How Difficult is it to Repair a Broken Audi Timing Belt?


This is a story how some bad luck killed my faith and trust in a perceived quality brand. It's about a car that quite unexpectedly broke down. The main character is an Audi A3 from 2005, properly maintained and with only 70.000 km on the clock.

On the night of Saturday August 15th it all started, after a nice night at the theatre I was driving home when suddenly at the highway the engine stopped. In the past this happened a few times before, but it would usually get going again after a few seconds. The electronics had been replaced and for year and a half it had been alright. This time however, the engine stayed dead and I came to a stop. I called road side assistance and they arrived in about 30 minutes, they arranged towing, a replacement car and we arrived home safely, just a few hours later. The road side service was excellent and sort of felt good, because except for the delay there were no real hassles.

The following monday some phone calls gave the impression that everything would be fixed in few days. Due to some insurance issues I would get an other replacement car and the sun was still shining. In the following weeks I sometimes checked on the progress, but apparently the replacement parts needed to get ordered and this took some time. On September the 17th I finally received a phone call from the workshop that the car was drivable again, but they discovered issues with the motor management system and it wasn't sure yet when I would get the car back. After the weekend and five weeks after the failure I got my Audi back.

I don't know what it was, but the car didn't sound right. At very low speeds there was some vibration, it didn't feel good. Two days after the car returned I was giving warnings on the cooling liquid temperature. I checked the cooling liquid levels and they looked fine. The car went to the workshop, but of course the warning light dimmed and the response back was: It was probably just some air in the pipes. They also concluded that the noise was a bit strange and they would check it later, for now I could drive the car The following weekend I drove quite a distance and it was really noisy, to the point you needed earplugs. The cooling liquid temperature warnings returned and warnings on issues with motor management system started too. The car went again back to the workshop and I was given another replacement car, of course older and worse than my own. To make the misery complete, also the replacement car broke down. Checking with the workshop learned that the motor management and temperature lights were fixed, but the noise was something serious, it was something deep in the engine.

I was getting more and more pissed at this stage. It was now about 7 weeks after the failure and no indication when the issue would be solved. The workshop gave me a nice replacement car, for the first time better than my own, probably because they also realized they are messing up. A week later I returned the replacement car, because I was going on 2 week vacation and didn't need the car in between. All I was hoping for was to get my own car back after my vacation.

During the vacation my Audi returned from the workshop and my companies car fleet manager took it for a test drive. Unfortunately again motor management warnings were given. He returned the car to the workshop again and after investigation they concluded that the catalytic convertor had broken down. Ordering a now one would take some time, but I could without problem drive the car. Well at this stage I was more than happy to do so, but I did warn them that in case I would stop along the road, they would for sure get in the press. After this I was given again a replacement car, instead of my own.

Tomorrow it's 11 weeks after the initial failure, there is no indication when and if ever the car gets fixed and returned to me.

I hope Audi reads this post and realized that bad service and repairs can do serious damage to their brand. Like Guy Kawasaki, Audi could give me a R8 to drive for a while, may be that would restore some of my faith in Audi again.

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