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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crisis Management: How to Deal with a TIMING BELT Failure.

You put it off just a little too long, didn't you?

All too many 1.8T owners have had timing belt failures. Funny thing is, most of the time it's not the belt's fault. The tensioner often comes loose, letting the belt skip teeth.

But anyway, your timing belt just failed, what do you do?

#1. Use AAA to get your car either to a reputable shop you trust or back to your house until you find one. Of course, this is since you have AAA (it's $88 or so a year for a primary person, less for everyone else in the household) or since a person who has AAA (ahem) was riding with you so you can get a free tow. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES tow your car to a dealer.

#2. Realize this is going to cost no less than $2000-$3000 (initially, might recoup cost) to fix. If you can't afford to be out of a car, note that you could buy a Honda Civic or something else to commute around with for this kind of money.

#3. Choose your gameplan. You have several options:

A. Buy a cheap car to get around until you can fix the TT or sell broken down TT and replace with cheap car. You wuss.

B. Replace your whole motor. As ominous as this sounds, it is most likely the best solution. A used motor in perfect working order with around 50,000 miles on it should run about $1,500 on Vortex. I'd probably expect labor to be around $500-700 for someone that charges $50/hr. When removed from the bottom via lift, the motor and trans come out very easily, however it takes a while to wire. Then after you have your new motor in, you can either part out your old motor or sell the whole unit and recoup probably the whole cost of labor. I'd also throw a new timing belt kit on for $250 if I were you ;)

Basically, you'll be replacing your motor but you'll be keeping all your wiring. This may take some adapting to work with sensors etc on your new motor, so make sure you get a wiring harness from the new motor in case you have to solder on different connectors to work with your original wiring.

Of course, there is some risk to this since you have no idea what that motor runs like. However, buying from a reputable seller on Vortex usually won't leave you with a deadbeat motor.

C. Replace the head and pistons. You'll need new pistons ($100 used on Vortex), new piston rings ($50 if I remember), new head studs ($40 if I remember right) and a new head ($1600 brand new at MJM Autohaus) a timing belt kit ($250) and probably other miscellaneous things I can't think of. You could probably find a used head in working order for $400-$800 on Vortex too.

Problem is, for all you know your valves could have snapped off and messed up your cylinder walls or marked them up with metal fragments. Your water pump could have snapped and thrown bits of impeller all through your block and radiator. This is why I didn't go this route. I didn't want to have to deal with recovering anything else that might have gotten messed up in my motor. Also, this involves tearing the motor apart and reassembling the internals, which was not something I wanted to worry about being done incorrectly.

In all fairness this is probably the cheapest route to go but it has its potential complications. However if you're looking for a good excuse to build your motor, you might as well while you have it apart.

Those are your three options...choose your TT's destiny! Good luck.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Common Problems and Common Fixes

Problem: I did a battery reset, now my temperature in the cluster LCD reads negative numbers.
Solution: Reset again.

Problem: I unplugged my seat and got an airbag light. It won't turn off even with a battery reset.
Solution: Find someone with VAG-COM or go to a dealer.

Problem: I'm low on coolant but I can't find G12 coolant anywhere. Where do I get it? Can I just use something else?
Solution: NO. Use only G12. G12 is available at a VW or Audi dealer for about $25 for 1 gallon concentrate (makes 2 gallons).

Problem: My dome light won't light up when I open the door.
Solution: Push it, punch it or remove it and jiggle it till it works. It has some sort of electrical contact issues that are usually resolved by messing with it in aforementioned manner.

Problem: My automatic windows stopped working/my windows don't do the slight drop/rise whenever I open and shut the door.
Solution: Do a battery reset...this is usually a sure fire fix. Easier thing to try is holding the window switch in the full up or full down position for 30 seconds. This will sometimes fix it. If neither do, most likely your door sensor is shot. See the fix in the AudiWorld FAQ.

Problem: My front parking light(s) don't work.
Solution: The bulbs are available online or at a VW/Audi/Mercedes dealer for $6-$10 and are easily swapped out. Mine kept blowing so i just removed them altogether. I run angel eyes for running lights now.

Problem: My turn signals are acting weird.
Solution: It's either your turn signal stalk or turn signal relay. Both are fairly inexpensive ($50-$100) and not too difficult to swap out.

Problem: My glovebox is stuck shut.
Solution: DO NOT try to force it open. You'll break it more. I have a glovebox replacement DIY farther down the page (a new one will be $300+). If you didn't manage to break the latch off or anything, you can remove the side of the dash between the dash and the door to get at hte side of the box. From there, there's a little pin that holds the box shut. You can push this pin in yourself and open the glovebox that way. From there, you can cut the pin off or something since usually the box gets stuck from the pin not wanting to retract. The pin on the opposite side should be enough to hold it up.

Problem: My headlight washers don't work.
Solution: They have their own fuse. See fuse diagram. Or, they could be leaking, in which case check the plumbing for them.

Problem: My hatch won't open as easily as it used to.
Solution: Get new hatch struts. They're available on ECS Tuning among other places and not hard to swap.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Update: LED DRLs

I've abandoned this project, but I'm going to leave the pics up to inspire others:

Behind a stock corner lens...I don't have any spare clear ones:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TTweaker's Guide

Very useful guide, mostly for diagnostics and troubleshooting etc:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Headlight mod tips.

If you've seen modded TTs chances are you've seen modded headlights. By "modded headlights" I mean people who have removed the side reflector and painted the housing to match the body of the car or just be some different color. Also, many put in clear corners in the process to complete the look.

Here's a side by side shot of what I'm talking about. The closer insert has had the reflector removed, holes filled and has been sprayed to match OEM finish:

That said, European cars don't have side reflectors and S-Line cars have silver housings from the factory. For the rest of us though, there is the headlight mod.

Jeff Bipes has a pretty good outline on how to do this mod:

Keep in mind to get your headlights out you'll have to remove your bumper, which Jeff also has a writeup for:

I myself have done 6-7 sets of inserts myself. I used to sell people modded inserts and then refund them a core charge when they returned their stockers to me, I did about five sets of those for people. However I'm finished with doing that, so now you guys get to hear about the tricks I've learned:

-When applying bondo, get a blob of it on your fingertip and push it through the holes from the back of the insert. Once you have some coming through the hole, smear it around on the face of the insert until you can't make out the hole anymore.
-Let bondo dry for several hours or overnight. Sometimes it can look dry on the surface but be wet inside and really make a mess of things.
-When sanding bondo, use a sanding block until you get really close to where you want to stop sanding. Sanding block takes out bondo much better than hands.
-Use high build filler primer. This stuff is very hard to make run and also helps eliminate any traces of the holes. I'd suggest the orange stuff as it's easier to see where you haven't painted:

-Don't worry if your holes are kinda noticeable. Once they're behind the lenses, they'll be next to invisible.
-As always with liquid paint, use many light, thin coats to get the job done.
-Have extra patience with metallic colors (silver etc). These take a lot more coats. If you grow impatient, you'll end up making the paint run, which with metallics is very noticeable.
-If you do end up with runny paint, let it dry several hours or overnight then sand it down and go again.
-Have so many spare headlight inserts that you can defile one when you're bored in between waiting for coats to dry:

Misc images:

The orange primer. I think this is a pretty cool color actually, it's about the color of terracotta. This is a spare unmodded light (hence the holes) that I tested it on:

When you're really hustlin' headlights:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Choosing Coilovers: How low which coils go.

For everyone's reference, I started a thread over on Vortex for people to post up pics and specs of their coilover setups. This way, users looking to buy suspension can see just how effective which models of coilovers are at lowering and also get feedback from people running the setups side by side in one thread.

Certainly lowering is not the only thing to consider when choosing coils, however it seems to be the biggest concern for most people. Other things to keep in mind are how well the coils ride, how well they make the car handle and how adjustable they are to allow you to dial in the exact suspension characteristics you want.

The thread:

I'm just going to leave a link to let readers track the progress as more people contribute. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Board Diagnostics via the HVAC Controls

I mentioned this in passing in an earlier post but I think I should highlight it as its fairly interesting. You can read the output values of various sensors (albeit mostly trivial ones) on the car via the readout on your air conditioning controls:

The most useful one I see is:
51 Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) in deg C

You can check this reading against the reading on your cluster to determine if your cluster is bad or if your car is in fact overheating.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How to open your trunk/hatch with a dead battery.

As you probably know, your trunk (roadster) or hatch (coupe) is electronically released. I've known for a while that there was a manual release somewhere but I couldn't figure out where. So when the answer came up on Vortex recently, I figured I'd add it to here for everyone's benefit:

-In the roadster, the manual release is located in the small compartment behind the passenger seat.

-In the coupe, the manual release is located under the cupholders. You must remove the rubber pads on the cupholders and unscrew them to access it.

Hope this helps you if you ever need to get into your trunk for the jumper cables!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where to buy a Euro headlight switch.

My headlight switch started taking a dump on me so I looked into getting a Euro switch to replace it. So what's the difference between the two, huh?

Only real difference is that the Euro switch allows the use of rear fogs. I thought for the longest time that it enables you to run fogs without low beams (other VW Euro switches do!)...but mine doesn't!

Euro TTs have different tail lights; the Euro lights have amber blinkers and have a rear foglight in place of one of the reverse lights. Picture of sh-tsweak's TT shows the difference well:

As for where to get it and how much....

The Audi part number is 8N1 941 531A and it is about $116 @ but it's not listed on their site directly. You have to email them for a quote then follow their instructions for ordering. Here's an email sh-tsweak posted up from TMTuning. Again PLEASE email them for a quote first since the price may have gone up for the switch.

How to place a special order for a item not listed on the site::::

Go to the site and add anything to the shopping cart, then when you go to checkout by clicking on the main cart icon and the order window comes up change quantity to "0" and continue with the order and in the comments box put that you would like to order the part and include the description of the part and or any part numbers and prices I quoted you.

If you have any other questions just let me know anytime.


Also have some patience. Mine took 3+ weeks to arrive.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ever wonder how small your turbo REALLY is?

This is a K03 sport, used in the 180hp TT:

...and a quarter:

...and an air tool fitting:

This is the turbine....and also why you can't hold full boost to redline:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

OEM look R8 style LED running lights are here.

I've abandoned this project, but I'm leaving the pics up for others to see.

Please don't send me emails asking about how to replicate this because these LEDs proved to not be suited for this purpose, therefore I can't recommend doing what I did.

And at night. Please note that the lights are WHITE. Due to lack of white balance capability at night, they appear bluish in the photos.

By now you're wondering: "wait, so what about turn signals?"


I converted the stock foglight projectors into turn signals with a cluster of amber LEDs. I eliminated hyperblink with appropriate resistors.

Now you ask: "so wait, you got rid of the foglights?"

Well yes, in exchange for a set of real, properly positioned foglights:

Here are some concepts I sought to illustrate in my design.

-Every LED points forward. This way, the lights are only intense when viewed up front and from a slight angle. No blinding people next to you. This is how it's done on new Audis.

-The LED lights are almost unnoticeable when off. They reside behind the stock style corner lenses (I use OSIR clear corners) and are barely visible behind them when off. With smoked lenses, I highly doubt they're visible at all when off. This is how it is on new Audis; the lights are not obvious when they're not on.

-The lights are not used as turn signals. Audi does not use them as turn signals, so neither do I.

Pic from above:

-I use clusters of LEDs instead of single LEDs for each dot. This is also how Audi does it...if you look VERY closely at the R8/S5 in person, they are in fact clusters and not single LEDs.

Here's a few more pics:

They can be run in conjunction with angel eyes, although it's a little overkill.

Just angel eyes:

With LEDs:

Here's a video demoing everything. When I drive up, it's just the LEDs on.

I am currently waiting on a quote from a CNC shop for a distribution worthy version of these. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Everything you need to know about turbo upgrades and big HP for the TT.

I would put this post in the FAQ list, but I feel it deserves its own post. It is a goldmine of information for anyone looking to upgrade the engine on their TT even to the most extreme levels.

Topics covered include turbo selection including expected WHP and spool RPM, turbo setup components and upping engine displacement with a stroker setup.

Props to Nate (cincyTT) for writing it.

ANOTHER Supercar rips on the TT interior.

The Gumpert Apollo...the most ridiculously named supercar I've run across in a while. However it is $500,000+ and uses many Audi bits...including the RS4 4.2L V8.

The interior rips a few noticeable Audi parts such as the stalks but most notable are the ever present TT vents just like on the Koenigsegg in an earlier post:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Notes: ECU swaps/removal/immobilizers etc

A lot of the time, people will decide to go with a big turbo after buying stock turbo software. So, in order to recoup the cost of their stock software somewhat, they will put ECUs up for sale.

Unfortunately, swapping ECUs in TTs is a bit of a tricky task, which I personally had a nightmare with. First, you have to make sure the ECUs match and then, you have to fiddle with the immobilizer.

In order to swap an ECU, the ECU to be swapped has to be from a car with the same engine code and transmission and usually has to have the exact same part number. No, a 225 ECU usually won't work on a 180 and vice versa.

To check your ECU code, you can either scan with VAG-COM or pull your ECU out. This, when I did it the first time, was zero fun. The procedure isn't that hard, but Audi made sure to really wedge the ECU in its mount very well. It took an hour of prying to pry the ECU loose. APR has the best instructions; it is step seven in this writeup that is the real pain.

The ECU code, i.e. the ECU part number, is the large series of letters next to the Audi rings above the barcode on the ECU housing. The number should read something like
"8N0-906-018 B" or similar.

A side note: I installed an ECU from the same engine code and transmission but the last letter was different. It installed fine and started my car, but immobilizer disarmed me immediately, so I'm not positive whether an ECU with a different letter at the end will work completely fine or not.

If you have questions about ECU compatibility call APR Tuning and ask for Chris; he helped me through my ordeal. APR's number is 334-502-5181.

So let's say you've found a matching ECU; unfortunately you're not in the clear yet. Most TT models have an immobilizer (apparently, some have no immo), but some from the 2001 model year onward have a more complex immobilizer. 2000 and some 2001 cars usually have Immo II, which means the ECU has a code programmed into it that must match a code programmed into your key in order for the car to run. All cars from 2001 onwards (including some 2001 cars) have Immo III, where the ECU's code must match a code programmed into the cluster and the key.

This leaves you with two options: reprogram your keys and cluster (if necessary) at the dealer for what will likely be hundreds of dollars or purchase an immobilizer defeat code. You can also try and fiddle with stuff yourself using VAG-COM but you need a key code to access the immobilizer data if you have Immo III. These days, only dealers can fetch this, and good luck getting them to do so for you. Immo II looks fairly simple, although I do not have experience doing the procedure.

Immo II swap procedure:

Immo III swap procedure:

It is NOT POSSIBLE to switch immobilizer chips on ECUs to make them compatible with the cars. I've been there, it doesn't work. End of story.

I personally wouldn't do an immobilizer defeat since it would make the car easier to steal. I like knowing that someone can't take off with my car unless they have a programmed key that matches it. On the other hand, Immobilizer defeats are also useful if you want to install a remote starter. So if you want to, APR charges $150 per ECU for an immobilizer defeat code. Revo also does immobilizer defeats although I'm not sure what their pricing is.

In the end, I really don't think the whole ECU swap idea is worth it if you have Immo III, since it will cost at least $150 more to get the immobilizer erased or possibly several hundred dollars to get keys/cluster reprogrammed. The DIY route with Immo III entirely depends on the dealer's willingness to fetch a code for you too. Immo II seems somewhat feasible.

Forking over several hundred extra and just buying software seems to be the simpler way to go.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lightening the TT - ways to save weight.

The TT is a somewhat heavy car. In my book at least, a sports car should be <3000lbs.

Here's a list of stuff that cincyTT compiled. Remove stuff at your own discretion :)
Counterweight - 35lb
Smallerbattery -20-25lb
Lighter seats - up to 80lbs
Urethane side skirts - 10-15lbs
Remove SAI, N112, N249, intake box, covers, etc -4-5lbs (with plates and bolts)
Crossover pipe - 3-4lbs
Lightweight 17" wheels - 8-12lb/wheel
2 piece rotors - ~10lbs/side front, ~6lbs rear
Aluminium calipers - 3-6lbs/side
Lightweight turboback - 15-20lbs
Light weight flywheel - 8-13lbs
Remove rear seatbacks - 15-20lbs
Remove spare for fix-a-flat - 30lbs
min - 290lbs
max - 339lbs

Monday, June 23, 2008

$900,000 supercar borrows Audi TT styling.

So it's not everyday that I get to see one of these.

For those not in the know, that is a Koenigsegg CCX. Prior to the Veyron it was the fastest production car in the world. Pricetag on this one? $930,000.

Some more shots:

Does something catch your eye in that last shot? Look closely.

Allow me to point it out...

Those are MkI TT mirrors as OEM equipment on a $900,000 supercar. I couldn't believe it, but they are identical right down to the lip/writing on the bottom edge. That sidemarker on the mirror stalk also looks very VAG.


But that's not where it ends. Catch something else in that picture above?

See it yet?

It uses the TT's vents.

And I'm not sure on this one since I don't have this mirror, but quite possibly the mirror as well:

But here's the dead giveaway:

TT door handles.

That instrument cluster cowling looks like a new beetle as well but I'm not sure.

So apparently, the Koenigsegg is a $930,000 MkI TT interior wise.


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