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Troubleshooting common Audi problems

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Troubleshooting common Audi problems
Audi is a popular car brand, having delivered around 1.9 million vehicles in 2023. One of their strengths is a wide range of vehicles for different consumer groups, ranging from SUVs to sports cars. Audi is also a strong contender in the electric vehicle market, providing a foundation for future popularity as well.

As with any car brand, Audi has its fair share of common problems. While they share some engineering principles and components with Volkswagen, Audi have their own unique issues.

We’ll be covering some of these common problems. Some of them may affect all Audi vehicles, others only be a common issue for specific models.


Understanding Audi maintenance

 
Audi isn’t a brand that’s well known for being able to take a beating and continue working. RepairPal gives Audi cars a 3 out of 5 stars for reliability, putting it 28th out of 32 contenders.

Not the best! J.D. Power’s evaluation is also concerning, putting Audi near the bottom of dependability.

Various other sources tell the same story – Audi vehicles have to go through more frequent and more expensive repairs than most other brands.

So should Audi drivers sell their car? Not necessarily. Audi car quality itself is definitely above average, especially in the luxury cars segment, even if you do have to repair them more frequently. 

Putting in some preventative maintenance can go a long way in reducing repair costs as well. Many of the expensive repair costs that Audi drivers incur are caused by bringing the car into service only after issues become apparent.

Bringing in the car for a regular check up according to mileage will aid in squeezing out maximum reliability and reduce unexpected repair costs.
 
 The engine bay of an Audi R8, featuring the V10 engine


Common Audi problems and how to fix them

 
Ignition coil or spark plugs

All car brands are affected by ignition coil and spark plug failure, not just Audi. These two components create the necessary electrical surge to ignite the fuel mixture. Which creates energy to power your car.

Symptoms: 
 
  • Engine misfiring
  • Poor acceleration
  • Illuminated check engine light
  • Reduced power
  • Rough idling
 
Regular inspections and preventative maintenance can help you avoid the issue entirely. You should also follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule.

If spark plugs or ignition coils are faulty, replacing them will resolve the issue. The average vehicle will need to replace spark plugs every 30 000 to 90 000 miles (~50 000 to ~150 000 kilometers), however, it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for standard maintenance service intervals.
 
 A close-up of a person's hand holding two spark plugs in front of an out-of-focus car engine, with one spark plug appearing new and the other showing signs of wear.

Catalytic converter issues

Catalytic converters reduce emissions by using metal catalysts to create chemical reactions. Which convert a part of emissions into carbon dioxide and water vapor.

There are several ways catalytic converters could be damaged or begin to cause issues:
 
Issue Symptoms Solution
Clogging Reduced engine performance, decreased acceleration, and the feeling that the car isn’t responding properly to pressing down the gas pedal. Scheduled maintenance can prevent clogging. If already clogged, professional cleaning is required.
Overheating Check engine light, the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, overheating engine. Usually caused by an irregular air-fuel mixture – address the root cause.
Physical damage Rattling noise coming from under the vehicle. Catalytic converter replacement.
 
 
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)

EGR is intended to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and recirculate a part of exhaust gas back to the engine cylinders. Diesel engine vehicles have EGR issues more commonly, but it can also affect gasoline cars.
 
Symptoms:
 
 
If the EGR system is affected, it’s recommended to send the vehicle to a professional mechanic or Audi dealer that provides repair services. Failing to resolve the issue could cause further damage to the car.
 
You may also request software updates as these may sometimes improve EGR performance, which may reduce maintenance costs later down the road.
 
Oil leaks

Oil leaks are a common problem that affects many Audi (and other) vehicles. They should be addressed as soon as possible as major oil leaks can cause engine damage or even make the vehicle difficult to control.
 
You’ll usually be faced with one of the four common ways an oil leak happens:
 
Cause Symptoms Solution
Oil pan seals Oil leaks from the bottom of the engine, drips or pooling oil beneath the car when parked. Drain the oil, remove the oil pan, clean surfaces and replace the gasket.
Oil pan plug Oil dripping from the very bottom of the engine, usually around the plug. Replace the oil pan plug or drain plug washer.
Seal and valve cover gaskets Oil found on the engine's surface, particularly around the cylinder head and valve cover area. Replace the gaskets. Quite technical, best to send in for the needed repair to a professional.
Oil pressure sensor Oil leaks around the oil pressure sensor. Replace the oil pressure sensor. Sensitive technology, therefore best left to a professional.
 
 A puddle of oil on a garage floor, indicating a leak from the underside of a vehicle visible in the background.
 
Oxygen sensor

An oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in a vehicle’s exhaust gasses. These can be quite a common problem for Audi owners, necessitating a replacement.
 
Symptoms:
 
  • Rough idling
  • Engine misfiring
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Check engine light
 
Oxygen sensors will need to be replaced for most vehicles. Repairing one is simply not worth the effort.
 
Loose fuel cap

One of the easiest to fix issues, which is still surprisingly common, is a loose fuel cap. Most of the time no unexpected repairs are required – simply screwing it in properly will fix the issue.
 
Symptoms:
 
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Rough idling
  • Check engine light
 
While it’s a simple and quick fix, a loose fuel cap is still important to address as it affects the fuel-air mixture. In some cases, the fuel cap may be damaged, necessitating a replacement.
 
Mass air flow (MAF) sensor

Closely related to the fuel-air mixture, the mass air flow sensor measures the amount of air getting into the system. Properly maintained MAFs are important for proper fuel economy and performance.
 
Symptoms:
 
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Difficulty starting
  • Rough idling
  • Check engine light
 
MAFs are not repairable, however, cleaning them may help solve the problem. While it’s possible to do so on your own, these are critical components.
 
Bringing the vehicle to an Audi repair center is your best bet. Additionally, avoid using aftermarket parts, especially air filters. These can clog up the MAF faster.
 

Model-specific Audi issues

 
Every once in a while an Audi model is rife with specific issues that are not as apparent on other models. 
 
Water pump defects

Defective water pumps affect S4, Q5, S5, SQ5, A6, A7, Q7, and A8 Audi models made between 2013-2022. 
 
Many of these vehicles have been recalled, however, if you’re faced with a water pump defect, it’s best to bring your car for repairs. A malfunctioning water pump can cause the engine to overheat.
 
Luckily, a water pump is easy to replace, only slightly increasing the Audi maintenance costs if you were to do it on your own. Audi dealerships will usually even replace the faulty part for free.
 
Excessive oil consumption

The 3.0 T TFSI V6 engine in A6, A7, Q7, A4, and S4 models, from 2009 through 2012, were using too much oil, according to the company themselves.
 
These issues were caused by the internal pressure in the engine. Burning up too much oil greatly increased the Audi maintenance costs. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for the problem.
 
Exhaust pipes of a vehicle emitting white smoke, possibly indicating burning oil
 

Tips for Audi maintenance


If you’ve got an Audi vehicle, you can reduce the average annual repair cost by taking steps to perform proper maintenance and care.
 
Sticking to the recommended maintenance schedule is the first key to taking care of your car. According to Audi, you should be using the following intervals:
 
Interval Recommended Audi services
Every 10 000 miles (~15 000 kilometers) Minor maintenance service: engine and oil filter replacement, check and record tire repair kit, multi-point inspection, brake pad check, reset service reminder.
Every 20 000 miles (~30 000 kilometers) Standard maintenance service: chassis, engine, lighting, multi-point, tire and brake system inspection. Door hinge lubrication, headlight adjustment, underbody check, wiper blade replacement, fluid level and front and rear axle suspension check.
Every 2 years or 20 000 miles (~30 000 kilometers) Dust and pollen filter replacement.
Every 2 years Brake fluid change
Every 40 000 miles (~65 000 kilometers) Replace spark plugs
Every 6 years or 40,000 miles (~65 000 kilometers) Change S-Tronic transmission fluid
Every 60 000 miles (~100 000 kilometers) Replace air filter

Additionally, you should avoid using aftermarket parts. While there are some high quality options, genuine Audi parts will provide a better performance and peace of mind that your vehicle is functioning as it should.
 
You should also address any warning lights as soon as possible. Continuing to drive the car with some underlying issue could incur unexpected costs by damaging other internal components.
 
Finally, make use of OBD tools. These diagnostic tools can not only help you diagnose underlying issues, but also keep a maintenance record, give you access to live data readings, and even perform some minor modifications on your Audi.
 
Get Audi diagnostic tool
 
 person's hands holding a smartphone with an OBDeleven diagnostic app displaying "36 faults found" in a car, with the interior and dashboard of an Audi visible in the background.
 

Are Audis expensive to maintain?


Audi repair costs can vary heavily depending on the model. As a car brand, however, the vehicle is considered at the upper range of expensive when maintenance costs are taken into consideration.
 
Specific models such as the A8, S8, Q8, SQ8, and all RS cars may have even higher maintenance costs due to including high-end components and technologies. Which makes maintenance and repairs even more expensive.
 
If you follow the tips outlined above, however, you can reduce severe repair costs by a large margin. This brings Audi back in line with other vehicles in terms of maintenance costs.