Review of OwnershipCosts and Modifications


Repairs, Upgrades, Results

I purchased the RS6 about 4 years ago. This Mugello Blue example had about 87,000 miles. Factory options included the Warm Weather package, top/side airbags, black leather seating, Carbon dash inserts, and SE exhaust. The only aftermarket modification at this point was the Revo ECU tune. The timing belt had been done recently, and the car was exremely clean inside and out.

The Torque Converter became the first repair for me, and it was time for some major work. I can't stress enought how important it is to know a good independant mechanic or be able to turn wrenches on your own. The engine was pulled and a new TC put in. We also updated a few old leaking gaskets, EGT sensors, O2 sensors, and a few other miscellaneous items. A bit costly coming soon after purchase, but it certainly felt good to have given the car it's needed repairs and it was given a clean bill of health.

After a few months of driving, I decided to upgrade to the MTM Trasmission Control Unit for better shifting. This is an excellent and low cost upgrade offered by MTM and Viper UK. Shifting performance was improved, and it gave the car slightly sportier feel. The shift points in Drive are lifted a few hundred RPMs, the kickdown switch (a button below the gas pedal that when hit will shift down a gear for maximum acceleration) is eliminated in Tip, and shift time between gears in all three shift modes is tightened up. Total cost was around $300, not bad.

Over the next year or so all was mostly well. At some point the Auxiliary Radiators began to leak coolant and were removed. They were heavily corroded as the car had spent its first 6 years in Ohio where the roads are salted during winter. On second thought I probably would have left them in place as it's nice to have that extra cooling during the summer, or all year round if you live in warm climate. I've still never had an issue with cooling, but everything run so hot in general, the more cooling the better.

At some point my steering rack developed a nasty leak and had to be removed. This turned out to be a laborious experience where we upgraded and restored multiple items. The exhaust manifolds and exhaust down pipes were sent off for Ceramic Coating; done to keep heat in and not exposing the engine and transmission. We also rebuild the turbos using Scroll in New Jersey. The original turbos were in surprisingly good shape for 95,000 miles, and had just a bit of shaft play. The new turbos have back shiny and new, with an increased impeller shaft oil flow for greater cooling. A note on the steering rack assembly; it can be removed with the engine in, and once you get access to the three main bolts things will go well.

The Revo ECU tune had alwasy been a bit rough and jumpy at times, and was next on my list of improvements. Using the VCDS software and cable from Ross-Tech I began to log data and discover what was going on with the ECU tune. The logs clearly showed a lean fuel condition under full boost. Too much boost was being applied, and there was not enough fuel or cool air to make the correct detonation, causing the computer to pull timing and eventually cut and re-apply boost in rapid succession. Not only did this hurt acceleration, but it gave a bit of a bumpy feeling along the way. Knowing that fuel was the main isssue, I searched and tried multiple programs for a fix that could adjust the fuel while leaving the existing Revo tune in place. Eventually I found the Unitronic ME7 software, and through careful logging of data and adjustments got the engine running smooth and powerful.

The Dynamic Ride Control dampening system had never felt right on my car, and was the next trip to the mechanic. After reading over options I chose to go the most affordable route, which was removing the DRC and installing Koni Yellow Sport struts while retaining the stock springs. Another viable option would have been to obtain the 2nd Generation DRC updates, along with the pressurizing kit, and stick with it. Although a stable system for some, I was concerned about cost and future issues cropping up. The Koni setup has been reliable and performed well for many users including myself. The body height is very level and sits just a bit lower giving the car a slightly more aggressive stance. Besides looking better, the setup improves the center of gravity and weight distribution. Handling is moderately firm and predictable. There was one more piece to complete dialing in the suspension though; Hotchkis sway bars. Putting these on the front and rear (firm setting) greatly reduced body roll during cornering, and remains one of the best upgrades for the cost.

After getting the handling adjusted, I decided to go back and fine tune the power output. One issue with a turbocharged engine in a cramped compartment is heat soak. Basically everything gets so warm under hard driving or high ambient temps that the intercoolers can't cool the air enough, and correct detonation is not achieved, therefore reducing power. One of the best ways to combat this is a kit that sprays Water and Methanol into the combustion chamber. Look at the W/M page for more detail on that. To increase the cooling even more, the Wagner intercoolers were also added. To finish things off upgraded intercooler hoses by Venair were put in. These stay seated better and have almost no chance of popping off under increased boost pressure.

Dedicated to the 2003 Audi C5 RS6

The "RS" initials are taken from the German, RennSport; literally translated as "racing sport".