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Hey folks! As promised, I am following up on my training session from last week. I go to training at least once a year. I wish that it was more, but my dealer is not exactly close to a mechanic training center. In fact we are about 350 miles from 2 different VW training centers. I travel to the center in the fine town of Jessup,MD.

Last week I was in training for O.D.I.S. Offboard Diagnostic Information System. Let me give you some definitions before we get cracking on O.D.I.S

  • VAS-PC ~VSD~ VWoA’s current diagnostic software. This is our current scan tool program
  • Vehicle Self Diagnosis~ This is part of our current scan tool program. Here a mechanic can navigate all the modules on a car.
  • Guided Fault Finding ~GFF~ Part of VAS-PC this is a computer guided system. If a fault is stored, the program will launch a test for the mechanic to perform. We are required to use this for warranty repairs.
  • Guided Functions ~GF~ This is a smaller version of GFF. Here, the plans are only things like, programming keys, or replacing ECMs, or coding modules.
  • ELSA~ VW’s repair manual. It has more information than just than, but that is what I use most
  • ETKA ~ VW’s Parts catalog.
  • VAG-COM ~ An aftermarket diagnostic program for all VAG cars, VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lambo, Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti, and so on.
  • Star Mobile ~ Chrysler’s diagnostic software. We use this on the Routan.

Ok, now that you are totally confused on all the acronyms, lets talk about ODIS. ODIS will be added to our current diagnostic software this summer. Mechanic will be able to choose the one they want to use. This however will only last a short time before VW stops supporting VAS-PC. My overall opinion about ODIS is positive. We were using an slightly older version than the one that will come out to all VWoA dealers. By then, most of the bugs should be worked out. 😉

The interface for ODIS is 100% different from VAS-PC. In VAS-PC all the of programs(VSD,GFF,GF) are separate. ODIS does a nice job combining the 3, making navigation easier and a little faster. There seems to be a few more ways to navigate to the same end result. To me, that is a good thing. Everyone remembers things different, or multiple navigation paths can be a good thing. VW seemed to do a good job of taking the good things of VAG-COM, and Star Mobile, and pile them into a nice scan tool.

There are somethings that I am concerned about. There will be a fairly large learning curve for this scan tool. This is the biggest change in diagnostic software since the late 90s. In my dealer all but 2 guys have only used VAS-PC. I worry about how everyone will adapt. The trust is, techs MUST learn this new setup. The faster they learn, the better off they will be. ODIS will have its flaws, but so does everything else. We will all have to put in the extra time to know the scan tool. But in time all the the mechanics will be pros at using ODIS.

There is another story that I wanted to tell everyone. The guy that was my lab partner in training was a pretty good dude. This guy bled VW blue. I noticed that he had a Master VW Technician ring on. We got to chatting about that, and he told me this story.

Man, I have been a master tech for about 6 months. I had to take all the tests a few times before I finally passed all 5. I am so glad I can wear this ring and call myself a master tech.

I have worked full time for VW for 23 years. In that time I have seen just about any and everything that you can imagine. I have seen techs come and go, trainers come and go, and more broken cars than you can wrap your mind around.

When it came time for my ring ceremony, I asked to have Dan(who is in charge of all training for VW and Audi) there for me. Dan was glad to be there and give a speech. He told all the young guys that “THIS RING” is the only thing that matters. All the cars, the tools and anything else are meaningless, EVERY mechanic better be striving for “THIS RING”

I am sure my jaw hit the floor. 23 years of working on VWs. There are guys at my shop that are not 23 years old.I can only imagine what it felt like to be doing a job for that long and finally reach the top of the trade. It really made me reevaluate my appreciation for being a Master Tech.

Overall the training was good. I left with my confidence intact which does not usually happen when I leave training. I will go back tomorrow and chat with my guys about ODIS. Oh, and replace a fuel system in a TDI.

If you think that VW has a ridiculous amount of acronyms, click one of the buttons below and let everyone know. I will probably click each one a bunch of times 😉

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hey everyone! I am back in action on this fine Monday morning. As you know, I was at training for VW last week. I will do a little follow up about the training and some of the things that I learned while I was there. You might have also noticed that I took a little “digital break” this weekend. I just needed some time to recharge and get some things done around the house. Thanks for hanging in there for me.

Alright, let’s get into today’s post. A comment came in on a post last week. Alex from iHeartEuro asked me this question.

I had a question for you… maybe you know the answer. 2 years ago I had a fully loaded 2010 GTI and when I plugged a VagCom I found quite a few options that were DISABLED for some reason (memory driver heated seat, cluster sweeping, remote windows, coming home lights…) it took a few minutes to enable all of those things:) I am just curious why the dealers sell a car with all of these options turned OFF?

Okay, before I dive into this, let me explain what VagCom is. VagCom is an aftermarket diagnostic software. It mimics the VW scan tool. I will save my full take on the software for another day. Let’s just say, from a mechanic point of view, I will use anything to help me fix cars I can. I will leave it at that for now 😉

That is a really great question that Alex asked. Let’s break it down into a few different categories.

Mass Appeal

VW, like all car companies, has to appeal to as many people as possible. It is not just about style and fuel mileage, but features. The more things that a car can do, the less most people use. There are a lot of folks driving VWs that don’t know you can open and close the windows with the key in the door. All of the features and in the owners manual, but let’s be honest most people don’t read that. 😀

A perfect example is a performance exhaust. Sure you might get a little more power, but most folks don’t want the extra noise. I am not sure that this is why Alex found things turned off. I will say that cars are tested and tested to fit the appeal of the most drivers possible

Big Brother

Yes that’s right, D.O.T.  D.M.V.  E.P.A. C.A.R.B and probably a million more government agencies that have their hands in the pot. In one way or another every part in your car has to be approved by the government. Seriously, everything!

Lets say VW puts an exhaust system on one of their cars. This system will allow the car to get 50 miles per gallon. E.P.A says that it puts .001 too much pollution into the air. VW will have to redesign the system. Now the car meets the guideline, but we have lost 20MPG. Thank goodness for for aftermarket parts. ~ I will say that I 100% made that scenario up. I doubt that this exact thing would happen, but everything is government regulated.


With the newer generation of cars, we have the ability to turn things off and on. Like Alex said, he turned on the remote window function. I don’t think that function has any specific compatibility issues, but I don’t know for sure. The cool thing about MOST of the stuff we change on a car, is we can change them back. There is the opportunity to change something with unintended consequences.

Let’s say we turn on a really cool feature that only the European cars have. Everything is cool, but now our radio doesn’t work. I remember a Touareg that would not tune to the proper radio station. Instead of 105.1, it would be 105.2. It turns out the previous owner of the car turned off the “accept” screen for the navigation. This switched it to a Euro station programming.


To some, this might be a stretch, but remember just because YOU understand your car, doesn’t mean that everyone will. Let’s use Alex’s window example again. When the 2006 Jettas and Passats came out, customers were asking us to turn the remote window feature on. This would allow you to raise and lower the windows with the remote. A super cool feature btw! We were advised that the dealer was NOT to disable ANY safety feature. EVER!

When you use the windows with the remote, it disables “pinch protection”. Pinch protection will stop window operation when it hits something. The concern is someone operating the windows and someone getting caught in the window.

The other big one is tire pressure on a Touareg. When the tire pressure monitors go out on a 2004-2007 it can cost up to $2000 to replace. Disabling the system is REALLY easy, but not something that we will do at the dealer. If you don’t think that proper tire pressure is important, ask someone from Ford or Firestone. I would almost bet those tragedies are why we are required to have tire pressure monitors.

I hope that has cleared up some of the questions that everyone has. I am glad that VW has the option to “customize” their cars. Oh, and thank you to the aftermarket for helping with the rest! I have said it before, mod your car all day long, just remember this “You gotta pay to play” 🙂

One last thing~ While I am at training, it really gives me time to reflect. As we are coming up on the sites 1st anniversary I wanted to ask for a little help from you guys. Ok, here it goes

What can I do to make this site better for YOU?

Pretty simple right? I want to make sure that the time you guys spend here is as awesome as possible. What type of content would you like to see? More videos? More DIY? More pictures? More “How does that thing work”? Post any thoughts you have in the comments. Remember, this community includes you too!!

Hey everyone!
I am currently at training for our new VW scan tool software. So of course I have training on the brain. I know we have talked about it before, but I have not talked about this type of class.

This is basically a “new product” launch. Before a new car comes out, the manufacturer needs to get the mechanics up to speed. Some product launches require much more training than others.

The Hybrid Jetta for example is much more important to have mechanics trained on, than say a facelift of the Jetta.

VW has classes that their mechanics have to go to. They are called instructor lead training (ILT). In a prefect world every mechanic could go to the ILT for all product launches. At my dealer, the closest training center is about a 5 hour. That usually limits the number of mechanics that go to the launch training to 1 maybe 2.

I am pretty lucky to be one of 2 or 3 guys that goes to the new product classes. The new stuff is always fun to learn. But that also requires me to make sure I bring back as much info as I can. I will be the one that gets to help everyone else in the shop. I actually enjoy that part of my job. Well, minus the whining from the other guys.

I think the new scan tool software will be a good thing. It’s VERY different, but manageable. I will update you guys with the details soon.

I hope you are all having a great day. P.s. I am writing this post from my phone. The Internet at the hotel is AWFUL. I just didn’t want to be at training without giving you guys a quick update!

Volkswagen TDI timing belt damage

Hey folks! It is that time of the week again. I got a few good picturs for you guys today. By the time you are reading this, I will be on my way to VW technician training. ~enjoy

Damaged rim Volkswagen CCIf you check out last weeks “Shop Shots” you will see a video of a CC with a messed up suspension. Listen hard and you will hear a noise that sounds like a whale. What you are hearing is the lower part of the front suspension hitting the rim. Here is the damage to the rim. The mechanic working on the car fixed the initial damage, estimate of ~$2400. Then found that there was more damage. The steering rack and more of the right side suspension needs to be replaced. The estimate is now just shy of $5000. Sad to see that type of damage on a car with only 950 miles. DANG!


Removing engine on VW Touareg

Thankfully this is not me in the picture. It came from our sister store across town. Here is what happens when an engine repair needs to be performed on a VW Touareg. The engine and transmission are unbolted from the car. The table that it is sitting on is acutally a lift table. You can see the pins on the table holding the engine up. They are strategically placed to fit the engine carrier. The picture doesn’t really capture the scale of the engine and transmission. The table is about 8ft long, and about 3ft wide. The brakes hang over just over a foot on each side. As scary as it looks, doing engine repairs a table like this is really easy. It’s just a lot of work to get to this point.

Volkswagen TDI timing belt damageWhat you are looking at here is a timing belt on a VW TDI. In the middle of the picture you can see a bunch of strands of fiber. That is part of the serpentine belt. The customer brought his car in saying that he was having a hard time starting the car. He told me that the serpentine belt broke. He said that he was worried about the timing belt. I told him not to worry, I had seen lots of broken serpentine belts break, but only 1 damage a timing belt.

Well after about an hour of checking, the car would not start at all. I was getting a faults in the engine computer saying the car was not timed properly. I checked and found that the camshaft and the crankshaft were not lined up properly. It turns out that the wad of serpentine belt shifted the tension of the timing belt. That caused the engine to be out of time. I installed a new belt, retimed the engine, and BAM, it fired right up. There was no permanent damage done to the car. The customer was almost due for his second timing belt replacement, so it was money that he would have paid either way. I was mad that I was wrong, but the car is running and the customer was really happy. It all worked out in the end.

Volkswagen Showroom Remodel I may have mentioned that my dealer is doing a remodel. We are adding on 2 new sections to the showroom. They are also changing to a new setup. Everyone is calling the “White Box”. I have seen pictures of other dealers. It has a similar feel to an Apple Store. I snuck up stairs and took a picture for you guys. Right now, it is just a lot of banging as they remove all the tile. I will keep the updates coming. I am really excited for the remodel. The building has looked the same for about 9 years. It was time for a facelift.

Well, that about raps it up. As I said I will be in training the rest of the week. Do you guys have anything you want me to ask while I am there? Something about the future of VW? I will do my best to find out. Ok, time to hit the road. I95 here I come.

Please consider sharing Shop Shots. All you need to do is click one of the pictures below.








It is no secret that car technology is advancing at an insane pace. In the almost 9 years I have been working on cars I have seen some pretty awesome advances. A perfect way to show how far we have come is something as simple as a light bulb.

When I started with VW the 2004 model was the latest and greatest. Even in 2004 we had some pretty smart cars. But the light bulb was still a pretty simple setup. Here is basically what it took to light a bulb in your car in 2004.

Light a light bulb Basically you just had a few parts.

  • Battery. This will provide power to the light
  • A fuse. This will protect the circuit from damage
  • A switch to control the light
  • The light itself. Hard to talk about lighting a light bulb, with out the light bulb right.

Power will flow through the fuse, to the switch then from the switch to the bulb, and light the bulb. BTW I am not interested in debating power flow from power to ground pr ground to power for this post. Lets save that for another day. 😀 This is a pretty simple setup. Problems could be found by using a simple test light.

Oh how far we have come. Today we have a much different way to light the same bulb.

Lighting a Light bulb todayNow we have added a few parts.

  • Battery, pretty much the heart of the cars electrical system
  • Switch. you still have to still have to turn the light on.
  • Bulb, still need the bulb to light the bulb
  • Module, now the power, and ground for the light are controlled, and monitored by a module. the module acts as a fuse as well
  • Diagnostic connector. This is how we monitor the bulb

As you can see lighting the bulb seems to be much more complicated now. We have added modules and diagnostic ports. Why the heck would they do that? Is it because VW likes to over engineer things? Nah, it’s all about the driver. By using a module(that will talk to other modules) we can alert the driver when a bulb is out. You can even get super awesome and have lights turn themselves on.

The diagnostic approach is a little different. Now mechanics can use a scan tool to diagnose an issue with a light. I can use that scan tool to activate the light to test the activation side of the circuit. I can also use the scan tool to monitor the position of the switch. I can watch the readings change from “ON” to “OFF” when I push the button.

I have mixed feelings about both setups. The old way requires taking things apart to test. Usually you can be sure of the issue. With the new way, you can watch what is happening on a scan tool, but you add the “magic box”. You can’t know for sure what is happening inside there. Sometimes that requires a roll of the diagnostic dice. I guess it boils down to knowing the system. It doesn’t really matter how you feel about it, you still have to know it.

What do you guys think? Is throwing a bunch more electronics in a car a good thing? Is giving the mechanic a “hands off” way to diagnose a car the wave of the future? Are you an old school test light fan? Post it up! BTW~ This was my first attempt at making a wiring diagram online. I don’t think they came out that bad. Not great, but not bad…

Remember, you can join up on the mail list. It is super easy and you will not miss a post. I know I asked a lot of questions of everyone today, but I have one more. If you were part of an elite group what would you want to be called? I am thinking of naming the email list. Something like the “Humble Club”. Any ideas? You guys seem to always come up with really awesome stuff.

If you didn’t understand anything about the wiring diagrams I posted, its cool, just share them with your friends. Oh, and don’t feel bad, there are a lot of mechanics that don’t understand wiring diagrams either.

1.8 Passat engine damage

I talk all the time about changing engine oil. I have said that it is the one, if not THE, most important thing you can do to keep your car healthy. I went back and checked all the “Behind The Wrench” interviews I have done. Everyone said that changing engine oil was the most important thing for your car.

What exactly is an oil change? The obvious answer is “changing the oil” DUH! But oil changes are more than that. When I do an oil change on a customer’s car, it goes something like this.

  1. Take a quick spin around the lot. That give me a chance to listen for any weird noises.
  2. Check all the lights on the car~I don’t want my customers getting a ticket
  3. Check the wipers and make sure they clear properly.
  4. Look under the hood, here I am checking for any damage to belts, hoses, vacuum lines. I also look for any coolant or oil leaks.
  5. Check the oil level. I want to know if it is low before I start the service.
  6. This next step varies from car to car. Some I change the filter first, other I change it last. On my Passat, I do the filter first. On the other 1.8t engines I do the filter after. It doesn’t really matter.
  7. Next I drain the engine oil. I try to let it drain for about 10 minutes, or until the oil is dripping out. The more oil that comes out, the more through of an oil change it is.
  8. While the oil is draining, I take a look at the rest of the under car. Checking tire pressures, looking for anything that might be an issue, including brakes.
  9. Install and torque the drain plug. To be honest, I don’t put a torque wrench on the drain plug in the oil pan anymore. I have a really good idea of what 30nm is. 😉
  10. After lowering the car down, I fill the engine with oil, checking the level twice.
  11. Next I top off all the fluids, do another quick check under the hood, and wrap it up.

As you can see, there is a lot more to an oil change, than just draining and filling engine oil. At my shop we call an oil change a LOF/S. That is a Lube, Oil, Filter, with Synthetic. The lube is generally topping off all the fluids. We have went over the oil. Then of course the Filter. The filter is a very important as well. It is the filter that catches all the little partials, and junk floating around in your oil. Remember that your oil carries debris and the filter holds it. You would not all that junk to get caught in an oil passage, and cause engine damage.

Clean engine oil is so so critical to a vehicle! I don’t really care if you do your own, or bring it to the shop. Just get your oil changed. I am actually due for an oil change on my car. When I do it, I will shoot a little video for you guys. You can see exactly what I am talking about.

UPDATE~ I am traveling for training this week. I leave on Wednesday and will not be home until Saturday. That should not affect any posts with week, but traveling might throw a wrench in things. I will be learning about our new diagnostic software. I will give you a full report when I get back. I hope I can find some cool stuff to show you while I am there. Remember you can always connect with my on Facebook, Twitter, and email.

Hi folk

Today you get to see my first attempt at bringing the interior of the Cabriolet back to life. This video demonstrates 2 different products.

The goo gone worked okay for the price. The Un Do, didn’t really work but I don’t think that is the right application. I would say that neither of these 2 products worked great. Just remember that this is EXTREME! Just because a product doesn’t work here, doesn’t mean it is a bad product.

If you know of any super cool techniques to remove stickers, post them in the comments. I will be more that happy to try them. There is no shortage of places that need work. This video confirmed the work that I have ahead of me.

Remember that you can also connect with me on Facebook, You tube and Twitter. I am all about chatting it up on Facebook or Twitter!