1988 Audi 5000 S Quattro 2.3 Inline 5 from North America
It's a decent car
There are lots of little things that can go wrong on the 5000 Quattro...
When I bought the car, the brakes had the anti-lock brake "chutter" whenever you would push on the pedal. The seller assured me that the brake pads needed to be replaced, and that was all. I acquired the car VERY reasonably, so I really wasn't too concerned with it. As it turns out, the brake "bomb" or hydraulic accumulator was shot, the wheel speed sensors were disconnected, and a majority of the hoses and rubber items were dry-rotted. Since owning, I've replaced the entire brake system.
The hydraulic accumulator has a life of around 7 years. If it hasn't been replaced yet, it will definitely need to be. You can tell if it is bad with the following procedure. Start the car, let it warm up, then start pumping the brakes. Turn off the car. Keep pumping the brakes. If the pedal gets firm after around 10-15 strokes, the accumulator is shot. It should take at least 30 pushes of the pedal to get this firmness.
The wheel bearings are another area on these cars to look for. They were designed to last about 50,000 miles. You can tell if they need to be replaced by a humming sound coming from the front end while at speed, and in a turn.
The hydraulic lifters usually will go out on these cars around the 100,000 mile mark. You can tell fairly easily if they are shot by listening to the engine. If you hear a fairly pronounced "ticking" sound, and the car has more than 100K on the odometer, that will likely be the culprit.
The windows on this car tend to be problematic. They really couldn't figure out how to design a window switch that worked well.
Also, the door window motors tend to be a pain. It is a complete unit (motor, cable, and rails), so if it is broken, the whole unit will need to be replaced.
Lastly, check out the door handles on this car. The push button is made of "Bakelite" material, and they will crack and break after a few years. The part runs around $30 each, but it's really easy to replace. Just more money though...
All of these things have gone wrong on my car, but as somebody who likes to get my hands dirty, none of this really bothered me.
Audi had a good idea for a car here, but it was just a little rough around the edges. They were still developing what turned into be the great cars they make today.
The Quattro system is amazingly great in the snow, and I was able to do 4 wheel drifts at 45 MPH this last winter in a foot of snow. It won't make you stop better, but you can certainly forge through some pretty intense snow and slush.
A good idea is to find a salvage yard with parts for this car. Dealer prices on parts for this car are extremely pricey. The magic price for everything seems to be around $400 just for the part alone. Since I did my own work on the car, labor charges didn't apply. You should consider this when contemplating purchasing this car.
Performance on this car is really pretty weak. Top end speed is decent, but any acceleration is non-existent. My '62 Triumph TR4 could smoke this thing off the line.
The trunk is huge, and allows lots of storage space.
The stock radio on this car, the Blaupunkt AM/FM with cassette sounds really bad. No bass, lots of treble, and a poor balance.
Overall, if you live in an area where you need four-wheel drive, like to haul the family around, and like to pretend that you're European, this would be a good car for you. Even though it lacks the defined body lines of a Mercedes Benz, you don't see too many of these on the road, so it has a little more character.
If you can buy an Audi, get the newest one possible. They made significant improvements in the 90's.
One last thing, don't allow the "sudden acceleration" idea of the 80's scare you out of a purchase. This was simply a case of driver error, and the actions of a media organization trying to "make news" as usual.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st June, 2002
Thanks for the review... lots of great information. You summed it all up very well.
This review is totally off base on the performance thing. While the car is slow off the line while stock, there are excellent, well established, inexpensive aftermarket power upgrades for this car. I added nearly 60 horsepower for a tick over $100.
For used parts, check out http://www.force5auto.com/. Chris has reasonable prices and a good selection (no affiliation). These cars are a fantastic value for the money, provided you can do your own wrenching.