Posts

Today I will be taking your automotive questions. If you have a question about a car, car repair, DIYs on your car, Volkswagen, mechanic’s tools, or anything car related, ask it up. If you have a car question for a show like this, email me Charles(at)Humblemechanic(DOT)com.  Be sure to put the phrase “Question for Charles” in the subject. That is the best way to avoid the spam monster. If you don’t get your question on this show, email it again just to be sure.

Sponsor of the Day

CRP AUTOCRP deals in a ton of OE automotive parts. They also make the factory DSG fluid for VW. Having them as a sponsor will give us access to more information about fluids than I would ever get from VW. I am really excited to have them as a resource of information. To learn more about the great products they have, check out CRPAutomotive.com

Help Support The Show
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Join me today as we discuss:

  • What is the harm in NOT using 93 octane fuel
  • Getting back to being a mechanic after 5 years off
  • Best year Passat wagon, pros and cons on B5.5 vs B6
  • Top 5 Failures 1998-2005 Passat B5/B5.5
  • Should you fix p0401 code on a TDI?
  • And more


Trouble viewing? Watch “Viewer Automotive Questions ~ Podcast Episode 158” on YouTube.

As always I love to hear your thoughts. Please post them in the comments section below. Again, if you have a question for a show like this, email me Charles(at)humblemechanic(dot)com with Question for Charles in the subject. Also if you have an idea for a show you can email me, or use the contact me form!

Don’t forget to follow me at:

Don’t forget to follow me at:

Yesterday I was talking about customer service. I made mention of “topping off” your gas tank. I had a few folks ask what them means. So today we are talking about the common things that people do that can damage their car.

Not Doing Maintenance
This almost goes without saying, so I will keep it short and sweet. Skipping out on the proper maintenance can ruin your car. This also includes not checking your oil and tire pressure.

Not keeping your car clean.
Ok, I am really guilty of this one. Keeping a clean car will of course make your car hold up better. There is another side that most folks don’t consider. A clean car is awesome. When you keep your car clean, it feels like a newer car. This might not keep your car from breaking, but it will keep you happier in your car. I always love my Passat more when it’s clean, I just don’t like cleaning it.

Using your wiper blades to clear ice
I have to be honest, I am guilty of this one too. You know, that really cold morning where you have ice and snow built up on your windshield. You forgot to run out and start the car early. Now you have to make a mad dash to clean the windshield before your coffee gets cold. Most folks will jump in the car, jam the wipers on high.

This can do damage to your car in a few different ways. The extra wear on the wipers blades never a good thing. VW blades are about $20 each, you don’t want to put more stress on them than needed. There are more components that can be affected. Consider the wiper motor, and transmission. Yep, the wipers have a transmission. Anytime the wipers slow due to an outside influence, the motor and transmission are stressed. Extended stress can cause premature wear on both the motor and transmission. (The transmission is what the linkage for the wipers is called). To avoid the extra work done by the wiper system, just start your car early, or scrape your windshield.

Starting your car and “punching it”
Years ago, my dealer had a shuttle driver that would do this. He would start the shuttle van on a super cold morning. Then with out delay, slam it in drive and “punch it” As you can imagine, that is not a great thing for a car. I know that is an extreme example, but most of us are guilty.

The better way to get your car rolling is to let it run for a minute or so. Let the fluids circulate, and build pressure. You want to make sure that oil, coolant, and transmission fluid are flowing before you jam the gas and go

“Punching it” then shutting off your car
The flip side is letting your car cool down. This is much more critical for a turbo charged car. Letting your car idle for a minute before shutting it off, is a great habit to start. When your engine is running, all the fluids are moving. When they are moving, they are carrying heat away from the engine. When you just shut the car off, all that heat is trapped. This can cause the engine oil to break down faster and “coke”. When oil “cokes” it will harden. This is one of the big issues with the B5-B5.5 Passats. Not only will it speed up the break down of oil, it will clog the oil passages. Remember, no oil = sad engine!

“Topping up” your fuel tank
Ah yes, the worst one so far! Let us talk about what “topping up” really is. If you set the pump and it clicks off at $38.45. Then you turn the pump back on and put and even $40 in.Then you have successfully “Topped up” the tank. I guess now a days an extra dollar will get you no where, but you guys get the point. 😉

You are probably wondering why that is so bad. See, all modern cars have more emissions controls and you can imagine. One of the systems is designed to control fuel vapors. Whether it is a leak in the tank, while you are filling your car, or just normal driving. The vapors are managed by a system called the Evaporative Emissions system, or evap system for short.

The evap system will deal with fuel vapors by holding them in a canister. This is called a charcoal canister. The vapors are then pumped back in to the engine and burned. When you over fill your gas tank by “topping up”, you pump liquid fuel into the charcoal canister. This can cause the charcoal to break apart. When it starts to break apart it gets pumped into the engine. That part is usually not an issue. The issue comes in the damage to the canister and the control valve.

The control valve will get clogged with charcoal and cause the MIL to come on. 🙁 The end result will be replacing the charcoal canister, and control valve, and flushing all the tiny bits of charcoal out of the system. That can be a pretty costly repair. If you do it one time, fine, but don’t make a habit of it.

What do you guys think? Are you guilty of any ,or all, of these? I know that I am. If you enjoyed today’s post, please consider sharing it. I love getting new readers joining our community.

It is no secret that VW has a huge share of the diesel market for passenger cars. As we push for better and better fuel mileage, I have seen TDIs become much more common. It is not just “those diesel people” anymore. With the expanded range of customers that are now in our TDIs, we see issues that we never seen before.

The TDI that was in the 2002 Jetta was a GREAT engine. We refer to is as the “ALH”. That is the code that VW uses to identify that engine. If a customer were to mis-fuel that engine the repair was simple.

  1. Pump out the gas(it’s a diesel remember)
  2. Change the fuel filter
  3. Add fresh diesel fuel
  4. purge and gas left
  5. Drive home happy

I have only seen 1 “ALH” that was mis-fueled. BTW, if this happens to you, and there is damage, don’t blame me. Just Sayin

Enter the next generation TDIs. Here is where we get more customers buying diesels. Now we have the average driver buying TDIs, not just the TDI folks that usually are INSANE about their cars. I use the word insane in a positive way. 😉

This is when I started to see more and more cars that were filled with GAS, instead of diesel. The Pumpe Duse engine was still mostly forgiving when it came to mis-fuel. The car would just stop running. The repair was very similar to the “ALH”, just something we did more often.

In 2009 we got the “Common Rail”. A highly advanced very complicated TDI setup. The high power, and great fuel mileage were a huge draw. Especially since we had just seen gas prices over $4 for the first time ever. With improved sales came more mis-fuel issues. Unlike the last two generations, this TDI is not forgiving what so ever. When someone puts gas in the Common Rail (CR for short), all that is takes is cranking the engine to do damage.

If the car is started, usually it will be driven until it stops running. What that means is gas is in the entire fuel system. Due to diesel and gas having totally different lubrication properties, this makes the fuel pumps fussy. They start doing bad things like coming apart on the inside, and spraying metal throughout the fuel system. The resulting repair is fuel system replacement. Every part that fuel touches gets replaced, from fuel take to fuel injector! This repair costs about $7800 for parts and labor. OUCH!

 

Not really a fun time for anyone is it? This is one of the reasons that I am not ALL IN on diesel. I don’t trust myself to properly fill the car. I love the technology, but you MUST be the right person for it.

It does bring up a really good question. Is this the fault of VW, the customer, or the company that made the parts? Yes if you put gas in your car it’s YOUR fault. BUT, shouldn’t the parts be designed with some type of fail safe? Should the fill neck be different so you CAN’T mis-fuel?

~To prevent anyone from ever mis-fueling a car again, just share this post.(ok, that wont happen, but it might be a ‘Humble’ reminder 😉

VW has been a strong diesel supporter for many years.  In 2009 they released the Common Rail engine.  This new Common Rail (CR) engine is very powerful, fuel efficient and ultra clean.  VW dealers have a hard time keeping them on the lot, because everyone wants them.

I have been asked a couple of times over the past week or so, “Should I buy a Jetta TDI?”  My answer usually surprises people.  I almost always say “NO”.  That is always followed up by, “Charles, they get 40+ MPG”.  I know they get great mileage, but a TDI is not for everyone.  Here are some reasons why I would give a TDI real consideration before jumping right in.

They cost more initally

The Jetta for example, is about $2550 more for a TDI than a similarly equiped Jetta with a 2.5L engine.  That means you are down about $2500 from day 1

Fuel is more expensive

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, I know that sounds fake!  Regular unleaded fuel is about $0.20 cheaper a gallon than diesel.  Yeah, I know its only a couple of bucks for each fill up, but remember in 2008 when diesel was $0.40 more per gallon?

The new TDI is super fuel sensitive

As little as 1% of gas in the fuel will cause catastrophic damage to the fuel system.  At this point, I dont think that the diesel quality in the USA is high enough.  I have replaced, or have seen several fuel systems replaced because of bad fuel, algee in the fuel, or because gas was put in the tank.  A few gas in the tank issues were the customers fault, some were proven that the station had the wrong fuel in their tank, and some are still unknown. Its a much higher risk than having bad gasoline

Maintenance costs are higher over the life of the vehicle

The current TDI needs a fuel filter at least every 20,000 miles.  This will run you about $80 at the dealer.  At 80,000 miles, your car will need a timing belt.  Get ready to spend $1200 or so on that.  The other common VW engines are chain driven and do not have a maintenance interval for replacement.

Based on all that, I dont think that a TDI is right for a lot of the people that buy them. They need more love than other VWs do.  I will say that I really do like diesel technology.  I think for the person that burns up the road, a TDI is perfect.  It bothers me that people will buy a TDI without the proper research.

I do support our TDIs.  I think its a great engine. In heavy traffic, the air coming out of the tail pipe is cleaner than whats coming into the engine.  So before you buy a TDI, make sure its right for you and it fits your vehicle needs.

 

Post what you think in the comments.  I know there are lots of hardcore diesel folks that would not trade a TDI for anything, but thats not most people.