[s-cars] a very rough Audi weekend

Marc Swanson mswanson at sonitrol.net
Thu Nov 20 11:46:45 EST 2003

Well I tried to make it to Waterfest this weekend:  overnighted a new
turbocharger to get the 4ktq ready to go on Friday night and all.

So I start out on the 200ish mile trip to Jersey.  The car was running
great even with the lowered boost I was running to break in the turbo.

About 60 miles into the trip my dash lit up indicating the car wasn't
charging.. looking down at the voltmeter showed this was the case.. so I
pulled off at the next exit into a hotel parking lot and thought myself
pretty smart for carrying a jack, spare belt, and a full complement of
tools ;-)

http://tinyurl.com/hk9x  shows the busted belt.  Of course the reason
for the busted belt was yours truly playing monkey lad and not using
locktite on the nut that holds the bolt which the alternator pivots

So after replacing the belt and borrowing a 13mm nut from the radiator
side support I was back on my way.

Once I got into NY, things got real ugly in a hurry.  I was doing about
80 and had just rounded a slight curve in the road when tire smoke
starting pouring from the right front and the car began veering out of
control.  Luckily I was able to keep things pointed southbound and I
headed for the nearest breakdown lane which in my case was on the left
(no way was I going to be able to make it to the safer right hand
shoulder).  After my heart began beating at a normal pace again I took
stock of the situation..  I wanted to go look and see what was wrong but
thought better of it with cars zipping along and not noticing a disabled
vehicle until they were right upon me.

I called AAA who then called the NY state authority who is responsible
for towing vehicles on 95 in NY (AAA is not allowed on the turnpike, but
they still pay for the tow!!).  about 10 minutes later a cop showed up
behind me looking very nervous and putting flares up to divert traffic
away from the left lane.  I noticed he was standing outside his car
leaning on the concrete divider.. I'm sure after all of those incidents
of exploding crown vics from oncoming traffic plowing into the back made
him decide that was a safer place to be...

So anyway the first truck that shows up is the sling variety.  I told
the guy he can't tow my car with that thing.  He takes a look under the
car and consults with the cop who is not looking terribly happy.  I hear
something along the lines of "get the f'in car off my highway!".  Lucky
for me the driver leaves and comes back with a ramp truck. After later
talking with the guy he tells me that he saw all the turbo piping and
didn't want to damage anything.  Glad I got a car guy as a tow operator!

So now that the car was dropped off at the nearest Home Cheapot lot for
AAA to come get me I could survey the damage:


So apparently all this resulted from my RF ball joint popping out of the
strut and the strut just slammed into the fender and dragged itself
along until I managed to slide to a stop. The wheel was so Fubar'd that
in order to get the thing on and off the ramp truck(s) I had to use my
jack to raise the right front so the car could roll on the bed. I'm
really amazed I got away as easily as I did.  It could have been worse.
_A_LOT_ worse....

So the question on my mind was now why did the ball joint come out?  The
bolt was still in place!  Well, your truly, monkey lad extraordinaire
decided to use a stainless bolt to clamp the ball joint:


That was well and good since it wasn't the strength of the bolt that was
the issue.. the bolt didn't break nor did the nut come off. But what DID
cause the failure was the fact that I used a fully threaded bolt....  In
essence the threads on the bolt slowly wore away at the lip on the ball
joint until it had enough clearance to pop out of the strut causing all
this mess on Saturday.

A $300 tow later (AAA only covers 100 miles and I was 160 from home...
at $5/mile :-( ) and the car is back in my driveway so I can fix it when
I have the energy.  I haven't touched it since Saturday but I'll likely
deal with fixing it this week.  I'm thinking at least a grand to fix the
damage (fender, rocker panel, fender liner, ball joint, and axle) plus
another grand or two in stuff I'm going to want touched up if it is at
the paint shop anyway.

Live and learn.... I'll be using shouldered bolts on my ball joints from
now on.

more pics at:


87' 4ktq
88' 90q

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