VW Cabriolet Luv A Dub

Happy Friday everyone. I am out of the shop for the next few days. I hope to get some time to work on the Luv A Dub this weekend. The progress has been a little slow lately. I had to reorganize my garage to make some room for my new tool box.

I had told you guys that I met the guy that owned the Cabby “pre art”. I finally go the pictures from him.

As you can see, she was not perfect. She was however a great place to start. It’s okay, this project has been a blast so far. I hope that you all have enjoyed watching the progress so far.

I have spent some time this week taking the 1st VR6 part. The lower part of the engine is completely disassembled. The prognosis is fair. The pistons are pretty banged up. The cylinder walls look okay. I need to clean the bottom end to fully evaluate the condition. The good thing is, all the bearings look good.

I hope that you all have a great weekend. The weather is finally starting to cool off, and that makes working in my garage much more fun!

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Shop Shots Automotive serivce pictures

This is a swollen seal on a coolant flange, caused by an oil leak

We have talked before about repairs you can wait on. Things that are not safety items or are not vital systems are the most common. There are a few repairs that seem like they can wait. But may have consistencies to waiting. Let’s take an oil leak for example.

Let me set the scene for you. A customer brings their car in for a service. During that service the tech finds the car has an oil leak coming from the valve cover. The customer did not see any oil leaking onto the ground. The customer declines the repair. A month later, the customer has their car towed in because it is over heating. On further inspection the car has leaked all the coolant out. Now the car has an issue with the coolant leak.

So what in the world happened? Well, the oil leaking from the valve cover leaked on to the plastic coolant flange. The oil causes the rubber gasket to swell. That makes for a heck of a coolant leak. Now the car has a coolant flange that needs to be replaced, on top of that oil leak.

Times like this is when having a great service advisor and mechanic team are vital. They can fully evaluate the leak. Mechanics can not predict the future. What we can do is tell what might happen if a repair is not made. Valve cover gaskets leaking on the coolant flanges is a really common example.

If you are not seeing oil leaking on the ground, or smelling oil burning doesn’t mean oil leaks are not serious. That is one of those repairs that can cost a lot more if put off too long.

Shop Shots Automotive service volkswagen service

It’s hard to believe that this is volume 30! I would have never thought we would make it this far. Oh, and there is no sign of slowing down. All right, enough of my blabbing, let’s get into some pictures!

What you are looking at here is the power steering pump on a 2013 Passat. The car was towed in from Enterprise Rental Car. Their concern was the the car felt like it had no power steering. I hopped in the car and took it around the parking lot. I didn’t want to drive it too far because, well it had no power steering.

When I opened the hood, I found the engine bay covered in oil. The power steering fluid reservoir was totally empty. Generally when something like this happens a line as a hole in it. I dug around for a while but found nothing. And since the engine bay was covered in oil, I couldn’t identify the source of the leak. Finally I started wiggling hoses, and found this. The line was not even threaded in to the pump. I tightened the line, filled the system, bled all the air and she was good to go. Oddly enough the pump didn’t make any noise. Even when the system had to fluid in it. Does that seem strange to anyone else?

I hate when I have to post pictures like this. This is a little frog stuck in the belly pan of a 2008  Passat. I have no real idea of how this happened. It looks like he was there for a while. I think the tech working on the car left him here. I know that he didn’t have to take the belly pan off for the job he was doing. At least it looks like it was quick for this little guy. Poor froggy.

This is how I started my day today. The customer came in saying “A week after you replaced my suspension bushings, my car has a slight clicking noise” I test drove the car. As soon as I put the car in drive, it started screaming. You will see why in the next picture. I didn’t want to take it too far because of the noise. While I was pulling it into the shop, I could hear a really loud clunking coming from the engine bay.

I popped open the hood and didn’t see anything strange. It sounded like the engine mount was loose, but it didn’t look that bad from the top. I put the car up on the lift to check the work that I had done. Everything I did looked fine. I glanced up to check the engine mount and found this. The timing belt was replaced a few months ago. I am not sure if the bolts were not tightened, or what but the result is bad. There is an ear broken off the engine block(where the top bolt goes). It looks like the threads are damaged on the bottom bolt. There is some type of aftermarket repair kit for the bottom bolt, but I am not sure about the top one. If we can’t find a proper repair kit, the engine block will need to be replaced.

Here is the result of the broken mount in the picture above. The is also the screaming that I heard the engine make when I put the car in drive. The timing belt tensioner is cutting in to the engine mount. The timing belt is also rubbing on the mount. The tensioner is destroyed! It is a pretty lucky thing the customer brought their car in. We might still have to replace the engine, but at least we have a chance at saving it.

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You have heard the horror stories,

I took my car to a mechanic and they broke this part.

Today I want to dive in a little deeper into what goes on behind the scenes when a mechanic breaks something. Generally you read about the situation from a customers point of view. That is the one that counts. But it is not all hearts and flowers from your mechanics point of view either. I am sure that the owner, or dealer is not too pleased. Basically it is lose lose all around.

When I had first planned to write this post, I was going to tell you all a story about something that happened to another mechanic in the shop. As luck would have it, I broke something yesterday, and I want to tell you guys about it.

I was replacing a front differential in a 2007 VW Touareg. This is a job that I have done before, but not something that I do often. Replacing this part takes a fair amount of finesse. There is about 5mm of extra space needed to remove the part. It’s a hard job, just one that needs care.

Just about the time I had the differential out, it slipped just a hair. Next I see a connector swinging near the steering rack. It seems that when the differential slipped, it hit the connector on the steering rack, and broke it. Now just a broken connector is not a big deal. I can totally fix that. The bad part is, the part that broke is part of the steering rack.

I got to a good stopping point and evaluated the damage. Knowing how VW builds parts I was pretty worried. I got with one of my parts guys and we confirmed my fear. The part I broke was not a spare part. Even though I could remove the part, it is not available separate. We even emailed VW parts headquarters with no luck. 🙁

So what happens next? Well, first things first, I get to go and tell my boss that I potentially damaged a $1000 steering rack on a Touareg. I don’t break things that often, but when I do I go big. That is the part price only. After the shock of possibly buying a $1000 part pasted, we brain stormed on an alternative.

  • Repair the part
    This was built into another part. I tried to find a way to make a repair, but no such luck. It was just a mass of copper inside the sensor. Repairing the part is a no go
  • Shop aftermarket
    We spend a good amount of time trying to find just the part I broke. Unfortunately there was no luck in this department either
  • Just get a new one
    This is definitely the easiest option.  But we are not talking about a $10 part. This would require a little more thought that just “Go order it”
  • Junk yard part.
    Odd are this is the route we will take. It will save a ton of money over a new part. This can be a slight dice roll. It may take a few tries to get a good part.

Once we have a solution for the part, someone needs to install it. Since I am the lucky one that broke the part, I get to install it. One of the worst parts about breaking something is having to install it for free. When a mechanic breaks something, they have to replace or fix it. The bad part is they will not get paid for it. That is only fair, you break it you fix it. Only seems fair right?

 So let me just sum up how much breaking stuff really stinks, 

  1. Customer is not happy, and may be with out their car for a while
  2. Service department might be buying a really expensive part.
  3. Not only will the mechanic have to replace/fix the part for free, they feel really bad about it.
This doesn’t even go into what happens when a mechanic is shady and “fixes” things. That I will have to save for another day. 😉
If you are an mechanic in training, or still fresh, don’t worry. These things happen, I don’t care how good you are. Even the top techs make mistakes. Remember “A Bad Day For A Mechanic“? It can and will happen to anyone!
Volkswagen Reliability

Happy Monday everyone. I hope that you enjoyed the first week of the NFL season. If you are not much of a football fan, I still hope you had a great weekend.

Today I want to answer a question that I get all the time. This question comes from a lot of people. But the first person that ever asked me this was my wife.

After you take something apart, how in the world do you remember how it goes back together?

Well, like all great questions, the answer is “It depends”. There no 1 sure fire way that mechanics remember how to put a car back together. We are all different, and the things that I do might not work for someone (or anyone 🙂 ) else.

Start Smart
It all starts with taking things apart in a smart way. For me, that means I take my time. Each part that comes out, gets placed in order.I usually place my parts right to left. I also keep the bolts with the part. For example, when I take off an engine pulley, I keep the bolts in the pulley. That way I don’t have to worry about getting bolts switched around.

Good Labeling
The first time I did a cylinder head gasket I labeled every part. I used masking tape to mark where every part went. Every hose, every connector got a little strip of masking tape so I knew where they went. Well as you might expect, the boys in the shop spent a few days busting my chops about it.

Now that I have some years under my belt, I would probably joke around with a new guy about that too. All kidding aside, that is a great way to make sure things get put back where they belong.

Take A Picture, It Will Last Longer
This is something that is a fairly new idea. When I started working for VW no one had a camera phone. Now, I know some old timers are saying “They didn’t even have cell phones when I started working on cars”. That goes to show how technology as advanced in the last few years. Now I can snap a crystal clear picture of something before I start. That is something not even a factory repair manual can provide.

Volkswagen Reliability

This is a great example of taking things apart in groups

Removing Parts Together.
The easiest way to remember how to put something back together is, not taking it apart. So what do I mean?If you are removing an assembly, that has parts attached, leave the parts attached. If I am replacing a front brake rotor, I will just undo the caliper and leave the brake assembled. This feeds into my “do as little as possible” mindset.

Those are some of the things I do to make putting things back together go a little smoother. Okay, I am gonna let you all in on a couple of little mechanic secretes. There are a few cheats that we have that most people don’t know about. These also help mechanics put things back together

  • Most electrical connectors are different. This will help mechanics from getting connectors switched around. Warning~this is not 100% of the time.
  • Things want to go back together right. This is especially the case with wiring harnesses. When a harness sits in the same place for years it develops a memory. That makes it really easy to install it in the proper place
  • Manufacturers are consistent. VW tends to use a few different versions of fasteners. Even though there are a million bolts in a car, there might only be 50 different ones. From there, you can generally tell what it does by the size of the bolt. A bolt that holds the suspension, will be different than the bolt that holds the radio in.
  • We forget sometimes. There are times were I just forget where something goes, or how it goes. When that happens I have the luxury of a lot full of Volkswagens. Yep, there are times when the only way to get it done is to check another car. This is where I totally feel for the mechanics in the aftermarket, they don’t have that advantage.

Well, I hope that answers the question for all of you. We all have our own little tricks to remember things. It takes a long time to hone that skill. But if you are a DIYer just make sure you keep everything neat, take a lot of pictures and label everything!

Don’t forget there are several ways to follow what is happening in the Humble Mechanic world. You can sign up for email updates. In case I don’t say it enough there is no spam or junk when you sign up for email updates. I don’t sell emails or whatever else people do. It is just the best way to be sure you get notified when new posts are out.

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Auto Mechanic Tools

Today we a a guest post from the folks over at ProTool Warehouse. Talking about buying tools in a set. This is the first type of guest post that I have done. I would love to know your thoughts on getting a different look into the world of car repair.

For those of you that have decided to join the ranks of the do it yourselfers, Auto Mechanic Toolshere’s a tip that can save you time and money, tool sets. Not only does it save time by eradicating the need to drive back and forth to the local department store for that tool you need, but it actually costs less in the long run to buy the whole set than it does to buy the
tools individually. There has been countless times where a kit has saved people a job by having all the tools right at their fingertips.

Wide Range of Kits

Whether you are in the market for tools to aid you in automotive, carpentry, sewing, electronics, or pretty much any profession or hobby out there, there
is a kit available for your convenience. You have the option of buying kits that are any number of sizes. The more pieces in a kit, the less likely you
will run into a situation where you are lacking a tool to do the job. There are a number of different sizes to choose from, ranging from 3 piece sets to
500 piece sets, depending on the amount of money you are willing to spend for the convenience.

Time Saver

As mentioned, buying a set of tools in kit style can be a serious time saver. There will be times when you are working on a project and will find yourself
in need of a particular socket, and with the tool kit you will have it right there within arm’s reach. You won’t have to go searching your miscellaneous
drawers or your cabinets to find the tool you were looking for. This benefit alone is worth its weight in gold. Without a kit, you have no idea how many
times you may have to stop in the middle of a project to go search for a socket which could have been right there , had you bought a kit, keeping the
project from extending into supper time.

Nice and Neat Storage and Space Saving

One of the benefits you will love about your kit is the way you can pack it up nice and neat after a project, with a place for every tool that fits
perfectly. You can simply slip it in your cupboard, under a cabinet, or in the trunk of your car out of the way of your hectic life until that day you need
it again.

What do you guys think? Is buying tools in a set the best way to buy tools?

Shop Shots Car blog Auto Mechanic

Hey folks, it’s Wednesday so that means is time for some Shop Shots. As always this is your behind the scenes look at Volkswagen repair. Think of it as your way to see the crazy things that a VW mechanic sees, with out getting dirty. Don’t forget, if you want to share a picture from your shop, or of your ride, just contact me! Let’s do this

Shop Shots Car blog Auto Mechanic Volkswagen CC DamageI hate to see wrecked Volkswagens, but I really like to share the pictures of them with you guys. This is a picture of a 2010 CC. The left front got hit pretty hard. The outer edge of the wheel was about an inch off the ground. The strange thing about the damage is how isolated it is. I don’t think that a car hit it. The impact area is too small. I guess if a car hit at the right angle it would do that damage.

I would almost say that maybe a deer hit the CC. But the way the wheel is pushed in makes me rethink that. I will try and find out what happened. The truth is I probably won’t. I also find it strange we get so many wrecked cars. We don’t have a body shop.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicThis is fan destruction. This car came in with the concern “A blade on my fan broke and cut my coolant hose. When I opened the hood, I found this. The fan is missing all the blades. The radiator was all beat up, and a coolant hose had a big cut in it. I have never seen a fan break completely off the mount before. I also don’t really know how it didn’t punch a hole in the radiator.

I had to replace the radiator, the main cooling fan, the fan holder(also called the shroud) and the coolant pipe. Once I got all the parts replaced, I found the fans didn’t work. It turns out, luckily, the fuse was blown. That is probably the reason there was not more damage. Sadly we didn’t have the fuse in stock. I was not able to fully test the system. The customer declined ordering the fuse.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicOkay this will take some explaining. This is a shot of from under a beetle convertible seat, and behind the trim panel. I had to replace the rear window regulator on this 2005 Beetle. To gain access to the window regulator, the rear seat and the trim on the side. I removed the seat and trim no problem. So far nothing crazy, just another broken VW window.

When I went back to remove the window regulator I noticed something odd. There was something that was laying at the bottom. It was painted the same color as the car. That is odd because everything is just primer. Some how, there was a door handle just sitting behind the trim panel. How the heck does a door handle for the outside of the car get behind a trim panel in the rear of the car? Maybe it was at a body shop? I don’t know how it happened, but it sure is funny.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicI did a post yesterday about the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid.I had mentioned that the information is really limited because the car has not been released yet. Well here is a screen shot of our diagnostic software. As yo can see, it is mostly in German. Even though I have worked for VW for some time, I don’t speak any German.

The bad part is, this is the procedure for de-energizing the high voltage system. Good for us, the instructors had translated the test. I am 100% sure that this will be fixed by the time the car hits dealers.

Well, you have squandered away another Wednesday, but reading Shop Shots. Thank you Click and Clack for that line. HA. Most likely while you are reading this, I will be driving back from my training. Hopefully traffic will be good. Bad traffic turns a 5 hour drive into a 9-10 hour drive. You will know I hit bad traffic by the number of tweets I send from the road. Mass tweets=bad traffic. 🙂