Car doesn't start but MMI, lights, seat memory etc works fine on 2005 Audi A6 Quattro

Have a problem starting my Audi A6. I'm putting a key to the ignition but nothing is happening, no engine check, no usual activity. Otherwise, everything works fine, MMI system, lights, seats memory etc. Please any advice? Update: I've tried different keys, even the plastic one. Got nothing. Have to tow the car to the dealer. Another problem - couldn't release gear shift to a neutral and steering wheel was locked too - had to drag it on flat bed truck with all wheals blocked. Than 6 men from Audi dealer service tried to get it out from the truck. Finally trick the gear shifter to neutral, but car won't roll. Had to use some silicon lubricant and push it to slide from the truck flat bed. Waiting for dealer specialist reply. Updated: Steering column replacing required. Audi Dealer couldn't find it in states, so order one from Germany. Waiting for replacement.

by in Waltham, MA on October 19, 2009
12 answers 25 comments
ANSWER by on October 20, 2009
Hi, You will need to have the diagnostic codes read out, this may be a part of the immobilizer system and reading out the codes will help to answer that question. Do you have any other keys for the car and have you tried them?
ANSWER by on October 31, 2009
does the steering wheel lock and/or release? a fault in the colum lock prevents key on power from flowing. you may need a steering column. please check your owners book for the emergency shifter release in the ashtray area.
COMMENT by on November 22, 2009
told ya...boy i'm good
ANSWER by on October 21, 2010
The ECU is failed
ANSWER by on December 01, 2010
Hi Yuriy, I had EXACTLY the same problem with my 2005 Audi A6. Dealer told me that the onboard computer cannot identify the smartkey anymore. Needs a new transponder but in order to replace the transponder, the entire steering column needs to be replaced! Costs: $2,000. Wanted to ask you if you had any problems before that may have caused this. Audi lost a class action suit with regards to a rooftop leak. I had this problem and water entered the interior, even though the rooftop was closed. Since then, the MMI failed first, now the transponder fails. Want to check whether this could be related to the rooftop leak and whether I can claim it under the class action suit? ps. One thing I learned is that this will be my last Audi.
COMMENT by on December 01, 2010
Hi. Didn't have any problems before. But, I'm the second owner - bought it 2 years ago, 30k miles. Steering column has been replaced (covered with my Extended Warranty) - did cost me a time only. After that have a trunk leak - sealing replacement - free also. About roof leak - I received notice - owner manual adjustment - moonroof drains should be cleared every 40k miles now. P.S. - Don't give up on Audi - One thins I learned - get an Extended Warranty and enjoy this car. It needs constant maintenance.
COMMENT by on December 07, 2010
I just experienced the same problem (2005 A6) and had to have the entire steering column replaced ($2,000.00). I asked why the entire column had to be replaced since the problem was only with the electronic module. The dealer told me that the module was part of the column and couldn't be seperated. The column was $1,200.00 of the cost, so I asked for and was given the old column by the dealer. I came home, and within 5 minutes, I had removed the module from the old column (2 screws and 1 rivet). Why did Audi charge me for an entire new column and $700 labor to remove and replace it? I feel that Audi turned what essentially was a switch replacement into a major repair. Is there some legal recourse? Ken
COMMENT by on January 29, 2011
Everything said above is spot on. I just had the same experience with my used 2005 A6. Only had it a week when one day I went to start it and no go. MMI would light up, but nothing on the dashboard and car didn't even try to crank over. Towed it to Audi dealer, they said it was the transponder in the steering column that recognizes the key, and yes, the whole steering column had to be replaced, cost me $1800.
ANSWER by on October 08, 2011
I had the exact same thing happenned to me on my 2005 Audi A6 recently. It was a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) with an extended warranty that expired 3 weeks before I had this problem. The dealer had to replace the steering column and charged me $1,700 to do it. The steering column itself was $1,250 and the rest was labor and taxes. On top of this, add the towing charges. No small change. There is no way around this one, believe me, I tried. I have the repair manual for the 2005 A6 and in the manual, Audi spells it out very clearly that the steering column has no serviceable parts. I got the old part from the dealer, and the screws for the steering lock module are the one-way type (you can't unscrewed them, at least not without using a brute force approach). The one other solution is to try to get a steering column from a junk yard, but I wasn't sure if this was going to be more pain than gain. I don't have the software to re-program the keys.
ANSWER by on September 19, 2012
I have exact same issue today with my 2005 A6, 2100 dollar estimate, no way to replace the part that failed this is incredible. Must have the entire steering column replaced. As another responder said, last Audi ever. Had same issuers with trying to get it on flat bed. The tow guy and I agreed not to try to pull it with electric parking brake on, transmission in park and front wheels turned with steering wheel locked on top of that the tow hardware could not be screwed in as the threads were entirely corroded even though the protective cap still in place. How can they design a car that cannot be moved when its broke!! Had another tow company send an old school tow truck that lifted the back end, and attached dolly to front end.
COMMENT by on January 23, 2013
My 2007 A6 is currently in the shop for the exact same problem. $2200... Seems like a common problem with the C5 A6's. Anybody up for a little class action?
COMMENT by on January 26, 2013
Has anybody initiated a class action suit for this problem ? Anyone knows how to do that ?
COMMENT by on February 23, 2013
My 2005 A6 bit the dust on Thursday of this week. Same problem, but DFW dealership tells me the cost to replace the steering column will be $3,450. $2,000 sounds like a deal at this point.
COMMENT by on February 23, 2013
I would contact Audi of America directly and tell them this is a common problem with these cars, so it is a design issue and not a normal wear and tear issue. They may be able to give you a break.
COMMENT by on March 14, 2013
I am having the same problem with my 2005 A6. Towed the car to an auto shop and the entire steering column has to be replaced for $2600 estimate. The guy at the shop told me that the steering column problem is so common that Audi dealerships has the parts on their shelves. Anyone filed a class action against Audi yet? I am ready to sign one!!!
COMMENT by on January 15, 2015
these cars is nothing but troubles,hard to fix,parts,hard to find, hard to find a mechanic,always to end up at the dealers,and they are a very expensive.car if has the flu good luck.change a battery cost me 410dlls, to change a fan 2 days,I changed the radiator fan in my old maxxima by myself.(Im not a mechanic.
ANSWER by on March 17, 2014
I have the same problem. Audi Dealership just called and told me it would be $2200.00 to install new steering wheel module on my 2007 A6 Quatro. I'd like to know if any action is being taken for a class action suit
COMMENT by on October 09, 2014
I just picked up my 2007 a6 Quattro. Same thing, the price was 1600 for the column and 890 for labor plus taxes on top of these.
COMMENT by on December 29, 2014
I have the same problem with my 2007 A6 Quattro. IL Dealer quoted $3500+ to fix (2800P/720L). In addition to replacing steering column, dealer has also quoted control unit for onboard power supply (J519), stating that new access/start authorization module (J518) and control module for onboard power supply have to be compatible. Have combed countless threads regarding this problem and haven't seen this additional control unit mentioned anywhere. Information from multiple threads indicates that average cost to fix access start authorization module problem (steering column replacement) is approximately $2000 P&L. The price quoted to me for the steering column (part only) was more than $2000. Thanks to threads like these, I have enough information to be armed for battle/negotiation, but I have few options outside of the dealer. Getting equipment for the initial tow was a 4 hour process (2 miles to dealer) and cost $240. To go elsewhere means I would have to pay for two additional tows - one to another service center, and then back to the dealer to get the keys recoded after the work is completed, which would also be an additional charge (unless, of course, I want to tow it to another Audi dealer). Not happy, but wanted to share in the event info will be helpful to the next victim... Follow Up: Didn't need control unit for onboard power supply after all (ahem...), and was able to negotiate an additional $1000 off price. Cost to replace steering column with access/start control module was $2000, or $1500 less than originally quoted.
ANSWER by on January 10, 2015
I'm reading through all these replies to your problem and I am wondering to myself why people put up with this type of engineering. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Audi and other Europeon cars are electronic/computer overcomplicated nightmares. Why would you ever consider buying another car like this once you know how they are made? Consumers have the power to choose what they buy. They need to educate themselves and not let car manufactures get away with this kind of engineering. If you quit buying it the manufacturers will respond and make a change. Do your homework before you buy and let others know.
COMMENT by on January 13, 2015
Just got told.from my mechanic that i have the same problem with my 05 A6 with 131K miles. Few days ago car showed the same symptoms as what you are all saying. Electronic issues are known to plague Audi ..but yet we buy them for the other benefits.. my repair cost is $1900 .. it sucks but still beats having a monthly car payment on a new vehicle.. the extended warranty is worth it on most cases, just make sure you buy the best plan so it covers more and definitely negotiate on prices for the warranty.. last year i had the abs control module (the one located below the arm rest, all the way below there) and i also had water come in from the moon roof that caused some water marks on the moonroof slider.
COMMENT by on March 31, 2015
Wow...I'm guessing that is what happened to my 06 A4. All lights and radio turns on. Except the lights in the middle. My steering wheel is locked up.The key will not turn the car on I can't even move it. I called the dealership and they acted like that was weird, now I'm going to have to get it towed there, which is 45 min away. It was working just fine.ugh!!!!
ANSWER by on January 13, 2015
I had the same exact problem with my Audi A6 2007 and I am an attorney. The display module comes on and so does the MMI system, the radio works. The car will neither crank nor the steering wheel will move. The gears are immobilized as well. I think there for sure a design defect, and I would like to have some of you respond to me to proceed with going after AUDI
Upvoted (17)Flag Inappropriate
COMMENT by on January 15, 2015
I own an auto repair shop. I've been in the business over 40 years. I am a 3 times re-certified ASE master tech/shop owner. I have a 2005 A6 in my shop now. The steering wheel is locked and the key is locked in the ignition switch. The start access control module is not working causing these issues. I would suggest not buying poor engineering. To pay for a extended warranty so you can drive a poorly engineered car doesn't make sense to me IMO. Just don't buy and hopefully they'll improve the engineering, if you like other aspects of the vehicle, would seem more logical. The complete steering column will have to be replaced as an assembly to repair my vehicle at a cost of over $2000.00. Audi will not release repair information to independent repair shops so the part has to be replaced and reprogrammed at the dealer. Dealers are only required to carry support their products for 10 years I believe. After 10 years the dealer will not work on your Audi and some of your electronics will not be able to be repaired if they fail. The A6 has 19 control modules that have to communicate with each other over a backbone network called a CAN bus. Newer cars will have more modules because the modules are cheaper to produce than simpler circuits with copper wiring because copper is so expensive. Since certain repair information will not be release you really don't fully own your vehicle. You don't have access to the repair information nor does anyone but the dealer. A catch 22 situation. I feel the industry needs to change. Audi is not the only one but they are one of the worse offenders. Volvo is 100 times worse. Asians and domestics not so much.
ANSWER by on January 24, 2015
This steering column replacement that Audi "stealers" seems to require in order to fix this is mostly not needed and is a huge money over-charge (ie they will replace and charge alot rather than try to fix). All that you need to do is reset the codes using a real VAG cable and software from Ross-Tech (cable cost about 300 bucks). For my A6 the reason the steering got locked in the first place was a weak battery, and a new one completely eliminated the issue. The other problem is how to connect the VAG to the car while the car is immobilized. To see how to do that click the youtube link (or search under Audi VW control modules wake up with out ignition) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNkNYqTrL3U
COMMENT by on January 24, 2015
This just happened to my A6 yesterday, had 2 tow trucks come out and neither would winch it up on the tow truck. Sitting in my driveway now. I checked all the fuses, put a new battery in and still nothing. The 2nd tow truck driver told me that it must be the module that is bad and needs to be reprogrammed. So, do I get this straight in reading your post here that if I were to purchase the VAG cable and software I can fix the problem myself?
COMMENT by on January 25, 2015
Before you go investing in the VAG cable and software, read the comments under the video. Edge Motors, who posted the procedure, later commented that, in many cases, the fix was only temporary (a month or so), and the steering coumnn need to be replaced anyway, but that they did have a couple of instances where the car continued to run for two years. I gave the video information to my dealership, who told me that the car in the video (A4) had a different ignition system, and that this procedure didn't work on my A6 (who knows if they tried it or not). Doesn't matter, because it really wasn't worth the trouble knowing that the fix might only last for a month. As for the tow, you need an old fashioned tow truck with a wheel lift and dolly. Not as easy to find as you'd think.
COMMENT by on January 26, 2015
Miffed1, why not try to fix first? No need to buy VAG cable, many indy VW/Audi mechanics have it and will be able to try this fix on your Audi, some will charge for it, but nothing like the 2 grand "your dealership" wants in order to replace the whole steering column. Also the VAG software is a free download, just the cable cost). For me, I do have the VAG cable and software loaded on my laptop since I can get many other uses for my audi (such is diagnostics testing and codes - over $100 at the dealership). My car got immobilized home, so being able to start the car with the VAG saved the tow ($120 cost around around here since the wheels were locked). This YouTube video was posted over a year and half ago, and I was lucky enough to find it and try this fix over 6 months ago (thanks Edgemotors). It started the car right away and my A6 has been fine ever since. The VAG software also found several codes for the battery so I replaced it. Beats the dealer option and the cost, but hey some guys still just want to go to the dealership...
COMMENT by on January 26, 2015
I wasn't suggesting not to try the fix. I was responding to the statement "So, do I get this straight in reading your post here that if I were to purchase the VAG cable and software I can fix the problem myself?" to let the poster know, before spending $300 or more on the cable and software, that it wasn't necessarily going to solve the problem, and if it did get the car started, said 'fix' might be temporary. This is not my opinion, it's subsequent information in the YouTube comments provided by the person from Edge Motors who posted the video. Your earlier statement that the dealer's steering column replacement solution is mostly not needed and can be circumvented by this video procedure is misleading. There's no reason not to try this 'fix', but if the immobilization is not found to be caused by some other problem, like the battery (i.e. is truly a faulty access/start authorization module), the person using the 'fix' should know that their (possibly) revived car may not continue to start for very long, and the steering column with new access/start authorization module will eventually need to be replaced. You were very fortunate that your problem happened to be the battery.
COMMENT by on January 26, 2015
Miffed1, you obviously do not get it (or else you just work for a dealer and would like to continue and "rape" us audi owners). You sound uptight that this fix worked for me... For the rest who have/had this problem and tried what the youtube video suggests, please post results.
COMMENT by on January 27, 2015
Miffed1 truely sounded like he was trying to help you. If he was from the dealer he would have told you only a qualified Audi tech should make any repairs on your car and would not even have suggested that you work on it at all. My question is how would you guys ever trust your cars again knowing this type of technology is on your cars.
ANSWER by on February 25, 2015
We just received a 2006 Audi A6 with the same problem. We were able to find error codes in the Access/Authorization module. Clearing the codes in the module allows the car to start again. You will need a repair center with the right equipment to get directly in to this module, as it is not a typical "check engine" type of code. We aren't sure how long clearing the code lasts, or what caused the code to trip in the first place...but assumed to be the module mentioned here is going bad. We will test the vehicle over the next couple of days to see if code resets and access is denied again.
COMMENT by on February 25, 2015
You are correct I checked power and ground and to ignition start authorization switch and to access module but I could not communicate or see codes to them with my Snap-On Solus scanner. I could see many of the other modules however so I know the can bus wasn't shorted. Can you tell me what type of scanner you were able to do this with? Thanks for the information. If people know the brand of the equipment you used they could ask the shop specifically and know they would be getting good service. Good to know. My customer got impatient and took his vehicle to the dealer who charged $3300 for the repairs which involved replacing the steering column with module. My shop has since purchased a Autel Mayisys. I've heard many good reviews about it.
COMMENT by on February 26, 2015
We have several, but the one that allowed us to do this job was our Maxysis Pro. I can't speak for Autel's other scanners, but the Pro version we have enabled us to get where we needed to get. All in all the tool is extremely useful. There are times of course that we have to use some of our other scan tools, but all in all, this one is our go to tool first.
COMMENT by on February 26, 2015
Many Thanks. Have a great day. I just wanted to update this reply. Since my shop has had a chance to learn the many features of the Autel Maxsys Pro I have found it is an incredible piece of diagnostic equipment, however, in the case of the Audi that I had in my shop even though the start access module and the push button ignition switch had power and good grounds I could not communicate with these modules. This would indicate the modules were inoperative and had failed. My customers starter went out and he tried to jump the car himself. I'm thinking he may have caused a power surge that caused the failure of these parts. The A6 I had in my shop could not have the codes read or cleared since I couldn't communicate with the modules. Therefore we are back to this ridiculously complicated Audi manufactured security system. Any little spark or surge of power may take it out. I personally resent this type of engineering and having this knowledge I would never ever consider buying an Audi. There is hope for you Audi owners and everyone else for that matter! The state of Massachusetts has passed "right to repair legislation" that forces manufacturers to release all repair information to consumers and independent shops and manufacturers have to make diagnostic equipment available at a fair price to others besides the dealers. Hopefully all the other states will adapt this legislation. Its a good thing for all of us. I encourage anyone reading this to Google "Massachusetts right to repair" for more information.
ANSWER by on May 27, 2015
HI CLEAR THE DATA CODES IF THE CAR NO START AFTER THAT JUST REPLACE THE ACC M 90 % STEERING CODE
COMMENT by on August 17, 2015
When you say replace the Acc M 90% what do you mean? Replace the steering column? Please explain. Thanks