Audi Q3

Audi Q3 Ultimate Guide

Chandler Stark

Meet Trey

Trey is an automotive enthusiast and has a huge passion for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles of all kinds. His enthusiasm started with the MK5 GTI, and he has massively expanded his knowledge over the years. When Trey is not delivering high-quality and in-depth content, we can usually find him working in his garage on his modified Genesis coupe. Trey created VW Tuning several years ago, and he is the primary visionary behind the content.

The Audi Q3 was first introduced in 2011 and is still in production today. The Audi Q3 is classified as a subcompact luxury crossover SUV. So far, there have been two generations for the Q3: 8U and F3. The 8U Q3 (2011-2017) was built on the Volkswagen Group’s PQ35 platform, while the F3 Q3 (2018-Present) is built on the MQB platform. If you are looking for more performance or a more aggressive-looking Q3, there is an RS Q3 offered. However, these are very difficult to find in the US, but not so hard overseas.

Over the past decade, the Audi Q3 has had many different engines: 1.4 TFSI, 2.0 TFSI, 2.5 TFSI, and 2.0 TDI. As of 2023, the Audi Q3 uses a 2.0 TFSI (45 TFSI) that puts down 228hp and 251lb-ft of torque. It gets 21mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 24 on a 15.9gal fuel tank.

Audi Q3 Specs

In this section, we will be going over the interior and exterior specs for the 2022 model year Q3.

Audi Q3 Dimensions

Audi Q3 Pricing

In this portion, we’ll be covering new and used prices for the Audi Q3. For new prices, a 2023 Q3 Premium starts at $38,700, and a Premium Plus Q3 starts at $42,000. There are only 2 Audi trims available for the Q3. Now on the used side, depending on what year and mileage, an Audi Q3 can range anywhere from $12,750 – $49,998. These are one of the most affordable Audi SUV’s to date.

The 6 Most Common Audi Q3 Engine Problems

  1. Ignition coil or spark plug failure
  2. Timing chain tensioner failure
  3. Premature water pump or thermostat failure
  4. Start/stop system failure
  5. Carbon buildup
  6. Sunroof leaks

1. Ignition Coil or Spark Plug Failure

Premature ignition coil and spark plug failure are common on many modern engines nowadays. Ignition coils transform a car battery’s low voltage into high voltage needed by the spark plugs. Once the spark plugs receive this higher voltage, they create a spark in the combustion chamber initiating the combustion process. Ignition coils and spark plugs are very important ignition components. For reference, there is one ignition coil and one spark plug per cylinder. Therefore, the 2.0 TFSI engines have 4 ignition coils and 4 spark plugs since there are 4 cylinders.

There are a couple of reasons these ignition components can go bad: normal wear and tear or pushing the engine past its optimal engine conditions. Since modding a Q3 isn’t very likely, there are a few modded Q3s out there, for the most part, these ignition components will fail due to normal wear and tear. The spark plug maintenance interval for the 2.0T Q3 engine is 60,000 miles or every 6 years, whichever comes first.

Symptoms of Ignition Coil or Spark Plug Failure:

  • Check Engine Light (CEL) or Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) illuminating
  • Cylinder misfires with P0300 – P0305 fault codes present
  • Poor idle
  • Poor engine performance
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Engine not starting or taking a while to start

Ignition Coil/Spark Plug Replacement Options:

When a spark plug or ignition coil goes bad, we advise replacing all of them at once. This will ensure that there won’t be any engine cylinder misfires due to poor spark plugs or coils. If you happen to know your way around an engine and can replace these components yourself, you’d be able to save at least 50% of the cost it would be to take it to a shop.

DIY Difficulty: Easy

2. Timing Chain Tensioner Failure

This is a problem that affected early 8U Q3’s, mainly 2011-2012, using the EA888 engine and gave this engine a bad reputation. A timing chain links the crankshaft and camshaft which keeps the valves in sync with the pistons. The timing chain tensioner, or tensioners depending on the kind of engine, maintains optimal tension for the timing chain. Volkswagen claims the timing chain is a lifetime component, which is true. However, tensioners are not lifetime components. Therefore, if a tensioner happens to fail, the timing chain can come loose or stretch, causing major engine damage.

More and more customers started to complain about engine failure, which lead to many lawsuits against the Volkswagen Group. They settled with the following terms: extended warranties for 9 vehicles and reimbursed customer repairs for timing chain or tensioner failure. They have revised the EA888 and incorporated stronger tensioners that last longer. So if you happen to have a newer Q3, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Symptoms of Timing Chain Tensioner Failure:

  • Engine dies
  • Engine won’t crank, turn over, or start
  • Rattling sound from the passenger side of the engine (only warning sign)

Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement Options:

If your engine happens to die because of timing chain failure, hopefully, you have a warranty that covers it because the repairs can be costly. We advise checking the tensioners and timing chain every 60,000 miles, while changing the tensioners every 100,000 miles. This is a difficult DIY, but if you know your way around the engine and have some experience, it will save a lot of money on labor. Proper maintenance is crucial for the timing chain’s longevity.

DIY Difficulty: Difficult

3. Premature Water Pump or Thermostat Failure

A pretty common problem in many vehicles nowadays is premature water pump or thermostat failure and the Q3 is no exception. A water pump maintains the flow of coolant, or antifreeze, from the radiator to the engine block. A thermostat regulates the amount of coolant that is cooled off by the radiator before being recycled and regulates how much coolant is recycled back into the engine. As you can tell, both of these components are crucial in any engine’s cooling system. Without one or the other functioning, an engine can overheat very quickly, which would cause more issues.

Water pumps and thermostats typically last around 100,000 miles if the vehicle is maintained properly.

Symptoms of Water Pump or Thermostat Failure:

  • Low engine coolant/antifreeze indicator illuminating (more often than normal)
  • Engine overheating
  • Limp mode engaged
  • Coolant leaking under the car
  • Sweet smell in the engine bay
  • Erratic temperature readings

Water Pump or Thermostat Replacement Options:

When a thermostat or water pump happens to prematurely fail, you can replace them with OEM parts or aftermarket parts. Compared to other engine components, the water pump and thermostat are relatively inexpensive. Although an intermediate DIY service, this would save a lot on labor costs. If you were looking to take your Q3 to the shop for a water pump or thermostat service, look to spend around $800 for the thermostat alone.

DIY Difficulty: Intermediate

4. Start/Stop System Failure

The Start/Stop system was first introduced to Audi models in 2013. Since then, it has had mixed reviews from customers. Therefore, this is a common problem in the 2013 Q3’s and newer. Essentially, the start/stop system automatically shuts off the engine at a stop to eliminate emissions while preserving fuel. Theoretically, this is a step in the right direction for the environment. However, many consumers don’t love it and turn it off completely and claim that the defects far outweigh the fuel savings. If you have found yourself trying to turn off this system because it is a nuisance, here is a video on how to turn off the Start/Stop System.

Start/Stop System Problems:

  • Slow reactivation
  • Rollaway threat
  • Delayed acceleration response
  • Engine starting 10 times or more a day
  • Premature power steering/brakes shut off
  • Many requirements need to be met for it to function

The reason this is put under the common problems is that there are many complaints about if it works properly. However, Audi claims that customers may be uninformed about how the start/stop system is designed to work. Common complaints from drivers include the system doesn’t shut down when the customer thinks it should, the engine not being switched on or off automatically, or the engine restarting for unknown reasons.

5. Carbon Buildup

Carbon buildup is also a very common problem on most modern direct injection engines nowadays, the Q3 is no exception. Direct injection is an automotive term that means fuel being pumped directly into the engine’s cylinders via injectors. Over time, this can cause the intake valves to be clogged with carbon or soot. When buildup occurs in the intake valves or ports, engine performance is dampened substantially. Imagine breathing with a stuffy nose vs a clear nose. That’s essentially what happens with carbon buildup.

We want to reiterate the fact that this is normal. In general, you will want to check out your intake valves every 30,000 miles. It is possible to manually clean the intake valves yourself if you catch it soon enough. However, if your Q3 has 60,000 miles and the intake valves have yet to be cleaned, it may be time to inspect them. Many people claim they have not noticed any difference between clogged or clear intake valves. However, every time we have had this service done, on multiple vehicles, it has made a huge difference in the engine’s performance and fuel economy.

Symptoms of Carbon Buildup:

  • Cold start misfires
  • Poor engine performance
  • Decreased fuel economy
  • Engine knocking

Ways to Prevent Carbon Buildup:

  • Replace ignition coils and spark plugs regularly
  • Use the highest quality fuel possible (91+ Octane)
  • Get oil changes regularly
  • Manually inspect, and clean if needed, the intake valves every 30,000 miles
  • Get the valves walnut blasted every 60,000 miles (if not manually cleaning them)
  • Run the engine hard often

This isn’t the biggest deal given not many Q3 owners care about engine performance. However, we would say many care about the fuel economy their Q3 gets. Carbon buildup also has a huge effect on an engine’s fuel economy.

6. Sunroof Leaks

Although we know this isn’t an engine problem, it is common enough to include in this list. Particularly, the sunroof, or moonroof, drainage system causes issues. This problem can be found in both the 8U and F3 generations. It became so common that Audi had to come out with a TSB 60 20 45 2056944/5 addressing the issue.

Areas that can be affected by sunroof leaks:

  • Driver or passenger seats
  • Passenger A pillar
  • Foot wells
  • Dome light
  • Console

Why this is included in this list is because these leaks can cause some serious and costly electrical damage. If you happen to see water marks or visible water in the interior of your Q3, reach out to your Audi dealership immediately. Given how many complaints that have been submitted, they should know exactly what you are talking about.

Audi Q3 Reliability

Is the Audi Q3 reliable? The Q3s overall reliability is average. J.D. Power had the 2021 Audi Q3’s predicted reliability at an average rating of 67 out of 100 points. However, according to a Driver Power survey, the Audi Q3 is ranked 22nd out of the top 75 cars to own. The model years with the most customer complaints are the 2016 and 2020 model year. The average annual maintenance of an Audi Q3 is $915, which is above the average for other subcompact CUVs. If a Q3 is properly maintained, we’ve seen them last up to 150,000 and others even last up to 300,000 miles.

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