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Does car really adapt to your driving ?


GCab
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I noticed a few changes in my car after 1000 miles, and it seems unlikely that these are due to mechanical faults/changes in a brand-new car. There's less torque in 2nd gear, and 3rd also seems 'flatter' than before; and meanwhile, the handling has become spongier and underdamped.

My question is: how true is it that the 'fly-by-wire' throttle and the suspension settings may (both or either) change over time ? I really enjoyed the car when I first took delivery, and find it much less responsive now - is it possible there are software setting which can be reset to factory defaults ? Replies from dealers on this seem somewhat inconsistent - some deny that any such system exists, while others think that both engine and suspension can be electronically interrogated and reset.

Any views ? confused.gif

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Interesting subject here. My last three cars have been turbos (2 smokers and finally one quick one) and with each of them I have been convinced that they have slowed and become more sluggish over time. The first time I went in to complain, they did a few cursory things but said it was more than likely I had got used to the car. I thought this ridiculous at the time, but now, after the 3rd time I wonder if this might actually be the case. Simple test is to drive something else, something slow. After a week in a 1.8 Vectra on holiday I got back to my S3 and was almost scared of the performance. It was like having a new car again. The car felt ultra alive, responsive etc. Now I’m back to being used to it….

As far as adaptation goes - and I know this is true of the petrol engines so don’t take my word this is the case on your TDI – the engines adapt but the suspension wont. Engines tend to adapt not so much to driving style, but to the environment in which they’re driven, i.e. fuel quality is the big one, they might also adapt to temperature also. Main form of adaptation is to advance or retard timing according to the octane level in petrol. Obviously, yours being a diesel this is not relevant so not sure in what way it might adapt.

Another form of ‘adaptation’ (touted a lot by BMW some years back) is the automatic gearbox that ‘learns’ your driving style and adapts shift points and patterns accordingly. Having no knowledge of audi automatics at all I couldn’t say, but if yours IS an auto and if the ‘box has any kind of ‘learning’ its possible that this may have altered the ‘feel’ of your car.

Suspension wise, there really isn’t anything to adapt. As your car doesn’t have any form of ‘live’ or adaptive suspension there is no way for it to adjust height or firmness of damping so that one has to be you getting used to it.

Otherwise, in the absence of any kind of adaptation or learning going on, there might be a slight mechanical problem. With your car being so new its unlikely, but not unheard of. Not too much that springs to mind on the TDI engine (petrol turbos are far more sensitive and whimsical) but I’d start with the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF). Trouble is, you can’t really do a visual examination on this as its only an electrode and a new one costs £200+. Only real way is to get a dealer to run a check on codes or get a tuner to take it out and watch the readings from the MAF on the road. Hoses are easy to check and a loose or broken turbo hose can cause all sorts of unusual performance issues. Blocked intercooler intake? This would be pretty obvious though. Other than that – what kind of fuel are you using? Didn’t think this made so much of a difference on diesels, but if you happen to be using especially bad diesel it might have an effect.

As far as diagnostics go – almost all of the cars key systems can be interrogated, reset and adjusted electronically – some of them in great detail. This ranges from resetting an airbag light to running an engine tune or modifying how and when the doors lock/unlock. I can’t believe any dealer would deny this as their ‘computer diagnostics’ (aka known as VAG 1551/1552) seems to be the only thing they rely on these days. An ECU (which will affect engine and throttle characteristics) can be reset – not sure if there is a specific function on the dealer’s system but failing that disconnecting the battery for a few mins as previously stated will do this. Just beware if you have an aftermarket alarm fitted as many don’t like having the battery disconnected.

You might have heard of something called VAG-COM. This is basically a mirror of the very software used by your dealers and was written by the same person. You can buy it and run it on a laptop, plug it into your car’s on board diagnostics port and perform all of the functions your dealer can. The interface is perhaps not the most intuitive but you’ll get used to it and there’s a lot of technical resource on the net, including a Vag-Com forum here on tyresmoke that can help you.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, get your dealer to provide you with another car like yours and drive them back to back with a technician on board. Then cross your fingers and hope your lucky angel is looking down on you and that your dealer actually does something to help you.

Best get back to work wink.gif

Good luck

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[ QUOTE ]

I spoke to an Audi mechanic at the weekend and asked if i should reset the 'throttle body alignment' and what differences should i expect to see. He said none really and he advised that it was constantly adapting to the style of driving.

[/ QUOTE ]

Hehehe if it really adapted that much my car would idle at 6k rpm! FIREdevil.gif

I think the throttle body is constantly adjusting in normal driving, but what the full recalibration does is forces the car to re-determine the true values of ‘fully open’ and ‘fully closed’ (throttle) as these can sometimes go amiss. Any continual adjustments the car performs on the road will only be between these 2 values. So if these values have slipped away from where they should be then the continual adjustments will not be considering the full throttle range.

I think! wink.gif

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I can perform TBA easily as I have the APR chip hence I do it quite regularly. My wife drives it all week and so if I want a "play" then I'll run the TBA before I go out. It really makes quite a difference rather than waiting for it to adjust.

p.s. If you try and do it (via VAG-com, APR, whatever) and the car is over 60 degrees it won't work.

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Thanks very much for all your replies, especially Inigo's detailed analysis.

The car (in more detail) is a 2.5 TDI manual (six-speed) Cabriolet with Sport suspension and 17" wheels.

Sounds like nothing can realistically have changed with the suspension, though one service guy told me that my model might have auto-levelling suspension (seems unlikely to be an option that I wouldn't know about [or been charged for!] on a newly built car) - he was going to check it for me on the Audi database.

But potentially good news re. the resettable throttle... I do know the 'getting used to it' aspect, and there may well be an element of this, but the engine management does seem to have changed objectively too - in 2nd gear the revs race freely from 2,000 to 4,000 with no discernible surge in power, whereas I used to take my foot off at 3,000 because the car was already surging forward. Also, the engine idles at 1,000 and moves forward like an auto if I take my foot off the brake - pretty sure it never used to do this.

I'll try the reset option - don't have VAG-COM and am nervous about taking out the battery (I have the built-in alarm, but also a Tracker which might take the hump and call in Plod). Very interested in the ignition-key method, Drillslinger - thanks. I assume ON rather than RUN means the notch where all the lights and air-con come on but not the ignition ?

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Crikey - it seems to have worked shocked.gifbeerchug.gif

Back to original levels of 'shove' in 2nd and 3rd...

Has anyone else actually experienced this, or am I imagining it ? I didn't think it would work because I'm pretty sure I've left the car with electricals switched on for >3 mins before now (popped into shops, wife in car, A/C and radio on, etc.) with no discernible effect on engine performance (and this was after the slowdown). But doing it now, seems to have brought things back to how they were when I bought the car - at least as far as performance goes.

Strange, but very pleasing confused.gifsmile.gif

The suspension and steering still shake and bounce and pull on braking, but I am increasingly convinced this is a wheel alignment problem.

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