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Any ideas on how to preserve the engine if you can't drive your S4 much?

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Old 12-05-2017, 12:52 AM
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jlc
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Default Any ideas on how to preserve the engine if you can't drive your S4 much?

We've had our S4 for a smidge over 2 months, and it only has ~400 miles on it. The majority of that is in short trips; my husband has a daily commute of <5 mi each way, and although he's occasionally crested 90 mph, most of the time he's had to be obscenely restrained. When I've gone out for a weekend spree, the engine always sounds distinctly unhappy at first. (In fact, all but one of my trips have been completely unplanned; I basically get in to swap cars in the driveway, and find myself unable/unwilling to shut off the ignition b/c it sounds so *wrong*, so I just...keep driving.) After an hour on the road (weekend traffic here is generally awful, so I haven't found a place where I can really let the car out), the engine sounds and feels much better, but I can't help but think we're screwing it over w/the short trips and minimal driving.

I spoke w/the sales manager at our dealership about whether there was anything we could do for the engine (other than, you know, really drive it), and he said that we could change the oil early, but that realistically we'd just be throwing our money away. (Unless we find a way to seriously put more miles on the car fast, we'll be changing the oil anyhow at ~2500 miles, b/c we'll have run into the 1-year guideline.) I've wondered if I should throw in a bottle of whatever it is Audi recommends when you put in sub-par gas, but it's not obvious to me that bad gas is remotely equivalent to not-enough-driving. (And our sales manager said no to that, too.)

Any thoughts on how to deal w/this would be much appreciated--we've never had this problem before (my husband used to have a 30k-mi/year driving habit), and have no clue about whether there's anything we can do to protect the car, short of having my husband spend an extra 20 min/day circling the block after he gets to work.
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:53 AM
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If you are in the USA, and are dealing with ethanol-tainted gasoline, you could always add a couple of ounces of a mainstream gas additive to help prevent phase separation. How long does it take you to burn through a tank of gasoline?

More frequent oil changes would be the next logical place to go, but I'd guess these compliant oils we are required to use don't have any issues with a 12 month drain interval.

I think you've got make a determined effort to drive the car on weekends to get it hot, up to temperature. Keep a close watch on tire pressure to avoid potential flat-spotting.

Short trips are tough on any car, unless electric, I'd guess. Did you consider your personal situation and lack of driving prior to purchase, JLC? Would a different car have made for a better choice for your family?
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:14 AM
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Why not drive it more for a few weekends and help break everything in? Take a trip.
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jlc View Post
We've had our S4 for a smidge over 2 months, and it only has ~400 miles on it. The majority of that is in short trips; my husband has a daily commute of <5 mi each way, and although he's occasionally crested 90 mph, most of the time he's had to be obscenely restrained. When I've gone out for a weekend spree, the engine always sounds distinctly unhappy at first. (In fact, all but one of my trips have been completely unplanned; I basically get in to swap cars in the driveway, and find myself unable/unwilling to shut off the ignition b/c it sounds so *wrong*, so I just...keep driving.) After an hour on the road (weekend traffic here is generally awful, so I haven't found a place where I can really let the car out), the engine sounds and feels much better, but I can't help but think we're screwing it over w/the short trips and minimal driving.

I spoke w/the sales manager at our dealership about whether there was anything we could do for the engine (other than, you know, really drive it), and he said that we could change the oil early, but that realistically we'd just be throwing our money away. (Unless we find a way to seriously put more miles on the car fast, we'll be changing the oil anyhow at ~2500 miles, b/c we'll have run into the 1-year guideline.) I've wondered if I should throw in a bottle of whatever it is Audi recommends when you put in sub-par gas, but it's not obvious to me that bad gas is remotely equivalent to not-enough-driving. (And our sales manager said no to that, too.)

Any thoughts on how to deal w/this would be much appreciated--we've never had this problem before (my husband used to have a 30k-mi/year driving habit), and have no clue about whether there's anything we can do to protect the car, short of having my husband spend an extra 20 min/day circling the block after he gets to work.
Well, I guess you loan it to me once a month -- and I promise I'll run it from Cincinnati to Columbus and back (200-240 miles round trip) at a variety of speeds, between, say, 55 and 95MPH. Heck, I'll buy the gas -- top-tier, naturally.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by uberwgn View Post
If you are in the USA, and are dealing with ethanol-tainted gasoline, you could always add a couple of ounces of a mainstream gas additive to help prevent phase separation. How long does it take you to burn through a tank of gasoline?

More frequent oil changes would be the next logical place to go, but I'd guess these compliant oils we are required to use don't have any issues with a 12 month drain interval.

I think you've got make a determined effort to drive the car on weekends to get it hot, up to temperature. Keep a close watch on tire pressure to avoid potential flat-spotting.

Short trips are tough on any car, unless electric, I'd guess. Did you consider your personal situation and lack of driving prior to purchase, JLC? Would a different car have made for a better choice for your family?
Phase separation, ouch. I'll look into it....We are mostly in CT now, and I think the ethanol content here is >10%. My husband has filled the tank at most twice (possibly just once) since we took delivery 2 months ago. He also says that the engine does reach temperature by the time he gets to work, but now that it's colder, sometimes just barely.

I'm curious: would a different (non-electric) car handle this kind of crappy not-driving any better than the S4? For us electric isn't an option b/c of the range issue; there's a possibility that in ~9 months, I'll be taking the children home for school (kindergarten in the fall), and my husband will resume his 500+ mi/week commute, so we needed something that didn't need to sit at a charging station. I contemplated getting him a Honda Accord to trash, but given the uncertainty in mileage, leasing wasn't a good option, and also we really do need AWD. And we both find Subarus to be...joyless.
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by aj6 View Post
Why not drive it more for a few weekends and help break everything in? Take a trip.
AJ6, we'd planned to, frankly, but we've got 4.5 year old twins, and after we took delivery the thought of putting their carseats in the back and destroying the leather makes me cringe. (I confirmed w/our sales manager: we can stick a mat under the car seats, but they will still leave fairly awful permanent indentations....) Also, my daughter has a bad habit of throwing up in the car. (My new plan is to wait the 6 months till she puts on 2 lbs and our carseat lady is willing to strap her into a booster, but that still doesn't solve the backseat vomit issue, unless she also outgrows that.)

It may be that I just have to give up sleep on the weekends, and take the car out on my own more regularly.
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by markcincinnati View Post
Well, I guess you loan it to me once a month -- and I promise I'll run it from Cincinnati to Columbus and back (200-240 miles round trip) at a variety of speeds, between, say, 55 and 95MPH. Heck, I'll buy the gas -- top-tier, naturally.
Let me know when you're next out in CT....You might be the only guy on the forum I'd trust not to red-line the engine before we leave the break-in period!
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jlc View Post
Phase separation, ouch. I'll look into it....We are mostly in CT now, and I think the ethanol content here is >10%. My husband has filled the tank at most twice (possibly just once) since we took delivery 2 months ago. He also says that the engine does reach temperature by the time he gets to work, but now that it's colder, sometimes just barely.
I understand the concerns about an electric vehicle, I share the same and have a short commute most days.

FWIW, he should be monitoring the car's oil temp. It's a better indicator than the car's coolant temp. If it reaches 200F or so, it's mostly warmed up.

Drive the car on the weekend's and keep it in a garage, when possible. There's only so much we can do to preserve these cars and they're not nearly as fragile as we might make them out to be

Good luck, and enjoy it!
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Old 12-05-2017, 02:47 PM
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Frequent short trips are particularly problematic for these direct injection engines. It's one of the main contributors to carbon buildup. The only real remedy is to not do short trips. The engine should always be brought to operating temperature, and not just the coolant, but the oil, which takes longer to warm up than the coolant. Not sure if the B9 S4 even shows the oil temp anywhere. In the B8 you had to enable the lap timer in the driver information display to see it. As we say around here, a redline a day keeps the mechanic away. In your situation I would recommend the good ol' Italian tuneup. Basically go drive the car hard once in a while for an extended period. Traditionally done before an oil change as some traces of carbon will find their way to the oil pan.

Last edited by superswiss; 12-05-2017 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:07 PM
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I drive my '16 S5 not that often nowadays since my office is just located 250 meters away from home. What I do is I take it out to my meetings (outside my office) as much as I can. During weekends when I drive to the mall, groceries, gym, and sunday drive, I take the long way so I can warm it up enough and charge the battery. My suggestion is to tell your husband to take the long drive home everyday just to let the engine warm up and the oil circulate through the system. All it takes is a 30-minute drive along the highway and city streets, minimum. Taking it for repeated short drives will not be good for both the oil (water moisture accumulation) and battery (not charging up enough). In case you need a car for a longer trip whether in town or out of town, use the least driven vehicle which seems to be your S4. And, when you have a chance to drive it and it has sufficiently warmed up, put it in sport mode and redline (or close to redline) it once or twice during the drive (as Superswiss mentioned in his post above).
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