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Swapping the taillights between '96/'97 and '98 A4
Yesterday during the Capitol Quattro Club meeting in Baltimore Mark
Quinn and I have traded our taillights.
To all interested in the above conversion:
The good news is it's a direct swap, provided you replace BOTH the lens
and the bulb holder.
The bad news is that it WILL trigger the Autocheck on the '98.
The '96/'97 A4 uses a 5-bulb/side taillight, 2 bulbs/side in parallel
for the directionals.
The '98 A4 uses a 4-bulb taillight, 1 bulb/side for the directionals.
The rest of the bulb arrangement is identical electrically and only
Evidently the '98 Autocheck was tuned for the single filament impedance
and did not like when I gave it 1/2 of what it was expecting. BTW, that
only concerned the LH taillight. I and Mark have played the taillight
combinations in every possible arrangement. The Autocheck on my '98
would be happy with the LH '98 and the RH '97 taillights - the weirdest
combo, was kinda fun. Especially with the Pearl White trim on the bottom
of the LH unit and the Cactus Green on the right one.
After spending an hour swapping lights back and forth @ 22:00 in +2°C I
got rather hectic and sloppy. This caused me to forget to turn off the
ignition and the lights during an attempt to disconnect one out of two
bulbs in the '97 light in order to give the Autocheck the impedance it
was expecting. Naturally I accidentally shorted the tracks which took
the LH fuse out.
I replaced the fuse and voila! No more Autocheck warning. My guess is as
long as the circuit remains intact Autocheck remembers the last
Impedance reading. If you Brake the circuit and reinstate it later the
Autocheck suffers a short term amnesia and starts to memorise the
Impedance of the filaments from scratch.
My advice for the swap:
On a '98 A4:
1. Switch the directionals ON.
2. Pull their fuses
3. Swap the lights
4. Reinstall the fuses
5. Check all the lights for operation.
On a '96/'97 A4:
1. Swap the lights
I know, the purists will despise me for this, but I cut out the blank
that hides the RH side Fog Light and installed the bulb into the socket.
In fact, I installed the 50w Halogen bulbs in both Fog light sockets.
Yes, I did reduce the effectiveness of the single and therefore very
distinguishable fog light, but man does a flip of the fog light switch
deter the ignorant blockheads who tailgate me with their high beams on!
I also installed the same 50w Halogens in the A4 back-up lights, just as
I did on my 200 with the 20% tinted rear window for better visibility.
I would like to thank Mark Quinn for standing by my side in the cold
when everybody else was already gone to a local pub to swap Quattro war
stories. Also many thanks to Eugene Sokolovski for finding a ratchet in
the critical moment.
My apologies to Chris Hlubb for not being able to swap the lights with
him since Mark was first to respond.
Mark, I hope you like my all-red taillight just as much as I like yours
with the Amber turn signals. Thank you very much!
Jim and Jon, thanks for putting the whole event together.
Anka Bart, thank you very much for letting me drive that beautiful Pearl
V8 5-speed (for the first time in my life)!
Josh, thanks for the ride in that Pearl 4.2Q Spaceship!
Fellows, it was very good to see all of you again!
'89 200TQ -- 18psi (TAP)
'98 A4TQ w/'97 taillights 8^P