2008 Audi R8 Long Term Road Test


2008 Audi R8: Yet Another Oil Post

January 21, 2009

555 low oil lamp.jpg

Not 5 minutes after firing-up our 2008 Audi R8 and heading for work this morning, the "Low Oil" indicator came on. This has happened before. The display flashed something along the lines of "1 quart low, add no more than 1 quart," before settling back to the icon you see above for the rest of the drive.

The mileage? 26,855. For the record, our last oil change came at 25,000 miles.

The owner's manual states that the R8 needs 10 liters of oil when you do an oil and filter change. That's 10.6 quarts. If the oil change technician added 10 quarts, our R8 would have been over a half-quart low when we left the dealership. There's no way to tell if this was the case at this point, but perhaps this explains why we're only 1,855 miles past our last oil service and the R8 is thirsty for more.

555 oil spec page.jpg Taking the car back to the dealer for some more oil seemed a little silly, so I broke out the manual to see what this car needs. How hard could it be?

Harder than necessary, that's for sure.

For one, the oil specification isn't familiar. What the heck is VW 504 00? Is that 10W-30? Synthetic? Jell-o?

And what is the difference between LongLife service and Inspection service? Each is associated with different oils, as you can see above.

Let's tackle the second question first. LongLife service basically means flexible service intervals, scaled by the on-board computer as it monitors your driving style and the resulting engine load. If you baby the thing, the oil change reminder might not come on for 24 months or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Or it could come on sooner; it depends on your right foot. Inspection Service is more traditional. You give the R8 an oil change every 10,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first.

In order to have a chance at LongLife service, you have to use a higher grade of synthetic oil, so-called VW 504 00. Inspection service also uses synthetic oil, but a more common grade of synthetic will suffice, so-called VW 502 00.

Great, but what the heck is VW 504 00 and VW 502 00? VW stands for Volkswagen, of course. The rest of the digits are their internal standard. I searched the internet to find a list of oils that meet each requirement. I never did find an official Audi document dated any earlier than 2005, but I eventually came across this link, which contains a list of oils that comply.

It's a copy of a copy of a VW TSB, but it looks legit enough. And it has a recent date that includes model year 2009. Our R8's oil filler cap "Recommends Castrol," but many other brands of oil are listed in the TSB. I think the R8's Castrol recommendation has more to do with their sponsor relationship with Audi Motorsports than anything else.

The LongLife oils are few in number, with only one brand familiar to North Americans. None looks like an off-the-shelf item, but we did find one for sale on-line at the VW TDI fan site. Apparently any modern VW or Audi TDI diesel with a particulate filter needs the LongLife VW 504 00 oil, no matter what.

But this isn't a diesel. And we're not going with LongLife service because the idea of a 24-month, 24,000 mile oil change seems somehow wrong. We'll go with the shorter fixed oil change interval, thank you very much, and that opens up the potential list to several VW 502 00 oils we can buy at any auto parts store.

We ended up buying 555 Castrol.jpg a quart of this:

It's Castrol Syntec SAE 5W-40. And on the back, a small note that says it meets VW 502 00 is indeed present. But don't take that to mean that 5W-40 is the absolute weight of synthetic that the R8 needs. There's a Mobil 1 on the list too, but that one is an SAE 0W-40. Others on the same list (Pennzoil, Quaker State, Castrol SLX Professional) are 5W-30 synthetics.

It's all just plain weird, and I think it applies to any Audi or VW, not just our R8. My advice to you is to read your manual and check-out the above TSB carefully. Once you decide whether or not you want to go with LongLife service or Inspection service, you'll know which oil choices you have.

Maybe taking it to the dealer for a top-off would have been easier. It certainly would have taken less legwork.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 26,901 miles

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2008 Audi R8 in VA is:

$157 per month*
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