Cosmetic Modifications

Performance Modifications

Cosmetic Modifications

AutoAesthetics (Raffi) SS Race 4 Aluminum Shift Knob – March 2005

Installation: I’ve done a few other cosmetic mods (the very popular TT valve stem mod, rubber floor mat mod, and the trunk liner mod), but this is a bit more substantial. I didn’t take any photographs during the installation, but here is the result

Evaluation: The knob is a bit shorter than the OEM knob. I really like the clean look and it matches the interior very well.

Long Term Impressions: (28 December 2006) I like this more now that ever. The quality is holding up well – machined aluminum would take a great deal of abuse.

Dension ice>Link Plus – September 2005

Installation: Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures during this installation. The procedure was rather simple since my TT was pre-wired with  the CD changer harness. The harness terminates behind the compartment located to the rear of the driver’s seat. First, remove the rear seat (lift up – it is attached with clips). Second, fish around (a flashlight is helpful) from the trunk and locate the CD changer harness. You can do this without removing any trim – just be careful not to overstress the plastic. The terminating connector on the CD changer harness is wrapped in a small piece of grey foam and secured with a black nylon cable. Clip the tie and remove the foam to reveal the connector. Third, connect the cables and ice>Link adapter. I created a temporary mount for the iPod cradle using dense foam that slips into the slot in front of the cup holder and behind the brake lever. I just haven’t decided on a more secure permanent mounting location – I really don’t want to spoil the clean lines of the TT’s dash. Maybe if I had a black iPod I wouldn’t be quite so picky.

Evaluation: The Dension ice>Link Plus is a nice iPod interface. No FM-transmitter noise and much more capable than the small 6-disk changer.

Long Term Impressions: (28 December 2006) I’ve upgraded to the iPod 5G and sill like the Dension interface. The cradle is a bit loose on the new iPod, but it works well.

Debadging – 1 January 2006

Installation: (14,781 miles) After browsing many photographs of intact and debadged TTs, I decided that the elegant looks of the car deserved to be cleaned of the dealer’s sticker and the two factory badges.

Evaluation: I think that it looks much nicer. Consistent with the less is more philosophy of many German cars.

Following a procedure suggested on the TT Forum at AudiWorld, I used a hair dryer to slightly heat the offending badges.

This is how the TT badge looked before the mod.

And here is the Quattro badge.

I heated the badge slightly, then, using dental floss, slowly removed the badge. I used my fingernail to remove the bulk of the remaining adhesive.

Measured use of Goo Gone remove the remaining adhesive.

Nice and Clean!

Euro Mirrors – 5 February 2007

Installation: (17,925 miles) I’ve been wanting to do this mod for a while and so I just added the euro mirrors to a recent ECS Tuning order.  There is a nice set of instructions for the installation available from Stratmosphere. Only thing that I’d add is that once you get one of the clips to release, you can pull the mirror out enough to see behind it. At this point I used a small, long screwdriver to manually release the remaining clips. It seemed easier than just forcing them by pulling. Reinstalling the new mirrors was a breeze – just press on opposite clips to reseat them.

Test Drive and First Impressions: That’ll have to wait until we get some warm weather!

Long Term Impressions:

Performance Modifications

H&R 21 mm Adjustable Rear Sway Bar – 14 January 2006

Installation: (14,782 miles) The H&R 21 mm Adjustable Rear Sway Bar was a Christmas gift from my father. I ordered it from ECS Tuning on 9 December 2006. Because ECS Tuning has the bar drop shipped from the West Coast, the ensuing mix-up with the purchase order (on ECS or H&R’s part), and the intervening holidays, I didn’t receive the sway bar until the evening of Friday, 13 January 2006 (5 weeks after the initial order). As one might expect, I was very anxious to get this installed. So, bright and early the next day, I completed the installation.

Test Drive and Initial Impressions: Great feel and noticeably stiffer than the stock sway bar. I haven’t had a chance to really push the car, but already it feels like it has reduced the understeer a bit.

AudiWorld Forum:

Long Term Impressions: (28 December 2006) No issues with the rear sway bar. I’m anxious to see how things change when I install the Defcon 1+ kit.

Up on the Rhino Ramps; getting ready for the project.

A little closer look, driver’s side.

A little closer look, passenger’s side.

Down the middle.

Anxiously awaiting.

Removing the bracket that attaches the exhaust hanger on the driver’s side.

And on the passenger’s side.

Still on the passenger’s side.

Lower the exhaust, remove 4 (10mm, I think) fasteners from the heat shield, and then pull out the back.

The middle after the heat shield is removed.

And the driver’s side.

Passenger’s side.

Passenger’s side.

A little closer view on the passenger’s side.

Removing the end link on the passenger’s side (17 mm wrench, 16 mm socket).

Same side.

Driver’s side mounting bolts to be removed.

A little closer.

OEM rear sway bar.

OEM (top) and H&R 21 mm adjustable rear sway bars.

A little closer comparison.

H&R teflon lined bushing.

Slipped the ends on the end links and rotated up into position. Tighten and replace exhaust.

Unfortunately, it is snowing outside, so I’m not taking the TT out for a test drive now.

Dieselgeek Sigma Short Shifter – 28 January 2006

Installation: (14,800 miles) Dieselgeek has published wonderful instructions on the installation of the Sigma Short Shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission for the Audi TT. The installation took me about 2 hours including numerous coffee breaks and pauses to take pictures. A focused mechanic, or for that matter if I had simply been focused, could easily do this in an hour or less. I found the Dieselgeek instructions to be very well written and detailed – I can’t elaborate much. If you have trouble moving the rubber boot and plastic ring to expose the end of the shift cables completely (I did – see the "Install Sigma shifter" section of the instructions, step 2), here’s a hint: place a short piece of rubber hose over the shift cable threads, grab it with a pair of pliers, and then wiggle the plastic ring with another pair of pliers to get it to slide further up the cable and expose the necessary threads and smooth cable noted in the instructions. Once loose the ring was moved very easily. Everything else went as described in the instructions. Absolutely no problems with the adjustment procedure either.

Test Drive and Initial Impressions: Great feel. No problems finding the gears and there is a very noticeable and pleasant reduction in gear shift throws. You can feel the linkage/transmission a bit more than with the stock setup and I guess that this is what some will refer to as notchiness. Everything feels a bit tighter. I understand that things will get smoother with time.

AudiWorld Forum:

Long Term Impressions: (28 December 2006 – 17,886 miles) Shifting has smoothed out a bit since the installation of the Dieselgeek short shifter kit. No regrets here.

VF Engineering Chassis Engine Pendulum Mount – 13 February 2006

Installation: (14,805 miles) Installation is very simple and took less than 1 hour. As described below, remove the plastic belly pan (secured with numerous T-25 head screws and twist fasteners), remove the OEM chassis engine pendulum mount (13mm and 16mm hex head bolts), position the VF Engineering mount, and finger tighten bolts (6mm and 8mm hex key head bolts). Finally torque to 40 Nm and 24 Nm, button up, and you’re done.

Test Drive #1: Well, once again, there is snow on the ground (about 6 inches from the big Nor’easter), so the test drive will have to wait for a few days. I am expecting to feel an increase in engine vibration, but the mount should reduce wheel hop on hard acceleration. My initial impression, from driving the TT off the ramps, is that engine vibration is noticeable, but not excessive.

Test Drive #2 and Initial Impressions: I finally got a chance to put a few more miles on the TT since installing the pendulum mount.  After reading all of the posts about excessive vibration, I was a bit worried, but not any more. The feel is great; the chassis and engine are more like one and is nicely responsive to throttle input.

AudiWorld Forum:

Long Term Impressions:

As delivered.

VF Engineering Chassis Engine Pendulum Mount.

Up on ramps and ready to go.

Plastic belly pan that must be removed. It is secured with T-25 Torx screws.

There are two of these slotted connectors on each side. Release by turning them 1/4 turn counter-clockwise.

There are two slotted connectors on each side that are realeased by truning counter-clockwise 1/4 turn.

Belly pan removed. Watch for plastic to plastic clips that can come loose.

OEM chassis engine pendulum mount.

13mm hex head bolt.

13mm hex head bolt.

16mm hex head bolt.

16mm hex head bolt.

Getting everything finger tight.

Torquing the bolts (40 Nm).

Torquing the bolts (24 Nm).

Installed and properly torqued. Now just reinstall the plastic belly pan.

Blueflame Cat-Back Exhaust – 10 June 2006

Installation: (~15,900 miles) Installation is straight forward and took about 2 hours. At the suggestion of adminisTerTurbo, I secured the rear most hangers with small hose clamps. The hanger provided on the exhaust setup does not have any ‘lip’ to keep it from slipping out of the OEM rubber hanger. The driver’s side exhaust tip clamps onto the exhaust pipe as it exits the muffler and Blueflame ships it with a mild steel clamp. I opted to order a fully-stainless clamp from J.C. Whitney to install instead.

Test Drive and Initial Impressions: The Blueflame exhaust sounds wonderful (listen to the sound clips below) and looks so much nicer than the stock setup. It takes some time to burn all of the oil/grease out of the inside of the exhaust and so I recommend that you stop frequently (every ten miles or so) to remove oil from the tips so that it doesn’t burn and cause excessive discoloration. There are no signs of any remaining oil after about 150 miles. 

Sound clips:

.wav format .mp3 format
OEM Exhaust OEM Exhaust
BlueFlame Exhaust BlueFlame Exhaust

Long Term Impressions: I acquired and installed a center hanger. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but I had the TT up on jack stands and so it was an easy install. I’ll be more comfortable with the extra support that the center hanger is certain to provide.

Stock exhaust.

Blueflame exhaust as it was packaged for shipping.

Stock exhaust is removed. Center clamp is secured using two carriage bolts with a 17 mm nut. The clamp is stainless steel, but the bolts are not.

Driver’s side rear exhaust hanger.

Center pipe with resonator.

Front, driver’s side heat shield must be trimmed. The heat shield had to be bent out of the way in a few other places.

Finished look.

SSR GT7-H with Goodyear Eagle F1 235/35YR19 – 14 September 2006

Installation: (15,980 miles) Installation is straight forward and took about 1 hour. The wheels and tires were purchased from Tire Rack ( and were shipped mounted and balanced. SSR provides very nice aluminum valve stems and caps. The wheels come with a centering ring and necessary bolts. The tires are directional. The wheels are +32 mm offset and weigh 21.2 lbs each. I don’t have any photographs of the installation itself (not that anyone really cares to see someone change a tire), but I do have several photographs of the drive I took the following day preparing for the Cheat Mountain Challenge (a 107 mile bicycle tour).

Test Drive and Initial Impressions: Beautiful, late summer weather provided the perfect opportunity to get the TT on the road and stretch its legs and test its new socks and shoes. The wheels/tires are surprisingly quiet and do not transmit excessive vibration. The tires performed admirable on the mostly dry pavement. I only managed to get the rear-end to slip once, in a rough turn as I was accelerating. The ECS caught and corrected the slip in a small fraction of a second. I am very pleased with the performance of my new setup.

Leaving Charleston, WV, at 6:00 AM, I proceeded to travel East on US Route 60 (Midland Trail) to Gauley Bridge. Following WV Route 39 (North) through Summersville and then Richwood you meet WV Route 150 (Highland Scenic Highway) near the Cranberry Visitors Center in the Monongahela National Forest. The photographs below were taken at overlooks along the Scenic Highway. The Scenic Highway is about 20 miles of just about the most-beautiful two-lane highways in West Virginia and offers spectacular vistas. Turn North on US Route 219, follow WV Route 66E toward Snowshoe Mountain, turn left on Snowshoe Drive and proceed to the top of the mountain. You’ll arrive at the resort about 3 hours after departing Charleston, which could make for a nice lunch stop. From there, continue out Snowshoe Drive toward WV Route 66. Turn left onto WV Route 66 and go down the mountain, right on County Road 1 (Back Mountain Road), bear left at Y in road (remain on CR 1), bear right at Y in road (remain on CR 1), pass through Clover Lick, turn left on CR 1/4 (Laurel Run Road), right on WV Route 28 (South), left on WV Route 39 (East), pass through Huntersville, turn right on CR 21 (Beaver Creek Road), turn right at Watoga State Forest South Entrance, turn left going up to Anne Bailey trailhead, continue straight at the bottom of Trailhead Drive, pass by Watoga Lake, turn right towards Seebert and US Route 219, turn right on US Route 219 (North) toward Marlinton, pass through Millpoint, and turn left on WV Route 39 (West). From here, you return to the Cranberry Visitors Center and can follow WV Route 39 and US Route 60 back to Charleston. Total drive distance was about 325 miles in about 6.5 hours (average speed 50 mph). There are plenty of opportunities for stops along (or near) the drive, including at Snowshoe, Meck’s Bakery, Watoga State Park, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Monongahela National Forest, the Greenbrier River, etc.

Long Term Impressions:

APR Stock/93 Octane/100 Octane/Security Lockout – 6 October 2006

Installation: (16,944 miles) Installation was a breeze. I drove from Charleston, WV, to Greensburg, PA, where Josh Volk at Next Level Tuning, used APR’s DirectPort Programming to flash my ECU with a stock-like program, a 93 octane performance program, a 100 octane race fuel performance program, and the Security Lockout Feature (this prevents unauthorized drivers to change between the APR programs). The process took about an hour total – test drive included.

Test Drive and Initial Impressions: WOW!!! This is a fantastic mod! Although I don’t have a boost gauge installed (yet), my butt-sensor can tell that boost initiates earlier, lower-end torque is increased, and the fun-level skyrockets. My mostly Interstate drive back to Charleston was filled with inspiring hills and gratifying passes. Absolutely the best performance gain for the cost that I’ve done so far.

Long Term Impressions:

Forge Motorsport 007P Stealth Black Piston Diverter Valve – 8 October 2006

Installation: (17,230 miles) Let’s see, remove the engine cover, remove the OEM DV, discard the two crimp-style clamps and save the screw-type clamp, install Forge 007P, and secure with the three clamps provided. Not much more than that. I’m using the green spring with one shim.

Test Drive:

Modshack Stage 1 (VTDA) – 25 December 2006

Installation: (17,886 miles) The installation was straight forward with the instructions provided by Steve Schwing at the Modshack. It took about 30 minutes. My VTDA is powder coated in black wrinkle and is a close match to the plastic engine cover parts.

Test Drive and First Impressions: This mod is a good return on investment. My first 45 minute test drive revealed a seemingly pronounced ease at breathing. You can more easily hear the DV working as well as the turbo spinning. The increased noise level is not obnoxious.

Long Term Impressions:

Defcon 1+ – 27 January 2007

Installation: (17,925 miles) I got the Defcon 1+ kit (from MCPaudi via the Modshack) as a Christmas gift. I started the installation  a couple of weekends ago and finally got around to finishing it last night.  Removing the control arms from the TT was very straight forward. You do need to drop the belly pan to access the bolt head on the front bushing on the driver’s side. MCPaudi has some nice photos available that are helpful. Once the control arms are off, get ready for the hard stuff. I used a ball joint press and a couple of large sockets as drifts to remove the OEM bushings. The rear bushings came out relatively easily, but the front bushing were a bit more stubborn. If you can get an edge of the aluminum sheath pried up around the outside, it is possible to use a drift and drive the bushings out using the same ball-joint press.

Once out, get ready for the really hard stuff. Well, not really, now that I’ve done it. I had hoped to get some liquid Nitrogen to freeze the Defcons, but I got impatient and settled for simply putting them in my freezer. While I got off to a good start on the first insert, I couldn’t seat the last 1/4". The ball joint press just wasn’t enough to get the job done. So, for the other side, I also heated the control arm in my oven (on the warm setting) and used some anti-seize compound as lubricant. It went right in. Additionally, be sure to start on the side of the control arm with the bevel – it makes keeping it lined-up easier.

Now you might ask, what to do with the last 1/4" on the first control arm? Well, fortunately, my brother-in-law is a mechanic at the local Caterpillar dealer. I told him what I was doing and asked him if he had a press that might take care of my problem. He said, "as long as 150 tons will do it." Needless to say, it wasn’t a problem and it is now seated completely.

Reinstalling the control arms is very straightforward. I slid in the rear busing first and slipped a bolt through the hole to keep it in place. Then position the front bushings and secure with the new bolt. Torque as follows (from Bentley): Ball joint nuts to 75 Nm, rear bolt and nut to 70 Nm + 1/4 turn, and front bolt to 70 Nm + 1/4 turn.

Test Drive and First Impressions: My first test drive was rather conservative, considering I still need to get an alignment.  Turn in is crisp and solid.  Many others have noted substantial improvement, which is true, but perhaps less pronounced in my car because the OEM bushings were still rather fresh.  In any case, I’m pleased and impressed.

Long Term Impressions: The TT has now had a 4-wheel alignment with the following specs:

Front Left   Front Right
-0 deg 55′


-0 deg 50′
7 deg 6′


6 deg 48′
0 Toe 0
  Front Cross Camber: -6′  
  Front Cross Caster: 0 deg 17′  
  Front Total toe: 0  
Rear Left   Rear Right
-1 deg 58′ Camber -1 deg 50′
0 deg 8′ Toe 0 deg 7′
  Rear Cross Camber: -0 deg 9′  
  Rear Total Toe: 0 deg 15′  
  Rear Thrust Angle: 0 deg 1′  

I am very pleased with the results of installing the Defcon 1+.  The combination of the new hardware along with an alignment that eliminated front toe, is quite pleasing – the TT goes exactly where you point it. I believe that I am going to appreciate this more and more as I put some more miles on the car.  This is a great bang-for-the-buck mod.

Anxiously awaiting installation.

Modshack Stage 2 (MOFO) – 2 April 2007

Installation: (17,952 miles) Installation took about 15 minutes and was exactly as described in the official Modshack install instructions. I decided on the MOFO powder coated in black wrinkle (matches my VTDA) to continue my ‘stealth’ theme.  I continue to be very impressed with the build quality and customer service by Steve Schwing at the Modshack.  My MOFO was custom built and shipped within a week of ordering.  I am certain to go Modshack Stage 3 sometime later this year.

Test Drive and First Impressions: As noted in the installation instructions, the fuel/air maps will take approximately 50 miles to adapt.  So, the first test drive wasn’t terribly spirited.  It is worth noting that no CELs were thrown and the car seemed very comfortable with the new hardware.  A few more conservative miles should permit me to fully appreciate the MOFO soon.

Long Term Impressions: