The TDi is most reliable and cheapest to run in terms of fuel, vehicle tax is only £30 from March 2001 models onwards and they are cheaper to insure - but the asking prices are higher and its difficult to find one that hasn't covered a good few miles. They are bought to be driven! If a TDi has good service history all major components are good for 250k + without major problems. The 3 cylinder TDi has a fairly noisy engine with a distinctive 'burble' from the 3 pot that you either love or hate - but most love. The most common TDi is the 75 bhp engine which is good for 70mpg.
The later 90 BHP model reduces to about 50mpg, but its quicker and both engines can be remapped. ( My 90 pumps out 118bhp and 230lb of torque - lots of fun in a car that weighs a shade over a tonne). The 90 has a dual mass flywheel which will fail and it's a 4 figure fix. They can also develop turbo problems due to the variable vein technology - similarly expensive. It's a fine car though - just beware of these potential costs.
You are talking £1000 for a clean 2001 TDi with 140k miles, up to £3000+ for a 2004/5 TDi with less than average miles ( below 100k) depending on spec. ( Prices all based on a private sale)
The 1.6FSi is quick and smooth, but prone to faults with sensors and coil packs. Some of these can be expensive fixes. Many owners love them though. The 1.6 FSi is the widest availability of nice spec examples in the UK. Prices are lower than the above TDi figures and running costs are obviously higher.
The 1.4 petrol is the same as the VW Polo engine and is very reliable. It was the most popular model in the UK so a good few to choose from and prices start at about £500 for a not too loved runaround up to £2000 ish for a clean 2005 example with average miles.
In the last year or so (2015/16) values and asking prices have varied widely and in general have taken a sharp fall- however it's increasingly difficult to put a price on an A2. A decent car needing some work can be picked up for a few hundred pounds and both private and trade sellers are still pitching exceptional examples at prices exceeding 5k.
Lots of new seekers ask about which car to buy. If this is a car you'll only keep a short time before moving on to something else, and you don't cover many miles then a petrol is the best option.
If you do a higher mileage - 10k a year plus - and want reliability plus intend keeping the car for a long while, the TDi is the common sense choice.
First the basics:
Have an idea of what you want and the price you are willing to pay.
Check other similar cars on autotrader and pistonheads to gauge what other cars are selling for.
Also check the CAP trade price on the Honda website and as a rule of thumb for the A2, add about £1000 to get a private sale price and between £1500 and £2000 for a dealer price on a nice car with no faults.
Decide if you would prefer to work with a dealer for legal protection, warranty and access to finance or if you will buy private (remember you can buy a warranty yourself if buying privately) this is probably dictated by who has a suitabe car though!
Phone or email. State you are interested, but dont sound too keen. If the car is far away, use this as a sound reason to want a lot of background information before you travel. The bottom line is, that you should have a good knowledge of the car before you step out the front door to embark on a journey to view!
Over the phone, or by email as the seller has time to think about what you want:
1. Ask for the registration number and VIN number. Some dealers refuse to provide this because of fraud/car cloning/data protection. If they are sticky on this - look for another car.
2. Use the above to phone Audi customer services ( google will give you their 0800 number) and they will have a history of all work done on the car including servicing, warranty work and recalls (if any). Its not a deal breaker if the car has not seen an Audi garage from the time it rolled out the forecourt - but I'd be a little suspicious if the car hadnt been worked on within the network for the first 3 years. Audi customer services have always been very helpful - just tell them you are thinking of buying a used Audi and can they assist you verify the service history ( do this even to check that the stamps in the book are correct - they can be forged)
3. Ask if the V5C registration document is present, and how many former keepers the car has had. Dont be too concerned if there have been a few - all A2's are at least 11.5 years old now; but a one or two owner car is always a positive that it's been looked after and loved - though not universally true!
4. Ask for the last keepers details, look up the phone book and call them if you can.The dealer may have a contact number for the last keeper and there is no real reason for them not giving this to you. ( The place I bought our A2 called the last keeper first to ensure they were OK to take my call) Good thing here - It's not their car anymore, so you are likely to get the 'warts and all' story.
5. Ask for a list by email of the service history including where and when its been done. Check this against Audi's data if the car has a 'full Audi history' advertised. Be wary of dealers and private sellers that advertise a full history and its only partial. A 90k mile car that is on variable servicing with 1 or 2 stamps in the book is suspect.
6. If the service history is with independant garages - phone the place/s up and ask them to confirm if they have worked on it.
7. Ask for when the last MOT was done and if there are details of the previous MOT's as this helps to confirm mileage. You can ring VOSA when you view the car if you wish, and confirm that the MOT cerificates are genuine.
8. Ask how long the car has been in stock, then check this information against the records on VED/tax disc on DVLA's vehicle licensing site (google again) you can enter the registration number and vehicle make and it will tell you when it was last licensed. Not many people trade in a car with lots of tax left ( althogh at £30 the TDI hardly matters) and if its been floating round the auctions or dealers for a while, the date the VED elapsed can be a good indicator as to when it was sold.
9. Ask if the dealer has HPI'd the car (most do before PX to ensure they are not buying an insurance write off/stolen car or someone elses hire purchase liability. If its been done, ask for the results.
10. If you buy private - spend the £40 or so before you hand over the cash and get the car HPI'd.
11. Ask what was done in the lat service and if they have done any work to prep it for sale.
12. Ask for a full walk round appraisal of the car and be particular about whether the car has been painted (indicative by a little overspray on rubbers or around the fuel filler); uneven seams in the body panels or paint that doesnt match.
13. Ask for a description of any scratches/dings/dents, scuffs or corrosion to the alloy wheels and stonechips, also check if there is scuff damage to the plastic lower sections of the bumpers and the sills - this is unsightly and can be costly to fix (e.g the front bumper is a single unit unlike some audi's that have 2 parts. (both 12 and 13 arent deal breakers if theres some general wear and tear, but hopefully you are looking to secure an honest and clean car)
You can ask some of the following, but you won't truly know for sure till you are viewing the car. If its a long distance, ask for photos to be emailed to you:
14. Check if there is any bubbling paint at the upper corners of the doors and windows where the bodywork meets the rubber seals. This is common. Unfortunately all but the most recently registered A2 have elapsed the 12 year corrosion warranty. ( it's not corroding of course - it's aluminum oxidation but it looks like rust bubbles to the eye)
15. Ask them to check above both upper and lower hinges on the front doors for small cracks on the door. Common and an expired warranty repair. It most probably will be cracked.
16. Get them to open the boot and check for signs of moisture in the battery compartment and some water staining to the lower boot carpet (especially if it has false floor) there are vents behind the bumper that can fail and you get a leak. Its a cheap fix, but of not sorted, the stuff in the tool kit will detreriorate after time and you'll get a musty smell in the car.
17. Check the interior plastic sills. They can become very worn over time with scraping from footwear and the seat belt rewind. Cheap fix - take them out and replace both panels on each side for about £80. ( dont let on you know this though!)
18. If they have not photographed it in the advert, ask for pictures of the dashboard and the seats. Most colours can get quite badly stained/water marked and a digital photo really shows this up. No biggy, the audi cloth and carpet is fantastic quality and a thorough valet will bring it up like new. Get them to check for any rips/burn marks, wear at the drivers heel area while you are at it. If its a sports model, the outside squab/bolster on the seat is most likely creased and worn from being crushed by various sized bums for its lifetime!
19. Pay particular attention to the condition of the pedal rubbers, steering wheel and gear knob. A car over 100k miles will have shiny smooth leather and worn pedal rubbers. Some cars have the pedal rubbers replaced - if this has been done and the car is showing a low ish mileage but has shiny wheel/gear knob, and a worn dent where the drivers heel area is - beware it being clocked.
20. Check for wear and tear on the climate control buttons, light switch and electric window buttons. Not always a sign of hard use, as the plastic trim has a coating that does not wear well and reacts badly to long nails!
21. Check the headlamps are not misted up. This is a common fault due to people incorrectly seating the seals when replacing bulbs.
22. Check for chipped paint at the upper corners of the bonnet where careless people have sat the bonnet down on a rough surface while working on the car.
When you are up close and personal - firstly check all of the above yourself!
23. Ask for verification that all the electrics work properly. The CCCU can become faulty and this affects the central locking, electric windows and the alarm. Check the climate control works and is blowing like a gale and icy cold on the low setting. If the air flow is weak, the pollen filter has probably never been changed, and if its not cold it needs regassed. You also need to play with the flow direction buttons on the climate to ensure the motor is changing the system from floor/face/window vents smoothly, as this can become faulty and its an expensive fix.
24. If it has opensky ask if it opens and closes properly, and when you view it - ensure that it does not judder or creak/make cracking noises when closing. If the car is less than 10 years old and has full history, you can get a warranty repair done, but I believe only a couple of UK dealers are participating in this (Worthing is the most notable from recent forum posts and a few owners have driven to Germany!!).
25. Ask for a check on standard things, like what is the brand of the tyres and how many mm are left on the tread. Check the condition of the brake discs and pads. Not a deal breaker, but a good sign of how its been looked after. If they arent good - a decent dealer will replace these service parts prior to presenting the car for sale.
26. Importantly, check if and when the cambelt has been changed. All A2's will need this done on age alone, with many cars needing a second change. Intervals are 5 years or 60k for petrol and 80k for TDi. If its not done, it needs done. Look for more proof than a tick in a box on the service book. You need a look at the invoice or a call to Audi will have details of the work entered onto the system if it was done within the franchise.
27. When you drive the car, listen for creaking noises in the front suspension as this can be worn anti roll bar bushes or broken springs.
28. Check the tailgate opens without any effort to lift it - the dampers can become worn.
29. Granny sucking eggs here I'm sure, but look down each side of the car with your eye in line with the centre of the door, back to front and front to back - this will show up any imperfections in the paintork and wonky shut lines. Its quite common to get a tiny bit of sagging on the front door (our 92k mile '04 plate ia like this. No big deal, you will see a difference of about a mm or 2 at the level of the window rubbers between the front and rear door. It can be adjusted when you get the hinges done, but it'll settle again!
30. Get yourself low down! Check underneath the front bumper and along both side sills. The lower bumper (matt black bit) can become scuffed by poor parking and sleeping policemen etc. The engine undertray can also become damaged. People not realising the sills are plastic can also damage them by trying to jack the car up here. Both are fairly expensive fixes.
31. A final one - before parting with money, ask if you can have the car checked out by audi and a scan done. This will show any faults on the engine management system, and the mileage can also be verified. ( the ecu miles should be no more than 500 miles away from the odometer) -you can also look at who has VCDS or VAG - Com in the club nearby the seller. You can PM our fellow member and ask if they would be prepared to do a scan for you on the potential purchase. This has been done before by our friendly lot.
If they have a website, have a good read at their 'about us' section and look at the kind of stock that they have on sale.
Most dealers will be affiliated to a motoring organisation, its the scottish association of motor traders up here. You will be able to spot the small time trader selling a couple of cars from their driveway from the lack of information supplied/sometimes no website. This does not mean these guys are dodgy or may not have a gem of a car for sale, but you wont have the same protection legally as buying from a 'bona fide' garage and you may not be offered a warranty/HPI check.
A google search should get a hit or two if they have not been good with customers. Theres loads of forums out there for the good british public to have a rant about poor service. Also consider phoning the local trading standards office and ask if there have been any complaints about them.
You'll get the feel of them after a chat on the phone, but I'd recommend initial contact by email with a selection of the above questions to get a feel for if you are interested in pursuing things further If the seller is genuine they will have no problem with you asking lots of questions about their car. If you are fobbed off, or are encouraged to 'phone and discuss please' it's maybe time to move on unless you really like the look of what you are seeing in the advert
Finally, if theres lots of interest in a car or you really like what you see in the ad - consider a credit card deposit to secure the car - then do all this digging before you commit to buy. You have no obligation and your credit card will protect you from any shenanigans!