Rob Hawkins’ Audi A3 and Steve Hole’s RPS RPX.
In 2016, CM bought a 2005 Audi A3 2.0 TDI with 101,581 miles and ran it as a project car from April to October that year. Despite the magazine having paid a reasonably high price of £3284 for the car, when some A3s in good condition were selling for less than £3000, the 11-year-old Sportback still seemed a bargain given it was loaded with toys, including a panoramic glass roof and six-speed gearbox. I bought it when the project series ended – after all, the car had been with me from the start and everyone in my family loved the ride quality, performance and standard of equipment.
It’s approaching two years since the A3 was bought by CM and there are now 116,000 miles on the clock. Similar-aged models with low mileages are being advertised on autotrader.co.uk for less than £2000, so I’ve lost a fair amount of money in depreciation, especially when the mileage is taken into consideration. You could say that losing £1284 over around 15,000 miles equates to 8.5 pence per mile, and that’s before fuel, tax, insurance, servicing and repairs.
I’ve spent almost £1600 on fuel (including the time when the A3 was a project car) and, in that time, the 2.0-litre BKD engine has returned an average of 46mpg (long runs generally return 50-55mpg, but urban driving drops to 40mpg). I recently renewed the tax on the A3 and paid £150 for a year. And don’t even mention insurance… Being a journalist means it isn’t cheap, despite me having a squeaky-clean track record, so there’s no change out of £500 per year for a fully comprehensive policy.
Fortunately, that’s all of the major expenses covered, for now. The project series in CM meant most of the big jobs were completed, ranging from the glow plugs to the timing belt and water pump. And the dual mass flywheel was renewed for Clutch Clinic in the September 2017 issue.
So aside from checking the tyres and underbonnet fluids every week, the A3 hasn’t needed any attention for several months. However, it wasn’t long before I started thinking about renewing the engine oil, oil filter and air filter. The Febi engine oil we used in the June 2016 issue should be changed every 20,000 miles or 12 months. So I waited for a discount offer at Euro Car Parts and bought five litres of fully-synthetic 5W-30 Triple QX, along with an oil filter.
Renewing the oil on my driveway at home made me appreciate the ramps we had access to at Town Garage in Leeds when the A3 was a project. It took me almost 15 minutes to undo the fittings for the undertray and slide it out from underneath. Space was equally tight when it came to draining the oil. I used a shallow drainer that only just managed to squeeze underneath. Time quickly seemed to disappear as I renewed the oil filter, which is accessed from the top of the engine, and air filter. The whole job from start to finish took a bewildering one-and-a-half hours. I can complete an oil change on my Mazda MX-5 in 20 minutes.
Brake pad inspection
All of the A3’s brake discs and pads were renewed in 2016, along with the brake fluid. So while I was confident they wouldn’t be excessively worn after 15,000 miles, I wanted to make sure they weren’t dragging and that all of the slider bolts were free to move.
A service of the brakes at a garage is quite straightforward, especially with a two-post ramp. Simply raise the vehicle,
remove the wheels and work around all four brakes. On my driveway, it’s a twohour job, requiring each corner of the car to be raised in turn with a trolley jack and supported by an axle stand before removing the respective road wheel and working on the brake. Thankfully, this was a good opportunity to ask my youngest son, Joel, if he wanted to earn some extra pocket money. He couldn’t refuse, so I gave him a bucket of soapy water, a wash-mitt, a large old towel, some polish and wax, and several clean cloths. The A3’s alloy wheels are in reasonably good condition, so I’m hoping that a thorough wash, polish and wax will help to keep corrosion away.
While Joel was sprucing up the wheels, I could take my time servicing the brakes. I removed the caliper and brake pads, cleaned around the carrier and edges of the brake pads, made sure the slider bolts were free, then reassembled everything with a tiny smear of copper grease applied to the top and bottom edges of the brake pads, where they make contact with the caliper carrier. The slider bolts were lubricated with multi-purpose grease, although I have recently acquired a tube of brake grease, which I will be using on the next service.
We Mot-tested the A3 during the project series, but it soon came around again. I had nothing to worry about. With lots of new components fitted and no signs of corrosion, it sailed through.
Rear wiper motor
In the October 2016 issue, we looked into why the rear wiper motor wasn’t working and concluded that the motor had failed. A secondhand replacement was fitted after the project series had finished, so the wiper motor was alive once more. Sadly, it only lasted six months. I inspected the fuses and they seemed fine, so I’ll have to check there’s a supply to the motor. The last time the wiper motor failed, it would squirt washer fluid across the rear glass but refused to wipe. This time, it won’t even squirt washer fluid. Maybe the stalk switch has failed.
An equally confusing problem recently occurred. I was driving home and was only a few minutes away when I heard a strange whoosh-like noise from the engine bay. At the same time, the nearside front brake seemed to start squealing. I made it home and looked under the bonnet and through the spokes of the wheel for any signs of trouble. There was nothing. I even spoke to a few mechanics and Audi specialists who probably thought I’d lost the plot. To date, the noise hasn’t returned.
The air filter was 12 months old and was showing signs of needing renewal.
Rob’s youngest son, Joel, was bribed with a pocket money bonus if he washed, dried, polished and waxed all four alloy wheels.
The annual MOT for the A3 saw it pass with ease.
Access to the oil filter is from the top of the engine. It’s less back-breaking than from underneath, but a little fiddly, especially if you want to avoid oil drips.
Febi torque wrench came in useful for tightening the oil filter housing to 25Nm.