Run the wheels off ’em

This situation seems so familiar:

[M]y car is now 12 years old, a 1999 Audi A4 Quattro that is starting to feel its age, especially in the suspension. The rest of the car is great though, the interior still looks only a couple of years old, the body is perfect except for some side mouldings that are falling off (but who cares at this point), the motor runs great, still has the original (stainless steel) exhaust, even the climate control and electric window and power seat motors all still work fine (knock wood).

Bought it used in 2005 with just under 40k miles, and have only put another 45k on it over those six years. Best quality car I’ve ever owned, end of discussion. Which is probably why I still have it, and even today, would still pay to fix the suspension, if it wasn’t going to cost me at least half of what the car is worth at this point.

On my 11-year-old ride with 132k miles, I’ve already redone the suspension and most of the emissions stuff. The driver’s seat slides, the passenger’s doesn’t; it’s positioned well enough for Trini that it’s never occurred to me to have it fixed.

And then there are the electronically-controlled engine mounts, which I didn’t even know I had until I’d had the car for a year:

A 2-chamber mount works in conjunction with the engine’s Engine Control Module (ECM) to vary the volume of fluid in the mount, based on engine rpm. It does this by opening or closing a valve between two chambers inside the engine mount. At low rpm, the volume of fluid is increased to provide maximum damping. At higher rpm the volume is decreased, providing the firmness needed for optimum feedback to the driver.

Until, of course, it doesn’t do that anymore, necessitating the writing of a large check — or two large checks, in case the failure of the mount also just happened to take out the ECM.

What I find amusing about this is that these gizmos seem to be optional on the pricier Porsche 911s, and yet they were standard on a comparatively-ancient Japanese luxobarge. God knows what Stuttgart is asking for such things, though I’m sure the phrase “large check” somewhere applies.


  1. Jeff Brokaw »

    26 October 2011 · 7:27 am

    Electronically controlled engine mounts gets my vote for the most extreme example of “more technology than anybody really needs in their car”.

    Thanks for the link, btw.

  2. CGHill »

    26 October 2011 · 7:51 am

    Meanwhile, a worthwhile comfort feature like the oscillating center air vents in the Mazda 626 seems to have gone extinct. (The 929 sedan had something almost as nifty: a little interior fan that turned on while you were parked in the sun.)

    Still, there are marvels now and then. Chrysler seems to have figured out a way to cram variable valve timing into a pushrod V8. And I admit I like the little retractable sunshade to keep the heat off rear-seat passengers, even if I never have rear-seat passengers.

  3. Teresa »

    26 October 2011 · 8:18 am

    Amazing the stuff they have developed over the years. I just had the transmission redone in my A4. It should not have been necessary… it’s a stick not an automatic. But that’s my luck. The clutch was redone at the same time and even with 120K+ miles on it, they said it was at 3/4. But I want to keep this car for as long as I can. I love it. It’s not flashy but it is very comfortable. I love it. (especially since my wonderful husband installed an ipod/iphone connector so I can now listen to a much improved sound from that instead of listening to the radio. heh)

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