Check and see when/if the control arms in the front suspension were
replaced, the B5 A4's were known to have problems in this area. Also,
the 2.8 has had issues with oil leaks. Personally, I would get an
inspection done by an independent shop. Are you buying it at the dealer
that's doing the inspection?
Maintenance is not inexpensive on these cars. If you can find out the
service history (regular oil changes, timing belt changes, etc.) you'll
be much better off. Don't go into it expecting it to be Camry or
'04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6
Central NJ USA
I would echo everything Dan has said. The 2.8 v6 apparently was designed
with an external lubrication system patterned after English cars and
motorcycles from the 1960's and 1970's ;-). There's a pretty good chance
that the A4 you're buying has already had the $400 or so oil leak repair
done but if not, then you'll likely be looking at doing that within the next
20K miles. There's also a good chance that you'll need brakework unless it's
been done recently. And, as is typical for Audi, if the pads are in need of
replacement, likely the rotors will need replacing too - worn Audi rotors
are rarely machinable. If you do need pads get a decent aftermarket brand
such as Mintex if you want to avoid the massive amounts of brake dust
deposited on the wheels by the stock pads.
The other thing you want to make sure of is the cooling system condition.
Coolant temperature sensors ($200 or so to repair) are problematic on that
vintage (I've replaced two in 80,000 miles on my '98 A4) and if the coolant
has not been religiously replaced on schedule, then you could be looking at
a radiator replacement soon (at least $600 at the dealer). Be wary of any
vehicle where the temperature gauge needle does not settle at the midpoint
of the gauge when the car is running and has fully warmed up. As Dan said,
this vintage frequently also has control arm problems but an honest
inspection should pick that up.
The BIG thing that may be looming for you right now is the timing belt and
ancillary items that should be replaced at the same time. You are right at
the mileage when that job should be done and if it hasn't, then count on
spending right away upwards of $1000 (or significantly more if done at a
You would also be wise to change the oil and filter religiously according to
the Audi recommendations although a serious sludge buildup problem seems to
be more associated with the turbocharged 1.8T. You may want to use synthetic
oil just to be safe. Oh and use a good filter (e.g. VW/Audi, Mann or Mahle.)
If you do buy the car, there's a lot of info at audiworld.com as well as
Ian and Dan,
Thank you so much for your valuable feedback! YOU WERE RIGHT !!!
The inspection revealed that it has two "minor" oil leaks one of which
the dealer suggested getting fixed - the one near rear camshaft.. ??
The other is somewhere in the valve gasket. The service mechanic
mentioned that it is "minor" because the oil is not hitting the floor.
I am buying from a private party. I only got the inspection done from
the dealer. I did not know how to find an independant Audi dealer - How
do I find one ?
+ the car is located 60 miles aways from where I live and so I am not
familiar with all the repair shops.
The approximate cost of getting the two things fixed is around $400
each = $800. This is a quote from a dealer which means I can probably
get it done cheaper if so how much? Will this problem come back ?
Secondly the coolant was low on the car and the indicator with water
and a X shows when it starts up - is that a problem or just the fact
that the coolant is low ?
The dealer suggested the timing belt change at 90K. (currently at 70K -
the car was last serviced around 55200 miles according to the Carfax
The brakes are okay at this point. The rest of the inspection revealed
that it needs minor maintenance such "surpentine belts" and brake fluid
flush. The report did not say anything about the control arms for the
Thanks once again and thanks in advance.
Mine was "minor" too except that it would every once in awhile reach a hot
exhaust part and cause smoke to arise from the engine compartment and stink
up the car's interior.
Cost me about $400 at an independent service place. It may be hard to find a
good independent - look for a German repair specialist with good reputation
and ask if they work on A4's. In my experience, if they don't normally work
on Audis they'll tell you.
Will this problem come back ?
it will probably be OK for another 50 to 60,000 miles. I don't know for sure
if they've actually improved the design of the gaskets and seals for that
vintage of A4.
It could be that the coolant is just low but it could also be due to a leak
Audi has an issue with timing belts (http://tinyurl.com/7ab9n ) but it may be
more of a problem with the 1.8T than the 2.8. My 1998 manual says 90,000 but
that's considered risky since Audi now says 75,000 miles for newer cars. The
problem is that other items such as the water pump and the tensioners can
fail and take the TB with them. If the timing belt breaks then you are
looking at major engine repair costs of at least $4000 and most likely much
more. BTW, if that car has not had the oil and filter changed in nearly
15,000 miles then I'd question just how well it's been maintained.
Did the report say anything about the condition of the CV joint boots? A
cracked or damaged boot should be replaced before dirt gets in and destroys
the CV joint.
And what schedule might that be? According to Audi, coolant is
lifetime, just like the manual tranny fluid.
Sure, I don't quite buy into this, but just curious how often you
replace your coolant.
I stand corrected. You are right, my manual says it's permanent. For some
reason, I thought it was every two years. And here I've been blaming myself
for my radiator failure since I let the coolant change go longer than three
You can, but I'd strongly advise against it. An Audi is a bit more
complex/exotic than a typical american car that these grease monkeys are
used to seeing. For one, they'll be surprised that in order to get to
the oil pan, they need to remove a belly pan cover (protective shield)
and they'll most likely lose half the fasteners that are used to secure
it. On top of that, they'll install a cheap oil filter and some bulk
Depending on where you live, it may or may not be hard. Head on over to
www.audiworld.com and ask on the regional forums there - I'm sure
someone will recommend something, unless you live in the total boonies.
:) Simple things like an oil change you could do yourself, assuming you
have a place to do it.
Re: Jiffy Lube - I would NOT go to a 'quick change' place. I have a
local garage 10 minutes walk from my house that I have used for years,
so I trust them. I buy the OEM filter, bring the Mobil1 0w-40 oil and
they do the change. They haven't lost any of the clips yet!
BTW, did you post where you live? If you do that, someone may know a
'04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6
Central NJ USA
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