Tag Archive for: factory


Years ago tuning a car was simple. More air into the engine meant you could add more fuel. The more air and more fuel, the faster the car would go. Simple right? Doing things like

  • Adding different air intakes
  • Changing exhausts
  • modifying internal engine parts (like cam shafts)
  • Adding forced induction in the form of superchargers or turbochargers

They were all meant to move more air into and out of the engine. The best part was, it worked.

Today those same modifications are still considered “go fast” parts. There is one component that is the biggest influence on performance. The car’s ECM. Tuning the car’s engine computer is the way that we can get the best increase in performance at the lowest price. Now, nothing about what I have said is futuristic at all. That is the here and now.

So what will the future look like. Well, first let’s remember that tuning is not just going fast. It is about the over all drive. The feel of the road, the sound of the exhaust, or the full range of a car’s stereo. So here is the future. The “Soundaktor”. Think of this as an engine noise tuner. This is a video I shot last week. We activated the “Soundaktor” with the scan tool to check out the full range.

Sounds cool doesn’t it? Many people think that it is a gimmick. That it is not really “tuning”. This is not the first time VW has had something like this. The 2.0FSI GTI had a “noise pipe” that was used to tune the sound of the GTI. I happen to love the sound of the GTI. 🙂

VW does not stand alone when it comes to advanced audio tuning. BMW, Lexus, and Porsche all use some type of sound tuning. BMW even plays it though the car’s stereo.

So what will the future look like? Will we keep up with the advanced sound tuning and pumping in artificial sound? I think so. I think car manufacturers will continue to fine tune the sound inside the car. Maybe we can even get rid of wind noise. Now we are talking.

So here are my 2 questions to you

  1. What will the future of tuning look like?
  2. Do you think that tuning the sound with something like a Soundaktor is cheating?
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Hey everyone! I am back in action on this fine Monday morning. As you know, I was at training for VW last week. I will do a little follow up about the training and some of the things that I learned while I was there. You might have also noticed that I took a little “digital break” this weekend. I just needed some time to recharge and get some things done around the house. Thanks for hanging in there for me.

Alright, let’s get into today’s post. A comment came in on a post last week. Alex from iHeartEuro asked me this question.

I had a question for you… maybe you know the answer. 2 years ago I had a fully loaded 2010 GTI and when I plugged a VagCom I found quite a few options that were DISABLED for some reason (memory driver heated seat, cluster sweeping, remote windows, coming home lights…) it took a few minutes to enable all of those things:) I am just curious why the dealers sell a car with all of these options turned OFF?

Okay, before I dive into this, let me explain what VagCom is. VagCom is an aftermarket diagnostic software. It mimics the VW scan tool. I will save my full take on the software for another day. Let’s just say, from a mechanic point of view, I will use anything to help me fix cars I can. I will leave it at that for now 😉

That is a really great question that Alex asked. Let’s break it down into a few different categories.

Mass Appeal

VW, like all car companies, has to appeal to as many people as possible. It is not just about style and fuel mileage, but features. The more things that a car can do, the less most people use. There are a lot of folks driving VWs that don’t know you can open and close the windows with the key in the door. All of the features and in the owners manual, but let’s be honest most people don’t read that. 😀

A perfect example is a performance exhaust. Sure you might get a little more power, but most folks don’t want the extra noise. I am not sure that this is why Alex found things turned off. I will say that cars are tested and tested to fit the appeal of the most drivers possible

Big Brother

Yes that’s right, D.O.T.  D.M.V.  E.P.A. C.A.R.B and probably a million more government agencies that have their hands in the pot. In one way or another every part in your car has to be approved by the government. Seriously, everything!

Lets say VW puts an exhaust system on one of their cars. This system will allow the car to get 50 miles per gallon. E.P.A says that it puts .001 too much pollution into the air. VW will have to redesign the system. Now the car meets the guideline, but we have lost 20MPG. Thank goodness for for aftermarket parts. ~ I will say that I 100% made that scenario up. I doubt that this exact thing would happen, but everything is government regulated.


With the newer generation of cars, we have the ability to turn things off and on. Like Alex said, he turned on the remote window function. I don’t think that function has any specific compatibility issues, but I don’t know for sure. The cool thing about MOST of the stuff we change on a car, is we can change them back. There is the opportunity to change something with unintended consequences.

Let’s say we turn on a really cool feature that only the European cars have. Everything is cool, but now our radio doesn’t work. I remember a Touareg that would not tune to the proper radio station. Instead of 105.1, it would be 105.2. It turns out the previous owner of the car turned off the “accept” screen for the navigation. This switched it to a Euro station programming.


To some, this might be a stretch, but remember just because YOU understand your car, doesn’t mean that everyone will. Let’s use Alex’s window example again. When the 2006 Jettas and Passats came out, customers were asking us to turn the remote window feature on. This would allow you to raise and lower the windows with the remote. A super cool feature btw! We were advised that the dealer was NOT to disable ANY safety feature. EVER!

When you use the windows with the remote, it disables “pinch protection”. Pinch protection will stop window operation when it hits something. The concern is someone operating the windows and someone getting caught in the window.

The other big one is tire pressure on a Touareg. When the tire pressure monitors go out on a 2004-2007 it can cost up to $2000 to replace. Disabling the system is REALLY easy, but not something that we will do at the dealer. If you don’t think that proper tire pressure is important, ask someone from Ford or Firestone. I would almost bet those tragedies are why we are required to have tire pressure monitors.

I hope that has cleared up some of the questions that everyone has. I am glad that VW has the option to “customize” their cars. Oh, and thank you to the aftermarket for helping with the rest! I have said it before, mod your car all day long, just remember this “You gotta pay to play” 🙂

One last thing~ While I am at training, it really gives me time to reflect. As we are coming up on the sites 1st anniversary I wanted to ask for a little help from you guys. Ok, here it goes

What can I do to make this site better for YOU?

Pretty simple right? I want to make sure that the time you guys spend here is as awesome as possible. What type of content would you like to see? More videos? More DIY? More pictures? More “How does that thing work”? Post any thoughts you have in the comments. Remember, this community includes you too!!

This is a debate that has been made time and time again. Factory vs aftermarket one has the backing of the brand, the other is usually cheaper. As a dealer mechanic, I officially recommend using factory parts. 🙂


This is a part that is the same part that came on your car from the factory. For the most part, they are not made by the car maker. Volkswagen doesn’t make many of the parts that are on their cars, they are made by other companies.

Factory Parts–PROS–

  • Fit and Finish. The way that a part fits is crucial! The factory parts are built to the exact specs to ensre proper fit.
  • Warranty. If you buy factory parts, the part will most likely come with a warranty. It will often time be much longer than a non-factory
  • Updated parts. Dealerships know when parts get updated. Some parts get several updates, getting parts from a dealer will ensure you get the latest, coolest, fastest, bestest part you can
  • Service. The dealership should have the most extensive parts catalog out there. They can get pics and have mechanics to help if needed

Factory Parts–CONS-

  • Price. This one is pretty easy, factory parts are almost always more expensive. There is not much you can do about that!
  • Quality. Just because it is a factory part, is no guarantee of quality. You need to replace the part right? The quality might not be any better, but it shouldn’t be worse

Aftermarket Parts

These parts are not parts purchased from the dealer. They are not the parts that originally came on your car from the factory. They can be made by anyone anywhere. That can be a good or bad thing.


  • Price. This can be a great way to save some money. The competition level of AM parts is huge. That can drive the cost down.
  • Selection. There might be lots of choices. Some options might have slightly different features. They might overcome an issue with factory parts
  • Quality. It might actually be better than factory. Aftermarket companies do not have to have the “mass appeal” that the factory does. They can fine tune parts to make them preform slightly better. They do not have to meet strict government regulations.
  • Shopping options. Aftermarket parts can be shopped for the best deal. The internet has so many parts retailers, with some work, you will get a great price
  • Questionable Quality. this, in my mind, is the biggest issue with aftermarket parts. The quality has NO guarantee
  • Warranty. Most of the time you get NO warranty with aftermarket parts
  • Fit and Finish. The odds of an aftermarket part fitting and functioning just like a factory part is VERY slim
  • Selection. With so many choices on aftermarket parts, it might be difficult to figure out which ones are good, and which ones are not.
The truth about the whole thing is, it just takes research to know which is best. When it comes to repair after an accident, ONLY factory parts are OK. A perfect example of factory vs aftermarket parts is the 1998-2005 Passats. They HATE aftermarket parts. If a customer installed aftermarket axles several things will happen.
  • The will not fit, never no matter what you do, they will not fit.
  • If (somehow) they do fit, the ABS light comes on at 55mph
  • They ruin wheel bearings
I know this from several attempts at using aftermarket axles. The factory axle for these Passats cost ~$650 per axle. The aftermarket one costs ~$125. The savings in parts is HUGE! What usually happens is a customer gets aftermarket axles installed somewhere other then my dealer. Then they come in and say they have a strange problem. It is pretty obvious when the axles are not factory. Now the customer has to pay to fix the problem twice.
What do you guys think? Is it always worth the extra money? Can aftermarket actually be better than factory?