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My 1998 A6 2.8L failed a smog check last week due to a cracked PCV hose, so I replaced the PCV assembly. I decided to replace the hose down to the crankcase as well - since the other hoses were so brittle I thought it could potentially be damaged as well.

Now my car won't start. The first time I turned it on after the repair, it started up normally, but after running for a few seconds it began stuttering and then died. When I tried it again, the stuttering was immediate. Since the third attempt (I was trying things between attempts, like insuring there was gas in the car!) it basically turns, but doesn't start.

The only things I removed for the PCV repair were the coolant reservoir and the large air hose that attaches to the MAF sensor housing. I'm thinking the most likely scenario is that I knocked something loose (possibly behind the engine) while I was getting at the crankcase hose or when I was re-attaching the 90-degree connector underneath the PCV valve. Both these operations were difficult, and I wasn't as careful as I could have been, but I'm not seeing anything obvious from a visual inspection.

There's plenty more wrong with the vehicle, but I'm having trouble connecting these other problems to the more immediate issue of not starting. The A/C fan is intermittent. It burns oil, and I was told this was because the valve cover gaskets were bad. While I was removing the PCV system I discovered that the car had basically been running without one for quite some time (it's only been in my possession for a few months): aside from the crack, the PCV hose connecting to the passenger side valve cover was pretty much completely gummed up, and the 90-degree connector underneath the PCV valve wasn't even attached to the engine! Is it in any way possible that putting on a good PCV system could have somehow made things worse, perhaps by exacerbating the VCG leak? Was the 90-degree connector detached for a reason? Also when I remove the coils there's a significant amount of oil in the spark plug wells, but I'm unsure whether that would keep the car from starting. And if that is the problem, why is it making an appearance now, just after the repair?

I'm not sure I want to sink as much money into it as I'm sure it needs, but I would love to get this car running again, at least for a little while. Any insight or suggestions would be most welcome.
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