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Posted: 12/5/2005 5:28:22 PM EDT

ive been considering a new car and am wondering how risky it is to buy an out of warranty vehicle from a private individual? it seems to me that many of the newer cars are serviced under warranty by the dealers, not by always finding and replacing a small part, but by replacing a module or assembly. often this would be quite expensive, but since under warranty, not such a big deal to the vehicle owner.

so what happens when they are no longer under warranty? are even what used to basic repairs now crazy expensive? can they even be serviced by small independant shops or owners or is it dealer all the way?

i hear about 500.00 head light assemblies, 3000.00 transmission overhauls, impossible to diagnose electrical system troubles. etc. are cars pretty much becoming disposable if out of warranty and needing a major repair? are the days of the weekend engine replacement pretty much gone? when i look under the hood of some of the newer stuff, it might as well be a sealed black box. if the cost of the repair part didnt break me, the special tools needed to do the repair probably would.

one reason i ask is because i came acroos a 2001 audi s4. to me an interesting and fun car that would suit my needs. however, i dont want to find out the money id save by used could quickly disappear if it needs any work.

Link Posted: 12/5/2005 5:48:54 PM EDT
5 year old cars are the reason there are independent service shops .

Yes, when things go wrong they may be harder to pinpoint, but in general, fewer things go wrong. The price should be low enough to account for such things, otherwise you can buy a new car with a warranty.

The Turbo S4 is a neat car, but if the miles are high I'd run away, but that's just me.
Link Posted: 12/5/2005 6:43:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/7/2005 9:10:00 AM EDT
Don't rule out certified pre-owned. I bought my '03 Audi w/ only 9K miles on it and only 8 months old. I saved 8K from sticker, and the CPO bumped my warranty from 4/50 to 6/100. Not a bad deal considering everything's covered through 2009. If you ask around you can usually find a shop specializing in German cars that has a good reputation.
Link Posted: 12/7/2005 7:09:35 PM EDT
If something breaks it will me much more expensive to fix it on some of their models.

You need to think about the normal wear items too, such as brakes and tires. I know that many people with VWs and audis are very surprised that the 225/45r17s they have on there are 150-200 each, and will only last at most about 45K. Some thing to think about.
Link Posted: 12/10/2005 9:28:26 PM EDT
A friend of mine works on Audi's and other euro's. They are a bit more $ to fix when something goes on them but he says working on them is not much harder than any other car. He did a turbo upgrade on a S4 a few years ago and it was making 425ish hp at the wheels. I did not get to drive that car but the few stock S4's that I have driven were a blast. If a 4 door is what you are looking for try and track down a 4dr E36 M3.
Link Posted: 12/14/2005 6:11:42 AM EDT
As far as cars go, I had an Audi, 1998 A4 2.8 Quattro manual transmission.

Here is what went bad, as per my memory...

At 38,000 miles, the transmission went out. Started making bad noises, took it in and the dealer took 30 days to fix it. I had a 1999 A4 Avant as a loner. Not bad...

Then at 51,000 miles, SAME THING. The dealer pro-rated the repair so it was about $300 out of my pocket. Seems they didn't follow procedure.

Then at 60,000 miles one of the 4 O2 sensors went bad. That was $120 out of my pocket to fix BUT I had the little Vag Com tool to do the complete scan. And I had the Bently (factory) manual. Vag Com is a tool you use with your PC to diagnose Audi/VW/Seat/Skoda vehicles. The regular scan tools work BUT the Vag Com tool works JUST LIKE THE FACTORY VAG (Volkswagon Audi Group) TOOL AT 1/10th THE COST!


At 78,000 miles, an errant drunk ran a red light and tore the front end off the car, killing it and nearly me in the process. He was going 70+ MPH at time of collision. After tearing off the front end (and half the engine), the other car veered into the median, hitting a curb and flipping end over end 3 times, coming to rest on its roof. The other guy didn't make it. But I did..



Now, where to get this elusive, must-have for the shade-tree Audi/VW mechanic? On line, of course!

No, I am NOT associated with Ross-Tech

You can do SO MUCH MORE with the Vag Com compared to generic OBDII scanners. For instance, you can reprogram your windows so the key remote will roll the windows down with a press and hold of the unlock button (only on Audi, NOT VW...THEY ARE NOT THE SAME LINE!) Or you can disable/modify the locking alarm chirp/flash. And it is far easier to reset the oil change interval reminder with the Vag Com...among the 1000's of other things.

I say get a Vag Com.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:19:22 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/15/2005 7:20:08 AM EDT by torstin]
interesting replies. thanks for all the details guys. i was probably overconcerned with repairs. also, i have couple friends with a6 models. after talking with them, i decided there isnt really much value for me in the s4. i only drive about 250 miles a month and the only thing the car offers me is speed and maybe the chance to do some weekend autocrossing. i think i'll be looking at a pick-up truck or off road capable suv instead. seems to be much better suited to my lifestyle.

keith, i'm going to check out the vag com. that was the first i've heard of it. will also pass along the details to my other audi frends.

Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:30:00 PM EDT
Sure it can be maintained by an independent shop, we do it every day. Just make sure they are a good shop.

Now the thing about Audi's is that a lot of the parts are dealer only. There are always routine parts available for these cars, brakes, tune up parts, timing belts etc., but the rest are dealer only.

We do see a large number of Audi/Vw's in our shop with electrical problems, and OBDII failures, especially EVAP stuff. Some of them already went to the dealer one or two times without resolution. That says it all to me. This car will always be expensive to maintain, dealer or independent, and I wouldn't recommend an Audi or a VW to anyone I know after all the problems I see with these cars.

We may be independent but we do a lot of high end work and charge about the same price as the dealers so you may be sucked into finding an upper level independent or going to the dealer anyway, just because of the car you buy. A lot of independent shops don't work on these cars.

They are nice little cars -and definitely fun to drive- but at least here in NY with our enhnced OBDII inspections, these cars are having problems passing inspection.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:37:01 PM EDT
I currently own a 2000 Audi S4. I bought it new back in Feb of 2000. I have run mobil one 0w40 in it from the beginning.

I have had to replace the water pump ($800) and the MAF sensor ($400) and the ABS controller ($800) in the last almost 6 years. These things all happened after the 3 years, 36 thousand mile warranty. I can say that my S4 is the best car I have ever owned OR DRIVEN. I love it. I don't want any other car right now. It's still my dream car.

Now, if you are young (under 26 or 27) you probably can't afford the insurance on this car. They are a high performance sedan and insurance companies price coverage accordingly.

I love my S4 though.

Here she is:

Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:39:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By oneshot1kill:
Sure it can be maintained by an independent shop, we do it every day. Just make sure they are a good shop.

Now the thing about Audi's is that a lot of the parts are dealer only. There are always routine parts available for these cars, brakes, tune up parts, timing belts etc., but the rest are dealer only.

We do see a large number of Audi/Vw's in our shop with electrical problems, and OBDII failures, especially EVAP stuff. Some of them already went to the dealer one or two times without resolution. That says it all to me. This car will always be expensive to maintain, dealer or independent, and I wouldn't recommend an Audi or a VW to anyone I know after all the problems I see with these cars.

We may be independent but we do a lot of high end work and charge about the same price as the dealers so you may be sucked into finding an upper level independent or going to the dealer anyway, just because of the car you buy. A lot of independent shops don't work on these cars.

They are nice little cars -and definitely fun to drive- but at least here in NY with our enhnced OBDII inspections, these cars are having problems passing inspection.



With Audi's (and other Euro cars), the engine is going to run forever. The problem is with all the other electrical and small stuff...
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:52:12 PM EDT
The danger of the used S4 in particular is not knowing who did what to the car...

The computer is relatively easy to tune, by a shop or ambitious owner, in order to remap the fuel curves, up boost, etc....

This makes it easy to lean it out and damage the motor.

The good thing is that the motor is pretty robust and can take quite a beating before giving it up.

I would proceed with caution on any turbo'ed performance car -- use your mechanic's skills BEFORE you buy to check it out.

Good luck!!!!!
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 8:22:10 PM EDT
I have a 2001 S4 (delivered new in Aug 2000) and I agree with the above posters. I use Mobil 1 0w40 oil (even when I was getting free oil changes as part of the free sched. maintenance). I have left the car box stock, but, since it is out of warranty, I am considering doing a chip upgrade.
As for tires, yes, they can be expensive (I am using Michelin Pilot Sport All Season tires here in
N. Virginia). If you cannot afford the maintence, you cannot afford the car.

In the 5+years I have had my car, I have had the following work done:

Headlight washer pump replaced twice (both times under warranty.... design flaw allowed slush/water/snow to collect on top of housing; During freezing wx, said stuff would freeze and crack housing)....

Spring in interior door handle broke (out of warranty repair)

front passenger seat switch replaced (out of warranty...my 10 yr old son's big foot broke it stepping into vehicle)

O2 sensor replaced (out of warranty)

After-run coolant pump replaced (out of warranty....$100 part located in the bowels of the engine = $800 repair bill)

Coolant temp sensor replaced (warranty repair)

Front suspension components (at this moment, I cannot exactly recall what...all done under warranty)


Overall, I really do like my S4. I plan on keeping it around for some time.
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