2006 AC Check engine light (help with dealer)

I have a 2000 A6 (4.2) with almost 90k miles (I purchased certified pre-owned at around 70k). For the entire time I've had the car there's been a problem with the check engine light coming on. I've had it in
the shop three times and I know the previous owner took it in two or three times. They'll do some work designed to fix it, but the light always comes back on (once, it came back on as I drove out of the dealer's parking lot...).
I'm now in a fix because a) I need to re-register the car and with the check engine light on I believe it will automatically fail the emissions test; and b) the warranty ran out (2 weeks ago - ugh) and so further speculative repairs are on my dime. So basically I have to get it fixed or the car is worthless, but I fear the fixes will be a money pit.
Do I have any case that Audi should cover the repair costs even post-warranty, given how many times it's been in the shop to fix the same problem? Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
Andrew
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Sorry about the typo in the subject line; I meant to write A6, not AC. It's just the basic check engine light coming on, nothing to do with the AC.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Frankly, I think you're stuck. How did you not find out about this on-going problem until AFTER you bought the car? That'd've been a deal-breaker for me.
But now that you've kept it for 20k miles, I think your *legal* remedies are few. I know of some shady tricks you could use to pass inspection, but that's no substitute for actually fixing what's wrong with the car to begin with.
E.P.
P.S. No, I won't share the shady tricks.
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I don't know this for a fact, but it's my understanding that if a problem appears while the car is under warranty Audi is obliged to fix it - no matter how long it takes. If the dealer disagrees take it to Audi. If Audi tries to weasel out of it contact your state's AG. What does a warranty mean if the dealer can just keep "trying" to fix a problem (i.e. going through the motions) until the warranty expires?
Bob

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It's probably still under warranty because it was never fixed. If the previous owner had the same problem repaired under the factory warranty then it's definitely covered.
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I talked to my dealer about this yesterday. Their claim is that since a number of things can cause the check engine light to come on, it's a new problem rather than an ongoing problem that was never fixed. That's a bit hard to believe, but I wasn't in the mood to fight it and paid the $300 bill. I'm only hoping the fix will stay fixed for a while so I can trade it in. I don't mind minor problems when it's under warranty, but out of warranty things get really expensive.
Example: A small plastic gear was missing from the top of the headlight mechanism, which is used to 'steer' the light. As a result, it was mis-pointed and wouldn't pass inspection. So you'd replace the 5-cent gear, right? Nope. Audi says you have to replace the entire headlight structure at a cost of $1300. Between this problem and the check engine light, I'm pretty much done. A great car but the poor reliabiliity and cost of repairs make things a real problem.
Thanks for the help; much appreciated.
Andrew
Kevin McMurtrie wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

What reliability? The car went back and forth OK, right?
I can see the CEL as a hassle, and I wouldn't like it either. But there's some problem that needs fixing there, no doubt.
If you think the cost of repairs are high for Audi, then you have no idea what car repair costs these days.
Oh, and you can get that headlamp assembly used for MUCH MUCH less than that. And they are incredibly easy to DIY install.
E.P.
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wrote:

This response is meant to be a joke, right?
On the CEL problem, check the service records for each visit to see if they list a specific numerical code that they read (and the computer logged) that caused the CEL. If the same code recurs each time, then you have a good argument that they original problem was never fixed. I've had them try this trick with me on a clutch problem a few years ago-- I had a problem right before warranty expiration that recurred right after. First they replaced the cylinder at no charge. The second time it was "You need anew clutch, $1000." I said ("No thanks, put the car back together, I will come and pick it up." 15 minutes later they called and said "Oh, its the clutch slave cylinder, we'll cover that under warranty."
One way to prevent this is to tell them not to do any work (other than diagnosis) and then get their story before you authorize the repair (and possibly a big bill).
And if the dealer is non-responsive, take your complaint to Audi corporate--there will be a procedure in your owner's manual. You may get satisfaction from Audi of America (or Audi of whichever country you are in). I got a heater core replaced no charge on a VW after 10 years by this procedure (previous year's model had a recall for my failure). It was a $1500 repair they covered (as they should, given VW's 20 years of ongoing heater core failures).
Also, did you pay with a credit card? You could also dispute the charge with your card issuer, and take a run at the dealer that way too.
On the headlamp assembly, a DIY install is probably beyond many Audi owners, esp. when most require that you drop the bumper to get at the headlamp assembly.
The OP is right, Audis (and VWs) have some great attributes, but their reliability is not up to even the worst US models and far behind the Japanese. And the dealer service network is spotty-- sometimes good, most times poor. I'm on my fourth VW/Audi, and would not recommend one to someone who is not capable of complex service and repair on their own, and even with my tools and capabilities I always have a good independent mechanic I can fall back on when the work is beyond my capability.
And I would never rely upon a VW/Audi as my only source of automotive transportation. I also own a Ford Escape, which has had only two minor component failures (one out of warranty) in almost 90,000 miles of driving.
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Keep on Plonkin' wrote:

No.
Yes, but the OP didn't mention anything about this. If it's throwing the same code over and over, then there's a problem that needs to be fixed. (I think I said that.)
But whether or not the deal has to honor the warranty - they can say no. And so can Audi NA. That's why when you buy a used car, you have to be extraordinarily careful.
A lawyer might ultimately be required for this problem.

And this isn't only for Audi. Works for all makes.

Seems unlikely. Audi NA ain't that hot.

Says who? *Most* do *not* require dropping the bumper. I can do my 1995 S6 headlights in about 15 minutes with a #2 Phillips screwdriver. No other tools required, and certainly no bumper drop!
Unless you have the Bentley open in front of you, you have no idea.

Now you're just entering into fantasy. How is it, do you think, that I've owned a million miles worth of Audis, and not had the reliability hassles I had with the American and Japanese cars I owned? I have 500k miles of Audis currently in the stable, and they all run great, and keep on going, even after some pretty severe use.

Here's where we agree 100%.

Either I have had very good luck, or you are exaggerating.

I consider a 90k Audi barely broken in. I have two well over 200k, and they are both daily drivers. Audis are all we have, and we have been stranded ONCE. Fuel pump went out at 200k miles. I got no problem with a 200k fuel pump. And I have heard stories about fuel pump issues in Ford/GM cars that require the gas tank to be removed to replace a $500 pump. Not even the Bosch 044 Motorsport pump is that expensive. (Used on 400+HP modded turbo I5 Audis.)
My American cars used to crap out on a regular basis, and the one Accord that I had was such a junker I didn't trust it to roll down the driveway under gravity power.
E.P.
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wrote:

Ed, I'm very happy to see this: I'm running a 98.5 A4Q 2.8 machine with 104k miles, and it feels really good still. I plan to replace all the struts next year when I replace the tires (I'm seeing some tire slap), and I see no reason not to keep driving this baby. I'm still on the original clutch! So, thanks: I plan to break 200K miles with this car, if I can.
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Here are my views/ramblings on Vehicles and I deal with Audis and VWs. Follow your maintenance schedules for crucial items, Timing belts, oil changes, periodic inspections and usually the vehicles are very reliable. Allocate about $80-100 per month for maintenance, and if you don't spend that much then collect interest in the bank. Some years will be cheap and others won't be. ;-) You vehicle will usually give you signs of things going wrong BEFORE they totally give out. Fuel pumps might buzz a little louder, wheel bearing might begin to hum a little. Just be a little paranoid but find some independant mechanic familar with Audis that can listen to your concerns without charging you $100 per event. USE your senses including your COMMON SENSE....How does the vehicle drive? Do you hear/feel/smell anything abnormal? BE EDUCATED and buy a repair manual and read it. Think about purchasing a scanner tool like ross-tech.com (vag-com) and use it to check out any Check Engine Light problems. It can help you locate problems with the vehicle. Hey 1-2 trips to the dealer and you are out at least $200+ anyway to have them read codes. I guess I am too cheap to give them my money blindly which is why I started working on my own vehicles. ;-)
My family has owned Audis since about 1975 with the first fuel injected Audi Fox. Then we continued in the Audi family with 1973 Fox, 1978 Audi Fox, 1980 Audi 4000, 1985 Audi 5000S, 1983 Audi 4000S (my current vehicle since 1991 with 85K miles). There are probably a few that I missed too. ;-) The 1985 Audi 5000s was purchase slightly used and with a 7 year warranty. That warranty help reduce costs of replacing the power window regulators, auto trans reseal, and misc. repairs through the Audi dealer. Overall it had been a good vehicle and was just traded in back in 2005. It only needed the headliner replaced but everything else was functioning well. My 1983 Audi 4000S has over 231K miles on it and has been reliable and enjoyable to drive for these 15 years and will be in my fleet until I find an Audi with the 1.8t engine cheaply preferably a Quattro. Either another Audi will replace it or someone will have to pry it out of my dead fingers! Or offer enough $$$! <g> I do prefer the older simpler Audis but if the price is right I will update my Audi since rust is starting to rear it's ugly head with my '83. :-(
I work mostly on VWs and some more current Audis and they seem to be very solid vehicles. One 1996 Audi A4 or A6 with the 2.8 engine is absolutely fantastic, quiet and reliable but now the steering rack is starting to leak. Not too bad for a 10 year old vehicle that still looks and runs like new. I have personally seen domestic vehicles that were only months old that had reliability issues. They either would not start or the transmissions would not work. Owners had to sue the manufacturer to get any sort of resolution. Not sure why the Lemon Law did not work for them.
I generally 'think' or 'hope' that the Audi techs should be good. If you take it to a dealership you might be able to request a certain tech to repair your vehicle. At least that is my belief, but I have had to correct some errors that the dealer has created, like damaged seal housing and incorrect timing belt installations. Of course the dealer claimed they don't make mistakes and of course the owners don't wish to go back to the dealer to have these problems corrected. Here is a website that rates some dealers.... http://1.8t.org/dealers /
Bottom Line............ I believe that owners should "tune-in" to their vehicles and know when things feel different. Perform regular maintenance! OH and DRIVE THEM! ;-)
Again JMHO! later, dave (One out of many daves)

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<snippage>
The more recent models seem to have far more problems. Timing belts/tensioners that explode at 60K miles (105K recommended replacement...hmmm. right after warranty expiration) that results is bent valves and damaged pistons (class action lawsuit). Poor engine designs that reduce the oil capacity on a turbocharged motor to just over 3.5 quarts, resulting in oil "coking" that clogs oil pump inlets, causing oil starvation failures. Bad coil packs (recall). The A6 model had nine listed NHTSA recalls for the 1998 model alone, some of them almost comical:
1998-99 A6: When driving car registered in specified cold-weather state, in extremely low ambient temperatures with 2.8-liter five-valve V6 engine and automatic transmission, ice accumulation may cause throttle to freeze in open position; engine may fail to reduce speed when foot is raised from the gas pedal.
I think a high-mileage Audi these days is a bit like a piece of antique furniture. Yes, it is a shining example of reliability and craftsmanship (or maybe just driven by a competent mechanic with a lot of time on his hands), but for each one you see there are probably thousands that didn't make it that far and have long since fallen victim to the scrapyard.
But if you're a fan of used cars, the good news is that they depreciate to the point you can pick up a 2 year old model with reasonable mileage for about half the cost of new. Just keep your toolkit handy. . .
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True I also think the VWs started losing t-belts with the 16V engines and lowered their intervals IIRC. I have seen those timing belts fail at 45K miles. I always suggest changing them at 40K to be sure. I could always tell when the diesel belts were about to go but not the 16V belts. ;-) I see Audi now has reduced the change interval. ;-)

Audi seems to blame it on the oil in the USA. Yes it is STUPID to reduce the amount of oil in an engine esp. when this type of engine NEEDS a good cool supply. How many gallons does a Porsche 911 engine need...3 or 4? Also I am not fond of the oil pan setup/construction. I have changed 2 in one week after a pot hole hit took one out and a tow truck took out the other one. Both non-steel and both cracked. :-(

Hmmm I will watch out for this one. thanks

AND that is my hope!!! <BG> I want one that lost it's 1.8t engine due to the oil coking/choking problem.
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KLS wrote:

All you need to do is maintain it, and fix stuff PROMPTLY when/if it breaks. Like, when that power steering hose is leaking, you can get the hose fixed/replaced a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing the pump and the rack and all that when all the fluid leaks onto the ground. Yeah, common sense, I know...
You've got some symptoms right now of unusual wear on tires - figure out what's causing it, and get it fixed. Cheaper than eating tires every 10k, right?
Putting off maintenance is an idiotic idea with these cars, and is probably what causes the most problems. Using sub-spec oil in a turbo car and wondering why the turbo craps out after 50k, letting the car run rich for months on end (after a cheap OXS goes bad) and then bitching because replacement cats are $1000. Well, duh. If you'd have replaced that cheap OXS when the CEL went on, you'd be $950 ahead!
Blaming that on the car manufacturer is stoopid.
I'm no pro mechanic, and I don't have a bunch of time on my hands (two young kids and a hectic schedule), and yet I seem to be able to keep 500k-miles worth of Audis on the road just fine. I wonder how that could be possible if they are such junk?
Maybe the naysayers are engaging in a little bit of imagination, hmmm?
Drive your A4 until it drops. Keep on top of the stuff that needs to be done, and it'll go well past 200k. As a point of reference - my wife's main car, a 1994 100 Avant, is the kid and junk hauler, and also takes all the trips across the state (350 miles each way). Its daily routine is start in the morning, 2 miles to a stop, turn off for 15 minutes, start up and drive one mile to a stop, turn off for eight hours. Start up, drive one mile, turn off for 15 minutes, start up and drive two miles, turn off, leave overnight in the garage.
Tell me, ANYONE, that this is not the most severe duty one can subject a car to. This is the worst way to treat any car, and it holds up to that just fine. Sure, the oil gets changed every 3k with synthetic, but damn - it's still very hard on the car.
210k on the clock, and we plan on keeping it until is blows up.
E.P.
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Take the gear off the other headlight and have a machinist or clocksmith replicate it.
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