1999 Logbook VI: August 11, 2000 to Present

August 12, 2000

My, oh, my is there a lot to go over this time around.  I've been doing quite a bit to/with the car lately.

I've finally gotten the "revised" Borla exhaust installed on the car and I couldn't be more pleased.  Check out my Borla Update page for complete details.

My new Ronal R-25 wheels are now on the car!  I chose to mount Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires on this set of wheels.  Price-wise they are an excellent value and I will only be using them on the street.  My Sumitomo HTRZ II tires have been retired now.  They were worn down too far.  I haven't driven the new Kumhos very much so I haven't formed a judgment as to their overall quality and performance just yet.  Stay tuned for more in the future.  I did make a discovery regarding the Sumitomos, however.  They were DEFINITELY noisy.  Other owners had complained that as they aged, the Sumitomos started to generate a lot of noise.  I did not think this was the case.  As it turns out, I did have a lot of noise.  As soon as I drove on the new Kumhos, the decreased tire noise sound level was obvious.  Apparently, I had just gotten so used to the noise levels of the Sumitomos that it was transparent to me.

With the mounting of the 18" wheels on the car I have made the decision to go back to carrying the donut spare rather than a full size spare.  My 16" stock sport wheel that I was carrying as a spare is back with the other three and is serving as my dedicated set of track wheels with Kumho Victoracer 700 tires.  I figure I don't need to carry the extra weight in the car and if I do get a flat that I will only be using the donut spare very temporarily.

I've also added the factory six disc CD changer to the car.  It was a pretty straight-forward installation.

In addition to the CD changer, I also purchased the Audi coin holder for installation in the armrest storage area.  It is a perfect fit and is held in place by friction.  I don't know why I waited so long to get it.  No longer will I have to mess with coins that I put in the armrest and which get caught under the hinges effectively locking the lid closed. :-)

I now have a Bentley A4/S4 CD based manual for the car.  At first glance it seems pretty comprehensive.  The problem is that it is difficult to find anything without scrolling through multiple pages and the navigation mechanism is horrible.  I'm getting better at moving around in the manual but it is really, really pathetic.  Another negative is that the CD has many diagrams of the various systems of the car but they don't necessarily show how the parts fit together.  They are largely exploded diagrams with numbers to identify the parts and what connects to what.  Orientation of parts is not included.  This problem could have been solved by including at least some photos but there are none to be found. The search engine is pretty sad as well.  It is difficult not to limit the number of matches returned in the search results.  You are often forced to scroll through many "potentially" related pages in order to find what you are looking for. Finally, probably one of the most useful features would have been a comprehensive table of all error codes for all of the systems in the car.  Too bad.  It doesn't exist.  In order to review codes you have to navigate to the specific system and then scroll through multiple pages of codes to find the right one.  Since Bentley does not plan on publishing a paper version of the manual I guess we'll all have to live with what we've got. :-(

I forgot to mention in previous log entries that the car picked up a few more door dings that I had successfully removed with paintless dent removal services.  This time around I used Dent Free in the Bay Area at one of our club events and he did an excellent job.  He was able to remove the dents using a wedge to open the interior of the door at the glass seal and a single tool to "massage" out the dents.  This is in contrast to the other dent repair place I went to that actually drilled holes in the end of the door to slide tools inside.  I was very pleased with my most recent experience.  I can no longer see where the dents were located.

I've placed another Schroth Rallye 4 harness on order for the passenger seat in the car.  These harnesses are really helpful for keeping you planted in the seat during spirited driving on both track and during autocross.  Keeping my passenger just as securely planted is a good thing. :-)

I've purchased a small bullet camera to use with my camcorder during track events.  This small, color camera can be mounted in myriad locations in the car while the camcorder can be kept safe and secure in its case down behind the seats.  The camera sends its signal the camcorder inputs.  Look for more info on this toy once I try it out a few times.

Do you like the looks of the new RS4 grille?  If so, consider joining in on the group purchase taking place until 8/16/2000.  I am one of the regional coordinators for this purchase.  If you are in my area of responsibility and have any questions feel free to contact me.

December 10, 2000

So it's been four months since the last update to the logbooks.  Yes, I'm still alive.  Despite my best intentions, I've taken an unplanned vacation from major site updates.  I have, however, been making minor behind the scenes updates during this time (link corrections and additions as well as other small changes).  Here is what has been going during my "absence" (in no particular order).

I recently made the decision to change the type of motor oil I've been using in the car.  I'm still using Mobil 1 synthetic but have switched from 15W-50 to 5W-30.  After reading through Don Pavlik's turbo surveys I've come to the conclusion that a lighter weight oil may be a better choice.  The is especially so for the cold winter months.  Another reason for the switch is I'm hoping that my fuel economy will improve.  I have been in the very low 20 MPG range and sometimes less for a while now.  Hopefully, the lighter oil will improve my results in this area.

One thing I have noted after switching the oil (and this may be entirely in my head) is that the car seems to pull a little stronger than what it used to.  It's almost like the engine was freed up somewhat by the thinner oil.  It's probably just my brain and not reality but it is what it is.

I've updated my fuel economy stats.  The can be found on this page.

A few weeks ago when I participated in the Quattro Club event at Sears Point I had the opportunity to drive my Kuhmo Ecsta Supra 712 tires on the track.  It was not a planned thing as I have dedicated Kumho Victoracer tires for this purpose but the weather turned nasty and I really had no desire to drive on a slick, technical, and dangerous track with minimal-tread tires.  As such, I swapped my track tires  (in the rain) for the 18" street tires and drove the street tires the rest of the event.  For a $135 tire I think they performed pretty well.  They made very little noise and gripped reasonably well.  I can't say I pushed them to their limits given that the track was wet and the car's ABS starting popping up during some of the more forceful turns.  During the second day I found some time for dry track conditions and they worked well though they became a little greasy when pushed too hard.  After stopping for the day I discovered very little treadwear or indications of abuse on the tread or edges of the tire.  Overall, I'd have to say that they worked well and for the price are a true bargain.  I much prefer driving on my track tires, though! :-)

I recently had my rear brake pads and rotors replaced under warranty.  I discovered that I had minimal pad material left following my last track event and promptly scheduled the service (I'm fortunate in the Sacramento area in that I can usually get a service appointment within a week).  Though the rotors appeared fine when inspected the dealer swapped them out along with the rear pads.  The front pads and rotors have plenty of life on them.  It is a peculiar thing that the rear pads wear faster than the front.  This was the case with both my car and those of a few others whom I have discussed the issue.  One would think that the front pads would take more abuse than the rear.  Hmmm...

After picking up the car and driving home the car felt "strange".  I couldn't quite put my finger on it but the car felt somewhat sluggish.  Once I reached the house and exited the car I went to re-torque the wheel bolts (as a general rule, I always do this after service.  Air guns can make for some unfortunate extremes in torqued bolts) and discovered that my driver side rear wheel was extremely hot!  I pulled the wheel with difficulty and could not see anything visibly amiss and thought that perhaps the wheel had been remounted slightly off center or maybe the bolts were torqued too high.  I was just guessing at this point.  I checked the passenger rear and it was dead cold.  Hmmm...  I took the car for a short test drive and things still felt out of whack.  I also discovered that the driver side wheel had started to heat up again.  This was at the start of the Thanksgiving weekend so I did not drive the car until the following Monday and had it flat-bedded to the dealer.  What they discovered was that the inside brake pad on the driver wheel was defective.  The pad had actually separated from the backing material and was lifted up and in contact with the back side of the rotor.  This friction was what I felt making the car sluggish as well as what heated up the wheel!  When I had the wheel off I check the pads but apparently did not look closely enough.  The outside pad appeared fine and I didn't see the problem with the inside pad.  Needless to say, this was all repaired under warranty.

I participated and helped coordinate part of the first RS4 grille group purchase.  The grille arrived fine and is really a nice part.  I'm not sure how good the satin silver trim ring looks so I am thinking about having  it painted in Hibiscus Red to match the car color.  That should look pretty sharp.  When I first ordered one of the grilles I figured it would be pretty unique but judging from the number of additional group purchases that have been going on it seems like everyone is getting one!  Oh, well.  It is still an nice look.  Here are before and after pictures. Some people have suggested it is kinda of like putting a Honda Type R sticker on a non-Type R car.  I would have to disagree with this as I don't think anyone will mistake my US A4 sedan for a Euro RS4 Avant!  If they know enough to spot an RS4 grille they know enough to realize I don't have an RS4.

I finally (after many, many months) have received reimbursement for my $100 labor charge to install the revised Borla exhaust on the car.  Borla had offered to cover this expense and through a number of break-downs in their accounting system the check was not getting sent out.  Well it finally arrived and I have to say that the entire Borla saga is over.  The revised exhaust still gives an additional boost in high end speed and power even though it is only 2.25" versus the 2.5" of the original version.  Fit thus far after being installed has been great.  I've had no instances of banging or noise from any of the parts.  In addition, I've experienced none of the noise associated with driving through standing water that was such an issue with the first design.  After the revised version was installed I noted how quiet it was compared to the first part.  Over time as the new system has matured it has increased in volume but is still subdued and pleasing when heard from inside the cabin.  There has been no annoying resonance and I am very happy.  It's no longer an embarrassment to carry passengers in the car.

One of my 18" Ronal wheels is no longer in pristine condition.  While the significant other was driving the car recently, she was forced to maneuver evasively to avoid another vehicle.  As a result, one of the wheels nailed a curb and put a nasty gouge in the edge of the wheel.  You can see where the impact also tore off a small portion of the rim protector along the wheel.  It isn't extremely bad but it isn't good either.  I'm planning on trying to smooth out the gauge and do a minor repair to it shortly.  I'll post pictures of my results when available.

All of the discussion regarding the diverter valve/bypass valve issues on the 1.8T and 2.7L engines has gotten me thinking about whether or not I should give an aftermarket valve a try.  You can find many posts in the forums at Audiworld about this issue.  Supposedly, the stock Bosch part has a tendency to leak under high boost as is found in chipped cars.  This can cause surging and jerkiness in the engine performance.  Those who have swapped out the stock part say that the car shifts more smoothly and the car runs better.  Bailey and Forge seem to be the two parts most talked about as of late.  Bailey are a little more expensive.  I've been watching the discussion with interest and think I may lean towards the Forge.  The Forge valve is serviceable whereas the Bailey is a sealed unit.  The Forge can also be adjusted with various spring stiffness as needed.  I'll have more info on my decision soon.

I plan on installing a boost gauge in the car.  On my '97 A4 I used an inexpensive VDO gauge with red lighting and mounted it on the dash.  This time around I purchased an SPI gauge and will be mounting it a little more simply on the dash and in a manner that I think will look much better.  Look for a full write-up on the installation in a future site update.

In my last logbook entry, I noted that I had another Schroth harness on order.  It arrived and I installed it successfully.  I will say that putting in these harnesses is a PITA!  It takes longer than you expect it to.  This one went faster than the first one I installed but it surely was not a simple matter.  I kept having problems with the plastic rail guide attached to the seat not wanting to cooperate during the install.  It kept hanging up which required me to pull the seat off the rail to adjust it.  I finally got it done, though.

January 21, 2001

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a great holiday season.

Last weekend I drove in the fourth annual Quattro Club event at Thunderhill.  This event served to kill off what was left of my front brakes.  Two people were driving my A4 this weekend and I had to cut out the last couple of sessions from day two because the right front, outer pad was completely gone.  We are talking metal to metal and the rotor was gouged.  When I had the car in the shop for the rear pads (which were almost gone after Sears Point) I pointed out that the front pads were also quite worn but apparently they were within spec.  The certainly were out of spec after Thunderhill!  They were covered under warranty but it would have been nicer to have had both front and rear replaced at the same time to avoid the second trip to the dealer a mere two months later.

Since I couldn't drive my own car any longer another owner graciously allowed me to drive his stock S4 during my last scheduled session.  It was his first track event and he really enjoyed his "E-ticket" ride in his own car.  I may not be the fastest driver in our group (Corey still holds that title!) but I can hold my own.  I'm still amazed at how much power and speed a stock S4 has.  On the straights the pull of the car is simply amazing.  I really, really want one!  So where can I scrounge up the cash?  :-)  Another instructor and myself drove the car that day and between the two of us we once again demonstrated how the stock brakes are not strong enough for the weight and horsepower of the S4.  The rotors pretty much felt warped at the end of my session.  At least they're covered under warranty.

Many of you might be aware that the brake system on newer Audi's includes wear sensors that pop up a warning in the trip computer when the pads are nearing the end of their usable lifespan.  This warning did not come up on my A4 until after I was on the way home and the damage to the rotor had already been done.  It turns out that the sensor is only on the inside pads and not on the outside.  Just another reason to pay attention to your car and not necessarily rely on it's automated systems.  I also discovered that the dealer as a general rule replaces rotors and pads at the same time (at least mine does).  Pretty cool.  So now I have new rotors and pads on all four corners.  Just in time for Laguna Seca in March!

Due to some issues with the new brake install at the dealer I needed to leave the car overnight and was given a rental car for one day.  I was happy to find out I would be driving a Plymouth Breeze (Dodge Stratus). Not!  Let me tell you what a lame car this was.  It has a four cylinder engine that is about as buzzy and weak as anything I've driven.  I guess driving the Audi has spoiled me and raised my bar for  acceptable performance.  I didn't expect it to be as fast as the A4 but the vibration from the engine was a little much.  I really learned just how truly refined the 1.8T really is.

Not only did my pads wear out at Thunderhill but my Kumho V700 Victoracers also gave up the ghost.  I was making my post track session inspection of the car and found that the outer edge of a couple of the tires were worn to the point that some of the cords underneath were becoming visible.  They weren't totally "corded" like some track tires we've seen but it was time to take them off the car and order a new set.  These tires are quite nice.  They lasted the equivalent of eight track days and a handful of autocrosses.  I'm happy with their performance.  Nice hold, good feedback to the driver and the price is right.  Hoosiers and G-Force's may offer better grip but they wear faster and are not as forgiving as the Kumhos (not to mention that they cost more).  One of the things you should do with track tires is to heat cycle them in order to help them last longer.  When buying the tires you can have them pre-heat cycled for a $15 fee.  I skipped this step the first time around but plan on paying the price for my next set.  We'll see how long they last this time out.

I helped a fellow Audi owner install a rear swaybar for the first time the other day.  He purchased a Neuspeed 22mm rear bar that also included the reinforcing brackets.  Some of you may recall that the original Neuspeed bars were too stiff for the stock suspension mounting points and were causing cracks in the sub-frame.  When looking at the mounting point it is easy to see why this was the case.  The metal is quite thin and the forces placed upon it is considerable when using a stiffer bar.  The provided support brackets are extremely beefy and seem more than up to the task of reinforcing the mounting points.  It took us about an hour and a half to install the bar (it was our first time after all) and it was pretty straight-forward and easy.

When taking the car out for a spin after the installation it was obvious what a difference the bar makes.  We set the bar to it's stiffest setting in order to keep the plastic uplink clear of the half-shaft and boy does the car corner flat now!  The difference is so pronounced that I'm now considering picking up a bar.  The question for me is whether to go with the 22mm bar or the less aggressive 19mm version (the stock sport suspension bar is 16mm).  There is an excellent article about swaybars and how to calculate their effects at the Grassroots Motorsports web site.  Using the provided calculations shows that the 19mm bar is roughly 98% stiffer than the 16mm bar and the 22mm bar is roughly 257% as stiff!  Wow!  I'll be shopping around for the best price this week and will keep everyone posted.

The other morning I experienced a temporary problem with the LED display on my factory Concert radio.  After turning it on several of the pixels were "stuck" on and not responding to changes as they should.  Turning the radio on/off did not clear the problem.  After work at the end of the day the problem had disappeared.  The only think I can think of is that the radio was cold in the morning and it didn't like the temperature.  I'll be keeping an eye on this.

I had seen a few postings about a windshield cleaner kit that Audi was offering owners free of charge.  While at the dealer I perused their brochures and sure enough I found the one in question.  The cleaning kit is basically a clay bar with a windshield cleaner/lubricant that helps remove debris and contaminants from the windshield.  I sent in my postcard and will let everyone know how the kit is when it arrives.

For those of you who have been waiting on details of my boost gauge installation it is finally installed.  I've taken some pictures and just have to put all the details together.  I hope to have it up this week (maybe tomorrow).  Sorry for the delay.
March 12, 2001

Hello everyone.  Laguna Seca was a blast!  The event provided us with one day of beautiful sunny yet cool weather and one day of drizzle and rain.  As usual, it seems the Quattro Club events serve to let us drive in a variety of weather conditions. :-)  If you've never been to Laguna you need to put it on your schedule.  It is a fun track with some nice turns separated by some equally nice straights.  Laguna is a challenging and FAST track that can definitely eat your brakes when you start braking for turn two and eleven.

Prior to heading down to Laguna I received the 19mm Neuspeed rear swaybar that I had ordered.  Let me tell you that I think this is a "must have" mod.  The car seems so much more controllable now than it did before.  No longer does the car really want to understeer and push into the corners.  It turns in more crisply and was a pleasure to drive.  This is definitely a worthwhile yet inexpensive modification.

I also received my Forge Bypass Valve from Stratmosphere.  This is not a modification that I can directly attribute performance gains to but it is more of a drivability enhancement.  With the valve the car definitely seems to shift more smoothly and holds boost consistently.  I'm pretty sure that I was loosing some boost as the stock Bosch valve leaked under higher boost conditions.  One thing that I noticed while driving at Laguna was that when heading uphill from turn five to six in fourth gear WOT I was actually registering 18-19 PSI on my boost gauge!  Wow!  I could recreate this condition on every lap through this section of the course.

While installing the Forge valve I discovered that the same hose that blew out last summer while at Thunderhill was once again on the verge of failure.  While moving the hose around to install the valve part of the hose split open.  Closer inspection revealed that there was a nice split running from the inside of the hose that was very close to breaking free to the outside.  My manipulation pushed it all the way through.  I'm really fortunate that I found it when I did as the part had to be sent up from LA and the bad hose would most certainly have blown while at Laguna had I not gotten it replaced.  The downside is that the hose cost about $110 to replace from the dealer. :-(

Since this is the second time this particular hose has failed I'm looking into replacing it and a few other high pressure hoses with silicone versions.  Samco Sport has an A4 kit that replaces four hoses on the engine (including this POS that keeps failing).  Andy Blake has ordered the kit for about $230 and they look to be nicely made.  He has run across a problem with them, however, in that the inside diameters of the silicone hoses appear to be a little on the small side.  He had difficulty getting them onto the car and has contacted Samco for advice.  I'll be keeping up with his experience before ordering the set myself.  Here is a photo of the kit in black.

Another quick and easy mod I completed was to add an S4 vented wheel liner to the driver's side wheel well in order to increase airflow through the intercooler.  I'm sure it's good for at least 40 extra HP! :-P

Another thing that came out of my trip to Laguna Seca is that I have a newfound respect for my Kumho Ecsta Supra tires.  When I was at Sears Point I really was not impressed but at Laguna I must say that they came into their own.  Perhaps it is the difference in the style of the track that changed my mind.   Sears is very, very windy with LOTS of walls whereas Laguna combines nice turns with decent straights.  In any event, in both the rain and especially in the dry on Friday afternoon, these street tires performed quite well.  In the wet I had a little bit of tail end out coming through turn five but in the dry they were great.  They didn't give off much noise at all when pushed and after the session they didn't show much wear of sidewall roll.  The tires held great and I was pleased.  I still much prefer my Kumho Victoracer track tires for track driving but was pleasantly surprised with the Ecsta's performance.  I think they are a great "bang for the buck" tire.

The free "windshield care kit" I ordered from Audi arrived and it is basically what was expected.  It is a 3M claybar with a small bottle of spray gloss for lubrication.  Since a good claybar can run you about ten bucks or so I think this is a great deal.  Check your dealer's parts counter for the brochure.  If they don't have them and don't know what you are talking about have them order some brochures.  The  brochure number is "W42WINDSHIELDCARE00AUE".

Finally, I don't think I mentioned previously, but for Christmas I received a set of the new AudiSport rubber floor mats.  All I can say is that these things are GREAT!  I honestly don't think I will be removing them even when the wet weather ends.  They are well made, stylish and a complement to the interior of the car with the red AudiSport logo.  In addition, they snap securely to the same mounting points as the carpet floormats.  They make the old style winter mats look like pieces of crap.  Unfortunately, with the higher quality comes a higher price tag but they are well worth it.  You can pick a set up at your dealer or order from Clair Parts Express.  The Clair price is $99 and the part number is "ZAW-179-004-BLK".  Here are a few borrowed pics of the mats from LarryV over on Audiworld.  I forgot to take pics of mine when they were brand spanking new so I'm using his to show how nice they are.

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