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Audi S3 Buying Guide

mk1chopper Aug 6, 2010

  1. mk1chopper

    mk1chopper Missing the S3

    Seeing as we get a lot of people coming on here asking about what to look out for when buying an S3 I've decided to start a thread, hopefully to added to the sticky section. Please feel free to add comments/additions to the guide which i will the edit into this opening post. I've done this as a starting point im sure there still more to be added so please feel free to assist with your comments

    First of please refer to the FAQ sticky's these contain a lot of information about tuning, engine specs, and other mods: NOTICE A3/S3 FAQ / How To's / Tuning Info STICKIES - PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING-***********

    The S3 come in 2 phase types, pre and post facelift, pre facelift is 1999 to 2001 (x reg) although some x reg are facelift model (can this be confirmed) facelift is 2001 to 2003. There are 3 engine types, the 1st is a 210 PS (153kW; 207 hp) APY fitted to all 1999 to 2001 models, from 2001 the S3 came available with a 210 PS (154 kW; 207hp) AMK or 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp) BAM engine choice. Not all facelift models are 225bhp, and no prefacelift model is 225 (unless it has had an engine transplant) a lot of traders advertise S3 as 225 models when there not. They all remap to the same figure, and the difference between engines is minor: 1.8T Info Sheet Later engines had variable valve timing. (AMK BAM) although it is thought the APY might have mechanical VVT and the later engines have electronic VVT (TBC). The engine provides a maximum 280 Nm (210ft/lbf) of torque, most of which is available from 2200 through to 5500 rpm (Thank you to finesse for additional engine information)

    Standard Spec of S3:

    electric windows with one touch, electric heated door mirrors, pop out rear windows, remote central locking, automatic digital climate control and air conditioning, heated winscreen washer jets, full closure alarm (windows and sunroof can be closed by remote, windows can be opened) and immobliser, self leveling xenon headlights with headlamp washers, fog lights, interior lighting (front and rear reading lights and front cabin lights) vanity lights behing sun visors, puddle lights in doors, driver information screen and trip computer and check computer. electric recaro sports seats, 2 rear head rests. black headlining, piano black trim, haldex controlled 4 wheel drive, ESP standard from 2000 onwards (TBC) ABS, 17inc avus alloy wheels running 225 45 17 tyres, spare wheel (space saver type) hazard warning triangle and tool kit. Isofix (TBC) leather or half leather interior. fitted carpet floor mats, S3 sports leather steering wheel, grey coloured dials with white needles and red illumination background. 1999 spec S3 dash sometimes has an analog clock on the clocks, from 200 this was a digital clock and date display. concert head unit (tape) and 6 disc boot mounted cd changer, 6 speakers and stealth sub in boot in pre face lift cars.


    electric sunroof, auto dip rear view mirror (this can be retro fitted), heated seats, cruise control (this can be retro fitted), rear parking sensors, 18inc RS4 style alloys fitted with 225 40 18 tyres (as fitted to the TT) front centre arm rest, bose sound system. 3rd rear head rest, ambiant lighting (can be retro fitted) multifunction steering wheel, Aluminium mirrors. On face lift models different stereos were offered and sat nav was available due to revision of the centre console.

    Unique to S3 (over A3):
    Body Panels:
    Front and rear bumpers, front wings and rear panels are flared, twin pipe exhaust, larger rear spolier, lower door trims.
    Larger K04 Turbo, twin intercoolers, strut brace (very early models maynot have this) bigger 312mm front brakes, ventilated rear discs, uprated suspension, wider track (TBC)

    facelift differences:

    External: one peice headlamps, the indicator unit is combined to the main headlamp on facelift models. The rear tail lights are red with clear upper sections on the facelift, pre facelift are all red (facelift rear lamps are a straight swap if you wish to upgrade) There are slight diffences with the wing mirrors too, and the tail gate trim above the number plate is flush. new S3 badge design.
    Internal: centre console revised, double din stereo or sat nav available, climate control panal revised with single screen, heated seats contol moved onto climate control panel. Cup holder added to upper section of centre console and hazard lights esp button revised (smaller) air vent controls illuminated, revised design on steering wheel and gear knob, minor revison to clocks, the S3 badge appears under the rev counter (is under the speedo on prefacelift) also S3 badge has been revised to new design. Stereos available on the face lift are a single cd head unit, a 6 cd double din head unit, sat nav (others may be availble TBC) Facelift models have a 3 button remote (TBC) (prefacelift is 2 button), the 3rd button allows the boot to be opened. The facelift tailgate gas struts are 2 stage (TBC)

    S3 Colours: http://www.audi-sport.net/vb/a3-s3-forum-8l-chassis/13303-a3-s3-colours-again-yawn-i-bored-ok.html
    Service intervals:

    Every 10k (12 months): oil and oil filter
    Every 20k: 10k+ air filter pollen filter, Haldex oil(may be 40k)
    Every 40k: 20k+ spark plugs, fuel filter(TBC) Haldex oil and filter
    Every 60k: cambelt and tensioner, aux bet. Its is recomended that the water pump be changed (a metal impeller version is availble which resloves the issue of the plastic impeller breaking)
    Every 2 years: brake fluid

    Common faults:

    rust along roof rails, this should be covered by audi warrenty but they dont always make good on it but it is still something that you need to look out for: Anti-corrosion warranty results - Please post here

    rust along the lower door trims: see sticky: IMPORTANT ALL READ. Rusting bottom of doors, when will it be yours?

    xenon headlights pointing to the ground: this will normally be either the sensors mounted to the near side suspension front and rear or the motors within the headlamp (if its the motor it normally only effects one light)

    broken window clips (more info needed here)

    snapped springs, the ends of the springs can shear off with age (i've had 3 of mine break so far)

    ARB collars breaking off, the collars butt up to the mounting bush, the whole bar has to be replace (good time to fit uprated items).

    Back up battery for alarm stops holding charge, which can lead to your car alarm going off. A sign to this is 3 bleeps from the rear passenger side of the car. The alarm siren has to be replaced although there is a write up on replacing the battery (further info required). The alarm siren has been updated and a minor mod is required to fit (this might only be on prefacelift models)

    Brake sensor behind pedal: this can fail over time, its easy to replace and audi have revised the part to so it might be less common on facelift models

    Clutch sensor behind pedal: this can fail over time and lead to the car over reving when the clutch is pedal is depressed

    Clutch pedal: a plastic part of the pedalis prone to failure (link needed for repair guide)

    concert head unit volume control: this over time (it is related to the amount of time you change volume) will only provide you with the 2 extremes of the volume settings, this can not be fixed the whole head unit requires replacement.

    DIS dead pixels, over time lines can be lost on the driver information screen, theres is a fix but it is done at your own risk

    DV failing, the standard item may fail over time, the forge 007 is a popular after market option.

    Coil packs: this are known to fail, I think the design has been revised so once replaced they dont tend to fail again (TBC)

    Breather pipes, vacum pipes: some of these cars are now over 10 years old and over time and heat cycles the plastic pipes split.

    Clutch/clutch slave cylinder: this is not so much a common fault but with age and milage this needs to be considered. My slave cylinder let go at 103k, the slave cylinder requires the gear box to be removed to replace, on inspection my clutch needed replacing due to the milage and wear, my fly wheel also required replacing but this is not always the case. If you slave cylinder does fail you'll probably have to replace the clutch due to hydralic fluid getting into the clutch itself. So the advise here is if your replacing your clutch spend a bit more and have the slave cylinder replaced at the same time. Also consider that tyhe clutch may need replacing on an S3 with over 100k on the clock (if its not been replaced). Unsure if this is an indication of the slave cylinder failing but my clutch pedal was heavy before it broke, its now very light.

    Thermostat can fail with age, and indication that its gone is the temp gauge on the dash not reaching and sitting at 90. If your temp gauge seems to be erratic this could be a sign that the temp sender has broken. Both are cheap to replace.

    Coolant level sensor. Over time these can fail, the annoying thing is you have to replace the header tank as the sensor is built into it. It can sometimes be cleaned. Sign thats its broken, on starting the car the DIS will indicate low coolant even though its not, sometims the warning will disappear after 20-30 seconds. Its also worth checking the cabling to the switch as this can come lose from its plugs.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2014
  2. whattodo

    whattodo New Member

    Excellent post, very helpful... Thankyou.
  3. finesse

    finesse Active Member

    I was just writing one too..... add to yours:blink:

    Buyers Guide

    The straight-4 20v 1.8 L turbocharged petrol engine comes in two versions of power output: 210 PS (154 kW; 207 hp) and 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp). Early models (1999-2001) had 210 PS (154 kW; 207 hp) Later models (2001-2003) had variable valve timing and 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp). The engine provides a maximum 280 N·m (210 ft·lbf) of torque, most of which is available from 2200 through to 5500 rpm.

    S3 came with...

    • Bigger Turbo K04
    • Bigger arches front and rear
    • ARB’s front and rear
    • Rear spoiler
    • Bigger brakes
    • Strut brace
    • Twin intercoolers
    • Twin pipe exhaust
    • Leather as standard on Recaro electric seats
    • Bigger wheels and wider tyres
    • Uprated and lower suspension
    • "S" Badge

    Engine Codes

    The 8L S3 has 3 different engine codes.

    APY - 11/98 - 09/00 Pre Facelift 210bhp | AMK - 09/00 - 04/02 - Facelift 210bhp | BAM - 08/01 - 05/02 - 225bhp

    Factory options

    • Satellite Navigation System Plus
    • TV Function for Satellite Navigation System Plus
    • Alloy Wheels - 8Jx18in Nine Spoke Design
    • Electric Slide/Tilt Glass Sunroof with Pre Select
    • BOSE Sound System
    • 6 CD Autochanger
    • Heated Front Seats
    • Cruise Control
    • GSM Removable Telephone with Hands Free
    • Polished Aluminium Door Mirrors
    • Can Holders
    • Centre Rear Seat Belt & Head Restraint
    • Front Centre Armrest
    • Parking sensors

    Essential Checks

    When purchasing your new car, it’s essential that these are documented. If a cambelt service is not carried out, it will cost £350 at Audi or less at an independent garage.

    Full service history
    oil\filter, Haldex oil\filter, brake fluid, spark plugs

    Cam belt/Water pump 60,000 miles or 5 years


    1) Rust on roof rails and tailgate
    2) Stereo volume problem (can't be fixed, you need to replace stereo)
    3) Window clip problem
    4) Rear wiper motor failure
    6) Oil Use (Look for signs of an oil leak, look at exhaust fumes, it could be the Turbo letting oil past the seals)
    7) Electrics on seat faults
    8) Broken suspension springs

    Servicing and Maintenance

    So you picked your shiny new S3...


    http://www.audi-sport.net/vb/showth...g-and-Pricing-FAQ&highlight=servicing pricing


    · Revo
    · Custom Code
    · Celtic Tuning
    · APR
    · AmD
    · Superchips
    · R-Tech
    · JabbaSport

    Lots of Big Turbo and High Power info!



    Common issues
    1.8T Common Troubleshooting Guide

    Thermostat Change
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
    vivalacoulter and Andrew@A.L.D like this.
  4. The Doctor

    The Doctor Well-Known Member

    I have a whole page of AS.net links to common problems and some upgrades that I've built up over the last year or so. Want me to post them in this thread for you to link to?
  5. finesse

    finesse Active Member

    post em doc
  6. mk1chopper

    mk1chopper Missing the S3

    The Doctor post or pm me the links and i'll add them, will be updating this later on this evening. finesse cheers for the extra info i'll also edit this into the op. Got to go clean the car now for Audis in the Park tomorrow.
  7. The Doctor

    The Doctor Well-Known Member

    Here you go guys. I've collected these over the past year since I bought my 2003 S3 8L. Probably not exhaustive, but loads of good info here. Hope it's useful.

    Check brake pipe routing now & after cambelt change:



    Door sensor fix:


    Elec window fix:



    Rust in roof gutters:


    Metal water pump impellors:


    Alarm siren battery replacement (4 beeps):




    External door trim removal/repair:


    Service intervals / work:


    Clutch switch (revving on gear change):


    Fault codes:




    LCR Splitter:


    Replacement Head Unit


    Drilled & de-finned airbox:


    Oil catch can mod:


    Haldex oil & filter change:


    Gearbox & diff oil change:




    Front top mount replacement:



    Headlight washers:




    Wheel spacers:


    Front bumper removal:

    vivalacoulter and Andrew@A.L.D like this.
  8. voorhees

    voorhees Moderator Staff Member Moderator Team V8 Audi S5 s tronic

    Good work Chopper,Finesse and Doctor.
    Thread Stickified
  9. pj123

    pj123 Member

    New to this forum, but this is my contribution based on owning an S3 for 6 years. I've tried to identify what age and mileage parts have failed on my car and recently thats been quite a few! Its a scarily long list but nothing major or expensive in my view. Pleased to see how active this forum is!

    My car is an Audi s3 1999 8L, APY engine (pre facelift) 87k, 11 years old

    Common Fault
    Solution Age Mileage

    Window Clips
    Plastic clips that run up and down on regulator are prone to fatigue causing window to malfunction and not close.
    Replace with A6 metal clips 5 34k

    Plastic impeller prone to failure causing overheating and damage to thermostat
    Replaced with metal pump, replace thermostat if overheating occurs 7.5 59k

    Concert Stereo volume
    EPROM memory is ‘write only’ memory which fills up every time volume is changed. When EPROM is full, every time volume is adjusted it will go silent or full volume
    Repaired by OE Electronics, Salisbury 7.7 62k

    Backup battery in Alarm Siren
    Siren battery stops holding charge which leads to car alarm going off. A sign is 3 beeps from the rear passenger side before siren continually sounds.
    Remove or replace alarm siren. Some have repaired this unit. 7.7 62k

    Heat shield for cat
    Bolts holding heat shield rust and break off causing a rattling exhaust noise
    Replace bolts 7.7 62k

    Front ARBs
    Plastic collars break off. These collars butt up to the mounting bush. Part from Audi has been updated.
    Replace entire ARB 8.7 73k

    Track rods ends and wishbone bushes
    Prone to wear out.
    Wishbone bushes crack.
    Replace part 8.7 73k

    Roof rail corrosion
    Sealant along weld line joining roof to quarter panel breaks down and allows water in and hence corrosion
    Respray both sides covered by warranty if less than 12 years old and not neglected 9.7 80k

    Brake Vacuum Hose
    Vacuum pipe connecting brake servo to inlet manifold uses a hard plastic which cracks at joints from heat cycling
    Replace part 10.7 86k

    Rear springs
    Rear springs corrode and then snap at the base
    Replace part 10.7 86k

    Diverter Valve
    Lumpy cold running and low boost problems. Test by removing, pushing diaphragm up then placing finger over vacuum tube on top. Diaphragm should stay put else needs replacing
    Replace with OEM P/N ending 710N 10.7 86k

    Brake light switch on pedal
    Prone to fail overtime. Throws a fault intermittent fault code and eventually brake lights stop working. Less common on facelift models
    Replace part 10.7 86k

    DIS dead pixels
    DIS pixels fail overtime 5 34k

    Glovebox lid hinges
    Hinges snap over time
    Replace glovebox lid. 9.7 80k

    Rough running at idle, running rich, running lean, cold start problems, poor mpg
    Test 1 - Disconnect MAF and default MAF values will be used. Engine will run better if MAF is faulty.
    Test 2 - Log Block 002 using VAG COM. MAF values should be 0.8xengine BHP.
    Reset ECU with MAF changes
    Clean with electrical cleaner or replace MAF. Reset ECU. 10.8 87k

    Rear wash wipe
    Pump running but water not coming out of rear wash wipe
    Check jet is not blocked and then check pipe joins through the car by running pump and looking for leaks. Joint under the bonnet LH side tends to be first to come apart. 4 26k
    Common Faults I've not yet had:

    Xenons pointing towards ground
    Sensors on nearside suspension front or rear can fail, or motors within headlight. If it’s the motor normally only one light is affected
    Replace sensor or headlight motor

    Rust along lower door trims
    Door panels rust behind lower trim
    Some have claimed on warranty

    Clutch pedal switch
    Causes car to over rev when the clutch pedal is depressed
    Replace switch

    Clutch pedal
    Plastic part of pedal prone to failure

    Coil Packs
    Early models used Hitachi coil packs and few failures. Hitachi packs replaced by bosch part which is prone to failure
    Replace part

    Venturi vacuum pump
    Can clog up with oil from the oil breather (this might only be on A3)
    Can be cleaned or replaced

    Breather / vacuum pipes
    Prone to failure overtime from heat cycling
    Replace affected pipe

    Clutch/ clutch slave cylinder & flywheel
    Clutch slave cylinders can fail, leaking fluid over clutch.
    Both slave cylinder and clutch require replacing if slave cylinder fails. If clutch goes maybe worth replacing slave cylinder at same time

    Can fail with age or if waterpump impellers fail and engine overheats. Plastic impellers can travel round engine and get caught in thermostat preventing to open and close correctly. Temp gauge no longer sits bang on 90 deg. Coasting downhill tends to drop below 90.
    Replace part. Ensure battery is disconnected as thermostat is directly behind live connection on alternator

    Coolant Temperature Sensor
    Early models used a black sensor which are prone to failure. Uprated part is green. Causes poor running. Temp gauge become erratic, check values on block 011.
    Replace part. Open then close header tank to release pressure before changing.

    Door sensor microswitches
    Switches cause DIS to indicate door still open after it has been closed
    Microswitches need realigning

    Front Sus Top Mounts
    Top mounts wear out causing knocking noise
    Remove suspension, Replace part

    Oil dipstick
    Plastic outer of oil dipstick becomes brittle and cracks. Sometimes broken parts can fall into engine.
    Replace part

    Ignition Barrel

    Fail overtime

    Oil sump pick up pipe
    Pickup pipes can become blocked with grit like material. Thought to be worse on BAM engines or engines running longlife servicing.
    Drain oil, remove sump, clean oil breather pipe or replace (£12), reinstall using audi sump sealant. 3 bolts particularly difficult to reach

    Rear ARBs
    Same problem as front although less common, collars within bushes snap at the ends and entire ARB has to be replaced. Some have found ARB needs replacing after rear springs have been renewed
    Replace entire ARB

    Coolant Level Sensor
    Sensors can fail overtime and indicates low coolant on DIS. Cabling to the switch can come loose from plug
    Clean sensor or replace. Replacement involves whole new header tank

    Fuel Pump Relay
    The fuel pump relay is located under the driver’s side kick panel. Remove the lower panels to gain access to the relay box. When the fuel pump relay goes remove the lower panels to gain access to the relay box. When the fuel pump relay goes bad it will trigger many fault codes with electrical shorts to ground. The fuel pump relay is also used to turn on the injectors, and will show injector short to ground failures. If you open your door you hear the pump kick on, if the pump no longer kicks on, and you experience these codes repeatedly, replace the fuel pump relay.

    Also yet to have a look at brake pipe from the master servo rubbing, hazard switch & yaw sensors.
    Andrew@A.L.D likes this.
  10. finesse

    finesse Active Member

    welcome pj
  11. s3dave

    s3dave TFSI Hybrid Supporter

    excellent mate.....
  12. p1tse

    p1tse Member

    Good thread
  13. p1tse

    p1tse Member

    Estimate or actual prices of parts and labour would be good too
  14. voorhees

    voorhees Moderator Staff Member Moderator Team V8 Audi S5 s tronic

    Too many different figures for that
  15. marcuss3

    marcuss3 Member

    Great write up.

    I have the issue with one Xenon pointing down, any pointers as to where the motor is in the headlamp and how easy it is to change?
    Many thanks.
  16. marcuss3

    marcuss3 Member

    Anyone help?:ermm:
  17. Benjiman46

    Benjiman46 R-Tech Terrorist

    Nobody's mentioned that the gearboxes and rear diffs are prone to failing...

    First and second gear syncro failure, causing difficulty engaging first and second gear.

    Gearbox bearing failure, causing 2 gears to rub together, in turn making a whirring noise on over-run.

    Something to do with the rear diffs failing too... I'll divulge further when I know more on this matter.

  18. Idrees

    Idrees Member

    Good write up. The link to the colour guide doesn't work, could someone please fix that as I wanted to have a look? Cheers!
  19. voorhees

    voorhees Moderator Staff Member Moderator Team V8 Audi S5 s tronic

    Never saw this as an issue and no report back on they problem,cheers anyway Ben

    Which link ?
  20. Idrees

    Idrees Member

  21. Roadtrain

    Roadtrain Audi S3 8L 225 "BAM" from Italy :)

    Congratulations about this wonderful topic :)

    I've a question: sometimes I read on the web about a third power version of ours engine: 210 PS, 225 PS, 240 PS! What version is the last one?! Thank you :)
  22. Tj 0785

    Tj 0785 Well-Known Member VCDS Map User Bronze Supporter Audi S3

    Bam is 225ps they didn't do I 240ps version
  23. <tuffty/>

    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition...Its all about the flow... Staff Member Moderator Audi S3

    Late run of the Mk1 TT included a special edition Sport that was 240ps

    BAM 225ps was the last S3 8L engine

  24. Roadtrain

    Roadtrain Audi S3 8L 225 "BAM" from Italy :)

    Yes I agreed, but I saw "S3 180 kW/240 PS" on web sometimes, MTM version maybe? Or particular European version maybe? Thank you.
  25. Roadtrain

    Roadtrain Audi S3 8L 225 "BAM" from Italy :)

    In addition I've another question: does 225/40 R18 tyres were available on BAM only, or on AMK too? And did they showed on documents regardless of they were bought with car as new? Thank you :)
  26. <tuffty/>

    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition...Its all about the flow... Staff Member Moderator Audi S3

    No idea... ask me one on sport :)

    The 18" wheels were an option

  27. Roadtrain

    Roadtrain Audi S3 8L 225 "BAM" from Italy :)

    I don't understand sorry Bro :)

    Yes, on restyling version, but as you know restyling was available with 210 PS AMK an 225 PS BAM both: did 18" wheel an option for both? And in addition, if someone bought version without 18" instead ha can because option was available, have they on documents showed in any case? Last question is because in Italy some BAM "born" without 18" has 17" only on documents, so can't mount 18" ever.
  28. Tj 0785

    Tj 0785 Well-Known Member VCDS Map User Bronze Supporter Audi S3

    Why can't you fit in 18's if it was "born" as you say with 17's. They will mount" no issues
  29. <tuffty/>

    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition...Its all about the flow... Staff Member Moderator Audi S3

    English sense of humour dude... I don't know anything about sport either ;)

    As far as I am aware 18" wheels were an option for all S3's.... in the UK market at least anyway... can't speak for other countries though as I don't live there :)

    I assume from your last statement you need to prove the car was supplied with 18's from the factory else you can't legally fit 18's in your country... I assume this has to be a standard fitment and not an optional fitment?

  30. Roadtrain

    Roadtrain Audi S3 8L 225 "BAM" from Italy :)

    Because legal limit (italian crazy rules).

    Oh ok sorry :D I'm not so good in english Bro :)

    Yes, I would know how work in your country :)

    It's very hard for me explain it in english: we have very complicated omologation rules unfortunately.

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