Air Con condenser - design fault??

GTS1979

Registered User
I'm currently going through the same issues with my 7 month old A3. After much arguing and some emails to the Board in Germany, I was eventually offered 50% by Audi UK. I asked why only 50% when it's a known flaw and others have had the full amount covered, and I was told "we want to maintain a relationship with certain customers". Talk about a slap in the face and being made to feel second class. On hearing that, I told them they could keep the 50% and if they want to maintain a relationship with me, they can make it 100%. They've gone quiet on me now but I've been emailing the press and hoping to get some interest there to highlight how shockingly awful Audi are.

Case number AU-2016/07-032509
 

cuke2u

Registered User
Unfortunately I am not surprised they made you feel second class, with all the thousands of cars on the road with the same design you will have a extremely hard task in proving that this is a known flaw...
 

GTS1979

Registered User
I've since been told by the UK MD that it's a risk of everyday driving that the air con could be taken out, and he even compared the air con to tyres, windscreens and headlights as parts of the car that are susceptible to damage! I found this statement to be completely ridiculous - nobody should think air con is as likely to fail as a windscreen is likely to get a stone chip - hardly premium brand if that's how much confidence they have in their design !

I've had responses from the Sun and the Guardian expressing an interest in this story, although not enough to run with it yet. If others that are experiencing or have experienced this issue are interested, I'd be happy to coordinate with them to submit all of our stories. I think the press would be more likely to do something if we show it's a wider issue.
 

richinsoton

Registered User
I've since been told by the UK MD that it's a risk of everyday driving that the air con could be taken out, and he even compared the air con to tyres, windscreens and headlights as parts of the car that are susceptible to damage! I found this statement to be completely ridiculous
The statement is only ridiculous if you don't understand how an a/c condenser works, it needs to be in the airflow over the front of the car to be able to transfer heat efficiently & hence why it's as susceptible to impact damage as any forward facing component. If you sheild it or manufacture it with thicker pipes it won't work as effectively.... Will you also be requesting puncture proof tyres & bulletproof glass to the windscreen!?!. :laughing:
 

thegingerone

Registered User
The statement is only ridiculous if you don't understand how an a/c condenser works, it needs to be in the airflow over the front of the car to be able to transfer heat efficiently & hence why it's as susceptible to impact damage as any forward facing component. If you sheild it or manufacture it with thicker pipes it won't work as effectively.... Will you also be requesting puncture proof tyres & bulletproof glass to the windscreen!?!. :laughing:


Yes we all know how the Condenser works but this is about minimising risk and balancing operational efficiency. As motorists we have to accept that our vehicles are at risk from a variety of potential problems when using on the road but it is not unreasonable for us to assume that a manufacturer such as Audi will have minimised the risk as far as is reasonably possible during the design / development stage. I would find it very hard to believe that there couldn't be a mesh guard provided that would sit between the grill and the condenser which would balance the two and by providing this Audi would then have taken all reasonable steps to rectify what is becoming an on-going issue.

I suspect the head in the sand approach from Audi is down to the fact that any action to rectify the problem will result in a recall and removal of the bumper which takes a considerable amount of time even for an Audi technician and for every hour a car sits in the workshop under recall that is an hour the Audi must reimburse the dealerships. No doubt Audi believe it is more cost effective to deal with individual cases as and when the arise than issue a recall. They can not then offer any other item as that would be an acknowledgement on their part that there is an issue.
 

richinsoton

Registered User
Yes we all know how the Condenser works but this is about minimising risk and balancing operational efficiency. As motorists we have to accept that our vehicles are at risk from a variety of potential problems when using on the road but it is not unreasonable for us to assume that a manufacturer such as Audi will have minimised the risk as far as is reasonably possible during the design / development stage. I would find it very hard to believe that there couldn't be a mesh guard provided that would sit between the grill and the condenser which would balance the two and by providing this Audi would then have taken all reasonable steps to rectify what is becoming an on-going issue.

I suspect the head in the sand approach from Audi is down to the fact that any action to rectify the problem will result in a recall and removal of the bumper which takes a considerable amount of time even for an Audi technician and for every hour a car sits in the workshop under recall that is an hour the Audi must reimburse the dealerships. No doubt Audi believe it is more cost effective to deal with individual cases as and when the arise than issue a recall. They can not then offer any other item as that would be an acknowledgement on their part that there is an issue.
Audi are under no obligation to issue a recall as it's not safety related.... I would imagine if you could go back twenty years on any forum you would have the same 'it's a design fault arguement' in reference to the coolant radiator. No manufacturer that I'm aware of fits an additional screen between the grille / bumper & rad pack, at the end of the day it all comes down to money. It's not a design fault as has been suggested & no manufacturer will ever agree that it is & open the floodgates for every retrospective claim for a rad or condenser that has ever been fitted to car!.
 
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Neil C

Registered User
So, where do we go from here guys?

I have spent the entire summer with no air conditioning, as I simply won't take the risk that any replacement condenser could suffer the same fate as my original one. . . and within minutes of leaving the workshop.

I have purchased some mesh sheet, but haven't decided whether to try and fit it as protection yet, or keep waiting in case Audi face up to their responsibilities.
 

woollyjoe

Registered User
I don't have an A3, but happy to try to make a suggestion...

We need someone to create a list of people affected.
Several of us can ask website and news sites to run articles with BBC etc to make list bigger.
Someone on the list needs to find a solicitor - I can suggest one who may take it on based upon a success fee (eg - Audi fully compensate for legal costs).

The organisation of people will likely force Audi to do a recall and refund those who have paid. You don't need that many people.

Other routes include BBC Watchdog - they love this sort of thing and could effectively negotiate on our behalf.
 

AJB

Registered User
I honestly don't think it's a design flaw any more than making windscreens out of glass or tyres out of rubber. The stones that puncture a condenser are going to be pretty tiny (else they'll just dent the fins). Fitting a fine mesh will reduce airflow and probably increase drag.

I've just googled "air con stone damage" on my phone, and the first page of results has VW, Nissan, BMW, Honda and Saab. Audi doesn't even make it to the first page.

Having said that, I'll probably now get a stone through mine next week!
 

AJB

Registered User
I've just been outside to look at my wife's MINI, and the gaps in the grill underneath the numberplate are big enough on that that I can get my hand through to touch the air con condenser...
 

woollyjoe

Registered User
Car companies employ many tricks to minimise damage from road debris, such as adjusting the angle of the entry fins, or even lengthening them to absorb initial impact etc. If you believe Audi's are not known for this (as proven by page one of your search results) this would only highlight a new problem and therefore a problem Audi didn't have before - so why now if not a design flaw?

Relating it to glass windscreens seem to do the design effort on windscreens a disservice. The glass is designed to withstand hits from road debris through material developments and rake angles etc, and only the worst ones actually damage the windscreen but even then they can be economically repaired which becomes part of the design of a windscreen.

If it was my car, I would fully expect the radiators to be protected adequately.
 

pns2007

Moonstone Grey
VCDS Map User
Lost the use of my air con yesterday, scanned with vcds and the fault code was:-

262914 - Refrigerant Pressure B10AB F0 [009] - Too Low. The refrigerant pressure was 1.0 bar

Cars booked in for next week and I'm a bit nervous to say the least. I checked the radiator through front grill and it does has some marks on it.

If the radiator is damaged, would there be any sign of the leak, like a wet mark ?

Thanks
 

richinsoton

Registered User
Lost the use of my air con yesterday, scanned with vcds and the fault code was:-

262914 - Refrigerant Pressure B10AB F0 [009] - Too Low. The refrigerant pressure was 1.0 bar

Cars booked in for next week and I'm a bit nervous to say the least. I checked the radiator through front grill and it does has some marks on it.

If the radiator is damaged, would there be any sign of the leak, like a wet mark ?

Thanks
You would possibly see a wet mark if there's been a loss of oil or if U.V dye has been previously injected into the system to leak trace in the system.
 

Chimp

Registered User
Well after having my Aircon "service" ie refilled in June car is 2 years old at that point, I used it a few times over the summer and it seemed "ok". Tired it again a few weekends ago and no cold air at all.

I booked it in under warranty as they serviced it and also carried out a health check at service 2 weeks ago and they have just called me to say that the front bumper is off and die trace being carried out.... They think it might be the condenser :puke2: so I am expecting the call in next hour or so with the £800 bill....

Been trying to trade the car in over last few months looking for an RS3 but this happens, full service/oil and gearbox oil 2 weeks ago £700 also in for front disks and pads today its an expensive time for the S3. Never had any issues with the TTS or TTRS aircon before the S3.

Got to be a design fault... suffice to say I will be complaining to Audi UK and asking for at least 50% of costs.
 

Chimp

Registered User
Well a pleasant surprise update from last week! It turns out it was the connecting pipe seal that had corroded and hence the leaking. All fixed under warranty!! Phew!
 

JimmyWhitt

Registered User
Hi Guys, I have recently sent me A3 Sline sportback (63 Plate) sent in to local Audi dealer with the Air con not working, Hoping to get this all covered under warranty.

Had a phone call claiming the air con condenser has been damaged by a stone?? (must of been a big stone) which has caused a leak and this is not covered under warranty apparently!!! so quoted me a £750 to repair this. Sure you could all know what my reaction was like so had the car returned to me whilst I try to resolve this with Audi.

Unfortunately got nowhere with them apart from £100 off the bill still asking for £650!!

so my dilemma is now as my PCP is coming to an end I am returning the car to them and walking away, as soon to be receiving a company car, Do I get this condenser fixed by a local mechanic prior to giving it back or just send it back in without it being fixed and risk a heavy bill coming my way following the inspection?

Appreciate any of your thoughts if any of you have been in a similar situation.
 

Evilhomer1942

2017 S4 Saloon Black Edition - Manhattan Grey
Had the same issue....thankfully under warranty.. condenser, compressor and connecting seals all replaced. Car was less than 15 months old with about 6k miles on the clock. Totally disagree with the naysayers here denying any kind of design flaw.. its far too common an issue with the 8V not to be.

Id suggest a freedom of information request to Audi regarding how many repairs have been completed would give a shocking picture.

And how people can suggest that there is not a mesh that would minimise the risk without compromising air flow is beyond me... these are not adrian newey designed f1 cars for goodness sake!
 

SJC

Registered User
Just out of interest. When you put the A/c on does the rev's increase. Due to the increased load on the alternator? I have pushed mine on previously on my old golf and a3 and it did. Where as I tried it out and it did not in this motor. Thanks in advance for replies.
 

Evilhomer1942

2017 S4 Saloon Black Edition - Manhattan Grey
Just out of interest. When you put the A/c on does the rev's increase. Due to the increased load on the alternator? I have pushed mine on previously on my old golf and a3 and it did. Where as I tried it out and it did not in this motor. Thanks in advance for replies.
Ive noticed the change you refer to on mine .. yes.
 
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SJC

Registered User
Balls. That means mine is gone also and explains why it's not demisting this winter as quick ..
 

Evilhomer1942

2017 S4 Saloon Black Edition - Manhattan Grey
Balls. That means mine is gone also and explains why it's not demisting this winter as quick ..
Bad times... diagnostics to confirm.. will tell you if pressure in system is low. Compressor wont switch on if thats the case.
 

lodger

Registered User
My brand new Audi S3 has a hole in the air con condenser.
Have a look at the front grill... There are 3 x 4cm x 55cm gaps in the front grill giving a clear line for stone damage to the air con condenser. This is a clear design fault in my mind which will mean regular damage if you travel at motorway speeds. That's fine if you don't mind regular £800 bills to fix it because Audi have refused to cover it on the warranty despite this clear design fault.
This car is not fit for purpose. Be very careful before you buy one and only buy it if you're happy to drive at slow speeds!!

Has anyone else tried their air con lately?? Check it out because this has to be a ticking time bomb for damage and an £800 bill :-(
Hi I just put my A3 in for its first service wit 19000 on the clock . Found out the Air con would not stay on , informed my local Audi garage . They stated it was not covered in the warranty and would cost £829 pound to fix . After refusing this payment to fix my car . They contacted Audi themselves who said thy would pay some of the cast if I paid some of it myself . I grudge paying it but got the car fixed . The garage sad they had only hered of this happening about this before . Will look at fitting some mesh to prevent this happing again.
 

Falmouthboy

Registered User
You can't do a freedom of information request? Audi isn't a publicly funded service, it's a private company.

Clearly some cars condensers are more vulnerable than others, as some windscreens are and some tyres are. An opportunity for insurance companies methinks - like tyre or wheel damage insurance.
 

TickerS3

Registered User
I have just taken my S3 in for its first service, I had asked them to investigate my Air Conditioning as it was not working. I was sent a video from the technician showing damage to the Condenser and what appeared to be a small bolt lodged between the condenser and plastic surround which he attributed to causing the damage.

I did not get the condenser replaced and thankfully on inspection found that they had left the bolt in situ.

As you can see from the images below it turned out to be significantly larger than I (and I expect the dealership) had expected.

I think it is plainly obvious that there is a serious lack of any significant degree of protection offered to the condenser. As many others have commented, damage caused by small stones may be attributed to 'bad luck' and difficult to prevent, however the ability of such a large foreign object to reach such a delicate (and expensive) component is not defensible in any way. Even if the gaps in the front grill were half the size that they are currently I could almost definitely say it would've been prevented.

I hope that you find this interesting and would like to hear your thoughts about it.

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DSC_5778  resize.jpg
 

MrMoo28

Registered User
In the end, I got 75% off the bill and paid £181. The 75% was covered by Audi UK. Derby Audi weren't interested. And my story was also published by the Guardian

Definitely Audi UK? I've had same happen to me, stone strike to condenser. Quotes £750 for the repair by Audi dealership. I've been on the phone to Audi UK, someone in customer relations who said Audi UK do not give any good will gestures, they do not provide any sort of funding for these sorts of issues and never have done and it is up to the centres themselves to try and secure any good will funding from their own budget or from Audi head office in Germany. The customer relations chap said Audi UK are only existing as a liaison role between customers and the centres if they need to discuss issues with the centres.

What makes this case weird is that upon taking my car to an independent garage, they said fit an Audi Genuine part, the cost of £803+ labour totalling £1220. That garage was then questioning whether my Audi dealer would then even be fitting an Audi Genuine part, as ludicrous as that sounds, as their charge for part and labour is less than the cost of the actual part!

They also wont open any other people's case references to check out what has occurred due to DPA.
 

Neil C

Registered User
Seems expensive to me. According to TPS, an Audi genuine part costs between £200 and £300.
 

GW1

Registered User
You can buy a new NRF condenser from Autodoc for approximately £70.00 and get an Audi specialist like four rings in Dartford to fit it and get change from £200.00
 

MrMoo28

Registered User
If I got a non-OEM / Genuine Audi A/C condenser fitted, would it invalidate warranty for the entire car? Seems a bit silly if so, as surely it would only ever affect issues relating to the A/C system itself and shouldn't affect any other parts of the car?
 

GW1

Registered User
No, it would only effect the non OE parts and of course if you car is older than three years it’s not a problem anyway . I have had another look around and found “car parts 4 less” are selling HELLA condensers for £95.00
 

Mal Rai

Registered User
2017 A4 1.4 Tfsi sport acquired on a personal lease, suffered damage to condenser. No damage to grill. So I can only assume that something has got through the gaps. Local dealer has stated that the damage is not covered by the warranty, but I'm also paying for maintenance including wear and tear cover that I'm paying extra for! I have contacted Audi UK, let's see what happens! Looking forward to upgrading to an A6 from the dealer in 17 months time, this is now subject to how this issue is addressed!
 

Neil C

Registered User
Interested to see how you get on. Unfortunately the history on this problem makes me think that you probably shouldn't get your hopes up.
 

Mal Rai

Registered User
Local dealer agreed to cover 70 percent of the cost. I'm still disgruntled at having to contribute for the remainder. I'll be back onto Audi UK to see if they'll cover the remaining 30 percent.
 
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Mal Rai

Registered User
Audi UK didn't budge. Ended up going with the 70 percent off proposal from the dealer. Still gutted to have to pay the remainder, especially after speaking to a BMW owner who suffered a similar situation after 10 months of ownership. BMW sorted it all out at no cost to the customer and provided a quality enhancement to mitigate the risk of it happening again!
 

audi_a33

Registered User
Hi there,

I have the same issue with the air condenser on my 2016 A3. My local Audi dealership quoted me £960 to fix it. After speaking with Audi UK, they have offered a 50% discount. They won't go any lower.

I'm planning to go down the small claims court route. Has anyone had any success doing this?
 

AJB

Registered User
I have the same issue with the air condenser on my 2016 A3. My local Audi dealership quoted me £960 to fix it. After speaking with Audi UK, they have offered a 50% discount. They won't go any lower.

I'm planning to go down the small claims court route. Has anyone had any success doing this?

If your leak is caused by impact damage with something then I really can't imagine this would succeed, and I'm not surprised they won't give more than 50% off (although you might be able to get it fixed for a lower overall cost outside of the dealer network).

If you walk along the street looking at parked newish cars, most makes/models seem to have big gaps in their grills and very visible air con condensers. My wife's MINI I can reach in and touch the surface of the condenser through the grill. I don't see why Audi would be liable for making cars the same way as most other manufacturers.

My suspicion is that medium sized stones will hit and bend the fins, and are unlikely to cause a puncture/leak, and it's a small stone at just the wrong place that can puncture it. A grill with a fine enough mesh to stop these small stones might well also significantly reduce airflow and thus reduce air con efficiency and increase fuel consumption. As it wouldn't cost much to make a fine mesh, I imagine there must be a good reason why most manufacturers don't.

I hope you get yours sorted without too much expense, but personally I can't see a legal route going anywhere other than possibly losing you the 50% discount offer.
 
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