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  1. #1
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    04 A4 1.8T Cracked Cylinder Head swap and rough idle Probs!!!

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    Hey There, Audi newbie here....Even though Ive searched and searched I had to post to the forums for this because in my 15yrs of Auto Mechanical Exp. Ive never had any sorta trouble like this until I owned my first AUDI haha. I do love the car though and I'll try and keep this long ass story short....Bought an 04 A4 Quattro 6spd 200k miles back in Oct 2017 and drove it for a month without probs but as it got colder I noticed I didn't have heat...so I replaced Thermostat, J Plug, and Coolant flange (this is where things went downhill)....Still no heat and tons of air getting in the coolant reservoir somehow....So I then replaced the heater core, supply/return hoses, water pump and timing belt/components, couple cracked check valves etc...STILL NOT HEAT, even after hours of bleeding....it then began to run even worse, misfiring under high load/torque situations, just falling flat on its face spitting and sputtering but if kept under 3-4k rpm it ran fine with no CEL...started to determine it was prolly the head gasket as culprit due to yellow milky oil residue in all PCV components and on the oil cap and air constantly getting into the coolant reservoir....replaced Head Gasket and Valve cover gasket etc and damn near all the PCV components....still same prob....2wks after the new gasket etc, it got way worse and even started overheating....and eventually got so sluggish I could barely pull out at a red light one day and had to get it towed home from Five Guys parking lot lol figured the engine had seized!!! Then removed the head to investigate and found cylinder 2 and 3 severely cracked from the spark plug holes to the valve seats (common. prob with AMB heads apparently)....Purchased/installed a new remanufactured cylinder head and fired it up and It idled fine for about 30sec but after that it hardly idles and when you hit the gas it'll actually drops down to the point it almost shuts off instead of going up, likes its an un-tuned heavily cammed Vette haha.....I literally tore the timing and valve cover back apart and re-checked timing 4 separate times and all my marks are DEADDD ON (first time they were off by a tooth) compression test shows all cylinders in the 160psi area! SOOO, at this point I feel stuck and don't really know where to diagnose from here, its getting very frustrating as its been sitting for 2 months now and I feel like a clueless dumbdick and I know that its probably a simple sensor somewhere causing this but Im not familiar with these cars so here I am asking for anyones advice or exp with this and will appreciate any input!!! Thank You!!!
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  2. #2
    Veteran Member Four Rings walky_talky20's Avatar
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    You do want to do a Throttle Body Adaptation. That may be your entire issue.

    Apart from that, you may have an air intake leak. A quick check would be to unplug the mass airflow sensor and see if it runs better.
    ^Don't listen to this guy, he's not even a mechanic.
    2001 Laser Red A4 1.8TQM, 5-Speed Swapped, 4.11 Final Drive, APR 93, R8 coil packs, Labree HFC & DP, 2.5" Exhaust, ST Coilovers, 034 RSB, A8 Brakes Front & Rear, 18" RS4 Reps
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    Coil harness is a known issue on these cars as well.
    They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Four Rings walky_talky20's Avatar
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    It bears mentioning that checking the codes would of course be the first step. Ideally you want to check the codes with VCDS to make certain you are seeing all the codes as generic OBD2 readers will often miss any pending codes.
    ^Don't listen to this guy, he's not even a mechanic.
    2001 Laser Red A4 1.8TQM, 5-Speed Swapped, 4.11 Final Drive, APR 93, R8 coil packs, Labree HFC & DP, 2.5" Exhaust, ST Coilovers, 034 RSB, A8 Brakes Front & Rear, 18" RS4 Reps
    2006 Passion Red Volvo V50 T5 AWD 6MT
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Three Rings G.AUDI's Avatar
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    Do you make your own or source from ecs/034?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gin+ View Post
    Coil harness is a known issue on these cars as well.
    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by walky_talky20 View Post
    You do want to do a Throttle Body Adaptation. That may be your entire issue.

    Apart from that, you may have an air intake leak. A quick check would be to unplug the mass airflow sensor and see if it runs better.
    Damn, that does make sense...after a quick research I see that you need VAG (which I'm assuming is VW tuning software?) to perform this but I just have a simple OBD2 Code reader and nothing more haha is there any way to do it otherwise? Makes sense though, some info I was reading said it could need performed any time the battery is disconnected or TB removed...and I've been taking that batt in and out everytime I work on it and put it back into my Daily Driver as I only have one good battery out of 3 cars at the moment lol....I'll try the MAF test in a bit too and see if that helps.....at one point in time before I even did the head gasket, I removed as much PCV stuff as I could and used a kombi valve delete plate on the back of the head to try and narrow down the prob and it ran great for 2 days then acted up again.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gin+ View Post
    Coil harness is a known issue on these cars as well.
    Yes that was going to be my next step is tracing wires and just looking for those broken brittle plastic parts.....I do need to replace the harness and packs probably but for now it looks in good shape and did always function fine for the first month I had it...until it got colder out and the head cracks got worse!!! The only thing, those stupid little release tabs on the plug itself...are broke (common) but they stay plugged in just fine?!?!

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Four Rings walky_talky20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G.AUDI View Post
    Do you make your own or source from ecs/034?
    ^You can repair however you like.

    - You can get the OEM Mk4 Jetta 1.8T repair harness. Looks like they are no longer available from the dealer, but you can still source them from new old stock on eBay for around $65.
    - You can get one of the fancy coil pack harnesses from ECS ($75) or 034 ($200).
    - You can get 4 individual coil pack harness pigtails and do it yourself ($20).
    ^Don't listen to this guy, he's not even a mechanic.
    2001 Laser Red A4 1.8TQM, 5-Speed Swapped, 4.11 Final Drive, APR 93, R8 coil packs, Labree HFC & DP, 2.5" Exhaust, ST Coilovers, 034 RSB, A8 Brakes Front & Rear, 18" RS4 Reps
    2006 Passion Red Volvo V50 T5 AWD 6MT
    "You need to know what you are doing...Its like a rainbow jungle in there." - Redline380

  9. #9
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    Replaced spark plugs for time being and she idled fine at 1100k or so then started spitting and sputtering and when you give it gas it just drops down, it seems like the motor is still sensing the gas pedal and just dropping down and bogging out due to running so rich.....it did go up to 2k rpm wks ago...the first time I fired it up when timing belt was a tooth off...now it seems worse that I adjusted it to the correct timing mark on the crank lol I don't get it. Another thing Im curious about that I may have effed up on....the old head and oil filter had such THICKK THICK sludge in em and coolant mix, so before I started the motor again after new head install I wanted to remove as much as I could so I sprayed degreaser into the oil pan thru the drain plug hole and let it soak for awhile.... most of it drained back out and just to make sure....I took off the big PCV 90deg elbow outta the block and poured sea foam down in there and let it drain out of the oil drain plug hole until it was clean looking....Im realizing now, that the degreaser could've worked its way to a sensor somewhere somehow....and kind of thinking that was a dumbdick move smh lol??!!

  10. #10
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    Also tried the MAF trick and had no change and Im getting no codes at the moment.....got a bunch before...all misfire codes and shoulda wrote down the others smh

  11. #11
    Veteran Member Four Rings customa4's Avatar
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    Check the hard intercooler pipe underneath the front bumper and make sure the hoses are tight.

    The black pipe in this picture(right above where it says "Just-Intercoolers" in bottom left and right corner)

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  12. #12
    Veteran Member Four Rings walky_talky20's Avatar
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    There's no sensor you're going to screw up by putting seafoam in the oil pan. The only thing to worry about there is possible loosening up stuff too much and junk clogging the screen - or thinning out the oil too much and wrecking the bearings.

    If you think its running too rich, use your scan tool to read the ECU and look at things like the coolant temperature, MAF value at idle, and the fuel trims. You can also run the engine for a bit and then pull your spark plugs out and see what color they are.

    You can also get us a video of how its running. Might inspire some good suggestions.

    EDIT: Just saw your reply above. You can try to do an automatic throttle body adaptation by turning the key ON, and then leaving the car sit for 2 minutes. You won't be able to tell if the adaptation is successful, but it does attempt an adaptation every time you turn the key on and leave it on for a bit. You can hear it if you listen closely.
    ^Don't listen to this guy, he's not even a mechanic.
    2001 Laser Red A4 1.8TQM, 5-Speed Swapped, 4.11 Final Drive, APR 93, R8 coil packs, Labree HFC & DP, 2.5" Exhaust, ST Coilovers, 034 RSB, A8 Brakes Front & Rear, 18" RS4 Reps
    2006 Passion Red Volvo V50 T5 AWD 6MT
    "You need to know what you are doing...Its like a rainbow jungle in there." - Redline380

  13. #13
    Senior Member Three Rings
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    You might try tapping in a vacuum guage from one of the intake manifold connections. Sounds like it could be a large vacuum leak.

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  14. #14
    Veteran Member Three Rings HUFset's Avatar
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    04 A4 1.8T Cracked Cylinder Head swap and rough idle Probs!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by G.AUDI View Post
    Do you make your own or source from ecs/034?

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
    You can get an AWP harness from a Jetta/VW dealer and splice it in for cheap, use Touareg adapter plates and 2.0 coil packs. Thereís a diy somewhere here, passatworld or audiworld with all the part numbers. Also Blake Beadle sells stuff on the Facebook North America B5 A4 Owners Group.
    Last edited by HUFset; 06-12-2018 at 11:33 AM.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    Have you verified the cams are in sync?
    They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by customa4 View Post
    Check the hard intercooler pipe underneath the front bumper and make sure the hoses are tight.

    The black pipe in this picture(right above where it says "Just-Intercoolers" in bottom left and right corner)

    Yepp both sides tight, kinda odd yet cool how they use the actual frame rail as the piping!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gin+ View Post
    Have you verified the cams are in sync?

    Yes, as seen in the pic in the beginning....I checked multiple sources to my knowledge I have everything dead on....the mark on the splined crank gear with notch on aluminum, cam gear with valve cover notch, all while the 2 notches on camshafts line up with cap arrows!!! Right?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by walky_talky20 View Post
    There's no sensor you're going to screw up by putting seafoam in the oil pan. The only thing to worry about there is possible loosening up stuff too much and junk clogging the screen - or thinning out the oil too much and wrecking the bearings.

    If you think its running too rich, use your scan tool to read the ECU and look at things like the coolant temperature, MAF value at idle, and the fuel trims. You can also run the engine for a bit and then pull your spark plugs out and see what color they are.

    You can also get us a video of how its running. Might inspire some good suggestions.

    EDIT: Just saw your reply above. You can try to do an automatic throttle body adaptation by turning the key ON, and then leaving the car sit for 2 minutes. You won't be able to tell if the adaptation is successful, but it does attempt an adaptation every time you turn the key on and leave it on for a bit. You can hear it if you listen closely.
    I probably should've just replaced the entire motor or rebuilt, like my gut was telling me but figured I would chance doing just the head...im worried how much sludge has things clogged. Check out how bad jusssst the oil filter was, the amount of clumpy sh!t that came outta the oil pan was bad too. In all my years of experience you usually hear a spun bearing or metallic noise, can't spin motor by hand if seized, or knocking if the motor is no good...I'll try and get video btw!!! And tbh I don't have much exp. with ECM computer tuning, I know the common sense stuff like IAT, Coolant temps etc but when it comes to some of the others Im clueless, like MAF value...idk wtf that is lol but I'll get the numbers for ya!!! And yes I tried the key ON trick to no avail sadly!!!

    Also speaking of Vacuum or Intake leak somewhere....(which is what Im leaning towards as well even I visually checked 1000X, I know how sensitive these cars are already lol) but what is the purpose of the two solenoids bolted to the bottom of the intake that some of the PCV hoses run to...because when disassembling I broke the barb off the one in the pic, but glued it back on just fine...could that be a big deal with the idling, is that the N249 valve I hear about randomly when talking PCV?
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  19. #19
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    What head code did you put back on there?


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  20. #20
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    These engines aren't *that* sensitive. It's one thing to chase a lean code or a boost issue, but its another to not hardly run at all.

    she idled fine at 1100k or so then started spitting and sputtering
    when you give it gas it just drops down
    To me, it sounds like the engine is starving for fuel. It may be a long shot but you might want to verify fuel pressure. What do you have for DTC's?
    They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Three Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawless View Post
    What head code did you put back on there?


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    There's really no a head code per se. There's large port (like that of an AEB engine) and small port (just about everything else).

    Some head rebuilders will grind the engine code off the lift tab, so it may not be possible to tell.

    The most important part is to get a 058 small port head made by VW/Audi and not the 06A Costcast head.

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  22. #22
    Senior Member Two Rings
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    Check codes had this issue after replacing thermostat thermostat was setting a code for cooling efficiency and same thing with the revs dropping when hitting gas


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  23. #23
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    https://youtu.be/uot-V4Q9jb4

    Heres the video of what its doing, I wish I had filmed the very first time I fired it up bcuz it idles perfect on a cold start...for about 10sec then starts getting all b!tchy and wild idling at 400-500 rpm....It Now does not sense the gas pedal AT ALL, when I got back in the car towards the end of the video I was hitting the gas the entire time even had it to the floor at one point!

  24. #24
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    Itís probably time for vcds if you havenít gotten this sorted yet to try and pinpoint wth is going on.

  25. #25
    Veteran Member Four Rings EuroxS4's Avatar
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    I hear a massive vacuum leak in the video from far away.I would suggest looking at the pcv breather system and sjp.Also note if you have a failed pcv it will run just like that.To diagnose the pcv, on the drivers side intake manifold should be 2 rubber hoses.When the vehicle is running clamp or squeeze one at a time to see if the idle evens out.If it does you have a bad pcv.Hopes this helps.

    Did you make sure the engine is timed right???
    Last edited by EuroxS4; 06-17-2018 at 08:23 AM.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gin+ View Post
    Itís probably time for vcds if you havenít gotten this sorted yet to try and pinpoint wth is going on.
    Yes, I agree! I figured the software would be $500 + but some don't seem that bad....2 most popular seem to be VAG-com and VCDS....am I right? Wheres the best place to get one of these....Im about to just yank the 1.8T anyway and slapping in a 2.7T...im seriously considering it lol!!!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by EuroxS4 View Post
    I hear a massive vacuum leak in the video from far away.I would suggest looking at the pcv breather system and sjp.Also note if you have a failed pcv it will run just like that.To diagnose the pcv, on the drivers side intake manifold should be 2 rubber hoses.When the vehicle is running clamp or squeeze one at a time to see if the idle evens out.If it does you have a bad pcv.Hopes this helps.

    Did you make sure the engine is timed right???
    I rechecked the timing marks literally 5 separate times now and had the front bumper off a billion times it feels like lol and everything seems to be dead on man! I also replaced all the PCV system hoses and components right down to the plastic 90deg. elbow going into the block and cleaned all other parts that had any gunk in them....I actually tore it all off at one point months ago (before head swap, when I thought it was a combi valve issue)...just to see if it would narrow things down and it eventually ran like sh!t again after about an hr, but that was due to the cracked head...So I could try it again and I will also deff try and pinch those hoses like you say and see what happens. Thank you so much for your input, this is all helping me!!!

  28. #28
    Veteran Member Four Rings AudiA4_20T's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gin+ View Post
    These engines aren't *that* sensitive. It's one thing to chase a lean code or a boost issue, but its another to not hardly run at all.
    Agreed. Generally these motors are pretty bulletproof as long as timing doesn't slip. Some logging should tell the story here.
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  29. #29
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    Heres the live data I was getting on my cheap OBD2 reader while it was running! Also I tried pinching both hoses on the intake as well and no change??!!
    Attached Images

  30. #30
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    Does the throttle work on a cold start? I mean, can you rev it at all at any point?
    They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

  31. #31
    Senior Member Three Rings Gin+'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nasty275ss View Post
    Yes, I agree! I figured the software would be $500 + but some don't seem that bad....2 most popular seem to be VAG-com and VCDS....am I right? Wheres the best place to get one of these....Im about to just yank the 1.8T anyway and slapping in a 2.7T...im seriously considering it lol!!!
    VCDS was formerly known as VAG-COM so they're the same.

    Personally, I'd start with a 10 dollar blue cable from ebay and VCDS lite (free) because I'm cheap.
    They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

  32. #32
    Registered Member Two Rings Jarrodg1993's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nasty275ss View Post
    Yes, I agree! I figured the software would be $500 + but some don't seem that bad....2 most popular seem to be VAG-com and VCDS....am I right? Wheres the best place to get one of these....Im about to just yank the 1.8T anyway and slapping in a 2.7T...im seriously considering it lol!!!
    I went with the OBDeleven tool from ECS tuning. $80 and you use the app on your phone. Has great reviews and you're supposed to be able to get most of the stuff done that a VCDS can

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