In its 25 year reign, the Audi A3 has proven itself as the ‘go to’ executive hatch, with just the right amount of luxury combined with a great price point & its small size. This winning combination has left the used market saturated with the excellent Audi A3. Although the Audi A3 is a very reliable car on the most part, owners & prospective buyers must be aware of the occasional engine problems that Audi A3’s can face.
In the below article we will run through a few common questions surrounding these Audi A3 engine problems.
Whether you are an owner or a prospective buyer, this guide is the perfect thing to help you make the best choice with regards to A3 engines & engine care.
Is the Audi A3 a reliable car?
For the most part, the Audi A3 is widely regarded as very a reliable car. However, as with any mass-produced car which has seen the production numbers the Audi A3 has, naturally reliability issues do crop up from time to time. The earliest models are now 25 years old, and in this time the majority have clocked up considerable mileages.
Does the Audi A3 have a lot of problems?
The Audi A3 doesn’t seem to have a lot of problems when compared to similar cars from other makers.
Although as with any car, the Audi A3 does have a few problem areas to look out for, in this case, we are focussing on the known engine problems some Audi A3’s can face.
Some Audi A3 engine problems are more regular and associated with age and mileage, whilst other issues are a little more irregular and can occur prematurely when compared to similar cars.
Which Audi A3 engines have problems?
The Audi A3 has been around since 1996 and is now in its fourth generation. In this time the A3 has been manufactured with many engine types, of course as with any engine, all of these engines types have the potential to have problems. However, below we will outline the two main Audi A3 engine types that have a well-documented history of known issues.
• 1.8/2.0 TFSI Gen 1 & 2 (2007-2011) Known as, the EA888 Engine.
• 2.0 TDI (2003-2008) Also known as, the PD Engine.
It’s important to bear in mind just because an engine type has a history of reported issues, this doesn’t always mean it’s a particularly unreliable engine. For instance, a more popular engine choice could potentially have more reported issues simply due to the increased quantity in circulation.
How to fix Audi a3 engine problems?
Some Audi A3 engine problems can be avoided or prevented, below we will run through some common problems, their potential fixes & some forms of preventative maintenance.
1.8 / 2.0 TFSI (EA888) Excessive Oil consumption.
Whilst this symptom in other cars is often associated with mileage & age, in the EA888 engines, it sometimes occurs prematurely, at as little as 30,000 Miles.
Normal healthy oil consumption for this engine is understood to be approximately 500ml per 600 miles. As with any car, it is very important to check your engine oil level regularly, but on this car even more so due to the way it uses oil. It’s also highly recommended that you keep track of how much oil is being consumed & topped up to understand if its usage is within a healthy range or not.
1.8 / 2.0 TFSI (EA888) Oil consumption fix
If the oil consumption is significantly over the quoted ‘healthy’ amount, it is very likely the piston rings will need to be replaced for a revised type that resolves the issue.
If this excessive oil consumption is sustained over a long period of time this can cause further damage to other surrounding components such as the spark plugs, valve train & catalytic converter. So, it is very important to have the issue addressed as early on as possible.
Audi A3 Timing chain & chain tensioner failure
Untimely timing chain & chain tensioner failure has been known to occur within a few Audi A3 engine types but most notably on the 1.8/2.0 TFSI (EA888).
Early symptoms of a failing chain tensioner can be an audible rattle from the engine at start-up and idle, often twinned with the engine warning light illuminating. In more advanced cases the car will start to misfire & have problems starting.
Symptoms like these are not to be ignored, as loose timing can be lead to a very abrupt & costly engine failure.
Audi A3 Timing chain & chain tensioner failure solution
If a timing chain or tensioner fails it can cause a huge amount of damage to the engine. So the ‘fix’ for this is more a case of prevention.
The best way to avoid this sort of damage is to have the chain & tensioner inspected by a specialist before the recommended intervals and if necessary, have the chain tensioner, guides, and possibly chain replaced early.
Fairly costly, but not as costly as a catastrophic engine failure.
Audi A3 2.0 TDI Oil Pump drive failure
Most commonly occurring on pre-2007 2.0 TDI’s (PD Engine). Oil pump failure, or rather, failure of drive to the oil pump can result in engine failure very rapidly.
Events of this kind are generally reported at mileages around 70,000 miles.
Audi A3 2.0 TDI Oil Pump drive failure prevention
The ‘fix’ for this is also more case of prevention, it is fairly common for owners of these engines to budget for a revised oil pump drive upgrade kit especially when mileages creep up to around this point.
Audi A3 carbon build up
Carbon build up is one of the most common Audi engine problems, most of their direct injection (FSI & TFSI) engines suffer from it at some point.
Carbon build up is essentially where an accumulation of fuel & oil residue bake onto internal engine parts, most often around the valves. This results in a restricted flow of air, fuel, and exhaust in and out of the engine.
Whilst carbon build up is often associated with general use and mileage, it tends to happen a little more quickly in these engines due to the direct injection technology.
If your engine is suffering from an excessive carbon build up, your car will often feel a little sluggish and will likely be returning a worse MPG than usual. That said, the carbon builds up very gradually over time, so it may not be as obvious as you might think.
How to fix Audi A3 engine carbon build up
Whilst a carbon build up on these engines is widely regarded to be inevitable, and cleaning away the build up on these engines is now widely considered a very normal part of maintaining these engines.
Cleaning the build up away professionally can be costly as it is quite labour-intensive, it generally involves removing the entire cylinder head from the engine.
Luckily these cleaning services are in demand, so are often offered by independent specialists at very competitive rates.
There are however a few simple things you can do to reduce the speed this carbon builds up.
• Use better fuels when possible. Higher grade fuels often contain additives to help clean the engine as you drive. Higher grade fuels also tend to burn more cleanly, which naturally leaves less residue within the engine.
• Longer runs & More spirited driving. A long run on a motorway can be a great thing for an engine. It allows the engine to sit at its optimum operating temperature with constant fuel and airflow, it has been known to help reduce carbon build ups. More spirited driving can also have the same effect thanks to increased airflow and temperature.
Audi A3 engine warning light
The engine warning light in VAG group cars has become something of a running joke, it is one of the most commonly reported issues across nearly all engine types & in the Audi A3 it’s no different.
As worrying as it can be when this light comes on, the majority of the time it’s not serious, and can be triggered by a wide range of fairly insignificant factors.
If you experience an engine warning light, remain calm yet vigilant of any other symptoms that may be related.
How to find out the reason for your Audi A3 engine warning light
The Audi A3 engine warning light can be triggered for a very wide range of reasons. The only way to know definitively why it has been triggered is to use a professional code reader tool (OBDII). Although most independent Audi & VAG group specialists use the VAG COM set up (plugin cable & software on a laptop).
With a VAG COM set up, you can view any fault codes, as well as clear these codes if you believe they have been triggered in error or you have resolved the issue.
However, if you aren’t willing to diagnose why the engine light became illuminated yourself, this type of diagnostic work is a very common practice for Audi & VAG Group specialists, so it shouldn’t be particularly costly to have a professional perform the initial diagnostic investigation.
How long do Audi A3 engines last?
This is really a question of maintenance & the type of use a car has.
Engines that are not only well maintained but maintained preventatively where relevant, and are driven sympathetically, in good conditions can live very long lives indeed.
Mileages between 150,000 – 200,000 from a variety of Audi A3 engines are often seen before major engine work is necessary.
Sadly, in reality, cars like the Audi A3 are not always pampered all their lives nor are they always driven gently. When estimating an engine’s service life it is important to consider the service history of the particular car at great length, and if possible inspect any known problem areas of the specific engine, if they haven’t already been addressed.
Professionals often dig a little deeper and send an oil sample to a laboratory to be analyzed, this is a great way to estimate at what point in its life cycle the engine is without taking it apart completely.
The test results can be a great indicator of the health of a number of areas within the engine, including bearing health via metals detection, corrosion & contamination.
Which Audi A3 engine is best?
This question is of course down to personal preference in terms of which elements are most important to the buyer, eg. Performance, Economy, Price Point, or Reliability.
With that said, we personally think the 3.2 FSI engine found in the earlier (8P) generation Audi A3 is the best engine. It doesn’t seem to suffer from the irregular reliability issues that the 1.8 & 2.0 TFSI’s & 2.0TDI’s engines do, but also offers ample performance & a fabulous price point. Not to mention, that gorgeous v6 sound…
Please share this article within your social media channels if you have found it useful. We hope this article about common Audi A3 engine problems will start you on the journey of diagnosing your own engine faults. If you have had your own specific problems with your A3, then please comment below or ask for help in our forum.