2004 Audi A8 Reliability Problems

On 6/10/03 I took delivery of a 2004 Audi A8 (USA model).
In the 6 weeks since I purchased this car, I have had nothing but trouble and disappointment with this vehicle. I am posting this in the hope that my
experiences will be of cautionary value to potential buyers of this model.
I will not comment in this article on the actual design and operation of the vehicle, although I plan to review some of its more troubling idiosyncrasies in a future post. I shall confine my comments to the rich history of actual defects to date in my $75,000+ lemon.
1. As delivered there was a noisy rattle on the driver's side when driving over any kind of uneven pavement. Dealer made an attempt to repair and reported it cured. Unfortunately, this was untrue.
2. On 6/18/03 I parked in daylight with the headlight control set on Automatic operation.
After withdrawing key and opening driver door an alarm sounded and headlights remained on. This in daylight. 20 minutes later when I returned to the car, they were still on. I tried several times to see what issue might be (no warning or other message given). After restarting the vehicle and turning the headlamps "off" and then back on to Automatic, the problem cleared itself up.
This has reoccurred at random intervals but I have been unable to demonstrate it to anyone at the selling dealership.
3. On 7/2/03 This morning I (as usual) opened the trunk with the remote control (I keep the trunk "locked" with the key to prevent valet access etc.) and placed some items inside.
When I arrived at my destination, I was unable to re-open the trunk using the remote. The green LED on the remote did light up indicating that it was transmitting and the remote did function to open the doors, lock them etc., but repeated efforts to open the trunk gave no result.
I had to use the key to open it and remove my briefcase. I re-locked the trunk using the key.
On returning to the car, I had to open the trunk with the key to replace the item in the trunk as the trunk would still not open using the remote. I drove to the next stop and the result was unchanged. The remote would not operate the trunk release. However, after re-starting the car the second time, I drove to my dealer. When I arrived there the trunk was operating correctly. I have driven a bit further and opened the trunk several times but have been unable to duplicate this problem. I asked the dealer service department to check any trouble codes etc., but they claimed they could not locate any problems.
4. 7/8/03: While driving two warning signals activated simultaneously and remained on, one for the suspension, the other for a headlight problem. Took car to dealer. After a 3 hour wait they informed me that the issue was a defective sensor in the headlamp circuit and that there would be a 10-day delay while the required part was obtained.
The dealer DID manage to cure the rattle (see item #1 above) which was found to be a fuse-panel cover that fit poorly and was rattling. Apparently an "S" hook is attached to it which is used to operate the sunroof in case the electric motor does not function. This hook was placed in the glove box as it was in some way part of the problem. The part was ordered, again with a lengthy delay for delivery.
5. On the way home from dealer, the tire pressure warning light went on. The tire-pressure indicator was showing left (driver) side rear tire at 33 lbs (all others shown at 44). This was untrue, examination with an accurate gauge showed 44 lbs on this tire.
Later the entire tire-pressure monitoring system simply failed, giving repeated "warnings" while driving. The dealer deactivated it pending an opportunity to service it which was scheduled for 7/17/03.
6. 7/17/03: I took time off from work etc. and brought the vehicle to Prestige Imports for service on the 5 issues outstanding. They were:
(a) The headlamp level sensor failure
(b) The warning on the suspension system
(c) The failure of the tire pressure monitoring system
(d) The rattle on the driver's side
7. 7/18/03: I received a call informing me that the car was ready, all defects resolved etc. I drove to the dealer and picked up my vehicle. I drove home, maybe 10 miles. Before getting out of the car I decided to view the tire pressures one more time to determine if system was still operational. It has failed again and is now not operational.
8. 7/21/03: This morning I got in the vehicle to deliver it to back to Prestige Imports for second attempt to repair the tire-pressure monitoring system. Immediately upon startup the windshield and headlamp washer system came on, full blast, and emptied the entire (full) reservoir onto the car. I had no means of stopping it. I turned the car off and re-started the car in hopes that this would possibly re-set the system, but the washers and wipers continued to operate until the reservoir was completely depleted. The wipers remained on and could not be stopped by operating the controls. On the drive to Prestige Imports the wipers shut off briefly twice but immediately resumed operation.
So again, I am back to driving a loaner car and have a new (and this time safety-related) "concern" about the reliability and safety of this vehicle. Had this happened to me on the Interstate etc., I could have been blinded by the spray (not to mention the potential for damage to the interior if the sunroof had been open!). In the past week, this car has been in the sop for 4 full days. Since I dropped it off on 7/21/03, I have not even had a phone call from the dealer informing me of the status of my A8. My repeated emails to the "Audi Advocate" requesting a contact with senior management at Audi of America have failed to produce any result. The salesman who sold me this car does not answer calls placed from my home phone although if I call from a number he does not recognize he answers at once.I am now a pariah because I own this lemon and expect Audi to make good on it.
I will post further information on the 2004 A8 and its reliability issues as they occur.
David deForrest Miami Beach, Florida USA
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Sounds like you have a gremlin in there with a set of jumper wires. I wouldn't say that a rattling fusebox cover/sunroof crank contributes to a "lemon" designation. There's quite a lot of complex electronic systems in the car - heck, tire pressure display? Automatic headlights? - anybody who has experienced a malfunction with their office/home computer knows how frustrating it can be to trace down a fault in the system - it's common to fix the symptoms (electrical glitches) and not the root problem (faulty voltage regulator on the alternator causing voltage spikes?). Just replacing the control units (the dealer is not going to open those "black boxes") would be a waste of money (admittedly, the dealer's) and time (with the number of control units in your car - automatic headlights? - I doubt that a dealer would carry spares of all of them, unless they're contained in another '04 A8 on the lot - Germany is a long way from Miami Beach.) Maybe, if all of these glitches are not resolved during this visit, you should change service facilities - get Audi to recommend to whom you should take the car other than the present facility. Maybe you should discuss with the dealer or AoA about a switch to another '04 A8. Wait and see what the result of this servicing is and what AoA responds - I'm sure they will. All that said, your car went in on the 21st, you make "repeated e-mails" to AoA by the time you post to the Usenet on the 22nd, you have made enough calls to the salesman direct that you have determined that he can differentiate your number from all the others he has to deal with? Maybe it's not surprising that you consider a rattle as a "reliability issue" (re-read your posting - rattle "cured" on 7/8/03, on 7/17/03 you take the car to the dealership for "5 issues outstanding" - I count a list of 4, one of which is the "cured" rattle - don't they have to just drop in a fairly non-essential part that was on order?). "Rich history of actual defects"??? - maybe you should talk to the A4 owners who have had to deal with coilpack failures, suspension problems and "premature" (according to the Audi owner's manual in the US) timing belt failures (and ensuing engine destruction) about what, exactly, is "rich". My 2c (Canadian = 0.0000001c US) Steve Sears (wrapped in the warm comfort of low-tech devices, such as:) 1987 Audi 5kTQ (manual headlight control - if ya call 'em headLIGHTs) 1980 Audi 5k (manual climate control, but, occasionally, power windows!!!) 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes (7 moving engine parts....ooh, sweet Luddite bliss...) (SPAM Blocker NOTE: Remove SHOES to reply)

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David deForrest wrote:
[content snipped]

Not to try to excuse the problems you've found, because there really isn't any excuse for that sort of thing, but major bugs of this sort aren't uncommon for ANY car from ANY maker for the first model year and especially on the first units out the door. Regardless of how much effort expended to iron out these bugs before release, it's inevitable that some (sometimes many) surface when the first cars get to the consumer. It's simply not possible to catch EVERYTHING before release. I seriously doubt I'd ever consider purchasing a first-model-year car from any carmaker. Probably even Honda.
-Dirt-
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Have you explored your state's lemon law statutes?
DFE
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------

my
the
idiosyncrasies
actual
was
etc.,
the
not
Took
found
"S"
The
view
I
in
wipers
wipers
drive
vehicle.
by
for
phone
emails
this
from
because
as
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David, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hope problems get solved finally.
-- Best regards. G. Tarantino Bevaix (NE) Switzerland 1997 BMW 535i 198,000 km (123,000 miles) 1997 Audi A4 2.8 Q 207,000 km (128,000 miles)
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Some of the bizarre design flaws in this car that is being touted as: "a car so intelligent, so adaptive to your needs it will conform to your own unique way of driving. It's a car that feels as if it were created for one individual."
Odd features such as:
1. No "pause" function for CDs (try reading an audio book this way). You can "stop" the play by shutting down the MMI interface, but this will also turn off many other functions, such as navigation and mapping etc. So if you are driving and want to stop a CD in place while taking a phone call you have to turn the whole MMI system off or (if you prefer) switch to radio first, then use the mute switch. This is absurd.
2. There are 5 complicated (and needless) settings for configuring which interior lights are on and at what intensity when driving, but no way to control the too-bright dome lights on the door-open circuit.
3. The parking-radar system that beeps at you in both directions at once without regard to gear selection (so if you are parallel parking space you get both signals beeping at you at the same time.)
4. The rear-window mounted rear brake light that casts so much glare on the rear windshield that one is unable to see clearly when backing at night.
5. Inability to sufficiently adjust the volume of the audio output on the navigation system in relation to audio program level (it is adjustable, but not over a wide enough range).
6. Climate control settings are supposed to be "memorized" and tracked to the user's key. However, the passenger seat ventilation will shut off if no passenger is in seat for 20 minutes or so (why?). If it shuts off, the "off" position is remembered, so the next time you use the car, with a passenger even, the ventilation on that side is "off."
7. Location of the CD changer in the glove box means it is impossible to change/load CDs while driving. A nuisance on a long drive.
I am working out a complete list. When I mentioned items #1, 3 and 6 to the "Audi Advocate" he was unaware that these were the "normal" operating parameters for the vehicle as they are illogical not only to me, but apparently to my Audi representative. This for a car that is adaptive to your needs???

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[Snip]
I haven't driven the A8, but a coupe of comments from experience of my Audis (currently an RS6 and A2).

Doesn't the CD player pause when the phone mute kicks in? It did on my A6 (haven't got the car kit fitted in the RS yet, but I expect it will behave the same).

I find it useful that the front sensors in my RS6 are active whilst I reverse - the area of coverage wraps round to the side so I get warning as the front end of the car swings round.
[Snip]

Umm - I'd rather you weren't changing CDs in the changer whilst driving. Wouldn't it be safer to pull up for a couple of minutes to do this? With the changer mounted in the boot I've never been tempted to try changing discs whilst on the move. However, having installed a PhatBox in my RS, I can now have 300 hours of audio on line!
--
Peter Bell - snipped-for-privacy@bellfamily.org.uk

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You should check into your state's lemon laws -- even if you don't plan to exercise your rights, merely mentioning it might get you something. I just found out about a friend who leased a new Jaguar X Type that has had major problems with the AC, she's had it in 4 or 5 times and it is one of those intermittent problems that's hard to pin down. She told them she'd be invoking her state's lemon law and they begged her for one more chance, gave her a brand new X Type as a loaner, kept it over the weekend to try to exercise the intermittent problem and had her car fully detailed when she picked it up. They also refunded her TWO lease payments. As for whether the problem is fixed, she's only had it back a couple days so the jury is still out, but forgiving two payments at least takes some of the sting out of it.
--
Douglas Siebert snipped-for-privacy@excisethis.khamsin.net

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.
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was
etc.,
the
not
Are you shure that the trunk lock is defecive?
On my A6 the key can be turned both clock- and anticlockwise, in one of the positions the remote control can unlock the trunk, in the other I need to use the key.
Greetings Aksel
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This will hopefully be my last posting on this topic, but I am astonished and gratified to have this last occasion to write.
Today, without any prior word from either my Audi dealer or from Audi of America, I received a fair and generous written buyback offer for my 2004 Audi A8L. As far as I am concerned, I am grateful for this consideration and will, of course, take advantage of the offer.
As anyone following this correspondence knows, I had become pretty desperate for help with my vehicle and my situation. At times, I felt abused by Audi of America, the local field representative and everyone else that got in my path connected in any way with this product. Now that I am set free from this particular and apparently unusually trouble-prone specimen of what I believe is a fine automobile, I want to write to express my gratitude to the folks at Prestige Imports in North Miami, Florida. In marketing they say the key is to exceed customer's expectations. As far as I am concerned, these folks do so on a daily basis.
At all times throughout this process and in my every encounter with the personnel at Prestige Imports I have been treated with exceptional patience, courtesy, consideration and kindness. I am sure that all of the dealer personnel were as concerned about my situation as I could possibly ask. It must be frustrating to have a voluble and dissatisfied customer hanging around a salesroom during a product launch. All I can say is that I feel that everyone I met and spoke to on their staff, various service writers, salespeople, clerical folks, warranty administrators and even the dealership President, were unfailingly helpful and kind to me.
I would especially like to thank the following Prestige Imports personnel for their unceasing courtesy and patience:
Sabrina Burrow, service consultant. She has been unfailingly pleasant, generous with her time and has gone beyond the "norm" in trying to coordinate and expedite repairs to my car and to keep me informed, even in the face of my increasingly aggrieved and impatient demeanor.
Robbie Feiffer: General Sales Manager. As with Ms. Burrow, an exceptional individual. It is rare for the average car buyer to even meet the GSM. Mr. Feiffer runs a hands-on shop, is always around and available to customers and has always treated me with exceptional courtesy and candor.
Lisa Chmela: Business Office (Finance): Lisa effectively sold me this car in the first place, having so ably assisted me with my previous Audi purchase. As with Mr. Feiffer, Ms. Chmela is always available to discuss maters with customers despite the burdens of her very busy job. She is a fine asset to a fine organization. Her ability to remember the precise state of dozens of transactions in the air at one time and get them processed is remarkable. She certainly always knew, to the penny, the calculations relating to mine. Beyond this, she is savvy, knowledgeable and humane.
Yuri Schvartsman: Salesman. A very nice man. I will surely make another purchase from Mr. Schvartsman.
Joel: (shop foreman and A8 specialist mechanic): Another treasure, an articulate, pleasant and dedicated technician. Actually took phone calls from me on several occasions when "issues" we were trying to resolve would crop up while driving. Again, I mean that this man has gone far beyond what I expect from shop personnel in a new car dealership.
Prestige Imports as a whole: I have written to this effect in the past and reaffirm my comments regarding this dealership. They are a pleasure to do business with and bring a level of civility, courtesy and fair-dealing beyond what I have come to expect. As one can see from the comments about the individuals named above, what differentiates this company is the level of personal contact between the customer and senior personnel with actual authority. They provide a "small town" experience in a big-town marketplace. I would buy from them again without hesitation.
I am giving serous thought to purchasing a replacement A8 L. I am obviously concerned that having escaped from an unfortunate situation I do not thrust myself back into the same place again. I am not sure how I will work this out at present. Any input from other owners about their 2004 A8 Ls would be gratefully appreciated. I have no idea if my car was a rare aberration or if it was typical. I obviously liked it well enough to make the purchase. A quick trip around the local "luxury car" dealers has not shown me anything in this vehicle class that is nearly as comfortable, spacious and sure-footed.
I am assured by the folks at Prestige Imports that I would be welcome as a return customer. I trust that Audi of America will also welcome me back if I decide to buy from them again. Finally, I want to thank everyone who wrote me and shared their experiences with me in this forum. I learned a lot from all of you and will do my best to retain the good and obliterate the bad.
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wrote:

[snipped]
If you would buy a BMW 7 series, everything will have turned out perfectly...
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On Sat, 02 Aug 2003 22:51:44 +0000, daytripper wrote:

I can't speak to any reliability issues, but the 760 sounds sweet. Although so does the A8...
-Aaron
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daytripper wrote:

astonished
perfectly...
You must surely be joking.
I've had nothing but problems with mine.
And the attitude of BMW dealers is much worse than that of Audi dealers (I've had several of both). They treat you as if they were doing you a favor by letting you drive their precious vehicles.
dk
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I would be curious to know the details of your buyback offer from Audi. My 2004 A8L, purchased new nine months ago, has been sitting at Bernardi Audi, Natick, MA for the last three weeks with no end in sight. They simply cannot figure out how to repair this vehicle. I really am nervous about ever driving this car again as the last failure caused a near miss head on collision.
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What was wrong with your car?
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Intermittent behavior of wipers, suspension & MMI. The wipers sometimes hesitate momentarily while operating, the suspension adjusts by itself in my garage long after it has been parked & I once opened the passanger door while car was parked unlocked with no key in my garage and the MMI system turned itself on. No big deal at first and dealer informed me that the car was behaving normally, computer diagnostics fine, etc at the 5K and 10K service. On December 11th the wipers failed completely while driving in the rain & I experienced a near miss head on with another car. The car has been at the dealer ever since with no end in sight (3+ weeks now). They have replaced the wiper motor and three different computer modules, but the wipers still do not operate properly. Also, the auto trunk closure does not work properly, the sunroof does not alway close in response to the controls, the recently installed satellite radio occasionally mutes itself and the MMI system sometimes reboots itself.
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"the recently installed satellite radio"
Danger, Robinson, danger.
Emphasis on recently.
--
_________________________________
http://austinmini.ositech.net
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If the dealer would use a bit of common sense rather than relying on the computer for ALL they knowledge they might begin to suspect corroded or intermittent grounds causing most of these problems.
At least thats where I would be looking.
Tony
Streetrunner wrote:

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