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  1. #1
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    Guide: ESP Light On- Glow-Plug/Engine Light Flashing - Cause & Fix Inside!

    Afternoon All,

    Driving in my 1.9TDi A4 yesterday through lots of rain, I got off the M1 and the esp light came on, and the glow-plug light started flashing, leaving me in limp mode (1100rpm and no throttle) and a max speed of ~40mph.

    Whilst waiting for the AA man I sat with the heaters on my feet, and the problem stopped...

    So, here's a quick guide to save you from going through what I did!

    Problem:

    ESP Light on, Glow-Plug Light Flashing, Loss of power, In limp mode, 1100rpm- usually happens in wet weather, or just after washing the car. Carpets being damp in the footwell are an early warning sign- heed the warning!

    In some circumstances you may find the rear brake lights don't work (mine still did).

    Reason:

    Drainage holes blocked, or ECU housing seal refitted incorrectly. Eventually this allows water into the cabin and meets the 4 vehicle interconnects, OBD, brake/throttle pot.

    Once the circuit shorts on the brake/throttle pedals, the EMS gets the hump, there's a rationality check done between the rising and falling potentiometers on both pedals, if these don't correspond, the EMS will put the engine into limp home mode.

    The AA diagnostics didn't show anything- I believe VAG-COM/Diagra etc will show a brake pedal switch fault.

    Solution:

    If this happens to you on the move- put the heated footwell on full and wait for an hour or so. Beware the reason this is happeneing is water has shorted electronics, removing the ESP fuse won't get you out of limp-home mode either, so proceed with caution.

    Tools required:
    Torx Sockets/Keys
    General Toolkit (Sockets: 10mm,16mm) Various Spanners, 6mm Allen key
    Silicone Sealer
    White Spirit/Petrol
    Petroleum Jelly (Or Grease)
    Toothbrush
    Torch/Light
    Rags

    1) Remove the scuttle tray cover and remove the battery (10mm Spanner & 6mm Allen Key)

    2) If not already done, remove both drainage holes and clean/enlarge or remove completely:

    Under the battery:



    Under the brake servo:



    3) Clean around both holes and remove and leaf matter from the scuttle area. Follow the next steps if you still have a problem with water in the cabin.

    4) Remove the driver's side wiper (16mm Socket):



    5) Then use a T30 Torx bit on the 5 securing screws- mine only had 4 on, it was obviously too much of a pain for Audi to do the job properly in the first place...

    6) with the top half of the ECU housing removed inspect the seal:



    It's probably past it's best, I'm waiting until the New Year and I'll order one from Audi- will post up Part # & Cost when I do.

    7) Unclip the ECU and remove the right hand connector- this should be placed ontop of the engine out of harms way.

    8) The lower half of the ECU housing is where the problem lies, there's a rubber seal between the body and the plastic housing, if this has perished, or been refitted incorrectly, it will let water in. Remove the housing using a 10mm socket and an 8mm one for the front nut.

    9) Use a 10mm socket for the nut securing a positive feed (the nut is captive so it won't drop)

    10) Unplug 4 interconnects; White, Black, Red and Beige (these can only be fitted in one direction so don't worry too much about remembering)

    11) Lift the lower housing clean of the scuttle:



    12) Left this- you can see the water/leaf mess which was causing problems:



    13) Inspect the rubber seal, and replace if necessary, or clean and reuse. To avoid the seal dropping out whilst refitting I used a small bead of gasket sealant to hold it in place:



    14) Clean the mating face on the body:



    15) Refit the seal:



    16) I then used some vasilene on the mating face for extra security- I didn't want this happeneing again:



    17) Refit in the reverse of removal, making sure the seal is located properly, otherwise this is all in vain.

    18) Refit battery and re-code stereo/drive to get the ESP light to go off.

    19) Dry out footwell and inspect connections on pedals for corrosion/water damage.


    All in this took about 2.5hrs, I left a fan heater drying the footwell carpet out whilst I was working. Hopefully this helps people with a common Audi problem, if you know your car has had a replacement wiper motor, or any work done in that area, I'd inspect the seal- it's never nice to be stuck with a car in the hardshoulder on December 23rd...

    Cheers

    Pete
    2010- B8 S4 Avant (12.3 @ 114mph)
    1991- Polo Turbo 1341cc (12.5s @ 110mph)
    2002- Honda S2000

    www.poloperformanceparts.co.uk

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  3. #2
    quattrojames's Avatar
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    Nice write up, thank you.

    I think your reference to the brake lights not working is because sometimes the ESp and glow plug lights will come on when the pedal switch has failed.
    Ingolstance Read about my A6 HERE.

  4. #3
    kite's Avatar
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    I had this seal fail last year, it was just after having a new screen fitted
    I thought the problem was a badly fitted screen but by removing the drivers side lower dash andlooking up
    with a torch I could see the water dripping in when a mate was playing a hosepipe over the front.

    Great write up
    A4 (b6) 2.5 TDi QS Saloon.

  5. #4
    audigeezA4's Avatar
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    great advice and very useful, unfortunately a bit late for me as this was exactly the issue i experienced last week also.....however i was unlucky that i had a to go through a breakdown to resolve, but lucky for me, as audi had failed to fix this same fault in the past, this time it cost me nothing but inconvenience to rectify. oh and they did fit a new ecu last time but only replaced the housing cover and not the bottom part apparently which was leaking!

  6. #5
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    Glad it's helped- a poor design on Audis part doesn't help matters, nor does the general crap drainage design of the B5-B6 Audi and Passat era vehicles. Minimal monsoon testing I think...

    My drivers side carpet has a small damp patch after the last two days of rain, unsure if it's still drying out or fresh water coming in at the moment...
    2010- B8 S4 Avant (12.3 @ 114mph)
    1991- Polo Turbo 1341cc (12.5s @ 110mph)
    2002- Honda S2000

    www.poloperformanceparts.co.uk

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    Call me stupid and flame me if you like but... I am looking at the pictures trying to see these things I need to remove but I am non the wiser.
    My B6 just came up with this symptom after a drive today in the foul weather.

  8. #7
    quattrojames's Avatar
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    Its the weatherproof box the ECU sits in. It's located on the offside (drivers side) adjacent to the wiper spindle.

    It might be under the scuttle cover if one's fitted (athough it is cut out around that).

    Ingolstance Read about my A6 HERE.

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    Thanks quattrojames,
    The bit I am struggling to see in the pictures is the drainage holes, having to remove from them I assume there is a drainage grommet or the like, Having not got a clear view of mine in the dark I am assuming on the pictures something is already removed from the holes but which holes are they?

  10. #9
    quattrojames's Avatar
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    If you look in the DIY Guide's sticky at the top of this section you'll find a link to removing the Plenum Chamber Gromets - that should answer all your questions hopefully.
    Ingolstance Read about my A6 HERE.

  11. #10
    audigeezA4's Avatar
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    i am sure someone will correct me but i believe one of the grommet holes is located under the power steering servo(round cylindrical thingy), well, thats the one i pushed through to let water out anyway. i am sure there is a thread ref: plenum chamber which shows location of exact holes. As for the weather proof housing for the ecu that sits directly under an area which will experience high water contact, i agree, not the best of designs or that logical, but hey, what do i know....any damp patches in the drivers footwell carpet, then i would be extemely concerned and get it looked at before its too late.

  12. #11
    audigeezA4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattrojames View Post
    If you look in the DIY Guide's sticky at the top of this section you'll find a link to removing the Plenum Chamber Gromets - that should answer all your questions hopefully.
    too slow with my response, as usual, must be the old age, i better wish everyone happy new year now!!!! before i'm late with that as well! lol

  13. #12
    quattrojames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audigeezA4 View Post
    too slow with my response, as usual, must be the old age, i better wish everyone happy new year now!!!! before i'm late with that as well! lol
    Lol, you wrote your response though, I cheated and didn't even give the link, just the location of it!

    Happy New Year
    Ingolstance Read about my A6 HERE.

  14. #13
    audigeezA4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattrojames View Post
    Lol, you wrote your response though, I cheated and didn't even give the link, just the location of it!

    Happy New Year

    lol.... happy new year!!!

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    well I have drained the chamber, my guess about 5-10l of water came out.
    Still got the two lights on the dash.
    Sat with the car running to get it hot (max temp) taken for a short drive in limp home mode.
    Now leaving it till after the new year to see if its going to dry out and sort itself out.

    Only thing I just realised I haven't done is check the pedal switch connections, will do that and if still no joy will be taking to my local specialist to have a look for me.

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    A new point to post on this.
    I now do not think its anything to do with water ingress so this might now be the wrong place for this post but here goes why...

    With the car sat on the drive and the engine NOT running, I turn the ignition switch to the second click, just prior to start up.
    If I just depress the accelerator the lights come on and pre-heat flashes.

    I am guessing that the ESP and flashing pre-heat hide a myriad of possible issues.

    I am also assuming here I must have a diagnostic tool connected to see the error codes.

    I am now guessing that it may be the accelerator switch.
    Would the diagnostics show this???
    Jumping the gun a little but what sort of damage would I be looking at for a new accelerator assembly?

  17. #16
    marktdisport's Avatar
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    could the fault be the headlight switch be faulty ????
    A4 TDI 130 SPORT..
    now sold but still in the family, gone back in time to the cupra R again..

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    Quote Originally Posted by marktdisport View Post
    could the fault be the headlight switch be faulty ????
    All lights work perfectly.

  19. #18
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    Wet weather woes

    I think, I too have been victim to this problem........

    Driving home on New Year's eve on a very busy M4 in heavy rain with wife and 9 month old twins onboard!!!

    Symptoms much the same as many those above:

    ESP light, Coil Light (constant not flashing), 1100 rpm and no throttle response.
    Had to pull onto hard-shoulder just before all getting out to stand in the rain and await rescue I tried a restart. Bingo - no warning lights and we drove home another 100ish miles.


    Assuming you guys think this is the same problem I plan to:
    Remove the battery and clean the drain holes thoroughly.
    The car is due a service at my friendly local garage so I will ask them to put the car on the VAG diagnostic machine and change the seal on the weatherproof (ha ha) box and inspect for any signs of damp. Did anyone have a part number for the seal?

    Does this all seem sense? I really don't want this to happen again it was not much fun - in fact, dangerous.

    Thanks for all your time and advice - information like this help to break the dealerships bankrupting us all !

    Duffer

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    Well I now have the answer/solution thanks to Pete from Towcester VAG.

    The diagnostics showed an throttle error saying the signal was unintelligible.

    He has fitted a new accelerator assembly for me this afternoon and its all OK again.
    Nice simple job which TBH I could of done myself but now I have made a nice new acquaintance with a very friendly and helpful local mobile mechanic with superb Audi skills and background.

    I hope he doesn't mind me saying but if you have an issue or are looking for someone who in my opinion is 100% in the South Northants area he is an excellent choice, he is listed on this forum which is how I found him.
    Send him a message as I did via View Profile: towcestervag - Audi-Sport.net

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    Great write up.

    Does anyone have the part number for replacement seal to hand (before I trawl etka!).

    I have a swimming pool in floorwell which I cleared a few weeks ago -cleaned plenum plugs (and boy were they gunky!). However problem returned. Thanks to quattrojames, ended up here and lo and behold the seal was poorly fitted and actualyy has a couple of cuts to it. Hopefully this is now my problem solved (after a new seal of course!)

  22. #21
    kite's Avatar
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    Don't think the seal is available on its own. I had to buy a new box.
    A4 (b6) 2.5 TDi QS Saloon.

  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kite View Post
    Don't think the seal is available on its own. I had to buy a new box.
    Deffo have to buy both box parts with seal.


    OK I did the above today (apart from replace the box). Took both parts of the box out and checked the seals, seemed OK. Added a bit of Vaseline to the rubber seals to shore things up until I replace.

    Sprayed the 4 plugs and sockets with electrical cleaner but they all seemed mint anyway.

    Put it all back togetether just as it started raining.

    Went out for a 10 mile drive with plenty of beans and guess what.................still does it DAMMIT.

    In 3rd or 4th, as you accelerate past 3k revs, it can stutter and sometimes goes into safe mode.

    What now guys?! I'm thinking my original thought of new accelerator pedal assembly?

    *WANTED* AUDI CD PLAYER

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    Quote Originally Posted by qro-qrm View Post
    Well I now have the answer/solution thanks to Pete from Towcester VAG.

    The diagnostics showed an throttle error saying the signal was unintelligible.

    He has fitted a new accelerator assembly for me this afternoon and its all OK again.
    Nice simple job which TBH I could of done myself but now I have made a nice new acquaintance with a very friendly and helpful local mobile mechanic with superb Audi skills and background.

    I hope he doesn't mind me saying but if you have an issue or are looking for someone who in my opinion is 100% in the South Northants area he is an excellent choice, he is listed on this forum which is how I found him.
    Send him a message as I did via View Profile: towcestervag - Audi-Sport.net

    Sorry to have to do this post BUT Have now had issues with pete from Towcester VAG (see his profile link above).
    The part he supplied, a genuine VAG part went faulty on me.
    Pete told me it was warranted for 2 years. This bit is correct.
    Found him difficult to contact but worse still he has promised me multiple time that he will come have a look but hasn't.
    Ok weather has been bad and the first 3 times that excuse was plausible.
    Now he has just gone off the radar altogether.

    I would like to change my assessment of him.
    His work is ok but his reliability for future work or standing by his guarantees is ZERO!

  25. #24
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    Hi

    I have had water ingress due to blocked grommets in plenum chamber (Audi A4 B6 1.9TDi Sport 2003). I have followed the guide to clean/remove the grommets and because I didnt have a long straight allen key to remove the battert clamp (I have ordered one from a local too shop), but managed to slide battery across and just reach the grommet beneath the brake servo, push it through as it was holding water and gunked up, and will do the other when I get the tool to remove the battery.

    Anyway, VAG codes show malfunctioning brake light switch (as per your comment) and the brake lights actually do not work (high level one does though). So I have just bought a new brake light switch (from local Audi), removed the under dash cover, found the switch, twisted it and it came out. Replaced with the new one making sure I twisted it back in properly so that it clicked in place and reconnected the cable. That was easy, I thought.

    Started the car and the ESP and coil lights still on! And the brake lights still not working! Help! Any ideas?

    Many thanks

    Andy

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    I've just checked the rear brake light bulbs and they were both blown, so I've also changed those now as well, but the lights still dont work and the ESP and coil lights are still lit on the dash.

    I'm at a loss now :-( Is there any chance that if the footwell drys out completely that they may suddenely work again?

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    i had this never limp mod, had the abs and eps and then the glow plug flashing sometimes, so i changed the brake switth and a bulb that has blew and today so far it has been great , no daft dash lights, However i will be checking near the peddles tomorrow just in case there is any water there

  28. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neilb1 View Post
    i had this never limp mod, had the abs and eps and then the glow plug flashing sometimes, so i changed the brake switth and a bulb that has blew and today so far it has been great , no daft dash lights, However i will be checking near the peddles tomorrow just in case there is any water there
    Hi

    The car hasnt gone into limp mode - the high level brake light works though....odd.

  29. #28
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    Guide: ESP Light On- Glow-Plug/Engine Light Flashing - Cause & Fix Inside!

    I had this issue with my A4 Avant, turned out to be the ECU box seal, however I obviously had enough water droplets get into the accelerators pedal sensor, same warning lights as people are suggesting, also limp mode with no throttle response.
    Took the car to Audi (Tetbury) and at first they only replaced the ECU box and seal but as no fault codes and no fault present they released the car back to me.
    No more than a day had passed when I was out with the family and on some lovely country roads the car went into limp mode with no throttle again.
    A quick and slightly irate call to Audi dealer and car was taken back and he accelerator pedal sensor was replaced.
    They also thoroughly checked electronics for me for any sign of water ingress.
    Annoying problem but all been fine since.

  30. #29
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    I have just had this highly frustrating problem also on my 2004 A4 1.9 tdi quattro sport.
    Day before new years eve I started the car and left it to defrost the windows and warm up. A few minutes later, I jumped in to drive off and as soon as I touched the accelerator, the ESP and glow plug lights began to flash, the revs increased to 1200 rpm with no throttle response - Limp home mode. Restarting etc made no difference.
    I read some of the early posts on this thread which are very helpful as pointers. I already knew of the plenum chamber water issue and had always ensured it was meticulously clean and dry in there, cleaned the grommets before and waxoyled chamber and sprayed up with silicon lubricant so any water quickly runs away down drains (quite OCD realy) haha.
    The footwell had absolutely no signs of water in it. My brake lights worked as normal.

    I thought my fault here was with the accelerator pedal electronics and so removed the pedal assembly and checked it over. There was a tiny droplet of water in the connector pins. Inside the circuit board all seeemed well with no obvious corrosion or water so I thought drying out and cleaning the connectors with contact cleaner may solve my problem, but it did not. I left a fan heater in the car to dry out any moisture that may have been present.

    So I took to the daunting process of removing the ECU housing box. Its actualy as shown on above posts (thankyou) an easy job.
    Disconnect battery live terminal and wrapped it up to avoid remaking contact.
    I would recommend removing both wiper arms as this allows you to remove the lower windscreen trim that the wiper spindles go through. Only 3 simple clips hold this on and removing it allows far better access, visibility,less tools to be used for ECU box and better seal positioning on box I think.
    There was a small amount of water in the ECU housing which I believe has never been opened before, so I removed the entire housing, seperated and cleaned all the connectors and meticulously cleaned the plenum chamber, housing and seals.
    The hoover was helpful ! As member Yoof suggeted above, I used vaseline on the seal mating surfaces and put it all back together.

    Happy with this tidy job, the fault still existed !
    I returned my thoughts to the accelerator electronics as the car ran fine until the pedal was pressed.
    Removing the pedal assembly and opening the electronics housing, I this time removed the printed circuit board by gently prising it down from the top contacts. There are 3 small circuit tracks on the reverse of the board and these were green with corrosion and damaged. I cleaned them up with very fine emery, a blade and contact cleaner. The tracks were broken and so I used some conductive paint (Maplin electronics £10) and masking tape to remake the tracks. Soldering in wires wasn't possible as theres no space at back of board. Reassembled once dried and cleaned and fitted a moisture barrier to connector plug/cable.

    Hey presto Jobs a good un. A satisfying fix and hopeful future prevention with no trip to the dealer and no new parts
    Sorry this is long winded and that I have no photos but hope it helps someone out there. My thanks again to other members who have posted above particularly Yoof. Great forum.

  31. #30
    audilad9's Avatar
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    I just want to add that on removing ECU housing, I slackened off the bolts securing the wiper linkage, lifting the linkage just slightly. This allowed the housing to be put back into place without upsetting or damaging the lower seal.
    Also although this may not be the place for it, I would recommend whilst in there anyway, lubricating the wiper spindles as they can and do seize up possibly causing wiper motor failure. I stripped mine and cleaned with fine emery paper, lubricating with copper grease.

  32. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoof View Post

    Problem:

    ESP Light on, Glow-Plug Light Flashing, Loss of power, In limp mode, 1100rpm- usually happens in wet weather, or just after washing the car. Carpets being damp in the footwell are an early warning sign- heed the warning!

    In some circumstances you may find the rear brake lights don't work (mine still did).

    Reason:

    Drainage holes blocked, or ECU housing seal refitted incorrectly. Eventually this allows water into the cabin and meets the 4 vehicle interconnects, OBD, brake/throttle pot.

    Once the circuit shorts on the brake/throttle pedals, the EMS gets the hump, there's a rationality check done between the rising and falling potentiometers on both pedals, if these don't correspond, the EMS will put the engine into limp home mode.

    The AA diagnostics didn't show anything- I believe VAG-COM/Diagra etc will show a brake pedal switch fault.

    Not always!

    Here's an alternative that problably belongs in the same section as anythign to do with glow-plug / TC warning lights: I've recently had similar bulb errors, but no limp mode and no errors on a full VCDS scan and the only "failure" was cruise control not working, so some people might not be able to test it at all.

    Symptoms:

    Intermittent: ESP Light on, Glow-Plug Light Flashing. Cruise control not working.

    In theory, in some circumstances you may find the rear brake lights don't work or are on the whole time too.

    Reason:

    Faulty clutch or brake switch.

    Test:

    This is what I was getting on the Engine measuring blocks, group006:


    This is what I was getting on the Engine measuring blocks, group006, brake pushed:


    When I pushed in the clutch, there was no change (apparently there should be) - I think the messages that I'm seing right now tell me that the clutch is being pushed the whole time, which is telling the cruisecontrol not to engage and presumably confusing the bejepeers out of the traction control / ECU if I'm doing 60-70mph and accelerating while the clutch is being "pushed in"...

    Solution:
    tbc - I'll be replacing the clutch switch shortly and then see where that gets me.
    Last edited by BahnStormer77; 26th January 2013 at 16:29.
    LostBok/BahnStormer77
    A6 (C7) Avant 3.0TFSI, DSG, rain and light sensor pack, LED headlight pack, MMI touch, SDS high, AMI, 360deg sensors + auto-park, Dunlop SP Winter Sports / Pirelli P Zero's.

  33. #32
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    Sorry to drag this up but been happening to me since changing my interior carpet and attempting then failing at changing the interior wiring loom, when i start and set off car seems ok although throttle response is a little slow, then coming to a junction or slowing in traffic and ill get the esp light and shortly after the flashing glowplug light, and i wont be able to rev past 1100rpm, now so far a simple restart has sorted it each time but still the throttle response is really slow compared to where it has been and it is hesitant under load

    i am trying to find my vcds disk to put on my temp laptop and scan but untill im not sure what to try, ive been in my ecu box before and all was fine and seal was perfect, there appears to be no water ingress in plenum chamber and no dampness inside the vehicle, so im swaying towards a faulty switch or accelerator assembly....... anything else i can check?
    Mods done: interior: Light to dark conversion, To Do: Carbon trim, carpet to be replaced, rear window retrofit. Exterior: Resprayed in Skoda's Rallye Green, 18" RS4 reps fitted, xenons, LED sidelights/NumberPlate lights, B Pillars wrapped in carbon. To Do: Lowering 35mm all round, tints, Tuning: Yet to do exhaust/remap/ egr delete etc..


  34. #33
    BahnStormer77's Avatar
    BahnStormer

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    Feb 2009
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    Surrey
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    Quote Originally Posted by BahnStormer77 View Post
    Solution:
    tbc - I'll be replacing the clutch switch shortly and then see where that gets me.
    Sorry for the belated follow-up, but the clutch switch (after I'd already done the brake switch) worked 100% for me... the car worked perfectly for about 4 months after that, until I sold it to a friend and it served him perfectly until he had to sell it (reasons unrelated to my car - his B7, with less miles than mine blew up and he needed to shuffle cars around a bit).
    LostBok/BahnStormer77
    A6 (C7) Avant 3.0TFSI, DSG, rain and light sensor pack, LED headlight pack, MMI touch, SDS high, AMI, 360deg sensors + auto-park, Dunlop SP Winter Sports / Pirelli P Zero's.

 

 

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