Brought the car home - was: super cheap Avant on eBay (Long)

Eric_R_Kissell at Eric_R_Kissell at
Wed Apr 23 16:48:45 EDT 2003

I went out to Baltimore and retrieved the eBay surprise 1991 200q 20v
Avant on Good Friday.

Southwest Airlines had a direct flight from Louisville for cheap, and I
booked that only 16 hours before takeoff.  I have to admit that it is
truly out of character for me to buy a car sight unseen on eBay and then
less than two days later find myself on a one-way flight to a destination
700 miles away with the plan of driving the mystery car 700 miles home.

I checked my toolbox as luggage.  That was fun getting through the
required security baggage check.  Picture yourself directing another
person how to rearrange 35 lbs. of tools so they fit in your
filled-to-capacity toolbox after the security check because you are not
allowed to touch anything during or after the security check.  However, I
definitely wanted my toolbox with me, because we all know that the
likelihood of a breakdown is inversely proportional to your state of
preparedness for the breakdown.

In Baltimore the owner of the Avant met me at BWI airport and took me to
get the car at his home.  After business and pleasantries, including a
crabcake lunch at a local restaurant, I began my drive from Maryland back
to Indiana.

The UFO brakes had some vibration, but I heat cycled that out of them by
the West Virginia line.  They are pretty smooth now.

After 800 miles of driving I am happy to report that I am pleased with the
car.  It will be a worthwhile project.

Make no mistake - this is not a $12k car that I stole for $4k, but I would
say that it easily has $6k to $8k potential with some repairs and TLC.
Sadly, some of the "normal dings" are really better described as small
dents, but they look like candidates for paintless dent removal.

I have what looks like all maintenance receipts and records since new, so
I need to look through those to understand what items were replaced and

The sunroof was molested by some incompetent mechanic, but I already found
the parts required to repair the sunroof in my local u-pull-it.  That is
actually amazing here in Evansville, Indiana where Audis are pretty
sparse.  With the new used parts I should have the sunroof fixed tonight.

The strangest thing I found is that when I turn on the headlights both
turn signal indicators on the dash illuminate continuously and the high
beam indicator lights up with the low beams and goes away for the high
beams.  Only when the headlights are turned on.  I suspect the combo
switch might be crossing some circuits. Or, is it the instrument cluster?
Can anyone help me solve this?  The controls actually work fine as far as
making turn signals and lights work as intended, but the dash lights are
affected incorrectly.

The speedometer started fluctuating several times and returned to normal
when I hit the dash above the instrument cluster.  I need to search the
archives on that one.

The engine hums along nicely.  It will make 1.8 Bar, but not as easily or
in as many gear/rpm ranges as I would expect.  How easy should it be to
make 1.8 Bar?  I keep running out of enough road to open her up because
the car accelerates too quickly.  Good problem to have.  The fastest
continuous speed I tried so far was a brief stint at 110 mph with a red
Viper leading the way.

My trip of 703 miles required 27.64 gallons of gasoline for an average
fuel mileage of 25.4 mpg.  Not too bad.  All segments had similar mileage.
This was mostly highway cruising at 75mph, but there was some town driving
while visiting family.

Both front interior door handles have lost the ability to open the door
latch.  I can look into that tonight as well.  It is a bit odd having to
roll the window down to open the door from the outside handle.  I guess I
could weld the door shut and jump in and out Dukes of Hazard style.

I need to check all belts and hoses and replace most of them.  I will do
the timing belt and water pump job soon after I get situated in Ohio after
our move in mid May.  I will begin migrating the systems to Amsoil
synthetic oils soon, starting with the engine.  The transmission and
hydraulic will have to wait until summer.

The coolant is green, so a flush and fill is in order.  Maybe a new
radiator as preventive maintenance.

The "ABS Off" light is on.  I suspect a bad wheel sensor or two.  Maybe
the teeth on a driveshaft are dirty.  Will that cause a continuous "ABS
Off" light?  If not, what is most likely?  I did test the ABS with several
hard stops and confirmed that it is off.

The interior is dirty but in decent shape without serious rips or tears.
Some scuffs and worn spots can be found, but nothing I cannot stand.  I am
curious how well it will clean up.

Can I easily remove aftermarket window tint with a heat gun or what?

The owner told me the car needs a new power steering pump, but it seems
OK.  I will have to check for leaks, but it makes plenty of hydraulic
pressure without complaining.  I have seen no leaks or drips.

The car came with a new set of Bentley manuals which I do not need because
I already purchased them for my 1989.  I will offer those for sale soon.
Maybe the guy that bungled the sunroof should have broken the seal on
Volume 2 before he started.

Anyway, my next project has begun.  I already contacted Mihnea...

Eric Kissell
1991 200q 20v Avant - eBay surprise
1989 200q Avant, 1.8 Bar (qlcc)
1986 5000cstq, 1.8 Bar (SJM), Bilsteins

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