Used (B8) Audi A4 - Money pit or sublime Teutonic sedan? Now at Vios prices, how much to maintain and repair?
Arvind · Jan 29, 2023 10:00 AM
The (B8) Audi A4 is arguably one of the most successful model generations to ever come from the famed Ingolstadt-based manufacturer. In many ways, the B8-generation introduced the A4 to the world and took the fight directly to its rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Purposeful, powerful and yet beautifully understated, the B8 A4 remains a thing of beauty and status some 15 years after first being introduced. Plus who can forget, it is the car that first popularised the modern Daytime Running Light (DRL), something that is commonplace on virtually every vehicle today.
The B8 A4 is, by all means, a trailblazer in its segment. However, depending on whom you ask, the B8 A4 can either be a steadfast and charismatic premium sedan, or an endless money pit of troubles. Thus should the B8 A4 simply be admired from a distance, or with adequate knowledge, could this be the bang-for-buck German sedan you’ve always wanted?
The B8 Audi A4 range in Malaysia
The B8 Audi A4 was first introduced in Malaysia in 2008 by then-distributor Euromobil (a subsidiary of EON). At the outset, the entry-level A4 1.8 TFSI was made available at a price of RM 235k, optioning for the S Line package – comprising some sporty exterior and interior add-ons – added a premium of RM 25k.
The more powerful 2.0 TFSI variant joined later at circa RM 310k, Euromobil also imported the naturally-aspirated 3.2 FSI range-topper but these likely sold in the single digits with a whopping RM 400k pricetag.
As for the bread and butter models, the turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8 TFSI produced a healthy 160 PS and 250 Nm of torque, whilst the more powerful 2.0 TFSI delivered 213 PS and a very healthy 350 Nm.
The 1.8 TFSI routed power exclusively to the front wheels via a CVT-type automatic with 8 'virtual ratios', whilst the 2.0 TFSI featured a 7-speed DCT ‘S-Tronic’ transmission sending power to the front wheels.
There was no shortage of equipment in the B8 A4. Impressive even by today’s standards, the base 1.8 TFSI featured 6 airbags, adaptive automatic headlamps, auto wipers, powered front seats, heated and powered folding mirrors, variable-ratio steering and adaptive suspension.
Euromobil introduced the facelifted B8.5 A4 in 2012, and streamlined the range to two variants, the 1.8 TFSI and the 2.0 TFSI quattro. Prices remained largely similar at RM 235k for the 1.8 TFSI, RM 310k for the 2.0 TFSI quattro and RM 25k premium for the S Line trim package.
While prices were about the same, the B8.5 A4 1.8 TFSI now offered 170 PS (up 10 PS) and 320 Nm (up 70 Nm) from before. The 2.0 TFSI numbers remained unchanged at 213 PS and 350 Nm. Transmissions were unchanged too, however, the 2.0 TFSI now got Audi’s famed quattro AWD system delivering power to all four wheels.
In terms of aesthetics, the B8.5 received restyled headlamps as well as a redesigned front bumper grille and bonnet. At the back, the B8.5 A4 received updated taillights and a new diffuser down low.
Besides these updates, Audi also improved the transmission and AC systems, Drive Select control system and revised the multifunction steering wheel for greater functionality.
Shortly after the B8.5 A4 was introduced by Euromobil, there was a brief period of uncertainty for the brand as the former relinquished its distributorship in 2014, culminating in the establishment of Audi Malaysia, who launched the B8 A4's successor, the B9 A4, in 2016.
The variant to buy and current market prices
With many units available between the 2008 and 2015 manufacturing years, there are plenty of options available, however, your purchase decision will depend heavily on buying selected manufacturing year models which benefit from running changes that Audi made along the way for increased reliability, or units that have already their engines rebuilt with improved parts. We will get into why, later.
Used units of the 2008 – 2012 Audi B8 typically range between RM 35k and RM 50k, whilst facelifted B8.5 prices start at RM 50k and rise up to RM 90k for low mileage, 2015 or newer units. Units equipped with the S Line package typically trade for RM 5k more depending on age and condition.
Besides the officially imported units, a smaller number of grey-imported (333 PS / 440 Nm) 3.0-litre Audi S4s also made their way to Malaysia. These amazing Bahn-stormer models typically trade for around RM 60k - RM 110k.
Besides deciding on a suitable price range, the other major consideration is choosing between the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TFSI models which are equipped with the quattro AWD system.
This variant will require additional maintenance costs, specifically for the differential and transfer case maintenance and other wear and tear parts.
With cars like the B8 A4, maintenance and upkeep are key. In addition to searching for a well-presented and loved vehicle, it is paramount that the vehicle has a comprehensive service history detailing all work done, so there are fewer surprises later on.
(B8) Audi A4 basic running costs
Road tax (RM)
320 - 650
Battery - DIN92 AGM (RM)
1,150 - 1,600
Alternatively, check out these Carlist Qualified (B8 and B8.5) Audi A4 models, which are offered with a comprehensive pre-inspected report, sold by trusted dealers and are offered with extended warranty packages.
2014 Audi A4 TFSI 1.8
2016 Audi A4 TFSI 2.0
Maintenance and common problems?
Well, let's get into the meat of the discussion. Yes, whilst the B8 A4 drives beautifully and offers sublime power and fuel economy, it does suffer from a reputation for having complex mechanical and electronic issues.
And truth be told, the B8 A4 isn't for buyers that do not already have some ownership experience with European vehicles, and the costs related to maintaining them. But, it must also be said that the B8 A4 has also been misrepresented to a certain degree for being an unreliable money pit.
In truth, there are four main issues that haunt the B8 A4:
Excess engine oil consumption
Premature failure of positive crankcase ventilation valve (PCV)
Premature failure of timing chain tensioner
Premature failure of the water pump
Excess engine oil consumption is mainly caused by defective/undersized piston rings in pre-2012 cars (engine code: CAEB, CDNC and CNDC). Some Audi specialists also say that the cylinder bore cross-hatch hone pattern wears out after approximately 80,000 km.
Note: Oil consumption of 0.5 litres/1,000 km is considered normal, only for Audi engines. Although on other cars, this would be considered a problem.
The solution is an upgraded and tougher piston ring kit, 'wave-shaped' oil ring, as well as reboring the cylinders (if not too damaged) with a conventional bore pattern to solve the problem. These upgraded piston rings were fitted to the post-2012, 'Gen 3 - EA888' engines.
As for the PCV valve and timing chain tensioner, these again mostly affect the Gen 1 and Gen 2 (pre-2012) engines. The poor design of the PCV further exacerbates the oil consumption issue due to premature clogging/failure (which increases crankcase pressure), whilst the timing chain tensioner fails due to a mechanical ratchet that jams, causing loss of chain tension and possible skipping of timing chain cogs.
It's worth noting, Audi revised the design of both these items in the Gen 3 engines, which can also be retrofitted to pre-2012 engines and are relatively inexpensive parts to replace. Though workmanship is a tad more expensive. While you're at it, replace the engine breather as well.
As for the failing oil pump, this is just a case of brittle plastics (in the main casing and thermostat housing) that fail prematurely. Certain aftermarket suppliers, such as FCP Euro now offer retrofit water pumps made from aluminium alloy that nearly doubles the lifespan of the original Audi unit.
All the above can and is more cost-effective is replaced all at once, ensuring your B8 A4 runs beautifully for years to come. However, engine rebuild costs are steep at an estimated RM 10k - RM 13k if you plan on buying a pre-2012 B8 A4. As for the B8.5 A4 which will already be equipped with the Gen 3 EA 888, simply inspect the engine periodically for oil consumption, and upgrade the water pump when advised by your mechanic.
Besides the above, the B8 A4 has a pretty commonplace roll call of wear and tear items that are no different than any other executive sedan. Here's what to look out for:
(B8) Audi A4 common faults
Upper control arm
Increased roadshock / knocking sounds
Lower control arm
Increased roadshock / steering freeplay
Wheel speed sensor
Check engine light / ABS, TCS warning
Increased engine vibration / oil leaks at dynamic mounts
premature failure / leaking
Sagging / tearing
It's also worth noting, both the CVT-automatic and 7-speed DCT transmissions are known to be very robust and reliable with timely maintenance, as well as the immensely capable quattro AWD system.
2014 Audi A4 TFSI 1.8
2016 Audi A4 TFSI 2.0
Going back to the aforementioned point of picking the right production year model. This is why we would advise purchasing the post-2012 A4 B8.5 units as it already comes with most of the required upgrades from the factory. However, if you plan on going for a pre-2012 B8 A4, keep in mind that you can still perform these upgrades and an engine rebuild and end up with a superb B8 A4 at the end of the day.
However, be mindful that parts and specialist mechanics are not as accessible as it is for BMW and Mercedes-Benz owners, so these are things that any prospective owner will have to first figure out (with help from the Audi community) before purchasing their own B8 A4.
Once you understand that the B8 A4 is not the complex and sensitive money pit some quarters make it out to be – further evidenced by the healthy number of them still roaming the roads – then perhaps it’s being judged superficially and not by its intrinsic ability. Many owners also report awesome ownership experiences.
Many years on, the B8 A4 is still a beautifully capable, fluidic and timeless executive sedan, it has one of the best interiors in its class and offers performance and fuel economy that serves humble pie to much newer cars. And not many cars offer that, especially at the bargain basement prices of the B8 Audi A4.
Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.