nlevine
nlevine New Reader
12/5/18 11:01 p.m.

I don't really need to be driving a big-ass Durango, which is my current daily.

My E24 project has turned into a real E36M3-show (and if anyone is interested in building an E24 challenge car, or some sort of E24-based monstrosity, make me an offer - I need to clear out the garage).

So what's the logical next step? Buy an Audi!

This particular Audi is a 2000 A4 1.8T Quattro 5spd with 109K miles. Bought it from a friend - the original owner - who didn't want to deal with Craigslist people and knew I would appreciate it. Got it for a good price with records from new (and I know the mechanic who's been working on it since it left the dealer's care).

It's not perfect - driver's seat is ripped, clutch catches a bit high - but it's solid and runs well. The plan is to do some minor upgrades, maybe do a track day or two. If I can keep it going for another 4 years, it may end as the kid's first car when he turns 16. I even let him pull it into the driveway when I brought it home (with him sort of sitting on my lap - it's never too early to learn how to drive a manual) - the burning clutch smell has finally subsided...

It's my third Audi - had a 4K Quattro with 200K miles that was still able to be tracked (on pavement and ice) and an S6 Avant, so I know what happens when these things show their true Audiness. For now, though, I plan to have a little fun...

 

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/5/18 11:22 p.m.

nice!  i had a 99.5 1.8T Quattro 5 spd with the factory sport package back in the day.  fun car that i often miss.  what kind of upgrades do you have in mind?  i'm out of the audi loop so i'm curious to see what the choice parts are these days.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise Reader
12/5/18 11:25 p.m.

Congrats ! 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
12/6/18 12:44 a.m.

Soooooo, tell me why I shouldn’t buy a twin of this car? I’ve been wanting to buy one for a all-weather daily but I’m too scared it won’t be reliable.

Please, as someone who knows these cars... should I? Do these leave you stranded or just annoy you with niggling things

de80q
de80q Reader
12/6/18 4:32 a.m.

Nlevine: you should look into the frankenturbo for that engine.  Friend of mine had one, and at 25psi, it was quite fun to drive.  A little lacking in torque compared to my i5, but that's what you get having 1 less cylinder.

ebonyandivory: I've driven/owened/maintained many of the B5 Audi's.  If they have been generally maintained throughout their life, you will be good to go minus the normal age related failures.  Good news is though, parts are generally cheap and easy to find for them.  Not like my B3 Audi...

nlevine
nlevine New Reader
12/6/18 5:07 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

I’ve only been left stranded once by an Audi - the transmission in my S6 Avant self-destructed on the Mass Pike late one Sunday night, but it was an automatic.

The early ‘00s was the era when a lot of the German manufacturers introduced their “free maintenance” programs for the first few years of ownership, meaning a whole lot of stuff that used to have regular service intervals - like AT fluid - suddenly became “lifetime fill”. Cheaper for the first owner (likely leased), but the end result was that many automatic transmissions blew up at around 90k - 100k miles, like mine did. Couple that with the steep Audi depreciation curve, and the many 2nd and 3rd owners who were excited to own a high-end car for not a lot of money, but who refused to pay Audi service and parts prices, so getting the maintenance history on the car is key (as is getting a manual transmission). Other than that, it’s mostly annoying stuff (broken cup holders, door handles). Also, get the VAG-COM software and cable so that you can reset the check-engine lights that will invariably show up. Saves a lot of money in the long run as you don’t have to keep buying electrical tape to cover the light as often (or maybe I need to buy higher-quality electrical tape) :-)

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
12/6/18 7:12 a.m.

In reply to nlevine :

Thanks so much for the quick response! An automatic would not even be in the running even if it was bulletproof.

I’m worried that the examples I’d be looking at might not have a great record of maintenance performed and I’m nervous about the gamble.

Id like to believe that at over 100,000 miles, many of the bigger (ie: expensive) things may have been taken care of by then.

Can you tell a lot with a good test drive? Time is ticking for my next used car purchase and I’d been looking for cars with very few options with the B6 Audi A4 being the rare exception.

EDIT: You mentioned the Mass Pike. I’m in Southeastern Mass myself. You’re a Ma guy too?

Gunchsta
Gunchsta HalfDork
12/6/18 7:51 a.m.

I just saw one of these this morning and vaguely kicked myself for not having owned one yet. 

I happen to think the B5 Audi's, especially the A4 and S4, are some of the most beautiful cars designed for their time. 

Excited to see where this one takes you! 

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/6/18 9:26 a.m.

Disagree on the frankenturbo. I had one and was thoroughly unimpressed.  They don't have the low end kick of a K04 and lack the top end of a GT series turbo.  25psi on one is seriously over spinning it.

nlevine
nlevine New Reader
12/6/18 9:29 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

Yup, up closer to the Boston area..

java230
java230 UltraDork
12/6/18 9:56 a.m.

I miss my b5..... Kinda wish I had kept it. 

 

Following along!

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
12/6/18 5:45 p.m.

One of the best automotive days I ever had, was the day I sold my B5 Passat. 

To the OP, sounds like you found a good one. I hope it works out for you.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
12/6/18 8:16 p.m.

Expect to need to replace the control arm bushings.  Most people just replace the whole arm, because while it's slightly cheaper to do just the bushings, it's way more work.  The front upper arms die after 40-50K miles, but with the age of this car you should consider doing all of them (front and rear, upper and lower) if they haven't been done already.

If you're doing that, look into the SPC adjustable ones.  From teh factory, you can adjust camber and toe in the rear, but only toe at the front.  (well, you can equalize camber by shifting the subframe side-to-side, but you can't add any).  If you want to add caster/camber, you need the adjustable arms.  Doing that makes a huge difference to turn-in feel, I recommend it.

Over the last 18 years, I've had a B5 S4, a B6 S4 Avant, and currently have a C7 S6. :)

 

Chris_B5
Chris_B5
12/8/18 6:45 a.m.
ebonyandivory said:

Soooooo, tell me why I shouldn’t buy a twin of this car? I’ve been wanting to buy one for a all-weather daily but I’m too scared it won’t be reliable.

Please, as someone who knows these cars... should I? Do these leave you stranded or just annoy you with niggling things

I think that others have already answered your question, but I'll throw in my two cents as well.

I've owned a 1.8T B5 A4 for six years and approx. 80k miles. Mine hasn't stranded me, but the cars have a decent amount of issues that you will have to deal with at some point. As codrus mentioned, control arm bushings are a pretty common problem (especially if you lower the car at all). An entire set of front control arms can be had for around $250 - most people don't bother to replace the bushings on their own. 

Coil packs also go bad fairly frequently. Autozone sells them with a lifetime warranty so I just keep a couple spares in my trunk and get a replacement from autozone when one does go bad. 

There is a coolant flange located on the back of the engine up against the firewall. This is a common coolant leak source but doesn't take long to replace if it starts leaking.

Other less important things that you can count on seeing in almost every B5 A4 still on the road are a ripped drivers seat bottom and damaged console lid. A passenger side seat bottom can be put on the driver's side if the rip bothers you. 
 

Overall, I'd say that they aren't cheap to keep running, but not as bad as many people say they are. They're also very good in the snow. 

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/8/18 9:28 a.m.

There's nothing more expensive than a neglected German Luxury car.  It's important to buy one that's been taken care of and has the paperwork to prove it.

Otherwise be prepared to spend a bunch of time and money getting it back up into shape.  Once there it'll require regular feedings, very much unlike a Toyota, which will shrug off the neglect and keep on driving.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/8/18 8:18 p.m.
ebonyandivory said:

Soooooo, tell me why I shouldn’t buy a twin of this car? I’ve been wanting to buy one for a all-weather daily but I’m too scared it won’t be reliable.

Please, as someone who knows these cars... should I? Do these leave you stranded or just annoy you with niggling things

never stranded but it cost me a good bit to own mine, and it was well cared for.  when it worked, it was a great car to own and i miss it sometimes.

i owned mine from about 75k to 99k miles.  went through a clutch, and the control arms were all making racket by the end.  i recall i had to halfway drop the fuel tank to do a fuel filter replacement.  i'm a decent manual driver and despite trying to be easy on the original clutch, it couldn't handle the power of a GIAC chip tune which was the only engine mod aside from an upgraded diverter valve.  had a coil pack go bad early on.  be aware they want a new t-belt every 60k.

the car was in my family from new and despite frequent synthetic oil changes, the top end was making a lot of noise by the time it was sold.  i took the valve cover off and the cams were getting galled.  i've heard the longitudinal 1.8T's had some sludging issues compared to the transverse ones due to oil pan capacity.  that issue led to eventually me selling it...i was too young at the time to know how to properly fix that kind of stuff.

no suspension mods but it did have A8 front discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads.  fun and capable in the mountains for a stock car and would just kill highway miles.  better than a subaru in snow IMO with the center torsen diff.  i would have loved to run a K04 kit on it with some proper coilovers had i kept it....i got a chance to ride in a K04'd one owned by a local friend and the low end torque hit was so much fun.  the paint and interior held up awesome, it looked brand new at nearly 100k miles and basically no rust.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
12/8/18 9:42 p.m.

They’re (to me) such a nice-looking car. I’m working third shift and sleep in the day and don’t have a garage to pull into though I do have a large variety of tools and a good amount of experience under the shade tree.

I wish I wasn’t so conflicted. 

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/8/18 11:51 p.m.

I owned mine from 35k miles to about 80k miles.  I did springs with bilsteins and bigger swaybars, an exhaust and K04 turbo with GIAC tuning and the A8 front brakes.

It was a CPO'd car and under warranty the entire time I owned it.  It needed 2 wheel bearings, 1 timing belt tensioner/roller (so the dealer just did the timing belt job for me), a heater core (thank god under warranty) and 2 sets of control arms. 

I sold the car to a younger guy I knew and shortly after he got it he had to replace the clutch. 

Another friend ran his to 160k miles with minimal work, another to 250k miles but was fastidious with maintenance.  These are now old cars and have been through many hands.  Uncared for cars will empty your wallet in a hurry...

brad131a4
brad131a4 Reader
12/9/18 11:11 p.m.

Ok to clear up the control arm issue. Audi screwed the pooch and pressed in the ball joints on one end. These are what fail not the bushings. The only time I've seen a bushing fail before the ball joint was on my 01 S8. Much heavier car but used the same lower control arms as the A4,A6,A8. Most all the new ones now come with the S4 upgrade or that's all that are sold now.

I have a 98.5 sitting in my friends driveway waiting for me to swap the motor out. Helped my younger brother build it up at the time before he moved to Japan in 2011. One of the nicest riding mid sized cars I've been in. Then again it has the Bilstein PSS9 coilovers in it. He also installed just about every body stress bar available back in the day for it. He ran 19" rims on it I plan to drop down to 18's as I like how the extra sidewall on the tires feel. As far as the AEB motor in the car, I think it still had the AEB then. I feel other than the I5 they are best motor they ever made. Easy to get power out of and are fairly robust even with the 5 valve head. 

We changed all the plastic parts prone to cracking and breaking with silicone and that cured a few issues that couldn't be found. Only other thing I changed was the bypass valve. They don't seem to like the extra boost if you go with a apr chip or any other one.

Styling wise I have to say they have held up far better than even some of the newer audi disasters let alone other makes of that era. After owning a 01 S8 for 6 years I can't complain about repair cost for a A4 as they are pale compared to that S8. Plus it never really ever had to many issues but when it did..... You pretty much just grab the KY and bend over. 

Silver over black is by far the best combo they had back then. The only other ones would be the red or blue over black.

 

Tk8398
Tk8398 Reader
12/10/18 12:01 a.m.

My friend's mom had one of those (but a wagon) for a number of years, then one day the traction control failed and shot it off the (straight and dry) freeway backyards through a chain link fence, and the tow truck driver punched one of the fence posts up through the transmission tunnel, through the dash, and out the windshield in the process of removing it, so it obviously got scrapped after that.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
12/10/18 2:27 a.m.
brad131a4 said:

Ok to clear up the control arm issue. Audi screwed the pooch and pressed in the ball joints on one end. These are what fail not the bushings. The only time I've seen a bushing fail before the ball joint was on my 01 S8. Much heavier car but used the same lower control arms as the A4,A6,A8. Most all the new ones now come with the S4 upgrade or that's all that are sold now.

I have seen many, many failed bushings on B5, B6, and C5 cars, some with as little as 40K on them.

 

nlevine
nlevine New Reader
12/10/18 9:17 a.m.

...and they make great tree haulers.

nlevine
nlevine New Reader
12/10/18 9:55 a.m.

Got the car registered and drove it around for a couple of days. Certainly the best budget car I've ever bought - my friends are fastidious about stuff and have dropped a fair bit of cash into repairs and maintenance over the car's life, all with "trusted" mechanics. Other than the ripped driver's seat cushion and a recalcitrant cup holder, the interior looks new (and in better shape than any car I've ever owned long-term). My wife thinks the car feels "tight" (in a good way), but the seats aren't quite as comfortable as the ones that were in my '85 4000s Quattro. The kid likes how the dash lights up "like an airplane" at night, and likes that it can corner faster than the Durango, but is now embarrassed by dad driving an "old" car (which just makes me want to drive him places more often to be seen by more of his friends :-)   ). He also laments the lack of rear-seat heaters like we have in the Dodge (when I was a kid, I didn't have heated seats, I had to push the car to school in the snow, uphill both ways, etc. etc..)

I've noted the following:

  • Suspension is a little squidgy and likely original shocks, and even though I hate "stanced" cars, the fender-wheel gap on this thing is huge. Planning some mild suspension mods (leaning toward Bilstein Sport shocks + H&R springs, but will do more research) and general front-end refresh in the spring. Also need to go at least +1 on the wheels for better performance tire options (it's on 15" now - Nokian all-season from 2015 - good enough for this winter)
  • Clutch pickup is pretty high, but it's not slipping (it's original). Will likely replace it if I start to do any track days next year
  • Timing belt was done at 67K in 2010, so I'm good on miles for the moment. Is 8 years too old for a T-belt?
  • It has the Bose stereo with both CD and cassette players(!!!), but the right rear speaker buzzes. Need to investigate speaker replacement and possibly Bluetooth add-on options (or I just set my phone to speaker and yell really loudly and ignore what people are saying to me). I want to keep the dash stock appearing, so I'm not planning to swap out the audio head unit
  • Instrument cluster was replaced, so all pixels are good!
  • Need to replace driver's seat bottom (or just get a cover - the seat heater still works even with the torn cushion)

More to come as I drive the car more to learn its quirks...

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
12/10/18 10:08 a.m.

I'd pull that timing belt outta there.  Expensive consequences if it snaps.  Spec is usually 60k miles or 4-5 years.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/10/18 10:15 a.m.
brad131a4 said:

As far as the AEB motor in the car, I think it still had the AEB then. I feel other than the I5 they are best motor they ever made. Easy to get power out of and are fairly robust even with the 5 valve head.

yep the AEB head casting was used up through the 99.5 model year.  its the head to have - biggest ports and drive by cable.  if you can find them they fetch a nice buck or two from guys doing big turbo builds.

 

nlevine said:
  • Clutch pickup is pretty high, but it's not slipping (it's original). Will likely replace it if I start to do any track days next year
  • Timing belt was done at 67K in 2010, so I'm good on miles for the moment. Is 8 years too old for a T-belt?
  • It has the Bose stereo with both CD and cassette players(!!!), but the right rear speaker buzzes. Need to investigate speaker replacement and possibly Bluetooth add-on options (or I just set my phone to speaker and yell really loudly and ignore what people are saying to me). I want to keep the dash stock appearing, so I'm not planning to swap out the audio head unit
  • Instrument cluster was replaced, so all pixels are good!

i've never driven one (and i've been in about 5 different 1.8t's between 97-01) that didn't have a clutch that picked up high on the pedal travel.  i hate it, but that's just how they are.

i don't trust belts past 10 years old as a general rule but even at 8 its probably getting sketchy.  keep in mind its an interference engine and there's a whole lot of valves per cylinder to crunch if the rubber lets go.  i would replace it as well as the tensioner and pulleys.

i had the casette/AM/FM stereo, not even a CD player!  mine was a real stripper model.  i did have a factory installed mobile phone (curly cord and all) that popped out of the center armrest and would do hands-free calling.  what a time warp now that i think back to it.  you can probably find a bluetooth option for cheap on Amazon.

you're lucky - most of the clusters are notorious for failing at this point.  fingers crossed it stays that way.

 

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