Last week The World Health Organization labeled diesel exhaust a ” carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)” Basically the WHO is saying that diesel exhaust is as bad for you as arsenic. ARSENIC, really? The WHO is telling people that diesel exhaust is more harmful than second hand smoke.

The way the story has been presented is very misleading. I am pretty sure that no one thinks huffing diesel(or any exhaust) is healthy, but is diesel exhaust really that bad? Well, it all depends. If we are talking the new VW TDIs then diesel exhaust is not bad at all. If you are talking about old industrial equipment, that might be a different story.

So what does this mean for the future of VW, and the TDI? In the immediate future it does not mean anything. It will take years for any type of new restrictions to come of that report. I am sure there will be pressure on all makers of diesel engines to clean up the tail pipe emissions. Here is what VW had to say about it.

Newer technologies ranging from improved combustion, to after-treatment exhaust fluid systems to (specifically) particulate filters have, “contributed significantly to minimize particulate emissions,” says VW.

The diesel engine has been a core product in Volkswagen’s powertrain offerings since the 1970s and will continue to be so into the future. “The diesel engine is highly efficient and remains an essential building block in Volkswagen’s drive to reduce CO2 emissions.”

The TDI will be a power house for VW for many years to come. The engines will get better, faster, more MPG, and produce less pollutants.

Just so no one gets too worried about diesel exhaust, here is what WHO did NOT tell you

  • “The main studies that led to this conclusion were in highly exposed workers”
  • WHO did not give an exposure level of any kind
  • They didn’t say it, but this is less of an issue in countries with higher quality diesel.

So what is my overall conclusion to the WHO. NO KIDDING! Does anyone really think that sitting in a room full of any type of smoke is a good idea? NOPE. Why would diesel be any different. I say, don’t worry too much about it. Just don’t stick your face in the exhaust pipe! Diesel fuel, the big culprit according to WHO, is getting better and better.

I wonder if there is influence by the people that think Hybrid is the answer. Anyone have thoughts? Is diesel going to kill us all? Does the higher MPH off set the slightly higher “risk”? Are hybrids really the answer?

Here are some resources if you want to read more

Humble Mechanic Logo

Last week I told you about a few Crazy Customer issues that we have had. Well, as luck would have it, we got a few more. Let me just be clear that I am not really picking on these customers. It is all in good fun.

Customer States that with the  windows all the way down, there is a popping noise randomly like the “SORRY” board game, advise

This concern came in on a 2011 VW CC. When the customer was explaining what the car was doing, it was pretty clear what he meant. It was funny because I have never heard someone use a board game to describe an issue with there car. I test drove the car with the mechanic working on it. He found a way to reproduce the noise, and we were quickly able to find the problem.

Now, I am not 100% up to speed on board games. It has been forever since I have played the game “SORRY”. I do not really remember it being anything more than a dice game. My curiosity got me. I did a little bit of searching and found that the game he might have been talking about was “TROUBLE”. It has that popper in the middle. I was not able to confirm with the customer, but I am sticking with my guess. He was not that far off~ “TROUBLE” ~”SORRY” I totally get that!

We had to order a part to fix his popping noise, I will try and ask him when he comes back.

Customer states, something sticky went down by the center vent and now the vent won’t adjust-please find out what is going on

VW Jetta center vent

This is the vent that had syrup in it

That is what the concern line said on the repair ticket. After talking to the customer I found out what really happened. The customer spilled syrup in the upper center vent of his Jetta. The vents on the Jetta are near the top of the dash, and above the radio. How the heck does one still syrup in that vent? Also, who has open syrup in their car while they are driving? AND WHY???

The customer made it clear that I had to be very careful when trying to move the vent. He said it felt like it was going to break. Not wanting to break it, I told him he has 2 choices

  1. I could remove the vent and attempt to clean it. If the vent broke, he would still have to buy a new one
  2. I could just replace the vent to the tune of ~$300

The only issue I had with cleaning the vent is, we did not have it in stock. He would have had to pay twice. Once to remove and attempt to clean, then again to remove and install a new vent.

He wanted me to just remove the vent so he could clean it. I had to explain to him that he would still have to pay for that. He said that he would just take care of it. To be honest I was cool with that. I didn’t really want to clean goopy syrup out. Thinking we were done, I wished him well and started to walk away.

He called me back and asked me to SHOW him how to fix it. I have him a quick over view of how the vent comes out. He then asked me my favorite question.

How do I do this, and not mess it up?

I reply, with a smile, “You let me do it for you sir”. 😉 He laughed and said thanks but he was not going to worry about it.

I don’t think that I want to make a habit of poking fun at customers. I just like to save a couple and share them from time to time. We all have silly things in our jobs that happen. Sometimes it is nice to trade stories.

Does anyone know another board game that has a popper on it? Just wondering?

2.0t VW cylinder head removed due to oil consumption

Ah Wednesday, I can’t think of a better day to post some really cool auto mechanic pictures! Let me also say that I am really sorry about missing yesterday’s post. I don’t like leaving you guys with out some content. Should that happen, you can always go back in the archives and see some of my early “work”. Some of it is just awful. It might be worth a read just for that. 😉  Okay, enough of that lets get into some Shop Shots!


First up is a picture that make me sick! This is the guts of a Routan transmission. I posted a picture of the inside of the case last week. Here you are looking at the stack of clutch packs, snap rings, seals, and plates. The parts all disassembled belong to the input clutch assembly. That one of many parts that make the engine power transfer to the transmission. I spent so much time trying to put the trans back together it is not even funny. Long story short, 1 guy took out the trans, 1 guy disassembled the trans, and I got to put it back together. This is round 2 of trying to put it back together. The whole story is kinda interesting. I think it deserves it own post. Maybe tomorrow..


It is crazy what a car looks like with a bumper isn’t it? Here you are looking at a newer, 09 I think, Jetta TDI. The car came in for an A/C problem. The mechanic working on it found that the compressor was bad. As part of the repair, he replaced the compressor, replaced the condenser, the drier, and the expansion valve. The key part of this repair is cleaning the lines of the system. If debris stays in the lines, it can cause failure of any A/C parts down the road. This is another reason that have only qualified people work on your car’s A/C system!



As bad as the transmission is, this is not much better. One of the guys a few bays down from me is doing some internal engine work. You are looking at the top end of a 2.0t from a GTI. The customers concern was it was burning oil. The mechanic verified and now it is time to find out why. He removed the cylinder head in order to remove the pistons and check the rings. This is a whole lot of parts just to inspect a few rings.

We have seen this issue on a few of the early 2.0t engines. It is not as big of an epidemic as you might read about, but we have repaired a few. Just a reminder to check your oil!

Failed VW tireThis picture didn’t come out as good as I thought it did. What you are looking at here another failed tire. The “cut” you see in the tire is actually a defect in the tire. If you look close, you can see the cords of the tire coming out.

When I took the tire off, I snagged my glove on the sharp metal cord. At first, I could not tell if there was just something in the tire. A little tug with some pliers and I found the cords were pulling. It was ripping the sidewall of the tire open. I could not find any damage to the tire or the rim. So outside influence was not an option. This is just a simple manufacturer defect in the tire. I see a lot of issues with tires, but I can say, this is among the strangest.

I think that will wrap up this weeks Shop Shots! What do you guys think might be worse to take apart and put back together, ENGINES or TRANSMISSION? Post it up 😀

If you dig the Shop Shots, consider sharing them. It is really easy, just click one of the buttons below. Or you can just “Pin It” to Pintrest.

We talk all the time about making good choices when it comes to car repairs. Everything from required vehicle maintenance to repairing broken or worn out parts. You might be asking yourself why we are talking about NOT fixing your car. Well, lets face it, sometimes repairs are just not doable.

Today I am not talking about getting scammed, or the mechanic in a can type stuff. I am talking about real repairs to your car. Whether it is money, time, or priority sometimes we just can’t make the repairs to our cars. Here are some ways to decline a repair, but still get the most from your shop, and mechanic.

Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy! If you find that your car needs a repair you didn’t expect, just be honest about it. If the repair is not in the budget just say so. If time is an issue, just let the advisor know you don’t have the time right now.

I appreciate when a customer is honest. I understand that repairs are not planned. Not many people can just drop $500 plus on a car repair.

You want to do some research
With the internet being the endless source of information, it can be easy to find answers to questions. Telling your advisor that you want to do more research is totally understandable. This can give you time to find out more information about the recommended repair.

If it is a safety issue, there is an option too. Don’t be afraid to leave your car at the shop. That will still give you time to research, but not risk doing more damage.

Ask for a printout
Well to be fair, you should not have to ask. 😉 That is something that good repair shops would do for you anyway. Getting a print out will do a few things.

  1. Keeps a record for YOU! Then you don’t have to try and remember what was wrong.
  2. Keeps a record for the shop. Lets say you don’t do a repair. The information will be on file for the next visit.

If your car needs more than one repair, have the service advisor prioritize the list. Just like a printout, a good advisor will do this with out asking. The order I like to use is

  1. Safety. Items that are safety related are always the most important. If it can cause harm to you, or others on the road, it is priority number 1
  2. It can leave you stranded. If not making a repair can leave the car not drivable, it is a very close second. Cars usually don’t break down in your driveway at home.
  3. Further damage will occur. If not making a repair will cause other items to fail, it gets pushed up on the list. If your timing belt breaks, it will cause engine damage. That is much more expensive than just replacing the timing belt.
  4. State Inspection. In my state we have annual inspections for the state. Most of the items we check are safety related. The ones that are not, need to be fixed before a car can pass.
  5. Past due maintenance. This one is pretty self explanatory.
  6. Regular maintenance. Sadly this one will fall to the bottom of the list almost every time. 🙁

The funny thing about prioritizing is, they can fall under more than one number. Leaving you stranded can totally be a safety issue. That is where a good service advisor/mechanic team is vital!

If you feel like your being bullied, be strong. I was at the dentist(YUCK) today, and went through the up selling. I just asked them to keep noting it in my file. That stopped the pressure to buy more stuff.

Any other tips on declining recommended work? I think the key is being nice about it. It is the old saying, you get more flies with honey!

Remember, you can sign up for all the post updates. Just fill out the box on the right, and BAM, you will get notifications on all post. Oh, don’t worry about spam, I don’t do that junk. I also wont send you 35 emails a day. That is not how I roll.

Hey folk, it is FINALLY Friday!

Today’s update on Luv a Dub is the video I promised a while ago. I had the chance to test drive removing the factory sound dampener by using dry ice. The other methods that I tried were, chiseling, and using a heat gun and scraper. The chisel didn’t work at all. The heat gun worked awesome. You can see the video of the heat gun method at Removing VW Sound dampener with a heat gun.

The theroy behind using dry ice is that it will “freeze” the dampener and make it really easy to remove. That would mean much less clean up. The issue with heat is, it leaves the tar residue behind. Lets find out if dry ice is the solution.

As you can see in the video, dry ice didn’t work at all. I left it on for almost 30 minutes and it was no easier to remove than with the chisel. It looks like the heat gun was the way to go.

Here is the floor after removing the sound dampener. I still have to do a final cleaning.

This took me about 10 minutes of work. The dry ice took about a hour when you factor in going to get it. To me, dry ice was a waste of time. 🙂

I am actually off work until Wednesday of next week. That means I should have plenty of time to work on the Cabby. MY rust treatment came yesterday, so I will have a video up for that soon. While I am out of the shop, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook OR instagram!

What does everyone have planned for the weekend? If you got a cool project happening, share what you are doing..

Hey folks!

So, we get into some technical stuff sometimes, and we also get deep into customer service. I am in an awesome mood today so I want to talk about some funny stuff. As you can imagine, we get some really strange customer concerns. Almost too good to believe.


At the end of each day, I look through the appointments we have. It gives me a chance to see what issues might come up for the next day. On Tuesday, I checked all our appointments and found this customer concern.

“Customer states that their puppy chewed through some wires under the seat. Customer attempted to repair, but airbag light is on.”

If I would have been drinking something, I would have spit it out. How does a puppy get under a seat? How does he stay there long enough to chew wires? Fast forward to Wednesday. I get the car and pull it in the shop. Here is what I find.

Too funny! I just wish he would have brought the puppy with him. I LOVE dogs. In fact, I have little Jettison laying across my lap while I type this post. Oh well, maybe next time.

Last night I also checked the appointments for today. Sometimes there are  concerns that make NO sense. Take this one for example.

Customer states, You replaced the tire pressure board.

That is all is said. What the heck does that mean? I don’t even know what a tire pressure board is. Something with the tire pressure monitor? Did replace it already? Do we need to replace it? I was totally cracking up. I guess I will find out what that means at some point today. I will post what happened in the comments. Even now I am giggling about it.. 🙂 This is where having a really good service advisor comes into play. They should be able to get the proper information from the customer and help me fix the car.

It goes with out saying that we get some off the wall concerns. It is not just mechanics, any service industry gets crazy things like this happen. I just wish I would have started documenting them years ago.. Imagine how funny!

If you know what a tire pressure board is, please share this post. You can impress ALL your friends.

VW Routan Transmission Problem

It’s Wednesday so you know what that mean, “Shop Shots”! Remember that these are all pictures from behind the scenes in automotive service. I like doing these posts because it can really show some of the weird stuff that auto mechanics see.


What you are looking at here is a gas tank. This came out of a 2008 VW Touareg. The customer’s concern was the car would not take a full tank of gas. This was actually the second time she had the same concern. This time we had to replace the gas tank, lines, and all the evaporative emission parts. My guess is that a valve got stuck on the tank.

There are 2 fuel pumps in this tank. If you notice all the lines that run on the top of the tank. Picture about the same about of lines running inside the tank. The worst part of the whole job is running the lines.



Talk about an unsafe tire. This tire belongs to a newer Jetta. The car was in for its 30,000 mile service. If you look really close inside the crack, you can see the threads inside the tire. There must have been a defect with this tire. I could not find any rim damage, or other outside influence.

The sad part is, the customer declined replacing the tire. He didn’t even want me to put the spare on. He side “I like the rims to match. I don’t want the steel wheel on my car”. The customer then said that he didn’t want to replace the tire and that he would replace it himself. CRAZY?


I posted this on instagram the other day, and got some flack for it. Let me explain what is going on in this picture. This is an oil pan on a 2000 (or so) Jetta 1.8t. The drain plug is covered in duct tape. Yes, I was the one that did that. Here is the FULL story!

The customer brought it in for an oil change. When I drove it into the shop, the oil warning light came on. That tells me the car has low oil pressure. I checked the level, and found no oil on the dipstick. That is a BAD thing for any engine, but even worse for a turbocharged engine.

When I put a wrench on the drain plug, I noticed that it was loose. Before removing it, I tried to torque it. If the plug torqued, then someone left it loose. If it didn’t torque, I know I have a problem with the oil pan. I am sure by now you have guessed that it did NOT torque down. The plug would just turn and turn.

At this point it is time to tell the customer that they have a damaged oil pan. The quote for a new pan was $600 something dollars. She, understandably, declined the repair. The car is old, and she didn’t want to put the money into fixing it just yet. She asked, “Can it get me to the airport?. I tell her it might be okay, but no guarantees. The customer was pretty cool about the whole situation. So I tell her, “Don’t worry, I will just put some duct tape on it for you”. I think that she thought I was kidding. As you can see from the picture, I was not!

I duct taped the plug. I figured that even if it leaked some, the plug would not come all the way out. This was not an attempt to repair the car. It was only a bandaid to get her where she needed to go. The proper way to repair this issue, is replacing the oil pan. The newer pans are steel where the drain plug goes. This pan is all aluminum. When a plug is over tightened, it will ruin the threads inside the pan. There are some aftermarket fixes that work really good, and some that are awful.

Just remember any repair that I make must have a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty. So we don’t do many non-factory repairs. Again, this was a bandaid, not a repair. Personally, I think it came out pretty nice


Further down the transmission hole! There will be a full post about this transmission at some point, but let’s just talk about this picture. You are looking down the opening of a transmission. The transmission is about 1/3 of the way taken apart. The gear you can see at the top is the differential gear. It lets your wheels turn at different speeds. All the small holes are transmission fluid passages. I think I will leave the transmission talk at that. 😉

I am really curios what everyone thinks about the duct taped oil pan. Was it the wrong thing to do? Would love to know your thoughts. That wraps up this volume of Shop Shots. Can you believe we are almost at 20? I how awesome is that?

One more thing. I posted something on Facebook yesterday about Facebook charging for businesses to get into a personal new feed. It may not have been true, or it might be some form of the truth. Here is the deal, if you like to see Humble Mechanic updates on Facebook, just like interact with me there. “Like” a post, comment on a post, or share a post. That will make sure you keep getting the updates on FB. Or, just move to Twitter or instagram 😉