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Happy Friday everyone! I am sitting enjoying a nice day off, sipping some coffee, and hanging out with the family. Today I wanted to follow up with a post I wrote a while back. It was several stories about throwing automotive logic out the window. One of comments on that post was from Garrett. He told me that he had a similar story when working on his Jetta.

Garrett sent me that story and I wanted to share that with you today.

On my way to taking my daughter to cheerleading, about a mile after driving, my 96 2.0l Jetta started bucking and surging pretty heavily. Almost to the point of stalling. It would buck/surge then stop and do it again over and over.

It did this most of the time between 1-4000 rpm. I looked it over briefly and didn’t notice anything obvious. I then tried disconnecting the MAF sensor and driving it, changed the effects slightly but still did it. Next i did the same with the throttle body and got the same results. I then took it to a mechanic friend of mine and left it at his shop while i went to work.

After work i stopped back and he had the diagnostic check list printed out for the throttle body. He had checked the levels of each prong with a voltmeter and came to the conclusion it had to be the throttle body. During my investigating i noticed the check engine light didn’t come on when i unplugged the MAF, and it was also coated in engine oil which had leaked all the way down into my air filter from a gummed up pcv so now im under the conclusion i prolly need a new MAF sensor AND a throttle body…ouch!

My next step was google’ing it and asking my fellow vw buddies and vw pages on facebook for help or advice (how i came across Humble Mechanic, you also thought TB from my explanation) So knowing i was due for a tune-up anyway i decided to go against my friends advice and my own gut and do the tune up first. I spent about 300 bucks on plugs, wires, cap an rotor, ignition coil, fuel filter, air filter, vacuum lines and some cleaning sprays (maf cleaner and tb cleaner).

I did the tune-up and stripped my intake apart cleaning everything from intake manifold to sensors to piping and TB. So finally when i was done i crossed my fingers and went for a test drive! IT WORKED! It drove like brand new! For the next 2-3 days anyway! Haha. Then suddenly it started again! I was baffled and angry! So just when i was ready to give in and buy a
new TB and MAF sensor i got a text from a friend who i questioned about my issue.

He said check my fuse panel cuz his mk4 golf burned out the entire fuse panel one by one causing his car to go crazy. I thought it was a far shot but what the heck. I popped the lower dash panels off and started checkin wiring. After a couple mins i decided to look under the hood one more time. 10 minutes later i was back to the thought of ordering a new TB and MAF.

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a damaged piece of wire shroud or wrap on the main harness next to the distributor. I twisted it around and saw what looked like 2 exposed wires from rubbing, but i was kinda dirty so i grabbed a can of spray and cleaned it up. Sure enough there were 2 barely exposed wires! I traced them back..1 to the MAF and 1 to the TB!!!! S.O.B! HAHA

So i wrapped em um with some tape and hopped in the car…it once again drove great! So i used some zip ties and some more tape to prevent
it from rubbing on the small threads coming off a metal heater line. Over the next few days i was leery, expecting it to start up again…but much to my joy it hasn’t ! All that over 20 cents of tape and 2 zip ties! I couldn’t believe it!

WOW! Thanks so much for that story Garrett! Let me put into Garrett’s story into prospective. If he would have continued on the path to replace the throttle body and MAF, be would have sent over $1000 on parts. $1000 that would have done nothing to fix his car. Imagine how mad he would have been if that happened.

I actually remember talking to him about the issue. Based on what he was finding, all signs were pointing to a throttle body. I have seen mechanics in my shop get beat up over this exact problem. I remember I had a MK3 GTI that the turn signals were acting strange. Turns out it had broken wires in the same spot. I think I stumbled across it the same way that Garrett did, GETTING LUCKY!

If you have a story about your car, feel free to share it with everyone. Just contact me and I will post it!

Ok, we have a few “housekeeping” things to wrap up.

  • I am still looking for a project name for the 1988 Cabriolet I got yesterday. Post a comment of what you think we should call this project. I will pick one, and send that person a cool VW something
  • On Monday, my internet was messed up. I really want to get to know the community better, so I put out a few questions for everyone. If you didn’t post a comment, head over and check it out. I REALLY want to give this stuff away. Oh, I will pay shipping too.
  • Have a GREAT weekend. Really, do it!

If you have ever been stumped, or got your butt kicked by a problem, you can get revenge by clicking one of the share buttons below.

MFI display in VW EOS

Hey everyone! We got some more Shop Shots today. I am really starting to LOVE doing this post, I hope that you guys enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it!!

MFI display in VW EOSNow, if you just looked at this picture, you would say, “Charles, there is nothing wrong here. The back doors are just open”. HAHA, I would have to agree with that statement, but here is the real story. A customer brought their car in because the battery was dieing. When the advisor went out to the car, she found that the rear doors were showing open. Where is gets awesome is, this car is an EOS. The EOS is a 2 door convertible car. It doesn’t have rear doors.

I am not sure what the tech found wrong. I am suspect of the drivers or passenger window motor/module. That or a coding issue. When I find out, I will update everyone

Volkswagen KeyI am not really sure that everyone can appreciate how hilarious this is. A co-worker of mine brought this to me. It is a VW key, that has a battery terminal as a “fob” of “key chain” or something. I would bet that they hide it under the car somewhere, but I am not really sure. The worst part was, it was all sticky and gross. I would have loved to unwrap the tape to show you guys. It would have been cool to ask the customer why they did that.

Volkswagen EOS top in service position

I posted this to InstaGram, but I wanted to show everyone this. I got this car in last week. The customers concern was the top would not work. It had some faults stored in the module for the top. The cool thing is, our VW scan tool is we can activate almost everything remotely. There is a procedure that will allow me to open and close the top. It SHOULD work no matter what. I could not get it to open the top. I had to trick the module into thinking it was working correctly so I could force it open.

With the top open, I could put it into a service position. That extends the trunk, and allows access to almost all of the components of the top. In the “Behind the Wrench” interviews I do, I ask “what job would you not want to do again”. This would not be my #1, but it is up there. This top has about 30 sensors that monitor the position of the top, windows, doors, vehicle speed, trunk, and so on. This is really one of the most sophisticated parts of ANY VW!

I actually had another picture I was going to post, but I think I will save it for next week and dedicate an entire post to this picture.

In other news, I FINALLY found my project car. I will take some pics and write a full post about it tomorrow. All I will tell you today, is that it is a Cabby. 😉

Don’t forget to sign up for email updates. That is the best way to make sure you never miss a new post. Also, I have a YouTube channel. Maybe instead of pictures, I will take a video of the project. You can make sure you connect with me by using the icons on the right side of the page.

If you are SUPER excited that I finally found my project car, spread the word and clicky clicky one of the buttons below.

I sometimes feel like the world is against Volkswagen. People are always saying “I hear VW has tons of electrical problems”. Well, I don’t really agree with that, but I will save how I really feel for another post. This is about a REAL problem I found on a Jetta.

The customer comes in and says “Sometimes my door buttons do not work”. After a conversationwith the customer, I find out that her driver’s door is not working all the time. There are times when we have to extract the right information from a customer.

When I got in the car, I checked the door. Big surprise, everything worked just fine. I pressed every button on the door, they all worked like a charm. I pressed the auto-down button for the window, and opened the door. When the door got about half way open, the window stopped, all the lights went out on the door, and the instrument cluster started beeping funny. Well you can check it out in the video.

Strange isn’t it? It turns out that the ground wire in the boot between the body of the car and the door was broken. It would make contact with the door shut, but open when the door was open. I am really glad I was able to capture it on video. Usually the strange electrical problems are so sporadic, there is no chance of catching it.

So I did a little rapid fire Q&A session. I got some really good feed back. If you have a question or a topic, article that you would like me to talk about, just contact me or post it in the comments section. I kinda liked doing it, so post it up!

Real quick, I just want to take a second and thank each and every one of you that have read my blog, liked the FB page, chatted with me on twitter, posted and comment and so on. It really mean a lot to me. The success of this site is thanks to all of you! Our little community is growing every day, and I am really excited for the things to come. Also, that you to everyone that has shared this site, that is the best way for us to grow! You folks are truly awesome!

This is inside the boot between the door and the body of the car. The wire that is broken is the main ground(negative) wire. With out it, nothing will work.

Hey guys, Its Thursday so you know what that means, SHOP SHOTS! I got some good ones for you this week! Also, we started a thread on the Automotive Forum for you to post your own Shots! Swing by, register and you can post your Shots. Remember, to keep spam out, you will need to be approved. I hate that I have to do that, but I need to keep the spam out!

You can probably guess that this is not a normal way for a tire to look. This customer actually drove in on this tire. If you look at the top of the picture, you can see that there is a lot of tread on the tire. This is what happens when a belt inside a tire breaks. A tire is more that just black and round. It is layer with steel belts, fiber layers, rubber, and so on. When a steel belt breaks, it leaves a soft spot in the tire. It makes that spot really soft. I could push my finger about 1/2″ into the tire. I don’t really know how the tire made it that long. The bad part is, the customer did not buy the tires. I think that she replaced some suspension bushings. That was totally the wrong choice. I am not sure if she was just crazy, or maybe the importance of this issue was not stressed. This is blow out territory for sure!

This picture comes from one of my best most favorite customer. Quick side story, I met her because her last Beetle Convertible was always broken. She also does dog rescue. My wife and I adopted our dog “Fugazi”, or “Foo Dog” as we call her. Peyton is an amazing person and does so much good for homeless animals. I will never be able to thank her enough. P, if you read this THANK YOU!~ Ok, back to the picture. This is a tail light out of a 2006 Beetle Conv. I am not really sure how this happened, but it sees that the bulb came in contact with the plastic housing. This caused the housing to melt, and the bulb to fall into the bumper. I have seen it happen a few times before, but it’s that that common.

HAHA, Stoners paradise. This was the first car I pulled in the other day. The second that I opened the car door, I could smell pot. I mean, it was like a smack in the face. I looked down and found that Febreze sitting on the passenger seat(right). I pulled the car in and did the oil change. To be totally honest, my curiosity got the better of me. I opened the glove box and found the perfect pothead glove box. You have, a blunt, some rolling papers, a baggie, and some Visine.You need Visine so people will not know your baked.(yeah right) I had to call everyone over to check it out. I am pretty sure that I got a contact high from his car. When the guy picked it up, I just smiled at him. I am pretty sure that he was stoned out of his mind. Oh, he had to still be in high school!

That does it for this week! What do you guys think? Post your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, be sure to sign up for email updates, with the new logo, I am working on some site redesign. If you are on the email list, you will be the first to find out cool stuff, plus I will be doing a give away when the new site launches. PLUS, don’t forget about the First Fifty on the forum. You really want to be part of the first 50 😉

One last thing, tomorrows Behind The Wrench is AWESOME! don’t miss it!

Something that I get asked a lot is, “How can I keep my car running good?”. There is countless things that everyone needs should do to keep their car running be best it can. Proper maintenance, and care is vital to keeping your car running great. There seems to an idea that mileage on a car is a bad thing. Everyone has heard of the little old lady that only drove her car on Sundays to church and back. Well, that might not be such a good thing for any of the systems your car has

Lets start with the engine. Engines are meant to be run, they are not built to sit for extended periods of time. When a car is not driven, it never gets up to temperature. This can cause the fluids inside the engine(engine oil and coolant) to break down faster. Part of the job of these fluids is to carry debris away from the engine. Oil will move debris back to the oil pan, and leave it there until the oil is changed. Coolant does basically the same thing.That debris will deteriorate the metal and plastic of the engine causing premature wear.

Driving like that little old lady can impact the electronics of the car too. When a battery sits, it looses charge. When a car is driven, the alternator charges the battery back up. If a battery does not get properly charged, it will loose the ability to become completely charged. I am not sure if I have stressed how important battery voltage is, but I have seen bad batteries reek havoc on a car and cause it to do crazy things. Basically every system of the car is affected by not driving a car. Tires can get flat spots, brakes can wear funky where the pads touch the rotors. Even wiper blades will become brittle if not used.

What about the other side, “Drive it like you stole it”? I usually don’t say that to customers, I try to say, “Be sure take your car on a SPIRITED drive”. 😉 As far as I am convinced, there are only 2 negatives to this.

  1. Lower fuel economy. Lets face it, you will not be getting great MPG driving this way
  2. Fast wear on tires. You will probably be going through tires faster

You will notice that I did NOT mention brakes wearing out fast. The cool thing about VW brakes is the last longer when used a slightly more aggressive. I would say our average customer gets about 35,000-45,000 miles out of their rear brakes. The rears will wear out faster on a VW. The rear brakes actually engage before the front. Someone that rides the brakes will wear the rear brakes out faster. I got about 75,000 out of my rear brakes. I could have gone another 5,000-7,000 miles if I wanted to push it.

I have seen a lot of cars over the years. Some had high miles, some have so few miles I wonder why the people even needed a car. Everything being equal, the cars with high miles seem to be better cars. We have a customer with 220,xxx miles on her Jetta. The car has had a ton of maintenance, but very few repairs. I think she it just about due for timing belt number 2!

So why is it that we shy away from cars with high miles? My guess is the higher unknown factor. A car with 100,000 miles had a lot of road time compared to a car with 20,000 miles. That is a long time to wonder if the owner took good care of the car. Did they do all the maintenance they should have? The same can be said for the car with 20,000 miles. I would be willing to bet that my 2005 Passat with 92,000 miles is in better condition that most every Passat of that year, regardless of miles. Well, it might not be as clean, but it runs top notch. 😉 Here is my secret, proper oil changes, and every I get on the highway, I put the pedal to the floor. That “blows the junk out”, as my mom would say. It actually keeps carbon from building up on intake valves.

What do you guys think? Drive it like you stole it, or is that little old lady doing it right?

P.S.
If you have signed up for the forum and have not been approved, throw me an email, or just post your handle in the comments and I will approve you. I am weeded through about 10 spam sign ups a day, so I might have missed someone.

P.P.S.
I signed up for Pinterest. Its pretty cool feel free to check it out
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I moved “Shop Shots” up to Wednesday this week. I will actually be out of town for a couple of days. I don’t think there will be a post Thursday or Friday. Make sure you check out the forum too. I know its called Technician DataBase, but its not just for techs. It is for everyone, customer, mechanic, enthusiast, we got some fun conversations happening over there! Go to Technician Database, and sign up, I will have to approve you so it might take a few hours to join. Also, be sure to post in the “First 50” thread, you will be locked in as a founding member, and I will be giving something cool away.


This is a picture that I took on Monday. I was doing a 20,000 mile service on a 2010 Jetta, and this caught my eye. The bolt was out about 1/4 of an inch. I checked the history to see if the shop had done any work in this area. The customer did have an alignment done, but that was at ~1300 miles. I wouldn’t think that it could be loose for that many miles. I am surprised that the customer didn’t notice a clunking due to the bolt being loose.

It actually brings up a good point. When something like this happens, what does a mechanic do? If I say something to the customer, we would get blamed for messing the car up. VW warranty would not pay to tighten a bolt. The best thing for everyone is for me just to fix it. Not really hide what I found, but it was not worth stirring up trouble over. I torqued the bolt, and went through the other bolts on the subframe just to make sure they were properly torqued. I didn’t get paid anything to do it, but I surely couldn’t let the car go with a loose bolt.

This is an axle from a 2005 Jetta. The outer joint to be exact. The boot was split, so I removed the axle to replace the boot. This is actually a really common repair. Something that I have done lots of times. A couple of whacks with a 3lb sledge hammer and the joint comes right off. This one however didn’t want to play nice. I tried for about 30 minutes to separate the joint from the axle shaft. I beat the out edge of the joint up pretty bad. I finally had to accept defeat and tell the customer they needed a new axle. It really sucks that the customer had to buy a new axle, but I really did everything I could.

Knowing that the customer had agreed to buy a new axle, I was totally determined to get he joint apart. I brought out the big guns. I used my air hammer, but all I did was break the joint more. Since I had to send the old part back, I figured it was better just to call it quits. I don’t like to lose!

This is a short video of a crazy instrument cluster. This Jetta had several water leaks. I never found any water in the cluster, but something really pissed it off. This might be one of the strangest acting clusters I have ever seen. Also if you don’t drive a VW, the buzz that this cluster is making sounds NOTHING like it should. I recommend watching this a few times. Watch how fast the 2 small gauges move. This car is actually still at my work. The customer fixed the issues, but they have not came to get it yet. I think we are going on 3 months. I am pretty sure it was towed in before Christmas.

I hope you guys have a really great weekend. I will be spending some time in the forum, so swing by and say hello! Also, if you want to connect with me, the 2 best ways are on Twitter, or just email me!

Due to the launch of the Forum yesterday, and some other things going on, I feel like I left you guys with out a really good post yesterday! So to make it up, I am doubling up on the “Shop Shots” today!

This is a picture of a V6 Passat axle. The axle is what connects the transmission to the wheels. Without axles, the car will not go. The picture is an inner joint. Somehow, it came apart. It’s acutally not something that happens all that much. I think that I have seen just a couple over the years.

While we are on the drivetrain, this is a close up picture of a tire that I took. I was standing under the car, which makes this the left rear tire.?. Tires are much more than just round and black. The technology is pretty amazing. Before I start going on and on about speed ratings, temp ratings, performance(sorry, I started) 😉 well lets just say they are rubber compounds, with steal imbedded in it. When the tire wear down far enough, you can actually see the metal cords. The line in the picture is where the tread(parts that makes contact with the road) meets the sidewall (where the words are written) I know that I left out so much info on tires, or tyres if its a VW, but I will save that for another post!


This little guys was sitting on the dash of a 2012 Golf. When I got in the car, I totally didn’t see him. I pulled the car around to the back door of the shop. When I seen him, I screamed. I mean, like I screamed out loud. Then I started cracking up because I just screamed at a tiny little snake on the dash of a car. So I took a picture of him. In the back round, you can see my tool box. 🙂

Here is a side by side shot of a VERY common issue on our 2.0T FSI, engine. These are called cam followers. The one on the right is the new and updated part. The one on the left, well, it shouldn’t have a hole in it. The follower is an internal engine part. It rides on the cam shaft and operates the mechanical fuel pump. I guess the issue is too soft of metal. It wears the cam shaft, and the follower. I have also seen these metal chunks clog up oil passages and ruin engines. BTW, replacing engines is not fun!

HAHA,(yes I just laughed when the picture came up), This Jetta came in the other day. The service advisor came back and asked my how much it would cost to replace a customers fuse. He said it “Cracked in half”. What had actually happened is the fuse blew. A fuse blows when too much current goes through it. This is the fuse panel on top of the battery. It is the main power junction of the car. The wire that looks weird is the one to the alternator. The fuse blew, and someone just taped a wire to it, instead of ACTUALLY fixing the car. I am not sure who did the job, but holy crap, its kind of a hazard. The customer declined the repair, they said they would “wait and see”?

Ok, I have been saving this one for a while. I think it happened a few years ago. I was off work the day this happened. I got a text from one of the boys at work saying a car fell off a lift. I of course asked for a picture! I guess what happened was the guy doing the alignment was moving the wheel back and forth. That is called doing a “sweep”. When we do a sweep, the machine measures the suspension angles. When he did the sweep, the wheel cought the edge and rolled off the rack. He was ok, mad at himself, but ok. To make things even better, the customer was standing right at the window to the shop. That is about 20 feet from the rack. Everyone was ok, the dealer paid to have the customers car fixed, and gave him a car to drive while his was getting repaired. 😀

Well, that pretty much sums it up. I am sorry I missed a good post yesterday! The forum is LIVE and doing awesome. Please come by, sign up and post in the First 50. When we hit 50, I will lock the post and do a drawing for something. Not quite sure what it will be yet, kinda depends on how fast we hit 50 😉