The fourth-generation (also called the B8) of Audi’s A4 launched for 2009 with new looks, tech and features, to once again battle comparable entry-luxury sedans from BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Volvo, Mercedes, and others. It was replaced in 2016.
This generation A4 uses a platform that enabled a more central center of gravity, which improved handling and balance. The Audi Modular Longitudinal Platform upon which the A4 is built also underpinned the A5 Coupe.
Feature content may include a navigation system, advanced key with engine start button, a CD changer audio system, premium stereo system components, adaptive xenon lights, climate controlled seats, automatic lights, automatic climate control and plenty more.
Look for sedan and wagon variants, the latter designated by the ‘Avant’ moniker. Most used units will run a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an automatic transmission and Quattro All Wheel Drive (AWD), though a 3.2-liter V6 engine was available with 265 horsepower, and some units were offered in front-wheel drive. A manual transmission was available, though finding one in the used market can be fairly difficult.
Consider the Audi A4 alongside its numerous competitors, including the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Cadillac ATS, Volvo S60, and others. It’s hard to go wrong with any of these entry-level luxury cars, though for a shopper after a relatively fuel-efficient luxury sport sedan that’s modern looking, easily had with AWD traction, and available in a wagon, the A4 may make plenty of sense.
Test Drive To-Do List:
#1: Check the Push-Button Start System
For various reasons, check that all included remote keyfobs are in proper working order, and that the push-button engine start system works as expected. A weak keyfob battery may wreak havoc with the A4’s smart-key system and a weak vehicle battery may prevent the engine start button from working consistently or from starting the A4 up quickly, if at all. If this system seems to be working poorly, start by having the keyfob batteries replaced, as well as having the vehicle charging system and battery inspected or replaced.
#2: Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI)
Thanks to a potentially-lengthy list of fairly easily-identified issues with this generation A4, shoppers are advised to consider a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) as a mandatory part of their shopping process. Have the seller meet you at the closest Audi dealer, or arrange to take the vehicle there yourself.
In about an hour and for about $120, a technician can check for signs of trouble. The trouble areas in question may include fuel injectors, fuel pumps, bad ignition coil packs, a leaky coolant pump, a bad power steering system, and more. Most of these issues are easy to spot and relatively easy to address, though they can cause fairly significant issues with drivability and reliability if left unattended.
Lumpy, inconsistent or sporadic performance from the engine or an odd, inconsistent feel to the steering, are key signs to seek further help from a technician.
#3: Make Some Assumptions, for Peace of Mind
Running fresh spark plugs and engine oil are important in any engine, and perhaps even more so in a turbocharged and direct injected engine, like the one found in most used A4 variants. Assume the vehicle you’re considering is overdue for an oil change and a new set of spark plugs, until you see documentation proving otherwise. Running past-due spark plugs and old engine oil can contribute to valve gunk deposits, commonly reported in this type of engine. Fresh plugs and oil, as well as consistent use of a top tier fuel and adherence to all factory prescribed maintenance as outlined in the owner’s manual, are vital to long and trouble-free engine life.
Read this twice: never, ever stretch the service life of the plugs or fluids in a car like the Audi A4.
#4: Talk to a Service Advisor About Oil Consumption
Some owners have reported excessive oil consumption in this generation of Audi A4 equipped with the common 2.0T engine. Your best defense as a used buyer is to check the engine oil level and condition ahead of your test-drive and to continue doing so on a regular basis during ownership. Though this problem seems more common on earlier models from this generation, be sure to advise your dealer service department of any noted oil consumption before the warranty runs out (if applicable), and confirm that it’s documented. Tell an Audi service advisor about your concerns regarding oil consumption if you’re considering an older model and ask them for the best course of action.
#5: Avoid the Mods
Many owners have modified their A4’s for more power and speed, which is fancy. Is the A4 you’re considering “chipped”? Tuned? Is it running non-factory computer management software? Or a non-factory turbocharger? What about a nitrous system? Thing is, any of the above can adversely affect the durability of all engaged components and may shorten the life of the powertrain. Moreover, these types of modifications, if improperly installed, can turn the A4’s engine into soup with little notice and most will void any remaining warranty coverage even if the parts or programming are set back to ‘stock’ before a visit to the dealer for a blown piston. Ultimately, the average shopper should stay away from a non-factory A4 whenever possible.
(Photo credit: George Achorn, Fourtitude.com)
Your Best Bet?: Shoppers set on a used A4 are advised to seek a newer model that’s never been modified, and one with as much remaining factory warranty as possible, for maximum peace of mind. With plenty of used copies available, and most of the A4’s problems being easy to diagnose and fix, a healthy used A4 with a mechanical thumbs up should provide worry-free access to one of the world’s most popular luxury sedans.
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