K&N Air filter

Hey everyone. Today I am traveling with my boss out to NASCAR Technical Institute in Charlotte,NC. We are planning to hire a few rookie techs. For me it’s about a two and a half hour road trip. I will also be taking a little detour to see some folks at a certain tuning shop in Charlotte, NC. For those of you that know what I mean 😉 more to follow.

As many of you know I am currently in the process of building of restoring a 1988 VW Cabriolet aka project “Luv A Dub”. Not only am I bringing this Cabby back to life, I am installing a freshly rebuilt VR6. This will take the horsepower from a weak 90hp to 172hp. That is a nice increase in power, especially from a ~2300lb car.

The awesome folks at AutoAnything.com asked me if K&N Air filterthey could help out with the project. As their name says, Auto Anything sells just about anything your car might need. We decided that putting a K&N air filter on the Cabby was the way to go.

If you are not familiar with K&N filters, they are a filter that never needs to be replaced. Instead of replacing the filter you can clean it. I will put some videos about cleaning a K&N filter at the bottom of the post. Not only are K&N filters reusable, they also let more air flow through than many disposable air filters. For all the stats on K&N filters check out their site KN Filters.

After We decided on going with K&N for the filter, Kelly from Auto Anything helped me pick the right filter for the Cabby. This was not your average task. This is a custom application. After some measuring on my end, and a few emails, they got me the exact filter I needed. Don’t worry, if you are replacing your factory size filter, getting the right one is much easier.

There is some controversy about using oil charged filters on VWs. I can tell you I have replaced tons of air flow sensors on cars with K&N filter. I have also replaced tons of air flow sensors with out K&N filters. Just like any part you use, you must make the choice on your own.

K&N Air filter

This is a close up of the filter element of the K&N filter.

if you have any questions, thoughts or comments about K&N filters, post them in the comments below. I will also tell you guys that I am also traveling on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Be sure to follow the Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. I will be posting picture from the road. One last thing. My wife and I had a chance to check out the Porsche By Design exhibit at the NC Art Museum. It was awesome! I posted a bunch of pictures on FB. When I get back, I will post more on the blog.

Purolator Oil Filter ReviewHey everyone. A few weeks ago I did a video about changing your own oil. The response has been huge. Because of the response, I thought I would follow up that video and write a little more information about changing your own oil.

Changing your cars oil is one of the easiest things to do yourself. That being said, a mistake here can be very costly. An oil change is one of the most important things you can do to keep your car’s engine happy. Be sure to follow the manufacturers recommended service interval. So before you dive into changing your own oil, let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts.


  • Have a basic understanding of your car
  • Proper hand tools for your car
  • Have all the parts you need for the service. We will talk more about this later
  • Have a proper container to catch the oil
  • Be sure to have something to store the old oil.
  • Properly dispose of the oil, oil and filter.
  • Keep a record of the service


  • Be in a hurry
  • Cheap out of your parts
  • Forget to work safe
  • Put engine oil in the trash.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to keep in mind when doing your own oil change. Before we get into the steps to change your oil, let’s make sure we have all the right stuff.

It should come as no surprise, having the right oil, filter and washer is VITAL! You do not want to be the person that has to duct tape their oil filter back on. Yes, I have seen that happen. I talked a little about the differences in oil filters in the Purolator Review Post. Check that out for some filter features to consider. When it comes to oil, follow the manufacturer spec to the letter.  If you are not 100% sure about the oil you need, call your dealership’s parts department. They can tell you exactly what you need, and how much oil your car requires.

This will be highly vehicle specific. While I can’t list every tool to change oil, here are the parts you will need tools for:

  • Engine oil filter
  • Drain plug
  • Check your car for any cover that need to be removed. This may require more tools
  • Tools to remove the washer on the drain plug.
  • A funnel to add oil
  • Rags or towels for clean up
  • Drain bucket to collect oil
  • Your application may require some other special tools, especially if you drive a German car 😉

The Process
When I change oil, I have a very strict process I follow. It really is borderline OCD. You do not need to have such a strict process, but having a game plan is really important. Doing an oil change is also an opportunity to check the overall heath of your car. Here is my process for changing oil:

Damaged oil drain plug

Bad practices lead to destroyed oil pans

  1. Be sure you have ALL the parts to do the service. We don’t want to have to run out to the store during the service.
  2. Check the engine oil on level ground before you start.
  3. Raise the front of the car up. If you are using a floor jack, be sure to safely secure the car with jack stands. At home, I prefer the drive-on style ramps.
  4. Place the drain pan under the engine. Depending on how hot the engine is, the oil may “shoot out”. Be sure to place the pan accordingly. Also have your towels ready for any oil spills
  5. Allow the engine oil to drain for about 10 minutes. This will get most of the engine oil out. Remember, we are not in a hurry.
  6. Replace the washer on the drain plug, and properly tighten the drain plug.
  7. Remove the engine oil filter. Allow the oil to drain out of the filter.
  8. Before replacing the filter, put a thin film of oil on the filter.
  9. Properly tighten the filter.
  10. Replace any cover that you may had to remove.
  11. Lower your car on to level ground.
  12. Fill the engine with the recommended amount of engine oil.
  13. Double check the engine oil on the dipstick.
  14. Triple check the engine oil on the dipstick
  15. Start your car and let it run for about a minute.
  16. Shut the car off, and let it rest for 2-3 minutes.
  17. Recheck the engine oil level, and adjust as needed.
  18. Check and top off the coolant, power steering fluid, washer fluid, and transmission fluid(if applicable)
  19. Double check your work. Make sure there are no oil leaks!
  20. Record the service
  21. Be sure to properly dispose of the engine oil.

Well, congratulations, you have just crushed your own oil change. You might be thinking that 21 steps is a lot of work. But with the right tools, the right parts, and a little know how, you can to it. I really do want to stress buying top quality parts.

If you have any question about changing your oil, please post it up in the comments. You can also learn more about the history of the engine oil filter here.

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.

Non VW engine rebuild

Dubs For A Cause

Hi everybody(Hi Dr Nick) 😀 Sorry, I am a big Simpsons fan. It’s Wednesday, so let’s do some Shop Shots. Before we get to the shots, I have a couple of things to let you guys know.

Dubs For A Cause.
You might have seen the banner on the right side of the blog. It is a car show and charity event. If you are in the NC area, consider coming out and supporting a great cause.

Giveaway Winner
I did a giveaway on Facebook this weekend. You guys blew me away with the amount of shares and love! It made for an incredibility awesome weekend! The winner at random was Andrew Preston. Dude, contact me so I can send you the stuff. Seriously I can’t tell you how awesome you guys are. There will be more giveaways coming soon!

New Camera
Up until this point, all of my pictures were taken with my Iphone 4s. I switched phones last week. Now the pictures will be taken with my Galaxy S4. Not really super important, but many of you ask me about pictures and videos and pictures.

Volkswagen Water DamgeI have posted a lot of pictures of VWs with water damage. I have even posted pictures of control modules fried from water damage. This time it’s a little different. This is the first Pheaton I have seen with water damage. The Pheaton would not start. Then sometimes, it would try and start by itself. It is always scarey when a car tries to start by itself. This module lives under the carpet on the drivers side. I still can’t figure out why a car company would put a computer under the carpet. This one is not even in a protective box.

Vw Pheaton Headlight Let’s keep with the Pheaton theme. This was actually sent to me by a fellow tech. He was replacing a headlight bulb in a Pheaton. This may not come as a huge surprise, but replacing a headlight on a Pheaton is not a simple task. To replace the headlight bulb, you have to remove the headlight. To remove the headlight, the bumper cover must be removed.

I sometime wonder if car makers build cars just to screw with the techs working on them. LOL!

Non VW engine rebuildOkay, so if you are a VW fan, you know this is not a Volkswagen engine. It is a pictures of my friend’s freshly rebuilt Pontiac engine. Now, you might not be a muscle car fan. But that is okay. I posted this picture because there is something so beautiful about a freshly rebuilt engine. This engine had the works done, new, cam, new pistons, new bearings, a fresh paint job. The engine will be pretty awesome when she is done.

That does it for Shop Shots! Another awesome week of behind the scenes pictures. I just want to thank you all again for the amazing response from the contest on Facebook. I can’t say enough how much you guys rock!

Happy Monday everyone. I hope that you all had a great weekend. For me it was an amazingly busy weekend. The highlight was attending the Black Forest Industries OktoberFest! This is the third year that Black Forest has held this car show. I didn’t attend the first year, but the show has really grown in number of cars.

I also had a chance to meet quite a few of you. That was really the best part. Checking out all the really nice VWs and Audis is cool. I really do enjoy meeting you folks and chatting cars with ya. Here are some of my favorite cars from the show. If you know who owns any of the cars, please comment and let me know.

As you can see there are some great cars. I didn’t get pictures of all of them. I really do like this event. It is small enough to really enjoy. Plus it is super local for me. 😉 Remember if you own any of these cars, or know the owner, send them over. They deserve credit for their ride!

Thanks for checking out this year’s BFI Oktoberfest pictures.

Auto Mechanic

Happy Friday Everyone. I have something a little different for you guys today. A few weeks ago I send some of your questions about windshields to the folks at Safelite AutoGlass. Scott Gardner is the Director of Technical and Operational Training. He took some time to answer all our questions on this weeks “Behind the Wrench”.

If my windshield has a small crack or chip, how do I know if it can be repaired?

A windshield chip is made of thousands of micro cracks and a strong jolt or extreme temperature change can turn it into a much larger crack. These types of chips can easily and quickly be repaired before they crack out and require replacement.

Not all blemishes are really chips. Sometimes there will be a scratch or pit in the surface that do not threaten the structural integrity of the windshield and do not need repaired.

Our standard for knowing if a crack in the windshield can be repaired is if it is smaller than a dollar bill, which is less than 6 inches long.


Is chip repair something promoted more due to cost from the insurance company?

While a repair is cheaper than a replacement, it’s more about safety. Most automotive safety experts rank the windshield as a vehicle’s third most important safety component behind seatbelts and airbags. The windshield ensures the passenger-side airbag deploys properly and helps maintain a vehicle’s structural integrity in the event of a rollover.

Damaged glass is approximately 60 to 70 percent weaker than undamaged glass, making driving over pot holes and speed bumps more hazardous. A repair is an effective solution to restore the original strength of the windshield.


How does aftermarket glass compare to OEM glass?

 All vehicle glass sold in the U.S. – both OEM and aftermarket – must meet the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.


Is there an aftermarket company that makes better glass than others?

Safelite manufactured aftermarket windshields are put through a rigorous, five-point in-plant inspection and are further validated through random plant and supply chain audits, so we stand behind the quality of our windshields.


What do you think about people tinting their windshields? Is this safe?

 This is a dangerous practice and should absolutely be avoided. Modern day windshields are manufactured to strict OE standards that take into consideration light transmission as well as optical clarity for options such as lane departure, cameras, and heads-up displays. Altering the color and tint of a windshield will negatively affect the performance of the option as well as cause safety issues because night visibility is reduced. Besides being dangerous, tinting a vehicle’s windshield is illegal in many states.


What is the best way to clean a windshield?

Look for non-drip glass cleaners that are streak-free with no unpleasant odors for the best clean. These professional-grade glass cleaner can be difficult to find, but Safelite AutoGlass, the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, has it for sale $3.98 per can in its 400+ retail locations across the country. To find one near you, visit Safelite.com and check the service locator.

Use soft, clean materials. Never use harsh chemicals, or things like steel wool or scrapers, which could damage the windshield.

You can clean the wiper blades with the same towels and cleaner and replace them at least once a year.

Avoid cleaning in direct sunlight because the heat dries the surface very quickly.

There are a few DIY auto glass repair kits on the market. Do you recommend them?

There are many different types of resin on the market – some better than others. Some will shrink, making the risk for further cracking higher. Some will discolor, affecting the visibility of the driver. For this reason, do-it-yourself kits or companies who do not use top quality resins are not recommended. We’ve seen plenty of do-it-yourself jobs where the resin starts to disintegrate and yellow significantly. And, once a chip has been filled, you cannot re-fill it. So it’s best to get it right the first time.

Safelite AutoGlass uses an exclusive resin, GlassHealer™ in the repair process that’s been tested by an independent lab and shown to be the strongest and longest lasting on the market. Safelite’s exclusive resin offers:

  • Higher adhesion for a more durable repair
  • Better aging for a visually superior repair
  • Less risk of shrinkage causing re-appearance of chips
  • Better color stability, meaning less risk of yellowing

And, all Safelite repairs are backed by a national warranty and are guaranteed to pass lease turn-back and state vehicle inspections.

Can you tell us about some of the safety features of modern auto glass?

 Some of the advances in windshields include:

  • Heads-up displays improve safety by showing information about road hazards ahead or cars in your blind spot through an “overlay” on the windshield.
  • A part of the lane departure alert systems, video sensors are being embedded behind the windshield, typically beside the rear mirror.
  • Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers allow the driver to activate the windshield wipers once, and then forget about them, reducing driver distraction during inconsistent rain or snow
  • A collision avoidance system reduces the severity of an accident, thanks in part to a camera located on the windshield and a more sensitive radar to detect for the first time smaller “soft” objects such as animals and pedestrians.

Other interesting advancements include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control or Smart Cruise Control is a sensor mounted on the windshield to sense traffic ahead and turn the cruise control off or reduce speed.

  • A Condensation Sensor is mounted on the windshield to detect the presence of condensation and turn the on defroster.

  • A Light Sensor on the windshield senses the absence of light and turns on the headlights.

  • Night Vision is an infrared camera mounted on the windshield that detects objects further ahead than the headlights.

  • Hydrophobic Coating is a water-resistant coating applied to glass causing rain to run off allowing better visibility.

  • Automatic High Beam Control Sensor or Smart Beam Headlamp System turns on high beams when no other vehicle is present and reverts back to low beams when detecting oncoming headlamps or tail lights.

What is the car that you replace the most windshields in?

We track by the windshield part rather than the vehicle. The most common is DW01658, which is used in multiple models, including 2007-2013 models of the Chevrolet Avalanche, Cheyenne, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe; GMC Sierra and Yukon; and the Cadillac Escalade.

Which car has the most unique windshield to replace?

There is not one model that stands out as being the most unique. Several exotic vehicles are very unique because of the shape and way they set in place. Vehicles with options like lane departure cameras, sensors, and heads-up displays are unique. And large commercial vehicles like buses are unique because of the overall size. Because of the complexity of the modern windshield and complexity of today’s vehicles, drivers should always select a quality replacement company with well-trained technicians.

That is pretty much what my community wants to know. If Scott has any info he wants folks to know, please share it.

When you choose the nation’s largest auto glass company, you get the reliability of the Safelite AdvantageTM:

Always being there

Glass damage can happen at any hour. Safelite is always here with 24/7 live representatives in our renowned contact centers, as well as web and mobile app scheduling.

Knowing who to expect

When you schedule Safelite mobile service, customers receive peace of mind with the Technician Profile Email, including the technician’s name, photo and credentials before he or she arrives.

The best replacement technology

Our proprietary TrueSeal™ system guides the new windshield into precise position to ensure the most reliable seal. Plus, Safelite recycles the old windshield, making replacement a more earth-friendly option.

The strongest repairs

Safelite’s exclusive GlassHealer™ resin is why our windshield repairs stay stronger and last longer. It penetrates cracks better to make the windshield strong again.

The industry’s only nationwide lifetime guarantee

Safelite is proud to feature the industry’s only nationwide lifetime guarantee. We back it up with more than 5,000 state-of-the-art MobileGlassShops™ and company stores in all 50 states.

Well, I really want to thank Scott for taking the time to answer our questions. I learned a lot about windshields today.

Tire damage due to bad alignment

Happy Wednesday everyone. I hope that you are all rocking it this week. As for me, I am off work the rest of the week. I will be working around the house and yard. I will be doing a little work on the Cabby, but I fell short of having her ready for the Black Forest Show. I have a few quick things to tell you guys, then we will get into this week’s pictures.

Black Forest 3rd Annual Oktoberfest
This event is Saturday! 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. If you are coming, let me know. I would like to say hi. I might even have something cool for you. I will know more about that tomorrow. 😉

Humble Mechanic Podcast
I started an Automotive Podcast. I have a few show recorded. I am still tinkering with the format I want to use. Look for more episodes soon. I am thinking once or twice a week.

Humble Mechanic Gear
I have a few things in the works 😉 I will leave it at that. It will be cool.

Volkswagen electrical ProblemsVolkswagen seems to be known for it’s electrical problems. I am not sure that they are any worse than other cars nowadays. There are 2 things that will cause the weirdest electrical issues, low battery voltage, and loose ground connections. For those of you that say, “I don’t know anything about cars” don’t worry. You know more than you think. Think for a moment about your TV remote control. How do you know the batteries need to be replaced? It stops working right? Or you have to really mash the buttons. Or only the volume up works.

Modern cars have more electronic than we realize. Every module talks to other modules. Basic relays are now control modules. Some modules only function as a slave module to another module. There are even modules that run on something called virtual power. Confused yet? Good, now you can accept the fact that cars need good voltage to function.

This mess of a connection at the vehicle battery was causing low charging voltage. This is an older Jetta, so the symptoms were minor. A baking soda/water mixture and a toothbrush can clean most of the corrosion. The terminal end may need to be redone.

Overheated Volkswagen Engine DamageDid you know that when you first turn your ignition on your car does a self-test of all the instrument panel lights? For about 3 seconds your instrument panel looks like a Christmas tree. Why is this important? You need to know what the warning lights in your car look like. Why is that important? So you do not do more damage to your car when something fails.

This customer totally ignored the flashing light, the warning “STOP COOLANT” that pops up, and the temperature gauge that was pegged to hot. They continued to drive until the car stopped running. You are looking at the inside of the thermostat housing. In good condition, this would be the same color of black the outside is. Instead, you are seeing the burnt up coolant residue. Driving the car so long while it was overheating turned a $1200 timing belt/ thermostat job into a $3000+ cylinder head or more. The V6 Passat has been sitting at the dealer for about 2 months now. Just waiting for the customer to figure out what they want to do.

Tire damage due to bad alignmentI talk about getting your car serviced a fair amount. I also have voiced my opinion of the 10,000 miles service interval. THIS is why I don’t like that higher interval. Not only is this tire completely useless as far as traction, it’s DANGEROUS! When you read or hear me talk about “cords and or threads” showing, this tire is what you should think of.

This tire is worn this way due to vehicle alignment. Someone had aligned the car about 20,000 miles ago. When they did that, one of the nuts on the adjustment point was left loose. This caused the vehicle to be out of alignment. How the customer didn’t notice the steering wheel being 45 degrees off, is lost on me. If this customer would have brought there car in for a proper service at 5,000 miles from the alignment, we may have caught the issue.

We need to talk more about vehicle alignments, but I think that is better left to audio or video. Reading about alignments is confusing.

Well folks, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots. We had some good ones this week. Don’t forget to let me know if you are going the the Black Forest show. It will be a good time. I will be posting pictures next week. Also, I will be live tweeting and instagramming from the show. One more thing. I want to throw a huge shout out to my buddies Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Swing by and check out their new website. The poke around in the “store”. You might find someone that looks kinda familiar. 😉 Wait until the 3rd picture in that link.