Advice on whether to buy an Audi or not needed

Friends are selling their 2001 Audi allroad quattro 2.7T (that may be overdescription), lovely car to drive, has 100 K miles on it, check engine light continually on (which appears to be an Audi thing and which does not really bug me, since my approach to car maintenance is to have my car guys change the oil every 3000 miles and look for anything wrong). My concern is that one of the mechanics at my shop says he wouldn’t have an Audi as a gift because they need expensive repairs all the time. I will get my friends’ repair records from them, but what do y’all think? Expensive repair job looking for a home, seducing unwary buyers with cushy heated leather seats? Or what? I have a perfectly good '98 Toyota Camry that causes me no worries, but it has 202 K on it

I wouldn’t have an Audi as a gift either. Multiply that by 4 for the Quattro.
And an Audi Quattro that’s being driven around with a CEL constantly lit? Man, just shoot me now and avoid the pain!

Run away. Fast. The car is alive. It will steal everything you have or hope to have. Every single dollar. That CEL light is a huge, light-emitting red flag. And on a tugboat like that, red flag means expensive.

Am I being too suttle?

Others may disagree, but any car owner who sees fit to drive his/her car for an extended period of time with the CEL illuminated, and who rationalized it as “an Audi thing”, is the type of person who likely ignored lots of necessary maintenance.

While I agree with your mechanic that Audis tend to need VERY expensive repairs as they age, and I also would not want a used Audi, much depends on the maintenance of the car. In this case, I strongly suspect that your friends are not maintenance-oriented, and while they may escape the major repair bills that result from that “head in the sand” attitude, the next owner will not be so lucky. I suggest that you NOT be that next owner.

It’s not the Audi badge that would bother me. It’s the fact that the car is 12 years old and has apparently been tooling around with a CEL on for who knows how long. If your friends are ignoring the CEL then odds are they haven’t taken care of the timing belt issue, which could be the reason why they’re selling it. Dumping a car rather than spend money on it is a common disease.

The chroic CEL is not an Audi thing; it’s common with any car in which the owner chooses to ignore it.

I’d like to add that it is possible…even likely… that the current owner has already had the cause of the CEL dignosed and that’s the reason he’s trying to sell the Audi.

Run away…

LauraVHP wrote:
Expensive repair job looking for a home, seducing unwary buyers with cushy heated leather seats?

This is a very likely observation.


Oops, well, I should have given more background on the CEL: Owner no. 1/wife had a fender bender and they had the car repaired by the dealership. They are actually pretty much obsessive car maintenance people. The CEL light came on shortly after the repair, and the dealer told them that it was a minor malfunction of a sensor, and would take $3000 to fix. They are arguing with the dealership/maintenance arm of dealership about whether the insurer should bloody well cover the $3000 and get it fixed or pay the difference, since that reduces the value of the car, or whether the maintenance people should have taken care of the CEL light when they were fixing other things. And FWIW, according to various other (not nearly so dispositive or authoritative) sources on the internet, Audi really does have CEL problems – all those electronic bells and whistles, all those sensors. My friends really are solid people who take good care of their cars and their friends! But that doesn’t mean that the car they’re selling isn’t a maintenance headache and a pain in the wallet, and their wallets are much fatter than mine! So they might not notice a few thousand a year in maintenance cost, but I sure would.

In many states, you cannot inspect/register/legally drive a vehicle that has a “check engine” light on.

I don’t think that anyone is making comments against the ethics of your friends, only that you might consider them FORMER friends if you decide to buy this car!

You’re right, they have CEL issues, because their electronics have a bad record after 10 years. It’s a real problem, and expensive to make right, as your friend has found out. This is my poster child for ‘money pit’:

  1. 10+ years old
  2. Uncorrected (and possibly unknow/misdiagnosed) problems
  3. Audi
    Stick with what you have and know to work, meanwhile save up for a non-european, non-CEL-problem replacement. If you’re lucky, you could go 300k on your Camry.

Audis… Any German car really, are over engineered to a fault… Every system is kind of a “Rube Goldburg” device, yes it gets the job done… But it’s very complicated, and very easy to break, but very hard to fix. The Germans seem to take great pleasure in engineering a 100 step process to do the same job as Jap/American car can do in 10… This also means not many mechanics will fool with them, and you will pay for the guy who knows what he is doing.

PLUS everything is very expensive as has been said before, as a for example. On a 2000 TDI Jetta the mass airflow is a KNOWN issue, and the part (at the time my friend replaced his) was over $400 !! lets say the part number was 1234A… 1234B was the SAME part used on the 1.8T 4-cyls, plugged right in worked 100% and its cost was $140… WHY?? Audi is the same way lots of VW parts, different part numbers, LOTS more money… I think your friends looking at a $3000 sensor, that apparently does not do anything because the car “runs fine” says it all.

PS THEY ARE GREAT CARS the 25% of the time they are running right/well.

gsragtop is 100% correct. Too bad this has the 2.7T, an Audi-only turbocharged engine guaranteed to have very expensive parts.

If the CEL being on “appears to be an Audi thing”, that is, in my opinion, a real good reason not to buy an Audi! It might not bother you now, but it will bother you when you need to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to get it fixed so that it will get through inspection (see mleich’s post above). In my opinion, a car that sells for as much new as an Audi does should NOT have chronic CEL issues. I frankly think that they’re overpriced pieces of crap. Very nice pieces of crap, but still…

As much as I’d like to ‘like’ Audis, even the new Q5 isn’t recommended by CR. It’s their top rated SUV in that class, except for ‘much worse than average’ reliability expectations…oh, well.

Thank you all very, very much for your help! I think I’ll stay faithful to my Camry and stay obsessive about oil changes. Really appreciate all of you taking the time!

I think that is the safe bet, with that said. Start or keep adding to the car fund. Any car, even a toyota with 200,000+ on it, does not owe you a thing. It is perfectly allowable for it to die at any time, with no warning. Just be ready if it does…

Good decision on your part, Laura.

However, in addition to being obsessive about oil changes, you really need to be obsessive about ALL of the maintenance this is listed in the Owner’s Manual. Don’t rely on your mechanic to tell you that some maintenance needs to be done.

The prudent car owner who wants to keep his/her car running reliably for the long term will take charge of the process himself/herself. All you need to do is to look at the charts for maintenance in the manual, and compare them to both your maintenance invoices (you DO save them, I hope!) and your odometer readings.

Bear in mind that all procedures have both an odometer mileage value and an elapsed time value, with an either/or–whichever comes first proviso. (for example…“change oil every 5k miles or 6 months, whichever comes first”).

If your car breaks down because your mechanic failed to notify you of a particular maintenance procedure, you will still be the one who pays for repairs–not him. Take charge of this process, and don’t succumb to the “it’s too technical for me” syndrome. The maintenance schedule, just like the rest of the owner’s manual, is intentionally written on the 8th grade reading level, and is designed for non-technically-minded folks.

You can–and will–understand the maintenance schedule if you will just take the time to utilize it.

I would much, much rather have a fifteen year old Camry with 200k miles on it than a ten year old Audi with 100k miles on it, even if it didn’t have a check engine light on, and I would rather have a fifteen year old Chevy or Ford with 200k miles on it than a Camry with 200k miles on it, but I’m in the vast minority there. I’m with the others, take a pass on this one. Like doubleclutch said, VWs/Audis are very, very nice pieces of crap that are very expensive to fix.

Do not buy cars from friends if you value their friendship, Do not buy audis with more than 100k, do not buy a car with check engine light on, three strikes and out in my book, unless you can include repair prior to sale, then down to an 80% probably not.