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Discussion Starter #1
Just picked up this 03 A4 3.0 this weekend for $800. Yes, $800 and I was able to drive it home. That's the good news. So why so cheap, you're wondering?

Frankly it is a bit of a basket case....the exhaust sounds like open headers, the brakes make a terrible grinding noise (when you can hear them over the engine), driver's and rear passengers windows need regulators, cat on bank 2 is shot, power steering is non functioning, oil leaking on exhaust manifold, missing lower belly ban, zip tied MAF to air cleaner, interior visor clips broken, headlight switch scratched up, headlights yellowed, mismatched tires, interior is a basket of deplorables--leaves, dog hair, coffee stains, broken glove box and arm rest.

In spite of the many issues, the car has two things going for it; when I ran a scan there were no transmission codes and the cup holder in the dash works flawlessly. Oh, and then the fact that it was only $800. I paid $800 for just a cam chain tensioner in my other B6 several months ago.



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So my plans for the car are:
Complete timing belt kit, waterpump, tensioner, valve cover gasket, cam seals, crank seal (if leaking). Prior owner only had the car for a year and had no idea when belt was last done. Also going to replace plugs, filters, flush coolant, replace tranny filter and fluid.
I will also install a used exhaust, find the source of the steering
Issue, and replace the interior. (I have the platinum seats from my other A4 collecting dust in my basement after putting an S4 interior in that car).
The headlights from my other A4, after swapping the halogens for xenons will replace the cloudy yellow ones. I'm going to put on some fresh wheels with good Dunlops that I removed from my other A4 when I installed S4 rims.
I have to investigate what's going on with the suspension--the right rear corner is lower than the other corners. I may be in the market for a used sport suspension setup if anyone has one. I'm going to try and update as I make progress.


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Since I'm waiting for parts, I thought I'd take some time today to start on the interior. I grabbed the shop-vac and went to work. I kept expecting to find the top to a coffee mug, as it looks like the prior owner was one handing a lidless cup of joe, as he navigated Laguna Seca at top speed.

Surprisingly, a little elbow grease was all that was needed. Some Resolve carpet cleaner and the carpet looks fantastic. I pulled the lower dash and dead pedal so I could clean them up and the surrounding carpet. I also removed the radio and climate control unit, so I could get the entire ashtray assembly out to clean--there was melted lip balm all over it.



Toward the end of the day, the FedEx man arrived with a box full of goodies.


I'm driving 3 hours to pick up a used exhaust tomorrow, so I thought I would take a look under the car to see what exactly is going on with the exhaust. No wonder it is loud.


Notice there is no pipe from the flex joint to the slip fitting, and also the liberal use of coat hanger wire. This guy must have been one hell of a home mechanic. I'm starting to worry about what else he may have "fixed". I think I'm going to run a compression test on Saturday before I start putting more money into this car.




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Gorgeous day here in the Northeast. I'm shirking work, not to play golf, fish, or to go rock climbing (one of my other passions)--but to pick up car parts.

Specifically, picking up a used OEM exhaust. I motored two and half hours down to the Philly area, in the family truckster, to fetch this:

And yes, thankfully, an assembled 3.0/S4 exhaust will fit in a Honda Odyssey (I didn't have a plan "B"). I scored the exhaust for $75, so I'll have more $$ to replace the missing passenger side downpipe. Thanks Roman (the guy has a sweet B6 S4 Nogoro avant).

I also played around with some interior trim. I had a spare platinum colored window switch surround that was scratched horribly. So I striped off the coating, wiped it down with alcohol and then plasti-dipped it grey. I'll see how it compares to the original in the daylight tomorrow.


Also, I'm going to do a compression test tomorrow. I know it is best to check on a warm engine, but I fear my neighbors will burn my house down if I let the car idle in the driveway for more than a minute--yes it is that loud. I'll make sure to have plenty of cold beer (and ear plugs) ready in case anyone comes over to complain.


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Yesterday, I was able to do the compression test. From what I could gather on the interwebz, doing a compression test on a cold engine is largely pointless, so I let the car warm-up for about 15 minutes before running the test. It was not particularly loud once the RPMs settled. All cylinders were right around 150, so any partout is on hold for now.

I also replaced the clockspring, as the airbag light was on for an intermittent connection with the steering wheel. I cleared the code and ran the car again without the fault coming back.

Today I got the car on Jack stands and started to disassemble the front. Then the rain started, ending my outdoor work. (My garage is too small to work on the car ) I snapped a few pics of the lovely exhaust rigging




I also removed the air box, while I was disconnecting things to remove the valve covers. There was a "performance" K&N filter and lots of detritus in the bottom of the air box

I scrubbed down the box, and it is looking fresh. Except for the super greasy valve covers and rest of the engine bay. I plan to thoroughly clean up the bay when I finish with the timing belt.
Oh, and I'm getting rid of the K&N filter--never been a fan. If anyone wants it (FREE, but you cover shipping) be the first to reply and I'll PM you to get your info. Heck, I'll even throw in a free K&N recharge kit (has also been used) as well.


After I pulled the front wheels off and the front bumper, I filled up the power steering reservoir and quickly found the source of the leak--the power steering rack. Now because the car had been run without fluid, I'm sure the pump is shot as well. (The PS fluid usually lubricates the pumps internals, specifically the vanes.) I already have a rebuilt rack for a B6 A4 1.8t. I have to see if it is the same rack used on the 3.0.

I also got a look at the connection of the downpipe to the exhaust manifold. Holy crap, it looks like it is going to be a bit of a nightmare unbolting that. We'll see...
The forecast is calling for rain till about 3:00 pm tomorrow. So, probably not much to update then.


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After the rains ended yesterday, I was able to get the front brakes done--new rotors and pads. The outside pad on the front passenger side was down to the backing plate--hence the loud grinding When the rear rotors and pads come in and are installed I'll flush the old fluid out and bleed the system.


So today began the timing belt odyssey. This is not my first timing belt rodeo. I've done it twice on an Audi 2.7t, once on an Audi 1.8t, and once on a Toyota Sequoia. However, it is never the kind of thing I'm completely at ease doing. Kinda like skydiving, there is an old saying "when you're not nervous anymore is when you should quit". So I am always double and triple checking everything.

So I begin by draining all the fluids. I was pleasantly surprised that the coolant was orangish and not brown, a sign that it was old G12. When you pick up a car for $800 you keep your expectations low. It wouldn't have surprised me if the prior owner mixed G-12 and Prestone. Thankfully, I'm not going to have to flush the radiator, block and heater core.

Next up I removed the lock carrier and swung it carefully to the side, after removing the a/c condenser mounting screws and sliding that under the car. Snub mount, snub mount, we don't need no stinkin snub mount. This is what remained of the front motor mount or "snub mount" as it is commonly called


After disassembling everything, it looks like the timing components were not terribly old. Most of them were pretty clean and all genuine Audi parts, so likely last change was at the dealer. Maybe I should have run a carfax to save myself all this fun? Nah.



By the way, is it even possible to install the crank lock pin with the engine in the car? It took me 15 min just to find it and I had to use a mirror. Forget about trying to get my arm in there. Maybe I'll regret it later, but I made the decision to forgo the crank lock pin and just make sure the crank never moves. I marked the crank, since the alignment mark for TDC is on the harmonic balancer and timing cover, which are both laying in a box.

I also replaced the power steering pump with a used unit.

Since I had them off to install the cam lock tool, I took some time to clean up the valve covers. Which by the way is the first car I have encountered with plastic valve covers. (I guess Mr. McGuire was right--plastics are the future). The seal on the passenger side valve cover was hard and brittle. I could see gaps in the seal where the oil was seeping from. Hell, it wasn't seeping it was flowing. This car was a mobile Superfund site. Anyway got the covers back on and cleaned the loom as well.
Before

After


Unfortunately, the tensioner for the accessory belt pretty much exploded when I went to remove it. The inner wire that secures the two halves together is missing, corroded away I suspect.

It is unfortunate, because the "Enhanced kit" I got from Blauparts doesn't include this. So I can go no further in putting the front end back together. I'm going to take the hiatus from the mechanical to clean the rest of the engine bay...and maybe start removing stuff to get the steering rack out.
Till next time...





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Discussion Starter #8
Day of the downpipe.
While I'm still waiting on the serpentine belt tensioner (didn't come in today either) I couldn't decide if I should attack the steering rack or replace the passenger side downpipe. Since I thought the downpipe was going to be the more difficult of the two, I decided to get that out of the way first. Let's just say it didn't disappoint.

On a scale of 1 to 10, one being an oil change and 10 being an engine removal, I would rank this a solid 8.5. It was bad, but I did have a couple of things go my way.

First off, there are three bolts that hold the catalytic converter to the exhaust manifold. Two are fairly accessible from below with the right combination of extensions and swivels. The one on the top is not visible without using a mirror. To actually be able to get a wrench on it, I had to remove about an hours worth of wires and plumbing. The good, actually great news, was that none of the nuts were corroded and all broke free with only moderate effort. However, the real battle had not even started.

In an attempt to free up some room to slide the pipe out, I removed the passenger side axle and its heat shield. There was CV grease coating everything, and a close inspection revealed a split in the boot. I ordered a new boot kit, so I 'll disassemble, clean, and regrease this axle. It is more effort to refresh an original axle, but I believe the originals are superior to every axle except GKN (I suspect GKN may be the supplier of the OEM axles. They look and feel almost identical except
For some stampings.) I'm not spending $350 for a GKN unit when my rebuild will be as good for $25 in parts.


After getting the axle and shield removed, it became very obvious there was no way that pipe was coming out without dropping the subframe. More fun... I used my engine support to hold the engine from above while I removed all the subframe bolts and used a floor jack to lower the subframe. After this I was able to wiggle the pipe down and remove the 02 sensors, but there was still not enough room to get the part with the cat out. After a maddening hour of contortions, interrupted by dashes to the computer to see if I could find some tips or a DIY (no joy), I thought if I remove the transmission mount and it's bracket I may have enough space. And lo and behold, that almost worked. I yanked the engine a little to the driver's side and was able to free the cat!



My excitement at having the downpipe out was quickly quenched, by the discovery that there was no gasket included. I've replaced the downpipes on my S4 and my 1.8 A4 and every time the pipes came with a gasket. Now for a split second I thought about just using the old gasket. But then I hear the old man's words in my head, "son there is the right way and the wrong way to do a job. The right way is seldom easy, and the easy way is seldom right." Er..or something like that. So at that point I figured I'm done for the day. I went inside and ordered some more parts--it always makes me feel better to know I have some parts on the way. It is kind of like a kid waiting for Christmas.

By the way, I admit I was surprised no one wanted that K&N filter. Perhaps you're all smart enough to know the oil in the filter isn't doing your MAF any good.


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I'm lying on my back under the car. I feel the cold pavement stealing the warmth from my body as I look up at the conundrum of rusty pipes, coat hangers, and hose clamps teetering overhead. What had brought me to this moment?

My lame attempt to spice things up a bit. Today I got rid of the Swiss cheese exhaust. I grabbed my Knipex wire cutters (great German tools by the way) and started cutting coat hangers one at a time. I wondered which cut was going to bring the whole jury rigged contraption down. About 10 cuts in I was rewarded with a crash and resulting brown rust cloud.

I'm not sure what was going on with the center resonator, hose clamps, and short metal tubes. Whatever it was, it had no real shot of working.

I polished up the cans on the S4 exhaust and hung it from the hangers. It looks like it is going to fit the slip joints from the 3.0 downpipes. I didn't try yet since I'm waiting on the downpipe gasket.

I also replaced the ECU box lid (Thanks Shokan parts). I had previously replaced the bottom of the box. Sometime in its past someone broke the back bolt hole allowing water to enter the box and the footwell. Their remedy was to drill holes in the bottom of the box and use silicon to caulk the back gap. (Perhaps the same technician who "fixed" the exhaust)
Holes drilled in bottom of box. Note signs of water ingress. Usually the first signs of water in the ECU box is a dead battery from the after run fan not shutting off. The relay
For the fan is part of a relay block in the bottom of the ECU box. Water shorts the relay keeping the fan going non-stop until the battery dies.


The rear ECU box screw can best be reached by putting a torx driver down through the hole where the windshield wiper arm attaches.


Next up, was replacement of the driver's side window regulator. I've done a couple of these so I knew what I was in for. It went smoothly and took about an hour an 15 minutes



Notice how the wire looks like spaghetti in the center of the blue part.


I got it all back together and now the driver's window functions again. I still have the rear passenger's side to go, but the part was on backorder at ECS.

The UPS guy arrived with my tensioner around 5:00, so I will get the front end back on tomorrow.

Till next time.


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Although I haven't been updating regularly, I am still diligently working to get this car back on the road.

I spent an entire 6 hours removing and replacing the power steering rack. The person behind the design and placement of the rack is some kind of evil. While it is not a hard job functionally, remove tie rod ends, unbolt high and low pressure lines to rack, disconnect steering column, then loosen three bolts holding rack in to remove, in practice it is a horrible job. One of the bolts holding the rack in, is about 9 inches in the recess, behind the pressure line, and there is not adequate room to get a socket on it.


Then just finagling the rack out, removing suspension or jacking the control arms up is a battle. It almost seems as if the rack
Is too large for the hole.

It was actually harder to get the new rack in, and the banjo bolts (with their multiple crush washers) lined up and tightened. It is fortunate my neighbors don't have any kids--they would have broadened their vocabulary.

I did manage to get it installed and everything buttoned down. But while I was chasing a bolt I dropped, I saw this plastic connector and associated wire laying on the catalytic converter

I fished it out, then spent some time trying to figure out where it went. I know on my other Audis, that brown 3 pin connector on the firewall is usually a knock sensor. However on this 3.0 the knock sensors are blue, and I had both plugs already. Then I saw the part number on the side and found it was the crank position sensor. Since I already had a grey connector and it's sensor, I realized some lazy tech removed the old crank sensor but was too lazy to fish out the wire, so just cut it.

To make it easier to hunt down that wire, and because I still had not changed the thermostat, I decided to remove the intake manifold. I'm glad I did; because the thermostat was a bear to get unstuck.


I also wanted to inspect the back of the motor for any signs of leaking coolant. I haven't found any signs of a leak, but when I picked up my $800 chariot, it was low on coolant--there was still some in the bottle, it was just below the min mark. I'm assuming the worse, that there is likely a leak somewhere. I just haven't found it yet.

Oh, and all the timing and serpentine parts are on. I just got a new coolant tank in the mail today, so will put the front end back on tomorrow and pressure test the coolant system for leaks.

I've got some issues with my S4 exhaust being about 4 inches too short to reach the downpipes. Not sure yet what I'm going to do to resolve that issue. I have to figure out at least a temporary solution so I can drive it to the muffler shop.



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Got the coolant tank installed, hooked up my "airlift" tool http://www.uview.com/index.cfm?dsp=productdetail&id=45700&productid=5120 and put a vacuum on the system to check for leaks. It held vacuum, so presumably there are no leaks. This tool is great, in that you don't have to bleed the system when filling with coolant. After creating a vacuum--you'll see all the hoses collapse--you simply insert a hose into a container of fresh coolant you mixed up, turn a handle, and watch as the coolant is sucked out of your bucket into every cavity of the cooling system.

I really wanted to fire the car up at that point, and thought I had another container of Rotella T6 lurking in the garage, alas it was not to be found. A trip to the auto store to score some oil was now on the agenda. I had to run out anyway to pick up some coilovers for my S4 that I found through a local on the FB group.

When I finally got home it was with rising anticipation I added the oil, looked all over the engine bay for any loose connectors or errant tools and then went inside to grab the key.

I turned the key, and the engine thundered to life (thundered being an accurate description since I still have not connected the down pipes to the exhaust system). My efforts were greeted with a rough idle followed by a flashing check engine light. My spirits fell as I started to wonder if I somehow screwed up the timing. The instant I saw the flashing light I shut the engine off. I went inside grabbed the laptop and my VAGCOM and scrambled out the door to find out the cause. A quick engine scan showed a misfire on cylinder #1. I went to the coil pack and saw it was not fully seated. I pushed it down and started the car again. This time all was good. Using VAGCOM I went into the measuring blocks to watch for any misfires, but there were zero.

However, now I was getting a wiff of burning oil. I looked under the car and could see oil running down from the front of the left cylinder block onto the alternator and then pooling on the ground. I shut the car down.

It is evident that oil is leaking from either the cam seals , the camshaft adjustment valve to cylinder head seal or that the piston rings on the camshaft ends have broken. Once I realized that the timing belt is going to have to come back off, I was feeling gutted. I already have the cam seals, but I will order the camshaft valve seal. I'm going to hold off on the piston rings, till I get the timing belt off and remove the camshaft adjuster valve to get a look at the rings. It is supposed to be poor weather here for the next couple days,
So I just may take a break from this project.




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Since the rain was falling, temperatures plummeting, and the wind howling, I figured I would knock off some tasks that could be done in the relative warmth and dryness of the garage. CV boots seemed to fit the bill.

Replacing the CV boots is a greasy job, even for the fastidious. It is nearly impossible not to get thick gooey CV grease everywhere Yet, it is not a difficult undertaking and their is a sense of accomplishment in renewing original axles rather than replacing them with inferior aftermarket axles. And aside from needing snap ring pliers, (or a gear puller if you are doing the outside joints), no other special tools are required. The outer boots on both front axles looked new, unlike the inner boots. One boot was split and had slung grease all over the lower subframe, the other boot was dried out and had some deep cracks.


I disassembled the joints and put all the parts in mineral spirits to clean them.


Afterward, I packed everything with CV grease and clamped the new boots on. Good as new


But my biggest accomplishment was getting the remote on the key fob to work. When I picked up the car the prior owner told me the fob likely needed a new battery. I put in a new battery but the fob still did not work. I tried to sync it using methods I found online to no avail. Then, I found where someone said they were able to sync their B6 fob by putting the driver's window down, turning the driver's door lock with the key to unlock, holding it in that position, then pressing the unlock button on the door. (I believe some specific chant while doing this was also suggested) I tried this and it did not work. So in disgust I put the window back up, and as I was headed inside tried the fob again--like the hungry person who checks the refrigerator three times in 5 minutes to see if any food magically materialized since they last checked two minutes ago. It worked.! (Unlike the fridge). The doors locked when I pushed the button on the fob. It is funny how something so simple made me so happy. It is going to be nice not to have to insert the key anymore.



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I knew it. Should have ordered those camshaft rings.

Rather than remove the radiator, condenser, and all, I put the car in "service mode" to remove the timing belt today. It made for fairly quick work. But if I was replacing all the components I would still opt to remove the lock carrier, draining the coolant.

Once I got the belt off, I only had to remove the assembly that holds the idler pulley to remove the rear timing belt cover. I was then able to remove the bolts holding the cam adjuster and wiggle it off. It did not take long to see the source of my oil leak.


One of the three camshaft piston rings, the one closest to the head, had broken.
. Of course this was not a part I had ordered. I had to do some searching but eventually got a part number. 07C109345B. Thanks to the good folks at GAP (Genuine Audi Parts), I confirmed the parts number and ordered three rings--in case I mess something up trying to get the new ring on. The rings were $7.00 each at GAP and they are $9.00 each from ECS.

Pic of the cam adjuster removed


Also, because I was still not feeling confident about the timing, I FINALLY located the hole for the crank lock pin. There is a small auxiliary coolant pump just behind the oil cooler where the oil filter screws in. The lock pin plug is right behind the pump. I was able to remove one cap screw that secures the pump to the bracket and push it up out of the way to see the plug for the crank pin.

I tried to take a pic, but it was just too tight and the pic didn't work well. I got the crank pin in, gently nudging the crank back and forth till the pin was in as far as it would go. I then went up top and the cam locking bars slid into place--so my concern about the timing was unfounded.

Since I couldn't go any further without parts, I decided to replace the final broken regulator on the rear passenger's door. I probably could have done it in an hour, but realized that the door actuator cable had popped out of its retainer after I got the door panel on and secured. So I had to remove the door panel again--and managed to break almost every clip getting the door panel free.


I found a great source for these VW/Audi specific clips. I can get a box of 25 for the cost of 3 clips from the dealer or ECS. See http://www.clipsandfasteners.com/mobile/default.aspx


In the photo below you can see where the regulator failed because one of the green clips broke


Hopefully the UPS man will be here early tomorrow so I can get busy again


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What did you use to strip off the coating from your window switch surround?
Nice work by the way. I know the feeling. Currently down to the block on mine.

Nice photos. :)

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Discussion Starter #15
Lunder03
I used this to strip the coating off the trim. I wore gloves then dampened a rag with the brush cleaner and wiped the old coating off. Okay it was a little more effort than "wipe" but it wasn't difficult.


I've hit a bit of a speed bump with my project. After removing the cam adjuster and replacing the cam piston rings and the cam seals in the adjuster I put the whole thing back together, timing belt on, serpentine belt on, started the car and wouldn't you know it, still heavily leaking oil from the front of the passenger side head. I pulled off the passenger side timing belt cover for a better look and started the engine. The oil is being slung out of the exhaust cam pulley. I can't be sure if it is escaping past the cam seals and entering the pulley or if it is internal to the pulley.

I'm not going to lie, I have no idea of how this cam adjuster works. I have a general idea of how the chain driven cam adjuster works in the 2.7t and 1.8t, but this is a different beast altogether. It seems to rely on oil pressure channeled through the snout of the cam and the pulley to vary the timing. I've been unable to find any useful info on the web. So I did what I always fall back on when I can't diagnose the exact broken component...start throwing parts at it. I got a used exhaust cam pulley and the adjuster. Now just waiting for them to arrive.

So, I figured I would finish the brakes.

The rear passenger's side went off without a hitch. But holy crap, the driver's side lug nuts were not budging. I broke several tools, Before falling back on my 24 inch Snap on breaker bar and three feet of pipe. I had to put my body weight on the pipe and bounce to break them free. It was a little unnerving watching how much the breaker bar flexed. Even my impact gun would not budge them.


After I got the brakes done, I replaced the fuel filter. That was surprisingly easy. Nothing like the nightmare it is to remove in a B5 S4 (you have to lower the fuel tank).

I also had cleaned up one of the yellow headlights and then hit it with two coats of a special non-yellowing clear. I was happy with the results.







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If it is true, that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then perhaps a little insanity is a good thing if you are a 3.0 owner.

I was impatient. I replaced the feed line to the power steering pump attempting to resolve my cavitation issue. (The power steering pump was turning the fluid to foam and my steering reservoir into Mt. Vesuvius.). However, because I still had the timing belt off, there was no way to test if the new hose solved my volcano problem.

I was ambivalent about putting the belt back on, as I was still waiting for my new cam sprockets and cam adjuster (new to me anyway) that I was hoping would fix my oil leak. But what the hell, maybe I would just replace the cam adjuster seals and cam caps w/ o-rings and hope for the best--this was something I had already done to no effect. Worst case is that I would get to remove the timing belt for a fourth time, oh the fun.

The previous seals were genuine Audi seals at $25 a seal. I though I might try and save a dime for the second round and got Elring seals at $7.00 each. I was somewhat
surprised to see the the Elring cam seals ARE Audi seals. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that both seals came out of the same mold, except where the Audi seal says "Audi" and has the part number, it has been burnished out on the Elring seal. Good to know.


I got the new seals in, and put everything back together including new cam caps. I'm getting much quicker at this now that I've done it 3 times. I started the engine, and the power steering is working fine--no foam--no noise. But even more satisfying, no leaking oil! The best I can figure is that the cam caps solved the issue. I must have pinched an o-ring last time I put them on. I feel like an idiot. That cap took all of 3 minutes to replace. Instead I removed the timing belt and the cam sprockets and went looking for bigger problems, because I was certain my new caps weren't the source of the issue. Not to mention I spent $100 on parts I don't need.

So with no leaks, it was time to let this beast run and see how the other systems are. There is still the stench of oil from the residual on the exhaust manifold. I check the heat and A/C and all work fine except...the front fan never comes on. It is in the 50s outside but one of the fans should come on whenever the A/C is switched on. The temp gauge is holding steady at 1/2 way mark. Then I leave the A/C on and seen the needle climb. I quickly turn on full heat to bring the temp back down and shut the engine down to troubleshoot.

Having seen evidence of water in the ECU box, the fan relay is my first objective. After quite a bit of manhandling I get the relay out and see this


Notice one of the terminals on the relay is missing. It is fused to the corresponding female terminal inside the junction. I try for an hour to get it out. Alas, it is not to be. It is simply fused to the pins by corrosion enhanced with electrical current. There is one silver lining in this dark cloud. The ECU box I previously purchased, had all the relay terminals in the bottom with the wiring loom cut. Looks like I'll be breaking out the soldering gun now.



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Great thread, loving every update. As someone tired of fixing my 95 Jetta VR6 and in the market for an A4, this is great education. Keep up the hard work!
 
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