The Audi TT is a small luxury sports car that was first introduced to the US market as a 2000 model.
Despite its exotic looks, the TT is a surprisingly practical daily driver that features a nice interior, a comfy ride, a large trunk, decent fuel economy and all-wheel drive.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the TT’s common problems and their solutions.
Table of Contents
1. Timing Belt Issues
Many first and second generation Audi TTs have a timing belt that needs to be replaced every 5 years.
Worn tensioners, guides and water pumps can tear the rubber timing belt to shreds which leads to catastrophic engine damage.
Although this can be avoided by replacing the timing belt, tensioners and water pump every 60,000 miles or 5 years; the main issue is that Audi’s recommended service interval was 100,000 miles or 7 years, which led to many belt failures.
Timing belts were used on the 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter engines from 2000 to early 2009. All model years of the Mk2 TTS also had a timing belt.
Here’s how owners on Audiworld.com described their problems:
“2004 Audi TT 225Q Coupe CPO, shuts off similar to that of stalling out. I try to fire it back up several times with no luck… As this point I have put on 30k since buying it with 37k over 15 months ago… Three hours later, I receive a call from the dealership… She went on to explain that my timing belt had broken and that it was likely I had caused some serious damage to the engine.”
“The timing belt on my 2001 TT 1.8T broke on Wednesday, and I only have ~47,000 miles on the car. Audi will not assist with the repair costs although they tell their customers to change the timing belt at a much higher mileage.”
“16 months ago the timing belt on my 2001 TT Quattro Coupe, 225 hp failed. A mechanic rebuilt the top head, replaced the water pump, etc.”
When the timing belt breaks, it often results in bent valves. In some cases, it can also damage the pistons.
Rebuilding the head and fixing any other damage can easily cost $2,000 to $5,000 at an independent Audi specialist.
New timing belt kits that include quality replacements for the belt, tensioner, and water pump cost around $400. You’ll also have to factor in a couple hundred dollars in labor.
Audi dealers will typically charge around $1,500, but it’s a fairly standard job for any mechanic that specializes in Audi, Volkswagen or Euro vehicles.
2. Faulty Instrument Cluster
The instrument cluster or dashpod of the Mk1 Audi TT is notorious for developing faults as they get older.
Some of the common problems owners have reported include:
- Dead pixels on LCD
- Incorrect fuel and temperature gauge readings
- Random warning lights
- Cluster won’t light up
These gauge problems can affect all model years of the first generation Audi TT from 2000 to 2006.
Here’s how owners on Audiworld.com described their issues:
“Just got my 2000 TT’s cluster repaired. It cost me $300, but the guy removed it and did it right there, so I didn’t have to do anything but drive to him. He not only replaced the pixilated screen, but fixed the temperature gauge as well as the fuel gauge, which was slightly off.”
“2001 Audi TT Quattro Instrument Cluster repair needed. The cluster has pixel issues in the display, no longer lights up for speedometer/odometer, false “low oil” indicators, occasionally the cluster “shorts” and blows out the fuse. when this happens the car will not start until the fuse is replaced. Otherwise, the car runs great, less than 50k miles.”
Getting the cluster rebuilt is the best solution since swapping in a new or used cluster requires a trip to the dealer to have it reprogrammed.
You can find several companies that specialize in rebuilding instrument clusters online and it usually costs around $300.
Rebuilding the cluster requires a lot of intricate soldering, so it has to be done by someone who does a lot of circuit board repair — and not just your local mechanic or electronics repair shop.
Some instrument cluster issues can also be caused by faulty wiring or bad fuses, which are much simpler to fix.
3. Transmission Issues
The transmission valve body of the 6-speed Tiptronic gearbox found in the Mk1 Audi TT has had lots of reports of early failures even before the car reached 100,000 miles.
The valve body is an essential piece of the gearbox since it regulates the flow of hydraulic fluid/automatic transmission fluid.
Common symptoms of a faulty valve body in the Mk1 TT include:
- Stuck in 3rd gear
- PRNDS lit up simultaneously
- Hesitates to accelerate
- Rough shifts
These issues can affect all model years of the first generation Audi TT from 2000 to 2006.
They also usually only show up once the gearbox has warmed up after around 30 minutes of driving the car.
Here’s how owners described their issues on Audiworld.com:
“Audi TT mk1 2006 1.8t. When I was driving about 80mil/h and braked to about 20mil/h, the transmission display changed from prndS (Only selected S lit) to PRNDS (all lit up) and the gear was stuck in 3rd… It went away after restarting the engine.”
“My 2004 TT had an issue that it would not downshift properly. If I stopped the car, turned it off, and turned it on it would run fine for days or weeks. After about 2 months of this, it would not downshift and “PRNDS” were all lighted on the dash instead of just “D” which is the dash error code for a tranny problem. The usual culprit for most Mk 1 automatic tranny issues is a valve body malfunction which is fixed by replacing it… The car only had 60K miles.”
A new or remanufactured valve body for the Mk1 TT’s 09G Tiptronic gearbox costs around $1,000 to $2,000. Getting it fitted will also require a few hours of labor.
If you want to save some money on the repair, you can also try to source a used transmission which might only cost around $1,000.
If your transmission is stuck in gear, restarting the car can temporarily get it to work normally again.
In some cases, you may also just need to refresh the transmission fluid which is a very cheap fix.
4. Dual Clutch Gearbox Issues
Early versions of Audi’s dual-clutch transmission, also known as DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) or S-Tronic in later models, had more mechatronic and clutch pack failures.
DSG was only available in the 3.2-liter V6 model of the Mk1 TT. For the second generation Mk2 Audi TT, the S-tronic box was offered in both the 2.0-liter and 3.2-liter models.
Reports of DSG failures seem to have tapered off after the 2009 model year.
Common symptoms of DSG problems in the TT include:
- Hard shifts
- Jerky acceleration at low speed
- Won’t shift into reverse
- Shifts into neutral
- Hesitation to accelerate
- PRNDS lit up simultaneously
One owner on VWVortex.com had this to say:
“2004 Audi TT 3.2L To make a long story short this original DSG was acting up once the tranny is warm up. Sluggish 1st gear engagement from stop and go. Massive slipping on all gears. Finally it died with flashing PRNDS. Dealer wants anywhere from $2500-$3000 for mechatronic replacement.”
A few owners on Audiworld.com also reported issues:
“I have a 2009 Audi TTS… As I was parking the car, the car shifted to neutral and displayed a blinking PRNDS. I could not move the car at all, no matter what gear I selected. I restarted the car and the issue seemed to resolve itself.”
“My ’09 tt coupe Quattro exhibited the same neutral blinking PRNDS symptoms as you described. The mechatronic unit was replaced and the transmission oil temperature sensor was replaced.”
Another owner on TTForum.co.uk also shared their experience:
“Have 3.2 mk2 and today won’t select reverse and gear position on dash flashing and has gone into limp mode.”
Repairing a faulty mechatronic unit usually starts at around $2,000 depending on which shop you go to.
Failing to service the DSG every 40,000 miles also increases the chances of premature transmission failures.
In some cases, simply replacing the DSG’s transmission fluid can get rid of the transmission issues as the old fluid is already contaminated with metal shavings which negatively affects the shifting performance.
5. Tail Light Problems
One common problem that affects a lot of second generation Audi TTs is corrosion of the electrical connectors for the tail lights.
As the corrosion gets worse, the ground wire gets shorted out and melts the connector.
This issue can affect all model years of the Mk2 Audi TT from 2008 to 2015.
Common symptoms of a corroded or shorted tail light assembly include:
- Tail lights won’t light up at all
- One side is dimmer than the other even after changing bulbs
- Warning message on the dash
Here’s how owners described their experience on Audiworld.com:
“On my 2010 TT Quattro the lights in the back do not come on. Not when stepping on brake pedal, or when in the ON position. Only the middle trunk light will illuminate.”
“I was hoping to get a little help with an issue with my left taillight on a 09 3.2 TT. As I’m driving I intermittently get an error to check my taillight (and more recently the turn signal) on the left; but when I stop the car and check it, the light is working.”
You can replace the burned electrical connector with a new one for a few dollars. If the contacts on the tail light assembly are also damaged, you can get a new bulb holder housing, for around $70.
In some cases, simply cleaning out the corrosion and applying some grease inside the connectors can get the tail lights to work again.
Although replacing the faulty components can fix your tail light problems, there’s a good chance that they’ll fail again after a few years.
Many owners go the DIY route and drill a hole into the bulb holder so they can run a new ground wire to bypass the stock harness’ ground wire entirely. You can find instructions and videos for this online.
6. Suspension Issues
The Audi TT’s magnetic ride suspension is a great option that lets you adjust the stiffness of the suspension on the fly, but it’s also very expensive to maintain.
The adaptive suspension, commonly known as mag ride, became an option starting with the second generation Audi TT in 2008.
It’s also standard on the higher performance TTS and TT RS models.
The mag ride shocks can start leaking after 5 to 6 years regardless of mileage.
Here’s how a few owners described their issues on Audiworld.com:
“I have a 2008 Audi TT Quattro 3.2 V6 with Magnetic Ride. I was informed that my front and rear should be replaced as they seem to be leaking.”
“Bought a used 2013 TTS (with mag ride shocks) a few months ago (70K miles). They’ve all but died on me now (can’t even pass inspection because they’re bleeding so much fluid).”
“Just ran into the same issue with my 2013 TTS. Shocks are leaking like crazy and handling is a mess.”
New mag ride struts and shocks cost around $500 to $800 a piece, so replacing all four can easily cost $2,000 to $3,000.
Due to the prohibitive cost, many owners just swap out the mag ride suspension for regular shocks or aftermarket coilovers.
When converting to regular shocks or coilovers, you’ll also have to code out the mag ride errors or install a mag ride delete kit.
7. Cam Follower Problems
Mk2 Audi TTs with the timing belt-driven 2.0-liter engine can suffer from cam follower failures.
Over time, the cam follower can get completely ground down and damage both the camshaft and the HPFP (High Pressure Fuel Pump).
This issue affects the 2008 to early 2009 model years of the base model Audi TT, as well as the 2009 to 2014 model years of the Audi TTS.
Although there aren’t many reports of actual cam follower failures in the Audi TT, it’s a well documented problem on other Audi and Volkswagen models that use the same EA113 2.0-liter engine like the VW Golf and Audi A3.
A common symptom of a worn cam follower is increased engine rattle.
Here’s how one owner on TTForum.co.uk described their experience:
“I’ve recently replaced the cam follower on my TTS ( 57k 09 recently purchased ) and there was hardly any wear. Also my car sounds pretty tappety on idle.”
A new cam follower only costs around $20 to $30 and it’s fairly easy to replace the old one even in your garage.
A lot of owners replace the cam follower preemptively every 40,000 to 50,000 miles to avoid damaging the camshaft and HPFP which can easily cost up to $2,000 to replace.
8. Convertible Top Issues
Older Mk1 and Mk2 Audi TTs can suffer from faulty motors and sensors that prevent the top from opening or closing electronically.
The Mk1 TT’s glass wind deflector also has issues going up and down as they get older.
It’s also common for the car to display an error that the top is not properly latched.
Here is how owners on Audiworld.com described their issues:
“The other day, dropped the top, went for a ride (2008 roadster) and when I got home, the flaps would open but the top wouldn’t move.”
“I have a 2002 Audi TT (convertible, awd). The convertible top does not go down electronically, but it does go up electronically.”
“My 01 TT roadster windscreen only goes up a little ‘when it feels like it.’ Same thing with going back down.”
If the top is not opening or closing at all, one of the microswitches that detects what position the top is in could be faulty. This can also cause random error messages for the top to show up on the dash.
On the Mk2 Audi TT, the ports for the flap motor can also easily get clogged with debris and cause the car to think that the top is not secured properly.
Removing the motors and cleaning the ports usually fixes this problem. Partially raising and then lowering the top can also get rid of the error.
The wind deflector issue on the Mk1 is usually caused by a broken belt.
9. Coolant Leaks
The 2.0-liter engine of the Mk2 and Mk3 Audi TT can suffer from coolant leaks due to premature failure of the thermostat housing.
It’s also quite normal for the coolant hoses and other parts like the reservoir and water pump to crack over time as they’re mostly made out of plastic.
If you’re coolant levels are constantly dropping and you don’t see any obvious leaks, it’s best to have a VW or Audi specialist have a closer look.
Thermostat housing leaks can usually only be confirmed after performing a pressure test.
Another common symptom of a coolant leak is if you start smelling burnt coolant which usually smells like burnt rubber. It’s also often been described as a sweet and slightly sour odor.
Here’s how owners described their experience on Audiworld.com:
“2017 Audi TTS losing water, I am having to top up the reservoir often because of this.”
“Cracked thermostat housing leaking. Keep an eye on the level. Check it and your oil level once a week if you drive your car daily. You will smell burnt coolant at the front of the car. Common problem on all E888 engines. Requires a water pump replacement. I am replacing mine next month for about $1100 parts and labour.”
“My dealer found a slow leak during an oil change today and are replacing the housing, thermostat, and installing fresh coolant. They plan to do a close inspection of the water pump while the housing is off and will replace that too if needed.”
Other owners on TTForum.co.uk had this to say:
“Just found out my 2016 TT 2.0 S-Tronic has a leak from the thermostat housing.”
“Service rep replaced my thermostat housing even when they couldn’t actually find a leak because it’s “such a common issue”. Used a newer version of thermostat housing and never had an issue since.”
Due to the number of reported failures and a class action lawsuit, Audi extended the warranty of the water pump and thermostat housing to 10 years or 100,000 miles.
This extended warranty only applies to the 2009 to 2020 model years of the Audi TT and only applies to certain models.
If you need to have the repair done out of warranty, a water pump and thermostat assembly costs around $400.
10. Coil Pack Failure
Another common maintenance item on the Audi TT is the coil packs.
Audi and Volkswagen coil packs tend to have shorter lifespans, and can cause misfires when they fail.
It’s not uncommon to have to replace the coil packs every 60,000 miles, especially on the Mk1 and Mk2 Audi TT.
Here’s how one owner on Audiworld.com described their experience:
“In all 3 of my prior TTs, including a 2011 Mk 2, I’ve never had coilpacks last to 60K miles without a hard failure in one.”
Another TT owner on TTForum.com.uk had this to say:
“I have a misfire and need to replace a coil pack (the dreaded P0303 code). I will replace all 4 coils at the same time. The car has 64K kms.”
A new set of coil packs costs around $200 to $300 if you get them from Audi. Aftermarket replacements are much cheaper at around $100 a set.
When replacing the coil packs, it’s also a good idea to replace the spark plugs at the same time.
11. Carbon Buildup
Excess carbon buildup can become an issue on older Mk1 and Mk2 Audi TTs, and significantly affect engine performance.
Carbon buildup is an issue on all engines that use direct injection, but it can be excessive on the 1.8 and 2.0-liter engines even at relatively lower mileages.
When the intake valves get caked up with too much carbon deposits, you’ll notice symptoms such as:
- Poor fuel economy
- Shaking or vibration at higher RPM
- Limp mode
- Check engine light
The Mk3 TT uses an updated version of the 2.0-liter engine and should be less prone to these issues.
The TTRS, which has a 2.5-liter engine, uses port injection in addition to direct injection which allows gas to reach the back of the valves to dissolve carbon deposits.
Here’s how one owner on Audiworld.com described their issue:
“We were able to scope my TTS and it had early signs of buildup. I will be doing a cleaning this spring with approx. 25k miles on the odometer (cost expected to be in the $650. range).”
Another TT owner on TTForum.co.uk shared their experience:
“I remapped my 2008 2.0 model last year and it’s been great until this winter when it started playing up a bit. Idling was rough at cold start, then it threw me a code (Cylinder 1 misfire) and rapid acceleration in 4th or 5th gear was a bit jerky… before taking it to my Audi specialist I decided to give it a go and do a stage 3 engine carbon clean… The results were immediate. Not only the engine was pushing harder, the power delivery was a lot more linear and smoother. The engine sounded quieter as well. Rough idle was gone and so was the Cylinder 1 misfire that kept showing up a day or so after being cleared through OBD.”
The best way to clean out the carbon deposits is to have the intake valves professionally walnut blasted.
This can cost around $500 at an independent Audi or Euro specialist, and most enthusiasts recommend getting it done every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
If you want to go the DIY route, you can also remove the intake manifold and carefully scrape off and clean out the carbon buildup manually.
Using premium gas can help reduce the carbon buildup, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the issue.
Audi TT Pros & Cons
- Unique styling
- Sporty handling
- Upscale interior
- Comfortable ride
- Decent trunk space
- Available all-wheel drive
- Decent reliability
- Expensive parts and maintenance
- Tiny rear seats
- Compromises performance for comfort
What Do The Reviews Say?
“When the first Audi TT made its U.S. debut in 2000, it received rave reviews for its groundbreaking Bauhaus-inspired design and peppy performance.”
“More than two decades later, the TT has gotten away from its styling roots but maintains its fun-to-drive nature.”
“The current third-generation 2023 Audi TT is showing its age, though, as it was last redesigned in 2016. With the public’s waning interest in small and sporty coupes, it seems likely that 2023 will mark the end of the TT line, at least in its internal combustion form. That means if you’ve ever wanted one of these fun little coupes or convertibles, you should act sooner rather than later.”
“Most drivers will find the Audi TT completely satisfying in its base form. Because there aren’t any typical trim levels to choose from, the only real decision to make is whether to add the S Line Competition package. If you’re willing to make sacrifices to ride quality and comfort in the name of more responsive handling, it could make sense to pony up for that option.”
What’s the Resale Value of a Audi TT?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the Audi TT on Edmunds at the time of writing.