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    Thread: Transmission going? 1997 A4 1.8T quattro automatic

    1. 10-26-2011 04:18 PM #1
      I have a 1997 Audi a4 1.8T quattro with an automatic trans. I just bought it about 2 weeks ago and I'm still learning a lot of Audi/VW specific tech stuff, but I fancy myself a more than adequate amateur mechanic. So here's my question:

      Part 1:
      A few days ago it didn't go into reverse right away, but after a few seconds went into gear. Yesterday It started doing it consistently and taking longer to go into reverse. Sometimes it shows it's in Neutral before reverse engages, but not all of the time. It seems to function in drive just fine, with the exception of sometimes going to about 3,000-3,500 RPMS while driving gently before up-shifting at about 45-50 mph (I'm not sure if thats normal or not), and all of the gears are NOT lit up on the gauge cluster when in drive. Twice it's made a bit of a clunk when shifting at low speeds, but otherwise seems to be smooth. The downside is the tires make some noise (the wheel bearings are fine) and could hide a quieter noise or vibration.

      It has been rainy and wet, and I'm hoping like hell someone will tell me it's Neutral Safety Switch (whatever Audi calls it at least) on it's way out, but I'm worried it's the trans itself?

      Part 2:
      If it is the trans, are there any special tools I will need to swap it? Are there any special factors to consider when looking for a used trans and far as it fitting my car, and will I need some kind of VAG-COM to change any values?

      I looked at Ross-tech but it's kind of pricey, Is there any VAG-COM for under $100 that will do anything I'd need it to on a 1997 A4?

      Thanks a ton for any help you guys can give me!

    2. Member
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      10-26-2011 06:00 PM #2
      double check and make sure your tranny fluid is full and good color. how many miles on it? maybe it has a clogged filter.

    3. 10-26-2011 09:14 PM #3
      Update:
      I was able to drive it to my dad's barn today and it went into limp mode on the way. And reverse completely quit. I put all 4 corners up on jack-stands and checked the connector for the Neutral Safety Switch, it was covered in grime and when i pulled it apart a bunch of water came out.
      I cleaned it up a bit and dried it out, it didn't look corroded. I put it back together and fired it up on the jack-stands, still in limp mode with no reverse. I wasn't sure if it would work but my OBDII scanner cleared it out of limp mode, and reverse was working.

      Tomorrow or Friday when I have time I will get some dielectric grease and clean it up better, grease it up, and seal up the boots better. Then we'll see how it drives

      Quote Originally Posted by Connella08 View Post
      double check and make sure your tranny fluid is full and good color. how many miles on it? maybe it has a clogged filter.
      I will, I planned on replacing the fluid and filter anyway. It has 145,000 on it and I assume it's never been changed.

      The fluid should be up to the fill plug when turned off, correct? Also the OEM fluid should be a light brown, similar in color to engine oil?

    4. 10-27-2011 09:08 PM #4
      Update 2:

      After drying out the connection and using dielectric grease I took it for a test drive, reverse worked fine at first. After everything came up to temperature I stopped and tried reverse again, no-go and all the gears lit up again on the instrument cluster.

      Is limp mode supposed to limit your top speed? I was still able to drive like normal in "D" with all the gears lit up.

      After getting home I cleared the codes again, the gear select display went back to normal and reverse worked again. Engagement seems quite solid in reverse, harder than Drive, but not excessive. This leads me to think that the whole module is bad, not just the connection, but the trans is still good.

      Edit: I forgot to add that sometimes while the code it cleared I have to shift to Neutral before going back to Reverse to get it to engage.

      Any thoughts or advice to test this?
      Last edited by chainer; 10-27-2011 at 09:10 PM.

    5. Member
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      10-28-2011 12:14 AM #5
      sounds like a bad module to me. did you notice any shavings in the tranny fluid or if it was dark/burnt?

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      10-28-2011 04:31 PM #6
      It could be that the TCM got wet and is acting up.

      I've read many stories about this causing similar issues and drying it out or replacing it if its shot resolves the issue.

      Like others have said the fluid might be low as well. Make sure you use the correct fluid if it needs its.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Jason
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    7. 10-31-2011 09:47 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Jason@ECStuning View Post
      It could be that the TCM got wet and is acting up.

      I've read many stories about this causing similar issues and drying it out or replacing it if its shot resolves the issue.

      Like others have said the fluid might be low as well. Make sure you use the correct fluid if it needs its.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Jason
      Sorry for the delay, it's been a hectic week. A few days ago I tore out the TCM and doesn't seem wet or damaged, and the board has no corrosion.

      Yesterday I tried to check the fluid and had no 17mm allen head, I found a bolt head that fit and welded a nut to it so I could use a wrench to turn it the bolt started to crack in half though so I gave up for the day.

      Today I hit up 4 stores and couldn't find a wrench, I ended up taking a larger hardened bolt and carefully grinding the head down until it fit and welding a nut to that, and that was enough to break the fill plug loose, spun out freely after that. Turns out it was about 2 quarts low, I ended up running out and getting a filter, gasket, fluid, and a pump and doing a full fluid change. There didn't seem to be any excessive sludge or metal shavings in the fluid or on the magnets. I cleaned up everything and went through the whole fill procedure.

      Cleared the codes and went for a drive, seemed fine until it decided to not go in reverse and lit up all the gears again. So I'm back to thinking it's the Multi Function Switch.

    8. 11-18-2011 11:53 PM #8
      Well I think i have it fixed now.

      The day after my last post I changed the trans fluid and filter. I couldn't find OEM fluid but after lots of Google searching I found that "Wolf's Head Universal ATF" was supposed to meet the proper Audi spec. Still kept going into limp mode though, but the old fluid was pretty dirty so it was worthwhile.

      I went by NAPA the next day and they had 1 multi function switch left, but it was special order. I got it for about $180, but it took 1 1/2 weeks to get there. The day I ordered it it stopped having issues, no problems with it since. Since I had paid for the switch already I replaced it about a week ago.

      I'm not sure if the fluid change fixed it but ti took a day, or if I cleared the codes and got it into reverse so much that it scraped off any corrosion inside the old multifuction switch.

      As a side note I had another fun project with the car when it blew the cat out of the mounting flange it was welded to while I was at work (delivering pizza). I needed to get it fixed for work the next day so I unbolted the flange and got enough wiggle in the exhaust to weld it without removing it (the cat to downpipe bolts were not coming lose), So I covered the turbo outlet and any wires nearby and welded the flange back on. After that it was bogging a bit when letting off the gas. The bit of welding slag was the nail in the coffin for the already plugged cat.

      I got the downpipe separated at the clamp under the car, disconnected the O2 sensors, and smashed the cat media to bits and shoved it all the way out the downpipe. I used spark plug non-foulers on the downstream O2 and that seems to be working to keep any O2 codes from showing up.

      Also do these auto transmission just not like to downshift going up mild hills? Ever since I got it, it seems to try to hold the gear on slight inclines, as though they were a much steeper hill. If I give it plenty of gas it will upshift after speeding up more, it's only really a bother in low speed zones (I don't want to go 40 in a 25). I'm in northern Michigan so there are lots of hills, so if anyone has any suggestions I'd be much obliged.
      Last edited by chainer; 11-19-2011 at 12:01 AM.

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