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Salt Water V8 Rebuild

13721 Views 280 Replies 46 Participants Last post by  Jeremy B
Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Sky

Hello, fellow Audi R8 owners and enthusiasts! My name is Jeremy and I live in central Illinois. I just (Thanksgiving 2022) purchased a salt-water flooded Audi R8, from Copart, after Hurricane Ian. My goal is to restore it slowly and keep it for many years. I am starting this post to network with you “regular” R8 owners, and perhaps a few other ambitious folks who bought one of these, for there were/are several available.
I hope to log here with words and pictures as much as I am able, so bear with me.

Specs: 2008, V8, gated manual with less than 30,000 miles (maybe less than 25k).

Major Damage:
  • Salt! (Yes, into the manifold intake boots of the engine, at least!)
  • Flooded to the roof
  • Interior components, electrical
  • Windshield cracked
  • Minor cosmetic external and undercarriage damage (see video)
  • Broken off water pump
  • Hole in sump cover (the “oil pan”)
Minor Damage:
  • Too much blinker fluid;)
  • Smell (mostly under control)
  • External bodywork, rear right taillight cover broken
Accomplished so far:
  • Seats out with no battery power (that was tedious, to say the least… I might detail in a later post)
  • Some interior pulled
Future Concerns:
  • Electrical components (I already purchased a nice used wiring harness, but…I’m color-blind!)
  • Engine (long list of things, more on that as we dig in)
  • “Burn-out” by an overwhelming list of tasks
  • Frame, drive train, wheels, etc. are straight
  • Brakes work (after a little pumping)
  • Doors, engine bay, and frunk open and close VERY cleanly! Well… the frunk release… well, anyway, as good as can be expected.
  • Ahhh, did I mention… it is a manual! (I don’t know how guys get flood-cars off trailers when they are automatics locked in park, but would love to hear if/how you can.)
  • Ebay, R8talk for parts
  • A great network of folks on R8talk!
My qualifications:
  • Mechanically inclined (sometimes reclined :))
  • General working knowledge of basic components
  • Not afraid to work, or get my hands dirty
  • Not in a hurry!
  • Rebuilt a few motorcycles (race and street)
  • Have some tools, small heated garage
  • I have an excited wife concerning the project (she likes seeing the R8 in our garage :))
My crazy goals:
  • Making the R8 as analog as possible (I hope to remove many “bells and whistles”, if possible.)
  • Starting a video series to tie in vehicle restoration with the Gospel of Jesus’ redemption of mankind.
Advice given me thus far:
  • “I would advise against it.” (direct words of the Copart broker!)
  • “Don’t do it, it will grenade in six months.” (friend who knows the business of cars)
  • “I have Audi-tech friends that have the garage, tools and experience, and even THEY wouldn’t attempt such a feat!” (motorcycle racer friend)
  • “Wow, that’s a big project, if anyone can do it, you can…”
  • “The two best days of your life, the day you bought the boat, and the day you sold the boat.”
  • “If you have the time, you’ll get it done…”
  • “If you can dream it, you can build it.” Requote I heard from Burt Rutan.

Christian, husband, father, Gospel preacher, machinist, author… and now Audi R8 owner… and restorer
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Oh, no, here come the Bible verse number things. Please don't make me read that stuff, but I do fully respect your rights and beliefs. I'll have to tune out if we are going down the bible path, but thats just me. Some may like it.
@JuddS - I have used lots of paraphrased bible verses in my time here, I just didn't put chapter and verse. I just used in normally in my post. So don't let the fact that it comes directly quoted from the bible upset you :) I'm Christian too and because of my life before Christ I could NEVER judge anyone for anything (I was a very bad man). We are ALL capable of anything under the right circumstances. I just have peace (shalom)... :cool:

Not only that, but if you can post what you post, why can't he post what he posts? ha hahahah I mean equal time right? h ah ah haha
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Anything else you think I need to get into, plop them down in the forum, please.
The seats were a bear to get out. The driver’s side was all the way back. Both took quite a bit of persuasion to get them to even move at the pivot point just to access the back netting area. The two front bolts of the seats were a piece of cake to get out. They are triple square VW bolts, but 8mm Allen worked ok until my triple square set came in the mail.
Perhaps you might be thinking, “just drop a battery in and see what happens”.
Well, in process of waiting for the car to come, from the actual purchase process we (my wife and I) watched, read, and learn a little about salt water. First thing that really caught my attention was the fact that salt water was a conductor. One fellow on YT even filled a Styrofoam cup with salt water and used it as a switch in his circuit!!! I already knew what salt does to electronics and have been looking for pieces and parts, but this REALLY caught my attention. Upon removing the frunk (after draining like 8 gallons of water out of it), I had access to the battery that I knew was dead! It had like 2 volts. Regardless, I knew that the whole entire “circuit” was “a-salted” (All pun intended! We have all seen the footage of the “cars floating in garages with lights on etc..). The last thing I wanted to do was put ANY power into anything until I had a new wiring harness, and electronics.
So, plan B, C, D, E, and F, came into play concerning removing the seats. I called people and texted others (this all frantically trying to get those seats to move forward, just to get the carpet out, to prevent mold, etc.) In the meantime, I had a Wisconsin trip planned, busy church prep for Christmas time, and my needy family to attend to. My brother told me: “Dude, you gotta start a video series on that on YT”. I told him, “yeah, that is the plan… after I get the seats out and carpet out!” So, either way, an hour a day was just enough to get things moving. I used an 18v drill, tapped in, and directly plugged into the motors of the seats, only to be welcomed initially with sparks, and clicks. So, I went back and forth with the most accessible motor to finally hollering “Praise the LORD!” in the garage as I watched the passenger seat move up. Next, I would need to tear part of the seat off, hoping to keep it as intact as possible to access the motor that moves the seat forward and back so I could access the bolts in the back of the floor to remove those. There are only 4 bolts holding each seat in. But, my oh my, the most difficult 4 bolts I had ever removed… so far. Well, I do have the rest of the Audi to go! I made a pact to myself early on when I started this project, that I would not complain about Audi’s engineering (believe me, I was warned ahead of time), nor could I complain about the difficulty of things; rust, corrosion etc. At several points I was ready to sawzall the seats out one piece at a time (I bought fresh blades!), but by God’s grace, I found other ways. The driver’s side was MUCH more stubborn. Thankfully, the motor to raise the seat worked, but the forward motor was not budging. Remember, the car sat on an angle on that yellow pole for who knows how long, so everything on the ds was worse with water. I had to unbolt the seat from the frame, and having the passenger seat out as a reference the drawings in the service manual made more sense. After getting the top seat off with the frames, I thought my troubles were over. The motor that moves the seat forward and back connects to either bracket in an “H” shaped bracket, and motor runs two wire springy thingys (much like the kind that attach your weed eater motor to the end blade unit). Either way, they would not spin. So I plugged in my drill with a square drive thinking that would be enough beef… no avail. Then, I realized that I just needed to take off the four torx bolts on the “H”, and smack each portion of the “H” forward with a hammer. Problem solved….. Almost. Like the other side, the brackets only went so far forward, so I used my box end ratchet, with my sawed off 8mm Allen, and BARELY squeezed it in the back rails to finally remove the last two bolts that held the seats in!

Now for the carpets! (I already have them out, just gotta head back out to the business of life before I can gather some more pix for you guys (gals?).

Suggestion.... use paragraphs as it makes a long sentence hard to read. :cool:
When you get this thing finished, you will literally be an R8 water damage restoration expert!
My 100th post! I hope for many more to come. As I have spent a lot of time on my knees and my back working on this car, I have spent a lot of time praying, too. As a Baptist preacher, I find it important to learn from my mistakes and note them here for others. Humility is not one of my favorite teachers, but I had one of those moments on Friday.

I decided (because it has always worked before) that the best way to get a wheel off is to hit it with a hammer. If that didn’t work, I would just hit it with a BIGGER hammer, and so on. However, after spraying the portion in between the brake disk and the wheel with a little penetrating oil, I tried it with a hammer again (using a wood block between, so as not to mar my already scratched rims). Long story short, it was not budging.

Was it salt-water welded?

Was it corroded together somehow?


I then stepped back, thought for a second… I’d gotten right to work without even praying… Now, I don’t know what you are thinking, but I can guess. I usually pray for some specifics: safety, skill, wisdom, and whatever else comes to mind, like good success and progress (ending, “In Jesus’ Name,” of course). So… I stopped, looked at the wheel for a second, and asked the LORD to forgive me for trying to do it in my own strength. Then it dawned on me, no kidding, right at that very second! Yes, a bigger tool WAS needed… the ever handy 2x4!

Now, you might say, “Ahhhh, come on, Jeremy, the penetrating oil finally did its work.” Or, “You already broke it lose with the previous hammering,” or “…. (You fill in the blank)…” But, sometimes, the LORD, just wants us to “call unto Him…”

I carefully wrapped some tie-down straps around the aluminum spokes of the wheel and a 2x4 (the leverage point), and after a couple of pretty beefy tugs, it popped loose! The other side came right off with just a little hammering.

IIIIFFFF, you try this method when you are facing a stubborn wheel, pay close attention to not hit the rear bumper. I know, this DIY stuff is not for everybody, but I learned that hitting things harder doesn’t always make them “work”. –Confession of a Baptist preacher…..

Here are the pix:
I was much encouraged by this post. I am currently in the middle of a (now) 4 day (should have been 1) job. Replacing my wife's Kia Stinger springs with lowering springs and changing her rotors to Girodisc along with some EBC yellow pads all the way around.

It's easy to get discouraged with what we think will be "simple" jobs when they turn out to be "not so simple".

Can we work-around and figure it out... sure... but after 59 years of life and a LOT of practice, I still set my expectations WAY too HIGH.. ha hahahhah

Ok, down to the the shop below....
Thank you so much. You are an encouragement to me too. I am looking to focus on this (R8 project) for a week straight pretty soon, so I hope I can get through a large section.
I have only recently bit off more than I can chew (last several years). I have my special needs child to thank for that! She forced us into a predicament that MADE us bite off more than we can chew. Since her passing I have written a couple books, and still felt the itch to "do more". Some call it "free time", but I look back on all of the time I have wasted and feel it is time to catch up... so as you said: "Down to the shop below" (only one step for me!)

pics of your completed project?

I'm editing the video now, it will be on YT @blacktopmods :) It may take a while there is a LOT of video.

Kia Stinger GT2 Mods:
  • Ultimate Performance Down pipe (high flow cats) & Mid Pipe
  • Ark Exhaust (sounds about 1000% better than stock)
  • K&N Cold air intake
  • Wagner High Performance Intercooler (huge!)
  • Thick Sway Bars (front and back - not as planted as the R8, but close and infinitely better than stock)
  • JB4 Tune (amazing difference for a off the shelf box)
  • Girodisc rotors (all around)
  • Yellow Stuff EBC pads (all around)
  • Lowering springs (Eibach - all around)
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@Jeremy B - check out @Helix_Auto_Works on Instagram... they just purchased an NSX that had been at the bottom of a river for a decade or thereabouts... They are doing the full restoration on IG... I haven't checked, but I bet they have a YouTube channel as well. Might give you some inspiration... :cool:
I get overwhelmed just looking at the pictures! Hopefully you have a lot of storage space for the parts and a good labeling system for all the nuts, bolts, screws, washers, pins, and misc. attachment devices!
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Makes me feel lazy h hah hahahah
Looks like you need a good size soda blasting cabinet or vapor blasting cabinet...
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