Happy Friday everyone! I am sitting enjoying a nice day off, sipping some coffee, and hanging out with the family. Today I wanted to follow up with a post I wrote a while back. It was several stories about throwing automotive logic out the window. One of comments on that post was from Garrett. He told me that he had a similar story when working on his Jetta.

Garrett sent me that story and I wanted to share that with you today.

On my way to taking my daughter to cheerleading, about a mile after driving, my 96 2.0l Jetta started bucking and surging pretty heavily. Almost to the point of stalling. It would buck/surge then stop and do it again over and over.

It did this most of the time between 1-4000 rpm. I looked it over briefly and didn’t notice anything obvious. I then tried disconnecting the MAF sensor and driving it, changed the effects slightly but still did it. Next i did the same with the throttle body and got the same results. I then took it to a mechanic friend of mine and left it at his shop while i went to work.

After work i stopped back and he had the diagnostic check list printed out for the throttle body. He had checked the levels of each prong with a voltmeter and came to the conclusion it had to be the throttle body. During my investigating i noticed the check engine light didn’t come on when i unplugged the MAF, and it was also coated in engine oil which had leaked all the way down into my air filter from a gummed up pcv so now im under the conclusion i prolly need a new MAF sensor AND a throttle body…ouch!

My next step was google’ing it and asking my fellow vw buddies and vw pages on facebook for help or advice (how i came across Humble Mechanic, you also thought TB from my explanation) So knowing i was due for a tune-up anyway i decided to go against my friends advice and my own gut and do the tune up first. I spent about 300 bucks on plugs, wires, cap an rotor, ignition coil, fuel filter, air filter, vacuum lines and some cleaning sprays (maf cleaner and tb cleaner).

I did the tune-up and stripped my intake apart cleaning everything from intake manifold to sensors to piping and TB. So finally when i was done i crossed my fingers and went for a test drive! IT WORKED! It drove like brand new! For the next 2-3 days anyway! Haha. Then suddenly it started again! I was baffled and angry! So just when i was ready to give in and buy a
new TB and MAF sensor i got a text from a friend who i questioned about my issue.

He said check my fuse panel cuz his mk4 golf burned out the entire fuse panel one by one causing his car to go crazy. I thought it was a far shot but what the heck. I popped the lower dash panels off and started checkin wiring. After a couple mins i decided to look under the hood one more time. 10 minutes later i was back to the thought of ordering a new TB and MAF.

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a damaged piece of wire shroud or wrap on the main harness next to the distributor. I twisted it around and saw what looked like 2 exposed wires from rubbing, but i was kinda dirty so i grabbed a can of spray and cleaned it up. Sure enough there were 2 barely exposed wires! I traced them back..1 to the MAF and 1 to the TB!!!! S.O.B! HAHA

So i wrapped em um with some tape and hopped in the car…it once again drove great! So i used some zip ties and some more tape to prevent
it from rubbing on the small threads coming off a metal heater line. Over the next few days i was leery, expecting it to start up again…but much to my joy it hasn’t ! All that over 20 cents of tape and 2 zip ties! I couldn’t believe it!

WOW! Thanks so much for that story Garrett! Let me put into Garrett’s story into prospective. If he would have continued on the path to replace the throttle body and MAF, be would have sent over $1000 on parts. $1000 that would have done nothing to fix his car. Imagine how mad he would have been if that happened.

I actually remember talking to him about the issue. Based on what he was finding, all signs were pointing to a throttle body. I have seen mechanics in my shop get beat up over this exact problem. I remember I had a MK3 GTI that the turn signals were acting strange. Turns out it had broken wires in the same spot. I think I stumbled across it the same way that Garrett did, GETTING LUCKY!

If you have a story about your car, feel free to share it with everyone. Just contact me and I will post it!

Ok, we have a few “housekeeping” things to wrap up.

  • I am still looking for a project name for the 1988 Cabriolet I got yesterday. Post a comment of what you think we should call this project. I will pick one, and send that person a cool VW something
  • On Monday, my internet was messed up. I really want to get to know the community better, so I put out a few questions for everyone. If you didn’t post a comment, head over and check it out. I REALLY want to give this stuff away. Oh, I will pay shipping too.
  • Have a GREAT weekend. Really, do it!

If you have ever been stumped, or got your butt kicked by a problem, you can get revenge by clicking one of the share buttons below.

Volkswagen Cabriolet Humble Mechanic

If you have been following the blog, (of course you have 😉 ) you know that I have been searching for a project car. You might also know that the Cabrio and Cabriolet hold a little place in my heart. I think that a convertible plus a VW is a winning combination.

My first car was a convertible. It was a red 1995 Jeep Wrangler. It was so much fun to drive, top down jamming to some tunes! Driving my Jeep that way really made me fall in love with driving. There are only a few things I find more relaxing than a nice drive in a open top ride. Ah nostalgia!

Well, I finally found the car. She WAS a sweet little VW Cabriolet. To be honest, I totally forgot what year it is. (do’h). I say WAS because she got violated. From what I understand, it was donated to a charity. Then it got brought back to my work. It was in the show room for a while, and I finally talked the management into letting be buy it. I tried like hell to buy it before it this happened to it.

Volkswagen Cabriolet Humble MechanicYes friends, that is CHALK! Sidewalk chalk. It went from a red that needed some love, to this. I think that I will draw a teardrop on that eye while I fix the rest of the car.Interior VW Cabriolet auto mechanic

The inside did not fair much better. I hope that I will be able to restore the dash. The sad part is, the dash was PERFECT! That was one of the most valuable parts on the car. I don’t know exactly what they did, but it is sticky as can be. My guess is some sort of paper machete type thing. Be sure to notice the green on the floor, and around the shifter. If that looks familiar, it should. It is that outdoor “carpet”! WHY WHY WHY????


As you can see, there was no panel safe from chalk. Auto Mechanic Project CabrioletI have not really decided what I want the overall project to look like. My first mission is to get the car back to stock. I think that it as a small oil leak, but what VW doesn’t. The really awesome part for your guys is, I can demonstrate some really great cleaning and restoring techniques. While I hate washing cars, bringing a VW back to life is a whole other ball game.

Auto Mechanic Project Cabriolet

Here is the whole thing. They even got the rims! What do you guys think? I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. I am sure my wife thinks I am in way over my head, or maybe my wallet.

What do you guys think we should call this project? How about this, you guys post a project name in the comments. We can work together to pick a cool project name. Tell ya what, we pick your project name, I will send you a cool VW prize!

Help put more project names into the pot, click one of the buttons below!

MFI display in VW EOS

Hey everyone! We got some more Shop Shots today. I am really starting to LOVE doing this post, I hope that you guys enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it!!

MFI display in VW EOSNow, if you just looked at this picture, you would say, “Charles, there is nothing wrong here. The back doors are just open”. HAHA, I would have to agree with that statement, but here is the real story. A customer brought their car in because the battery was dieing. When the advisor went out to the car, she found that the rear doors were showing open. Where is gets awesome is, this car is an EOS. The EOS is a 2 door convertible car. It doesn’t have rear doors.

I am not sure what the tech found wrong. I am suspect of the drivers or passenger window motor/module. That or a coding issue. When I find out, I will update everyone

Volkswagen KeyI am not really sure that everyone can appreciate how hilarious this is. A co-worker of mine brought this to me. It is a VW key, that has a battery terminal as a “fob” of “key chain” or something. I would bet that they hide it under the car somewhere, but I am not really sure. The worst part was, it was all sticky and gross. I would have loved to unwrap the tape to show you guys. It would have been cool to ask the customer why they did that.

Volkswagen EOS top in service position

I posted this to InstaGram, but I wanted to show everyone this. I got this car in last week. The customers concern was the top would not work. It had some faults stored in the module for the top. The cool thing is, our VW scan tool is we can activate almost everything remotely. There is a procedure that will allow me to open and close the top. It SHOULD work no matter what. I could not get it to open the top. I had to trick the module into thinking it was working correctly so I could force it open.

With the top open, I could put it into a service position. That extends the trunk, and allows access to almost all of the components of the top. In the “Behind the Wrench” interviews I do, I ask “what job would you not want to do again”. This would not be my #1, but it is up there. This top has about 30 sensors that monitor the position of the top, windows, doors, vehicle speed, trunk, and so on. This is really one of the most sophisticated parts of ANY VW!

I actually had another picture I was going to post, but I think I will save it for next week and dedicate an entire post to this picture.

In other news, I FINALLY found my project car. I will take some pics and write a full post about it tomorrow. All I will tell you today, is that it is a Cabby. 😉

Don’t forget to sign up for email updates. That is the best way to make sure you never miss a new post. Also, I have a YouTube channel. Maybe instead of pictures, I will take a video of the project. You can make sure you connect with me by using the icons on the right side of the page.

If you are SUPER excited that I finally found my project car, spread the word and clicky clicky one of the buttons below.

Parts of a Tire

For some reason, I have tires on  the brain today. So we are talking all about the tires on your car. I don’t think that anyone would argue that having good tires on a vehicle is a vital to it’s performance and safety. But most of us give very little though to tires beyond that.

Lets decode tires a little.

Parts of a tire

Understanding what each part of a tire is will be very important though out this post. There are some parts that we don’t really need to worry about. You will never need to know or care about a “gum strip” on the inside of a tire. Let’s focus on the basics

TreadParts of a Tire
The tread is the part of a tire that contacts the road surface. The tread consist of a layer of rubber, compounded to suit the application purpose of the tire, and the thickness serves to protect the belt and carcass. The tread pattern serves the purpose of improving water drainage, providing traction, braking and cornering characteristics and long tread life.

The sidewall on each side of the tire, between the shoulder and the bead is the section that deflects most during running. The rubber coating serves to protect the carcass.

On the sidewall of every passenger-car and light-truck tire is an alphanumeric code that describes the dimensions of the tire. For most tires, this code will start with a “P”. Some may start with an “LT” to signify light truck. Some tires may have a “Max. Load” indication . When selecting new tires, it is important to make sure a tire’s load rating is at least a high as the tire you are replacing.

Provides continuous contact with the road while maneuvering. Shoulders wrap slightly over the inner and outer sidewall of a tire.

This is the section of the tire that makes seals the tire to the rim.

Tire Size and Rating

When talking about tire size, the measurements can be confusing. Once you read this, you will never wonder what P225/45R17 91V  means. Lets keep the example that I used and break down each part. By the way, this is the size tire my Passat needs. 😉

  • “P” That is for passenger car.
  • 225 – That is the width of the tread in millimeters
  • 45 – This is known as the “aspect ratio”. This is a ratio of sidewall height to section width. The easy way to remember what this number means is, the higher the number the “taller” the tire.
  • “R” Simply stands for “Radial” This has to do with the build of the tire. Almost all tires are “Radial”
  • 17 this is the size of the rim.
  • 91 This is the load rating of a tire, higher the number, the greater the load carrying capacity.
  • V Speed rating, the higher the letter the faster the tire goes? Well, the faster it will be stable anyway. 😉

Based on those numbers, that would be a pretty sporty tire. There are also a few numbers than indicate a tires performance. These numbers are usually a little harder to find.

This will be listed as a number. The higher the number, the longer the tire should last. This number is more a “theory” than anything. Tire manufacturers are not regulated in regard to this number. I would not solely rely on this number when shopping for tires.

The tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement as measured under controlled conditions on asphalt and concrete test surfaces. As of 1997, the traction grades from highest to lowest are “AA”,”A”,”B” and “C”. A tire graded “AA” may have relatively better traction performance than a tire graded lower, based on straight-ahead braking tests. The grades do not take into consideration the cornering or turning performance of a tire.

Tire’s resistance to heat and its ability to dissipate heat. The grades from highest to lowest are “A”,”B” and “C”. The grade “C” corresponds to the minimum performance required by federal safety standard. Therefore, the “A” tire is the coolest running, and even though the “C” tire runs hotter it does not mean it is unsafe.

Other Tire Information You Should Know

  • The “legal life of a tire” is SIX years from the date of purchase, or the life of the “usable tread”. The “useable tread” is when the original tread is worn to the wear bars which is 2/32 of tread
  • Make sure that you check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. Temperature affects pressure. When the tires are hot(after driving) the pressure will be higher. You might let air out of the tire to set it to the correct pressure. This will result in your tires being under inflated.
  • Some tire manufacturers recommend rotating tires every 6000-8000 miles. I think that is pretty solid advise. Remember, you can’t rotate your tires too much.
  • Michelin brand requires punctures to be repaired with a patch/plug. This fills the hole in the tire, and adds a patch on the inside of the tire. It really is a great way to repair a tire.
  • If you have an all wheel drive (AWD, 4motion) make sure you reffer to your owners manual. Some AWD cars require replacing 4 tires. That means if you damage a tire, you might have to buy a full set!

Well, I hope that I was able to simplify the vehicle tire for you folks. The work and engineering that goes into a vehicles tire is pretty fascinating. It is crazy to think that your car rides on little squares on the road. If you have any tire questions, post them in the comments. I LOVE talking tires..

If you learned that tires are more than round, let your friends know, but clicking one of the share buttons below!

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hey folks!!!
Well, the web is down at work. I had a really great post about tires all ready to go, but it went in to limbo. Since I “ain’t got no internet” I can’t retrieve it.

The cool thing is, I can still post from my phone(thank you wordpress app). The bad part is that it is really limited.

So how about we open up the comments and get to know each other a little better. How about this format,
first car
current car
favorite car you have owned
favorite song to sing while you drive
if you could drive anywhere in the world where would it be
favorite road trip of all time
other than cars, what are some hobbies you have

So mine would be


My first car was a 1995 Jeep Wrangler it was red and awesome

My current car is a 2005 VW Passat Wagon.

My favorite car that I have owned we my Integra GS-R. I have loved all my cars but one.

Favorite song is really tough. Right now is would be White Mystery by Minus The Bear.

I think I would love to drive on any racetrack, but Nürburgring at the top of my list!

Most of my road trips I am by myself which stinks. I would say the most memorable one was, my wife(girl friend at the time) drove to Wisconsin to go snowboarding. It was a crazy blizzard the whole way there! Still had a blast.

Other than cars, I am really really into craft beer. I have become a hoppy beer guy over the last year or so. I have met some great folks in the local beer community. I also do some home brewing. I wish I had more time to do it.

If you want to add anything feel free!! AND if we can get say 20 different people to post the list above, I will send a VW prize package. How about a T-shirt, water bottle key chain, and maybe something else cool!

Ok, so spread the word! When 20 people post a comment like I did I will pick someone at random!

Hey folks! Today we are back with a “Behind The Wrench”! Today we have Joe, he has been around the industry for about 23 years, and works in a body shop! I am sure he has seen some crazy stuff especially when it comes to accidents.


Joe's handy work Behind The Wrench Auto Mechanic Interview

This Truck is all taped up and getting some paint action!

Joseph Frederick

How long have you been in the Industry?

23 Years

What is your current job title?


What were you doing for your first automotive job?

General Service

Do you currently work at a Dealer, or in an aftermarket shop, do you prefer one over the other?

Aftermarket / Never worked at a Dealership

Walk us through what you do on a daily basis.

Almost anything from an oil change to replacing an engine.
Being a mechanic in an independent auto body shop there is no routine.
I even do some of the collision repairs when we are busy.
Most of my work is rebuilding busted up suspensions.
We / I don’t do transmission, transfer case or differential overhauls and
can’t do some of the major engine repair so computer related issues.
Mostly cause of not having the correct tools or equipment.

When you are not working on or with cars, what do you like to do?

I don’t really have any hobbies but do like surfing the internet, watching TV / movies, and play with my dog.

What kind of car do you drive?

2005 Chevy Cavalier and have a 1995 Chevy 1500 W/T (2WD) I am restoring.

What was your first car?

1974 Chevy K5 Blazer.

What made you want to work on cars?

I’ve always had a passion for them (what makes them tick) since I was about 3 or 4 years old.

What is the weirdest thing that you have found in a car, that should not have been there?

I don’t know if Snakes count a weird since the cars were park in a field but they definitely
didn’t belong there.

Do you have much customer interaction?

About 99% for customers just wanting mechanical repairs.
I give them estimates, schedule them in, order parts, do the repair, do the bill, and call them when the work is completed.

The customers for collision work maybe 2%. Usually if they have a question about something the office people can’t answer.
Or if I need to find out information about something related to how the vehicle was wrecked.

What is your favorite part of your job?

For the most part I’m my own boss.

If giving the chance, what would you never do again at work?

I can’t really think of anything.

The auto industry has a really bad rap, what do you say to someone who thinks you are trying to take advantage of them?

That don’t happen very often, I can’t think of a specific situation of what I did tell the customer.
I can think of three and what I did tell them that I don’t think I’ll ever forget:
One customer’s car had a very slow brake fluid leak, I found it and told her the price of the part (dealer only part).
She went through the roof, took it two another shop, they told her it wasn’t the part I told her and replaced something else.
It still leaked, she took it back to them and they told her it was the part I told her it was to begin with. She call me and
wanted me to replace it, I told her have the other garage put it on cause she called me up complaining and calling me a liar.

I did a State Inspection on a Jeep, the guy calls up the next day raising hell because the battery was dead and it wouldn’t start.
And how he work at a law firm, and I didn’t do my job, etc. I tried explaining to his that the batteries state of charge was not
part of the Inspection procedure. He didn’t want to hear it, I had enough of his big mouth and hung up on him.
He called back about ten minutes later and apologized and actually let me explain what got checked during an Inspection.

I did a State Inspection on a W- Body GM car and found the front brakes would not pass. Told the owner and he starts telling me
that so and so up the street just checked them and said they were good. At the time (so and so) didn’t do State Inspections.
On this particular vehicle you cannot see the inboard brake pad with out removing the caliper (which I did), so and so didn’t.
I showed him and he was content, not too happy with the other garage.

Of all the maintenance that cars need, what is the ONE that will keep my car healthy the longest?

Regular oil & filter changes.

How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?

Deplyed airbags Behind The Wrench Auto Mechanic Interview

I don't get to show you guys deployed airbags, this is what they look like,kinda saggy huh!

Very important, more than most vehicles owners think.
I’m a mechanic and I refer it on customers vehicles.

Have you read the owners manual to your car?

I skimmed through it cover to cover cause I knew there was not too much I didn’t already know.
And the fact that I can refer to it when I need too cause I will never remember everything in it.

What tool in your tool box do you use the most?

Probably my 1/2″ Dr. Impact Gun.

Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?

I prefer Snap-On for most tools.

If you could only use 3 tools from now on, what would they be( and why)?

A hammer, screwdriver and pliers.
If I can’t fix it with them then “sorry you gotta take it somewhere else”.

If you were building a “James Bond” car, what is the one thing you would add it?

“Censored”  I actually got the idea from another movie, just can’t remember the name off hand.

You are sending your kid off to college, what car would you buy for them?

Probably some sort of compact SUV, Ford Escape or something like it.

What is the one thing that you want folks to know about your job that they might not know?

I’m not by any means getting rich from being a mechanic and the tools I have to have to do my job are expensive which comes out of my pocket.
I guess that is three things, but I don’t think a lot of customers know that.


Awesome interview Joe! Thanks for the insight! You can check out some of Joe’s work on his Facebook page. The pictures are not private, so head over and check them out!  If you have a question for Joe, just post it in the comments! Also if you would like to be featured in an interview, just contact me and we will get it done!

If you enjoyed Joe’s interview, select one of the buttons below, then click it. Come on, Its Friday(Friday, we’re gettin down on Friday)

A friend of mine posted this article today. It is a story about the government making a “black box” mandatory in all new cars. I like to talk about conspiracies as much as anyone, but I don’t want you to think I am scaring anyone! While Alex Jones is not the one that wrote the article, I need to be clear about my feelings before we get rolling. I am not much a Jones supporter. I think he gets it right sometimes, but usually hypes things up and promotes fear mongering. I am not down with that. Ok, with that out of the way, lets move on.

The post states

Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so

So what does that mean? It means that the government wants a flight recorder style device installed in cars. Info Wars would have you believe that the government wants to steal the information from your car, and use it against you. Ah, my friends, odds are your car already has this device(s).

Every module in your car is simply a little computer. Like all computers data is saved and can be retrieve a later date.Take your engines computer(ECM) for example. When your check engine light comes on, your ECM stored data. It stores how fast you were going, what the engine temperature was, what gear you were in, and many more parameters. I use that data to help diagnose your car. ECM data, storage is nothing new. If your car is a 1996 and newer, it must store that type for information.

Here is where things get a little spooky. If your car has airbags, it has a module that controls the system. Much like the ECM an airbag module stores data. The exact information that is stored is not commonly known. In fact VW doesn’t really tell us what they store. But lets think about what we would want to know about a driver when they get in an accident.

  • How fast they were going
  • Where you wearing your seatbelt
  • Did they hit the brake
  • Did they turn the wheel
  • Where the lights on
  • Was a turn signal on
  • Where the wipers on

Now, this type of information would only be stored in the event of airbag deployment. Since I don’t see many cars after accidents, I don’t know the exact information that can be extracted. Also, like other information, a log in might be required. There are some functions of our scan tools that require a log in. VW doesn’t give those log ins freely. Trust me when I say that the information can be retrieved. As cars become more advanced, the information that can be stored will increase. So at some point, when someone gets in a wreck, the car will know if you are changing the station on the radio, rolling down the window, or even moving the seat. The technology is there. All modules can communicate with each other, either directly or indirectly.

The really creepy thing for me is

Biometric face-recognition and transdermol sensor technology that prevents an inebriated person from driving a car by disabling the automobile has already been developed, in addition to systems that refuse to allow the vehicle to start if the driver is deemed to be overtired.

You can bet something like this will be in cars very soon. I guess I wont be able to have been on lunch anymore. 🙁  NOTE~I don’t have beer on lunch or any time during work. That is stupid!

But what does this mean for us? Not much really. If big brother wants the information it is already there. Remember that big ordeal with Toyota and “unintended acceleration”? That stored information is how Toyota engineers studied the cases, and proved that one guy to be a fraud. The only thing that is a VERY slight concern to me is, systems like Onstar. The direct satellite link to a car is a little creepy. The funny thing is, I have my phone on me all the time, not much difference I guess. 😉

Folks, please do not panic about this type of thing. There are many more issues in our world that we need to focus on long before this one. Besides, the time to worry about this type of thing was 10 years ago. There is no going back. I will say, IF you are worried about things like this, stop driving, cancel your cell phone, and get off the internet. Ok, don’t get off the internet because you need to keep visiting this site. 😉

One more thing. I am working on a few things, but I need some help from you guys. What type of products do you buy for your car? Cleaning products? GPS systems? Ipod holders? Is there a product out there that you have always wondered if it worked, or it was worth the money? Post in the comments and give me some ideas.

If you think we should all wrap our cars in tin foil so the “man” wont know what it is thinking, click one of the share buttons below. That will show ’em.