Some cool and funny pictures I have taken over the years. Some are good, some are scary, but this is ALL real!

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.

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.

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.

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.
Nail in tire

Hi everybody! You read the title right, Shop Shots are BACK! We are on volume 58 of the pictures that give you a behind the scenes look at automotive service. For those of you that are new to the community, all of these pictures are taken with my Iphone 4s(for now 😉 ) One quick thing before we get into the pictures. I am working on getting the email alerts system worked out. If you have subscribed to updates, you should be in the new system. If you have any problems please let me know. You can contact me, or email me Charles(AT)humblemechanic(dot)com. I hope to have it totally worked out in the next few days. Alright, it is picture time.

Nail in tireThis type of thing really stinks. A customer came in for a tire that was loosing air. The nail entered the tire pretty close to the edge. Based on the place the nail entered the tire, it looked repairable. When I took the tire off the wheel, I didn’t expect it to be a giant nail. As you can see, the nail dug into the inner part of the tire. This damage can compromise the sidewall of the tire. Any time something like this happens, the tire needs to be replaced. Luck for this customer, she bought the wheel and tire coverage. I should do a post about the “extras” that dealers try and sell you. Some are junk, but the wheel and tire coverage is worth the money.

Vehicle tire vibration We are continuing the the tire theme. I didn’t really plan that, it just happened 😉 This customer brought her car in for a basic service. She also mentioned that she thought her car had a vibration on the highway. As part of the service she was getting we balanced the tires, and do a ton of visual inspections. The tech that was working on her car, found that the left rear wheel was packed with mud and rocks. This probably added a pound of weight putting the wheel assembly out of balance. When I told her, and showed her this exact picture she just laughed. She lives on a gravel road so this type of thing happened to her all the time. The tech cleaned the junk from the inside of the wheel and she was good to go!

Failed Diesel TDI fuel pumpThere is so much talk on the internets about VW diesels. Everything from the high pressure fuel pumps that “always” fail on the new TDIs, to failing cam shafts on the older Pump Duse engines. I wrote a post a long time ago talking about the Volkswagen TDIs. My opinion is basicly the same as it was back then.

What you see in the picture is the fuel pump that lives inside the fuel tank. It is coated in black goo. That goo is the result of failing seals in the fuel injectors. The bad part about this repair is it can be expensive. The issue of failing seals gets worse because of the high compression of the TDI. That causes the injectors to walk around in their holes. The “walking” causes the holes to no longer be round. So what is the repair? A new cylinder head to the tune of $5000 or so. Never a fun thing to tell a customer.

Well friends, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots! I know it has been a while be it really feels great to be back in action. Remember if you have any topics you want to talk about just post them up in the comments of a post. I always like to know what you guys want to know about. Hopefully the email thing is worked out and you all can get the updates again.

Damage to a VW tire

Hey everyone, It’s time for everyone’s favorite thing SHOP SHOTS! If you missed the blog post I put out yesterday, you missed the giveaway! Yep, you missed the Growler-Box Giveaway from my buddy Mike at Be sure that you enter! Even if you are not a beer fan, it is still awesome. You have until Friday night!

Volkswagen Wiring ProblemVolkswagen seems to be known for their “electrical problems”. That is a very generic statement that I love debating. In fact we could write an entire book about it. The issue is a perfect example of an “electrical problem”. The connector on this module has come out of the module. This is caused the airbag light to come on. A pretty easy diagnosis once you know the code stored.

At first look, we think “How can VW build a module that the connector can just come out?”. Oh but friends lets not just to conclusions. Many things that happen are due to outside influence. This car had a water bottle jammed under the seat. That pushed the connector out of the module. So the question is, Is this the customers fault, or poor design??? INTERESTING

Damage to a VW tireAs a mechanic, most of what I do is maintenance. Oil changes, tire rotation, and the like. My dealer also does a good amount of tire work. We have a dedicated guy to mount and balance tires, patch leaking tires, and perform alignments. To be very honest, doing tire work is not my favorite.

Finding leaks in a tire can be extremely difficult. This little metal sliver was in a tire causing a leak. I removed the tire from the rim to check for damage. It took me about 10 minutes of inspection to find it. The penny is there for scale. If I had my way, the tire guy could have all the tire repairs he wants. 🙂

VW EOS top IssueA few months back I wrote a post about A typical day for an auto mechanic. In that post, I talked about a 2009 EOS with a top issue. Based on the parts catalog, the only way to fix the issue was replacing the top. After many phone calls and much digging, we found out that a repair exists.

Last week we made the repair to the EOS top. We brought in 6 QTMs to help make this repair. The QTM is the guy we call out to the dealer to help with repairs. This was a crash course in EOS top repair. The QTM from Florida gave me and the other QTMS all the tricks and tip to make this repair. It was a really fun, hectic, intimidating, and educational day. It is very intimidating being around a much of guys that have forgotten more in their career then I will ever know.

What you are looking at here is the reason the top was not functioning properly. To explain how this broken track makes the top fail would be impossible. Even showing you guys with a video would be crazy confusing. Let me just say that an EOS with any type of damage to it is a huge red flag. This car took a year and a half for the damage to surface.

That rounds out our Shop Shots this week. Please don’t forget to enter to win the Growler Box. I am getting excited to pick the winner on Friday!

Leaking VW water pump

Hi everybody! Just an FYI, every time I say “Hi everybody” I say it like Dr Nick from The Simpsons. Okay, back to Shop Shots! This week we have a few different automotive service pictures. These pictures come from a VW service department. It is a great way to get a behind the scenes look at what automotive technicians see.

Leaking VW water pumpFirst up we have a leaking VW water pump. This picture shows the benefit of having pink coolant. This water pump had been leaking for some time. It must have been a slow leak. As the coolant leaked out, it would dry and form a crust.

The customer had noticed that her coolant level was low. She never found a leak. I noticed a little trail on the very bottom of the engine. I didn’t really find this mess until I pulled all the engine covers off. I have seen tons of VW coolant leaks my day. This is one of the most interesting.

Broken VW Airbag connector under seatThis is another somewhat common issue. A broken connector under a Jetta seat. This car came in with the airbag light on. The code that was stored was for the “seat position switch”. That’s right, there is a sensor that monitors what position(forward/ backward) the seat is.

These connectors under the seat are probably the most damaged connectors that I find. Things roll under the seat. Then you move the seat and CRUNCH!

Water in a VW fuel tankWe get a lot of cars that come in from other shops. Usually they get towed in with some crazy statement from the other shop. Something like “The customer took the car through a car wash, now there is water in the tank”. 99% of the time, they are not even close to being right.

This time however they were spot on. There was a bunch of water in the gas on the EOS. You can see the water and the gas separate in the container. Now I am not sure if the water actually got in there from the car wash. I didn’t get the whole story from the customer. It will be interesting to hear the story. I will update everyone when I find out.

Well another week for Shop Shots in the books. For those of you that are heading to Helen,GA this weekend for the Southern Worthersee car show please let me know. I would love to meet up with you. I will be there most of the day Saturday. If you can’t make it, be sure to like the Facebook page and or the Instagram page. I will be posting pictures from the show all day. Looking forward to meeting up with you guys