Behind the Wrench, Mechanic Interview with Joe D

Hey folks, it’s Friday so it’s time again for “Behind The Wrench”. Today we have Joe, a true VW nut, car enthusiast, and all around cool guy. You can really tell from this interview, just how much Joe lives and breathes this industry.


Joe aka Joe-hio….or Gus

How long have you been in the Industry?

Professionally 6 hobby wise 26+

What is your current job title?

Volkswagen tech/ part time pre 80’s (Volkswagen) nutcase

What were you doing for your first automotive job?

Working as a Tire tech/lube boy at NTB to save up cash to put me thru tech school

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

I work at a dealer (Volkswagen) never had a chance to be at a independent shop…as preferring one or the other I can’t say, some say avoid the “stealership” at all costs but I must say that there is ALOT of dubs that show up on a hook(towed in) because “indy’s” don’t have the tech or the techs to solve an issue, at the same time there is a lot of good shops that know what they are doing, do the research VIA the web or word of mouth and find out what works for you and your vehicle.

Walk us through what you do on a daily basis.

Hmmmmmm….the daily grind….well being a flat-rate paid individual can be an interesting game of cat and mouse that 97.7% of the population will not understand…I won’t go there for the reason that the person(s) reading this know what I’m talking about…in a nutshell the everyday tech will perform any of the following career paths at any given time, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer; including but not limited to simple power and ground diagnosis to DSO graph interpretation, crime scene investigator for those accident prone Volkswagens, the list goes on and on for us but that’s the path we chose 😉

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

When I’m not on the clock I’m still playing with cars, I am restoring a Westmoreland built 84 GTI at home, besides cars I enjoying mountain biking (single speed 29er) and enjoying a nice local craft beer with some good company!!!!! 🙂

What kind of car do you drive?

I drive a Porcelain blue 98 Volkswagen GTI, also have a 2012 golf and a 2000 Cabrio, the list would go on for pages if it were a perfect world!!!!!

What was your first car?

My first car was a 96 Volkswagen Jetta…I never drove it because we couldn’t get the title from the seller….so a 96 Ford Ranger was the first vehicle I legally drove…not the coolest car a high school-er could drive but I made the best of it!!!

What made you want to work on cars?

This question is one of those unanswerable questions….I don’t know what made me choose this path, my parents are not “car” people, my friends were not “car” people….just kinda happened..all I know is that the love for Volkswagens came out of it!!!!!

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

2 mannequin the back seat serving as real humans for the HOV lanes in VA…scared the crap out of me when I looked in the rear view mirror, complete with the owners clothes…including underwear…I didn’t bother to ask the reason why mannequin need undies…

Do you have much customer interaction?

Interaction between me and customer usually happens between me and their VW…there are some customers that love to be “in the trenches”, wanting to see everything that goes on, which I enjoy showing them everything they need to stay informed on their dub. But most of the time the interaction I get from the customer is from online surveys or the “thank you” on the way out the door to their car…the techs are really the “behind the curtains” type of people…

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is being challenged in a way that really takes everything you know to figure out the concern at hand, Volkswagens are on the leading edge of technology, which at times, can really test the knowledge of your training…when you get into the “zone” and find the problem there is nothing more rewarding than that, people reading this know what I’m getting at…

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

The one thing that I would never do again at work is…not make the best of your time while you are there…getting into a “slump” or “rut” can effect you and your fellow techs/writers…you just need to make the best of it and be thankful we have a weekly paycheck!!

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

Without the auto repair industry, the world of transportation from golf carts to cruise liners would cease. I am proud to say and do the best I can to help out the customer which ever way I can…with that out of the way the dealership especially gets a bad rap for being nicknamed the “stealership” for having outrageous fees and hourly rates that may be higher than the average shop…I think that you get what you pay for in everything, especially for the care of your Volkswagen, I take a great deal of pride taking care the customers needs a expectations, at times I personally hand wash vehicles after a repair to show that the customers vehicle is well taken care of while here. I would love to rid the stereotype of some people about us dealer peeps and give us (or another) try in the future….

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

From my point of view it would be oil and filter changes…it’s the blood of the engine and needs to be in tip top condition for proper operation….yes there are plenty of other semi equal items that needs regular attention, make sure to check your owners manual for specific maintenance needs!!!!

How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?

Almost as important as wearing clothes in public…it can be costly if you don’t abide by book!!!

Have you read the owners manual to your car?

Another shot of Joe's Westmoreland built 84 GTI. This car has so much potential

But of course!!!! Learned a lot too!!!

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

My Experience

Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?

I prefer what works without failure,which doesn’t mean the top brands (snap-on, matco, etc.) I have had plenty of crazy high dollar tools that disappointed me big time…being in the industry you soon find out that it isn’t always the name brand that is the failure proof system…but I do like snap-on 😛

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

Experience, you can’t lose it….Pocket screw driver, it’s like a swiss army knife…but different…A good attitude, not really a tool but it can take you a long way…

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

I would most certainly say a invisibility cloak, or a ICEE machine, or just a nice set of bbs 3 piece wheels. 😛

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

Mk3 (93-98) VW golf 2.0 manual. That of course would be on my pay scale…but since that wasn’t the question I would have to to say a 2012 Touareg…not on my pay scale..

You can see some more pictures of Joe’s GTI build below
[slickr-flickr tag=”westmoreland” items=”5″]
Well, what did I tell you! Folks, if you care about your car, THIS is the type of mechanic you want to have. Imagine, your mechanic getting as excited about your car as you are. That would be really cool. I want to thank Joe for doing such an awesome interview. I will be sure to keep everyone posted on this GTI progress. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in an interview like this, just contact me!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Don’t forget to sign up for email updates, I am still working with my buddy(the one that did the header) on doing some work with the site. There will most likely be something special coming when the new site launches, and the folks signed up will get a first dibs!

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8 replies
  1. Charles
    Charles says:

    Hey folks, one thing I totally forgot to add, If you have any question you want me to add to these interviews, go ahead and post them here in the comments!!!!!

    • Brandon
      Brandon says:

      and it doesnt just have to be the group, it can be individual cars such as Golf R, Bettle R, and different years such as 84′ GTI vs. 2004 GTI.

  2. Joe D
    Joe D says:

    I would have to say the 2004 r32 as an all time favorite, just something about an all wheel drive vr6, especially the exhaust note those cars have!!! I’m also a big fan of the Westmoreland built GTI (83-84) I have one I’m restoring and it’s been quite a thrill!!!


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