Argh! Decisions, decisions re: A8

I'm torn and hoping that others on here might have some thoughts and/or suggestions.
Looking to replace my 1988 5000s quattro with, most likely, an A8 (1997 to
2000). I have a few options -- each with positives and negatives. Price is an issue, but much of that is in the hands of my lender. Any car I'd buy would be inspected by independent Audi-friendly shop. Here are a few of the ones I'm looking at:
1. 1997 A8 with 135,000 miles. Ivory (pearl?) & tan. Also owned by an enthusiast who did most of his own work on it. Timing belt was done by dealer back around 80K. Lots of other small stuff, including a half axle and CV boots done within the past 20K. Interior OK (driver's seat pretty worn), but plenty of little annoyances (driver seat heat iffy, rear power shade doesn't work, a few other conveniences don't work). Has ceramic brake pads and V-rated rubber with plenty of tread. Seller says he's flexible on price.
2. 1997 A8 with 99,000 miles. Dark blue & tan. Nicely maintained by an Audi enthusiast. Most work done by owner. Tranny rebuilt not long ago, but still hasn't had timing belt or water pump worked on. Drives nice, but brakes are a little spongy for my tastes.
3. 1998 A8 with 88,000 miles. Black & tan. At a non-Audi dealership. Supposedly a lease return. Beautiful exterior and interior. Brakes done by the non-Audi dealer. Alignment may be an issue, but they promised to fix & make sure car is fully safe and legal. No records available for if/when timing belt, etc. may have been done.
ANY thoughts would be appreciated. There are a few other cars I'm considering (incl. a nice 2000 A8 that is a 3hr. drive away), but these are the top contenders at the moment.
I would appreciate any public or private comments, suggestions or questions I should ask them or myself. FYI... I'm open to getting an A6 if it is zippy and nice enough, but an A4 is too small.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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(updated from original post)
I'm torn and hoping that others on here might have some thoughts and/or suggestions.
Looking to replace my 1988 5000s quattro with, most likely, an A8 (1997 to 2000). I have a few options -- each with positives and negatives. Price is an issue, but much of that is in the hands of my lender. Any car I'd buy would be inspected by independent Audi-friendly shop. Here are a few of the ones I'm looking at:
1. 1997 A8 with 135,000 miles. Ivory (pearl?) & tan. Owned by an enthusiast who did most of his own work on it. Timing belt was done by dealer back around 80K. Lots of other small stuff, including a half axle and CV boots done within the past 20K. Interior OK (driver's seat pretty worn), but plenty of little annoyances (driver seat heat iffy, rear power shade doesn't work, a few other conveniences don't work). Has ceramic brake pads and V-rated rubber with plenty of tread. Seller says he's flexible on price.
2. 1997 A8 with 99,000 miles. Dark blue & tan. Nicely maintained by an Audi enthusiast. Most work done by owner. Tranny rebuilt not long ago, but still hasn't had timing belt or water pump worked on. Drives nice, but brakes are a little spongy for my tastes.
3. 1998 A8 with 88,000 miles. Black & tan. At a non-Audi dealership. Supposedly a lease return. Beautiful exterior and interior. Brakes done by the non-Audi dealer & two front tires are new (back look like about 50%). Alignment may be an issue, but they promised to fix & make sure car is fully safe and legal. No records available for if/when timing belt, etc. may have been done. Only car of the three with Tiptronic.
ANY thoughts would be appreciated. There are a few other cars I'm considering (incl. a nice 2000 A8 that is a 3hr. drive away), but these are the top contenders at the moment.
I would appreciate any public or private comments, suggestions or questions I should ask them or myself. FYI... I'm open to getting an A6 if it is zippy and nice enough, but an A4 is too small.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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amz, I'd go with #2, with the provision that the timing belt/pump/etc. (+front crank seal while you're in there?) gets replaced prior to your purchase - otherwise take it out of the price. #1 seems nice - and it's the only one of the three that doesn't need an immediate t-belt servicing (take "No records" to mean "Not done" on #3). I'd run away from #3 - replacing only 2 tires on a quattro is a death sentence for the diffs (owning a 5kq you should know that) and them telling you that they'll fix things like the alignment is worth the paper it's written on. Cheers! Steve Sears 1987 Audi 5kTQ 1980 Audi 5k 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes (SPAM Blocker NOTE: Remove SHOES to reply)
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Steve, I've never heard about the 4-tires thing on a quattro..... I know that you're supposed to have tires with the same tread depth (or within about a 3% variance) on the same axle, but have never heard that you must replace all 4 at the same time! I'm asking because I recently tore a chunk out of one rear tire, so I purchased one new tire and put the (unused) spare on the same axle as the new tire....
Dan D '04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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Dan, As I understand it, and others more well versed in the nuances of the different generations of quattro may feel free to chime in and correct me, but if you've got different rolling diameters on various locations of the car, then the quattro system will redistribute torque accordingly, as it reads a smaller diameter tire as a slipping tire. I'm sure that a minor difference in diameter would not do damage in the short term, but I would never replace less than a full set on a q. I've had the (mis-)fortune to have repairs made to my tires - as my car seems to attract drywall screws, nails, etc. as I drive around construction projects in my work - had one of the punctures been fatal, I would have gone for a new set. Cheers! Steve Sears 1987 Audi 5kTQ 1980 Audi 5k 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes

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"Steve Sears" wrote:

Thanks for the feedback. Those are generally my thoughts, too. The tire thing re: #3 was in the back of my mind and that's why I mentioned it. The good thing, of course, is that they literally JUST replaced the two tires and did the brakes. I actually test-drove the car prior to their "internal inspection" and apparently was the one who pointed out the brake, alignment and bad (right front) tire issue. They faxed me a copy of their internal invoice (it is a non-Audi major brand dealership) showing the work done. I can always get another pair of tires to even out the set.
Question: If the purchase is conditioned on doing x,y and z repairs and the car is inspected by an independent shop prior to purchase, is there any reason to still avoid it? It is black/tan (my preferred color) and does have Tiptronic.
Also... how well can a transmission be inspected? Even if I assume the timing belt has to be done, I don't want the tranny to fail on me 5,000 miles down the road.
My biggest concern with #1 is the mileage. Yes, I get about 2-3 years until the next timing belt service and the tranny was flushed not too long ago, but I have the same concern about overall tranny condition. Also, my 5ksq has all kinds of dying or dead "conveniences" and it would be nice to have a car with all working accessories (for as long as that lasts).
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amz, It might be just me, but #3 sounds like trouble in the making. "Monkey Lads" can be found at dealerships too, and Audi's shops are not excluded from that rule. It appears that someone was not satisfied with their car and traded it in on a {insert other brand here}. A transmission shop might be consulted on the inspection issue, although aside from opening it up to check slack/etc, I believe that an "inspection" would involve a check of the fluid, and see how it behaves in a drive. Have you tired asking the A8 forum on Audiworld? Cheers! Steve Sears 1987 Audi 5kTQ 1980 Audi 5k 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes (SPAM Blocker NOTE: Remove SHOES to reply)

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"Steve Sears" wrote:

Audiworld is the next step.
My gut and brain are telling me that the #3 (non-Audi dealer) car is not the way to go, but my heart says, "blaaaaaccckkkk.... Tiptronnnnnnic..." :-)
I checked CarFax and it shows as a lease return.
Thanks for the feedback. At this point, I've got to reconcile the various issues between the blue & black cars with the fact that my lender won't give me anything close to what the private seller (blue car) wants -- not to mention the fact that I'd have to put $1,500 OOP into the timing belt, water pump, etc. We'll see how it goes. Who knows? I've tracked down a few more A8's and maybe I just need to be patient.
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Hmm... the thing that immediately struck me about no 3 was the word "alignment". That really is one of the things you can't put right on a quattro - after all, if it could be put right, why hasn't it been done?
No 1 is getting very close to timing belt time - 60k miles is plenty.
Not sure about the "only replace all four tyres at once" point. That was allegedly true on the pre-Torsen diff cars, but it isn't specified now - and in any event how is one supposed to deal with the fact that the fronts always wear more quickly than the rears?
The post-facelift cars (mid-'99 on in Europe, but I'm not sure about the position in North America, where I presume you are) are probably worth going for if you can find one.
Expensive cars to run, but go for it - no comparison with an A6.
Regards
Jonathan
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"Jonathan Morton" wrote:

I checked CarFax and the dealer just bought the car at auction a week or so ago. Based on the RF tire wear, it has been out of alignment for some time. Dealer replaced the brakes and both front tires just the other day (after my test drive).
Are you saying that once an A8 quattro goes out of alignment, you'll never get it back again??
What are your thoughts about a 1997 straight auto vs. a 1998 with Tiptronic? I'm most concerned about punching it to pass or needing to get moving quickly in tight traffic.
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I'm just thinking that the reason for the lack of alignment *might* be crash damage causing the car to be out of true.
Even when properly set up, these cars do eat front tyres - especially the inner edges.

Well, mine's a 2000-model with Tiptronic - though I have to say I very rarely use the Tip. Even with the conventional 4-speed auto you won't suffer from lack of performance.
Regards
Jonathan
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AMZ, I agree with your thoughts on 'black' A8 - a neighbor has a black/black 2001 A8 with the solid wheels - what an incredible looking car! There are pros and cons to all of your choices here. But one caution - don't depend totally on CARFAX re: accident information. I was involved in an accident in my '95 VW Jetta in 1998, which caused about $13k of damage to a car that originally stickered for $17.5k (although $5k was for the airbag replacement) - the car wasn't totalled and didn't have any structural damage (I drove it for another 5 years and 90k miles) - but the accident never showed up in Carfax when I pulled a report on it prior to selling it.
Steve/Jonathan - I looked in my owners manual (car wasn't here yesterday) and they said that you should replace, at a minimum, at least both front or both rear tires. So I am going to stop sweating now!
Dan D '04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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Dan, Yep, I searched Audiworld and I guess the newer generation quattro can accommodate tire replacement so long as it's done in pairs on the same axle. Go figure. As to the post questioning how one would address front tire wear on a car that can only have new shoes in a set of 4, tire rotation seems to have worked for me in that regard, rotating them whenever I change from summer tires to snows - of course, directional tires just swap front to back on the same side. Cheers! Steve Sears 1987 Audi 5kTQ 1980 Audi 5k 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes (SPAM Blocker NOTE: Remove SHOES to reply)

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Jonathan, I was thinking "crash damage" too - even a low speed slide into a curb can result in huge damage to the complex multi-link suspension - and adding on the behavior of the aluminum space frame following damage from a crash (the aluminum can't be pulled out & fixed like steel can). The "fix" the vendor offers may only be good for a short time, and then the alignment will creep out on that corner again. Cheers! Steve Sears 1987 Audi 5kTQ 1980 Audi 5k 1962 and '64 Auto Union DKW Junior deLuxes (SPAM Blocker NOTE: Remove SHOES to reply)
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