Homage to the Audi TT – and an expensive lesson in owning a car.

Audi TT mark 1Those of you who know me, know my love/hate relationship with the Audi TT. I owned one for 2 years – originally a standard 180TT 4WD that I spent time making it the car it should have been – changing the ECU to bring the horsepower from 178bhp to 237bhp, changing the turbo inlet hose to allow better airflow, fitting twin exhausts from the single to improve exhaust gasses exiting, changing the 16″ allows to 17″… looked pretty much like the car you see here.

And then at 70,000 miles the engine blew.

A hate then love affair

Before I talk about that whole scenario, let’s just cover why I bought the TT and spent 2 years being ridiculed as owning a hairdressers car by my friends – who would all privately admit they really liked it. Yeah – you know who you are! 🙂

When the TT was first launched in 1999 I felt the design was aesthetically challenging to the point that I wanted to put a paper bag over every TT I saw. Those early TT’s did not have the rear spoiler, which was added later as a safety precaution but also (I think) improved the look.

The defining moment when I realised I wanted one was when I was being visited by one of my web clients – he turned up in a silver TT with red leather interior. I sat for 5 minutes in the driver seat and was totally hooked from there on.

In Denial

There’s a price to pay for everything – and when it came to looking for my next car it was between a Civic Type R (197bhp), Seat Leon Cupra R (180bhp) or a 180 TT. Thing is, the TT price was so much more that I would have to get a second hand car that was a little older than I wanted – at that time a new Civic or Leon ran to about GBP16-17k; A new TT ran to about GBP27k. You see my predicament.

So basically was I prepared to pay the same money for a second hand car that has similar attributes in performance to other cars I could buy new outright? Was it even worth putting myself in debt to get a newer TT?

Well, after much soul-searching I decided to suck it up – you only live once (except buddists) – and so my purchase of a year 2000 Black 180TT 4WD came to fruition in April 2003. I remember driving home full of excitement and grinning like an idiot, mixed with panicking that I’d just spent GBP18k on a car and was now in the world of debt (which I detest being in).

Living the Dream

Asides from being obsessed with keeping the car clean using quality products, I loved to drive the car. It’s not the fastest or most responsive in its’ field, but for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole driving experience. The car seemed to wrap around me and the positioning for a tall bloke like myself was just great – it was a goths dream – black car with black leather and silver trim (although I am not in the stage of life to yet appreciate silver trim…).

That being said, I did feel it could deliver more “oomph” – let’s face it, the 225 TT was the same engine but with (shock) 225 bhp, so I duly investigated my options to help the TT get the best performance – this came in the form of the modification I mentioned before.

Now I had a TT with kick and I *loved* the driving experience. However, that had come with its’ set of problems:

  • A knocking sound when going over bumps turned out to be something in the suspension linkage broken (10.00 for the part, 90.00 to fit it)
  • The indicator relay failed (150.00 to fix) – the garage (Audi garage in Kidlington) then broke the seat warmer dials, so those were replaced gratis.

Dead not dreaming

July 2004, around 8am; I am leaving my home town (Bicester) and doing 40mph – just letting the engine warm up before I open her up. I accelerate up and then ker-chug-chug-chug-chug…. chug. Long story short, the piston rods are going through the engine as the piston heads on two valves have shattered. This required a new engine costing GBP4k plus GBP2k for labour.

This car has been serviced in April by AmD and they had told me that it was immaculate and the engine was in great shape and should last many more miles, so needless to say, 3 months later and 3000 miles, an engine failure completely blindsided me. Prior to this AmD had serviced the car – every 6 months at least and it never needed anything major.

Here’s an except from their site about the Stage 1 remap:

Your vehicle will be checked for fault codes and then road tested to make sure that the car is in good health for the upgrade. The modification to the software is then carried to achieve the AmD remap. A final road test is performed together with full diagnostic test.

Up to + 30-35bhp and 30-40lbs/ft
Asking around on the UK TT Forum I suddenly realised (should have sooner!) that the Mark 1 TT is renowned for going wrong – if you compare that forum for problems with vehicles against say, the Ford Focus or Honda Civic forums, it’s quite ridiculous how much grief mark one TT owners go through.

Subsequently, a few months after getting the car back (and also back in more debt), I get more problems

  • Mass Air Sensor (MAF) failure – replaced with reconditioned unit for 150.00 under the Audi MAF exchange programme.
  • Bushes worn – cost to replace = 100.00
  • Anti-rollbars corroded – cost to replace = 240.0
  • Dashpod Failure – cost to replace = 1000.00

Subsequently it was acknowledged by Audi that the TT Dashpod can and will fail and they are now replacing them under an extended warranty (unless your car is older than 3 yrs). A video is available via this link : http://www.tt-forum.co.uk/ttforumbbs/viewtopic.php?t=56080
Needless to say I could see things only getting worse, so I dumped the car for a Ford Focus ST170 which required nothing other than regular servicing to make it work…. and then a Honda Civic Type R which was gret fun.

Audi Customer Service – an Oxymoron.

I bought the car from a non-franchise dealer (one of the UK’s larger Independent Audi dealers) and got the car serviced by AmD, who service Audi vehicles for Audi themselves. Calling Audi Customer Service and writing a letter of complaint that a vehicle’s engine life is 70k miles is unacceptable. Their response was “you were not loyal to our dealership (not servicing it through them) and we do not have the engine (that broke), therefore we do not consider ourselves liable” – Hands wiped clean. Even though AmD by proxy are an authorised service company… And even if I had a warranty (which I didn’t), it wouldn’t have covered me enough for this catastrophic situation.

Although they were polite at all times, my experience with Audi Customer Service was that they were not happy to engage in helping (a customer) in any discussion – unsurprisingly when the whole Dashpod fiasco kicked off (which Audi now admit is a quality issue only after the BBC show “Watchdog” hounded them (‘scuse the pun)).

Conclusion About TT’s

Needless to say, this all left a bitter taste in my mouth about the quality of Audi TT’s – no car I’ve had before or after has had such problems (Honda, Ford, Renault) and they’re not exactly top line marques that Audi masquerade as.

I since discovered that VW/Audi had build qualities between 2000 – 2003 that affected other models, so my advice in general is to avoid any VW marque between these years. If you think I’ve got sour grapes, check out the UK TT forum and see just how many problems people had – btw my username is p4ul, if you’re looking for my posts. Here’s a great example of such issues

To run a TT was obviously more expensive than the Ford or Honda; Audi garages run at a pretty penny per hour, but you don’t want to scrimp with that because not everyone knows the cars’ peculiarities – saying that many TT forum owners refer to them as “Stealers” instead of Dealers because there are dealers who think they can rip you off cause you can afford a TT – and some mechanics who work for dealers that haven’t a clue. So research your dealer is the watchword.

Insurance for me – at the time 32 yrs old, 9 years no claims, GBP17k value was about GBP650 – the insurance company let me get away with the modifications but I doubt that’d happen today. Servicing cost about GBP500 per year (using AmD – probably run to GBP700 if I’d used the regular Audi dealers). Fuel economy was around 26-27mpg highway before the ECU remap; around 30mph after. Common TT problems are dashpod failures, coilpack failures, indicator relay failure, oil burning, sticking accelerator, MAF air sensor failure… that’s from memory!

Do I still want a TT? Yes and No. “WHAT?!” I hear you shout as you put down your seventh glass of old tawny. Absolutely do because of the drive – it was the best I’ve experienced to date overall – I just don’t want the issues with reliability. It wasn’t the most practicle car going, but just like bagpuss, emily loved him.

A New Hope…?

Now Audi have released the TT mark 2 ( Audi TT Mark 2 ) , the jury is out as to what this means. I like it, but it’s lost it’s uniqueness and gained the Audi corporate look… good and bad.

Given my experience with Audi CS (and others documented experiences), I am still not convinced about Audi… not that I can afford one at those $45k prices especially.

Kudos to the TT Community

If you own or are thinking of owning a TT can I recommend the excellent TT Forum – http://www.tt-forum.co.uk/ttforumbbs/index.php – it’s a great community where a bunch of genuine car and gadget enthusiasts who have years of experience with the TT meet both virtually and physically and can offer lots of advice and words of wisdom.

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79 thoughts on “Homage to the Audi TT – and an expensive lesson in owning a car.

  1. I came across your post googling ‘type-r or audi tt’ as I’m stuck trying to choose between the two. I’ve had the usualy blurb of Hairdressers car, but after driving one i absolutely loved it, I also love the type-r as well, it’s bulletproof, quick and good fun to drive, just not as special as the TT. Like yourself I can get a nearly new model with low miles civic, or a higher mileage, older TT. I’m just worried if I get the TT it’s going to be very expensive to run and maintain.

    If you were me now which would you get knowing what you do now?

  2. Thanks James – I sent you a long email but here’s my conclusion from that email:

    If we were to consider a TT and Type R side by side both in fully working condition and I had to make a choice… If money wasn’t an issue and I had another car I’d chose a TT but would have to get a 225 or 3.2; Otherwise I’d get a Type R … infact when I moved to the US, the first thing I did was look to see if I could get a Type R… but I still look at TT’s too…

    Test drive both – bring a CD with you to listen to the sound system – think about how important interior space is to you … either way if you buy one you’ll always wonder about the other!! 🙂

    Hope this helps!

  3. I have dad both typr-r and TT. Type-r is more fun and better to drive than TT, TT holds more kudos and is a hairdressers car. Buy a type-r, best for the money

    [Paul]: Andrew, i’m guessing you also comment on the Mac vs Windows debates too 🙂 Ive had both cars… given the choice…. TOUGH ONE!

  4. ive owned a 180 tt for 5 yrs now and only had to replace the battery and 1 coil,But i do only drive it at weekends! its done 99500miles and its left hand drive i live in gt britain. very interesting web site,thanks.

  5. I just bought a used 2004 quattro 225hp TT and thus far I love it. Its got about 44k miles on it. Only problems I’ve had are the break lights sometimes get stuck on, I think a little silicon spray will fix that. And I filled up with the car running and my check engine light came on telling me the fuel pressure solenoid was bad. reset it and no problems since. I am planning to add a remap and some other goodies, just hard finding places in the U.S. everything I’ve found so far has been UK. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

  6. i just recently bought a 2001 225 ive had it for a about a week…my brother has a 2003 type r which i thought was the ticket and he did too, but after drivin my tt he is changin the type r for a 225 and hes only had the honda for 2 months..a woman previously owned my car..i had to put a balljoint in her and judgin by the state of the wheels(kerbed to the max) il need wheel allignment to..ive had the whole hairdresser car thing all week..but these are boys who drive hyundai getz and have 3 kids to feed..its not my fault they made theyre bed they can lie in it

  7. Interesting and slightly depressing article. I have just bought a 2001 225hp roadster and really love it. It replaced a beautiful Marlin kit-car and, before that, a 2.8 BMW Z3.

    I love the solid feeling and performance. Sad to say it exhibits many of the problems referred to by so many other owners. I have had to replace temp. sender, mass air meter, roll bar and bushes, cam belt (as car has done 68k. miles and the handbook advice of 115k. no longer applies (wish I had known before buying!), new door mirror switch, new tyres (noisy, worn unevenly), new thermostat (probably not needed as no improvement – £160 cost to identify dash problem which everyone knows about already, apparently). Finally, the connection to the heated rear window has just broken off.

    So far big money spent but not disastrous. BUT I am told need to spend £1000 on Haldex control unit and £800 on dash-pod!

    I really love the car and will have to live with the minor frustrations of dodgy temp. gauge etc, hoping nothing more serious goes wrong. As you can imagine, the original excitement and gloss have diminished greatly.

    Fortunately it is a “fine weather car” as we have two everyday cars, but it is VERY disappointing to find that what seems to be one of the best made cars around is the most troublesome and expensive to maintain.

    I have had a good 30 cars in 45 years of motoring and have never done much more than routine serving apart from things like batteries, exhausts, etc.

  8. Hi,
    Big thnk for such a gr8 read. Very informative and so realistic. About to buy my first TT monday so ur advice on what to look for is invaluable. And ur right, the TT forum is amazing too. Thanks lots.
    Fingers crossed!

  9. Thanks for stopping by Natasha! Hopefully you’ve picked up your pride and joy now and are enjoying it immensely!

  10. thats nothing i have put over $75,000 into repairing broken parts in my 225hp tt quatro and id do it again . i love the look on peoples faces in their brandnew carerra 4s when i blow their f*cking doors off ! p.s. hondas suck ! and my buddy is a hairdresser and he makes over $200,000 a year so id be proud to drive whatever he drives

  11. Fair enough – I mean, I get the love of the TT, but there comes a point when you have to give up. I personally disagree that Honda’s suck and having owned one I can say that with conviction – certainly the Civic Type R / Si. Its just a different drive and going from a TT (Turbo) to a Civic Si (VTEC) is night and day.

    I now own a 2010 Mustang and would liken the driving experience on many fronts. The dynamic of handling is different when you get into it and of course it’s not a Turbo, but the positioning of the driver and so forth is a close approximation.

  12. What is the part for the suspension link? I get the same problem going over bumps in my 01 audi tt. thanks

  13. There’s a couple of things – the bushes, anti-rollbars and the suspension linkage were at fault. the linkage cost 100 pounds for the part and 200 pounds to fit (GBP). The bushes and the rollbars were 240 for the parts….

  14. Nice read..(Text book stuff for the Mk 1 TT) I bought mine in 2004- ( 2001 / 225 roadster) Guess what,I have had all the problems (apart from the engine breaking down) and I’ve still got the same TT……I must be MAD

    ….the love affair continues..

  15. Learn to do your own work, and the TT is a dream car. Ive had mine for 4 years. LOVE IT! Wouldnt drive anything else. Get your elbows dirty and do your own work. Stop being such a pussy, and being called a hairdresser will be the least of your problems.

  16. Replacing one’s head unit, turbo, water pump, clutch and so forth isn’t just a case of getting one’s sleeves rolled up and getting “dirty” as you put it. As for the rest of your comment; don’t be a cunt.

  17. three weeks ago bought 2002 tt220 quattro wasnt runnin guy just wanted rid .£500 i offered .ive paid £700 to sort it now runnin quick jet wash bright red looks good .problem engine doesnt sound good vibrating sound espec when ecelerating .anyboby give me any clues wat it could be . thanks

  18. I must be a nut!! Now got 2 TT 225 quattros. One is a 2001 which we have had for 3 years with a milage of about 80,000. So far only rear spring and Cam belt replacement plus yearly servicing.

    The other is a 2003 (milage 66000) no major issues although our local garage found a another broken rear spring, on this car too, during a MOT, Not sure if this is a known fault. Love them both.. expected they would be reative expensive to run because of their age, so not too concerned yet but your comments worry me!!?

  19. I think you’re lucky – very lucky! I have found myself driving the harsh Illinois winter roads thinking I wish I had a TT – esp as I have a tail happy rear wheel Mustang now!

  20. i have a 2002 tt 225 bhp quattro £500 paid for it .spent a grand on it had a problem with vibrating at the back.( bearing ) now sorted .i bought car really as an investment not to bothered about cars . but i must admit the tt has grown on me red leather seats bose sound system .suddenly the missis want to get in car with me lol. good fun this bright red machine .not practical but will enjoy for now .what i have noticed is parts are reasonable in price.it the labour cost .i found if you shop around different garages (avoid audi dealers) .got my work done from a guy called steve who has a small garage accrington .he said he got most audi part of ebay. downside ive been waitin forever .small price to pay.

  21. Who can deny the enjoyment of owning a TT when all’s well? I do miss it for sure. I have a 230bhp Mustang (RWD) and while I love it and enjoy flipping the tail out, there are times I find myself comparing back to the TT – it’s more than performance; it’s about the way you feel driving it… I still consider getting one (…in addition, if I can convince others!)

  22. its all well and im enjoying the TT no mech problems yet not practical at at all though .we all went for a meal tryin to get two 6ft teenagers into the back of a TT funniest thing ever. we went in other car . your mustang is it the same model as in the steve mcqueen film bullitt.

  23. Well if your TT is 2003 or later you’ll probably have fewer issues 🙂 This is the mustang I have:
    V6 2010 Mustang (not the exact one – mine has some visual mods too)

  24. Hi paul, first of all awesome post! as much as you I appreciate your love for the TT, it is a high maintenance car indeed, but what can i say? living in Houston Texas surrounded by Monster pick ups and and American muscle cars(which I love as well) having a TT is just a rush! Women love it! and i can just relate it to having an exotic foreign girlfriend<, but like any "exotic foreign girlfriend" they do suck the life out of you! but it all depends on how well you understand the car and doing your proper research on how to maintain it, it is more delicate that any other brands, but I'd say worth it besides we wouldn't want to make this so easy otherwise it wouldn't be exotic and you would see one in every corner.
    but overall aside from the awful clusterf*** experience the car is a head turner and a piece of art in my opinion, and it's been worth every penny that i have invested on it, cuz that car has hosted more asses than a toilet seat at the mall!!
    Well having my 00 tt coupe silver 1.8 turbo since 08 i have invested about 3 k on it i don't think is too bad, i did my research and anticipated to change my timing belt and water pump before anything and i"m in the process of fixing my mass air flow sensor and inner roof liner, and from there we'll see what else comes.. but I'm ready.

  25. LOL – Great comment Hazen! Yes, it’s like that bad thing you can’t give up! I still think about getting one, cause a 2003 225TT would be cheap now… to buy at least!! Living in Chicago I would also appreciate the 4WD!

    Sounds like you have replaced a lot of the common pieces.. hopefully she gives you many more miles of happy driving!

  26. the TT is a 2002 model maybe thats why i got it cheap . the guy i bought it off told me the problems with it .i thought a lot of car for the money he wanted and worth investing in.( WOW i very much like the mustang black well cool swap ya will sent TT by fed ex lol .will send you pic of tt when i sus how to do it .

  27. Great article Paul! I found this by googling “Audi TT Problems” and am surprised to see such a legitimate and detailed TT article by an individual on WP. I’m thinking about getting a used 2004 1.8T Auto and really appreciate understanding the love/hate relationship that comes with it. I definitely love the aesthetics of the vehicle, but will have to keep doing more research on the mechanics portion of it and see if that is something I am up for. Thanks again! -Rich

  28. Thanks for the comment Rich! When I see one on the road, I do long for experiencing it all over again – without the issues! I would suggest any TT after 2003 is going to see fewer problems, although the dashpod issue persisted many years.

  29. Hi ya Paul,just wanted to say I have now become a TT WIDOW,225bhh,2003 model quattro will be grounds for divorce!!!!!!!! never saw a man to like anything like it,thanks for all your help,maybe still a mid life crisis- he loves it for sure, hope he will not experience the same probs!

  30. LOL – Carmel, what can I say? It’s a wonderful car to drive – not the fastest, or technically pleasing for the car nerd, but it just feels right…

    Of course you now have a lever for getting things yourself because you know he’ll want to lavish it with updates and upgrade… like an APR ECU Remap to make it go faster and better fuel economy… time to get a wish list of jewelry? 🙂

  31. Hi, unfortunately I got a ’00 TT before I read much about it in the net simply because I loved the look of the car. And then after I got it I started to read and realized what have I done, in fact you don’t own a TT you support it all the time 🙂 The good thing maybe was that I have some experience fixing cars so I “cut” down on the labor expenses when fitting some part but the parts were very expensive. First, the clutch started to fail and when I opened it the flywheel was also bust so whole new set was more than a 1000$! After that the dreaded dashpod, but I didn’t give up, I also have some knowledge of electronics and I managed to fix the dashpod myself (but I still had to buy LCD display and gauge motors from elsewhere). After that: the coolant temperature sensor, the thermostat, power steering pump, the anti roll-bars, shock absorbers, MAF, spark plugs, interior light, door locks, power windows… I think there is no part on which there will be no service required, just everything fails one by one. I was previously owning a Toyota and even after 12 years the car simply had not a single problem (I didn’t need to open the hood… never 🙂 and this is the total opposite. One day I am happy when I fix something and the next day I am sad that something else failed. After that the hoses started to leak, I have rid of all the PCV system, evap system and vacuum reservoir system… I eliminated almost 60% of the hoses and when I thought that my hose nightmare is over… the boost hoses started to leak and I am doing this repair soon before the hose come completely off!
    The moral of the story: have I made a mistake buying a TT: Yes! I admit it, but on the other hand, I still haven’t found a car that I like more that the TT. Do I like the car even more after I put it apart and assembled again: Yes! So this is a weird situation, I like it very much even if I know I made a mistake and maybe I will still had made a mistake even after reading before buying. But I know it’s similar when you are with a girl of your dreams: You know that it’s not good for you and you are going to suffer every day buy you are still with her 🙂
    To all TT owners: just keep trying to own the TT, it’s worth every drop of sweat or every dollar you spend on it even if you are convinced that you have made a mistake and you did 😀

  32. Worried now. I know nothing about cars , have just come across this forum and now thinking have i made a big mistake! 2003 tt sport. Whats the story on this? any advice appreicated

  33. I think you might be out of the danger zone; from memory, the Sport was outside the lemon zone. I would def buy a warranty and then you’re covered.

  34. tt s after 2003 are beyond danger zone? Love the look but Audi engineers sound like they should be horsewhipped.

  35. Not beyond – but probably less likely to exhibit the issue. Not sure about the current generation – they look damn hot though

  36. I dig the previous gen look, love the retro look, lost a Mazda Miata and a Audi a6 to a flood back in 07 and bought a Toyota Solara, a practical, reliable and boring car and have been thinking an 04-06 TT would combine my lost cars and am seriously bummed they are so prone to costly problems. may buy another Miata by default ( too old for love/hate relationships. Thanks for the info.

  37. Had my audi tt 225 2000 for over 12 years now and have nothing go wrong maybe i was just born lucky and yes i love my car more than anything.

  38. Great read, although it stikes the fear of God into me! I find myself browsing the internet again after a horrible experience with a Mazda Rx8. Long story short, replaced almost everything before being told that the engine was shot. Same sort of situation, LOVED the car, just too many problems. Anyway, I digress. I am now looking at an Audi tt 2002 225 Quattro. The description says that it has been very well looked after, all MOT’s full service history, re-maped, timing belt changed etc. I would appreciate finding out the main points/areas I should be looking at when going to view the car? Thanks in advance.

  39. Heres the problems i recall:

    1. Anti-roll bars and bushings go out after 60-70k miles
    2. Dashpod failure – gas / petrol gauge will read incorrectly or other gauges will report incorrect values
    3. Clutch needs replacing around 80k – if they were replacing the timing belt it might have been cheaper to do that at the same time
    4. MAF sensor failure

    I looked at an RX8 but the oil issue of the wankel and the fact you can get issues by starting the engine and not letting the oil circulate really concerned me. My Mustang has been great mechanically btw!

  40. The exterior of the new Mustang is classic like the TT but the interior not so much, why do US auto makers have such a difficult time
    with design elegance?

  41. US Manufacturers tend to chinz on the interior so you get the “wow” from the outside. That being said I’m very happy with my upgraded sports interior for the mustang. If it was the standard offering I would totally agree with you.

  42. Hi, I read your history about you Audi TT 225, which I also purchased 2 years ago, personally I bought this car to work on during the winter months, so I could also have a cool looking fun car to drive during the summer months.
    Once I purchased the car I researched the problems that this car might have and then would fix these problems during the winter months.
    Conclusion;
    Parts are expensive, but some are cheaper than when buying elsewhere.
    The Dealers are slightly more expansive that the others as Chevrolet,
    I was twice at the Audi Dealer, first was to program a spare key (I just had 1 key),
    second was to change Spark Plug Coils, they told me that it was a Recall and changed them for free, even after 8 years.

    This car is fairly easy to work on, I’m not a mechanic and have only performed some oil changes in my younger years (now 58).
    Rear Shocks, Sway Bar Bushings, Drive’s Door Latch, easy but time consuming.
    The timing belt I had changed right away as the car had 66K miles on it.
    These were the main issues, there are others that required just basic changing of parts that happen to wear out normally due to usage.
    After all is said and done, I am very happy with my Audi TT 225 (2003), it rides very well and is also very comfortable, I still get complements or get asked questions about my car.

    I’m sure that we all have had cars that may have been lemons, my personally experience was with a Toyota, which I had for 5 years, it gave me a lot of problems and very costly ones at that, so no more Toyota for me, and Nissan Z350 (which I wanted to buy first) well where was just to much cheap plastic inside.
    Have fun and keep driving.

  43. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! I never was much of a mechanic in the UK – now i’ve moved to the US it seems that “do it yourself” is more prevalent so I’ve tried my hand at car mechanics – like you said, I remember the TT engine bay just being awkward to work on, but still do-able.

    Thanks again!

  44. hi bought my quattro tt 2002 225bhp 114000miles about a year ago nothing was working on the car door would.nt open .brakes ceased . anyway i took a chance and bought the car for £500 the guy selling just wanted rid of the car. i had to tow it to mates garage left it with him so he could work on it at his leisure .i did.nt need to use the car . after 3 months and £800 the poorer i got it back lots of TLC was required polishing valeling .had the car 12 months now and enjoyin this bright red machine ,only problem at the moment the petrol gauge does.nt read correct .

  45. The petrol gauge is first sign that your dashpod may be failing – I had this too and and independent told me this was the root cause. Long story, it was also recognized by Audi that dashpods failed to the point of there being a TSB – ie they know it’s a common fault.

    Cost… at the time it was about GBP250 – so $400’ish

  46. dashpod thanks for info paul, going to leave it a while must remember to fill up more often. will shop around for good deals on dashpods maybe ebay or amazon .im not a mechanic but i know a man who is .the place i will avoid if posible are audi dealers .uk audi dealers are so exspensive.

  47. Great article but now wondering if I’m about to do the right thing.
    I went to see a 2001 225 TT today and it was lovely to drive and felt very very good even though it has done 140,000 miles, I have a Ford Focus ST170 2005 with 88,000 miles and we are going to swap cars in a few days once I’ve sorted a couple of new tyres for mine.
    Didn’t realise the TT had a list of problems.
    Fortunately I’m a mechanic so I can do everything myself but this article has left me wondering whether I should sell mine and buy a newer TT. Hmmmm

  48. I had an ST170 and whilst it was good on many fronts, the driving experience was no comparison to the TT. Just bear in mind that being a mechanic is prolly a good thing… at 140k miles I hope it has had a new clutch etc. as getting to those things is tricky.

  49. man, now im worried haha. i know nothing about cars and i purchased my 2001 tt quattro awd before researching it! uh ooh. well, it has 130,000 miles, and seems to run like a champ. the guy i bought it from was very infomative too. so far (2 months later) its running strong! i hope it stays that way! the interior looks brand new too (-; any advice for the 2001 quattro? thanks alot!

  50. Well not *every* 2001-2003 is a lemon. All of them are quattro so it’s the same advice as in the post – watch out for the dashpod, antiroll bars… at 130k miles your clutch should have been changed too….

  51. No engine “lasts” – they all have a finite life. While it’s true that putting more power through an engine generates more heat and wear, thus reducing the life of the engine, adding a moderate amount of power (15bhp), bringing it to a total of 210bhp, to an engine that is designed to take well over 300hp, one should mot expect failure at such low milage – especially when the car had an extensive check out beforehand with a rolling road plus diagnostics pre and post upgrade.

    Since then, I have performed the same to a Ford Focus STi and Ford V6 Mustang without issue… as have countless others; therefore your comment is a little to broad to be considered a good argument.

    But thanks for reading/commenting.

  52. Hi Paul

    Well after my first posting 4 months ago I thought I’d post about my TT.
    I swapped it for a lovely Ford Focus ST as stated.. After a few days I discovered that the TT was a CAT D write off!!.. I was angry to say the least and this taught me a big lesson on doing a vehicle check before obtaining any car and trust nobody, however honest they seem.

    Anyway, long story short, dash pod is failing but easy to remove and I’ll be doing that next week, plenty of info on the net about it. And plenty of companies on EBay that do Dash pod repairs for about £100! So don’t run to Audi and spend a fortune when you can do it yourself or get someone who is handy to remove it for you. Take it out, pop it in the post and they’ll fix and return in 48 hours.
    If your audi squeaks or creaks from underneath then it’s likely to be anti roll bar bushes… £10 for a new set, not too complicated to fit just fiddly.
    Tonight the engine warning light and abs light has come on along with headlight flickering lol. Fortunately I’ve just bought a code reader from eBay at £30 to see what’s up with it.
    Another point ive discovered is that if your fuel gauge reads differently to your digital ‘mileage remaining’ led readout on the dash then it’s the dash pod that’s at fault.. If however the needle AND the digital display go up and down irregularly together then it’s 99 percent the fuel pump sender unit which is in the fuel tank (screwed to the side of the fuel pump).. This is not a pleasant job and in hindsight better done with no fuel left in the tank and very fiddly. I cried twice and got covered in petrol. :0) The pump is under the rear seat, (remove that) and its under the left and right circular covers. (The 225 has 2pumps).

    Anyway, posted this hoping if anyone stumbles across it, not to be too scared of the TT. Yes it may need some maintenance but any garage can do it or if you’re like me, try it yourself.

    Wish I had a Mustang… Lol (Come to think of it I might get me another old skool Z28 Camaro)

  53. Sorry to hear of your woes, but it does seem in line with things… at least you have the know-how to get repairs done – otherwise Audi will gladly take your hard earned cash in their hourly labour charges!

  54. Bought my second 1999 audi tt 225 mk1 just before xmas, and apart from a new battery and wheel speed sensor on drivers side rear, no other problems to report.
    It drives beautifully everything is still nice and tight, it has only 84k on the clock, and has been regularly serviced prior to my ownership. I previously had a 3.2lt v6 version with auto box, which was nice, but this is the one I prefer.
    It has instant get up and go, and seems to be better balanced than the 3.2.
    Had to change a wheel due to a puncture the other day, and all accessories in the boot had obviously never been used and were in pristine condition. These cars are fantastic value for money, and when you look at this car underneath, in the boot and engine compartment, it is very hard to believe that this car is 13 years old.
    I know there is youtube footage of a mk1 tt being assembled from new, it shows why these are built to last.(unfortunately I don’t have the link).
    I now live down in cornwall, and with the twisting winding roads here, everytime i fire her up and give her a bit of wellie, i cant help smiling to myself.
    Most people who think it is a hairdressers car obviously have never driven one let alone been in a fortunate position to own one.
    All the best for now.

  55. Thanks for the comment Martin – VW/Audis between 2000 and 2002 were apparently more prone to mechanical issues, and I was unlucky to get one of the worst scenarios from it… that being said, I would love to own a TT – once bitten….

  56. Couldn’t agree more. been running two for years now. Value for money? Nothing on the market, to touch it!!?

  57. Ford Mustang 🙂 Certainly that vehicle’s build quality is on par, performance is great and the price is slightly lower

  58. Good point – I know some Mustangs have made it over there … I think the next-gen is going EU. the only other cars I had in the UK that were fun were a Renault 5 GT Turbo (in the late 80’s – insane fun, cheap as chips build) and a 2004 Honda Civic Type R – crazy rev range, great build but poor interior compared to the TT.

  59. Hi, I’m thinking of getting a 2002 180hp standard model as they come really cheap now here in Greece (silver ones with around 120.000 km go as low as 4,500 euros as they re to expensive to maintain, wages are reduced and unemployment is 25%). It’s a car I’ve dreamed of owning since the first time I saw it (have kept a german sales brochure from the late 90s when I was working in Luxembourg) and for a price so low it looks like I’ll finally own one before this summer. I’m not one for speed, all the cars I’ve owned so far are standard 1.4 commuter cars, so I’m not looking into 225hp, although Greece is sunny I don’t like soft tops so the cabrio is out… so a simple black 180 hp will do. Fortunately Audi made the TT mkII look like a Toyota (hate the new look) so I have no second thoughts about mkI vs mkII. Let’s hope having a used one means the previous owner went through the most expensive repairs and I’m left with the simple task of changing burnt light bulbs. Thanks for your great and informative post here!

  60. So you modified your car to 30% more than the original bhp, it went wrong and Audi are to blame for this?
    The 225 engine has far stronger internals for good reason!
    My experience of the 1.8T is that it is tough but modifications or poor maintenance (and definitely the two together) can shorten its lifespan.

  61. I modified an engine which is designed to take 300+ HP using a service provider that Audi used to modify their cars, had the car checked out prior to anything being changed and it failed. 2001-2003 Audi/VW/Seats had more reliability issues (check the lemon laws in the US and see what instances of audi issues exist). The car was regularly serviced by the same provider (same that also services audi cars for the OEM) and was given a full bill of health.

    In addition, it’s not like I’m the only one that has modified their 1.8T … I also modded a Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R and Ford Mustang without issue.

  62. Hi,

    I have owned my 180 FWD TT with 70k miles for 8 years, the only service on the car has been oil change every 2 years, 1 air filter, 2 brake fluid changes, 1 timing belt/tensioner etc changed, 2 sidelight bulbs, brake pedal switch, temp sensor and thermostat and new battery. The car was topped up with 1 litre of oil in 8 years. NO minor or major services, I still have car, it starts first time and runs like new.

  63. Thanks for the comments, Rob – was it a 2001-2003 TT? If not that probably explains it!

    Also you might want to change your oil a bit more often, no? Turbos are notorious for wanting quality oil….

  64. Can anybody help? After my 2001 tt has been sitting stationary for any amount of time , every time when I pull out to leave and do a simple left or right turn I hear a singular clunk noise and can feel it thru the floor pan near the pedal’s ,my garage cannot find a problem , does anyone have any idea’s ,Doug.

  65. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that loved their tt . I bought a new 225 roadster in 2002 in the end of october , triple black , that ride home from Legend Audi Amityville LI Ny 40 mile ride home with the top down windows and wind deflector up heated seat and heat on ofcourse 50 degree night was one of the most vivid and greatest memories to date maybe it was because I was 23 and it was all I could think about from the moment I saw one one the road . I had it until 2007 best car I ever owned never had a problem with it besides a window reg which was warrantied . Although I did get rid of it with only 39k while living in the NYC .You think the tt is bad the Range Rover HSE I got after was by far the most money I’ve ever had to spend fixing a vehicle great truck when it works ..stay far away from those .Funny thing is I found this page researching problems later on in the life of the mk1 cause I now I live in the burbs and need a reliable good on gas awd commute to the city car and that tt popped right into mind . I just got one anyway a 225 roadster 2002 like I had 13 yrs ago 82k original miles female owned .On the ride home from Jersey you know all those memories came right back Audi got it right with the styling and ride of the tt it was an instant classic to be I hope to retire this one in a few years and keep her for my kids oneday God willing . Great post best of luck to all of you .

  66. Hi guys, had my 2001 TT Coupe 225 Quattro for ..wait for it….9 years, same car.
    One thing you should remember before buying any TT before the new shape is you WILL be spending money on it so make sure you can afford to do so.

    I was also a mechanic which has saved me a lot of extra money.
    Things break on these cars which should never break in my opinion and I have not seen the same failures on any other type of car in its class.
    Here are some of the things which WILL break on your car unless they have already been replaced.
    1. Hazard lights switch in the dash.
    2. Electric door mirror switch.
    3. Climate control and lighting control switch covers will break off.
    4. The DIS display will become pixelated, this can be repaired for about £100.
    5. Electric window switches can fail.
    6. Alternator will fail, the clutch pulley fails.
    7. The cam shaft inlet drive chain tensioner fails £1000 repair.(not immediately engine terminal).
    8. Thermostat.
    9. Road springs especially rear ones break often.
    10. Handbrake cables seize up.
    11. Some of the odd ones, the clutch pedal can actually snap off. £40 for replacement.
    12. Fuel flap can fail to open although there is a manual release in the boot on a cable.
    13. Dash pod can fail.
    14. Haldex rear diff controller WILL fail, £800 replacement.
    15. MAF sensor can fail.
    16. N75 valve for Turbo boost control can fail.
    17. NEVER drive beyond 60,000 miles to replace the cam-belt.
    18. You WILL see a hell of a lot of warning lights.
    19. Coil packs WILL fail.

    Good things, its not the quickest car off the mark but not much can stay with it around the lanes, grip is immense, wet or dry.
    Get some bosch super 4 spark plugs fitted you will be able to tell the difference in responsiveness.
    Make sure you ONLY use quality engine oil but do not use flushing oils, they are not good for the Turbo.
    After 9 long years of pain and heartache, this car still makes me grin ear to ear with its capability.
    It has to be quattro all the way, the front drive version has too much torque steer for me.
    I had 3 years of zero issues after I had sorted all the issues out and it has given me immense pleasure, I am loathed to let it go but moving onto a new shape 3.2 Quattro soon.
    Any questions regards my experience I will be glad to help, i have found lots of ways to circumvent the Stealers cough Dealers and lots of DIY solutions.
    I know these cars very well, its like a sibling, annoying but lovable at the same time.

  67. need some advise. bought a 2008 audi tt FWD 2.0. with 30,000 miles, rides like a lumber wagon, how can i soften the ride? your help greatly appreciated.

  68. That does not sound right… Have you compared it to other models? I would say that #1 point to check out are the shocks

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