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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Feb. 25, 2024

Older Audi A3 Overview (2006 - 2019), Reliability, Possible Maintenance Problems, Overall Pros And Cons

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Audi A3

While historically high new and used car prices have forced many buyers to look for "older" vehicles that may have aged well as a way to save money, the issues of reliability and dependability have become even more crucial.

2016 Audi A3

We all know that the Audi A3 is known for its athletic performance, luxurious features and solid build quality, but how has it fared when it comes to reliability and longevity as the years went by?

Well, for the most part, it has earned a fairly decent reputation for reliability with many owners reporting satisfaction with its long-term performance, often requiring only standard maintenance.

But the A3 is also a highly-engineered and complicated vehicle, and some owners have reported costly and/or recurring repairs as well. So, buying one today should involve careful, patient, and informed shopping.

And a lot of a specific A3's longevity can come down to the proper care, environmental conditions, and driving habits of the previous owner(s). That said, similar to other Audi models, a well-maintained A3 can last in the 200,000 mile range, and some much further, with the key being "well-maintained".

So here, ...

- We'll do an overview of two earlier Audi A3 generations, specifically the second and third, which covered the 2006 - 2019 model years.

- Then we'll list the possible mechanical issues for each generation that have been reported by some owners so they can be checked before buying one today.

- And then we'll summarize the overall pros and cons of an older A3 worth consideration for potential buyers.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" A3

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

Third Generation Audi A3 (2013 - 2019)

2013 Audi A3 Sportback

Overall, the third generation Audi A3 represented a significant step forward in terms of design, technology, performance, and overall refinement compared to the second-gen model. These improvements helped solidify the A3's position as a leading contender in the compact luxury car segment.

Platform: The third-gen A3 was built on the Volkswagen Group's MQB platform, which brought advancements in structural rigidity, safety, and versatility compared to the previous platform.

Design: Audi refined the exterior design of the third-gen A3, giving it a more modern and dynamic appearance compared to the second-gen model. The lines were cleaner, and the proportions were slightly revised, giving the car a more upscale and aerodynamic look.

Interior: The interior received significant upgrades in terms of materials quality, fit and finish, and technology integration. Audi introduced the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster in the A3, providing a customizable and high-resolution display for driver information and multimedia functions.

Technology: The third-gen A3 introduced a host of new technology features and driver assistance systems that were either not available or less advanced in the second-gen model. This included advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and parking assistance systems.

Infotainment systems were also upgraded, with larger displays, improved interface designs, and enhanced connectivity options.

Powertrains: This version offered a wider range of powertrain options, including more efficient and powerful engines, as well as alternative drivetrains such as plug-in hybrid variants.

The introduction of turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines across the lineup improved performance and fuel efficiency, while maintaining Audi's reputation for high engineering standards.

Driving Dynamics: With improvements to the chassis, suspension, and steering systems, this A3 delivered a more engaging and refined driving experience. Enhanced driving dynamics, improved NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) levels, and better overall ride comfort were key areas of improvement.

Variety: The third-gen A3 expanded its lineup to include additional body styles such as the sedan and convertible variants, providing customers with more choices to suit their preferences and needs.


Initially launched as a hatchback, the A3 lineup expanded to include sedan and convertible variants, catering to a wider range of customer preferences.

Under the hood is either a 1.2-liter TFSI, which is mated with a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, that produces 110 horsepower, or a 1.8-liter TFSI engine (for the Quattro all-wheel-drive) paired with the six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

Also, the third generation saw the introduction of the Hybrid A3 Sportback e-tron, featuring a 1.4-liter TFSI engine. An S3 model with a 2.0-liter TFSI and another RS3 Sportback were added to the lineup.

In terms of performance, although positioned as a compact luxury car focused on comfort and refinement, certain variants, such as the S3 and RS 3, deliver impressive performance capabilities.

These high-performance models feature more powerful engines, sport-tuned suspension systems, and performance-oriented features to cater to enthusiasts seeking a more dynamic driving experience.

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The interior reflects Audi's commitment to high-quality materials and craftsmanship. It features a minimalist yet sophisticated design, with a focus on driver-centric controls and advanced technology integration.

The Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, initially introduced in higher-end Audi models, became available in the A3, offering customizable display options and enhanced driver information.

This version also incorporates a wide array of technology features, including advanced driver assistance systems, connectivity options, and infotainment upgrades. Audi's MMI (Multi Media Interface) system provides intuitive control over various vehicle functions, and options such as navigation, smartphone integration, and premium audio systems can also be found on many models.

The third generation also incorporates a range of safety features and technologies to enhance occupant protection and accident avoidance. This includes advanced driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.

2006 - 2019 A3 Annual Model Changes

2013: The third-gen Audi A3 was introduced, initially available as a three-door hatchback. Engine options varied depending on the market, with a focus on efficient yet powerful turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines.

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2014: The A3 lineup expanded to include a sedan variant, offering a more traditional body style for customers who preferred a compact luxury sedan over a hatchback. This year also saw the introduction of the high-performance S3 variant, powered by a potent 2.0 TFSI engine.

2016: The Audi A3 received a mid-cycle refresh, featuring updated exterior styling elements such as revised front and rear bumpers, along with new LED headlights and taillights.

The interior received technology updates, including the availability of Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster. New engine options were introduced, including a more powerful 2.0 TFSI engine.

2017: The high-performance RS 3 variant joined the lineup, featuring a specially tuned version of the 2.5-liter inline-5 engine, delivering exceptional power and performance.

This year also saw further updates to the A3's technology features, including enhancements to the MMI infotainment system and driver assistance systems.

2019: Minor updates were made to the A3 lineup, including additional standard and available features such as advanced driver assistance systems and connectivity options. However, no significant changes were made as Audi began preparations for the introduction of the next generation model.

2013 - 2019 Audi A3 Possible Mechanical Problems

The third generation Audi A3 generally received positive reviews for its performance, build quality, and driving experience. However, like any vehicle, there were some reported mechanical issues noted by some owners, which should therefore be included in a pre-purchase inspection.

Water Pump and Coolant Leaks: Some owners have reported issues with the water pump, which can lead to coolant leaks and potential overheating problems.

Turbocharger and Engine Concerns: While turbocharged engines offer excellent performance, there have been reports of failures or issues related to turbo boost control. Additionally, some owners have experienced oil leaks or consumption, which may require attention to prevent engine damage.

Transmission Problems: The dual-clutch automatic transmission (DSG) used in some Audi A3 models has been known to experience reliability issues, including mechatronic unit failures, clutch pack wear, and hesitation or jerking during gear shifts.

Electrical Issues: As with previous generation, electrical gremlins can occur in the third-gen A3, including malfunctioning sensors, issues with the infotainment system, or faults with the vehicle's electronic control units.

Suspension Components: Certain suspension components, such as control arms, bushings, and ball joints, may wear out prematurely or develop noise over time.

Exterior Door Handle Issues: There have been reports of exterior door handle failures or malfunctions, including issues with the electronic sensor or mechanical latch mechanism.

It's important to note that not all A3s will experience these problems, and many owners never encountered any significant issues throughout their ownership periods.

Second Generation Audi A3 (2006 - 2012)

Audi A3 2.0T (2008)

Although available in Europe for a decade, the Audi A3 was finally brought to America with the 2006 model year. Although a luxury car, it was felt that it wouldn't catch on here in the states because too many car buyers equate "compact car" with "cheap".

Well, that's certainly not the case with the A3 and it certainly looks like it's here for the long term. It's versatile, good on gas and nimble on the go.

We find lots to like in this A3 Sportback version. Outfitted with the same powerful turbocharged engine as the A4, there's plenty of umph to this wagon that drives and handles like a sport sedan.

Along with its comfortable drive and athletic performance, the A3's interior and feature quality is definitely up to what we expect from an Audi. It looks and feels top-of-the-line.

In comparison to an Audi wagon that has been here in the states, it's about 400 pounds lighter and a foot shorter than the A4 Avant 2.0T Quattro. It's also looking like a "sport wagon" bargain in comparison.

It's like driving a "sport sedan" that happens to have 56 cubic feet of cargo space (the A4 Avant only has 3 feet more). And don't think that being its entry-level vehicle that this is any less an "Audi". In design, refinement and performance, the A3 is most definitely what we would expect from this automaker.

On 2006 through 2009 models, the available trims reflect their engines: the 2.0T and the 3.2 Quattro. Powering the front-wheel-drive A3 2.0T is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's good for 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque.

It can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in a very quick 7 seconds. These older Audi A3 2.0T's can be found with either its standard issue 6-speed manual transmission or Audi's optional S tronic sequential-shift automated gearbox.

The gas mileage for the 2.0T is also pretty appealing given its athleticism, with an EPA estimate of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the S tronic (2008 model year, for example).

2006 Audi A3 2.0T Wagon

Under the hood of the 3.2 Quattro (all-wheel drive) is a 3.2-liter V6 engine that produces 250 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.

Paired with the S tronic transmission and all-wheel drive, the 3.2's additional weight means performance isn't improved all that much over the 2.0T, although the all-wheel drive is certainly a plus for those who live in areas with inclement weather conditions.

The 3.2 Quattro can still make the 0 - 60 mph run in an impressive 6.8 seconds and its gas mileage comes in at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway (also 2008).

Standard features on the 2.0T include full power accessories with one-touch power windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch wheels, a 10-speaker stereo and a trip computer.

Audi A3 2.0T models can also be found with the optional S line Package which adds a sport-tuned suspension, leather upholstery, sport seats, aluminum interior trim accents, foglamps, a roof spoiler and unique front and rear fascias.

Some of these models can also be found with the Premium Package that includes the leather interior and foglamps plus a 12-way power driver seat, Homelink, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The A3 3.2 Quattro comes with nearly all of the S line and Premium Package's features as well as satellite radio. Other stand-alone options for either model that can be found include navigation, Bluetooth, bi-xenon headlamps, a dual-pane sunroof, and a cold weather package that features heated seats, heated outside mirrors, and heated windshield washer nozzles.

Audi A3 Quattro (2009)

Older Audi A3 wagon shoppers should note that the 2008 model added satellite radio and the auto-dimming mirror to the 3.2's standard features, while also adding rear manual sunshades and iPod integration to the available option list for both models.

For the 2009 model, the Audi A3 got both an interior and exterior refresh as well as additional features. Leather upholstery, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack became standard for both models.

In addition, the 3.2 got standard Bluetooth phone connectivity and bi-xenon headlights, while the Quattro all-wheel drive became an option on 2.0 T models with S tronic. The manual 2.0T also got standard hill-hold assist.

For 2010, the A3 3.2 was dropped while a diesel engine model was added. The available models were renamed Premium and Premium Plus, all models got S line features and wood interior trim accents became an available option.

2006 - 2012 Audi A3 Possible Mechanical Problems

The second generation A3 has generally received positive reviews for its performance, build quality, and driving experience. However, like any vehicle, there have been some reported mechanical issues and common problems that should be included in an inspection before buying one today.

Oil Consumption: Some owners reported excessive oil consumption, which could potentially lead to engine damage if not addressed promptly.

Timing Belt/Timing Chain: Depending on the engine variant, the A3 may have either a timing belt or timing chain. Issues related to timing belt tensioners or timing chain stretch have been reported in some cases.

Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) Transmission: Audi's DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, while offering smooth and quick shifts, has been known to experience reliability issues, including mechatronic unit failures and clutch pack wear.

Electrical Problems: Some owners have reported various electrical issues, such as malfunctioning sensors, faulty wiring, or issues with the vehicle's electronic systems. These issues can be challenging to diagnose and repair, requiring specialized knowledge and equipment.

Suspension Components: Certain suspension components, such as control arms, bushings, and ball joints, may wear out prematurely or develop noise over time.

Turbocharger Issues: Some owners have reported that turbocharged engines, while providing excellent performance, may experience failure or boost leaks over time.

Water Pump Failure: Water pump failures have been reported in some instances, leading to coolant leaks and potential engine overheating.

Overall Pros And Cons Of An Older Audi A3

2010 Audi A3 2.0T Premium Wagon

Older Audi A3 Pros

Lower Purchase Price: Older Audi A3 models generally have a lower purchase price, resulting in lower upfront costs.

Depreciation: Older cars have already experienced the majority of their depreciation, so buyers won't suffer as much value loss over time, and therefore potentially lowering the overall cost of ownership.

Proven Reliability: Despite potential mechanical issues, many older Audi A3s have proven to be reliable vehicles with proper maintenance. In addition, some models may have already addressed issues through recalls or repairs.

Luxury Features: Even older A3 models often are equipped with luxury features and amenities, such as leather upholstery, premium sound systems, and advanced infotainment systems, which can provide a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience.

Advanced Technology: The A3 features advanced technology options, including Audi's MMI infotainment system, Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, and a range of driver assistance systems for enhanced safety and convenience.

Driving Dynamics: Audi A3s are known for their engaging driving dynamics, precise handling, and well-tuned suspension systems, which can still offer an enjoyable driving experience in older models.

Premium Interior: The A3 boasts a high-quality interior with upscale materials, sophisticated design, and superior build quality.

Variety of Engine Options: Audi offers a wide range of engine choices for the A3, including efficient gasoline and diesel engines, as well as performance-oriented variants like the S3, catering to diverse customer preferences.

Available Quattro All-Wheel Drive: Quattro all-wheel drive was available on some models, providing enhanced traction and stability in various driving conditions, especially in inclement weather or on challenging road surfaces.

Older Audi A3 Cons

Potential Mechanical Issues: Older Audi A3s may be more prone to mechanical issues and reliability concerns, such as engine problems, electrical gremlins, and transmission issues, potentially offsetting some or all of the initial upfront savings.

Potential for Expensive Repairs: As with any luxury vehicle, maintenance and repairs for the A3 may be more costly compared to non-luxury alternatives, due to higher parts and labor costs and the need for specialized service.

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Outdated Technology: Older Audi A3 models may lack the latest technology features and safety systems found in newer vehicles. While some features can be retrofitted or upgraded, it may not be possible to bring an older model up to the same standard as a newer one.

Higher Fuel Consumption: Older Audi A3 models may have less fuel-efficient engines compared to newer ones, resulting in higher fuel costs over time.

Limited Rear Passenger Space: Like many compact cars, the A3's rear seats may feel cramped for taller passengers, with limited legroom and headroom compared to larger vehicles.

Firm Ride Quality: While the A3's handling is precise and composed, some drivers may find the ride quality to be firmer than desired, especially over rough roads or uneven surfaces.

Limited Cargo Space: While the hatchback and Sportback variants offer decent cargo space for their class, they may still be less practical than larger vehicles.

Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In!

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate.

It's free, it's quick and there's no contact by any third parties. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN#. They really focus in on the specific vehicle.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Audi A3 Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Audi A3 if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news and fun.

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