$70k Disposable Car

Disposable: designed for or capable of being thrown away after being used or used up.

I found this old post and I just thought of re-post it with update information.

Last few weeks, I took the A8, myself took a trip to Reno for some conferences. It’s been a long time since I drove the car (my wife daily driver), I was amazed at how nimble and smooth it drives regardless of 4000lbs specs. The car is quiet, powerful, comfortable and totally predictable to the wet road and snow. I looked at the odometer, 169k miles, wow, what a car. My wife has been telling me that her average mileage was consistently at 20mpg.

It’s a 1998 A8, the  original sticker price is $72k, fully loaded. We got this car on July 4th 2004 (which was 6 year old) with 107k miles for $11500. It’s been the best car ever for us. My wife now will not buy any car until her A8 is dead or requires a great deal of money to fix. Well, it’s practically a disposable car now. I looked at craigslist to see how old A8s are selling, 98-99 in CA, people can’t give them away for $5k with 120k miles or less.

1997 A8 doesn’t have tiptronic, 1998-1999 some have transmission problems, 2000-2003 new front and interior changes, 40V engine.

To me all cars cost money to drive, the best cars are the safe one, beautiful to look at, fun to drive and cost the least money. My A8 & A6 are the best ones so far for me.

Why do I emphasize on DISPOSABLE car? Because if you don’t, it will ruin your bank account(s), but if you know what to look for, you will have the best disposable car for your family to enjoy for years and they will never go back to any other cars. So disposable A8 or A6 are cars for us to drive until they die or be donated.

I wanted to write about these wonderful disposable cars for a long time. Now, it’s holidays and I have some spare time, I’ll finish this one sometimes this holidays.

Most of A8 owners kept their car very well except some junk ones, we need to screen out the bad ones and get the good ones. The cars are built to sell for $70k-100k, the quality is given, my 12 year old 170k miles car is more comfortable and quieter than my friend’s newer Accord, Infinity G35, Acura TL and it’s not required snow chains on the Sieras.

Like I said before, I like the facts that all my friends mechanics tell them to stay away from Audis and buy BMW & Mercedes because actually their cars break down more, but because they are BMW and Mercedes, fixing these cars is given and they accept without questioning, how ironic. Let them be, the more people are afraid of Audis, the cheaper are our disposable cars.

When you have time, go drive a 10 year old any kind of car with 170k miles lexus, infinity, acura, mercedes, bmw and our A8, none will beat the performance, comfort and safety of our A8.

How do we calculate the cost of driving our A8, A6?

Who should get these wonderful Disposable Audis?

Everything needs planning and a goal, all expensive cars with tons of electronics and options will have more chance to fail because what’s made to fail, will fail, the question is WHEN. So, in our experience with these Audis, these are things an owner should have.

1. A windows os laptop with serial or usb port for VAG-COM. We need this wonderful device to reset and check the whole electronics of the car.

2. A will to do something for the car yourself. Good techs will charge $100/hour for labor, even a simple thing.

3. The strength to let go of the car when it became a money pit when you got a wrong one.

4. Stay away from Dealers & Cheap Audi shops because it’s a disposable car.

5. Like to read and have some common sense, because when things fail, audiworld, quattro world, audi pages must be read and understand the content.

FINDING THE BEST CAR FOR THE MONEY

Here are the lists of things NORMALLY fail at a certain mileages and vary depends upon where we live or the car’s been.

Suspension.

A8 has the best ride (at least IMO and others who moved from Japanese cars BMW to Audi) because the suspension consists of many control arms, front, rear, upper, lower and NOT just a shock and a coil. So, we’ve changed our 98 at 110k-115k miles and the 2000 A8 @ 130k miles. We can get the whole set on the ebay for less than $400.00 if you look hard. Dealer would charge $100-250 a piece. When different control arms fail, the symtomps are different, but clunking noise is normally the one.

Oil Cooler Pipe

We replaced our 98 A8 @ 160k miles, the 2000 A8 @ 130k miles. This plastic oil cooler pipe causes the coolant to leak slowly. $50 dollar set, but labor is intensive, should do this when the timing belt and water pump and thermostat are replaced.

Timing belt, waterpump, thermostat

These things are relative when they should be replaced. Our 2000 A8 at 130k miles, the belt, waterpump are still good, the thermostat failed because the owner put “fix leak” into coolant attempt to stop plastic coolant pipe leak, our 98 waterpump doesn’t fail even at 160k miles. A few people change them at 90k, 100k, 105k, this job is extremely important to have someone who do the job carefully and well. If not, the car can be ruined by not very competent shops.

Transmission

98-99’s A8 seemed to have transmission failures in the 100k miles range which result in transmission rebuilt. Our 98 A8 had it changed @68k miles. My brother had his done @ 130k. So when we get these 98-99, we roll the dice. I don’t believe all 98-99 will fail, the percentage of failures may be high. Our 2000 is running strong @ 130k now.

Other than these big things, we have no other problems with the car that we see so far.

All cars are easy to buy, but very hard to sell because when we buy, we have money and we’re hot for the car. When the car has problems then we want to sell, it’s extremely difficult to find a buyer for “our troubled car”. A8 is a very beautiful and wonderful driving car, so watch out when we test drive them, especially if you haven’t been in any of them before. You will fall inlove with the first one you drove (it’s proven with many of my family members). Even if the car has problems, it still may drive extremely well because it’s built to sell for $70k and not 20k or 40k. So, how do we find these least troubled cars or even troubleless cars? What do we look for? You can bring the best mechanics with all tools and knowledge, you still may get a wrong one because everything is controlled electronically, the intermittent problems are often the case.

LOOK FOR THE OWNER.

 Find the car that owned by honest and responsible owners. There are many A8 owners like that around. Many A8 ownners are actually respectable people, who are either enthusiats or above average people. These people wouldn’t cheat you for a few hundreds or thousands of dollars. They have their integrity to uphold, that’s why they’re above average and drive $70k cars.

Avoid wishy washy sellers who pretend to forget about everything about the cars, receipts. I will not buy any car from anyone who only has 1 key for the car, or own the car less than a year.

I rather to pay more for a car from an honest owner who would tell me the car make noise every summer than an owner who claims his/her car doesn’t need anything but sells cheaper and lost all their service receipts.

Pay more for the car that’s well kept and original over a real cheap one that needs work and modified. The original A8 is great, you don’t need garage engineers to modify brakes, suspension, engines to make it better, avoid these with all costs.

Our cars are 13 & 15 years old and the door panels have never been opened, brakes pistons are original, shocks are still old. Audis are built to last if they owned by the right owners. Everything works.

Choose the car with the most options: warm weather package and cold weather package, navigation (2000+), L(2000+), parking sensors (2000+), xenon, outside chromatic mirrors, Bose.

Since it’s going a disposable car, find the best one and hope it will last a few years before you donate it. If it costs $2k a year/10k miles to drive this car, then it’s a good price. So, if you pay $6k for a 2000 A8, it should last you at least 3 years or 30k miles without major costs, it’s a good deal.

Test drive the car at night and cold to hear all the noise because day time is very noisy, it’s hard to hear the clunking, the suspension being loose, the trannie making noise and the ride is more comfortable in the warm weather than cold.

Many people would love to buy cars that have brand new tires, but I’m extremely suspicous about new tires, I bought my cars when the tires only have a few thousand miles left, all the tires wear out evenly (no alignment or shocks or suspension problems), I still got the discount for the tires and a peace of mind, this one did save me tons of money on possible shocks and alignments or even frame damaged car.

What do we have to do with our Audis while driving it daily?

Put gas when it’s low, top the engine oil when it’s low, when things fail, fix them and believe it or not, they don’t fail often.

DISPOSABLE IDEA.

It costs money to drive cars period (except some exotic cars that may make money after years), the question is how much it cost to drive the one we want to drive. If I get to drive a $70k car for $2k a year or 20cents/mile of depreciation, I’m happy. Therefore the cost of maintenance and fixing must be minimal.

1. I paid $10,300 for my 96 A6 Avant in 2003 with 78k miles. Now (11/2013) it’s still running and has 151k miles. It’s paid for and depreciated fully, now we use it to the long term parking airport, Home Depot or Lowes for gardening stuff. We used it to go skiing in heavy snow many times, wonderful car. The cost of maintenance and fixing is practically none (read the A6 category). Yes, we have to get new tires and brakes. Never once got stranded anywhere.

2. I paid $11,500 for our 98 A8 in 2004 @107k miles, I sold it in 2011 for $1000 with 175k miles on it. Again, the cost of maintenance and fixing was less than $500/year. Yes, we have to get new tires, brakes. Never once got stranded anywhere.

3. This year March 2013, we bought a 2006 A8L for $17000 @73k miles, sticker price originally was $81k, Audi has been keeping the resale values higher, therefore we had to pay more for the car. It’s been a wonderful 10k miles so far. If this car can make it just like the 98 to 175k miles without any major problems, it will be our 3rd disposable Audi.

*** REMEMBER: Audi only fails when it’s “mis-used” or “mis-fixed” (mechanics errors), the more times you take to the shops for maintenance, the more chance of “mis-fixed” will occur – the problem is, when it’s wounded, it will never be the same. ***

Maintenance for Disposable cars.

1. Change oil once a year – but check oil every month and top it up when necessary. 

2. Drive nicely and enjoy the car – 

3. When the gas mileage drops 2 MPG average, clean or change air filter and spark plugs (use iridium for 50-60k miles).

4. Check coolant – should never have to top up, but top up if needed when cold.

5. Drive nicely and enjoy the car.

6. If it works, don’t fix it. My wife always wants to be an “ideal car owner” and ask “should we fix or do something with the car? It’s been a year now…”. Yeah, Yeah… I’ll do something, washing it.

Cheers,


2 Replies to “$70k Disposable Car”

  1. just picked up a nicely loaded 2006 a8l. love the car. it’s nice like a private jet. 9 years age in a south florida, inland garage has treated it well. doing the usual acquisition change all fluids/filters/etc and I’m liking more and more what I find about the car. One addd surprise is the quality of the Bose sound system with mastered CDs – it’s like a 7 channel stereo system and the surround sound is optimized better than most home stereo systems. I’m wondering now if it will play SACD because of the MOST optical connections. I’ve loving it.

    How do you remove the 1156 DRL bulbs from the headlight bucket? I have the back off but the plastic “T” I don’t understand. do I twist the T, pull and twist the T, just pull the T, or some other process to pull the 1156 bulb from the back of the headlight? Surely, you can’t reach inside and remove the bulb from the front… or do you ?

    1. You need to twist the “T” counter clockwise and it will release. A little tight, but it’s doable, 2 strong fingers should do.
      To make it a perfect disposable, don’t try to make it into a perfect car, it will cost you. Just enjoy it, fix whatever you can without spending money. My 2006 A8L bought it in April 2013 @73k now 112k miles, only 2 sets of brakes pads and tires… Amazing car. Good luck and enjoy it.
      Cheers,
      Louis

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