Defects in Audi's Start-Stop System Make it Dangerous

Key Points

  • Defects in Audi's start-stop system can delay acceleration response, disable power steering, and cause rollaways
  • Multiple lawsuits have been filed over start-stop defects since 2017.
  • Audi released a TSB advising dealerships to just tell customers to turn it off if they don't like how it works.
A tachometer with the red arrow pointing at the 'ready' position
Posted on
Author
Scott McCracken
Tagged
#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'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.

Audi Start-Stop Lawsuits

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Dusanjh v. Audi AG, et al.

    The Audi Start-Stop system allegedly requires expensive repairs, car rentals, towing charges, time off work and other costs, while customers allegedly lose money as the vehicles lose their values.

    Status
    pending
    Class Vehicles
    • 2017-2020 A3
    • 2017-2020 A4
    • 2017-2020 A5
    • 2017-2020 A6
    • 2017-2020 A7
    • 2017-2020 A8
    • 2017-2020 S3
    • 2017-2020 S4
    • 2017-2020 S6
    • 2017-2020 S8
    • 2017-2020 Q5
    • 2017-2020 Q7
    • 2017-2020 Q8
    • 2017-2020 SQ5
    • 2017-2020 TT
    • 2017-2020 TTS
    Location
    British Columbia
  • Swinburne, et al., v. Audi of America, Inc., et al.

    Class action lawsuit alleges the systems cause the engines to hesitate, lag and fail to immediately activate when drivers try to accelerate from full or rolling stops.

    Status
    pending
    Class Vehicles
    • 2019-2020 A3
    • 2017-2020 A4
    • 2017-2020 A5
    • 2017-2020 A6
    • 2017-2020 A7
    • 2017-2020 Q3
    • 2017-2020 Q5
    • 2017-2020 Q7
    • 2017-2020 Q8
    Location
    Virginia
  • Dismissed

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

    The lawsuit wanted refunds for the purchase price of the vehicles for class members, plus compensation for overpaying and for loss of values. It was dismissed when a judge ruled Audi's owner's manuals clearly say the Start-Stop system "may turn off the engine before the car comes to a complete stop."

    Status
    dismissed read original case
    Class Vehicles
    • 2017-2020 A3
    • 2017-2020 A4
    • 2017-2020 A5
    • 2017-2020 A6
    • 2017-2020 A7
    • 2017-2020 A8
    • 2017-2020 S3
    • 2017-2020 S4
    • 2017-2020 S6
    • 2017-2020 S8
    • 2017-2020 TT
    • 2017-2020 TTS
    • 2017-2020 Q5
    • 2017-2020 Q7
    • 2017-2020 Q8
    • 2017-2020 SQ5
    Location
    Virginia
  • Dismissed

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

    The lawsuit alleged the start-stop feature causes vehicles to unintentionally roll away because of a defect in the Start-Stop systems. The case was voluntarily dismissed in November 2017 after a motion to dismiss by Audi was fiked earlier that same month.

    Status
    dismissed read original case
    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2017 A3
    • 2013-2017 A4
    • 2013-2017 A5
    • 2013-2017 A6
    • 2013-2017 A7
    • 2013-2017 A8
    • 2013-2017 S3
    • 2013-2017 S4
    • 2013-2017 S5
    • 2013-2017 S6
    • 2013-2017 S7
    • 2013-2017 S8
    • 2013-2017 RS 5
    • 2013-2017 RS 7
    • 2013-2017 allroad
    • 2013-2017 Q3
    • 2013-2017 Q5
    • 2013-2017 Q7
    • 2013-2017 SQ5
    • 2013-2017 TT
    • 2013-2017 TTS
    • 2013-2017 TT RS
    • 2013-2017 R8
    Location
    California

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Audi generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

  1. 3rd Generation A3

    Years
    2013–2020
    Reliability
    35th of 39
    PainRank
    2.96
    Complaints
    33
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a A3
  2. 5th Generation A4

    Years
    2016–2021
    Reliability
    20th of 39
    PainRank
    1.1
    Complaints
    12
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a A4
  3. 1st Generation A5

    Years
    2008–2017
    Reliability
    19th of 39
    PainRank
    1.09
    Complaints
    23
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a A5
  4. 2nd Generation A5

    Years
    2018–2021
    Reliability
    7th of 39
    PainRank
    0.13
    Complaints
    1
    Continue
  5. 5th Generation A6

    Years
    2019–2021
    Reliability
    14th of 39
    PainRank
    0.58
    Complaints
    2
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a A6
  6. 2nd Generation A7

    Years
    2018–2020
    Reliability
    10th of 39
    PainRank
    0.28
    Complaints
    1
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a A7
  7. 4th Generation A8

    Years
    2019–2019
    Reliability
    10th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue
  8. 2nd Generation Q5

    Years
    2018–2020
    Reliability
    24th of 39
    PainRank
    1.31
    Complaints
    7
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Q5
  9. 2nd Generation Q7

    Years
    2017–2021
    Reliability
    23rd of 39
    PainRank
    1.29
    Complaints
    9
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Q7
  10. 1st Generation Q8

    Years
    2019–2020
    Reliability
    16th of 39
    PainRank
    0.79
    Complaints
    2
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Q8
  11. 3rd Generation S3

    Years
    2015–2019
    Reliability
    12th of 39
    PainRank
    0.34
    Complaints
    2
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a S3
  12. 6th Generation S4

    Years
    2018–2021
    Reliability
    12th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a S4
  13. 4th Generation S6

    Years
    2011–2018
    Reliability
    6th of 39
    PainRank
    0.1
    Complaints
    1
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a S6
  14. 5th Generation S6

    Years
    2019–2021
    Reliability
    6th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a S6
  15. 4th Generation S8

    Years
    2019–2020
    Reliability
    6th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a S8
  16. 2nd Generation SQ5

    Years
    2017–2020
    Reliability
    6th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a SQ5
  17. 3rd Generation TT

    Years
    2015–2020
    Reliability
    8th of 39
    PainRank
    0.15
    Complaints
    1
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a TT
  18. 3rd Generation TTS

    Years
    2015–2020
    Reliability
    8th of 39
    PainRank
    N/A
    Complaints
    0
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a TTS

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at CarComplaints.com.

  1. Another Audi start-stop lawsuit has been dismissed

    after the judge ruled that the owner's manual clearly states the Start-Stop system may turn off the engine before the car comes to a complete stop. Is that all it takes to win in court? Be prepared for your next owner's manual to say "cars might catch on fire due to thermodynamics" just to cover all the bases.…

    keep reading
  2. A Virginia based lawsuit says Audi's start-stop system suffers from defects that cause delayed acceleration or lurching that can put occupants in danger.

    The plaintiffs say that Audi HQ and dealerships will just tell owners to deactivate the start-stop system if they don't like it, but the system starts up automatically each time the ignition is pressed and must be manually deactivated by pressing a separate burden. Something the case refers to as a inconvenience and mandatory burden that is not disclosed to the Class Members ar the time of the sale.

    keep reading
  3. The lead plaintiff in Anzhelya Makaryan, et. al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. says a design defect in Audi's start-stop system allows vehicles to rollaway.

    The rollaways happen because the start-stop system won't deactivate if the driver takes off their seat belt for any reason while the vehicle is stopped.

    To make matters worse if that the system won't work even if the driver re-buckled their seat belts.

    keep reading

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