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Test Driving a 1998 A6 TOMORROW...Help!

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Old 03-26-2014, 07:47 AM   #1
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Default Test Driving a 1998 A6 TOMORROW...Help!

Found a nice clean low mileage 1998 2.8 quattro at a dealer. I have purchased used cars before so I have a big checklist of things to go over and then a test drive after which I will check for any leaks after its been for a decent drive and gotten up to temp.

Besides making sure everything works (AC, lights, etc), checking service records, and making sure the engine and trans run smooth and dont overheat would would you recommend I do for this specific model?

Error code reset? I heard some dealers do something to hide error codes?

Should I ensure that the tie rods have been replace as I believe they were recalled on this model?

Timing belt service even if its super low miles for a 98?

Carfax shows the last 12 yrs of dealer services so at least there is that.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:06 AM   #2
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It's all about the price. Figure about $1500.
Super low miles? Most likely the instrument cluster has been replaced.
TB service? Mileage irrelevant for a 16 y/o car.
Tie rods irrelevant on low price used car…chances are you'll end up rebuilding the front end anyway, including shocks.
Dealers/owners can reset/cancel all codes easily….they'll reset in the case of random misfires, etc., after a test drive where you run the car to redline in Drive. It should shift smoothly, not clunk. You should be able to feel it drop out of torque converter lockup in Drive when you give it light throttle at say 40-50mph…tachometer should go up 500 or so rpm without a thud and drop back 500 or so without a thud when you're cruising at 40-50 mph and it has gone through the gears.
You can get a code readout with your own vag-com (highly recommended if you plan on doing your own service on this elderly lady) or try a separate inspection that can cost you $100 or so at an independent.

What is your idea of super low mileage?
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:12 AM   #3
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Just to be clear I have done all the research on the forums regarding common problems but I am wondering what I can do at the dealership to give me the most insight.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:18 AM   #4
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check cargurus.com for pricing.
I'm always leery of dealer cars with extremely low mileage.
If the dealer sold the car and has all the service records you're generally in good shape (after you review the records!).
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:21 AM   #5
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It's all about the price. Figure about $1500.
Super low miles? Most likely the instrument cluster has been replaced.
TB service? Mileage irrelevant for a 16 y/o car.
Tie rods irrelevant on low price used car…chances are you'll end up rebuilding the front end anyway, including shocks.
Dealers/owners can reset/cancel all codes easily….they'll reset in the case of random misfires, etc., after a test drive where you run the car to redline in Drive. It should shift smoothly, not clunk. You should be able to feel it drop out of torque converter lockup in Drive when you give it light throttle at say 40-50mph…tachometer should go up 500 or so rpm without a thud and drop back 500 or so without a thud when you're cruising at 40-50 mph and it has gone through the gears.
You can get a code readout with your own vag-com (highly recommended if you plan on doing your own service on this elderly lady) or try a separate inspection that can cost you $100 or so at an independent.

What is your idea of super low mileage?
Its mid 30k mileage. This would be my weekend getaway car as I dont drive to work. For me this is a car vs bus and rentals play. At most I put 6-7k a year in mileage so if I can get 30k out of this car without the need for major serive I am basically making money. That said 16yr old gaskets are 16yr old gaskets its more of trying to get my moneys worth out of the engine and tranny without major work.

Ive owned 60s classic cars and the parts are stupid cheaper and the work is easy but it always needs something.

I had an 80s BMW for a while and it ran till I killed it. Then I parted it/

The rest of my experience is in Jeeps.

I do most of my own work but this is a platform I am not use to.

I make a good living so I can afford repairs and service but no point in dumping thousands into something with a kbb/nada value of 5500.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SloopJohnB@mac.com View Post
It's all about the price. Figure about $1500.
Super low miles? Most likely the instrument cluster has been replaced.
TB service? Mileage irrelevant for a 16 y/o car.
Tie rods irrelevant on low price used car…chances are you'll end up rebuilding the front end anyway, including shocks.
Dealers/owners can reset/cancel all codes easily….they'll reset in the case of random misfires, etc., after a test drive where you run the car to redline in Drive. It should shift smoothly, not clunk. You should be able to feel it drop out of torque converter lockup in Drive when you give it light throttle at say 40-50mph…tachometer should go up 500 or so rpm without a thud and drop back 500 or so without a thud when you're cruising at 40-50 mph and it has gone through the gears.
You can get a code readout with your own vag-com (highly recommended if you plan on doing your own service on this elderly lady) or try a separate inspection that can cost you $100 or so at an independent.

What is your idea of super low mileage?
1500 for what?
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:14 AM   #7
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check cargurus.com for pricing.
I'm always leery of dealer cars with extremely low mileage.
If the dealer sold the car and has all the service records you're generally in good shape (after you review the records!).
I checked and they didnt have pricing but thanks anyway
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:58 AM   #8
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Its mid 30k mileage.
There's no mileage inconsistancies in the car history? Carfax, auto check, or equivalent? 30k is highly suspect on a car that old.

edit: Just noticed you have the carfax. That's some crazy low mileage, I'm shocked.

Last edited by BeOhBe; 03-26-2014 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:54 AM   #9
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There's no mileage inconsistancies in the car history? Carfax, auto check, or equivalent? 30k is highly suspect on a car that old.

edit: Just noticed you have the carfax. That's some crazy low mileage, I'm shocked.
I know

The car fax has dealer service records going back more than a decade. First owner had it 3 years. 2nd had it the rest and was dealer serviced.

Could be an old couple with two cars and one didnt get used much.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:58 AM   #10
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I know

The car fax has dealer service records going back more than a decade. First owner had it 3 years. 2nd had it the rest and was dealer serviced.

Could be an old couple with two cars and one didnt get used much.
Contact them and find out, if possible. After I bought my A6 in Feb., I called the place listed by Carfax that had serviced my car for seven years. When I told them the make and model, they instantly knew the owner's name and said "oh, Mrs. Suchandsuch*? Yeah we know that car. What info do you need?". Gave me her name, full info on services, etc.
I contacted her via email (she's a local real estate agent, had a website with email link), asked her a few friendly questions, and all was good.

Too bad I'll never know what the person who owned it for a year between me and her did to it. I've found a couple shoddy DIY repairs. There's diy-right and diy-wrong, and they were for sure the latter.

*no, that's not her actual name

I'd try to find a Vag-com or OBD2 scanner and pull codes after the test drive. Research how to force readiness codes during a drive cycle, and try to do that during the test drive.

How much are they asking for it?

Last edited by BeOhBe; 03-26-2014 at 12:11 PM. Reason: changed reset to force
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Old 03-26-2014, 12:49 PM   #11
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Just to be clear I have done all the research on the forums regarding common problems but I am wondering what I can do at the dealership to give me the most insight.
Make sure the heater blows consistent hot air. You do not need to be fixing a plugged cooling system. Common on older Audi models. Drive it until the oil temp is up.

Check for that burning oil smell in the cabin that would indicate leaky seals. Easy fix if you are DIYer but expensive for the dealer to take care of. Make them fix it.

Test all of the doodads and operate all of them to see if they work properly.

Good luck. Sloopjb is spot on for the price. $1500 should just about do it. $2000 if you get to feeling froggy. Then jump.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:43 PM   #12
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Make sure the heater blows consistent hot air. You do not need to be fixing a plugged cooling system. Common on older Audi models. Drive it until the oil temp is up.

Check for that burning oil smell in the cabin that would indicate leaky seals. Easy fix if you are DIYer but expensive for the dealer to take care of. Make them fix it.

Test all of the doodads and operate all of them to see if they work properly.

Good luck. Sloopjb is spot on for the price. $1500 should just about do it. $2000 if you get to feeling froggy. Then jump.
If it's the one in Patterson NJ for $8K i'd roll over and die laughing.
I stand by the 1500-2000 price. Walk if they want more.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:02 PM   #13
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If it's the one in Patterson NJ for $8K i'd roll over and die laughing.
I stand by the 1500-2000 price. Walk if they want more.
On what planet do you guys live on where you can buy any clean low mileage car for $2000? You couldnt get a 98 camry with beat interior but mechanically straight for 2k. You can barely get a running parts bmw, mec, or audi for 2k?

Am I missing something? Is there something with the c5 A6 that makes it worth a third of book value?

If you think I am full of it go ahead and ebay search 500 miles of with a budget up to 4000 and less than 50k miles


Which of these 17 would you buy?

http://www.ebay.com/sch/Cars-Trucks-...C000%2520miles
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:09 PM   #14
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On what planet do you guys live on where you can buy any clean low mileage car for $2000? You couldnt get a 98 camry with beat interior but mechanically straight for 2k. You can barely get a running parts bmw, mec, or audi for 2k?

Am I missing something? Is there something with the c5 A6 that makes it worth a third of book value?

If you think I am full of it go ahead and ebay search 500 miles of with a budget up to 4000 and less than 50k miles


Which of these 17 would you buy?

http://www.ebay.com/sch/Cars-Trucks-...C000%2520miles

Or maybe this one with only 8 more years of age and 120k more miles....or should this guy be asking $150
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:18 PM   #15
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Or maybe this one with only 8 more years of age and 120k more miles....or should this guy be asking $150
http://forums.audiworld.com/showthread.php?t=2863594
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by NYCaudi007 View Post
On what planet do you guys live on where you can buy any clean low mileage car for $2000? You couldnt get a 98 camry with beat interior but mechanically straight for 2k. You can barely get a running parts bmw, mec, or audi for 2k?

Am I missing something? Is there something with the c5 A6 that makes it worth a third of book value?

If you think I am full of it go ahead and ebay search 500 miles of with a budget up to 4000 and less than 50k miles


Which of these 17 would you buy?

http://www.ebay.com/sch/Cars-Trucks-...C000%2520miles
I feel ya. I just paid 6k for an immaculate '04 A6 2.7t s-line with 135k. Sure, I paid too much, but it's exactly what I was looking for. Almost, anyway. I would have preferred a manual tranny and a black interior, but I got a tip in beige, which is nice too and as I said, it was very well taken care of.

I checked KBB on your car for my area, came up with $5200 (good condition). I don't know anyone that would even sell a c5 a6 with that mileage for less than 2k, regardless of year. That's trade-in value. Granted, yours is the first year of the c5's, and they made some improvements in later years, but still.

I understand SloopJohn's point, a 16 year old car is going to have issues, regardless of mileage. Rubber, sensors, and plastic deteriorates over time, and you're sure to run into issues for that alone. As immaculate as mine seemed, I'm running into issues with brittle vacuum hoses on my SAI system and a failing PCV system which seems to be the cause of a recent cam plug blow-out. Not to mention the replacement of all my front upper controls arms and new brake lines. The new brake lines were probably unnecessary, but considering it was throwing an emissions code when I took it to my mechanic, and he passed it for emissions anyway, I'm not upset in the least.

Bottom line is you're likely going to have issues regardless of mileage. Things that could be cheap to fix if you catch it early turn into very expensive fixes if you don't. I wish I had done more research before I bought mine. Do I have buyer's remorse for what I paid versus what I got? Not yet. I love my car. I paid right around KBB for what I got, and my only issues thus far are minor and easily fixed by anyone that knows how to turn a wrench.

That said, I wouldn't pay more than 4k for a 98 a6 2.8 with that mileage. Actually, you could certainly find more for less if you have the time to look around. Not with 30k mileage, no, but mileage tends to be less of an issue beyond ten years. Timing belt replacement is recommended at 75k OR 7 years. 7 years because rubber belts tend to dry rot with age, regardless of mileage. Spendy fix on an Audi if you pay someone to do it for you. Time consuming if you do it yourself. And wayyy more spendy if the belt actually snaps and does some gnarly damage.
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:25 AM   #17
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Or maybe this one with only 8 more years of age and 120k more miles....or should this guy be asking $150
I just ran the vehicle on KBB and got $2300 for good condition. It's your money. Make sure you are sure before you write the check. Good luck.
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:00 AM   #18
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I work for a car dealership and trade in in good shape would be over 2k. If anyone thinks they are going to buy one (in good shape) for $1500 you are crazy. I will admit we get plenty of people that think cars are worth far less then market value and make offers...and we kick them out. Let's stop giving the op bad pricing advice. I checked manheim and 2 with nearly 200k on them have recently gone thru and both sold for $1600. Of course he should only pay what he is comfortable with but if ANYONE knows where 30k cars in good shape with maintenance records and a clean car fax go for $1500-2000 you need to open a dealership and start selling them to the rest of us. Close rant
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:43 AM   #19
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Thanks all.....I was a little worried but it seems there are some similar minded people here and I appreciate the advice. I am in agreement that despite the low miles (which could be a sign of trouble)a 16yr old car is still going to have some issues.

KBB and Nada book both put it at 5200-5400 based on good to better condition and the car is immaculate since its been dealer detailed but the real question is the mechanics. Ill let everyone know how things work out.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:03 AM   #20
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I just ran the vehicle on KBB and got $2300 for good condition. It's your money. Make sure you are sure before you write the check. Good luck.
Did you switch from FWD to AWD when you got to powertrain options? It's set to FWD by default. And did you pick "from a dealer" or "from a private party" when it asks you that? I still come up with nearly 4k for the FWD from a dealer in good or better condition in the NYC zipcode. Do you live in Germany or something?

Here's what I get when I run a '98 A6 2.8l sedan with 30k in the 10011 zipcode:
http://www.kbb.com/audi/a6/1998-audi...icetype=retail

To the OP:
Whatever you do, don't fall in love with her on the lot.
At the very least, bring a generic OBD2 scanner, you can probably find one at Wal-Mart or equivalent for like $30. Could end up saving you a good bit of money, and if it's code free, you can always return the scanner when you're done using it.
If the dealer cleared a CEL, it will reset readiness codes. There are certain things you can do during your test drive that may help you pop a cleared CEL, giving you bargaining power when determining price. Especially since you live in a state that requires emissions inspections, and most CEL issues seem to be emissions related.


In the end, I completely agree with HuskerBob. It's your money, and the car is worth exactly what you're willing to pay for it. Best of luck!
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:03 AM
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