Used Audi Q3 review: 2011-2018 (Mk1) - Reliability and common problems
A first-rate reliability record and just the one recall has led to happy Q3 Mk1 owners, but there are a still a few things to look out for
Many modern cars are plagued with common problems, but the Q3 Mk1 is refreshingly free of large-scale infuriation – there are, of course, rogue examples out there with multiple annoying faults, yet they appear to be the exceptions. It’s also reassuring to learn that the Q3 Mk1 has to date been subject to just the one official recall.
Are there any common problems and things to look at?
The Audi Q3 Mk1 is remarkably reliable on the whole, but there are things to be aware of. As with all modern cars, diesel versions of the Q3 Mk1 are fitted with a diesel particulate filter, or DPF, that removes hazardous particles from the exhaust gas and stores them for disposal. The disposal method involves a high-temperature burning process, achieved when the engine is hot for a prolonged period.
Diesels driven predominantly around town and comparatively sedately don’t get hot enough for this burning, or ‘regeneration’ to take place, which ultimately leads to the DPF becoming clogged and triggering faults with the engine. Also, if the burning off process is incomplete when you turn off the engine, particles can fall into the engine oil and in time raise the oil level sufficiently that it can damage the engine.
So if you're considering a used diesel-engined Q3 Mk1, ask how and where it has been driven, and check the oil level. A warning will come up on the dashboard if the DPF is full, at which point you will need to drive the car for at least 15 minutes at more than 40mph to clean it out.
Although not commonplace, there have been issues with the Q3 Mk1’s DSG automatic gearbox, involving both its internal components and software. Cars likely to be affected have usually been fixed by now, but take an extended test drive to check that the gearchanges are super-smooth, including when you shift gears manually using the paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel. Repairs or replacement of the DSG can be financially crippling.
There are reports of a few isolated problems with manual gearboxes, too, so make sure the gear lever moves easily and swiftly between gears and that the clutch action is smooth. And while you’re checking things, ensure that the satnav works as it should – a small number of owners have had the unit fail and paid £2,000 to replace it.
What about recalls?
There has been just the one recall to date for the Q3 Mk1, issued for cars made between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2018, to fix a glitch where the brake lights went out when the electric handbrake was applied.
Not a recall as such, but in 2016 Audi provided a software update for cars fitted with TDI diesel engines, to remedy the fact that their NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions were too high. There are some reports of engines not running properly after the upgrade, and of worse fuel consumption.
What do owners think?
In our 2017 Driver Power survey of owner satisfaction, the Audi Q3 Mk1 placed 41st out of 75 for reliability, with 14% of owners who responded reporting that they’d experienced a problem with their car at least once. For overall ownership satisfaction the Q3 Mk1 came an impressive 13th out of 75.