Audi is known for producing high-quality vehicles with advanced technology and features. However, like any other complex system, Audi’s transmission (also known as the gearbox) can malfunction. When this happens, it can affect the performance and drivability of the vehicle. Some common symptoms of a transmission issue in an Audi include slipping gears, delayed shifting, and rough gear changes. A professional must use a full system diagnostic scanner on your Audi to determine the root cause and ensure proper repairs.
Audi automatic transmission problems can be caused due to something as simple as a low transmission fluid level. They can also be due to faulty valve bodies, Transmission Control modules, shifter modules, transmission fluid pumps, worn clutches, and even electronic faults.
Common problems with Audi automatic transmissions:
- Transmission won’t shift.
- Transmission is stuck in limp mode.
- Transmission bangs into gear
- Tiptronic, not engaging
- Audi won’t go in reverse.
- Won’t shift out of the park
- Stuck in limp mode
- Won’t go into gear
- It goes in gear and won’t move.
Common problems with Audi gearboxes include issues with shifting, such as delayed or rough shifting or complete transmission failure. The malfunction indicator light may also turn on due to issues with the transmission control module or low transmission fluid levels. Other potential problems include clutch wear and slipping or a worn-out torque converter. These issues can often be resolved with regular maintenance and fluid changes, but in some cases, a replacement transmission may be necessary.
- Mechatronic unit failure: This is a common issue with the dual-clutch (S-tronic) transmission. It is caused by electronic faults in the mechatronic unit, which can result in loss of transmission function and gear selection.
- Solenoid valve issues: Solenoid valves control gear changes, and their failure can cause transmission slipping, gear shifting problems, or the transmission going into limp mode.
- Clutch wear: A clutch can result in slipping, vibration, and difficulty shifting gears. This issue is more common in older cars with high mileage.
- Software errors: Software errors can cause gearbox malfunctions, such as shifting problems, gearbox control unit failure, and transmission control module malfunction.
- Wiring issues: Wiring problems can result in transmission slipping, failure of gear selection, or the transmission going into limp mode.
These are the most common issues that can cause a gearbox malfunction in an Audi. An ASE-certified mechanic would be able to diagnose and repair these problems.
DSG Transmission Problems Explained
The Audi DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) transmission is a dual-clutch automated manual transmission developed by Volkswagen Group. It uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets, allowing quick, seamless shifts without interrupting power delivery to the wheels. The transmission control unit (TCU) manages the clutch and gear engagement, allowing lightning-fast shifts in just a few hundred milliseconds.
This results in improved acceleration, better fuel efficiency, and smooth gear changes compared to a traditional manual or torque converter automatic transmission. The DSG transmission is commonly found in high-performance Audi models and requires specialized diagnostic equipment and technical knowledge to service and repair effectively.
Transmission Problems by Symptoms
Judder and loud bang when going from neutral to gear
Audi cars from the mid-2000s with a Tiptronic transmission can experience a judder accompanied by a noticeable bang from Neutral into Reverse or Drive. In most cases, the check engine light will go on, and there will be a P0706 code stored.
- The connector for the transmission range sensor could not be sealed properly, allowing water and dirt. This causes corrosion and distorts signals. Clean off any traces of corrosion and ensure that the connector is sealed.
- The transmission range sensor may have an internal fault. This is not a serviceable item, so replacing it is the only option. It is located underneath the car, at the driver’s side of the gearbox.
Clutch slip and RPM oscillations in 4th and 5th gear
When cruising on highway speeds in 4th or 5th gear, Audi cars with Tiptronic transmission can experience something similar to clutch slippage. The engine speed will go up and down by several 100 RPMs. In most cases, the check engine light will go on, and there will be a P0741 code stored.
- A damaged torque converter, clutch solenoid valve, wiring, or connector – Check all wiring and repair if needed.
- Faulty or clogged torque converter clutch solenoid valve – test its operation with a diagnostic tool and replace it if needed.
- Worn-out torque converter clutch.
Grinding or rattling noise while driving
Audi cars with a Tiptronic transmission can suffer from a grinding noise that may be present when the car is in ‘drive.’ This may happen when it is cold and may go away as it warms up or can be present all the time. The frequency of the noise follows the engine speed.
- A torque converter has several needle bearings inside, which can wear out or be damaged due to poor maintenance. In addition to noise, this can create noticeable vibrations during accelerations.
- Check the transmission fluid level and top it off if needed. If you don’t know when it was changed last time, consider replacing it with a filter.
PRNDS symbol occasionally flashing, the car will not engage any gear
Many cars with Audi Multitronic transmissions can experience many unusual issues. As this is a continuously variable transmission, it uses a specific internal architecture, and symptoms can have different meanings. In many cases, there will be a flashing PRNDS symbol on the dashboard. In some cases, the transmission will refuse to engage any gear. Restarting the car can sometimes solve the issue.
- Low transmission fluid level, degraded fluid, or clogged oil filter. Check the fluid condition and replace it if needed.
- Faulty transmission oil pump(s) resulting in insufficient oil pressure. Check the oil pressure using a specialized diagnostic tool and replace it if needed.
- Faulty Transmission Control Unit (TCU). This is a fairly common issue, and many specialized workshops can repair it.
Hesitation when setting off and hunting during acceleration
Many Audi cars with Multitronic transmissions made up to 2005 suffer from a lack of response, either when sitting from a standstill or trying to accelerate. A feeling of gear-hunting and slippage accompanies this. In the initial phases, the problem will be present only when driving more aggressively.
- In some cases, the lack of response can be caused by inadequate TCU software. Try updating the software or carrying out the relearn procedure described below.
- The most common issue that causes this problem is worn clutch packs. Over time, clutch discs wear out, resulting in metal shavings within the oil filter. Replacing the clutch pack is the only solution. Being such a widespread problem, various aftermarket uprated kits increase longevity.
Transmission Malfunction, No Reverse, You can continue driving.
Here are a few potential causes of Audi transmission malfunction with no reverse:
- Failed reverse gear: The reverse gear in the transmission may have physically failed, making it impossible to engage the reverse.
- Solenoid failure: The solenoid responsible for engaging reverse may have failed, preventing the transmission from shifting into reverse.
- Transmission control module issue: The module responsible for controlling the transmission may have failed, causing reverse gear failure.
- Transmission fluid issue: If the fluid is contaminated or low, it can cause various transmission problems, including reverse gear failure.
- Mechanical wear and tear: Over time, mechanical wear and tear can cause various components within the transmission to fail, including the reverse gear.
A mechanic would need to diagnose the specific cause of the malfunction through a thorough inspection of the transmission and its components.
DSG transmission going into limp mode
DSG transmission in Audi cars is a complex component that can go into limp mode. During this, it will be stuck in third gear, and the ‘PRNDS’ symbol on the dashboard will flash. When this happens, there will be a stored code that will help track the problem.
- If codes mention ‘clutch limits’ or ‘clutch adaptation,’ your clutch may be worn. However, before replacing it, you may try resetting the gearbox. This can be done using an Audi diagnostic tool or the procedure described below.
- Various sensor failures, such as temperature sensors. Check the suspected sensor and replace it if needed.
- Mechatronic unit failure. This will usually trigger multiple codes, including sensors and implausible gear ratios. Mechatronic units are not serviceable and can be replaced or repaired by a specialist.
Reset Transmission Adaptation
- Turn on the ignition, but don’t start the engine.
- Press the accelerator and keep it pressed for 10 seconds
- Turn off the ignition.
- Release the accelerator
- Remove the key from the ignition.
- Press the accelerator and keep it pressed for 10 seconds
- Release the accelerator
- Turn on the ignition and start the engine.
Check the Transmission Fluid Level
One of the most common issues that cause Audi transmission problems, such as no shifting, delayed shifts, erratic shifting, or shifting at high RPMs, is low transmission fluid level. If your Audi automatic transmission has started to act up, check the transmission fluid level as soon as possible.
To check the transmission fluid level on an Audi transmission, follow these steps:
- Ensure the car is on level ground and the engine is running.
- Locate the transmission dipstick, which is usually located near the front of the engine bay.
- Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a cloth.
- Reinsert the dipstick and remove it again to check the fluid level.
- The fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum markings on the dipstick.
- If the fluid level is low, add the specified type of fluid through the dipstick tube, making sure not to overfill.
- Repeat steps 3-5 to verify that the fluid level is within the acceptable range.
Note: It is important to use the correct type of fluid for your specific Audi model and transmission type, as specified in the owner’s manual or by a qualified Audi technician. It is also recommended to check the fluid level with the transmission at operating temperature.
Recalls / TSB
There have been multiple recalls and technical service bulletins (TSBs) related to transmissions in Audi vehicles. Some examples include issues with automatic transmission shifting, dual-clutch transmission (DSG) failures, and loss of power transmission. It’s recommended to check with Audi’s official website or your local dealership to see if your specific vehicle has been affected by any recalls or TSBs.
Read Transmission Fault Codes
The next step in the troubleshooting process is to read the fault codes from the Transmission Control Module. These are manufacturer-specific codes and can not be read with a generic OBD-II scanner. For this step, you will need an Audi VW Transmission Scanner.
To reach and clear codes from the Audi transmission module is very simple.
- Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard and connect your scanner.
- Turn on the ignition but do not start the engine.
- Select Audi from the main menu and model.
- Scroll down to Control Units.
- Select Drivetrain, then Transmission.
- Select Read Fault Codes.
We hope you find the Troubleshooting Audi Transmission Problems guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Audi.
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