Tdi Diesel fuel system High Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

Happy Tuesday everyone. As you read this, my area is getting ready for a big snow storm. For the southern USA, this has been a crazy cold winter. We even seen temps as low as 8F. I know that some of you folks are cracking up right now. But for me that is record cold. With such cold weather, we have seen a huge run of issues with VW diesels. So today is a little about diesels and a mini Shop Shots, all in one. I have always had mixed thoughts on VW diesels.

Tdi Diesel fuel system High Pressure Fuel Pump FailureLike I said you are getting a mini Shop Shots today. This is a picture of the inside of the high pressure fuel pump HPFP on a TDI Jetta. While this is not a cold weather problem, we have had a run of them at my dealer. For those that think this is due to gas, I assure you none of the last 5 or 6 had gas. The metal bits in the fuel are from the gut of the pump. We have even seen a Passat TDI and a Touareg TDI with fuel system failures. These repairs run from $4000,-$8000. VW has been covering most of them so that is good for customers  **DISCLAIMER** I am not saying that VW is, or will cover this repair for you, or anyone you now.

VW TDI Cold weather kitMoving on to real cold issues with the Common Rail TDI. I posted this on Facebook last week. This is an updated charge cooler, intake pipe and some tubing. The issue is moisture freezing inside the cooler. This can prevent the TDI from starting. It can also go as far as causing major engine damage. We a Jetta at the shop now that we suspect having a bent connecting rod. It seems a small bit of ice can get up to the engine and cause the damage. Based on conversations, this is not the first one out there. I will be sure to post a picture of the damage when the engine is a part

There is one more issue I have seen that seems to plague the TDI in cold weather. That is turbo charger failure on the Common Rail TDI Passat. We had a car towed in with a glow plug light, check engine light, and no power. The faults were something related the car not having any power. (duh, it had no power) I did some checking and everything electrical checked out. Finally I removed the intake pipe and found that the compressor wheel was completely seized. It should turn freely, heck when spinning at top speed, some turbos can spin up to 100,000RPM. I do not have any pictures of that yet. I should be making the repair on Thursday.

After reading this, you must think I hate the VW TDI. That is just not true. I think the diesels are great. They have good MPG, tons of power, and are super clean. But there is no denying they are having some serious issues. The one good thing I can say is, VW has been great in taking care of TDI owners.

Tire Damage

Happy Wednesday folks. I hope you are all having a great week so far. Today is my first day back at work this week. That usually means a few hours to get back in the swing of things. Don’t worry, I still have some great pictures this week. For those of you that are new to the community, Shop Shots started pretty early in the blogs history. I posted a few pictures, and they got a great response. It because a great way to have some fun and share some of the behind the scenes type stuff that most folks never see. A great member of the community suggested the name, and Shop Shots was born. Thanks Brett 😉

Before we get into this weeks pictures, I have a few things to catch you all up on.

  1. My trip to for the Chicago Auto Show is all booked. I will be pretty busy but I want to set some time a side for a meet up. I will post more about that as the event gets closer. It will probably be something low key near the show.
  2. There is a giveaway coming next week. I am ironing out the details now, but it will be awesome. All I can tell you is, if you have a messy tool box, get some pictures ready.
  3. I still have the Snap-on Tool box I am looking to sell or trade. I am looking for a Caddy in good shape. If you have one or know someone, let me know

Tire DamageFirst up is a picture sent to me by my buddy. This car came in for an alignment. That is where we basically reset the suspension angles back to factory specs. When I first got this picture, I thought the tire had blown up. I was really confused. On closer inspection, the tire has debris jammed between the rim and the bead pack of the tire. The customer had been in an accident not too long ago. This must have been debris left over. I gotta say, it is not everyday you see something jammed in it like this.

VW battery failureI had lots of help from friends this week. This picture came from a fellow VW tech. This car was towed into his dealer with the following concern “Customer states vehicle still will not start after battery replacement”. If you are not familiar with VW batteries, you might not see the issue right away.

VW batteries come with a black cap on the negative terminal of the battery. This black plastic cap needs to be removed before the cable is installed on the battery. If you look just below the cable, you will see the cap is still installed. This is exactly like not hooking the battery cable up. This is one of those times where it would have been cheaper and easier to have someone do the work for you.

VW water leak Last week much of the country seen record low temperatures. The news jokers were calling it the Polar Vortex or something like that. For us mechanics, it means cars acting crazier than normal. This is ice build up on the floor board of a VW. If you look at the top of the picture, you can see the water line. That is not really a water line, but more of an ice line. I thought I left this type of weather when I moved from Illinois. I also seen my first TDI with ice build up in the charge cooler. We actually seen 5 or 6 TDIs with frozen charge coolers.

That about does it for this weeks Shop Shots. Thanks to my buddies for helping me out with the pictures this week. Like I said at the top of the post, stay tuned for the announcement on the giveaway. We have done a lot of giveaways, but this one will be huge! Don’t forget, you can sign up for all the updates here on the blog. Just sign up at the top right with your email. Don’t worry I wont sell your email or spam you. As Sweet Brown would say, “Ain’t nobody got time fo dat”!

Oh, I almost forgot, I made this MEME a few weeks ago. I am a fan of the show Futurama, and I am also a beard fan. I happened to lean down on my beard and this is what I thought.

Auto Mechanic Beard

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hey everyone. I really have scan tools on the brain today. I know that we have talked about scan tools before, but I want to talk about them again. To say they are important to fixing cars would be the understatement of the year.

The main reason I have been thinking so much about scan tools is, I got a new laptop. You might be thinking “Charles, what does you getting a new laptop have to do with VW scan tools”. Well I picked this laptop up specifically to use as a VW scan tool. I picked up a small netbook from Asus. It is a pretty cool little laptop with a touch screen. I did shop around some, and realized we are at a transition point with laptops. They are trying to combine a tablet and a laptop. Sadly they are doing a so-so job. Just a heads up if you are planning for a new laptop soon.

There are a few reasons I wanted to get back to a laptop based scan tool at work.



  • With every factory update for scan tool, something gets messed up. This usually involves programming VW keys
  • You can count on the program running slower.
  • We almost always have a scanner down at the shop. Now we have 1 totally down, and one the Bluetooth doesn’t work.
  • There is also times were the working scan tools are all being used. I am no fan of waiting for a scan tool.

For the past 7 or 8 years, I have been using an aftermarket scan tool software from Ross-Tech called VCDS. It is scan tool software and cable built specifically for Volkswagen-Audi group cars. This software is awesome. It has always been ahead of VW factory software. We can do things with VCDS that would never happen with VW factory scan tools.

A few weeks ago, I had a 2013 Beetle come in with an ABS light. I pulled the codes and found I had a fault for the right rear speed sensor. After using the factory scanner to monitor the wheel speed, I felt like I was getting nowhere. I hooked up VCDS and graphed the readings of each wheel. Every so often, I could see the right rear wheel speed drop by a few mph. I wish I had the screen shot of that. Faster readings, more information, and the ability to see more info at one time, what is not to love.

There are some limitations to VCDS. It may come as a shock that VW has proprietary information. The main thing they keep under wraps is immobilizer information. We still need the factory VW scanner to program keys. I also can’t use VCDS for warranty work. VW has a diagnostic system called Guided Fault Finding GFF. Any car under warranty that requires any scan tool work must be done with GFF. This system runs all faults for the car, and creates a plan for a tech to perform. Sometimes it is great. Other times you spend 30 minutes pressing buttons and getting nowhere.

What can a mechanic do with a scan toolThere are some super cool things I can do with VCDS or the VW scan tool. There is way to much to list, but here are some of the coolest:

  • Read faults of most car computers
  • See activation of most buttons on the car. Like the horn, or cruise control buttons
  • Activate outputs like the horn, turn signals, engine fans, door locks and more
  • See the values the computer sees. We can see if the car thinks the doors are locked, what temperature the car thinks the engine is, what the tire pressure is, even engine compression on some cars
  • Force tests to run. We can force the car to run certain tests. This is mostly for checking things that make your check engine light come on. We can run the test to make sure your gas cap is on properly
  • Turn on or off some features. I can change things like, the confirm beep when locking or unlocking doors, auto lock at 15mph, and tons more. The newer cars have a lot of things you can change.

What a mechanic CAN NOT do with a scan toolThere is this idea out there some folks have. That is we can hook up the computer and it tells us what to replace. That largely comes from mechanics hooking up the computer and throwing a part on a car. Also most customers simply don’t know. Here is what we can not do with a scan tool.

  • Predict the future. Sure I can get an idea of a car’s health. But it is not a crystal ball.
  • Just plug it in and find the problem.
    When a fault is stored, it gives a system that has failed. It is up to the tech to interpenetrate and diagnose the failed part.
  • Change the design of the car. If you don’t think the seat heaters get hot fast enough, there is nothing I can do with the scan tool. The car is built the way it’s built. I can do some fine tuning, but the scan tool will not make a red car blue.

I hope this has helped clear up any question you might have about scan tools. There are also tons of aftermarket scan tools from Snap-On, Matco, and others. If you work on Audi or VWs, I recommend VCDS. If you think that $350 is expensive for a scan tool, try buying a $5000 VW scan tool. If you have any questions about VCDS, or automotive scan tools, please post them up in the comments.

Pontiac Engine Build

Hey everyone. Welcome to the first Shot Shots of 2014. Like most of you, it is record cold where I am. I left for work yesterday to an insane 11 degrees. This type of weather can make cars do weird things. Like not shift into gear, or have the battery just die. Please stay safe out there. If you don’t have to travel, DON’T!

I know that Shop Shots is normally a Wednesday post. It turns out that I fell asleep at my computer on Tuesday night. I woke up to my wife yelling at me. She is actually making fun of me about it right now. Now that she has had her fun, its time for the first pictures of 2014.automotive repair with duct tapeIt is always a fun time to see car repairs with Duct Tape. This is the back side of a Passat head light. Someone attempted to install non factory HID headlights. I am generally a fan of HID headlights. I have them installed in my Passat. But these type of kits usually require some modification. Lucky for the customer I was able to get the light seated and installed properly. The bad part is, the adjuster for the headlight was broken. That means the inside of the light just bounces around. The fix? A simple zip tie.

Volkswagen Paint Defects

From the factory Volkswagen has excellent paint. It is among the best in the industry. There is a Honda dealer next to mine. If you look at a new Honda vs a new VW, you can see VW paint is overall a better job. That being said, I have seen paint issues on VWs. This car came in for the first service and for us to look at the dark spot you see here. There was some type of sometime under the clear coat. It is funny, you see something like that and you can’t help but try and wipe it off.

Pontiac Engine BuildLast up is another picture of my buddies engine. I have posted pictures of his car a few times before. He is coming dangerously close to finishing the engine rebuild. He is really taking care to build an engine that near factory. He is doing something similar to what I did with the VR swap. Paint every part, and take the time to get it done right. Also, I am in love with those black valve covers.

That about does it for the first Shop Shots of 2014. I am really excited to kick off this year. I do think that this will be the biggest year for all of us yet. Big things are coming and it will be a wild ride. If you want to help our community grow, please consider sharing the blog. I am sure you know some folks that truly care about their cars. Remember that much of what we talk about applies to all cars, not just VWs.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hi everyone! I mentioned yesterday that I have a new tech that I am training. Today I want to tell you guys about him.

In years past, we would hire rookie techs from the Volkswagen program with Universal Technical Institute. The best part about guys from the VW program was they were trained by VW. They knew the cars, the scan tool and the repair manual. The VW program with UTI was cancelled years ago. Up until the last year that was no issue for my dealer. We have not needed to hire any techs. But with recent turnover we needed to find some new guys.

When hiring a new mechanic, shops have a few options, each have pros and cons

  • Hiring an experienced tech
    Hiring a tech with experience is great. Especially when they already know the car line. They should have the skills, the tools and the knowledge to step right in.  The down side, they have the potential to bring drama in the shop. I have seen a lot of experienced techs come in to the shop and do great. I have also seen them bring crazy problems.
  • Hire a rookie
    You might think that hiring a rookie with no tools, little knowledge and no experience would be suicide. But bring someone who is fresh can be a great fit. They are hungry, moldable, and do not have the baggage.

    Green Snapon Tool box

    This is the new guy’s GREEN tool box

Okay, on to my new guy. This kid is fantastic. He just finished up at UTI in November. While there he worked at a BMW and Benz shop. The kid is sharp as a razor. We are about 3 weeks in to the training, and he is where other guys were after a year.

There are a lot of things that set him apart from the other techs I have trained. HE IS DEAF! That is right, my new tech is hearing impaired. Now, your first thought is probably exactly what mine was. How can a mechanic do their job, without hearing? The truth is, there will be limitation that he will have. Just like we all do.

Communication This is actually going better than I thought. We have been communicating by typing back and forth in wordpad. We have also been hand writing some. Only downside is, we both have really crappy handwriting. The cool part is, he is teaching me sign language. I never seen myself learning sign language as part of my job as an automotive technician. Sure it has been different. But I have to say, I am excited. Our deal is, I teach him to fix cars, he teaches me ASL. I think I have an easier challenge than he does 😉

I am looking forward to keeping you all updated on my new guy. Plus he has a sweet bright green tool box. If you have any questions about the new guy, feel free to ask. I will tell you all one thing, if you have sometime stupid to say about him being deaf, don’t bother. Not only will I not approve the comment, I will also ban you from the blog. This kid has worked his ass off to be where he is. I respect the hell out of him. He is going to be one heck of a tech.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a great holiday season! Today we are officially kicking off 2014 on the blog. 2013 was a crazy busy year for me. Between moving in early February, and getting the Cabby VR6 running the year flew by.

What is in store for 2014?
This year will be the best year of the blog yet. In early February I will be traveling to the Chicago Auto Show for media day. My hopes are that will open the door for more big time car shows, SEMA maybe? I will be sure to keep you guys all filled in on the cool stuff from the show.

  • The blog will most likely be getting a facelift. I like the style we have been rocking for a while, but it’s time for a change.
  • We still have some work to do on the Cabby. She runs but great, but there is still work to be done. I have some wiring to finished up. I also need to get the interior put back together.
  • I am hoping that this year I can redo my garage at the house. Not sure if a full makeover is in the budget this year, but we are going to try.
  • Fine tuning the Podcast. I will be adding more podcasts this year. Plus a good buddy of mine wrote some awesome intro music.
  • I am going to get the “Does My Car Really Need This” fired back up. It seems to be one of the more popular posts.
  • I have a new guy that I am training. He is pretty sharp. Wait until you hear the coolest thing about him.
  • Shop Shots will still be a main part of the site. 😉
  • I have started to do more tool reviews. I will be sure to share all the reviews that I do.
  • I also have a few contests, and giveaways planed. Let’s just say

The short hiatus has been really good for me and my family. We have done lots of work around our homestead. We have been clearing about 7-10 years of intense over growth. It is so think in some spots you can’t even see through it. My wife has taken the lead on the homestead blog. If you want to see some pic around the homestead, check out the NCHomesteading page on Facebook. Here is a picture I took out on the homestead yesterday.

Homesteading in NorthCarolina