Ode to Audi


Do not be fooled by the commercials. They are lies.

All of that stuff about German engineering? Horseshit. The smartest car on the road? More like the dumbest kid in school.  Best in class this, best value that, highest rated something…you’re talking, but all I’m hearing is “blah…blah…blah.” You sound like the parents from Charlie Brown.

Of course I’m talking about you, Audi. You and your bullshit marketing campaigns, your snake-oil products and features, and your smug citations of awards and high ratings. You are either deliberately spreading falsehoods or simply delirious, for the only way you are the “best value” in anything is if the car owners ”value” having a proverbial stick shoved up their asses once every few months. You are the worst, and I will tell you why.

I’ve been the proud owner of one of your lauded (German Engineered!!!) vehicles for some five years now, and the experience has been nothing but one gigantic aneurysm. I’m fairly confident that I and class of preschoolers could engineer a machine that would hold up better, and none of us are even German.

Oh, it started out swell. I was seduced by your charm, you slick bastard, when I bought the car at 48,000 miles.  The supple leather, the sleek interior, the immaculate paint and trim – for a used car, I felt I had done pretty damn well. It was so choice. My friends commented on how good it looked, how well it rode, how the engine purred, and I nodded along. They were impressed, and I was happy.

One day while admiring the fine machine, a friend’s dad asked casually how much I knew about Audis.

“Well,” I admitted, “not a whole lot. But they seem like nice cars.”

He – in as nice a way as possible – gave me the book on Audi, and none of it was good. “From what I see, they just seem to have a lot of problems after they hit 50,000 miles. You might be just fine, but I usually try to advise people against buying them if possible. If the sale isn’t final yet, you actually might want to reconsider.”

I dismissed it as hogwash. I would be fine; I had German engineering on my side. Besides, the sale was final.

And for a while, I was fine. Things were great, actually – no issues for the first few months, and the thing ran like a damn spaceship. I did nothing but treat it well and love it; washed it at least once a week, waxed the shit out of it each summer, treated the leather with fine creams, and kept the dash spotless and Armor All-ed. I loved it, and it loved me back. We were smitten. What a fool that man must’ve been.

Then, it started. At first the clutch went, then the cruise control, then all four brake rotors. This was the first year. After that, it basically turned into a constant, suffocating avalanche of malfunctions and deteriorated parts, many of which I cannot pronounce and didn’t know existed. I would get one problem fixed, drive the pitiful machine for six months, be lulled into a state of false confidence, and then three new problems would surface. It was maddening. And let’s not forget, aside from the sheer volume of work that needed to be done, all of Audi’s top quality German engineered parts cost at least three times as much as those of a normal, practical, working car. I could subsidize all the farms of a third world country with the money I’ve put into this godforsaken automobile.

At current time, I’m a week removed from spending another $50,000 (quite possibly an embellishment, but not by as much as you’d think) to fix the third major alignment problem in the past two years. I’ve literally rebuilt most of the underbody at this point. And just yesterday, I walked to my car before work, I noticed a spot under the engine. There is coolant leaking. Fabulous! I quick Google search of the issue indicates that it is most likely either a minor (in the neighborhood of $100) fix, or a much more serious one, to the tune of about $1000. You and I both know damn well which one it will be. It is NEVER the minor problem. I don’t believe the German language has a word for “minor.” And when fixing this major issue, it’s a dead-set lock that something else will surface as well. “Well,” the mechanic will say, as he always does, “once we got in there, we also found your left front radiator crankshaft router was cracked, so we’re gonna need to replace that, otherwise the car will spontaneously combust the next time you get in it. I’d also recommend we fix the rest of the radiator crankshaft routers – there are 19 – because they’re about a month away from having the same problem. The total comes to $26,748, before tax.”

This is fine, of course. Who really needs to pay rent or eat?

I can hear your rebuttal now, Audi, so just shut up. I already know what you’re going to say. Sam, your car is 15 years old. What do you expect? Well, I guess one expectation would be not having to pay the equivalent of the average person’s student loan debt in repairs over the life of the car. That seems somewhat reasonable. And while I understand the age thing, the car only has 110,000 miles on it. Up there, yes, but certainly shouldn’t be in take-out-a-second-mortgage-on-your-home-to-keep-this-thing-running territory. I’ve seen many vehicles easily make it to 200,000, without the need for constant extravagant repairs, and – amazingly – without the aid of German engineering. It’s clearly not that hard, except for you Audi, you worthless whore.

Well Sam, maybe you just got a lemon. With the millions of cars we produce, there are bound to be a few defects. We all make mistakes, can you forgive us? Not a chance in hell, for this is bullshit. My car is certainly the worst, but nearly everyone I know who’s owned an Audi shares the frustration. A coworker had an extremely expensive “engine sludge” issue – for which there was a class-action lawsuit, by the way – which he would’ve had to pay for out of pocked if he hadn’t been able to prove he’d serviced it regularly (and thus was covered by the settlement. Where’s my settlement, assholes?). My girlfriend Kristen owns a newer version of my car, and has had a laundry list of things break. Both of her rear windows are currently being held up by old concert pamphlets jammed in the window base, for they are non-working and off the tracks. She refuses to get them fixed, and for good reason.

Alright Sam, it’s clear this hasn’t worked for us. We’re sorry. Why don’t you just sell the car, get what you can, and buy a new car? First of all, apology not accepted. Second, despite the money I’ve had to dump into this spawn of Satan, it still breaks down to less than a car payment, which – after dumping said money – I certainly can’t take on now. Also, I fear the commitment, which is why I bought a (gently) used car in the first place. And really, get what I can for it? How much am I really going to get for a 15 year-old car with no a/c and no cruise control? What’s my sales pitch going to be? “Oh, I’ve already fixed pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong. There’s nothing left on this car to fix”? Yeah, that should work as well as a Brett Favre picture message.

Audi, you are the reason I drink. I hate you and everything you stand for. As soon as my transmission breaks – one of the few things I haven’t had to pay for yet – I am planning on flying directly to your headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany and throwing the damn thing through a window, you Bavarian clothes-wearing pricks. If Hitler is actually still alive, he clearly works for you.

Sam Neumann | sam@samneumann.com | Boulder, CO