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26 June 2007

Compressor Broken AGAIN

Guess what broke again?

Let's restart the clock. Yesterday was DAY 1 of my A/C compressor failure .... AGAIN. Only 325 miles since I picked up the car from the last one. I was going down a street when the battery light came on, belt squealed & smoked.... and the engine died. Tried to restart but it behaved like it had a dead battery with extremely slow and laborious turnover, then the starter wouldn't turn it over at all. Waited a minute, tried it again while I was trying to figure out WTF was going on, then it cranked normally. It idled for a few seconds, I smelled the belt getting hot and the engine died suddenly (like when you stall it). Kept trying and it finally cranked normally, there was a rattling sound and a metallic *ping* then it idled like it should. No cool air coming out of the vents. Checked it with fan all the way up and temp set to 'LO', nothing but ambient-temperature air. The starting problem was symptomatic of the compressor seizing and putting enough drag on the engine to bog it down.

The car is drivable, but I don't trust it. I assume the A/C compressor is toast.

I believe that one of the following happened:

  • 1. A Denso (new brand) compressor was installed, and failed of it's own accord (HIGHLY UNLIKELY, and I don't believe this for a second)

  • 2. A Zexel (original brand) compressor was installed, and failed of it's own accord. The only way this would have happened is if Audi shipped the dealer an obsolete part -OR- if the dealer pulled a compressor off a car on the lot and just lied to me.

  • 3. A Denso compressor was installed and failed due to metallic debris being in the system even after the dealer flushed it.

  • 4. A Denso compressor was installed, and due to the dealer's improper procedure (which was described to me) there was insufficient oil in the system and it failed.

In the absence of other evidence, I believe that 3 and/or 4 is the cause. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I was once AGAIN broken down on the side of the road in my A3, and I have no cool air. If it had decided to stall while I was making a left turn onto a highway where I frequently do, it could have been fatal.


21 June 2007

Day 42: Got the car back

It's a rolling disaster.

Got a voicemail today that the car was ready, and had been double-checked to see that it was operating within specs. I went to the dealer, where everyone was overly nice. I reviewed the paperwork, signed, turned in the loaner key, did a walk-around inspection of my car, and left.

Unfortunately, I missed a couple of things in my walk-around.

The first I noticed when I got out of the car at my next stop. At first it appeared to be a bit of dirt on the bumper (I specifically left DO NOT WASH instructions, which the service person had written in large print on the work order. In particular, I said clearly that I did NOT want ANY type of tyre dressing applied, since they had done it before when I didn't expect it.) Upon closer inspection, there is a scuff and scratch all the way through the paint on the left rear bumper. No, that will not '...buff right out...' as the saying goes.

The second thing I noticed later in the evening when I had the lights on and got out to open the garage door...

One of these things is not like the other.....

Holy Not-Connected Bulb, Batman!

They had to remove the bumper cover at some point, and clearly neglected to plug in the passenger-side sidemarker bulb.

Furthermore, the engine compartment is filthy. From talking to the dealer on that day, oh so long ago, when I dropped it off, they had said that they would not clean up the melted rubber residue from the broken belt. OK, I expected that. On the other hand, the coolant stains and the fluorescent green dye stains from testing the A/C are just absolutely uncalled-for. Seriously - why would you go back to any shop that did sloppy, dirty work and couldn't be bothered to even wipe up afterwards?

The third thing I noticed was when I turned on the radio and was assaulted with overbearing, distorted bass. I thought 'Wow, this sounds like crap!', so I checked my audio setting (the 'TONE' button on the Concert II radio). My preferred settings are Bass +1, Mid +3, Treble +5. What I found was Bass +6, Mid 0, Treble +6. Seriously, when you're working on my car, LEAVE THE RADIO ALONE!!!

Remember how they weren't supposed to wash my car, or put any kind of shiny crap on the tyres? Well, what is this? On all 4 wheels?!?

Further investigation uncovered yet more nasty surprises:

If they can't pay attention to what's in their own TSBs, written on their own work orders, or at least clean up after their self-created mess, how can I trust that they did anything at all right?

To recap:

  • 42 days

  • Only had a loaner for the last 9 of those days

  • Scratch on bumper

  • Sidemarker light bulb not plugged in

  • Radio settings screwed with

  • Unwanted crap on tyres that I have to spend my time to scrub off, plus the brake dust that it attracts

  • Engine compartment filthy

  • Broken engine-cover mounting peg

  • Pen left on the intake manifold (seriously - you've gotta be kidding...)

So, what kind of rating do you think I will be giving the service department?


The Saga Continues....

These are some updates that I did not post here already, so I'm just catching up after-the-fact.

11 June:

I called (they never called me) and was told that the A/C compressor had been installed, but did not solve the problem, and they are working by phone and email with the 'engineers' on the 'tech line' to 'figure it out'.

I'm dumbfounded.

WHAT PROBLEM?!? You mean the defective compressor problem wasn't solved by putting on a non-defective compressor?

I am SO pissed off.

Oh, oh, and get this..... as of November 2005 Audi apparently discontinued the practice of providing transportation during warranty repairs. Doesn't matter that I bought my car in October 2005, they changed the policy for everyone.

12 June:

Day 33. Today brought interesting new developments.

I finally got someone at the dealer to tell me the truth about what is going on now, and what the current delay is. First off, they claimed my A/C compressor didn't just 'fail', it was almost completely split in two. That explains why the 'smoke' cloud when the failure happened was so great - in addition to the friction-melted belt smoking, it was the R-134 escaping the system through the big gaping hole in the compressor. So they put the new compressor on, recharged the system, and now it doesn't cool at all. The Audi tech line told them to flush the whole system because something got into the system and is blocking refrigerant flow. Only thing is, nobody knows how to (or has the equipment to) do a full A/C flush. They called in outside A/C techs, no luck. Now they're saying the next step is to replace the WHOLE A/C SYSTEM - condenser, dryer, all lines, evaporator, expansion valve, including all parts behind the dash.

Yesterday I had said "...you WILL have a loaner for me by tomorrow...", and a loaner I now have. It's a B7 A4. While I was there picking up my loaner I had them bring my car inside out of the rain so I could get my EZPass (toll tag) and some other items that I had left in it. The left side fuse panel was removed and laying in the passenger seat, and an owner's manual (not mine) was open to the fuse diagram.... don't they have shop manuals for that? Furthermore, the right side of my hood was out of alignment where they had shut the hood on two plastic caps from the A/C hose that were laying inside the fender channel. Even though the A/C was set to 'LO', it was blowing *hot* air.

18 June:

Day 39. They're ordering an "A/C flush kit".

Someone has provided me with a copy of Audi TSB 87-07-02 ("87 07 02 Jan. 30, 2007, 2012682/2. Supersedes Technical Service Bulletin Group 87 number 06-02 dated July 31, 2006 due to new replacement part and part number.") It states "Only 2006 and 2007 A3 models equipped with Zexel air conditioning compressors with the part number 1K0 820 803N are affected." I have no idea whether that represents all 2.0T cars built, only some of them, only A3s (not A4s, Passats, or GTI/GLI), or what. The TSB also states that the replacement compressors are Denso, not Zexel, which makes me feel better.

This totally shows how badly they dropped the ball: Page 2 step 4 states...
4. In both cases, always flush the refrigerant circuit according to the procedure in ElsaWeb - see Repair Manual
Refrigerant R 134a-Servicing

So, simply reading the instructions ahead of time would have clarified the need to flush it - no need to make me wait additional time while they figure out that they need a 'flush kit'. Also, step 3 states
Carefully inspect system for the presence of any metal debris.


05 June 2007

Update: Day 26....

The dealer called this morning and said that the compressor had arrived, but they were waiting on some O-rings. Still no firm date on when the repair will be finished. Today makes 26 days in the shop for this repair, + 5 days from the coil failure earlier this year, for a total of 31 days out-of-service and counting.....


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