I just purchased a 97 A4 1.8T quattro a couple of months ago. What a
beautiful car. Carfax says it's clean, it came with most of its
records, it has low miles (69K now) and is really almost perfect but
there are of course a few small issues and I am looking for advice.
I'm not sure if the first issue really is an issue. I think the
steering might be a tad floaty and I'm wondering if there's an
incipient problem, or if it's just the way the car is. The steering is
consistent, the steering wheel doesn't vibrate and it drives perfectly
straight. There's an inch or two of travel in the wheel on the
freeway. My mechanic doesn't see any problem. It's just that I used
to drive a 92 Jetta GL and I feel the steering was tighter on that car.
So I figured that the bar would be set the same or higher for the
Also I feel that the car might tilt a little too much going around
corners. Again, I'm comparing it to my Jetta. I've heard that if I go
for stiffer shocks or struts, I might get into a whole mess of
compensatory changes like different sway bars. Thoughts?
The third issue is that the car is originally from Canada and the
speedometer reads in KM/H without any MPH markings. I'm considering
replacing the gauge face plate with a US model. It's legal to drive
right now, it has a certificate to that effect. For aesthetic reasons
I want an OEM plate not an aftermarket plate. I have been told that
the way to get an OEM plate is to buy the whole cluster and take the
plate from it. Is that possible? I definitely don't want to replace
the whole cluster. Also I'm still not sure I *want* to open the dash
because I don't think that's been done before and I'm concerned about
the integrity of the interior afterwards.
Wow! Truly low miles for a car of that vintage. My 98.5 car has 98k
miles between my sister (the original owner until 32k miles) and me.
Others will respond, but I suspect this might be a feature of the car.
"Floaty" is an interesting adjective, though. I perceive the steering
of these cars to be smooth and responsive. Floaty to me would be more
like a Cadillac, with some play in the steering, and you do say you've
got a little play, so I am wondering whether the low usage of that car
allowed for a little "rot" in the tie rod ends or something.
That might be simply a wheel/tire issue. If you're using 16" wheels,
this could happen. You might like 17" wheels on that car with a lower
profile tire sidewall, but again, others will comment. Also, tires
make a difference. Some are more squirmy than others (lower profile
being less so). I just drive on the stock 16" wheels on my 2.8 A4,
and I'm fine with the performance.
I can sympathize, but if you have a good Audi independent, this should
be a perfectly fine job. I've had good results buying used OEM stuff
from Shokan All Audi (http://www.shokan.com /), and others here have
their favorite vendors.
Also, you might want to join the A4 mailing list:
http://www.audifans.com/ I get good insights and info from this
digest as well as from this Usenet group. Good luck; you have a nice
car, and I hope you enjoy it for many years.
The fourth and possibly most important issue is that if it hasn't had its
cambelt and tensioner replaced already I would strongly recommend that you
get it done as soon as you can. The manufacturer specified service interval
on these is 80K but plenty have failed well before then - the early design
of tensioner was "spawn of the devil" ! If it fails it cost several thousand
$$ to rebuild the head.
Also take note that you should now be using a larger oil filter and
Synthetic oil only in 1.8T engines. VAG have issued a tech note on this. If
you see any signs of irregular oil changes in the service history then you
might want to think about running an Auto-rx treatment as a preventative
measure (www.auto-rx.com) . 1.8Ts are prone to sludging if oil changes have
not been carried out regularly & its very expensive to fix.
On your steering issues - "floaty" doesn't sound good. It could be something
as simple as poor quality or mismatched tyres on the front of the car - or
even over inflated tyres.
On the other hand the front suspension on A4s is quite complex and is prone
to wear. Its a very clever system that almost eliminates torque steer but it
is prone to wear. Each side has 4 control arms, two upper & two lower & the
ball joints on these wear out. There was a recall on front lower control
arms a couple of years ago. If it turns out to be these that have failed
then you should be able to get it fixed under the recall. Alternatively it
could be something like a track rod end that needs replacing.
Suggest you explore www.audiworld.com for lots more information on all of
There shouldn't be any play in the steering wheel. Something is definitely
not right. Try to get a second opinion on this (another mechanic or Audi
I'm guessing this car has a factory non-sport suspension? You can replace
it with the OEM sport suspension, which in my opinion gives good balance
between comfort and handling. There are plenty aftermarket options as well.
I think the OEM non-sport and sport suspensions use the same anti-sway bars.
Some people just choose to get more beefed-up anti-sway bars on top of that
to reduce body roll.
Oh yeah, and I agree with the other poster - replace the timing belt and
tensioner ASAP, if you haven't already! It's a ticking time-bomb with no
visible countdown timer.
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.