hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,139 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Audi A4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Audi A4 Owner Comments

problem #18

Feb 062011

A4 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


2003 Audi A4 tcm failure almost led to a serious accident. Was backing out of a driveway on a semi-busy road in winter park, fl when the transmission control module gave out on my 2003 Audi A4 cvt transmission. The car lost all power and just would rev. But not move in reverse. I had to quickly throw it in drive and head into oncoming traffic until being able to get inot the proper lane. After driving home, I noticed that this is random and there is no logic to when it occurs. The problem is an intermittent electrical tcm problem in which signal 'drops' for a short period of time. I did a search online about theis issue with the 2003 cvt transmission from auid and the tcm shorting out while driving is a very common issue. I see this as a safety issue and definaltely hold the auto manufacturuer at fault. Audi has recalled these tcm's for their A6 and A8 line that year which uses many of the same components. Why has the 2003 A4 cvt not been recalled then. It has the same issues. Tcm failure and faults due to improper electrical connections and clutch pack failure becuase the transmission cannot handle the power or weight of the car. That is why from 2005 and on the cvt comes with 7 clutch plates. Bottom line is that if this issue is not addressed in the 2003 Audi A4 cvt and you do not recall this year and version tcm (and maybe even the tranny itself) people will die in accidents that were no fault of their own. I am headed to the Audi website and any others who will take my complaint about this issue. I see it up there with a stuck accelerator. If you cant control speeding up or slowing down and the problem is faulty electrical thus happening intermitently how can you stay in control of your vehicle?

- Cocoa Beach, FL, USA

problem #17

Jul 152009


  • miles
I own a 03 audia4 1.8T cabriolet. For the pass two years I have to repair the transmission twice- the car could not move, the gears weren't switching. Audi usa are aware of this issue and still there is not a recall for that. Second and bigger issue is the rear window which is separating from the convertible top. It is dangerous as the window can fly away while I drive the car with a higher speed on the highway and hit the cars behind me. Also very common problem for this model cars.

- Rosemont, IL, USA

problem #16

Aug 032010


  • 109,000 miles
It would seem that I have two of the issues I've seen here with my 2003 Audi A4 convertible. I have owned it since 2008 and have already replaced the transmission module twice. As described by others, it wouldn't engage reverse, or go into standard mode... blinking dash lights, etc... the other common issue is my rear window. It is holding on by less that two inches of glue. The rest just hangs on by the headliner. This has resulted in gallons of water entering my car during rain storms. Not to mention the vibrations while driving with the top up.

- Riverside, RI, USA

problem #15

Jan 172010


  • 140,500 miles


Audi-A4-sedan-cvt transmission. Slipping gear while vehicle is moving and beginning drive from stoplight. Safety concern for family. History of a problem and no recall by Audi. How can there be no recall.

- Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #14

Dec 042009


  • 80,000 miles
I have a 2003 A4 convertible Audi. I have been researching problems I have been experiencing, and have found that many people are having the same transmission issues. The problem is in the transmission control unit. The range switch telling the transmission which gear to go into goes out. The dangerous symptoms include an inability to go into reverse, the car not accelerating when the gas is pressed and then lunging forward. When the car slows to a stop, it often doesn't shift down and the car lunges forward before killing the engine. There have been numerous reports of this problem, and Audi has been unwilling to admit fault in the manufacturing, and/or provide a solution. The fix has come at a costly $8K new transmission.

- Gig Harbor, WA, USA

problem #13

Jul 012007


  • 65,000 miles
I purchased the vehicle in September 2002. In October 2003, the transmission suffered a massive failure and required a complete replacement under warranty. Around July 2007 the check engine light came on and the "prnd" indicator on the dashboard started flashing. Champion Audi in pompano beach, Florida diagnosed the problem as a defective transmission control module (tcm). Despite my demands, the Audi dealer refused to fix the defective part, and wanted to charge me upwards of $2500 to replace the tcm. My independent (and aaa approved) repair facility recently confirmed the tcm requires replacement. Bottom line: The transmission could fail, again, at any time. The transmission has been a problem from the beginning and Audi needs to step up to the plate and replace the tcm at no charge. My research indicates that tcm failure is a common problem on Audi. Audi is aware of these issues yet refuses to do the right thing.

- Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #12

Dec 012008


  • 71,000 miles


I have had numerous problems with my A4. First, my headlight shorted out and cost over $600 because it fried all the electrical wires and I had to get a new headlamp setting and wires. Even after replacing the computer has a lightbulb signal light that it is not sending the correct ampage. The power steering leaks continuously and makes noises also. The check engine light has came on and the motor is running very bumpy like almost like it is mis-firing or something. And last but not least, the transmission is not running correctly. When I put it into reverse it stalls and will not go. I put it in to neutral, then reverse again and it slowly catches sometimes. Now the check engine light is flashing and I have had my car sitting for a few days after all this suddenly appeared. I am saving money to try to get this fixed. I am afraid that the engine will stall or I wont be able to turn due to the steering and crash so it is inoperable at this time.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #11

Sep 062008


  • 72,300 miles
Hello a recall notice came in for my 03' Audi A4 for etc sensor.(70K miles) took the car into dealer got it fixed. A week later or so check engine light came on and car was dead in its tracks. According to the dealer and two mechanics shops, its the transmission. Dealer price on transmission was $7,558 total. Owe my goodness...... car is worth about that. Since then I have been trying to locate a used or a rebuild transmission but their is not much of a difference in price because the transmission is so hard to fix and parts are very expensive that no one wants to deal with the car at all. Not to mention the difficulty that requires to replace this type of transmission for my vehicle model. Special tools and programming. Called nearby states with no luck finding a rebuild transmission. Also Audi does not make them anymore, making them even harder to find. I have been searching on the internet for the past 3 weeks trying to find some information on this type of vehicle and the transmission problem and I came across the same story from many Audi A4 owners. This is not a driver problem but a design flaw. Transmission is not fixed because I can't afford 7.5K for a new one that will give out in about 50K again. This is not right and something should be done about this. When the car started to shake tremendously in the middle of turning onto a ramp to enter the highway I could of cause an accident easily. Through out blogs and website advice, their are countless number of people with the same problem. The transmission seems to give out right about 50-85K miles. I hope you can help.

- Sevenhills, OH, USA

problem #10

Aug 282008


  • miles
I have a 2003 Audi A4 3.0 cabriolet with 38,000 miles on it. The gear display began to blink frequently and the manual shifting functionality would not work. Additionally, the transmission would not engage while in reverse on several occasions. The dealership informed me that the transmission control module (tcm) needed to be replaced at a cost of $2,400. After researching, I have seen many similar complaints and feel this may be due to a manufacturing defect, given low relative miles on the vehicle.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #9

Jul 132008


  • 102,000 miles
Engine box floods after driving through long distances in heavy rain. Results in car that will not run at all (needed to be towed) diagnosis is that the engine box floods from insufficient drainage from the cowl which then shorts out the engine control module and transmission control module (basically the car's computer center) this is the second time this problem has occurred (both after driving through difficult rain storms) the first time this happened was in October of 2005, and it took nearly 6 weeks to diagnose and repair. Repair was done by authorized Audi dealer that originally sold me the car. The final bill was nearly $5000. They insisted it was a fluke and had me make an insurance claim to cover the repairs as flood damage. I made a formal complaint to Audi at that time since it is clearly a design flaw. (someone the dealer acknowledged to me that they had witnessed this before, each time telling the customer to go through their insurance to cover the cost). Here I am less than 3 years later and the same exact thing happened this weekend. I drove through an intense rainstorm and I have a flooded engine box. The bill is once again going to exceed $4000, not to mention the amount of time that I will need to rent a car (again) to conduct my business. I sell real estate and depend on my vehicle. Once again I phoned Audi customer care and lodged another formal complaint with this issue and they refuse to acknowledge this design flaw. I am currently seeking legal council in order to recoup these costs. I have both complaints which are exactly the same filed with Audi. I do not have the first set of parts, but I can certainly keep the ones that have recently failed. At this point I do not have a car, I am waiting to see if my insurance company will again pay for this claim. I truly believe this is something that Audi needs to take care of and acknowledge the flaw.

- Kingston, NY, USA

problem #8

Jun 192008


  • 75,000 miles


At a stoplight yesterday, the cvt transmission suddenly failed. When I pressed the accelerator, the vehicle would only very slowly lurch forward with a great deal of "grinding" noise. I was barely able to limp out of the flow of traffic and then had it towed to my shop. My mechanic today told me the cvt (continuously variable transmission) failed and needs replacement. New, the part alone is $7,500, with another $1,000+ in labor. My 2003 A4 has been meticulously maintained since new and only has 75,000 miles. I have found considerable "traffic" online regarding major problems with Audi cvt - but very little on your site. This is S a major design problem that consumers should be made aware of.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #7

Apr 152008


  • 48,500 miles
The vehicle sometimes does not go into reverse and jumps forward when applying brakes. The P R N D lights flash on the dashboard. The dealer says it needs a transmission control module (tcm).

- Boiling Springs, SC, USA

problem #6

Mar 212008

A4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,700 miles
In mid-February, I purchased a 2003 Audi A4 from overland park Jeep in overland park, Kansas. The car was a one owner, very low mileage (28,000)vehicle at an attractive price. As a one income family with a newborn, this car had the safety and looks we desired. On the day of pickup, the car's top malfunctioned, and it was sent to molle Audi in kc, mo for repair. While there, I asked molle to run an inspection on the car to determine if I should keep it. They touted that they sold the car, and had serviced it. Mentioning they were the only Audi dealer repair experts in the area, they gave it a clean bill of health. I picked it up after five days, and op Jeep paid for the roof repair. I paid for the inspection. On the 34th day of ownership, the transmission slipped. I thought maybe the car was cold. A couple days later, it did it again. I contacted molle, and took the car in for service again. Now, they claim the car needs a new transmission and that it will cost over $7300. Op Jeep states that since it is past thirty days, they "don't know what I expect them to do about it". molle says it is just tough luck. It was perfect a couple hundred miles ago? the original warranty on the car was 4 years/50,000 miles. Since the car is 10 months past the time frame (although 22,000 under the mileage), they won't do anything for me, I just need to pay the $7,300....which I cannot do? Audi usa has yet to respond, but claimed they follow the advice of the service manager, which didn't indicate they would do anything but fix it for $7,300. I need this car for work, it needs to be safe for my family, and our newborn son. It seems incredibly unfair that I have owned a one owner, very low mileage carefully maintained car for just over one month, and just over 200 miles, and be faced with a $7,300. Bill on a vehicle that cost $17,000. Op Jeep made claims to the quality and inspection of the car that were not true.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #5

Dec 082005

A4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Audi A4 with defective fuel pump. Consumer states that manufacturer told her that her vehicle was not affected because her VIN was not included in the recall. She stated her vehicle was manufactured within the designated time. The consumer had other mechanical problems with the vehicle such as: Faulty ignition coils, transmission and a radiator replacement. The battery was replaced due to the vehicle not starting, the valve and cam seals were leaking oil. The vehicle also had an oil sludge problem. The consumer was unable to lock and unlock the doors at times. The dealer replaced a loose connection.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #4

Mar 182007

A4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
In February 2007, my 2003 A4's multitronic cvt (transmission) started to fail. It was slow to engage to reverse and to first gear from a complete stop, and the prnd indicator on the dashboard began to blink continuously. Although these were obvious problems, the mechanic at our Audi dealership informed me the car was ┐operating according to manufacturer's specifications.┐ the car only had 61,000 miles. Soon thereafter, the transmission got worse. On one occasion, my infant daughter and I were put in danger when the transmission didn't engage as I attempted a left turn. We were stuck in oncoming traffic in a car that would not move. It was only after I pressed the gas pedal multiple times, revving the engine significantly, that the car bucked into first gear and lurched forward. On another occasion, the car would not go into reverse when I tried to back out of a space in a busy parking lot. This space was on a slight incline, causing the car to roll forward when I stepped on the gas in the attempt to engage the reverse. Instead of reversing, again the engine revved significantly and rolled forward, nearly missing the parked car in front of me. After several attempts the reverse suddenly engaged and lurched backwards. Thank goodness nobody was injured in either situation. At 64,000 miles the transmission failed completely. I had to replace it at a cost of $6,500. Audi even required that my broken transmission be sent back to them so they could study the failure. The technical staff at my Audi dealership, as well as the owner of the repair shop where I eventually had the transmission replaced, remarked that the multitronic cvt's design is problematic, and that they┐re seeing major issues with them.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #3

Oct 232007

A4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
My vehicle is an Audi A4 3.0. I originally purchased in 6/2003. On multiple occasions, when I have put the car in reverse the car begins to buck/shake violently for several seconds until I press on the brake put the car back into park. I have taken it to the Audi dealership to address this problem on several occasions while it was under warranty and they were unable to diagnose the problem. Most recently, at the beginning of this year. However, last week as I was returning home, smoke began to come out of the engine. I brought it to Audi service and I was told today that my transmission was leaking and was dripping onto my catalytic converter which was the cause for the smoke. However, I am now no longer covered by my warranty. It seems like the cvt transmission on this car is prone for failure after 50,000. They want to take out my transmission and either replace/repair it (if possible). I contacted Audi customer care and they contacted Audi service. They are currently in discussion with regards to the coverage for the repairs. They should have found the problem a while ago when I brought it in several times before.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #2

Nov 152005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
On November 14th my A4 1.8 stalled, was towed to the dealer, a coil was replaced...when I drove the car home it would thump and jerk up around 60 mph. I returned it to the dealer who stated that it could again be another coil but were not permitted to replace all the coils the day before because manufacturer wouldn't pay for anything more than the faulty coil...even though they figured more might fail...well, it turns out it was the "throttle" - they reset it and I picked up the car and started driving home when it thumped and jerked again...turned around and returned it to the dealer...this all happened on the 15th...it is now the 18th and after working with their engineers, they fear they may now need to replace the entire transmission...I am just glad that I have a loaner car and that I have 5K more miles on my warranty...I think I am going to by the extended since this is 3 huge problems in 5 weeks time!

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 102003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,500 miles
My 2003 Audi A4 3.0 with cvt transmission, purchased new 2/2004, has 8000 miles on it. During the past 2 weeks (the past 500 miles) I have noted the following problem 4 different times: Upon pressing the accelerator while at a complete stop, the transmission seems not to "engage" and the vehicle does not move. Unfortunately, during 3 of those occasions, my vehicle was on a downward incline and I was attempting to make a right turn into a street with traffic. I therefore coasted into traffic but was unable to accelerate; I was very lucky not to have been hit by the traffic coming from my left. After waiting a few long seconds, the transmission would eventually seem to "engage", and I would be on my way.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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