2002 A4 vs. BMW 325 Xi - reliability

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Hi,
I'm thinking very seriously of purchasing either a 2002 A4 3.0 Quattro, or the BMW 325 XI from roughly the same year.
I've read all the stuff about performance, safety, etc, etc. So I don't
need a lot of input in that department.
However, I am having a hard time finding good data on the reliability / expense of repairs / maintenance of these cars. All the reviews I've seen are from the year they came out. Now that 3-4 years have elapsed since the release of the cars from that year I'd like to know which of these cars has proven itself to be more reliable, have fewer problems and is less expensive to fix.
A good friend who works in a used luxury car dealership, and is presumably neutral on the issue, advised me very seriously to go with the BMW as the Audi according to him "has a lot of problems and is more expensive to fix".
I'm aware that both are fairly high performance cars and as such will be more prone to problems than the 1994 toyota pickup (135,000 miles and NEVER been in the shop for anything besides maintenance) it will replace. But I would think at this time one would have shown itself to be more reliable than the other.
Does anyone have any input either way? Or better yet, some kind of long term comprehensive data on the web I can look at?
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(snip)
Oh I should probably add, my interest extends only to a manual tranny. I have no need for CVT, tiptronics, Striptronics or any of that kind of thang.
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The only complaint I have about my 2003 A4-3.0QM is that the manual transmission is VERY GRABBY. It's hard to get smooth shifts, like I could get with many other manuals I've owned. It seems like it's a pretty heavy duty clutch plate/disc/springs mechanism. I don't know how long the drivetrain components (e.g., CV joints, U-joints, etc.) will last with such a heavy duty clutch. And I would rather have a nicely geared 5-speed than a 6-speed. 1st gear only takes me up to 20 mph before it's at redline. I start out in 2nd a lot. I've been to over 120mph on occasion and it handles like a dream. Smooth and stable.
When the car goes, it really goes. I LOVE the performance when I'm pushing it. With the snow tires I got, no amount of snow or ice ever gave me any problems. In the winter there's no equal to Quattro and a good set of snow tires. It holds the road in dry, wet, and snow without body roll (sport suspension). EXCELLENT handling, and the 3.0 engine is great. I don't have experience with BMW's 2.5l engine, but the 3.0 is fine for me. I thought of the 325ix as well, but I wanted the power of the 3.0 vs. a 2.5. I was in a 325ix at the auto show, and I personally liked the A4's interior better. I have a friend who drives a BWM (745i) and he says he likes my interior better too.
I've had only one problem in two years - a "clutch switch" went faulty. No drivability issues at all. I didn't even know until the MIL light came on. Dealer fixed it under warranty. That's it. For the $$, I got the 3.0Q. I bought it new, and I don't know what the differences are between the 2003 and the 2002 model.
Karl wrote:

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For what it's worth, my wife had a '02 A4 3.0Q and it was the worst car we've ever owned. I can't even remember all the things that failed. Some major (engine issues) and lots minor (leaking hose clamps and bad electrical connectors). It's the last Audi we'll ever buy.
Karl wrote:

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In an earlier thread about an '86 T44 I was suggesting that the problem was the fuel tank lining peeling off and clogging the fuel pump intake screen intermittently. I would think that this may be your problem too.
Fix: -cut intake screen off pump and replace fuel filter more often.
You might also have a weak fuel pump relay.
JimV wrote:

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Just goes to show you never know what you'll get. I have a 2002 A4 3.0Q and I've had exactly two problems with it. One of the dozen of so speakers had some light static on it -- I hadn't even noticed it at first, an audiophile friend of my commented on it when I brought it by for a visit a couple days after I got it. That was replaced, then a few months ago (2+ years after getting the car) the sunroof sometimes would shut again after I'd opened it. They had to order a part and it was replaced and that was the end of that. Never had any problems with the engine, tranny, brakes, steering, and other important stuff like that which is needed to actually get where you need to go safely.
The guy who started this thread is probably WAY better off checking with Consumer Reports or the like to see what their actual measured data states about the reliability of the two models in question versus asking in the Audi and BMW groups for personal or "friend of a friend" type individual anecdotes.
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Douglas Siebert snipped-for-privacy@excisethis.khamsin.net

"Pure democracy is three wolves and two sheep voting on what to eat for
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Save yourself money and get yourself an early 90's low mileage well maintained turbo quattro. A typical driver (not a newbie of course), if you're one, wouldn't be able to maximze his car's capabilities anyways, at least from what I can tell from the new audis I've smoked in my '86 TQ, which is more than a typical Audi driver can handle, though admittedly I did hit a traffic island last winter, no more cr@ppy tires :-)
Audi S6 Turbo Quattro
http://tinyurl.com/b493b http://tinyurl.com/dzhxm
cp

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According to Consumer Reports, the 2002 year was not a good one for the A4 V6. Three areas, electrical, ignition and power equipment, were either worse than average or much worse than average; the overall reliability rating was worse than average. It's specifically listed in their "Used Cars to Avoid" listing. In contrast, the BMW 3 series for 2002 had no areas worse than average and an overall reliability of better than average. The 2002 3 series was specifically listed in their list of "Reliable Used Cars."
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Ah, interesting. Thats the kind of info I am looking for. It's a tough choice. The A4 has the nicer interior and is more powerful. But the BMW looks a lot sharper outside - perhaps even a bit TOO nice, bordering on flashy- and is apparently more fun to drive although I guess it is somewhat underpowered and more expensive.
Yes, I do need to go test drive them both still...
But in thinking long range, an A4 that spends more time in the shop will likely eventually cost me as much (if not more) than the 325.
I should add that I plan to DRIVE whichever car I end up with. I love to drive for its own sake and used to drive professionally back in the early 90's. At the time I worked for a law firm in San Francisco and routinely got lectured for "having too much fun" while chauffering the Firm's eldest attorney (84 years old) in the company's 735i. I was not unsafe per se, but definitely a bit aggressive for the constitution of an octogenarian.
So anyway, what I'm saying is that the car I end up with is going to have to stand up to more than just the occasional hop down to the market. Plus I do live in an area with a good amount of bad weather.
I'm starting to wonder if I should suck it up and try for the 330xi. Anyone have opinions on that?

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Does CR have anything to say about the 2003 or even the previous model years using the older platform?
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CR has data from '97 to '04. As far as overall reliability is concerned, only the '04 A4 rates better than average (an encouraging development); the '01 rates average; all other years rate below average. For the 3 series, only '02 rates above average; the '04 rates below average (a discouraging development); all others rate average. I'd recommend a visit to Audiworld.com and search for various trouble areas. I have a '98 A4 which has had engine oil leaks, radiator replacement, temperature sensor replaced, defective clutch throwout bearing, bad ventilation fan all within 65,000 miles. I have not had the notorious control arm problem and because I don't have the computer, I didn't have its display fail as so many have. I also missed the year where the ignition coils were defective. You'll note that none of these items would appear related to hard use - they are simply a result of seemingly poor design and/or shoddy quality. While some would dismiss the CR surveys, I'd have to say that in the case of the A4, they pretty well track the problems brought up in audiworld discussions.
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Thanks. The more I look into it the more it seems the A4 is simply not going to hold up, and in the long run will cost me as much as a 3 series while providing a lot of aggravation.
An 04 Audi is going to be overly expensive I think, and besides, that's not a long enough time period for me to trust reliability data to the point I trust it from 2 years prior.
I'm now almost sure it's going to be a 325 or 330xi from 2002. It's flashier looking than I'd wanted -I really like the Audi's understated exterior- but I'd like to be the one admiring the car, not a mechanic.

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On the other hand, you have not shared with the group the manner in which you plan to use the vehicle. If winter driving is one of your needs the equation changes dramatically.
The two cars' AWD systems are very different in design and behavior. The A4 is far more capable on snow and ice than the 325xi, because of the latter's rwd bias and completely electronical awd system. The latter is a reactive system, while the former is a preventive system.
I drive a lot between Tahoe and Silicon Valley, at any time of the day or the night and in any traffic and weather conditions, including fresh snow and near zero visibility. Over the years I have driven many AWD vehicles, including Toyota Previas, Audi 90/100, A4/S4 and A6, and BMW X5 (the 325xi shares the same xDrive AWD design with other BMW AWD cars). BTW the X5 was by far the least reliable vehicle we ever owned.
There is no question that the Audis beat all others in bad weather, and by a large margin.
dk
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Keep in mind that the primary reason for the 2002 A4's low reliability ratings is a single problem that has now been totally rectified by a manufacturer recall. Specifically, I'm talking about the faulty "coil packs" (a part of the ignition system) that caused a lot of cars to suddenly quit running. However, the bad part in question was replaced in all cars by a completely redesigned part. So the problem, unlike the negative ratings pertaining to it, is gone.
Rob 2002 A4 3.0Q 2005 TT 3.2 DSG
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In all fairness, some BMWs have had similar problems, although I don't remember hearing of any cars "suddenly quitting" because of it. For some 2001-2003 BMWs, the engine may run roughly and the check engine light might come on, due to deterioration of the spark plug coils. There's a BMW TSB on this:
    http://www.rasmus.ca/bmw/coil_TSB.pdf
Heh. Given the timeframe, I wonder if similar parts were used in both BMW and Audi.
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On Wed, 14 Sep 2005 09:04:29 -0700, Darryl Okahata

    Likely - European car makers use lots of common parts from outside vendors. Mercedes-Benz has window regulator issues in the C and E class cars like those for BMW as well, also for the same time frame.     Emanuel
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Well, that's depressing.
As far as I know, the BMW window regulator issue is still ongoing, as I've seen no one claim that it's been fixed (for E46's at least -- it's unknown about the new E90's).
For the BMW 3-series (E46's), the window regulators, sunroof clips, and headliner trim problems seem to be the top three non-mechanical issues.
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From 1997 to 2003, all years but one of the A4 V6 have below average "overall" reliabilities. The ignition problem in 2002 shows clearly because all other years had better than average "ignition" reliability. But the 2002 A4 also got below average for "power equipment" - the same as the two prior years - and low marks for "electrical equipment" that also showed up in all but one of the previous five years. It's not just the ignition problem.
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What year is not below average?

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'01 is average in overall reliability. '04 is above average in overall reliability.
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