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Old 09-21-2016, 03:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Audi Project: Expedition Allroad

After years and years of lurking on Pirate 4x4, the time has come for me to start a project that warrants its own build thread:


I have scoured the internet for someone to really commit to building an offroading Audi Allroad, and I still haven't found one. I read through every page of the other Allroad build thread on here, but was disappointed to see that the project was abandoned. It had so much potential! So that's where I come in. Most of my background has been in Wranglers, Cherokees, Toyotas, and a random BMW and 300ZX thrown in there along the way. It's time I return to my off road roots.

I had been going back and forth with the previous owner for the past month or so until we finally were able to settle on a price. So finally I was able to swing by with a trailer (with a winch, thankfully) and pick this bad boy up! It was a totally pain in the ass to unload and push up hill into my buddy?s carport where he?s letting me store it while we get it up and running, but with some ingenuity and a lot of elbow grease, we got it unloaded and in the carport in about two exhausting hours:


So what?s wrong with it? Here?s the list:
  • Timing belt snapped
    Interference motor, so the heads/valves are likely toast, probably the pistons too
    Rear air suspension leaks down to nil within ~1.5 to 2 weeks time
    Minor scrapes and bumps here and there, rip in driver?s seat
    Gauge cluster LCD and much of the switch gear is pretty worn (typical VW/Audi for the era)
    It?s a 15 yr old Audi
    The 2.7TT is not exactly known for its reliability (insanely tuneable, though)

So what's the good news?
  • Essentially new 29" BFG KO2 All Terrain tires (225 75 R16)
    Rare manual trans
    IPP air suspension sensor arms (~2" lift at max height, ~1" lower on lowest)
    New-ish front Arnott bags
    New air suspension compressor
    Is in pretty decent shape in and out

So what?s the plan for the Expedition Allroad?

I?m going to make this a full on expedition vehicle. It?s already got the big beefy KO2?s, the IPP sensor arms to trick the air suspension into max height, and in my opinion, looks fucking awesome. Here are the next steps:
  • Already have a replacement 2.7TT lined up from a B5 S4 with lowish miles, as well as some newish turbos from a friend (still stock K03's) and am going to put in a new clutch and replace most all of the major seals and gaskets.
    Rear bags will be replaced with Arnott lifetime warranty(!) replacements
    Going to throw a roof rack on top with all the essential expedition goodies: A row of offroad lights, a shovel/axe, gas can, possibly a full size spare
    Replace the notorious VW/Audi worn interior switch gear and failing gauge cluster LCD screen
    Downpipe and intake + a mild tune. Going to keep it fairly mild, as I'm really not sure how these CVs will hold up to the big tires
    Pray to the Audi gods that nothing else goes wrong (it will)
    Take it out to the desert and cry when it breaks

Here are some pictures from the previous owner:







Last edited by ExDementia; 02-01-2017 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 09-21-2016, 04:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Making the arrangements now for the S4 engine, just got a few shots from the guy I'm picking it up from:



Looks like a big, jumbled headache right now, but the engine is pretty low mileage and is coming with full set of seals and gaskets that I would be replacing anyway, so that's a nice bonus.

There are some differences between this S4 engine and the Allroad 2.7, the biggest of which is that the S4 did not come with secondary air injection and the Allroad did. Adapting it would mean either machining the heads or finding new heads from another Allroad -- neither of which seem like fun options. Luckily, various tuning shops have successfully been able to set the expected airflow to 0 in a tune, so there is definitely a way around this with software. I'll worry about that once I get it up and running though, because from what I read, the worst that will happen is it will just throw a CEL until I fix it. Not a huge deal in the meantime.

The engine is missing a few things, namely turbos and the intake Y-pipe across the top. My buddy who is helping me with this build has extra sets of the stock S4 KO3 turbos, so I'll be buying a nice, low miles set off of him to put on, and most of the other stuff I can salvage from my existing motor.

I'm also ordering this ECS timing belt/waterpump kit to put on, as well as a new clutch. I really can't wait to get this thing on an engine stand and start tearing into it. All of these things will be so much easier to do with the engine out on a stand, and I can take my time and make sure everything gets done right.


Making progress!

Last edited by ExDementia; 12-27-2016 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 09-21-2016, 06:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Subscribing to this one for sure! Its definitely giving us a fresh perspective on Audis.
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Old 09-21-2016, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Please be honest with us and tell us when the car fucks you in the ass. Because it will. At an inconvenient time.
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Subscribing to this one for sure! Its definitely giving us a fresh perspective on Audis.
Thanks! I love the idea of doing something unique with this.

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Please be honest with us and tell us when the car fucks you in the ass. Because it will. At an inconvenient time.
Oh of course! I even bought lube just for the occasion.

Real talk: I fully expect shit to break here, this is not at all what the Audi was designed for, even for all its "rugged" features. At the end of the day, this is not a Jeep, and it will not do the rock crawling I built my Cherokee and Wranglers for. I'm not going to do anything extreme with this. Mostly just some trails here and there and taking it camping.

There's a reason why this is my third car and not my daily. I'll probably spend more time working on it than it will spend on any trail. But hey, that's the price you pay for doing something unique and pushing a vehicle's limits. I mean hell, these aren't exactly reliable vehicles even when completely stock.

I figure if guys are running 550-600 hp on stock CVs, driveshafts, transmissions, and bottom ends, then this will hold up OK with these big tires and stock power. Breaking a CV here and there will probably happen, but surprisingly they're only ~$75. Airbags are definitely going to be a sore point, but luckily they're not too terrible to change out, and the big tires probably won't have too big of an effect on them. These cars do have fairly weak lower A-arms though, so I have my eye on an upgraded kit.

More updates once I get the engine in and start tearing into it...
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Old 09-27-2016, 06:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Even though I'm on Pirate, I don't mean to be an ass, but...

This seems like a really hard way to get a Legacy Outback.

Is there a performance/luxury reason that I'm not accounting for? Seriously, I know nothing about Audis.
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Even though I'm on Pirate, I don't mean to be an ass, but...

This seems like a really hard way to get a Legacy Outback.

Is there a performance/luxury reason that I'm not accounting for? Seriously, I know nothing about Audis.
Honestly it's just to have a unique build. I always liked the look of the Allroads, and thought it would be cool to actually put one to use. So when one came across Craigslist for cheap with a blown motor with the rare manual trans, I jumped on it.

Completely stock it is pretty equivalent to an Outback, just with a bit more power and air suspension (which can be a definite liability). The AWD systems functionally are essentially identical to each other.
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Old 09-28-2016, 06:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Cool. It'll be neat to see where it goes!
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hope you got it cheap!

I have a Audi B6 that's currently my daily (got it cheap). So far mine has been pretty painless (I have the 1.8t though).

A couple tips:

Don't be afraid to buy the super cheap Amazon/ebay switches. I paid like $30 total for all my window switches and headlight switch and they work and look great.

I recommend Motoza for tuning (unless you have someone local). I'm running a stage 1+ on mine and it runs really strong. Plus they can program out stuff like the SAI (it seems a lot of people delete it anyway). I liked the fact they do remote programming and will actually look at the logs and tweak as necessary. I did mine all through my phone with their bluetooth dongle (and it was still cheaper than APR and most others).

Good luck! I'm interested to see how it comes out.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Even though I'm on Pirate, I don't mean to be an ass, but...

This seems like a really hard way to get a Legacy Outback.

Is there a performance/luxury reason that I'm not accounting for? Seriously, I know nothing about Audis.
Was my first thought as well, but OP seems to have a good handle.

Also, I fully appreciate the function of an outback, but my favorites are actually lowered, they end up being same as stock height as an impreza. It's just a more refined/spacious impreza wagon.

Back on topic, definitely looking forward to this. Kind of like the Impreza WRX/STI I saw a few months ago. Seems odd at first, but being different is cool.
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Old 10-11-2016, 10:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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should have built a volvo
we've even got lift springs
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Old 11-28-2016, 10:41 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Very, very cool.

A car with a dashboard light to inform you of when to start pedaling.

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Old 12-23-2016, 08:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Haven't updated this in a while, as I put a thread up on ExpeditionPortal, which seemed a little more appropriate, but I figured I should still keep this one going.

I picked up replacement valve cover gaskets, cam seals and plugs, a tensioner and idler pulleys, and I have an assortment of hoses on their way. I'm looking around at aluminum thermostat housings, but they're all more than I really want to spend. From what I've gathered, really the only time they get damaged is if you over torque the nuts when installing it, but I know I really should just suck it up and get one anyway.


I picked up the engine! Luckily I was able to borrow my buddy's hoist and had a friend there to help me load that in the truck, which saved me some serious effort. I didn't think to cover the turbo oil return lines, so those puked out some lovely oil into the bed of the truck, but it wasn't too bad.



As you can see in the last pic there, the Allroad is sitting on jack stands just to keep the rear bags from sitting down on themselves completely deflated. When I put it in jack mode it lowered down to level 1 and was sitting directly on the wheelwells. Since the engine obviously won't run, the only way to run the compressor is to hook up a battery directly to the compressor and manually override it to inflate the bags. I was going to do this, but I figured it would just be right back down sitting on the rear bags again soon enough, so why bother.

I'm picking up a Harbor Freight engine stand this week. Anyone have experience with these ultra cheap ones? $60 is ridiculously cheap, and its rated for 1000lbs, which my engine comes no where near. Got the clutch as well. Managed to snag an insane price on a Luk kit that came complete for about half of what everyone else was charging for the exact same part number. Only $160 shipped!


So while I'm getting the engine together with all the new parts, something for me to chew on is the issue of bump stops. The Allroads have them built-in inside the airbags, so I'm thinking about taking one out and checking out how I can extend the bump stop so if/when I have total bag failure (which is very likely), I can still move it under its own power and get it home. I found this thread where a guy just bought a kit off eBay and threw in a cheap set to help his problem with lowering his, so from seeing what that looks like, I'm thinking I might be able to stack one and a half or two of those to get the proper spacing needed to not grind my big tires in the wheel wells.

The other option I have would require some light fabrication, but might be the better long term solution, are hydraulic bump stops. These would give a more forgiving ride when approaching the limits, but more importantly, lessen the shock of hitting the bumpstops in the first place, and hopefully take some stress off of the already relatively fragile A-arms. I'm going to pull off a tire front and rear and see if there is a good spot to mount these. On top of fabrication, these are definitely the most expensive option, and will probably run me upwards of $400 in parts alone. I'm definitely hesitant on that idea based on cost alone, but it would be a seriously awesome solution.


Next step is to grab that engine stand, mount the engine up, and then I can sit down and take my time in tearing it down and very carefully replacing the timing belt, with a huge thanks to my buddy Jay who will be lending his expertise on this, as he has done the timing belt on many 2.7s, and the job seems pretty damn sketchy to tackle if you donít have the specialty tools and knowledge needed. Damn Germans...
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Last edited by ExDementia; 12-23-2016 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 12-23-2016, 08:49 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Brought a box of toys for the Audi. Can you see her smiling? I think sheís smiling. That reminds me, I need to give her a name. I was thinking something German would be fitting, and was really thinking she would make a good Elsa... but Frozen kind of ruined that one. Maybe Heidi? Bernadette? Hmm.

Anyway, got the engine stand and mounted everything up. Had to remove the clutch and flywheel, which were pretty damn stubborn, but a few good whacks with a BFH and the clutch freed up.


Plenty of life on that clutch disk still. Oh well, still being replaced.


Big, very heavy dual mass flywheel. I wouldnít be surprised if this thing was pushing close to 30lbs (probably 25 or so)



The cheap *** Harbor Freight stand holds! Also, this shot makes the Allroad look weirdly short...
Damn, what crappy pictures. I think I need to clean the lens on my phone. Next step is to start pulling everything off the front of the motor and start on the timing belt. That will have to be a weekend in itself at least.

Any ideas for German names for this rugged lady?
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Old 12-23-2016, 08:52 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I picked up a replacement seat this past weekend (mine has a huge tear in the bottom leather) for only $100. Hell of a deal! It was at an auto dismantler just outside of Ventura, CA. They had a whole fleet of old military vehicles there, as well as a fairly clean looking early 80's Saab 900 Turbo that I was seriously running the logistics of taking home for a minute before coming to my senses. I showed up with time to spare and a bag of tools to start tearing into it, but it turned out the guy had already removed it for me, just kept it sitting in the car hooked up to show that all the motors worked. Good guy! I wanted to pick up some switch gear and the HVAC front panel, but they were just slightly different than mine, so I figured I would just find some replacements on eBay.

New seat (before it was removed from the other car):


I also ordered a replacement LCD for the dead-pixel-addled one that's in there now. It's pretty much a guaranteed failure for this era Audi, unfortunately. You can see how far gone the current LCD is currently:


Luckily good replacement screens are only ~$25 on eBay, so I ordered one. The difficult part is going to be soldering it in. It is attached by a ribbon cable with 51 individual pins. Not looking forward to that, but I figure I have been wanting to beef up my soldering game, so this is a good place to start. I just need to order a swing out magnifying glass/light and some better stands to get this done right. Here's a guide for any interested: http://www.audiworld.com/forums/s4-r...ed%22-1637467/

The cluster was a bitch to get out, only two screws, but a very snug fit and not a lot to hold onto to pull it out. I ended up rocking it up and down using the trip computer buttons as leverage, which as sketchy as hell, but it worked:


Getting it open was a PITA as well. I ended up using guitar picks to hold all six very stiff clips open so I could pull it apart:


Then, following the guide, I pried up the gauge needles...


And two of them broke immediately. Barely any leverage and the little plastic pins holding the black housing onto the clear plastic case snapped. Oh well, hopefully I can glue them. Worst case, I'll cannibalize another cluster for replacements.

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Last edited by ExDementia; 12-23-2016 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 12-23-2016, 08:55 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Cleaned up the engine a bit. It had an oil leak that the previous owner was aware of, but didn't bother fixing (just topped of the oil) because he knew he would be swapping it out anyway. So there was a lot of build up of sludge around the front of the engine and elsewhere. My buddy and I scraped off the major stuff, and then went in strategically with a pressure washer to get as much crap off as we could without harming anything. Of course, we blocked off open outlets first and didn't spray them directly, and after hit it with an air compressor to make sure any open electrical connections didn't have water in them.

I should have taken more shots before, but here are some after we started scraping crap off:





And after:




So satisfying!

We also took inventory of some other random stuff that I need, so I just ordered some new camshaft seals, turbo gaskets and seals, turbo oil line gaskets, and new motor mounts, all for under $100 shipped from ECS. Not too bad! Everything else that is missing I can probably just steal off of the motor that is coming out of the Allroad, but if I have to order a few more things, it's not a big deal.
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Old 12-23-2016, 09:01 AM   #17 (permalink)
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If these pristine, gloriously glistening, tantalizingly lubricated camshafts donít get your blood flowing, then I question your merit as a car guy:


I tore down the front of the engine yesterday, pulled off all the accessories, replaced the water pump, the thermostat, the thermostat housing, one side of the cam seals along with the cam chain tensioner gasket (PITFA), and valve cover gasket. I was only able to do the seals on one of the heads because I ended up only having enough cam seals for one side (the others are on order).


Cam lock bar engaged

I replaced the infamously problematic thermostat housing with an Aluminum one from. The one that was on there wasnít cracked, but the sealing edge was pretty worn down on one side, so I didnít really feel like taking any chances. Seeing as how you pretty much have to do a full timing belt job in order to get to it, Iím glad I did. Peace of mind is a beautiful thing.


New hottness VS old and busted

Timing belt and cam gears off, t-stat housing and water pump on. I love shiny new parts:



Insert wincing face while pulling the cam sprockets


The old timing belt looks brand freaking new


Mmmmm rust. Looks more like buffalo sauce than anything else...

As you can see, it was pretty damn rusty anywhere water is supposed to go. Unfortunately this is just a fact of life with an iron block that has sat for a few months without running. All I can do is clean it up the best I can, and then Iíll be flushing it frequently once itís up and running. It looks like the timing belt was done somewhat recently, which is definitely a possibility with a ~80k engine. Oh well, this is not something I want to bother with again, so might as well do it right when itís out of the car and have easy access to everything.

More misc. camshaft porn:




Jesus, 5 valves per cylinder. German over-engineering at its finest!

Thatís all Iíve got for now. Some day this week Iíll be doing the cam seals, valve cover gaskets, and cam tensioner seals for the other side, and then putting the new timing belt on as well as the new idler pulley and tensioner. Then probably a day in itself installing the turbos, and finally Iíll start tearing apart the Audi to scavenge a few parts I need off the old engine, and I can drop this puppy in.
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Last edited by ExDementia; 12-23-2016 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 12-23-2016, 10:16 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Oohh yeahhhh, got me some turbos:


Theyíre so cute and tiny! Awwww, look at them sitting there, being adorable. Goochie goochie, little turbos!

Got a set of K03s from my buddy whoís helping me out with the Allroad. They came off a B5 S4 with only about 30k miles on them, and are in really great shape. Yeah, yeah, I know, K04s would be ideal, but who the hell turns down free turbos? Also I just want to get this puppy up and running right and establish a solid baseline before doing anything crazy. Iíve had the Audi for three months now and I still havenít driven the damn thing.



We mocked them up, but since we need to cannibalize so many parts from the engine thatís in the Audi currently, we held off on installing them. Meanwhile, the timing belt is done, all the cam seals are replaced, the valve cover gaskets, the timing belt tensioner, idler, water pump, thermostat with aluminum housing, and motor mounts are all done. Checked, double checked, and then quintuple checked the timing and turned the motor over by hand a few times. Everything is solid.

The next step is to finally begin tearing into the Allroad and start ripping that poor broken heart out of her. Currently Iím thinking the weekend after Christmas is when Iíll start the surgery.
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Old 12-23-2016, 10:56 AM   #19 (permalink)
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This thing will be sweet. I'm looking forward to watching the progression.
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Old 12-24-2016, 12:59 PM   #20 (permalink)
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^ Ditto. I'm along for the ride to see how it turns out!
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Old 12-24-2016, 01:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
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you should be able to glue those little decorative covers back onto the needle no problem. I'd use epoxy and not anything cyanoacrylate/superglue. You will avoid the fogging of the plastic from the fumes.
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Old 12-24-2016, 07:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Freidel. German lady name.
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Old 12-26-2016, 11:46 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Still have some parts leftover from the offroad allroad project, like arnott bags and bilstein shocks, roof rack, computadora scanner chingadera, dunno what else, few boxes of misc. bits and pieces. Shoot me a PM if interested, will make you a good deal on all that stuff.
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Old 12-27-2016, 04:37 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Cool build. Enjoy seeing stuff I've never seen.
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Old 12-27-2016, 10:46 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Still have some parts leftover from the offroad allroad project, like arnott bags and bilstein shocks, roof rack, computadora scanner chingadera, dunno what else, few boxes of misc. bits and pieces. Shoot me a PM if interested, will make you a good deal on all that stuff.
Awesome, I'll definitely be sending you a PM at some point in the future about that. Once I get it up and running and everything figured out, I'll have a better idea of what I need.

I'm assuming you're Jesse_At_TLT? It's a shame your build didn't continue, it was just getting good! Still lots of inspiration and good info there, though. I've got it bookmarked.

Thanks everyone! Can't wait to start making some progress on pulling apart the Audi this weekend.
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