Vorsprung Durch Technik – Ahead Through Technology or in the USA Truth through Engineering! Strong words, but does it transfer to the cars? Let’s look at the top Audis and see are they worth it?
Audis are worth it, they are more expensive than the average car, the maintenance and repair costs are higher. However, the depreciation is lower than the average vehicle and the life expectancy of their vehicles is longer.
Audi is classed as a stylish, classy, superior German engineered car. They certainly have an allure about them but have also had some lows over the years. In this article, we look at reliability, cost, driveability, and how they compare to other luxury brands.
In the interest of laying my cards on the table, I should say I drive an Audi. I have owned Audi for years and while I have had some issues, I haven’t had any major ones. I love Audi’s understated business-like appearance and its handling. I believe them to be good honest cars, but hey read on and decide for yourself.
Cost Value and Depreciation
When we talk of worth, we have to consider the initial cost of the car. The average spend on a new car in the US is $38,000 – $41,000 and a used car is $23,000.
The entry-level A3 (the A1 has been discontinued due to high emissions from small cars) comes in at $33,000 and their most popular selling car, the Q3 coming in at $37,000. Everyone wants an SUV, they are outselling cars in the US by 2:1. Audi sold 27,251 units in 2020 of the Q3, up 84% from the previous year.
The e-Tron, Audi’s electric vehicle comes in at a whopping $77,400, and unfortunately is no match for the Tesla 3.
Their top-of-the-range R8 is an enormous $169,900 but this car is very much aimed at the niche market.
As with every model (and every brand) the more you up-spec your new car, the higher your initial cost will be. But are you getting bang for your buck with an Audi?
The answer is yes. In regards to interior luxury and technology, the Audi is better equipped than any of its counterparts. However, under the hood, Audi’s are basically the VW chassis. The A3 is in reality the VW Golf. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. The Audi design team has spent more time around the table discussing the luxury of the end product to give a sharper more upmarket feel and this is reflected in the cost.
In reality, Audis are well built, they are luxurious and stylish both inside and out. If you are set on owning an Audi I would recommend choosing a used model.
According to Caredge.com 2018 (3year old), Audi has a resale value of up to 65% but still has 75% life remaining.
|Model||Cost||3 Year Old||7 Year Old||10 Year Old|
There are other costs you need to consider when thinking about an Audi, such as running costs, maintenance, and insurance.
Running costs are to be considered no matter which brand you choose. These are items like tires, wiper blades, brake pads. Tires are going to cost on average $150- $350 per tire for an Audi, High-performance tires can be up to and above $500 per tire.
Wipers blades can cost up to $30 – $40.
Brake Pads, front and rear on a Q3 can cost up to $450 fitted.
The table below shows the cost of an Oil & Filter Service on various models and two different years.
Audi Oil Change
Insurance on any car is always dependent on age, location, driver history. Audi certainly tops the insurance table as above average. They are seen as luxury cars, but not sports cars. However, due to the high trim and interior, they are more expensive to repair after a wreck.
A 30-year-old with a good driving history can expect to pay $2200, but even as a 40-year-old the cost doesn’t reduce by much at $2009.
Audi represents a very small % of the US market share. In 2020, they sold 186,625 units, a 1.27% share, but that doesn’t mean they make unreliable cars, far from it. But when you’re up against the F-150s of this world, it’s hard to get a foot on the ladder, and more importantly, hold on.
Reliability is very important when buying a car. Especially when buying a used car. You want to be sure that all service history is up to date and all recalls have been completed.
Audis come with a 4yr / 50,000-mile warranty, which is more than the average 3 year / 36,000 miles to be found on most cars.
Although they have had problems in the past they now rank highly compared to other German brands, but not necessarily against other cars within their class. The problem with rankings is that we’re not really dealing with like for like. The ranking is based on the size or class of the car and the consumer reports on each model.
So, if we take an Audi for example, and a Ford, the Audi will have much more addon’s as standard, and this means more things for people to talk about (a complaint about) which in turn can skew the reliability scores. So, if you are going to look at JD Power for reliability scores you should compare the Audi with BMWs or Mercedes to get a true ranking score.
There are certain Audi years to avoid, particularly for specific models. The Audi A4 for example, although not Audis top seller, has been plagued with problems over the last decade. It may look like a bargain on the car lot, but if it’s too good to be true, it usually is, especially if the year is 2009 or 2011.
These are the worst years to buy. They are known to have oil leak problems with less than 80,000 miles and are also known for engine failure, which becomes very expensive repairs for a car that’s no longer in warranty.
We have to talk about Dieselgate if we are talking about reliability. Although Audi wasn’t directly involved in the whole debacle, they are ultimately owned by VW and have unfortunately been tarred with the emissions brush, no matter how hard they try to get away from it.
This was a recall for all models involved, but it was up to the owner to submit their car for the recall. Many owners didn’t as it was known to reduce the power of the vehicle. If you are considering buying an Audi from this era be sure to check the service history that this recall has been completed.
If you are considering buying a used Audi, I highly recommend that you check the service history. There are many companies available online that can give you lots of information about your prospective cars, such as service history, crash history, and finance owed on the vehicle. I use VinAudit.
Although the Audi reliability might not be as good as other brands, and we have discussed why that might be, there’s no taking from the driving experience. They are built with luxury in mind. They have an understated class and quality that as you sit into one, you can’t even put your finger on why you love it, you just do.
Audi doesn’t use leather, but high-end soft feel plastics. The seats and steering wheel are incredibly smooth and the ride is quiet and comfortable.
Audi is known for its technology. It’s what’s behind their brand slogan, after all. The new 2021 models have been given various upgrades to improve the driver experience.
The Q Range, as of 2021, has upgraded touchscreen technology. The Q3 has progressive steering, paddle shifters, and lane departure warning as standard. The Q7 now has collision preparation technology.
The A-Range has concentrated on the up-spec of the interiors, and the A5 and A6 now offer Black Optic Package as standard. They are more for aesthetics and certainly increase the style radar for the A Range.
The A4 now has Quattro 4WD as standard and has increased its HP by 13 and also has Apple Play as standard.
Repairs and Problems to Look Out For
Common problems that Audi run into are
- Excessive Oil Usage
- Engine Failure
- Timing Chain Issues
Excessive oil usage is a problem that has continued through many years of Audi. It’s a problem that occurs more in older Audis, but also in other brands. However, the problem with Audi’s excessive oil is that it appears as an issue below 70,000 miles.
The faulty design on the piston rings was allowing too much oil into the engine. Some customers reported the use of 2 quarts for every 1000 miles. Left unrepaired the pistons and rings would ultimately need to be replaced at a cost of up to $7,000. Audi has since revised this repair to replace PCV valves.
Engine Failure became a huge issue in early noughties A4 models. It’s unlikely that you would be rushing to buy a car of this age but it’s still important to mention, just in case. The 2002 model was the worst year with complete engine failure at around 60,000 miles, at a cost of $6-$8,000.
Timing Chain problems are predominantly connected with 2011 – 2013 models. Chains were introduced to replace belts within the engines as they were believed to be strong enough to last the lifetime of the vehicle.
However, Audi chains began to show signs of wear at 100,000 miles. Audi hadn’t allowed for this in the engine design, as the chain was buried behind the engine. This led to very high labor costs as the engine had to be completely removed.
On the upside, because VW owns Audi, many of the parts used in both brands are interchangeable. This reduces the cost of regular service parts and ultimately the cost of maintaining your Audi. Especially if you are a bit handy, and can do some of the regular service jobs yourself.
Comparing Audi to BMW and Mercedes
As one of the 3 main German brands, we’ll quickly take a look at how it compares to BMW and Mercedes. All three brands have numerous models in each category. BMW has long since been seen as the car for young men with plenty of money, whereas Mercedes is the other end of the scale with drivers as executives and golf club membership.
Audi has always held that understated luxury, owners wanting style and class, but not wanting to shout about it. Neither BMW nor Mercedes has the interior luxury of the Audi.
The Audi can be driven by young or old and suit either without question. Although Mercedes have recently upped their game, they still can’t quite meet the mark of Audi.
I would say there are a few things to look out for if considering a used Audi. Do your research and definitely take a few for a test drive. But are they worth it, oh yes!
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.