Paying for a bargain…
…Jeremy Walton updates us on running progress with his Audi TT quatro sport.
(If you would like to read the previous, first instalment of Jeremy’s saga about buying and running his quattro sport, published on Wheels-Alive on 1st November 2019, please go here… http://www.wheels-alive.co.uk/audi-tt-quattro-sport-a-modern-classic-much-enjoyed/).
Over 13 months, under 3000 Covid-19 restricted miles, our collectible Audi TT quattro sport passed our first MoT without advisories. That did not mean an absence of corrective bills…
The Audi TT quattro sport we bought in 2019 came from a run-out 2005-06 line that included 800 delivered to RHD UK. Key features to distinguish it from the 225 horsepower TT quattro embraced reduced kerb weight and enhanced horsepower. The 1.8litre 4-cylinder with turbocharged 5-valves per cylinder reported 238hp: enough for a claimed 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds onto a 155 mph maximum. It averages 29-33 mpg, depending on turbocharger boost employed and length of journey.
Limited edition TTs optionally offered Recaro Pole Position race-seats. More detail weight [deleted rear seat, relocated battery] and cosmetic modifications [Alcantara cockpit trims] delivered a unique specification. Externally, Retro duotone paint and specific 18-inch diameter wheels, wider rear rims legally requiring modest spats.
Back in 2005, a TT quattro Sport cost £29,360. In 2020, inflation means that represents over £45,000. This sportier TT was advertised at £7,490 during August 2019. Affordable buyer depreciation for a comparatively collectible model, but I took some relevant risks and am still paying for them 13 months later. I had few service records, not even the Owner and Service Record books.
I expected nothing from the secondhand site vendor, but in the event I got some partial recompense for initial maintenance, plus a new 18-inch Pirelli to match the other rubber. Significantly, there was a slight trade-in profit on the BMW Z3 I had bought for £1000 a year earlier, so my cash outlay was £6,240. That was attractive for an 85,000 mile TT quattro sport a year ago.
Obtaining paperwork–such as new owner and service books– was eBay affordably achieved, but I did not discover some TT details for weeks. Under varying covers lay Bosch Concert radio, the hatch for a CD player tucked beside the absent rear seat. Oh, and release buttons for fuel tank flap and rear hatch, plus the cigarette lighter power point are all hidden.
Scruffy cockpit furniture, absent air con and soggy brakes were my priorities. I started with DIY Gliptone leather treatments to Recaro seat surrounds and head rests. Improved, although nothing prevents elevated seat sides from enduring scuffs, especially within cramped parking.
Next, a furry life revival for soft Alcantara finishes around steering wheel, seat cushions, gear knob and hand brake. All but the steering wheel rim responded well to the Autobrite/Direct specialist cleaning fluid. After multiple applications, I achieved acceptable standards, but the underside for one steering wheel spoke remained tacky in hot weather.
I spent £1,800 plus over the next half year of ownership, only desisting when CORVID-19 lockdowns bit. The air conditioning had long since wheezed into ineffectual operation. It was promptly assessed locally by a father and son company who had excellent website revews from long-term customers. I had no cause to regret that decision and still take the TT to P&L Motors in Warminster, Wiltshire.
Naturally the air conditioning system did not merely require a top up. A new compressor was required, the most expensive item on the aircon trail. P&L impressed by fortuitously acquiring a new Hella unit and supplying and fitting it for the £342 written estimate price of a refurbished unit.
The brakes were audibly binding in reverse. A 2019 post mortem suspected that the pads had been misaligned in a clumsy refit of a replica rear calliper: New pads were fitted to replace scarred and blued items. Early in 2020, a front calliper also had to be replaced, along with both front discs. That work was carried out efficiently at a branch of Checkpoint Tyres as the TT was resident, following what appeared to be a slow puncture, actually a leaking air valve.
Next practicality was to try and fix a minor ‘star’ in front screen. I was worried that this bright scar right on my sight line could lead to an MoT failure. On a minus 5 Centigrade winter day Halfords in Frome tackled that £30 job. The operator was conscientious, using the trademarked Esprit repair system of area heat and injection. The result was not perfect, but it got through a subsequent MoT without comment.
I needed P&L for an emergency in March 2020, when the Motor Warning light flicked on—and stayed on during a downpour. I aborted my business trip and limped the Audi back 20 miles to P&L using 2000 rpm or less in the biblical storm conditions. The TT made it OK and the bill was less than £100 for a defunct water temperature sensor.
Pleased with P&L service but now wary about the work listed as completed when I purchased the TT, I went for a full service at £239.15. That highlighted anticipated inspection advisories for a cam belt change, Haldex oil and filter, plus an unexpected need to renew brake fluid. I braced the bank account for more damage and booked into a March 2020 date for that vital maintenance. After nine hours labour, the cam belt and water pump had been renewed, along with the Haldex differential oil and filter, including an hour booked to brake fluid flush and replacement.
A couple of unexpected items emerged. A small split in the air intake/ oil breather double pipework surfaced. I bought an Audi replacement for over £100 [!], finally fitted for less than £50 post lockdown. The repair has eliminated the occasional mid range hiccups from the turbo boost system.
P&L also commented on a ‘drone’ from the gearbox, which occasionally seeped oil between the front transfer and gearbox. As it has yet to sully the garage floor with oil as for the rude manners of my previous Frogeye Sprite or Lotus Elise– and my wallet read Empty– no action taken. I follow the advice of the cheery Old Skool Ford competition mechanics: “So long as you can hear it whining, OK…You want to worry when there’s no noise mate!”
I still had no code to revive the fine Bosch Concert radio. After 13 months of trying to cheapskate my way around the problem, I braced myself for a visit to an official Audi Dealer, a legal way to retrieve the factory sound system code.
Back in the dim and distant I worked in a Yeovil dealership as a warranty clerk, so tried Yeovil Audi. They were acutely conscious of the Covid-19 curse, but booked me in within a fortnight. They advised the cost would be £25 and sensibly asked me to bring the vehicle’s V5c [Keeper’s Document] for security checks. The dealership set aside an office where I could work on a laptop, waiting an estimated 2 hours.
In the event I was impressed, although the Audi site was considerably smaller than a neighbouring BMW dealer. In 2020, main dealerships have to be slick with overheads such as multi million pound premises and corporate procedures. The TT was ready 30 minutes earlier than estimated, radio and CD systems fully operational. It had been sanitised and thoroughly cleaned inside and out, up to forecourt standards.
All for no extra charge.
Having worked for Ford of Britain, and taken my previous classic BMWs to their main dealerships when lower cost servicing was offered, this Audi experience was fascinating. Despite sharply reduced staffing, avid adherence to the Social Distancing guidelines, all conspired to make a more comfortable visit. Far from usual parts department queues and crammed showrooms. How long official dealers can operate their palatial premises on such sharply reduced public appetite for shiny new prestige motors, remains to be seen!
Sadly for TT, an ABS light appeared on the dashboard, which would demand almost £150 to eliminate, but that’s another specialist repair story.–Jeremy Walton