I bought my A4 when it was 3 years old and it had come off a lease. I have had the car for 16 years and even at 20 years old it is still going strong. The only reason I am getting a new one is because I want some of the new technology. I also just put $900 in repairs in it and feel that at 20 years old it may start needing more attention. I have keep it for all these years because it was a so reliable, heavy, safe car. Even at 20 years old it gives a wonderful smooth ride.
Bought my 2nd Audi A4 in May, 2015 after the automatic transmission burnt out on my 1st one (2.8 non-Quattro) during the harsh Chicago 2014-2015 winter... Decided to go with a stick shift Quattro this time & I love it more than my last one! Manual transmission performs so much better than automatic & responds quicker, only issue for me is its not fast enough. My opinion, a 2.8L motor should put out at least 200HP & should have better gas mileage (mine got about 16mpg city /25highway). The car weighs A LOT (approx 2 tons) and has poor acceleration & fuel economy for that reason. I've added a few modifications including coilovers, air intake & straight pipe exhaust system & basic weight reduction which in turn I noticed large increase in acceleration (a little more acceptable for me), increase in gas mileage (20 city/28 highway), & improved handling (car scrapes going over speed bumps & cracked oil pan once since putting on coilovers)
Common issues: both of the '96 Audi A4's I bought had a lot of small issues which needed to be addressed: heated side view mirrors not heating, factory radio in safe mode, driver side window won't roll down, armrest cover broken in two pieces, leather seats ripped up, need something to prop the hood with, needed upper/lower control arms, inner/outer tie rods, front/rear struts & strut mounts, required entire tune up Automatic '96 A4 (2.8 non Quattro)@144K had extra issues: sunroof would get stuck open when opened all the way, smoking from motor (required valve cover seals replaced), bad alternator Manual '96 A4 (2.8 Quattro) has extra issues: odometer/tripometer doesn't show (all other dash lights & components work), whirring noise (required a wheel bearing), radiator leaking (required a hose replaced)
Forked out a lot of cash (almost $3000 cash in repairs) for mechanics to fix my first Audi just to have the stupid automatic trans get effed up by 6 inches of snows
Learned my lesson & did most of the repairs/modifications on my 2nd Audi myself... Sure I broke a nut or a bolt, or got lost / didn't know what to do at some points but I learned a lot & Have the pleasure to say that I know my Audi like the back of my hand... Now I feel safe working on any B5 & will never consider selling my 2nd Audi! Im saving up to get a 2nd car to keep my baby off the road, my first car was a Honda CRX & I want another one just for the killer gas mileage!
Long story short, buy this car if you want something sweet & worthy of saying "Yup, that's my car!"
Edmunds just asked me to update my review: 3/10/2016: Still loving my '96 Audi A4 Quattro!!! It's not going anywhere any time soon , still running strong! Just make sure to keep checking oil & change it every 4 months / 5000 miles... Will always love all B5 A4s! Still not sure how many miles are on it as my odometer doesn't show but that does not bother me as I have not had any issues with anything. I just make sure to routinely check parts & I do all the work on my cars myself! IF the motor or manual transmission were to ever die, I would surely replace it rather than junk or sell the car as most people would do
Ive had my 1996 A4 Quattro for about a year and a half now, and i love this car. Its very entertaining to drive, the 5spd shifts so smoothly and the all wheel drive makes the car feel solid and stable no matter what conditions you're driving in. My car has been very reliable lately, but when things break, you're gonna feel it. I shelled out 700 dollars to fix an oil leak, just because of the awkward design of the engine. If you find a well maintained one, go for it because you wont regret it. But be very strict on your initial inspection of the vehicle.
Quattro is beast. I have not lost traction a single time and i have driven this car hard, through rain, sand, and both. I live in Florida so i can't comment on snow, but ive heard it takes it with ease. The transmission shifts so smooth and the clutch has a refined feel.
There are of course, many things that could be better about any given car, this one in particular could use more reliable electronics, cheaper replacement parts and some major weight loss. The car makes 172 hp and i believe around 180 ft lbs of torque (unsure about that last one) which are pretty respectable numbers....however it also weighs somewhere around 3900-4400 pounds. Its a fatty.
I don't know if the prior owner just ran the car down, but I've had to replace the heater core, two oil pans, and $3000 of other repairs I couldn't even remember. I love how the car looks and drives, the interior is so nice, but dumb things break. Like the sunroof went out and the vents broke, just little things but they add up. I'm hoping to get a newer Audi and not have as many problems! But it's great in the snow!