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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quirks! Random things you might not know about the TT.

The TT is certainly a quirky creation. There are things I have run into while owning the car that have really surprised or intrigued me or that I feel are just useful to know. Most of these can't really be classified well so I'll just list them here.

-If you have a Bose system, there is a central speaker under one of the air vents on top of the dash.
-There is also a sunlight sensor, used for controlling the AC, in the same location.
-You can use the A/C controls to access onboard diagnostics. Link.
-There is a phone jack next to one of the cupholders. If I recall this is, in fact, used for the stone-age car phone option.
-Sometimes after you pull the cluster or disconnect your battery, the ambient temperature readout will read incorrect, negative figures. This can be fixed with another battery reset. This also happens to MkIII VW's.
-There are little tabs that cover holes on the passenger's side of the center console; these are used for a grab rail which can be bought as an OEM accessory. Modshack also makes one.
-The button on the E-brake likes to pop off with incredible speed on occasion when used.
-The windows on the TT roll down ever so slightly when you lock/unlock the doors to prevent smashing them upon closing the door.
-You can roll up your windows using your key (common knowledge, but hey). When locking your car, put your key in the door and hold it in one direction until the windows roll up or down (different direction for up/down).
-Using VAG-COM, you can program your windows to roll up or down with the buttons on your key fob.
-The fuel cap, while it has many pretty looking bolts around it, is only held down by 2 or 3 bolts (forget the figure).
-You can turn off your center display by tapping the "reset" button on the wiper stalk.
-There is a random serial-type cable in the trunk. I'm not sure what it's used for.
-Reinstalling the lower dash is a PAIN.

That's all for now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

DIY: How to fix a squeaky hatch.

My TT coupe has, since I got it, been stricken with an annoying squeak in the hatch. Whenever I hit bumps, I'd hear a high pitched squeak from the rear of my car. When I had a subwoofer, it got intolerable; every bass hit would be accompanied with a sound resembling a mouse stuck in my sub box.

This drove me crazy until I figured out what it was. At first, I suspected the rear deck lid (the removable mesh hatch cover) was the culprit. I was wrong. It was the interior panel on the hatch itself.

The panel is held in by clips...the same sort of design that holds on the fuse panel door and most of the interior panels on the TT and other cars. The two clips at the top of my hatch were loose and were therefore rubbing against their mounting holes causing a metallic squeak along with some rattling. This is how to go about fixing it...it's VERY simple.

First get some packing foam, I used a strip like this:


If you examine this area, you will likely find the grey panel to be somewhat loose:


Grab it and pull on it until it pops out somewhat, like this:


Now we can see the culprit! The clip is visible on the left:


Pull the hatch panel until you have the entire clip out; it will take some effort. While holding the panel out, cover the clip with your foam and push the panel back into place. Repeat for the other side. Trim any excess foam off with scissors for a clean looking fix.

You're done! Now hit as many bumps or make as much bass as you want with no squeaky hatch noises to accompany it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to make an OEM looking boost gauge.

People keep asking me about this.




People also keep asking me if my car is overheating. For the last time, MY CLUSTER IS BAD. It reads one tick too high consistently.

Anyway, I've had several people ask me how to make this. Surprisingly, nobody's asked me for a part number. Before I continue I have to give blackfnttruck credit for informing me how to perform this mod.

So here's the breakdown of how to make one of these.

Step 1: Get yourself a gauge.
I used a Revo Rev2 mechanical boost gauge with white LED backlighting. I bought it from here:
http://www.autodynamic.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=REV2-TB-WHT

As you can see, it's <$40. The more expensive option is a Defi D-series; the Rev2 is a copy of the D-series. Unfortunately, the D-series is discontinued and therefore rare. Also, the D-series is typically found with amber backlighting, which can be converted to white but requires the extra step of removing the amber tint on the back of the gauge face to convert it to white.

However, the D-series is a higher quality gauge. The Rev2 is not bad especially for <$40, however it is not entirely smooth when in vac compared to other gauges. You could tell the
difference between the two.

Step 2: Get yourself an OEM cluster needle.
You're on your own for this one. You have to find a spare cluster and pull the coolant/fuel gauge needle off. The needles can be pulled using your bare hands.

Step 3: Paint the inside of the cluster needle.
The inside of the cluster needle is completely clear; the LED's in the cluster itself are what makes the needles light up in their characteristic red. The needles simply have an orange/red backing that allows them to be seen in daytime. However, when you light them up, this orange/red backing becomes a dull orange that doesn't match the stock gauges at all.

So we have to paint it. Mask off the entire needle except for the inside of the "button" section, where the light is going to be shining through. Paint this with some translucent red...I used some translucent Humbrol hobby paint I happened to have (used for taillights on model cars etc) and went around with a toothpick painting the inside of the needle. Give it ample drying time.

Step 4: Open the gauge.
I've never opened a Defi, but I'd imagine it's similar to the Revo. The Revo's face is held on by a sort of sheet aluminum ring which is crimped around the edge of the gauge. Use whatever you can to start getting under the crimp...a VERY small screwdriver usually works. Then just slowly pry around the crimp until the face comes loose. Don't rush this.

Step 5: Swap needles.
The Revo needle pulls right off. The OEM cluster needle has a slightly smaller orifice in it for mounting to the gauge; augment it slightly with a needle or something like that. If I recall, the cluster needle's mounting base is also too long and needs a tiny bit of trimming. Make sure the needle is at zero when you install it!

Step 6: Reassemble, install.
Self explanatory.

Notes: Wheels Pt. 1

Audi never seemed to fit any TT's, spare the ALMS editions, with particularly flattering wheels in my opinion. It's no surprise that people constantly swap their wheels for something more appealing. Here I will address some common points about choosing wheels for this car.

Things to know when buying wheels:
-Diameter (17"/18"/19"/etc)
-Width (7.5"/8.5"/etc)
-Offset (ET 38/35/etc)
-Centerbore (usually around 70mm)
-Bolt pattern (5 x 100, 5 x 112, 5 x 130)
-Big brake compatibility
=Weight

Diamater:
This determines the overall look of your new setup. Most stock wheels are 17's and it seems like a majority of people run 18's while some run 19's. With 17's or 18's you will be left with a hideous wheelgap. With 19's, it's not as bad, but still could use lowering.

Diameter also affects things like ride and handling. The bigger your wheel, the less tire sidewall you ride on. Therefore, your ride will be rougher, but most likely your handling will be more responsive. I found my car's handling to be incredible with riding 1.5" of sidewall on my 19" wheels with a slight tire stretch to firm up the sidewall even more.

Width:

This is useful for determining the width of tires and also used for choosing spacers. Wheel width is measured on the inside of the bead so the whole wheel in reality is slightly wider than the given dimension. For instantce, a 225/55/17 tire will still fit on a 7.5" wide rim without bulging even though 225mm (the tread width, designated above) is really about 8.6". A 225mm tread tire on an 8.5" wide rim will usually produce a moderate stretch effect.

Offset:
Stock offset varies, mine was +38, meaning the mounting hub on the wheel is 38mm towards the outside of the car away from the center of the wheel. Other stock wheels may have different offsets. A smaller offset will move the wheel outwards whereas a larger offset will move it inwards. Most aftermarket wheels with offsets close to stock will sit deep in the wheel well, making for a non-aggressive look. To correct this, spacers are used. Use this to determine the size spacers you need for your wheels:
http://www.2x.ca/TT/offset/

Make sure the spacers you buy are hubcentric to both the hub and the wheel. Also, make sure to buy longer wheelbolts for mounting your spacers; a rule of thumb is take 28mm (stock lug bolt length) + the thickness of your spacer to get the length of lugbolt you need. For example, a 15mm spacer would require a 43mm lugbolt. If you can't find exactly the number you need, feel free to overshoot by a few mm. My front hubs easily swallowed all but 2mm of my entire stock 28mm lugnut. I bought my spacers and bolts off ECS Tuning.

Also, if you are installing spacers yourself, make sure you torque them properly and retorque them after driving on them for a few hundred miles. One should also apply a thin layer of grease between the spacer and hub as well as between the spacer and wheel to prevent the spacer from seizing onto the wheel or hub.


Centerbore:
Most people aren't aware of centerbore and its importance. Today, most wheels are hubcentric; that is, they are centered on the hub by the circular protrusion of metal in the middle of the hub in the middle of the lugs. This takes stress off the lugs and ensures a perfectly centered wheel. The TT uses a 57.1mm hub center to mount wheels on...unfortunately, this is not a standard. Therefore, manufacturers make the centerbore, that is the hole in the middle of the wheel that mounts to the hub, fairly large so that it may be adapted to all kinds of cars. So before one can mount a wheel, they need to buy hub centering rings to match the centerbore to the hub center. For example, my AT Italia wheels have a 67mm centerbore so I have hub centering rings that adapt them to a 57.1mm centerbore to match my hub. Hub rings run around $20-$30 a set depending on whether they are plastic or aluminum.

Bolt pattern:
The TT uses a 5 x 100 bolt pattern. Unfortunately, many newer VAG cars use 5 x 112 and just about all Porsches use 5 x 130. One can buy adapters, but they are usually in the neighborhood of $300-$400 for a full set including bolts. Wheels can also be redrilled into a different bolt pattern, but generally one should just stick with 5 x 100.

Big brake compatibility:
Not all wheels will clear big brake kits. If you plan on upgrading to one, verify compatibility

Weight:
People are always very concerned with how much wheels weigh. "Unsprung weight," which includes the weight of the wheels and brake rotors along with other components of the car that are not held up by the suspension, play a big factor in the performance of a car. It's easy to see why; it's harder to make a heavier object spin and it's harder to make a heavier object stop spinning. Stock wheels are quite heavy for what they are; factory six spokes weigh around 28lbs each, factory 18's weigh a little more than that. This is really embarassing considering most 19" wheels don't even weigh that much. Another consideration in unsprung weight is weight of the tires; tire weights can vary a lot.

Overall, I haven't noticed too much of a difference going from stock 17's to lighter 16's to 19's that weigh about the same as stock 17's. Overall the 19's handle best for me since they have small, firm sidewalls. The 19s did, however, noticeably slow the car down at highway speed.

That's it for Part 1. Part 2 will address some more specifics.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stupid Questions, Pt. 1

The title on this post is a bit of a misnomer. These are more like "common somewhat obvious especially when you search" questions but that doesn't make for a good title.

Stupid question #1: Can I run a blow off valve?

Yes, you can. Just make sure it's a dual piston BOV so that it doesn't leak boost on idle. If you bought one that isn't the aforementioned design, you'll know it, since your car will struggle to idle and stall.

Any recommendations?
Yes, blow that $250 SSQV that EVERYBODY and their mother runs because it makes a "pshhht" and a whistle out your ass and buy a Forge 004 for around half the price. It works awesome and makes the straight up "pshhh" that we all love, no annoying whistle necessary. Don't go eBay.

Which one performs best?
As long as they all hold boost and respond fairly quick there's no real performance difference. Some people make a big deal out of response time, but for an average driver I don't think it's a concern.


Stupid question #2: Can I swap the engine from a 225 into my 180?
Swapping the 225's engine into a 180 would be idiotic. The only significant differences between the two engines are the turbo setups and fueling which can be changed out easily. ATC code engines use identical internals to 225 engines.

What all other engine swaps can I do?
The only one really worth doing would be a 3.2 VR6 swap from the S-Line TT. For this, I'd speculate the major parts you'd need would be an R32 bell housing to mount it to the 02M (quattro) transmission along with all the electronic goodies to make it work. In reality, any engine put in a MkIV VW could be used; the 1.9TDI, the 2.slow, the 2.8VR6, but none are entirely simple or cheap endeavours.

What about the 2.7T engine from the S4? I saw it done.
That was an incredible undertaking. That engine barely fits under the hood not to mention the entire driveline on the car had to be swapped out. All in all it likely cost around twice what your car is worth to begin with. Just use a VR6 and call it a day.


Stupid question #3: I hate Haldex quattro! Can I make it rear biased or make my TT RWD?

No, it is mechanically impossible for Haldex to transfer more than 50% of power to the rear. You can't make your car RWD without moving the engine to the back, kinda like the Bimoto.

Can I still make it better somehow?
If you're still pretending like you're going to be drifting around corners on the street in your TT, you can see my post about Haldex in the archives.


Stupid question #4: How much HP does an intake get me?
Not much, I'm talking less at the crank than you could count on your fingers if you were a Sesame Street character. Your car will sound faster though which ought to help you perceive it as a worthwhile investment.

WTF? But on this mad tyte Soobawoo STI an intake made it put down lotsa more WHP on a dyno!
In case you haven't noticed, your car isn't a Soobawoo. Also in case you haven't noticed, the centercaps on your wheels are about as large as your turbo. It's a bit hard to restrict airflow on a turbo that small the same way as it's hard to suffocate an ant by making it breathe through a straw.

Any more stupid questions? Feel free to add them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Notes: Suspension

The TT comes with fairly nimble suspension from the factory, however most enthusiasts will agree that there is much room for improvement. Safety and practicality concerns lean the TT's suspension towards riding high and understeering in turns.

Fortunately, there is a broad aftermarket for suspension on the TT. I'll convey my knowledge through a series of notes broken down into specific suspension related topics.

Choosing a suspension setup:
-The only difference between coilovers and a spring and strut setup is that coilovers offer adjustable ride height. THAT'S IT. Some coilovers have dampening adjustability but so do soem strut/spring kits....adjustability is usually the only reason they are more expensive and more commonly used. Only real benefit to coilovers performance wise is the ability to corner balance.
-Running lowering springs on stock struts will most likely wear the struts out faster and make for a bouncy ride...I don't recommend it.
-When buying coilovers/springs and struts, replace your strut bushings and bearings as well while you're at it. They're not expensive, but most likely could use replacing.
-There are many good spring and strut manufacturers including big names like H&R, Koni and Bilstein. Cheap coilovers include brands like Vmaxx.
-Some Golf/Jetta components may fit the TT, however the two ARE NOT the same.

Lowering:
-Do your research as to what coilovers/springs go how low. There are many brands and they do not all produce the same amount of lowering. There's a post on here about a coilover pic thread on Vortex that I started.
-Lowering will increase your rear camber somewhat. This in itself will not severely affect your tirewear. Unfortunately, on Quattro TT's, the wheels "toe in" (point towards each other) when the camber increases which WILL destroy tires ridiculously fast. This will require a set of Kmac bushings ($200-$300 on TTstuff.com) to correct. You can also use adjustable rear control arms to do the same thing. FWD TT's do not need to correct the camber as their rear axle is different and does not produce the same "toe in" effects.
-Lowering can put your engine components at risk from bottoming out. DieselGeek sells a metal skidplate to give your oil pan and other components some protection ($300).
-Many coilover kits come with adjustable rear spring perches, but often to get desired lowness the rear suspension must be run without using these perches. You can run them this way, but it does not allow adjustment of the rear ride height.

Handling improvement; reducing understeer:
-The single most effective way to reduce understeer is a rear sway bar. These come in many diameters, but generally it is advisable to go with a 19mm rear swaybar if keeping the front swaybar stock. Larger sizes are primarily used to complement aftermarket front swaybars.
-Control arm bushings are another way to help expunge understeer. Some people replace the front lower control arm bushings with poly bushings to firm up the steering, however poly bushings are said to wear out quickly in these locations for some people. Another option is a set of DEFCONS from MCPi, which adapt the control arms to a previous, more desirable design (read the site for more info).

These are all the mental notes I have about suspension. If you have anything to add, feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Notes: Boost Gauges

If your car is modified, a boost gauge is essential to monitoring your turbo system and how it's running. Gauges are cheap, neat looking and easy to install, so why not?

Some notes about gauges:
-Choose between PSI and bar. MOST gauges read PSI but some out there read bar, PSI seems to be a more common measurement. 1 bar = 14.7 PSI.
-Choose between 52mm and 60mm, depending on how you intend to mount the gauge.
-Defi BF gauges, which are very nice gauges, require a controller to make them work. This controller is about $110, but the gauges WILL NOT work without it.
-There are many brands of gauges that are used. Defis are regarded as being among the highest quality gauges out there. Other brands that are used include: Autometer, ProSport, Stewart Warner, VDO and Revo, just to name a few.

As for mounting, there are very few spots to mount gauges inside the TT. Here are several typical solutions:

OSIR Mantis gauge pod, replaces ashtray and costs a jaw-dropping $300 (no gauges included!)


You can also use an A-pillar mount from a Toyota Supra...TTstuff has them:
http://www.ttstuff.com/gauges_pods.php

Finally, one of the most popular gauge solutions is the vent-mount gauge:


A 60mm gauge will fill the entire vent hole (meaning you can't get any airflow around it anymore) whereas a 52mm will leave some space, meaning you can retain vent functionality. The pictured gauge is 52mm. Most gauges can be mounted with their included hardware in the vent, however if you can't get yours mounted up right, Modshack sells a ring insert to mount your gauge. Personally, I've used this vent ring on both my gauge installs because I'm a perfectionist and HAVE to have the gauge right in the center.

There are several writeups on installing boost gauges; generally it's pretty simple. I believe the AudiWorld FAQ has a link to one (see my first post).

What boost gauge do I run? A Revo Rev2 with an OEM needle modded into it. Perfect match IMO:


Monday, May 12, 2008

What to look for and expect during a test drive.

Often times the dealer lot can be a picture-imperfect location to start a love affair with your soon to be bought TT. Unfortunately, it can also be the start of uncovering some nasty secrets about a specimen that you may end up wishing you'd never bought. Just like a girl well endowed in her figure but also in her share of sexually transmitted diseases, you have to be careful in what you choose and what to look for in a car, especially a TT.

Here's a checklist I have compiled of stuff that you can easily check at the dealer while looking at the car or during a test drive.

Outside:
-Check the panel alignment. With these cars, it's not too hard to tell when they've been wrecked. Often times, the headlights not aligning properly with the fenders/hood/bumper is a dead giveaway of front end damage.
-Check for original glass. It will have Audi rings in the corner if it is original. Non-factory glass could be from a simple rock chip or from a significant accident.
-Check the stock wheels if you plan on keeping them. Usually the six spokes are in HORRIBLE condition. I was fortunate enough to have the dealer completely refinish mine.
-Mirrors are both powered and should be heated at all times. If they're not, something's busted!

Inside:
-Make sure the seat adjustments work. Check knob on the side for the backrest and the lever on the side for the up/down motion. Make sure the seat heaters work. Not sure how much these cost to fix.
-Rips in the leather will only get worse. If the car's well taken care of it shouldn't be ripped. OEM seats run $500 or so for a used set of fronts.
-Make sure the glovebox latch works...smoothly. Glovebox is $300-$400 on eBay, $700 new from dealer.
-Make sure the headlamp washers work and don't leak. Mine had a dead fuse. When I discovered them after replacing the fuse, I also discovered they leaked. From then on I had persistent washer fluid warning lights until I finally found the leak.
-The surface of radio buttons on some of the newer radios are often worn out. The black buttons will be worn white...you can insist the dealer fixes this or use it as a leverage point for negotiation.
-The dome light is intermittent because of poor wiring. It generally doesn't die however, so if it doesn't work, it probably just needs a good punch. Don't be alarmed.
-Check the instrument cluster. Make sure the lines on the display aren't dying and that none of the gauges read erratically. The speaker in it can die too. Cluster repairs are $1000+ at the dealer. There's a class action lawsuit for repairing them, but it doesn't apply to older cars and expires very soon I believe. A cluster can be had for around $200 second hand, however it has to be checked for compatibility before hand and programmed by a dealer or someone with VAGDASH-COM* See my cluster info post.
-Make sure the turn signals work properly. The relay is $50 to replace. The stalk, which can also fail, is over $100 to replace if I recall.
-Check if there's a CD changer magazine. If there isn't, make the dealer order one. It's $30 and annoying to be without.
-Check if it has the rear hatch cover (coupe only). It's another small, annoying piece to not have.
-Make sure the windows work. The switches for them are behind the handles.
-Make sure the windows both roll down/up SLIGHTLY when you open and close the doors. This is a standard feature to keep them from shattering. If it doesn't happen, something could be broken (with my car, a wiring harness was to blame).
-Check for leaks if you have a chance. First time I washed my car the hatch leaked. Prompt trip to dealer and it was fixed.


Driving:
-If it grinds while going into second, this is a normal synchro grind. It's unpleasant, but it happens.
-Creaking from the front end is the front swaybar bushings. $50 for a poly set, I believe it's around $14 for an OEM set.
-Power should hit hard around 3000RPM. If it's delaying more than that, there's something wrong.
-The car revs quite high. At highway speed, it will be between 3000-35000 RPM on the five speed tranny depending on how fast you're going.

That's all I can think of. Send me stuff to add if you think of it.

*No, not VAG-COM. VAGDSASH-COM is only available through a German supplierand is a $700 tool that lets one program all sorts of VAG gauge clusters.

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