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Re:(long)looking at an '86 5KTQ - advice?

At 06:01 AM 1/25/1999 -0800, you wrote:
>>I'm looking for a reasonably-priced awd sedan and saw this car
>>advertised for $4900.  180K miles, second owner (put 15K on it), claims
>>it's immaculate, literally everything works, always garaged, 1st owner
>>babied it, etc., etc.  The mileage seems awfully high but I see there
>>seem to be a lot of Audis for sale with comparable miles.  If I get
>>serious I'll definitely have the car inspected by a mechanic on the
>>website's list, but I'd like advice on what to look out for with this
>>particular model.

...................see below, and make sure there is DOCUMENTATION for all
the repairs for the entire life under every owner. Otherwise, expect to
spend a lot of money on the things I list in the answer to your next
question. Incidently, I agree with Harrison and Graydon on all their
well-taken points:

>>Also, what sort of "ownership experience" might I
>>expect, regarding maintenance? 

......................I take it you mean keeping the car safe and running
well at its present age and condition. The basic quattro system,
differentials, transmission and engine are nearly bulletproof and seem to
have very very long lives. The car handles better than most of its
competitors, and is relatively safe in serious crashes. With the turbo
feature, it is easily modified to archive astonishing performance. These
features define the real value of the vehicle. The remainder of the car has
some fairly needy systems:

The headlights were marginal when new, and many people replace them with
very expensive European systems costing about $800 USD.

The A/C system started life as a mediocre thing, and just got old. The
evaporator drain clogs up and floods the floorboards with quarts of water,
assuming the A/C works at all.

It is a galvanized body and you will not have to constantly fight rust. It
might have or will develop a few spots along the front edge of the hood,
along the rear edge of the trunk just above the bumper, and maybe around
the rear wheel wells, and rarely along the lower edge of the big long black
trim strips that keep people from banging the doors in parking lots. I
noticed about 3 such spots on my 87 5KCSTQ last year,but hey were so small
and insignificant as to be almost invisible.

The engine is notorious for accumulating carbon deposits in the cylinders,
which increases compression and dirties up the injector tips, etc.  Many
owners use Techron regularly, and a few pull the head and clean it up in
extreme cases a few times in the car's life.

The turbo hoses and controls age and perform poorly if at all. Must be
replaced and adjusted every 3-4 years. Turbo tends to be very sturdy when
cooled properly after hard runs. Has been known to fail when not treated in
above manner. Can be a costly event.

Usually the lifters are noisy at start-up, and unless you use clean oil
frequently they stay noisy and get worse until you replace them. I use
synthetics and it seems to work for me. 

Control arm bushings and all rubber subframe bushing and motor/tranny
mounts fail and require replacing. All the vacuum hoses and coolant lines
age and get replaced, and everything they feed works badly until
replacement happens. Heater core fails and leaks. The plastic radiator
cracks and gets a new metal one. Heater blower fails and gets replaced.
Springs controlling the air circulation flaps break and get replaced.

The alternator/airconditioner belts get loose easily, require frequent
replacement, and squeal like stuck pigs when you go through a puddle and
they get wet.

Replaced clutch at 150k miles. Not easy.$1,200?

The CV joints, boots and tie rod ends (many of each) get old, worn, and
frozen with corrosion, and require replacement to get a good alignment and
awd operation. Original springs may be weak and need replacing about 130K,
along with struts and wheel bearings at all 4 corners. Wheel bearing are
pressed in and you take off the struts and hubs to do the job. Big bucks,
special tools, 20 ton press.

Main drive shaft joints get loose, shudder, and require replacement in
second 100K.

The splash plates on all 4 wheels rust off and rub against the wheels and
rotors. I just replaced the rear calipers, rotors, and emergency brake
cables, as well as master cylinder and brake pressure regulator.

Steering racks tend to fail fairly often, as does the hydraulic pressure
accumulator unit we call 'the bomb.' It assists both the power steering and
the power brakes. The system uses an expensive special mineral oil known as

The exhaust system rusts out infrequently, and OEM replacement is
$800-$1,000. Cheapo is available for $200-300, lasts about 2 years.

All the engine temp and pressure sensors get old and fail or leak, and
their leads and connectors require cleaning. Same thing happens to the ISV
and the entire ignition system. Be sure the car has at least had new
ignition wires somewhere in its recent history.

The power window switches AND the actual wiring in the cables at the door
hinges break, fail, and require diagnosis and repair. There is a wiring
splice in the harness of some cars that tends to deteriorate and cause
unusual electrical conditions.

The door handles are fragile and actually break off or fail internally,
often enough that people carry spares. Ignition lock tends to fail when you
hang heavy key rings on it for many years.

All the ground points of the chassis corrode and benefit from cleaning
every few years. The ECU doesn't work right unless they are kept clean.

The seat heaters and their switches wear out early, especially the driver
side, and require new elements or repair.

The bulbs in the dash that illuminate the instruments are notorious for
needing attention, and the speedometer/odometer units fail, and frequently
get replaced or repaired. I think the odometer fails more frequently than
the speedo.

The windshield wipers are not as sturdy as some would like. The blades tend
to require innovative approaches to keep them on the car under winter

The sunroof tracks are fragile, sometimes jamb or break, and require fixing
on some cars.

Hope this has been helpful.  Doyt Echelberger   86 4KQ, 87 5KCSTQ

>>I've done all my own maintenance for
>>years, to the extent of rebuilding engines, transmissions, etc., so I
>>can handle much of it myself.  Thanks for any and all replies.
>>Dana Reed