Car Reviews

My Midlife Crisis, or Adventures in Audi Maintenance

Posted in Beater Cars, Car Buying, European, European Review by Dustin Driver | January 15th, 2015 | Leave a Reply |

a4-desert

Sure, it’s not really that bad as midlife crises go. I mean, yes, when I hit midlife I did switch jobs three times and got divorced, but that’s more the result of a constant and chronic whole-life crisis, not one of the midlife variety. No, my midlife crisis was automotive. My vehicular partners have all been Japanese and reliable and, literally, colorless (silver, beige, white, black, gray). I had owned my 2003 Mazda Protégé 5 for 10 long years. It was a fun, zippy, practical, economical car that could really do anything. But at 37 something snapped and I decided I needed more elegance, more power, more refinement. Enter the A4.

About a year ago I became obsessed with Audis. Their clean, understated Bauhaus lines, their elegant interiors, their smooth power delivery, their formidable Quattro drivetrains. But I was afraid. Terrified of famously and disastrously complicated German engineering, of bank-breaking repairs and the inevitable ulcer they would induce. You see, I lacked the one prerequisite for blissful Audi ownership: Mountains of cash. A new Audi, blessed with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, was beyond my grasp (see job changes and divorce). If I got an Audi, it’d be old and I’d be on my own. I’d be playing a very dangerous game.

Still, I couldn’t stop scouring Craigslist for a deal. One day I found a local mechanic/Audi/VW dealership selling a minor unicorn (at least in my remote part of the world): A 2002 A4 Quattro with a 3.0 V6 and a six-speed manual. In shining Garnet Red with soothing taupe interior. A Teutonic masterpiece, an Autobahn bomber with dual climate zones and sport suspension. Mileage: 120,000. New clutch, timing belts, accessory belts, and tires. It simultaneously aroused me and set off blinding warning lights and deafening klaxons in the fight-or-flight center of my brain.

It was mid December and icy on the test drive. The 3.0 V6 hummed to life with German precision, all 30 valves working flawlessly to deliver a remarkably flat power band from idle to its 6,500 RPM redline. The gearshift was heavy and mechanical. The steering light, yet precise. One stab of the throttle and an easily controlled four-wheel drift across the icy Central Oregon roads and I was sold. The price was fair, a near even trade for the Mazda. Major work had been done. What could possibly go wrong? I drop-kicked caution into a canyon and took up the Challenge of the Four Rings—without an extended warranty or a live-in certified Audi mechanic.

Thus began my masterclass in Audi A4 maintenance and restoration.

a4

I’d love to say that the past year of geriatric Audi ownership has been trouble free, a delightful autumn drive through a wooded Bavarian valley. It has certainly been reminiscent of a Bavarian valley, just one under constant artillery bombardment by German forces, a smoking mire of charred trees and blood. Well, okay, it hasn’t been that bad. But it has been an enlightening and sometimes painful journey deep into the convoluted minds of German engineers.

Almost immediately the PCV valve went out, causing an erratic idle. My mechanic replaced it free of charge. Then both horns went out. An easy fix with a pair of aftermarket replacements. Then I noticed, to my dismay, that the foremost engine mount (snub mount) was completely missing—its rubber long since crumbled to dust. The other two engine mounts were also badly cracked and bleeding hydraulic fluid. Not to be dismayed, I recruited the help of a fellow wrench monkey and the two of us painstakingly replaced all three with upgraded aftermarket jobs from 034 Motorsports. Then it started mysteriously reeking of gasoline, but only when the tank was full. I sniffed around for the culprit, but could find no obvious leak. I shamefully admitted defeat and drove to my mechanic, who attributed the leak to a cracked rubber seal on top of the gas tank. Luckily it was an easy fix, but an expensive part.

Then there was an unfortunate off-road incident involving the oil cooler and a large rock that taught me a lot about the limitations imposed by ride height, or lack thereof. I don’t want to get into details, but that led to an almost total DIY overhaul of the cooling system, including a new radiator and coolant overflow tank. Oh, and two window regulators went out. Which I replaced. Twice. Long story.

But here’s the thing: I love the car. Maybe even more now than if it had been showroom perfect. Because I know it. I’ve scrabbled around under its grimy undercarriage more times than I can count, loosened and tightened countless fasteners, bathed and swallowed its lifeblood of coolant and oil, inadvertently bled into those same fluid system. I even learned a few words of German. This old, rickety A4 has, in Top Gear speak, become my mate. We are connected by a shared experience, by hours of companionship. It’s also something that I’m quite proud of. In this throw-away consumerist culture, fixing and restoring something old gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction. I get to take things apart, admire (or scoff at) the engineering genius that went into them, then put them all back together again. Successfully. The process itself is meditative, temporarily occupying a raucous mind. It requires strategic planning, concentration, finesse, and contorted body poses that would tax the most experienced Yogi.

And I suppose in some ways that’s why I bought the A4. I knew, deep down, that it would need restoration and attention. It was something I could pour my energy into and get direct results. Replace engine mounts, get better throttle response. Fix radiator, stop leak. Polish paint, shiny. The A4 is therapy. It’s a soul-soother, a means of fighting off the sense of futility and worthlessness that comes with middle age. And it certainly costs as much as a good therapist.

I was going to compose a list of repair/restoration costs for the A4, but I quickly realized that such a list would unravel my psyche, plunge me into a fog of regret and self loathing. Instead, I’ll end on a positive note. The A4 has been a great car. It starts every time. It’s smooth and fast and shiny and capable. It’s packed with thoughtful features and it’s well designed. I think I’ll hold on to it. For a little while, at least.

An Honest Review of The Triumph Bonneville

Posted in Best of, General, Motorcycle, Motorcycle Review, Videos by MrAngry | December 13th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

Triumph Bonneville

Sometimes motorcycles and cars are used for one thing and one thing only – transportation. The Triumph Bonneville is one such machine. It’s not overly flashy, isn’t really a great performer and honestly, it doesn’t do anything particularly well. It is however reliable and practical. Until that is, the stock suspension makes you cry.

Source: RegularCarReviews

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Why I Ride: Epi 1, Passion at Work

Posted in BMW, General, Motorcycle, Videos by MrAngry | December 13th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

Why I Ride

Nothing comes close to that feeling of riding a motorcycle. Sure it’s dangerous, but that danger comes by way of making you feel so alive that it’s hard to describe. Why I Ride follows one man, and old BMW motorcycle and his psyche through their two-wheel adventures. Check it out after the jump.

Source: Vimeo.com

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Joshua Tree – Triumph Explorer – MotoGeo Adventures

Posted in General, Motorcycle, Motorcycle Review, Videos by MrAngry | December 8th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

MotoGeo

MotoGeo Adventures is without a doubt, the best motorcycle show out there. Jamie Robinson (our host) doesn’t bore us with mundane details about the bikes he rides, but instead takes us on journeys that make us all wish we rode motorcycles. Simply put, this show is outstanding!

Source: MotoGeo.com

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The Gilera Milano Taranto Has a Special Meaning

Posted in Educational, General, Motorcycle, Motorcycle Review, Videos by MrAngry | December 8th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

Petrolicous

Ever notice that if something is Italian and mechanized that it automatically has more soul than anything else out there. Be it a Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini or Laverda, the Italians have figured out a way to put sex into everything they build. The Gilera Milano Taranto for instance only has one cylinder, weighs in at just over 250 lbs and yet, makes me want to own it immediately. Check it out after the jump.

Source: Petrolicious.com

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The World’s First Two Wheeled Motorcycle Burnout

Posted in Best of, General, Motorcycle, Rides, Videos by MrAngry | December 3rd, 2013 | 1 Response |

Two Wheel Drive Bike

For years motorcycle manufacturers and enthusiasts alike have been talking about two-wheel drive motorcycles, yet, for some reason you don’t see to many out there. There are a few roaming the streets like the go-anywhere Rokon or the URAL, but otherwise that’s it. Enter now this tricked out KTM 990 Adventurer AWD, a wicked ride if there ever was one. Hell, it even does two-wheeled burnouts!

Source: Youtube.com

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2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Review and Road Test

Posted in Car Reviews, Dodge, Domestic, Educational, Featured, General, Videos by MrAngry | December 1st, 2013 | 2 Responses |

Ram Eco Diesel

This is Alex Dykes and until this review of the 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel, I’d never heard of him. I posted this for two reasons. First and foremost, the new Ram 1500 Eco Diesel is the most important thing to happen to the 1/2-ton pickup market in decades. Two, he does one helluva job as an online reviewer. Well done Alex! Check it out after the jump.

Source: AlexOnAutos

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Schmuck: One too many beers…

Posted in General, Motorcycle, Videos by MrAngry | November 29th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

AssHead

If you ever wanted to know how to lower the value of your house in one easy step, then watch this video.

‘Nuff said.

Source: Youtube.com

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You’re Doing it Wrong: 10 Bike Fails Loading Unloading

Posted in Best of, Crashes, FAIL / Funny, Funny, General, Motorcycle, Videos by MrAngry | November 26th, 2013 | 1 Response |

Motorcycle Fails

Loading a motorcycle into the back of a pickup truck, van or even onto a trailer can sometimes be a bit of a task. I used to do this on a daily basis back in my track days and I’d be lying if I said I’ve never had a mishap. The following video takes us through 10 loading fails that could’ve and should’ve been avoided.

BTW – if someone is filming you, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re going to screw the pooch.

Source: Youtube.com

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**Combustion** A Drag Racing Film

Posted in Best of, Crashes, General, Import Review, Racing, The Car Show, Videos by MrAngry | November 2nd, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

Combustion

Funny cars, pro-stock and top fuel dragsters all have the ability to literally rattle your chest and give you a massive noise educed headache. Thankfully for us though the guys over at SearchforSpeedTV have set some of our favorite machines to some of the best music out there. They’ve eliminated the need for ear plugs and a defibrillator machine and instead given us a video that will make you want to turn wrenches on whatever lies in your garage.

Source: Youtube.com

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