"Love, like a road that never ends, how it leads me back again to heartache, I'll never understand"
This is the first line of the 1986 number-one hit "The Next Time I Fall" by Peter Cetera and Amy Grant. It sums up everything that led up to owning a Q5, the actual ownership experience, and the post-sale heartache that I live with. To preface the actual story, I have been a big fan of Audi since I was a child. I grew up seeing my neighbor's B6 1.8T Quattro and spent countless hours driving my C5 RS6s in Gran Turismo 4. Hell, I had a Matchbox RS6 Avant that I loved taking with me everywhere when I was like 8. After the shitshow that was my 2020 GTI ownership experience and the long and arduous process to get VWoA to do anything about it, we settled on an agreement for a trade assistance on a new VW or Audi. Since the wound was still very much open and hurting on the former, I opted to find the latter back when the whole shortage thing started last November. I spent weeks looking for an A4, but I couldn't find any in a color I wanted in 45 TFSI Quattro S-Line configuration. After exploring all my options and knowing my offer would expire soon, I decided to look at the Q5 since we previously rented a brand-new one in December 2019 for my graduation road trip. I was extremely impressed by the car and figured that since I wasn't in the position to get a Macan, I might as well get the next best thing. I settled on a late-build 2020 Q5 45 TFSI Quattro Titanium in Navarra Blue at an eye-watering discounted price the week of Thanksgiving 2020. Everything went pretty well for the first month and a bit, but then again, the bar was already at rock bottom from everything the GTI put me through.
Fast forward to the end of December 2020, I got into the car after a quick trip to Target and was greeted with some error messages:
I initially feared the worst given it hadn't even been a month since I'd traded the basket case GTI in. I did, however, take it to the local Audi dealership a mile down the road. They said it was just some sporadic codes that showed up and that I needn't worry. Fine. It didn't act up after that, so I brushed it off as an isolated incident. Fast forward three weeks or so, we find ourselves in early-mid January 2021. I had to run to BMW to buy a 1/18 X5 they had and was greeted with this when I left:
I drove it to the Audi dealership 500 feet away and brought it up to the attention of the service people who more or less told me to "drive it off". Given it was just the auto start-stop system and parking brake affected, I drove it home and decided to see what would happen if I did just drive it off. Lo and behold, it did end up going away after almost an hour. Fine. Unfortunately, by March, visits to the dealership I bought it at and mainly visited for repairs and servicing, became an almost weekly occurrence. It should be at this point most of you will sit there and think to yourselves "this must be where this fucking moron decided enough is enough", but unfortunately, I was blinded by my love for the brand.
By April, additional electrical issues such as Audi Side Assist (blind spot) error warnings started showing up along with issues with Audi Drive Select.
How could a car from the four rings be so problematic in this day an age? I still can't answer that given I've helped plenty of people buy newer Audis and I've yet to hear of any issues from any of them. Theirs seemed to be fine, but why was I the odd one out?
By mid-April, the car had already gone through four parking brake motors and modules and whatever the hell goes into those systems. Some of my more tech-savvy friends said it was most likely an internal electrical issue causing these failures even after replacements, which is what they still all believe to this day. I soldiered on in the hopes the four rings would redeem themselves. While I did contact Audi and explained the situation and asked them to verify with my service advisors, no dice. They took a few days to tell me that they didn't consider it an issue and that they declined to move forward with a buyback or anything of the sort.
The car actually even got its first oil change in July, which I posted here the day it happened.
Sadly, there comes a point where you run out of time to let hope spring eternal. That point came after a few trouble-free months in late August. I was at my local Super Target when I was greeted by this:
Now surely, this must've been the final straw. The sixth parking brake malfunction since new. I took it in for service one final time and was even given a loaner as the part was on back-order and would be a few days until they could get one. The loaner? A 2021 Q5 45 TFSI Premium. Fine. I drove it for a week or so and was ultimately greeted by this lovely familiar face leaving Walmart on a Sunday evening:
Just when you thought we'd hit rock bottom, Audi brought a shovel. I experienced the same damn failure in a loaner that was almost a year newer and didn't even have 4k miles on it.
Do you think this was the final straw? You bet it was. I drove down to the dealership the day after, and they gave me an A4 loaner immediately. At this point, Audi once again declined the claim, but a few weeks later, I received a call that the parking brake unit and module were replaced again, but that the OTHER one failed while they had it down for the test drive. I called Audi back and left quite the lengthy, but still polite and friendly voicemail explaining the situation. Within a day, I was offered a settlement and was basically told it was that or an outright buyback that could take over a month. I opted for the former and worked that out with them. By the time the first week of October arrived, I received the settlement and sold my car to Carvana with everything fixed for the final time. The car officially left my possession in October, and I posted about that too.
My original idea was to buy an A4 Premium Plus S-Line or an S4 Premium, but after the most time-consuming nightmare I'd lived through this year, I decided to follow my heart and buy the original car I wanted to replace the GTI with last year, but had to back out of when everything turned south with VWoA: a BMW 330i.
After knowing what I was up against with the market, I ended up finding a 330i. The nightmare was over.
Did I write this just to shit on Audi? Absolutely not. I'm simply sharing my ownership experience of a 2020 Q5. I still loved the car otherwise and continue to love the brand. I just have to let this wound heal before I even consider going anywhere near another one.
I sit here before my computer in December 2021 to say the days of sleepless nights and endless dealer trips are over, but they led me to this.
I will miss my beloved QFunf, and I hope it's treating its new owners well. With that being said, I'd like to circle back to the other line from the song that reflects this transition to my newest chapter.
"The next time I fall in love, I'll know better what to do."