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Truth in Engineering?
Why good friends don't let their friends drive Audis

It is a sad fact that Audi has been making crappy-to-work-on cars for more decades than I care to remember.

My first professional contact with Audi came in the mid seventies with the Super 90, which was a decent car. In retrospect, it was probably the last decent Audi I ever worked on. The 100 LS came next and it was a real clam. We called it the 100 LSD, and they filled our shop. I recall various maladies, standing out are warped carburetors and failures of the newly introduced electronic ignition systems. It is no coincidence that you never saw a 100 LS on the road after even a couple of years.

Time rolls by and the Audi 5000 is rolling around the roads of America. A forgettable car with the stupid gimmick of a five cylinder engine, a configuration that has never been an engine of note by any manufacturer.

Does anyone remember the five cylinder advertisements, where a ham faced Audi engineer who had a remarkable resemblance to Herman Goering saying "four cylinders is too small, six is too bulky"? In a time when BMW and Mercedes Benz were building good cars, Audi pioneered a new automobile category: Disposable German. I was fortunate in not having to work on Audis for many years, and made a vow never to work on them again. I broke this vow recently when I agreed to put oxygen sensors in my friend's 2002 Audi Offroad. "How bad could it be?" I asked myself. After four hours of cursing and bleeding hands, my final curses were directed at myself for breaking my vow not to work on these cars. I will admit to making mistakes on that job, but what do you expect when the V6 motor2 is jammed up to the firewall with four inches of clearance? Wires within wire tied bundles in an inaccessible location never reachable by the human hand showed me what Truth in Engineering is all about: Audi shows no engineering skill when it comes to building a repairable and economically maintained machine.

The truth is this: Audi has continued to engineer the Disposable German machine. When they roll off the showroom floor they are a delight to drive, but when the lease is up you might as well just throw it away. If you are unfortunate enough to own one outright you know the Truth in Engineering: you got screwed.

1. I unfortunately realize that the "old geezer" narrative form is being used here, and I apologize.

2. Just like the five cylinder motor, I can't think of any V6 motor that was a great one. Send me a postcard if you know of one.