Audi A3 (8P: 2003-2013)

Used, orange Audi A3, 8P sport model (S3), 3-door hatchback

The Audi A3 (8P) received two facelifts – in 2005 and in 2008. Audi S3 shown above.

 

Reliability & common problems

This section covers the potential reliability issues that you might have with the Audi A3 (8P). Click on the buttons below to read more about typical problems that fall outside of the scope of routine maintenance.

Audi A3 Cabriolet – convertible roof

The roof is operated by a pair of hydraulic cylinders, powered by a hydraulic pump. It is actually a relatively simple system when compared to other convertible cars. As with any convertible, your three main concerns are weather intrusion (fancy name for a leaking roof), hydraulic fluid leaks and just general wear.

The things to check regarding the roof are:

  • Check for any dampness in the footwells and in the boot.

  • Open and close the roof a couple times to make sure that it works. Check if the rear demister works (if possible).

  • Check the condition of the roof fabric.

  • Check the condition of the roof seals. Ideally, they should be lubricated regularly – ask the previous owner about it.

  • Check if the level of hydraulic fluid is correct. If it isn’t then the car may have been neglected or there is a leak somewhere.

  • Look for hydraulic fluid leaks.

  • Get the car up to 60 mph with the roof closed and listen for excessive wind noise.

  • Listen for squeaking or rattling noises while driving with the roof closed.

  • Take the car to a high pressure (touchless) car wash and see if any water gets inside the cabin or the boot.

A word of warning: If you’re not into DIY and you’re not willing to understand how the roof mechanism operates, you may pay for servicing more than you need to. If you can’t diagnose or repair little problems yourself, trying to get the roof sorted out at a car repair shop may get expensive.

S-Tronic / DSG transmission

DSG stands for “Direct Shift Gearbox”, which is VW Group’s brand name for their dual-clutch transmissions. In Audi cars, it’s called the S-Tronic.

A dual-clutch transmission is like an automated manual transmission. It has two clutches – one drives odd-numbered gears, and the other drives even-numbered gears. The trick to achieving quick gear changes, the DSG is famous for, lies in pre-selecting gears and predicting driver’s behaviour.

In most circumstances, the DSG can change gears stupidly quick (milliseconds). It is also very efficient because it doesn’t have a torque converter like traditional automatic transmissions.

If anything starts going wrong with a DSG gearbox, in the majority of cases the mechatronics unit is at fault. The mechatronics unit is the control centre of the transmission. It contains the transmission control unit (TCU), multiple sensors, clutch actuators and the valves that control the transmission.

The rest of the transmission is mechanical (clutches, gears, shafts and bearings) and rarely fails.

The problem is that the mechatronics unit is so complex, and filled with sensors and valves, that a failure of an individual component, like a £20 sensor, means that you may have to replace the entire mechatronics unit, which is very expensive.

Sometimes, you can have the faulty sensor or other individual part replaced if you can find someone capable of doing it, but it will still be expensive because of the labour involved and knowledge required. Few places can repair the DSG mechatronics units and even dealerships do not generally repair them.

If you go to an Audi dealership with a DSG / S-tronic problem, odds are that they will offer to replace the entire mechatronics unit with a new one for something like £2,500. The alternative is buying a new mechatronics unit elsewhere for around £1,000 (+ fitting).

 

Here are the three S-tronic (DSG) transmission variants used in the Audi A3:

DQ250: The first generation, released in 2003, has six speeds and uses wet clutch packs. The gearbox is filled with gear oil and the same oil circulates through the mechatronics unit, which is inside the transmission. These transmissions require the oil to be changed every 4 years or 40k miles, which costs close to £200.

The problem with these gearboxes is that all the debris from the clutch packs, differential and bearings can get into the mechatronics unit and cause issues. The oil changes need to be adhered to religiously or the gearbox may fail.

Other than that, they are reasonably reliable apart from occasional mechatronics unit failures (machines fail and complex machines are more likely to fail). Also, be aware that cars with the DSG have dual-mass flywheels (DMF). The wet clutches are durable and don’t wear out. The DQ250 is rated to handle 350 Nm.

 

DQ200: This is the second revision of the DSG transmission that entered production in 2008. These transmissions use dry clutches and have seven speeds. Because of the dry clutches, these gearboxes are “sealed for life” and no longer require the oil to be changed every 40k miles.

Another important difference is that the mechatronics unit is filled with its own fluid (power steering fluid). The transmission itself is filled with gear oil and has an independent oil circuit. This is an improvement over the first-generation DSG (no more oil contamination problems). However, a couple new problems appeared.

These transmissions were part of worldwide recalls spanning model years 2008-2013 for issues related to faulty temperature sensors and short-circuits in the ECU. The DQ200 has a worse reputation than the DQ250 due to all the recalls and problems associated with them. The biggest one was an oil change campaign to stop the electronics from short-circuiting in hot climates.

Apart from the occasional mechatronics unit failure, which in theory should be more reliable than the one in the DQ250, the dry clutches in these transmissions wear just like regular clutches in manual transmissions.

There have been cases of DSG clutches wearing out quicker than expected. This is because getting the car to move from a standstill is achieved through partial clutch engagement (clutch slipping).

The dry-clutch DSG cannot creep because it doesn’t have a torque converter. Taking off is achieved by slipping the clutch, which makes it wear.

If you already own one, you should adjust your driving habits to minimise clutch slip in traffic. Always let the clutch engage fully in 1st gear when you are crawling in traffic. Also, never use the gas pedal to stop the car from rolling backwards on an incline.

In my opinion, the DQ200 is the least desirable unit out of all the DSG transmissions. The DQ200 is used with the following engines: 1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI, 1.8 TFSI and 1.6 TDI. It is rated to handle 250 Nm, which is exactly what 1.6 TDI and the 1.8 TFSI generate.

Remapping these engines for more torque and power is not a good idea. After the DQ200, VW Group reverted back to using wet clutches in their newer DSG / S-tronic gearboxes.

 

DQ500: Think of it at as an uprated, wet-clutch DQ250 transmission. It has seven speeds and can support up to 600 Nm. In the Audi A3 (8P) chassis, this gearbox is only mated to the 2.5 TFSI in the Audi RS3.

 

If you are planning to buy a car with the DSG, here are the typical symptoms of S-tronic / DSG malfunction:

  • flashing “PRNDS” light

  • gearbox shifting into neutral on its own (this can happen while driving)

  • juddering / vibrations, clunking noises or jerky gear changes

  • missing gears

  • dry clutch transmissions: a sensation that the clutch is slipping (engine revs rising too high and not matching the acceleration of the car)

1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI & 1.6 FSI – timing chain issues

These small FSI engines are fitted with a single-row timing chain, and they use a non-ratcheting timing chain tensioner. In some engines, non-ratcheting tensioners work just fine and in others, they can cause issues, especially during engine start up. In my opinion, these engines belong to the latter group.

A non-ratcheting chain tensioner relies on engine oil pressure to apply tension to the timing chain. When the engine is started after a long standstill, all the engine oil has drained to the oil sump. The only thing that applies tension to the timing chain during the first couple seconds after start up is a spring inside the chain tensioner.

As the chain stretches and the tensioner becomes weaker, the engine will develop a rattling noise during start up. This noise is generated by the loose chain flopping around inside the engine. The noise stops when the engine oil finally pressurizes the chain tensioner. Here’s what chain rattle during engine start up sounds like:

 

In my opinion, the timing chain system in the 1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI and the 1.6 FSI is not very robust. If the timing chain is showing symptoms of wear, it shouldn’t be ignored. If left alone, the chain may at some point skip a couple teeth, resulting in incorrect engine timing and in the worst case a collision between the valves and the pistons.

Watch out for any timing chain noises during start up. Some may be present because of the non-ratcheting chain tensioner, but the longer they last the worse. If the car you are planning to buy sounds like the one in the video above, I recommend that you walk away from the sale or service the timing chain soon after purchasing the car.

Please note that these engines, except the 1.2 TFSI, have Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and a worn cam adjuster makes noises similar to a loose chain. Anyway, whatever the noise source, it’s not a good sign.

The timing chain system in these cars is usually fine for the first couple years after the cars leave the factory. However, as they get older, the risk of having to replace the chain or the chain tensioner increases.

Generally, when a timing chain is used, the intention is for it to last the “lifetime” of the engine (very roughly 200k miles). In my opinion, trying to reach 200k miles with the original chain and tensioner is very risky with the 1.2 TFSI,  1.4 TFSI or the 1.6 FSI.

2.0 FSI & TFSI (EA113: 2003-2008) – cam follower wear

FSI stands for “Stratified Fuel Injection”, which is Volkswagen Group’s direct injection system. The FSI system is based on a high-pressure fuel pump, a fuel rail and solenoid injectors. It is similar to the Common Rail injection used in modern diesel engines but operating at 110 bar instead of 1500+ bar.

The high-pressure pump is driven directly off the camshaft by an extra cam lobe. This way, the rotating motion of the camshaft is converted into reciprocating motion of the fuel pump piston. In my opinion, this is all very cleverly designed with the exception of one small part. This unlucky part is the cam follower.

The cam follower is a little bucket thingy (a flat tappet) that sits between the pump and the cam lobe that drives the pump. It rides the cam lobe on a film of oil – it is in constant contact. The problem with these engines lies in the fact that the cam follower can wear – even to the point of breaking a hole in the centre. The problem is exacerbated by infrequent engine oil changes and use of incorrect oil.

For this reason, buying a second-hand 2.0 TFSI or FSI engine can be a gamble if there is no record of cam follower replacement(s). If you unknowingly buy a car with a badly worn cam follower, you are likely to soon replace not just the cam follower but also the camshaft and the high-pressure fuel pump.

Driving with a worn CF will quickly damage both the camshaft and the pump. In my opinion, VW Group should have made the cam follower a 30k miles service item. It is an inexpensive part and replacing it is easy. Usually, there is little or no symptoms of the problem until it’s too late.

The typical symptoms of a worn out cam follower in the 2.0 TFSI & FSI engines are:

  • Engine cutting out when accelerating at high RPM

  • Error codes stored in the ECU and glowing “Check Engine” light – at this point serious damage is likely

It’s tough to say how long a cam follower will last. Some look fine after 70k miles and some are completely worn out after 50k miles. It all depends on the oil change intervals, oil quality, manufacturing tolerances and driver habits. Cars that failed under warranty, as well as 2008 cars, are likely to have an updated camshaft (revision B), which should make the system last longer.

The bottom line is this – because all the EA113 engines are likely high mileage ones by now, look for cars that had the cam follower replaced or cars owned by people who are aware that the cam follower must be kept in good condition and should be inspected regularly.

If the seller agrees, you could also take the car to the dealership for a cam follower inspection. It is fairly straightforward to check for someone experienced with these engines.

In the second generation of the TFSI engines (EA888), a roller cam follower was introduced which has completely solved the problem. Unfortunately, because of a different issue, I think that the EA113 is a better choice of the two despite its appetite for cam followers (and camshafts for dessert).

The EA888 engine, released in 2008, has a drinking problem. More will be explained below.

By the way, the Audi S3 continued to use the EA113 engine after 2008.

1.8 & 2.0 TFSI (EA888: 2007-2013) – high oil consumption

The second-generation 1.8 TFSI appeared in 2007. A larger 2.0L engine was released a year later. Both are an evolution of the 2.0 Turbo FSI (EA113). These engines use roller cam followers, which eliminate the risk of the cam followers wearing out. Don’t celebrate just yet though.

There have been cases of very high oil consumption in these engines. I believe this is because of small oil control rings that allow too much oil to enter the combustion chambers. Once in the combustion chambers, the oil burns and leaves the engine as smoke.

The oil control ring’s job is to scrape excess oil off the cylinder wall to regulate oil consumption while maintaining proper piston lubrication. I think that VW Group engineers went too far with downsizing the oil control rings, resulting in huge oil consumption in some of these engines. I guess the design intent was to minimize friction and increase engine efficiency.

According to the manufacturer, oil consumption up to 1 litre per 1242 miles (approx. 2000 km) is normal. In my opinion, this is very high for a modern and “efficient” engine. This level of oil consumption would be acceptable in a car with 200k miles on the clock a two-stroke engine, you know, like in a moped.

Some EA888 engines consume more than that – even 2 litres per 1242 miles (2000 km).

The only permanent fix is to disassemble the engine and replace the pistons along with the rings. As you can imagine, it is very expensive. Audi even faced a class-action lawsuit in the US because of this problem.

Usually, there are no obvious symptoms of high oil usage apart from smoke under heavy acceleration. While some don’t use much oil, there are cars that burn a lot, and it will only get worse as they age.

For this reason, a used Audi A3 with the EA888 engine is a high-risk purchase, and I don’t recommend buying one.

This doesn’t apply to the Audi S3 as it continued to use the EA113 engine after 2008.

1.8 & 2.0 TFSI (EA888: 2007-2013) – timing chain tensioner failure

The EA888 engine, unlike the EA113, uses a timing chain to drive the valvetrain. This engine uses a ratcheting tensioner design, which is a good thing. However, there have been cases of chain tensioner failures in these engines, resulting in a collision between the valves and the piston. That’s usually very serious engine damage.

The main symptom of a failing tensioner is timing chain rattle during the first seconds after engine start up. It’s most evident after the engine has been turned off for a couple hours and all the engine oil has drained into the oil sump. Here’s a video showing chain rattle in a 2.0 TFSI engine:

 

The timing chain tensioner was updated three times. The fourth version – revision K, released in 2012, is reliable and it’s the one to have. 2012 was the changeover year. Therefore, cars made at that time may have either the updated or the older tensioner. 2013 cars are likely to have the updated part, though not 100% guaranteed.

FSI & TFSI engines – carbon build-up

Direct petrol injection systems, like the FSI, are prone to carbon build-up on the engine intake valves. Excessive carbon build-up can reduce power, increase fuel consumption and make cold starts difficult. The “Check Engine” light may appear too.

Carbon build-up is a common problem for many direct injection petrol engines as the fuel is no longer injected into the intake manifold where it has a chance to wash away any carbon build-up from the intake valves.

The carbon deposits come from the Crankcase Ventilation System (CVS), which is connected to the intake. It’s a common design in most engines. In any piston engine, a small portion of the gases from the combustion chamber is blown past the piston rings into the crankcase.

These gases contain oil vapour (hydrocarbons) and combustion by-products (more carbon). From the crankcase, they are fed back into the engine through the intake manifold, where they form deposits. Also, there is the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve that redirects a portion of exhaust fumes back into the engine intake (even more carbon).

With direct injection, as the name implies, the fuel is fed directly into the cylinders. Detergent fuel additives don’t really work in the FSI engines as the injected fuel doesn’t go over the intake valves like in the older manifold fuel injection systems. Therefore, it doesn’t have a chance to wash away the carbon deposits.

Sooner or later, all TFSI and FSI engines will have some carbon build-up. It is inevitable, Mr Anderson.

It seems that the main contributing factor that accelerates carbon build-up is driving short distances. If the engine rarely reaches a high enough temperature, the carbon deposits will not be burned off and they will start accumulating. Driving like an old lady doesn’t help either (no offence to any old ladies!).

The FSI and TFSI engines are happiest to do long trips and they should be revved up regularly to clean the gunk from the intake valves.

If the build-up becomes severe, the only option is manual cleaning. This requires the intake manifold to be removed. To conclude, gasoline direct injection is more efficient and will save you some money at the gas station. However, I feel that you’ll probably have to give it back paying for carbon cleaning – a zero-sum game, I tell you.

If you do lots of motorway driving and like to drive hard, you’ll probably be okay for some time. Many FSI and TFSI engines reach a relatively high mileage before developing any problems related to carbon build-up. However, if you’re doing lots of short trips, then carbon cleaning may be on the horizon.

As a side note, there is a way of eliminating carbon build-up in direct injection engines. It requires additional fuel injectors that can wash off the gunk from the valves – a dual injection system. VW Group implemented this solution in 2011 with the introduction of the third generation of the 2.0 TFSI engines.

TDI PD engines – camshaft wear

PD stands for “Pumpe Düse”, which is Volkswagen Group’s brand name for unit injector technology used in their diesel engines. Here’s how it works: each fuel injector is a stand-alone unit, integrated with its own miniature fuel pump that is actuated by the camshaft.

The camshafts in PD engines have extra cam lobes used only by the unit injectors to generate high fuel pressure. Therefore, the injector timing is roughly linked to the camshaft timing while the precise moment of injection is then determined by an electric solenoid valve inside the PD injector.

You can recognize a PD engine by the lack of high-pressure fuel lines going to the injectors (the high pressure is generated directly in the injectors).

The extra cam lobes used by the unit injectors take a lot of space on the camshaft. Therefore, there is less room for the intake and exhaust cam lobes, which have to be narrower. This design puts a lot of stress on these cam lobes.

The oil film is what keeps them from wearing out and VW Group engineers are very specific about the oil requirements for their PD engines. Therefore, to avoid camshaft wear, it is essential that the correct oil is used and replaced regularly. With proper care, PD engines can last a long time.

The tell-tale sign of a badly worn exhaust cam lobe, which can wear if neglected, is a popping sound coming from the engine bay or the exhaust. Also, look out for any kind of knocking noises coming from the engine. The “Check Engine” light may come on in severe cases of camshaft wear.

All of this is applicable to the entire family of PD engines, but it seems to me that the most severely affected variant is the 1.9L 99hp engine used in VW Jetta (engine code: BRM).

1.9 TDI (engine codes: BXE & BLS) – connecting rod bearing failure

While the 1.9 PD engines are generally pretty good, provided they are maintained well. There is one notable exception and it’s the 105 PS BXE / BLS engine which comes with a small risk of throwing a connecting rod.

Throwing a connecting rod means piercing a hole in the engine block with a connecting rod. It’s a spectacular death in a puddle of oil. If it happens, the most cost-effective fix is to replace the engine.

In my opinion, it’s a material issue that may cause the connecting rod bearings to seize, which then breaks a connecting rod. It seems to me that VW Group relaxed the material specification too much in the BXE / BLS engines or perhaps it was a supplier quality problem. We’ll probably never know. As for the symptoms, there may be a knocking sound before the failure. However, it can also happen suddenly with little to no symptoms.

I cannot tell you how many BXE/BLS engines will throw a connecting rod. It’s probably a very small number and the overwhelming majority will manage to happily reach a high mileage. However, there is no easy way to check if any particular engine is affected, therefore, I think that it’s best to avoid them altogether. It’s not worth the risk, however small, because having to replace the engine is quite expensive.

2.0 TDI PD – “porous” cylinder heads

When first released, the 2.0 TDI was not a good engine (in my humble opinion). There have been cases of unexplained coolant loss in some of the early 2.0 TDI engines. Those engines were fitted with revision “A” cylinder heads. 

Some of the revision “A” cylinder heads had porosity, which made them susceptible to developing micro-cracks and allowing the coolant to enter the combustion chambers.

Symptoms of a leaky cylinder head are as follows:

  • coolant loss with no external leaks

  • difficulties starting the engine after a long standstill (coolant accumulating in the cylinders and possible mild hydrolock)

  • white smoke after starting the engine (coolant vaporized during combustion)

The cylinder heads were updated a couple times – revision “B” wasn’t much better as I see it, and revision “C” finally managed to solve the problem. The revision letter can be found on the cylinder head (upside down) and can be checked once the plastic engine cover is removed.

Revision “C” was introduced in 2006, therefore, I recommend avoiding cars produced before 2007 unless the cylinder head has been updated to revision “C”.

Production of these engines stopped in 2008 as they were superseded by Common Rail TDI engines, which are free from this problem.

Here’s a video showing engine starting issues due to coolant accumulating in the cylinders:

 

In my opinion, the BMM engine variant is the saving grace of the early 2.0 TDI engines. The BMM is an 8-valve version of the 2.0 TDI engine that was available in cars produced between 2005 and 2008. This 8-valve engine is actually closely related to the older 1.9 TDI (that’s why it’s more reliable).

The potential cylinder head leaks do not affect this engine.

It gets a bit confusing when you try to determine which cars have the BMM variant. That’s because it has 140 PS and identical torque as the 16-valve 2.0 TDI. To be sure which engine is in the car you are planning to buy, you can remove the plastic engine cover and read the engine code from the sticker on the timing belt cover.

The engine code can also be found on a sticker under the boot carpet. Another indicator is the engine cover, which is different in the BMM variant.

Keep in mind that the turbo fitted to the BMM engine is a bit small so it tends to run pretty hot. If you want it to last, use good quality synthetic oil and don’t slack on oil changes. Let the turbocharger cool down before turning the engine off, which you should be doing in any turbocharged car anyway.

All BMM engines have Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF). 

2.0 TDI PD – injector issues (170 PS version only)

The early 170 PS 2.0 TDI engines were fitted with faulty piezo-injectors made by Siemens. There was a recall for these parts, so hopefully, the vast majority if not all of the bad injectors were replaced by now.

If you are planning to buy a car with the 170 PS 2.0 TDI, find out if it had the fuel injectors replaced. This issue only affects the PD engine coded BMN. The later Common Rail units are fine.

Volkswagen emissions scandal (2009-2015 model years)

In 2008, PD injection technology was scrapped by Volkswagen Group in favour of Common Rail injection because of tightening emissions regulations. To meet the Euro 5 emissions limits, starting from 2009, a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is required in all diesel vehicles.

The PD technology does not work very well with a DPF because the unit injectors are pressurized by the camshaft. Thus, the injection timing is linked to the camshaft timing. Diesel Particulate Filters need to regenerate periodically, which is simply introducing fuel into the exhaust to increase the temperature in the filter (burn extra fuel to save the environment, hell yeah!).

The fuel must be injected when the exhaust valves are still open. The PD engine, with its limited injection timing control, is not well suited to do this. By contrast, a Common Rail diesel can fire the injectors at any time, regardless of the camshaft timing. Bye, bye Pumpe Düse. Hello Common Rail.

The new generation of “cleaner” TDI Common Rail engines was involved in the Volkswagen emissions scandal encompassing cars with the 2.0 TDI and 3.0 TDI engines. In order to meet the tighter emissions limits, Volkswagen Group had programmed their diesel cars to recognize an emissions test and adjust the engine parameters to pass.

This “defeat device” reduced the emissions only in laboratory conditions, while in the real world the cars would emit 40 times more nitrogen oxides than the US emissions limit allowed.

The discovery of the defeat device in 2015 started a massive investigation that caused VW Group’s stock price to plummet. In 2017, VW pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the imposed penalties. Eleven million cars were affected worldwide – model years 2009 to 2011.

This was one of the most expensive corporate scandals in recent times, so I wrote a short poem to commemorate it:

“Ode to the TDI”

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

The torque is epic,

But the smoke is too.

Summary of problems & additional information

  • The Multitronic CVT transmission was not available in the Audi A3. Therefore, if the car has an automatic transmission, it’s either the S-Tronic/DSG or the Tiptronic. Out of the two, the Tiptronic is a safer choice. It’s a robust conventional transmission with a torque converter. The downside is that it changes gears less quickly, and the fuel consumption is higher when compared to the S-Tronic/DSG.

  • No matter how quick the gear changes are, and how efficient the S-tronic (DSG) transmission is, I don’t recommend buying a second-hand car with the DSG unless you can get a warranty that will cover any potential problems. In my opinion, the DSG, especially the 7-speed dry clutch variant, is not something you want to own out of warranty.

  • The majority of Audi A3 cars will have the S-Tronic because the Tiptronic was only used with the 1.6 and 2.0 FSI engines in the Audi A3 (8P).

  • The smaller FSI engines (1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI and 1.6 FSI) may suffer from timing chain issues and carbon build-up in the long term. If you are looking for a small and economical engine, I think that a better choice would be the simple 1.6 16v engine.

  • The 1.6 16v is the least complex and the cheapest to maintain option available in the Audi A3 (8P). The FSI engines may be slightly more economical, but they are also significantly more complex and will be more expensive to service.

  • Watch out for worn out cam followers (and camshafts, and pumps) in the first generation of the FSI and TFSI engines (EA113). Other than that, they are good units and should be quite reliable. These engines were used until the 2008 facelift and in the Audi S3 (even after 2008).

  • As for the Gen. 2 EA888 (1.8 & 2.0 TFSI), I don’t recommend them at all because of very high oil consumption in some cars and potential timing chain tensioner problems. These engines were used after the 2008 facelift, except for the 1.8 TFSI, which was introduced in 2007.

  • Carbon build-up is likely going to be an issue with the FSI or TFSI engines at some point, especially if you only drive short distances. To some degree, carbon build-up affects all gasoline direct injection engines that don’t have a dual injection system. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a problem not limited to the FSI or TFSI engines. Other manufacturers faced the same issue.

  • The 3.2 VR6 engine is famous among Audi and VW enthusiasts. The unique cylinder arrangement from the VR6 engine is also used in the W16 engine that powers the Bugatti Veyron and Bugatti Chiron. The W16 is a 16-cylinder engine that has two VR8 cylinder banks – imagine two VR8 engines joined together.

  • The 3.2 VR6 is a 24-valve engine based on the older 2.8L 12-valve VR6, which had problems with cracking timing chain guides. The good news is that the chain guides have been updated and no longer crack in the 3.2 VR6. Still, servicing the timing chains requires the gearbox to be removed from the engine, which makes it a fairly expensive job. Unless you take into account the potential cost of servicing the timing chains, buying a 3.2 Audi A3 with more than 150k miles on the clock is a high-risk purchase.

  • I think that it’s best to avoid the 1.9 105 PS TDI BXE and BLS engines due to a small risk of connecting rod bearing failure. Other 1.9 TDI are good units and should be reliable, provided that they’ve been maintained correctly. Good service history is a must when buying a TDI PD engine.

  • As for the 2.0 TDI engine family, it’s a bit of a minefield as I see it. Luckily, the 2.0 TDI engines in the Audi A3 don’t have balance shaft modules, which were problematic in other Audi cars. This leaves us just with potential cylinder head problems. If you really want a car with the 2.0 TDI engine, the best choices before 2008 would be engines with a revision “C” cylinder head or the 8-valve BMM engine.

  • In 2008, the 2.0 TDI switched from Pumpe Düse injection to Common Rail. The Common Rail engines are free from the problems that affected the older 2.0 TDI PD engines. The CR engines are Euro 5 rated and can be found in the post-facelift Audi A3.

  • Follow this link for an article that might help you decide if a modern diesel engine, like the TDI, is the right choice for you. Here’s a list of recommended diesel engines available in the Audi A3 (8P):

      • 1.6 TDI (no major issues)

      • 1.9 TDI (BJB / BKC) 2003- 2009

      • 2.0 TDI PD (BMM) 2005-2008

      • 2.0 TDI CR – 2008+

  • Keep in mind that Audi is a manufacturer of high-performance luxury cars. High performance usually goes hand in hand with increased complexity. When things go wrong, you can expect the servicing costs to be above average.

  • Some engines in the Audi A4 (B7) are fitted with timing belts and some use timing chains. Remember to replace the timing belt on time. Follow this link to learn what may happen if you don’t.

 

Audi A3 (8P) specifications

This section contains Audi A3 (8P) specifications. You will also find technical information regarding the engines used in these cars. Press the buttons below to display the specs and engine technical details.

Petrol engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.2 TFSI1197 cm³ / 73.1 cu in105 PS / 77 kW175 Nm / 129 lbf⋅ft2009-2013
1.4 TFSI1390 cm³ / 84.8 cu in125 PS / 92 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft2007-2013
1.61595 cm³ / 97.3 cu in102 PS / 75 kW148 Nm / 109 lbf⋅ft2003-2010
1.6 FSI1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in115 PS / 85 kW155 Nm / 114 lbf⋅ft2003-2007
1.8 TFSI1798 cm³ / 109.7 cu in160 PS / 118 kW250 Nm / 184 lbf⋅ft2007-2013, EA888 engine
2.0 FSI1984 cm³ / 121.1 cu in150 PS / 110 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft2003-2007, EA113 engine
2.0 TFSI1984 cm³ / 121.1 cu in200 PS / 147 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ft2004-2008, EA113 engine
2.0 TFSI1984 cm³ / 121.1 cu in200 PS / 147 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ft2008-2013, EA888 engine
3.2 VR63189 cm³ / 194.6 cu in250 PS / 184 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft2003-2009, Quattro cars only
Audi S3 (2.0 TFSI)1984 cm³ / 121.1 cu in265 PS / 195 kW350 Nm / 258 lbf⋅ft2006-2012, EA113 engine, Quattro
Audi RS3 (2.5 TFSI)2480 cm³ / 151.3 cu in340 PS / 250 kW450 Nm / 332 lbf⋅ft2011-2012, Quattro

Diesel engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.6 TDI1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in90 PS / 66 kW230 Nm / 170 lbf⋅ft2009-2012, Common Rail, Euro 5
1.6 TDI1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in105 PS / 77 kW250 Nm / 184 lbf⋅ft2009-2013, Common Rail, Euro 5
1.9 TDI1896 cm³ / 115.7 cu in105 PS / 77 kW250 Nm / 184 lbf⋅ft2003-2010, unit injectors
2.0 TDI1968 cm³ / 120.1 cu in140 PS / 103 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft2003-2008. unit injectors, 16v engine
2.0 TDI1968 cm³ / 120.1 cu in140 PS / 103 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft2005-2008. unit injectors, 8-valve BMM engine
2.0 TDI1968 cm³ / 120.1 cu in140 PS / 103 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft2008-2013, Common Rail, Euro 5
2.0 TDI1968 cm³ / 120.1 cu in170 PS / 125 kW350 Nm / 258 lbf⋅ft2006-2008, unit injectors
2.0 TDI1968 cm³ / 120.1 cu in170 PS / 125 kW350 Nm / 258 lbf⋅ft2008-2012, Common Rail, Euro 5

Petrol engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingFuel deliveryDMFInlet flaps
Legend:SOHC - Single Overhead Camshaft
DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
VVT - Variable Valve Timing
EFI - Electronic Fuel Injection
FSI - "Fuel Stratified Injection"
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
VLIM - Variable Length Intake Manifold
1.2 TFSIInline-4, 8 valvesTurboTiming chain, SOHCDirect fuel injection (FSI)only with DSGNo
1.4 TFSIInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)only with DSGNo
1.6Inline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming belt, DOHCPort injection (EFI)only with DSGNo
1.6 FSIInline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming chain, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)NoYes
2.0 FSI (EA113)Inline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming belt, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)YesYes
2.0 TFSI (EA113)Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)YesYes
1.8 & 2.0 TFSI (EA888)Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)YesYes
2.5 TFSIInline-5, 20 valvesTurboTiming chains, DOHC, VVTDirect fuel injection (FSI)YesYes
3.2VR6, 24 valvesNoTiming chain, DOHC, VVTPort injection (EFI)YesNo, but has VLIM

Diesel engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingInjection systemDMFDPFSwirl flaps
Legend:SOHC - Single Overhead Camshaft
DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
PD - "Pumpe Duse"
DPF - Diesel Particulate Filter
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
1.6 TDIInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHCCommon RailYesYesYes
1.9 TDIInline-4, 8 valvesTurboTiming belt, SOHCDirect injection, unit injectors (PD)YesSome enginesNo
2.0 TDI PDInline-4, 16 valves (BMM: 8v)TurboTiming belt, DOHC (BMM: SOHC)Direct injection, unit injectors (PD)YesSome enginesYes
2.0 TDI CRInline-4, 16 valves TurboTiming belt, DOHCCommon RailYesYesYes

 

Audi A3 (8P) wheel sizes

Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Audi A3 (8P). These are the original wheel sizes that were fitted by the manufacturer.

TyresRimsCentre BoreBolt PatternComments
205/55 R166Jx16 ET50 or 6.5Jx16 ET5057.1mm5x1126Jx16 - steel rim
225/45 R176Jx17 ET48 or 7.5Jx17 ET5657.1mm5x112
225/40 R187.5Jx18 ET5457.1mm5x112
235/35 R19 front & 225/35 R19 rear8Jx19 ET5057.1mm5x112Audi RS3

 

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