Your inside look into the world of car repair and Volkswagen Dealer service

Just a few warnings before I get in to this post.

  1. This can apply to cars other than Volkswagen
  2. This is MY opinion. Officially, you must follow the owners manual for warranty purposes

This post is in response to a question that was posted on the Facebook fan page.  Rudy asked

I wanted to know if the recommend 10k oil change is a good rule of thumb to go by? I have read on VW blogs about people changing it every 5k to be safe. I have a 2012 VW Sportwagen 2.5L and I was just curious to know what your thoughts are? I want to keep my car in great condition.

That is actually something that I get asked a lot. Since 2006, VW has moved to a 10,000 mile service interval. Starting in 2009 they went to free maintenance. That is such a far cry from what folks are use to.  It was not that long ago that a car needed its oil changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months. Now a days, there really is no need to service your car that much. Synthetic oils will hold up much better that older oil would. Also, engine oiling systems are much better than they use to be.

My issue with 10,000 mile service has nothing to do with the quality of oil, or filter material. It is more about the overall health of your car. There is a lot more to keeping your car in great (and safe) condition than changing the oil. When a customer goes 10k between services, here are somethings to consider

  • 10k miles between tires being checked
  • 10k miles without having brakes checked
  • 10k miles without anyone checked your light bulbs
  • 10k miles between fluids being checked/ filled

Lets take brakes for a PERFECT example. I check brakes on every car that I work on. If a car comes in and needs brakes, I can replace the pads and resurface the rotors, or replace the pads and replace the rotors. The pads and resurface the rotors costs about $275, replacing the rotors costs $525(those are estimates to showcase the difference in price). The rotors need to be replaced when the pad wears into the rotor. If a car is serviced every 5k miles, I would be able to catch the worn brakes before rotors need to be replaced. 

That is just one example of how waiting can cost more money in the long run. I also see lots of cars with no oil on the dipstick. Most people do not check anything on their car. This can lead to running a car low on oil (or other fluids) causing key components to wear out faster.

I personally change the oil in my Passat every 4000 miles. My car uses oil, about 1qt every 4k miles. I also know that the 1.8t engine likes to sludge if its not properly maintained. For me its worth 1 extra service every year and a half.  For how much a standard oil service costs, its more than worth it to keep your car happy.

One more thing to consider, it just popped into my head so it might be out of order or context. Everyone drives different, and under different conditions. Does someone in Seattle REALLY have the same wear on their car as someone in Phoenix? It is just not possible. I picture car manufaturers making those recommendations based on idea driving conditions, and ideal drivers. In my mind, none of us are in ideal conditions, and NO ONE is an ideal driver!

There you have it, that is pretty much how I feel about 10k service. Post up what you think. Do you follow the owners manual? Go by what the dealer recommends? Follow what Grandpa always told you?

One side note about the feature image on this post. I am currently working on getting a real logo and banner set up. I will be using this until I get a real cool logo!

Your inside look into the world of car repair and Volkswagen Dealer service

Next week my dealership will be adding a “Quick Lube” team. The team will actually be called our Service Express team. The idea behind the Service Express team will be to provide another option for customers to get their cars serviced.

The way my dealership works now is, 90% by appointment. Basically, you would call and talk to a service advisor, schedule a time and date to bring your car in for whatever it needs. They do leave some open times for a limited amount of walk-ins, or emergencies.

The Service Express team will be another option. Customers will be able to walk-in and get an oil change, a bulb replaced, or wipers changed. They will be a dedicated team that will ONLY do that type of stuff. The team will have 2 service advisors, and 4 or 5 mechanics(not sure if that is what they will be called but they work on cars, so I am cool with it).  VW has a full training program for this team. They will have a strict routine to follow to be sure every car is done the right way in around 30 minutes.

I think it will be a good thing overall for our customers. It will give a lot more flexibility for customers to get their cars serviced. It will also help us compete with the Jiffy Service type places. Our prices are better, now the service can be more convenient.

The talk around the shop however is on the negative side. When you tell mechanics that the dealer is adding more people, most see only 1 thing. They see work being taken from them and given to someone else. Our pay plan is similar to a commission based plan(post about that coming soon). So more mechanics means the work is spread out between more guys. To be honest, they are right. Even doing an oil change pays more that not doing anything.

My thinking is slightly different. It is not that I breathe the “corporate air” that comes along with programs like this, it is more about the bigger picture. The advisors have a habit of not taking walk-in customers(side note, there is not many things that piss me off more than that). Any work that the Service Express team sells, other than bulbs ect, will be divided out to the shop. More cars in the shop will equal more work for everyone. I also think the advisors will not want to give work up to the Service Express team. They will find a way to help customers that they “could not” find before.

If the quality of their work is as good as ours, I think it will be a great thing. What do you guys think?

  • Does having a “Quick Lube” style option work better for you?
  • Would you feel like the service would not be as good as a certified VW mechanic?
  • Do you think the price should be the same VW mechanic VS non VW mechanic?

Post your thoughts in the comments, I am really curious to see what everyone thinks

This car came in one day last week.  The customers complaint was “My car is making a ticking noise”.  The noise was strange, it was loud when I was standing right a the engine, but when I walked about 10 feet back, it was super loud.

Complaints like this can be really tricky. On the one hand, some engines are just louder than others, on the other, I can’t just say there is nothing wrong. Also, there are a lot of factors that play into engine noise.

  • Is the oil in the engine right, both level and quality
  • Is other maintenance up to day
  • Did the customer do something they are not telling

I spent about 20 minutes listening to the engine with a “stethoscope”(in quotes because mine is missing so I use a long screwdriver). I narrowed it down to the valve train, the upper end of the engine. Since the VW 2.0t TFSI engine is kinda strange, the initial diagnosis was pretty easy. Removing a valve allowed access to check part of the valve train.

It turns out that the lobe on the intake cam was worn funny. Further inspection revealed more damage.Two of the rockers had floated off the valves(if your not totally sure what that means, don’t worry just know its bad.)

Now that I know what was wrong, it was time to find out why. I checked the faults stored in the engine computer. The check engine light was not on, but the ECM(engine control module) still had information stored. The fault stored was for “Engine over-reving”.  That means, at some point, the engine was spinning too fast. That can cause the type of damage that I found.  The ECM has fail safes built in to prevent this from happening. The ONLY explanation is the guy missed a gear on a down shift. That would mean that he shifted from 6th gear to 3rd gear, or something like that. The engine revved to 8400RPM. Thats about 20% too fast. The ECM has no way to prevent this from happening.

Now the customer is faced with a $2000-$3000 repair on his 2010 GTI with only 16,xxx miles. Its sad to see a car that I really love need that type of repair.

What do you guys think, should he fix it? Trade it in on a new car? I would LOVE to hear what you think.




Hey everyone! I wanted to get a post up about some things that will be happening with the blog.

Like I posted on Facebook yesterday, I had a meeting with a buddy of mine regarding the site. We talked about some of the things that I want to be able to do, and the look going forward. Overall it went awesome! Richard is a WordPress wizard an is helping work out the kinks. Be sure to sign up for our email list, you will find out all the cool stuff first.

These are some of the things that I have planned for this year.

I am in the proccess of writing a few ebooks(yikes).

I will be doing some “how to” type videos. Hopefully I can video some cool noises broken cars make.

The interview series will be launched. This is where you can read about some other folks in the industry. I think it will be cool to get a different point of view.

The resource page is coming along nice. This is be a section of the site that you can learn about how systems in your car work! It will start from basics and move into some pretty heavy stuff!

I will be blogging mostly from my phone. (that is where I am writing this post) That should give me much more freedom to post no matter what!

My goal is to write a post 5 days a week. They might not all be ground breaking information, some days might only be a quick “tech tip” or something along those lines.

So that’s is where I am at! After writing that it seems like I have my work cut out for me.

Here is what you guys can do, help spread the word. If you like what I am doing, tell folks! The more people that are part of the community the better it will be!

I am VERY excited about 2012!