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1.8 Passat engine damage

I talk all the time about changing engine oil. I have said that it is the one, if not THE, most important thing you can do to keep your car healthy. I went back and checked all the “Behind The Wrench” interviews I have done. Everyone said that changing engine oil was the most important thing for your car.

What exactly is an oil change? The obvious answer is “changing the oil” DUH! But oil changes are more than that. When I do an oil change on a customer’s car, it goes something like this.

  1. Take a quick spin around the lot. That give me a chance to listen for any weird noises.
  2. Check all the lights on the car~I don’t want my customers getting a ticket
  3. Check the wipers and make sure they clear properly.
  4. Look under the hood, here I am checking for any damage to belts, hoses, vacuum lines. I also look for any coolant or oil leaks.
  5. Check the oil level. I want to know if it is low before I start the service.
  6. This next step varies from car to car. Some I change the filter first, other I change it last. On my Passat, I do the filter first. On the other 1.8t engines I do the filter after. It doesn’t really matter.
  7. Next I drain the engine oil. I try to let it drain for about 10 minutes, or until the oil is dripping out. The more oil that comes out, the more through of an oil change it is.
  8. While the oil is draining, I take a look at the rest of the under car. Checking tire pressures, looking for anything that might be an issue, including brakes.
  9. Install and torque the drain plug. To be honest, I don’t put a torque wrench on the drain plug in the oil pan anymore. I have a really good idea of what 30nm is. 😉
  10. After lowering the car down, I fill the engine with oil, checking the level twice.
  11. Next I top off all the fluids, do another quick check under the hood, and wrap it up.

As you can see, there is a lot more to an oil change, than just draining and filling engine oil. At my shop we call an oil change a LOF/S. That is a Lube, Oil, Filter, with Synthetic. The lube is generally topping off all the fluids. We have went over the oil. Then of course the Filter. The filter is a very important as well. It is the filter that catches all the little partials, and junk floating around in your oil. Remember that your oil carries debris and the filter holds it. You would not all that junk to get caught in an oil passage, and cause engine damage.

Clean engine oil is so so critical to a vehicle! I don’t really care if you do your own, or bring it to the shop. Just get your oil changed. I am actually due for an oil change on my car. When I do it, I will shoot a little video for you guys. You can see exactly what I am talking about.

UPDATE~ I am traveling for training this week. I leave on Wednesday and will not be home until Saturday. That should not affect any posts with week, but traveling might throw a wrench in things. I will be learning about our new diagnostic software. I will give you a full report when I get back. I hope I can find some cool stuff to show you while I am there. Remember you can always connect with my on Facebook, Twitter, and email.

Your inside look into the world of car repair and Volkswagen Dealer service

Just a few warnings before I get in to this post.

  1. This can apply to cars other than Volkswagen
  2. This is MY opinion. Officially, you must follow the owners manual for warranty purposes

This post is in response to a question that was posted on the Facebook fan page.  Rudy asked

I wanted to know if the recommend 10k oil change is a good rule of thumb to go by? I have read on VW blogs about people changing it every 5k to be safe. I have a 2012 VW Sportwagen 2.5L and I was just curious to know what your thoughts are? I want to keep my car in great condition.

That is actually something that I get asked a lot. Since 2006, VW has moved to a 10,000 mile service interval. Starting in 2009 they went to free maintenance. That is such a far cry from what folks are use to.  It was not that long ago that a car needed its oil changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months. Now a days, there really is no need to service your car that much. Synthetic oils will hold up much better that older oil would. Also, engine oiling systems are much better than they use to be.

My issue with 10,000 mile service has nothing to do with the quality of oil, or filter material. It is more about the overall health of your car. There is a lot more to keeping your car in great (and safe) condition than changing the oil. When a customer goes 10k between services, here are somethings to consider

  • 10k miles between tires being checked
  • 10k miles without having brakes checked
  • 10k miles without anyone checked your light bulbs
  • 10k miles between fluids being checked/ filled

Lets take brakes for a PERFECT example. I check brakes on every car that I work on. If a car comes in and needs brakes, I can replace the pads and resurface the rotors, or replace the pads and replace the rotors. The pads and resurface the rotors costs about $275, replacing the rotors costs $525(those are estimates to showcase the difference in price). The rotors need to be replaced when the pad wears into the rotor. If a car is serviced every 5k miles, I would be able to catch the worn brakes before rotors need to be replaced. 

That is just one example of how waiting can cost more money in the long run. I also see lots of cars with no oil on the dipstick. Most people do not check anything on their car. This can lead to running a car low on oil (or other fluids) causing key components to wear out faster.

I personally change the oil in my Passat every 4000 miles. My car uses oil, about 1qt every 4k miles. I also know that the 1.8t engine likes to sludge if its not properly maintained. For me its worth 1 extra service every year and a half.  For how much a standard oil service costs, its more than worth it to keep your car happy.

One more thing to consider, it just popped into my head so it might be out of order or context. Everyone drives different, and under different conditions. Does someone in Seattle REALLY have the same wear on their car as someone in Phoenix? It is just not possible. I picture car manufaturers making those recommendations based on idea driving conditions, and ideal drivers. In my mind, none of us are in ideal conditions, and NO ONE is an ideal driver!

There you have it, that is pretty much how I feel about 10k service. Post up what you think. Do you follow the owners manual? Go by what the dealer recommends? Follow what Grandpa always told you?

One side note about the feature image on this post. I am currently working on getting a real logo and banner set up. I will be using this until I get a real cool logo!

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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