Water leak damage to VW

Happy Friday everyone! It was a really tough week for me, but I am off this weekend so I am in a great mood. I have a few things before we get into this weeks pictures.

Humble Mechanic Podcast
If you missed the automotive podcast I posted Wednesday, go ahead and check it out. I have been kicking around the idea for a while and finally just did it. I am pretty happy with how it went. You guys gave me some great feedback. The plan is to add the podcast as part of the content. So I will keep writing posts, posting Shop Shots, and just add the podcast in.

Dubs For A Cause
This year the Dubs For A Cause charity event will be huge. Like last year, I will be supporting the cause. I am a fan of car shows, but making them a charitable cause is even better. If you are in the Raleigh,NC area, come check it out. The even is November 9th from 11-5pm at Apex Tuning.

Black Forest 3rd Annual Oktoberfest
This event is awesome! The folks at BFI are hosting their 3rd Oktoberfest. This another local car show for me. The event will be a car show, plus will have food and local NC beer. As many of you know I am a huge craft beer fan. If you can make it, do it. Check out their event page here.

Humble Mechanic Gear
I have gotten a bunch of folks asking me about T Shirts, stickers, and hats. Now, I do not really want to be in the merchandise business. But if this is something y’all are really interested in, let me know. I think the logo would look awesome on a shirt. What do you guys think?

Okay, now that we got all that taken care of, lets get into this week’s Shop Shots!

VW Beetle InteriorI mentioned at the start, I had a rough week. This was my first job Monday morning. I replaced the heater box on a 2008 Beetle. The heater box is the box that has the heater core, evaporator, and all the doors that control the heat and air conditioning. This type of job requires removing most of the interior of the car. The job is not really that bad, just a lot of parts to take off. If you look at the bottom of this picture, there is a green magnetic tray. I had 2 of them full of screws. This is also the type of job you have screws left over. This time, I didn’t have any left over. That is always a good thing. 😉

Failed Volkswagen TurboThere are some jobs that mechanics do that they love. Then there are the jobs that are not fun at all. For me, replacing turbo chargers is on the not fun list. This is the inlet side of a common rail TDI turbo charger. I am not sure what the exact failure was, but I can tell you what happened as a result. It may have been due to low engine oil, but the turbo failed. When this happened, about 2 qts of engine oil was pumped into the air intake. It also pumped oil into the exhaust. Several hours, and a few thousand dollars in parts later, the car ran great. I posted another picture to the Facebook page. You can see all the failed parts I replaced here.

Water leak damage to VWWith great rains comes great water leaks. This the the shot of another VW Passat with a water leak. We do not see this type of thing nearly as much as years ago, but it still happens. This module is the Convenience module. It may be shocking, but this module controls the “convenience” features of the car, like power windows, power locks, interior lighting and more. The car also needs signal from this module to start.

After draining about 3 inches of water from under the carpet, I found that the wires were starting to corrode. It was not that surprising to find the green slime on the connectors. The customer declined the repairs, so I don’t know the exact cause of the leak. Based on the condition of the car, I am pretty sure there was multiple issues.

That wraps up another week of Shop Shots! Just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to the blog and never miss a post. I don’t share or spam your email, that is dumb. Also, I would love your thoughts on Humble Mechanic merch.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hi everyone. Today I have something a little different for you all. As you know, I have been doing this blog for a little over 2 years. Things have been going really awesome. In that time, we have grown a great community here.  Over the last few weeks I have really been kicking around the idea of switching the format of the blog.

So today I give you the very first episode of the Humble Mechanic Podcast. This podcast will be about the same type of automotive things we talk about now, just in audio format.

As I said in the show, I really want your feedback. Is this something that you guys like? Once I get the hosting and RSS dialed in, I will be submitting the show to Itunes. I wanted to do a few episode just to see how it goes. That is why I am using SoundCloud. That is a temporary format.

Thank you all so much for listening. Again, PLEASE post your feedback in the comments below. Seriously, if you like it, hate it, think I should do a few more and see?

Damaged Volkswagen Wiring Problem

Happy Friday everyone. This week there is a slight change up in the schedule. I posted that Purolator oil filter review on Wednesday, so that pushed Shop Shots back to Friday. It’s all good really, Friday is a good day to post up some pictures. Let’s do it to this!

Damaged Volkswagen Wiper blad

When a customer brings their car in, a service advisor will take down notes on their concerns. Most of the time it reads “Customer states check engine light is on” or something like that. It can be really cut and dry. Then you get notes on a repair order that just make you shake your head. The repair order on this car stated “Customer states please check rear wiper blade”.

Generally when you have a concern listed like that it is due to a worn or torn wiper blade. I didn’t see the line on the repair order at first. It was on a second page. When I went back to check it, I could not help but crack up. Not only is the blade missing, there is no arm to attach it to. What made it really funny was when you turned the rear wiper on. It looked like a little boxer tail wagging around.

Damaged Volkswagen Wiring ProblemThis is some old school VW stuff here. You are looking at the lighting circuit from the instrument cluster of my Cabby. When I first got her, it had some weird blue LEDs lighting the bottom. When I got the cluster out, I realized why. The printed circuit was torn at both points the bulbs were. Most components of cars do not use this type of “wiring” any more. This really is old technology.

My plan to repair this is to use the repair kit for a rear defrost. That and some double stick tape. If it were in the middle of the circuit, I would just staple the connection back together. If anyone has another idea, please post in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts on this repair.

Damaged oil drain plugThis is just hilarious. I pulled in a used car to do an inspection on it. The car looked good from the outside. The inside was dirty, but nothing a detail would not fix. As I raised the car up in the, I noticed that it was leaking some oil. On further inspection, I found this gem of a drain plug repair.

Someone took gobs of sealant and packed it around the drain plug. My guess is the plug was stripped and leaking so this was their “repair”. I see this type of thing from time to time. When I do I think “It’s no wonder that people think mechanics are crooks”. Now, to be fair, I have no idea why this was done. It may have been so the customer could trade the car in. I guess it’s not just mechanics that do shady things. 😉 Either way, I got a good laugh from it. Just remember that everyone sells a car for a reason.

With that I think we have wrapped up this weeks Shop Shots. As always I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget you can connect with me on all the other cool media places, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. All you need to do is click on the icon to the right. It will take you there.

One last thing. I have mentioned before that I get guest post requests all the time. Well I wrote a Guest Post page describing how I feel about them. If you want to check it out, cool. If not no worries. That is cool too.

Whether you drive a big SUV, a TDI Jetta, or a Smart car, they all need maintenance. There are tons of choices you can make when buying oil filters and other maintenance parts for your car. Today we are talking about Purolator oil filters. The folks at Purolator were nice enough to send me a few oil filters to review for you all. I have been a fan of their products for years, so it was my pleasure to do this review.

A Little Purolator History

Purolator actually invented the first oil filter right here in the USA. The original Purolator was an upright series of seven twill weave cloth covered perforated plates encased in a heavy-duty cast container. The product featured a sight feed glass on one side so that the oil flow could be viewed and the filter changed when the flow diminished to a trickle. How cool would it be to see the oil flow thought your cars filter. You can check out more of their cool history here.

The Filters

Purolator has 3 choices when it comes to oil filters. The PureOne, the Synthetic filter, and the Purolator Classic.

The PureOne Oil Filter
This is the filter that I have always used. Going cheap on one of the most vital parts of your car is never a good choice. This filter features:

  • 99.9% efficiency means better protection for your engine.
  • Exclusive Micronic filter media traps even microscopic contaminants
  • Silicone anti-drainback valve offers superior protection against dry-start.
  • 100% grip control for easy installation and removal. This is the texture I talk about in the video below

The Synthetic Filter
Another top quality filter for engines that use synthetic oil.

  • The Ideal filter for full synthetic oil change – provides up to 10,000 miles of protection.
  • 100% Synthetic filter media provides for ultimate engine protection.
  • Full 100% synthetic filter media for ultimate engine protection
  • Wire backed media for maximum durability
  • No-slip textured grip for easy install and removal

The Purolator Classic
This filter is perfect for the conventional oil and filter chance.

  • It provides preimuim protection for everyday driving
  • Provides 97.5%efficency rating for excellent engine protection

The Pros

Like I mention in the video, I have been using Purolator filters for many many years. Comparing the PureOne filter to the factory Nissan filter was apples to apples. They were basically the same. I really do like the fact that the PureOne is textured. As critical of products that I am willing to recommend, I have no problem recommending this oil filter.

The Cons

Even on a product that is fantastic, there is always room for improvement. If you drive a car that requires synthetic oil, stick with the PureOne or the Synthetic filter.

Here is the How-To Video I shot for you guys. Again, this is my wife’s 2008 Nissan Frontier V6. She is nice enough to let me drive it when it needs service.

As you can see, changing oil yourself can be easy. If you are not someone who wants to DIY, that’s cool too. There are pros like me that are happy to do it for you.

Here are the tips I mention in the video

  • Take your time, there is no need to rush this
  • Do not use power tools on the drain plug or oil filter
  • Tighten the drain plug properly
  • Be sure not to double gasket the oil filter.
  • Clean up any residual oil
  • Check and top off all the other vehicle fluids
  • Check the tires and tire pressure
  • Document the service. Good record keeping is important
  • Check and double check the oil level. Be sure the car is on a level surface

If you have any other DIY oil change tips, please share them in the comments below. Hopefully the next time you change your oil, you will pick up a Purolator filter. If you do, please let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts too.

I was paid by Purolator to review for this post with Burst Media, all thoughts and opinions are my own. All products were provided by Purolator; however are items I genuinely enjoy and feel are appropriate for my site.


MK1 Vr6 Rabbit Cabriolet

MK1 Vr6 Rabbit CabrioletIt is time for a Cabby update. For those of you that may be new to the blog, let me do a little recap about this Cabby. In April 2012 my dealer purchased a 1988 VW Cabriolet. The purchased it and donated it for a local charity event. They painted it with chalk paint, and put stickers all over the interior. After the event, I bought the car. I really wish I could have got the car before the event, but it was for charity.

Once I purchased it, my goal was to get everything back to stock. I started with the interior. Hours of laboring trying to get all the stickers off. It didn’t take long to realize most of those stickers were not coming off. I turned my focus to rust treatment, and sound dampening. At first I had no intention of doing an engine swap. The plan was to get the 1.8 running better and just rock that. Well, I stumbled across a 1998 Jetta with a VR6. The bad part is the engine had a blown head gasket. I stripped the car, sold much of the parts, and send it to the scrap yard. The poor Jetta had a rough life. I actually picked up another VR6 with a manual trans. I rebuilt that engine, and now the MK1 Cabby has a 6 cylinder engine in it.

Where we are now
The cabby is slowly coming back together. Last weekend I spent some time putting the interior back together. I also attempted to crank the engine. It turns out that the wire on the starter was broken. I was able to fix that. So right now I am waiting on the following:

  • Header
    Actually I need a whole exhaust. This is the thing that is preventing me from starting the car.
  • Radiator
    I found mounts that will work great for the radiator. I need to clean them up and paint them. I need the header done before I mount up the radiator
  • Finish wiring
    I need to get the car running to be sure all the wiring is right. Once that is confirmed I can cut the rest of the wiring from the Cabby.
  • Fluids
    I do need to fill all the fluids, oil, coolant, power steering.
  • Suspension
    This is not something I need to start and drive the car. But I will be modifying the suspension.
  • Wheels and Tire
    I was hoping that I could use the factory wheels and tires. The tires are very dry rotted, and not safe. If I have to buy tires, I am getting wheels too. Man wheels are expensive. :/
  • Interior
    This is just a matter of getting everything installed and cleaned. I will be redoing a lot of the interior parts, but I want this car on the road. 🙂

There are some odds and ends that I am sure I need to wrap up. I will cross those bridges when I get there. Here is a quick video so you can see the Luv A Dub process.

I am pretty pleased with the progress. I hope you all have enjoyed watching the build. If you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments. Also, if you are doing a build similar share your progress. If you want to see more, check out the pictures on the Facebook page.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hey folks, It has been a long long long time since we have done an auto mechanic interview. That is 100% my fault. If you have sent your interview in, and it was not posted, I am truly sorry. Don’t worry we are back on track. Let’s get to it!



Jim W.

How long have you been in the Industry?

15 years

What is your current job title?


What were you doing for your first automotive job?

changing oil at a Toyota dealership


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

Currently i am working at a Chrysler dealer, but i have worked in the aftermarket as well, including some time in management. I have to say i prefer dealerships over working in an aftermarket shop, the level of training and support available is a lot better in a dealer. Plus the level of technology involved these days is just mind blowing compared to just even a few years ago. Vehicles are so technology based now,i feel for the guys in the aftermarket that are faced with the challenge of trying to keep up with all the “latest and greatest”. Plus using factory parts and diagnostic equipment is another big plus,and the working hours are better.

Walk us through what you do on a daily basis.

Lots of coffee!!!!  🙂 Well,lots of coffee in the morning then switch to Gatorade. First stop,unlock the box,get a cup of coffee and head for dispatch,with fingers crossed that the first ticket isn’t a warranty job! 😉 I kinda dabble in a little bit of everything, so at 8am i might be doing a brake job, around lunch fixing an interior water leak, and at quitting time pulling a cylinder head off. And cant forget a couple smoke breaks in there too. I know its sounds crazy but i actually like doing trim work, i know I am nuts! But i do a good portion of the interior trim work in the shop, but I am not to terribly picky about whatever comes my way. We have a good dispatcher, that knows all of our strong points and does a great job of routing the work through the shop.Plus i work with a great bunch of guys,and that is huge in this business.

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

Build model cars,trucks and helicopters,watch racing (go Junior!), Atlanta Braves baseball, read military history, listen to music, and give my beautiful wife a hard time 😉 That was a joke! She is great, she has put up with me for almost 5 years of marriage and we have know each other for 10 years almost now. And teach Sunday school, with the funniest bunch of kids ever!

What kind of car do you drive?

Lowered 2005 GMC Sierra crew cab

What was your first car?

1970 Chevelle

What made you want to work on cars?

Needed a job! Seriously, i always loved cars,grew up reading about every car magazine and book i could get my hands on. And once i started in the dealer,i just got hooked. There is just something about it that once you are in,you cant seem to ever get out, people think they do,and once they get out, they end up coming back, its in out blood i guess.

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

A baby copperhead,in a wheel cover,and he was still alive,and very,very angry!!!!!

Do you have much customer interaction?

Not as much anymore,i actually started at this dealer as a writer,and went back to the line last summer,but i still have a lot of customers that when i see them come in i will go and talk. Certainly not as much as during my time as a writer or manager though.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The challenge,and the satisfaction when you fix something that just had you completely puzzled,and you figure it out.Plus the guys i work with.

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

Become a victim of tunnel vision.You know the saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”? Sometimes we all get so caught up in the thinking that its got to be a huge complex problem,that we forget sometimes(i know i do),start with the basics,work the trouble trees,and most importantly,sometime you just got to walk away,go talk to a buddy in the shop about the race,or how his kid is doing,clear the mind,take a breath and fix the problem.

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

The problem is,when people walk into a repair facility,dealer aftermarket,wherever,they throw a brick wall up.They are already thinking,”these guys are just gonna rip me off”. And i understand that.Yes,there are dishonest mechanics and technicians,just like there are dishonest police officers,doctors,lawyers,bankers,the list goes on. But for every one of these,there is many many times that number that are not.Dishonesty is in every line of work,not just the automotive business. And nowadays,it is so easy to find a review of a shop,online,social media,that the dishonest ones are going away quickly.And to someone that says,i don’t trust what you are saying about my car,all i can say is,you wont unless you allow me that opportunity to earn it.

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

change the oil

How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?

If customers only knew how much time they would save by just sitting down and reading it and understanding their vehicle options and functions,and what is normal and what is not normal,they would be amazed. We have cars in on a daily basis,the customer thinks there is a problem,but nothing is wrong,they just are not using that function as it is designed. A customer comes in waits for an hour just to find out that they weren’t doing something right,and their car works as designed. Read the manual,you will find out lots of really cool stuff,you may not have known about your car.

Have you read the owners manual to your car?

cover to cover,twice

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

Wow, tough question. My tools are my kids,i don’t want to pick a favorite!

Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?

I will be honest,i have a mix of the big three(Snap On, Matco,and Cornwell). Plus some Craftsman and Kobalt stuff too.I do like Snap On wrenches and sockets,but honestly as long as its a good tool that wont let me down when i need it,I am in.

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

Pocket screwdriver for sure,best tool ever!! A pair of the”Cobra” pliers from Knipex,cause they are just really cool,and my impact,just cause we have been together a long time,kinda like a part of the family now 🙂

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

A hover conversion like the cars in Back to the Future 2 had

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

Toyota Camry

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

That we are just a bunch of guys trying to make an honest living doing a very physically and more than that now mentally demanding job


Thanks for the great interview Jim. It is always great to hear from fellow techs out there. I think that most of us VW techs will be happy to sublet our Routan work to ya LOL.

If you want to be on Behind the Wrench, please contact me. Also, if you know someone that is thinking about becoming an auto mechanic or technician, send them this interview. It may be the motivation they are looking for.

Volkswagen Timing Belt Water Pump Failure

Hi folks, welcome to another volume of your favorite series, Shop Shots. This is where you get a behind the scenes look at what an auto mechanic sees in their job. Some days it’s crazy broken Volkswagens. Then you may see a moldy car from a water leak, or a nasty customer. Then you might even get to see the weird things people forget to take out of their car when they trade it in. Seriously, that is the weirdest stuff. Some I can’t even talk about. LOL

Volkswagen Timing Belt Water Pump FailureThere are times when we see something fail and think “WOW this customer got so dang lucky”. This is one of those times. This customer had their car towed in because it was making a “chewed belt noise”. The tech verified the customer’s concern. It was a “chewed belt noise”. The noise was coming from, a chewed up belt. 😉

The water pump on this Passat failed. Usually a water pump will leak, or just stop moving water. This one was shifted sideways and completely locked up. It would not turn at all. You can see the resulting damage to the timing belt in this picture. All that fuzzy stuff is parts of the shredded belt. The lucky part was the belt was still in time. The damage to the water pump could have resulted in catastrophic engine damage. By catastrophic, we are talking damage in the $2500 price range. Again, lucky lucky lucky

Volkswagen backup CameraAfter a serious start to this weeks Shop Shots, this is something a little more fun. I pulled a 2013 EOS in my bay to replace the trunk latch. Nothing serious, the trim cover would not stay on. While I was backing the car in, the camera popped on with this view. It caught my eye because it makes my bay look like a giant mess. That is true sometimes, but not so much this day. Then it got me thinking, even though VW backup cameras are really good, you need to follow the instructions on the bottom of the screen. No matter how much technology new cars get, you still need to pay attention.

Propeller Shaft Damage Golf RThe last picture of the day comes as a warning to be careful when modding your Golf R, or any car for that matter. We have talked about a dealership mechanic’s view on modified cars before. I generally don’t care much about folks bringing their modified cars into the shop. This is the propeller shaft on a newer Golf R. The prop shaft connects the transmission at the front of the car to the rear differential in the back of the car. It is a key component in the 4motion system.

This customer had a custom exhaust installed. When they installed the exhaust, they had to unbolt the front side of the prop shaft. Fast forward to now, he has a horrible vibration on acceleration. I test drove the car with him to very the vibration. On the ride, we talk about leaving bolts loose, and not properly torquing them. I put the car up in the air and find one of the bolts missing, and the bolt hole not lined up.

I ordered all new bolts for him so we could get the car fixed. When the bolt came in, I attempted to install them. Notice I said “attempt”. I spent about an hour trying to get the bolts installed. The threads would not line up properly. Finally I pulled the front of the prop shaft off and found this. The sleeve that goes into the transfer case was severely damaged. I spent another hour just trying to get the prop shaft back on the car. The only repair for this damage was a new prop shaft to the tune of about $1700. The moral of this story is, you gotta pay to play. I feel bad for the guy, but modding a car is not cheap.

That does it for another round of Shop Shots! I hope you enjoyed the pictures this week. I sure enjoy sharing them with you. A few reminders before I sign off.

  • If there are topics you want me to talk about, post them in the comments below.
  • If you post a comment, be sure to check the box that says “” Then if you ask a question, you will get an email when I or someone else in the community answers.
  • I will be at the Black Forest Oktoberfest. Let me know if you are going, it will be good to share a beer with you. Save the date, 10/12/13
  • Thank you all for your support. This community means a lot to me, I really apprciate each and every one of you. I may not say it enough, but I think it all the time.