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Audi A4 vs S4

As followers of this blog know, I sold my beloved 2006 Audi A4 back in February, 2012, and traded-in it in for a 2006 Audi S4. After ~8 months of owning the S4, I have experienced the highs-and-lows of owning an S4, and feel I’m qualified to give an opinion on those trying to decide between purchasing an Audi A4 or S4. In addition to this blog, be sure to check out plenty of car news and comparison sites, and then most importantly – go test drive each!

Audi S4

Pros of Owning An S4 Over An A4

  • Power – the S4 has gobs of power across the powerband. While the A4 has plenty of “get up and go” at full throttle, there is turbo lag and the power band has lots of spikes and lulls in it; not so with the S4, which has consistent power that is smooth and always ready to go
  • Interior – while the A4 and S4 are cosmetically similar on the exterior, the interior of the S4 is much nicer. While you can retrofit the S4 Recaro seats like I did on my A4, there are plenty of other standard options on the S4 that aren’t so easy to retrofit like the color Drivers Information System (DIS).
  • The Exhaust Note – the S4 sounds amazing. I’ve heard plenty of big turbo A4s in my day, and pretty much every exhaust combination available for the A4, and nothing can beat the sound of the naturally aspirated 4.2 V8 that’s in the S4
  • The Full Package – while the S-line appearance package on many A4s may cause those cars to look like an S4 – it’s not the full package. The S4 has upgraded brakes (larger rotors in front and vented in the back), sway bars, differential, suspension, wheels, etc. Right out of the box, it’s a well upgraded machine that has improvements over the A4 in nearly every area. If you’re like me and you can’t leave “good enough” alone this may not matter a ton (I will probably upgrade/replace all of the aforementioned components of my S4), but this is definitely something to consider especially if you plan to keep modifications minimal.
  • Quattro – my A4 didn’t have Quattro (AWD), and I do have to say, having Quattro is really, really nice. The car handles like a dream and not only takes corners with a ton of confidence but you can actually add power while coming out of the turn, rather than understeering, skidding, and then waiting until the turn is complete to return to the throttle. My FWD A4, even with a ton of suspension work, could never stock up to the handling of even a stock S4 with Quattro.
So the S4 is beautiful, fast, and smooth. What’s not to love?
Audi A4

Cons of Owning An S4 Over An A4

  • Gas mileage – my S4, no matter how hard or soft I drive it, gets an average of about 18 mpg over the course of a tank (for a total of about 225-250 miles per tank). My A4 was upper 20s/low 30 MPGs fairly consistently. So prepare to refuel a lot more often…
  • Maintenance – the S4 is a little more high maintenance; although I haven’t had any major repairs yet, my biggest worry is that if the engine were to ever blow, finding a replacement is nearly impossible. Finding a used 2.0T for an A4 is super easy, but the aluminum 4.2 V8 can cost anywhere from $5-20k for the engine alone…
  • Insurance – this wasn’t as bad as I thought, but my premium did go up from about $90 per month to $125 per month. Not a deal breaker, but this is a hidden cost to be aware of.
  • Modification cost & effectiveness – tuning this car is both more expensive and more difficult. While some basic mods like piggie pipes and a tune will wake up the 4.2 V8, adding power beyond that requires a lot of money for relatively small gains. The A4, on the other hand, is very mod-friendly and you can add a decent amount of power fairly cheap. That’s not to say you can’ t mod the 4.2 V8 S4, and companies like JHM have done some amazing things with bolt-ons alone, but those tuning options are just more expensive than A4 parts, especially when you factor in availability of used parts or sale items.

So now we know the S4 is beautiful, fast, and smooth BUT ALSO thirsty, high-maintenance and expensive. Sound like anything else in life? You bet.

Audi S4 Sedan, A4 Sedan, S4 Cab

Which Should I Choose?

Would it do it all over again? Most definitely. The choice between an A4 and S4, at the end of the day, comes down to your priorities. As a car freak, die-hard Audi fan, and someone that could afford the switch financially, it was a fairly easy decision for me. On the other hand, you (or I) could be perfectly happy in an A4, and even perform a lot of modifications on it and have a car that performs & looks amazing. There are certainly days when I do miss my A4 (especially those days involving the gas station, haha). When making your determination, here is what I’d advise you weigh in from a personal perspective to help you decide if the pros outweigh the cons of S4 ownership:

  • Budget – factor in an extra $8-10k in purchase price for the S4, and remember that modifications, insurance, and maintenance are all going to be more expensive too. If you think an S4 is out of your price range based on purchase price alone, I wouldn’t advise “reaching” for it, as there are tons of additional costs down the road that might make an A4 a better choice. It’s better to have extra wiggle room when it comes to budget rather than stretching your dollar too thin and hoping nothing goes wrong (Murphy’s Law loves to strike at those times!).
  • Gas Mileage/Driving Habits – if you plan to use the car as a daily driver, and have a long commute (regardless of whether it’s city or freeway driving), the A4 may be a better choice. The S4 goes through a lot of gas, and does not care if you go gentle on it or not. The gas tank is also pretty small (about 17 gallons, give or take) so you can go through a tank on even a medium distance roadtrip pretty easily. Be prepared for this…
  • What you currently drive – if you already have a B7 A4, and want to move to an S4, you need to consider what you really want to gain out of the move. If you already own an A4, I’d recommend moving to an S4 for reasons other than wanting added power alone (you can always big-turbo your A4 if this is the case). For me, I had a FWD Automatic A4 and desperately wanted a manual transmission and Quattro, and in this case that makes sense as that’s a significantly different car. Another case where it would make a lot of sense is going from a high mileage A4 to a low mileage S4, or going from a B6 to a B7 for the cosmetic upgrades, or maybe even from a Sedan to an Avant or Cabriolet. If you’re looking to move from a 6MT A4 with Quattro and low miles to a 6MT S4 with Quattro with high miles, this may not be a good idea. If you’re going to take the plunge, make sure you are actually upgrading and not buying a car that will need expensive maintenance soon.

Nick Roshon

Still unsure?

Leave me a comment below and I’ll give you some unbiased advice…


About the author: Nick Roshon


Nick Roshon is a blogger who is passionate about Audis and European cars in general. He owns a 2006 S4 and before that had a 2006 A4. His driving experience includes numerous track days throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. In his day job, Nick is a digital marketer and lives in San Diego, CA, USA.


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  1. I own 08 a4 Quattro s-line tipronic. I bough it secound hand from a dealer last year and i have done 10k. Thank god for the warrenty do to a need of new piston rings and head gasket. The guy from me was killjng it.Its comfie and pleasent to drive as well as very stylish. Although i do miss a manual transmission and that v8 would be nice so I don’t get picked on the street like my buddy with a clk550. From where I see it, if u don’t have a heavy foot and no need to go fast get an a4. Cheap to maintain very stylish. Easy to tune and no need for anything to make it into a head turner it already is out of the box. Absolutely love the b7’s. Don’t look at Benz Or BMW. Audi will definetly bring happyness to u.

  2. Damian – I agree. A well maintained and nicely modified Quattro A4 will bring a lot of happiness to it’s owner, especially an 08 which already has the S-line body styling. It’s definitely got some advantages over the S4 as a daily driver (most notably cost of ownership/gas mileage/insurance) so it’s a matter of personal preference at that point. I’m glad you’re enjoying your car!

  3. I’ve only owned my 07′ A4 3.2 CVT for a few months; I got it for a great price and the Navy Capt I bought it from had every milestone service done (79,000miles). I must it has been one of my favorite cars that I have had. Just wanted to say Thanks to Nick; this site has been a huge help. I hope to own an S4 one day, as I’m officially an Audi fan.

  4. Thanks John, so happy to have helped, and I’m glad you are enjoying your car and that hopefully this site is helping you to enjoy it just a little more :) Cheers!

  5. No rs4 discussion? Would love to hear your opinion on it compared to your s4.

  6. Great point Ryan – I overlooked the RS4…I did this primarily because I have firsthand experience owning both an A4 and S4, whereas I’ve never owned an RS4 (I have driven several though). I’ll share some general thoughts based on conversations I’ve had with RS4 owners as well as years of reading Audizine & Quattroworld on both models…

    Cons of the RS4 versus S4: The RS4 costs about $15-20k more for a comparable car (similar mileage, etc), which is a hefty premium. The FSI engine also suffers from a carbon build-up which gets worse over time and the only real, proven way to clean it is to take off the manifold and manually clean it, which is both expensive and time consuming. I’ve heard RS4 owners recommend doing a carbon clean every 5-10k miles, but know some folks (who can do it themselves) do it much more frequently (every 3k miles or so). The stock DRC suspension is also known to be faulty and most owners replace the suspension with aftermarket coilovers (something I’d do even if the DRC weren’t faulty, but worth noting if you intend to keep the car stock-ish). There is a DRC fix by Audi to repair the problems initially experienced with this suspension.

    Pros of an RS4 over S4: The OEM widebody is stunning, and it would easily cost $10k in parts & labor to convert an S4 to this body work (every panel needs replaced, even the doors). The interior also has unique touches and special seats, which can be retrofitted to an S4 but again at a substantial cost. The RS4, when fully carbon cleaned, is very fast, and the supercharging options available for it give it much more potential than an S4.

    I think with the RS4, it comes down to a price increase, as well as a maintenance increase (which is basically just another cost increase, just spread out over time) – if you’re okay with both of those factors, it’s a phenomenal machine that is beautiful, rare, and something that is cherished by Audi fans everywhere. If you have the means, I’d recommend it, but the S4 is significantly cheaper if cost of ownership is a concern at all…

  7. I live in an area with poor roads. What about the suspension differences A4 and S4? And is there a noticeable extra weight in the S4?

  8. Interesting question – the standard A4 has a higher ride height and softer ride, but the S-line or Sport Package A4s have the same suspension as the S4 (more-or-less) so the ride will be similar. There is extra weight up front for the engine, but not a ton – 3428 lbs for the A4 versus 3,660 lbs for the S4.

  9. Are you sure about the a4 S-line? I was under the impression the sline A4 was cosmetic only. My main goal is to have it sporty looking. The stock A4s are kind of bland.

    If you had 35K what would you buy, new A4, older a4 with higher trim, or older still s4?

  10. @Roy – the 2008 S-lines did not always have the Sport Suspension and it was a cosmetic-only package, but the 2006 & 2007 had a full “S-line” package that included the sport suspension. The sport suspension has red shocks/struts that lowers the car about .75″ over stock, and uses the same springs/shocks/struts as the S4.

  11. @Roy – with $35k, crappy roads, and a preference for a smooth ride – I’d be tempted to go for a new A4. You can add a tune to wake it up a little and enjoy the updated body work, interior and other refinements of the B8. It depends on personal preference though….

  12. Nick, really great info, thank you very much. How difficult is it to add the s-line cosmetics to a stock a4? The 5-spoke wheels are critical part.

  13. @Roy – the wheels are easy. You can find them used on Craigslist, Audizine or replicas through several retailers for $500-1000 depending on condition. They just bolt on and are a direct fit. The body work is a little more complicated, but not that hard. If you have $35k, even a 2008 S-line is well under that price, so I’d shop around and find one with the bodywork already done from the factory – the hardest part about retrofitting the body work is finding a quality body shop to install & paint everything well.

  14. ha well that brings up the next line of decisions…. I understand the 2009 the car was re-worked into the ‘B8’ from the 2006-2008 B7. Some folks feel refinements in weight distribution and suspension are worthy? thoughts?

  15. Roy – go test drive and decide for yourself! I like the B8, some don’t. It’s a little bigger, but it’s also lighter. The interior is very nice, and the electronics are all upgraded. If I were you, I’d decide between a B7 (2006-2008) S4 or a B8 (2009-2012) A4 with your budget – the advantages of a B8 is that you can get it certified pre-owned with plenty of warranty left and probably lower miles too. The advantages of the B7 S4 is the power, sportiness, and fun-to-drive factor. Then it’s all a matter of how responsible (or irresponsible) you want to be :)

  16. Nick, when do these cars start to get problems and what is the likelihood of failures on say the 60-90K mileage range on a 2009 A4?

  17. @Roy – you should be fine there, but it depends on how well it maintains. I’ve never really heard nor observed a certain mileage quota where the car begins to fall apart, I’ve heard some cars going 200k miles and doing fine and others falling apart much sooner.

  18. Thanks Nick, I decided to lease a new Audi, so I test drove an auto S4, and an auto A4 S-line. The S4 was nice but didn’t knock me out, I was leaning toward a plain old A4.

    So then I tried the manual S4 and it was over, I was sold. The manual gives it a fun factor that turns it into a true sports car. But it’s also a luxury car, what a great car.

    I ended up leasing a new moonlight blue prestige S4! I have been smiling ever since.

  19. @Roy – I’m super jealous, enjoy it! The S4 is a great car, and agreed 100% on the fun factor of the manual :)

  20. Big Nick,

    Get a manual S4. It’s a blast and it rules hands-down over the A4.

    Nuff said!

  21. Is the S4 considered a chick car at all?

  22. I haven’t heard that stereotype before, no…

  23. Hello
    great and informative article

    I recently purchased an 2012 audi a4 S line. I was looking to modify the exterior a bit by either adding a small spoiler to the trunk or perhaps switching to an S4 Trunk. Would you know if it would fit?

  24. Ann – either option should work just fine. I’d check out Audizine.com for more resources as well, someone there should be able to show you some good options!

  25. I have a 2012 A4 quattro with 2.0 turbo and thought I would like to have something faster before I purchased it. Purchased it with 1,900 miles for a very reasonable price and need nothing faster or peppier than this car. A joy to drive and more than I ever imagined. It is the 8 speed automatic triptronic and the smoothest car I have ever owned.

  26. I am curious though, if the A4 quattro 2.0 turbo can be chipped to perform differently.

  27. Yes a tune will definitely wake it up even more, although I agree it’s a very potent engine out of the box. Check out APR for tunes, well worth the money if you want just a little more performance…

  28. Hi Nick. Looking at cabriolet’s and my question is whether a Colorado Audi dealer is entitled to receive a CPO from another state, and what should I expect re: costs, surprises, etc. thanks!

  29. Bob,
    Are you asking in regards to service after you buy the car, or are you talking about buying the car itself?

    Service – the CPO program is honored at all Audi dealers, so service should be the same regardless of the state your reside in if the program is a CPO’d Audi.

    Buying – dealerships are not owned by Audi, they are all independent. So for an Audi dealer in Colorado to sell you a car located in a different state, they’d have to buy that car, certify it, then resell it to you. I doubt many dealerships would be willing to do that, and if they were, I’d bet on a lot of markup to make it worth their while. You’re better off buying direct from the current seller, as any official Audi dealer should be able to CPO it (if it qualifies) and once CPO’d, it should carry over to wherever you want to service it. Definitely ask your dealer though, it’s possible they may have a relationship with the out-of-state vendor you’re interested in…

  30. Thanks, Nick. Am looking to buy and like one in another state. Article on A v. S is great – am grappling with that now!

  31. Nick, This is a great forum, thank you for initiating and maintaining it. I hope you can help me with this dilemma.
    What about the A4 V6 3.2L.
    I’m researching the A4 and S4 right now with a budget of $25K. I found what appears to be a 1 owner flawless 2006 S4 with very low mileage (approx 40K). But for the about the same price, I can get a 2009 A4 3.2L with only 27K. Only reason I haven’t gone test driving yet is that I am moving from Illinois to Indiana in a couple of weeks and would rather buy after the move to save myself time and money.
    For the record, im not a tuner but I enjoy having power ready to be unleashed at any point I want.

  32. So there are two parts to this question how I see it:

    1) B7 S4 versus B8 A4 – The 2009 will get you the newer body style which is slightly larger, nicer electronics & interior, and a host of other upgrades. However, it’s still an A4 versus S4 issue and you have to decide if you’d rather have more power and a sportier car at the expense of an older body style and interior. You can tell what decision I made (I had a similar budget and weighed similar options) but to each their own. Another big factor for me was wanting a manual transmission, it’s very hard to find an A4 with one…

    2) 3.2L V6 versus 2.0T A4 or 4.2 S4 – Honestly, the 3.2L V6 is not my favorite engine. Audi discontinued it shortly after 2009 because it didn’t sell well. The 2.0T (standard A4 engine) gets nearly as much HP and way better fuel economy, and you can tune & mod it much easier. For $25k I’d keep looking for a B8 A4 with the 2.0T instead of the V6 if you decide you’d rather have a B8. The V6 can’t really be tuned much, so test drive it and decide if you like it because there really isn’t any good way to add power if you find it insufficient…The 2.0T can be modded easily, and the V8 is great too although a very different animal.

  33. Nick, Thanks for the helpful insight. I truly appreciate it.

  34. Very much enjoyed your article. I was initially looking at RS and S models but after test driving a Turbo A4 I was impressed enough with the performance and the lower cost is a benefit. I’ve never owned an Audi. Before I get into one I want to get an idea of what to expect regarding reliability and average cost of maintenance. Do these cars tend to be reliable or are they finicky? I understand maintenance will be more than for the past two Hondas I’ve owned but would you consider it “reasonable” or am I buying into a bit of a money pit? Currently looking at a 2006 A4 Avant 2.0l turbo quattro with sports package.

  35. They’re pretty reasonable to be honest…they shouldn’t break down too often, the only downside is parts are MUCH more expensive whenever you need to replace anything compared to a Honda. But I had very few maintenance/repair problems with my A4 (ditto my S4), it’s just that typically when things to do break they can be a bit pricey to repair.

  36. Hey Nick.

    Nice post, man. So I just hit 89,000 miles in my 2004 G35 and I think it’s time to move on. I’ve always loved the Audi lineup and I’m interested in trying them out. I’m torn though if I should go with the B7 A4 and boost my fuel economy from the G’s lowly 18ish MPG to the economical A4. Obviously I wouldn’t see any improvement in the S4 but I don’t know if the A4 will provide the same thrill that my 3.5L V6 RWD stick-shift coup provides. You know?

    So far the car has been pretty faithful, and other than a few unforeseen repairs, relatively inexpensive, too. I am a bit timid, though, because my roommate’s 2004 BMW E46 M3 just sunk him $3k for his SMG pump and then another $4k for his VANOS…

    I would love your Audi insider opinion!

  37. If it’s within your budget, I’d recommend the B8 S4 (2009-2013) as it’d be best of both worlds – faster than your G35 and actually pretty good MPG (easy 20s). They’re still a bit pricey but can be found in the high 30s if you play your cards right.

    If not, I’d recommend going out and driving an A4 to see how you like the power and handling. It’s no slouch, you might be pleasantly surprised. I think you’ll also find it a little more refined and nicer in the interior than your G35 as well.

    Either way I think you’re heading in a positive direction!

    E46 M3s are dreamy although a bit more high maintenance from what I’ve heard. Sounds like your roommate knows all about that, so I’ll let him fill you in there 😉 Still, I wouldn’t mind an Imola Red one myself…

  38. Mmmm. Imola Red, nice! I’m into the Laguna Seca!

    Thanks for the helpful comment, sir. Unfortunately, the the new S4s are probably a bit out of reach for now. I’ll definitely test drive some A4’s though. I’ll just have to do enough searching to find a manual!


  39. Hey Nick,
    Your blog has been so helpful- I’ve pretty much decided for a B7 S4, despite the fact I do high kilometres ~30-35kms per year(miles- sorry I’m from Australia!). My questions for you:
    1) Would you budget about double maintenance over your A4 per year?
    2) Can a tune be done to the 4.2 v8 to improve fuel economy? I know you did the JHM tune, but that was all about more power- is there a way to get more economy?
    Thanks again, your car is sweet!

  40. The maintenance really isn’t that much more – oil changes, etc. The cost of gas will definitely double, and I haven’t heard of a tune that focuses on improving fuel economy. Given how far you drive, I might give the A4 another thought…

  41. Thanks Nick, thats helpful. I guess the big costs come when something serious fails, but ive researched and budgeted for that. Am test driving an A4 today, i hope i love it- also the B8 S4 is growing on me, but B7 S4 – heart is set on it, such a beautiful, classy machine!
    thanks again mate!

  42. I’ve been seriously looking at 2014 B8 S4 with 3.0 supercharged V6. How’s this for gas mileage (real world numbers, not factory estimates, vs V8 S4) and how big is the tank?

    How’s maintenance on the B8 S4 vs B6?

  43. B8 S4 has significantly better gas mileage than the B6/B7 ever did, I hear of people regularly getting high 20s in real world driving. I’m not sure on the tank size, I’d assume pretty similar. I haven’t heard many maintenance concerns with the B8 either – if you an afford it, the B8 S4 is an all around better powertrain that is much easier to mod and extract power out of…the only thing you lose is the V8 growl.

  44. Hi there!

    I currently own a 2005 yellow S4. My third (fourth) Audi. I love it, except….for the fact that I have to replace the snow tires and/or rims almost every year due to cracks in the rims, which cause tears/leaks in the tires. I live in Wisconsin! Lots of snow, potholes, etc.

    I’d like to upgrade to a 2014 S4, but am so weary of this tire/rim issue. Would getting an A4 eliminate that problem?



  45. I think your issue is more related to the quality of the roads. Are you running the stock wheels? Have you replaced the cracked wheels? I would stick with an 18″ wheel regardless of whether you keep your 2005 or upgrade to a 2014, but the strength of the wheel shouldn’t be much different between the cars and they’re relatively the same weight.

  46. Nick, I am searching for a sub 100k mile, sub $10k 2003-2006 A4 1.8T or 2.0T, manual, for my college aged kids. Here in New England, this price point exists with plenty of inventory. My concerns center around known expenses at this point. Turbo and timming belt, exhaust, brakes, suspension, and tires come to mind. What else should I be checking for. Every car has its own list of got-ya’s at 100K and I don’t know Audi at all. I have learned this lesson of buying a money pit the hard way with my 2005 MB SL 500. When I do find the right car I intend to make purchase contingent on an inspection to confirm I know what I’m paying for. Thanks, jim

  47. The CVT transmissions are something to watch out for, which only came in FWD automatic cars – they’re very expensive to replace when they go bad (over $7k) so I’d avoid that transmission all together. I highly prefer the 2.0T to the 1.8T although both are pretty dependable. The other thing that could be of worry is oil consumption, some engines start to burn oil so check the maintenance records and make sure that’s never been reported. Best of luck, it’ll be a great and highly dependable car!

  48. Nick, thanks for the heads up on the CVT tran. As I continue my search, I occassionally hear how much the VW passat and Jetta share with the A4, especially from a VW dealer. Any thoughts? Are these a poor mans Audi? Thanks, Jim

  49. Ha, more or less yes. The Passat and A4 are the same platform. The Jetta is smaller. The Audi has a lot of nice features over the VW brothers, but they are very similar in many regards.

  50. Hey, I’m looking at buying an 07 S4. I know that this car will be more expensive to maintain than other vehicles, I’m trying to find out what are the common problems I am likely to run into after purchasing this car.
    Its has 58,000 miles

  51. The biggies to look out for are excessive oil consumption (indicates internal damage to engine, that will get worse and eventually need replaced) or timing chain rattle at start up which means your due for a timing chain overhaul which is several thousands of dollars in parts & labor…Otherwise they’re pretty solid cars. Brakes, Tires, that kind of thing are fairly straightforward to replace but at that mileage you could still be on original brake pads which are definitely due to be replaced soon (time to upgrade/mod, haha!). The other thing I’d recommend is that the 6MT is way more fun than the automatic transmission, so if you’re leaning towards a manual I’d strongly recommend waiting it out until you find the right one rather than “settling” with an Auto…

  52. Hi Nick, I wondering what your thoughts are on these cars driving in snowy /wintery conditions (being from Canada). Any suggestions on a4 vs s4 for wintery conditions . Torn btw the two. Thanks again!

  53. They both have Quattro, so there shouldn’t be any major differences. The S4 has more power, but not so much power that you would have greater traction issues. I’d say they are dead even in the snow in terms of capabilities.

  54. Hey Nick. Thanks for the insight. I test drove a 2009 Audi A4 manual and fell IN LOVE but I saw the S4 (not driven it yet) and am salivating at the thought of more power. I have had a 530i in the past but, in your opinion, how does the Audi stack up to BMW as far as maintenance. Thanks for the advice.

  55. That’s a tough one, as I’ve never owned a BMW to compare. They should be pretty similar in terms of cost to repair (both are built in Germany and require German parts to repair) but not sure in terms of reliability and likelihood to need repair. I’ve never heard anyone say that Audi was drastically worse/better than BMW, although older Audis don’t have as good of a reputation for reliability as they do now…hope that helps!

  56. The question you really need to ask yourself is: do you truly need Quattro in the first place?

    AWD is more expensive and complex to maintain, as you always have at least double the number of CV joints compared to FWD.

    If you are not a spirited driver, and/or, don’t live in an area affected by snow or mud, then, FWD is a more rational choice.

    If AWD was absolutely essential for passenger vehicles, then, perhaps all Audis would be Quatrros in the first place. But, this is not true.

  57. Fair point, although the other downside of FWD on Audis is that they are often equipped with a CVT transmission rather than a standard ‘geared’ transmission. The CVT transmission is also very expensive to maintain and terrible for performance driving, although it does have benefits in terms of gas mileage. I think FWD A4 is a fine choice if you don’t care about performance or handling whatsoever and are just looking for a nice car to commute in. The A3 is an exception here as it comes with a DSG transmission when FWD, which is a nice transmission. Just be aware that the FWD A4 is equipped with a CVT transmission, as it’s a not a very desirable transmission from a driver’s perspective IMHO.

  58. Hey Nick… Do you know where I can buy the grill for Audi A4 (2006)…similar to users?

  59. Check out the Audizine classifieds or look on Craigslist for modified A4s, you can definitely find them!

  60. As for the Multitronic (CVT) versus S-Tronic (DSG), well, it’s interesting to note that the newly released A3 sedan/saloon uses S-Tronic, even for the FWDs. Why do I have the feeling that Audi may abandon CVT in future?

    Having said that, Car & Driver were impressed with CVT way back in 2000, when the B6 was released. This was with the original Multitronic.

    As for FWD/AWD debate, it’s all a bit moot when you buy a mid or upper range Audi any way: they are Quattros, by default. For the most part, Quattro is essentially an Audi marketing tool. Consumers see the mighty 1980s Audi Quattro barnstorming about in European rallies, or, at Pikes Peak in promotional videos. So, he or she thinks “I need a Quattro, too.”

    As for the merits of FWD, this IMSA sportscar comparative article of FWD vs RWD in otherwise identical high performance Dodge Daytona race cars is instructive:


    To be honest, I drive an Audi to some degree as it has a certain cachet, exclusivity and status. By extension, many, if not most, Quattro drivers bought their Quattro over a more humble FWD for the same reason.

    Let’s be honest, why else would you buy a Q7, A8… or, an S4 for that matter?

  61. Stephen – the current TT and A3 also feature a DSG/S-Tronic as well, it’s because the engine is mounted horizontally rather than longitudinally. The longitudinal 2.0T as found in the A4 still comes in a CVT. I’m not quite as optimistic as you are that they will abandon the CVT any time soon, but I agree 100% that they should.

    FWD in itself isn’t terrible, my complaints is that FWD in this particular car (especially since it requires CVT in automatics) is a terrible car. The understeer is worse, the transmission is terrible, and the car doesn’t have sufficient traction either.

  62. A4 vs S4 – B7/B8?


    I’m hanging out for the saloon/sedan RS3.

    I took a garden variety A3 sedan for a spin, as soon as it was released in Australia, back in March.

    Take it from me, it has all the magic of the original 1990s B5 A4 pocket rocket. It’s like the 1999 car which looks, feels and performs to something we all expect in 2014. It IS the spiritual successor to the legendary B5.

    It’s heartening to see Audi has come full circle with a true compact sedan.

    In the case of the B5, as the maxim goes, old is gold. With the A3 sedan, Audi has made new gold.

  63. Hey nick! Thinking about getting this as a saturday and winter second car for the northeast


    What are some concerns too look into a 75k mile s4

  64. The timing chains is the big one – any chain rattle at start-up, especially a cold start? Also look for any signs of excessive oil consumption in the service records, if those are available. Assuming no signs of either, you should be very good with that car – it’s a beaut! I’d see if the dealer could do a compression test on all 8 cylinders to be safe but not sure how open they’d be to that. The engine is very expensive to replace on the S4 (about as much as the car itself) so you want to make sure it’s not on the verge of disaster. It looks very well cared for so I think you’d be safe, but that’s all I have for ya! Corsa exhaust is nice and rare too, if you don’t like it you can sell it pretty easy.

  65. Lately I got V8 fever man, can’t help it. I know that my A4 is currently as fast as a Stock B6/7 S4, got S4 brakes and Recaros and I know its lighter and gets better FE, but I can’t shake off the desire to finish a few mods and move up, especially knowing the S4 is capable of 800hp. You think this is normal or no?

  66. Definitely normal Mike, and it’s still a great upgrade. Just all depends on what you want – being a car enthusiast isn’t always about making the most rational choices :)

  67. Thats true Nick. Right now just gonna do a JHM clutch and flywheel, exhaust and FMIC and see if that changes things. What’s next for you man?

  68. Careful – the more you spend on your car, the harder it is to walk away 😉

    Only thing planned for me at the moment is new wheels – I have a set of very rare Volk LE37s I’m restoring as we speak. I also need to get my Ohlins rebuilt soon, the ride quality has really taken a nose drive. And I hear JHM is going to release an LSD soon, so that will be my next mod when it’s available to public.

  69. That’s pimp man. Just hit a deer last night, both of us are alright, just need to fix the front, so the exhaust and intercooler have to wait while I get the DTM front, and hopefully your hood and those Osir vented fenders. Also having the body shop cut into the front and rear wheel wells this time

  70. Yikes man, that sucks. Glad to hear you’re okay!

  71. Hi Nick, thanks for the great info. I’m a novice car buyer but can’t seem to talk myself into looking into anything other than Audis. My budget is limited though so I’m looking at older used cars. Also I’m specifically looking for an AWD wagon. You mention that older Audis have not as good of a reputation, so my question is what is the oldest Audi that you would consider? I know there are a ton of factors, but my number one thing is avoiding buying a car that ends up in the shop consistently before too long. Thanks for any advise!

  72. Anything in the 2000s should be fine, although the B5 S4 is known to be a bit high maintenance. Like any car, the older the go the more important it is to get a service history and know the previous owner took care of it and kept up with maintenance.

  73. Hey Nick. I’m looking to buy B7 A4 DTM its done 145.000km on the clock, I really like the car. Would you advise me to buy the car if yes what should I lookout for before taking ownership? Thanks

  74. Hi Teekay – I get questions like this a lot, so I wrote up a post to go into much more detail. Check it out: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  75. Hey Nick,
    thank you thank you for maintaining this blog and your experienced advice. i am at looking at used A4s 2011-2013 with S line pkge and with sport pkge if I can find it. Also considering a 2010 -2012 S4. Can you advise if there is that much significant difference performance wise & handling in the A4 with sport pkge and Dynamic drive mode vs an A4 without? hard to find the A4 with sport pkge. Also with the S4 is it that much nicer to get with the optional rear differential? Additionally is their any more costly maintenance to the 3.0 supercharged vs the 2.0 turbo quattro. I also do not like the looser feel of steer on the 2013 A4 with new upgraded electric power steering.
    lastly it seems that the back seat in the S4 is less leg room than the A4. do you find this as well?
    oh sorry one last question regarding warranties. Can you recommend best warranty company or company for used Audis? especially S4 if car i found is w/o warranty protection?
    Certainly appreciate your reply

  76. Hi David – you’re asking about the B8 platform so the article above doesn’t really apply to you…I’ll have to write an article to cover this soon, but here are my initial thoughts:
    Performance wise the S4 has a huge edge over the A4. The supercharged V6 is very fun to drive, and with a few bolts and a tune is well over 400 HP. The rear diff is a MUST if you get the S4, IMO. The S4 also gets decent mileage since it’s a force fed V6 rather than the V8 on my platform. If you can afford the S4 and are an enthusiast or performance minded driver – I’d go that route. You can add a tune and some mods to the A4 and wake it up some, but it will require significant work (turbo upgrades) and money. They dynamic package gives you a magnetic ride so you can choose between softer and stiffer suspension settings and shift points – its a cool feature, but not a must-have, especially if you plan to install coilovers eventually. The B8 S4 has other advantages over the A4 Sport package, including the interior/seats and other tidbits, so it’s very nice…don’t get me wrong, the A4 is great too, but the S4 is in another league over the A4.

    For warranties, check out Endurance Warranty – they are an advertiser on this site, you can see a banner to the right.

  77. Nick ,
    thanks so much for the insight
    these are probably relatively minor questions i had asked in last sent blog mail
    Should i expect any significant difference with cost of maintenance of the S4 vs A4 Quattro?
    Do you notice the back seat space is tighter in the S4?
    As noted I am comparing prob a 2010 -2012 S4 to a 2012-2013 A4 S Line. I dont thnk there is any diff with interior space between the 2012 – 2013 B8 A4 though there are slight changes to the exterior.
    thanks again

  78. Hello there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site.

  79. Hi Nick,

    I used to own a B6 1.8t USP and absolutely loved it. I had a stage 1+ and suspension. I did have a lot of random issues from 44-80k miles and eventually, had to sell. I regret that after doing the steering rack, window regulators, and timing. Now, that I have a reliable daily, I am looking for a fun car and have been looking at a B6 S4 or 1.8t USP. I read above and think the 1.8t is my choice but thought I would ask about your thoughts 1.8t USP vs B7 S4. The USPs are becoming hard to find but the B7 S4 is more available.

  80. Personally I’d go B7 S4 over a B6 1.8T, if this isn’t going to be your daily driver then enjoy the power and performance (and sound!) of the S4 on the weekends without fretting about gas on the weekdays. I’d say the same holds true for the B6 S4 vs 1.8T, plus when you buy the S4 you get the Recaros and lots of options, so finding a loaded B6 USP and retrofitting the Recaros and etc. will cost you the same money, so might as well get it all factory…my 2c anyway!

  81. I’m considering buying a 2005 Audi S4 Quattro with 79,000 miles for $14,400. It’s a one owner with regular service. How many miles can I expect it to last? Have you heard of any issues with the convertable top or engine?

  82. I’m not sure on the convertible top, but for the engine definitely check out chain rattle. Check out my article on the top things to consider when buying a used S4, that should be very helpful: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  83. Love this detailed and accurate yet concise article.
    I’ve owned a B7 2.0T (quattro) for over three years and love it.
    But this winter I fell in love with an B7 RS4 and bought it. So now I have two completely different B7’s sitting in my driveway.
    I have to admit it’s a tough decision which car to drive in the morning – they both have their pros and cons. But, the RS is the complete package as you mention with the S4 – and the V8 sound and power are nothing short of intoxicating 😉

  84. I should add that I looked a B8 S4 with the supercharged V6. It may be more modifiable than the V8 but doesn’t have the sound or feel of the V8.

  85. Frank – gotta say I’m pretty jealous of your situation, would love an RS4 myself :) Nice choice!

  86. I’m pretty behind the times but have always liked the B7 S4. I currently drive a 2010 BMW 335i coupe and recently saw a listing for a 2007 S4 with 109k km on it. The price is 19k CAD and I am tempted but for every post that talks about how much fun it is to drive, I run into two that tell me how much of a headache it will be to maintain it. I heard that the timing chain tensioners will need to be replaced around this mileage and that will be a costly fix. Any experience comparing it to a BMW? 😛

  87. The S4 is probably slightly slower than your 335, since the 335 has 300 hp vs the S4’s 340 hp but the S4 is a sedan with AWD drivetrain and a heavy V8. It is naturally aspirated so the power curve is different, but don’t expect a huge upgrade in acceleration.

    Maintenance wise that is getting to be up there in KM, and eventually you will need to replace the timing chains/tensioners, which is a costly job – this is reflected in the price though, as the higher mileage B7 S4s aren’t worth nearly as much money given the looming and somewhat inevitable costs to service the timing chains. Otherwise, it should be fairly straightforward to maintain and no worse than your BMW. If you want it then go for it!

  88. Hi Nick, thanks for your blog. I am currently looking to buy a 2009 A4 3.2, I know the 3.2 engine is no longer offered for the A4, but I was wondering how bad the 3.2 is on gas compared to the 2.0 engine.

    would it perform the same as the Q5 3.2 (which I currently own), would it be fair to compare the Q5 to the ’09 A4?

    Thank you for your reply.

  89. It’s mostly the same engine between the Q5 and A4 3.2s, so if anything the A4 may do slightly better since its lighter. I would expect them to be pretty similar though. Hope that helps!

  90. hey nick–

    in the process of buying a used audi; a 2011 A4 and a 2005 S4. is the six year advantage of the A4 going to stand out more than the performance advantage of that v8 S4? both have around 100,000 miles and have a possibility for a warranty. i live close to town so my commute to work is very short; i expect to only put 10-15,000 miles in the subsequent years after purchase.

    i think i could really appreciate the S4’s performance advantage but with many blogs suggesting– what seems a near guaranteed– $6,000+ repair in the cars near lifecycle, it really has me wondering if i should go for the newer, more reliable– but less powerful, A4. as an owner of a similar generation S4 as the one im looking at, am i truly missing out on something great if i pass on it and get the A4?

  91. Definitely drive both, the B8 A4s are surprisingly peppy and fun to drive. The B6 S4 will definitely need timing chains eventually, and will run at least $6K as you noted. You might just want to go for the newer A4. I am surprised both options are around the same price, I would think the S4 would be cheaper given its age but I suppose the S4 is relatively low miles for its age and the B8 A4 relatively high mileage for its age. Be sure to check out my other article for common problems with the S4 to look out for when buying: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  92. thanks for the reply!

    yeah, the A4 is marked pretty low– i have some concerns about its high mileage for its age but from what i’ve read i shouldn’t expect anything major even with 100,000 on the odameter.

    are the same concerns with the timing chain applied to all v8 s4’s? or should i just look elsewhere for a car with that performance?

  93. I Wanted my Audi A4 in red, but it’s a lease car from my company, so I had to take another color -__-

  94. Hello everybody,
    I am not an good in auto things & I would like to have the experts openion.
    I am planing to buy an A4 S line 2011 from my uncle, & the price is good compare to the market.
    the qustion is t am aware fo the A4 S line height, is it poissible to modify the height by adding some other spare parts or not?

    Thanks in advance

  95. Yeah, you can buy lowering springs or coilovers. Coilovers will allow you to customize the height whereas springs have a set drop.

  96. Hey Nick,

    Thanks for the great article. I originally wanted an S4, but swayed the other way due to many of the points in this article, as well as the history of the timing chains in the S4s. Will I run into the same (and very expensive) timing chain/belt issues with the A4 as well? I’m looking at an ’04 with around 75k miles, that just had the belt and transmission replaced, and I want to predict whether I could be looking at spending some coin in the next 20k miles on some other big ticket items.

    Thanks for any guidance you may have!


  97. The A4 doesn’t really have the timing chain issues like the S4 does, it uses a belt for most of the components and a chain for the camshaft but I haven’t heard of anyone having issues with it and it’s also not as hard to access so the labor isn’t so bad.

  98. Awesome, thanks! Looks like the car I was looking at already sold between when I posted and when you responded, but that means I can open my range to a little higher mileage on the A4 and likely not experience the same issues. Much appreciated, Nick.

  99. @Trent be sure to check out my buyers guide for issues with A4, the cam follower can be an issue on that car but it’s a cheap and easy maintenance thing as long as you catch it before it fails: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  100. Already noted and read that article as well :-). Thanks, Nick!

  101. Nick,
    I just purchased an extremely well maintained 2005 (not 2005.5) Audi S4 Avant with 79K miles.
    No issues at present..no timing chain rattle. Are you aware of a reputable warranty company that would cover the timing chain service, if needed. Do you recommend buying an extended warranty?

    Thanks in advance,

  102. Hi Michael – Endurance Warranty is a site sponsor of mine and has great service and rates, definitely check them out. Click the banner on my sidebar to find them :)

  103. Hi Nick, i’m having trouble decided between a 2006-2008 A4 and an S4, according to kbb a 2008 A4 cost around 12k and a 2008 S4 around 17.5k. I’m wondering if I could buy an A4 and tune and mod it to or beyond S4 performance for cheaper than buying a S4. Also if there is any difference in the model years 2006-2008 worth mentioning. Thanks.

  104. You can definitely mod an A4 to have as much power as the S4, but it will cost you a good $5k for the big turbo kit alone, then you’ll need to spend money on supporting mods, etc. The S4 also has a lot of interior & exterior upgrades like Recaro seats, bigger brakes, etc. so by the time you “convert” an A4 into an S4 you’ve spent far more than the S4 would have cost. Check out my B7 Buyers guide for more info: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  105. Nick, what do you think about the Audi A4 2006? Just curious as I’m looking between that a 2007 and 2006 s4?

  106. Hi Tate – I used to own an 06 A4 and my current car is an 06 S4, so I have to say it is a fine year for Audis lol :) Are you referring to a convertible per chance? The 06 and 07 is nearly identical for sedans and avants, but the convertible did change body style between 06 and 07.

    Check out my buyers guide for more differences on the model years and body types: http://nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-buyers-guide-2005-5-2008-audi-a4-s4-rs4

  107. I’m more looking for a daily driver that is not a convertible. I usually commute anywhere from 15-75miles a day depending on school or not

  108. Hey Nick, thank you so much for writing this informative article and for dillegently answering all of these comments over a few years! Believe it or not I have set here reading every comment because it is so interesting haha. I have a few questions for you since you definitely seem to know your way around an Audi: I recently bought a 2008 3.2L A4 with the sport line package and only 79k miles for 13k even, including taxes and fees from a local dealer with a 3 month warranty. The maintenance report looks really clean and it has been regularly serviced. Do you think I got a fair deal on this car? KBB says we got it a bit below market value, and we were able to talk it down about 1000$ from the asking price, which definitely beats this 06 3.2 A4 that a larger dealer was asking 15k for including taxes and fees (which I know is an absolute ridiculous thing to ask for). Now, I also read that the 3.2 engines are not your favourite because they are harder to tune and get less gas mileage than 2.0’s. However, I was wondering what kind of tuning you could do to a 2008 3.2 A4 go improve speed, handling, or overall performance? Also, this might seem like an uninformed question but are these 08 A4’s considered B7 or B8 models (for some reason I read different answers on audizine). My second to last question is, with this subpar FE, are there any things I can do while driving to improve general efficiency? (It’s an auto and luckily I drive infrequently since I’m in college). Finally, I heard that these babies can quite easily last past 200k miles with good care, and since I want this to last me at least 8 years, I was wondering what steps I can do to make sure that it is properly maintained (also the minimum fuel rating I should fill it up with) and which problems I should be looking for down the road, and what budget I should prepare for. The Carfax looked really clean to me but I’ll have to check on Monday to give you more details. I really apologize for all of these questions, I would have posted on your buyers guide but was unsure if this is a b7 or b8! Thank you greatly though and have a great day :).

  109. Hey Hans,
    Awesome to hear you’re digging the blog and comments. You’ve got a B7 for sure to clear that one up. Sounds like you got a great price if below KBB value, especially since yours is well optioned, low mileage, and it sounds like you’re evaluating the price after all of the extra costs KBB normally doesn’t factor in (taxes, dealer fees, etc.).

    In terms of FE and performance, I believe Unitronic makes a tune for that motor but haven’t really read too much on reviews of it TBH. Like the V8, the biggest gains are to do high flow cats (or piggie pipes) and a more free flowing exhaust to unleash some HP and make the engine work less hard to acheive same speed. A K&N air filter is also probably a good idea. In terms of driving style, you burn the most gas under acceleration, which is why stop & go city driving is the worst mileage, and freeway is the best. Getting the car up to speed kills mileage, maintaining the speed is not so bad. So driving fast just to race to the next stop light burns a ton of gas, cruising slower, accelerating more gradually, and trying to time the lights helps. On my car there is also a big difference between MPG at 70 mph and 90 mph, so on those long road trips you need to decide what’s more important – getting there quicker or saving gas 😛

    Maintenance – oil changes religiously, can’t stress that enough. I wouldn’t recommend going below 91 octane, especially if you’re going to be driving fast at all. Lower octane gas will still work, but the car will misfire occasionally which is not good for the engine and robs the car of power, so it’s a lose-lose. Keep up with the paint too and detail your car, get it clay bar’d and polished at least annually, and stay on top of the interior and leather seats so that those don’t crack and get nasty. Last but not least whenever you get a CEL don’t ignore it, get it scanned and figure out what the problem is before it becomes worse.

    Good luck and enjoy the car!

  110. Hey Nick,

    Thank you so much for the quick response and great comprehensive answer! I just picked up the car yesterday and I was definitely not disappointed. It’s a blast to drive and I got it cheaper than a 2.0T with more miles on it, but living at a high elevation I am definitely a little bummed about the engine being robbed of some power. I should definitely look into some of those mods to get more oxygen into the engine! I definitely want to make this car last at least 10 years, so in terms of oil changes, how often is often? Should I replace it when it’s a little higher than the indicator level?

    Thanks so much man, hope you have a great day,


  111. @Hans – I replace mine every 5,000 miles or so, but if you’re burning oil then yeah watch the dipstick and at least top it off if not do an oil change more frequently. Enjoy the car!

  112. Thanks Nick I will! I had one more question concerning this car: so I read that most (or all?) Of the 2008 A4’s came with the S line exterior features, but the real Sport upgrade comes with upgraded sport suspension and 17 inch wheels. How do I determine if I have the real sport edition? My front grille says S line on the front and I have those lil silver door stops below the doors, but how can I figure out if I really have the upgraded suspension and tire sport option?


  113. Hans – the shocks themselves will be a darker red color, and the suspension is lowered by about 1″ over the non-sport suspension. The wheels should also be 18″ instead of 17″ for the S-line package. I believe the interior should also have a three spoke steering wheel with an s-line badge, rather than the four spoke wheel.

  114. Aw damn it, I’ll have to double check but it soundss like I don’t have the real sport upgrade. That’s a bummer because the stock suspension on that car seems to be the only thing I dislike about it, it seems so stiff and unresponsive. Thanks a bunch for the info and quick replies though!

  115. Hey Nick I actually have one more question to run by you here: So I found out that the same dealer we purchased my black 2008 3.2L A4 Quattro actually sells a red 2009 2.0T Premium Plus Quattro that is at just 87k miles (only 7k more miles than my B7) and has been detailed pretty nicely with some good-looking xenon headlights and 18 inch custom wheels for 1500$ more than the B7 (14.5K). While I love the 3.2L B7, one thing I’ve noticed pretty quickly is how much gas it guzzles on short drives, and how poorly the suspension has been performing for some reason. The 2.0T would save me gas, and I know that if I wanted to make it quicker, I could chip the engine or tune it for much cheaper than the 3.2. The Dynamic Driving Mode with the different options for suspension, handling, and acceleration make it seem very appealing to me too, but I’ll have to take it on a test drive next week to really feel the difference. My question is, if I could work out some sort of deal with this local dealer to see if I could pay some extra money to swap out my B7 for this B8, do you think I should do it? Both cars seem to have equally good service records and maintenance, but my B7 has had 4 previous owners and the B8 has only had two. The thing is that even though I don’t drive a very large amount right now, I’d like this car to last me a long time, so the most fuel efficient bang for my buck I can get means a lot to me.

    Thanks a bunch,


  116. Hans – yeah, if you can get the financials to work, I’d consider it. I’ve also been a fan of the 2.0T over the 3.2, and the B8 has some nice upgrade over the B7 in terms of interior comforts and whatnot. Seems like it would be an upgrade all around, unless the B8 has some kind of mechanical or maintenance issue that you’re overlooking.

  117. Hey Nick thanks for the recommendation; unfortunately that 09 2.0t A4 in question sold the day after I posted that comment, before I even got a chance to test drive it :(. It looks like I’m stuck with my 3.2l A4 now, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing except it seems like this local family dealer that I thought I could trust might have been hiding (or simply unaware of) some minor problems that have been bugging me. I had to wait for them to inspect my tires and brakes after I purchased the car, yet somehow my rear tire was largely deflated over only 1 and a half weeks of driving (only on paved roads) and my rear brake light is not working all of a sudden. Are these b7’s generally unreliable in terms of these minor problems or did I just get unlucky?

  118. Rear brake light might just be a bulb – cheap fix, check out this DIY: http://nickscarblog.com/diy/audi-a4-brake-light-replacement. The tire isn’t really Audi’s fault either, so I wouldn’t worry too much here. Generally they’re pretty reliable, sounds like this car might just need some general maintenance items…

  119. Haha thanks man sorry I think I was just nervous that all these minor nuisances seemed to be happening at once but you’re right it’s really no big deal XD! Thanks have a great day man

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