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

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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piston slap the straw that broke the audi s 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.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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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.

  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.