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Notes on Audi repair manuals - How to find/access them

6.8.2008 (updated 25.1.2009) - Many retrofit projects are not that difficult when it comes to the actual installation of the components, especially when companies like Kufatec provide instructions for the electrical connections. The hardest part is often the disassembly and assembly of car and trim required. It is not often apparent what needs to come off and how it is done - and without knowing what to do, you can break something easily.

Luckily Audi repair manuals with detailed instructions from trim removal to electronics diagrams to engine disassembly and whatnot, are available for everyone at a very reasonable price. Personally I know of two ways to get to this information:

- Audi's erWin system is especially useful for Europeans (does cover U.S./Japanese car details too, though) and those who need only occasional information from the repair manuals. Starting from only a few euros with credit card (and immediate access) you get an hour of time to browse through all the manuals and take screenshots. Throw in a tenner or two and you get a whole day of online access and the ability to print as much as you'd like, very cheap in my opinion. Pricier options and DVD delivery for longer periods are available as well. erWin can be found at the following address: http://erwin.audi.com/

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UPDATE 25.1.2009:

LoCal sent in this addition on how to use erWin:

How it works is you choose the Search option, then the model (like Audi A5 or in VW erWin e.g. Golf VI), then Feature like Body and then you get a list of the articles available. Obviously you need to subscribe (buy at least an hour of time) to see the actual article.

The problem with erWin is language. Unless you choose Surface English (well, it can be anything really) and Article Deutsch (articles in German), you get very few articles. German seems to have the full array of repair manual information there. So with erWin, you need to use a translator service like babelfish.yahoo.com (you may have to retype the text you are translating or if copy-paste works, then use that). It is not too bad if you are looking for some particular small instruction (like how to remove some trim), since usually pictures are good and the texts are short and to the point.

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Official Audi repair manuals also go by the name of ELSA. I'm not sure what the exact relationship is with erWin, but look for ELSA (or ElsaWin) for repair manuals as well. The official parts database/information system with diagrams is called ETKA. Google ELSA and ETKA for more information on these and some online services as well.

- For an American perspective, Audi repair manuals are available from Bentley Publisher on CDs and DVDs as well as a Bentley eBahn online subscription (http://ebahn.bentleypublishers.com/). Ross-Tech, the makers of the fine VAG COM, also sell Bentley Publisher CDs/DVDs, so you could order some at the same time with your VAG COM cable. Ross-Tech are at: http://www.ross-tech.com/

Research is the key to a successful retrofit project. An hour or two spent reading the factory repair manuals can save a lot of time and tears later on.

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