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Used Audi Q5 Purchase--need your opinion please :)


I am considering buying a used 2013 Audi Q5 with 25K miles. The day I was supposed to see the SUV the check engine light came on–the owner was apologetic and very upfront with me. The catalytic converter had to be replaced. The dealership could not give a good reason why this happened. During the winter, the owner backed into a pile of snow–and dented the underpanel in the rear that has since been replaced. Could this have caused the cat problem? The car does have a warranty 5 year/50K that would come with it. What are thoughts about buying this car given this problem (now replaced) that has appeared? Is it likely there are other underlying issues?

Thank you!

I’d find a different one. Why buy a very expensive car that has already had a major problem? For that kind of money I would buy a new vehicle instead, anyway.

I would think it unlikely, but I suppose if they backed up hard enough (how?! Doesn’t this thing have parking sensors and a backup camera?) they might have rammed the exhaust forward hard enough to damage the cat. If that’s how they drive, though, I’d be worried about other damage from other collisions, because, frankly, you pretty much have to really suck at driving to pull that off.

Plus, it’s somewhat odd for such a new vehicle to be up for private sale. Usually people who get a new car every couple of years either lease it or trade it in, which means this should be at the dealership, not being sold by the owner. That forces me to wonder what the owner did to it that he knows the dealership will discover, and is hoping you won’t. In other words, was this car a flood car or totaled in some other way? I wouldn’t buy a used Audi/BMW/Mercedes period, but I certainly wouldn’t buy this one without a complete vehicle history.

Let me ask you a serious question: Are you looking for reliability? If so, avoid the German luxury brands. They tend to be electrical hell, especially today with all the complicated junk they stuff in the cars. Look at Lexus/Acura if you want luxury with decent reliability.

A 2013 luxocar with only 25K and a chronic CEL? Don’t you wonder why the current owner doesn’t get it fixed under the warranty?

Run as far away as you can as fast as you can. This one’s trouble. I’ve never heard such an obvious problem car in all my life.

Never buy a used car with an unresolved operating problem. And never ever ever buy a used car that’s still under warranty that has a chronic problem that should have been resolved under the warranty.

Thank you all for your feedback. Not sure if this changes anything, but I am almost certain that the dealership did cover the repair under warranty. The current owner is leasing, but has exceeded mileage and wants a different car–so was planning to buy out the lease and sell privately. My strong sense is that he is being very upfront with me and has certainly not tried to hide anything–but I have been wrong before :slight_smile: So, I think you have answered my question…a catalytic convertor sounds like a big enough problem that I should rethink… Thank you for your direct advice…I think I needed to hear it.

To shadowfox, thank you also,…I am very much looking for reliability. My current car is a Lexus RX330 and I have loved it. Maybe I need to revisit Lexus.

If it needed a cat converter at 25K, there’s something wrong. I think you’re smart to keep looking.

Sincere best.

“I am almost certain that the dealership did cover the repair under warranty.”

If the damage to the cat converter was as a result of accident damage, the warranty would absolutely NOT have covered it. This leads me to the conclusion that it was an actual mechanical problem, and on such a new car, that is a red flag, IMHO.

“If it needed a cat converter at 25K, there’s something wrong. I think you’re smart to keep looking.”

As usual, my friend, mountainbike, is right on target.
Catalytic converters normally last for well over 120k miles, so if this one failed by 25k miles, there is something wrong with the car’s engine. That could include severe oil consumption (which Audis are VERY prone to), or chronically running on too rich a gas/air mixture, or to other problems that should not exist on such a new car.

“My current car is a Lexus RX330 and I have loved it. Maybe I need to revisit Lexus.”

While the Audi Q5 is rated “average” on mechanical problems (which is actually very good…for an Audi), the bottom line is that this model–under the best of circumstances–will never be as reliable as a Lexus. And, when it needs to be repaired, you will find to your dismay that Audis are extremely expensive to repair, owing to both high parts costs and a design that does not lend itself readily to disassembly for repair purposes.

Thank you. I really appreciate the feedback.

Edmunds says the maintenance and repairs will set you back about $11,000 in the first 5 years you own a 2013 Q5. They also estimate that a 2013 RX350 will cost about $8000 over 5 years. The extra $2200 is repairs in years 4 and 5 assuming the first 3 years of repairs is covered by warranty. If you like the Q5 enough to absorb the extra repair cost, go for it. Otherwise, consider other alternatives.

In addition to Lexus, also check the Acura RDX - similar size to the Q5, and it’s a really nice vehicle.

Thanks, all helpful info :slight_smile:

If you decide to buy the Audi anyway, at the minimum ask your own mechanic to read the ECM’s active and pending diagnostic trouble codes to make sure that in fact everything has been taken care of.

Do not buy the troubled Audi. It’s that simple.

Not that Audi, but other Audis are available.

Keep looking. You can do better than Audi…a lot better.

Other Audis, OK. But for the money I’d spend on a one year old Audi, I’d rather get a new one (other make model, if needed to fit the budget).

I concur on the Acura RDX. It is roomy, nicely-equipped, and a bit cheaper than most competitors. The Germans of that size (also including the Mercedes GLK and BMW X3 and X1) are a bit more reliable than most German luxury models, but still well behind the Japanese models. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out one of the German models, nutvonly if there was some strong reason for preferring it. Some might have one, but it doesn’t sound as if you do.

If you really want a Q5 I’d look around at some of the other off-lease examples without these issues. The Lexus or Acura would be more reliable but can feel bland compared to the Audi or Mercedes

Edmunds estimates that you will spend $11,500 or so on maintenance and repairs on a 2011 RDX, over $23,000 on an X3, and $18,000 on an ML350 Benz over the first 5 years of ownership. The expected cost is substantially different. I picked 2011 because it is tithe first year without warranty and gives you a better idea do cost a few years out. The differences are mostly repairs. But the Lincoln MKX comes in at just $8000 and the RX350 at $9000. The Infiniti FX35 is also $8000, Cadillac SRX $15,000, and the Buick Enclave is $9000. Clearly, the European vehicles are more expensive to keep.

Yes, though picking 2011 means the X3 is significantly different from the current one. That first generation X3 was a bit of a dud. Whether the current one proves to be cheaper will take time, but at least it’s a much nicer vehicle. The Q5 is a smallish SUV, not a competitor for the bigger Mercedes ML or Infiniti FX. The GLK and EX are comparable. I suspect they will be cheaper to operate than their big brothers, being simpler vehicles. The BMW X1 is almost as roomy as the X3 and s reasonable competitor for the Q5, especially the four cylinder versions (all recent Q5s use fours).

Still, the Germans are almost always more expensive. They require slightly more maintenance and more repairs, and those repairs are more expensive. I wish they would stop gouging on parts. Good way to hurt brand loyalty