May 092013

Normally when you say goodbye to someone, or maybe something, it is normally followed with, ‘see you soon’, or ‘nice meeting you’.

I said goodbye to my Audi A3 last night after a mere 21 months.

This is the shortest period that I have owned a car in a very long time.

I had a twinge of regret when I handed over the keys to the BMW dealer. The car was a truly great car hampered by all manner of minor issues that made it reallly very hard to live with.

Let me rewind though….

I bought it used in August 2012. I paid about the going rate for the car, it was very well equipped with a huge sunroof, DSG gearbox superb leather sport seats and one of the nicest 2.0 Turbo engines I have ever encountered. It was also very, very low mileage in the two years and two months since it was registered it had covered a little over 17,000 miles and had obviously been extremely well cared for.

In the first two weeks of ownership I had a ‘TMPS System Failure’. I reported it to the Audi shop – CommonWealth Audi in Santa Ana and they said to mention it at service. The light had done out and the car felt normal and I passed happily through 18,000 miles. This was of course a mistake that would prove costly.

Very Costly.

In January, with just 21,000 miles on the clock the car told me that it needed a service. As instructed – I told the service manager about the TPMS warning. I also mentioned that when I hit the brakes that the headlights would dim noticeably. He tried to assure me that ‘this is normal’ but in my 30+ years of driving, I have only seen that type of thing when the alternator was dying on my 1972 Mini 1000.

They spent a while servicing and fixing it and things seemed OK – the engine felt a little down on power and the headlights were still dimming.

Then a couple of months later I got a Check Engine Light and an EPC light and the engine stopped.

At 70mph

On a Busy Freeway

In the Rain

I muscled the car over to the shoulder and it magically re-started and everything was normal. I drove home and called Commonwealth. They asked me to bring it in. A week of driving a loaner A4 then followed and they failed to find the issue. The replaced a loom and also a couple of other components and handed it back. Within a week the TPMS failure was back and the SPC light would flash. Back it went.

In August the rear brakes suddenly started to make a great deal of noise – one pad was toast and the rotor was badly scored. The warning light had not come on to tell me that any pads were low and I am not in the habit of eyeballing the brake pads before driving 6 miles to the office.

$500 later – that is two rotors and a set of pads – I left the dealership having handed back the keys to another A4. I got about 5 miles. During the brake repairs the had serviced the car. The CEL blinked a couple of times, then went out. I called the dealer and they said to bring it in on Monday.

That weekend was moving day, the A3 was used as a hauler all day and the CEL came and went every couple of miles. By Sunday evening the car was totally undrivable – the CEL was blinking and the car was misfiring.

I nursed it to the shop and they tossed me the keys to another A3 and they then kept it for almost two weeks. During this visit they replaced the throttle body, stepper motor and another loom.

On getting it back the headlight dimming issue was back with a vengeance.

So back to the shop it went – on the way it stalled. Three times. In five miles. The EPC light and CEL stayed on this time.

The white A4 loaner covered over a thousand miles while I waited for my A3. This takes us up to about March 2013

In May, half of the lights failed and the EPC flashed at me again.

So back it went.

Two weeks of driving a Q5 convinced me that an SUV was too big, but I did rather like the elevated seating and the cavernous trunk.

I also spent almost two weeks driving various cars and SUV’s and generally looking for a replacement. The warranty on the A3 expires on June 14th. The idea of a warrenty-less A3 seemed pretty scary.

I finally got the A3 back and on my way to test drive yet another option, the EPC light blinked at me. Then it did it again. Then once more. Then it went out and stayed out.

So I bought a BMW.


The A3 is possibly a hair faster to 60mph. It has less power (200hp vs 240) but also less weight (3200 vs 3500) and the DSG gearbox is snappier than the 8-speed box in the BMW. Yes the BMW has 8 gears. The BMW is also more economic, it is rated at 3-4MPG more than the A3.

I have four years and 50K miles of bumper-to-bumper care to look forwards to now from BMW. Lets hope that I do not get on first name terms with the entire service and reception staff……




 Posted by at 10:07 am

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