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Road Trip Hits an Abrupt End in Boise - 2015 Audi A3 Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,112
edited June 2015 in Audi
imageRoad Trip Hits an Abrupt End in Boise - 2015 Audi A3 Long-Term Road Test

Our 2015 Audi A3 was in no position to make the return trip from Boise, Idaho, after suffering damage literally within sight of our destination.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • farvyfarvy Posts: 34
    I wonder if the ECU logged any low oil pressure faults. If so, what's Audi protocol for those such as a check of some main & rod bearings? The turbo won't like the loss of oil, either.
  • nomercy346nomercy346 Posts: 69
    almost zero chance of any damage if it was turned off quickly....

    oil pump pick up is close to the bottom of the pan, the oil wasn't all gone in a second... even if it was, the bearings won't sustain damage immediately at idle
  • banhughbanhugh Posts: 315
    Damn unlucky! But plastic oil pan! In the old days (of 2014 or earlier) you would hit the stump like that and it would, maybe, push the engine a little higher, stretch the engine mounts, and even lift the front suspension a bit as it would slide over it. Damn!
  • yellowbalyellowbal Posts: 234
    Damn that sucks. I've hit a hidden raised cement triangle right turn only thingy during a cross country drive and it did not bother our 1992 Camry at all. The lowest point should not be a plastic oil pan right? There should be a solid cross member that is lower than that?
  • DebunkerDebunker Posts: 49
    I think it would sensible for all oil pans, as vulnerable as they are, to be double-walled. Would it really cost that much more?
  • dvanosdvanos Posts: 52
    A plastic oil pan? Gotta cross it off the shopping list.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    edited June 2015
    When I think of Audi Quattro, I think of at least some vague remnant of that brand's former rally greatness. Rightly or wrongly, I expect at least passable dirt-road competence. But this? This seems to show zero consideration for the reality of unpaved roads and driveways, of which there are many in the USA. And I'm not talking Jeep trails, either.

    And when I rewind and review my own history with freeway debris over the years - a stray length of 2x4, the drill motor that fell off the truck ahead, a hunk of semi-truck tire - I can imagine paved-road encounters that might have ended the same way had I been driving this car. Granted, the statistical likelihood of something like that ending this way is probably extremely tiny, but for small stuff like this a steel pan is it's own skidplate, to a certain extent.

    No I'm on a mission to see how widespread this material choice has become over the years.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • gslippygslippy Posts: 514
    The oil pan on my former 2001 Hyundai Elantra was CAST ALUMINUM. I can buy an aftermarket one for $118. I'm not impressed with your Audi.
  • banhughbanhugh Posts: 315
    gslippy said:

    The oil pan on my former 2001 Hyundai Elantra was CAST ALUMINUM. I can buy an aftermarket one for $118. I'm not impressed with your Audi.

    I thought of that too but they replaces the plastic belly pan which I assume it's the undercover of the engine. Plus another $20 for the gasket? All in all it's more expensive but not twice as much. But damn why would a plastic pan be more expensive than an aluminum one!!!
  • jlaszlojlaszlo Posts: 60
    Great driving and looking Audi but part of owning a VW Group car is knowing that they're fragile.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 13,802
    "the next closest Audi dealers are in Portland, Oregon (429 miles) and Salt Lake City, Utah (345 miles)." "Audi Boise is the only Audi dealer in all of Idaho."

    This would greatly concern me above all else. 1 dealer in the ENTIRE state? 429 miles and 345 miles away from the next closest dealerships? That is just nuts

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2017 Pilot Touring AWD, 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport 4WD

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited June 2015
    Boise is a bit isolated - the nearest big city of SLC is 5 hours away. No MINI dealers there at all, not that they're common anyway. There is a dealer up in Spokane that could cover the upper third of the state at least (lots of the "middle" of Idaho is wilderness anyway...).
  • jkavanaghjkavanagh Posts: 26
    OEMs subject their plastic oil pans to the same impact and strike standards as metallic pans. Thus, if an impact damages a plastic oil pan, as it has here, it would have done at least the same damage to an aluminum or steel pan.
  • greg128greg128 Posts: 427
    jkavanagh said:

    OEMs subject their plastic oil pans to the same impact and strike standards as metallic pans. Thus, if an impact damages a plastic oil pan, as it has here, it would have done at least the same damage to an aluminum or steel pan.

    yeah sure.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Posts: 365
    @jkavanagh,

    While that is absolutely true, this particular failure mode looks distinctly plastic. In order to achieve the kind of impact protection necessary for an oil pan the plastic would need to be very thick and very rigid. That is why a huge hole was torn right through the pan when it was frictionally loaded. There was no way for the pan to deform so the material was literally ripped apart. A metal pan boasting the same type of impact protection would be thinner and more ductile. As a result, if the A3's pan was steel or aluminum the whole thing would simply have crumpled upon impact. It would still have needed replacing, but oil wouldn't have leaked out and the car likely could have been driven to the shop under its own power. This is an incredibly rare type of failure mode and in 99.9% of cases a plastic oil pan would probably be perfectly sufficient. However, there is a reason that brake pedal supports are still made of metal when plastic would do. There are simply some things on a car that shouldn't be cheapened.
  • jkavanaghjkavanagh Posts: 26
    Die-cast aluminum oil pans (very very common) are really not ductile and I would not be surprised at all if one had fractured in much the same manner (or worse) as this plastic pan did in this circumstance.

    Old-school stamped steel pans, which are ductile, introduced a different kind of failure mode back in the day. They'd dent, which sounds benign enough, except that they'd typically dent at their lowest-hanging point... which is where the oil pickup lives. The engine would then starve of oil pressure even though the sump never spilt a drop.
  • jkavanaghjkavanagh Posts: 26
    @mercedesfan,

    Plastic brake (and clutch) arm & support: articles.sae.org/12755/
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited June 2015
    My '99 Quest had a steel pan and it was well abused. Don't have a good pic, but the attached will give you some idea. The oil plug is in the dry area opposite the filter (which hangs straight down). I sold the van with a bit over 200,000 miles on it and it never "used" oil or suffered low pressure.

    That van lived most of its life in Boise, so there you go. :D


  • The Germans love plastic oil pans. I'm sure every BMW, Mercedes, or VW product now has plastic oil pans. Oh, and if you take a peek under that brand new 2015 F-150 you'll see a plastic oil pan attached to the 2.7 Twin Turbo engine. The real down side is that those plugs are not reusable and must be replaced every oil change. They actually prefer the oil to be removed from the fill with a oil vacuum device.
  • id19id19 Posts: 7
    "According to Travis, the service manager, the next closest Audi dealers are in Portland, Oregon (429 miles) and Salt Lake City, Utah (345 miles)." Or split the difference with Spokane, 374 miles dealer to dealer.
  • squarefoursquarefour Posts: 24
    Yet another reason, not often discussed, why many Americans tend to dig SUVs/CUVs/higher clearance vehicles. At any rate, regardless of the material they're constructed from, oil pans are vulnerable and really ought to be better protected. Even my late-nineties Mitsu [non-permissible content removed], without any sort of underbelly tray or skid plate, tucks the oil pan up so it isn't the lowest point underneath the front of the car. The airdam and lower core support act like a cowcatcher, and the lowest point of the pan is surrounded by a rear crossmember, the strut's lower mounting point and an under-engine support on all sides. You'd have to either flip something up and into it, which would be a one-in-a-million shot, or come down directly on top of something to puncture the pan.
  • fordson1fordson1 Posts: 1,512
    jkavanagh said:

    Die-cast aluminum oil pans (very very common) are really not ductile and I would not be surprised at all if one had fractured in much the same manner (or worse) as this plastic pan did in this circumstance.

    Old-school stamped steel pans, which are ductile, introduced a different kind of failure mode back in the day. They'd dent, which sounds benign enough, except that they'd typically dent at their lowest-hanging point... which is where the oil pickup lives. The engine would then starve of oil pressure even though the sump never spilt a drop.

    I agree - a cast aluminum pan would fracture, too. A stamped steel pan would not, but really - if you are aware that you have put a crimp in it like the one shown in the Nissan Quest photo, what are you going to do - drive it for another 50k miles, BETTING that it's not having oil starvation issues, or replace it? Would you drive it at all if it had been bent up, knowing that might happen?

    Bottom line - if you have damage to any kind of oil pan, of any material, you better replace it.

    I have replaced stamped steel pans that never hit anything...because they rusted from the outside in, to the point they were weeping oil. That would never have happened with a plastic pan.

    Mostly bad luck...but I must say that to me, that verge on the off side of the stump looks like it drops pretty low...even without the stump there I bet you were within a couple of inches of scraping the belly pan on the edge of the blacktop. I might not have taken a passenger car onto that verge, just for that reason.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited June 2015
    On my Quest, I had a couple of mechanics tell me not to bother replacing my beat up pan unless it actually started leaking.
  • You don't have it too bad. My friend's A5 needs an oil change every 1K, they finally found out the pistons needed to be replaced. Likewise, for someone with a Q5 I know.

    Sorry, but imo Audi is junk and I would never touch that make.
  • Sandman6472Sandman6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 5,248
    Lucky us, we have a '15 A3 and a '15 Golf! The A3 has been totally flawless while the Golf has had a few teething issues. Still, all in all, we love both vehicles a lot, our first stab at the German market after doing the American, Japanese & Koreans. We are very happy with our current rides!!

    2015 Audi A3 (wife) / 2015 Golf TSI (me) / 2019 Chevrolet Cruze Premier RS (daughter #1) / 2020 Hyundai Accent SE (daughter #2)

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