Audi tried long and hard to make its A4 as desirable as the BMW 3-Series but traditionally struggled, at least until 2008. While the BMW still had the edge on ultimate driver appeal, the 2008 A4 (B8) was a better all-rounder.
Audi ensured the A4 saloon was priced a little lower than premium alternatives and was more generous with equipment. Build quality was never in question, but the A4 also offered unrivalled interior space, superb comfort, improved driving dynamics and excellent refinement – making it one of 2008’s class favourites.
The B8-generation Audi A4 remains an arguably good-looking quality motor. With just that little bit more space and gadgets than the outgoing model, the translated into English Audi mantra of ‘Advancement Through Technology’ remains true to the word as it seemingly always has done.
That said, they’re not without vice and quite often fall into the hands of the ‘Champagne dreams but Lemonade pockets’ kind of driver. As with many accessible premium German cars, there are some sorry and abused examples hiding under the carpet just waiting to trip an unwary buyer. Bought wise though – the A4 is a superb used buy.
Audi A4 (2008-2016) known faults and common problems
1. Cooling system
A known problem among the 2.0TDi engines is failure of the waterpump. This tends to manifest itself as a leak rather than any strange noise. Look for tell tale signs on the floor where coolant has stained the ground and be aware of low level or a weak antifreeze mixture in the coolant bottle.
Paintwork and body assembly from new was of a top-level quality. Reject anything with ill fitting bumpers or door frames tops that sit proud of the shell. These are sure signs that the car has seen a trauma in the past and been poorly repaired. Pay extra attention to Quattro, Allroad and RS4.
3. Oil consumption
Check on the electronic gauge for a correct oil level. Petrol engine cars can be known for above average oil consumption. If possible, lift off the acoustic engine cover and see if there is a sign of fresh spilt oil around the top of the engine. This will indicate the owner or vendor previously adding a pint to make things look okay.
4. Service history
Cars with full dealer history are by far the best ones but brand specific specialists also often work to a high standard too. All of it is worthless without being backed up by the paperwork and bills to prove it. Cars with a long fast-fit service history should be viewed with extreme caution.
5. Steering tremors
Drive the car over a rough road at low speed and feel for and excessive kickback through the steering wheel rim. A similar sensation can be induced by braking sharply from about 20-30mph. If the steering seems to tug or veer, suspect a defective power steering rack or high-pressure pipe.
6. Brake wear
Audi A4 V6 TDi cars seem to munch through front brake pads and discs. Check for brake judder when anchoring up from high speed, brake squeal and excessive dust build up on the wheels. Aftermarket upgrade kits are available but if already fitted be sure to check they’re of a quality brand such as Brembo etc – anything else is false economy.
7. Random misfire
Four-cylinder petrol cars can suffer from random misfiring or occasional cough caused by either the wrong grade of spark plug being fitted or oil contamination of the coil pack end sleeve. Volkswagen Group’s TDi 2.0 engines are known for high pressure fuel pump problems too that also manifests itself as poor or rough running.
8. Whistling noises
On the 1.8-litre TFSI cars, a whistling noise from under the bonnet can often get mis-diagnosed as a turbo or intercooler issue. But it could also be a defective PCV valve that’s part of the engine breather system – it’s a very common problem that’s thankfully not too expensive to remedy.
9. Abused Allroad, Quattro and RS4
Allroad and Quattro variants are far from being true off roaders so be sure to check the underside for damage. Keep a keen ear open for clunking rear driveshafts or moaning differentials. You can induce any worrying rear drive noise by driving half on a loose surface at a moderate pace while dabbing on and off the power.
10. Internal water leaks
If the car has wet carpets or signs of water leakage running down the plastic trim near the accelerator pedal the car may have recently had a windscreen replacement. Probably caused by the fitter failing to put back the plastic panel near the wipers properly or not bonding the base of the screen correctly.