Considering 96 A6 wagon purchase

Mike Veglia msvphoto at
Thu Dec 12 09:20:05 EST 2002

In a message dated 12/12/2002 Steve Currie writes:

<< I'm looking at a 96 A6 V6 auto quattro wagon with 35,000 miles.
The owner wants full KBB private value of $14,900.  The car has been
fully maintained at the dealership.  I haven't looked at the records yet,
and am wondering what items I should look for that haven't been done
due to the low mileage. >>

My wife and I just bought a '95 one of these in early August and we
absolutely love it. I even find the slushbox tolerable, though I obviously
still prefer my 4kq or 5ktq 5 speeds of course. We paid $9995 for ours with
112k miles with maintenance caught up. The only things I have done so far
(we have put 6k miles on it so far) is the ignition switch (recalled, but
too easy and cheap to deal with an Audi dealer for), a couple of bulbs, and
a 30k interval service (oh, and a couple of flat repairs...a lot of nails
near my home recently). Overall, a wonderful car and very day my wife drives
it she loves it more and more (thank goodness--it is making her obsession
with Ovlovs a fading memory <g>).

If the condition is as good as the miles are low, it *might* be worth asking
price. KBB wholesale (trade-in), and below, is what all used cars seem to be
going for these says. (At least in my area.) The used car market has tanked
and it is a total buyer's market. "Firm" on this deal likely will mean the
seller will keep this car for a long time. The low miles may not 100%
indicate potential maintenance costs since the car must have done a
combination of sitting and short trips for most of it's life. If you really
like the car and it checks out, it may be worth the money though. Thing is,
you can add some miles and drop a lot of money from the price, or for around
the same amount get a higher miles 30v 1999--maybe even with a stick--if you
look enough (lease returns on these are abundant and easy to find--there are
always a bunch on ebay too). My personal belief in used Audi purchases
(barring cars that are just a few years ole...this one you're looking at is
seven model years old now) is condition is more important than miles (within
reason of course).

<< I would expect that the timing belt hasn't been done (60,000 miles or 6
yrs? according to the list) since the recommended time is 90k miles from
Audi. >>

I would not go beyond 60k/6years. This car is due if it has not yet been
done. Ours had a timing belt incident with the previous owner at ~85k miles.
Service history indicates it *may* have been due to water ingestion (driving
through a Texas flash flood supposedly), but that is uncertain. What is
certain is that repair invoice for ~$5500 to replace both heads (and do a
90k mile service while it was in) as a result. Plan to do the full timing
belt job (including rollers, water pump, thermostat, auxiliary belt, etc.)
right away. The other thing to look for would be transmission leaks. I
gather they are somewhat common. Ours went through a transmission reseal and
tailshaft bushing replacement recently before our purchase. This was another
~$1800 dealer service receipt, BTW. (And people wonder why I try to do as
much of my own maintenance as possible...) Ours also needed the transmission
multifunction switch recently (before we bought it) which apparently is a
pretty expensive part.

Be sure to get a good inspection, including pulling all codes, etc. Get an
estimate for a full timing belt job. Search out and print some recent ebay
sales on comparable cars (there are a lot). Then negotiate after
enlightening the owner to reality--they may then budge some from "firm"
because everything is negotiable and cash talks.

Depending on who you listen to, some will say these older C4s are better
than the present versions for reliability, and some will even tell you the
C4 is worse than a type 44 (something I have to see to believe and, so far,
have not seen personally).

I would be leery of too low of miles as much as I would too high on a seven
year old German luxury car. Pay for condition and verifiable service history
with all maintenance and repair issues 100% caught up. Any "catch up"
required should come off the "full KBB private value" price, and given the
current used car market being a total buyer's market, probably more should
come off just because of market conditions. You must absolutely love the
car, color and all...because this is a top dollar price IMO.

HTH and good luck.

Mike Veglia
Motor Sport Visions Photography

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