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So after I read about the frame tearing issues on earlier models. I decided to take action on repairing it before it happened.
I located an Audi certified aluminum repair shop. They knew exactly what I was talking about when I called and exactly what to do already.

I figured I'd post some of the work done here so you guys can check it out.
0466959690101054-VAN CANNING_014.JPG 0466959690101054-VAN CANNING_010.JPG 0466959690101054-VAN CANNING_005.JPG 0466959690101054-VAN CANNING_002.JPG
 

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Looks like very nice work to me. I think about doing this as preventative work all the time. I worry because some say it will weaken the surrounding metal. Did your shop comment on that? Are you on the West Coast? If you don't mind could you share what it cost to have the work done.
 

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Looks like very nice work to me. I think about doing this as preventative work all the time. I worry because some say it will weaken the surrounding metal. Did your shop comment on that? Are you on the West Coast? If you don't mind could you share what it cost to have the work done.
And therein lies the debate.

It's important to note that Audi won't stand behind installing these. There's been a lot of speculation that it's likely due to risk of weakening the frame, as it's notoriously difficult to weld aluminum this way. This is also part of the reason why it's difficult to get the parts from Audi as a consumer.

I know we've talked about frame cracking on this site for years, but in my time here I don't think I've heard of more than a handful of actual incidents. So, it's a very rare thing indeed. It's probably worth considering if you look to proactively reinforce the frame - done improperly (and only Audi can say what "improper" is, and they're not saying much), you *may* be introducing problems rather than solving them. The fact that Audi won't stand behind a shop doing this work is a bit concerning, because it also means they're not sharing potentially critical information such as the alloy mix, which would help inform a welder on their approach.

Personally, I couldn't say whether I'd do it or not (I'm thankful I don't need to make the decision), but I DO know I'd probably do a lot of research on it, including a good deal of time talking to the potential welders before pulling the trigger. I'd want to avoid odds of impairing the car outweighing odds of proactively addressing a problem. Again, given that this is a very rare situation, it means I'd need to have a super high level of confidence in the former.

All of that being said, it looks like the welder here did a nice, clean job. I'm not a welder or metallurgist, so I can only comment on the visual aspects of the job! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Looks like very nice work to me. I think about doing this as preventative work all the time. I worry because some say it will weaken the surrounding metal. Did your shop comment on that? Are you on the West Coast? If you don't mind could you share what it cost to have the work done.
I am. I live in Malibu.
The shop I used was Paulee's Auto Body. It's between Beverly hills and Century city.
They said it would be stronger than it was before rather than causing more of an issue. And to me it makes sense... weld in reinforcement that Audi did from factory after late 09....
No difference in what the shops doing.

And therein lies the debate.

It's important to note that Audi won't stand behind installing these. There's been a lot of speculation that it's likely due to risk of weakening the frame, as it's notoriously difficult to weld aluminum this way. This is also part of the reason why it's difficult to get the parts from Audi as a consumer.

I know we've talked about frame cracking on this site for years, but in my time here I don't think I've heard of more than a handful of actual incidents. So, it's a very rare thing indeed. It's probably worth considering if you look to proactively reinforce the frame - done improperly (and only Audi can say what "improper" is, and they're not saying much), you *may* be introducing problems rather than solving them. The fact that Audi won't stand behind a shop doing this work is a bit concerning, because it also means they're not sharing potentially critical information such as the alloy mix, which would help inform a welder on their approach.

Personally, I couldn't say whether I'd do it or not (I'm thankful I don't need to make the decision), but I DO know I'd probably do a lot of research on it, including a good deal of time talking to the potential welders before pulling the trigger. I'd want to avoid odds of impairing the car outweighing odds of proactively addressing a problem. Again, given that this is a very rare situation, it means I'd need to have a super high level of confidence in the former.

All of that being said, it looks like the welder here did a nice, clean job. I'm not a welder or metallurgist, so I can only comment on the visual aspects of the job! :)


Not sure if I got lucky or what. But.. I had the work done by a shop AUDI sent me to. And the car went back to Audi for proper body alignment. And Audi supplied the reinforcement plates.
 

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Not sure if I got lucky or what. But.. I had the work done by a shop AUDI sent me to. And the car went back to Audi for proper body alignment. And Audi supplied the reinforcement plates.
Interesting - that definitely differs from the experiences of many members here. Perhaps your local dealership was helping you out... or maybe Audi's policy towards applying these has changed. It would be some good data points to hear from others who are inquiring with their dealership and/or Audi corporate about it.
 

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Looks like very nice work to me. I think about doing this as preventative work all the time. I worry because some say it will weaken the surrounding metal. Did your shop comment on that? Are you on the West Coast? If you don't mind could you share what it cost to have the work done.
Weaken the surrounding metal? Hahaha. That would mean the entire frame is weak right out of the factory. That is just people talking that have nothing better to do.
 

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Weaken the surrounding metal? Hahaha. That would mean the entire frame is weak right out of the factory. That is just people talking that have nothing better to do.
I wouldn't discount it so quickly. I'm not a welder, but from the little I've read, it's not a simple process to weld aluminum correctly. It differs considerably from welding steel. A large part of doing it successfully seems to come down to understanding the chemistry of the alloys, and one aluminum isn't necessarily the same as the next. The process used by the welder really needs to be informed by the alloy "fillers" that are incorporated into that particular aluminum, not to mention whether heat treatment has been done. I recall the forum having this discussion a few times, and part of the missing ingredient here is that Audi isn't sharing (or hasn't in the past) this information. From Howie's thread on this (quite a long time ago), I seem to recall we couldn't locate any markings or information on the braces, themselves, and we certainly don't have any aluminum prep insights from the factory for the frame.

Can you weaken the area you're actually trying to reinforce? Again, I'm not a welder, but the info I've read suggests it's a real risk.

Some info on aluminum vs. steel welding and the risks, including tensile strength:

https://www.thefabricator.com/article/aluminumwelding/understanding-aluminum-welding-compared-to-steel-welding

Some discussion around welding T6 aluminum and the ability to cut tensile strength as a result:

https://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?46572-TIG-Aluminum-Strength-Loss

Some more discussion around aluminum car frame welding - plenty of comments around risking tensile strength:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskEngineers/comments/3q538r/cars_with_aluminum_structures_can_they_be_welded/

What I've taken away from much of what I've read is that:

(a) Aluminum welding is much, much harder to do properly than steel.

(b) If the welder doesn't have specific information on the alloy chemistry, it's impossible to choose the correct "filler" materials for that aluminum.

(c) If the aluminum was heat treated (part of getting something like T6 designation), it will lose a significant portion of its tensile strength if welded after the fact. The only way to recover this afterwards appears to be re-heat-treating the metal.

Given how much forum owners love their R8s, I think the natural inclination would be to go reinforce the frames with these plates. But as I said above, historically Audi doesn't seem to have sanctioned shops doing this. Why? Maybe that policy has changed? It would be interesting to get some data points from folks making local inquiries. There was a forum member (in Michigan?) who recently had a number of shops turn him away for this job, as well, citing lack of support from Audi. I guess all I'm saying is that it appears more info/research might be warranted here.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Interesting - that definitely differs from the experiences of many members here. Perhaps your local dealership was helping you out... or maybe Audi's policy towards applying these has changed. It would be some good data points to hear from others who are inquiring with their dealership and/or Audi corporate about it.
Audi Beverly Hills is who I went to.
And it also went first to Audi Wilsonville in Oregon. Which then referred me to Bev Hills when I took the car down here.
I will say Audi Wilsonville is very helpful and I've never had an issue with them.

oh wow fellow OG L4P'er

I just had coilovers installed and had the shop inspect my frame and it's looking like new at 32k miles.
Hey hey! OG L4Per for sure! haha. I did my "repairs" at 39k miles. So you're probably fine. I was just being super careful about it. Mines a late model 09 as well which from my understanding is less known to have the issue?
I just wanted to be sure though.

Malibu Mafia did they remove the dashboard prior to welding?
That's actually a good question.... I should ask them about that.
 

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Weaken the surrounding metal? Hahaha. That would mean the entire frame is weak right out of the factory. That is just people talking that have nothing better to do.
I wouldn't discount it so quickly. I'm not a welder, but from the little I've read, it's not a simple process to weld aluminum correctly. It differs considerably from welding steel. A large part of doing it successfully seems to come down to understanding the chemistry of the alloys, and one aluminum isn't necessarily the same as the next. The process used by the welder really needs to be informed by the alloy "fillers" that are incorporated into that particular aluminum, not to mention whether heat treatment has been done. I recall the forum having this discussion a few times, and part of the missing ingredient here is that Audi isn't sharing (or hasn't in the past) this information. From Howie's thread on this (quite a long time ago), I seem to recall we couldn't locate any markings or information on the braces, themselves, and we certainly don't have any aluminum prep insights from the factory for the frame.

Can you weaken the area you're actually trying to reinforce? Again, I'm not a welder, but the info I've read suggests it's a real risk.

Some info on aluminum vs. steel welding and the risks, including tensile strength:

https://www.thefabricator.com/article/aluminumwelding/understanding-aluminum-welding-compared-to-steel-welding

Some discussion around welding T6 aluminum and the ability to cut tensile strength as a result:

https://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?46572-TIG-Aluminum-Strength-Loss

Some more discussion around aluminum car frame welding - plenty of comments around risking tensile strength:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskEngineers/comments/3q538r/cars_with_aluminum_structures_can_they_be_welded/

What I've taken away from much of what I've read is that:

(a) Aluminum welding is much, much harder to do properly than steel.

(b) If the welder doesn't have specific information on the alloy chemistry, it's impossible to choose the correct "filler" materials for that aluminum.

(c) If the aluminum was heat treated (part of getting something like T6 designation), it will lose a significant portion of its tensile strength if welded after the fact. The only way to recover this afterwards appears to be re-heat-treating the metal.

Given how much forum owners love their R8s, I think the natural inclination would be to go reinforce the frames with these plates. But as I said above, historically Audi doesn't seem to have sanctioned shops doing this. Why? Maybe that policy has changed? It would be interesting to get some data points from folks making local inquiries. There was a forum member (in Michigan?) who recently had a number of shops turn him away for this job, as well, citing lack of support from Audi. I guess all I'm saying is that it appears more info/research might be warranted here.
Everything can be fixed without overthinking it. I’ve been welding and repairing things like this for a long time. Just get over the intimidation factor and do it.
 

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I did study metallurgy and alloying metals, and though I haven't had a chance to read through all of EZ's posts [which all tend to be spot on anyhow], here are some quick things to consider:

  1. Heating up any metal changes the internal structure of the metal. The exact characteristics of a metal's impact/compression/tensile strength and durability are all defined by that internal structure. How much change to the internal structure during the heating process would determine how much of the original characteristics remain.
  2. Alloys are elements added to a base metal to achieve specific requirements and results, and the percentages of the alloys is very exacting as it effects the molecular structure. Heating metals can cause alloy composition to change.
  3. 7000 series aluminum is weldable. But the temperatures required to melt the aluminum to create the fusion will also leave that melted aluminum [and an area around that melted aluminum] weaker, more brittle, and more susceptible to corrosion. Thus welding 7000 series for the majority of manufacturing purposes is unacceptable. Spot welding, on the other hand, can be used extensively with 7000 series aluminum because the heated area is quite finite and limited to the path the electrical current takes through the disparate pieces.
From what I could find on Audi's aluminum space frames, https://www.european-aluminium.eu/media/1543/1_aam_body-structures.pdf
...no 7000-series aluminum was used at all. It appears be comprised of:

  1. EN AW-6060 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=214551&db=N
  2. EN AW-6016 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=FA&id1=231868&db=N
  3. EN AW-6181 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=7136&db=N
  4. EN AW-AiSi7.5 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=234222&db=N
  5. Ecodal 608 - http://www.almetitalia.com/index.php/specialita/meccanica/ecodal-608
 

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I did study metallurgy and alloying metals, and though I haven't had a chance to read through all of EZ's posts [which all tend to be spot on anyhow], here are some quick things to consider:

  1. Heating up any metal changes the internal structure of the metal. The exact characteristics of a metal's impact/compression/tensile strength and durability are all defined by that internal structure. How much change to the internal structure during the heating process would determine how much of the original characteristics remain.
  2. Alloys are elements added to a base metal to achieve specific requirements and results, and the percentages of the alloys is very exacting as it effects the molecular structure. Heating metals can cause alloy composition to change.
  3. 7000 series aluminum is weldable. But the temperatures required to melt the aluminum to create the fusion will also leave that melted aluminum [and an area around that melted aluminum] weaker, more brittle, and more susceptible to corrosion. Thus welding 7000 series for the majority of manufacturing purposes is unacceptable. Spot welding, on the other hand, can be used extensively with 7000 series aluminum because the heated area is quite finite and limited to the path the electrical current takes through the disparate pieces.
From what I could find on Audi's aluminum space frames, https://www.european-aluminium.eu/media/1543/1_aam_body-structures.pdf
...no 7000-series aluminum was used at all. It appears be comprised of:

  1. EN AW-6060 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=214551&db=N
  2. EN AW-6016 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=FA&id1=231868&db=N
  3. EN AW-6181 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=7136&db=N
  4. EN AW-AiSi7.5 - https://www.totalmateria.com/subgroup.aspx?LN=EN&id1=234222&db=N
  5. Ecodal 608 - http://www.almetitalia.com/index.php/specialita/meccanica/ecodal-608
Thanks for the info you attached a lot of good info on how the r8 is built.
 

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The fact that Audi won't stand behind a shop doing this work is a bit concerning, because it also means they're not sharing potentially critical information such as the alloy mix, which would help inform a welder on their approach.
EZ, this will sound abrasive, but it's not meant to ... but where are you getting that Audi won't allow (paraphrasing) Audi shops to do these repairs? I've been on haitus for a few months ... is this a new development that just cropped up? Before my haitus, it was understood that the only places that could buy and weld these brackets were Audi certified aluminum repair centers. I've personally gotten two quotes from Audi certified collision centers for the work in the last year. With that, isn't Audi implicitly standing behind the work?

For clarity, your quote above doesn't explicitly say that Audi does not allow shops to do these repairs, but I have read that explicitly in other recent posts on this topic, and you seem to be championing that idea pretty strongly in your comments on the topic. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So for the previous questions about removing dash etc. No they did not remove the dash at all. Only the plastics from the bottom of the windshield and everything in the front.


Curious as to how much it set you back? I've had a couple quotes in Houston that were wildly disappointing for the amount of work that has to be done (and have held off as a result).
About $5,500.
 

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Yikes. I paid $1100 to have mine done. Audi would not allow their certified aluminum welding shop do my car. Audi told them they would lose their certification if they welded the brackets on my car. That was three years ago.
 

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Yikes. I paid $1100 to have mine done. Audi would not allow their certified aluminum welding shop do my car. Audi told them they would lose their certification if they welded the brackets on my car. That was three years ago.
I would love to know why Audi imposed that condition on the repairer.
 

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Yikes. I paid $1100 to have mine done. Audi would not allow their certified aluminum welding shop do my car. Audi told them they would lose their certification if they welded the brackets on my car. That was three years ago.
I would love to know why Audi imposed that condition on the repairer.
I would as well. It makes no sense, unless they feel it’s dangerous to the structure. But then why would they allow it if they approve it if so. Or, they’re just ignoring the problem, and not wanting “their” certified people to do work that admits fault or negligence.

My brackets arrive Wednesday from the UK. $52.44 shipped. I’ll actively be forming an opinion on here as to what to do before I strip the car next spring and get these on. Be it welded or epoxied.
 

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Yikes. I paid $1100 to have mine done. Audi would not allow their certified aluminum welding shop do my car. Audi told them they would lose their certification if they welded the brackets on my car. That was three years ago.
MNGolfer,

Did you see any documentation from Audi corporate that said they wouldn't allow the repairs, or was that just the collision center saying that Audi told them that? My jaded opinion with the two quotes I got were that (A) the shops, even though they were certified, had no clue what this repair was and decided to act like I was a know-nothing for asking for it, and (B) it's a low dollar repair for them even if they gouge you, so they don't really care to do it. With the latter, the skeptic in me is saying that maybe they just told you that because they didn't feel like doing the work?
 
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