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FROM THE DRIVING SEAT

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Regular run for the Audi out to a local attempted vineyard, now best known as a very helpful grocery and drinks store

COVID COSTS AND ENHANCED ENJOYMENT

ver two years, and 3704 Covid constricted miles, our 2006 final edition of Generation 1 Audi TT quattro sport passed a second MoT without advisories.  However, with the decision that ‘ROO’ could be a longer term keeper, came a shower of preventive maintenance demands, plus generously uprated driving enjoyment.

To recap, our quattro sport run-out edition of 2005-06 was one of 1,165 manufactured, possibly as many as 900 delivered to RHD UK, where it is thought 600 remain DVLA-roadworthy. Key features include reduced kerb weight  (1,390kg) and enhanced horsepower. The 1.8 litre 4-cylinder with 5-valve per cylinder technology reported 240hp and was credited with 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds and 155 restricted mph. Such limited edition TTs offer a stronger identity via Recaro Pole Position race-seats, rather than the option of Comfort (production) seating. More detail dietary moves deleted the rear seat, added a simple but rugged brace bar and boot-mounted large capacity battery.

Another 2021 Audi adventure, this time to Silverstone to watch test laps of a FordI had last driven in a Belgian 24 hour race 48 years ago…Looks innocuous, but this brake circuit controller threw out a lot of diagnostic fault codes and led to intermittent or total lack of rear brake lights. Dangerous!More work to come, correcting these blisters in the duotone roof.Driver’s seat Alcantara has survived rather better than that of the worn and tacky steering wheel rim.Original equipment net pretty saggy by 88,000 miles. Replaced by non-factory item at a third of the cost, but the cheaper item not nearly so efficient or well made and has already broken a plastic securing clip.Original equipment net pretty saggy by 88,000 miles. Replaced by non-factory item at a third of the cost, but the cheaper item not nearly so efficient or well made and has already broken a plastic securing clip.Front wheel bearing race and rear brake lines were necessary and effective maintenance items.Sadly, Audi spent a lot of time in a version of self-isolation and the (original?) Varta battery went down dramatically. Expensive to replace this high output item, but necessary.Tool kit and rear-mounted battery under boot floorRear brake lines replaced after evidence of scuffing, but also significant was MoT tester comment that the under-body looked ‘pretty good: sound.’<>

Cosmetic modifications extended to light grey Alcantara cockpit trims for steering wheel, gear knob, handbrake and seat inserts, delivering a unique specification, but the Alcantara wears badly on well-used gear lever and steering wheel locations. Externally, retro duo-tone paint and specific 18-inch diameter wheels, half inch wider rear rims (8.5 inch) with legally required modest spats.

My example is a 2006 model, NOT clever, as that late date means a stinging rate of annual UK road tax (£585), more than the same model in 2005. I usually average 31 mpg, but a longer run with constant speed limits sees 35-36 mpg from this 15 year-old 1.8 litre.

After I had the radio code efficiently restored by an official Audi dealer — there was practically no paperwork with this 2019 secondhand dealer buy — an ABS light appeared on the dashboard, which demanded £148.88 to eliminate at  P&L Motors in Warminster. Once again they commented “noisy gearbox”. As the TT now spent so much time sitting in the garage rather than in use, I decided it should have an annual service a few months early. Plus an independent check on that reported and audibly apparent ‘drone’ in motion.

I took the car to another Warminster company, Auto Services, for further investigation as I knew any transmission rebuild would be an expensive specialist job. Family and I had used Auto Services repeatedly over 15 years, including purchasing and maintaining the BMW Z3 we featured on From The Driving Seat recently. This Audi had never visited those premises as proprietor Pete Jenkins had disliked working on earlier TTs, but he is fearlessly honest and tenacious in tracing obscure faults.

There was one glaring setback that took priority over an early service and that droning diagnosis. Even in warm weather I could barely keep the aged Varta battery (probably original) alive enough to fire up the TT after a garage week. By the time Auto Services got it there was very little life left, even for hot restarts. The original 680 Ampere Varta—probably specified because of the long cable run from front engine to rear battery—yielded 436 tested Amperes. A fresh Bosch 700 Amp battery at a discounted £161.93 became a priority: it actually harvested 974 Amps when tested!

Yes, it does start rather well now, kiss the key and we’re off!

Now down to the longer term work, which would cost £853.58 over two visits, including £142.26 in VAT. A full service was routine as I had cam belt and Haldex attended to a year earlier. Hidden items that could have cost me the car included the £19.52 brake light switch that aggravated not just the fault codes; but also deleted brake lights on a whim. Surprised I never had an angry traffic queue reaction to that one!

Second secretive items were the corroded rear brake pipes, which were promptly pictured and replaced on my second visit. Much labour time went into analysing that reported mutinous gearbox soundtrack. Finally two men tackled the investigation from road test and final jacked up stethoscope trace to the nearside front wheel bearing race as the source.

I’d spent slightly over half that total £850 bill, but the most important work was completed next, the £58.72 wheel bearings replaced along with those £115.10 rear brake pipes, which were visibly scabby. As Pete Jenkins tackled the rear brake pipes, he found evidence of wear in the vital—and substantial—rear suspension pinch bolt. The item cost only £2.90, complete with lock nut, but like the brake light control switch, failure could cost  spectacularly more…

I am ecstatic that the prominent main road whines have been eliminated by the wheel bearing diagnosis and replacement, especially as I had financially braced myself for a gearbox rebuild. A prompt to that independent second opinion came from the opinions of Yeovil Audi, who had replaced only one Audi gearbox and that was on a different hatchback model, not a TT. Worth getting a second opinion if you are unsure/overawed by the likely cost of the original diagnosis.

Next, a furry life revival for soft Alcantara finishes around steering wheel, seat cushions, gear knob and hand brake. I just could not bring back that steering rim to my satisfaction, whatever specialist treatment I tried. The underside remains unpleasantly tacky in hot weather, so it has been booked into specialists Piper Leather outside Yeovil. That meant joining a 3.5 month waiting list, such is the demand for their leather automotive and household furniture trimming services.

Meanwhile I enjoy this TT a lot more than when I bought it. Now I am anticipating adding more road trip adventures to the limited number of recent classic race track outings.

Jeremy Walton

 

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