audi a4 b8 8K

The design of both the exterior and the interior has changed radically, a course was taken to increase the degree of sportiness. But it seems that a new approach was applied to quality too. In this article we will talk about the weaknesses and strengths of this model.


This generation of the A4 is the first one based on the global MLB platform, which means it is widely unified with numerous models of the Volkswagen concern, from the Porsche Macan to the Audi A8. Thus conceptually the car almost has not changed. The length, width and wheelbase have grown a little. A5 has two body variants - a sedan and a station wagon. The body is still steel, but the rigidity has increased - in this generation, it meets the new requirements for passive safety, in particular the impact with particularly low overlap of 25%, which became an important factor for the promotion in the U.S.

The layout is typical of the brand. The engine is still mounted longitudinally at the front, the drive on the front or all wheels. True, there is a nuance: all transmissions have the front axle lowered even a little bit relative to the crankshaft axle and therefore - closer to the engine. It allows making denser layout, shortening the car by ten millimeters and reducing longitudinal moment of inertia.

All versions of A4 have asymmetric full drive, 60% of torque is applied to rear wheels, even in usual versions. Suspension is a little bit changed: all variants have multilever now, including front-wheel drive. Well, the front multi-lever suspension was before, but it was updated - there are still five levers, but they are a different configuration, taking into account located in the subframe rack (in previous models the rack was fixed to the body).

The engine lineup consists of in-line four-cylinder petrol engines 1.8 and 2.0 from EA888 series of the second and third generations. The six-cylinder 3.2 series EA837 was used on the 8K before the restyling, and then switched to a 3-liter version with a compressor. Curiously, the 1.8 TSI engine in A4 has 120 hp version. Such low-powered version of this motor is not found anywhere else.

The top version of RS4 with atmospheric 4,2 FSI, belonging to EA824 series of the second generation, is the most forced version of the motor in a line, giving even 450 hp without a supercharger. That's more than the 5.2-liter ten-cylinder units on the Audi S6!

Diesel four-cylinder engines are represented by the EA189 series and the newer EA288. The second variant added to the engine range only in the last years of the model. The six-cylinder diesels are represented by the EA896 series of two generations and with a displacement of 2.7 to 3 liters.

The Four was equipped with both six-speed manual transmissions and automatic transmissions. Four-wheel drive versions were equipped with Multitronic variator, but all-wheel drive versions, depending on the market and year of production, were equipped with six or eight-speed automatic transmission produced by ZF or own made DSG pre-selective robot. As an option for cars with DSG and 3-liter engine offered a multi-disc clutch instead of rear differential, which allowed to control the traction vector in curves (Torque Vectoring).

Important changes took place in the interior. The car received a completely new interior (the last model was based on the design of 2001) with optional multimedia system MMI. There is a very wide center console and the front seats were turned into two "cockpits". The handbrake lever is gone, and now there is only a small handbrake lever in the cabin. One of the pleasant little things is a two-level trunk floor.

Among the new equipment we should mention first of all a variety of safety assistants, including an active cruise control with automatic braking function (at speeds up to 30 km/h) and Lane Keeping Assist. There is a power trunk on wagons and Audi Connect system - for MMI access to the Internet.

In general, this is the first significant change to the model since 2001 and the biggest since the appearance of the A4 series in general. There is even a book about the development, "Der neue Audi A4: Entwicklung und Technik. Vieweg Verlag."


Exterior panels

Perhaps you were planning to skip this section? So what's the worst that can happen to a car from the premium segment that's barely a decade old?

 audi a4 b8 8K exterior back view

Oddly enough, the A4 of this generation can be found thoroughly rusted. Rotten front and back arches and external metal of a threshold with perforation? If you look around, you can find those too. Rust spots at the junction of the front fender and bumper, at the sill in the front, or at the junction with the fender? A loose layer of anti-gravel coating on a fender with deep, loose rust underneath? Happens regularly. Rot on the edge of the trunk? It's on almost all cars.

The only question is whether the outside of the hood is affected, or whether it runs unnoticed on the metal next to the license plate lights. The front edge of the hood regularly peels off, but it rusts slowly. But the hood is made of steel, and if you run the process, it will be covered with deep craters and begin to rust from the inside.

Unfortunately, this generation was painted even worse than the B7, and the thin metal on the outside of the sills and fenders easily rots to holes if the swollen paint is not removed immediately. Just a couple of years and the outer panel will have to be replaced.

Besides quite obvious places, mentioned above, it is worth to examine carefully a windshield frame at the top - you can regularly see cars with heavy corrosion in this place, and sometimes the frame needs to be welded.

The majority of cars priced up to a million, even if it is a car after a restyling, have some cosmetic defects. First of all at the front edge of the sill, where the attachment points of the fender to the sill form an excellent rust spot, as well as along the corners of the front and rear arches. But the weak paintwork leaves a lot of options for damages, even in new cars. There's a reason this generation is often "rolled in ceramic" like Japanese cars. The coating is delicate, and metal under it rusts very easily.

If you buy unattended copy before restyling, chances are high that after cleaning of numerous blows of paint you will see holes. Or after a short time after purchase you will find out that the car was "doused" before sale, not to drop the price much. At one point the prices for B8s went down to 300k, so they were not treated with much in terms of service - remember about it.

From below

A look at the "four" on the elevator is mostly reassuring. The underside is covered with plastic panels almost completely, and there is a layer of mastic on it, and it is intact under the plastic. Too bad, the outer surface of the sills where the elevator legs and jacks are mounted suffers a lot. Often the metal is jammed and perforated, also the corrosion of thresholds front edge is well noticeable. Even the area around the gas tank looks good - some dry shallow rust near the seams and on the brackets.

But if you remove the lockers, it becomes clear: the weak exterior paintwork affects more than just appearance. There's plenty of rust in the arches. The rear edge of the front arch near the sill is often all rusted. From the place of pipes entrance on the bottom and up to the sill, the edge is dotted with small pockets of corrosion. Corrosion is especially dangerous near the sill reinforcement plug - if it dents, then water penetrates into the inner layers of the wide sill reinforcement, and here you cannot get away with replacing only the outer part of the thin metal. There are a lot of reasons for such condition of metal of the arch and sill. There is the sill's shelf with fender bracing where dirt accumulates, and a pile of dirt behind the locker, and the washer tank under the fender - when it is filled, water pours from above.

On the passenger side, the arch is usually in slightly better condition. But at the same time, pay attention to the sill itself, it is literally rotten from the inside. Moisture can easily get in through the fender fasteners. The upper side member of body, to be exact, its reinforcing bracket at the joint with the engine shield is also rotting at the seams: there is obviously not enough sealant and badly installed locker. And also water gets in from above, from fender joint. The inner edge of the front fender is also rotting, though slowly.

In the rear arches the situation is similar, but in the front parts, and edge corrosion at the door is a common thing. And inside the rear part of the sill there is often already moisture and rust, and then you can't do nothing but reweld the arches. The rear edge at the junction with the bumper suffers mainly from the outside. The sealant on the hidden inner part resists rust for a long time, but if you tried to repair the arch and the sealant is not factory-made, chances are high that the whole area under the bumper will be perforated. And, of course, the most unpleasant thing is the corrosion of the joint between the outer and inner arch. Who was it that berated the Opel Vectra B? At the age of 10 years, everything was excellent in this part, and only at the age of fifteen years there were some visible problems. Let me remind you, the metal of this Audi is surprisingly delicate. If somebody has damaged the sealant from outside, water got inside the arch, and anticorrosive coating was not made, chances are high that it is necessary to change a fender, or to weld in a repairing arch. 

Pay attention to the corrosion of seams on the edges of thermo shields near the central tunnel. This is a power part in this generation of cars, and deep corrosion is inadmissible here.

Inside the body there are no serious problem places. Drainage from the over-the-wheel niche is now as simple as possible, and it is narrow and does not collect a lot of water. The interior is usually dry, but the trunk can be wet because of not very successful installation of the rear lights. A niche where the battery is installed corrodes actively, especially if the car is idle for a long time.

Body equipment

As for other equipment breakages, everything is still not bad. You should remember at once chrome falling off on all exterior elements - a trifle, but unpleasant. The optics almost does not burn out (thanks to beautiful headlights!), and yellowing of the inner "eyelashes" - it's a problem mainly for aesthetes. So is some debris inside - something is wrong with the headlight ventilation. LEDs are quite successfully fixed, and they last long enough. In the first five years after the release of the model such a breakage was expensive, but now the services easily disassemble and reassemble the headlights. The rear LED optics breaks more often than would be desirable, but the lights are also opened with a dremel. The plastic of the bumpers is good, but the fasteners are capricious, and the front bumper is removed at almost every service, which loosens the fasteners. So, slightly sagging bumpers, scratching the paint on fenders - is a typical misfortune.

The power windows are tough, the cables rarely tear. But replacement is troublesome, and it is better to replace it with a set with guides. Unlike the previous generations of A4, here you can not remove the door frame and easy to fix everything on the workbench: the frame is not removable, the access to the mechanism is only through small holes inside the door panel. Sometimes it happens and podklinirovanie outer handles because of moisture in the mechanism of the bracket, and this is treated by changing or bulkhead - the steel axis corrodes in the aluminum lever. Unfortunately, all this requires disassembly of the door. 

Failure of the keyless entry handles is more of an electrical problem, as the original versions are not airtight and corrode over time. A little corrosion on the aluminum of the mirror brackets and a dying photochromic coating are also expected troubles.

You can reduce the likelihood of jamming a bit by lubricating the steel locking ring washer and spring inside. And at the same time you should regularly lubricate the mirror rotation lock pin, so that it does not unscrew the autofolding mechanism. The mirror in original is unglued from the base, but it can be treated inexpensively. Well and remember: there are more than a dozen wires per mirror in cars with full options. There is something to break.

The hatches are not leaking yet, and the mechanisms work properly, except the drains can be clogged. Oddly enough, there are problems with sagging of door hinges, but adjusting plates are widely available. The hatch of the fuel filler-hole is unfortunate - the motor blocking here is almost the same, as for cars on the MQB platform, only there is a cable of emergency opening. Resource block is 4-5 years, and then he stops snapping in winter, and lubrication usually does not help. But replacing it is not as easy as on the MQB. The plastic neck insert is disposable, and you have to pierce at the fasteners to remove it. Although there are craftsmen who simply dismantle its left side and put the locking motor in place.

Many people forget about the flaps of the exhaust system and check the various blocks of assistants when buying, and the price of restoration of these elements can be cosmic. After all, there are many "new generation" elements in this car. And one often buys the B8 generation just for the sake of them.


Interior is one of the strong sides of the model. The future owner usually finds out about potential problems with the body not at once, but an excellent interior is a good reason to buy this car. It has a fashionable design, and comfort is on the level. In this generation A4 has a very good climate system, not bad noise isolation, very successful ergonomics and seats. Only for very tall people the adjustment range of mechanical seats may seem small, but with electric seats there is no such a problem.

audi a4 b8 8K interior

The multimedia system fits perfectly into the interior: it is obvious that the big screen in this generation is no longer an option, but an obligatory accessory of the cabin. There are many variants of multimedia: from basic Chorus and Concert, to MMI versions with 2G, 3G and even 3G+.  And here the systems are installed since the generation B9, and all versions are expandable. Modules AUX, AMI, BT (connection to the phone for calls), BT A2DP (to play music), Jukebox (internal storage, navigation, TV tuner and CD changer) are options.

The interior has good durability. Up to mileage of two hundred thousand wear and tear can be successfully countered by leather and fabric care. The seats and all handles hold up very well, as do the door card armrests. The steering wheel wears out often early, but is easily replaced or re-stitched. There shouldn't be any extraneous knocks or breakage if the interior was rebuilt carefully.

There are a lot of options for the interior, but cloth is the strongest, but the options with inexpensive eco-leather on the sides of the seats lose their look first.

The climate system is strong, but the rotating knobs of encoders do not stand rough treatment: they break not only on "climate", but also on multimedia system. The weak point is the heater fan. Already after 120 thousand, many people have faced with howling, and someone changed the fan during warranty period. The dampers are reliable enough and in general do not fail, as well as a conditioner. The resource of compressor is 250-300 thousand kilometers, but it is with valve, without clutch, thus it is impossible to drive with empty system. At the same time the routing of tubes to the condenser is not very successful and requires careful fixing of lockers and all elements of bumper wiring. The condenser is delicate, does not like rocks and track modes, often by ten years of operation requires replacement due to damage to the honeycomb.


This generation has a comparatively fine-tuned software, but the complexity and abundance of wiring increase the price of owning older cars. All blocks here are self-diagnostic, up to the heated mirrors. But the quality of wires is not very high, and breakages of flexible parts of wiring in corrugations happen regularly.

The blocks themselves are quite fine-tuned, even in early cars there are no massive problems with firmware and software. Complicated by the presence of the protection system components. It is still difficult and expensive to remove. With the low price of the blocks on the secondary market, it is often necessary to pay many times more for their tethering.

It's good that moving the battery into the trunk was without the "BMW disease" with terminals and oxidation of the long harness - these kinds of problems are vanishingly rare here. On cars after the restyling that operate in mild hybrid mode, battery wear and tear has greatly increased, and there are more problems with electronics due to voltage fluctuations. So, in most cases, the dubious "hybrid" is simply turned off at the service. As well as the start-stop systems.

Some number of problems are brought by frequent engine maintenance, because it makes life difficult for the engine wiring and especially the engine panel connectors. Minor malfunctions in the form of oxidation of washer and antifreeze level sensors in the expansion tank and oil level sensor glitches, camera failures, keyless entry system door handles, multimedia system display backlight bulbs burning out, flooded rearview and all-around vision cameras - all these things happen, but in most cases do not hit the pocket too hard. It's just that there's "a lot of stuff" in a car, and electronics need repairs or maintenance over time.

Bottom line

Audi was loved for its sturdy body that resisted corrosion for decades. But in this generation, the accents were set differently, and it came as a surprise to many. The car has not become bad; the priorities have just changed: the model became richer, but the durability of the body remained at the level of Japanese models. Probably, quite sufficient for the US market.

Running gear

Braking system

Brakes are good even for weak versions of A4. Before the restyling, most cars were equipped with 314 mm front discs, and after the restyling - 320 mm. S4 versions were equipped with 345 mm brakes. The caliper in any case, single-piston, with a floating bracket, simple and trouble-free - of course, if you monitor the condition of the guides and their dusters.

The rear axle disks are simpler: unvented 300 mm in "simple" versions and 330 mm diameter with ventilation in the S4. The handbrake drive is electric, with the gearmotor directly on the caliper. This variant is reliable, as long as the gearmotor body is intact and no moisture has got inside. It covers the most vulnerable part of the rear caliper - the axle gland.

No problems with pipes and hoses are noted yet, but ABS system fails rather often - this generation has not the most successful wiring and sensors. It is prone to fractures inside the insulation, and the sensors fail more often than usual.  But, unlike cars on the MQB platform, the sensor here is of old design, comparatively simple and made separately from the wire.


This generation of the A4 features new geometry levers in the front suspension for the first time. In the past generations, they were interchangeable with the levers of the A4 / A8 from '94. In principle, the suspension has not changed: the same four levers and a knuckle. But the length of the upper arms has been increased, plus the installation of shock absorber in front is now standard "inverted". To implement this scheme introduced an additional bracket of light alloy and simplified the stabilizer bars of transverse stability, at the knuckle was removed problematic attachment of the steering rod and made more simple ear without a clip.

Alas, the upper arms still have the same tie bolt with the same sticking problems. The hub bearing is not a press fit, but a 4 bolt fit. Modernization allowed to make the lower arms shorter, move the driveshaft a little bit back (thanks to the bent bracket he now does not interfere with the shock absorber). All elastic elements became a little lighter and more compact. The new shape of the rear arm allows for even wider tires. 

It's a shame that the new knuckle turned out to be as unsuccessful as the first light-alloy versions of 2001: the upper arm tie-down bolts are just as tightly wedged in it. And the ball joints on the upper arms are less reliable. The older generations of levers are practically eternal, in any case there are cars manufactured in 1999-2004 with still original parts. In the A4 B8 their life is reduced to the typical suspension for 120-150 thousand mile.

Service life of the suspension as a whole has remained acceptable. The ball joints on the upper arms are no longer eternal, and have long been replaced on most cars with mileage of 200,000 km. The ball joints of the lower levers are more reliable, but the silentblocks are already worn out by 70-90 thousand, although it is a relatively inexpensive repair. It does not make sense to change levers, although many owners can banal to replace lever assemblies.  The difficulty is that the silentblocks in this generation are asymmetric, with non-circular cages, and not very skilled mechanics often spoil them when pressing them in.

Front shock-absorbers serve very long time, the main thing is to keep an armature intact. But the springs break regularly, damaging a shock absorber cup and killing the rubber gasket. It is still highly recommended that you unscrew the knuckle bolts once a year and lubricate them to prevent them from sticking. There are no cast-iron knuckles for this generation and are not expected to be.

The hub bearings of front suspension are often criticized, and many have changed hubs under warranty more than once. But it is also connected with usage of low-profile rubber. The construction itself is typical and differs little from that used on other cars.

In the rear suspension, things are a little simpler. All the silent blocks are replaceable, even the ball bearing ("floating silent block") on the S4. Only one arm needs to be replaced as an assembly. But first, there are non-original analogs, and second, the lever is steel, so it's not afraid of over-pressing. The price for 14 elements to be replaced as a result can be rather high, but they rarely fail all at once. Most parts last about 200 thousand kilometers.

The suspensions became stiffer, and it affects not only the service life, but the behavior on the road. The handling of the A4 in this generation reminds a little bit maximum straight and damped steering of the first generation 4. Sensitivity is higher, the reactive action on a steering wheel is much cleaner, and in turns the suspension holds better, making the most of wide tires. At the same time, the A4 suspension is probably the most comfortable of all the classmates due to the minimum unsprung mass and the absence of a sore point in the form of the upper shock absorber support of the McPherson type suspensions.


Steering here is rack and pinion, but not typical for Audi - the rack is located in the subframe, as in the majority of modern cars. It not only improved sensitivity of steering, but also almost completely removed the dependence on the condition of silent blocks of the subframe. In addition, this solution makes the silent blocks softer and improves comfort when using low-profile rubber.

It would seem that such a solution is a plus. In fact, the rack located in the subframe is much more exposed to contamination, it is more frequently ingested by moisture through the slightest cracks in the anthers. It is worth taking into consideration this factor for cars with mileages over 150-200 thousand. Remember, there are the majority of such A4 В8s, even if the odometer suggests otherwise. Besides the oil seals of this generation are very short, they are strongly pulled out, and in frost the outer bracket tears off banally.

The life of the rack exceeds 250 thousand, if one should keep an eye on the condition of dust covers and cleanness of oil. The typical problem is shaft corrosion due to cracks or loose tightening of duster: as a result the rack starts to knock, and then it leaks. This is at best a rebuild with polishing of the shaft and installation of repair bushings. At worst, the rack will have to be replaced as a complete set.

After the restyling, the rack was replaced with the electric one, but the seals are not better. And if on the left side the corrosion damages the shaft and bushing, but almost does not damage the gear mechanism (if you don't drive with squeaking and knocking for years), the problems multiply if you get into the rack on the right-left side. Water gets on the thrust bearing, motor rotor, and on the threaded part of the shaft where the recirculating balls move. If you drive around with a damaged dust cover for a long time, moisture can get into the electronics as well.

Corrosion affects mainly the thrust bearing on the right side, it begins to creak characteristically under load, and the balls begin to crunch in the grooves due to dirt and damage to the rotor and shaft. If you restore the bearing (and this is a nontrivial task because of the nonstandard size and frankly unsuccessful layout solutions), with small cavities in the shaft and rotor, the mechanism requires only cleaning and lubrication, but the amplifier characteristics will be different from the linear. In most cases it is not so fundamental. If the rotor is seriously damaged, it is practically impossible to repair it, it will have to be replaced.

A special piquancy of the situation is given by the fact that the rack on almost all instances also leaks along the wiring glands. Any cracks in the housing at the control and power connectors or damage of the connectors and wiring themselves lead to the ingress of moisture. Almost all racks have traces of board corrosion near the output connectors, but in most cases this damage does not yet affect the performance. Alas, time will pass and the output of this generation of racks will become mass-produced.


Common problems

The transition to spline joints on the driveshaft, driveshafts, and transmission didn't make them any more problematic, nor did the reconfiguration of the gearboxes. The CVTs are reliable enough. All the same 170 and 300 hp. - It is absolutely different loading on all units, including shafts. Well, the increased load on the rear reducer has unloaded front drives, it became much more difficult to break them even with powerful motors.

The all-wheel drive is the most reliable, but here everything depends on driving style.  On a tuned copy and with a good "hitch" it is possible to topple both the gearbox and the drives.

Manual gearboxes

"Fours" on the mechanics are few in the population, about 5%, but complaints about failures, which is surprising, occur. The reason is that the half of these cars were imported from Europe, and often they are Avant wagons with towbars and decent mileage. The rest of them are seriously tuned, they are used for quattro-starts and other extreme exercises. 

Transmissions in the 8K body are not interchangeable with the older generations. There's a layout with a separate external front axle drive shaft and front axle main gear in the side housing. The left wheel drive shaft goes straight through the bell housing. Boxes for front-wheel drive modifications are relatively inexpensive: for literally 20 thousand you can buy a working unit. But all-wheel drive versions cost more than other automatics. But there is a "know-how": look for a box from Q5 and A5 - there all-wheel drive is more frequent, and price for a box is lower.

The main malfunction is howling due to bearing failure under overload. Shaft failures are rare. Synchronizers are expensive, but you can pick up analogues from less rare versions of the MECHANICAL TRANSFORMATION BOX. In general, there is nothing particularly terrible. With careful exploitation it is possible to get only on an expensive double flywheel and clutch. Well, if you take the car for 0-200 or 100-200 runs, there is no sense to grieve about costliness of details of the transmission. There is also DSG DL501, which copes with such loads much better. If you need the car for such problems, it makes sense to buy a model with DSG initially or to "swap" it.

Automatic transmissions

For all the variety of the automatic transmission series in this generation of the A4, they are all the same old familiar ones. Multitronic 0AW for front-wheel drive, 6-speed ZF 0B6, 7-speed DSG 0B5 and 8-speed ZF 0BK/0BL for front and all-wheel drive.

In short, the design is seriously optimized, for high load modes made mode "shifting" (the car accelerates by changing the engine speed, and the ratio of the variator changes in steps, under the reset traction). It has allowed to increase considerably the limits of torque transmission and not to lose in economy.

The main vulnerable place of the box is the revolution sensor, with which only unsuccessful heat exchanger competes on capriciousness. These problems are solved quite successfully: the sensor on the board is re-soldered, the cooling system is remade. The chain resource is high, over 300 thousand, bearings are reliable if oil is timely replaced. The purity of oil depends a lot, it is better not to neglect it, because overhaul is very expensive, and the price of contract units is high.

The most part of boxes are killed by banal towing. Not the torque converter is used here, but the starter pack. When the oil pump doesn't work, it burns out, and this automatic transmission doesn't have a neutral gear. Dirt from the burned starter pack is spread throughout the box on the first start, clogging the pump and solenoids.

The 0B6 six-speed automatic is actually a clone of the regular ZF6HP28A in the AL651 version. The ZF transmission was discussed in detail in a review of the Jaguar XF. The front-wheel drive version has its own housing with a built-in gearbox for the front axle, but this adds no special features in operation. In fact, the troubles in the form of stable wear and tear of the linings of the locking of the clutch and oil pollution due to the algorithm of work with constant slippage and features of the mechatronic here is exactly the same.

In general, it's not the worst automatic transmission, just need to change oil more often, try to keep the oil temperature within 50-80 degrees (unfortunately, for urban conditions it often requires modification of the cooling system) and avoid overheating, which dramatically reduces the life of numerous rubber and plastic structural elements - from oil seals to hydro accumulators and distance washers. Boxes of this series are not compatible with older versions of ZF6HP for Audi because of the layout, but the price is not affected: the choice of used ones is great, and repairs are on stream. It's a pity that the difference between the actual cost of repair and what the owner pays is usually a multiple. However, it concerns almost any automatic transmission repair.

The robot of 0B5 series is better known as DSG DL501, and it is not the most successful of VAG "preselectives". That said, it is designed for very high torque and handles any of the engines available on this generation A4. Unfortunately, the 8K four is powered by fairly early versions of this box. The A6 C7 review at the link above had a description of this transmission as well.

The DL501 remains a rather finicky and expensive to maintain version of the DSG, mostly due to expensive components and less prevalence than the "transverse" transmissions. However, readiness to digest high torque makes it somewhat bearable. The peculiarities of design and operation are relatively short clutch life, the need for frequent oil changes in the hydraulic part, regular replacement of solenoids, replacement or thorough washing of the ejector pump, without waiting for the disc warping and accelerated wear of the starter pack. The clutch repair is now mastered with o-ring replacement, bearing cover and seat restoration, clutch drum, and ejector pump flushing. Also, the new mechatronic software prevents overloading the box. If you want, you can put tuning firmware - with them the chances to put the box will grow, but get a noticeable improvement in the dynamics of the car.

Eight-speed automatic 0BK/0BL series - a box produced by ZF, also designated Al551-q8 and AL951-Q8 (the index indicates the maximum torque they are able to transmit normally). But these boxes are best known as ZF 8HP55A and ZF 8HP90A.

Their design is extremely complicated for a hydraulic automatic transmission: 8 gears, dual-mass damper in the housing of automatic transmission, gate pump with flexibly adjustable pressure, lightweight aluminum housings of drums, interaxle differential with forced lubrication and a separate oil pump. The box has three lubrication circuits: the main circuit, transfer case and the front axle main gear. The most powerful versions of 0BL gearbox and the main gear are closed and have a separate oil radiator. These automatic transmissions can use the data of a navigation system to optimize shifting, sharpened to work with a start-stop function through the use of a high-capacity hydraulic accumulator with an electric takeoff. But enough of advertising. Now about how all this splendor endures the hardships of service.

Under small loadings, read: with diesel and petrol motors 1,8 and 2,0, and moreover with careful style of driving, these automatics is a sample of technologies triumph. It is economic, and also reliable. Even with oil changes once in 60 thousand, there are many alive automatic transmissions with mileage well over 300. Mostly from Europe, of course. No wonder, that many people sing ode to reliability of this unit.

But the opinion of fans pushing the gas pedal to the floor is completely different. When you use the potential of motors, heat the unit in traffic jams and sharp driving style with constant acceleration and braking the box overheats.  The locking friction and brake package B, which is responsible for auto neutral in traffic jams, will wear out intensively. The oil pump gets scuffed, the rubber elements get old, the planetary gears get howling, the dual-mass damper makes a muffled knock, creating high loads on the whole mechanics of the transmission as well. Any shift bumps and half the drums are sent for rebuild or replacement due to slivers on the soft aluminum surface. Usually, breakage of "very reliable automatic transmission" is a big surprise. The box is obscenely expensive to repair. Any mistake can kill its tender mechanical part and drive the price of repair into space.


General problems

Gasoline and diesel engines on this generation are all complex and with good potential for tuning. Accordingly, chances to have serious problems with the versions before restyling and serviced, who knows where, are rather high. 

Structurally the engines illustrate the typical approach of concern Volkswagen of two-thousandths: there are a lot of expensive tubes of systems of cooling, vacuum and crankcase gases ventilation. All of these are conventionally disposable, with fittings and require attention. The injection control systems are complex on both diesel and gasoline engines. There are a lot of unexpected complications of the construction where a typical Japanese car owner has never even heard of them. For example, an expansion tank with a silicon "bomb" - the restyling includes a package with silica gel. If you ignore instructions on tank replacement, you will get contamination of cooling system and inoperative heater.

Gasoline engines

Most copies of the A4 are equipped with engines from the EA888 family of three generations. In fact, there are more than a dozen versions, but we will divide them only by generation and year of manufacture. Gen2 engines are said to be the most problematic, as they have not solved first generation timing problems, but there have been surprises with the piston group. And Gen3 engines are supposedly fine and reliable. In fact, Gen3s are now also getting into repairs quite often, but the reasons are different.

Before the restyling, the 1.8 series engines were CABA, CABB, CDHA, CABD, CDHB and 2.0 series CDNB, CDNC, CAEA, CAEB, CFKA. After the restyling came the 1.8 CJEB and CDHA engines, the 2.0 versions CDNC,CDNB,CAEA,CAEB,CAED,CPMB, CPMA,CFKA,CNCD. Such diversity is due to the fact that the Gen1 and Gen2 units exist both in versions with one phase control, and with two, with AVL system (Audi Valvelift System, when you adjust the height of the valve lift in the intake) and in varying degrees of forcing for different firmware and markets.

Gen3 engines have all versions with two phase shifters and AVL, but there are enough variations: in addition to engines for Euro 4/5 standards, there are also engines that meet U.S. requirements ULEV2/SULEV.

The most exotic Gen1 and Gen2 1.8 are CABA and CDHA with 120 hp. The most common among the Gen1/1.8 are CABD (170 hp) and CABB (160 hp), and the Gen2 series is CDHB with 160 hp.

The 2.0 Gen1 motors are only represented by the 200 hp CCTA, the Gen2 is the 180 hp CDNB and the 211 hp CDNC. The CAEA and CAEB for American ULEV2 standards are mostly found on imported American cars. The rest are exotics, such as bi-fuel CFKA to U.S. toxic standards.

Gen3 engines with a capacity of 1.8 liters are primarily represented by a series CJEB (170 hp) and CJEE (177 hp), rarely CJED. Units in 2.0 series are usually with the CNCD index and 225 hp.

The engine model is better to specify in the certificate of registration, or check the number on the chassis by yourself. But on some cars there are "hybrids" with mixed cylinder heads, crankshafts, piston groups and oil pumps. Sometimes this is the result of tuning, sometimes it's just a consequence of repairs "by the thread". It's easy enough to distinguish the Gen3 from the first two: they have a completely different intake. But the difference between Gen1 and Gen2 in practice is negligible. It all depends on who repaired it and how, and what piston and timing was installed. Often you can find it out only by opening the unit.

The 3.2 CALA and 3.0 CAKA, CCBA, CREC and CRED engines belong to the two generations of the EA837 series, the supercharged often referred to as EA837 TFSI Evo. These are V6 engines in an alusyl block, with a timing chain drive, and a very complex one, located on the flywheel side. The atmospheric engines have one phasing unit versus two for the compressor engines. If you think that atmospheric engines of this generation are reliable, you are wrong. Both on A4 and A6 these power units were dying for many reasons, in comparison with them the second generation EA888 is simply an example of durability and maintainability. And by reliability the new series are not so much different from the old ones. The explanation is obvious: alusil is bad with overheating and detonation, does not like low viscosity oils and coking low-moving thin rings. And most of the modifications are games with operating temperature, firmware and catalytic converters.

No reliability of old engines with such liner technology is out of the question. And the repair of the cylinder block is very expensive: the unit is thin-walled, the liner fitting is complicated. And the chances to get a lot of troubles, even after a costly repair, are also high. We also wrote about evolution of this line of motors in the review of Audi A6 C7.

Atmospheric 4,2 FSI on RS4 sometimes serves long enough, and still it is difficult to call it reliable. On the one hand, there are lower temperatures here, and care is appropriate. On the other hand, the 4.2 FSI has the same design and very similar problems, plus the operating style is often tough.

Diesel engines

Diesel engines are mainly represented by the two-liter EA189 series. Rarely there are newer EA288, the main advantages of which include significantly faster warm-up and softer operation in all modes, as well as strictly electromagnetic injectors.

On the EA189 generation the first engines were equipped with very capricious piezo injectors.  There are a lot of models: CAGA, CAGB, CAHA, CAHB, CAGC, CMEA, CJCB, CNHA, CNHC, CSUA, CSUB. Only the early versions with the EDC 17 C14 ECU with piezo injectors should be avoided. The versions with balancer shafts have a nuance with wear of oil pump drive hex, it is worth to change it when changing a timing belt for a new one. Otherwise there is a chance that it will turn.

Balancers are used on CAHA (170 hp), CAHB (163 hp), CAGA (143 hp), CAGB (136 hp) engines. Their early versions can be with piezo injectors. The engines CJCA (143 hp), CJCB (136 hp), CMEA (143 hp), CNHA (190 hp) and others already with electromagnetic injectors, but there are almost no variants without balancers in Audi.

Rare V6 diesels belong to the EA896 series: these are the 2.7 CAMA, CAMB, CGKA, CGKB engines on early cars, or the 3.0 CCWA,CCWB,CCLA and CLAB,CDUC,CKVB,CKVC engines, which ran until the end of the model. Within the series, the engines are split into two generations. The units are reliable, with a long service life, but extremely expensive to repair. On the A4, it is the choice of fans of sporty driving style for fans of diesel.


If you're not too worried about extra costs and you're not worried about the body, the Audi A4 generation 8K is not the worst option among classmates. There's a spare in the big trunk, the rear seats seat taller passengers freely, the optional folding backs of the rear seats are provided, and there's a utilitarian and stylish station wagon body. The four-wheel drive is really full, permanent and enduring. And there are both reliable and quite powerful motors. If to try hard, it is even possible to pick up something combining all these advantages. Certainly, it is a pity that the legendary galvanization of Audi does not save you any more, and base motors are non-fatal.