Yin and Yang (a.k.a something broke down)

First start after 10+ years of stalling... the 80 had something to complain about!

4y ago

"Hopefully I'm going to move the car out on her wheels"

We left some weeks ago with the first successful start of my 1973 Audi 80! Everything seemed to be good, I must confess I was in a cool/happy mood that evening. "Hopefully I'm going to move the car out on her wheels" - I was thinking... well, nope!

First of all the engine was stopping every time I raise my right foot up from the gas pedal. Also, I couldn't engage any gear while revving, despite the clutch was hard to be pressed.


For me, the only plausible answer to the weakness of the engine was the fact that I could not let it warm for enough time to mantain a right idle rotation speed, so at the moment I didn'tgive much attention to the issue.

I was more and more scared by the failing clutch and/or gear box, mainly because I didn't have the right space neither experience to work on them on-the-field! The car was, as always, sitting in the courtyard with the only protection of a synthetic cover and a rope always battling with cats and wind!

In these cases, the Haynes manual suggests only to check the clutch wire for wear and tune it to register the needed pedal free travel, and this is exactly what I did. The wire was looking good, I registered the free travel just a little bit and I checked all the visible movements but again, nothing to do!

Let's check the clutch

So I tried to engage the first gear with the engine stopped down, then I turned the key to ignition: the car started moving with only the starter engine power. Tried the same with the reverse gear, again successfully... it was not a gear shift fault.

As said before, I was not confident at all at working on the clutch, thus I decided to gain advantage of my computer skills again and I went to learn something new on the popular University of Youtube!


If you use these keywords, you can find something like this...

Right foot on the gas, left on the brakes, ignition and... Boom Baby!

Basically, after years of standing still, or maybe a whole winter time stalled in our garages, these old ladies (and some tractor, too) suffer from rust on the clutch disks surface. This rust creates a sort of glue that keeps the clutch disks together: pushing hard the clutch pedal cannot help, but the solution is simple: you only have to warm up the car, engage the gear (better if you choose a high speed gear, 3rd or 4th for example, because their syncs are supposed to show less wear than 1st, 2nd or reverse ones) and hopefully a little strap will make your clutch work again!

I warmed the engine a little bit in neutral gear, the I switched off and engaged the fourth gear. Right foot on the gas, left on the brakes, ignition and... Boom baby! Clutch and gears working fine! I played a little with 1st gear and reverse to remove all the rust from the transmission.

Then i realized that brakes weren't working well, plus engine was always stopping at idle.


Inside the bonnet there was a deep cut all along the hose that connects the engine head to the brake servo (yes, Audi in 1973 used to fit servo brake even on the standard version of the 80) through a vacuum valve. I didn't notice it before, but I had enough metres of universal hose to replace the broken one. Luckily that simple hose replacement let the vacuum valve working again and it showed to be the only reason for both engine stopping and spongy brake pedal!

You may not believe me but all those issues has been fixed in one and only long afternoon of work. Not too bad for a newbie, isn't it?

Well, it was early evening when I decided to try out the cooling system switches and fan, so I started the engine (satisfied, at idle speed) and let it warm for about 10 minutes. In the meanwhile I was standing at the back of the car, talking with my wife's elderly uncle (who used to drive the 80 years before)...

In a sudden, a strange whistle began playing from the engine bay, I ran but it was too late... we both heard a shot and in a moment all the coolant was draining hot under the engine.


Sadly, after waiting for the engine to cool down, it was too late to do anything else than collecting the pieces... I filled my Honda Civic with all the parts that deserve examination (radiator, fan, all the hoses...). That evening she carried my own desolation, too.

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