2015 Audi A3: Road Trip Hits an Abrupt End in Boise
June 24, 2015
Our 2015 Audi A3 sedan suffered the ride of shame on the back of a tow truck in Boise, Idaho after suffering damage at the precise moment we arrived at our destination. We were extremely fortunate, however. The nearest Audi dealer was only three miles away.
Even better fortune? Audi Boise is the only Audi dealer in all of Idaho, and their service department was open on this Saturday afternoon. According to Travis, the service manager, the next closest Audi dealers are in Portland, Oregon (429 miles) and Salt Lake City, Utah (345 miles).
I called Audi Roadside Assistance and waited for a flatbed to arrive while the other guys looked at our new long-term acquisition, paid the seller his cash, and retrieved the tires from the Audi's trunk so they could go have them installed.
Oh, right. You want to know what happened.
It all went down right here on this named street that looks like an alley. Outwardly, nothing looks wrong and the A3 rolls just fine. In fact I pushed it back about six feet from where the incident occurred.
Before the tow truck driver backed into position, I told him what happened and pointed. He hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary when he drove past.
"They ought to fix that," he said.
Perhaps you can get the sense of it in this shot. But you have the advantage of tramped-down grass where the Audi once tread. We didn't.
Still not seeing it?
How about this angle?
You can't fail to see it now. From the other direction, this nicely-mowed lot looked like a perfectly serviceable grass verge that was safe to park on. It probably was too, if we'd been driving anything vaguely Idaho-like, perhaps a pickup truck or SUV. Guy that lives in the house across the alley probably backs over this every day to get his truck pointed down the street.
All we did was hang two wheels onto the grass in order to get out of the way of passing traffic. CRUNCH. Turn it off! Turn it off!
I immediately jumped out of the passenger door and poked my head under to see what had made that horrible sound. I watched as hot oil gushed out from what I presumed was a hole in the oil pan. Lots of oil. Nearly all of it, in fact. Game over. Tow truck city.
Yep, that's a stump, all right. And those black chunks are fragments of the A3's plastic oil pan. That's right — plastic.
At least the driver shut the engine down right away. Due to his quick action there's little or no chance it suffered any internal damage. Oil was still coming out when the tow truck driver winched it onto his flatbed. Still more came out when he unloaded it at the Audi dealer.
This all went down on Saturday afternoon, so we had no choice but to leave the A3 at the dealer and let them tell us what it needed Monday morning. We'd have to leave it behind and fly someone to retrieve it once fixed.
I got the call back at the office Monday morning, and the news was as expected: new oil pan, new oil pan gasket and a new plastic belly pan. They would have the parts on Tuesday and have it ready on Wednesday.
Parts estimate: $342; Labor: $224.
Go for it, I said. We'll have someone up there Wednesday night to pay for it and drive it home.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 12,076 miles