So, yesterday I wrote a post about how The Internet Can NOT Fix Your Car. After writing that post, the internet was totally screwing with my. I figured I needed to get some karma points back and tell you guys how you can use the internet to HELP get your car fixed.

I want to break this up into 3 parts, Price, DYI, and information. Everything you can find online will fall into one of these 3 categories. Or, you can just come to Humble Mechanic and end your search. 😉 Seriously, lets take a look at some good ways to use the internet for help getting your car fixed or maintained.

The way I see it, more people do things for there car based on price. How can you use the internet to get a better deal? Lots of ways really.

  • Go to your dealers web site and check for coupons. Mine usually has some good savings on their site. Some customers can save as much as $150
  • Also be sure to check manufacturer sites for coupons. This will mean you have to go to the dealer, but I think you should anyway.
  • Try the app/site Repair Pal It is a pretty cool app. You can input your repair and the will give you a quote. I have found that it only covers really common stuff, and the prices are not exact, but it can get you close

Using the internet to find instructions to do it yourself is one of the best things ever! I am always using sites to learn how to do things, no matter the topic, you can find a”How To”.

  • YouTube~So many great videos out there. As I have said before, my friend Katie used a YouTube video to learn how to change the pollen filter in her Toyota. She will never have to pay anyone to replace that filter again
  • How To sites~Places link instructables can teach you how to do almost anything. Its a pretty cool site, and I am sure there are more out there.
  • Forums~ This can fall into both DIY and INFORMATION. Search for a forum about your brand. Odds are someone has done a really awesome write up about how to fix or replace just about anything that will break.


There is also the purely informative side of getting your car fixed. Lets not even call it fixed, lets say knowing your car. This will go far beyond what you see in an owners manual. While the owners manual is a great great GREAT tool, it is only current when the car is built. Updates come pretty fast in this industry. Believe me when I say that we get so many notices that come down the VW pipeline, its damn near impossible to keep up. The cool thing is there are a lot of people that will put this information online.

  • Forums~Same as above, just remember, just because it is in a forum, doesn’t make it true. There are a lot of people that think they know what they are talking about, and don’t know anything.
  • AAA~ AAA and other car sites can be a good place to find general information. I find most of these type of sites hard to navigate, but the information is there. The other thing is, they are written by people that are inside the auto industry, but not IN the industry. I find most things to be very well written, but lack any passion or care about the topic.
  • Blogs~ I hope there are other people like me doing this. If you know of any, please post a link in the comments, and let me know. I would love to get up with them..

I hope that I have given you guys some good resources and ideas. One other thing, remember that this is your community too. Be sure to ring in with your thoughts and comments.. Oh, and tune in tomorrow for Shop Shots, I got a few good ones. 😉

So you might be thinking, “Why the hell is Charles talking crap about the internet and fixing car”. I spend almost every second of the day working on cars, or working on this site (and some other side projects), why would I say something like that? Heck this community even has its own Automotive Forum.

Well, for one, its true! The internet CAN NOT fix your car. You can not type “replace my timing belt” into Google and expect it to be replaced. That would be stupid right? Well the same goes for everything else. I wish I could count the number of times someone has come in to the dealer and said “Well, (insert website here) said that this is what is wrong with my car”. Oh, and you usually have to say it with a snotty voice. 🙂

Now don’t get me wrong, I think that customers need to be informed. I think the more information that the customer has, the better an experience they will have. Doing research on issues with your car is an important to help from being taken advantage of. I would recommend having the following information.

  • Understand your owners manual.This will also give you maintenance information too.
  • Your service history, Unless you have 1 place you bring your car, always have service information with you
  • If you do find some information about a problem you are having, print it out, and bring it to the repair place. It very well could help gt your car fixed faster and cheaper. Just don’t act like a tool about it.

I rely really heavy on information that customers provide. Researching the issue you are having with your car might help you explain the problem better. Even if it does not apply to the car. I would much rather not need information, than not have it.

I guess what I am saying is it all boils down to attitude. I would like to beleive that when a customer puts a lot of time into researching their car it’s because they LOVE their car. The sad truth is, it comes off like they just want to prove the dealer wrong(sounds like my mother in-law). If you find information that might help your mechanic, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell them. Let them figure out if it applies or not.

Just to be 100% clear, I love the internet. I dig all of the really cool social media platforms(I think Pinterest is about to BLOW up), the amount of information is endless. I used YouTube nonstop when building this site. I had no idea how to do any  of this stuff. I am really thankful for the help I got and continue to get. But I would never expect someone to just do it for me. I studied the information, and did the work myself. That is exactly how it works. 🙂

Since VW issued a few new updates last week, it seems like a perfect time to talk about recalls, and what that actually means.

If you peruse the VW Facebook page, or any other platform that people can complain(cough “vw forum” cough), you will find that so many people think that any repair should be a recall. As we all know, just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it warrants a recall. So what the heck is a recall anyway? I did some research and had a hard time finding a definitive answer. So you get my interpretation of what a recall is. To me a recall is,

A vehicle repair that is required to maintain safe operation of a vehicle. A known issue has been identified by the NTSB, and the car manufacturer is required to notify customers of an outstanding repair.

Here are the key things you need to understand about a recall.

  1. The car manufacturer will notify customers of the issue and repair
  2. They are generally a safety related issue, but not always
  3. There will not be a charge for the repair

So does that mean if you get a flat tire, you should have a recall on your car? NOPE! Does it mean that a car company put the cup holder above the radio, and because YOU spilled coffee into the radio the company has to fix it? Yet again, not so much, even though it was a stupid design. 😉 Yep, everything is not a recall. I would recommend not fretting though, just because your car has a recall does not mean that you are in danger.

I remember VW had a recall on some of the A5(2005-2007) Golf and Jetta. My wife called me asking how many cars had headlights that have caught on fire. Well would you believe that we have not had ANY headlights catch on fire? She had seen a segment on the news talking about Jetta and Golf headlights. The news said something completely stupid about headlights and now they would explode(or something equally stupid). It turns out, we installed caps in the adjusters. No big deal. Recalls can expire, so make sure you have your information on file with the manufacturer.

Technical Service Bulletin (TSB)
Now we have Technical Service Bulletins, or TSBs for short. A TSB is issued by the manufacturer, but not mandated by the government. Basically all a TSB does is give a mechanics information to make a repair. It does not mean ANYTHING beyond that. There is no warranty associated with a TSB. There are people that will argue that if a manufacturer issues a TSB, they know there is a problem. If they know there is a problem, then the manufacturer should pay for the repair. I say it is worth a phone call, to ask if they will help you out. Officially, a TSB only give repair information, NOTHING else.

Required Vehicle Update (RVU)
I am not sure if other car companies have this, but I know VW does. A RVU is somewhere between a recall and a TSB. Customers are not notified about the repair, but they don’t have to pay for the repair. There are a lot of software updates done this way.

Every time a customer brings thier car to my dealer, we check for all open recalls, and RVUs. TSBs are only used if a customers car has a certain issue. It can be sort of confusing, but if you bring your car to a good dealer, they should be checking these things for you. If you DIY, give your local dealer a call and ask them to check your VIN(vehicle identification number) and check for any open recalls.

I hope that clears up Recalls, TSBs and other releases of information.
Remember, sign up for email alerts, you will be the first to get post updates, insider info, first dibs on contests, which will ramp up as the new site gets finished. Also, check out the Automotive forum, its not just for mechanics.

Oh, here is the retooled version of the new logo. It will be on Facebook. Just a sign of things to come

Hey folks!

Its Shop Shots time! I did a post yesterday about the new mechanic logo, if you didn’t see it, check it out. She posts on Instagram as Hammerhand. Since I can’t figure out how to link to that, just search for her. She posts all kinds of really awesome artwork and tattoos that she does. Oh, and her name “HammerHand”, yeah it’s how she tattoos. Trust me! 😉

This is a picture of a 2007 New Beetle Convertible. I had to take the front end off to replace the oil filter housing. It looks like it would be a worse job that it is. The front ends of VWs actually come off pretty easy. There are a lot of repairs that require removing the front end. VW calls it service position. I like how it looks like there is a funny mustache made into the core support. HA

I know this isn’t technically a shot in the shop, but I wanted to post it anyway. It seems that my iphone doesn’t take the best night pics, but someone asked me what my H.I.D.s looked like. I installed this kit on my 2005 VW Passat. The headlights are a 5,000k color. That is as close to white light as you can get. The fog lights are 3000k. That is a very yellow color. It actually cuts fog pretty well. I love the light output of HIDs. At some point, I will get a kit for my wife’s truck. When that happens, I will do an install video for you guys.

Ok, Ok, this is not in the shop either, but I think I want to sneak a beer pic into Shop Shots. First, notice the car is in park. We were tailgating before a Carolina Hurricanes game. Bell’s HopSlam is one of the most sought after beers in the area. When it comes out, people FREAK OUT about it. The other one is a pretty good milk stout. My wife was drinking that one. HA, I guess I just wanted to post pictures of my car this week. 😉

This is a video I shot the other day at work. If you look at the right wiper, you can see if flopping around. The other wiper was split too. Folks, replacing wiperblades is something EVERYONE can do. If you don’t want to mess with it, buy them at the dealer, and ask them to install them for you. We install them for free. I want everyone to go out and check your wipers today. I am not kidding. DO IT! 🙂

Remember, come by the Automotive Forum. It is not just for mechanics. I added a section for customers do complain about their mechanics. So you can come by and complain about me. I have to approve you(to keep the spam out). If you don’t get an email in about a day, just let me know and I can approve you. I get tons of spam and I want to keep that crap out!

After a conversation on twitter, I wanted to talk a little about safety. Let’s face it, the environment mechanics work in, is not the safest place in the world. In fact we have to attend an annual safety meeting to be sure that we know NOT to put gasoline in a Gatorade bottle, because you will forget, and then drink it. 😉

There are very standard hazards like, slipping and falling, getting cut, and dropping things. A lot of times these hazards can be avoided, or the effects mitigated by wearing proper attire, and not being stupid! We had a guy at the shop stab a wire tool through his hand. He was holding the connector in the palm of his hand, and slipped or something, the result was him being out for several months. It is just like cutting something INTO your hand, instead of away from it. ~DON’T TO THAT~

We also deal in some pretty gross chemicals. Gas, coolant, brake cleaner, brake fluid (and more) can be bad news. Most are under pressure while in a car. Hot coolant will melt skin on contact. Most of the chemicals in a car are are very toxic. I use gloves almost all the time to try and keep my hands from getting jacked up. Well, that and I don’t really like getting dirty.(is that weird?) Safety when it comes to chemicals is so important. I can’t even begin to tell you what an eye full of gasoline feels like.

One of my lease favorite things about this job is dealing with cars that have water damage. Going beyond the smell, and dealing with interiors that are wet, they can have mold build up. I have worked on so many cars with water damage it is not even funny. I remember one Passat that I worked on, you could see the line on the door panel where the water had been. At one time there must have been 10 inches of water standing in the car. Turns out it was from New Orleans and was flooded by hurricane Katrina.

Inhaling badness is also something we deal with. The conversation on twitter was about a how one of the techs in the shop was being dumb and not paying attention to what he was doing. He had a car running while filling it with coolant. The coolant spilled over and hit the cars exhaust. That caused the coolant to become steam and “smoke” up the shop. The smell of burning coolant smells like burning syrup, and not in a good way. I also remember one time where an oil seal went bad on a turbo. This pumped about 2qts of oil into the exhaust. After replacing the turbo, I had to burn all the oil out. It looked the the shop was on fire. Let me tell you how breathing that stuff is awful, and then you stink like burning oil the rest of the day.

Working in a shop is not the most dangerous job in the world, but its does have some concerns. Most of the hazards can be avoided by not being stupid, and using proper equipment. Working smart and clean will help to mitigate lots of injuries! Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sore backs are not avoidable, but safety needs to be taken seriously!

One more thing, don’t forget to check out the Automotive Forum. It is not just for mechanics. I actually have a section just for customers to post questions, comments and brag about their mechanics! Just remember, I am trying to keep all the spam out. You will need to be approved, and that might take a few hours. If you sign up and don’t get an approval, just contact me with your email and let me know. I get about 50 spams a day on the forum.

Humble Mechanic Tool Box

Hey guys!

I know that this post is coming in a little late and for that I am sorry. My work changed the customers WIFI to block all social media and email sites. STUPID! I could not access my Humble Mechanic Flickr account. I am home enjoying a tasty craft beer and watching my Carolina Hurricanes~ life is GOOD!

Ok, so I wanted to talk to you guys about mechanics tools! Not mechanics that ARE tools, I mean the tools we use to fix cars. Any mechanic will tell you that tools are the life blood of our jobs. We invest thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of dollars in tools. Anything from a basic screw driver to a special tool to remove wires from connectors. I have been in the field for a while, and I still average about $1000 every year in tools.

There are several brands of tools that I use. I think that Snap-On tools are my favorite brand. I buy most of my stuff from my Snap-On rep. Part of that is because he is the most reliable of all our reps. Here is a little about some of the different brands of tools

Sold by Sears, they are really good hand tools. They offer a life time warranty on almost all of their stuff. I buy Craftsman when I know that I might lose it, when I need to modify a tool, or when there is no difference in quality. I also tend to buy Craftsman for at home tools. The only issue I really have is their power tools SUCK! I will never own a battery operated drill for Craftsman again!

Overall my favorite brand. I love their hand tools. They are built to much tighter tolerances than any other brand I have used. The fit and finish is great. The selection is unbelievable, and my rep is great. The only down side is you pay top dollar for everything. I feel like the quality is worth it on most stuff. Remember, every dollar I make come by way of these tools, cheaping out is not an option. I have not really bought any of their power tools. I do not think they are worth it for the price. I own 1 Snap-On air tool(1/4in air ratchet), it works great.

Matco, Mac, Cornwell
I grouped these together because I fell pretty much the same about all of them. They are good tools, well made and reliable. I don’t own many of these, but what I have is ok. I just think that Snap-On is a better product.

Stanley, Kobalt, Husky
Great tools for the house. I think they also have a life time warranty. I also will buy this brand if I need to modify tools, like bending a wrench or trimming down a socket.

Dewalt, Makita
I buy ALL my power tools from theses two brands. The tool I use the most is a Makita impact driver. I love this thing so much, I got a second one, and took the old one home. If you are buying a power tool for work or for the house, you can’t go wrong with Dewalt or Makita. PLUS, my wife likes the color of Makita.

Here are some pictures of my tool box, and some of the tools I have. This is my 3rd tool box, the first one was a Craftsman, the I upgraded to a Mac, now I have a really nice Snap-on box. It will be the last one I ever buy.

[slickr-flickr tag=”tools” items=”30″]