Tiptronic Transmission problem Audi transmission problem / gremlin:

Before anything else, I just want to say thanks to everyone who reads this through and offers any experience, insight, input, opinion, etc, BUT, I don’t think that I have a problem with my transmission itself, or a problem with the transmission’s valve body or solenoids. This gremlin seems like an input / signal problem. I think that the transmission is getting an input from the car somewhere, which is causing the transmission to be confused. Like from a sensor which is on the way out, or needs to be recalibrated. Blaming the transmission and suggesting replacement seems dismissive and “safe” for if you don’t know what inputs that a transmission uses to make shifting decisions. A noteworthy percentage of transmissions are replaced just to find out that the problem is still there, so I would like to consider what is actually wrong before even considering replacing the transmission.

So the car is a 2008 Audi S4, with the six speed Tiptrontic, which I believe is the “6HP19A” transmission. The gremlin is that the car gears the transmission upwards too early, before the RPM’s can climb normally, and unless the throttle is very light, it gears up violently as it skips quickly through gears before the RPM’s can even climb. Unless you are very light on the throttle, you can hear the bang/knock as the car tries to skip through multiple gears. It climbs to 6th gear before reaching 60km/hr (40mph), even in Sport driving mode, when it should only be in 3rd gear. On highway in 6th gear, as you ease into the throttle to try and downshift, then the car misses as it tries to get down into 5th gear, and the rpm’s just flare as if it tried to downshift but you stay in 6th gear. If accelerating from a dead stop with medium throttle, then the car will violently jump prematurely into 3rd and 4th gear unless you are very light on the throttle. It jumps into higher gears too soon regardless of throttle, but it is not violent if you are very light on the throttle. Even accelerating from a stop with light throttle, you need to use the Tiptronic to keep gearing the car back down to avoid bogging down the engine.

While at cruising speed, and while driving light on the throttle, the transmission jumps upwards into gears to the point that any acceleration would be bogging down the engine since the car is in too high of a gear, and it won’t gear down as you increase the throttle. Unless you manually gear down (using Tiptronic) to accelerate while cruising, the transmission wants you to accelerate the car holding at 1200rpm (or where ever the rpm are in 6th gear). When using Tiptronic to manually downshift in order to accelerate, the car will put itself back into too high of a gear within a few seconds. When gearing down manually to accelerate, the car will sometimes fight as you try to accelerate and it will violently put itself back up two gears with a thump/bang.

At red lights, the car will sometimes “buck” noticeably, as if I had quickly released and stabbed the brakes. When this happens, if you look at the middle of the cluster (between RPM gauge and speedometer) then you can see the car jumping between first gear and fifth gear, or first gear and second gear. The transmission is getting an input from somewhere telling it to shift gears when it shouldn’t be shifting. I think the red light behaviour is a good example of why the transmission is getting a bad input somewhere.

Sometimes when trying to get the car moving I can’t get the torque converter to lock up in first gear, so then my option is to either (a) restart the car, or (b) ease into the throttle until the car decides to skip itself prematurely into second gear from a dead stop.

So from here, please let me know what you all think. What could cause a transmission to want to be in top gear all the time? What could cause a transmission to shift too soon? What could cause a transmission to jump through multiple gears when you are medium/heavy on the throttle, and otherwise shift too soon even with light throttle?

Maybe a possible problem with car recognizing wheel speed? Traction control / ESP? Wheel spin/slip sensor? Wheel speed sensor? Need new throttle body? Throttle position sensor? Throttle plate “alignment” (calibrate sensor)? Engine load? Wheel speed sensor or sensors? ABS / speed sensor or sensors? Throttle position sensor? Coil pack / misfire? Loose coil pack harness? Mass airflow sensor? Transmission wiring harness?

Any ideas on calibrations / alignments that could be reset using dealer computer or VCDS?

Transmission “adaptation”?

Would a transmission adaptation reset also overwrite a Transmission Control Module tune? Because JHM tuned my TCM.

ECU or TCM check/replace?

Can the transmission’s valve body / valve block / solenoids (and pressures) be tested using VCDS or dealer software? Are there any Audi tech’s reading this?

The dealer is baffled. Only feedback was “No faults stored in ABS/Traction Control Module or Transmission Control Module”. They suggested a transmission fluid change, and then told me afterwards that the OLD transmission fluid looked perfect. How pointless was that, right. The dealer seems to have no idea what inputs the car uses to control the transmission, or what might cause this behavior generally speaking, and, there is no trustworthy independent mechanic that I know of in my area. I don’t really wanna scrap the car, but it’s probably gonna be junked if it comes down to replacing the transmission “just to see if that MIGHT fix the issue”.

how long has this been an issue…

is there anything you can do to alter this issue.

The transmission gets most of its inputs for shifting from the maf. So its load related. It’ll shift sooner if its super cold due to the load calculation. reset the ECU and then reset the TCU. The TCU is a learning TCU so you can drive a little more aggressive and it should default to the more aggressive shift maps holding gears. S mode if you have it should help.

Also you have the paddles on the steering wheel. They are a good friend in cold weather.

If your car still bucks at a stop light that’s known as the ZF lurch. Normal but annoying.

Hi Justin, thanks for the feedback.

Nothing can be done to alter the issue at the moment. The premature shifting happens when the car is both cold or warmed up. If I am very light on the throttle, then the premature shifting is soft shifting, and happens one gear at a time, but it still climbs to 6th gear before reaching 40mph (60km/hr) even in Sport driving mode. Stepping into medium throttle or heavy throttle results in harsh shifting, which is a bang that you can hear and feel, as the car seems to slam upward through more than one gear at the same time. Like, I mean that stepping into the throttle medium or heavy from a dead stop seems like the car wants to skip second gear and jump straight to fourth or fifth gear, which slams the car into almost a standstill. For example, imagine moving at 10 or 15mph in first gear with medium or heavy throttle, and then trying jump from first gear and into fourth gear (SLAM, followed by sudden loss of momentum).

The issue started happening a few months ago, and I work out of town a lot, so the car ended up parked for weeks at a time, because I did not want to drive it like this. So it has only been getting a couple of days driving per month. Driving with very careful and slow acceleration, while hoping to get a check engine light that might tell me more. I feel like I’m beating on the transmission. I think the issue seems to be getting worse because the car never bucked when the issue first started.

How do I reset the ECU and TCU after I change the MAF? Is it just a matter of disconnecting the battery leads and then touching the battery leads together for a minute or two before reconnecting the battery?

Also, this may be a dumb question, but would resetting the ECU and TCU hurt any JHM tuning? I have JHM tuned ECU and TCU.

Thanks again.

On a side note, I do have the genuine Rosstech cable if it matters for any checking / resetting / recalibrating

So if I would describe this transmission problem as briefly as possible, then I would refer to it as “early soft shifting under light throttle, along with HARD violent shifting under medium or full throttle”. Also noteworthy to say “The transmission sounds like it’s beating itself to pieces unless you drive it with very light trottle.”

Since the transmission kinda went to hell within a couple of months, I think that there is a non-transmission underlying problem which is causing the transmission to get confused. Since I started having the problem, I have carefully driven the car, just waiting for an error code. I finally got a misfire error code, but of course this may be unrelated.

Big thanks to justincredible for suggesting that the MAF sensor could be the problem. I did change my K&N air filter before this problem started creeping in, so the freshly oiled filter might have been the last straw for my old MAF. I decided just to change the MAF instead of using MAF cleaner, since MAF cleaner is “hope in a can”. If you have an error code pointing to the MAF, then ok try MAF cleaner, but for mysterious problems, I think just replacing the part is the best idea.

Anyways, after getting the misfire error code, I decided that it’s time to take a run at this transmission problem. This is all that I did for “round one” of attempting to solve the problem on my own:

-Change MAF sensor.
-Change coil packs and spark plugs.
-It’s been a while since mine have been done, so this eliminates any possible intermittent misfire or misfires. Intermittent misfires don’t always trigger an error code.
-Get throttle body cleaner spray (and/or intake valve cleaner spray). Remove and clean throttle body.
-Consider cleaning the intake valves using the spray can method, just because a carbon clean is always a good thing.
-I did not have to replace my throttle body gasket because it looked good, but if you’re reading this, then you might need a new gasket.

After cleaning the throttle body, changing spark plugs, changing coil packs, and changing MAF, then it is time for Vagcom:

Transmission adaptation reset, for car to re-learn driving style and shift points:

Throttle position “kick-down basic settings”, for car to re-learn Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) signals sent to the Transmission Control Module (TCM):

Do a “throttle body alignment”, for car’s computer to re-learn throttle plate positions:

Also, for anyone chasing a similar problem, then my “round two” would have involved other possible related problems:
-check for vacuum leak and/or boost leak.
-get used throttle body, which comes with throttle position sensor (TPS), and replace the throttle body just to see if throttle position sensor is on the way out. Don’t forget to perform the above mentioned Vagcom stuff too.
-get a used gas pedal since it’s as simple as a few bolts and a wiring harness to swap it out (throttle input). After talking with an Audi service tech, he said the cost of a gas pedal could be weighed against checking the pedal with Vagcom. If you have a Vagcom cable, then you can actually use Vagcom to check the pedal’s responsiveness. If you don’t have Vagcom, then you can just swap the gas pedal since a used gas pedal is cheaper than paying someone to check the pedal using Vagcom.
-vacuum / boost leak test.

“Round three” and beyond (keep hope alive!) would be last ditch ideas before surrendering to a transmission replacement:
-loose transmission wiring harness.
-check modules for communication with Vagcom. Specifically communication with things like ABS/ESP control module (and communication between ABS control modules and ESP unit), and communication with transmission control module (TCM).
-crank position aka “rpm sensor” swap (“engine speed sensor” could be related to transmission). After talking it over with an Audi service tech, he is of the opinion that the car would not start if this was a fault, however, if it was only “faulty but not failed”, then it MIGHT be an issue, but, he did not think it was worth pursuing.
-checking the transmission’s valve body pressures and checking the transmission’s solenoids can basically only be done by the dealer because they have an expensive “plate tool” that they can use. Indepenent VW/Audi shops would not have such a rarely-used specialty tool.
-open the transmission and swap transmission speed sensor, as well as transmission fluid service.
-get a used TCM and swap out your TCM just to check for fried/faulty TCM.
-drive the car off a cliff just to vent some frustration.

Anyways, round one fixed my “audi early shifting” problem.

Thanks again to justincredible

Great to hear. So everything is back to normal… or at least running strong again.

100% normal again, like I never had a problem. Car is back to running like new. Here comes summer!