2000 A4 Known Problem W/ E-Brake/Cable?

Hello and Thank You All for the Good Info I've Learned Here-
November 1, 2003 purchased a 2000 A4 w/ 18,000 miles from a dealer (w/ audi certified warranty). The car has been perfect until,
in January, when (coincidentally?) the weather here in New England plunged to the single digits Fahrenheit, I came out one day when the car had been parked with the hand brake on (it's a standard if that matters), and the brake was slightly "stuck." When you released the brake, it didn't "ratchet" down the last inch or so of travel, it did go down, but felt strange. The car felt like the brakes were lightly applied. It took me a part of the mile drive to my office to figure out what was going on. Called the Audi tow program and they towed it to the dealer.
Dealer said the rear rotors (?) were trashed and the car needed what sounded like kind of a major re-build of the rear brakes. But, they kept the car for a week, mostly waiting for parts. I questioned why so long for common parts for a relatively new car. Never really got a straight/satisfactory answer. I was given a loaner under the warranty (still using the balance of the new car warranty).
A week later, same problem, but not as bad, much more subtle. The brakes "barely" dragging, but still, not right. Brought it back. Now dealer says it will be "at least" a week, and that another A4 has been waiting about that amount of time for the same/similar parts for the same/similar problem. Service guy speculates maybe it's a widespread or spreading problem, although he says there have been no service bulletins.
THIS time, they say it's the e-brake cable. Seems to me this was likely the problem the first time, too, but that they fixed the damage caused by the problem the first time, and not the problem itself. This time, they say it's just the cable, but they assure me the rear brakes themselves are fine this time, that they look like new "just as you'd expect."
I like these guys. This is my second Audi from this dealership, and I've always felt they've treated me as fairly as any dealership, and honestly. My questions: 1. Is anyone aware of this as a known problem with the A4? 2. Should I accept that my brakes were not damaged this time? 3. Would you accept waiting a week for brake parts, twice in one month, for a 2 year old car? Do I have any choice? Can I go to another level without alienating the guys who I have to "live with" for service for the next 80,000 miles, and if I did, is it likely to make any difference?
Thanks for your collective wisdom,
Brad
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On 12 Feb 2004 18:19:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com (brad) wrote:

This is the first time I've seen this bug reported *here*, fwiw.
You could ask them to pull the rear wheels off so you can inspect the rotors.
The dealer wouldn't suggest this (for obvious reasons) but the last time I had an e-brake cable seize (on my well-aged and thoroughly salted New England Pathfinder) I disconnected it and continued to drive until the replacement cable assembly arrived.
I doubt venting to Audi NA will get the parts there any quicker, but it might make you feel better. The dealer might be notified, but from your description it doesn't sound like a dealer problem wrt the parts availability.
As for whether they should have noticed the balky cable, the fact that the symptoms were greatly reduced after the initial service makes it a bit of a close call...
/daytripper '00 s4 6spd
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I had that problem on my passat a while back. Water gets in the handbrake cable and then freezes locking the rear brakes on. There will be a perished rubber cover at the calliper end. Rgds Alec
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snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com (brad) wrote in message rebuilt calipers.

Unfortunately, it's about as major as you can get for a system as 'simple' as disk brake calipers.

Most people don't use that brake, so the problem simply hasn't been discovered yet. It's when these cars 'trickle down' to guys like you and me that it arises. Oddly, as time goes on, the parts get easier to find. If you're keeping this thing beyond the warranty period, you might want to look for an independent who can work on it and get in touch with Blaufergngen (www.audiquattroparts.com) for parts.

The service guy is either lying or he's new to Audis. He wouldn't be far wrong to say, "They *all* do that." I can understand his reluctance to do so, but if you tell him you already heard it here, he might open up. ;^)

Might well be, but you say there *was* less drag, so it's probably fine.

No; *all* VW/Audi products with rear disk brakes use this moronic system. You can read about it by doing a Google search here for threads about it dating from years before yours was even built.

In the absence of any evidence otherwise (You can *see* the disks through the wheels, can't you?), I would.

Not for a Ford or a Chevy. Yes, for an Alfa. Audi's in between. However, as another poster suggested, you *can* drive the car this way. First make sure the parking brake is fully disengaged. Then, just don't use it and don't park on any hills ...

Nope. Not worth it. Audi's got two decades of 'experience' with this crap. If they were responsive to logic and input, they would have changed it long ago. -- C.R. Krieger (Not new here)
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Oops, don't know how that brain fart happened, it's an 02 A4, not a 2000 (sorry)- o.p.
warp2 snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (C.R. Krieger) wrote in message

However, in light of this part of your answer, I guess my mistake doesn't affect your answer....

I will do so, but just from reading some of the other responses to this post, I'm getting a sense of it. Vertical termination of cable housing (near rear wheels?) causes freezing of collected water in this area. Makes sense, I guess I was just lucky that the 97 A4 I just traded this new one in for after 6 new england winters never had the problem, and I'd never heard of it.

Yep, I see what you mean (former 86 Alfetta GT owner...)

I certainly would have been willing to do this had I known it was an option. But at certain times I couldn't get my brake "unstuck" (it was in the "stuck" position when I drove it to the dealer, but with just a slight pull). If I coulda "unstuck" it I would have driven it that way, especially if I had known it was going to take what's now going on 2 weeks....

Yep, you are of course clearly right about this. It's hard to be this rational when you want your new car back, but I'll try to be....
thanks for your helpful response....
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On 12 Feb 2004 18:19:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com (brad) wrote:

    The problem lies in the boots for for the e-brake cables. The cables finish their run vertically and moisture runs down past the boots inside the cable housing and collects in the lowest point and freezes. Audi is exausting it's supply of cables and so they're not readily available. There is some talk of applying a lubricant with water displacing properties,insted of replacing cables, but nothing definate yet. I will re-post if I hear anything else. A bottle of Triflow from the local bike shop would probably do more good than beating up on the dealer.
                            douglas
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Douglas,
Thank you for this very helpful information. Sheesh, why can't the dealer just tell you this stuff? How could there not be a service bulletin on it if the parts are getting scarce and the fix (at least temporary) may be so easy?...
Is the area where the water collects reasonably accessible, so that you could spray some wd-40 in there?
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On 15 Feb 2004 11:49:57 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com (brad) wrote:

    This really depends on how much water and how long it's been in there. Triflow or something similar that has some Teflon in it will work better. In my experience WD 40 doesn't have much staying power. This problem is actually different on the '02 and up A4's because the earlier cables didn't go up vertically. This is also I think, why Audi hasn't had an answer so quickly. Yes, it has been common to replace cables in older vehicles, but that is because eventually the housing coating breaks down so that the metal jacket rusts and binds. Freezing is a new problem (at least for A4 Audi's). The weather in New England has been paticularly bad this year, very cold with enough warm wet days for the water to get in.     To apply Triflow you have to get underneath and find the rubber boots on the brake calipers and using the small plasic tube that coms with the bottle, run several drops inside. It may take a couple of applications to get enough penetration to do some good. Very good on lock cylinders too this time of year.
                        good luck                         douglas
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