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1997 Audi Quattro Wagon, to keep or not to keep

I've had my Audi for 3 yrs. I got it with about 85,000 miles. Got all breaks replaced when they completely went out the first few months I had it. I got the transmission serviced as it was shifting oddly and then drove it 2500 miles xcountry about 1.5 yrs ago. It has been fine until the past week or two.

A strange clanking noise from the engine. Haven't gotten the timing belt or water pump replaced and it's at 135,000+ miles now. I know it's a terrible thing as it was to be done at 120,000 mi. but I just couldn't afford to have it done and it has been running fine until now. My question is with the value of the car at stake is it worth it to put the $1000+ in for the maintenance and replace the timing belt and water pump. I've read so much about how these car's are money pits at this level of mileage. I really am wondering if it's worth it to invest and try to keep it another year or 2 or buy another used car before I start putting more and more money into the beast. It has been a great car and I do love the fact it's been the only luxury car I've owned and have quite enjoyed the 'perks'. I'm just torn as to what to do.

thanks for any feedback

Yes, they can be money pits. “clanking noise from the engine” could be many things, some of them very expensive. Just replacing the belt and water pump probably won’t fix the noise, so first thing is to find out what’s causing the clanking.

But in general I’d say get a newer non-European car, if you can afford to.

Usually timing belts break with no warning, they don't get noisey or rattley. They just snap. Your problem(s) need a mechanic to look at and evaluate what is going on.

If you don't have the money to repair this car, where is the money to buy another car? You can run the Audi until the belt breaks, could break tomorrow or last for 5 years. Whenever it breaks you will get -0- for the car. So, start saving up now for a newer car and drive the Audi until it dies.

While I would agree and second the info above, I'd alos like to point out that at 15K past the expected lifetime of the belt, you should find this noise really quickly and decide if you want to fix and keep it or not. Unless you're positive it's from the inside of the engine somewhere, this noise could be from virtually anything metal up there. A $100 alternator, or something even less destructive. We don't know yet.

You may not have much time left on that belt to decide, and if it goes, then the lack of a decision will be very much the deciding factor. :)


I read I cannot afford the maintenance of a timing belt but thinking of a another car. What are you looking to spend on your next vehicle? If its under $5000 you will be in far worst shape.

I would get an estimate to fix the noise and then decide. Also get a quote for the timing belt.

Luxury cars are not for those who can't afford the maintenance.

I suggest getting rid of the car now, as in RIGHT NOW, before that belt breaks and you are faced with a repair bill that will run into the thousands of dollars.

Then buy something you can afford.

Thank you all for your input, I have money to put up either way, just didn’t know the dependancy of the Audi’s duration after I got the belt and pump replaced, guess my logic was: should I put up the $1500+( the quote I got) for maintenance or put that $ towards a newer car and trade in now as is. I mean it’s value is probably less that $1000 at this point that’s why I’m hesitant to invest more in it…but I really really like the car. Just don’t want to keep putting in more and more for repairs on an older car when i could just get a new one. Guess no one can predict dependability on an older car so the best thing would be to prepare to day goodbye and get something newer. either way I’ll be spending on a new used car it’s just a matter of now or in a year, that is if the car made it another year when I get these necessities replaced and fix that odd noise.

Just make sure you get the noise checked first, before you do anything else. It could be something big, no need to put money in a timing belt in that case.

Luxury cars are not for those who can’t afford the maintenance.

My 2 cents are that a 1997 “luxury” car likely has less features & complexity than a modern 2011 standard family vehicle.

When you say keep the Audi or buy a new car are you talking a new new car, or a new to you used car? You can expect a new car to be dependable for a few years. A new to you used car could turn out to need more money in repairs than the Audi.

You've got expect to spend more money on any car the older it gets. A new timing belt is just maintenance. It isn't a repair at all. If you like the Audi you might be best off keeping it. A used car could have been trashed, abused, or maintained poorly by the other(s). Once a used car gets beyond 5 years old you are dealing with a lot "unknowns".