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Tech Article

Audi C5 A6 Interior Plastic Bases: White vs. Black

Last Updated: 09/24/2017
Parts Group: Headlamp switch
In one of my careers, I’m professionally a database nerd. Specifically, I build custom business software solutions. In that profession, there’s often the experience of having taken a particular architecture about as far as it seems viable to go, and yet the client’s requirement is for “more yet” so then comes the scary move to a somewhat similar yet quite different foundation, typically with some unintended consequences.

This seems to parallel what happened with some of the interior plastic parts for the Audi C5 A6 cars. Through 2001, the base plastic generally used was black. From 2002 and on, several major changes were made, including to this plastic. It changed from a black basis to a white basis.

So, far, I’ve identified the affected parts as:

- The rectangular center console storage bin parallel to the handbrake
- The strip of plastic in the center console rear vent unit
- The base of the headlamp switch
- The base of the mirror control switch

When the underlying plastic is black, and the car’s interior color scheme calls a black part, no problem. For example, my daily driver is a 2000 car and its headlamp switch is black, the base is black plastic and all is well. As to its center console … not so good. The interior color is a light beige that Audi calls “mélange” and that is painted onto the center console, so as you scratch the sides of that storage container over the years, the paint comes off and the black shows through and it just looks sad. I’ve personally taken my center console out, removed that part, then carefully removed all the paint, and now it looks nice even though it’s black and the rest of the interior is beige. At least it’s a solid black.

However, yesterday I analyzed a similar part from a 2002 car … and the base plastic is white. So, removing the paint would not be viable.

Even worse is the headlight switch area. On the early A6 cars, the part is simply black, but on 2002 and newer cars, this part doesn’t age gracefully. It seems to me that the headlight switch plastic base is white, which is then painted black, so then when there’s an incident that makes a deep scratch in the paint, the white shows through and suddenly that looks less than elegant. Ditto as to the mirror control switch in the center console.

Also: normally, the rear vent unit is a non-controversial part. I normally focus on it mainly to remove it, to get access to the relevant 13mm nuts holding the center console or its armrest in place, and normally I work on early-model parts. They generally look fine. However, yesterday I analyzed a part from a 2002 car. The symbols were printed on a black background, but there was a glaring white spot that wouldn’t wash away. I eventually realized that it wasn’t dirt; it was where the black paint had been scratched away and the bright white plastic base had become visible.

I expect I’ll own a 2002-or-later A6 one of these days, and when I do, I plan to retrofit some of the components from earlier-year A6 C% cars, that have a black basis.

I’m sure Audi had their reasons to choose white plastic over black plastic, but even so, if I ever own a 2002 or later A6, I intend to retrofit the black-plastic base parts that are interchangeable.

Meanwhile, if you have similar concerns, please feel free to purchase from us the interior parts you need for your C5 A6 Audi.
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