This is most probably the most reliable Audi A8 ever made. Partly it’s because it really is built quite well, and partly because it’s still a relatively young car.
Of course it’s full with electronics, it has air suspension and all the other luxury features, but it still doesn’t have the even more complicated newest safety, suspension, engine and multimedia system related technology which is in the newest A8. The new technology is interesting, it’s exciting, an sometimes it’s jaw dropping (but not for me anymore). However the bad thing is that it’s still not tested out very well since you need years and years to properly test it – to find out it’s weakest points.
All of this means that the long term reliability of the newest A8 is questionable and the proud owners of this car are also more or less test dummies (even if they like it or not).
On the other side, the reliability of this older A8 is already pretty predictable, since it’s basically built from the well-known just updated systems and it’s also equipped with the well-known engines. But as I said, in this case the time really plays a big role in the reliability of certain components.
You can expect great interior build quality, with top quality materials and very good ergonomics. The interior looks and feels really expensive and it still doesn’t look outdated even after many years of production. There are no issues with peeling plastic or something like that + it can be really well equipped:
The standard equipment included for example: dual zone automatic climate control, multifunctional steering wheel with shift paddles, leather seats with leather dashboard, standard electrically adjustable and heated front seats with memory function or the navigation system.
However the optional equipment included things like: night vision system, head-up display, parking cameras, double glazed windows, heated steering wheel, the optional front comfort seats with massage function, heated and ventilated front and back seats, rear seat entertainment package with electrically adjustable rear massage seats, solar sunroof, full LED headlights, Bose or the more expensive Bang and Olufsen sound system and so on.
Body, paintjob, rust protection
The body of this A8 is made from aluminium – as in the previous A8 models, so there are no problems with rust and the paintjob quality is good as well. Just check for inconsistent gaps between the body panels or issues with the paintjob which will indicate that the car was repainted and the body panels were removed-because of a minor or a major crash. The paint on the screws which hold the doors or fenders has to be completely intact as well.
The reliability of this car is actually quite good considering the fact that this is a luxury car which is completely full with electronics. However there can be more often problem with a couple of things:
-The first issue can be with the MMI screen opening and closing, interestingly this was a problem on the previous generation too. So just check if it opens an closes without issues or strange sounds.
-The next more common issue is the windshield leaking at the top center. Lot of the owners experienced water leaking into the interior from the sunroof area. However the actual leak was coming from the top of the windshield, which means that there can be basically a small gap between the top of the windshield and the body – and the water can obviously go thru this gap. The first solution is to replace the windscreen, in this case you should not buy an aftermarket glass, because then you can have easily problems with that special camera which is behind the windscreen. After replacing windshield – with the genuine glass you have to also recalibrate that special camera for the adaptive cruise control and lane assistant. As you can guess all of this is quite expensive. To save money some of the owners who had this problem decided to use some silicone windshield sealant to seal this gap. I don’t know if this is the best solution but who knows? At the end you can try it if you don’t want to spend money on the new windshield.
/price for the genuine windshield itself starts at 900 € + labour (the price depends on the windshield type) /
If the car is equipped with the sunroof then it’s also good to keep in mind that the drain hose connections are the same as in the first generation Audi Q7, Q5 or the A4 (B8). Which means that there is a possibility that the plastic ending can create a gap around the connection which can cause water leak right into the interior. more information about these drains in the Audi Q7 video
As I said, this car is full with various electronic systems so the battery should always be in a good condition + It’s also extremely important to have the latest software updates which can solve some of the problems.
This A8 is standardly equipped with the adaptive air suspension, and you can adjust the shock absorbers from comfort to dynamic mode and you can even raise the car a little.
There was also the optional sport air suspension, which is a little bit stiffer than the regular air suspension but other than this it’s the same system.
The suspension is overall reliable, so you can expect some problems only in high mileage cars. These problems are those usual air suspension problems, so mainly height sensors or faulty air compressor. The air suspension springs are mostly reliable, which means that they should withstand more than 200 000 km or 10 years without leaks. However if they start to leak then they usually leak because of the age, not because of high mileage (although there are of course exceptions), so be prepared to replace them after approx. 10 years. Also keep in mind that not only the age but also the road salt reduces the lifetime of the air struts so you can expect leaks earlier in cars used on winter salty roads.
new front air spring – 1 230 €
new rear air spring – 1 323 €
Some of the owners complained about louder road surface dependent tire/road noise on 20″ wheels on before facelift models, so I would personally recommend to choose the 19″ wheels if you have mainly poor quality roads around you and if you want better ride comfort.
The facelifted version of this A8 was made from 2013. It included upgraded front matrix headlights with those special effects, then new rear lights, upgraded interior sound insulation and some other minor updates.
You should definitely buy only a car with regular maintenance history and I’m going to say the same thing as in the used BMW 7 series F01 video: So have at least 4 000 or 5 000 € for the additional repairs, because all the spare parts are really expensive.
The petrol engines are actually reliable. However there is a common problem with the 4.0 l TFSI V8 engine which was available in the regular A8 made from 2012 and in the S8 version. The issue is basically bigger vibrations at 1000 or 3000 RPM. Ok, but how to solve this problem?
Well, according to the original service plan, they need to update the software in the engine mounts – but this step usually doesn’t help at all, so then they have to replace the downpipes or front pipes in other words on both sides of the engine. And then, the problem is solved.
All in all, if you are buying this A8 with this engine then check these vibrations. First rev the engine from idle to 1000 and 3000 RPM when the car is stationary, and then rev the engine to these RPMs during the test-drive too. If you can feel those vibrations then you know that there is problem.
The last thing is that these engines are equipped with direct injection system, so you should use only high quality fuel, change the oil regularly and use the car on longer distances too.
The hybrid version has a 2.0 l TFSI 4 cylinder engine. The engine and also the hybrid unit are usually all right. But keep in mind that fixing or replacing the hybrid unit is obviously expensive and if you really want one then you should bring it to the dealer since they should be able to test the batteries.
The diesel engines are usually reliable, so you can expect only regular, but usually expensive diesel engine problems after approx. 200 000 km mainly if the car was used mainly on short distances.
-All the diesel engines are equipped with the infamous Bosch CP4 high pressure fuel pump which can fail. This is not an extremely common issue and nobody knows when it fails, since it dies because of the different fuel used in Eastern Europe or in the US. If it fails it will throw small metal particles in the fuel system, thus destroying the injectors and sometimes these particles will contaminate the fuel tank as well. So in this case the whole or just certain parts of the fuel system including the injectors and the high pressure fuel pump has to be replaced. More information about this issue in the used BMW X5 F15 article.
“Up to 8 000 – 9 000 € to change the HPFP, injectors and to clean the fuel system at the dealer”
It’s important to choose a diesel engine only if you want to use the car on longer journeys and use only high quality fuel, eventually some good quality additives suitable for modern diesel engines equipped with DPF filters.
“Change the oil in the engine after maximum 15 000km, but the very best is to change it after 10 000 km.”
All the engines have timing chain which is usually all right. However it can be worn in high mileage cars so after approx. 200 000 – 250 000 km it’s good to pay attention to a short rattling noise after cold start which indicate worn timing chain or chain tensioners.
This A8 was available only with the 8 speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. This transmission is mostly reliable mainly if the previous owner changed the oil in it regularly, but it can have sometimes problem with the mechatronic unit – so don’t forget to check it properly before buying. It should change gears very fast and smoothly without some kind of a strange noise, hesitation or shuddering.
Before buying check the suspension parts and all the electronics. The car should ride quietly so it shouldn’t make rattling, squeaking or humming noises from the suspension.
Check the exterior of the car for various paint defects which can be the sign of the resprayed body, and also check the gaps between the body panels – they should be even on the left and on the right side too.
I hope that these information are helpful enough, if you have personal experience with this car, then you can write it into comments!