The Audi A4 has been the longest-running vehicle since it came out. Clearly, it has had many upgrades along the way which gave a tough fight for similar vehicles (including the BMW or Mercedes).
It delivers suspension and handling, steering precision, optimum vibration and noise cancellation. But that doesn’t spare the car from bad production years.
Airbag problems, engine issues, oil leakage are a few bad year problems to start with.
In this article, I will dive deep into the worst of Audi A4 years to avoid, the worst problems with those models and which years are the most reliable.
Audi A4 Years to Avoid (List of Years)
Older models of the Audi A4 are more likely to need more maintenance than newer models. There has been a poor track record of A4s manufactured between 2009 and 2014.
The 2009 and 2011 A4 models had the highest complaints. This included a large number of products being recalled and low dependability ratings.
Audi’s A4 2012 model also received a great deal of negative feedback (primarily due to its high oil consumption). So it is pretty clear that things got better from 2015.
What Are the Worst Years of Audi A4?
Here are the Audi A4 years to avoid:
- 2007: Airbag, engine and engine cooling, power train, vehicle speed control, exterior lighting, electrical system
- 2008: Airbag not deflating (was recalled), climate control, and oil leaking issues.
- 2009: Engine failure, oil leaks, higher repairs and repair costs.
- 2011: Worst model year, lacked fuel efficiency, huge mechanical failures.
What Makes These Audi A4 Years Worth Avoiding?
2007-08 Audi A4s are notorious for oil consumption issues. Failing power systems adds a cherry on top of that.
Whereas 2009 and 2011 have overall most failures. It seems like the Airbag deflection problem, which poses a safety threat, persists in almost all these models.
I have summed up the total list of problems below and included a brief discussion. This should equip you for what’s there to come in the case you buy any of these bad model years:
1. Oil Consumption:
For some Audi A4-2007 plate – 2l Turbo, the oil level in the dipstick drops down to roughly 2,500 miles, at which point it needs an oil fill-up of around a half-gallon. You can open the hood and add a quart of 5w-40 to the tank if the oil low light comes on, and you’re good to go.
Others face severe oil guzzling. Every 5,00-800 miles, you must add a quart of fuel. According to the manufacturer, this is an attribute within which the engine was constructed.
If you can compromise with oil consumption, there is another issue. Users have reported the returned oil ring collapsing. The engine overheats in this case, causing the exhaust valves to burst open.
2. Airbag Issues:
The NHTSA Campaign Number 21V874000 recalled about 208,332 Audi A4s through 2017-2022 for defective seats and airbags. The problem was most prominent in the 2007-2011 models.
The problem is as small as the airbag lights staying on (due to a corroded wire). But it can go up to the worst: The airbags not deploying. Sometimes the passenger’s side airbag deploys but not the driver’s one.
This is bad because there may be no passengers and the impact is always sustained by the driver. According to NHTSA, oxidation (rusting) in the Passenger Occupant Detection System connection cable causes the issue.
Because the software may misdiagnose an airbag system malfunction and disable the passenger-side airbag. Or vice versa.
3. Speed Control Issues:
Customers of Audi A4s have reported 99 issues with their vehicles’ speed control from the model years mentioned above. Another prevalent issue is when the vehicle accelerates automatically. Users reported several incidents where they could potentially be killed due to incoming cars.
Imagine you’re driving with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. As soon as a gap in the traffic appears where you feel comfortable proceeding, press the accelerator while keeping your foot on the brake.
In a two-lane road, this should result in a sharp right turn into the nearest lane. While maintaining a tight grip on the wheel, slam on the brakes and crank the accelerator.
The car will tend to cross both lanes of traffic and enter oncoming lanes rather than make a right turn. All this while you have no control over it.
At times the vehicle will unknowingly disengage forward or drive. As you apply the throttle, the vehicle will either engage in forward or reverse motion at a high speed.
Another reported incident is an accident occurring when traveling at 4mph and turning into 4th-floor parking in a garage. The vehicle inexplicably accelerated and reached 100mph on its own. These are some of the issues with the speed control of the bad year Audi A4s.
4. Engine, Engine Cooling and Power Train:
Welcome to the world of problems created by 2011 model A4s. If we start with the power train, clutch failure would come first. The users reported clutch failures around 4,000 to 5,000 miles. If it happens again, it’s usually around 28,000 to 31,000 miles.
The clutch starts slipping and ultimately burning out around 60-80 Mph speed. Clutch failure results in a “molten state” of the clutch. Due to intense heat, the bearing fuses to the transmission shaft (According to Audi of Oakland).
The engine sometimes seizes in the middle of the highway initiating more accidents. An Audi A4 2.0t 2011 keeps consuming oil, resulting in a catastrophic engine breakdown. Particularly after 25k, 26k, and now 36k miles.
More than 1,000 complaints have been made about the oil consumption problem. This issue can cause your engine to seize up when driving at high speeds.
A far more severe report was made of the front part of the A4 catching fire. The air condition disseminates a bad odor that denoted an engine defect. Which is ultimately responsible for this issue.
Which Used Audi A4 Years Are Safe to Buy?
A crude answer is the Audi A4 models from 1995 -2001 and then from 2013-present. Audi 2022 has been deemed the best model so far. But what you’re looking for is a 2014 to 2016 Audi A4.
You will see that recently B9 has been in the talks. But I suggest you avoid B9 and instead go for B8. There are numerous issues with the B9 A4’s wiring and plastic engine parts leaking. While the final years of the B8 Audi A4 are the most refined and bug-free period for the vehicle.
Here’s a list of the best Audi A4 years according to the ratings given by real users (100+). This review applies to the older used cars as well as new cars:
- 2015: Critics’ Rating: 9.0, Performance: 8.4, Safety: 9.1, Reliability: 4/5
- 2018: Critics’ Rating: 9.5, Performance: 8.4, Safety: 9.5, Reliability: 3/5
- 2019: Critics’ Rating: 9.7, Performance: 8.5, Safety: 9.5, Reliability: 3.5/5
- 2020: Critics’ Rating: 9.8, Performance: 8.6, Safety: 9.6, Reliability: TBD
- 2022: Critics’ Rating: 9.6, Performance: 8.3, Safety: 9.3, Reliability: 74/100
Looking at the articles online, I found a lot of misinformation. Some of the bad year models have been considered the best. But you know from this article that it is far from the truth.
Some users especially vouch for the 2007 models. If you want to buy these models, you are now aware of the problems they may bring. So, I hope this article justifies the Audi A4 years to avoid and helps you come to a decision.