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Re: $950 on Red, engine computer roulet...

   So while searching the NHTSA site, I came across a service bulletin for the
   '90 Audi that says there is updated software for the engine management computer
   that fixes a problem where it occasionally goes into "limp home mode".  I
   took the copy of the bulletin in to my shop, and asked them to diagnose it to
   see if it could be what's causing the lack of power at 3300RPM, followed by
   a huge surge at 3700RPM.

   Their diagnosis was that there wasn't anything else wrong, but that it was
   probably a 50/50 chance that the computer was causing the problem and that
   the new computer would fix it.  Cost for new computer?  $870 + $50 labor.

Only $870? Hell, that's cheap!

   Since it's electronic, they won't put a replacement in and try it to see
   if it fixes it.  If they put it in my car, I have to buy it.  <sigh>

   This is the thing I'm most unhappy with about the car.  It's the reason
   I'm looking at getting a new Audi, and it's also the reason I'm looking
   at NOT getting a new Audi (I'd kick myself if the new Audi did something
   like this after 3 years and I spent several thousand on mechanics telling
   me they don't know what it is).

   The service guy said the 20 valve's all do it -- they're fine for a
   couple of years, then they get this hesitation.  They can't seem to
   find anything wrong.  Am I crazy to expect them to be able to figure
   out why my car has such bad drivability?

It it's true that they "all do it", it's absolutely inexcusable for Audi
to have not figured it out and identified a fix! It's obvious that some-
thing has changed in the engine [system overall] for the behavior to
change. You've simply got to figure out what the change is, then replace
that component. Or components.

What makes it BRUTAL for an individual [owner, mechanic, or dealer/service
shop] is that it can literally take weeks to track down what it actually
happening, and identify the culprit, based on trial and error/experimen-
tation. That's a lot of bucks! If the problem is truly ECU/electronic,
*NO* dealer will be equipped to handle it (other than just buy a new ECU).
(For example, if an IC is underrated [i.e., not up to handling the power
dissipation, or not able to properly handle -20F winters, or the power
filtering doesn't adequately protect against voltage spikes in the car's
electrical system -- you have an electronic defect and have to swap the
whole ECU 'cuz no dealer's gonna be able to diagnose the HD46506 chip
[cough cough to take one personally-familiar horror story example], let
alone have surface-mount desoldering station, etc., even if they could
get just the chip...

You can easily spend a *WEEK* identifying one corroded $0.89 crimp con-
nector. Let's see, 40 hours at $49 an hour . . . plus $.89 for the new
connector . . .

But if it is truly endemic to a series of car, then the manufacturer
*SHOULD* have figured it out by now, and issued a service bulletin
that any trained monkey can understand.

   Any suggestions?  According to the dealer, the entire computer has to
   be upgraded for the service bulletin, not just a ROM.  However, aren't
   there aftermarket ROMs you can get to tweek it?  I'd certainly be
   more willing to do a 50% gamble on $150 or $200 than $1000.  Perhaps
   I can find a better price on the computer than $875...  Even at $500
   I could deal with it...

As I say above, to anyone familiar with "chip technology", the upgrade
is trivial, and *should* cost you $24.95 for the chip. The labor to
physically get to the ECU however... [Today, it should cost you *Zero*
for a simple drive-the-car-in-hook-it-up-and-update-the-FLASHRAM . . .
ho hum . . . done while changing the oil!]

   Thanks for listening,

We empathize!