Friday, February 4, 2011

End of Audi Lease Means Hello Subaru Outback

Audi A4 DTM EditionImage via Wikipedia
Since 1998, we have had three Audi A4's which we used as our primary family car. These were beautiful automobiles with exceptional handling. And, the all-wheel drive feature has been especially important to us living in northeast New Jersey during the winters.

But, like all good things, our lease is about to end in the next two months. While we love these cars, we have decided not to get another one for a variety of reasons.

We purchased our first A4 Avant in 1998. It drove and handled wonderfully. But, after the 4 year warranty ended, we began to experience a number of problems. First, the tires continually wore out. We checked the alignment and balance over and over, but that was rarely a problem. We spoke to other Audi owners and they complained about the same thing. Second, we started to smell a burning odor when inside the car. The dealer said we had to repair the head gasket, so we did. Then, within 3 months, the same odor reappeared. That time, the dealer replaced the head gasket again but it was free of charge. Everything was fine for the next year until the antifreeze warning started going on. We added new antifreeze and within a week, the light appeared again. So we added more fluid. We took it back to the dealer, but they didn't find anything wrong. However, they did agree we were losing fluid somewhere. Finally, they said the antifreeze was leaking into the engine and that would be an expensive repair.

So, that was it. With only 68,000 miles, we decided to turn it in and get a new Audi. But that time, we decided to lease the car. We figured that the lease would be up in 3 and a half years, so any repairs would be covered under warranty. The week before we returned it, we smelled the same burning odor in the car. We knew what that meant and were glad to begin a new lease.

This third Audi will now be going back in a little less that 2 months, but this time we will not replace it with another Audi.  Instead, we want to drive an auto that is maintenance free. This car has less than 24,000 miles. Just last month, I returned home from work and saw a large fluid puddle around the drivers side tire. It didn't smell like oil or antifreeze. So, we had the car towed to the dealer and they found that all the transmission fluid leaked out. Apparently, some gasket broke which caused the problem. Then, three days ago, the drivers side windshield wiper fell apart. Luckily, the warranty covered these repairs.

This current Audi will be returned with a small dent in one of the doors. We were going to have that fixed, but received instructions from Audi stating that any dent less than 2 inches in diameter are considered normal wear and tear and will be free of charge.

Subaru Outback IV 2.0D AWD ActiveImage via Wikipedia

Our next new car will be a Subaru Outback. We owned one of these during the Audi years and had it for 10 years. That car required no maintenance during the 170,000 plus miles that we drove it.

The Outback is 4 wheel drive as well, so we know it will handle well in the snow.  While this car is not as elegant as the Audi, we're looking forward to owning a maintenance free automobile once again.

After all these years, we feel a little sad because the end of this Audi lease means hello Subaru Outback.
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