Shed of the Week: Audi A4 Avant (B6)

Pride of ownership is not restricted to the world of new cars. In fact, in the low-cost world of everyday sheds, where perfection is never expected and therefore all the more valued when it's nearly reached, there might even be more of it.

Often, the problem with a nearly perfect shed can be a single unsightly blemish that sticks out like a sore thumb against otherwise pristine metal, which, against all the odds, has survived 15 or 20 years' worth of road wars. That scab of corrosion, or a trolley dent that's hardly visible unless you're really looking for it, at which point it becomes impossible to ignore, they're there silently screaming "sort me out for god's sake".

You know you should be doing exactly that, and you almost want to, but what actually happens is that you end up doing the same as everybody else: totally ignoring it until, when selling time comes around, you can invoke the magical but universally disbelieved (even by you) phrase "easy fix" in the ad. You feel bad, cheap and slightly dirty, but hey, needs must. Somebody else can sort that if they want; it's only a car innit.

Shed is making no negative judgments about the Cheshire-based owner of this classy 3.0 A4 Avant B6 manual. It looks like he lives in a respectable area. Like his neighbours, he has a nicely kept garden. He also has a non-traveller-standard block-paved driveway and a well painted garage, and is apparently only the second owner of this fully-historied wagon, soberly presented in Dolphin Grey with black leather, a popular choice among the higher-level execs of the age.

Owners of the quite rare 220hp 3.0 model, the poor man's S4, will doubtless come on here to share their experiences. These may include plaudits for the worthy and generally reliable 30-valve V6 motor, which you can supercharge if you need more than the reasonable third gear 4,000 to 5,000rpm midrange thrunge that's on offer as standard. There may be grumbles about broken coil packs and gloveboxes, but you're good on both counts here because the packs have been replaced and a glovebox repair kit is included with the car.

There may even be forum mentions of a cam-lobe wear problem that afflicted 3.0s of this era. A ticking noise is the initial giveaway. Doing the timing belts isn't a cheap job, but you've got another 30k to go on the ones that are in there at the moment. Cats conk out, crankcase breathers clog up and air flow sensors fail.

The A4 is not a light car, especially with this engine and the quattro 4WD system it had to cart around, and it didn't benefit from the aluminium tech lavished on the A8. The owner talks of low-30s mpg figures, but you can knock 10 off those if you intend to give it the berries.

Comfort-wise, the seats are Herman-hard, but at least that means they last well. Although the sound system has Bose written on it, the sonic quality might not be as good as you expect.

The MOT history throughout our shed's 130,000-mile life points to nothing more than the replacement of consumable rubber and suspension components. The current ticket has nothing marked in the advisories box. The ownership history shows plenty of money spent in the right areas.

But what to do about that wheel arch rust, already in plain view on the front offside and, according to the honest ad, a-coming round the mountain on the nearside? How 'easy' is that 'easy fix', exactly?

Back in Shed's day, when it came to rust, motorists never thought twice about having a go. They had no choice really as just about any car over five years old had it. Option one was to finish reading the newspaper and then stuff some of the sports section into the hole. You would then make that paper as stiff and un-paper-like as possible by generously applying Isopon, a hideous and smelly coming together of fibreglass fibre and some jollop that today would quite likely be classified as a chemical weapon. Legal note: you can still get Isopon, and as you would expect it passes all the applicable health tests.

Nowadays, the ease and effectiveness of any rust repair depends on how 'surface' the corrosion is, and how much of it is hidden from view. Looking at the pics, Shed is pretty confident that there's a good while to go yet before this section of metal accumulates sharp edges and becomes an MOT issue, at which point he thinks you can just bung some gaffer tape on to legalise it. Although he is not a lawyer, etc.

As noted above, most modern Shedmen would go down the ignore route, but if you fancy your chances with some sandpaper, rustcure, filler, and rattle cans of primer, paint and lacquer, then why not? The rust will pop up again in under a year, probably, but it'll look good for a while. Wheel arch repair kits exist, and so do sound replacement panels from scrappers, but finding them might not be wonderfully easy.

If you're really bothered by it, you'll doubtless be able to find someone who will do the job properly, cutting in new metal and all that sort of thing, but you'll be spending a good percentage of the car's value on that sort of work, maybe Β£400 a side.

Fact is, if you're tempted by this handsome car as it stands, and nobody would blame you for that, the chances are someone else will also be tempted when you come to sell it on. Sometimes, ignoring works. It has for Shed for the last eternity or so.

Here's the ad.

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Comments (107) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dale487 11 Jan 2019

    Great shed - V6, manual, all wheel drive, estate - what isn't there to like? Perfect winter car once you've add some winter or all season tyres. Which asks the question why is the owner getting shot of it? Is it a bigger problem than the honest looking advert is letting on?

  • Mike335i 11 Jan 2019

    Interesting, in a very sober way. I quite like these and the engine & gearbox combo is quite appealing. Get the rust sorted I think, the rest of the car looks clean enough to pass for a lower mileage.

  • defblade 11 Jan 2019

    Dale487 said:
    Is it a bigger problem than the honest looking advert is letting on?
    Advert said:
    It is even fairly economical (34 mpg) on a long run if you behave yourself.
    ...but is, as shed pointed out, more likely 24mpg overall, or even less if you flex your right foot. It's similar to my car and even I flirt with jacking that in for something with a few more mpg from time to time. Add to that a small-ish petrol tank (due to 4wd gubbins) and it can get annoying.

    However, he's had it for 12 years and it might well be as simple as just not really needing an estate any more, coupled with the above.

    If I didn't already have a 260bhp, 24mpg, AWD estate I'd be on that like a shot smile

  • Limpet 11 Jan 2019

    What a lovely old bus.

    That arch grot would be an easy DIY job. Not to body shop standards perhaps, but could be easily made presentable.

  • carinaman 11 Jan 2019

    They are juicy.

    What is it about Audi Avants with Goodwood FoS stickers? And rust?: outf:0

    That one may be less juicy. Shame about the rust.

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