What To Look For When Buying A Used Audi A4

2017 Audi A4
2017 Audi A4

Audi is one of the largest German automakers. However, what makes Audi stand out from the crowd is its relative affordability for a luxury car that’s flush with the latest and the best in terms of interior finishing, safety features, technology assets, and exterior styling. But even the cheapest-priced Audi model can be out of reach for many. Thankfully, there is a way to enjoy this premium, luxury vehicle without breaking the bank; buying a used Audi A4!

The Audi A4 is a beautifully crafted car that is full of surprises and guarantees a fun ride. As a luxury sports sedan, Audi A4 can give you a real treat. It is equipped with numerous advanced technologies to keep you both entertained and safe while on the road.

This supercar focuses on sophistication and performance rather than convenience and versatility. And while the A4 equally stacks up pretty well when it comes to dependability, you still want to carefully inspect any potential A4 purchase before you can pull the trigger. This extensive guide discusses what to look for when buying a used Audi A4.

A brief history of Audi A4

German cars are known for their luxury. And Audi A4 is no exception. The A4 is arguably Audi’s most popular model, and for a good reason. Its prestigious taut and badge, tech-oriented features, and refined styling make it arguably the segment’s most desirable model. 

The invention of the Audi A4 gave life to the German brand and instantly became a best-seller after it was introduced into the market. That said, a hundred and twenty thousand units were sold in Germany only in its debut year. And due to the model’s elegant and sporty exterior, the sedan was up for a healthy rivalry with its Mercedes C class and BMW 3 series counterparts. But how has the A4 evolved over the years? Let’s find out.

First Generation Audi A4 (1996-2001)

2001 Audi A4 2.8
2001 Audi A4

The first generation of the A4 was a response to a rather dwindling brand reputation as well as an aging product lineup. It was a complete redesign of the brand’s premium sedan from the previous Audi 80. And though production started in 1994, the car couldn’t enter the American market until 1996.

That said, the first gen A4 model was fitted with a four-link front suspension which enhanced both the steering performance and handling. Based on the B5 Volkswagen platform, the A4 had a 1.8L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and front-wheel-drive as standard, with a 2.8L V6 and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system as optional upgrades.

A Tiptronic manually-shifted automatic based on the Porsche technology was also available, while a 5-speed manual transmission was also standard. It’s worth noting that the first A4 generation vehicles were plagued by serious drivetrain and transmission issues!

Second Generation Audi A4 (2002-2005)

2004 Audi A4 1.8T
2004 Audi A4 1.8T

The 2nd generation of A4 was launched in 2002 and featured a lighter and sleeker body and was based on the B6 platform. One of the significant alterations was the replacement of the Tiptronic automatic transmission with the CVT. There were several engine options, including an In-line 1.6L, 1.8L turbocharged, 2.0L, 2.4L, and 3.0L V6 engines.

The model had a relatively simple interior design, offering decent legroom for its rear seat passengers. Also, Audi offered three distinct body types for the A4, including two-door convertibles, a wagon, and a sedan. Ranked second-last in overall reliability rating, the second generation Audi A4s suffered significant transmission and engine concerns!

Third Generation Audi A4 (2005-2008)

2007 Audi A4

In 2005, the 3rd generation of Audi A4 was announced and was based on the B7 platform, popular for the production of longitudinal engines. It featured a refreshed exterior design, which was inspired by the Audi A6. And while it had a fairly bigger length overall, the wheelbase remained unchanged.

For the first time in the brand’s history, Audi equipped the A4 with Bluetooth connectivity and a colored navigation display. A new 3.2L V6 engine was also introduced, replacing the 3.0L V6 engine used in the previous generations of the model. The 6-speed manual and Tiptronic transmission replaced the 5-speed transmission options. According to consumer reports, the 3rd generation of the A4 is ranked dead last in overall reliability and suffered substantial fuel and engine system problems.

Fourth Generation Audi A4 (2009-2016)

2013 Audi A4
2013 Audi A4

The 4th A4 generation was presented in 2009, receiving a few changes to it as it was based on the B8 platform. The redesigned exterior featured a different grille and the wheelbase was slightly longer, resulting in a more spacious interior. Other notable additions included car computers and a new infotainment system. 

In the 2011 model year, electronic power steering was introduced, and Quattro A4 versions were fitted with 8-speed automatic transmissions. Overall, the B8 Audi A4 is a pretty solid vehicle. However, it comes with its fair share of problems, ranging from oil consumption to carbon buildup, among others. 

Fifth Generation Audi A4 (2017 to present)

The latest A4 model is based on the B9 platform and is slightly bigger compared to previous generations. It has a lightweight design due to the use of aluminum in its body and suspension. The B9 A4 had a new 248 HP version of its TFSI turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 4-cylinder 188 HP TDI turbodiesel.

In 2018, the new S4 arrived with a turbocharged 3.0L V6 349 HP replacing the previous engine. But today, an 8-speed is the default transmission in the S4 while the manual option is no longer available.

The 2020 model year witnessed an improvement to the A4 model with the typical cosmetic alterations, but the same standard powertrains. The vehicle is now equipped with LED headlights, a hybrid engine option, and modern safety features. The B9 is by far the best and most reliable generation of the A4. 

What are the worst Audi A4 model years?

Overall, the A4 is a fantastic car. It’s highly comfortable, safe, and reliable. However, this doesn’t spare the vehicle from bad production years. So, let’s dive deeper into the worst of Audi A4 years to stay away from. 

Overall, older Audi A4 models are more likely to encounter more problems compared to newer ones. The A4 models produced between 2007 and 2011 have had the poorest track record. In particular, the 2009 and 2011 A4 model years had the highest complaints, which range from low-reliability ratings to a huge number of vehicles being recalled!

It’s also worth pointing out the 2012 models received a great deal of criticism, mostly due to their relatively high oil consumption. Below are the years to avoid.

  • 2007: The 2007 A4 models have been consistently plagued by airbag, cooling, electrical, engine as well as vehicle speed control issues. 
  • 2008: 2008 Audi A4s experienced oil leakage, climate control as well as airbag issues. 
  • 2009: Oil leaks, frequent expensive repairs, and poor fuel economy are some of the most common issues experienced by 2009 A4 models.
  • 2011: Worst model year, these vehicles not only suffered significant mechanical failures but lacked fuel efficiency as well. 

What are the best Audi A4 model years?

Even though Audi A4 has had its share of problems since it was launched, not all model years are equally pathetic! In this regard, all A4 cars from 2013 onwards are widely considered to be more reliable with owners reporting very few problems that are not expensive to repair. In the last five years or so, there have only been a handful of recalls. 

And while you may still experience a few problems, the new models (2013) and above have an impressively-low number of owner-reported complaints. Overall, the 2020 Audi A4 is ranked as the best in terms of reliability, garnering a perfect predicted dependability rating of five (out of five)!

Audi A4 model years from 1996 to 2001 are also considered reliable. In particular, the 2001 models equipped with the 1.9 TDI are deemed more reliable due to their robust and performance-oriented motor. In fact, there are examples of them out on the road that has hit over 350,000 miles while keeping up with routine maintenance.

Their only major disadvantage is that they don’t have the same level of technology as some of the newer models.

2020 Audi A4
2020 Audi A4

How reliable is the Audi A4?

Luxury cars such as Audi A4 can make driving a highly unique experience thanks to the level of technology on offer. Unfortunately, the Audi A4 is not the most dependable, scoring 3.5 out of 5.0 for reliability. Regular maintenance and servicing can go a long way in extending your Audi’s overall lifespan.

A well-maintained A4 should run over 200,000 miles! So, if you choose the right A4 and give it proper maintenance, it’ll certainly bring you decades of fast, elegant motoring, with all the appeal of a vehicle with an upmarket badge!

What is the cost of a used Audi A4?

Prices for a used Audi A4 currently range between $3,000 and $55,000, with factors such as model year, current vehicle condition, and location playing a huge factor.

Do Audi A4 cars hold their value?

The A4 is a fairly reliable car, so even a used one will hold its resale value pretty well. An Audi A4 has a depreciation rate of around 30% in a five-year period. This means that you will be able to recoup more than half of your money after five years if you buy a new Audi A4.

Are Audi A4s expensive to maintain?

The Audi brand reeks of sophistication and luxury, and this often comes at a price tag! Audis are some of the finest cars available today and are built with premium quality materials intended to last an extended period. Audis are particularly enormously complex and expensive to fix and maintain. This is because it’s a combination of top-notch materials and meticulous engineering.

An Audi A4 will cost nearly $9000 in repairs and maintenance during its first ten years of service. And this somehow beats the industry average for luxury sedan cars by nearly $2,900! What’s more, there is also a high probability that an A4 will need a major repair during this period. That really is something to consider when you’re thinking of buying a used Audi A4.

Are Audi A4 vehicles good on fuel economy?

If you have fallen in love with the A4 but are worried about its overall fuel efficiency, its gas mileage is as high as 34mpg on the highway and 26mpg in the city. But these are not disastrous numbers, especially when you take into account the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that comes standard on all A4 models.

2012 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI
2012 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI

Should you buy a used Audi A4?

For flashy people like me, much of the appeal of a new luxury vehicle is the newness itself. When it’s not the latest car, it loses its taste. If you can afford it, a brand new Audi A4 model may be well worth your money. However, not everyone is happy to pay new-Audi prices.

As one of the best luxury brands across the globe, however, you don’t have to purchase a brand new Audi A4 to get a good car. This is because most of the A4 used models are highly reliable, and classy, and you still get many of the same luxury features. From a financial standpoint, buying a used Audi A4 can be the best route for you to own one of these premium-quality machines!