Wet Audis and the Bills they Cause
December 26, 2008 1:13 PM   Subscribe

My 2006 Audi A4 is having ignition coil problems. And the dealer is saying because it's water damage related, it's not covered under warranty. I have NOT had the engine cleaned. I have NOT driven into a lake and I live in California where rain is minimal. Help me to not be screwed.

So here's the short story for car people. For non-car people it tends to read a little longer:

I drive a 2006 Audi A4 2.0 quattro

1) had an accident where I rear ended someone. VERY minor. Cosmetic damage and the compressor for the AC. Took the car in two days later to an insurance company approved body shop.

2) Got the car back. Drove fine for one day. Then next day I start the car and it cranks but won't turn over. Have it towed to the body shop. They discover it's an ignition coil and possibly the left passenger side housing of said coil. According to Audi, cannot possibly be related to crash. Get it towed to the dealer. Says it's under warranty, should be fine

3) Got call the next day from the dealer saying it's water damage related. That rust has gotten on the interior of one of the ignition coils and that water damage is NOT covered by warranty.

4) Now I'm being told to pay 675 bucks.

The service tech says that they see a lot of that from pressure washing engines. I called the body shop. They say there's dust on the engine and that they clearly didn't pressure wash it. And they also say the hood was never off the car.

I have NEVER cleaned under this hood. I park the car in covered parking. So i guess my main question is how did this happen and what do I do about it?

But then there are the minor questions related to it:

-Can anything else LOOK like rust and maybe my dealer is mistaking it?
-Are there any known issues with ignition coils and rust?
-I park next to a constantly leaking pipe in my covered parking. Could the excess moisture just get in the car over time?
-Who do I go after here? Is the body shop guy full of crap or is the dealer? Or do I go after my landlord?
posted by rileyray3000 to Travel & Transportation around Kauai, HI (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Parking next to a leaking pipe isn't going to get water up onto the coils. Heck, even parking under a leaking pipe shouldn't do that. If you're sure you've never had the engine cleaned or otherwise intentionally dampened, and if the dealer is claiming they say they 'see a lot of this from XXX bullcrap made-up reason,' then my guess is that they actually see a lot of this because there's a design flaw they're in denial about. I'd go over the dealer's head and seek out someone at Audi's corporate headquarters to talk to about this.
posted by jon1270 at 2:43 PM on December 26, 2008

Is it possible that there's a leaking hose near your ignition coil?

I don't know about the Audi, but a water pump or radiator hose with a leak might be the cause. On my car, the water pump and distributor are next to each other, and a pump leak leads to distributor failure.
posted by zippy at 3:05 PM on December 26, 2008

Response by poster: I just called Audi. They say they're looking into it. But you're right. Something doesn't smell kosher here.
posted by rileyray3000 at 3:05 PM on December 26, 2008

rileyray3000, I'd suggest consulting some other Audi owners to see if this problem really is "common" and what others have done about it. I suggest registering on www.audiworld.com forums and posting in the B7 A4 forum to ask (actually, search the archives first!). The community on the forum is very experienced and helpful for this kind of thing.

Also, you mentioned that you live in California. If you happen to live in or reasonably near Los Angeles, memail me and I can pass on the number of a really excellent independent Audi mechanic, who can give you a second opinion if you like. I use him for my B5 S4 all the time, and he makes dealers look like uneducated thieves.
posted by Joh at 3:37 PM on December 26, 2008

times are tough in automotive.
everyone is losing money, especially dealers.
dont pay them.
get photos and a written report from him,
write a very concise letter and take it up the audi tree.
posted by edtut at 3:45 PM on December 26, 2008

Find a different Audi dealer.
posted by luckypozzo at 9:36 PM on December 26, 2008

If the car is drivable for short distances, I'd take it to a different Audi dealer, preferably quickly, and without mentioning anything to them about the first go-around. (Hopefully they don't have a shared computer system...) See if the second dealer says anything.

I agree it seems like you're getting jerked around. Going up to corporate is probably the right approach but it'll probably be slow and a major hassle. If it's possible to just go around the balky dealer completely, do it.

Even if the car isn't drivable it might be worth going and talking to some other dealers in the area and see what they say. Perhaps one that's more desperate for business would take a more relaxed attitude towards doing it under warranty. Although it might be difficult to get anyone to agree absolutely to doing it on-warranty, sight unseen ... you'd just have to use your judgment and decide when it's worth paying to have the car moved to somewhere else, where you think the service manager will help you out.

My understanding of dealer warranty repairs is that the dealer doesn't pay for the repair themselves; they rebill it up the chain of command to the manufacturer ... so I'm not sure why somebody would be a dick about a warranty repair, unless they don't think they'll be reimbursed (which doesn't seem likely in this case; there's nothing to suggest water damage to anyone else, so why would it ever be questioned?) or they can make more money off of you by doing it as a cash repair rather than a warranty one (this is, IMO, more likely). Perhaps they are just imagining that by refusing to do it under warranty, you'll pay for it out-of-pocket, and they will make a profit, versus getting paid some low negotiated rate from the manufacturer on the warranty repair. I'm just conjecturing here but that's the only explanation that seems to fit their behavior.

If that's the case, maybe (and this is a long shot) if you make it clear that you're prepared to have the car hauled to another dealership rather than pay, they'll reconsider doing it under warranty. However if they do this, I would never again go back to that dealership; for one, because they're obviously scumbags; two, because they'll thereafter feel like they've done you a favor.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:05 AM on December 27, 2008

For what it's worth...

Volkswagen had a pretty common problem on later-model Jettas and Passats with the coil boxes cracking, which then allowed in moisture and would require a new coil. Pricey item on a German car. VW and Audi do share a lot of components, so I'm wondering if this is a similar issue. Can't say for sure though.

I don't know how mechanical you are, but replacing a coil is not a terribly difficult task, really. You could probably do it yourself and save a few bucks, the only question would be your warranty. The coil itself shouldn't be more than a couple hundred bucks.

The VW Vortex website has lots of good information about Audi and VW issues.
posted by Thistledown at 7:50 AM on December 27, 2008

Taking it to a different dealer may not work, because there is a VERY good chance that they do have "shared' computer systems-- as in they can run a report of all the dealer service it has ever had. My dad works for a VW dealership and he can run a VIN and see any time it's been to a VW dealership for service (and what service it had). I would be very surprised if Audi didn't do the same thing.
posted by fructose at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2008

Response by poster: The car is NOT driveable. And I've taken it up the Audi tree and hit a customer service rep who says there's nothing they can do.
posted by rileyray3000 at 11:08 AM on December 29, 2008

Response by poster: And, for the record. I'm about as angry as I can be at the moment.
posted by rileyray3000 at 11:09 AM on December 29, 2008

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