The best advice you'll get on any used car you are considering will come
from a trained mechanic. Get an independent inspection from a knowledgeable
Audi mechanic if you are serious. The $60 -- $200 you spend will be the best
investment you make in the car!
Here is a list of things you can check out on a 20V car. Thanks to Ian Duff
for compiling the original version. Don't let it scare you, though. Not all
cars have these problems, and some of the problems are easy and cheap to
fix. (Don't let the seller know that!)
Things to look for:
When was the timing belt last changed? This is crucial
because if that belt goes, the valves and pistons will become intimate. You'll
pay lots of labor to get the belt replaced, but it's peanuts compared to
what it costs to fix an engine that has "interfered" with itself. I think
the official service interval for the belt is 90K mi., but I'd have it done
every 60K to be on the safe side.
Pentosin leaks in steering gear (rack, pump, hydraulic
hoses). Big bucks for new rack, like $1600 list, but remanufactured can be
found for around $350. New pump is also big $$$. This problem is common to
some Audis of this vintage.
Bad hydraulic pressure accumulator. $250-ish
for a new one, PITA to replace. This problem is common to most Audis of this
vintage with hydraulic assist.
A/C leaks, losing all R12 refrigerant. Could be some of the high $ hoses,
but most often the culprit is the condenser, which can be welded for cheap
by any radiator repair shop. This problem is common to some Audis of this
Clutch master or slave cylinder not cylindering.
Symptoms include clutch pedal not returning all the way to rest position,
unless encouraged. Each cylinder new is about $60-70, there are rebuild kits
available, and sometimes just changing
the brake fluid will bring them back to life. Common to some Audis of
Stressed rubber bits (suspension bushings,
engine/trans/rear diff/front and rear subframe mounts) deteriorating and
not doing their little bit. Just doesn't feel like a new Audi. Car will feel
*like new* when you replace them. This problem is common to most Audis of
Dead rubber exhaust donuts cause the exhaust to rest on driver's side rear
halfshaft, wearing a hole through exhaust. Exhaust is stainless steel, so
you can get it patched, and get 3 new chain
reinforced donuts or reinforce existing ones with nylon zip ties. This
problem is unique to 20v cars.
Inoperative radiator fan. The fans will
sometimes fail because of stress on the wiring harness, or the motor may
just freeze up. Also, it might not work because of a bad temperature sensor.
Be sure that the fan comes on when the A/C is engaged, and when the engine
is hot with the car both on and off. This problem is common to most Audis
of this vintage.
Rear hatch squeaks. Fix is at best free
(adjustment or lube), at worst small $$ for new latch pins. This problem
is unique to the Coupes.
Loose inner tie rod ends. Squirrelly handling
and some clunks turning at low speed. Free fix, just a 15mm (I think) wrench.
Also could need alignment, check tire wear. This problem is unique to the
Electrical switch lights burnt out. Switches are
typically around $60 each, to fix a $1 bulb available from Radio Shack. This
problem is common to most Audis of this vintage.
Dead wheel bearings. Replacement at dealer runs over $550 ($250 for bearing
and $300 for hub). The bearing can be had for $60, and you likely don't need
a new hub. This problem is common to some Audis of this vintage.
Missing headlight washer jets. Audi
dealer wants ~$100 for replacement, but you can use the piece from a Passat
for ~$30. This problem is unique to the Coupes.
Noisy or inoperative power windows.
Fix is at best free (clean out switch), and at worst about $500 (new regulator
assembly). This problem is common to all Audis of this vintage.
There were at least five major upgrades:
Airbag, starting with Coupe #1109 (July,
1989 production), according to Bentley Electrical Manual. There is a fairly
obvious knee bar under steering wheel on airbag cars, package shelf is there
on bomb-less ones.
Sway bars changed from just a front,
to front and rear, starting with Coupe #3682 (September, 1989 production),
according to parts fiche.
Tubular stainless steel exhaust headers changed
to a cast iron manifold starting with Coupe #13611 (March, 1990 production),
according to parts fiche.
The ECU was changed beginning with Coupe
#15000 (March, 1990 production). This caused no obvious change
in performance figures, but other parts were changed at the same time
The sunroof changed from steel to smoked
glass for the 1991 model year (Coupe only?). The control also changed from
a typical rocker switch, to a dial that can be used to preselect any position.
90 Quattro 20V Sport:
For the 1991 model year, there was a sport model of the 90Q20V offered. It
had similar 15" Speedline rims as the CQ (different offset) and a lower,
stiffer suspension. The easiest way to tell if a 90Q20V is the sport model
is to check the tag in the trunk for option code 1BE.
Asking prices for these cars can vary widely, from ~$6K for one with high
miles and lots of wear, to ~$16K for one whose owner has lost touch with
reality. Most are priced high because of the rarity (1730 Coupes imported
to U.S.). Check out Kelly Blue Book and
Edmund's Price Guides for current book
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