type 44 handle linkage yoga

DeWitt Harrison six-rs at comcast.net
Tue Oct 17 16:14:10 EDT 2006

This may apply to other Audis as well but I'm only
familiar with the door latch and lock linkages from
the type 44 cars. These cars use ball and socket
connections between the handle/key assemblies
and the metal operating rods which connect to the
actual door latches and locks. The plastic ball sockets
have a snap catch which traps the balls of the handle
levers, etc. These ball sockets are made of nylon and,
after nearly 20 years, have become very brittle. They
usually break off when a handle assembly is disassembled,
for example. There are no replacement parts.

Since all these sorts of parts are becoming NLA from
Audi at an alarming rate - I've read that some people
seem to have to have no problem buying any part they
want for type 44 cars but that's a different posting subject
altogether which I will address separately - one must
treat these old plastic parts with extreme care. Btw, if
you do manage to find a new 'operating rod' or whatever
from Audi or a parts car, understand that the plastic
bits on that sucker are just as old and brittle as those on
your car. Treat them as though they were made of eggshells.

I have found, during an all-out door handle and window lifter
replacement campaign, that a bit of heat will make these
plastic snap latches flexible enough to operate them
without breakage. Good access helps; ideally you will
have the entire inner door panel structure removed. Use
a 'medium' setting on your hot-air gun. 'High' will melt the
things really quickly. I want to reiterate: if you are going
to do handle/lock work on an older car, I strongly advise
taking the door completely to pieces so that you have
unrestricted access to these plastic ball sockets. Yes, it's
a lot of work to separate the inner door panel from the
outer door. But, given the condition and rarity of the little
plastic bits and bobs that comprise the door latching/locking
hardware, to do otherwise could be like deciding to turn
your beautiful type 44 car into a parts car.

On a related note, I have done a lot of research into finding
an alternate source for these nylon ball sockets. First,
they are a bastard size both in terms of ball diameter and
the threading that accepts the rod. Secondly, the connecting
rod thread is a bastard size that does not fall under either metric
or US Unified thread specs. Thirdly, I have found no mfg.
willing to run a prototype batch of them. [People occasionally
suggest trying some of the plastic ball socket parts used by
the model airplane crowd. I looked at that quite a bit and
have come to conclude that such a solution is a pipe dream.
No one has ever, ever come forward on this list with a real
part number for such a piece which they have personally vetted.
All such alternatives are pie in the sky so far.]

Ironically, the ball sockets do bear an Audi p/n but, guess
what? They are N Friggin' A! Perfect! And that pretty much
sums up why I will not ever buy another Audi, even as
I make this particular Audi the best it can be. Insanity?
Perhaps so.

(For me, Audi's have been like hot girlfriends who handle
well for a little while but do not have what it takes for the
long haul. Still, it's hard to forget them. Ah, well, such is life.)

DeWitt Harrison
'88 5000CS

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