There, I Fixed it – #ITSAMANUAL

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How I ended up with a 6MT SWAPPED B8 A4 Avant

Une Audi? Jamais!

My very first introduction to Audi was awe laced with disgust. WRC Group B and Paris-Dakar Rally obsession was at its zenith while I was growing up in France during the 80s. F1 races were appointment television, Paris-Dakar was dominated by Peugeot, television in France was saturated with all manner of car racing. My teenage years were spent lusting after the 205 & 405 Turbo16 and the Renault 5 Turbo. Heroes like Prost, Ickx, Vatanen, Salonen and Kankhunen dominated the news. Jean Todt was a smug bastard back then too, but he was *our* smug bastard.

It still feels to this day like those were car racing’s glory years.


Audi was the sworn enemy.

Even with Michele Mouton at the wheel.

The 90s

I moved to the US in 1990 and left behind most of the Euro brands. Even Peugeot shutdown and left the US in 1991.

The first US car I drove was a 1984 Buick SkyHawk 5MT, gifted to my better half by her grandfather. After driving that thing into the ground and literally pushing it the last 200’ to the dealer as a ‘trade-in’, we owned a couple of Geo vehicles, all manuals.

The last Geo was traded in towards a fantastic Nissan SE-R (manual, no AC, wrecked it twice), followed by a steady stream of Nissan minivan and sedan products as our family grew. Along the way, my commute to the Boston area was making automatic transmissions a must-have. My last Nissan was a 6MT dark blue (‘Majestic’ I think) on grey 5th Gen Maxima, before the godawful Gen 6+ redesigns.

The aughts

It was also around this time that my wife rightfully declared she had driven her very last minivan. 2 Nissan Quests and one Mercury Villager. She is a saint, yes.

We did some research and settled on the idea of an AWD wagon for its practicality and for the New England weather. At the time the Subaru Outback was a solid option and we purchased one eagerly. We loved it. We took it skiing. We put our kids & dogs in it. It was great in the snow. It was sadly, an automatic. The seats weren’t great for long distances either. Nonetheless, the format worked for us.

Meanwhile, my Maxima couldn’t drive up any hill in winter to save its life and was also rapidly approaching 100k.

Time to look at options.

SNWDRFT (v1.0)

Through our mutual friend Derek, my wife and I were reacquainted with Audi and set off to look at cars during one of his brief visits from LA.

He *really* wanted me to look at allroads, which to the many people who know him comes as no surprise. We even drove a Kermit green/green one.

I’m not convinced he’s yet forgiven me for making him ride along in an Acura RL, but it was 2006 and I really wanted something a bit more modern than the C5. I also wanted Bluetooth and GPS without having to retrofit RNS-E in Kermit.

Eventually we found a Stratos Blue C6 3.2 sedan with 5k miles on the odometer with a nice price and I ended up with it. Yes, it was an automatic, but it was absolutely the best thing I’d driven in a long time. Fantastic interior, comfortable seats and very pleasant handling.

Snwdrft was born.

(the silver mirror caps were good for at least +5HP)

from c to B

Not long after, the Outback was traded in for a brand-new 2007 B7 6MT Avant with RNS-E. It was somewhat of a unique combination as it turned out and had been hard to find, but I really wanted the whole package for my wife even if she wouldn’t end up needing the BT and GPS in her line of work until later.

We enjoyed this car very much, even if the front was cramped for my legs. That center console is/was very wide and my right leg was never comfortable. It was a blast to drive though.

My wife loved this car but the miles accumulated quickly due to her work travel.

In the summer of 2011, the 2.0t version of the Q5 had been arriving and my wife was very much eager for an SUV. She missed the ride height of the minivans, but wanted to keep AWD along with the driving feel. She didn’t want a “huge” 4L Q7, having tested a few loaners over the years.

We traded in the B7 avant for the only 2.0t within a 500-mile radius. She had really wanted to stay with Quartz Grey, but this was the only color around.

A month later, it was a tricycle:

A driver had crossed over into my wife’s lane and hit her almost head on. The car did a fantastic job protecting her. Not a single pane of glass broke.

B8 all the things

The very next week we went into our local Audi dealer and ordered her the Quartz Grey one she had wanted in the first place. We had expected to wait 3 months, but with Derek’s help we steered the dealer to one already in transit from Europe, and they arranged a swap.

I could only find a picture of the replacement Q5 from another accident…#karma

While we were shopping for her replacement Q5, we did drive the new B8 Avant, thinking she might like that instead of waiting. In the process, I discovered a much more physically pleasant front cabin and a car that even in stock form seemed to perform better than my aging C6.

Ended up pulling the trigger on a 1yr-old CPO B8 A4 Avant S-line with every option possible installed. Original sticker was well into S4 territory. The thing has ACC, ADS, B&O, rear airbags and sunshades, etc.

Not long after, it had APR Stage 1 and made some fun turns at NHIS 🙂

It’s pretty great in the snow

Cleans up nice, here with S5 wheels from Roz’ OG V8 S5.

Somewhere around 2014, the B8 2.0t’s now legendary oil consumption reared its ugly head but I was long past CPO mileage and TD1-flagged. I had been APR stage 2 for some time.

In early 2015 it developed a nagging CYL #2 misfire CEL we couldn’t get rid of, so I took the plunge that summer and paid to do a fair bit of engine overhaul: new pistons + rings, timing chain tensioner, chain and guides, rear main seal, as well as a walnut media carbon clean.

Unfortunately, the CYL #2 misfire CEL came back. Although the equally legendary 2.0t TCT hadn’t catastrophically failed, we suspect it had damaged something in the head. I was able to locate a full head with 30k miles on it and had that installed on the car in early 2016. CYL #2 misfire CEL gone for good.

Late summer 2016, I came across a used APR K04 and had that sent out to g-pop to refurb and upgrade with a 360deg thrust bearing. Had it installed in the car in December, to coincide with the APR EOY sale to get the software upgrade.

There’s plenty of K04 feedback out there so I won’t go into a ton of detail, but I will say that the upgrade is VERY fulfilling. It extends the happy zone all the way to red line.

Although the car had become a very respectable performer and fun to drive, there was still something missing…

During the summer, I also made a connection with John, another forum user who lived just up the road from me and shared my desire to correct AoA’s glaring mistake in not offering the Avant in 6MT form. We worked together on a lot of coding research as he prepared for a significant transplant utilizing a B8.5 donor car.

My path was going to be a bit more granular. I was determined to re-use as much of the car as I could and set out to research every piece along the way. Transmission, Diff, brackets, braces, drive shaft, axles? What could I keep? All-in-all, I would say there was easily 100hrs of research pouring over parts websites, ebay and spending hours of quality time with VCDS.

After gathering all the parts over the fall and winter, March 2017 came around and I took the plunge with my go-to local favorite Audi tech: Mark @ East Coast European in Greenland, NH.

We didn’t have a process, procedure or road map really. John’s car was done, but there was very little documentation available from the shop that did the work in NJ. However, it did prove that it was possible, and all the research said we should succeed. I sent Mark all the coding I knew for sure it would need.

Dropped the car off for a week and under the knife she went.

Very quickly, the offending part had been removed.

There’s one part I definitely couldn’t re-use…

No intention of re-using those either, but note the steering column is supported by the pedal bracket assembly, therefore…

nope, there’s no procedure in the repair manual for this one.

From the engine bay side, ECU box is removed to make room to reach down to where the master clutch cylinder will poke through. We’ll also need to run hydraulics.

Mark’s homework assignment was the wiring diagrams.

Some of the ECU wiring…no thanks

Custom harness completed and attached. One of the goals was to get as close as possible to factory routing & grouping and to use all official repair wire, etc. This would ensure any future Audi tech would be able to work on the car.

Finally, the glorious third pedal makes her entrance. I had basically bought a pedal bracket assembly with the pedals already attached. It did come with a used master clutch cylinder but it was missing the connector to the electronics and gunked up anyway. We replaced with brand new. We also re-used the brake switch, but we ended up having to swap that too as it didn’t come out clean from the old assembly. They’re not really meant to be re-used…

Meanwhile, under the car the differential is swapped. There are many diffs and transmissions in the B8 6MTs, but to be 100% sure you have a good pairing, you want a diff/trans pair that are proven compatible. Some of the diffs are supposedly “close enough” on ratios, but we wanted to be sure. The best way to confirm is to get the source VINs for both and call an Audi dealer. Or get both from the same car.

Front end of the car’s underside, you can see the USP SS clutch line, the shifter assembly, and a missing drive shaft. Said drive shaft needed to be swapped out for 6MT.

Engine looking for a mate. You can see the pass side front axle here. It will stay and be re-used, along with all the others.

Transmission assembled from 3 different donors: 19k OEM flywheel refinished by Southbend, OEM clutch disc and PP from a 2013 A4 with 40k on it but still plenty of meat left, transmission itself with 70k miles from a 2010 A4.

Transmission in the car, supported by a 6MT specific bracket from eBay Estonia. 034 insert of course.

USP SS line run through factory location and connected to fresh new slave cylinder.

Other side of the firewall. You can see the USP SS line connected to the master clutch cylinder. Also present is a new hose going from the pre-existing brake fluid reservoir to the master.

Completed with power from a dedicated 5A fuse and repair wire run to the fuse box, along with a cable to the back of the car for the parking brake module.

Parts that we sourced:

  • Transmission
  • Differential
  • Transmission support bracket / cross member
  • Drive shaft
  • Master clutch cylinder
  • Slave clutch cylinder
  • Brake light switch
  • Throw out bearing

Modules that needed coding:

  • 19 CAN-Gateway
  • 01 Engine
  • 05 Acc/Start Auth
  • 10 Park/Steer Assist
  • 16 Steering wheel
  • 46 Central Conv

So that’s it. This is now essentially a stretch 6MT Audi S3/mk6 Golf R. Not quite as fast as the new S3 & mk7 R, but plenty good enough. The K04 feels amazing with a 6MT: you can leg out the shifts at your whim, downshifts are pleasantly mechanical and the car is much more rewarding to drive.

Michele Mouton? She’s right here, in this S1 shifter.


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