Sunny Bhamra and his colleagues at Audi specialist Fontain Motors in Iver, Bucks, talked us through the RS4’s strengths and weaknesses. (He will also give a 10 per cent discount on servicing and repairs to evo readers on presentation of this buying guide. Thank you, Sunny.)
As befits a car with an engine built to near-racing standards, an RS4 is happiest when used regularly and vigorously. Otherwise the valving in the crankcase ventilation system tends to let oil accumulate in the inlet tract, which leads to blue smoke on start-up and a build-up of carbon around the inlet valves. Some oil consumption is normal.
The RS4 can suffer occasional coil-pack failure, so beware of misfires. The engine management warning light should alert the driver to this but doesn’t always do so, and the unburnt fuel from the resultant misfire soon destroys the catalysts, of which there are two.
The actuators for the exhaust bypass valves can seize up so check you get the right rush of sound in Sport mode.
It’s Audi’s usual quattro system, and pretty robust with no known weak spots. Check for clutch judder and bite, especially on a car which has been enjoyed on trackdays.
• Suspension, brakes, tyres
The DRC dampers can start to seep fluid. Slight dampness is acceptable, obvious oiliness is not. If one is bad then its diagonally opposite number should also be replaced, but that then means you have an old unit and a new one on each axle, so you should ideally replace all of them.
Check tyres for uneven wear, which could point to misalignment or worn suspension bushes. The brakes are very powerful, but discs can warp if not allowed to cool after hard driving.
Corrosion is extremely unlikely, so stone chips and poorly repaired accident damage are the main checkpoints here. Panel gaps should be tight and consistent everywhere.
• Interior and electrics
The cabin hides mileage well. Wear on the driver’s seat bolsters will be the first sign of intensive use. Note that you have to sit in the rear seats to check the heaters work, if fitted, because they use occupant sensors.