Need sound advice on buying an S3


Registered User
well ive finally decided to move to the world of audi,
my choice is an audi s3
i have a budget of around 4500 to 5500
i could use some sound advice on buying, like
what to look for what work should be carried out,
is thier any common faults
turbos electrics cam belts etc etc,
what avg milage should i be looking for,
etc etc
ive made mistakes in the past by seeing the first car i like and just diving straight in and buying
and ended up putting endless amounts of cash into it.
this time i wont make that mistake,
but i need some good solid advice on what to be looking out for.
ive seen some nice cars with and without mods.
remaps front mounts etc.
im thinking do i buy one already like this
or do a buy a standard and do the mods myself.
basicly a remap and some nice suspension would do me fine
i dont want to go over the top.
also what year of the car,
does that make any diffeance ?
from a w reg to a 51
or are all the spec the same on them.

so any advice from you guys would be welcome.


Registered User
I would say with your budget you be looking at one with 80+k miles on the clock. For that age you could be looking at pre and post facelift models(different 1 piece headlamps, rear lights etc.) Engine wise again you could be looking at an AMK 210bhp or BAM 225bhp again dependant on year.

I have noticed that with S3's you just never know when they are going to play up. My personal advice would be to look at a few and spend a bit more on one thats been well looked after. For cheap monies you may get lucky but I've previously realised that buying cheap usually means you are buying another persons problems.

Make sure the car has been regularly serviced. They can run on longlife intervals however make sure it has been ran on the correct oils. Using normal oils on longlife intervals ends up in oil pump clogging up and engine going bang(I steered clear of longlife cars after being told horror stories by a VW techy). Make sure the Haldex oils and filters have been changed again this can be expensive to replace if not looked after.

Most common problems on 20vT's are coil packs dying, remapping the car tends to highlight dodgy coil packs. ARB's have a tendancy to become brittle and the plastic arouind the bush falls out and the ARB then rattles( updated ones do not have plastic sleeve)

Rear springs have a tendancy to crack

LCD displays can suffer from Dead pixels (there is a thread on this)

Make sure Cambelt and waterpump have been changed (usually a £300+ job) Original waterpumps had plastic impellars which over time would crack and shatter, replacement ones have brass impellar.

i'm sure there's plenty more I've missed however this should get you started.


S3 Rav

Registered User
all of the above really.


hmmmmm interesting.
just to add,

look at the rain gutters on the roof, the outer edge can bubble and corrode. Common problem with a/s3's. Can be repaired under warranty but its a hassle.

high milage cars are not necessarily bad - depends on type of miles / care of car etc.

Main problem with my S3 has been high wear to all suspension parts - so check these thoroughly.

Other than that - the car is pretty solid.


Looking for Boost!
Staff member
MAF(Air Flow) Sensors are also a common problem with S3's, they are £80 to buy and fit yourself. A knackered one means running less power, poor mpg, and uneven power delivery throughout the rev range(similar to a miss fire).

The interior should also be squeak free, and refined at most speeds.

If you have some time, there's a FAQs section which is sticky'd at the top of this forum which has a whole load of info.

Hope you find a nice for a good S3 experience, I've had mine for 8years+ with very little problems, but my car hasn't even hit 60k miles during this time, and most of the maintenance I've tried to carry out myself, so saved a packet there in the first place.


Registered User
I bought a high milage (107,000) 225 BAM engined S3 for £6K before the big drop in car prices. The car was bog standard but had just had service done and discs and pads all round. Service history was spot on with all receipts and the milage was all motorway milage so the turbo and clutch were fine as they hadn't really been put under any strain.

Since buying I have had new wishbone bushes and a rear ARB which has tightened up the car no end. A rear wheel speed sensor, and i've had to get the rust sorted on the roof.

If I could go back and buy another S3 i'd look for one that has had a remap already done and has had all the suspension changed. If you're coming from a Scooby to an S3 you'll notice the handling is poor but thats because of the 8+ year old saggy components.

Check out the cars in the classifieds section on this forum as there are a lot of owners from here that lok after their cars very well and pay great attention to detail so you're likely to get a well loved motor.