Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Oh look, more people with A4s in the 1996-2001 years looking for ABS control modules; I wonder why?

Update: July 13, 2005

I received a call from Audi of America. On my phone the caller ID read "Volkswagen of America". This was the supervisor from the customer support.

I went through the same story again and was told "I'm sorry but there is nothing we can do for you."

My question: "I gave the customer service rep a complete diagnosis from my mechanic, the age of the car, mileage, etc. So knowing that you wouldn't cover the ABS control unit UPFRONT, why didn't they tell me that. Then I wouldn't have wasted the time and money to take it to rector motors."

Answer (not word for word): "Well there may have been extenuating circumstances."

No explanation of what these might be, but it still doesn't answer my question. Why make me jump through hoops when you know that you will do nothing to help? Why not explain that there is a diagnosis fee up front? Why not explain that I had a snowballs chance in hell of getting any support from you?

I explained that VW cars built at the same time, using the same part, were recalled. The response to this was basically that the supervisor doesn't know anything about that, because she works for Audi...I pointed out that the caller ID on my phone said VW of America...well were in a separate division. Oh, you must work for the division that screws people who pay more for their cars than the other division. One would think that by paying a premium you would get a little better customer support, but no they stick it to you even more...or so it appears.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Audi and VW, Please Recall Cars Between 1996 – 2001 and Replace the Defective ABS Control Units! (Please support our cause by adding your story in the comments below)

The Problem:
Is your Audi showing a solid ABS failure light and a flashing brake failure light? Was your Audi built between the year 1996 – 2001? Then the odds are you got one of the bad Bosch ABS control units that fails. And according to the manufacturer you are screwed to the tune of $1,500 - $1,700.

A large number of people on the Internet have documented this same problem in Audis and VWs (which have a lot of common parts). Ironically, Internet posts claim that some of the VWs (e.g. 2001 Jetta GLX) have been recalled for this problem, but not the Audi. I guess the thinking is that the Audi owners can afford the $1,700 to repair the ABS.

My Story (please post your story as a comment below):
I drive a 2001 Audi A4. I really like the car, but my experience with the ABS light problem has really soured me on the company. At 54,000 miles (yes just out of warranty on miles and about 8 months on time), my yellow ABS light went on, it beeped and the red brake light started flashing.

Since it was out of warranty, I figured why pay the premium to get it fixed at my local dealership (Rector Motors) AND put up with their arrogant attitude. So I went to a local mechanic who specializes in German cars.

He plugged it into the computer and immediately informed me that it was the ABS control unit and there was nothing he could do. It could only be repaired by the dealer. He also told me that the ABS control unit should definitely not go out at my mileage. He told me that he has a number of customers who have had similar problems, because they had problems with the ABS control units between 1996 and 2001. He said that a large number of mechanics online had documented the same problem. Of course, he charged me nothing for this diagnosis.

He advised me to take the car to my local Audi dealer and explain that it shouldn’t fail like this especially at 54,000 miles, and demand that they pay for it. So I went to Rector Motors (or as I call them Rectal Motors) and asked them whether there was a recall and what they could do for me. There answer was no recall and it would cost about $1,700 to replace the ABS control unit.

So I called Audi USA. I explained that I needed an ABS control unit and that I was aware that it was a common problem for cars in those years. They started a case to look into what they could do to help. I told them the make, model, year, mileage, everything. They then called me back and informed me that in order to evaluate the case, they needed a diagnosis from a certified Audi dealer, even though I had informed them what the problem was already from an Audi mechanic.

So I took the car to Rector Motors. They never mentioned any fee. I called two times and left messages, but they never called back. I went in and talked to the service rep. (Paul) that afternoon, but it still wasn’t ready. Again, there was no mention of any diagnosis fee. Then I went to pick up the car and was informed that there was a $175 fee to tell me what I already knew, it is the ABS control unit.

I told them that it was ridiculous to charge me a fee, when (a) they never mentioned the fee; (b) they merely told me what I already knew; (c) Audi USA told me to go there for the diagnosis. Then they got rude. “How did you diagnose the car yourself, did you read it on a website?” No, a mechanic told me what it was. I told them that I didn’t think I should pay for it and they informed me that I was responsible for my car and if I didn’t pay it I wasn’t getting the car back. They were very rude, and I will never set foot in their business again.

So, my last hope was Audi USA. I called back and alerted them to the reaffirmed diagnosis. They called me back and said: “We’re sorry it is out of the warranty period and there is nothing we can do about it.” I said fine then just pay me the $175 for the diagnosis fee, and detailed my experience. They basically told me tough luck.

So Audi America, I told you what the problem was and told you the age and mileage of the car, why didn’t you simply tell me UPFRONT that it was too far out of the warranty period, instead of wasting my time and $175? Why make me jump through hoops and then tell me the inevitable bad news?

More importantly, if the ABS control unit is such a problem WHY HAVEN’T YOU RECALLED THE AUDIS AND FIXED THE ABS CONTROL UNITS?

After searching the Internet, it appears that this is a common problem in both Audis and VWs during this band of years. According to some websites, there has been a recall for some VWs, but not for Audis. I guess they figure Audi owners can afford the $1,700.

In fact the problem is so common there is a cottage industry of gray market parts and descriptions of how to repair the ABS control unit. I would actually be happy just turning off the flashing lights and beeping. I rarely drive in the snow, but I know how to do it, so I don’t need ABS. I just want the lights and the damn beeping to stop.

A large number of failures of the ABS Control unit in Audi and VW cars between 1996 – 2001 cars indicates to me that the part of faulty. Local mechanics cannot touch the ABS, in fact, the car won’t even let their computers talk to it. But my mechanic told me that he has a number of people driving around with faulty ABS control units and that it is “a real problem with cars from 1996 – 2001”.

Links to Other ABS Failure Posts on the Internet:
ABS Failures between 1996 – 2001 in Audi A4/A6

Several pages of threads about the VW ABS problems during the same timeframe (note: VW and Audi share common parts)

Some people are pulling their ABS Pump and getting it replaced. The fact that there is a whole cottage industry set-up to repair these things indicates to me that there is a problem here (again 1996 and later VWs, coincidence, I think not): (detailed info on the cars affected…sound like a recall is warranted?)

Another ABS problem post…

Not a recall but a “warranty extension” for the VW ABS, same as the one used in the Audi…is there an Audi warranty extension??

A few pages of ABS light complaints for the A4:!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.eeca719%20abs&count=20

A few comments about 2001 A6 Models:!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.ef0c3ff%20abs&count=20

A Few Pages about VW ABS Failures:!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.ef0feec%20abs&count=20!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.ee994fa%20abs&count=20

A recall on VW ABS units from 2000 – 2001:!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.ee994fa%20abs

Why did VW recall their cars for ABS problems, but Audi hasn’t, even though they share parts? Is it because Audi thinks that their owners are rich enough and stupid enough to simply take it?

1. Please share your experiences with your ABS control unit in the comments below. Maybe if we get enough people this will spur a recall to fix these defective parts.

2. And if you know anyone who owns a 1996-2001 Audi or VW send them the link to this page so they can find out about this problem.

3. If you find any other good links on the Internet, please add them as well.