Purchase Advice: Should I sell my 1999 Subaru Outback and get a 2006 Audi S4 Avant?

I have a 1999 Subaru (Legacy) Outback with 124k miles, and it’s working fine except for an extra klunk in the rear when I go over bumps (which my dealer suspects requires an $800 strut replacement). My dilemma is that I’ve found a used wagon that might be much more fun - a 2006 Audi S4 Avant with 71k miles (for $28k), in Laser Red - a practical wagon with a v8, Recaro seats and a ferocious growl. I don’t NEED to change cars but this little red wagon has me seriously tempted. I need someone to convince me not to buy the Audi - expensive parts & maintenance? bad reliability? rattles & squeaks? big blind spots? tell me all about it! I love my Subaru, but it’s super tame, not particularly fun to drive, racking up some maintenance costs now that it’s older, and I’m tempted by the prospect of having a sportier car that’s got some pep. Thoughts?

Instead, I’d get a new(er) Subaru, maybe one with the turbo or the 6. That Audi has ‘high maintenance cost’ written all over it…

The parts are going to be expensive, as is the maintenance. S4’s are known for having turbo issues which are expensive to fix.

If you want a sportier car that has pep, consider the Genesis Coupe v6. You can get a new one with every available option for about $2k more than the Audi. It’s quick, and handles beautifully, and you’d get the full warranty (which is 10 years/100k miles on the powertrain). If you want more upmarket, look at a used Infiniti G35, which you can get with fewer miles at the same price as your Audi, and then you have Nissan reliability rather than Audi maintenance problems.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking at wagons, there really isn’t any such thing as a reliable AND sporty wagon - not that’s available in the USA, anyway.

Well, the Acura TSX wagon is kinda sporty. But nothing like an RS4. And that one’s the v8, without the turbos, but it’ll still be $$$$…

Yeah. I drove the TSX. It can’t even keep up with my TL, and the TL is hardly in the same class of “sporty” as the Audi.

The Audi will bankrupt you with maintenance expenses.

This is a car for rich people. Are you a rich person? I doubt it. If you were, you’d buy a new Audi S4 Avant, or whatever today’s equivalent is.

You think you can own a rich person’s car on a non-rich-person’s income, just because you’ve found a used one for sale.

Good luck with that.

The rich person who bought this car when it was new had the sense to trade it before the REAL expenses started.

Now it’s an expensive-to-maintain used car looking for a sucker.

Have you got $28K burning a hole in your pocket? There are lots of really nice NEW cars you could buy for $28K.

I’m going to change gears.

But perhaps you’re “in love,” or at least infatuated, and you really need to own an Audi.

This might be your golden opportunity; an Audi S4 Avant with a V8. Wow! How many times is an opportunity like this going to come along? Not very often. And it’s RED!

I suggest you take your boring Outback to whichever dealer has this Audi on its lot and make the best deal you can on a trade-in. Your Outback is nearing the point at which it will need expensive repairs (trust me: been there, done that), so why not take this opportunity (see how many times that word comes up?) to fulfill a dream.

Buy the Audi.

You’ll have loads of fun, and you won’t mind the expense.

For a while.

Until the maintenance expenses start to mount.

But it’s LOVE!!!

You NEED this car.

Do it.

I love to watch other people spend their money.

It’s overpriced in my area. You can check prices in you zip code at edmunds.com, kbb.com, and nadaguides.com. This also gives yo the chance to include the options on the car to get a more accurate price. You might also check other Audi dealer’s internet sites within 500 miles to see if hey have any S4 wagons on the lot. You can comparison shop.

If you think $800 is expensive for rear struts…

But hell, you only live once, and it’s only money, you can’t take it with you.

Thanks for the comments. There are definitely more prudent choices, including the fact that I could get something nice & brand new for the same cost. It seems with either the Audi or keeping the '99 Roo I’m in for some maintenance costs - and at least I know where I stand with my car’s maintenance record, unlike the Audi which is an unknown. Our plan for now is to fix the struts (or whatever is making that klunk in the rear end) and keep the Subaru until there is a wagon or crossover that gets better fuel economy (maybe a plug in hybrid or a clean diesel Mercedes or VW/Audi in a year or 2). A newer Outback is a good option but I’m not in love with how large they’ve gotten & my husband doesn’t like the CVT in the newer Outbacks.

As cool as I think this s4 is, there will be other opportunities when the time comes and we really need something else. And I do think $28k is high (that’s their opening price before any negotiation; I’m sure they’d come down some since they’ve had the car over a month).

And I don’t know what to think about the $800 estimate for the rear struts - is that too pricey?

The Audi has at least 60-70% of its life sucked out. What they meant by the strut pricing was; if you think that is a lot of money for a car repair then you can not repair the Audi without a few heart attacks. If you are paying that much money why not just lease a new car for 3 years for that money and then dispose of it? I might be wrong but that might be more fun and less $$.

My vote is for avoiding the Audi no matter what you do with the Subaru. The Audi is inherently more expensive to maintain and are you saying someone added Recaro seats and modded the exhaust. If so, the defintion of that may found in the dictionary under “flogged”. :slight_smile:

The 800 dollars is probably about right for the rear struts at the dealer level. They would be using pricier Subaru OEM strut assemblies and the shop labor rate would likely be higher than an independent shop.
Price struts at an independent. The figure can probably be shaved down quite a bit.

I would just want to make sure the clunking is the struts. There are lots of bushings and joints in a Subaru rear axle that could clunk, struts usually don’t (but they can).

Just finished up at the dealer and in fact it’s not the struts. It’s the rear anti-swaybar links that are bad. Should run me about $280 to repair. I drove the mechanic around and reproduced the noise for him. I suspected the swaybar problem. Earlier this year my front one went all kinds of bad and was replaced so I had some previous experience with similar clunkage. Should be all fixed up next week when the parts come in. Tempting as the Audi is, some research shows there are interesting plug-in hybrids on the way in a couple of years so I plan to hold on to the Subaru until something with amazing fuel economy comes on the market (or the price of a used BMW 550 GT gets into my ballpark!).

Is it an automatic transmission? If so, this might help you assess the vehicle.

This person in post #149 discusses a problem with a Forester - same problem I had with my 1999 Legacy Outback around 68,000 miles (only mine cost about $3k to repair & rebuild). I got the same story from the dealer saying it would cost about $7k for them to replace the transmission; so I had the work done at a transmission place. Works well still at 123k miles, but will probably need repair again as the part just doesn’t hold up beyond about 75k miles (according to what my transmission repair person said). How many miles does this Forester have?

Watch for the delay in shifting from reverse to drive; and feel for a kick in the behind when the gears engage (post #152 at that link mentions this & you’ll know it when you feel it!); those are sure signs the transmission needs work.

My very rich boss loves Audis, but he only leases new ones so he doesn’t have to deal with the maintenance costs and headaches after the warranty period.