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A4 Quattro Handling in Snow

montrotamontrota Member Posts: 7
edited July 2014 in Audi
Had a 2003 A4 Quattro and it handled great in the snow. My 2009 has slid more this winter than the 2003 slid in 6 yrs. The 2003 had all season Pirellis and the new car has all season Goodyear tires. Is anyone else experiencing issues? Thoughts?


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    markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    And we have had more snow, too!
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    hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    I just opened this message that was posted more than 13 months ago, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to offer the following comments regarding sliding: The Quattro system aids traction for moving, but only to a much lesser degree during some (but not all) turning maneuvers. In turning, Quattro can only help when power is being applied in turns, and, then, primarily or only in slippery conditions. It provides no advantage in turns where the accelerator isn't applied. Also, Quattro provides zero help for braking.
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    montrotamontrota Member Posts: 7
    All I know is I had an A4 for 6 yrs and the car rarely slid - experienced many bad winters during those 6 yrs - I drive a good distance daily. This past winter my new A4 slid every time the roads had a little snow on them. The differences in the 2 cars was larger engine and different tires than on previous A4. I definitely can't go another winter like I just did.
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    hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The '09 A4 is offered with either a 2.0 turbo 4 or a 3.2 V6, up from 1.8 or 3.0 in '03. Regardless of whether you had or have the 4 or 6 cylinder, the tires would most likely be the more significant factor regarding sliding. Therefore, come next winter, or whenever you buy new tires, if it's before next winter, you may want to change to a tire design that's more similar to what you had on your '03. What are the winter climate and terrain like where you live?

    How was the reliability of your '03?
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    waygrabowwaygrabow Member Posts: 214
    We had an 03 A4 quattro which we traded in for an 09 A4 quattro. Both have handled very well in snow. The critical element is that we have had dedicated winter snow tires for both cars. The quattro system works well but you need a good connection with the driving surface, and that is the tires. I know many think winter tires are overkill, but it really moves your traction to another dimension; like winter never happened.
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    markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    I almost didn't respond to this largely technically correct post. But, it is the end of the day, and I am willing to move the dialog forward a bit by offering some additional information.

    The quattro system that we are speaking of in this Audi model is a TorSen (torque sensing) device. All the technical (and some non technical information) about TorSen is available here: http://torsen.com/.

    The quattro system offered today in many Audi models is a RWD biased set up. 60% of the torque under normal circumstances is sent to the rear wheels, the rest to the front. The result is the A4 when it is in normal traction conditions behaves much like an RWD vehicle. Most consumers and paid reviewers consider this a good thing.

    Additionally, quattro (TorSen) is non-reactive -- that it is does not wait for a low coefficient of friction event to happen and then react to it. Rather it acts "as the low coefficient of friction happens." Its actions include shifting torque to the wheel that has the most traction. It does this at all times, including completely dry pavement. What may seem to be "normal" coefficient of friction conditions may actually be seen by the quattro drive system to require subtle movement of torque from front to rear.

    Today, Audi also offers in the B8 chassis, the "quattro sport differential" as an option. Another term for this is torque vectoring. Essentially this adds an east west torque shift to the TorSen's north south torque shift (rear driven wheels).

    What this does on dry or slick surfaces alike is provide "understeer mitigation."

    Of course even without the torque vectoring differential, Audi has integrated several mechanical and electronic technologies together to provide prodigious cornering capabilities. It matters not if the surface is dry, wet or super slick -- quattro plus the electronic systems Audi employs provide almost "hand of god" cornering advantages over similar 2WD vehicles.

    Therefore, it is "not exactly" accurate to claim that quattro can only help when power is being applied. The mechanical quattro system coupled with the electronic assists (for example, ESP) work when the wheels are turning -- regardless of power application.

    Moreover, to claim that quattro only works in slippery conditions (which I infer to mean wet or worse) is technically correct but, as a practical matter, misleading. A "curve" is slippery regardless of the slickness (caused by water or snow, etc) at some speed -- and where a 2WD vehicle is overwhelmed a quattro vehicle is likely to be able to continue.

    A curve marked "30 mph" will feel "slippery" if it is rain slicked at 30MPH; and, it will also feel "slippery" at 60MPH if it is completely dry and your tires are wide and new.

    The quattro system works "all the time" -- it provides subtle to incredible benefits "all the time" not simply on what I assume was being described as "non dry" (slippery) surfaces.

    It provides POSITIVE advantages in turns where the accelerator isn't applied is the correct statement.

    Now, then, with respect to braking -- if you are in a quattro A4 at X MPH (and heading in a straight line) and you slam on the brakes as hard as you are able to do, it is unlikely quattro does a whole heck of a lot to help you stop any shorter.

    Yet, please do not overlook the advantages that go along with ALL DRIVEN WHEELS able to offer twice as much "slowing down" assistance as a 2WD vehicle, especially considering that most cars have both brake assist and anti-lock brakes, meaning that when the ABS senses imminent lock up, the brake is momentarily released and the car slows down, in part, due to engine braking.

    The same advantage that is present during acceleration is also present during decelleration. Four powered wheels vs two powered wheels -- minor benefit? Sure. What if, however, you stopped 10 inches shorter or even 2 inches shorter due to the quattro system. To me that hardly qualifies as "no advantage."

    Besides, there are times when you may want to brake and steer and maneuver -- TorSen (quattro) has merit there, too.

    Drive it like you live.
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    hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Thanks for your response to my comments. You're obviously knowledgeable about the details of Audi's Quattro system(s), so I'd like to ask you the following question:

    My wife owns an '07 A4 2.0T Quattro. Does the Quattro system of the equivalent 2010 A4 have any improvements over the 2007?
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    markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    edited May 2010
    As I recall, the 2007 used a TorSen differential that provided a nominal torque split of 50% front, 50% rear. The new A4 (B8) provides a nominal split of 40% front, 60% rear.

    Countless articles have been written extolling the virtues of RWD biased AWD.

    Between you, me and the fencepost, the more compelling change in the B8 chassis over your 2007 has more to do with the shift to the Audi MLP platform.

    This basically means that the engine is no longer "hanging ten" (or hanging four) over the front axle.

    Weight distribution, long a strength of BMW and a weakness of Audi is greatly improved in the B8 over the previous gen you have. Moreover, the B8 is longer (where it counts) in the wheelbase. And, this is a HUGE difference. The 2009 and newer A4's have a 6" wheelbase stretch. They're wider too.

    Ride, handling, weight distribution, fuel economy, engine performance, transmission performance (yes, the tip in the 2009 and 2010 is a much quicker, crisper (precise, not choppy) shifting unit.) This transmission (in the '09 and '10 is also lighter and with the paddles in Sport Mode, it ALMOST makes you not miss the DSG or the manual.)

    But, hey, even that's been bettered by the upcoming 2011 B8 A4 2.0T -- for, when equipped with the tiptronic option, the new faster, lighter, better, more economical, performance enhancing tiptronic eschews 6 speeds for 8 ( 7th and 8th gear are OVERDRIVEN.) This thing, and if you went to the dealer today and ordered one, you would HAVE to take the 8 speed, if you wanted an automatic, is for another 15 minutes THE holy grail of "slush" transmissions (as compared to what Audi calls DSG, which is, er, "non-slush.")

    The B8 Audi A4 2.0TFSI uses an engine that, while it might be the same displacement as the 2007, is not simply an evolution, it is, pretty much a "transformational motivator" (uncle Owen, this R2 unit has a bad motivator). Sorry, I got carried away.

    The new A4 (B8) compared to your older version is 14% more efficient, has MORE torque than the 3.2 V6 (and at lower RPM's) and offers an improvement in reliability since it uses a CHAIN rather than a timing "belt."

    Here is some true propaganda:

    "The 2.0 TFSI trumps its predecessor, which an international panel of journalists had honored as “Engine of the Year” multiple times in a row since 2005, in every criterion. It is part of the 888 model line, which Audi introduced in 2007."

    The 2007 A4, however, does not have the 211HP 258 ft lbs engine -- the first A4 to come with this was the B8 A4 in 2009.

    The 2.0TFSI employs, not one, not two, but three technologies that, when used together, provide power (performance), economy and reliability. Those technologies -- all three at once -- are exclusive to Audi; they are: Direct Injection (Audi calls it FSI, fuel straight injection or fuel stratified injection), Forced Induction (in this case turbo charging) and the Audi Valvelift system (meaning that the valves open more deeply or less so to maximize performance and efficiency.)

    The attention to detail is, well, anal. Of course much the same can be said for all the German makers (and credit, too, other countries engineering, it is NOT exclusive to Germans), but at this exact instant in time (and wait 15 minutes and the pendulum will shift) Audi is on a technological and fit and finish and performance and economy tear.

    A new 2011 A4 will certainly not seem foreign to you if you are used to a 2007 A4, the family resemblance remains. But, the species has evolved -- and NOT in inconsequential or unsubstantial or subtle ways.

    As they used to say: Never Follow.

    If I built these things, I'd probably be a little more in your face and say "Get out of the way. . ." Ja!?
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    hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited May 2010
    "...Audi is on a technological and fit and finish and performance and economy tear."

    Thanks for all the excellent information. However, I'd like to see Audi also go on a long-term reliabiity tear. There don't seem to be many Audis with 100,000+ miles, relative to the numbers sold. Where are the Audis (in the U.S.) with 200,000-300,000 miles? You find Japanese luxury cars with that kind of mileage. I know that seeing more than a very occasional 15 or more year old Audi on the road would boost my confidence in the brand. It would also speak to the issue of the availability and cost of parts.

    Since Audi has Lexus and Acura beat on driving dynamics and, arguably, Lexus, Acura and Infiniti on styling (exterior and interior), it would be great if it could match the Japanese luxury brands in reliability and long-term cost-of-ownership. When you pay premium prices, you shouldn't have to even think about buying an extended warranty between 50,000-100,000 miles. Wouldn't you agree?

    I knew about the change to a timing chain, from a timing belt, and I welcome that. It's one less important thing to worry about.

    I also knew about the changes regarding weight distribution in the new generation versus mine. Didn't know abut the enhancement to the Quattro system, however, but you say you're not certain that the '07 doesn't have the same 40%/60% torque split as the new one.

    "Countless articles have been written extolling the virtues of RWD biased AWD."

    Yes, but Audi employs FWD AWD architecture, whereas BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac and Infiniti have RWD architecture. This gives these Audi competitores a weight distribution advantage over even the improved MLP platform, wouldn't you agree?

    The information you provided is very interesting to me, and I appreciate it.. By the way, do you work for Audi or VW, or are you in any way associated with them? That wouldn't be a bad thing, of course, but it would explain why you're so knowledgeable about the new and older A4s.
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    markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    edited May 2010
    I own a software company -- never have worked for any car company.

    Started in software in late '70s -- first manager owned an Audi Silver Fox, a Porsche 944 (turbo) and a BMW that had the word Bavaria on the rear deck lid. We used the Audi and the Bimmer from time to time as company cars (we ran a service organization that processed payrolls and general ledgers for our clients, so we needed to pick up and deliver input and output.) I got pretty fond of the Silver Fox, and when it was time for my own company car, I opted for a brand new 1978 Audi 5000.

    Now 28 Audis later (and two VW's and three BMW's [my wife's]), 6 tours of the Audi factory in Ingolstadt, 4 Audi driving schools, one BMW driving school (Austria and the Us respectively), I have become a German car fan and an Audi geek.

    I read and internalize just about every shred of press about these cars, especially Audi.

    Now you have TMI.

    I am certain, the '07 did not have Rear Biased AWD, BTW.

    Also, I completely agree that Audi has always had the reputation of being nose heavy. Yet, I do believe that Audi has the most experience and the best AWD systems available today to mere mortals.

    Yet, I am willing to admit that, from a practical standpoint, the BMW X-drive is a great system and that most folks will never notice the difference between the two approaches.

    Nevertheless, Audi, despite producing cars that were nose heavy, somehow engineered handling and performance into their cars that seemed to defy the laws of physics.

    Now with the MLP chassis, Audis are better balanced. Moreover, with the newest quattro systems and things like Audi Drive Select and torque vectoring, Audi keeps serving up platters of whipass to BMW and Mercedes (even the aging C6 A6 won a recent comparo against a 5, as did the B8 chassis better the Bimmer 3.)

    Yet the reputation for reliability has escaped ALL the Germans and, as far as I know, ALL of the Europeans, when put up against the Japanese and, apparently, Koreans.

    Part of this (for Audi), a minor part, does have to do with the fact that Audi had to come back from the brink after the 60 minutes program regarding unintended acceleration. Why that is important is that Audis sales slipped to such low US sales numbers (and high US rumors of unsafe and unreliable cars).

    Audis have excellent warranties, are relatively inexpensive to certify to 100,000 miles, yet remain (as do most Euro cars) saddled with a reputation of only OK durability. All the makers, on the planet, are striving to increase their real and perceived reliability and durability reputations.

    Audi is no different. And Audi has made great strides -- but, then again, it was compelled to.

    An Audi (or a BMW) out of warranty is a scary thing -- for these cars, like almost no others, are breathtakingly expensive to maintain and repair once they exceed their manufacturers protection cocoons. Even today, I paid for the Audi full service program for my '09 A4. Folks who won't pay the $700 are shocked when they see the first $300+ "oil change." My buddy nearly had to be revived when his BMW, at 52,000 needed new front brakes and it was just south of $2,000 (which pretty much was the cost of the BMW sponsored 100,000 continued protection.

    "I told you so" didn't even have to be mentioned. to him. He now drives American only.

    Another buddy, out with the 5 series, in with the Genesis sedan -- 100,000 mile OE warranty and less money too.

    If you want to drive one of these great machines, you pay and you pay and you pay dearly -- unless you go for the extended programs.

    Last data point, my wife's lawyer buddy, went from BMW to Lexus -- one of the power window motors went out on the Lexus, right after the warranty concluded. Roll up your arm and bend over -- this little do-dah was practically a 4 figure fix. She said she would've let it stay broken had it not been the driver's side power window.


    These lux and near lux cars are not for the faint of wallet, no matter what their country of origin, is a point I'm making here.

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    hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited May 2010
    Thank you for your direct and detailed reply to my questions. The fact that you're not associated with the auto industry, other than as a consumer, and that you clearly acknowledge your general preference for Audis, gives your answers extra credibility.

    Yeah, I remember the Fox and the 5000. Both were really well designed, appealing cars in their day. I chose to by a '78 Pontiac LeMans, with the Chevy 305 V8 and optional handling suspension. That was the first year for GM's down-sized intermediates, and it proved to be a good car. It was hit by a pick up truck, but, fortunately, the injuries were minor.

    As for the '10 models, I agree with you that the A4 compares favorably to the competition.

    If our A4 delivers average reliability, and the maintenance and repairs are only somewhat above average, we'll be happy, and we'll consider another Audi when it's time to trade. Our preference is to drive our cars at 100,000+ miles, so we'll see how this A4 does over the long haul. According to the owners manual, coolant and automatic transmission fluid have to hardly ever be replaced. Do you change change these fluids more frequently than required by the owner's manual? That may be a moot point for you, since you probably trade your cars frequently.
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