I have reserved blogging about this issue for about 6 months due the the sheer anger and frustration this caused for me at the time. I didn’t want to overreact, but to this day, despite having just dealt with it I feel very annoyed and cheated by Audi in the way they dealt with and handled a dashboard issue on a 2006 Audi A3 that I own.
The following is an honest account of my experience.
During the latter part of last year the car had a battery draining issue immediately after having ignition coils replaced as part of a factory update at Poole Audi (trading as Ocean Automotive Ltd, 582-600 Ringwood Road, Poole, BH12 4LW). This subsequently lead to a cost of in excess of £700 for the replacement of parts that worked perfectly fine prior to the work being carried out.
The car was purchased second hand from a local garage several years ago and has not had a main dealer service history since hitting 3 years old, but has been regularly serviced and looked after.
So with a bit of background here are the course of events:
5/9/2012 – A3 booked into Poole Audi for replacement of rear springs due to wear and tear (no issue here).
12/9/2012 – Work paid for at a cost of £255.50. At the same time 4 new ignition coils were fitted as part of factory update 28E9at no cost to us.
The car was immediately off the road for 3-4 days due to a holiday we were on.
Tried to use it upon return and car would not start without a jump start. Continued to use for a few days jump starting the car and trying to re-charge the battery with no success.
22/ 9/2012 – Called Audi about the problem and they agreed a free of charge inspection. Concerned the ignition coils had something to do with the battery problem.
1/10/2012 – A3 in with Poole Audi for inspection. Diagnosed as a faulty battery. Agreed to a replacement at £130. Happy to accept parts fail, the battery would be fitted the following day once they had it in stock.
2/10/2012 – Called by Poole Audi to say that the replacement battery had not solved the issue and that the dash panel was at fault. The dash panel/pod they refer to is as it the bit with your speedometer, rev counter etc.
Apparently the start up sequence the car completes was constantly happening even with engine off thus draining the battery. Cost to fix including the battery £800.
4/10/2012 – Refused to pay the Audi price because I felt the issue had been miss-diagnosed on the 1/10. The car had showed no signs of battery drain prior to the ignition coil replacement.
I and presumably you do to, expect that if they diagnose the fault they would get it right first time as they are the professionals.
Paid for the battery (£130) they had replaced and took the A3 to an independent garage called Christchurch garage who quoted £200 for a refurbishment of the dash panel. The independent garage would remove the part and send to a specialist. I informed Poole Audi that this is what I intended to do.
23/11/2012 – Independent garage confirmed after weeks of trying to re-condition it at the specialist, the specialist was unable to resolve the fault and a new part was the only option. Informed Poole Audi and booked car in for work to be done. In the meantime liaised with Audi head office to see if they could assist with the price as I felt the main dash panel draining the battery was an issue that shouldn’t really come up or be a fault in the life of a car. This was confirmed in the following footage:
10/12/2012 – Car back in with Poole Audi for the work to be done. Agreement had been made that Poole Audi would make a contribution of £231.12 upon me agreeing to a £149 interim service at a later date. Essentially making the service free.
I went with this as at this point we simply wanted a working car back.
Audi HQ confirmed no further support could be given as car was out of warranty, no main dealer service had been had outside of the initial 3 years of ownership.
13/12/2012 – Work completed but informed that because another party had opened the dash (the specialist) there was a surcharge of £155 +VAT. This cost would not have been applied had the dash not been opened.
Poole Audi knew it had been to a specialist and that it had been opened.
I too at this stage find out that the dash part replaced by Audi is not new and is in fact an Audi re-conditioned part with a 2 year warranty. The £155 surcharge was because the faulty dash would normally be sent back to Audi but as they could not send it back due to being opened and they had to pass on this cost that would normally have been reimbursed by Audi HQ.
14/12/2012 – Car collected now working and a total sum of £605.27 paid.
I fully appreciate that parts can go wrong on a car, but the dash panel going faulty is very rare as identified in the clip from Watchdog and advice from the independent garage.
Poole Audi were informed of the specialist dealing with the dash prior and after their involvement and at no point (other than the day before paying for the work to be completed) mentioned that there would be a surcharge if the dash panel was opened.
Apparently opening up the dash invalidates the warranty on it, but according to Audi HQ because the car was over 3 years old there was no warranty on the car and the parts in it.
Really what it comes down to is they wont repair an already faulty item when somebody else has tried to all ready which to a point is fair. However, Poole Audi did not reveal until this surcharge that the replacement part was a refurbished part and not new!
I really feel that the whole expense of the battery and the dash were unnecessary as no problem existed prior to the ignition coil work being done. I feel like I am £700+ out of pocket. This is worsened by the fact even if I could accept the dash needed replacing, the 3rd party specialist would charge just £200 in comparison to Audi’s £486. Even with a 2 year Audi warranty, that is a considerable price difference and that £486 does not even buy a new part.
The invoices and work were paid as the need for the car to be working was greater than the expense at the time.
Poole Audi and Audi HQ have some interesting policies. Claiming breaking a seal on a dash invalidates a warranty that no longer exists on the car. I think this is disgusting.
On a side note after the ignition coils were checked a ‘Free Health Check’ was given on the car. Word of warning, the health check is visual and nothing more, essentially rendering it defunct.
My suspicion although I have no facts to support this is that when replacing the ignition coils is shorted or done something to the dash thus causing the issues. I would be more accommodating had it just been the battery needed replacing.
I think Audi cars are fantastic and I really desire some of their current models, but at this time I am not sure I could buy one because of the experience I have had. I like to be fair and appreciate things go wrong, but I can’t help but think had I not taken the car there in the first place I would never have had the issues.
Has anyone else experienced such issues with their Audi A3 or other model? Experienced similarly dire service from another garage?
And finally, Audi…if you read this (unlikely) I would be willing to accept some form of compensation. Just use the contact form above!