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Totaled Volkswagen Passat

Hey everyone, happy Wednesday, it is time for this week’s behind the scenes pictures. Don’t worry, you are not a day behind. It is Thursday, I am just pulling your leg 😉 Shop Shots is just running a day behind this week. Some times things happen and we have to adjust our schedules. All right, now that we know tomorrow is Friday, let’s get in to the insider pictures.

Volkswagen Fuel FilterI really do like when folks do their own thing on their cars. there is nothing wrong, it is just odd. This customer added an inline fuel filter to their car. This filter, in theory, will keep contaminants in the fuel out of the engine. The Passat does not have a serviceable fuel filter. So it actually may work. I wish that I could have talked to the customer about it.

  • Is there a reason that you installed the filter? Was there a failure of some sort that caused you to install it?
  • Have you had to replace it?
  • Have you inspected the filter for debris?

When I see things like this, I have so many questions.

Loose Suspension on VWIf you ever listened to Car talk, you may have heard of Lucinda Bolts(get it, loosen da bolts LOL). The master of guaranteed repeat business. That is not her exact title, but you get the idea. This is a car that came in for a noise while driving. I took it on a test drive, and the noises were more than clear. The sound of loose suspension bolt is some what distinct. This is one of 4 bolts that a technician left loose on this car. Seeing things like this makes me made. A simple post repair test drive, and the tech would have known something was not right. All the more reason to give your mechanic the time to fix your car. Rushing jobs, no matter what the reason, leads to mistakes.

Totaled Volkswagen PassatI posted this on Facebook when it happened. Since many folks are not on FB, I wanted to be sure to share it here as well. This is a pictures of my sister’s Passat. A week or so ago, someone hit her while she was stopped at a red light. She was a bit sore, but not injured. Sadly the damage to the car was severe enough to total it.

Based on the pictures, the damage does not look that bad. But I am not surprised that the car was deemed a total loss.

  1. The car is 14 years old. It didn’t have a ton of value to begin with.
  2. There is a lot of flat surface metal to rework. That may have involved cutting and welding new metal.
  3. Odds are the rear axle beam was shifted. There is very little adjustment to the rear axle. It would have most likely needed to be replaced.
  4. There will be hidden damage.

When you total up just the parts needed, I would be you get close to $1000. The labor to repair the rear quarter panels would be pretty high too. Plus there is always hidden damage. I hate to see this happen to my sister’s car. But it did, and totaling it was the best possible outcome. And most important, I am glad she is okay.(Other than being really mad about her car)

That does it for another volume of Shop Shots. If you missed it yesterday, I did a post about the Eurowise kit I picked up for Project Luv-A-Dub. I also shot a little video review Mk1 Vr6 conversion review. If you are thinking about doing a VR6 swap, check out the video.

Volkswagen wiring issue

Welcome to this weeks edition of Shop Shots. There is a funny thing that happened with the pictures from last week. I posted the pictures, you guys commented on them, everything was great. I went back today(I copy and paste some of the SEO type stuff) and it was gone. It doesn’t show up in the list of posts. I can see the comments, but the post has gone rouge. So that was the long way around saying there is no longer a Shop Shots Volume 49(you may want to remember that for the future). Okay, let’s get to it.

Volkswagen wiring issueIf you search the web for VW problems you will find a few things. VW is “known for” electrical issues and wiring problems. This little gem is nice find. I was doing a service on a Golf, 2000 I think. I opened the rear hatch to check the customer’s spare tire. This caught my eye. It looks like someone repaired a leak, and maybe some wires.?. I can tell you this was not a wiring or a parts failure. Someone had their hands on this.

I didn’t mention it to the customer. He had a ton of other things wrong with the car. It would have been last on the ‘important’ list. Not only that, getting your hands in something like this can get really messy.

Carbon on a VW engineI am sure that I have posted pictures of this type of thing before. You are looking at the intake valves on a VW Touareg. These valves let air into the engine. Notice that they are coated in a crusty goo. That is carbon build up. This car was mis-firing when the engine was cold. The chucks can actually get caught in the seating surface and prevent the valve from fully closing. We are starting to see this on the 2.0 turbo FSI and TSI engines. This is not the worst I have seen, but totally bad enough to cause your car to run poorly.

VW lighting issueThis is one of my favorite pictures of the year. Just when you think you have seen some crazy stuff, something like this comes through. This customer made a hole at the top of the headlight switch. He then inserted a zip tie into that hole. The zip tie just sits there looking cool.

The more I looked at it, the more I thought about why a customer would do this. I mean it can’t just be for good looks right? 😉 Then it all made sense. It is to tell if the headlights are on. Now, you might be thinking, who doesn’t know if their headlights are on? Well, the car has daytime running lights. So the headlights are always on. It also has a fully lit instrument cluster, so that doesn’t help. The customer may not have known that there is a little green light on the cluster that says DRL. When the light is on, the DRLs(daytime running lights) are on. So I gotta say, not as crazy as I thought.

Well with that we are going to wrap up Shop Shots. I hope that you all enjoyed this weeks pictures. If I can figure out what happened to last weeks pictures, I will repost it. One last thing, are any of you planning on attending Southern Worthersee? It is a German car event in Helen, GA. I am most likely planning on going. Post in the comments if you are going to be there, maybe we can arrange a cool little get together.

Duct tape Auto repair

It is Wednesday, so you all know what that means, Shop Shots! We get back in to the shop this week for some pictures that come straight from a VW service department. Generally all of the pictures you see come straight from my Iphone. This week I have an extra picture that came from a fellow VW tech. Let’s get to it.

Duct tape Auto repairThe famous duct tape repair. This is a breather hose on a 4 cylinder Beetle. I don’t recall what the car came in for, but it was something like a headlight bulb. When I popped the hood this little gem cough my eye. The hose had split. That hose splitting is pretty common. The oil vapors that run through the hose can deteriorate the hose from the inside out. The customer did not want to fix the hose. I am sure that tape will hold for a little while. They will have to replace it come state inspection time.

Split AC Hose on a VWThe car came in today with a concern about air conditioning. The customer said that the A/C did not work. One of the other guys on my team was working on it. When he checked the refrigerant level, he found it empty.

One way for a mechanic to find a leak in an A/C system is to slightly charge the system. Sometimes you can hear the refrigerant leaking. If that doesn’t work, the system has a UV dye in it. We use a UV light to locate the leak. The dye glows bright bright yellow or green.

When the tech charged up the system, it started leaking instantly. After that, the leak was easy to find. Finding an A/C line that is split is not very common. It does happen from time to time. Usually after a car has been in an accident. This one was a different. This hose was split clean. Like it was cut. The other strange thing is the car was missing the belly pan.

We didn’t find out exactly what happened yet. It is fun to make up stories. My thought was an angry ex-boyfriend did it. I hope that is not the case. I will update this story in the comments when I find out the truth.

VW Touareg fire damageThis is the picture I got from a fellow VW tech. I will tell the story as best as I can. A tech was cleaning off the engine bay of this Touareg. He was dumping brake cleaner on to the engine. Now cleaning off an engine with brake cleaner is not an uncommon thing. I do it all the time. This tech was dumping it from a coolant bottle. THAT is a bad idea.

The tech that took this picture said he warned him about using that much cleaner. A few minutes later the Touareg was on fire. All mechanics make mistakes, but this one is big time!

Well that does it for another volume of Shop Shots. I am still looking for other folks in the industry to feature in my interview series. If you run or work in a shop, parts store, have a cool automotive related product, sell tools, or even a performance shop, just use the Contact Me form. I have a Behind the Wrench coming up in the next week that you all are going to love. That is all I will say for now 😉

Accident damage to Nissan

No, you are not going crazy, it is actually Friday. We generally do Shop Shots on Wednesday, but there is little scheduling change for this week. If you are a new reader, first welcome, and let me tell you a little about Shop Shots. This is your look inside a VW dealership’s service department. It should come as no surprise that mechanics see some strange things. I wanted to find a way to show and tell these things. And Shop Shots was born. Thanks again to Brett for coming up with the name.

VW Shifter buttonsThese crack me up every time I see them. They are just stickers that go over the blanks. The one at the top is for a radar detector. What a cool spot to put that. If you were to have your own stickers made, what would they be?

Damage to VW Golf ROUCH! Living in the south means we do not get much snow. I think that is a good thing. Working under a car with snow dripping down your back is an awful feeling. Plus we do not have the equipment to maintain the roads like you folks up north do. Every time we get a winter storm, our shop will see things like this.

This is the rear end of a new Golf R. For those of you that may not be VW people, the Golf R is an all wheel drive version of the Golf/GTI. It is also has a bit more horsepower. And for you super VW folks, yes there are more differences, but those are the big two. The driver of this car slid into a curb. The result was:

  • 2 bent arms on the rear suspension
  • A damaged rear wheel
  • And a ruined rear wheel bearing

It doesn’t sound like that much, but the bill totaled about $3000. Thank goodness for car insurance.

Accident damage to NissanHere is another one for the OUCH category. This is a brand new Nissan Altima. A sales person and a customer were test driving the car. From what I understand, the customer ran a stop sign and hit a Toyota. The Toyota had damage from the right front to the right rear. Thankfully everyone was okay.

This picture is pretty interesting. You can see the car did what it was suppose to. The metal is pushed in a way that absorbs the impact. The design behind crumple zones is really fascinating to me. I did a post a while ago about vehicle safety systems. I recommend checking it out.

I think that about wraps up another week of pictures. I do have other thing. If you have been reading for a while, you might remember the interviews that we did. It featured folks in the industry talking about their job, and their experiences in the auto industry. You can go back and read all the “Behind The Wrench” interviews by clicking the link. I want to get that going again. Here is what I am looking for.

  • Automotive technicians, it can be at ANY level. Brand new, still in school, seasoned vet, dealership, indy performance
  • Custom audio folks
  • Body Shop techs
  • Performance shops, talking about what you do
  • Indy shops, talking about how you are different
  • Anyone else in the industry. I want to get all points of view.

The reason I am doing this is for the readers. I want everyone to know how each part of the industry works. It will be an amazing to hear from the folks that do this all day everyday. If you are someone, or know someone, please contact me!

Mechanic Scratched a Wheel

Happy Tuesday everyone. I hope that your wallets are recovering from the weekend of shopping. I didn’t partake in any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. It is just not my thing. Today I want to talk a little about being an auto mechanic. This actually goes far beyond just fixing cars. It applies to almost any job, in any field.

Mechanic Scratched a Wheel

Here is the wheel I damaged

Yesterday I was pulling a car into the shop. It was a 2011 Jetta Sport Wagon with about 20,000 miles on it. As I pulled into my bay, I nicked the rim on the edge of my lift. As I am sitting in the car I kept thinking, “It will be fine, it will be fine, it will be fine”. I got out and checked the rim. It was not fine. I gouged the crap out of it. The feeling of messing up a customer’s car is not a good one.

I called the service manager over to check it out. He looked at the wheel, looked and me then said “I am guessing that just happened? Well, you know what you need to do”. I got with my service advisor and let her know what I did. She gave the customer another car to drive so that we could fix his wheel. Thankfully the customer was pretty cool about it. I don’t think he was thrilled, but he understood.

Why did I just tell you all this story? I told you this for a few reasons.

  • We ALL make mistakes
    It does not matter if you are the best or the worst at your job. Everyone makes mistakes, messes up, and does things wrong. You are not perfect, none of us are. The best of the best have off games.
  • Accountability mean everything
    I could have easily sent that car out the door with the rim scratched. Maybe the customer would have never seen it. But think of how mad he would be when he noticed it. It’s like when you were a kid. Your parents asked you a question that they knew the answer to, and you lied to them. Then they ask you if you are SURE, that was the truth. I would rather just admit to the mistake. It may hurt, but at least that customer know I would not lie to them.
  • I want that to be normal
    I want there to be no question on what is right. I am not a hero or anything because I fessed up to a mistake. That is just the right thing to do. I want the guys that I work with to have the same attitude. Mechanics(and everyone else) need to take accountability for themselves, and the work they do. If we all did that, there would be much less negative stereotyping in every industry

I hope that we can all learn something from this. I learned that I need to pull my head out of my butt and pay closer attention to things. Luckily that is easy to do. I hope that you all take to heart what I have said today. Don’t make excuses about why a mistake is not your fault. Own it, then do what you need to do, and make it right!

One last thing. There will be a special volume of Shop Shots tomorrow. It will be volume 40. For that I will be doing some fun stuff. Be sure to stay tuned. The best way to do that is to subscribe for email updates. It is the best way to be sure you never miss out on what is going on here!

VW Damage from a Rat

At some point in every car’s life, it will break. Whether it is a part failure, a workmanship issue or outside influence, we can all plan to see it at some point. Then there are the strange things we hear about. Things that you don’t really expect to happen.

This a Jetta that got attacked by a rodent of some kind. Okay, I am not 100% sure this was a rodent, but it was a creature that did this damage. Maybe a Bigfoot, or a Chupacabra 😉 I am sure this is something that mechanics in rural areas see more than I will. So when we see damage from animals, it is a big, and usually expensive deal.

VW Damage from a RatI am not really sure what made this critter was doing here. There was about 10 inches of chew marks. This is the heat shield attached to the bottom of the car. My guess is, this didn’t feel to great on his teeth.

VW Damage from a RatThis was the main reason the customer brought the car in. The critter chewed the wiring harness for the rear oxygen sensor. That caused the check engine light to come on. All 4 of the wires for the O2 sensor were chewed. The little bit that you see here was all he left.

The wires were chewed from the sensor to the connector. The only right way to make this repair is to replace the sensor and harness. The wires are molded into the case of the sensor. They technically could be repaired, but it may be an unreliable repair.

VW Damage from a RatHere are some more damaged wires. This a a vacuum pump for the brake system. These wires are not chewed all the way through, but will still need attention. If left alone, the wires will corrode and break. There are a few different ways we can go about repairing these wires.

  1. Cut the chewed sections out, and splice in new wires. That is not a bad way to make a repair. There will be 2 connection per wire if the repair is made this way. If the repair is done properly, it should hold up just fine.
  2. Replace the terminal and wiring. This would be the proper VW wiring repair. The damage is really close to the connector. That gives us the option to replace about 6 inches of wiring including the terminal in the connector. This is the best way to make the repair. It will only have 1 splice in the wire.
  3. Just tape over it. I would not recommend making the type of repair here. That is not a long term type repair. The strands of wire are jagged, and could pierce the tape. The heat level at this location can get really high. That can weaken the tape and cause moisture to get in the harness. Also remember this is outside the car AND on the bottom. When making a repair in this location we need to consider road debris, road temperatures, and water all affecting the repair.

VW Damage from a Rat

This is another shot of the damaged wires above. The damaged section is about 3 inches. Dang that little critter.

What do you guys think? Have any of you seen stuff like this before? If so, please share your story in the comments below. I always like hearing this kind of stuff. I am sure that many of you have seen this type of thing before.

Okay, I have a few other things I need to tell you all about.

  • If any of you have damage from the hurricane, I hope you are okay. I have been obsessively watching the coverage on TV. The damage is crazy, and we have only just begun to see the full scope. Hang in there.
  • If you ever have an idea for a post, please let me know. I want to make sure that we are talking about the things you guys want to know. Some of the best topics come from you. Just contact me, or post your thoughts in the comments of a post.
  • If you are in the Raleigh NC area this weekend, PLEASE come to the DubsForACause. I will be there hanging out. I am also one of the official sponsors 🙂 It is free but please bring some canned goods to donate. I am sure that they will take cash too. Cool cars, great folks all for charity, what is not to love.
  • Somehow I missed that we passed 200 posts! not really sure how I missed it. This is actually number 205. With that I want to thank you all for being so awesome. I really appreciate the help and support you have all given me. It has been a lot of fun. I have also learned so much it is not even funny. I hope that the information here has help you out in some way.
VR6 Cylinder head damage

Wednesday, to many it is known as “hump day”. For all of us, it is one of the best days of the week. That”s right, it is Shop Shots time. Today we jump behind the scenes to see a side of automotive service you will not see anywhere else. Alright, let’s get this ball rolling.

VR6 Cylinder head damageBefore I tell you all about this picture, I need you to know something. There are many times that I put these pictures into the post and seriously laugh out loud. This is one of them LOL!

This is a picture of a 4valve VR6 cylinder head. You might notice that it looks a little strange. Yep, it is covered in duct tape. You may know it as hurricane tape, riggers tape, or (my favorite) 100-mph tape. So you might be wondering why the bottom of a cylinder head is covered in Duct Tape. Well here is the skinny. I posted a few pictures of a VR6 engine all torn apart. This is the top end of that same engine.

We sent the cylinder head to the machine shop to have it checked for damage. While it was at the machine shop, VW decided that they would pay for a new engine. That left us needing to reassemble the cylinder head. We couldn’t find the right tool to properly install the valve and other cylinder head parts. So what is the solution? Duct tape of course. He was able to tape the valves to help secure them while he reassembled the cylinder head. Don’t worry, this engine will not be installed in a car before a complete rebuild.

I posted this picture on Facebook the other day, but I didn’t explain it completely. You are looking at the back window of a 2006 Beetle convertible. The Beetle convertible is equipped with several safety systems. Because the convertible does not have a hard roof, VW has built extra safety features in to it.

You are looking at the rear headrest in the extended position. When the Beetle is involved in a crash, the rear headrests pop up. This provides added support on the roof. There is a picture that I have seen with a big pickup truck resting on this support. These supports are no joke.

Clogged VW pollen filterThis is a VW pollen filter. This filter is completely clogged up with all kinds of nasty stuff. This filter is actually inside the car. So all the dirt and sticks would be inside the cabin of the car, if not for this filter. I was not the one that replaced this filter, but I bet the car was pretty smelly. Just imagine having to breathe this junk. No thank you.

Custom VW seatRemember the picture at the top? Remember that I said we were replacing the engine? When VW ships an engine, the do a great job packing it with this foam. The shop has been a little on the slow side over the past few weeks, and that is when the shenanigans tend to start.

We decided that making a “custom” seat would be the best use of all this foam. I am not gonna lie, it was very comfy. It did however have a strange smell. I would not recommend sitting on it for that long. We try to be professional, but sometimes you just gotta get some fun time in.

Dubs for a CauseOne last thing. If you are in the Raleigh,NC area please come to this event. Just grab a few canned goods and come out to meet some great Dub folks. I will be there in the early afternoon. You may also notice the logo on the bottom right. Yep, I am one of the official sponsors of the show. So come out, say hi, and support a really good cause.

There you have it, another week of Shop Shots in the books. I hope to see as many of you as possible at the “Dubs For A Cause” in a few weeks.