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Audi A4 restoration-rebuild thread

B5NUT Sep 25, 2020

  1. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    So, figured I would do yet another rebuild thread. This one is for my 1996 Audi A4 with a 1.8 ADR engine. So for people wondering why I’m chucking a shed load of money at this somewhat worthless car, here is the answer. It’s basically the time I’ve had it and the memory’s it holds. I got the car back in 1999 from my local Audi dealer, back then the 1.8 non-turbo engine was all I could afford, and in the 21 years we have owned the car I have put over 216,000 miles on the clock and been all around the country, and to Europe in it. My wife and I have had a lot of good times and fell it was worth restoring the car and seeing it back on the road.

    I started the restoration of the car many years ago, unfortunately it all stopped due to illness, work, wife, kids, house, etc etc. So back in march I made the decision to start it up again as it was either chuck the car in the bin or get it finished, and the hole COVID thing allowed me some time to work on the project, seeing as you could not go out during the day, evenings or the weekend… I was still working during the lockdown but had a hell of a lot of time on my hands so it's been an ideal time for a project!

    So this is the car after it was rolled out of the garage after been suck in there for many years. I’d already done some work by removing the rust from three of the wheel arches and having some work done on the engine. So the starting point this time was the rear-end. The only real option for most or the rear drive train was to chuck in the bin and buy new, the rear axle was saved and was shot blasted and poweder coated, also saved the springs as there was very little surface rust on them. For the rest, fuel tank straps, heat shields, exhaust brackets, exhaust, brakes, brake pipes, hand brake cables, calliper mounts, callipers, shocks, disk guards, fuel filter bracket, axle brackets, nuts, bolts and rubber hose’s all went in the bin.

    This was the state of the rear-end, what your seeing is all just surface corrosion on the body work but it took a few weeks to strip it back as I’m leaving the good underseal and finding the rust under the bad section of underseal.
    upload_2020-9-25_12-58-54.png upload_2020-9-25_12-59-20.png

    The callipers do look in good condition, but they has seized solid rust had crept into the piston and cylinder so in the bin they went

    Few images of the stripping process, I hope to never have to do this to a car again, but I'm sure I will as at some point I'm planning to buy an S2 coupe, and I'm sure it will need the same treatment.

    Fuel hose on the tank were rock hard, so were all binned.

    Removing the stub axles was a bit of a pain, hard to use a lot of heat & penetrating fluid to get the remainder of the bolts out.

    Stub axles had the rust removed from the base using this stuff, it does a far better job than any of the rust removal solutions you can buy and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

    Both stub axles and ABS rings were cleaned up with it. took about 2-3 hours to remove most of the rust and 4-5 hours to clear it all.

    No after pictures, but there are a few good videos on youtube showing how good oxalic acid is as a rust remover.

    Will post the after pictures later this evening.
  2. Avatar


  3. desertsage

    desertsage Registered User

    Congratulations for taking on this restoration project and saving another B5 from the wrecking yard! I totally understand your sentimental attachment to this car. I purchased my 1997 A4 quattro in 2001 and have 249,000 miles on it now. I've spend the past couple of years diving into restoration work on it although not nearly to the extent you are doing on body work.

    It's wonderful to have my B5 running and handling like a new car again. I'm sure you'll experience the same and feel the reward for all of your hard work. Keep us posted!
    B5NUT likes this.
  4. Sandra

    Sandra Administrator Staff Member Administrator Platinum Supporter Audi Main Dealer

    @B5NUT im so looking forward to following this rebuild. :)
    B5NUT likes this.
  5. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    I was surprising by the amount of rust under some of the underseal, so a lot of it was cut away before the rust was removed using flap disc's, twist knot wire wheel, drill based wire brushes, air powered belt sander and DA air sanders. I was not able to removed 100% of the pitted rust so what was left I used a molecular rust converter as below.
    Their products do work very well except their "safer rust remover" it's absolute rubbish and one to avoid, I put some rusty bolts in the solution left them for 24 hours and it barely touched the rust, left it for a further 24 hours and still the same result. You are far better off getting Oxalic Acid and mixing up your own solution.

    So once the converter had done it's job on the pitted rust it was time for the seam sealer, this stuff is ****** awful to work with but it does a good job
    Would love to have applied the spray seam sealer but the equipment to do that was just too expensive, so the only option was the brush-able stuff.
    Next was to apply a coating to the car. Now years ago I would have used Por-15 but I really don't rate that stuff anymore, it's kind of like hamerite all the good chemicals were removed years ago due to various regulations. So I've move to epoxy mastic paint. It's a bit of a pain to mix up and it's not cheap but it's an excellent product and does the job covering various different surfaces from metal, sealer and 2K paint.
    Under the car Audi have used different products, but it's mainly sealer, some patches of primer, cavity wax and overspray from painting the body. so colour wise there were various different colours, but I decided to go black. Point to note is you must remove any cavity wax before applying any underseals or paints as it just won't stick and will separate.

    These were the results after apply a couple of coats of epoxy mastic, make sure you have some fans available as the mastic dry's so much quicker with air movement.

    Final coat for the underside was a coating of 3M schutz gun, and again make sure you have fans around as it dry's so much quicker.

    I'm replacing all the brake lines so was not bothered about them getting covered

    Once all the dirty & messy job was complete it's time for more "fun" jobs like putting the backend together with new and shiny components

    Rear axle came back from the shot blasting and was given a nice thick powder coating.

    Fuel tank was drained of any remaining fuel as it's been in there for years, new fuel pump, sender and seal was fitted along with new rubber hoses and pressure release valves.

    Old fuel tank seal had started to melt!
    Tank cleaned ready to refit.

    All bare metal components were painted with a 2K Clear Etch Lacquer same stuff you use on diamond cut alloy wheels, even the nuts and bolts have been painted once fitted and torqued up. Now I know the coating will be damaged when I come to remove the bolts again, but they will be soo much easier to remove, than when they have rusted solid and the head has rusted away.
    Handbrake cables were also coated
    Along with the brake flexi ends

    Once all the component parts had had a coat of epoxy mastic (new shocks, springs, dust shields and mounting brackets) I could put the backend back together.


    Brakes were then painted again with epoxy mastic and 2k clearcoat.

    Brakes refitted

    Fuel tank refitted, and have to say it was a difficult job to refit as the tank straps were soo tight. The old tank straps had just about rotted away, so new ones had to be purchased, and to protect them I sprayed them with epoxy mastic to try and stop the rot!

    New heat shield, were also purchased as the old ones had all rotted away around the mounting point and were over all in poor condition

    Note that most of the parts on this age of car have long since gone obsolete, so the only option is to buy from Audi Tradition in Germany, and there is no discount....
    S4 Muzza likes this.
  6. desertsage

    desertsage Registered User

    You are doing such an excellent, thorough job of it all! Very inspiring!
  7. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    All the brake lines on the A4 were showing signs of corrosion at various section in the pipe work, they are alloy pipes with a very thin layer of protection. Looking back through the MOT history of the car the brake pipes corrosion had come up on the last two MOT's so there was no chance of the old pipe straying on the car. Also VAG no longer make made up section of brake pipe so the only option was to make your own.

    If the corrosion had been minor then I guess they could have been rubbed back and recoated but these were well passed that point.

    So I needed tools, you got to love buying new tools!

    Pipe benders

    I stared with these but found they were stripping the coating off the pipe

    So I went an purchased the Bluepoint pipe benders, lot more cash but looked like they would do the job! However if your trying the replicate the OEM brake pipe this tool won't work the radius of the curve is far to big

    So it was back to the cheaper pipe benders, I modified them slightly by grinding the rear so it was more curved and then covered it in fabric wiring harness tape which stopped the coating being scraped away.

    Next up was a pipe straightener, as the VAG brake pipe comes in a 4.7M coiled sections
    You try and straighten it by hand but one of these made the job a lot easer and quicker

    Final required tool was the flaring tool. I started off with one of these. Sometimes it would work well other times it was poor and I was starting to waste a lot of pipe due to this. It's a one shot deal, as you cannot go back and re-flare the end you have to cut the pipe back to were the tool had gripped the section of the pipe and start again...

    So I gave up on that and got one of these it was about £50 more, but it did the job first time every time, and no more wasted pipe.


    Not one of the easiest job on the car, and it was a job that I kept getting put off... This was the first of six pipes that had to be made with the longest pipe being over 3 meters in length and had around 30 bends in it.

    Attached Files:

  8. desertsage

    desertsage Registered User

    Good job on the tube bending! I looks like a pro job and super clean. I've had good luck using my "On the car" type flaring tool but your vice mounted tool looks like it really does the job!
    B5NUT likes this.
  9. norris_309

    norris_309 Registered User

    Wow, fair play to you! I just strayed from the B6 & A3 8P forums.. glad I did, love seeing older cars being restored.
    Excellent work
    B5NUT likes this.
  10. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    I could have just got a bad tool, or I was not using it correctly! either way it was hit or miss if it got a good flare as a lot of the time the flared end was very small so it must have been pushing the pipe back in the tool.
  11. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    So time to rip the engine out again! I took the engine out years ago and had all the top end rebuilt as the valve stem oil seals were knackered along with all of the other engine seals. I had also refitted the old clutch & DMF they looked Ok, but wanted to fit a new DMF/clutch setup.


    With the engine out the subframe was also removed, it was shot basted and powder coated years ago but the company I used back then did a **** job and it had to be redone. I also wanted to rebuild all the front suspension and fix a lot of mistakes I'd made years ago.

    First mistake was the the transmission tunnel, I did a bad job of removing the rust as it was coming through again. I also just over painted with schutz, so it all had to be scrapped away and cleaned of with plenty of solvent a ****** awful job I never want to do again.

    From this

    To this

    Then the same process as the rear strip back the rust, epoxy and 3M schutz.

    Next up new rack time, not sure why I refitted the old rack it was in a bad state, corroded pipes, and leaking fluid. Got lucky with a replacement on ebay, old stock new VAG/ZF rack for £60 delivered.

    All the metal on the PAS pipe work was also stripped back, as for mad reason I had used plasti dip to paint them with! May as well coved them in chocolate... so stripped back to bare metal and epoxy coated.

    With the subframe out the suspension came out. yet again I'd done a poor job in the prep work on the uprights also the choice of paint (hammarite) was also bad idea.

    So all suspension components and drive shafts stripped and rust converted applied to the pitting

    While the above the was being stripped and repainted the subframe came back and was aligned and reinstalled.

    The brakes on the front are from the 1.8T setup. The original setup on the car was just about scrap, the calliper mounts were very warn and as much as I tried I could not buy replacement parts for that setup. They were made by Girling and were only used on the A4 for just over a year. Girling had long made the parts obsolete and there were no other companies making replacement parts, so they were chucked in the bin and were then replaced by the ATE vented setup used on the 1.8T and all later A4 B5 models with 4 pot engines. Parts for the ATE setup were very easy to get hold of.

    Other than the above parts and the spring that were stripped and repainted everything else was replaced, all new Lemforder arms, upper & lower rubber spring mounts, shocks, CV joints, disc shields, disc's, pads, calliper mounts and wheel bearing.

    The green rapping around the drive shafts is just bubble rap to stop them damaging the paint on the subframe and the drive shafts until the engine was refitted.
  12. Avatar


  13. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    When I had the engine worked on years ago I stripped the rust away and give it a coat of hammerite, and again either my prep work was rubbish or it's just the paint is! So decided to strip the engine back remove and treat and rust and repaint with epoxy as it's good for up to 300deg so will easy handle the engine temperatures.

    Top tip, if you want to remove hammerite use Oven Pride does a great job.

    Block stripped next up rust converter for the remaining rust.

    Once painted new Sachs DMF & clutch

    Gearbox was cleaned up and refitted, I used the clamps while I sort and cleaned up all the bolts.

    Once the bolts were refitted the engine went back in, and some of the ancillaries were bolted on.

    before any further work was started I setup a PC running a few programs like elsawin, there was no way I could rebuild this car without these sort of programs. I'd started ripping this car apart may years ago, and I'd lost a lot of the pictures of the strip down. So it's like putting together a jigsaw with no picture and pieces missing, damaged, dirty or in need of fixing. So if your going to do this take plenty of photo's and label stuff.
    DieselJake and Gops like this.
  14. Gops

    Gops Badger 5 Edition VCDS Map User

    Looks Amazing bud! Im restoring mine but not to the extent as you are! Amazing!
  15. Ben1413

    Ben1413 Registered User

    Brilliant work!
  16. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    So with parts on order for the engine, like new injectors, seals, hoses etc. I started cleaning up the boot. Over the years it seen a bit of damage and there was a small amount of rust on the spare wheel well and a lot of scratches on the back.

    I was thinking about leaving the boot area, but what was the point of doing all the work I've already done and then leave the boot in the state it's in.

    So the wheel well had it's rust removed and the hole boot area was rubbed down and masked up ready for paint.

    First two coats sprayed epoxy which was a "bright red" and not that far from laser red which is the car's OEM colour.

    Car was then sprayed in two coats base coat then two coats of 2K clear.

    Once the paint was dry new cavity wax was applied in the inner wheel arch area, the old stuff had gone very hard and cracked up.
    Also if you what to dry cavity wax you need air movement, so stick a fan in the area (if possible) and it gets the stuff to dry in hours.
    If you don't it will still look like this even after 24 hours.

    Side panels cleaned up and repainted fuel tank cover fitted.

    Next up was to replace the plastic boot trim, the old one was well passed it..

    So another new trim was purchased from Audi tradition https://shops.audi.com/en_GB/web/tradition along with a new boot seal.

    Final to do on the boot was the hinge. The struts were leaking and it was all covered in dirt & excess grease.

    Also the strut mounting point were starting to rust so they were stripped back and painted, and new struts fitted.

    Boot complete.
  17. Simon

    Simon Registered User

    Amazing work, I had a 1.8t of similar vintage in Laser red, that was a great car.
    spartacus 68 likes this.
  18. spartacus 68

    spartacus 68 Registered User

    Brilliant thread, and attention to detail is top notch. Please tell me you're not putting in halogen projector headlights when you get to that stage. Did the car have xenon headlights as an option?
  19. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    The car had factory halogen and new halogen lights are going back in as the coating on the old ones was in a poor condition. I'm aiming to put the car back to factory so almost all retrofits are out..

    This was the option list for the car, still surprised you could by an A4 without a radio..

    X2B = National sales program Great Britain
    B0A = Component parts set without country-specific design requirement
    C0V = Steel wheels 6J x 15
    G0C = 5-speed manual transmission
    H6S = Tires 195/65 R15 V
    J1P = Battery 220 A (44 Ah)
    M51 = 4-cyl. gasoline engine 1.8 L/92 kW 20V with MVEG 2 base engine is T0V/T5Z
    Q1A = Standard front seats
    1AC = Anti-lock brake system (ABS)
    1G2 = Steel spare wheel with original equipment tires
    2PG = Steering wheel
    3AE = Right exterior mirror: flat, electrically adjustable and heated
    3BF = Left exterior mirror: convex, electrically adjustable and heated
    T5Z = 4-cylinder gasoline engine 1.8 L unit 058.B
    3S0 = Without roof rails/roof load rack
    4UC = Air bag for driver
    0G1 = Gearshift lever
    8AA = Without radio
    8GM = Alternator 70 A
    8RM = 8 speakers (passive)
    1LH = Disc brakes, front
    3FE = Electric slide/tilt sunroof with sun screen/sunblind
    1BA = Standard suspension/shock absorption

    Modifications so far will include an Audi Chorus radio & 16" OEM alloys. The steel wheels went many years ago and could not face buying 15" steel wheels and wheel trims you can no longer buy.
    spartacus 68 likes this.
  20. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    Found some old images of the original engine removal. No idea what camera they were taken on that many years ago so excuse the image quality...


    Engine covered in rust, oil & dirt.

    Gearbox was the same seals & bearing not in the best of condition


    Subframe was in good condition this was manly due to the amount of oil it was covered in.
  21. midas

    midas Registered User

    Well impressed. You certainly have done a good job there. I would love to have space, time, and a missus who doesn’t mind, to begin doing this to my TQS. I’ll be keeping my eye on this thread.
  22. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    Further updates to come, but today the car went for it's MOT and passed with no advisories, still got the body work to finish but that will be done over the winter months
    Jack_TQS likes this.
  23. Jimmy2007

    Jimmy2007 Registered User

    Final pictures please!
    You are the top!!!
  24. B5NUT

    B5NUT Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

    I'm still no where near finish got a lot of body work still to do and a good few updates to the thread.

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