Happy monday everyone!

I had a post all written for day, but instead I wanted to tell you guys a cool story about a great customer of mine. I will call her Ann.

This morning I got paged up to the service drive. I walked around the corner, and much to my surprise there was Ann. It had been over a year since I had worked on her car. She moved to another part of the state, and I guess driving 5 hours for service didn’t was just too much. 🙂

She told me that her car was using oil. So after chatting for a minute about that, she tells me what had happen to her car over the last 33,000 miles. She was on a trip in PA. Driving down the highway, her timing belt broke. After getting it towed to the nearest VW dealer, she got the bad news. The engine had seized. I didn’t get the specifics of what exactly happened, but basically she needed a new engine for her 2005 Passat v6. -Side note this car looks just like mine-

The dealer that performed the work did a really good job. She said that they took good care of her while the car was being fixed. Ann made a choice to have a used engine installed in her car. Now, I am not sure that was a great choice, but it saved her some money.

Over the next ~14,000 miles, she found the engine was losing oil, about 1qt per 3,000 miles. This is actually well within an acceptable range, but it was getting worse. Due to the remote area she lives, no one near her wanted to work on the Passat.

Since she was in town visiting friends, she brought her car to me. I had worked on her car for about 2 years before she moved so we know each other pretty well. I bring the car in, and find that the valve covers are leaking oil into the spark plug holes. Not really a crazy repair, but not something that can be fixed in 15 minutes. I had also found a couple of other things that needed attention as well.

We talked about what was needed, and decided that repairing the car was the best choice. Her car is too nice to trade in for something else. I was able to find a car for her to drive so I could keep hers for the day. She went about her business and I am currently working on the car.

I wanted to tell you guys this story because I am really excited to have this car back in my bay. It is such a great feeling to have a customer come back after such a long time and make sure I work on their car! I hate that she had such a costly repair, but I am happy to get her back on the road!


This car came in one day last week.  The customers complaint was “My car is making a ticking noise”.  The noise was strange, it was loud when I was standing right a the engine, but when I walked about 10 feet back, it was super loud.

Complaints like this can be really tricky. On the one hand, some engines are just louder than others, on the other, I can’t just say there is nothing wrong. Also, there are a lot of factors that play into engine noise.

  • Is the oil in the engine right, both level and quality
  • Is other maintenance up to day
  • Did the customer do something they are not telling

I spent about 20 minutes listening to the engine with a “stethoscope”(in quotes because mine is missing so I use a long screwdriver). I narrowed it down to the valve train, the upper end of the engine. Since the VW 2.0t TFSI engine is kinda strange, the initial diagnosis was pretty easy. Removing a valve allowed access to check part of the valve train.

It turns out that the lobe on the intake cam was worn funny. Further inspection revealed more damage.Two of the rockers had floated off the valves(if your not totally sure what that means, don’t worry just know its bad.)

Now that I know what was wrong, it was time to find out why. I checked the faults stored in the engine computer. The check engine light was not on, but the ECM(engine control module) still had information stored. The fault stored was for “Engine over-reving”.  That means, at some point, the engine was spinning too fast. That can cause the type of damage that I found.  The ECM has fail safes built in to prevent this from happening. The ONLY explanation is the guy missed a gear on a down shift. That would mean that he shifted from 6th gear to 3rd gear, or something like that. The engine revved to 8400RPM. Thats about 20% too fast. The ECM has no way to prevent this from happening.

Now the customer is faced with a $2000-$3000 repair on his 2010 GTI with only 16,xxx miles. Its sad to see a car that I really love need that type of repair.

What do you guys think, should he fix it? Trade it in on a new car? I would LOVE to hear what you think.



On Tuesday 11/22, I wrote a post with a story about me getting my butt kicked by a Jetta. I hope that it didn’t bum everyone out.  I will be honest, that really put me in a bad mood that night.  I was going to go out with some friends after work.  I decided to pass on the party, I didn’t think that I would be that much fun to be around.

After stressing out about that Jetta for 2 full days, I went in to work to “face my music”.  I rolled in early to get a jump on what I figured would be a nightmare. When I got to work the first thing that I did was try and start the Jetta.

Before I tell you guys what happened to the Jetta, I need to make sure everyone understands the way a mechanic’s mind works. After a few years of working on the same cars, a mechanics mind adapts to certain things.  You stop questioning WHY the car company does the things they do! Its basically a survival tool.  If I spent time trying to figure out WHY, I would have lost my mind years ago. I try to focus on HOW things work, not WHY they work the way they do.

Ok, so I get to work, I get in and try and start the Jetta. What happens, THE CAR STARTS?!?!?!?! It started right up like nothing was ever wrong. Even as I write this, I have no idea what happened.  I have been trying to build a story where this could happen. I got nothing. I just have to remember not to figure out why!

I test drove the car, ran the test that would not pass, and now the car is good.  Its crazy how the car just sat for 2 days, and “fixed it self’!

Do things like this happen in other jobs, or is this an auto industry thing?


I started this site to help folks with their cars, and to give everyone on inside look at dealer life. I try really hard not to make this a place for me to just bitch about my job. Today however, will be a different story.

The day started out pretty normal. I did a waiting oil change(that is were the customer waits, instead of dropping off their car), and replaced a bulb in the same car. I knew that I had a timing belt to replace when I was done. To be honest, that is the start of a good day!

Well, I worked on the timing belt for a few hours. I usually can’t finish one job without getting pulled off for something else. That is actually no problem for me. I enjoy being the go to guy.  One of those interruption, was the machine shop telling me that a cylinder head I set to be repair, was unrepairable. I will write a post about that story in a few days. With the timing belt wrapped up, time to move on to the next job.

I had ordered a part for a 2008 Rabbit on Saturday. It was a carrier for the passenger side door handle. This is where I think the day turned bad. It took me about 2 hours of messing with the carrier to get it fixed. I had to remove the outside of the door about 7 times. This is on top of the 3 times that I took it apart on Saturday. I skipped lunch to get the job done, but finally finished it.

I looked at a 2000 Passat for the sales department. We do what is called a “Used Car Inspection”. Its a check out of a car before it hits the lot. That car didn’t make the grade.

Next up would be the car that RUINED the day. I had been working on a 2001 Jetta with a really strange fault for the cam position sensor. I narrowed it down to being the adjuster for the cam shaft. In order to replace this part, both cam shafts need to be removed. I have replaced lots of these adjusters with no problem. I went to town on replacing the adjuster. Its not a hard job, just takes some time, and carefully marking the parts before removing them.

The replacement went pretty smooth. The trouble started when I when to start the car. It cracked, but would not start. The car had a fast crack. Usually a fast crank is a sign of low/no compression.  That means the engine won’t start. I took everything back apart to recheck my work. Everything was fine. I checked, and  checked, and checked and checked my work. Everything seemed to be inline.

I spent about 3 hours going back and forth with the work I did. I stayed about 2 hours late racking my brain, with no conclusion. I still don’t really know what the heck is wrong with the Jetta.  I will be heading in on my day off to figure it out.

Well, basically what I think is that something internal happened to the engine.  I am not sure what, but something went wrong.. I will update you guys when I figure out what the heck is going on.  I am pretty pissed about what ever I did to this car.  I just hope it doesn’t cost the dealer too much.. GRRRRR!

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So something happened in the shop this week that is, short of hurting someone, every mechanics biggest fear.

A customer brought their 2010 Passat in for its first service.  With only 10,000 miles the car got an oil change, tire rotation and some other minor checks.  The mechanic that performed the service is one of the top guys in the shop.  He was my mentor when I first started, and is one of the smartest people I have met in my life.  He is not a “do it quick” type of guy.  I just want you to understand that something like this can happen to any of us, it just so happen that this was his time.

After performing the very basic service, the car ran in the shop of about 5 minutes.  Then, he pulled the car around, customer got in and left.  About an hour later the car got towed back in with the customer saying that it died.

Before the car got pushed into the shop, we got the full story from the customer.  They said that they were driving on the highway, and the oil light came on and was beeping and flashing.  The customer continued to drive the car another 7 miles and then the engine shut off.

We check and find that there is NO oil in the car.  The mechanic added oil and tried to start the car, but no luck, engine would not even turn.  The car gets pushed in the shop, which is not fun by the way.  The mechanic checks and finds that the oil filter was loose.  He pulls the filter off to find that the filter as 2 gaskets. It turns out that when he removed the original filter, the gasket stuck to the car, not the filter.  When he put the new filter on, it crushed the gasket enough to properly seal.  The customer driving the car on the highway caused the oil pressure to push the gasket off and pump ALL of the oil out of the car.

In the end, the Passat will need a new engine and a new turbo charger.  The cost of all of the parts will come in around $5000.  The mechanic that made the mistake will have to do about 2.5 days worth of work to replace the engine.  He will be working with out pay to get the job complete.  Also, that engine is on back order for about 3 weeks.

Here are the lessons that we can all learn from what happened

  1. Even the best can make mistakes.  This mechanic takes a ton of pride in his work.  He will be beating himself up about this for a long time.  Good mechanics hate making mistakes, and noting anyone can say will make him feel any better.  I completely understand how he feels.  I don’t wish that feeling on anyone!
  2. The customer will be taken care of.  I am not sure to what extent, but the dealership will make it as right as they can.  I personally feel really bad for the customer, and what happened to their brand new ca
  3. If you have a light flashing, or a warning beeping at you, please stop driving the car.  This is NOT the customers fault, but the damage may not have been catastrophic if they had pulled over right away.

I will try to get some pictures of the internal engine damage when he takes it out.

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