After seeing the Audi TT concept car introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, I couldn't wait to see the production version up close at the dealership. When it finally arrived, it was not a disappointment. However, having been an engineer in the auto industry, I knew to wait a few years after the TT's introduction before buying it. Then, with no horror stories to its credit, I ordered and took delivery on my Audi TT in 2002.
Having owned it now for nine years, I have my own set of stories about design inanities. The coup de grace is definitely one of the lowest-tech features on the car, the glove box release lever. The TT was known for the tasteful brushed aluminum accents on the interior, and this release lever was one of those accents. Imagine my surprise when I tried to open the glove box and ended up with the lever in my hand.
Investigating the glove box door, I found that the brushed aluminum release lever was mounted on two very small plastic pivot pins -- the emphasis being on "was." The top plastic pin had sheared off.
It was hard to believe that Audi would have mounted this lever on these small, easily deformed/sheared pins. It was very believable that the pin had sheared mere months after the extended warranty expired.
A quick examination of the glove box door assembly showed that, thankfully, the pin setup was part of a separate bezel. After acquiring the part, it would be an easy home repair job.
Unfortunately, the parts department employee at the dealership informed me that it did not sell the bezel separately. And no, it did not sell the door assembly separately. It did, however, sell the entire glove box assembly for over $500, and he had one in my color in stock. Undeterred, I got a nationwide list of high-end vehicle salvage yards and started making calls. Thirty-five calls later, I found 35 businesses that couldn't keep the TT glove boxes in stock -- all because the release lever breaks off. Because of the high demand, they were selling the used glove box assemblies for over $300.
The heat-formed piece of scrap polypropylene that I jammed into the release doesn't have the look of the brushed aluminum lever, but I expect it to last the lifetime of the car. And if it doesn't, I have three replacements for it in the glove box.
This entry was submitted by Clinton McDade and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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