1997-2002 Audi A6 Buyer's Guide

By: Joe Kenwright

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 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6  Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6
 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6  Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6
 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6 Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6  Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6

Depreciation has been unkind to the A6 but you can be the winner

1997-2002 Audi A6 Buyer's Guide
QuickTips: Buying a 1997-2002 Audi A6


1997-2002 Audi A6


Audi’s first major break from its evolutionary styling updates that linked previous models back to the 1970s and earlier, stopped the world’s designers in their tracks. Because this landmark A6’s striking sculptured design is still exerting a profound influence on the world’s 2008 models, it’s hard to reconcile its 1997 arrival beside the EL Falcon and VT Commodore. It was backed by engineering integrity that cut 40kg from a body that was 50 percent stiffer with a benchmark 0.28Cd. High-quality cabin design was a mix of modern dash and timeless pleated seats with electronic aids only just filtering into today’s cars. Audi continued with its longitudinal engine ahead of the front axle layout shared with Subaru but offered a choice of front-drive and Quattro models.

Reliability was dramatically improved with efficient 30-valve 2.4/2.8-litre V6 engines that can bring extra costs as the kms add up. Desirable Avant wagon arrived a year after the sedan’s October 1997 local launch. Post-February 2002 upgrade with choice of 2.4, 2.8, 3.0, 2.7 Turbo V6 and 4.2 V8 petrol engines are in another price league compared to overlooked and bargain-priced earlier models which now must be valued in the shadow of BMW’s best-ever E39 5 Series.




  • Early ABS technology was main premature failure item which can cost $800-2000 to rectify when it also takes out traction control and other functions. Test that it works and ABS warning systems have not been disconnected.


  • Visual dash display unit fails and LCD unit can cost up to $800 to repair so most owners don’t bother. Check and allow for in final price if not operative.


  • Superb auto lasts better than most but fluid changes and a check every 80,000km is recommended for long life.


  • Variable cam solenoids will drop oil earlier than some others and should be addressed during the cambelt changeover if starting to weep when access is easier.


  • Advanced double wishbone front end can chew through uprights and upper arms every 80,000km depending on usage. Poor quality replacements will last a third of that so check for shortcuts.


  • Cam belt, water pump and thermostat should be replaced together to avoid a repeat of big labour cost to access them. Engine location ahead of front axle is a tight fit against front structure requiring special tools for most repairs or removal of front which an Audi expert can achieve inside two hours compared to almost a day for a first-timer.


  • Oil consumption better than previous Audis with a 1.0-litre top-up usually required before the 15,000km service. Better to replace the oil at this point. Engine thrives on quality synthetic oil.


  • Allow for new brake rotors every third service or 50-60,000km depending on driver. Check power steering lines for minor leaks usually caused by loose clamps.


  • Unusual and unavoidable tyre wear on inner edge of rear tyres is generated by front-drive’s torsion beam rear axle. Quattro’s multi-link rear end is much kinder to rear tyres which should be premium European or equivalent. Cheap 18 or 19inch wheel and tyre


  • Hazard and indicator switch failures can be an issue otherwise interior is long-lived providing leather is given regular conditioning.




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