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Allroad 2006 sudden loss of all gears


Vagfan
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Hi everyone, 10 minutes ago driving at 50 mph suddenly a load of lights come up on dash and gear indicator goes to white letters on orange background (PRNDS) and drive is gone!! Alternator light been occasionally coming on and when we pulled out of the supermarket carport the engine only just started. Are these related? Alternator light is now off but still no drive forward or reverse, ESP and antilock warning came on together. Suggestions welcome.....

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Hi folks in audiland....now it gets plain weird. Having phoned the breakdown service and while on the line to them (I had left the engine running for about 20 minutes by this time.....no battery warning light on, curiouser and curiouser!) I turned off the engine. As you do when you think you've got nothing to lose, I started the engine. Lo and behold the thucking fing fired up immediately, no warning lights at all and......wait for it......the !Removed! gearbox sprang into life as if NOTHING  had happened and the car obediently drove home without a) a care in the world and b) no !Removed! alternator warning light. So we made it back, checked the output of the alternator and bugga me, 13.72 to 13.81 volts. I had checked the battery terminals and I'm at a loss. The parking place we pulled into had, shall we say, a few large potholes in it and in.my hurry to get off the road, I did drop nsf wheel right in one of them with a thud that could probably be heard a quarter mile away. Sticky belt tensioner? sorted the old fashioned way ? who knows. I would still love to hear any feedback on this, many thanks in advance. 

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Hello Ian,

This may have a lot to do with battery voltage and/or alternator issue.
13.7/13.8 volts out of the alternator seems a little low in my book - I would be expecting 14+ volts. 
Have you tried charging the battery overnight, and have you had the battery efficiency checked? How old is it? 
These would be my starting points in an investigation, before moving on to other possibilities. 
Perhaps you could let us know how you get on Ian -  hopefully with a few less [Removeds]! 
Kind regards,

Gareth. 

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Allo Magnet, sorry about the removed, I thought my original spelling would not offend and be amusing, my bad:whistling1:. Yes when I checked the voltage at the remote terminals under the bonnet it was getting dark and I may have misread the actual readings but when it was behaving itself I never saw 14+volts before. The alternator was a VAG genuine part (I was told...) and was fitted in August 2018 along with a genuine battery by GCS engineering near Horsham. I'm going to put the battery on charge tomorrow morning and give it 24 hours before using the car again. The alternator warning light has been coming on and off for a few weeks now but very intermittently and the car has always started and ran with no issues. The light was erratic, coming and going around roundabouts, slip roads and bumps in the road. This afternoon when the gears went for a teabreak, I left the engine running while consulting the handbook and phoning the rac and when I switched the engine off and tried restarting all lights disappeared and the car drove normally. I'm a bit confused as I understand the tensioning is automatic and of course the belt was new with the alternator and battery. I presume they did it properly, they certainly charged enough!! Ps, when driving with the lights and stuff on the warning light was not on as I recall, don't take that as gospel as night driving in this car is not fun, main beam lights up the treetops and not much else and my concentration is, obviously, on not having a mishap. Hope this explains. 

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Hello Ian,

Many thanks for the additional detail.

It sounds as if you have had indications that the alternator is not behaving itself for a while, and your readings would suggest that may be right. 
‘Genuine VAG (so I was told)..’ might be worth some investigating.

Battery by GCS - what make did they supply Ian? 
If this were mine, I would be charging your battery as you suggest, and then investing in an hour’s time of a trusted local electrician, to thoroughly check and test the charging system and all connections - as well as the efficiency of the battery.

Kind regards,

Gareth. 

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Well, charging the battery will by a few pennies, the electrician will have to wait until the pension goes in. I'll do as thorough an investigation as possible tomorrow and get some accurate numbers to post back here. Apart from this issue, the old bus has been reliable,  not counting the osr suspension bag two years back which I did myself and my brother reset the system with vcds or whatever it's called. Pity he's stuck in Oz at the mo, sorting out their vaccine tracing program or I'd get him to sort it out......I bought it from him, hence he has the system. Thanks for your views. Ian 

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Well hi audifolks, update time. So I put the battery on charge in situ and left it charging via an old Halford's 'classic' charger for about 34 hours. Disconnected the charger, left it for an hour and got a reading of 12.79 v. Hmm. Today I started the car (started just fine) and drove 10 miles to do the tesco shop. All good, no warning lights, fine. Came out, started the car, still all fine, pulled out and halfway round the roundabout the battery light comes on.... turn off the roundabout and it goes off. Drove home and on every hardish right hander.....the flippin' light comes on and every lefthander it goes off. Theory number 1, a bad plate in the battery causing a short? and the charging system gets unhappy. Theory 2 there's a loose connection somewhere and it shows up on righthand bends and corrects on lefthanders. I'd appreciate the panel's thoughts at this stage. The wife won't get in it because of this, worried about being stranded for hours waiting for recovery. Quite frankly, last evening watching the lads on salvage rebuild uk on YouTube, they have a Toyota rav 4 for 1100 Smackeroonis and I'm bluddy tempted,  for a peaceful home life. Over to you chaps.

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As you are probably aware 12.7v is a fully charged battery, particularly as you have left it for an hour before checking and it has held that level while being subject to the patristic drain all modern cars have, so that would suggest your battery is fine.  A 13.8v charge is about right for a holding or float charge, a bit higher for fast charge. Assuming this is a lead acid battery and not an AGM or gel as they have very different charging characteristics with initial charging taking place at around 14.4v and slowly dropping.

If a reasonable quality and fairly new battery then a cell shorting is very unlikely, it would of course drop your voltage below 10v which would potentially cause havoc in the electrics but it would have to be a manufacturing fault or mechanical damage or possibly severe overcharging causing a hotspot ( dropping a wheel in a pot hole wouldn’t be sufficient for mechanical damage unless the battery wasn’t strapped in). 

Interesting observation of the light coming on and going off according to direction of travel and a loose joint would potentially account for it but I wouldn’t of thought it would be particularly consistent, far more random as suggested in your earlier post. Certainly worth looking for loose cables around the alternator, particularly earths and also checking auxiliary belt tension as slippage will cause temporary reduction in alternator output and the forces generated when cornering could be enough to allow a little slippage. 

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Many thanks for your feedback. I should mention that as I backed onto the drive, the light came on again and went off briefly when I revved the engine to 2500, then came on again.  I have just been out to check alternator output, result as follows; with car off, the battery voltage was 12.49v, upon starting the voltage has dropped to 12.28v. Either a bad connection between the alternator and battery....or the just over 3 year old alternator is bad? It would seem that despit a 22 mile drive the battery isn't getting a charge. I'm at a loss to explain what the problem is, but I'm going to put the battery on charge again overnight and see what happens in the morning. 

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Ps, just discovered the battery charger had a bad connection to the clip, so just how much charge the battery got last time is a discussion point, now repaired and charger shows 1+ a bit amps going in to the battery. Of course having a tandem driveway I had to swap the cars over and when starting the audi the battery light goes off gor about 10 seconds then comes on and stays on (sob). Clucking bell.

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H’mm car should be monitoring battery voltage and keeping it close to 12.7v, the voltage you have measured 12.28v  is close to flat ( 12v is considered fully discharged and if it reaches that it is pretty much goosed!). If that is with the engine running at would certainly suggest something wrong in the charging circuit. I think yours is a bit early for a smart alternator so not a lot in the charging system, so as you suggest, wiring or alternator, I always try and start with cheapest first, so look for wiring problems, tension on belts, then pop your battery down to Halfords to get them to do a check, that usually means putting a high (current) load across the terminals and seeing what happens to the voltage. I’m old school and used to hook up a couple of headlight bulbs and watch the voltage drop 😁.

If the battery checks out OK then you can get a voltmeter which plugs into your cigarette lighter which allow you to visualise what is happening with the charging systems. 
Always difficult to remote fault find but gut feeling would be alternator but plenty of things to check before then.
 

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Stagn8, thanks for your reply. I'm definitely suspicious of the alternator but going to check connections first as you say, the going round corners light on scenario seems to be indicative of something. I understand that the 2.7 litre has automatic tensioning on the drive belt but stand to be corrected on this. Just to recap, the alternator, battery and drive belt were changed August 18 and I'd not expect to be renewing any of them (bet? maybe) this soon. The alternator was the original from new and apart from a  (audibly) failing bearing, was charging like a good 'un at 12 years old, likewise the battery was perhaps the cars second but may have been original. I know that the garage that did the replacements August 18 will almost certainly not be interested in a goodwill rectification of a 3 year old alternator that they replaced, despite the original lasting 12 years and I'll just have to swallow the cost but it doesn't seem right. Fair enough if I was driving like a loony and thrashing the nuts off it all the time but the car has an easy life with me as I like things to last and drive with a degree of mechanical sympathy. Oh well, lets see how the battery is in the morning, it'll have had 18 hours on charge at least by then. Updates as they come in, stay tuned.....

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Hello Ian,

A couple of points to add/ reinforce already asked. 
Can you confirm your battery is not an AGM type? I wouldn’t think it is - as Keith suggest- due to the age of the car, but worth double checking. Bad news if it is indeed an AGM since your ‘classic’ ( non intelligent) charger will have done it a power of no good! 
What make is this battery and how long has it been on the car?
The replacement Varta 5 year guaranteed battery on our same age car is now showing it’s age, and needs renewing before the cold weather. This will give you some comparison. 
Have you remeasured the output of your (Chinese?) alternator? This is essential task. 
My feeling is that this is where your issue rests, and since you mention bearing wear, then it’s not out of the question that this unit has passed it’s sell by date.

Certainly check all connections. 
Apologies for an alternative opinion Keith, but vehicles don’t normally have parasitic drains - unless something is wrong ( and Ian doesn’t appear to have checked that yet). The only draw there should be on the battery should be a consumption of c50mA drawn by the alarm system - once the vehicle has fully ‘shut down’. That would not be termed parasitic. 
Kind regards,

Gareth. 

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Battery appears to be a standard lead acid and was replaced August 2018, made by Exide. Just before putting it on charge I measured a voltage of 12.3v give or take 0.03v, so obviously it had not been getting much from the alternator, also fitted in August 2018 and the garage (GCS Engineering of Horsham) assured me that it was audi spec. If they did fit a Chinese part - while charging me Audi prices -  I am going to open a brand new can of Asswhup when I  visit them. The bearing issue was with the original alternator that they replaced, NOT the one they put on 3 years ago and quite frankly, if it is an audi spec part, I'd expect more than 38 months of reliable service out of such an expensive item, hell, they charged me £200 (presumably plus vat) for the battery and I can't find the bill to see what the alternator cost but I remember the bill for alternator, battery and headlamp module repair with labour and vat came to just shy of £2100. Hope this answers your questions. 

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I've got the missus looking for the invoice, I may be incorrect about the battery price, but the whole bill came to over 2k,when we find the invoice I'll post the details. With the purchase price it cost us over 5k to get the car roadworthy. I've just remembered they did an oil service in that price, shouldn't have been too much,  I've done three oil services since then for a cost of about £65 a time, but I don't pay myself for doing it..... will come back with invoice details as soon as we have them. Regards. 

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Right,  involve found, salient points as follows: alternator (make not specified) £249.60, battery £145.90, belt £36.27, parts (tensioner I presume) £54.55,

bcm repair (headlight module?) £189.98 oil filter £12.03, oil £102.25, sump plug £2.89.  All prices excl vat plus other sundries, labour £870. Total

£2085.91. So no idea who made the alternator. I'm reminded of Harry Harry Enfield's " I saw you coming". All I can say is that while the charges were eye watering, the work was shall we say, not up to what I would have expected ie when I drove the car a couple of evenings later the dip beams were illuminating the treetops and I  had to tailgate a truck to get home on sidelights. They wanted to charge me an hour's labour to correct this until the wife had a word with them and they reluctantly sorted the problem FOC. I  am willing to give them another chance as I think the gearbox will need a lubrication service before I sell it......but they'll only get that job if they sort out the alternator problem either FOC or at parts cost only. Views welcome.....

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Many thanks Ian,

Let’s be realistic here - why would you expect them to sort out a problem with the alternator FOC when the alternator is 3? years old? Bit of a tall order is that. 
I cannot comment on parts and labour costs in your area, but it would not be unreasonable to suggest that you didn’t get off lightly. 
I now wonder why you would want to return there, in preference to getting a trusted local auto electrician to check your alternator, battery and possible parasitic drain, and give you a reasonable estimate for repair. 
Possible gearbox issue? Put that in the pending file until you get the above checked.

Kind regards,

Gareth. 

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Ok, a point of view.....one that in this case I cannot agree with. They charged me incl vat £299.52 for an alternator. You'ld pay £92.16 per year for the privilege of having electrical power in your car? Really, cos I won't. At that price, it just has to be a genuine Audi  part and the damn thing should last at least 2 if not 3 times that long, fer chrissake I don't  even turn the flippin headlights on until legally required. The reason I mentioned the g/box lube service is because I would assume that a future buyer would want it done on a car of this age, but as I said , I want the charging issue sorted first. Oh, the labour charge 3 years ago was £75 p.h. plus vat, so while they have a good rep in the locality, if they want the lucrative (no doubt!) job of transmission service,  they're gonna have to explain the alternator issue to my satisfaction - not in my opinion, an unreasonable requirement. I  think it's up to them to prove they care about their customers and their reputation. As for auto electricians round here they seem to be a bit thin on the ground, they don't answer the phone, they don't get back to me and they never have time available this side of xmas (regardless of the time of year :-)  ). Ho hum.

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16 hours ago, Magnet said:

Apologies for an alternative opinion Keith, but vehicles don’t normally have parasitic drains - unless something is wrong ( and Ian doesn’t appear to have checked that yet). The only draw there should be on the battery should be a consumption of c50mA drawn by the alarm system - once the vehicle has fully ‘shut down’. That would not be termed parasitic

No need to apologise at all Gareth as you are correct, just using the word as a catch all for any potential or actual battery drain, including of course all the monitoring systems. 
Ian, as Gareth suggests need to know alternator output, both when battery is fully charged and when under load, i.e, headlights on, heated screen on, heating on etc. With what you have described you could have a dodgy cell taking the battery down which can potentially take your alternator down as it is under maximum duress, or it could be your alternator only putting out a low or intermittent current which will take your battery out if it drops much below 12.1v. 
 

 

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Most kind. Speaking of apologies, my wife has just read my last post and said " yes you've got your point across but.....sounds a bit defensively confrontational, remember that non autistic people may not read things in your fashion ". Appellogies all round. Okay, just taken the battery off charge and the charger worked this time, as the voltage was 13.17v, so better but......upon starting the engine the alternator light goes off for about 10 seconds....and then comes back on and stays on regardless. Fooked? Am I  being unreasonable to expect a 300 quid alternator to last 5-10 years? The original ( I checked with the previous owner my bruv) and he said it was the original when he bought the car and had not changed it. Grrrr. I'm going to SORN it on Tuesday and save myself the best part of £60 per month while I have a chat with GCS engineering about this......actually I think I will let the missus talk to them, she gets better results than I do, thanks Asperger's  :-(    I hate talking to these people,  they make me feel like it's my fault..... 

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Hi Ian, I had read you as a frustrated Audi owner as I would be in your position and absolutely no offence taken at any of your posts 😀.

I think you are being entirely reasonable in believing  your alternator should last more than three years, my sons BM is 13 years old and at a quarter million miles and alternator is still working as it should. Mechanically there is not much happening in an alternator but the diodes which convert the electricity produced into DC voltage and control output are subject to failure. My guess would be that you have a failed diode pack on the alternator, which would also suggest a less than reputable make of alternator as diodes are ‘solid state’ (fully electrical with no moving parts) and shouldn’t fail if used within normal parameters, which you have already said applies to your driving style. Generally a good electrical specialist should be able to rebuild your alternator with a new diode and service pack at much less cost than an Audi replacement. Unfortunately they usually require you to present the alternator to them but they can and should test it before doing any work.

So, your plan sounds a good one and perhaps pursue the line of having the battery and alternator tested independently.

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Actually thinking about it, it could in fact be as simple as the brushes in the alternator, which could be affected by the cars movement if they have broken up. Didn’t think of it earlier because they shouldn’t normally cause a problem but as there is suspicion around the quality of the supplied alternator then brushes that have broken up becomes a likely culprit.

Edited by Stagn8
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