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Has anyone replaced a steering column?  According to the manual I have to remove the primary driver side cat to remove the rubber firewall piece and the lower section of driveshaft to the U-joint.  However, the shaft comes apart in the middle at that rubber boot.  Is there any reason that the new upper shaft and column can't be coupled to the old lower shaft and u joint?  There's nothing wrong with the steering column, it's a steering column lock issue.

 

On that note, some pictures for people that work on this part in the future.  The lock is removable fairly easily.  The manual is not correct when it says that none of the parts are removable.  You may still need to buy a whole new or used assembly because the parts aren't sold individually, but I'll show you how to get it apart. 

 

See these knobs?  They're screws with no heads.  They aren't in very tight and can be removed with vice grips, or by using a dremel tool to notch them for a screw driver.

post-53634-0-18081400-1431872917_thumb.j

post-53634-0-04653300-1431872932_thumb.j

post-53634-0-21654400-1431872963_thumb.j

Remove those, then wiggle the cover off.

 

The lock has one coupling bolt that is only accessible from below when the lock is unlocked.  Once it's unlocked (retracted) there is a hole here: 

post-53634-0-02813800-1431873022_thumb.j

post-53634-0-41024300-1431872801_thumb.j

Unscrew that, and the ELV or steering column lock will come off

The lock is 4 parts.  There is a metal cover, a back plate, a circuit card, and a motor/gear assembly.  The back plate pops out if you get a chisel or flat head screw driver between it and the rest of the case.  The card slides out from there.  This is the motor/gear assembly.  You can test it with a 9v battery to make sure the motor and gears are still good.

post-53634-0-59662700-1431873062_thumb.j

Edited by ARModen

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The answer so far is yes. Here's the upper steering shaft and column with the switches and steering wheel removed.  The ELV has been removed from the column, although I did some damage in the process because I couldn't tell how it came apart and there was nothing online about it.

 

post-53634-0-31534200-1431895094_thumb.j

 

This is the top of the lower shaft and the rubber boot still installed.

 

post-53634-0-96871000-1431895117_thumb.j

 

They came apart fairly easily, so I anticipate the new one will slide right back into the boot/lower shaft coupling.  As long as that works then it's possible to skip the whole "disassemble and remove half the exhaust header" step.  Had I not mangled it in the process of learning how it was put together I could have attached a replacement ELV directly to the underside of that column without removing it.  It would have still required the dealer to reprogram it, but it would have been a 1 hour job.

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The new steering column arrived finally.  The steering shaft itself comes completely out of the column when the retaining bracket on the top of the column is removed.  The used replacement column came without one for some reason, but my old one went right into it and right into the lower shaft coupling in the firewall.  Removal of cats is definitely not required.  That brake switch bracket can also be left in and is good for supporting the column while it's being coupled up.  Just a matter of putting trim back on and reconnecting the electric and it should be ready for a tow to the dealership to have the new lock synced with the alarm system.

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As suspected, replacing the steering column did not clear the steering fault. When the dealership programmed the column to the kessy the steering column fault cleared but now it has an immobilizer lock active. Dealership replaced the kessy module. They can't program it now. Car is still a paperweight.

Edited by ARModen

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They put the original kessy module back in, and hooked the ELV that I removed from the original steering column and it started back up.  Apparently the old column must have been mechanically bound.  I removed the ELV from the new column and installed the old ELV onto the new column using the dremel/vice grips approach above and the problem is fixed.  Why the new kessy module and new ELV wouldn't work is beyond me.  The dealership wouldn't actually let me operate the PIWIS to see for myself hahahah

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Just completed this repair myself recently.  The issue is the Audi steering lock actuator that locks/unlocks the steering column.  The part in the first picture in the original post. This is the only part that fails and needs to be replaced, but is not available as a single item.  A new un-coded column with the actuator needs to be purchased and installed.  I found an unused Audi A8 column that some parts warehouse had sitting in their basement for $300.  $1500+ from the dealer.  Again, the only part that needs to be replaced is the lock/unlock Audi actuator.  The problem is the actuator mounting and the screw that holds it to the column assembly.  The actuator slide goes over the screw so depending on when the actuator fails the slide can be over the screw or not. 4th and 5th pictures above.  Depending on your electrical skills, you can move the slide by taking the actuator apart (picture 6) and applying 12V DC to the 2 motor terminals and move the actuator.  The PC board will still need to be replaced though as this is where the control to move the actuator motor comes from. Once you replace either the actuator or the upper part of the steering column (both sections of the column do not need to be replaced), the new Audi actuator does need to be coded to the kessy module.  My dealer had some problems doing this and it finally was accepted on the 3rd try so make sure they don't give up on the first failed attempt.  The Audi A8 actuator I used was a version E and my original actuator was a version C meaning there were 2 upgrades by Audi to these actuators.  This is actually a common problem point in Audi A6 and A8 cars with these steering columns.  Be aware that yours will probably fail too.  2 weeks after this repair the LCD main display wend dim.  Porsche wants $2000 for the replacement dashboard display.  I repaired it with a new $20 transformer and a voltage regulator.  Not a hard job, but a PITA to desolder/resolder.  There are a few repair services that will charge you $400+ for this repair that requires $20 in parts and maybe an hour of work once the display is out of the car. 

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I fixed this originally by just plugging the old locking actuator back into the harness without connecting it to the column.  As far as I can tell there was nothing wrong with anything, it just threw a random fault code.  I think I could have fixed it easier by just having it towed to the dealership and having them reset it.  Anyone know a good way to reset the alarm/immobilizer module without having to tow it to the dealership and getting screwed with a completely unnecessary towing charge?

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This guy fixed mine and I was dead in the water.  http://www.speedosolutions.com  Send the column control box, the kessey and the key.  He stayed on the phone with me and walked me through how to find and detach everything.  Very patient guy; great customer service.   I had some blown internal relays, he repaired and reshipped back to me within 24 hours.  Lifetime warranty I believe on the work.

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Just want to echo reese5997's comments.  I live in the UAE, my steering threw a fault, which meant the car was a paperweight....anyway the garage quoted a huge money for a new column, so I got them to remove it and send to Tom at www.speedosolutions.com.  His service was brilliant, took time on the phone, work to cut my postage charge and offered to contact the garage to help them remove the right parts.  Any car is back on the road, fully working for 1/3 of the price.  Brilliant service.  

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