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I have a 2004 Allroad 4.2 with 70k miles. First time I noticed a problem was last August after a 9 hour drive. The carpet under the passenger seat was soaking wet. I dried it out and had the dealer look at it and they couldn't find a problem but did note in the repair order that all the drains (A/C, battery and sunroof) were clear.

This May I took another long drive and had the same problem with water under the passenger seat but I didn't catch it in time and it fried the Transmission Control Module (TCM). That cost a whopping $2,500 to replace!

I called Audi USA to explain the problem and request Audi to take responsibility for the problem because I, like many others here, think this is a design fault. Audi customer care politely explained that the water problem was due to "outside influences" and they would not cover it. She went on the tell me that Page 238 (it's actually P277 in my manual) of the owners manual explains the maintenance procedures to avoid this problem, and I quote:

"Battery Compartment
Remove leaves from the plenum panel in front of the windshield under the engine hood. This prevents the water drain holes from becoming blocked, and it prevents debris from entering the vehicle interior through the heating and ventilation ducts."

That's it! That's the section in the manual Audi is hanging their hat on that they have adequately notified their customers on maintaining the drains. It says nothing about how to check if the drain is blocked, nor how to actually clean them out nor what happens if they do get blocked. I just got back from the dealer where they showed me the approximate location of the drains while the car was up on a lift. As it turns out I don't have a hydraulic car lift in my garage so I would be hard pressed to actually get to the drains to clean them. Besides that, I don't think when you buy a $60k car that's something you need to do and I've never had to do it for any other cars I have owned. The service technicians said this drain blockage is a common problem and they even wonder why Audi doesn't fix the problem.

One useful thing that the service tech told me was that there is a rubber plug with a small hole at the end of the drain from the battery compartment. It's supposed to stop debris from getting up into the drain pipe (??? how is debris supposed to go up???) and as water flows down it's supposed to open up to allow the water out. Apparently this is a major cause of the blockage and my service tech said he takes the plugs out of the cars he services. This may help some of the flooding problems.

The reason for this rambling reply is to let others know in detail what happens and how Audi is dealing with this situation. It's great that Allroadster04 was able to get Audi to pay for the repair, so it shows that with some serious prodding they may step up to the plate and take responsibility for a crappy design. I'm going to follow Allroadster04 steps and see where that takes me and I'll let you all know how it goes. Cdotcom, let us know how it works out for you. Regards to all.
 

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Hey all. Here's a follow up to my previous posting. I owe Allroadster04 a big "thanks mate".

I followed his advice in calling Audi Customer Care again and today I received a check from Audi reimbursing me for the TCM replacement. I also spoke to my service manager and he was surprised that I was able to get Audi to take responsibility for what he thought was a terrible design. Corporate Audi also told him to call them immediately when the next car comes in with a blown TCM due to flooding. It sounds like Audi might be more proactive in handling this problem.

Basically I outlined the following points in my second call to Customer Care:

1. I had a flooding problem less than a year before and the service manager said all the drains were clear at that time so where did the water come from. If the problem happened so quickly after that, it's unacceptable. How often do these need to be maintained?
2. I had the dealer show me where the drains were and whether it was possible for me to get to them and clean them out. Since they could only show them to me on a lift, it was not acceptable for Audi to expect me to have access to a lift to check them out.
3. Even though the mechanic showed me the approximate locations where the drains came out, it wasn't even possible to get to them without removing bits under the car. Again, not a maintenance procedure an owner should have to do.
4. To clean the battery drain out on top you would need to remove the battery and you might not even see the drain because of a brace in that location. Does Audi really think all owners are going to be able to remove the battery to see if there is a clogged drain? Does Audi want owners to be attempting that?
5. The manual doesn't tell you that you have to check the drains regularly. How are we supposed to know the drain is clogged? How are we supposed to know that the backup drainage path is the passenger seat area! A better design might be to dump the water under the engine area if the drain is clogged instead of into the car...
6. The problem I had was linked to the A/C drain. The mechanic couldn't show me how to get to that one and clean it out. I asked them to explain that one to me.
7. I told Audi that I keep my cars spotless, just like my other cars and none of them have flooding problems. Even my previous american cars didn't flood!
8. I mentioned that all the mechanics I spoke to at my dealer said they see this problem all the time and are amazed that Audi hasn't come up with a fix. One mechanic said he takes out the plug at the end of one of the drains because that helps the problem. WHy is that plug there anyway and why haven't Audi put out a bulletin to fix these problems before they flood the cars.
9. Lastly I threatened to take them to small claims court to recover the costs.

Once I got all this off my chest, they said they would get back to me within two days. THey did call two days later and said they would reimburse me.

Hopefully this will help others that have this problem and you can get Audi to pay for their lousy design.
 
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