ESC fault

Squirrelly

Registered User
Hi, While driving today the dash suddenly flashed up the following 2 warning messages ;

" Stabilisation control (ESC) fault! See owner's manual."

And....

" Start-stop system: system fault. Function unavailable."

I've never seen either message before and they now flash up every time the ignition is switched on.
Any Ideas? Pictures of both messages attached below.
 

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JohnS3

Registered User
Scan the car for error codes with VCDS etc. This will give you more information on the nature of the faults.
 

rum4mo

Registered User
Might just be a failing battery, maybe check that first to see if that is what is causing the "Start/Stop" not being available - and borderline power availability chopping off the ESC as it is not "essential" - just a thought, that is all.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
That's interesting.
Another issue that I found today is that the cruise control now doesn't work either, there may be more problems still to appear.
Is this an issue that will need an Audi dealer to investigate or will an independent have the kit to read the error codes and diagnose what the problem is?

Thanks, Paul.
 

JohnS3

Registered User
They can both do it. Depends how much you want to pay. Audi charge £90 to diagnose issues (listed on Audi main website) That’s why some owners buy their own tools like VCDS to troubleshoot issues like this.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
I rang Audi today to book in for diagnostics. I said there's an ESC, EPC, Start-Stop and cruise control fault.

"I'll just let you know that we'll have to charge £60 to diagnose each issue so that could be £240" said Kylie or Tracey or whatever the hell her name was.
"WHAT?" said I. "It's probably all caused by same issue and I'm not paying that!" She put me on hold while she spoke to someone who didn't need a script . When she returned she said that they'll investigate for the one £60 charge.

There was a time long ago when the service advisor on the service desk was an ex-mechanic/workshop foreman and actually knew what was being asked of them and could actually give informed advice. Nowadays the best a main dealer can offer is a 20 year old girl who's skill set amounts to no more than the ability to book you an appointment. And... relax...

The car's booked in for next Monday.
 

Dippy

Registered User
Actually I'd still expect better from an Audi dealer. Which group franchise is it?

Your next challenge is what you agree to next. If the diagnosis is not conclusive, then they'll recommend a fix/replacement. But if it turns out not to be that then there's a risk that they'll still want to charge you before moving to the next possibility. Best have that conversation up front.
 

jdp1962

Grumpy Old Man
I admire your optimism @Dippy but I’ve long since given up expecting anything approaching good service or common sense from any Audi dealer. @Squirrelly , do you have to use a dealer? Do you not have the option of a good local independent?
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
I've been let down by independents too. My thinking, rightly, or wrongly, is that Audi have all the correct kit to diagnose these kind of issues.
Then, if it's an easy fix. say an abs ring or sensor or something then they can fix it. If it's an expensive 'new brain' needed then I'll take their diagnosis to an independent to get a secondhand part sourced and fitted. It's a 7 year old car that I'll probably be changing next year so I don't want to have to throw money at it.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
And the price quoted by the main dealer is... £2094.41

Apparently the coolant sensor valve has been leaking onto a cable going to the ECU, the coolant has tracked along inside it into the ECU.

So, it needs a new ECU , coolant sensor valve and associated cabling - 4 hours labour.

I contacted a local auto electrician who didn't want to know.
Then a local independent who tells me that the ECU is not plug and play and can only be re/coded direct from Audi by the main dealer.
He added that he could try sending the ECU away for repair but if it can't be fixed I'd be back at Audi but with his costs on top.
 

jdp1962

Grumpy Old Man
And the price quoted by the main dealer is... £2094.41

Apparently the coolant sensor valve has been leaking onto a cable going to the ECU, the coolant has tracked along inside it into the ECU.

So, it needs a new ECU , coolant sensor valve and associated cabling - 4 hours labour.

I contacted a local auto electrician who didn't want to know.
Then a local independent who tells me that the ECU is not plug and play and can only be re/coded direct from Audi by the main dealer.
He added that he could try sending the ECU away for repair but if it can't be fixed I'd be back at Audi but with his costs on top.
Ouch! I feel for you. At least you checked every alternative course of action.
 

JohnS3

Registered User
Can we break this down a bit more please?

Which ECU are we talking about. The ECU on the brake valve ? I can’t see it being the engine ECU as that’s located under the wiper cover and is well protected. Perhaps some pictures would help us.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
The ECU. The coolant has leaked onto cables and capillary action has taken coolant up the cable into the ECU which is showing the faults in my first post. I'm not aware of any problems with the brakes?
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
Ok, the more I think about it the less I want to spend 2k on a 7 year old car that was worth x last week and still only worth x next week after a 2k repair bill.

What about this scenario?
1. The dealer has a car that I like
2. I suggest part-exchanging my car against it 'as is', on the basis that the price for them to fix it is less than the price they'll charge me to fix it.

Throw me a line... I'm clutching at straws here....
 

jdp1962

Grumpy Old Man
Ok, the more I think about it the less I want to spend 2k on a 7 year old car that will be worth x today and still only x tomorrow after repair.

What about this scenario?
1. The dealer has a car that I like
2. I suggest part-exchanging my car against it 'as is', on the basis that the price for them to fix it is less than the price they'll charge me to fix it.

Throw me a line... I'm clutching at straws here....
Exactlly; the allowance you want them to make is the cost of the repair, not the price of it. :)
 

JohnS3

Registered User
The ECU. The coolant has leaked onto cables and capillary action has taken coolant up the cable into the ECU which is showing the faults in my first post. I'm not aware of any problems with the brakes?

Ok. Engine ECU. Im amazed that fluid got to it up the wires. I’d be tempted to clean the connectors On the ECU and see if that clears the errors.
 

Dippy

Registered User
Is the car otherwise working? If so I'd suggest that it may not be absolutely necessary to replace the ECU. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can advise on the possibly corrosive properties of coolant, however if it is simply the conductivity which is interfering with the ECU then that may not be terminal. I would absolutely expect a dealer to recommend (insist?) on ECU replacement even if the damage is only cosmetic. It won't really be in their rulebook to clean and dry out the ECU and try again. If you can get the dealer or an indie to replace the valve and cable first, then you can find out if the ECU will recover after a clean. If the ECU does need to be replaced then it is possible that a tuner could do that.

I hope this is helpful. If so then possibly you can excuse the question that I can't help asking: Didn't you notice that the coolant level was dropping?
 

PenttisHSR

Registered User
Brake light switch?
I belive all three "faults" circuits are linked to it, ESC Stop/Start & Cruise control.
Also, when water gets in to the ECU box (usually due to blocked scuttle drain) it can not get out again, so leads to codensation/damp which can play havoc with ECU PCB.
The capilliary action should only have got as far as the connector block, possibly a corroded pin cold be cleaned or replaced by a soldered by-pass wire.
 
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Squirrelly

Registered User
I've managed to speak to another auto electrician who's going to have a look and give me a second opinion this Friday.
Fingers crossed.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
Ok. The whole sorry saga.

Coolant leaked, tracked up a cable as far as the engine ECU. The pins and sockets of the ECU and the loom were totally corroded and the plastic had melted. The main dealer was correct . The ECU was scrap as was the loom, hence a 5 hour labour charge to repair and replace as the loom stretches as far as the headlights. A total Audi price of over 2k obviously prompted me to seek an alternative.

Most other garages and Auto elecs I contacted though, simply did not want to know.
Eventually I found an Auto electrician who was willing, and more importantly able, to clone and re-code an ECU .
https://theautoelectrician.co.uk/

I sourced probably the only salvaged ECU (every model derivative is different) in the country from a company in London called Nirro Ltd.
Despite mixed reviews on Google they did me proud, £198 including next day delivery.

My auto elec sourced for me probably the only loom in the country too.
The loom was spliced in, the ECU cloned and re-coded, the leaking part changed and the car is now warning light-free.
Total bill including parts and a shed load of labour £970.

See attached picture of the offending leaking valve that caused the whole issue. Picture 2 shows the totally corroded pins.
I have pictures of the melted ECU and loom on Whatsapp but can't upload them here.

Did I notice the coolant level dropping?
No I didn't. The only time I venture under the bonnet is to top up the windscreen washer fluid and the coolant level was fine the last time.
You don't even need to lift the bonnet to check the oil any more, there's no dip stick and it's checked on the MMI screen.
I had the car serviced at a main dealer only about 6 weeks ago and if the coolant level was low then they didn't see fit to mention it.
I can only assume that the leak was so small as to be barely noticeable but, in such a place that it tracked directly into a cable and up into the loom.

Everyone who has seen the car is in agreement that they have never seen damage so extensive caused in such a way.
Having shelled out nearly £900 this time last year for a new water pump and run-on pump I've totally lost faith in the car.
7 years old , 60,000 miles and... FSH ferchrissakes...! It's going and I'm looking at a new non-Audi replacement.


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HertS3

Registered User
Such a shame that this experience has put your off Audis. My previous S3 had the rear differential go on it, quoted £3,500 from Audi for new part and labour. Bought a unit on eBay from a scrapper for £340, my mate kindly fitted it for free and job's a good 'un. Admittedly I did trade in the car about 6 months later for the S4 I have now (not so much because of the experience but it didn't help I suppose, I'd wanted a bigger car and this one came up), but I wouldn't say that it put me off the brand completely. Sh!t happens to cars, I'm not sure that Audis are any worse than any other brand.
 

Squirrelly

Registered User
Yes I know, I could have just been unlucky with this car.

I remember many years ago during a discussion in the canteen at work as to what was the worst car ever made, some one said...

"No... no... the Austin Allegro was the worst car ever, I should know, I had two of them!"

The laughter lasted for most of the afternoon.
 
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