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Noise from dash/steering column whenever wheel is moved off-center?

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Noise from dash/steering column whenever wheel is moved off-center?

Old 10-30-2010, 06:49 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Default Noise from dash/steering column whenever wheel is moved off-center?

Hi folks.
I have a 2006 A8 that is fast approaching 100k mostly trouble-free miles. However, recently, when the interior fans and stereo are off, an annoying sound can be heard coming from under the dash/steering column. It is consistently there any time the wheel is moved off-center and sounds much like a "squeege sliding over dry glass", for lack of a better description. Not heard when the wheel is held in a steady-state of deflection though.
It doesn't appear to be coming from within the engine compartment. Steering feels fine at the moment, no shuddering, vibrating, or pulling to either side. Suspension seems fine over speed bumps, tires are wearing great, power steering pump level is where it should be. Not sure if this is some sort of electro-mechanical feedback issue, how to fix it, or what it would cost to fix??
I do know that it is extremely annoying in an otherwise awesome ride. Also having occasional issues with the power trunk pull-down latch that intermittently refuses to COMPLETE the pull-down, and the trunk pops back up just about the time you park your butt in the drivers seat! The hinges and power mechanism (not the power latch though) were previously replaced under warranty, so I suspect it's an adjustment issue that I will attempt to resolve, seeing as how the dealership just wants to replace parts...namely the power latch actuator. Don't believe that is the problem as everything works fine SOMETIMES, just don't know when! Another Audi gremlin that just adds to the enjoyment and mystic of owning this spectacular ride.
Thanks in advance for any help or enlightenment that ANY of you can send my way.
Regards, Brian J. Miller.

Last edited by bbs_toybox; 10-30-2010 at 08:36 PM. Reason: typos...fat fingers!
Old 10-30-2010, 08:39 PM
2nd Gear
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 624

If I understand correctly (only noise during steering wheel movement?), the first place I'd look (or feel) is tie rod ends at their ball joints. With engine on, it's easy to reach in and feel tie rod end (on your car, tallest air spring setting) while someone turns the steering wheel side to side...should be no vibration, popping or anything but tight smoothness. While joint is rotating on steering knuckle (wheel bearing housing) any side "shift" other than centered rotation is a bad joint...noise/pop/groan or not.
With driver's window open, you can actually (I can) reach that side tie rod end while turn steering wheel...other side obviously requires an assistant.

Failing tie rod ends can make a variety of noises, transmitted through the steering rack or suspension and sometimes only audible inside...sometimes felt through the steering wheel, but often not. Tie rod ends can be purchased cheap from many sources other than dealer and installed by any quality alignment shop that is qualified to do A8 align.

Worse case: Power steering pump, full of fluid or not, if failing can groan during turning...but more likely also groan while at any off center position, steering wheel moving or not.

Worst case: Steering rack, but not as likely as tie-rod ends (unless leaking, which requires repair or replacement anyway).

Other possiblities, if not tie rods: Steering column itself (tube within tube for extension feature...moving from most to least extension should change noise, if cause was there) or U-joint at end of column, connected to steering rack.

Tie rod ends tend to be perishable items in most cars. Of near 20 German cars I've owned, almost all have had at least one go well before 100K. It's one of the highest pressure points in a car, that takes heavy load and abuse...normal to go sometime, even when rubber boot is intact...guaranteed to fail if it's torn or separated. The difficulty of turning the steering wheel with the engine off indicates just how much force is put on the the tie rod end joints by the power steering, plus holding that against 2 tons of car during turns.

Last edited by silverd2; 10-30-2010 at 08:46 PM.
Old 10-30-2010, 09:54 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 624

P.S. After re-reading your post, your first test maybe should be putting the steering wheel at a completely different position than normal...totally different extension position and height. See if that changes or eliminates the sound.

I've left my steering at the same position for 65K miles and notice a noise when turning the wheel (very subtle...possibly similar to your description), but only audible when all else is off (AC-stereo).

Completely changing wheel position totally eliminates the sound in my car, which was a relief. It let me know it is probably nothing more than a lubrication issue, due leaving the column in the same position for so long. I haven't done anything with it, considering the probable disassembly involved.

If this test doesn't change the sound, I'd move on to the tie rod ends next...although, it still could be an inside steering column noise that doesn't change like mine...lube or column bearing problem(?).

Beyond the plethora of possibilities (sorry) I've already covered, all that's left is front suspension arms. D3 A8's are famous for possible failures of these by as early as 50K miles. There are 8 different ball joints on these arms (besides the tie rod end joints) that all rotate during steering changes.

That orta be plenty enough to think about for now

Last edited by silverd2; 10-30-2010 at 09:56 PM.
Old 10-31-2010, 08:29 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 2
Default Gremlin noise in 06 A8 steering column: Part2:)!!

Hi to silverd2 and all reading this thread. I did some quick research of old archives related to gremlin noises in the steering column. Numerous sounds ended up being control arm bushings, tie rod ball joints, etc. Since my 06 A8 is nearing 100k, most of those ailments have been addressed already. A couple of folks had what I presume is my identical problem. I described it as a "squeege across dry glass" sound, but I heard it more adaptly referred to as a "squeaky door hinge" or "finger across a ballon" sound emanating from within the steering column whenever the wheel was MOVING off-center. Suggestions ranged from replacing a bad clock spring (self-cancel turn signal assembly?) to lubing the steering shaft. I believe we all have the same problem, just no perfect solution....YET! ALMOST 100% positive (must hedge my bet!!), but I don't think it has anything to do with the suspension or steering rack assembly. Sound is right in the dash, under the IP, in the steering column. As silverd2 suggested, I exercised the telescoping/tilt mechanism and stopped at a different final resting position. No help, but I do appreciate the thought process and rational. An A8 shouldn't sound like a used-up YUGO so I'm not giving up on this issue and will continue to monitor and chase down any leads you forum folks provide me. I've heard the expression, "hell, they ALL do that" on more than one occasion...that won't cut it for me THIS TIME. Can't let the A8 defeat me EVERY time. Thanks to silverd2 and the rest for their rapid input and support. Cheers, Brian J. Miller.

Last edited by bbs_toybox; 10-31-2010 at 09:16 PM.
Old 10-31-2010, 10:28 PM
2nd Gear
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 624

Not as familiar with D3 design as D2 (I have '01 A8 swb), but haven't delved deeply into inside steering column construction, other than my own noise I described ...still in the analysis stage. Have just a couple of additional thoughts from a semi-educated guessing viewpoint:

Probably would have done it long before now and don't have a sharp mental picture of this in your car, or mine for that matter, but had a "squeaking" interior noise in the steering of a VW Scirocco years ago. It turned out to be where the column exited the cabin through the firewall...sound insulation was touching at that point, which I trimmed a bit to eliminate the sound. Funny thing is, it took many thousands of miles to start making the noise...seem that it took that long to "polish" & harden the foam material enough to emit a sound. A8's are so overly ( wonderfully ) packed with sound insulation layers, it brought this old experience to mind.

The second thought is anecdotal, from an out of state friend who owns an A6, who just happened to have a mystery interior steering noise that was solved by a mechanic she did bookkeeping for. I've found in my Bentley that the offending part in her case, also exists in D2's...probably all cars with air bags for all I know.
It's only found in the passenger protection/airbag section of the manual, so I'm assuming it's purpose/presence goes beyond just returning turn signal to center position or at least is somehow associated with airbag steering wheels. It was the "return ring with spiral spring" behind the wheel and airbag. Her mechanic is a German car only specialist and told her it happened in many high mileage Audi's he'd seen, but only since the introduction of airbags(?).

I've removed numerous steering wheels, but never one with an airbag...read too many precautions about improperly grounded airbag removals resulting in detonation caused by a simple spark of static....not ready to blow my head off till I become a little more despondent

So for what it's worth...a couple more theories.

Last edited by silverd2; 10-31-2010 at 10:36 PM.
Old 07-29-2011, 06:29 AM
4th Gear
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,351

Its a bit unclear if the noise is from inside the car from your description. (OK I didn't actually read the whole description).

If it is steering wheel squeek, you can usually solve it by realligning your steering wheel. Just unlock the titlt and telescoping and move it up and down and in and out a few times and then put it in your preferred position.
Old 11-07-2011, 10:39 AM
1st Gear
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 15

Sea Foam the pump if you think it's internal to the system.

Brake fluid bulb to remove the PS Fluid (hasn't been changed, now's a good time).
8 ozs and turn the wheel a few times, let it idle for 15 mins and exercise the wheel again. Don't forget to refill the PS fluid.. Sea Foam is a distillate.
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