Audi A3 Sportback rusting wheel problem

* Rust starts to appear on the wheels of an A3 Sportback after just 2000 miles * Warranty claim was rejected by Audi * Audi offered to fit new brake discs and pads free of charge...

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Emma Butcher
12 February 2014

Audi A3 Sportback rusting wheel problem

George Harper was so happy with his Audi A3 Sportback that when replacement time came, it was a case of ‘same again, please’. His local dealer, Bedford Audi, offered him a great price on a three-month-old ex-demonstrator car with just 1200 miles under its wheels, so he jumped at the chance.

Just 800 miles later, however, the shine of owning his new A3 faded when he noticed muddy orange rust peeping through the wheel spokes. The once-gleaming alloys and silver hubs and discs looked decidedly aged.

George’s previous A3 hadn’t suffered from this blight and he wasn’t doing anything differently so he consulted Bedford Audi, which agreed the rust was unsightly and filed a warranty claim. Given his dealer’s sympathetic treatment of him, he was taken aback when the claim was rejected: the rust was deemed not to impair the car’s performance.

George called in Helpdesk. ‘This rust may not affect the performance so far but it looks awful on a new, and supposed quality car,’ he complained. ‘Audi knows the conditions under which its cars will be operated. The fact that the corrosion started mainly during the summer suggests the coating was not suitable for the conditions or was incorrectly applied.’

Although some surface rust is to be expected on hubs and brake discs as cars age, particularly if they’re driven infrequently and spend lots of time garaged, we agreed this level of corrosion wasn’t acceptable on a new car.

We asked Audi to review George’s case. It upheld its original decision, maintaining the rust could have been caused by external ‘aggressors’ such as acid-based cleaning products, something we weren’t able to disprove. ‘We were very sorry to hear about the cosmetic damage to Mr Harper’s car… but corrosion of this kind does not affect performance,’ said a spokesman.

However, recognising George as a loyal customer, Audi did offer to pay for new brake discs and pads, and for half of the labour. Bedford Audi agreed to foot the other half of the bill, leaving George with nothing to pay.

George was relieved and delighted to have his A3 restored to its original lustrous state. ‘I’ve always had excellent service from Bedford Audi and this episode has further bolstered my opinion of the company,’ he said.

What if this happens to you?

  • Light surface rust on hubs and discs isn’t unusual as cars age, but it shouldn’t affect new cars in normal conditions. Take photos of any untimely corrosion and inform your dealer.
  • Remember that cars driven infrequently and kept in damp garages will develop hub surface corrosion more quickly. Ask your dealer to recommend a suitable anti-rust treatment.

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