Here Are the Audi S3 Years to Avoid and Best Used S3 to Buy

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you shopping for a used Audi S3? It’s important to know which years to avoid to ensure your investment is reliable.

While S3 cars generally have a good reputation, some model years have reported issues.
For the 3rd generation (2015-2019) S3, owners have flagged transmission concerns.

Consider these common problems as you search for your ideal Audi S3, and make an informed decision to enjoy the best driving experience possible.

Best and worst Audi S3 Years to Avoid

Years to Avoid

2008 – 2014 Model Years

During the 2008-2014 production years, the Audi S3 experienced some common issues you should be aware of if considering purchasing one. There were more reported issues in the earlier years, such as 2008 and 2012.

  • 2008: The 2008 Audi S3 was not among the most reliable years for this model. It faced several issues with the transmission and cooling system.
  • 2012: Although more problematic than 2008, the 2012 S3 also had some concerns regarding its transmission.
  • 2013 – 2014: Improvements were made in 2013 and 2014, but these years still faced occasional problems with the cooling system and transmission.

2015 – 2019 Model Years

The 2015-2019 Audi S3 models had fewer issues overall, but certain years still had some common problems that may affect their reliability.


In the 2015 S3, a coolant leak at the thermostat housing was a prevalent issue. The cooling system and transmission also generated some concerns. Of the years between 2015-2019, the 2015 model is the one to avoid the most.


The 2016 model year saw a significant reduction in reported issues. However, it’s still advisable to thoroughly inspect the vehicle before purchasing.

2017 – 2019:

These years you had fewer reported problems. It’s worth knowing that the Audi A3, which the S3 is based on, finished 16th out of 25 cars in a family car class reliability survey.

In summary, be more cautious about the 2008, 2012, and 2015 Audi S3 models, as these production years had more issues. As you move closer to the more recent years, the reliability of the Audi S3 improves.

Common Problems and Reliability Issues

Engine Problems

Your Audi S3 might experience engine issues like excessive oil consumption and loss of power. Keep an eye out for these problems, as it could lead to potential engine damage over time. Here are more detailed Audi Engines with issues to avoid.

Transmission Issues

Although not as common, some Audi S3 models may have transmission concerns. Watch for any unusual shifting behavior while driving, and address it with a mechanic if you notice anything unusual.

Electrical System Concerns

In some cases, start-stop defects have been reported in the Audi S3. It can cause the power steering and brake systems to shut off at dangerous times. Be cautious and seek professional assistance if you encounter any electrical system anomalies.

Interior and Exterior Issues

Audi S3 owners have reported minor interior and exterior issues, such as rattling dashboards and trim pieces.

Although these do not significantly impact the car’s overall reliability, it’s essential to address them before they become more significant problems.

Avoid these common problems and consult a professional if you face any concerns with your Audi S3. Regular maintenance and proactive measures can help ensure a long-lasting, enjoyable ownership experience.

Which Audi S3 is Best to Buy?

When looking for a reliable Audi S3, you have multiple options. Here are the best years to consider and why they might be the perfect choice for you:

2020 Audi S3 –

This model stands out due to its 2.0L turbocharged engine that offers a smooth ride, agile handling, and quick acceleration.

While it may not have the latest upgrades of more recent versions, it can be less expensive while still providing excellent performance.

2019 Audi S3 –

The 2019 version is praised for its standard 2.0-L turbocharged engine, delivering 288 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It provides strong acceleration while maintaining an upscale look and feel.

2017 Audi S3 –

If you’re interested in a manual transmission, this is the model to look for, as it’s the last year with that option available.

The 2017 S3 showcases a more balanced blend of performance and features for those who prefer manually shifting gears.

Keep these years in mind while shopping for your Audi S3. Each option provides reliability, power, and a sleek driving experience that’ll make you love your ride.

Fuel Efficiency and Emissions

The 2023 Audi S3 offers relatively good fuel efficiency. You can expect an annual fuel cost of $2,450, while greenhouse gas emissions are 334 grams per mile.

Comparatively, the 2022 Audi S3 has a slightly lower annual fuel cost of $2,400 and emits 331 grams of CO2 per mile. Keep in mind that these models require premium gasoline for optimal performance.

Audi S3 Competitors

In your search for an Audi S3, it’s essential to consider its rivals in the market. Let’s take a closer look at the competitors, examining their similarities and differences.

BMW M235i Gran Coupe

The BMW M235i Gran Coupe offers a similar driving experience to the Audi S3. Both cars provide excellent power, impressive handling, and luxury features.

One noticeable difference is the body style; the BMW has a sleeker, coupe-like appearance.

Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Coupe

Another competitor is the AMG CLA 35 Coupe from Mercedes-AMG. This vehicle compares well with the Audi S3 in terms of performance, offering similar horsepower and torque figures.

However, the CLA 35 has a more aggressive design, making it a bolder choice for those seeking a sporty luxury sedan.

Kia’s Stinger GT-S

Lastly, consider Kia’s Stinger GT-S. While not as luxurious as its German counterparts, the Stinger GT-S boasts a competitive power output and provides a fun, engaging driving experience.

Its design sets it apart from other sedans, making it a worthy alternative to the Audi S3, except the some Stinger years with issues that must be avoided.

It’s worth noting two key problems across these competitors: 1) higher price tags compared to the Audi S3, and 2) potential compromises on build quality and long-term reliability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the high mileage for an S3?

High mileage for an S3 typically starts around 100,000 miles. However, your S3 can last much longer with proper maintenance and care. It’s important to follow the recommended service intervals and promptly address any issues that may arise.

Which S3 model years have the most problems?

The 2015 Audi S3 has the most reported issues, particularly concerning the transmission and cooling system. However, remember that problems can vary depending on how well the vehicle has been maintained.

How reliable is the 8V Audi S3?

The 8V Audi S3, produced between 2013 and 2020, has a relatively good reputation for reliability. As with any vehicle, proper maintenance is crucial. Regular servicing and addressing issues will help extend the lifespan of your S3.

What should I look for in a used S3?

When buying a used Audi S3, inspect the vehicle for any dents, scuffs, or signs of wear. Check for consistent service history and ensure there are no outstanding recalls.

Test drive the car, listen for unusual noises, evaluate the performance, and ensure the electronics function properly.

Are there any known recalls for certain S3 years?

Recalls can occur for various reasons. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website and enter your VIN to check for any recalls specific to your S3.

How does S3 reliability compare to A3?

The Audi S3 and A3 share many components, so their reliability should be similar. However, as the S3 is a performance-oriented model, it may be subject to more wear and tear due to aggressive driving.

Proper maintenance remains crucial for both models to ensure a long-lasting and enjoyable ownership experience.


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