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Things to consider before buying an allroad
OK, I have been meaning to write down my thoughts on the allroad for a while now. This post will be my attempt to summarize the car - good and bad. Others should feel free to contribute to this thread with things I have missed. This is intended to address popular mods to the car, common problem areas and just general experiences with the C5 audi allroad.
My car and experiences
I share this so you can see the perspective I bring to the car. My car is an 2003 allroad with a manual. It spent a bunch of time stock, then it began to change as I added modifications as stock parts broke. The car is pretty heavily modified now. At almost 97K miles on the odometer, I have experienced many problem areas.
5 of my 6 coil packs have caused misfires and have needed to be replaced.
My radiator fan has disintegrated twice -
o Once causing a blade to tear into wires around the assembly and causing the climate control system to fail until the wires were repaired o Once sending a blade through the radiator, immobilizing the car until I could replace the radiator.
My clutch failed at ~25K miles and was replaced under warranty
My front rotors warped frequently and were replaced 4 times under warranty. After the warranty expired, I upgraded to Alcons. Those have not warped and perform very well.
My car eats tires. I get about 18K miles at most from a set of summer tires.
My brake light switch has been replaced 3 times
My hazard/blinker switch was replaced once
An ABS controller at the left front wheel was replaced once.
I replaced my timing belt at about 75k miles. The book calls for it to be done at 105K, but I have heard to many stories of them breaking well before that. I'd rather be safe than sorry there. A broken timing belt means serious repair.
One of my catalytic converters failed and was replaced under the 80K mile emissions warranty
One of my stock K03 turbos blew at about 80K miles, when it blew, it sounded like a siren (loud one) under the hood. I opted to replace the K03's with K04's. When I did the K04 upgrade, I also did a stage III chip, piggy pipes, RS6 sound enhanced exhaust and a newer/stronger clutch.
One of my relatively new K04s blew up after about 6K miles. It was warranted by the shop that put it in, and while they were in there I also had them put in RS6 intercoolers.
The RS6 intercoolers were too big to retain the stock airbox, so I added a cold air intake.
Other mods on my car include B5 RS4 9-spoke rims, and H-sport anti sway bars, a trailer hitch, and an Ice link for my i-pod.
Overall with those failures plus regular maintenance, the allroad has spent a LOT of time in the shop, on tow trucks, and draining my wallet. That said, there is still no car at anywhere near the price that I would rather drive. The combination of the wagon body style, the manual transmission, the 4 wheel drive, the comfort, and the performance just cant be beat.
Choice between 2.7T & 4.2, which is better? To me, this choice is all about the transmission. If you want a manual your only choice is the 2.7. If you want a tip and are not going to mod the car go with the 4.2. if you want to do some modifications to the engine, the 2.7 seems to have more/easier options to quickly add power. Then again for some big $ you could supercharge the 4.2 too.
2.7T Engine -
The allroad shares a 2.7T motor with Audi's B5 S4. This means that chips (both actual chips and flash programming of the ECU) developed for the S4 will fit in the 2002 and earlier allroads directly. For 2003+ the allroad went to a newer 2.7T motor (the BEL motor). Most chip vendors have options available for the BEL motor too. What do chips do for you - they spin the turbos faster, and thus will add more power. Chips will cause more wear to your turbo. If you chip and you blow a turbo you will have a difficult time getting it covered by any warranty. If you want to learn more about the 2.7T engine, read the study guide. Go to Audiworld, Do a search for study guide, Paulroad has posted it a couple of times, you should be able to find it. It is worth the read. (now located on allroadfaq.com)
What kind of Chip/Dip?
APR, GIAC, Dahlback, MTM, and OCt all make performance programs for the allroad (2.7 anyway). The consensus seems to be that they all similar power, and since local support is important, find a tuner near you and go with what they offer. You'll find fans of all these brands.
Sure. If you have the $ you can visit a dyno and have someone come up with a custom program for you. Make sure they know what they are doing. I have heard really good things recently about EPL for a custom tune. If you are brave, a program called lemmingwinks will let you custom program for yourself. Be careful. Don't lean things out and destroy your engine.
Only a small percent of allroads have manuals (<10% IIRC). Most of us with manuals don't understand why anyone would want to drive a tip.
If you have a tip, that second or two that your car waits to go between when you push the gas and when it goes, it is called tip lag. It isn't turbo lag. If you want an explanation, go to Audiworld, and search for tip lag posts by Uber_ar. Maybe by allroad_rr, he used to go by that name.
If you have a tip and are frustrated by that lag, get a tip chip.
If you have a tip chip and are still frustrated, you should have held out and got a manual.
Most of the transmission failures are in tiptronic cars and are related to a torque converter failure. Get a scan of the transmission for error codes before you buy a used allroad.
If you have a manual, and you want to improve the shifter you can look to a short shifter to improve things. Some people like their Neuspeed short shifters, others like toy guy ones, but I haven't heard if he is still making his. There are other ones out there too. Oh and if you are getting a short shifter, the allroad has the "new" style linkage.
There is also a DTS or drive train stabilizer. It is a bar that helps to hold the drive train in place to reduce some of the slop. You can get the nice AWE part, or have one made for yourself.
Ok, turbos like to breathe. Uncorking the back end will add some hp to your car. It also might make things sound better.
Miltek makes a nice exhaust, it sounds nice but is expensive. MTM makes a nice exhaust, it is more expensive APR makes a good exhaust, but it sticks out too far, so watch your legs when walking behind the car. Remus makes great motorcycle exhaust, and their exhausts sound awesome on Coupe GT's. not one has put one on an allroad though. OCt has an exhaust, it is a Miltek. You can also put on the exhaust from an RS6 (regular or sound enhanced) if you like, but you will need to change either the tips on the pipes, or the shape of the car's rear valance. You might not even need the silencers from an exhaust. Some have opted for straight pipes from the cats back.
Downpipes sit between the turbo and the catback system, and include the catalytic converters which keep your car relatively clean.
Piggie pipes are stock downpipes that have the precats gutted, but keep the main cats in place. This is the least expensive downpipe option, but still requires a bunch of labor. FWIW cars with piggy pipes will pass CO emissions tests.
Labree makes some wonderful downpipes, as do MTM, AWE, ... (do you see a trend here?) these all come with high flow cats which really open things up.
The 2.7Ts have 2 turbos, the 4.2's have none. Turbos are expensive to replace as it is easiest to access them if you have pulled the motor from the car. The 4.2 owners probably sleep a little better at night because of this.
Since your turbo is spun by exhaust gasses it gets hot. Eventually, hot metal fatigues, and can fail. So your turbo will one day fail. Does pushing them harder than stock make them fail sooner? Maybe. The warranty folks think so.
You know your turbo has died when you hear the dentist drill sound. Tell everyone about it by posting a pic with the turbo lady. You will likely get more sympathy here than on any other forum. We are just nice.
If your turbos fail, everyone will tell you it is time for K04's. Stock allroads have KO3's. what is the difference? I remember someone on the S4 boards says the difference is 1. Whatever the difference, the K04's seem to be able to hold more boost. If you do upgrade to K04's you'll also need more fuel to match the increased air. That means new MAF, new injectors, etc, etc. Oh, and new software to manage the mess. This all gets expensive pretty quickly. Once you have done all of that, you will have a nice stage 3 car. There are only a few Stage 3 allroads around (but as allroads depreciate, there are more and more of them. Also, if you have a tip, stage III tuning can be too much power (well, torque actually) for your transmission. So you will need to de-tune the engine, or will need to upgrade to an L10 torque converter.
Stock brakes suck. Rotors warp. Some rotors pick up brake pad deposits and feel like they are warped. If you track the car, or drive aggressively, don't put the parking brake on afterwards, use a board or a tire chock to hold the car in place, otherwise you will warp your rotors.
Early allroads had S4 calipers, these use 4 small hockey puck looking pads. 03+ allroads use a different caliper, it uses two elongated pads instead. Consensus seems to be that the early ones were better.
When Audi stops buying you new rotors there are upgraded pads and rotors you can get which come in stock sizes and fit in the stock calipers, but should wear better and provide better performance. See 03Indigo's write up for how to change them.
If that isn't enough for you, go to a big brake kit (BBK). If you choose a big brake kit you have many options. You can get the Cayenne 6 piston calipers from Brembo through ECS like allroad2001. Or you can go get the Stasis/Alcons like I did. Stoptech and others also make BBKs for the allroad. That will take care of your fronts. You can leave the rear stock, switch to a vented rotor in the rear (from the B5 S4), use the stasis rear setup, or try switching to S8 rear calipers and rotors.
Before going to any big brake kit, use the template from the brake's manufacturer to see if the kit will fit underneath your wheels. This will help you avoid an expensive mistake if they don't.
BBK's also are a nightmare for the allroads spare tire. The spare is on a 16" rim. If you have a BBK up front and get a front flat tire, you can move one of your good rear tires to the front and put the spare on the rear. Unless you have a bigger brake setup in the rear too. Then you might as well leave the spare at home. Carry a AAA card, and/or a can of fix a flat. Recent work seems to indicate that an 18" foldable spare tire from an RS6 could work as a short term alternative, but I haven't yet picked one up to try it.
You have lots of choices in wheels for the allroad. The stock rims are 17" and have a 5x112 bolt pattern.
o Many folks pick up 16" rims for use with snow tires - these wont work with bigger brakes.
o Stock tire size is 225/55-17. o Stock singles spoke rims are ok but don't appear to be anything special, I use mine for winter tires. o OEM optional double spoke wheels look nice but other owners have complained that they tend to pack with snow. They are also not supposed to be taken apart. Others have taken theirs apart to clean them. Be sure to use loctite when you put them back together.
o OEM equivalent tire size for an 18" rim is 245/45-18. o The OEM RS4 rim is an 18x8.5" and has an offset of 20mm. (ET20)
The stock Pirelli P6's suck. I took mine off the car with less than 5K miles on them. The were poor in the rain and snow and mediocre at best in the dry. Stock Goodyear -allroad Wrangler tires suck a little less. If upgrading to performance tire, don't expect a long life cycle. 15-20K is good on a 4200 lb car. What tire is best seems to be a matter of personal preference.
By now (its 2013 and not sure when this info was posted) there have been developments in the world of rubber. Goodyear doesn't make the OE Wrangler and Pirelli is still making the P6's which indeed suck but must get bought by uninformed owners. THE tire of choice is the Continental Extreme Contact DWS. I have had these on my AR for about 5K miles and could not be happier. Probably better than OE by a long stretch. Admittedly, the quiet ride comes with a soft sidewall that will cause some concern upon your first good yank at the wheel. Rest assured, the rubber sticks. The steering will never telegraph this to you but you can rest assured that these tires will hold on dry, wet, and cold pavement alike. An amazing tire. Transformed the car.
Lets face it the allroad rolls around in the corners. Early allroaders adopted the PSK sway bar from the C5 S6 wagon as a firmer anti roll bar. These had the downside of knocking into the compressor for the suspension every now and then.
Other early allroaders approached Hotchkiss about making sway bars for the allroad. The h-sports made by Hotchkiss are awesome and really flatten the ride. If you install H-sports, install them on ramps, not a lift - the tires should be weighted.
The consensus seems to be that h-sports remain best bang for the buck mod on the allroad.
The 402 mod lowers the allroad by tricking the computer into adjusting the ride height by telling it that the car is riding too high.
This mod is mostly cosmetic as the car does get more "floaty" when it is lower. The lower center of gravity does help in the corners but you sacrifice some rebound dampening.
The good news is if you don't like the ride, you can put it back just as easily.
The 605 relay is for servotronic steering control. This relay adds additional boost to the steering at low speed. If you think the steering feels too light, pull the relay and it will get firmer. Don't like how heavy it is? Put the relay back. If you are brave or good at electrical work, add a switch which lets you turn the relay on and off so you can drive without it and your spouse can drive with it.
The suspension is one of those things that really make the allroad unique. The air suspension provides 4 ride height levels giving the allroad a low to the ground sporty feel, or raising it up to give it the clearance of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The airbag suspension is also a typical failure point for many allroads.
To put it simply, airbags can leak. If you find your allroad sitting low in the morning, you have a leak. If you have a leaky airbag you can replace with new airbags, or you can go to coil overs. Coil overs will provide a more controlled ride, but you'll lose the push button height adjustability.
Converting to coil overs requires use of a spacer when using coil overs designed for the A6/S6. There also may be issues with the ABS and ride height sensors when using coil overs. Be aware of your need to address those if you go down the coil over road.
Service for your allroad-
Most dealers suck, some don't. If yours doesn't, consider yourself lucky.
Dealers are the place to go for warranty work. Your warranty book states your warranty, hold the dealer to it, they cant change the warranty after you bought it.
After your warranty is over find a good independent shop near you to do the work, you'll save a bunch of money. If you are around Denver, try out Autobahn Premier Service. Randy and Todd there do great work and are the ones that service my car.
You can also opt to do work on your car yourself. The QUATTROWORLD allroad forum is full of helpful advice and write ups for most procedures you will want to try. Allroadfaq.com also has an archive of many of these procedures and even more advice.
If you own an allroad, at some point something will break or will go wrong. If you want to be able to scan the car on your own to figure out whats wrong, then you will need either a VagCom, or a shadetree Pro-Diag (now called Vad Mobile). If you buy the vag com go with the licensed version with a cable from ross-tech. The Vad product provides similar functionality but on a palm platform, rather than on a windows laptop.
If you are still reading this, you obviously care a lot about the allroad. Like I said near the beginning, the allroad is a great car. It has given my 97K miles of great times so far. Despite maintenance challenges, there is quite simply no car I'd rather own. Consider a purchase carefully, if you don't want to spend lots to maintain a car, or don't want to become personally involved in caring for your car then the allroad may not be right for you. If you don't mind those things, then the allroad might be the best car you ever own. Part race car, part SUV, and every bit daily driver there is just nothing else available like an allroad.
-GRAGRAVAR , June 2008