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Nick Jones

Soot Monster

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As some of you may know, my daily driver for the last 11 years has been a 1996 Audi A6 Avant 2.5TDI.  This has an I5 turbo diesel giving 140bhp and a 6 speed manual box.  Cutting edge for 1996.

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It was the leased company car of my boss when I joined my current employer in 1997, was bought  from the leasing company by another colleague and I bought it from him in 2003 with 112k on it.  Nearly run in.  The boss is on his 5th car since.

 

It has been a GOOD car.  Now just a few hundred miles short of 275k, it has had few replacement parts that would not be considered consumable.  Exhaust, clutch, alternator and starter are original as are all the brake calipers and the rear wheel bearings.  The engine has had no attention bar cam belt changes (2 in my ownership) and still uses virtually no oil.  It has lived outside all it's life and yet apart from front wings (the arches are a known rot spot where the liners rub through the galvanising) the body and paint are original and it still looks ok when I wash it, though it does have a pretty extensive stone chip collection.  It's my work car and earns 45p a mile (typically 8 - 10k a year) so it's been a good earner.

 

It averages nearly 50 mpg.  

It gets used for whatever job is going which has included dragging car trailers with large cars on (I'm not saying what!), trailers full of rocks and being stuffed with whatever will (almost) fit in it or can be tied onto it.

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It has survived 6.5 seasons of the Woolbridge MC 12 car rally series, which although not really a speed event does involve some really bumpy lanes usually in atrocious weather.  I have discovered that it can wade through water up to 2' deep (enough to make the back float), but I suspect I was very lucky to get away with that!

 

Is this an obituary?  Not yet.  It is now showing signs of attrition though.  I have become used to thinking it was invincible, but it has a growing list of maintenance tasks.  Certain of my long-standing customers greet me with "hasn't that b***** thing died yet?"

 

Apparently the injector nozzles aren't meant to last 275k.  It is now smokier than ever (not called the Soot Monster for nothing!) and is a bit of bugger to start when cold.  Some of the 140 horses may have escaped.  I'm told that with the right nozzles I can have them all back and more.  Apparently these engines will go to > 240bhp with no internal mods.

 

Handling has been becoming increasingly "interesting" so I'm mid way through changing the front subframe bushes (shagged), the TCAs (again) and ARB bushes (actually look ok).  The rear axle pivot bushes are absolutely bolloxed (I discovered yesterday) and are probably one of the main reasons for the odd handling.  Changing those involves dropping the whole axle beam out, so I'm really not looking forward to that.

 

Yesterday one of the fuel tank retaining straps broke on my way to work.  It had rusted through, leading to odd scraping sounds.  Fortunately the tank stayed in place.  Audi wanted £54 for a new one (10 day wait).  I bought a strip of galvanised steel from a local fabricator for £1 and borrowed the ramp and welder of the garage behind work (£20 in pasty fund), so that is now fixed.

 

So what next?  I've mentioned before that I have an urge for D2 A8.  This hasn't gone away and I actually drove one recently, a full fat 4.2 V8 one.  Oh yes..... that is one fast magic carpet.  With that much grunt, who cares if they are all auto.......  The Soot Monster would be kept on though.  I intend to see it through 300k!

 

It's spending tonight in the garage as the front subframe is still on the floor........

 

Nick

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My Nephew cam by this weekend and asked for help with his rough running  A6 quattro 3.0. I was a bit out of my league but a set of Bosch plugs and  2 coil on plugs latter all was well and on to something I understood a front axle replacement. So a satisfying weekend. If I could only get my Lambretta LD running

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The old girl is still dragging herself around.  294k and some change.  Passed an MoT today with the only comment being advisories on the rear wheel bearings which have a little play.  They are the factory originals!  Should make 300k then.

 

I did change the injector nozzles for new standard ones last summer, which improved the starting and smoke situation but didn't make much different to the fuel consumption or general running - which were ok anyway to be fair.  

 

Also had to sort out the rear brake calipers when one of them stuck on. They were pretty much done for but luckily I was able to find a much lower mileage pair from a local scrapyard and rebuild those with new seal kits.  I've also just renewed all 4 brake discs and pads so it stops well at least.  Could do with (another) set of dampers though. 'Tis the lanes that kill them - bloody bumpy!

 

One irritating casualty of it's old age is the AC, which no longer holds gas long enough to be useful.  A large black estate car without sunroof needs AC, even in the UK.  Experiences with the A8 show that getting this properly sorted without spending big bucks is likely to be a challenge!

 

Much as I'd like to find another, lower mileage and well-cared for example, this is pretty unlikely.  It appears mine is one of the better, lower mileage examples left in 2.5 TDI form!  I was mildly tempted by a 2.8 quattro version, but that would give the A8 a good challenge in the drinking stakes and I need one car without a drink problem.....

 

Nick

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Best cars ever produced were between 1985 and 2000 according to a friend dealing with used  cars the last 40 years.

 

Since some years I´m driving Volvo V70. The current one is from 2004 with the D5 163hp engine and 5 Speed gearbox.

230.000 km, nice interior with super comfy seats and a real loading area.

Hope that the car does more than 400.000  km like thel old one.

Martin

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Yes, I agree with your friend.  You maybe lucky with your Volvo, though the D5 engine does have a few issues.  The older V70 TDI uses the same VAG I5 engine as my A6 and 400,000+ kms is no problem for them.  There is some crazy Swede who drunkenly bet his T5 and D5 owning mates that he could make his TDI faster than theirs.  He got something like 240 bhp (and massive torque) from the standard, untouched, high mileage engine just by changing the turbo, intercooler, injector nozzles and a remap.  He had some problems with the clutch slipping (no, really?!) and when he sorted that he had some problems with the tyres slipping.  There is a video of him giving it full throttle in 5th at 120kph and lighting up both front tyres.  Apparently he was told that it would blow the crank out of the bottom of the engine unless he uprated the main bearing bolts, but so far it lives!

 

With Audi, this first series A6 and the 80/90 are the last of truly durable ones, designed I think by a very experienced team.  The A8 design team, though smart for sure seem to have less real world car experience and some of the design features they introduced (later carried on to the smaller cars) are just daft.  That crazy multi-link front suspension...... the climate control systems........ the woefully shite rainwater drainage systems in the A8 that more or less guarantee everyone gets water in it at some point.  As for the really new stuff - electric handbrake...... WHY?!

 

Nick

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I've not written about this old beast in a while, but it's still soldiering on.  Mileage increase has slowed as I've been using the A8 for some of the longer distance work stuff.

 

Very close to 300k now.  Bought it a set of new tyres last week - 4 x Toyo CF2s, probably doubled the value!  It had a narrow escape last night as I got rear-ended on the A303 in the pissing rain on the way home from work, but fortunately it was only a glancing blow as the car that hit us had itself been rear ended rather harder and was sliding sideways at the time, plus I was still rolling and off the brakes.  So damage is limited to some paint scuffed off the rear bumper and a cracked light lens.  Could have been alot worse!

 

It's got a fair collection of annoying clonks, which I concluded tonight are mostly the result of the  original (yes!) exhaust rubbers having sagged considerably over the years so the exhaust system is nearly on it's bump stops.  This is not helped by the "jam" having been squeezed out of the fluid filled engine mounts so the engine sits a few mm lower than it should.  New ones are still available but cost over £ 600 a pair...... :o...... Too rich for me. There may be a non-fluid filled alternative, which needs investigating.

 

The handbrake linkage / calipers have got a little sticky too - work fine if I use it every day, but stick if left for more than a couple of days.  More investment required.....

 

Nick

 

 

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and this morning, this happened......

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northbound on M5 north of Gloucester.....  I've added nearly 300 miles to that total since.  Too many miles for me today!  Car happy enough though, 53.3mpg average.

 

Also very much liking the new Toyos which are grippy and quiet compared to the BF Goodrich things that came off.

 

Nick

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Another MoT passed...... phew.  I no longer have the A8 so this car needs to work!  I did change the wheel bearing that was an advisory last year, so have just one original left now - 304k miles...... not bad.  It's done nearly 600 this week.....

Other good news is the the horrible clanking noise that I thought was the dual mass flywheel giving up was actually the auxilliary belt tensioner - it has a little coil-over shock to provide the tension and the damper part was absolutely bolloxed with about 30º side to side play and this flapping around was making the noise.  I fitted another that I took off a scrapper a few years ago (amazing I found it in my piling system....) and the noise is gone.  The one just fitted isn't great either so I need to buy a new one.

Still making knocks and thumps underneath but MoT man says the suspension is fine......  I just fitted new engine mounts too (not the expensive hydraulic ones) which helped with some of the vibes but not the knocking noises.

New stereo too. The old Blaupunkt started doing strange things and I needed something with bluetooth for phone hands-free.  £40 mechless unit from Pioneer works pretty well.

Nick

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I'm several laps behind you, Nick with another threat to life, limb, lungs and the planet, my Citroen C5 "Tourer" (estate) diesel.   IMHO it's my ideal modern car, room in the back to stretch out and sleep on circuit nights, and a superb tow car with its Hydropneumatic suspension, the successor to the original Citroen DS's ahead-of-its-time everything.   And that's the reason why it's a keeper;  Citroen have decided that its too expensive, and no longer make it or fit it to their cars!   Imagine, Citroens that don't include quirky engineering solutions so clever and original that no other manufacturer uses them.  Oh for the days  of single spoke steering wheels amd drum speedometers!  I know when the rot set in - remember?

 

I could not replace it, even with one that was younger, as that change happened just after I bought it.  It's now six and half years old, and a month ago, a windscreen wiper motor failed.   Easy peasy - three bolts to install a new one, but then sit down very carefully, as wallet pain - nearly £300 for a new one.  Now the pain is excruciating, as the steering rack is leaking where the column goes in, and it's not a replaceable seal.    New rack - complete bloody new rack!     I'd do it myself (and I could) but it's integrated into that wonderful Hydropneumatique system!      You need the dealer's pressurising equipment to stop it all collapsing on the floor, and keep it doing its endearing habit of "getting up" when you open the door, like a camel greeting its rider.    And a complete new rack is a lot more - sometimes I hate moderns and their modern modular manufacture!

John

 

Edited by JohnD

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I know your pain John...... but there will be a non-franchised specialist who can help and probably a forum of enthusiasts who can advise you.  The tech hasn't changed all that much since the DS and the BX and Xantia are still about (though the BX a bit thin on the ground these days).

I'm quite sure the seal and all other rack parts are entirely replaceable - just that Citroen prefer not to list them to make you buy a bigger and (much) more expensive rack.

One problem I'm starting to find with my A6 is that being 21 years old now (anniversary of registration is on Friday) and the youngest of the line being 20, some spares are no longer available new at all.

Nick

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You are not alone John......

http://www.citroen-owners-club.co.uk/citroen/topic/22147-c5-2008-rack-leak-and-replacement/

Slightly ironically perhaps, the guy I got my A6 from (a former colleague) replaced it with a new C5 estate.  I got it because the Citroen dealer was really taking the piss with the trade-in price, and I'm still grateful for that!  Paid £ 3,600 for it (£100 more than the dealer offered) in 2003.......  Given the work miles I've been paid for over the years this has not just free motoring but motoring in profit.

The C5 is looong gone btw........  Don't know what he has now, haven't seen him for about 5 years and he was pretty shocked I still had it then - and by the mileage.

Nick

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Yes, still got it.  It's still going too.  Not entirely issue free though.

Getting increasingly bouncy so I've treated it to another set of new dampers.  One of the rears was completely shot, piddling oil everywhere (it's done at least 120k so fair enough), but while swapping them I noticed it was starting to look a bit crusty in the damper towers.  I took out the plastic arch liners which revealed much mud, slime, peeling body sealer and rust.......  Seems we've come to the end of the galvanising in quite a few places......  No actual holes, but very crusty in places.  I've knocked the worst off and covered it in Dinitrol for now.  Might be time to concede I've had the best from it.........  Don't know what on earth to replace it with though......

Meanwhile the Kia Ceed has had to be treated to new front discs and pads, which also led to having to rebuild one of the calipers due to a partially seized piston.  It was actually in pretty good shape, but the internal clearance left in the bore at the land between inner and outer seal is so small that even a hint of corrosion causes binding.  That'll be why it's a common problem on these then!

And the Arosa has been throwing up warning lights.  First the oil pressure light - which caused concern initially but seems to be entirely due to random VAG electrickery as a gauge shows good pressure even while it flashes.  Then the airbag light...... still to be resolved.  "Modern" cars! :down:  I rather be working on the GT6.

Nick

 

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I drove this today for the first time in a calendar month. First driving in that period. Less than 8 miles and with a medical mission...... Was far enough.

Anyway, noted that the mileage now stands at 312,533 - so that's 500,000 Kms cracked. And the rear calipers are sticking....... again.

Nick

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I think I will face bankruptcy before reaching that sort of mileage in my A6 - the 3.0tdi Competition version averages 15mpg around town and just scrapes 30mpg on the m'way  :blink:

The TR6 gave me 31mpg on a long run last weekend, confirming it as the most economical car in the household.

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15 - 30 mpg.......?!!  WTF!  Is it broken? My 22 year old petrol 4.2L 4WD A8 could beat those numbers!

Soot Monster averages high 40s and has been known to manage 65 mpg average over open-road 400 miles.  Progress??  Dare say yours is very much quicker, though perhaps not quicker than the A8.

Nick

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It is dauntingly bad and, being VAG, returns nothing like the 'official' figures... even the RS6 is more economical.

But it is quick for a 2 tonne hearse - less than 5secs to 60. And pretty agile. The bi-turbo chucks out 340bhp and 600Nm.

I think I've mentioned before that it becomes peculiarly (and disconcertingly) nose-light at 220kph, whereas the A5 which preceeded it was rock steady up to the limiter.

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MoT looming again..... some fettling has taken place.  This year it has had

- new KYB dampers all round
- new track control arms (it does eat these unless you buy the OE ones, which are fearsome expensive)
- new (yes, new!) rear calipers
- new front brake flexihoses (advisory last year) which also involved replacing some hard pipes that wouldn't undo.
- oil and filter change plus air filter (it was horrible, not sure why so bad, miles lower than usual)
- new front tyres and alignment as they had not worn at all evenly. Point of note here is that the original track rod ends are still fitted and AFAIK tracking never adjusted before, so in place for ~22 years. 3 out 4 threads undid with only moderate aggro.  The 4th did have to be removed to the bench for a bit of blow-torch therapy but gave in after only a token battle.  As the design seems intended to encourage rusty threads I can only conclude that the turnbuckle plating was top spec!
- More exhaust rubbers as it seems the ones I fitted last year are made of the same dog poo normally reserved for classic car bushes and ball joint gaiters :down:

More for sanity than anything else, but I also spent a very uncomfortable hour lying upside down in the passenger footwell dismantling the glovebox and, eventually airbag module.  This to try and find and terminate with extreme prejudice a very irritating rattle.......  I think I got it..... not doing it now.  Shall be much disgruntled if it returns and will probably hurt in the morning as getting too old for the sorts of contortions required....

MoT still 10 days off and quite a few miles to do before it.  Hopefully nothing else will crop up.

Nick

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To mark its third birthday, I took The Boss's Jeep (eugh...) for its first technical inspection this morning.  It took eight minutes, including writing out the VAT invoice.  Yer man in the white coat tests the suspension and brakes and stamps the car document.  Twenty quid, thank you.  Job done.

The same man (in the same white coat) had been testing the A5 every year when I took it for its final pre-sale test a couple of years ago.  No, he can't do it - it's four wheel drive.  But you've done it for the last four years, I whine.  Come with me, he says.  Stamp, twenty quid, VAT invoice.  No inspection necessary.  Four minutes.

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The junior soot monster, the boy's Seat Arosa, is due an MoT. The airbag light has been on for a while.

So I dragged out the old laptop and lead and fired up my ancient freeware version of vagcom. That said "airbag igniter circuit resistance high". The total circuit resistance as seen by the ECU has to be between about 2.5 Ohms and 4 ohms. 

Basic precautions when working on airbag systems include turning the ignition off and waiting 30s before plugging/unplugging anything and not applying a multimeter to any circuit that might have an igniter on the end of it. That includes seatbelt pretensioners. This particular car has a very basic single airbag in the steering wheel and nothing else.

I unbolted/unplugged the airbag from the wheel and set it aside. You basically have to assume they are ok unless no other fault can be found (and they usually are). Tried some suitable resistors in the plug but the fault remained unchanged. Next in the chain is the "clockspring" which carries the circuit across the rotating divide between wheel and column. Only moving part and prime suspect.

When you unplug it from the rest of the circuit, its plug has an automatic earthing feature which shorts the two pins together. This makes checking continuity easy, and to my surprise there was some. Measured about 1ohm. Then tried the resistors in the next plug upstream and found that with a 3.6 ohm resistor in place and the fault cleared in software, the warning light went out and stayed out. Experimenting with different resistance values proved that the the circuit could be made to fail high or low and was probably working correctly.

Repeating on the airbag side only produced "fail high" results whatever I tried in spite of the apparent continuity. Off to the scrapyard where I partially dismantled a couple of elderly VAG products to measure their clock springs, which showed similar readings to the original. In the end I bought one, took it home and tried it. It works......... I have no idea why! But I am grateful.

Now to check the usual stuff like lights, tyres, brakes, ball joints and so on. Emissions.....? Seems to be running ok. Only minor concern is that "they" randomly changed the rules earlier this year to say that on cars that have emissions values shown on their vin plate, that value takes precedence over the default MoT values, and the vin values are always lower, sometimes much lower.......

Senior Soot Monster has nothing on it's plate, but actually gave an excellent reading when tested recently. MoT man said it was the cleanest non-DPF diesel he's tested in ages. Junior soot monster.... I guess I'll have to check the plate. It also has a lower default value due to the absence of turbo....... On the plus side we scraped about a kilo of soot out of the inlet tract since the last MoT and that really ought to help!

The joys of modern old bangers.......

Nick

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Had a similar issue on a freelander a few years ago, but in my case the connector ring in the steering had obviously failed/lost continuity. As in your case I replaced with a spare from a scrapper and everything worked fine. I think getting the steering wheel off was the hardest part of the job in my case!

 

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Should have mentioned before that the big Soot Monster passed it's MoT without comment - except that the tester (who I've known a while) did observe that the emissions (soot!) were astonishingly low considering it's age and mileage and would put many a younger machine to shame.  'Tis the constant thrashing keeps it's tubes clear maybe :biggrin:

Meanwhile the little soot monster is in the nearly camp.  It nearly needs three tyres, nearly needs front brakes (pads/discs) and nearly needs a couple of wishbones.  Might try doing the brakes and hoping some new shiny bits swing the balance...... nice to be able stop after all and, having used it to go work today (it's not fond of hills), I did notice that the brakes could be better though tbh I'm not sure they are actually any worse than usual!

Nick

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