Spring Has Sprung, Bitch

Today was a super productive day in the world of Audis and a certain TT we all know and love. I’m on vacation this week, which is reason to rejoice in general, but I actually woke my ass up early (!) and got out the door early (!!) and accomplished some shit before noon (!!!).

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Checking In for the Lulz

I’d like to take a moment to thank the fucking lord that March is almost over. I hate this month, always have and always will. 31 days of trash. Not knowing whether it’s going to be sunny and 50s, or blizzarding and in the teens. Can never trust this month, but it’s almost over. April is upon us, and for that we should celebrate.

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A Journey of a Thousand Steps…

Begins by staring at the road in front of you and debating whether you’re dumb or not.

Narrator: “He was definitely dumb.”

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Yep, That’s The Engine

So a couple months ago, two words that every petrol head fears was in the back of my head.

Head.  Gasket.

Consider me triggered, fam.  For those of you reading this without a single mechanical inclining in your body – the head gasket is a thin piece of metal sandwiched between the block and the head of the engine.  It seals those two important parts of said engine, to prevent stuff from leaking out or between each other.  Simple enough, yeah?  Well, when that thin piece of metal breaks or begins leaking, it’s bad for everyone involved.

Especially one’s mental stability.

Long story short, I did some testing and determined yes, the head gasket in the TT is probably shot.  Smell of coolant outside on cold starts, slow loss of coolant from the reservoir, brownish deposits in the coolant, inability to hold pressure when a vacuum is applied, etc.  I was in denial for a while till I ran a sniff test, which sealed the deal for my psyche.

Air from the coolant reservoir is pulled through a special liquid that reacts to exhaust gases (hydrocarbons, to be exact).  In the presence of exhaust, the liquid changes color from blue to green or yellow.  I ran the test twice and both times the liquid turned bright yellow.  No bueno.

So from there, the decision came down to this:

Do I fucking send it for the next 1.5 years, and hope the leak doesn’t get worse?  Or do I pull the engine, fix the head gasket, and have a fun project for Winter 2018?

Obviously the choice was to pull the engine.  I’ll try to blog the steps taken, with pictures, of the entire process.  There’s no real how-to on the internet for pulling an engine.  It seems daunting when looking at the mess of pipework, vacuum lines, and components, but I’m finding that by focusing on one thing at a time it’s not too bad.

A lot of internet gatekeepers will try to say, “If you need instructions on how to pull the engine, you shouldn’t be pulling the engine.”  I say fuck that, everyone needs to start somewhere.  Prior to doing the timing belt on the TT, I had never done a timing belt before.  Prior to doing the exhaust, I had never replace an exhaust system before.  So fuck the haters, and their inability to help the noobs.  By all means, use these coming posts as a starting point for your engine pull.  It’ll be more than I’ve got currently.

A Storied Past

Over the last few days, I’ve been finally taking care of some work I’ve been meaning to do on the TT.  In particular, doing the front brakes and testing the car’s coolant for exhaust gases (to see if the head gasket has failed).  I figured while I was doing the brakes I’d paint the calipers red to match the powder coated rear calipers that I put on a couple years ago.

It’s been a multi-day project, only because I’m lazy and did one side at a time – waiting a day for the paint to dry for each side.  But while I’ve been waiting, I had the urge to go back through and try to categorize and put all of the work I’ve done over the last three years into a single database of sorts.  A place for me to see the work, see the age of the work, and keep track of the cost and timing of everything.

It’s been a long road thus far, and I’ve done a lot of work.  From more serious work like servicing the timing belt and replacing the soft top, to smaller things like oil changes and car washes.  I dug out the spreadsheet I put together when I first bought the car, where I cross-referenced the CarFax with the actual garages that did the work, and contacted each garage in hopes they could forward me the service records they had for the car.

Some of it was boring same ole same ole:  5K scheduled maintenance.  25K scheduled maintenance.  35K scheduled maintenance.  Etc.  Some of it was intriguing though: Interior trim repaired after 1400 miles.  Clutch/flywheel replaced after 22,000 miles.  A storied past.

It got me really thinking.  The car has nearly 100,000 miles on it now.  That’s nearly four trips around the planet.  I’m the fifth owner of this little black roadster, and I sincerely hope to be its last.  It was first purchased in April of 2004, which makes it over 14 years old at this point.  In April of 2004 I was just finishing up my sophomore year in high school.  I wouldn’t have my driver’s license or my first car for another year and half.

It’s interesting to think about the car’s history before it came into my possession.  I have no idea who the previous owners were, what they did for a living, or how old they were.  Maintenance was clearly lacking from some of them.  It wasn’t modified, but it was driven hard.  Can’t help but think about who left the baton underneath the driver’s seat – why they had it, what they thought when they realized they left it there for me to find.

I wonder about the front-end collision the car was involved in years ago.  Insurance was never involved so I have no idea where the car was worked on, or what was replaced.  But the skid plate is completely gone and the battery box is broken in multiple places.  In fact, a lot of trim is missing from under the hood.  The covers for the battery and the power steering pump in particular.  Where did they go?

It’s fun to think about where the car’s been and what it’s seen.  The work that’s been done over the years, and who has had their hands on it.  The conversations that’ve been had in the cabin.  The abuse it’s endured, the care it’s received.

To some people a car is just a piece of property that gets us from Point A to Point B.  Something remarkably uninteresting and resigned to its job as a utility and nothing more.

But to others, it’s an unfinished book.  A book with pages missing from its earlier chapters, but a book that we’ve taken authorship of nonetheless.  And I just hope that I can make this little TT’s future chapters as interesting as it’s past.