Project S4: Winter Fix-its & MOT

Winter time and the annual bit of minor pampering in preparation for Project S4’s MOT is nigh.

Luckily, thanks to having been enjoying V8 fun in Project P38 and making use of some superb press cars on test (read here) , the twin turbos of Project S4 have been saved too many spool-ups in 2013. As such, she’s only covered just over 3,000 miles (and still now only 70,000 miles in total, amazingly since 1998). So, the annual/5,000-mile oil change and fuel filters etc. swap can wait until later this year. And having done the cambelt, spark plugs and K&N air filter as well as Tarox brake upgrade and polybush upgrade in recent times, not a lot needed doing on the service front, thankfully. She runs, stops and handles a treat and the spec is spot on.

But, the stresses and strains of being 16-years-old this year (which I still can’t believe she is looking at her… thanks in part to The Auto Genie’s recent valet and the ace original Audi design!) have taken their toll, in a very, very minor way: With two cracked lights to repair (nearside fog & indicator lens), and a more pressing/irritating issue too: The ABS light keeps coming on (& stays on, also rendering the ABS system useless), which is an MOT failure, so needs remedying. Plus, it’s bloody irritating, as every time you turn the ignition on, a very German, very loud three beep signal blares up and the Audi’s MFD says ‘ABS fault. Stop driving immediately. Go to an Audi dealer. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200 etc.’ Time to get it sorted, before it drives me over the edge.

Audi in their infinite, cash-grabbing wisdom want over a grand to remedy the ABS issue, but I’m not bending over and paying that. So in steps Das Automan – Norfolk’s premier mobile vehicle technician, ex-VAG trained. Das Automan (or Andrew as I now know him) conveniently comes out to your home, or business to fix/service/repair any vehicle, but is a specialist in Audi, VW, Seat, Mini and Volvo. He’s equipped with all the know-how, tools and equipment you’ll ever need and the latest diagnostic equipment, which gets plugged in and utilised immediately, to check the ABS fault codes.

After much careful checking of all possible causes (wheel sensor failure etc.), it transpires the ABS control module (see images below) is at fault – a common issue with these ‘B5’ S4’s, RS4’s and A4’s I’m told. And the only way to fix the ABS control unit is to either replace it with a new Audi one (ker-ching!), or to remove it (rendering the car undriveable) and send the unit off to a specialist contact of Das Automan, who will repair the unit, with a lifetime guarantee. We plumb for the latter option.

Removal is not a complicated job thankfully, simply requiring the wheel arch liner and washer bottle to be taken off to gain access to the ABS Control unit’s lower bolts. And Andrew has it off in next to no time. He then clears up and sends the unit away to his man, who repairs it and returns it within a week, for Andrew to re-fit and voila… no more annoying beeps, no more ABS warning lights and the ABS unit is working again. Sorted! And for a fraction of the money Audi wanted for the job too. Perfect! Thanks mate!

The indicator lens is a simple fix too – only facilitating an order direct from Audi Germany, as these particular (good-looking) units are bespoke for the B5 S4 and RS4, so are pretty hard to get hold of. No problems though for Das Automan, who avoided the cheap, horrible aftermarket copies available here in the UK (which look nothing like the originals and are dreadfully manufactured), and gets the genuine part in under a week. Problem two sorted.

The fog light is more of an issue. These are even more rare than the S4’s indicator lenses. And Audi wanted over £130 for one! It’s tiny! And so simple! The cheek! So, for now, the broken unit has just been removed (it had to be cut out, as it was so clogged up with grime) and sealed up… until we find one on sale via a scrap dealer. We have alerts out so the hunt is on for the rare as rocking horse **** fog light… finger’s crossed! It might end up being a cold air feed to the brakes/airbox at this rate…

With the ABS issue fixed, it was time for Project S4’s annual MOT visit to Dave Green at Henstead Motors. Dave’s an old friend and used to specialise in building incredibly quick Mitsubishi Evo’s, and working on all manner of tuned and performance /super cars. And, whilst he still does the odd job like this (and is indeed working on a fabulous wide arch track Evo project right now), his mainstay these days is MOT work and servicing. He keeps all my cars legal, and on the road, with great attention to detail and VFM. Cheers buddy!

As per, Project S4 sailed through its MOT – only picking up one advisory (which it had last year and I forgot about until I dug the paperwork out for this one!); a small amount of play in the rear suspension arms. Nothing to worry about… but, we’ve ordered the appropriate bits and will get around to repairing these and restoring them to full force before the track day season gets into full swing, along with the annual oil and filter etc. Report coming soon…

Meanwhile, I’m off to enjoy all 320bhp of the tuned Cossie-engined, Quattro-enhanced Project S4 on a nice wet, muddy back road, with no annoying beeps or warning lights, an almost full compliment of front lights, a clean MOT bill of health and the ABS back on song.

Thanks: Das Automan 07881 563639 & Dave Green at Henstead Motors 01502 714177

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