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Used Audi A3 review: 2012 to 2020 (Mk3) - Reliability and common problems

The Audi A3 is built on a tried-and-tested set of parts that it shares with many other cars including the VW Golf

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The Audi A3 feels very well made when you’re inside, so it should stand up to many miles of driving. There are a few common issues to be aware of, but the A3 is based on a common set of parts that is also used for the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia, SEAT Leon and more, so many problems have been spotted and sorted in recalls and improvements over the years.

How reliable is the Audi A3?

The Audi A3 came with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which could be extended to four years or 75,000 miles or to five years and 90,000 miles for extra cost by the original owner. This means there might be some left with warranty remaining, but don’t count on it when shopping for a model more than three years old.

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The good news about the Audi is that it’s got a pretty solid reputation for reliability, so even though there are longer warranties out there, it should be dependable. There’s a separate warranty in place on the A3 e-tron models to cover the battery against failure for eight years or 100,000 miles. Audi does say that a 10%-30% reduction in battery capacity during the warranty period is classed as normal degradation and will not qualify for a replacement battery.

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The Audi A3 has two different service schedules, depending on how, and how far, the car is driven. Low-mileage drivers who typically cover short journeys can choose a fixed schedule of every 12 months. Drivers who cover more than 10,000 miles a year are placed on a variable schedule, meaning service intervals could be up to two years apart. There are service plans available to spread the cost.

Diesel Audi A3s and the performance S3 have a timing belt that needs to be replaced every five years or 75,000 miles. This isn’t cheap, costing up to £900 (including water pump replacement), but it’ll cost an awful lot more if it snaps and you have to replace the whole engine.

Are there any common problems or things to look out for?

Some A3 owners have reported problems with leaking water pumps – check this by looking for puddles under the car – while the pop-up screen for the infotainment system can sometimes creak when it rises in and out of the dash. This could either need lubrication or replacement.

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Other common problems include a rattling engine (on 1.4-litre engines) and damage to the doors, especially on the three-door model as they are quite long and easy to knock into walls accidentally.

What about recalls?

The most notable recall for the A3 was in relation to the Dieselgate scandal, because some A3 engines were affected and would have needed repair work done as a result of that. Other recalls include some in 2019 for an engine belt pulley and seat head restraints, two in 2018 for the starter motor and passenger airbag, and then one in 2017 relating to the ABS and stability control systems.

What do owners think?

The Audi A3 debuted in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey in 16th place, and then came in 27th in 2015. In the 2016 survey, it fell to 47th place, but owners still rated it highly for build quality.

Later on in the car’s life, the Audi A3 range was rated average for reliability in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Of the owners who responded, 16% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once. Overall, it ranked 69th out of the top 100 cars on our list.

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