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Audi A3 common problems (2012-2020)

Audi A3

The first two generations of the Audi A3 certainly did a job, because they provided classy motoring for people who would perhaps normally have bought a Volkswagen Golf or a high-end Ford Focus. But A3s of this vintage are a bit dull. That changed with the Mk3 (technically known as the 8V) mode, which was luxurious and good fun.

However, while Audis are known for being high-quality machines, the A3 isn’t perfect, and is known to suffer a few common problems. These include noisy front suspension, a grinding sound from the steering and air-conditioning that is prone to the odd failure.

But while Audi garages might charge a fortune to fix your A3, you can actually avoid all that expense, by digging out a few spanners and sorting it yourself. And if you download the Haynes A3 Autofix package, we’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.

Audi A3
Audi A3

What recalls has the Audi A3 Mk3 been subject to?

The Audi A3 Mk3 has been recalled a few times, but not too often.

Some cars were recalled because the passenger airbag might not deploy as intended.

Then a faulty camshaft adjuster belt pulley forced another recall because it could fail, with significant consequences for engine longevity.

A small number of A3 models were recalled because of rear hub carriers that weren’t made to the required specification, then a number of cars were recalled for two separate issues with the rear head restraints.

And that’s it – as we said, the A3 hasn’t been recalled too often at all.

What common problems does the Audi A3 Mk3 have?

Think Audi and you automatically think high quality. And that is undeniably the case, no matter whether your A3 is a TSI or a TDI, and whether it has a manual gearbox or the automatic DSG. However, it isn’t immune from problems that crop up over a car’s extended life.

So, for example, the front suspension can start to generate a rumbling noise, with the odd squeak thrown in for good measure, both of which are disconcerting.

And no one wants to hear a squeak from the engine when it’s started, but that’s what the A3 can suffer from.

Grinding noises can also be heard in the Audi A3 on occasion, and it’s the steering that’s at fault.

Air conditioning makes everyone’s life more comfortable in summer, but a whistling noise is going to take the edge off that chilled feeling. A faulty expansion valve is the culprit.

And finally, the Audi A3 can sometimes illuminate an engine warning light, which is accompanied by poor engine performance. A dodgy oil pressure sensor is the cause.

Audi A3

Does the Audi A3 Mk3 have suspension problems?

There you are, driving along feeling happy with the unburstable feeling imparted by your Audi A3 when suddenly there’s an odd noise from up ahead. It’s a weird rumbling noise, and it’s accompanied by the odd squeak as you go over bumps. That feeling of invincibility disappears like smoke on a windy day.

The problem lies with the front bump stops, which are designed to soften the blow when your suspension compresses fully. These can be fitted incorrectly when shock absorbers are replaced.

The solution is to remove the front shock absorber and bump stop, before refitting the bump stop to the strut correctly.

Sounds complicated? It isn’t really, and the Haynes A3 Autofix can help you along the way, saving you hundreds on Audi labour costs.

Audi A3

Does the Audi A3 have timing belt problems?

Any squeak is annoying, but a squeak that starts when you fire up your Audi A3’s engine – that’s a bit more worrying. The noise tends to disappear after a few minutes, but nevertheless is indicative of a problem.

There are two possible causes – auxiliary drivebelt wear, or timing belt wear.

It’s easy to suss out which it is. First, remove the auxiliary drivebelt, then start the engine. If the squeak has disappeared, then you need to replace the belt with a new one.

If the squeak remains, then it’s the timing belt that’s at fault, so you’ll need to replace this as well. And as part of that procedure, you’ll need to replace the timing belt tensioner.

However, with your trusty Haynes A3 Autofix by your side, you’ll have no need to worry about either procedure.

Audi A3

Does the Audi A3 have steering problems?

Grinding noises are horrible, because not only are they unpleasant sounding, but they also sound expensive.

Thankfully, the grinding noise that emanates from the Audi A3’s steering, isn’t that expensive to fix.

The problem is the control unit that sits on the steering column, which needs to be replaced.

After obtaining the part, you’ll need to remove the steering wheel, then remove the control unit from the column before fitting a new one.

Then, of course, you refit the steering wheel in the right place.

It’s a straightforward task, and one that the Haynes A3 Autofix will give you great tips throughout.

Audi A3

Does the Audi A3 have air-conditioning problems?

What’s that in the sky? A large, yellow orb. It might have been there before, but not for a long time. And… isn’t it warm. Time to fire up the air-conditioning – which then proceeds to whistle at you. Not ideal.

The problem is a faulty expansion valve, which needs to be replaced.

First up, you’ll need to have the system drained by a specialist, after which replacing the valve (part number 5Q0-820-679-C)

is a simple matter. Then you’ll just need to take the car back to the specialist to have the system refilled. Easy, and you’ll save a load of cash by replacing the valve yourself.

Audi A3

Does the Audi A3 have oil pressure problems?

‘Bong’. That’s never a good noise when you’re driving along, because it signals an issue with the car. And in this case, the chime is accompanied by an engine warning light. Double trouble.

The issue isn’t too serious though. First, connect a fault-code reader to the car’s OBD port. If the codes that come up are P164B or 5580, then the there’s nothing wrong with the engine’s oil pressure – rather it’s the oil pressure sensor that’s gone on the blink. And the solution is to replace it.

So, simply disconnect the sensor’s wiring plug and check the connectors for damage or corrosion. Then unbolt and replace the sensor.

As ever, the Haynes A3 Autofix can guide you through the task, so there’s no need to worry at all.