Never take car ad pictures in the rain, they say. So what are you supposed to do if you live in Lancashire, where it rains practically all the time? Well, it did when Shed lived there anyway, although in truth he may have been confused by his permanently tear-soaked spectacles after he had finally came to terms with the fact that Mrs Shed wasn't thinking of leaving anytime soon.
The one good thing about rainy car pics is that you can sometimes tell from the droplet pattern on the bodywork how well (or not) a car has been looked after. Although this week's Shed, an A4 Avant 2.5 TDi quattro Sport doesn't have those crazy-small droplets that mega-detailed motors seem to have, it does appear to have had the odd dod of wax slapped on it at some point, and there's no evidence of rust anywhere on the bodywork.
Less optimistically, the MOT history suggests a 'just in time' approach has been followed in terms of consumables like tyres and brakes. It failed its MOT in July on an inoperative headlight. None of the advisories were sorted for the retest, so the next owner will have a few jobs to attend to: at least one new tyre plus some work on the rear brakes and maybe the front lower arm ball joint.
Shed reckons that S line A4s didn't come out until 2004, which might explain the word 'kit' in the text. In another fearless display of possible ignorance Shed thought that the actual power of a post-June 2002 2.5 litre diesel V6 might be 163hp rather than the 180hp the ad is claiming, or the 177hp ventured by the PH ad bot. Then again, he does now seem to recall that there was a powered-up version for quattro cars (which this is). Oh, the perils of old age and jellifying brain cells.
Either way, if you want a nice combination of torque, economy and driver engagement, this small V6 diesel with 273lb ft between 1500 and 2500rpm is probably the pick of the A4 Avant engine choices, especially if you are one of those who like to tow small houses along behind you. Properly looked after, they are very strong.
They're not perfect, mind. Things do go wrong, and when they do that can be big money. Turbos fail. The 2.5s are also known for injector pump failure, which will cost well into four figures to put right. Camshaft wear can be a problem on inadequately maintained cars, and especially those that have been left to fend for themselves on the lubrication front. Looking at what we said earlier about the burnable stuff, that might be a consideration here.
We are told that there is performance induction and exhaust gear on this car, but then again the advertiser does list 'previous MOT history' as a feature, so who knows. Oil leaks from either the sump gasket, rocker covers, oil filter O-ring, the main crank seal, or all four at the same time are far from unknown. The sump itself is vulnerable to puncturing if you regularly traverse stony roads. Alternators let go. So do fuel pumps and they can be extremely expensive (£1000 plus) to sort out. It's very much worth changing the fuel filter every 6000 miles.
Timing is by belt on an 80k turnround. Replacement kits from VAG didn't include the water pump, which was peculiar as this was without doubt the weakest link in the chain (or not chain). EGR delete is a good mod that will keep a lot of crud out of the engine, which is not a light unit by the way so front suspension arms go at a rate of knots. If the 2.5 is like most other VAG products of this era it will have an ECU under the front passenger carpet. You don't want to get that wet. Rear washer pipes split and front wiper mechanisms seize up.
2.5 power glitches could have a variety of causes and stumbling around to find out which one it is could cost you money. Overboosting will manifest itself as a sudden shoot forward after initial low-rpm sluggishness and might indicate a wastegate issue. Low power could be something as straightforward as faulty hosework to and from the charge pressure control valve or the intercooler, or a failed mass air flow sensor, or a blocked cat. Sometimes a good 'Italian service' blast up the dual carriageway will sort things out.
The 5-speed Tiptronic gearbox is a conventional torque converter auto and one of those miracle transmissions (not unique to Audi) that 'never need servicing' (ha!). Not everyone likes it because pressing on requires the use of a fair few revs, which hurts economy. And although the 2.5 TDI is juicy relative to the 1.9, it's positively miserly compared to the 3.0. Expect mid 30s round town and mid to high 40s out on the open road. Lumpy Tiptronic changes can be down to something quite separate such as a dodgy coolant temperature sensor or air mass meter. If the engine is idling high at 1200+rpm rather than the 900 or so it should be at, then the chances are you'll be able to escape a £4000+ bill for a new gearbox.
If you're more interested in great mpg and Galapagos turtle longevity, you'd obviously be better off looking at a 1.9 TDI, but because everybody else is doing that very thing, examples of those with reasonable mileages are very thin on the ground these days. The big benefit of choosing a 2.5 Avant was a very nice spec, and that's what you get here. Our Shed also has a sunshine roof, or a rain roof in this case.
All in all, not a bad shout at £1495 or less. Of course, you may prefer the extra grunt and carrying capacity of the newly-announced 600hp RS6, but by the time one of those arrives in SOTW Shed will be well past caring.