Audi A4 Shed

Audi A4 Blog: Unsold, then Sold!

Timewasters. They are everywhere, but seemingly gravitate towards online sale websites. Anyone who uses eBay as a selling tool with any degree of frequency will fully understand this. And so, with the Audi on Gumtree, attracting enough attention from people from all over the country asking me for my “best price”, I thought that, as my previous post attests, I had stumbled upon a genuine buyer.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, and after holding the car for a week, the buyer backed out, with some excuse about his car breaking down a few days prior. So, back on the Gumtree merry-go-round we went but with a much lower price and some stern words that it was heading to scrap if it wasn’t sold by the weekend (the scrap yard offered a surprisingly good deal). What followed was a repeat of previous “best price” calls, before I received a text message from a gent asking if he could view the next day.

I happily obliged and a soldier medic turned up, currently posted in York area and wanted something to last him a few months – the long MOT ticket beign a big draw to the car. I explained in full all of the faults I was aware of with the little orange Audi, and he was happy with these, informing that his mechanic friends on the base will sort those out for him anyway.

Ten minutes later, the deal was done. A very straightforward transaction, restoring my faith that there are genuine people out there who genuinely want to actually buy a car.

And so here ends the “Shedlife” experiment. It has been fun – and it has been a very cheap way of motoring over the past three years, working out at around 31 pence per mile – including petrol and all costs – and a spectactular 10 pence per mile if you don’t include fuel.

With the Porsche 911 also sold and the Mini just purchased, the fleet is undergoing something of a refresh. I hope you enjoy my new motoring blogs into 2015. 🙂

Audi A4 Blog: Sold!

Following a change of the fleet (see the final post in the 911 diaries), and a new car being purchased in the shape of a Mini (running report coming soon), the Audi is now surplus to requirements. A friend of mine recommended Gumtree as a great free way to sell cheap cars.

I put the Audi up for sale, detailing its problems, and the phone was like a hotline for several days. I had a lot of offers, but they were too low and I chose to wait for a little while longer (although the local scrapyard offered £160, which I found surprisingly good).

And a few days ago, I had a visit from a young chap who immediately liked the car, despite its issues with the breaks and the vibrating type noise from the front wheels. The car was up for sale at £350, and we negotiated to £300.

It will be collected next Tuesday, so I’ll give it a quick wash and clean in advance of that. I’ll post again once the deal has been done to close the A4 blog, but as of this moment, the writing is on the wall for the Shedlife blog. But fear not, readers, the Mini will be starting up a new blog in the very near future. Stay tuned for more updates, and of course, plenty more reviews of sports and supercars…

Audi A4 Blog: Another Breakdown

Audi A4 Brake Light

Audi A4 Brake Warning

A few things have gone wrong recently with the ol’ Audi shed, causing me to rethink the long term ownership plans of this car. It started with the remote central locking becoming intermittent, and ended with the car being locked in a car park in the centre of Leeds – with no way to unlock it without the alarm going off. More on that later.

Whilst the intermittent central locking set up something of a warning of future problems, a more immediate issue following a relatively long drive home from Manchester airport after a short business trip to Rome, manifested itself with a flashing red light on the dashboard just as I pulled onto the driveway. A check of the manual showed that this indicates the brake fluid is low. One solution would be to simply top it up, but the correct solution is to find out why it’s used the fluid in the first place.

An internet post – and a call to my brother in law (a mechanic by trade) suggested that the brakes might be due replacement. I hadn’t replaced the rear brakes in my tenure with the car, so assumed these must be due. £39 of eBay magic later and I had myself a new set of disks and pads. I enlisted the skills of my father in law to complete the replacement duties, but he duly informed that both discs and pads are in full tact and don’t require replacement. However, there was a ceased brake calliper, which he fixed, and noted that there was a small leak on the handbrake, so might explain the dip in fluid – which was topped up and the light immediately went out. I’ve also now got a spare set of rear discs and pads for the potential new owner when I come to sell. The brakes are working fine but will monitor closely incase the leak issue hasn’t been fully resolved.

Audi A4 Recovery Truck

Waiting for loading on the Recovery Truck

The final issue to date – which had me cursing furiously, was the remote central locking keyfob failing completely, and being unable to get into the car without the alarm going off. This ended in a recovery truck being called (exceptional service once again from AutoAid) and me considering a change of car in the near future. I managed to eventually get the secondary keyfob working on the aftermarket alarm to unlock the car, and am now using the key in the door rather than risk the same issue occurring again.

So for now, we are back on the road safely, but two recoveries is one too many for my liking, so am on the lookout for a replacement. Watch this space…

Audi A4 Blog: Happy Birthday!

OK, so its not technically it’s birthday, but it has now been in my ownership for 2 whole years!! Well, about 25 months to be exact, close enough for an update though.

Reflecting on this, it has been a period of ups and downs, but mainly it has been right across the middle being a relatively reliable and dependable car – albeit not a particularly comfortable one, it has to be said.

But, with the onset of this anniversary, I thought I’d knock up a quick list showing the approximate costs to date. So without further adue…

Audi A4 Costs:

Year 1:

  • Purchase cost: £300
  • Work at purchase: £100
  • Insurance (3 months): £87
  • Ignition Switch: (unsure)
  • Insurance: £350
  • MOT: £40
  • TOTAL: £877

Year 2:

  • Tyre fix and balance: £25
  • Car Tax: £260
  • Insurance: £350
  • Mini-Valet: £12
  • MOT: £45
  • 4 tyres: £200.02
  • Discs and pads (front): £32.50
  • Upper and lower arms: £54
  • TOTAL: £978.52

Ancillary costs:

  • Air over 2 years: Approx £5
  • AutoAid Breakdown cover: £39 per year.

Total of two years ownership: £1899.52

Approximate value of the car now: £300

Final Standing: £1599.52 in 25 months, not including fuel. = £63 per month.

Shedding looks to still be the cheapest mode of transportation! However, I suspect that running the Porsche as the only car rather than the Audi might have been cheaper than this, or if not not much more expensive overall. However, that would ruin the fun of the Porsche – and of course having a variety on the driveway is more fun. 🙂

Audi A4 Blog: Its Aliiiive!

It’s aliiiive!!

Audi Shed is once again back on the road. The issue was indeed a short-connection between the starter motor and the engine block. Fixed by Father in law, battery recharged all is well again. Hurrah!

So we are back on the road, but having several weeks using the other cars, it has highlighted just what a shed this car is. Its noisy, not particularly comfortable and the recent breakdowns have blighted it’s workhorse CV. The air conditioning is still spectacurlaly good though.

It only needs to go for another 12 months and then it’s changeover time. However my good lady wife has spied a nice Mini Convertible at the weekend, so it might depart before then…

For now though, back on track!

Audi A4 Blog: Problems, fixes, more problems..

Problems!
The starter motor had been playing up on the Audi, and after the second time of failure, my brother in law (a mechanic by trade) collected the car to fix the starter motor with my father in law.

My Father in law asked for the MOT test sheet as well and whilst he had the car, he went through everything on there and fixed for me. Most kind! So, the upper and lower suspension arms were fixed too and whilst he had the wheels off checked the brakes. The front ones had about 3 miles left on them before disaster – there was almost nothing left on the brake pads and the front disks were heavily used. So new ones ordered and fitted too.

The starter motor was reconditioned and put back on, all good!

Fixed!

So great news, I picked the car back up yesterday and all was well.

Comparing the prices too, shows just how much DIY can save you as there is no markup or fitting charges;

(Quotes from a local garage)

  • Front disks and Pads supply + fit(£150). My price £32.50 (ebay)
  • Upper and lower arms supply + fit (£240). My price £54.00 (local parts-shop)

Total saving: £304

Bargain!!!

Very Not fixed.

Well, it is a bargain until;

Audi Broken!

Audi Broken!

Whilst travelling on the motorway at 70mph, the whole car simply shut down. The electrics went off, I lost power. There was nothing at all would work. I coasted to a stop, right next to the SOS box as it happens and put a call in via the Highways Agency to my breakdown provider AutoAid. Both teams were very efficient. I had a call back from AutoAid within 5 minutes confirming they had received the instruction and a truck would be with me within an hour. The Highways Agency called me back 5 minutes after that to check that AutoAid had called me. 5 minutes later and the recovery garage were on the phone to say someone would be with me by 7.15pm (45 minutes away). They arrived just 5 minutes outside of this time, so couldn’t complain really.

It was a lovely evening, so I just sat at the side of the hard shoulder and watched the world go by. It did perhaps highlight that the danger of hard shoulder running though. I believe that only a small percentage of people who stop on the hard shoulder actually need to be there but in this case I was definately one of them. And without any electrics (no brake lights, hazard lights) I had no way to warn anyone. Had this been 10 miles up the road where the hard shoulder would have probably been a live running lane the outcome could have been much worse.

When recovery arrived, he promptly put the car onto the trailer and towed the Audi to the next Services. From here he had a closer look at the problem. Believing it to be battery related, he tested it with a meter which showed the battery had 0.00 Volts in it. One very dead battery. However, the fact there was no warning of this and that it just died suggested a short somewhere.

Trying to revive the battery with a remote power pack let loose large sparks and the odd small fire. That also shorted out the power pack and that was the end of that! He towed the car back to my in-laws house and suggested that we remove the battery and try and charge it to see if there is any life left in it at all. He also noted that the connection points on the battery were still warm – even one hour after I had broken down. He found this unusual and thought something was shorting the battery – possibly the starter motor.

The starter motor, oh dear. My bro-in-law is going to have a look today at his handywork. I don’t know – you can’t get the staff. 😉

Audi A4 Blog: MOT Results

The Audi went in for it’s annual MOT test on Monday and I’m pleased to say it passed. Hurrah!! Here is to more motoring fun with the Audi for a little while longer. 🙂

Audi A4 Blog: A step closer to roadworthiness.

The MOT was duly booked in for Monday 28th April and it was decision time on the tyres. I opted for news ones as I could get these quickly and didn’t have to travel very far. Without an MOT and with a puncture I wanted it as local as possible.

Looking for prices online and Black Circles could supply and fit the tyres for £55 per corner. Kwik Fit could also do something similar but these had to be ordered. The only ones they had in stock at the local shop were Michelin’s – too posh for the Audi Shed and wouldn’t have been far off the price of the car by the time we’d done.

A final call, before hitting the button on Black Circles, was to my local MotoSave – handily just down the road from me. To my surprise they were actually cheaper than anyone else at £50.01 per tyre – and they had them in stock!

I checked the rear tyres and they were looking pretty close to wear too and the shop confirmed they were at 3mm. So whilst a bit of life left in them, I thought it was worth my time to just get them all done now and not have to worry.

Tyre pumped up again, only to find the battery was once again flat (playing in the cars again. Doh!) I put the thing on charge for a few hours then drove it down to Motosave.

I’ve now got a set of 4 budget tyres complete with oodles of tread from those rubber specialists Lanvigator!

Cost: £200.02.

MOT Monday, lets hope this doesn’t become a spiralling account of pounds, shilling and pence.

Audi A4 Blog: Problems afoot.

Unfortunately, this month there are a few problems to report. The first being that I discovered a puncture over the course of the weekend on the front tyre. I pumped this up but then wanted to take it to the garage for the electronic pressure gauge to get it to accurate pressure levels.

I turned the key but the car wouldn’t start! 🙁 Instead I was greeted with a whirring sound and nothing else. A quick call to my brother in law and he said it would likely be the battery or the starter motor. It turned out not to be the former so he came over and performed a type of bump-start which fix the problem. He said that the motor had probably ceased and the bump start forces the problematic component loose.

Great stuff! So Audi now starting happily again and still looking good from its clean a few weeks ago. But the tyre is flat again.

The next day I decided to head out to the local ATS for a puncture repair but the Audi won’t start again! This time it is the battery – perhaps caused in (large) part due to letting my two year old daughter ‘play’ inside the car whilst I was pumping the tyre up that morning (lights on everywhere, wipers, radio etc). I also discovered that night that the interior lights were permanently on, so that wouldn’t have helped matters either.

Battery conditioner plugged in a few hours later all is well again. Except that with one last check on the tyres I noticed they are getting pretty close to legal limit. And THAT then reminded me – finally – that I must check the MOT. The MOT sheet told me that I was well overdue – it ran out a month ago. Doh!!

So my Shedlife A4 will be booked in for its MOT tomorrow (and won’t be used until then), whilst I also check for some tyres. I’ve been told of a part-worn shop that offers tyres at half the price of brand new ones. So the question now is, part-worn’s for £25 each, or brand new cheapo’s for £51 each.

The 911 will be pulled from its slumber to take up daily duties whilst I get it all sorted over the next few weeks.

I’ll let you know what happens next…!

Audi A4 Blog: Audi Clean!

Orange Audi A4 1997

Orange Audi A4 1997

Well, after a period of prolonged illness which is now subsiding slowly but surely it’s got me thinking about germs. Furthermore, perhaps that as the Audi hasn’t had a clean inside or outside for about nine months, that maybe I should address that and get rid of anything that might be causing an irritation to the ol’ lungs.

Orange Audi A4 1997

Orange Audi A4 1997

As my innards are not fully fixed as yet, I decided to take the car to our local hand car wash. Now, our local guys are particularly brilliant and they are real hard workers. For five Great British Pounds the exterior of the car is worked on thoroughly. Starting with a degrease spray, the car is then jet-washed with a spray that could be used to overturn tanks should it ever be necessary. Once completed, the car is then shampooed top to bottom – including wheels – before being fully rinsed.

Next comes the wheel treatment whilst another guy hand dries the car. Guy number three appears momentarily armed with a window spray gun and all the exterior glass is polished. Once the wheels are done, it’s time to tackle the door shuts, and these are all wiped down whilst back-to-black is simultaneously pasted around the tyre walls. Oh, and you get a free air freshener and once you have collected five of these, you get a free wash too. All for five quid, amazing

Being my Shed, the Audi has never had such glorious treatment. In fact, I time myself when washing the trusty A4 and try to beat the previous effort; we are comfortably into single digits on the minute hand.

1997 Audi A4 Interior Beige

1997 Audi A4 Interior Beige

But today, its having a pamper session so I handed the guys an extra fiver and they get to work on the interior too. A complete vacuum (including boot) ensues, along with cleaning of all dash plastics and polishing the inside of all the glass.

The Audi did need a good clean to be honest and the difference is remarkable. Although I normally pride myself on having a fully-fledged shed, whose job it is to only be a shed, the exterior orange paintwork hides all manner of road dirt very well ordinarily, but now clean it positively shines. The interior has come up lovely, as best a 171,000 mile workhorse can do at least. The plastics are shiny black once again and there isn’t a speck of dust anywhere. It smells lovely too.

Coincidentally I’ve also found a more comfortable driving position after accidentally adjusting the height mechanism on the seats. We’ll see how that fares on the next long distance commute, scheduled for a few weeks’ time.

That aside, nothing major to report. It has hardly been used for about a month now due to this disease that just won’t let go but trusty Audi still starts first time. A small top-up of oil was required and the standard bi-weekly top up of water before taking it out and we are good to go once again.

MOT time soon though (I don’t know when, I must check this!) and I’m expecting a few things might crop up on there. I’ll keep you posted.

Audi A4 Blog: Tip Trip!

Audi Boot full of Rubbish

Audi full of rubbish – including a Microwave which melted after mini-me opted to cook some eggs (actually a sock!) for several minutes!

Just before Christmas, one of our bins (the cardboard recycling one) was damaged as it went into the bin lorry. I called the council who advised a two month turnaround for a new bin. 2 months! Blimey. This meant recycling was on hold as I didn’t fancy cardboard flying everywhere over the next few months as the biggest waste during Christmas is good ol’ boxes of packaging.

So instead, we loaded sacks and dumped them in the Audi for safe keeping. A trip to the tip was in order after Christmas and, following a clearout in the loft since the Christmas decorations were down, we ended up with a fair amount of rubbish – confirmed by the assistant at the Recycling Centre who looked in amazement as I kept returning to the car time after time to empty the load and advised “I thought my car was bad”!

That journey aside, the Audi has been parked for about a month but today was an extended 120 mile trip and the odometer is nudging at 170,000 miles. A quick once over with a top up of the oil, water, petrol and tyre air and we were ready to go.

The exhaust makes an annoying rattle when cold and idle, but fine when on the move. That has developed since I had the new one put on, but they did mention one of the brackets is a bit loose so I put it down to that. Job added to the to-do list.

It’s not terribly comfy on these long journeys and I do get backache after more than an hours drive but apart from the seating position the whole interior is really nice. True, it is well aged, but the plastics are nice and the beige interior lifts the mood beyond a standard black affair.

Shed Audi doing good. The council weren’t bad either – exceeding their quote time immensely and delivering a new bin last week. 😀

 

Audi A4 Blog: New Exhaust

Well after a long period of minimal costs, the Audi has required a few essentials. The always required insurance and tax have been paid in the past month or two (£350 insurance once again, £260 road tax) and this month the exhaust has sprung a leak in the form of a gaping hole in the flexi joint at the front. It has been fixed before but bodged by welding the new flexi to the middle section Catalytic converter.

I’m not a DIY’er so had to buy a new one as the garage wouldn’t do a welding job, citing it needed both new front and cat parts to seal the deal. This was £280.

I pondered over the cost for a few weeks, using my other car whilst I decided what to do and in that time one of the front tyres went flat! My other car then hit a problem on the way to work with a “Check Engine, visit workshop” light instilling immediate panic of expensive bills too. The joys of motoring indeed.

So, after abandoning the Porsche at Revolution in Brighouse, a long train journey home it was time to get the Audi fixed pronto. I bought a foot pump and pumped up the tyre then, after a few calls around for quotes I booked it in with the original garage for the exhaust and tyre repair.

The repair was £15 plus £20 for tracking, totalling £320.

This got me thinking about whether it is worthwhile, so I’ve calculated the total cost of ownership in 16 months and 12,000 miles. It goes like this;

16 months, 12k miles
Year 1

  • £230 tax
  • £350 insurance
  • £87 insurance
  • £5 anti freeze
  • £10 air (to check/fill the tyres at 50p a go)
  • 40 MOT

Year 2

  • 280 exhaust
  • 25 tyre fix and balance
  • 260 tax
  • 350 insurance

That works out at about £1637 – or £102.31 per month. In addition, travelling 12,000 miles at approximately 30mpg works out at about 1800 litres of fuel at, say £1.30 per litre. That equates to £2340 fuel. Add the lot together and we’ve down for 33p per mile. Oh, there was also £30 of oil too, which I’d forgotten about.

A quick look online at new cars for comparison and nothing comes close, so shedding still remains good value it would seem, even though it still makes me wince having to fork out for a car that I don’t want to spend anything on.

Now for the overtime, to pay for the inevitable financial doom that the Porsche bill will bring….

Audi A4 Blog: Update and Insurance

It’s been a few months since my last post and I’ve hit 159,000 miles of M62 to-and-fro with lots of M62 stoppage and startage during every outing. My journey is consumed by the enforced 50mph speed limit currently and almost every day the motorway a god awful nightmare. This made me wonder what the point of Active Traffic Management is. The idea of ATM is that traffic speeds are reduced at busy times, thereby keeping a constant, steady flow of traffic. Anyone who uses the M62 will know that the current enforced 50mph is anything but constant and most of the time those 50mph signs are just a pipedream target that you can only wish to come close to. Waste of money then? We’ll see.

Back to the Audi, I took Wormburner’s (from the Pistonheads forum) advice and, with a planned work trip further afield to Cheshire I had a little chat with my Shed. I promised Audi a full tank of fuel if it delivered me there and back safe and sound without problem. It indeed did this – despite an extra dose of traffic hell from all the gods of rush hour, coupled with a sprinkling of lane closures and dash of bad weather. Not a hitch of a problem from happy Shed though! 

Audi received a full tank of fuel and a lot of confidence from me. 

It has also had its second bath – and I’ll provide it with a third in a few weeks time.

Emeye from Pistonheads had a good point with the Anti Freeze. I took a trip to Asda and a £5 bottle now travels on the back seat with my water bottle, being used intermittently to stop the rads freezing.

Tax was due last month too – I took 6 months out (£110, I think). I know half-year purchases are a false economy, but it ‘felt’ cheaper than 12 months. 🙂

Insurance was due this month -£350 thereabouts. A fair bit of spending recently then, but the bulk has been on admin and tax.

On a separate note, this car is covering only the miles to and from the office. It does little else. I am able to do flexible working and do work from other offices (including home) but am still obliged to turn up at my main office a few days a week. It is these trips that I use the Audi. So, in that respect, the Audi is documenting the amount of miles that aren’t really necessary and are more management ‘asks’ than business ‘needs’. With that in mind, I wonder just how many people on the roads every day really don’t need to be there to do their job. For me so far, it’s around 3,000 miles of time, financial and environmental waste and counting.

But the Audi is taking it all in its stride. Let’s see how it fares through winter….

Total so far;

  • £110 tax
  • £350 insurance + £87 original insurance
  • £5 anti freeze
  • £1 (2x tyre air)

= £553

Audi A4 Blog: Month 1 – Steady away.

I am now one month into shedding and things have gone pretty well so far. The car is used for daily work-duties, with a 60 mile round trip on the days when I need to be present in the office. I have been regularly checking the status of the Audi’s coolant leak and it duly required a top up a couple of weeks ago.

Having done this now a couple of times – and thereby improving my mechanic-like ability ten-fold, (removing coolant lid, filling up bottle, replacing said lid and securing tightly) I’m feeling more confident with the car. So confident, that it had an extra £40 of fuel put in, taking it to three-quarters of a tank full. Now that’s commitment.

For extra coolant top-ups, I have a 2-litre lemonade bottle. The contents have been replaced with the finest of tap water for the summer months. This bottle lives in the car and is ready and waiting to top up on demand. There is also a slow puncture on one of the tyres, so a call to the petrol station to fill that up was required.

Costs to date: 1 litre of council pop and fifty pence-worth of air.