The Audi oil consumption odyssey

I noted a slightly increased level of motor oil usage late last autumn, when we were touring across Europe and around the glorious north of England. My Audi, which I bought last spring, warns of a recommended (instead of just an essential) top-up – doubtlessly an improvement on the older Golf I’d previously driven. A five-litre bottle of oil from a supermarket petrol station joined our luggage somewhere in the Peak District, but I didn’t give it a great deal of thought after that.

The increased oil consumption became more noticeable as time progressed. I started measuring usage in the interim and the number of kilometres between warnings began to decline, until, in April, I could only get around 1,000 kilometres out of a litre bottle. Finding the level inordinately high, and noting the occasional puff of pale blue from the exhaust when accelerating under motor duress, I took the car to a local garage and hoped for a positive result.

As the garage was finding out that there was definitely a motor issue, I concurrently found references online to high oil consumption in the 2.0 TFSI engine fitted to my car. A known issue with the pistons and piston rings in some engines, which were also fitted to Volkswagen and Škoda cars between 2008 and 2011, had been identified. After a great deal of evasion by Audi, the CEO of Swiss Audi importer AMAG, Martin Hannesbo, finally admitted in early 2016 that there was an issue.

Cars which were younger than 5 years of age and which had covered less than 100,000 kilometres could be reviewed and re-worked free of charge, and as a gesture of goodwill, cars which hadn’t yet reached 200,000 kilometres would also be eligible for revision, although owners would have to pay for a part of the work themselves.

Each case is being assessed individually and so the next stage was to get my Audi to an official dealer. Initial tests required a test drive of 1,000 kilometres or the expenditure of 1 litre of oil, whichever came first. I clocked up these in no time at all and just a few days later, the car was back at the garage to be assessed.

After reading various reports indicating costs of more than Fr. 10,000 for the re-work, my nerves were stretches to the limit until I finally received confirmation that the car met all the criteria for a goodwill repair: the service history was complete and the car was within the limits of age and kilometres driven. An unmet condition was that the last service had to have been completed by an Audi dealer. (I’d had the car serviced by a local non-dealer garage in order to reduce servicing costs.) Audi and the dealer agreed to carry out the work based on an additional full service after the remaining work is completed, and I agreed to the recommended additional re-profiling of the cylinder head: an extra expense, but one which will mean that the greater part of the engine will be as good as new, once the work is complete.

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