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help with ABS dash lights on A6 I'm considering buying

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help with ABS dash lights on A6 I'm considering buying

 
Old 03-14-2019, 10:45 AM
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Default help with ABS dash lights on A6 I'm considering buying

A repair shop where I had some work done on my car has a 2002 Audi A6 3.0 for sale. It's a car they did some work on, then the customer never came back for it nor paid. So they put a lien on it and are selling it to recoup the repair work cost. Despite the age and mileage, it's really quite nice looking inside and out (they had it detailed of course), and it drives really well. In short, me wants it.

BUT, it has a problem with the ABS. The ABS light is lit yellow, the BRAKE light blinks red, and another light with an exclamation inside a triangle with a counter-clockwise circle/arrow is also yellow. I think that might be traction control, I'm not sure. Photo is below. The brakes seem to work fine, but I didn't try any panic stops. The shop would of course like to sell it as-is, but they acknowledge they're unlikely to find a buyer until they sort out this issue; so far though they say all their techs are so busy they've had no time to investigate it further.

Anyone have a notion of what sorts of problems these lights can indicate? It seems likely all 3 lights are for the same underlying reason, but not certain.

There's also a light indicating something about the headlights, is that headlight auto-leveling? Do I care?

I did search online for help with these dash lights, but none of the references I could find match these lights.

Any advice or insight would be most appreciated.


brake warning lights
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:25 AM
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If there is an ABS warning then the Electronic Stability Control light will also come on as they work in unison. The brake warning usually is an indication of worn pads. Could also mean low brake fluid or similar. The ABS could be a bad sensor, broken wire, or similar. Does this particular shop work on Audi's on a regular basis? If they do then I would ask them to do a scan to see what faults are actually showing up. If they really want to sell the car I would think they would be willing to do that as it is a fairly quick procedure (less than an hour). The light icon indicates a problem with the self leveling headlights. The sensors could be bad or may have fallen out of their mount. There are sensors on the suspension control arms and they are attached by flimsy metal strap like brackets. These have been known to rust through or break, especially once they have aged and particularly in snow country. The car has a lot of miles and may be due for a lot of maintenance. In many states a business/ car dealer isn't allowed to sell a car with those warning lights displaying on the cluster. With that many apparent issues I would probably pass it up unless it was really cheap. Bear in mind it's 17/18 years old. Lots of used Audi's out there with less mileage.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:33 PM
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If the blinking BRAKE light indicates worn pads or low brake fluid, could the ABS/ESC lights be on for the same reason? i.e. problem with brakes so everything that uses the brakes goes into fault mode?

The shop is just a general auto repair shop, I don't know how much audi-specific knowledge and equipment they have... I'm assuming if they did they would've diagnosed it by now. One of the service guys mused aloud "it might just be the steering angle sensor..."

Is there anything a generic OBD2 reader would show me? I have a bluetooth adapter and Torque Pro on my phone, which I frequently use when my volvo's CEL comes on, but I assume it's not going to tell me anything useful in this situation.

I'm not specifically shopping for an Audi A6, nor really shopping for any car at all. But I really like this car, and the price that was mentioned was "about $1800" which seems cheap enough as long as I'm not buying an even bigger repair bill. My current plan is to wait for them to diagnose and fix the problem, but I've no doubt they'll want to raise the price for whatever work they put into it (at least to a point, obviously somewhere they run into a limit as they hit KBB price levels)... so I'm toying with the notion of trying to negotiate them down to $1500 or less and buying it as-is, and then see about getting it fixed myself. I'm calling it too risky for now, at least on the brake/abs/ecs issues. The headlight leveling issue I could probably fix myself.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:52 PM
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OBD 2 will not help with these issues. It would for a CEL probably. Blinking brake warning is not necessarily related to the ABS/ ESC lights, and probably isn't. If they don't have a lot of experience on Audi's they are most likely just guessing. They have stepped in a pile and now they are stuck with it. If they are saying $1800 they are pretty close to half way to KBB used value for a car without any serious issues. If you have the skills here are some examples of approximate costs for DIY: Front brake pads and rotors-$225, couple of hours work. If it's the ABS module that is acting up: repair by company like Module Masters- $300 and about ten days down time as you would need to send it off. A scan with VCDS equipment is pretty much essential to find what is really wrong. What was it originally brought in for? If you can find out how much the shop is into it for, that might give you a clue. If I really wanted the car I might offer them $500 at the most with the information you have provided. (assuming it's drive-able as is) If your location requires a safety inspection at registration it won't pass with those dash lights. The ABS/ESC lights just means you won't have those functions available, but the car is drive-able. The brake warning is a different ball game. Drive at your own risk. If you read a bunch of other posts on this site you will see a lot of testimony regarding the "money pit" aspects of these cars. Good luck with it!
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:01 PM
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I recently went through this with a 2003 A6Q I am sorting out and making roadworthy. The ABS module failed. Without VCDS, I would not have had a snowballs chance in hell of diagnosing the problem. Once I had the replacement module installed, I then had to code the login and then program the soft coding, then calibrate the steering angle sensor, all of which required VCDS.

Here in NY state, the car would have passed the annual safety inspection with ABS and ESP lights on, as long as they did not trigger a MIL/CEL.

To answer the original poster's question: I would pass. There are too many cars available that do not have the unresolved problems that this one is presenting. Just think of how many hidden problems there might be.

Consider why the previous owner (not the shop) chose to walk away from this car instead of paying the bill. Could it be that he got fed up with too many repair bills?
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by georgeb944 View Post
The ABS module failed.
Dead on. Classic symptoms.

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Old 03-14-2019, 06:37 PM
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no safety inspection in California, just bi-annual smog checks which literally just means the CEL isn't on and all the internal emissions test show complete (i.e if OBD 2 says it's ok, then it's ok), and you pay $50 for the smog check station to plug in their cable and click "print". they said they just smogged it, which is required here to sell a car (smog cert must be within 90 days). of course they're also a smog-test station, which kinda seems like a conflict of interest.

one of the service guys did rattle off a bunch of things they did to the car, I heard a lot of stuff that seemed like routine maintenance on an older car, belts and the like, some other new hardware I don't recall, new tires

I do like working on my own car, just driveway stuff, nothing major. I've done plugs, ignition coil, thermostat, fuel injectors, a couple of sensors, on my Volvo S40, saved myself a ton of $ over the years. I've not done brakes, but nothing about the procedure seems beyond me; I'm just generally mechanically adept. I don't bother doing oil changes myself though... even a nicer shop will do it for barely more than it would cost me to buy the oil and filter, and my time isn't worth nothing... I guess it's a loss leader for them, so I'll let them take the loss.

Sounds like if I wanted to take this Audi on I'd have to start with $200 for Ross-Tech VCDS straight off. I suppose I could pay $10 for a VCDS cable off amazon and get VCDS-Lite running, see if they'd let me pull the codes.

I guess I'm caught between a rock and a hard place... if I want to buy it as-is and take the risk, I need to get down to a price they won't likely go, and if I wait until they fix it, they're going to want to bump the price higher than I'm willing to go. I'm not really caught, I can just forget it... but I really liked driving that car, I'm starting to feel a bit like Gollum with The Precious... look where that got him, but damn if he wasn't happy at the end.

I really appreciate all the input guys
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:44 AM
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If it helps, I'd run away from any Audi with that 3.0 in it. Not one of Audi's finer efforts.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:53 PM
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Smeagol is worried, but Gollum says the fact that this car's engine, 17+ years old with 200k miles on it, still runs and sounds great, means that this particular Audi 3.0 is the exception to whatever poor record this engine has.
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:12 AM
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Or it could also mean it is past due and will disintegrate at any second.
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