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Every once in a while a car comes around that is sent straight from hell. The crazy problems that keep me awake at night. Things that, if you were a professional writer, you could not even make up. When this happens, having a game plan to crucial!

There are times when we(mechanics) just can’t figure out whats wrong with a car. When this happens we have to take things to the next level. Thankfully this is not something that happens a lot, but when it does, it can make for a bad day!

STEP 1 ~ Ask another mechanic
This is usually the first think that a mechanic does when they can’t figure out a problem. The guys working next to me are a HUGE resource of knowledge. The odds of them running having ran into a similar issue is pretty good.

The other good thing about asking the guy in the next bay is a totally different perspective. They come in with a fresh set of eyes. There comes a point when frustration starts to set in. Getting a fresh pair of eyes, and a fresh mind is always a good choice.

Step 2 ~ Take a break
You would think that this would be step 1, but it usually falls to number 2. If you have asked someone working next to you for help, and could not come to a conclusion, you are starting down an unhappy path. Much like asking someone else, taking a break will gives a chance to clear your head.

Walking away for a couple of minutes is a perfect way to think about the issue while not buried under it. If I smoked, this would be the perfect opportunity to burn one, then come back and reevaluate the problem

Step 3 ~ Computer Research
If you have not fixed a car by now, its time to break out the old repair manual. Depending on what the problem is, VW has several different resources available.

  1. Standard repair manual. ~ This is the (online) book that has information to fix our cars. It contains some information, tests to run on components, wiring diagrams, and some VERY basic how to’s
  2. Scan tools ~ Our scan tools does more than just tell us the faults stored in all the vehicle computers. They have software built in that adds different tests based on the faults. The tests are not the end all of solutions, but it can give some ideas on where to go next.
  3. Technical Service Bulletins(TSB) ~ This is a repair update that is issued by a manufacturer. It can be anything from a tip to fix a rattle, to tips on diagnosing transmissions. They are NOT recalls. Customers will not be notified about them. This is something a mechanic can use to help fix/diagnose a problem. This information is available to anyone that wants it.
  4. Tech Tips ~ This is something that VW issues to us mechanics. It is either the precursor to a TSB, or just a quick tip. Usually a very short blurb about a issue with a car.
  5. Google ~ If 1-4 do not work, Google can be a life saver. There are lots of really sharp people that have put great info on the web. I am not too proud to do a Google search 😉
Step 4 ~ Call in reinforcements
Now that you know your getting your butt kicked, its time to call in the big guns. VW has a program set up to help mechanics when they are stuck on a problem. Its called VW tech line. What we do is, send an email to our VW tech help line folks. We attach diagnostic logs, photos, videos(I have never attached a video), and answer several questions about the issue with the car.
After sending the email, we have to call the guys at tech line and talk to them. They usually ask the very simple stuff like “did you check the battery, did you check this, check that, is the car on fire?”. After the basics are covered, its time to get to business. They have access to all of the cases from VW. They can tell how many times someone has called tech line about this issue, and what they did to fix the problem. It usually takes a few calls to get an issue resolved.
Step 5 ~ Dispatch the top dog 
When all of the above fail, the top dog comes to the dealer. We have a regional guy that travels to dealers to help fix the REALLY broken cars. There is warranty criteria that requires him being dispatched. I am pretty sure I can’t talk about what that is. This is the guy that has all the connections to the really important people in the company.
The guy we have now is pretty awesome. He worked as a VW tech line guy for years. I acutally worked with him years ago, when he was a tech line guy.  This is basically the last line of repair. I have not ran into a car that between the regional guy and myself, couldn’t be fixed.
Step 6 ~ T.M.I.
If it comes to this, its time to T.M.I. or Trade Me In! I heard that saying on CarTalk, btw. I think the more appropriate thing to say is buy back. There is lots of legal mumbo jumbo about buy backs that I really don’t care to talk about. I am mostly just joking around about trading cars in.
More often folks will trade because the repair is too costly, not because I can’t fix it.

This is a little video of the Jetta that I was working on today.

I got the car around 11:00.  The customers complaint was that the windshield wipers would stay on ALL the time.  I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to figure out what was wrong with the car.

This type of car really makes ya put on the thinking cap. Every time that I would press the horn, the wipers would move fast, and the high beam indicator would come on. CRAZY problems!

Below are some pics of what I found.  I am still not 100% sure whether I fixed the car.  I replaced the fuse block on top of the battery.  That seemed to help, but I am not completely satisfied.  I will keep everyone updated on what happens!

Have a GREAT weekend!

Charles

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I wrote a post last week about what happens when an aftermarket breathalyzer is installed poorly. It is HERE if you missed it.

Well, as promised, Here is the follow up to what happened.

When I published that post, the repair was in a limbo state. The customer didn’t want to pay the bill, and the company that installed it didn’t want to pay the bill. I noticed yesterday that the Touareg was still at the shop, but it did not have license plates on it. It had been days since we had heard anything, so my service adviser called the customer. He said that they actually bought his car from him!

I don’t have the juicy details about how much they gave him, but honestly, I don’t think that he cared.  It probably worked out the best way that it could have.

I am sure it was some type of insurance settlement. I don’t think that this customer will be buying another VW, but more importantly, I don’t think that he will be drinking and driving again. I HOPE ANYWAY!