Spring Is Here – Our $2,300 Audi A5 Convertible

If you are a Mid-Century fan, the likely hood you are into restoring things goes beyond just your home. I think it was my dad who said to me “we can’t afford “X” we need to fix it ourselves” or “It is too expensive for new things and what we have can be fixed”. I guess those statements with many other conversations stuck with me. As a young kid born in Detroit, MI (the motor city) – I also had a passion for machines.

I have always appreciated the design of the cars at the auto shows. How the designs were futuristic and many times dream machines. So for me, taking care of a house, old furniture or a car comes as a primary nature to my thought patterns. Today I introduce to you our $2,300 2010 Audi A5 convertible.

Audi A5 Introduction

A friend at work said, hey we have not gotten lunch in a while – do you want to grab something? Of course I had time and we headed out. Many years prior (maybe 2015) he knew I was a car guy and asked me about this car for his daughter. We chatted about it and they bought it. At the time it was 5 years old and had 30K miles. Fast forward to our lunch, he mentioned this car had some engine issues and it was worth more in parts vs. the repair. They had quotes up to $12K to fix the car at the dealer. Good examples for this year range in the price point of $12K-$15K. Pristine really low millage (this car had 79K miles on it) can go slightly higher. To make a long story short, he offered it for sale at $2,500. I told him, let me do a little research, look it over and make a decision. At the end of the day we settled on $2,300. There was much to do beyond the engine and hence this post.

General list of things that needed to be addressed:

  • Engine rebuild including water pump and other normal maintenance items.
  • New brakes front and rear
  • Clean up and paint brake mounts and shields
  • Worn switches and shift knob
  • Dents and dings
  • Headlights and fog lights foggy
  • Wheel paint chipping and dull
  • Roof headliner not connected properly
  • Radio Screen UV layer needed to be removed
  • General detail top to bottom
  • License plate lights not working
  • 2 bad tires and desperate need for alignment
  • Couple of dings on fenders and bumpers

The Number 1 problem on the Audi A5 – Engine Rebuild

In 2008 Audi’s engineers sought to enhance piston efficiency in response to new EPA regulations mandating reduced emissions while maintaining or improving fuel economy. They encountered the challenge that efforts to reduce emissions often lead to increased fuel consumption due to the inherent trade-off between emission reduction and fuel burning. This dilemma arises from emissions acting as a constraint on engine performance, necessitating the recycling of exhaust fumes to incinerate gases and particles deemed harmful, resulting in higher fuel consumption. Despite the irony, engineers I know say removing many of the current systems could improve efficiency by over 50%. Go figure.

With this redesigned piston ring, changing its shape from a rectangular to an oval configuration, aiming to address efficiency led to carbon buildup retention, potentially causing damage to piston walls over time, requiring either significant engine repair or replacement. This car had all of the symptoms of what the recall stated (that had already lapsed) it would consume about a quart of oil every 400-500 miles. Drinking the stuff.

I chatted with everyone from the dealer to other shops in the area. My last stop in seeking expert advice was with Trask Automotive in Kernersville, NC. A dedicated team of car enthusiasts with expertise in motorsports and automotive mechanics. They are car guys – multiple generations of enthusiast that do SCCA / Autocross racing and they have motor oil in their blood. If you want to find a good mechanic, find one that loves what they do – and the team at Trask it is what they do.

The total cost of the rebuild, including additional maintenance tasks, amounted to a range I could live with. They said we would have it back in time for a scenic drive along the North Carolina Blue Ridge Parkway.

Once I got the call, I stopped off to inspect and take her for a spin. Everything was in place and worked as expected. I could tell that the motor was rather tight with the new pistons but it performed flawlessly. Come that weekend, we had a perfect fall day which equaled a great time along the parkway with a convertible.

Brakes, Exterior Detail, Interior Detail

Now that the engine was working properly it was time to start addressing all of the other issues. The first couple of items were easy to swap out. I ordered up new lower grills (which were somehow melted from the previous owner). Euro front bumper panel (cleaned up the front end) I ordered up a couple of interior switches. and replaced them. Then the headlights were refinished to make the clear again.

These little details go a long way to making the car presentable.

Next up was to work on the brakes and wheels. Overall the paint was horrible on the wheels and the dust shields behind the brake rotors were pitted and black (they are supposed to be silver). The brake rotors and pads were in need of replacement. This car only had 79K miles on it but it was time at all 4 corners. I ordered up a complete set of drilled and slotted rotors with low dust pads.

During the installation, I misplaced one bolt and needed to order it from the dealer (only place to get it) for $14. It took 4 days :(. When picking it up, I was greeted with a RS6 wagon in the showroom. A cool $148K to take this one home. I don’t know who spends this kind of cash on a car like this – but I am sure they enjoyed every minute.

Full Ceramic Brakes

Up next I started to prep the wheels for paint. First cleaning them and secondly hitting them with Dupli-Color Automotive Primer. This had a real nice thick scratch and dent filler material. It worked out great.

I followed up with silver paint and a clear-coat surface to protect them. Unfortunately during the final clear-coat, I noticed the clear must have had some type of conflict with the paint. I don’t know why, I have used this paint and clear before with zero problem. It started to bubble in a couple of very noticiable areas. Then I started to pause and think, do I want to strip these down all the way? I like them but not in love with them, and this step was to refresh them until I find something else. Plus they are difficult to clean properly.

While I was contemplating what to do next, I browsed FaceBook Marketplace to see what is available. I looked many times before but most of the time the wheels were way over priced.

I found a set of 2017 Forged 19″ S5 wheels. They were straight and looked great, there was only a couple of lip scuffs that could be sanded out with no problem. I called the guy up, asked my brother to go and headed out the door at 6AM. 2 hours and $700 later and my brother and I were on our way back home. Thanks Danny for going along!

Audo A5 convertible

The final item that I wanted to address was the mirrors, I add the S5 aluminum mirror caps to match the windshield and body line aluminum trim. I don’t think I would have done this on the coupe as the trim is different but it makes complete sense to match on the cabriolet.

At the end of they day, if you appreciate things from yesterday – like my daughters 1997 Honda CR-V with 85K miles on it, an older Audi or a mid-century home – you may suffer from a similar disease I have. While I can appreciate new things, my heart looks for things that are stable or proven out. With the Audi and the oil ring issue, could you imagine spending $56,000 on a car to have the engine fail? Many times, not being an early adopter pays off.

Our final bill for everything done to this car is just a tad over $10K. Looking at the market it is not a bad place to be with a refreshed engine and all the maintenance done for 100K miles. Just drive and change oil.

We will be back to Mid-Century House improvements very soon.

Until Next time!

2 weeks ago

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