Car smoking at 3k rpm what’s wrong?

I recently purchased a 2012 Audi A4 from a private seller and got a deal because of a mechanical issue. When the car hits 3k RPM it starts smoking on the interstate when slowed down and brought back to idle the smoking stops. when cruising there’s nothing wrong with the car there’s no ticking the transmission is smooth. I believe it to be the turbo but honestly don’t know much about cars thanks for your help!

The oil seal between the bearing and the turbine wheel maybe leaking.


This will cause smoking when accelerating.

Or the oil drain back from the turbo to the oil pan may be restricted, so oil is forced past the seal



Me thinks that this vehicle is not going to be such a good deal after all .


I agree with @Tester … sounds like a bad turbo seal. You didn’t say which engine… I assume the 4 cylinder turbo gasoline engine. It won’t be cheap to repair. Look for an Audi/VW specialty independent repair shop. The dealer’s prices will make your heart skip.


Where does the smoke come from? Exhaust pipe? under hood?

I had an old Chevy pickup that would do what you describe, my issue was a valve cover gasket.

Check for any kind of oil leak, and pray it isn’t the turbo seal.


Is this something that I wouldn’t be able to do myself?

I don’t know what you can do yourself. I don’t know how experienced you are and if you have the tools to accomplish this especially since you made this statement…

A turbo replacement is not a simple task for someone who doesn’t know much about cars.


Yeah, given everything you’ve said, you don’t want to try this yourself. Google/Yelp for ‘German car repair shops’, see if they’ll give you an estimate for turbo replacement, if that’s what the problem is.

Step one, of course, is having a good shop diagnose the problem.

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Somehow I suspect you’ve bought someone else’s unwanted problem. And at a “discount”!

European cars are not cheap to repair. Best of luck, friend.


You might remove the intake boot between the throttle body and turbocharger.
If it is oily then you are going to need a turbocharger.

If the intake tract is dry then you might consider…

  1. PCV issue; or oil separator as it is called.
  2. Worst case; piston rings.

If the seller did not tell you what this mechanical issue exactly then odds are they know and have priced it already before deciding to unload the car.


If you “don’t know much about cars”, why would you buy a car with a mechanical issue you clearly don’t understand and think you got a “deal”? That deal could have easily wind up costing you over $1,000 to fix.


It is an Audi… could cost over $5000 to fix! :money_mouth_face:


I see this way to often, people not knowing anything about cars, but they buy one that has problems hoping they can easily/cheaply fix.

If it was an easy or cheap fix, it wouldn’t have been for sale.


Is $1000 a lot of money?

A set of tires costs $1000.
The turbocharger is $2200, that is a whole pay check for some of us.
A new Audi is $50,000. I would rather buy a used car and repair it.

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Not if you install a turbo cartridge.


It would be a very difficult job considering you identify as a repair novice. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility with proper guidance, but we’d recommend taking this to a trusted mechanic.

Before trying, take it to a shop and have it properly diagnosed. No sense in trying to repair the wrong thing.


A deal? Hate to give you bad news but unless the seller gave it away for free and is paying insurance, you are up to a rude awakening. And smoke is just the beginning.

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As the saying goes, there are few things more expensive than a cheap German luxury car.


Is it clouds of white smoke coming out the tailpipe, worse when a accelerating? If so, ask your shop to check the head gasket function.