En­gine in­tegrity

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

The Quat­tro’s in-line fi­five-cylin­der en­gine was built in three forms; 10-valve 2144cc WR, 2226cc 10-valve MB (from 1987) and the 2226cc 20-valve RR (from 1989). Most trou­ble­some is the WR, most re­li­able is the RR (but it has the prici­est parts). The MB gives the best bal­ance of cost and re­li­a­bil­ity. En­gine re­builds are ex­pen­sive, but if looked af­ter a WR unit will do 150,000 miles; the MB and RR units will give at least an­other 50,000 miles. A syn­thetic oil change is needed ev­ery 5000 miles, along with Audi oil fil­ters (WR en­gines have two), com­plete with non–re­turn valves. The cylin­der walls erode and be­come oval. Once worn, a re­bore us­ing a new set of pis­tons (£750) is the only sen­si­ble al­ter­na­tive. Key WR weak spots in­clude a failed tur­bocharger, given away by poor per­for­mance and blue ex­haust smoke.

Re­builds and parts

Tick­ing from the ex­haust man­i­fold as the en­gine warms up in­di­cates a cracked man­i­fold, with re­place­ments un­ob­tain­able. There aren’t any prob­lems spe­cific to the MB or RR en­gines, but all three units can suf­fer worn valve guides and hard­ened valve seals, given away by blue ex­haust smoke on the over-run. If the en­gine has been thrashed, a top-end re­build could be needed in just 60,000 miles, cost­ing up to £1300. Look be­hind the off­side cor­ner of the front air dam, at the oil cooler and the unions on its pipes. Th­ese cor­rode, lead­ing to oil leaks. If the en­gine runs badly or won’t start, check the boost gauge. A per­ma­nently high read­ing means the in­let man­i­fold pres­sure sen­sor has packed up; re­place­ments are £150 and fit­ting is easy. The cam­belt should be re­placed ev­ery 45,000 miles or fi­five years, but it’s not that straight­for­ward so it’s of­ten over­looked.

Trans­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The trans­mis­sion is in­cred­i­bly durable. The syn­chro­mesh wears even­tu­ally and with a gear­box re­build typ­i­cally £1000, most own­ers live with it or fi­fit a used gear­box for around £300, plus 10-12 hours’ labour to fi­fit. Clutches typ­i­cally last 150,000 miles, but if abused they can last much less, so check for slip. Check the pneu­mat­i­cally op­er­ated diff locks haven’t seized up; ac­ti­vate the switch in the cen­tre con­sole, then en­sure the light on the dash has lit up to say they’re ac­ti­vated. If not, they’ll need free­ing off and lu­bri­cat­ing; an easy job.

Sus­pen­sion sus­pi­cion

The sus­pen­sion bushes wear with the front and rear sub­frame bushes bear­ing the brunt, along with the wish­bone bushes. A new poly wish­bone bush set is £100 and they’re an easy swap. Abused 20v Quat­tros can suf­fer from a cracked rear sub­frame; re­place­ments are £800. Vague steer­ing and un­even tyre wear sug­gests the wheels are out of align­ment; each cor­ner can be ad­justed for cam­ber and toe in/toe out.

An­chor is­sues

On MB and RR mod­els, pull the con­nec­tors off the low servo pres­sure warn­ing switch mounted on the brake servo. With the en­gine switched off, but the ig­ni­tion on, at­tach a con­ti­nu­ity tester. Press the brake pedal re­peat­edly on a 2-3 se­cond cy­cle – if the switch closes af­ter fi­five or fewer de­pres­sions the brak­ing sys­tem’s hy­draulic ac­cu­mu­la­tor has failed; new ones are £250.


The most com­mon prob­lem with the ear­li­est cars is cor­roded con­nec­tions. Trac­ing dodgy con­nec­tions can be a pain, so check the fuse­box, which can crack. New in­te­rior trim is ex­tinct, so it’s worth pay­ing a pre­mium for a car with a re­ally good cabin. Most parts are avail­able on a used ba­sis though.

Body beau­ti­ful

Pre-gal­vanised Quat­tros suf­fer from cor­ro­sion around the wind­screen, on the boot floor and in the in­ner sills. Take proper care and at­ten­tion to prop­erly in­spect for ac­ci­dent dam­age too – rust on late cars points to poor re­pairs.

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