Audi's Start-Stop System Creates Dangerous Driving Situations

TL;DR

There are multiple problems with Audi's start-stop technology that outweigh the modest fuel efficiency gains. Owners complain that the system will shut off the power steering and brake systems at dangerous times and cause the accelerat The technology has been blamed for delayed acceleration and even creating some rollaway situations. Audi tells owners they can just turn the feature off, but that requires the owner to press a button after each ignition start.

A tachometer with the red arrow pointing at the 'ready' position
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#lawsuit #engine #technology

The benefits of start-stop systems are clear. The technology shuts off your engine and transmission when you don't need it to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions output. It's become very popular with automakers as they compete to squeeze every fraction of a mile out of a gallon of gas.

But while automakers might love, owners aren't so sure.

First off, it's a little disconcerting. If you've ever driven a car with a start-stop system you likely remember the first time you pull up to a red light and the engine shuts off. Some of the more agressive systems will even shut the engine down before the car comes to a complete stop.

Then there's the valid concerns about wear and tear. A start-stop system can increase the number of times your engine is started on an average day to dozens or maybe even hundreds of times, depending on your commute. And that's when most engine wear occurs, particularily on the starter and transmission.

All this for what amounts to a marginal gain of 3% fuel efficiency.

Multiple Defects in Audi's Start-Stop Design

Audi owners have more to worry about than the standard menu of start-stop concerns. There are multiple defects in Audi's implementation that make the cars dangerous to drive.

Delayed Acceleration Response

The system is designed to restart the engine once the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal. The theory being that the engine and transmission will be ready by the time the driver's foot reaches the accelerator.

With Audi vehicles that isn't always the case and acceleration can suffer.

Not only will acceleration be delayed, but multiple owners say the acceleration isn't dependable even once the car gets rolling. Complaints about the transmission hesitating or lurching can be particularily dangerous in a busy intersection.

Power Steering and Brakes Shut Off When Needed

The engine isn't the only thing that shuts down when the start-stop system activates. Depending on the situation, the transmission, power steering, and power brakes are also disengaged.

That's fine if the vehicle is completely stopped, but those systems should always be available if the car is moving.

Audi owners often complain that those systems shut off way too early, well before the vehicle has come to a stop. They're also slow to reactivate and aren't always available during the initial acceleration.

If you've ever tried steering a car without power steering you know that it's hardest when the car is moving slowly, so this is a major defect.

Rollaway Threat

Audi's start-stop system also tends to be a little preusumptuous.

For example, if the car comes to a stop and the system activates it won't re-activate if the driver takes off their seat belt. They assume you're parking and the engine is no longer needed, what they don't realize is you're just trying to pickup your kid's stuffed animal that they've somehow dropped for the 37th time.

Once the driver's seat belt is removed the engine won't restart. Not even if the driver puts their seat belt back on. The only way is to click the seat belt, put the transmission in park, and press the ignition button.

That can be a dangerous problem if the driver doesn't realize what happens and the vehicle starts to roll away once they release the brake. Not only will the engine not re-engage, but neither will the power braking or power steering systems.

Audi's owners manual says the engine will "automatically restart [when] the vehicle rolls, for example while on a slope.” But that's not what happens.

Audi Has Faced Multiple Start-Stop Lawsuits

The rollaway problem was what sparked the first start-stop lawsuit against Audi in 2017.

Anzhelya Makaryan, et. al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc

In August of 2017, Audi was met with their first start-stop lawsuit.

The lead plaintiff reports that rollaways can occur even putting the seat belt back on right after and pushing the ignition button does not start the engine. The only way to start the engine is by putting the vehicle in PARK and pushing the ignition button.

Pitts, et al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al.

In July of 2020 Audi was sued because power brakes and steering are unavailable due to timing issues in the start-stop system. This is a recipe for crashes and close calls.

The plaintiff says Audi refuses to do anything about this known malfunction and has only offered a basic service bulletin without any real fixes. Instead it just says the Start/Stop system does not shutdown when the driver thinks it should. Ya think?

Swinburne, et al., v. Audi of America, Inc., et al.

In August of 2020 Audi was sued for delayed acceleration problems related to the stop-start system.

The plaintiff says the system doesn't work as advertised. Accordingo to Audi [w]hen the driver presses the brake pedal at stoplights or in other prolonged idle situations, the engine shuts off. When the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine instantaneously starts up again. That's not always what happens.

Dusanjh v. Audi AG, et al.,

Canada joined the lawsuit parade against Audi in September of 2020. It echoed the same concerns as previous lawsuit but added Canadian owners as class-members.

Audi's Technical Service Bulletin

Despite all the complaints and ongoing litigation, Audi has only released a revised technical service bulletin about the problem. No warranty upgrades, customer servive campaigns, or recalls.

In service bulletin #00 18 14 2045316/3, Audi has told its dealers tell customers that they may be mistaking normal operations as faulty systems.

_“The Start/Stop system is complex and the number of the conditions affecting it is high. In many cases concerns about the Start/Stop system may actually be normal operation or influenced by the actions of the driver or passenger.”

Owners are also told to deactivate the system if it makes them uncomfortable. But that physically requires pushing a button each time the ignition is started.

Models With Start-Stop Defects Problems

Audi A3

PainRank
7.22
Complaints
47
Reliability
18th out of 19

Audi A4

PainRank
7.62
Complaints
219
Reliability
19th out of 19

Audi A5

PainRank
2.93
Complaints
24
Reliability
14th out of 19

Audi A6

PainRank
3
Complaints
70
Reliability
16th out of 19

Audi A7

PainRank
1.28
Complaints
11
Reliability
9th out of 19

Audi A8

PainRank
0.77
Complaints
20
Reliability
7th out of 19

Audi Q5

PainRank
5.12
Complaints
100
Reliability
17th out of 19

Audi Q7

PainRank
2.95
Complaints
44
Reliability
15th out of 19

Audi Q8

PainRank
1.05
Complaints
2
Reliability
8th out of 19

Audi S3

PainRank
0.57
Complaints
2
Reliability
5th out of 19

Audi S4

PainRank
2.87
Complaints
39
Reliability
13th out of 19

Audi S6

PainRank
0.04
Complaints
1
Reliability
3rd out of 19

Audi S8

PainRank
0.03
Complaints
2
Reliability
1st out of 19

Audi SQ5

PainRank
N/A
Complaints
0
Reliability
N/A

Audi TT

PainRank
2.86
Complaints
31
Reliability
12th out of 19

Audi TTS

PainRank
N/A
Complaints
0
Reliability
N/A

What about specific generations?

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA