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Rob Hawkins’ Audi A3 and Steve Hole’s RPS RPX.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents - Rob Hawkins Spe­cial Con­trib­u­tor

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.

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