The worst car I ever owned.

What is the worst car you have owned ?

I am 60 years old and have owned about 20 cars since learning to drive at 17. The worst car I have owned (and by a large margin) in terms of faults, reliability and depreciation was an Audi A4 1.9 Diesel.

Background

At the time I had to travel approx 25,000 miles a year mainly for motorway commuting to work and with some leisure travel. Prior to the Audi, I had run a Ford Escort 1.8 (non turbo) diesel which I had bought from new and had owned for 8 years and in which I travelled close on 200,000 miles. The Escort was sluggish, boring and not very enjoyable to drive but it was reliable, cheap to run and never let me down. I traded this car in for a second hand, 3 year old Audi A4 diesel with 43,000 miles on the clock and with just 1 previous owner and full service history and at a cost of £10,000. I chose an Audi owing to the good reports on VW / Audi vehicles and I never expected relaibility to be an issue with this car.

My Audi A4 P335 SHR 1996. Bought in 1999 and owned for 4 years.

I list below the main faults (or at least the ones I can remember ! ) -

Intermittent Immobiliser fault

When switching on the ignition, this should switch off the immobiliser. Sometimes I would have to switch the ignition off and on 6 to 10 times or more to get the immobiliser to clear before I could start the car. The response from the Audi main dealer (Coventry) : - "could be a fault with the cable in the steering column, £200+ to have a look but we can't guarantee that this will fix the problem". Reluctant to risk £200+ with no guarantee of the fault being fixed, I had to live with this problem for the whole period I owned the car (4 years) which meant being very reluctant to ever switch off the engine in a traffic jam and the thought that one day it would never clear at all and I could be stranded anywhere.

Catalytic converter

The car suddenly lost all power when travelling at 70mph+ in the outside lane of the M1. With some difficulty, I managed to pull over safely to the inside lane, but the car would only run at a maximum speed of about 15mph. Limped to a garage and was Informed that the catalytic converter had collapsed inwards and needed to be replaced. Expensive job. Maybe the catalytic converter is an item you would expect to have to replace but I have run 2 Peugeot diesels since covering a further 200,000+ miles without catalytic converter failure.

Car overheated

Again on the motorway, at normal running speed, the car overheated and I managed to get it to a garage. I was told that the radiator had failed and needed to be replaced along with various hoses and fittings. Another expensive job.

Locking wheel nuts on the alloy wheels

A puncture and unable to remove the locking wheel nut even though I had the correct tool. Called the RAC and they had the same problem and blamed the poor quality alloy wheels (Audi supplied) and corroded wheel nuts. The RAC had to drill through the locking wheel nut whilst on the M1 hard shoulder in order to complete a simple wheel change. I subsequently had the same problem every time I had to have a new tyre fitted. Even though the car was washed regularly, the alloy wheels became very badly pitted and corroded.

Trim falling off

The plastic strip towards the bottom of all 4 doors was constantly lifting off and it fell off completely on the drivers door. A look at similar Audi A4's on the road, showed that this was not an unusual problem. Also problems with the front bumper which lifted off from its clips on both slides of the car pretty much every week and it had to be clipped back on every time.

Final straw - complete gearbox failure

The final straw with this car was on the way home from work when 5th gear failed. Had to travel home in 4th, which then failed until there were only a couple of gears left. Had a very expensive quote for a replacement gearbox but decided to cut my loses and I traded it in for a 3 year old Peugeot 406 2.0 diesel with 70,000 miles on the clock. I took this car up to 200,000 miles and never had a single problem with it. I now run a Peugeot 407 diesel which, after 2 years and 40,000 miles, has also been trouble free to date.


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