You probably already know what you’re in for by the title.
This is the story about how my new used car is killing my pocketbook. I don’t even have it safetied yet.
Let’s back it up a bit. This whole story started when I relocated to a smaller city for work. I was living downtown in my old city, and hadn’t really needed (although missed) a car. I sold my last one, a 2000 Acura EL for about half what I paid for it (I mean, I bought it for $2k, two years before so I was doing okay).
This time around I’d been shopping around, thinking that I might wish to get inside a new car - and did some thinking there, as well as used cars. Now, my credit’s still in rough shape from my younger years - so I figured right now it might be smarter to just buy a car cash.
I hadn’t really started shopping, but my new landlord in my new city mentioned he’d had a car he wanted to get rid of after I’d inquired if he might know of anything I might be interested in. He’d mentioned his wife’s / parent’s previous A4 that they still had, and wondered if I’d want to take a look. He wasn’t sure what he’d sell it for, so left it up to me to come up with an offer.
He dropped off the car for me, and I took it for a drive later that evening.
The reviews from the era were spot on in a number of ways, but of course - the car being a 2005 - the interior technology felt sort of dated. “That’s okay,” inner car me said, “it’s a fun ride, the turbo is addictive and there’s a little bit of fun to be had in tuning this car... No big deal.”
As I continued to possess the car, I’d got to know it a bit better - and the B6 platformed A4 is a fantastic feeling car. I know the B5 purists might disagree, and the BMW crowd continues to giggle as this story progresses.
I took the car to my preferred mechanic, for a PPI - explaining that I’d like to buy this car, and will need to know what it needs to get on the road. (Meaning the safety certificate. Stay tuned, this will be important in probably a few more paragraphs).
The mechanic originally quoted that it’d probably need some exhaust work, with a broken flexpipe and a cracked mid-pipe. No big deal. Only other glaring issue was the airbag light (connectors under the seat). These fixes, and the recommended timing belt job (it’s higher mileage, but very clean) put me at about $1500 CAD for the repairs to get it going.
This sounded agreeable, and fit my “budget” for a set of wheels to get me through. I’d agreed on a price of $3500 CAD to the seller, based on the PPI (pre purchase inspection) results - thinking this was a good safe bet, post inspection - at a shop that knows their VAG.
Once we got inside, this started to get more pricey.
I’d built in a higher repair budget, since of course - there’s a little bit of scope creep. What’s transpired so far, (yes it’s still transpiring) is a bit more than a little bit.
The entire downpipe needed replacing. So this was replaced. (Reason: Nowhere to weld)
From here - when putting the car back together, they’d noticed the radiator was leaking via a fin, and advised this couldn’t be repaired -so a radiator was purchased and replaced.
This was fine, as it’s a used car, right? When purchasing a used car, sometimes preventative (like the timing belt) makes sense.
We’re getting ready to settle, and I’m getting ready to pick up the car and this is where the safety gets important. We’d started this process with the expectation that we’d be at $1500 give or take (plus the preventative repairs) and that would get us through safety - since in Ontario, that’s required to transfer a vehicle registration.
The mechanic was calling me, just about the time I was ringing them, to let me know there was some... Other work... That needed to be done for the safety. Wipers, headlights (since they were foggy, which I knew - but was strangely not mentioned as a required safety item in their condition when I chose to purchase the car).
Anyway - I’ve not included the mechanic’s name in this story, because I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. Work costs money, and they’re the professionals. Ultimately, a lot of this stuff may not get picked up in the typical PPI, and while it worries me that It was a poor situation due to the difference of opinion on the PPI / safety results, and the spiralling cost has since worked out to $4500 in parts and labour.
The shop has been fantastic, and has knocked some labour off in various items, and has been really responsive and communicative. No faults there.
The craziest part, is that I still want the car. I don’t know what the right answer is, it’s bought, can’t be unbought. It’s had repairs done, can’t undo those.
And the clutch went as I was pulling into the driveway this evening. I’ll diagnose that tomorrow. Pushing it off the road was enough for tonight.
2005 Audi A4
$3500 purchase price
$4500 repairs (list below)
Exhaust Sleeve Clamp
Timing Belt Kit w / Water Pump
Valve Cover Gasket
Cam Tenionser Gasket
Rear Brake Hose
Parts total: $2083.84
Repair Wiring Under Front Seat
Replace exhaust pipe front (flex)
Replace timing belt / water pump
Camshaft + VC gaskets
HALF LABOUR - DV install
Perform Safety Inspection
Brake Hose install
Labour total: $1902.95
Why didn’t you do the work yourself?
A lot of this work I *could* have done if I’d have had the space set up, and the tools - but since I’d recently moved, and again lived in a high rise - this wasn’t something I own.
Why didn’t you get other quotes?
Timing mostly. Planned on going on vacation this up coming week, using the car to get there. That and the fact that most of these costs were uncovered AFTER the car was torn apart.
What are you going to do about that clutch?
I don’t know. Could use advice here. I feel like I need to fix it.