Looking to buy an S4 Avant, advice please.

CrypticS3

Registered User
Hi all,

So short version of the story goes like this. Bought an S3 to get me out of a bind last year. I'd previously bought an X-Type Estate for the missus to daily and to lug around some big stuff when required. Missus started using S3 as a daily when I went offshore and upon my return had claimed it has her own. My reaction was something like :wtf: she however :whip: I argued :gun2: she retaliated :slapped:.......... Needless to say all my efforts with the S3 were for nowt and she nicked it.

Anyway I shall have the last laugh... wait :blink:... she will... ******.

The X-Type has long been forgotten and isn't getting any use and due to lack of interest I'm getting shot of it. The S3 is too small for our needs and that too will be sold later down the road. Enter the need for another comfortable estate that she can daily and I can lug stuff around at high velocity when needed. Also she hates my daily... So if I have to 'go go gadget Chauffeur hat' then it has to be something I can have fun with too.

Been looking at B8.5 S4 Avant's and not finding much on the market fitted with a manly gearbox so guess I'll have to submit to the world of bored left foot and flappy paddles. Been looking at a few but there is one in particular that I've got my eye on. But... it seems a little overpriced for its mileage, unfortunately it's the only one I can see with the 'Sport Diff' option. I know that it's just something 'I' want but would like to ask how critical do the experienced owners think it is compared to not having it and just having Drive Select for those times when you have to get back from Tesco before the Ice Cream reaches melting point (that's my excuse anyway). And would you consider having the 'Sport Diff' option worthy of holding a significant premium against lower mileage cars without it?

Also when going to look at cars is there anything you would recommend I watch out for mechanically, especially regarding the S-Tronic, or other 'must have' options?

Ok enough :blahblah1:

Many thanks for making it this far and look forward to joining you all in this section soon
 

Dippy

Registered User
Yes sports diff is rare and so cars with it can potentially command a premium. I could go on about how good sports diff is but only you can decide if it is a must-have option and you can only really judge that with test drives. I did loads of test drives a few years back when I was looking for a used S5 and so the benefits of sports diff and damper control became very apparent to me.

It is very much the DL501 gearbox that you need to be wary of. There were 3 versions of this 'box. The first was fitted to 2009/10 cars and seems to have had the most problems. The second version came in sometime in 2011 I think, but didn't completely solve the problems. Then the current one came in 2012 or possibly 2013 and although it is impossible to declare that it is fault-free, there are very few reports of problems on the web.
 

longp2

Registered User
I have recently sold my S4 after 5 great years, for me there were a few must haves - sport diff, damper control, red and black super sports seats and the tech pack. Luckily I was in a position to buy new so specified the car exactly as I wanted it.
My only advice would be to drive a few and make sure it's been well maintained. I had mine serviced every year, put over 50k miles on it and it did not miss a beat.
With regards to mileage, I suppose it depends on how many you plan to put on it but again, a good service history is key and you can always buy a warranty if you're concerned about big bills.
Good luck with the search and enjoy the car when you get it.
P.S let me know once you get it, if you need a set of winter wheels or a roof rack - sorry, had to get that in!
 

longp2

Registered User
I sold mine via tootle to an independent dealer down south and got 2k over the trade in price that I was offered against my new car!
 

jdp1962

Grumpy Old Man
After almost two years of ownership, I have to say if there is one single option that gives me the best sense of satisfaction for having chosen, it's the sports differential. Don't be fooled into thinking it only makes its presence felt when driving on the edge. It's working all the time to make the front end turn in quick and tight.
 

Dippy

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So much interest lol, maybe I should've tried to sell privately!
Possibly not a good comparison but a dealer offered me £500 trade-in for my tuned B5 S4. I sold it privately for £3000 to an enthusiast I contacted via a car forum.
 

Dippy

Registered User
Yep amazing how many people have been looking for an avant with Sports Diff this week. :D

After almost two years of ownership, I have to say if there is one single option that gives me the best sense of satisfaction for having chosen, it's the sports differential. Don't be fooled into thinking it only makes its presence felt when driving on the edge. It's working all the time to make the front end turn in quick and tight.

Yes, an S4 with sports diff is almost as good as an S5 with sports diff :)

(Or maybe I'm being a bit generous with that statement?)
 

V6_Man

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Yes, an S4 with sports diff is almost as good as an S5 with sports diff :)

(Or maybe I'm being a bit generous with that statement?)

Maybe you were a bit generous @Dippy. An S4 is slightly better


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Carlos85

Registered User
How prolific were the gearbox failures on the early cars? It's difficult to gauge how big the problem has actually been, were there any fix's that people have had done to prevent the issue from occurring at all? I have seen a couple of 09 plated very low mileage examples with very high spec that I am tempted by but it's very difficult to tell how big the problem is! Sorry for the hijack...


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arad85

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Yes, an S4 with sports diff is almost as good as an S5 coupe with sports diff :)
There... corrected that for you :D
 

V6_Man

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There... corrected that for you :D

Hahahaha


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V6_Man

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Perfect now @arad85


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V6_Man

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Hmmm call me cynical, but a couple of new members in the past few days, all posting on threads with lots of links to DSR leasing!
Coincidence ???

Read another post (screenshot below) where we have a 'happy customer' who bought his car through them. Sounds ....

c5b34a129842e2d8437a3458d9c9e92b.png



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Hmmm call me cynical, but a couple of new members in the past few days, all posting on threads with lots of links to DSR leasing!
Coincidence ???

Cynical? No, when you see them together, certainly does appear suspicious !

!
 

Cerbera9

Registered User
How prolific were the gearbox failures on the early cars? It's difficult to gauge how big the problem has actually been, were there any fix's that people have had done to prevent the issue from occurring at all? I have seen a couple of 09 plated very low mileage examples with very high spec that I am tempted by but it's very difficult to tell how big the problem is! Sorry for the hijack...


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If in doubt budget to change the DSG oil, the service interval is every 36k I think but I did mine at 29k and the gearbox is noticeably smoother.
 

CrypticS3

Registered User
Nice to hear that the later models S-Tronic issues aren't as common as the first ones. Saw one for sale close to me but it's not very well specced and has some bad paintwork done on the front. Dealer is on crack regarding the price he's after. Anyway might still go for a test drive just to see what's what.

@longp2 I believe the one I keep coming back to is your old one. The missus isn't keen on the red interior but I'm hoping that the colour isn't as bright as the pictures make out. If you wouldn't mind could you give me a little more history of your ownership?

@Keef Wouldn't know your car if it came up but as above maybe a little run down on the car would be helpful and if you or anyone else see's it come up then post a link.

I'm looking as much as I can but after 6 weeks offshore I'm run off my feet with outstanding jobs around the house.
 

Dippy

Registered User
How prolific were the gearbox failures on the early cars? It's difficult to gauge how big the problem has actually been, were there any fix's that people have had done to prevent the issue from occurring at all? I have seen a couple of 09 plated very low mileage examples with very high spec that I am tempted by but it's very difficult to tell how big the problem is! Sorry for the hijack...

There are polls and threads over on Audizine which provide some data, but it annoys me that rarely have those who reported gearbox failure give information about when any maintenance was done. I suspect that for a significant number of the reported failures, delayed oil changes may have contributed.

As you may have seen others comment, the trouble is that on web forums we learn about the failures without knowing the failure rate and that gives the impression that it is much worse than it probably is. I have seen reports from owners of 2009/10 cars with significant mileage who have not had any gearbox problem. However for the 'boxes that have failed, many have done so after only a few years, and so it is reasonable to compare reported failure rates for cars aged between 2009 and 2013/4 and see that the failure rate seems to drop dramatically.

I think if you are interested in a 2009/10 car then make sure that it has been serviced properly (get proof that the gearbox was done) and test drive it carefully - there is plenty of advice on the 'web as to how the 'boxes behave as they start to develop problems. But the bottom line is that if you aren't going to be able to afford it if the 'gearbox fails then it might be best not to buy one of these older cars.
 

Keef

Registered User
@CrypticS3
Just spoke to my local dealers, apparent my old S4 was sold before they had even prep'd it for photos! Shame as I wanted to see how much they listed it for.
 

Carlos85

Registered User
There are polls and threads over on Audizine which provide some data, but it annoys me that rarely have those who reported gearbox failure give information about when any maintenance was done. I suspect that for a significant number of the reported failures, delayed oil changes may have contributed.

As you may have seen others comment, the trouble is that on web forums we learn about the failures without knowing the failure rate and that gives the impression that it is much worse than it probably is. I have seen reports from owners of 2009/10 cars with significant mileage who have not had any gearbox problem. However for the 'boxes that have failed, many have done so after only a few years, and so it is reasonable to compare reported failure rates for cars aged between 2009 and 2013/4 and see that the failure rate seems to drop dramatically.

I think if you are interested in a 2009/10 car then make sure that it has been serviced properly (get proof that the gearbox was done) and test drive it carefully - there is plenty of advice on the 'web as to how the 'boxes behave as they start to develop problems. But the bottom line is that if you aren't going to be able to afford it if the 'gearbox fails then it might be best not to buy one of these older cars.

Thanks for the info that's more or less what I haw. Found but as you say it's difficult to ascertain how often it actually happens when all you do is hear about bad ones. Both the cars I have seen are only on 20 odd thousand miles so I wouldn't expect they have been done but it's what I would budget to have done and then maybe just have it changed every 2-3 services.

It's not so much that I can't afford to fix it if it breaks but I would just like to know the odds if you will to give myself a better understanding of the likelihood. I will take a test drive and just go from there really and see what they are like as you say there's info to see what to look out for out there... thanks for the info!


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longp2

Registered User
Nice to hear that the later models S-Tronic issues aren't as common as the first ones. Saw one for sale close to me but it's not very well specced and has some bad paintwork done on the front. Dealer is on crack regarding the price he's after. Anyway might still go for a test drive just to see what's what.

@longp2 I believe the one I keep coming back to is your old one. The missus isn't keen on the red interior but I'm hoping that the colour isn't as bright as the pictures make out. If you wouldn't mind could you give me a little more history of your ownership?

@Keef Wouldn't know your car if it came up but as above maybe a little run down on the car would be helpful and if you or anyone else see's it come up then post a link.

I'm looking as much as I can but after 6 weeks offshore I'm run off my feet with outstanding jobs around the house.

I've sent you a PM. Tell your misses that my misses picked the seats and they look great!
 

CrypticS3

Registered User
@CrypticS3
Just spoke to my local dealers, apparent my old S4 was sold before they had even prep'd it for photos! Shame as I wanted to see how much they listed it for.

Damn, bet the dealer was over the moon. Cheers anyway
 

CrypticS3

Registered User
I've sent you a PM. Tell your misses that my misses picked the seats and they look great!

Thanks mate. Have replied
 

CrypticS3

Registered User
Ok all. Not long back from having my first test drive in an S4 Avant so..... First impressions.

Engine, Great. Liked the noise if not a little quiet (easily sorted) and liked the power delivery. I come from a long line of turbocharged cars and found the access to the power way down in in the rev range to be a nice change. Also reading up and finding that a lot more power is available from a simple Stage 1 remap is almost enough to confirm my choice in next car to be a good one.

Gearbox, Hmmmmm. This one troubled me a little. Have done some reading and contrary to what the guy selling the car has said it would seem like the 7 Speed S-Tronic is a dual clutch yet it didn't feel as responsive as I would have expected in both manual and sport mode. Now I'm very new to this auto/flappy paddle nonsense so forgive my ignorance but it felt like the gearbox was only in it's Sport mode whilst left to its own devices, using the paddles didn't seem to make it feel any more urgent and certainly didn't respond in the way I would expect it to to the point that it felt sluggish in the way it responded to commands. Now I'm not claiming to be Colin McRae here but it just didn't feel like it was shifting any faster than I could myself on a spirited run but I will concede that I didn't feel a loss in forward acceleration between gears which you would in Three Pedal Man mode. I'm guessing that I was probably using my ears too much and not the bum dyno. Again I'm new to this so it's probably just me. Any more info on the gearbox is very welcome. There was no jerkyness and from everything I've read it didn't feel like it had any of the symptoms a bad box would give. Though it does have 35k on it so will need an Oil change pretty soon.

Ride/Comfort, can't complain. Car was sitting on 20" Peelers which looked very nice in anthracite with the White Paintwork (Think it was Arctic white as it was metallic, could be wrong) and was sitting very flush. Close inspection found all the arches to be rolled. Car didn't have the Active Dampening and combined with those wheels it was stiffer than I'd originally imagined but it was still comfortable and very stable when pushing it through the bends. Can only imagine that having the Active Dampening and a set of 19's with better tires will go a long way to helping iron out the bumps. As much as I'd like to go the coilover route and have it sitting pretty it's not why I'm buying a car like this. It's a daily for her and so comfortable it has to stay.

Interior, Nice. All black leather, This one has the Carbon Inlays which look great but I'd prefer the black if I'm honest. Super Sport seats were comfortable but these ones weren't heated so another nail in the coffin as far as the better half is concerned. Had the rail system in the boot which looked handy but not really necessary for me. Window tints in the rear but seems to be aftermarket as I wouldn't expect factory tint to be that dark on the rear screen. It's a marvellous sunny day today and still had to really look to get the full picture out the rearview.

This Particular car, if you're looking at it then steer clear if you ask me. As above, non standard wheels with rolled arches, drivers front arch liner isn't sitting correct and the screw is missing on that side. Drivers side front arch already has a rust bubble and the rear drivers side isn't far behind as it looks like the paint was split when the arch was rolled. Bad paintjob on the front and the dealer has no info as to why other than for touching up stone chips, I'm calling BS. Passenger Front wing has a very bad touch up mark which looks like it was applied by a 2 year old. Paintwork requires a major correction detail and the trim in the boot is all scuffed and marked. Needs disks all round but the dealer said he'd get them skimmed and wasn't too happy when I challenged him on this as they are heavily lipped. Has a good Audi service history and drives well but not good enough for the asking price. Car is in Inverness.

Sorry for this long post but really just trying to both convey my first time with one whilst giving out info about this particular car to anyone who is thinking of buying it, and also to fish for more info regarding the Gearbox and its operation.

Cheers
 

arad85

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If you're stage-1'ing it, also do the s-tronic remap. Streets ahead of the standard Audi tune IMHO.
 

V6_Man

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I agree with @arad85 on this. On stock my paddle shift seemed no good at all and I'd have to put it in Sports to overtake regardless of how much you downshift. The power to me didn't feel instant enough. I can confidently say that with the S-Tronic remap, the pick and power delivery is right there where you need it and equal to Sport on Stock if not better (guess I am being generous here ).


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arad85

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I've dropped into S mode probably 2 or 3 times since I've had mine back (2 weeks ago). I reckon I was doing it once or twice a day before.... And those 2 or 3 times I probably didn't need to.
 

V6_Man

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You mean since the remap?


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arad85

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Yup. No need to drop into S... I do most of my overtaking at 50mph+ and 50->70 <cough> is stupidly quick in D even only dropping into 6th (or it maybe 5th, not checked). Just how much of an animal do you need it to be?
 

arad85

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PS. The way the DSG responds is going to be totally gearbox remap dependent. I think APR is way better than stock, no idea what others maps are like...
 

V6_Man

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Believe we need to drive each others' cars to understand the difference . TBH, since I bought the car and apart from the first few weeks I have been using paddles and I love it. And left foot braking is perfect now as well. Early days of LF braking used to remind me of when I would take my wife on driving lessons and get annoyed on the emergency brakes she would apply on every traffic light / stop. Was like that for first few months.

I used to put it in S only when it was stock and have tried it only twice since the remap just to see how it responds. I am very happy with response I get when downshifting in manual. As I said it is as good and the same as S in stock. Also noticed that I don't get the downshift 2->1 jerk anymore. Overall, I believe the DSG tune makes a huge difference and one should definitely go for it.


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CrypticS3

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Sooooo. Late update. After much debate (or more likely wearing down) I have convinced the better half that a splash of red on the interior isn't that bad. So it looks like I can make further enquiries into @longp2 's car. Specced perfectly for me although the miles are a little high for what I was looking for, at least it is a known car, been well looked after and will stay in the group if I do pull the trigger on it. Just got to make a call and see what we can do. All going well I will book a flight and maybe give MRC a call. It is on the way home after all. Wonder if I'd have time for a cheeky Stage 1 and Box map :sly:
 

Dippy

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Gearbox, Hmmmmm. This one troubled me a little. Have done some reading and contrary to what the guy selling the car has said it would seem like the 7 Speed S-Tronic is a dual clutch yet it didn't feel as responsive as I would have expected in both manual and sport mode. Now I'm very new to this auto/flappy paddle nonsense so forgive my ignorance but it felt like the gearbox was only in it's Sport mode whilst left to its own devices, using the paddles didn't seem to make it feel any more urgent and certainly didn't respond in the way I would expect it to to the point that it felt sluggish in the way it responded to commands. Now I'm not claiming to be Colin McRae here but it just didn't feel like it was shifting any faster than I could myself on a spirited run but I will concede that I didn't feel a loss in forward acceleration between gears which you would in Three Pedal Man mode. I'm guessing that I was probably using my ears too much and not the bum dyno. Again I'm new to this so it's probably just me. Any more info on the gearbox is very welcome. There was no jerkyness and from everything I've read it didn't feel like it had any of the symptoms a bad box would give. Though it does have 35k on it so will need an Oil change pretty soon.

What year was the car? As well as improving the reliability of the DL501 over the years, Audi also improved the control. There were TCU FW updates for the early 'boxes. Although my memory of my test drives is fading, I'm sure I did notice the difference in response between the ages of some of the cars I drove. I'll readily admit that I'm not the best clutch user (I did scrunch the gears of my B5 S4 a few times) but there is absolutely no way that a manual S5 could shift as fast as my s-tronic S5.

Believe we need to drive each others' cars to understand the difference . TBH, since I bought the car and apart from the first few weeks I have been using paddles and I love it. And left foot braking is perfect now as well. Early days of LF braking used to remind me of when I would take my wife on driving lessons and get annoyed on the emergency brakes she would apply on every traffic light / stop. Was like that for first few months.

I used to put it in S only when it was stock and have tried it only twice since the remap just to see how it responds. I am very happy with response I get when downshifting in manual. As I said it is as good and the same as S in stock. Also noticed that I don't get the downshift 2->1 jerk anymore. Overall, I believe the DSG tune makes a huge difference and one should definitely go for it.

Be careful when comparing your car to @arad85 's. He has the APR TCU remap which changes the shift points. Our MRC TCU remaps don't. So whilst our cars in D can wait until the redline to shift, they will only do that at full throttle. At less than full throttle they will change up at the Audi stock shift points. In contrast @arad85 's car will always (I believe) shift at much higher revs even in D. If I ever need to go back to MRC for an ECU map tweak, I might ask if they can also change my TCU shift points.
 

arad85

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Be careful when comparing your car to @arad85 's. He has the APR TCU remap which changes the shift points. Our MRC TCU remaps don't. So whilst our cars in D can wait until the redline to shift, they will only do that at full throttle. At less than full throttle they will change up at the Audi stock shift points. In contrast @arad85 's car will always (I believe) shift at much higher revs even in D.
Fair point. Well made.

I've not really looked at rpm values on changing up/down, but the box definitely feels to be "doing the right thing" 95% of the time whereas before, I felt it was more like 60% of the time.
 

V6_Man

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What year was the car? As well as improving the reliability of the DL501 over the years, Audi also improved the control. There were TCU FW updates for the early 'boxes. Although my memory of my test drives is fading, I'm sure I did notice the difference in response between the ages of some of the cars I drove. I'll readily admit that I'm not the best clutch user (I did scrunch the gears of my B5 S4 a few times) but there is absolutely no way that a manual S5 could shift as fast as my s-tronic S5.



Be careful when comparing your car to @arad85 's. He has the APR TCU remap which changes the shift points. Our MRC TCU remaps don't. So whilst our cars in D can wait until the redline to shift, they will only do that at full throttle. At less than full throttle they will change up at the Audi stock shift points. In contrast @arad85 's car will always (I believe) shift at much higher revs even in D. If I ever need to go back to MRC for an ECU map tweak, I might ask if they can also change my TCU shift points.

TBH @Dippy the comparison, if any would / should be the performance between how these cars responds to different tunes rather than which tuner can make your car go faster.

I have seen the redline limiter increased after the map but didn't do a full vs slightly less comparison - maybe a quite night sometime soon


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CrypticS3

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What year was the car? As well as improving the reliability of the DL501 over the years, Audi also improved the control. There were TCU FW updates for the early 'boxes. Although my memory of my test drives is fading, I'm sure I did notice the difference in response between the ages of some of the cars I drove. I'll readily admit that I'm not the best clutch user (I did scrunch the gears of my B5 S4 a few times) but there is absolutely no way that a manual S5 could shift as fast as my s-tronic S5.

It was a 2012 (62) car. As I stated above I'm sure it was more something to do with how it sounded when changing as I readily admit that there was no loss in momentum/acceleration during the change which you will feel in a manual unless you're really trying to break the gearbox or have a DOG/Sequential with flat foot shift mapped in. My biggest issue is it didn't seem to shift when I wanted it to, like it had to have a think about it before agreeing with me. Think along the lines of a conventional auto with paddle shift. It gave that sort of sound as opposed to an instant shift on command which I expected to get out of a DSG but that may be the way they work when transferring the load from one gear to the next :shrug:, but as said I think it might have needed a Box oil change. AGAIN.... I'm very new to this manner of driving as I've steered clear from it for as long as possible. It probably was working as Audi intended, but from what I'm learning a Box Remap sounds like the way forward and more importantly I probably just need to get used to it.
 
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