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Troubles with AoA (long poste)

I have addressed my personal issues here with AoA and my '96 A6 with some 
reluctance.  The reluctance was do primarily for the respect I have for my 
dealer and their service department, and love of Audi products.  I won't go 
into the platitudes of the Audi product since we are all here due to the 
infatuation with those wonderful cars.

I was very lucky and fortunate to have a dealer that was customer 
oriented.  It also happens that I used to work for that particular dealer a 
decade or so ago.  The dealer has changed owners a few times and I knew no 
one there from the days when I was there, nor did they know 
me.  Nevertheless I was impressed enough not only to purchase my new '96 A6 
there but to use their service department even though they were not the 
closest dealer to me.  I am sure they thought of me as a strange duck when 
I came back in a thousand miles asking for a thousand mile service.  Such 
service was not available any more, so at least I had an oil and filter 
change for which I paid.  By the time 7500 miles rolled up I had a small 
list of items to be looked at and corrected.  Most of them were vibrations 
and noises.  Particularly bothersome was a vibrating noise from the 
steering area when you went over a bump.  The dealer provided me with a 
loan car so I was minimally inconvenienced.  Two days into those repairs I 
called the service writer who was responsible for my car to see how things 
are going.  He informed me that all work was performed except the elusive 
vibration and that they were going to disassemble the dash to see what is 
going on.  I told them not to do that yet knowing full well that was a 
Pandora's box.  I was going to drive the vehicle some more and see if I can 
diagnose the problem.  I was not able to do that but I had much more 
detailed description of the vibration.  When I went back I asked if I could 
get the same mechanic they have initially given my car to and if I could 
talk to him.  They obliged with my idiosyncrasies and I met the young man 
who worked on my car.  To make a long story (already) short, once I 
described in detail the noise he was able to zero in on the problem area - 
steering shaft not being centered in the tube.  From that time on he was 
the only one that worked on my car and I contributed to his education as a 
mechanic.  I told him that I worked there before, etc.  We still have a 
good rapport with him and the rest of the staff.

The story above was to illustrate the need for patience on both sides of 
the repair order.   The dealer was always up front about what they did, or 
didn't do, on my  car.  When nocking noises became evident when starting 
the car cold, and my warranty was about to expire, I took the car in. I had 
ample time (10 days) that I could leave my A6 with them.  The noise was 
intermittent at best.  During that time they were able to ascertain that it 
was coming from the engine and they requested approval from AoA for an 
engine tear down for inspection.  This is where AoA dropped the ball.  They 
insisted for the Service Representative to be there when they were taking 
engine apart.  That never happened.  AoA than told the dealer to take the 
engine to a certified machine shop for tear down and analysis.  By this 
time I was back from my trip and the dealer gave me a loan car and provided 
me with the name of the machine shop.  I went there to inspect the engine 
and was floored to see what it looked.  It also became painfully evident 
that the machine shop was not knowledgeable about Audi engines.  At that 
point I contacted the AoA Customer Advocate with my story.  I asked for a 
factory rebuild engine and I was rudely told that "the engine has to be 
more severely damaged" before they would even consider such a request.  I 
guess crank shaft out of factory specs, burned valves, missing pieces in 
the valve train and sever  carboning of the combustion chamber was not 
sufficient enough.  Finally I met with the AoA Service Representative and 
you have read in previous postings about our conversation.  Than I brought 
up the question with Customer Advocate that if they didn't have confidence 
in the dealer disassembling the engine how would they have confidence in 
them rebuilding one, and their machine shop of choice was even less 
knowledgeable than the dealer.  That fell on deaf ears. After numerous 
letters and phone calls AoA approved a factory rebuild engine.  The glitch 
was that there weren't  any available.  Customer Advocate kept telling me 
that the engine was coming from the east coast, than Canada, and finally 
Germany.  The engine never came.  Finally the dealer ordered a rebuilt 
short block and heads and assembled the engine themselves.  By this time we 
were in the fourth month, and I still had their loan car.

AoA broke every promise made to me.  They refused to buy back the car under 
CA Lemon Law.  I wanted to be upgraded to a new A6 which, so far, have very 
few complaints about carbon build up and I was even willing to pay some 
nominal price for it.  They refuse to accept any culpability in the 
matter.  I accept that a car can have parts installed that were not to 
specs, or even missing valve train parts.  It could be an Oktoberfest car 
for lack of better description.  What I do not accept is that the carboning 
of the combustion chamber is "normal."  With all the sensors and computers 
managing all aspects of the engine performance this should be a none 
issue.  But it is not.  The realities of visual inspection of the 
combustion chambers and what the computers are telling to not 
coincide.  There are millions of cars on the road that do not exhibit this 
kind of problems.  To really make things worse AoA had issued a Technical 
Bulletin regarding this matter in March of 1996, months before I purchased 
my vehicle.  To me all this smacked on a "cover up" and I am not surprised 
that AoA would stoop to same measures with TT transmission problems, or any 
other problems that are endemic.

Ultimately AoA and us, the customers, are playing a numbers game.  AoA 
doesn't want to ruin their bottom line with costly recalls and buy backs, 
and we would like to have the most bang for our buck. Those two are 
diametrically opposed. Having to put gas additives to prevent carbon build 
up just upped the cost of running a vehicle which already doesn't give the 
greatest mileage per gallon to begin with.  Than there is the question of 
warranty coverage. VW, which costs less than an Audi, has a power train 
warranty to 100K and Audi only 50K which costs substantially more.  So, the 
burden of keeping AoA bottom line we are saddled with the financial outlays 
to keep it so.  Just take a look at how many threads are running here for 
water injection, etc.  The problem is endemic and I do jot see an easy 
solution for it.

Just some food for thought.  Sorry for being so verbose.