Hello. How are you? It’s been a while.
Project RS4 has finally made some progress since we last spoke.
The fun started, and ended abruptly, following a cover shoot that I did for Modern Classics magazine. Left, unattended, in a large and empty warehouse after the shoot, I did what any self respecting idiot would do. I turned my traction control off, summoned many revs and proceeded to make a lot of noise and quite a bit of smoke. There’s no pictures of this, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen.
Unfortunately, I have the evidence.
On the drive home afterwards I noticed that it wasn’t quite as easy to select gear as it was before. After limping the car down to Regal Autosport in Southampton the problem became apparent – I’d underestimated the grip levels of both the warehouse floor and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. Something, somewhere in the drivetrain had given way and that something appeared to be the clutch. Shit.
The OEM unit had served the previous owners and myself well, it seemed, so we ordered a new one and I left Regal to get on with the task at hand. It wasn’t until the dreaded phone call the next day that I realised it wasn’t just the clutch that was left unimpressed with my moment of idiocy. Double shit.
The big and expensive dual mass flywheel had also decided it had enough at that point, and had thrown enough of a wobbly to shatter the clutch strap. A short but violent game of drivetrain karate ensued, with the clutch strap taking enough of its anger out on the inside of the bellhousing to leave a mark or two, before battering itself into enough small, sharp pieces to no longer be an issue.
Weirdly, I didn’t hear any of this happening. I can only imagine because loud V8 plus empty warehouse.
A relatively cheap clutch swap quickly became a somewhat bigger job to replace clutch and DMF as well as a sensor or two that had been wiped out by the rampage happening inside the bellhousing. I did consider changing to a lighter single mass flywheel, but decided against it to retain drivability. Thankfully the damage to the bellhousing itself was only cosmetic, so some minor repairs were all that was needed there.
While the gearbox was off the car, I had Regal replace the clutch return pipe too as this is a known point of failure on these cars, as well as flush out and replace the clutch fluid.
Sticking by my ethos of always using maintenance to improve something, and having been left impressed by their rear sway bar and diff carrier inserts that we fitted late last year, Regal also fitted an 034 Motorsport Street Density uprated transmission mount in favour of the OEM unit. There’s no photos of this part because it’s simply a case of unbolting the old one, and bolting this one in its place.
This slightly stiffer mount reduces drivetrain movement and slop without introducing any discernible extra NVH into the cabin.Freshen Up
The result, both from the fresh OEM clutch, flywheel and uprated 034 Motorsport mount is a much smoother and more positive shift – it was expensive but, in the long run, worth it (and it needed doing!). I’ve learnt that donuts in warehouses are silly, too.
After paying my bill with Regal, I’d hoped that all maintenance and repairs were at bay for a while, but obviously I was wrong. A quick rear brake pad change at VRS Northampton turned into a full caliper rebuild after it was discovered that the seals were completely shot. They also noticed that my coolant header tank was starting to show signs of cracking, so I’ve ordered a new OEM unit to replace that with when I get a moment.
Oh, and a parking sensor and fuel flap release actuator gave up at the same time, so I’ve made good friends at the Audi parts desk and have new replacements for each of those waiting for a rainy day, too.
Happy thoughts Jordan, happy thoughts.
While all of this was going on, I’d been sitting on the idea of getting the paintwork tidied up for a while, but decided that while I was taking care of bits that needed doing on a car I may as well go the whole hog and get it done before summer arrived. I popped over to see the guys at Autowerx in Milton Keynes to see if they could spruce things up.
Master of mad renders Khyzyl Saleem was there at the time picking up his freshly painted RX-7, which gave me a chance to eye up their handy work before committing.
The RS4’s front wings and bonnet are aluminium, and it’s not uncommon that the odd stone-chip can cause the paint to oxidise and bubble up. Both of my front wings had also been painted poorly in the past, and were suffering from this. But half of the issue when eyeing up having paintwork done is knowing when and where to stop. I was adamant that I didn’t want the entire front end respraying, despite it having a few stone-chips, as making the car ‘too nice’ might stop me from driving it like I love to, and using it for its intended purpose – as a daft but sensible daily driver.
We made the call for Autowerx to make good the front wings, to roll back the arch lips for extra clearance (the 275-wide tyres I stepped up to have scrubbed once or twice on big compressions) and repaint them, as well as replace a door blade that had lifted slightly.
A speedy turnaround and a couple of days later I was back to collect the car. While they had it, I asked them to refurbish the mirrors too, returning them to their OEM matte silver from the gloss black they’d been painted by a previous owner.
All in all I’m really happy with the work they’ve done – they’ve matched the paint perfectly, blending the front wings back into the doors, and the silver mirrors are a welcome sight, especially given the next part…Went Black, Came Back
I’ve hated the black OEM wheels with a passion since buying the car. In fact, if you go back through my previous updates you’ll notice that slowly, bit by bit, I’ve been returning small parts of the car that should be silver back from black or carbon.
I searched everywhere for an aftermarket wheel design that complemented the RS4’s stock lines and, despite struggling between contacting companies that didn’t seemingly want to sell me any wheels, and then finding fitments that would both sit right in the arches and clear the RS4’s eight-pot Gallardo-parts-bin front brakes, I was left with relatively little choice that I actually liked the look of.
So I stuck with OEM. Am I boring? Maybe. Does it work? Definitely.
I lucked across a set of OEM 19×9-inch +29 Audi Le Mans wheels for sale, already in silver (complete with winter tyres), so promptly bought them and swapped them with my OEM black set, which I’ll save for winter. I’ve fitted them as they are for now, but in the next few weeks I plan to send them (or the black set more likely) off for a fresh refurb.
This has made the biggest visual change to the car since I’ve owned it in my opinion – the silver looks spot on against the red, and combined with the slightly lower stance the car now has a nice, subtle OEM+ look to it.
The silver wheels seem to fill the arches better, although I might just lower it a tiny bit more now – I’ve not decided yet.
The car is now in a place where I like how it looks and like how it drives. Pretty much every major suspension component has been upgraded or renewed, and I’ve pretty much gone as far with engine tweaks as I can without getting into the realms of forced induction, which is not a route I want to go down with this car.
The next job is to make it sound a bit better. The plan is to replace the stock exhaust centre box with a custom X-pipe, and remove the pre-cats in the downpipes.
This will require another remap to clear any emission fault codes, but will free up a bit of extra torque and will make the car sound pretty good too.
Another update, complete with videos to follow once it’s done…