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Very annoying and confusing front end noise

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Very annoying and confusing front end noise

Old 05-21-2012, 04:50 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 29
Default Very annoying and confusing front end noise

I'm experiencing a really annoying noise in the front end of my 2011 a4 and the dealer and their regional "expert" technician is stumped. It's a 2011 Audi A4 with the sports suspension. The car has 15,000 miles on it and the noise started without incident about 2-3 months ago. The noise appears to be coming from the front driver's side of the car. It's hard to know for sure because the driver is sitting on that side of the car which may explain why it sounds like that's where it's coming from, but let's say I'm 90% sure that's the source of the noise. The noise occurs when moving slowly over uneven pavement such as moving about 5-10 mph in a parking lot at the supermarket or backing up out of a driveway. Sometimes it seems more prominent when the car has to dip, such as moving backwards going up a slope or downward into a driveway, however it sometimes happens on the street if the road isn't smooth. On smooth roads it never makes the noise even at low speeds. Once the car is moving more than 20 miles per hour or so it's gone or at least I never hear it. Potholes and bumps in the road do not recreate the noise. 99% of the time it seems to only be audible when you're moving slowly.

I brought the car into my local dealer twice in the past two weeks. Both times, their technician went for a ride with me and heard the noise. The first time I brought it in, they changed the wheel bearings and ball joints on both sides of the front end and said it was better. I drove off and in 2 minutes I realized nothing had improved. I brought it back. On this second trip, they had their shop foreman drive the car with me for a good 20 minutes or so and he confirmed the noise and said that is definitely not normal. They kept the car for a week and he worked on it. He couldn't figure it out, given that the computers said everything was fine and they had already changed the wheel bearings and ball joints.

They called in a regional Audi service manager who said he thought it was the front struts. They ordered one type of strut from one of Audi's part manufacturers, swapped them out, but the noise continued. Then they ordered the struts from another of Audi's part manufacturers and the noise still persisted. They went over and over the car again and held onto it for 3 extra days, driving it and testing it. Finally, they told me they went over virtually everything in the front end, lubed it, tightened everything and said they can't figure it out. They told me I could leave it with them for a few more days, but the service manager said they've done everything they could think of and (of course) their computers say that everything checks out normal.

They completely acknowledge that the noise is still there, but they say they have no idea what it could be and don't know what to do. I decided to take my car back from them as there was no point in keeping it there. The service manager was very pleasant and said I could bring it back again if it persists or gets worse, but he said he's not sure what they can do because they replaced everything they think it could be. If anybody has some thoughts I'd be very happy to hear them.
Old 05-22-2012, 06:04 AM
1st Gear
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: newyork
Posts: 168

So far from what you've replaced, the noise should go away. I would suspect the sway bar and the bushing. Ask the service manager if they can swap with new ones test again for noise. Hope this helps.
Old 05-24-2012, 12:50 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 15

Return the car and get a Toyota
Old 06-02-2012, 09:34 PM
ImTheDevil's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 11,670

Did they swap tires front to back to see if it moved, or do anything with the brakes? But more to the point, without knowing what kind of noise it is (grinding, roaring, whirring, thumping/knocking, etc), we can't begin to guess. Post up a list of what they've done and a description of the noise and we might be able to help.
Old 06-03-2012, 06:30 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 29

They didn't move the tires around, but I recently swapped my winter wheels and tires for my summers and the noise was and still is there. They fiddled around with the brakes and concluded that's not it.

The noise is a rattling bump noise. When I first heard it, I thought the big plastic pan beneath the engine was loose or rattling around if you could imagine what that would sound like. When I'm moving slowly, either forward or in reverse, I hear it. It is most noticeable when the car is moving over uneven pavement...not necessarily bumpy. But if the car rocks a little from left to right it is most noticeable. I first noticed it while backing up out of my driveway, which is up a slight incline and a little curve.

I'm bringing it back to the dealer tomorrow for them to take another crack at it. They made it clear that they don't put much stake it what customers read on the forums, but given that they're truly stumped, they were intrigued when I mentioned that folks were talking about sway bars and bushings.

They've already replaced both front struts, wheel bearings and ball joints and inspected the brakes. Any other thoughts??
Old 06-04-2012, 07:55 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 29
Default Not what I wanted to hear!

Here's the update. I brought the car in today and they agreed to take another crack at finding and fixing the noise, however, they believe they tried everything and have no idea what to try. One bit of interesting news. The last time I brought the car in, they put on REGULAR a4 struts...not the one for the sport suspension...and the noise went away. When they replaced my struts with brand new sports suspension struts...the noise returned. They swapped TWO different pairs of brand new sports suspension struts and the noise continued.

What I'm concluding from this is that the struts used in the 2011 a4 with sport suspensions is defective. The service tech didn't disagree with me, but said Audi USA will never acknowledge it and there's little he can do. He explained that a similar example was that a number of recent Audi's burn oil and that it has to be topped off, often in as little as a few thousand miles. However, Audi refused to acknowledge or admit this was a real problem. Eventually, they agreed it was a defect and started fixing cars so the oil would stop burning.

He told me that because so few sports suspension a4's are purchased, it's unlikely that Audi will admit their error and even if they did it could be 2-3 years before they do. I find this ridiculous for a $40,000 car to sound like a 1975 Buick. However, there's very little that I or the Audi service department can do. If Audi is using defective parts, and then replacing them with new defective parts, what can I do?
Old 06-05-2012, 01:14 PM
pa4ul's Avatar
4th Gear
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 3,413

just curious is your heatshield tightened? when i first got my car a tech didnt tighten it back up fully and it made a rattle noise that no one could figure out. Took out the air box and it was missing the lower screw. Viola noise gone. if they have done all that its worth a shot to see if it might be something simple? Just a shot in the dark of course.
Old 07-05-2012, 09:10 PM
1st Gear
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 171

strut hats. ill put money on it... i had the same problem i replaced every control arm and tie rod. everything in the front suspension still happened. i replaced the strut hats. no more noise! try that there like thirty bucks. good luck. P.S. 9 times out of 10 when they replace the struts they reuse old strut hats, so check that. hopefully this will help.

Last edited by ibe3pac; 07-05-2012 at 09:12 PM.
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