, the “benefits” of All-Wheel-Drive become more and more apparent. On a cost per mile basis, these cars have no equal. You are driving some of the most expensive transportation there is…

Now that is a good point! So what does Premium car mean exactly when you buy an Audi?

Audis have always had good styling, good interiors, advanced AWD, and crummy repair records. The original 100 had its name changed to 5000 with the new model to try and get away from the bad reputation, then they changed it back to 100 after a few years, now to A6…

Do not confuse ‘Premium’ or ‘Luxury’ with ‘Reliable’. The reverse is often true. Your Audi will not improve with age, so you will have to decide whether to keep putting money in it.

It sounds like you’re lumping a lot of these repairs into the “Bad Car” category and this should not be the case.

Oil changes? How is that a car fault?

Valves and pistons? Obviously a broken timing belt. Timing belts are a maintenance item and should be replaced on a regular basis. Dust off the owners manual and you will not doubt find a reference to this in those pages.

If you’re ignoring the timing belt replacement then what else is being caused by your negligence?

I said oil flanges not changes. I know I have to change the oil and I even check my tire pressure! The timing belt is recommended for change at 105K. I took the car in just in case, after the recall came out on the timing belt-- 80K, needed to replace. Valves and pistons were due to a degraded gasket problem that Audi knew about. My negligence, I don’t think so. Bad immobilizer, my fault, I don’t think so, two headlight dimmer switches, my fault, I don’t think so. failed electronic ignition, my fault, I don’t think so. Fuel pump failure, my fault, I don’t think so.

Your experience is sad, but not unique. I sold a Volvo because there was always something, and that was always an expensive something.

Keep fighting with Audi for some compensation, you have the reciepts. Get rid of the car so you don’t have more problems. Audi’s, Volvo’s, Saab’s, BMW’s, Mercedes, Jag’s, are expensive cars to repair and as they get older the bills just get more frequent and more expensive.

While it is certainly possible to rack up that kind of repair cost, I have to wonder. Most of the time since that car was new, it should have been covered under warranty. Was was the reliability like when it was under warranty?

Is it possible not all of that cost was necessary, or is it possible that an independent mechanic could have handled those repairs for a lot less money? 

Dealers are generally no better (or worse) than independent mechanics, but independent mechanics generally are less expensive because their overhead is generally less (regular coffee and not the fancy brand in the waiting area) and they tend to have a different philosophy than a dealer. A dealer will tend to replace an entire assembly when a single part would do as well. The difference between making it new and making it as good as new.

Audi would only owe you something now, if it is under warranty, or they were somehow responsible for the need for the work. Bad luck or even regular luck that cost you more than most would hope does not mean Audi or the dealer owes you something.

All that said, talking to them can sometimes get some relief.

Good Luck

the big response from the service manager was: you should have gotten the extended warranty. stupid response if you ask me. no integrity with the supposed quality of the car. my issue is, I bought an Audi, a premium car. i didn’t buy at bottom of the line gm for 10K. i could have! Just as an example to your question–the fuel pump went at 32K, left me stranded, ignition went at 43k–under warranty. degraded gasket and all related items–not under warranty. audi knew this was an issue

something needs to be done. i do not know ANYONE that is very happy with their Audi.

I had a colleague (an engineer) at work who loved his Audi, but did admit he spent $1000 MORE per year on repairs and maintenance than a normal car needed. At that time our annual outlay was $950 per year for a full size car.

what year was that?

Jordade, a Premium Car is a vehicle which usually ahs advanced technical features, has luxurious interior appointments and often good sound insulation and, of course, sells at a premium price. Upscale Audis have all those.

However, as a Reliability Engineer, I have to tell you that the 1) increased complexity, 2) lack of many road miles for testing, 3) lack of experience with the new technology usually makes a Premium car less reliable than a garden variety mass produced car. From the manufacturer’s point of view, there is considerably less risk in the technology malfunctioning in a low volume car than in their bread-and-butter cars.

At GM, the technologically new features normally get installed in Cadillacs and high end Buicks. For better or worse,the owners of these cars are the guinnea pigs. This is OK as long as the maufacturer stands behind their product. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and Jaguar, Volvo, BMW, Audi, Land Rover, and Mercedes have developed a reputation for letting their buyers down with technology gone wrong. The infamous air suspension on the S class Mercedes (their most expsnive model) is a case in point.

To my knowledge there are on a handful of Premium Car manufacturers who have above average reliability; Lexus (made by Toyota), Acura (made by Honda) and Infiniti (made by Nissan). And not all their models excel in reliability. And all are more expensive than average to maintain and repair. But at least they last a very long time. Don’t ever think a Rolls Royce or Bentley is more reliable than a Toyota Corolla!

A friend of mine has a 12 cylinder Jaguar which is a very trouble-some and expensive Premium Car. Luckily his wife drives a 10 year old Lexus L-400, which has yet to have a breakdown problem!

The cheapest AND most reliable car the whole Toyota organization makes is the Toyota Echo/Yaris, a cheap econobox that is bullet-proof compared to most other cars.

The cheap US econobox you refer to would be both more reliable and considerably less expensive to keep running than any Audi.

Hope this puts some perspective on the situation.

We would be talking about the late 1990’s, when I had a Chevy Caprice V8 and my wife had a Mitsubishi Colt. The AAA published maintenance and repair figueres at that time, and the average American spent about $1000 on repairs, maintenance and tires per year. So my friend would have spent $1000 +$1000=$2000 per year. These figures have gone up, of course and I estimamte they now run about $1500 per year for an averge US built car.

This engineer was meticulous about maintenance, and had no unexpected breakdowns, I recall.

My wife’s 15 year old Nissan has averaged $815 per year since 2003 for all maintenance, repairs and tires. And a total of $8579 since new in 1994, or $572 per year.

Hope this gives some perspective on car costs.

i have lots of perspective – i understand your reasoning. we have an ancient honda that is great. however, i believe my issues are well beyond a simple reliability issue. our audi costs as much as an average subaru or vw wagon. we are not in the 50-60K plus range.

my understanding of the issues does not help in battling the over arching issue which is that I have had to fix things that should not be happening at this age of the car.

Appreciate your comments; I was trying to answer your “What is a Premium Car?” question. If you decide on another primium car in the future, you would be wise to buy only an Infinti, Lexus or Acura.

Agree that the dealer and Audi are being very unreasonable; most luxury and premium car dealers will make some attempt to help you. You might try a different Audi dealer and also put more pressure on Audi.

Ralph Nader would have gone to the TV networks and “exposed” the dealer and the company. I don’t know if that still works. We had a PR lady who was sold a lemon GM car before there was a lemon law. She documenented all her woes, sent copies to her congressman, Bureau Of Consumer Affairs, and threatened to go on live TV with it.

A week later the GM zone manger presented her with a new car, and said this was the only time this (GM giving a new car)had ever happened!!

Mileage is not the only factor in regards to the timing belt. There is also a time consideration. I don’t care if the belt only has 50 miles on it; if the belt is 5-7 years old or whatever then it’s prone to failure anytime.
The car is an '03 so this means it was likely manufactured in '02 and the belt was likely manufactured some months before the car was even built.
Some good friends of mine bought a 4 year old Honda with only 59k miles on it and the belt broke 2 weeks after purchase leading to some expensive engine damage.

I don’t understand the part about valve/piston damage due to a degraded gasket. Some explanaion on the details would be in order because it’s a stretch to imagine this damage caused by a gasket failure without an underlying reason.
Did this valve/piston damage by chance occur during the time the car was at the shop for this alleged gasket problem? (Reason for the question)

Immobilizer? Maybe a fault.
Two dimmer switches? Likewise, maybe a fault or maybe not.

Electronic ignition failure? Maybe a fault or maybe not. If you don’t change spark plugs regularly, drive with a CEL on, driving wiht an engine performance problem, etc. can contribute to the elec.ign. failure.

Failed fuel pump? So how often do you change the fuel filter. It should be done about every 15-20k miles or even more often if a fuel contamination problem is suspected. Partially clogged filters will kill a fuel pump and this is not a symptom of a bad car.

Without details I’m theorizing here a bit and trying to determine if some of these repairs you’ve been hit with are simply due to misdiagnosis, outright BS, or the results of a screwup.
Especially the part about valve/piston damage which I presume to be the most costly of any of this stuff.