1998 Audi A4 Quattro 2.8L V6 from North America


A car for mechanically inclined, quirky owners


Car was leaking oil when purchased.

Changed valve cover gaskets.

Door hinges noisy/worn.

Alternator broke 5 minutes after purchased.

General Comments:

Runs quite nice for an older, high miles car.

Interior "as new" after 14 years and 350K.

An OK car for the mechanically inclined.

Many parts very difficult and time consuming to work on, due to the tight squeeze with the V-6 engine/Quattro system. Took a mechanic over "book time" to change the alternator!

More kinky than a BMW. Not a car for a non-tinkerer. Reminds me of an Alfa Romeo/Saab.

Didn't realize that an Audi is basically a VW.

BMW is a more reliable/more conventional car

Reminds me of BMW E30 - small/tossable.

1.8T seems to have far more problems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 25th August, 2012

9th Mar 2013, 09:37

Update on the above. The car now has 370,000kms and is running well. I switched to Bosch Platinum 4 plugs, and it runs much better on them than other plugs I tried. No maintenance has been required, but I think the previous owner spent a lot, including a timing belt right before I bought it.

I have heard of motors with 800K kms if the oil is changed regularly. I noticed the oil temperature runs at 10 degrees Celsius cooler after the undertray got ripped off by snow drifts. I may slot the opening before I reposition, as I like the idea of cooler oil.

11th Feb 2014, 10:51

Update Feb 2014. The car rolled over 400,000 km on Dec 31, 2013. An hour later a control arm broke in a parking lot. Changed both on one side at $120 in total for parts. Apparently the 2 link control arm assembly is an Achilles heel on these cars.

Now has almost 403,000 km. Pulls like a bull still... no oil burning. The body is still rust free after 16 years. No rips or tears in the interior.

My only car - but time for a back-up vehicle!

12th Feb 2014, 12:35

Yes, the control arms are a known weak spot - but you shouldn't need to replace it more than once every 80K km. That you're now on 400K km is a good sign. How is the Quattro drivetrain holding up? Have you had the oil checked/replaced?

12th Apr 2014, 08:48

The Quattro drive train has not been opened/looked at since I got the car 70,000 km ago. Not quite sure what maintenance (if any?) is required. I drive 100 km (60 miles) per day to work and back. I realize that my reviews look sterling compared to some others, but my LED unit is flakey, my ABS was disconnected before I bought the car, an 02 sensor was gone when I bought the car and I have never bothered to replace it. I have changed rear rotors and pads only (front still not required yet). I may have a wheel bearing starting to go. I use Mobil 1 oversized filters (they also have a "bypass during start-up").

Nearing 410,000 km now, and as it is the highest mileage car I have ever driven... I'm pleased with the car even if it blows up tomorrow. I do open the hood and check oil/look around weekly. I never let the oil go below 1/2L low.

1998 Audi A4 SE 1.8 20V petrol from UK and Ireland


Probably a great car when new, but the years take their toll


The car broke down on way home, fuel pump randomly clicking on and off.

Aircon never worked, compressor knocked badly.

No main beams, then eventually no dip either.

Radio was either silent or full blast, hard to replace due to BOSE wiring.

ABS light would randomly flash over 80 mph.

Trip computer worked when it felt like it.

General Comments:

The A4 is marketed as a compact executive car, and as such is well equipped. Unfortunately time is not kind to these cars, and they age badly; my example was fitted with a new control module after water got under the carpet and fried the old one. This module controls the central locking etc, and is worth more than the car is worth. The car broke down after 3 miles with the fuel pump relay clicking merrily away to itself. For some reason when the battery was swapped for a charged one, it worked perfectly the rest of the time I had the car.

Also poor on the electric front is the light switch; mine would not select main beam, and eventually the dipped beam went away too. There are of course a vast array of switches available, so you physically have to have the old one with you when you order one, considering the switch was nearly the price of the car; I sold the car rather than replace it.

The BOSE radio was a total pain, it would come on a low volume, but if you tried to turn it up, it would either go silent or full volume; replacement is not a simple affair either.

The airbag light was always on, in fact every A4 I've ever seen has it illuminated, it seems to be a weak point. Also on the dash was the trip computer, which would sometimes cycle through its functions; other times it would randomly turn off, and other times it would only illuminate half the display. The self diagnostic functions are handy, but you really need to be able to turn the huge glowing symbol off for low fuel.

The climate control was most odd, emitting a series of groans from time to time. The aircon never worked, although the compressor clicked in with a thump and you manually had to turn it off. Also the temperature would fluctuate wildly even when set to 21 degrees.

Mechanically the car fared rather better. The 1.8 20v engine is extremely smooth, just not very powerful. It emits a lovely noise at high revs, and you will spend most of your time there as the car is geared lower than a Mondeo or Vectra. Even with the low gearing, it's no sprinter, acceleration is rather pedestrian. Rough idling was traced to a split vacuum hose.

Handling is brilliant, no other word for it, the A4 feels glued to the road, in a different league to the Mondeo, it feels like a hot hatch. Even with the rather mediocre 1.8 engine, it's possible to hustle down the back roads, yet the car is supple over bumpy city streets.

The car's main downfall was its woeful economy; although it was averaging 40 odd mpg on motorway journeys according to the computer, it was dreadful in town; it was not at all a rare occurrence to get the fuel consumption under 25mpg for a mix of town and country work. You could accept it in a bigger engined car, but not in a basic 1.8.

The car was rust free thanks to the galvanised shell, but the paint would mark at the slightest touch.

In short, the A4 was probably an excellent car when new, but it is distinctly in banger territory in its later years. The excess of electronics will kill it long before it fails mechanically.

Overall, I enjoyed my 3 months of ownership, but I was glad to see it drive away.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2011