By on July 8, 2019

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Keeping any Audi on the road can be costly, once the car gets a decade or so old, and I see plenty of solid-looking four-ringers in the self-service junkyards I frequent. You’d think that the factory-hot-rod Audis would be worth enough to keep them out of the clutches of The Crusher, but such is not the case; just in the last year, I have seen a 2001 S8 and a 2001 S4 in low-priced self-service yards. Now I’ve spotted this even newer S4 in Denver, with the allegedly valuable Recaro seats still inside.

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, instrument cluster - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I checked the VIN, and this car is a genuine, numbers-matching S4 and not a clone.

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

340 horsepower out of this 4.2-liter V8, and some junkyard shopper should grab it and swap it into an Audi V8 sedan. How hard could it be?

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift lever - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Most American S4 buyers wanted the automatic by 2005, but the original purchaser of this car chose the 6-speed Getrag manual transmission.

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, front seats - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The leather on the Recaro seats has some rips and stains, but I’m sure these seats will end up being bought and swapped into an A4. Why not?

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, wheel - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

900-treadwear tires on Borbert rims. I’m sure these tires grip like a declawed cat on a basketball court, so dumping the clutch in this car must have produced exciting four-wheel-spin action.

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, rear view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The lesson here is this: if you ever wanted one of these cars, you can find a non-ugly one for cheap… and if you want to keep it running, don’t thrift out on maintenance.

Driving this car was just like recreating the chase scene from Bullitt on skis.

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51 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2005 Audi S4...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “car is a genuine, numbers-matching S4 and not a clone”

    I spent some time over the weekend checking out some of the classic car sites, if you want to laugh those are the sites to visit a car like this would be “weekend project car”, “just needs detailing”, “Ran when parked (about 10 years ago)” “Rare Audi” and all this can be yours for $35,000.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It actually would be a great weekend car – for a master Audi mechanic with an unlimited bankroll.

      Then again, someone like that might just buy a lightly used S4 off lease.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    How can Audi afford to lease cars? How can the other Germans? They don’t build them well enough to support any sort of residual value.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      These days Audi is more reliable than Honda these days – that’s how.

      https://d1arsn5g9mfrlq.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/slide1_64.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Honda’s efforts to meet CAFE have been disastrous, but German cars are disposable by design.

        youtube.com/watch?v=n8AVhj3kZ24

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          …/watch?v=n8AVhj3kZ24…

          The shocking thing about that recycling video is the incredibly intact nature of the cars. Pretty much every car is near-perfect from end to end.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            It’s planned obsolescence taken to a level that guarantees employment for some while keeping cars from ever being affordable to others. It’s great for the environment too, provided you’re conditioned to believe in bureaucrats and not to think about the energy and resources that go into reprocessing cars after six years of use. BMW has been doing it in EU markets since the early ’90s, when their cars started being made out of materials that were designed to break down instead of to last.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The early part of the video is mainly if not all pre-production prototypes and development mules, which is why they are complete and almost new.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I was still into BMW when they started doing this in 1994. It isn’t just a way of disposing of development cars. They used development cars to do research in vehicle disposal and create a program for BMW disposal in other EU countries.

            https://www.bmwblog.com/2015/10/27/how-does-bmw-recycle-cars/

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/car-technology/videos/a32531/heres-how-bmw-recycles-its-cars/

            They also accept certain other eurotrash cars at BMW old car drop-off sites.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Yes, they’ve discovered the sweet spot – reliable until just after the warranty runs out. You might get a year or two after that, and the trickle of trouble just increases year after year. That’s what happened to my sister, who always used the dealer’s shop – and paid for it.

        These cars look good in the pick and pull, because people have a long record of loaner cars while they were in the shop, and just got tired of it. In a way, it’s just what Detroit did in the 1950s, and why people shopped for a new car after 60k on the odometer. The difference is that wrenchers could keep them running for years after that.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I remember owning the platform sibling of the generation previous to this (“B5” 1999 Passat 1.8T). That thing drove so well… when it wasn’t in the shop. Thank doG the CPO warranty covered everything for two years because VW probably put close to $5k into that car.

    The B6 platform was supposed to be a huge improvement. At the very least, the S4 ditched the twin-turbo V6 (the turbos for which, IIRC, had a service life of ~40k miles) in favor of the V8.

    I remember wanting an V8 S4 really badly when I had my Passat. But then again, I have a soft spot for high-maintenance cars (I only just sold my RX-8).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I couldn’t keep my 02 B5.5 Passat out of the shop. The V6 was very smooth, but had dangerous throttle lag. Electrical issues were its main problem.

      I dumped it when the warranty expired.

      • 0 avatar
        s_a_p

        had an 01 GTI VR6. I loved and loathed that car. Being fresh out of college and not all that well off, I bought it on balloon payments. It straddled the line between lemon and just a pain in the ass, so I ended up dumping it when the balloon payment was due. Still miss that car, and have dreams that I own it to this day. Im glad I got rid of it though. Got a 2014 A4 thinking that the 2.0T has been around forever, so it should be fine by now. It mostly was, until I hit 70k miles and things got expensive to maintain. Somehow I sold it for more than I owed and got a grand cherokee srt. Im at 70k on it now, and its cost less than 1/3 to maintain vs the audi.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Another ex B5 owner here (’00 Passat 1.8T). Mechanically mine was fine and survived for over 100K miles… but it was all the little things constantly breaking that drove us nuts. The day I traded it in the knob to control the sunroof broke off in my hand for example.

      More silly broke items: the glove box handle broke – how is that even possible? I only opened it once a year to change out the registration paper work. The base to the roof mounted antenna broke and the repair cost of this piece was ridiculous. One day the turn signal housing fell off. Worse was the dash and door trim. VW used this “soft touch” rubberized material. Sorry but I’d rather have rock hard plastic then this stuff because after only a few few years it scratched, peeled and flaked off like a bad sunburn. Pretty much all the fabric in the car became unglued (door panels, headliner, etc). The interior looked like it had seen 500K in miles, utter crap. The center LCD display slowly faded until it was unreadable which was no good considering the variety of messages that popped up there.

      Near the end it had a coolant leak the dealer could never track down so I got in the habit of adding water every few weeks until I finally traded it in. After this the wife swore off all VAG products despite her desire to own an Audi TT multiple times.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        I got lucky with my B6 A4 interior. The dealer replaced every worn soft touch surface under warranty. It was amazing how easily that stuff scratched or wore off with normal use. It looked great when it was new. My issues were a combination of mechanical issues (starting with a new tranny at 12K, etc.), electrical issues (all of them), and just random pieces falling off. I will always admit though, the car drove very well for what it was. My real issue was that I like to keep things perfect, even when that car was new, I couldn’t keep up.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    About $65k when new (in today’s dollars), and worthless today. Hope it was fun while it lasted.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It’s 14 years old. At the US average of 15k miles per year that’s 210k miles. Did you just not do the math?

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        No, I think he fell into the trap that “2005 was like last year or a few years ago”, when it turns out to be nearly 15.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        This car wasn’t retired yesterday, and I doubt an S4 was driven as a daily driver.

        My guess is 120k, if only because they couldn’t keep it out of the shop.

        But if you are right, then I guess 210k wouldn’t be so bad.

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Beranek

          Meanwhile, millions of 2000-2005 pushrod-engined GMs are tooling around with well over 200k. DOHC is a curse, not a virtue.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            You see a mid 2000s audi in the yard and point to “DOHC” as the pin-pointed evil that got it there?

            LOL

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            Sure, but which one would you rather drive? Some vices have their virtues, after all.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “I doubt an S4 was driven as a daily driver.”

          First off an S4 starts at $51,195. That’s the same price as a base Tahoe or a fully loaded Highlander. It’s not nearly as fancy or as expensive as you seem to think.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True, but I doubt the 35,000 mile service on a Tahoe costs $700.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            The base price of the S4 in 2005 was $47k, or about $59k in todays dollar, the base price of a Tahoe was $35k, about $43k today and the cost of ownership for the S4 would be vastly higher.

        • 0 avatar
          SilverCoupe

          I don’t see why it wouldn’t have been a daily driver. It’s a practical car that can be driven year round. My eleven year old A5S has been a reliable daily driver, and I would not be driving it less if I had sprung for the S5. Granted, I put very little mileage on the car compared to most people, given the good public transportation in my city.

      • 0 avatar
        Andre Robinson

        Do you think it got to 210k miles?

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    Look at the DOG HAIR on the rear floorboards!

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Chances are the timing chain service wasn’t done (timing chain guides wear prematurely) and the engine grenaded. It’s an expensive PITA since they put the chain at the back of the engine, requiring an engine removal to accomplish.

    I had a B5 A4 V6, and it was a sweet ride, but expensive to repair. I’ll never own German out of warranty ever again.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Judging by the state of the visible fuse box and the dashboard, I’m going with death by electrical gremlin.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Or it ate synchros like this model was known for. Not sure what would cost more engine or trans overhaul?

      As a ACNA instructor this chassis/engine felt most like 2005 Pontiac GTO at the time. Fun cars!

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ Jeff – Wasn’t the story that customers had balked at this V8’s predecessor’s expensive timing belt service, only to have Audi switch to the less-than-robust chain set-up you describe? Out of the frying pan, as they say.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        I suppose it wouldn’t have been such a problem if they hadn’t under-engineered the tensioners.

        • 0 avatar
          CarOli

          This engine is what happens when German engineers say “hold my beer and watch this!” The photo of the timing chain system for this engine will blow your mind with its complexity: https://redlinespeedworx.com/blog/audi-v8-timing-chain-service–the-real-story

          • 0 avatar
            The_Guru

            Try a Ford 4L OHC V-6. That is a timing chain nightmare, and the thing that scares me the most about my now getting up there in mileage 08 Explorer. I believe those were German designed as well.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Too bad crabspirits isn’t around. He could have written an account of how the 6th owner was able to put up with the completely undiagnosable ABS failure right until the engine expired with a loud death rattle……

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    “…340 horsepower out of this 4.2-liter V8, and some junkyard shopper should grab it and swap it into an Audi V8 sedan. How hard could it be?…”.

    Oh let me count the ways.

  • avatar
    nsk

    I had a new manual-trans B7 S4 in 2006, and it’s no surprise this late B6 car is in a junkyard. Even when new, these were not great cars. Compared to E46 M3, S4 had numb steering feel, always defaulted to understeer, was not that fast, rode poorly, and had awful fuel economy. The positives were that the V8 sounded good and the interior was really nice.

    I think a lot of car people think this car checks all the boxes, but in reality it’s just not worth keeping on the road, especially when considering the long-term poor reliability and high maintenance expense.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “had numb steering feel, always defaulted to understeer, was not that fast, rode poorly, and had awful fuel economy.”

      “the interior was really nice.”

      Sounds like 90s-00s Audi.exe to me.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I actually thought my well worn rebuilt title B5.5 Quattro had an excellent ride/handling balance, until you got to really rough stuff, but the overly-firm ride may refer to these S4s with stiffer suspensions and less sidewall/larger rims.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It’s amazing to see an intact top of the range car in a pick and pull. If another car came in with all those valuable parts still attached (Big brakes, Recaros, the engine, the manual trans) it would be picked clean in minutes. It just goes to show how many B6s are still on the road today.

    I am still bitter about my Audi experience and it was nowhere near as bad as it was for a lot of other people. They will wear you out even if you want to give them a chance.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “You’d think that the factory-hot-rod Audis would be worth enough to keep them out of the clutches of The Crusher”

    An RS4 with the flat-plane V8 maybe, but this is just superannuated frangible German iron.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      @ bumpy

      I saw one of those at a gas station. It had the hood up as I walked by. On the way back out to my truck I stopped and asked the two guys who were with the car if it was a real RS4, as they weren’t importable in Canada at the time. One guy asked if I was a cop. It was real.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    I had a late-model B7 A4 in 2.0 TDI Avant (front wheel drive and 6-speed manual transmission). It was a good and reliable car. On a daily basis it was punished on the Autobahn and it served me really well. The TDI offered spirited performance and fuel efficient sustained high speed driving. Racked up over 650,000 km with it and never had any serious problems. A new clutch at 330,000 km was the most expensive maintenance investment/repair during my ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      So you’re saying something happens to them on their way to America? You probably did something most Americans don’t do: preventive maintenance. Oil change: whenever. Top up fluids: whenever. Have minor rattles/noises checked out: never.

      Americans are used to just getting in and driving. We don’t take it to a shop until something breaks, or it stops running. By the time we’ve paid it off with the money we saved on deferred maintenance, our credit is good, so we get another car.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I am sooo spoiled by Asian cars. All the one’s I have owned seem to run best if you weld the hood shut.

    My current daily, 2015 Mazda6 has 98k miles. I have only changed brake pads, tires, completed oil changes at 7500 miles, and replaced the air filter twice. That is all. So simple, so cheap…and such a nice car!

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Highway cruising (your 25k/yr) is pretty damn easy on a car. And yes, I agree that 6s are pretty great cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        I was doing 650 miles per week on my B5 A4 and repairs were killing me ($800 rear wheel bearings for example) to the point I traded it in for a 2012 Chevy Cruze Eco. I was looking at $3K+ for clutch and timing belt replacements in the next year. Or about $300 per month, plus time off work. Note for Cruze was that much.

        Bonus: the money I saved in fuel, 25 MPG on premium vs. 43+ on regular (no kidding that car *beat* the EPA rating), almost paid the note on the new car ($140/week vs $70/week), no unexpected visits to the shop, and it had bluetooth phone. Got a job in the Cruze interviewing during a drive home one Friday.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Too bad I couldn’t sell my 98k mile Mazda6 with manual trans for good money. As far as the used car market is concerned, anything near the 100k is old, worn out junk!…even though we know the car isn’t even half way used up.


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