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Exploding Audi Update (long rant)

This is now getting much more interesting than I originally thought.  First,
thanks to all of the input I received from the various chemists on the list,
I have just about cleaned up all of the sulfuric acid that has managed to
leak under the carpet in the rear of the car.  Many people on the list have
told me that I should contact Audi USA and demand that they pay for a
replacement battery and get them to install it and clean up the mess.  So
here's a summary of what has transpired with respect to Audi USA and
Stammler Audi (Boulder, CO):

Mon Night:  Battery explodes in car.
Tuesday afternoon:  I contact Stammler asking them if they will cover the
battery cost.  They say no, since the car is out of warranty.  I then
contact Audi Client Relations and they open a case for me and tell me to
make an appointment with Stammler to have the battery replaced.  They will
contact Stammler and see about reimbursing me for the battery and
installation, pending some diagnostic tests to make sure the charging system
is okay.
Tuesday 4:30pm:  I go to Stammler to get the battery installed.  Tom, the
service manager, tells me he spoke to Audi and that they told him they will
most likely not cover the battery because it is out of warranty _and_ I am
the second owner of the car.  He says he'll give me a break on the battery
price, but that if I want them to install it, I'll have to pay the $65/hour
labor rate.  I decide to do it myself with some tools I've brought along.
They also give me some baking soda to help neutralize the sulfuric acid that
is eating through my floor pan.  We also have one of the technicians come
out to help with a stubborn bracket bolt, and he comments on what a
nightmare it will be to clean up all of the acid that is most likely seeping
under the carpet as we speak.
Wednesday night:  I spend most of the night pulling up carpet, rinsing and
soaking with baking soda.  Seems to be successful, but very messy.  I figure
that is the end of the story, and I wait for the phone call from Audi USA
telling me they are not going to pay for anything.
Thursday afternoon:  I get a call from Audi USA asking if everything is okay
and if Stammler took care of me to my satisfaction.  I ask "What are you
talking about??"  She tells me that she talked to Tom at Stammler and that,
according to him, they gave me a battery, and installed it and cleaned up my
car FREE OF CHARGE and that everything was hunky-dory.  I was almost
speechless, and they said they would get back with me.
Friday morning:  I receive a call from Audi USA, saying they will not cover
anything, zero, zilch.  While I realize the car is out of warranty, in my
opinion, this is a serious design flaw that allows battery acid to easily
leak into the passenger compartment, and falls outside of normal component
failure and upkeep.  They would not even offer to replace a battery that is
4 years old, when the replacement battery comes with a 5 year warranty.  So
basically they told me I am SOL and sure hope you have fun cleaning up that
acid all over your interior.  And sure hope you got it all and that it
doesn't weaken the floor pan at all to the point where the front passenger
seat gets launched through the windshield when you have an accident.
Needless to say, my frustration level with Audi at this point is very high.
I understand that Audi's are quirky cars that require a lot of TLC and
maintenance (see Honda vs. Audi thread).  But, as this is my first Audi, I
don't know if I will be a repeat buyer when the time comes.  That's it.  I'm
done ranting.  Sorry for the WOB, but I had to bitch to somebody...

Jeff Fithian
95 A6Q (for now)


Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 20:38:05 -0400
From: Elliott Potter <epotter@abraxis.com>
Subject: Re: Exploding Audi

This happened to my '93 90 a couple of years ago -- had the Autobahn
maintenance free battery in it.  Turned the key and it blew the top
clear off.  Fortunately this one is under the hood!

Anyway, got it towed to the dealer (under warranty), and got a
replacement.  Since my service advisor didn't seem at all suprised, I
asked him if this was normal.

"Oh yea, we had another one just like this come in last week.  No big

eek!  So far it hasn't happened again, though.  However I'm on my 4th
Autobahn battery in 6 years; the only reason I keep getting them is
because they're all under warranty when they go.  Whatever.
- --

Levis-Fithian, Jeff E wrote:
> Last night I got into my car (95 A6), turned the key, and heard a _very_
> loud bang.  At first I thought it was the radio, since it sounded like a
> speaker pop, but louder than any I have heard before.  Upon further
> examination, I discovered that the battery under the rear seat (that my 3
> week old son was sitting on!) EXPLODED.  The plastic casing around the
> battery was cracked, the breather hose was blown off, and miscellaneous
> plastic bits were laying around the battery, along with a couple drops of
> fluid (acid?).  Has anybody ever experienced this before?  I can easily go
> purchase a new battery, but I am worried about the root cause here.  Any
> ideas?
> Also, are there any alternatives to buying a battery from a dealer for
> The one from the local auto parts store ($50 Duralast) doesn't have a vent
> hole, and I am worried about fumes building up under the seat and causing
> even bigger explosion.
> Thanks
> Jeff Fithian
> 95 A6Q 5sp with exploding battery option