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Reliability of a 1997 Audi A8 4.2 Quattro

Discussion in 'A8/S8 forum' started by sterlingheights, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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    [Oct 24, 2003]
    Hello All:

    I am new here and I have found a 1997 Audi A8 4.2 Quattro for sale. It has 87,000 miles on it and the price seems to be right according to NADA.com. They say it's worth somewhere around $18,000 ~ $20,000 and the dealer is selling it for $14,995. How reliable are these cars. Way back I used to have a few 5000 Turbos and their reliability was less then stellar. Currently I own a BMW 750iL with the V12 and while it can be expensive to maintain, it was a reliable car and never, ever let me sit on the side of the highway. It's getting pretty old now so I was looking at the Audi. Please be honest and if you could let me know what the common problems are on them it would be greatly appreciated! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif Thanks! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    Sterlingheights
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  3. SvenS8
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    SvenS8 Member

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    [Oct 25, 2003]
    Hello Sterlingheights!

    As you may expect it isn't a cheap car to maintain, but so is the BMW you're driving. The Audi may even be a bit cheaper, but I'm not sure about that.

    As to the reliability, I have bought my S8 rather recently, so I can't really comment on that from my own experience, though I'm happy so far. However, from what I've heard from other owners reliability seems to be pretty good.

    Of course it all depends how the car has been maintained. It's quite important it's been serviced at Audi, and all stamps are in the maintenance booklet. First of all because this gives you an impression how it's been kept, secondly because in this case you're entitled to a life long 'mobility warranty' (roadside assistance and if necessary a loaner, hotel arrangement and transport).

    Also at this mileage the belt should have been replaced.

    I'm not aware of any 'common problems' (fortunately), but if there are any known ones maybe one of the others want to comment on that.

    Good luck with the purchase, and keep us posted on the developments! We're always interested in specs and pics! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

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  4. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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    [Oct 26, 2003]
    Hello! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    Thank you for the reply. I figure that about the timing belt, so I was going to replace it after I bought it if you looked worn. The car looks like it is good shape but I'm not buying it from an Audi dealer -- just an independent dealer. The independent dealer however told me the Audi dealer he got it from and I will be contacting them for the service records. It is pearlescent white with black leather interior and one thing I noticed is the ABS light was on along with the brake light flashing. My wife and I took it for a long test drive and did slam on the brakes and it did skid -- verifiying there is a fault with the ABS. I informed the dealer and they said they would repair it before I purchased as the law here prohibits the sale of a car with faulty ABS. Other than that the car looks really clean with no leaks underneath. The engine is quiet and smooth -- also no puffs of any smoke from the exhaust. I rubbed the engine oil on my fingers and didn't detect any particles or anything. The trans shifts like butter... perfect shifting. I've attached some pictures of it as well.
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  5. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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  6. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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    [Oct 26, 2003]
    yet another pic of it...
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  7. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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  8. BaldNut
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    BaldNut New Member

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    [Oct 26, 2003]
    looks nice, i like the colour /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
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  9. Matthewbaldry
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    Matthewbaldry Member

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    [Oct 26, 2003]
    Hi, im proberbly the owner on here with the closest car to yours, mine is a 1996 4.2 quattro sport, 110000 miles.

    There are some common faults with A8's to be aware of. First up is common to all A6 & A8 quattros, the rear transmission oil seal, if this starts leaking it drips a tiny bit of fluid onto the right hand cat, making a nasty smell, not a huge problem just a bit of a pain.

    Next up is the electric airel. This is very prone to breaking and cannot be replaced with and Audi part as they dicontinued it, many fit aftermarket airels but they can cause corrosion between the steel airel and aluminium body.

    The timing belt service can be very expensive, and I know tht mny American owners also change the water pump whilst they are doing it. As part of the service you should also change the transmission fluid if it hasnt ever been changed. This is VERY important if you want the A8 to contiuine on for a long time to come, Audi of America claimed it was a lifetime fluid but everyone else advises 40,000 miles. The fluid is quite expensive though!

    For more info and a comprehensive A8 buying guide look on Audipages

    I do love my A8 though /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/1luvu.gif
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  10. SvenS8
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    SvenS8 Member

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    [Oct 28, 2003]
    Nice car Sterlingheights! Matthew has got it pretty much covered I guess. I'd say let them do the belt if it has not been specified in the booklet it has been replaced. It is indeed expensive!

    Audi should be able to access the service history, but there shoud also be a service booklet in the car, along with the manuals etc.

    I think you could ask them to bring it to a dealer for a checkup, and if possible a servicing before delivery. That way you'll feel more secure about it.

    I'm sure you'll love the A8! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif
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  11. sterlingheights
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    sterlingheights New Member

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    [Oct 28, 2003]

    Thanks for all the info and such. I had the dealer take care of a slew of other things and got the price down lower, so I will do the timing belt after I own it. I have found that it will cost $365.00 in brand-new OEM parts (not including the coolant) to replace the timing belt, all the rollers/tensioners, the water pump and thermostat. How many hours would it take a competent shop to do it? I know a good Europeon car garage that charges $50.00 per hour so if it takes like 4 hours then another $200.00 arriving at a grand total of about $560.00 which sounds okay to me. Is 4 hours reasonable? Or is it longer?

    Also, and more importantly... the '97 A8 does NOT have air or self-leveling suspension... correct? My BMW 750iL does have self-leveling and while it has been moderately reliable, it is a pain I rather would not put up with in another car. I know Audi has the hydraulic over hydraulic brakes and steering... but that is all that the hydraulic system services, correct? How reliable are the racks on the A8s? I know the 5000s sucked in that (and every other) arena. Should I just forget the woes that the 5000s had? Should I go into this with a fresh mind? I'd imagine that the maintenance on an A8 should not be a problem since I've owned a V12 BMW for quite a while now. Am I correct in assuming this?
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  12. SvenS8
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    SvenS8 Member

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    [Oct 29, 2003]
    Hmm... Couldn’t tell you how long it takes to replace the belt. I only know it's done at 120.000 KMs (75.000 mile) and here Audi charges about €1800,- for the entire servicing. But that is of course more than just the belt! Just phone Audi to get an estimate of the time, then you'll know if the other garage it correct or not. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

    As to the air / self levelling, that is optional on an A8 (std. on A8L IMO). Not sure which year though, but it is quite rare I believe. Check in case it's different in the USA! Type "test Audi A8" in Google and you'll find loads of reviews. Again Audi may help you here by giving you the full specs of this car. They can look that up quite easy in their computer!

    I'm not aware of any problems with the racks, maybe Matthew knows more about that. I just know it is VERY important you use the correct fluids, not just any hydraulic fluid will do!!(same goes for the long life II motor oil BTW). So beware of that, and check for leaks and see to it everything works properly (no 'blind spots' or funny noises when you turn the wheel, brakes feeling good after repetitive use, etc.)

    This is an entire different car as any previous model, so don't worry too much. If it is okay now, and well kept, you'll be okay as long as you'll treat it with the respect it deserves... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
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  13. Matthewbaldry
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    Matthewbaldry Member

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    [Oct 29, 2003]
    Jut check that the Hydraulic fluid reservoir has the Audi green (PN G 002 000)fluid in it and it should be no problem at all.

    If it has any other colour fluid (proberbly red) the seals in the hydraulic system will give up and you should avoid the car at all costs. The reservoir should be in front of the coolant bottle next to the front wing (from memory).

    Should be ok but worth checking!
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