By on November 13, 2013

TTAC Commentator jrominski writes:

Nice to see you are still at it on TTAC. (Back at it?)

So my story is a 2010 Audi A4, Quattro 2.0t Premium. Red, as it should be (No, it should be brown. Duh. – SM). Just turning 60k miles. The engine is an EA888 according to Wikipedia, twin chain driven counterbalance shafts as is known to work so well on I4s. Production commenced 2008 and its in all US A4 B8s with the 2.0 gas engine. Inside oil cap the gallery is clean as can be, I keep the VW spec Mobil 1 changed with my mityvac. New plugs, NGK of correct part number, air cleaner path is fine. The rest is original unmolested.

The issue is it runs rough. Slightly, as in the car does not shake but I feel it. Worst, dead cold, running at just above idle up a slight incline. A miss. Since 25k. Goes mostly away when warm or when power is asked for. No codes. Sort of feels like a tire flat spot but it did not go away with new tires.

Dealer responses on different occasions from mile 25k through mile 60k (all same dealer.)

  • (15 minutes after drop off, motor still hot) It does not run rough. Our service guys could not replicate the problem. You should be using top tier gas. (I hand him a printout from www.toptiergas.com and suggest generating a handout for the service department to give customers instead of just telling them to go look it up on internet.)
  • It runs rough because you have the old, non-counterbalanced engine. Its a 2010. Buy a new car. The news ones do not do this.
  • It runs rough but does not throw a code. We can’t help. What gas are you using?
  • It does not run rough.
  • It runs rough because of intake sludge. We will fix it for free right after it goes off warranty. Top Tier in the mean tine.
  • You should be using that there top tier gas. Run some Chevron through it. (I buy mine cheap at Costco)

A friend with VAG setup ran a diagnostic and it has no codes, except for a heater flap ran out of limit once. It sat there idling kind of lumpy and no misses were recorded anywhere.

Friend says:

  • All Audis have crap motor mounts. He flexes right mount up on lift with a tire iron, it moves a bit. Its fluid filled, should flex. The mount has a sensor and would throw a code.
  • If it had a miss the O2 sensors would pick it up and if it were serious the Cats would fail. They are fine. Its your imagination. All new cars suck. Freaking Japanese. Buy an old Panther (Obviously, esp in Brown. – SM) or a new Focus.

I am doubtful motor mounts are what it is. This guy makes his living doing off-warranty work for Porsche Audi dealers all around Boston, engine controls and sensors. The dealer warranty payment from Audi is low enough that they will not ever perform any real diagnostics under warranty: no code then OK let’s back it out of the shop!

 

Sajeev answers:

OMG SON! I mean…

  1. Even with my corporate full-time gig, the eldest TTAC scribe’s been reliably posting to the Piston Slap series twice a week, but there’s still a question that I’m not a regular contributor?
  2. Your last paragraph, the section I entered in bold face:  an Audi specialist tested the engine mount, it CLEARLY failed no matter what the sensor reports, and you don’t believe him?

More to the point:

Look, I understand your lack of Audi knowledge (of which I’m guilty too) and our country’s general mistrust of any mechanic (ditto)…but…

I had a similar problem after my (then 13-year-old) Lincoln Mark VIII had a bizarre vibration/miss around idle.  I gave up and went to my trusty mechanic. He fired it up, opened the hood, put his foot on the brake, put it in gear and pressed the gas: the motor lifted up like the nose of an Airbus on takeoff. Granted a Ford liquid-filled mount lasting 13-ish years and 150-ish thousand miles is a little different than your situation, but if your mechanic friend says that Audis have “crap motor mounts” you go right ahead and believe him!

Fact is, just a millimeter (or less) of variance in any powertrain mount is a concern. The sensor hasn’t been tripped yet, but that’s irrelevant.

Case in point: once again, my Mark VIII. The fairly complex aluminum differential/IRS setup had an annoying vibration above 80 MPH. On a whim, I replaced the four rubber mounts because one looked somewhat smushed (technical term) compared to the others. Considering my driving style in a modified, Hot Rod Lincoln, perhaps that fraction of a millimeter meant something.  Lo and behold, it did.

Take it from me and your Audi-wrenching friend: GET NEW ENGINE MOUNTS!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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42 Comments on “Piston Slap: Mounting Problems Amid Audi Uncertainty?...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Whenever I get out of my VW 2.8 and into a perfectly-running 1.8t or 2.0t, it feels like my car did when it had bad mounts. Eye of the beholder, etc.

    What I’ve learned over 15 years of “modern” VAG ownership is that you might just be one of the guineau pigs. We take it for granted that this stuff should have happened before, but there’s always a first. You might be the first victim of what will soon be known as “Audi’s failed engine mount sensor debacle of 2014″ that will be handled through a secret TSB issued to dealers to tell customers to use top-tier gas and insist that nothing is wrong. Did the service advisor wave his hand in front of your face and say “This is the diagnostic answer you’re looking for. Move along.”? They tried that on me once.

    Mounts are about $50-100 each, depending on whether you buy into the brand name. Meyle are good and cheap, and the job shouldn’t be too tough. I like AutohausAZ, but ECS Tuning, FCP Euro, and other will have some options.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Nothing’s wrong with the car. This is a case of OCD ruining a person’s existence through hyper vigilance.

    No automobile functions imperceptibly– the notion of such was invented by creative writers looking for fruity ways to say: “this object which contains Hundreds of pieces– oscillating wildly, propelled by explosions– runs smoothly.”

    Next time you buy a car– bring a cup of water and your cell phone with you. Record video of the surface of the cup of water while the vehicle is idling. You’ll always be able to remind yourself how nice a barely-out-of-specs engine really is. You’ll also annoy/bemuse the fsk out of the service guys when you try to use it as proof that your car is broken whenever you want a glass-smooth idle at 4/60.

    You might simply learn that every piece of a motor vehicle is out of official specification the moment that particular piece is manufactured. The whole only feels solid because of in-built tolerances/allowances for sloppiness in assembly and manufacture.

    Learn to love your lumpy idle– the sneeze of electricity whenever your gigantic cooing fan motor begins whirring on a rainy night– that dirty ass notch in second. Learn to accommodate the less-than-perfect.

    I suggest you relax your inner anus and feel the motherfusking zen– there’s nothing wrong with your car.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    Does the Audi 2.0 DI motor run rough when it’s cold like every other DI engine out there? I know the 2.0 DI engine in my Focus run rough until it warms up. It’s just a characteristic of Direct Injection.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    iNeon might have a point about a bit of hypersensitivity. If it were me, I would want to compare to a like vehicle before replacing anything to make sure they all don’t actually do that.

    Otherwise, I’d trust the advice of your mechanic friend. He looked at the car and has experience with them. If he thinks its a mount, go with that.

    • 0 avatar

      A good friend and I agree that we will hear noises no one else ever will….but on the opposite side is the dealer’s “if it does not throw a code it does not exist”…lots of things go wrong that aren’t in the obd loop….

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Sadly in todays world the motto is No Code No Problem Found. Since I work at a dealer (not Audi) I would expect that from them. But if the local independant guy also agrees-I’d let it go.

    That being said I did a quick scan of Alldata, and I would guess the dealership is going by the TSB below. I didn’t see any others that would apply. Where there is no trouble code, and no report of some of the other symptoms that are listed (as far as we know) they are probably thinking the swap to a different gas might clean it out and remedy the problem. Maybe the OP should try something different than Costco gas.

    Condition

    The use of contaminated gasoline or gasoline with a low content of deposit control additives may result in one or more of the following conditions:

    ^ Excessive accumulation of deposits on intake valves, intake manifold, fuel injectors and combustion chambers.

    ^ Engine runs rough after cold start.

    ^ Excessive engine cranking time.

    ^ Hesitations while driving.

    ^ Rough engine idle.

    ^ Reduced engine performance.

    ^ Poor fuel economy.

    Conditions may be severe enough to illuminate the MIL in conjunction with storage in the ECM data memory of DTCs for misfire (example: P0300, P030x) and / or lean fuel system (example: P0171, P0174, P1128, P1130, P1136, P1138).

    Technical Background

    ^ Condition may be caused by use of contaminated gasoline.

    ^ Condition may be caused by use of gasoline with a low content of deposit control additives.

    Production Solution

    Not applicable.

    Service

    If use of contaminated gasoline is suspected:

    Consider advising the customer to change gasoline source (brand/gas station). Contaminated gasoline may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

    ^ May have unique color and odor.

    ^ May contain undissolved water.

    ^ May contain sediments and suspended matter.

    ^ May appear cloudy and (after settling) may show signs of separation.

    Repair:

    Gasoline additive G 001 700 03 or G 001770 A2 can be used for removal of existing carbon deposits from:

    ^ MPI engine

    ^ Injectors.

    ^ Combustion chambers.

    ^ Intake valves.

    ^ FSI engine

    ^ Injectors.

    ^ Combustion chambers.

    Tip: For removal of carbon deposits from intake valves of FSI engines, refer to TSB 2019948.

    Mix the additive with gasoline directly in the full fuel tank following the mix ratio. For example, 60 ml per 30 liters gasoline, 150 ml per 20 gallons of gasoline.

    Tip: This TSB is informational only and not applicable to any Audi warranty. The use of gasoline additive G 001 700 03 or G 001770 A2 is not reimbursed under warranty.

    If use of gasoline with a low content of deposit control additives is suspected:

    Recommend to the customer the exclusive use of TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline. These products provide improved deposit control performance. Current TOP TIER Gasoline retailers offering this product in all their octane grades include the following brands:

    ^ QuikTrip

    ^ Chevron

    ^ Conoco

    ^ Phillips 76

    ^ Shell

    ^ Entec Stations

    ^ MFA Oil Company

    ^ Kwik Trip/Kwik Star

    ^ The Somerset Refinery, Inc.

    ^ Chevron-Canada

    ^ Aloha Petroleum

    ^ Tri-Par Oil Company

    ^ Shell-Canada

    ^ Texaco

    ^ Petro-Canada

    ^ Sunoco-Canada

    Tip: For more information on TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline, please see http://www.toptiergas.com.

    Warranty

    This TSB is informational only and not applicable to any Audi warranty. The use of gasoline additive G 001 700 03 or G 001770 A2 is not reimbursed under warranty.

    Additional Information

    All parts and service references provided in this TSB are subject to change and/or removal. Always check with your Parts Department and service manuals for the latest information.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      I’m assuming he did try better fuel for a couple tanks and it didn’t fix the problem. Not that the story doesn’t lead one to believe the opposite.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        Yes that is the patter they offer and its not bad advice to tell the truth.

        I tried to upgrade their patter for them with the idea of a slick pamphlet to hand out. I hand the service manager a printout of the top tier gas site and say, give this to people, don’t just tell them. He says, oh, so you heard of this eh? I can print it for you if you want (holding it in his hand). Groan.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Sadly in todays world the motto is No Code No Problem Found.”

      This a thousand times. Good old fashioned diagnostics have gone out the window. It’s amazing how many techs can’t fight their way through a problem without a detailed pinpoint test that will lead inevitably to control module replacement…then the real diagnostics begin.

  • avatar
    segfault

    From what I’ve read, the armchair pundits claim that the newer 2.0t engines like this one should go about 100k before developing intake deposits due to the direct injection system, but I’m sure it’s possible at 60k. Try replacing the motor mount, if that doesn’t help, prepare to pay to have the thing cleaned out.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      Audi 2.0T motors make it about 60k-70K before they need to go to the valve dentist for a cleaning, based on personal experinece, and we’ve had more than a few of audi 2.0T cars since 2006.

      It’s not by accident that the NEW version of the 2.0T coming in the A3/S3 will have injectors ahead of the valves to wash them with gasoline to keep them clean.

      that being said, the cleaning visit generally runs about $400 from a non-rapist audi dealer. If you own or have owned german cars, that’s a pretty fair price

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, $400 every 60kmi doesn’t seem *awful*, all things considered…

        Especially if that’s the worst problem an engine has.

      • 0 avatar
        JalopNick

        Audi extended the warranty for this specific issue about a year ago and now covers cleanup of DI engines up to 100K miles.

        I’ve had two Audis that started showing early signs of carbon build-up at around 35k.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Wow – tough one. A thought about mounts, the rubber ones on my 4.0 Jeep collapsed at 250,000 miles and idling was rough and produced a lot of vibration. The engine was really idling fine, it was just sitting on parts of the underside of the car that it wasn’t supposed to be sitting on and the resulting vibration felts like and idling problem. It never changed with engine temperature however. New mounts – no more problem. On one of my rat motor B-body Chevies the mounts went bad (as those are notorious for doing) but I never felt a vibration. Instead,the driver’s side mount just snapped and jammed the throttle wide open which was a kin to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

    In the case of the Audi, I think it odd that engine mounts would cause roughness at start up but not once warm-up is obtained. If anything, I would think it would be the reverse as the fluid in the mounts warmed and thinned with the rising engine temperature, then the vibration would manifest itself.

    I think your issue has more to do with something in your F.I. idle circuit, like the idle control valve, etc. Whatever it is, it sounds minor.

    • 0 avatar

      Did your Jeep have solid or hydro-mounts? FWIW, my vibration also went away after the engine warmed up.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        Sajeev:

        The old ones, like the replacements, were solid.

        The steel core in the center separated from the surrounding rubber insulator. They didn’t come undone (like my old Impala), they just became very sloppy and loose and the engine ended up sitting a bit lower that it was supposed to.

  • avatar
    Windy

    viscoelastic mounts such as the one in the picture are an improvement on the old plain rubber and steel sort and the fact that they normally start to leak when they start to fail helps to highlight a problem.
    that said the only engine compartment part I have replaced on my 04 MINI is one of these that started leaking at 7 years and 50000 miles old which seems a shoot life to me

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    We still haven’t identified what quality gasoline the OP has been using. “Cheap Costco gas” doesn’t sound promising. If there’s truly a mis-fire under certain conditions (and I’m not sure that a single mis-fire would throw a code or be stored in the ECM), we can’t lay that off on motor mounts.

    I had an 87 Mustang GT with fuel injection that I ran exclusively on Exxon gas (there was a station a block from my office). Eventually, it started misbehaving: running rough, stalling, bogging down at low rpm, etc. which the dealer diagnosed as dirty injectors. After the injector cleaning: problem solved. This was in the late 80s – early 90s.

    Having paid to replace the motor mounts on one transverse-mounted engine FWD car, I know that the real cost is in the labor, not the parts. So, perhaps the OP should ran a couple of tankfuls with an aftermarket injection cleaner additive and then swear off Costco in favor of the one of the top tier retailers, like Shell or Exxon.

    That’s the cheapest fix for what appears to be a small problem . . . and who knows? It might work.

  • avatar
    patman

    If the motor mounts aren’t the issue then small vacuum leaks in the intake tract can cause idle problems – big enough to affect idle quality but small enough to not trigger any codes or cause any driveability problems once you crack the throttle. You may have a gasket that leaks when cold that closes up as the motor gets warm and parts expand and clamp it off or perhaps once the motor is warm and combustion is more stable it can be better compensated for by the computer.

    If the concern is buildup in the intake or on the valves then I’m not sure how better gas will fix much in a direct injection motor unless the injectors themselves are clogged or your just filling up with sour gas. Do those detergents survive combustion and the return trip through either the crankcase and PCV or exhaust and EGR systems and still have enough scrubbing power in burnt, airborne form to wash anything – seems unlikely.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Weld the engine to the frame, see what happens.

    (I kid, I kid…)

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    I’ve been resarching my next car and started to focus on the A4/A6 with the 3.2 V6 FSI direct-injected engines. What I’ve found, both online and after speaking to some Audi techs, has scared me sufficiently to swear off these cars completely.

    I would be willing to bet that the OP’s issue is not the mounts but the intake valve carbon buildup issue. Even taking into account the usual panicked hysteria of the fanboi forums, this issue is real and it is spectacular.

    Using top tier gas or Costco swill doesn’t matter. The only cure is a top-end tear down and a thorough cleaning. One of the Audi techs I spoke to told me that he’s seen buildup bad enough to require a tear-down as early as 25K miles.

    • 0 avatar
      NeinNeinNein

      Top end teardown–what are you talking about? You pull off the intake manifold and clean with (correctly with soda or walnut shells.)Whatever.
      You’re gonna swear off a car for a $500 maintenance item? If you’re worried about something like that, then you have no business owning an Audi anyways.
      Great. What I love about buyers like this is they assure a steady stream of relatively cheap (relative to new price) sweet German sedans due to all the HORROR stories of the cars.
      Nevermind the huge resurgence of Audi reliability as seen in Consumer Reports or True Delta.

  • avatar
    th009

    Sajeev, Piston Slap is nice … but really we need more Vellum Venom!

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Relevant question:

    Does the car see a lot of short trips and or/ driven very leisurely (ie RPM kept pretty low)? That is a huge factor in carbon buildup. Combined with cheap gas, it could be the perfect storm. If I were you I’d stick to something like Shell V-power, it has a boat load of detergents.

  • avatar
    dude500

    If you have a 6MT, check to see if the stick moves as you apply/release throttle. If it does, you need engine mounts (not transmission mounts).

  • avatar
    krayzie

    Hey look at the bright side; at least the engine is not an EA113. ROFL!

    Sometimes I wonder how VAG stays afloat with these crappy designs.. oh wait (endless servicing).

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    I am astonished to read that “Fact is, just a millimeter (or less) of variance in any powertrain mount is a concern. The sensor hasn’t been tripped yet, but that’s irrelevant.”

    Exactly how accurately do you think engine mounts are located in the body? What tolerance on the stiffness of the rubber is accpetable? Hence what variation in mount height is to be /expected/, and would be replicated if you fit new mounts?

    The answer, in total, by the way, is a standard deviation of about 1mm, ie +/- 3mm would be a reasonable tolerance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Sajeev, great Piston Slap as always. Truly, one of my absolute favorite columns on TTAC. Love the double face palm meme!

    I need to actually write a note to you as I have an interesting problem. I have lights that come on (ABS/TC) but even with a Tech II, no codes. I have a work around to get the ABS/TC to engage again that’s easy – but its feckin’ annoying.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    for what it’s worth, my 2011 A4 runs a little rough around the edges at idle, but only since the 35k service. I was told they updated the software. I can see why it’s an update instead of intalled at time of sale. I’d not have bought a car that idled like mine.

    Also for what it’s worth, every loaner they have idles worse than mine (my wife’s 2006 A3 idles perfect, but not the E888).

    also for what it’s worth, all the loaner smell like an old lady was in them. looking at the demographics of the service department clients, I both completely understand how accurate that smell description is, and I am confused as to whether the very long grey hairs I always find in the center consoles are from these women or the only other people I see in ther service department; men with comb-overs.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Engine mounts at 60K, really?

    I needed mounts at 149K in the SL2 and my brother’s SL2 needed one at 90K. I scoffed at his thinking it was GM cost cutting on the last model year. So why does a cheap economy car have more longevity than zee mighty Audi? Uh huh…

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Some good advice here particularly to chill about it, although I actually am cool about it. A 1/3rd worn out A4 is a really good car.

    If you want a german car horror story ask my nephew about his late model 5 series in which the VANOS assemblies came unconnected inside there all by themselves and it was a $9,000 repair. Bolts backed out except for one which finally sheared. Died in his lot at work, moving at 3 mph and not in a parking spot. Recently out of warranty. BMW picked up the tab during the third day but its still a horror story. We are talking nuts and bolts here.

    So no, not a couple tanks of good E10 will fix this slightest of misses. I use mobil and shell. One time out of ten, costco cause of their great steaks. I also use costco for my techron. I know people without access to top tier and they don’t have problems in their DI audis.

    Service manager out for a ride with me.
    -Do you see what I mean?
    -No.
    -OK. Do you feel it missing?
    -Yes. What gas do you use?
    -E10 just like you.
    -Huh?
    -E10. It sucks. I buy it from shell or mobil. What am I supposed to do for good gas?

    He gave me the tiny plastic bottle of gas treatment with the VAG part number for free, made no discernible difference just like the techron.

    I think its not the mounts, although I will fool around with shifter as suggested above.

    I am not really worried about it. I am looking for a Karmann Ghia to play with and that will shake a lot more. I eagerly look forward to snapped throttle cables and loose distributors and oil leaks and king pin adjustments all that. This miss is nothing like what you see people talk about on Audiworld with actual shaking and lights flashing and stalling and all that. Its faint then goes away. Nobody I know would notice it. I do listen to the car with the music off for the entire ride. And I drive 125 miles oneway twice a week, then 12 miles one way eight times a week plus random other amounts.

    I support this dealer because they are basically nice people, and I want them to stay in business. I pay them to change my brake fluid every second year, tagging myself in their system as affluent and also a regular non-warranty paying customer. I give them straight tens no matter what; they stare at me and I stare back when they lift their eyes from the screen and we both nod. They do nice things for me now and then.

    I was hoping you would all pick up on the irony of their many versions of an explanation particularly including that early EA888s don’t have dual chain driven balance shafts. Oh really.

    I bought a harbor freight snake camera and the head is too big to fit in anywhere unless I pull the manifold. I might do that when my next second car is up and running reliably.

    Cheers! Thanks Sajeev.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    Run a can of Seafoam through it. I get mine at the local O’Reillys. Not sure if the Seafoam is compatible with O2 sensors, but you wanted to do something and if the sensor fails it will show a code, in any case.


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