By on August 3, 2015

16 - Junkyard 1998 Audi A8 - Photo by Murilee Martin

I see so many stunningly depreciated German luxury cars in pretty nice condition at the cheap self-service wrecking yards that they don’t register in my consciousness much more than your typical Sebring or Sephia. These days, though, I’m making an effort to notice such cars, since it seems that many of you thought this big V12-powered BMW was interesting.

I was headed over to the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay last week, in search of some bits for my ’41 Plymouth project, and I resolved to find and photograph a high-end Audi. Sure enough, here’s this clean A8, not as new as I’d like, but still an excellent example of what happens to such cars soon after they get into the hands of their third or fourth owners.
12 - Junkyard 1998 Audi A8 - Photo by Murilee Martin

The list price on the 4.2-equipped 1998 A8 was $65,000, or about 95 grand today. 300 horses out of this smooth runner. Don’t postpone the timing-belt replacements!

20 - Junkyard 1998 Audi A8 - Photo by Murilee Martin

The body looked to be in good shape prior to the junkyard employees (or maybe the tow-yard guys) ravaging the trunk to get the lock opened.

01 - Junkyard 1998 Audi A8 - Photo by Murilee Martin

The interior is nice, of course.

10 - Junkyard 1998 Audi A8 - Photo by Murilee Martin

If you know how to work on these admittedly complex machines, you always have a rich source of replacement parts at your local yards. The A8 may be your biggest-luxury-per-buck investment in a cheap used car.

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110 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1998 Audi A8...”


  • avatar
    tonyola

    I agree that this is a sad end to a relatively new luxury car, but I predict it’s a sight we’ll see more and more as cars get increasingly complicated. New high-tech systems simply won’t survive a 30 or 40-year service life without onerous expense and parts problems.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Do we expect any cars to survive a 30-40 year service life these days? (apart from pampered low mileage exotic cars, maybe)

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        I think the answer is no. There’s just too many vital electronic modules that cannot be economically duplicated and have the car still work in a vaguely-normal fashion. And the numbers of said modules keeps going up.

        For a car to work at all today, all of the following MUST be functional:
        – Engine Control Unit
        – Comfort Control Unit (or whatever handles things like the lights, locks, etc.)
        – Usually the “infotainment” unit (which handles more and more… at the least climate control, and going right up to vital maintenance functions.)
        – The instrument panel. (Even if you don’t care about the readouts, in some cars the immobilizer circuitry is in there.)
        – Transmission Controller
        – ABS Controller

        The likelihood that ALL these will last 30-40 years (or even be available used in a functioning form) is pretty slim.

      • 0 avatar
        j3studio

        I’m able to keep my 1985 Corvette functional, with no end in sight. I remember people saying my car would be unmaintainable once Chevrolet stopped caring.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      When has anyone EVER expected a 30 or 40 year service life out of any car? The overwhelming majority of cars are lucky to make it to 15, and an awful lot don’t make it to 10.

      Any car that makes it to 25 is a lucky survivor. Thirty or forty is the far end of the tail of the bell curve.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        It depends on the region. I bought a 1986 Dodge D250 this spring. The county just retired it at the start of the year. They had three other 1980s trucks that were also still in use.

        As long as a vehicle doesn’t rust away, you can pretty much keep a basic V8 running forever. However, I don’t see there being a strong demand for 1985 Chrysler Fifth Avenues. I doubt that 1998 Audi’s will be popular in 2028.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The 85 Fifth Avenue (being an M-body) is a well-built and comfortable car! I won’t debate on the “80’s forced-classy” applied to the Diplomat to create it, but overall a very competent and nice car.

          This is especially true when you consider the time period. You’d rather an 85 DeVille? Naaah. Those Fifth Aves were built the “old way,” with everything totally solid inside.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            Lincoln Town Car.

            I wouldn’t kick an M-Body out of my driveway. But, I’m a little weird. Even out here, you would have a hard time selling one…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Town Car is a valid point. Now I’m wondering the price difference in 85. FWIW, the M-body 5th models I’ve seen have held up better than equivalent TCs.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Its a sight we will see more often in high-end European luxury cars. Never, ever, ever be the third (or 4th, 5th, etc) owner of a Euro luxury car, no matter how much the low price tempts you. That is, of course, unless you have stellar mechanical skills and access to inexpensive, used parts.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Here are some glowing anecdotal’s!

    ” I’m heading into my third transmission at 110K… countless control arms and tie rods. Timing belt and too many leaks to be ecologically sound. We all get caught up in the fact that it’s comfortable to drive, especially if you’re tall; truth is, once out of warranty they all need an exorcism. I was to dumb to figure it out and now it’s a push off the cliff or spend more than it’s worth… Get out. If You are reading this while thinking about buying an A8 out of warranty, slap yourself, take a cold shower, then flush some of your cash down the toilet… same thing. ”

    “CV boots seem to be made of a rubber that decides to last only a year or so regardless of mileage. I’ve complained to Audi that the CV boots aren’t that substantial.

    I had the usual transmission problems and replace it @ 80,000 miles.

    I had an oil leak @ 60,000 miles so when they fixed that, they also put on the new timing belt at the same time. Now I have a water pump leak that would cost about $1,800. I wish the dealer would have suggested replacing the water pump @ 60,000 since they had the front-end off and apart.

    I have a train station car so I’ve only put 82,000 miles on it. I looks and drives great but maintenance has been an expensive issue for me. And each time it seems to be “just another $1,500″.

    For a vehicle that new runs in the 80’s in list price, and was in the low-mmid 60’s back in 1997/98, the maintenence record is not great.”

    “1997 A8, by far the best driving car I have ever owned. Then the trans went out. I called up the Audi dealer who was 50 miles away and told them about the problem. They said to have it towed in and they would take a look at it. Got a call from the dealer, and they said it was bad, they did not do repairs or rebuilds, only replacements. Gave me a price of $13,000 to replace the trans. I found a local trans shop that rebuilt it for $5000. Six months later, the trans went out again. Rather than repair it again, I traded it in. Got about a thousand bucks. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a car that I enjoyed driving as much as that A8, but I’ll never buy another Audi in my lifetime.”

    My favorite are the reports of the power headrests failing. A feature that is used, what, 10 times in the car’s lifetime? Sounds like drawing board straight to production line. In any case, this car is now just as complex as your most basic Ford, etc. Welcome to the future.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Brits & some Europeans might as well be from a different solar system than Americans given their tolerance for/(willingness to accept/forgive?) unreliability & lack of durability in VAG products versus Honda & Toyota products (including Acura and Lexus).

      Americans are far more likely to depend on, and therefore desire, vehicles that need minimal attention and cost to run properly & reliability, starting each day without drama on the relatively longer trips to work/school/wherever than their European counterparts, hence the dominance of the Camrys, Accords, Honda CR-Vs (and now HR-Vs), in terms of sheer numbers sold.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Great anecdotes.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Am I the only one who found a good Audi? I’ve put 65k miles on a 2001 A6 Avant, which I bought right around 100k miles. Since then, I’ve had the following done:

      *Timing Belt and Water Pump (You know that going in)
      *An O2 sensor
      *Front Brake Pads (Did them myself- super easy on Audis)
      *Control Arms at 160k Miles

      And, that’s it, other than oil changes and new wiper blades. That’s pretty good if you ask me. An Audi will never stand up to the abuse that a 1993 Roadmaster could take, but that’s not the point. I think the reason that I found a good one is that I went with the dull, slower 2.8 instead of the BiTurbo. The BiTurbo and the 4.2 have more power, straining the transmission.

      Far and away, the Audi is in a class all its own compared to the other cars that I drive. I keep vehicles a long time, but when it’s time to replace the A6, I’ll likely go with another A6 Avant.

      What I’ve always said: If you can’t do basic maintenance and put up with little trim issues, Audis are not for you. If you can, though, what a car!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “Far and away, the Audi is in a class all its own compared to the other cars that I drive.”

        Which are really REALLY old GM beaters, right? So of course the A6 is a standout. You’re comparing it to a LeSabre, etc. with no AC!

        -Just bringing reality into this here!-

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          Hey, that Buick has working air conditioning! Now, some of my trucks….

          The mechanic I uses offers free loaners when you’re having something major done. I’ve driven one of the Jellybean Infinitis from the mid 1990s (Can’t be bothered to look up the model), a 2000 BMW 5-Series, and another Audi A6 from the same era (And some other non-eventful beige appliances)

          The Audis are my favorite.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You drove either a J30, which was available until 1995, or an I30 which was available 96-00. The J30 was steeply raked and had almost no trunk, and was plagued by build quality issues.

            The I30 was much more traditional, and a rebodied Maxima, with the same 3.0L engine and FWD. It was a better car.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            All I remember is that it looked sort of like the final generation Olds Cutlass. I’m guessing it was the I30.

            The mechanic fixes up mechanically salvaged cars and sells them. I don’t know of the problems with the loaners I got, but I think the Audi was in because some idiot ignored the timing belt.

            Oh well, it’s a free car!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I am offended by the Cutlass appearance suggestion! I’m sure it was the I30. The only other option was the huge Q45. And you’d remember if you drove one of those.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            http:// www. boldride. com/ride/1999/infiniti-i30

            http:// http://www.carfinderservice.
            com/images/used/1122.jpg

            I can see the similarities still ;)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol, I was thinking of the earlier 90s Cutlass Ciera.

            But still, no! The I30 was such a better car than that awful overpriced Malibu clone.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            God, I hope nobody made anything that looked like the Cutlass Ciera. They have to be one of the ugliest cars of all time.

            The Infiniti was a nice car. I prefered the Audi, but the Infiniti was very well composed. I’ve never driven a Malibu, but I can imagine that the term “Appliance” would be generous.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Those sound exactly like my Jetta experience.

      Not surprising – same stuff under the hood, higher price tag.

      BTW, I spent some time playing with a Model S in the showroom, and game away with the impression that the door latches and locks were very German. Why use a simple mechanical latch when an expensive and complicated electromechanical robot will do?!?

      Scary stuff on a vehicle that costs as much as a house, especially now that I’ve earned my way in to the demographicp. Also, as someone who wasn’t born into this demographic, I realize that fortunes rise and fall and that I might me stuck with this car and might need to depend on it in a decade.

      Anything that smacks of my VAG ownership experience is pretty terrifying in that context.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I’m sleepy, so I forget to slip in that Audi is an expensive product of the Volkswagen Automotive Group(VAG). The regulars know this, but but casual readers may not.

        The punchline is that if complicated door handles remind me of how my Volkswagen Jetta looked under the hood, then a VAG product can be optioned into a price range that rivals the Tesla S70 is a terrifying prospect, unless you were born wealthy.

        Dropping that kind of money on a car which will probably total itself at the repair shop is just foolhardy.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        They buy much of the switch gear and other bits in from Mercedes-Benz.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          I’m guessing that doesn’t include the turn signal stock. Because the one on my test drive felt like it was pulled straight out of a Lumina. The transmission stock felt equally cheap.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    There is a special industrial pathology involved when the price of something new is inversely proportional to its value used but I need more coffee to remember…

    NO, I got it!

    German Engineering!

  • avatar
    qfrog

    100% NOPE. That car deserves to be melted down.

    Horrible transmission problems Thanks ZF!. A crankcase ventilation system comprised of rubber hoses which may or may not have been compatible with oil. Parts are hugely expensive. Undersized brakes were the in thing back then. Some ancient Motronic period ECM with very limited data throughput capacity to help you find the mystery vacuum leaks and lean conditions which you will have. The rear seats have headrest adjusters which are failtastic. The door panels and their wiring are pure evil. Bizarrely designed exhaust system with THREE catalysts to fail.

    If you dare leave one of these cars under a tree… it will make every effort to fill itself up with water through the HVAC system which has an impressive volumetric capacity, gallons! The fun starts when the TCM and friends embark on their suicide pact by drinking the treejuice koolaid.

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      In about 18 months this post will likely be exhumed by someone writing in halting English who claims to have driven one of these for 285,000 kilometres with no issues whatsoever.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hey frind;,

        I sjut want to say on here to you that it a true. My friend has special verszn 3.8L diesol version of Croatia. He has done to drive for it past 224.443.1 kilmoet and no problem except when a cow had come to it it upon motorway. He has been to fix at luxery Rolls-Roeces deeler and they tell to him is best in kind of they have of seen to it.

        -Sinceer

        Grango Relago

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Where have you been Grango?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Frend:

            Only some when I have of a day off when I can come to here from end field and to write comment. There are tims, when so openion is strong and is urgently to tell someoen. Not to bespoke badly on prouds name of The Audis , also.

            -GR

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Did you ever get out of the pig farming business and get the dream job at the Zastava plant?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I went of writing applied, but there was only smaller problem. My cousins worker of plant and is an indictments of thefts. I show on application a metaphysical – he is an not of me.

            But not of a hire now:, so Grango has happy field of dream, like you America Costners due to say.

        • 0 avatar
          Brumus

          There we go.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I’ve gone to 165k miles without problems. I’m sure that Grango would do better, except for the stupid cow!

        You have to watch out for those dang cows!

  • avatar
    sproc

    A friend of mine had a later first gen A8, believe it was a ’01. In 2009, he got in a fender bender, but his insurance deemed it repairable. It sat at an Audi dealer (I think they were the only ones who could or would do the work) for over two months waiting on various parts. Ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Well, I can totally see some not-often-sold trim parts (or non-trim parts that only get replaced for body damage) needing to be shipped from Germany. It was not exactly a high-volume car in the US, so there aren’t aftermarket alternatives, and it doesn’t pay to stock EVERYTHING for a low-volume car, and perhaps most cars that break those particular parts get totaled, I dunno…

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      The newer aluminum Audi products are loads of fun for body repairs. Only a few body shops can order certain select parts of the car. Such an order can only take place once the car is entered into a database by a body shop which has been certified by AoA. AoA can see the car as being at the certified body shop and at that point Audi will release those restricted parts to a dealership for sale to the body shop. AoA only certifies body shops within a certain radius of one another to give the shops some level of confidence that their rather large investment in being certified by Audi to do aluminum repair is worthwhile. This also means that only certain dealerships ever actually order restricted parts. It is possible that an Audi dealership with a body shop is not Aluminum repair certified and as such a dealership might not be able to order parts to repair certain models of Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Aluminum (or Aluminium) body panels and headaches/costs/rage instilled by repairs thereof now being felt by Ford F-150 owners (early adopters).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I think the F-150 (and upcoming Super Duty) will de-exotify aluminum repair. Bob’s Collision will need to figure it out to stay in business, particularly in Texas of the Pickup Truck.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      When my 00 A8L got a big dent in it from a shopping cart, the only local place which fixed aluminum things was not the Audi dealer – it was the Cadillac dealer! Something like $1,250 for a dent and repaint. And of course they didn’t get the color 100% so from then on I swear I could see where the repaint was.

      Nobody else could tell.

      Oh, they also broke the clip on the side blinker light, so it was then loose. Instead of ordering a new one, they stuck it in there with some black glue stuff. I only found out later when it was hot, the glue started to melt, and it came loose.

      Thanks, Camargo Cadillac!

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I have my decidedly non-luxury ’04 1.8T M/T Passat Wagon w/ 145k. (It’s not brown, or a diesel, but both of those were an option in the mid-’04 refresh.)

    Edumunds appraised it at $1,200 Trade-in value. I was shocked; I thought values that low were reserved for cars with something obviously wrong with them like the Rust Monster, an idiot light, or a trashed interior. Not an average-condition smooth-running vehicle of reasonable age.

    That said, I’d NEVER buy my own car on the used market (and I love my car) because I have not kept scrupulous maintenance records. I know enough about these (and, I suppose, so do the folks that buy cars at auction) to not take a chance on one for much more than scrap without full maint. records. (I have, in fact, scrupulously maintained it, but I imagine every car seller claims to have done so… I wouldn’t trust a seller making that claim without records.)

    If a German Car of this vintage is well-maintained, expecting 250k+ out of it is not unreasonable. You do something like putting off changing timing belt? You got a ticking time-bomb. You lackadasical about oil changes? It’s PCV, sludge, etc. time!

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Trade-In values can’t always be trusted. KBB thought that my 1995 Buick LeSabre is worth -$400. How a car can be worth a negative number is beyond me!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        KBB is generally fiction.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “KBB thought that my 1995 Buick LeSabre is worth -$400.”

        Based on how much you’d have to pay me to take one of those, I’d say that -$400 is optimistic.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          At the time, it was either that or pay about the same money for a rental car.

          30,000 miles later, I still think I made the choice. Along the way, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with that car. It’s a plush couch on wheels, with built in reliability and the goodness of the 3800. What more could you want? For $700?

          • 0 avatar
            Roberto Esponja

            That generation LeSabre was a terrific vehicle. My former father-in-law would lend me his Limited every time the car I owned back then was at the shop for an extended length of time (an Audi, go figure) and I really got to like that car. A sweet ride…

    • 0 avatar
      BiffNotZeem

      190k on my 2000 Golf GLS 1.8T. Just did the timing belt and cam chain tensioner. No sludge at all. It doesn’t use oil (uh, after I fixed the valve cover leak).

      A neighbor had a ’97 BMW 740i that he got from his brother for $4k and then proceeded to put more than that into fixing the engine and gearbox. They may have cost a lot of money new but all of the things that made them cost so much now make them uneconomical to repair.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I’m surprised the front seats haven’t been yanked out yet: the most difficult part of that is remembering to bring along the shears to sever the mass of memory recall wire, leaving the rest of the mechanism intact.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I had a ’97 A6 which I bought in 2002. It was just a renamed 100 and the last year of the body style.
    I’ve griped about it before, so I’ll just say it is likely the last German car I will buy – used anyway,

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    The disadvantage of “German Engineering” can be summed up in a short anecdote.

    We have two cars. Wife has a 2005 Sequoia, 113K miles, family truckster. HAd it for a number of years, she loves it. I have a 2004 Audi A6 wagon, 106K miles, had it for a number of years. Relationship status: complicated.

    This weekend I discovered the A6’s washer fluid tank is leaking. Being the intrepid DIYer that I am, I took a closer look and found that not only does the tank have three (three!) pumps (headlights, front and rear wipers) affixed like barnicles on various inaccessible spots on the tank, a separate sensor and a byzantine clump of tubes to carry fluid to and fro, it is almost impossible to access wedged as it is astride the power steering reservoir and behind the front headlight. Ye olde interwebs tell me that the little plastic pumps inevitably crack and fail and leak.

    In contrast, the largely trouble-free Sequoia has a much simpler set-up and it looks like it could be removed in 5 minutes. More likely, the washer system is something that will never fail anyway, nothing I will have to think about in the Toyota.

    I know they’re different vehicles, and in many ways, I love the Audi, but it scares the bejeezus out of me even though I can wrench on my own cars.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      In grad school I worked with an awesome female German engineer on an ASHRAE project. She gave me a great tech dictionary on CD (Barenreiters), told stories of how her class looks at design and production, and whispered to me the secret German Engineering mantra:

      “Es muß nur drei Jahre funktionieren.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Length of Lease Engineering”…LOL

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        That explains a lot. My main point is that a lot of the gadgets, subsystems and accessories seem needlessly complex and over-engineered (I will say the powertrain in the A6 has been very reliable so far. Wait, did I just jinx myself?). So when they do fail, repair is made needlessly fussy and difficult.

        The Sequoia seems to be the opposite – straighforward, logically engineered, no more than what is required for the job. So when (if?) something fails, you can actually…you know…fix it. The Sequoia just requires very little care and feeding.

        • 0 avatar
          redmondjp

          Yes to that; take apart a 1990s VW Passat exterior door latch mechanism and marvel at the scores of parts used. Said scores of parts which get gummed up and require the multiple-rapid-handlepull after a few years.

          Now go and take apart any other car’s door latch mechanism – contrast and compare.

          I still own a 1996 Passat TDI and a 1997 Civic LX, and do all of the maintenance and repairs on each. The Passat is more fun to drive, while the Civic breaks less often. YMMV

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      Two pumps and a low fluid level sensor. Expect to find the upper pump split open and leaking, well rotten (rusted) internally. Upper pump is headlight washer, allows the windshield washers to work a bit longer than the headlight washers as the fluid level declines.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        Thanks. What I can’t figure out is how to actually access the busted pump and replace it with the tank in situ. The tank itself is buried and it looks like a bear to remove. Usually I can find write-ups or how-to videos on the intertubes, but no luck with this one.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          @Parts

          Two suggestions, given how Audis are configured usually.

          1) Can you remove the fender lining (and perhaps wheel) and get to it that way?

          2) (Drastic) Remove fender.

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            Corey, thanks. You are spot on. Just to get eyes on what was going on in there, I removed the left front wheel and the fender liner. No problem there. The issue is that the dual pump assembly is on the forward-facing side of the tank – harder to reach and thus it seems necessary to remove the tank. Which, it seems, is a PITA.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I bet there are plastic bits/clips/grommets holding that there tank in place, which will crumble when touched for removal!

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            Well here’s the thing – the tank is held in place with three 10mm bolts – easy peasy. I got the tank free, it is just so oddly shaped and crammed in there that I couldn’t see a way to actually get the effin thing out of the car.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s pretty bad when you can get it loose, but not even removing the fender lining and wheel gives you enough access.

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            You feel my pain.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’m plenty familiar with Audi from my early and formative car purchases. Because I had a 5000S as my first car, which I replaced with a ’93 90S, with a pit stop at an I30 (sold when moved to Korea for a year), and returned with the A8.

            I won’t be owning another Audi for a long while.

            So I had that same 2.8 as in your A6. It wasn’t powerful or great at fuel economy, but it was one of the things that was more reliable about the car.

            Here’s my 90! This pic I put on Wikipedia once was removed from the US Wikipedia (it’s not green or a convertible, so someone didn’t like it there), but applied to many other foreign Wikipedia versions.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/White_1993_Audi_90S.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            I’ll do you one better – my ’04 A6 has the Cosworth-fettled 30-valve 3.0. This engine is universally derided on the Audi forums. So far though, the engine and trans have been rock solid (knocks on wood).

            Love that 90 by the way, very cool.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            LOL, oh good I was hoping some British people had messed with it! I was thinking in my mind of the original 98 one, and all those had the 2.8 or the 4.2.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The Audi 90 was nice, but its got nothing on the C3 100.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I couldn’t really find any 100’s when I was looking. Only the A6 later version 100 was around, and I couldn’t afford those.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I have to say I really like the A6 and have thought about picking one up several times. Your post is reminding me of my Jaguar experience, and the two Japanese cars in my driveway are suddenly looking a lot better.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The 98+ A6 is known even amongst Audi models as being particularly bad. I would avoid it at all costs.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        I know we are in the “Crap on Audi” zone right now, but in all fairness, my A6 wagon has generally been good to me. It has a lot of virtues (great ride, interior, traction, versatility) and the powertrain has not been problematic. But as noted, little, aggravating issues pop up. I can turn a wrench, so some of it doesn’t bother me. But – I wouldn’t recommend one to a friend.

        Case in point, my dad was so taken with the looks, interior, and ride of my A6 that we was ready to sell his Accord to get one of his own. He still has the Accord.

        And sometimes, I find myself daydreaming of a 6-speed Accord Sport…

  • avatar
    319583076

    …the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night

  • avatar
    Fred

    OK I only had a little A3 and not the mighty A8, but after 100,000 miles I only had to replace a rear wheel bearing. If Audi ever makes a manual Avant again I’d seriously consider it.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      This closely mirrors my experience with my B5 Passat (a late-90’s A4 with a VW badge on the hood.) At 145k now, and while I have had to do some repairs that I haven’t had to do on my wife’s Toyota, by no means has it been a trial. (A wheel bearing, a couple CV boots, a Valve Cover Gasket, and the turn signal stalk.) It’s now do for a suspension overhaul (new control arms and probably shocks), but that’s not unusual for a car of it’s age, no matter the brand.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You know it’s a 98 or 99, because for 00-03 it got a much more modern looking lamp assembly with larger lenses. And the little square fender blinker got larger, and became clear. There were also interior improvements, and the seat pattern switched from those north-south small segments to east-west larger ones.

    The rarest of D2 A8’s is of course the W12 version, with added 12-cylinder reliability and fuel economy. I think I’ve only seen maybe one. There was also the S8 version, but those aren’t in junkyards just yet – too valuable!

    I loved mine when I had it. Owned a 00 L version from 8/09 – 11/10, when I replaced it with a RWD GS in the middle of winter. Pro idea! Anyway when I picked mine up on Ebay (from up in Dublin, OH), it had 135k miles and was on original owner. Full service history from the dealer, $5500, and not a dent on it.

    And what was on that service history? A full engine replacement at 60K miles, and a new instrument cluster at 70-ish.

    It drove beautifully, was smooth as glass, and had the nicest interior of any car I have been in to date. Like rolling down the road in a bank vault. One which sits comfortably at 80mph, and will still get you 23mpg. Four heated seats, sun shades, double pane windows. Got better mpg out of that than I did with my V8 GS, or current V6 M. That 4.2 is something special. And when I took it out in a snowstorm for some fun, the only other people brave enough to be out had big trucks or 4-wheelers. It did great on the all seasons (MXV-4s)

    I had one problem while I owned it, which was the fuel sending unit, located on top of the fuel tank and accessible from the trunk. Audi no longer made that part, so I had to buy a “rebuilt kit” someone else put out there and spend $650 to get rid of a CEL, so I could sell it.

    I felt there was impending doom with the transmission as it had a clunk when going from 2-1. But I was wrong, because the guy I sold it to ran the miles up to 175k in just a couple years, and apparently didn’t have an issue. Then it went to a BHPH in my parents town, and I got to see it again before she sold to someone else.

    Here’s what she looked like when I had her – since I had forgot I uploaded these pictures, but recognized a thumbnail in my internet search.

    http://www.audiworld.com/g/album/1188998

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      An old A8 in a BHPH? Talk about a deal for the ignorant or unwary. Whoever picks that up will inevitably trash whatever credit score they have left the first time it breaks and there’s no way they can fix it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I was really sad to see her there. I had got a text from my brother, “I think ur old car is here in lburg lol.” He sent me the name of the dealer, and sure enough there she was, in faded glory.

        Surely will be purchased by an ignorant person of minority status with bad credit.

        Even the writing on the windshield was wrong. “50K NEW!” “RWD!”
        Try 75k. And Quattro, you philistines.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          That must be some kind of super Audi to have survived all of this time and all of those miles through multiple owners.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well, the original owner for years 0-9 was pretty fastidious in maintenance. And had lots of money to spend because he was a surgeon, apparently.

            So I’ll give him credit for that.

            Oh, and the guy who bought it from me and did all the driving was an old man. He and his wife stopped to look at it because “We thought it was a Buick!”

            I had to hold my tongue so hard. For the sake of the sale!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “pretty fastidious in maintenance”

            Post MY93 Audis typically laugh at fastidious maintenance and fail anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The A8 is/was special! You knew that when you drove it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s a fine looking car…

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      That is one clean car, especially at 135k. I would have been scared away anyway, though. Maintain it fastidiously and still replace the engine at 60k? And that was probably a five-figure job. This is why I find Ze Germans very scary without a factory warranty.

      Some owners get lucky and just have minor things to replace. Others… not so much. You’re playing Russian roulette every time you go for a drive.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        60K replacement on the engine should have been a warranty repair though, right?

        I put not many miles on it in the time I had it, thankfully for my wallet. Someone driving average or more miles would have found it quickly unsustainable, I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Corey I thought you would enjoy this tidbit on German over-engineering which highlights my amazement with your former A8:

      “The Panther was a German medium tank deployed during World War II from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the Soviet T-34, and as a replacement for the Panzer III and Panzer IV. While never replacing the latter, it served alongside it and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. While the Panther is considered one of the best tanks of World War II due to its excellent firepower and protection, it was less impressive in terms of mobility, reliability, and cost”

      “The French army used captured Panther tanks from 1944 to 1947, making it the operator with the longest experience with the vehicles. They were used by the 501st and 503rd Tank Regiments. In 1947, the French War Ministry wrote an evaluation of them entitled Le Panther 1947. The Panther was not considered a strategic tank by the French because of its high breakdown rate.

      The major drawback of the vehicle was its *mechanical unreliability*. The Panther was supposed to last for 5,000 km (3,100 mi), but many of the parts did not last that long. The tracks and running gear had a life of 2,000–3,000 km (1,200–1,900 mi). The engine on average only lasted 1,000 km (620 mi). *Most importantly the final drive only had a life of 150 km (93 mi)*. Half of the Panthers found in Normandy were abandoned due to their final drives breaking down. For that reason the Germans tried to move the Panthers by train as much as possible even for short journeys of 25 km (16 mi)”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_tank

  • avatar
    Undefinition

    Came to read anecdotes about “German Engineering and Reliability.” Was not disappointed.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Oh, and they had to tear open the trunk because the lock cylinder is missing or broken (there on the right).

    Even if it was there, many people never understood you have to press the cylinder in to pop the trunk. You tell them “Push the trunk lock in!” and they say “Whaa?”

  • avatar
    John

    That Audi continues to sell cars is a testimony to the awesome power of denial.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    A sad ending for such a sophisticated machine. In a few months this one’s gonna be someone’s beer can.

  • avatar
    MWolf

    I love German cars. They’re pretty, and they drive nicely. would I want to own one of recent vintage? Say the last 20 years? Absolutely not. Not unless I have more money than cares. Too much unnecessary electronics that you will never notice until you realize they failed in some way, and make the car undrivable, even if it’s something you wouldn’t think could affect its ability to drive. $13k transmissions and brake pads smaller than rotors so you get a nice lip around the edge. Or how about a trouble code for a light..in the trunk?

    Say what you want about the cruddy American luxury cars. I’ll listen. My only request is that you take a drive afterward and count off how many American luxury cars you see of this Audi’s vintage, and how many German ones you see (if you live in an area where such cars have comparable numbers). The American ones are surviving, even if they are in a neglected and frankensteined state with tape holding the headlamps in. Audis and Benzes from this era never made it to that point, mostly because they weren’t in working order long enough. That’s why the interior on this is so clean. Cared for, but too complex to keep fixing. And FAR too complex to fix yourself.

    Sad? Oh yes. But I swear the idea has moved from making a fine product to making a pretentious, gadget laden status symbol with an expiration date in mind for people who are too rich to care that they are being ripped off. “Oh, that light came on. Let’s just get another!”

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Yesterday was the first time in a long time I had seen an older VAG product. It was a green B4 Passat TDI wagon.

    …I don’t think I’ve seen an Audi that’s more than ten years old in a very, very long time.

  • avatar
    toadroller

    Well now…

    As an owner of a 97 A8 over the last 12.5 years and 175k of its 245k miles, I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree to all of the above. I love it and, at times, curse the German engineers in Stuttgart.

    But when I picked it up end of ’02, with 73k miles on it at a dealership for 18,900 + 2 for a warranty (I’m dumb, but I ain’t crazy) I could have purchased maybe a new Accord with a 4 banger and a stick. I think I’m ahead in that game. It’s a better driver’s car than an Accord. Wouldn’t you prefer to spend your time in a great seat? All told, probably 30k invested.

    This car is 18 years old now. It still looks modern. It has a built-in car phone(!!) and a cassette deck (which is great for hands-free cell-phone operation with a cassette adapter). Quattro. V8. ‘Nuff said.

    Through the years and the miles, I’ve replaced the transmission (@104k, under that warranty), tires and brakes, a fuel pump, one set of drive shafts up front (DIY for $130), one set of tie rod ends and a few suspension bushings. And routine maintenance like the timing belt and water pump; a couple of batteries.

    I’m a break-fix kind of guy, not an “ooh, I have an expensive German auto-car and must keep it pristine” kind of guy. When it breaks I fix it. Oil… at least once a year. Sometimes twice. When things are failing, I wait until they fully revealed themselves. I put in low octane. Have since day one. In short, I abuse it.

    Today it’s a thousand dollar car. I laugh when the state charges me $350 to register it every year based on a percentage of its original retail. “Guys, I could barely sell it for that!” When it dies, it dies. I’ve received more than my money’s worth. It’s a toy now.

    It’ll never rust (it’s aluminum). Weird Audi stuff that should have gone fritzy never has (dashboard lights, climate control, shocks, abs, sunroof, bun-warmers, electric dimming mirrors, muffler system). Stuff that should be bullet-proof has (headrests, rear sun-screen, heater blower motor, $10 plastic pipe between engine-block and oil cooler*). Every time I fill it up, I’m increasing its resale value. But it still gives me 25mpg on the highway at real highway speeds, 20mpg around town, and the 300hp/300ft-lb. 4.2 V8 with quattro is just a smooth thing of perfection and growl. Relatively fast in its day, it’s still relatively fast. It’s not slow.

    In the last six months, it’s turned into a bit of a hobby, but I have other cars (including a B6 A4 V6 (145k miles. Pristine) and B6 S4 V8(179k miles, pristine) harrumbah!). The A8 shows its quality after a ride in the others. And when I return from a business trip with rentals of whatever is new, I’m always amazed at the refinement and willingness of this old beast, especially in the dark, cold heart of a -17 degree Maine winter’s night, swimming up I95 from Boston to home.

    So here’s to old aluminum in Denver junk yards! If I still lived there, I’d be out picking this one clean this weekend. Look at all those parts! Headlights, rear seats, trim, brake calipers, wheels, badges. Oh my!

    *http://toadroller.blogspot.com/2015/02/single-bypass-surgery.html

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