Grand Prix OF Houston

Grand Prix OF Houston

Happy Monday everyone. I have something big to talk about today. It is going to make for a crazy/fun/busy week for me. I am looking forward to sharing it with all of you.

A few weeks ago I got invited to Houston, TX. The folks at Shell US invited me down to the Shell Technology Center Houston(STCH). We are going on a tour of the STCH. We will be doing several different workshops including:

  • Burning valves showcase
  • Inside an Engine
  • a tour of the Analytical lab(AWESOME)
  • Fuel blend overview
  • and more!

All of that is just day one stuff! Day 2 will be held at the NRG Center. This will be more of a media event, with roundtable Q&A with

  • Juan Pablo Montoya
  • Tim Cindric
  • Chris Hayek
  • Richard Dixon

After 2 days of really cool behind the scenes Shell tech, it’s race time! I will be spending the next 3 days at The Grand Prix Houston! 3 days of racing, heck yeah!

So what does this mean for you?
Well, I will be at a gas/oil place. So if you have ever had any questions, POST IN THE COMMENTS! I will get some answers for ya. I should also be able to get some sweet behind the scenes pictures for you guys.

If there was ever a time to follow on social media sites, this is it. I will be updating the blog as best I can, but I will be posting pictures all week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will also try to get as much video as I can and post it to YouTube. I have links on the right side of the blog.

To say that I am excited doesn’t even come close. Get ready, this is going to be a fun week. Remember if you have any questions, post them in the comments of this blog post. Oh, if any of you are going, let me know. I’d love to say hi at the race.

Useful info
Grand Prix of HoustonShell Tech Center

Statement of Disclosure
This trip was sponsored and hosted by the folks at Shell.

Bad VW gas Cap

Happy Wednesday everyone. It is time for Shot Shots again. There is not many updates beyond the pictures today. Things around the shop are absolutely insane busy. That is a good and bad thing. When it gets this type of busy I feel like we miss things. But as a flat rate technician, it makes for a nice pay check. Okay, lets get to the pics!

Weird things VW drivers Do

Sometimes you see something and just thing “What the heck?”. This is one of those times. One of the boys in the shop called me over to show this to me. This customer has a bungee cord wrapped around their drivers seat. Maybe it is for holding the trim on? Maybe it gives them a little extra butt support? Post up your thoughts in the comments. I am out of ideas LOL.

VW electrical ProblemsWe have heard that all VWs have electrical problems or wiring problems. This one was a good one. This Jetta came from one of the rental car companies. I think the original concern was rear lights not working. The tech went round and round with chasing wires, and he even replaced the main electrics module(Body control module). The car was blowing 1 certain fuse in a strange way.

I think he did almost everything right. Where he got hung up was dismissing a key bit of info he had. The interior lights didn’t work. No matter what he did the lights would not work. When he pulled down the front light he found this. When the light was installed (I am not sure if it was from the factory, or a repair) the screw that holds the light was ran into the harness. The symptoms were tricky, but I am glad he found the issue.

The key here is to always pay attention to all the symptoms of a car. I have a post coming soon about this exact thing.

Bad VW gas CapThis might be one of my all time favorite Shop Shot picture of all time. This customer brought their car in for a minor service. On this service we add a fuel treatment. I was working on something else when I hear the tech next to me laughing. I walked over to see what was up, and this is what he found.

I guess the customer lost his gas cap. So until he got a new one, this was the solution, foil and rubber bands. Looking at it while I write this post, I am cracking up! Don’t worry, he bought a new gas cap. 😉

That does it for another Volume of Shop Shots! Remember if you have any car questions, just use this contact me form, post it to Facebook, or you can even call it in!

Auto Mechanic

Happy Monday everyone. Something happened this weekend, that totally blew me away. The blog had it’s 3rd birthday. Oh how time flies when you are having fun. So today I want to talk about how I got started, and maybe the future of the site.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for while. I got the final push after being frustrated with the way my dealer handled our internet presence. It all worked out of the best. You can read the entire story here. With the help of some You Tube videos and some very talented friends of mine, Humble Mechanic was born.

When I first started the blog I wanted to share a little mk1 VR6 Cabbyabout what an auto mechanic does day to day. Some of the crazy things we see. I also wanted to help folks learn about their cars to avoid getting ripped off. From early on I also wanted to add a project car to the mix. The amount of cool stuff I could share with a project car is almost endless. I have a separate section at the top just click on “Luv A Dub” and you can see the project from day one.

There have been some pretty cool successes(even though I am far from retiring and doing this blog full time 😉 ). I have been able to meet some ultra awesome people. I have had the pleasure of doing a lot of really fun product reviews and giveaways. Those are some of my favorite things to do. I also have a really cool announcement coming at the end of the week. I think you guys are going to be really excited about.

So where do we go from here? There is no way we can not stop all crook mechanics in the world. So we will have to take a different approach. That means keep teaching folks about their cars. Walking folks through the diagnostic process to find the cause of their car’s issues. I am also working on a really cool program that will help you become a permanent part of this community. But more on that later.

So as I finish up, I just want to say a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you. If it was not for you guys there would be no Humble Mechanic. We have come a long was from that crappy first blog post I wrote 3 years ago. There are big things that are going to be happening in the second half of 2014. I am thankful to have you all along for the ride!


One last thing, if you want  a good laugh, check out some of my first posts. YIKES! 🙂


p0171 system lean

mk1 VR6 Cabby I didn’t realize that it has been over 3 months since the last volume of Shop Shots! That is just insane. Well let me tell you guys about what has been going on around the Humble Mechanic garage lately.

At the shop
We are short handed at work. That can make for a nice pay check, but always makes for more work. Not just more cars, more nick-knack type stuff too. I also feel like VW is in the middle of a strange transition period. We are doing much more maintenance than before. The cars are getting better, but when they break it seems to be in really crazy ways. I will probably save more of my thoughts for another time. It just “feels” different.

At the house
We do a ton of spring planting in the garden. Those of you that have been around a while may remember my wife and I moved about a year and a half ago. We bought a house with a much bigger garage and 3.6 acres. That means plenty of yard work and tons of planting. We planted about 15 trees this spring. Along with the trees we planted lots of support plants too. Let’s just say we are on track to build a food oasis.

Project “Luv A Dub”
A few weeks ago I had my first real break down in the Cabby. It turned out the main engine connector came loose and shut the car down. I also feel like the torque of the engine is a little much for the engine mounts. I ordered a 4th mount from my boys at Euro-wise. Once that comes in I will start driving it a little more.

Okay, enough yapping, let’s get to the Shop Shots!

Poor exhaust repairI always love a great DIY repair. There are times when you can hodgepodge parts together to fix a problem. I am a big fan of that. I did plenty of that type of thing on the Cabby. This is the exact opposite of a good DIY. This is a nightmare.

You are looking at about 1 foot of exhaust on a Jetta. In this one foot section, you can see:

  • 4 clamps
  • 2 attempts at hangers
  • a bolt through a hanger that shouldn’t be there
  • some type of plastic “sealing” the exhaust

As you can see this is not a factory repair. If this car was in for state inspection, it would fail!

Turbo Carbon build up

If you drive a 2.0t VW, you may have heard of this issue. Carbon building up on the back of the intake valves. This is actually an issue on almost all gas engines with direct injection. The issue usually shows itself as a check engine light, or as misfires when the engine is cold.

There are a few theories floating around about what is causing this. One that makes the most sense is from the folks at B.G.(they make oil and fuel treatments). They say it is due to a small amount of fuel left unburnt when the engine is shut off. This can settle on the intake valves when they are open. That varnish catches small deposits of oil as it comes through the intake runner.

That is probably the most sound theory I have heard. We have tried a few different methods to clean the valves. Sadly the best way is to clean it by hand. Some shops use a modified walnut blaster. Other shops soak and scrape each valve by hand. Either way, it is a messy and expensive job. The next time I have the chance, I will snap a “post cleaning” picture for you guys.

VW transmission problemsThis is one of those things you see happen to a car and think “how in the world did that happen?” This is a small hole in a transmission. You would not see this hole with the transmission installed in the car. Something on the inside of the transmission broke. That break caused inside parts of the transmission to become outside parts.

I don’t think the tech working on it found the exact failure. Some parts have what is called a “core charge”. That means we have to send the part replace back to VW. Often times we do not disassemble core parts. VW can be strict about what they will and will not take back.

That wraps up another volume of Shop Shots. I know that it has been on a big time hiatus, and for that I am sorry. When the blog was young, I committed to do a blog post 5 days a week. I don’t think that I can keep that level of posting up. But I have recommitted to putting content out for you guys. If you have any topics you want us to talk about, please use the contact me form and let me know!