2008 Audi R8: Finding Balance
December 01, 2008
Our long-term Audi R8 is one of the more rewarding vehicles in the long-fleet, but only if you can take full advantage of its combination of luxury and performance. I enjoyed driving the R8 for the past two weeks, but within 24 hours it was clear something was amiss regarding its normally refined ride quality.
At higher speeds a subtle, but consistent, vibration intruded upon the Audi's upscale interior. I figured (and hoped) it was simply a wheel balance isssue. A trip to Stokes Tire in Santa Monica confirmed my suspicions...and more.
Turns out three of the four tires where vastly out of balance (the driver's side rear was fine). In fact, the front passenger tire had no weights on it at all, prompting the Stokes technician to question whether the tire had ever been balanced before being mounted on the R8 at the factory. Certainly that would explain the high-speed vibration.
Problem solved, right? Not quite. While fixing the balance fixed the bad vibes there was another gremlin lurking under the Audi R8.
Upon pulling the front driver's side tire the technician noted uneven wear on the tread pattern. The wear bars were flush with the outside treads, and these treads had an almost "squished" look. The front passenger tire, while also pretty used up, did not have this uneven wear pattern. Clearly new front tires were in order, which Stokes priced out at $435 for each Pirelli P-Zero 235/35ZR-19. Total cost, including taxes and mounting/balancing, $949.67 The tires weren't in stock, but Stokes arranged for delivery the following day. Appropriately, as the tires were being mounted inside Stokes Tire Center a downpour began outside (gotta love that timing).
Front tire replacement is often paired with an alignment, particularly if the old tires had uneven wear. Stokes was prepared to give the R8 a four-wheel alignment, but the technician didn't expect to find such an elaborate collection of adjustments tucked above those underbody panels. "This thing is as exotic as a Ferrari" he told me. When I reminded him that the R8 and Gallardo share the same platform he replied, "True, so I guess that makes sense." But the alignment's price jumped from $110 to $170, and the time involved went from one hour to two.
That timing didn't fit with the rest of my day's schedule, so the R8 will be retuning to Stokes soon to complete its alignment service.
Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 24,400 miles