Piston Slap: The Straw That Broke the Audi's Back?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the straw that broke the audis back

Wiley writes:


I own a 2006 Audi A3 2.0T with the DSG dual clutch gearbox. I really like the car, and my plan had been to keep it for a long time. As the original owner I’ve racked up nearly 125,000 miles. I’ve scrupulously kept up with the maintenance, and service on the car, though those 125,000 miles haven’t been exactly trouble-free.

While the car has generally been running well, there are storm clouds looming: The transmission is starting to misbehave a bit, and has slipped a couple of times in the past thousand miles. I’ve read that this could be symptomatic of issues with the mechatronic unit on the early Audi DSG transmissions, and that I should expect to pay anywhere from $3K-$5K to address this.

Given that the car is probably only worth $5K or so, should I ditch the car now before I have to do the transmission work? I’d rather not buy another car at the moment, as I don’t see any really interesting replacement for the A3 today (including the new A3).



Sajeev answers:

Unlike last week’s Hybrid Lexus battery pack issue, there’s a good case to dump an 8-year-old DSG Audi for newer metal. And while this ride is one of the most well-rounded, thoughtfully designed vehicles on the market…it’ll need copious amounts of cash infused into the ownership experience. Relative to other sub-10 grand machines, that is!

Considering your fourth sentence, you already know this is coming. So here’s the rest of your justification, son.

Your ride is fodder for someone able to dedicate hours/days to fix Audis on the cheap, either for personal use or for resale. Think of a Steve Lang type with more interest in self torture. He/she can repair or replace DSG units for less than $3-5 large. Odds are they have a VAG-COM, too.

My advice? Get something (anything) else from Japan or the USA, as their parts/labor/quality is far more cost effective for a long term owner such as yourself. Or perhaps South Korea, as Mr. Schreyer has done quite the fantastic job adding teutonic flair to practical and fun(ish) Korean iron.

Quite frankly, I see you test driving a new KIA Soul and kinda totally loving it. And it’s gonna love you back for the next 10+ years.

Or start leasing Audis for short term pleasure. That’ll work too.

[Image: Shutterstock user luchunyu]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Apr 28, 2014

    Wiley: A little word of advice. Do not take everything that you read on the internet to heart. We have some on this site that have put million of miles on their Japanese cars without a fan belt breaking. Every car after time will breakdown. The Audi A3 is good car and you did say you were happy with it. As long as you changed the fluid on a regular basis you should be OK. It is possible the transmission might have a had a update issued. You could check that out with an Audi dealer of local Audi/VW shop. All cars as they age will require repairs as the mileage adds up. I have had just about every brand of car in my lifetime and I still go back to the VW's Have owned about 12 since about 1984 and enjoyed the hell out of them. I also have a DSG transmission in my GTI and think it is better and faster then all of the manual's I drove for 60 years. I have to service my wife's GTI this summer and the transmission kit is about $135.00 with all the pieces & oil you need. Should not take me more then an hour. If you are worried ask around your area for a good local Audi/VW garage and if something happens you know who to go to.

  • Mnm4ever Mnm4ever on Apr 29, 2014

    I'd keep it if I were you, especially if it's already paid for. You are past the point where the resale value is really good on these cars, its tough to sell a 2006 Audi with 125k, so you won't get much for it... even less if they feel the transmission slip. You have missed that boat. You say you love the car, you have kept up with maintenance, etc. I assume its in good cosmetic shape. Just keep it, drive it, enjoy it. If the trans fails, why not do a manual swap? I hear it isn't too difficult and cost-wise about the same as the cost to replace a mech-unit, less than replacing an entire DSG. I have a GTI with the DSG and I haven't really had a lot of problems with it. But I worry about having some big failure on it someday, so I am going to sell it now while it still has some decent resale value. Its a 2008 with 73k, still a bit of a tough sell but its mint. If I were to keep it I was going to essentially drive it forever, and when (not if) the DSG failed I was planning to swap in a manual.

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