Tag Archive for: car repair

mechanics paint

Thursday is normally the day that I review tools and products. Well today I wanted to step out of that a little. I wanted to chat a little about the weird things that mechanics use when working on cars. This is kind of a play on my “Top 5 Favorite Auto Mechanic’s Tools” video. Something a little more lighthearted after yesterday’s video on flat rate. Mechanics also spend a small fortune on tools. It is nice to have a few things we don’t need to turn to the Snap On truck for.

Join me today as we look at odd uses for

Trouble viewing? Watch “5 Odd Things Mechanics Use To Fix Cars ~ Video” on YouTube.

As always, post your comments below. If you have a tool or product you would like for me to review, use the contact me form. Or email me Charles(at)HumbleMechanic(dot)com, and put TOOL REVIEW in the subject.mechanics paint

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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.

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.

Humble Mechanic Logo
VW Damage from a Rat

Finding damage like this can be rare

We have talked before about the diagnostic process that auto mechanics must follow. Starting with the basics, getting good information and being thorough are vital to repairing cars. There are times however that all the processes and information in the world do not guarantee a proper diagnosis.

Yesterday I spent the about half the day with a QTM working on a car. The QTM is a regional tech that travels to dealers. He deals with new cars, cars that have multiple repairs, and the extra crazy problems. The QTM has a lot more resources than we do at the dealership level. On top of that, these guys are REALLY smart. The kind of folks that will forget more than guys like me will ever know.

The QTM and I were working on a 2013 Jetta Hybrid. The customer’s concern was the car would shut off. It was shutting off differently than it is programmed to. We went round and round with the car, doing test after test, inspection after inspection. All to find NOTHING! Well, not exactly nothing, but nothing final. There was no “Ah Ha, here is the problem” moment. There was a lot of “well, this might be it,” and “it could be the issue”.

Not finding the exact problem is a very common thing. Many times we have to focus on the part that makes the most sense. Or the part that is the least crazy(seriously). So how does an auto mechanic fix your car right the first time? Here are a few things that I use to help narrow down a failed part:\

  • Known good parts.
    The great thing about being at a dealer is the ability to swap parts. Taking a part off a new car to see the change. If a sensor is not reading right and I swap the sensor, I find out if the sensor was good, if the wiring was good, and the module the controls it.
  • Comparable Vehicles
    This is an easier step than actually swapping a part. I can read sensor values from both cars. That will give me an idea of what the car should see. Comparing that to the car with the issue, and using confirm failures.
  • Experience
    This is the biggest and best tool in a mechanic’s tool box. The more problems a mechanic sees, the more they are prepared to deal with new issues. That doesn’t mean a they will not get stuff on problems. It just means they dig through them faster.

Like I said, even with all the proper information, a mechanic doesn’t always know 100% if a repair will be successful. Now if a tire has a big spike in the side of it, we KNOW that is why it is flat. Check engine lights and drive-ability issues are generally not as cut and dry. There are times when we need to roll the dice on a repair. I say it all the time, it is great to be a lucky mechanic.

Don’t forget that you can avoid the late post to Facebook, or missing a post by signing up for email updates. It’s easy, just fill out the box in the upper right of the page. You will be the first to get all the good info. I still like when you follow me on all the social media places, we have some fun times. Use the icons on the right. They take you right where you need to go.

Thank you all for the kind words about the new house. Jenn (my wife) and I are really excited. She is even more excited than I am. Fellas you know how important that is! 🙂

Bad diesel fuel in a VW TDI

After a crazy long delay, we are BACK in action. It has been a long time, but still shorter than the hockey lock out. We are jumping right in today with Shop Shots! The pictures that show some of the crazy things mechanics see. If you want to see more automotive pictures, just click Shop Shots in the light blue bar at the top of the page. That will take you back to all the previous pictures.

Leaking Seal on a VW TDIThere are times that I have to make repairs based on a gut feeling. Being right on a gut feeling is awesome. Then everyone once in a while, that gut feeling can be 100% confirmed. It’s a perfect world. You are looking at an air pipe on a TDI Jetta. The customer was complaining about an oil leak.

Finding oil leaks can be a pretty tricky. Many times it involves fixing things you know are leaking, cleaning the area, and rechecking for leaks. This leak was tricky too. It was leaking oil from an air pipe. I removed the pipe and found this pinched seal.

Wrong brakes on a VWAll mechanics make mistakes. Sometimes we make mistakes that are just plain stupid(and hilarious). Mistakes happen for a number of reasons. This mistake is due to rushing, then not doing a quality check after a repair.

The tech replaced the rear brakes on the VW. When he replaced the pads, he didn’t install the shim properly. It was installed on the outside of the of the caliper. As the wheel turned, the shim hit the wheel. Lucky for us this was an internal car. We were able to fix the issue before a customer drove it.

Bad diesel fuel in a VW TDII post pictures of TDI fuel issues from time to time. I don’t want you all to think we have nothing but issues with the TDI. We have very few issues with them. The issues that we do have tend to be expensive. This time the failure was not due to a bad HPFP(high pressure fuel pump). This was due to bad fuel. Generally water in diesel fuel makes for a bad day. It causes rust to build up in the fuel system. It can also lead to other organics to grow in the fuel.

That raps up another round of Shop Shots! I am glad to be back and posting stuff for you guys. Thanks for sticking with us. There will probably be a few more interruptions, but that will be minimal.

Quick house update
I posted a picture of the new garage on Facebook yesterday. I will give you guys the full update on the house. We did all the normal home inspections on Monday. Everything came back good. There are a few things that need to be repaired. Nothing major(like poisoned water) but a few minor repairs. I also found the spot where my toolbox will be going. 🙂

I do plan on doing some improvements asap.

  • Some type of floor treatment. Not sure if I want to epoxy or tiles. What do you guys think?
  • The lower part of the wall with corrugated steal sheets. Think wainscoting
  • A shelf around the entire garage at about chair rail height. You know, for beverages.
  • Drywall the rest of the way up the walls. If things get really fun, I would LOVE to do wood on the top half of the walls.

Auto Mechanic's garageWhat do you guys think? Throw me some suggestions on the garage. I will take all I can get.

Resealed VW headlight

It’s Shop Shots time! I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday. Today is my first day back in the shop. I spent the weekend with my wife and one of our dogs in Asheville, NC. It is really one of my favorite places to visit. If you ever have a chance to get out that way, please do it. You will not regret it.

Alright enough about me, let’s get into some of the pictures for this week.

Leaves on a VW that cause a water leakWhat you are looking at here is a water leak waiting to happen. This is a pile of leaves on the cowl panel of a VW Jetta Sport Wagon. I have posted pictures of this before, but since the leaves are falling, I wanted to remind you about it. This can cause water to no drain properly. If that happens you can have water run into the car instead of away from the car.

Be sure to pop the hood on your car and check for this type of debris build up. A few seconds to check can save on a big repair bill later on. It should come as no surprise that water leaks can get really expensive. I have seen more than one car totaled because of water damage. This is a really easy thing that anyone can check for.

Broken and wrong VW sparg plugI am all about saving money and getting good deals. I am also cool with some parts not being factory VW parts. There are times where you must have the right deal. If you put a non factory pollen filter in your car, worst thing that will happen is it will not fit perfect. No big deal. Spark plugs are one of many parts that must be the right thing.

This is a picture of an Auto-lite plug. This spark plug costs a dollar or two. Compare that to a factory VW spark plug which can be $20 or more. The dollar savings is crystal clear. However Auto-lite spark plugs don’t work in VW engines. They almost always cause the vehicle to misfire. This is the worst Auto-lite(read this an ought-a-light and in it should work but does not 🙂 ) The plug on the left broke when the tech was taking it out. He had to use an extractor to get the threaded part of the plug out of the cylinder head. Luckily he was able to remove it with no damage to the engine.

Resealed VW headlightFirst I have to tell you that I didn’t take this pictures. I got it from a fellow VW technician. I don’t have all the details of the headlight, but it was too awesome to not share. This is a headlight that someone “repaired”. They used expansion foam to make a repair. I am not sure if the clips that held the headlight together broke, or the clips that hold the headlight in place broke. Either way, it is a classic “don’t try this at home”.

Carbon build up in VW engineFinally I this for you all. This is a shot of the back of intake valves on a 2.0t engine. This car came in because it was misfiring when it was cold. We checked the maintenance and it was all up to date. With our scan tool, we can go in and look to see the conditions the car was under when the check engine light came on. Things like

  • Engine temperature
  • RPM
  • Engine load
  • Speed
  • The gear the transmission was in
  • Air temp
  • And many other readings

We could not find any other reason that the car would be misfiring. The mechanic next to me removed the intake manifold and found this. Carbon build up on the back of the intake valves. I don’t want to say that this is a common thing, but it is not the first one I have seen. We were able to clean the valves and get this customer back on the road. It is a messy job, but make a world of difference in power and fuel economy.

That does it for another round of Shop Shots. I hope that you all enjoyed the pictures this week. I know I say it all the time, but I love doing theses posts.

Tag Archive for: car repair

Should You Follow Your Owners Manual for Maintenance?
The Humble Mechanic
The Humble Mechanic
Should You Follow Your Owners Manual for Maintenance?

When it comes to maintaining a car, the owners manual is a great guide. But should you just follow it? When should you change your oil? When should you replace spark plugs, what about fluid like coolant with no replacement interval? There is a lot of things missing from the owners book, and some maintenances are not cut and dry. This was a battle that we fought at the dealership all the time. When the manufacture doesn’t recommend a replacement time or mileage it puts the dealer in a weird spot. You can’t recommend things because people assume you are trying to rip them off. You also can’t NOT recommend them because it’s the best thing for the car. Sticky situation indeed.
Humble Mechanic automotive Podcast Become A CrewMember
If you like this show. If you get value out of the videos and content that I put out, consider supporting the show by becoming a CrewMember. You will get discounts you can’t get anywhere else, exclusive videos from me, and VW/Audi training manuals. Between the discounts and the training manuals, the CrewMembership can easily pay for itself. Become a CrewMember today

Do you shop on Amazon?
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Help Support The Show
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Important links:

Thanks for tuning in to the automotive podcast. I am really excited about the response. If you have an idea for a show, contact me via email, or use the contact me form! Humble Mechanic automotive Podcast Don’t forget to follow me at:

Episode 4 – What To Do When Your Car Is Not Fixed Right
The Humble Mechanic
The Humble Mechanic
What To Do When Your Car Is Not Fixed Right ~ Podcast Episode 4

Today’s automotive podcast is geared more to the customer. What should you do if the shop doesn’t fix your car the right way the first time?  As much as I wish all cars were fixed right, that is just not reality. We discuss the steps you can take to get your car back on the road with as little headache as possible. We will even talk about some of the reasons this can happen, and why it’s not really that abnormal.

Become A CrewMember
If you like this show. If you get value out of the videos and content that I put out, consider supporting the show by becoming a CrewMember. You will get discounts you can’t get anywhere else, exclusive videos from me, and VW/Audi training manuals. Between the discounts and the training manuals, the CrewMembership can easily pay for itself. Become a CrewMember today

Do you shop on Amazon?
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Important links:

Join me today as we dive deep into:

  • Analyze if your car is safe, and keep calm
  • Call the shop ASAP, and stay calm
  • Explain exactly what is happening, and note if it is the same issue, or a new one
  • Give them an opportunity to fix it.
  • Work with that same shop to get your car fixed
  • Why a check engine light may not be diagnosed properly.
  • Keys to getting your car fixed asap

I know that this can be a touchy subject for folks. But these is the best way I have found to help make a crappy situation with your car better.

Thanks for tuning in to the automotive podcast. I am really excited about the response.If you have an idea for a show, contact me via email, or use the contact me form!

Don’t forget to follow me at: