[Biturbos4] S4 transmission tunnel shuddering, ding-ding noise

Steve Munk fxstm at uaf.edu
Tue Nov 7 15:39:48 EST 2006

Hello everyone,

I have a problem, but thought I'd start with a brief introduction  
since I'm new to the list. My name is Steve Munk, and I live in  
Fairbanks, Alaska. I've been an Audi fan since 1987 when I got my  
first car, an '81 FWD Audi 4000. I got my first quattro a year an a  
half ago, a '93 100 CSQ. My fiancee bought a 2001 A6 2.7t 6-speed  
almost 2 years ago and we love it, but I've always lusted after the  
S4 since the first time I read about it in 1999, and wanted the A4  
before that starting in '95. The closest Audi dealer is in Anchorage,  
360 miles away. There are a couple of shops here in Fairbanks that  
can work on late model Audis as long as they're out of warranty, but  
they're a little ham-fisted and careless so I try to take care of  
problems myself as much as possible.

I finally bought my dream car, a 2001 S4, a week ago monday. It's a  
silver 6-speed with Premium, Cold Weather, Bose, and 6 disc CD  
changer options. Other than the high-ish mileage (95K miles), the car  
is in immaculate condition with perfect interior and not a scratch or  
dent on the exterior. The suspension, brake pads and rotors have  
recently been replaced by the last owner, and it has new Blizzak  
tires that give it phenomenal traction on ice and snow. Man, what a  
thrilling car to drive! It's smooth, quiet, powerful, and incredibly  
capable. We already have a lot of ice and snow on the roads but that  
doesn't seem to have slowed the S4 down much. Still squishes me and  
two passengers into our seats once the traction control decides it's  
ok. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much quicker the S4 is  
than our A6 2.7t, even though both have the same engine and  
transmission. The wonderful combination of quattro, ABS, traction  
control, and ESP take all the worry out of driving these fast cars in  
winter conditions.

Here's my problem: It's so bad that the S4 can't be driven. Thursday  
night (only my 4th day of ownership) as I was driving home the fun  
all ended. I started to hear a "marbles in a can" sound that was  
present at cruising speed when I gently pressed on the gas pedal in  
gear but wasn't there when I let it go. Soon after, when I pulled  
away at a stop light, the S4 had difficulty getting moving and a  
scary rumbling and "ding-ding-ding" sound started emanating from the  
transmission tunnel, coming from just behind the center console. The  
rumbles would get worse and the ding-ding sound increase in frequency  
with road speed, starting around 5 mph and getting too scary by 20  
mph to go any faster. I slowly limped the S4 the half mile home. My  
first guess was the driveshaft went bad and was swinging around down  

When I got the car home to my garage, I put it up on 4 jackstands,  
dropped the exhaust and removed the heat shielding between the  
exhaust and the driveshaft. I couldn't see or feel anything wrong  
with the driveshaft, nor see anywhere it might have been hitting  
against the transmission tunnel. The center support bearing looks  
very good, the rubber surrounding it is like new and unripped. The  
shaft looks clean and brand new. There's an Audi sticker on the  
driveshaft that says it has a manufacture date of 12/3/2004, so it  
was made in march of 2004, assuming European date order, and was  
installed on the car sometime after that.

Thinking maybe some ice got up in there or that I was imagining  
things, I put the heat shielding back in place and reassembled the  
exhaust and took the S4 for a short drive. Sure enough nothing had  

I put the S4 up on 4 jackstands again and did some more  
troubleshooting. I tried having my fiancee start the engine and bring  
the wheels up to speed (just above idle in 4th gear was necessary to  
get the unloaded rear end spinning fast enough) to get the vibration  
and sound to happen while I (cautiously) watched the driveshaft  
below. Looks and sounds to me like the shuddering is coming from the  
driveshaft and the ding-ding-ding sound is coming from *inside* the  
rear half of the driveshaft! If I rap it with my knuckles (engine  
off!) I can get it to make the same "ding" sound I hear when driving  
the car. Is there something inside the hollow driveshaft that could  
have broken loose?

I'm probably going to take the driveshaft off tonight and see if (a)  
it really has something loose rattling around inside and (b) if a  
local driveshaft shop can fix it. Hopefuly so since it's a $1200 part.

I'm so bummed that I've only gotten to drive my dream car for 4 days.  
Do you think I'm on the right track or barking up the wrong tree? Any  
other advice or experience with this type of problem? Do S4  
driveshafts fail often?

Steve Munk
HPC Systems Analyst                  '01 Audi S4 biturbo, silver 6-speed
Arctic Region Supercomputing Center  '01 Audi A6 2.7t biturbo, gold 6- 
University of Alaska Fairbanks       mailto:fxstm at uaf.edu

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