March 03, 2011
As I write this the 2009 Audi A4 Avant is somewhere between Los Angeles and Calgary, Canada. Part of me is happy that it will finally be used for the purpose it was designed, namely driving surefootedly in snow and cold. But the Southern Californian in me shudders at the thought of this handsome car caked with cruddy, frozen slush. I grew up in New England and I know what winter does to cars.
Our buyer, Alex Roudinski, had wired us the $28,000 purchase price and flew in Tuesday night. I picked up him and his buddy, Doug, at the airport. The backseat and trunk were filled with the performance tires that had been removed and replaced with winter tires for the long drive north. Turned out these two Canadians-on-the-loose weren't exactly in a hurry to get back home. In fact they were detouring through Las Vegas for a stay of uncertain length. Road trip!
Roudinski had contacted me after finding the A4 on Autotrader and reviewing our blog carefully. On the drive from the airport to my house he commented that it was handy to be able to read everything about a car before he bought it. If you could read my mind at that moment, I was thinking, "Well Not absolutely everything " Still, Roudinski had done more due diligence than any other buyer I've dealt with. While we made the deal nearly three weeks ago, barely a day passed without an e-mail from him beginning, "Just one more question "
Prior to Roudinski's arrival, I ran the A4 through the car wash and parked by the water for one last photo. As the sun began to dip below the horizon I noticed that the quartz gray paint reflected a palate of colors from the sky. And, as I said, I cringed to think of what lay ahead for this guy.
Roudinski had said he will check in with a blog or two as he heads north. But he was back pedaling a bit saying he'd see what he could do once he got back home. But with stop offs in Las Vegas, and a lot of ground to cover, I wouldn't hold your breath.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @35,457 miles
February 21, 2011
I've learned a lot by selling the vehicles in the Edmunds.com long term fleet. For example, I learned that people from Canada don't always look like they are from the Great White North. These three women are not from Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, but Calgary, Canada. In case you don't know, that's about four hours drive north of the U.S. border in Montana.
I've been communicating with a buyer from Calgary, Canada, for the 2009 Audi A4 Avant and he asked if he could send a friend over to inspect it. No problem, I said, picturing perhaps some screaming cliche of a Canadian of a hockey player with missing teeth. Instead, I looked out my window to see a black Porsche Cayenne pull to the curb with low profile tires. Out popped these three "Canadians."
On the test drive I asked them where their accents were? "Oh, should we end every sentence with, 'eh?'" I said yes, that would make me feel a little more comfortable. Otherwise, I felt they might be ready to pull off some diabolical online fraud, posing as Calgaryians and then driving off in the A4. But then they referred to the temperature in Canada in Celsius and I knew they must be for real. We dont do metric here.
Meanwhile, I'm working out the details with the buyer who will be wiring the money soon and then flying down to pick up the car. We have negotiated a price of $28,000, which is $5,000 more than we were offered by CarMax. I could have probably gotten more for it since, after the fateful call from Canada, I've had many other calls from interested parties who are much closer. But our Canadian buyer jumped on the car because, with the exchange rate, its a deal for him.
By the way, the buyer, who will be driving it all the way back to Calgary, had the foresight to ask what kind of tires are on it. When he learned that we had recently bought performance tires for it, he decided to buy some winter tires online and have them shipped to a local installer. Good move.
We'll let you know when this deal finally goes through, eh?
February 07, 2011
The 2009 Audi A4 Avant has been up for sale for a week and we've been contacted by some scammers and some real people. One call, which I almost didn't return, was from Canada. I checked the number and it looked like it came from a real person so I called back. Turned out there is a guy from Calgary who travels to Los Angeles. He figured he could buy an all-wheel-drive car here for less than in Canada since no one really needs it here, at least on a regular basis.
The Calgary guy asked for more pictures of the interior so, rather than bog down an e-mail, I decided to put the pictures up on the web in a Picassa Album. This is a good tool for people selling their cars since Craigslist limits the number of photos to four and AutoTrader makes you pay for extra pictures.
September 11, 2009
Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption. I scalped it a little for length.
This was not the most PC of weeks. But it's all in good fun.
Here are the honorables:
As we drive through Madonna Pass...(ergsum)
No, I said to park it between the *TT's*... (ahightower)
Tee-pee or not tee-pee, that is the question (creeper)
How a Native American kid Tee-Pees a car (gooney911)
Keeping up with the Sitting Bulls. (lowmilelude)
Save A Horse, Ride An Audi (ergsum)
Circle the Avants, there's engine trouble! (ergsum)
Dances with Quattro. (thejohnp)
The latest in A4-dable housing. (rick8365)
Retro Avant-garde! (ergsum)
Through the cones, you'll swear it was a much smaller car. (zc1)
Relax man, you're two tents! (sherief)
Chief Aging Bull failed to notice driving the last five miles home with his left Smoke Signal on.(ergsum)
You bought this because they killed Pontiac? (mnorm1)
What was your favorite?
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
February 04, 2011
When we offer one of our long term cars for sale, it's always tough to set the right price. Sometimes, we schlep it down to CarMax and see what they offer us. If they offer "strong money" (as a car salesman might say) we cash out. If it's a lukewarm price we might put it up on Craigslist for a few grand more and see if we can get a quick sale.
The 2009 Audi A4 Avant falls into a different category. First of all, it didn't seem like a CarMax kind of vehicle and their offer of $23,000, confirmed that. We looked at our True Market Value, and similar cars for sale in our area (not many of them) and decided to list it for $29,500. We knew that listing it at $30,000 or above would likely bring a lot of silence. At $29,500, we would get calls. Or, in this new era of used car buying and selling, we might get e-mails or text messages.
Sure enough, after only two days on AutoTrader, we had two emails asking if it was still for sale. No test drives yet, but early interest is always a good sign.
Meanwhile, we created this simple YouTube video. We put the link in our Craigslist ad.
September 11, 2009
Chief Scott took this photo of our 2009 Audi A4 Avant at his new home.
We suggest: Audi Partner
Or how about this joke from when I was a kid: What do Indians make for dinner? Reservations.
What's your caption?
We'll post our favorite at 4:00 PM our time.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
January 28, 2011
There is one thing about our 2009 A4 Avant that I've always had mixed feelings about. The lugnut covers. Every time you need to access the lugs these silly caps have to be removed first. Part of me likes them for the clean, cosmetic touch. But the rest of me despises them, hoping I never get stuck on the side of road with a flat.
We use pliers to remove them now that the special hook-tool supplied by Audi has gone missing. I'd wager the small tool will disappear from most owner's cars over time. So what do you think? Are these caps worth the trouble? What would you do about it if this was your car?
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 34,651 miles
2009 Audi A4 Avant: Dealer vs Manufacturer Recommended
January 24, 2011
I took the Audi A4 in for service last week. We are about to sell the car and figured we might as well take care of the maintenance and the broken visor clip that had been hanging around since October. At 34,420 miles, the car was close enough to the 35,000-mile service interval, which is considered a major service. The original price Audi quoted for the service was $509.19. It seemed high, but not unreasonable for a major service at a luxury-brand dealership in upscale Santa Monica.
When I was back in the office, I had a chance to inspect the billing estimate more closely. The dealership gave us a breakdown of the parts and service for the maintenance. Cabin filters, synthetic oil -- everything looked normal until I saw a line item for spark plugs ($64 for the parts, plus labor).
Thirty-five thousand miles seemed a bit premature for spark plugs. I looked at the owner's manual and saw spark plugs listed under the major maintenance section: "Spark Plugs-Replace* (Audi A3 3.2L, TT 3.2L, A8 6.0L only)." Clearly the A4 was not listed in this group. I looked at the next major service, 55,000 miles, and saw that it called for a spark plug replacement on all models except the Audi A3 3.2L, TT 3.2L, A8 6.0L.
I called the service advisor and asked him to remove the spark plugs from this service. He asked why and I told him that we didn't want to spend that much on the car, since we were selling it soon. I didn't confront him about the premature spark-plug replacement because it wouldn't have changed anything. If had said something, I suspect it would have been business as usual for the next car that pulled into the service driveway anyway. But the incident is a good reminder of why you need to pay attention to exactly what service is being performed and make sure the elements match what's called for in your owner's manual.
I worked at two dealerships in my pre-Edmunds days and my theory is this: Service departments have one standardized "major service kit" for all cars and the service team doesn't bother to look at the differences among models. They're erring on the side of caution, but the unsuspecting A4 consumer ends up changing spark plugs 20,000 miles too early and paying more than necessary. This "dealer recommended" service is a common occurrence at nearly every dealership.
After it all, removing the spark plugs brought the service total down by $155. Our final price with tax was $362.03.
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 34,500 miles.
January 24, 2011
I come from a small family, and have a small family, so wagons have never been on my automotive radar. But on Friday, after picking up the 2009 Audi A4 Avant from its 35,000 mile service, I had it for the weekend. A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to drive the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic Wagon for three days. Although these are both German luxury-brand wagons, the contrasts between them are stark.
The Audi A4 felt more agile and responsive than the Mercedes E350 4Matic. When I was driving the Audi, I was calling the shots. With the Mercedes, I felt like the captain of a stately ocean liner, calling down commands to the engine room ("Lane change right!" "Aye, lane change right!"). I was, to be honest, a little intimidated by the Mercedes. It was as though I was driving my rich aunt's car, and there would be hell to pay if anything went wrong. The Audi felt more like a friend had tossed me the key and said, "Have a fun weekend." And I did.
January 06, 2011
Kia hired a former Audi designer to give its cars some snaz. Maybe Audi should consider an exchange program, hire some Hyundai/Kia designers to help with their baffling electronics interfaces. Yeah, I know this is more nitpicking about audio/info controls. I see your eyes rolling. I see them! Really though, c'mon...
A volume knob set off to the right of the gear selector in the center console. Two climate control knobs masquerading as volume and tune knobs. Multiple other commands accessed through the primary dial wheel and four-corner buttons aft of the gear selector - clockwise for scrolling up the menu, counterclockwise for down. Thumb the knurled wheel on the left side of the steering wheel to scroll on the small screen between tach and speedo, press to select. Don't push at an angle though, or you'll be zooming back up the list.
Touch, twist, thumb, press. Good grief, man. Working the audio and navi functions in the Avant keeps your hands busier than those of unsupervised 16-year-olds at the movies.