Oh no, my Audi needs a new engine

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Christopher Elliott

Elliott Shanley’s Audi A4 Avant is in the shop again, and this time it needs a new engine. Why can’t the manufacturer help him get a car that works?

Question: I have a six-year saga with Audi regarding an ongoing repair. The car is a 2009 Audi A4 Avant, and has a 2.0T engine. This engine was known to burn excessive oil, and there is now a class action lawsuit regarding the engine. At 65,000 miles, the dealer had to rebuild the engine due to this problem.

The car now has 135,000 miles. So, 70,000 miles later, and the engine started to make noises, so I brought it in. The dealer says that the engine is shot and I need a new one. The repair estimate is $10,000.

I have spoken with customer service at Audi several times, and raised the case to a manager in hopes of receiving assistance from Audi. They have repeatedly declined to offer assistance. In my last communication with them, they stated, “This car has an extensive service and warranty history. Audi has satisfactorily stood up to its warranty responsibility.”

Put differently, this car has required extensive repairs.

Since I bought it, the car has required 3 sunroofs, 3 motherboards, a transmission, axles, and so on. I have actually hired a temp service to scan and log the entire service record of the vehicle – and document the time in shop for repairs, the repairs, and the total cost of repairs.

A quick review of the service records shows that since I purchased the car in March 2009, until January of 2015, it has been out of service for over 225 days — almost 8 full months of shop time — at a cost to me of over $15,000 above and beyond what the 100,000 mile extended warranty covered.

But back to the engine. This engine was rebuilt by an Audi dealer under the Audi warranty at 65,000 miles because of a known engine deficiency. And now, 65,000 miles later, we have the same problem and Audi wants to wash their hands of me because they feel that they have already put enough money into this car via the extensive warranty work to date.

Well, I feel exactly the same way. I purchased the car new for $59,000 and financed it through Audi finance. It is my 4th Audi/VW vehicle since 1997. Is this something that you could assist with? — Elliott Shanley, Shrewsbury, NJ

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Answer: If your records are correct — and I have no reason to doubt they are — then you got yourself a real lemon. Audi’s customer service ratings are decent (it scored a 79/100) so I would have assumed the manufacturer would do what’s necessary to make a longtime customer like you happy.

I reviewed your paper trail and, unfortunately, my assumption appears to be incorrect. Fast-forward to the final email in a long thread, and you’ll find a message from Audi in which it says it “truly regrets” your “unexpected inconvenience” related to your engine. But your engine is out of warranty, and therefore not covered. Too bad.

OK, actually, Audi didn’t say “too bad,” but it didn’t have to. It was implied.

I publish executive contacts for Audi on my site, which might have yielded a better result, but given your trials and tribulations, I thought I would try to help.

In response, I received a message from someone at the corporate level that said the same thing.
“Mr. Shanley has been provided goodwill assistance on repairs performed outside of the terms of the warranty on several occasions,” she noted. “At this point in time, the cost of the repairs are the customer’s responsibility.”

That’s a disappointing ending to an agonizing case. I think you should scrap your Audi and buy a more reliable car. Your loyalty to the brand appears to have been met with form responses and platitudes. You deserve better.

This story originally appeared July 15, 2015.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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