Tag Archive for: Safety

Volkswagen Jetta Seat Auto Mechanic

Hey everyone! We got some Shop Shots for ya today! Remember that all of these pictures come to you from behind the scenes of a VW dealer. These are some of the things that an auto mechanic will see from day to day. Some good, some scary, some super gross, but all of them are the real deal Okay, let’s go~

Here is a picture of a catalytic converter on a 2007 GTI. The customer had a performance exhaust installed on his car. At some point, he had an aftermarket catalytic converter welded in. That bright shiny elbow is a cheat. It is a way to trick the cars computer into thinking that the cat is functioning properly. It moves the rear oxygen sensor further away from the flow of exhaust. That reduces the amount of air it sees. This will let someone install a high flow cat, or no cat at all, and the MIL will not come on. I think some stuff like this is really cool. I like when people find a work around. Of course I officially don’t support cheating the system.

20120509-092515.jpgThis was the very first car I worked on the other morning. The customer was saying that the seat back would not adjust. He very cleverly took some bungee cords and secured a couple of pillows. To be honest, it was a pretty cool setup. I would imagine that it would be super comfortable on a road trip. One thing to consider is that an improperly adjusted seat back can be a safety issue.

If you have ever had a VW, you might have noticed that the seat back adjustment is strange. It has that knob on the side that needs to be turned. I have had lots of folks tell me the knob didn’t work. The trick is to lean forward just a little, and the seat back will move just fine. This setup is suppose to be a safer design than the lever that most cars have.

Oh, this car’s seat worked just fine. I lubed his squeaky door and sent him on his way.

20120509-092634.jpgThis is another shot from outside the shop. I was visiting a buddy who is restoring a GTI. We were in his garage having a good craft beer, and chatting about his plans for the car. I looked down and this caught my eye. How cool is it to have a 25+ year old car with that logo on it. AWESOME! Yeah, that was just a little VW nerding out on my part

20120509-092724.jpgThis picture goes along with the video below. This is a CC with about 900 miles on it. The customer slide into a curb and restored the wheel and bent the control arm. That piece should be NOT be bent like that. When you watch the video, you will see what it looks like from the outside of the car. The rumor is the guy was wasted when this happened. I have no way of confirming that!

So, you might have noticed that sweet intro on this video. A good friend of mine built that for me. I can not take any credit for it (I wish I could). This will be on all of the videos going forward. I almost peed my pants when I watched it for the first time. This dude is so damn talented!

Ok, back the video. You can see how close the tire is to the back of the wheel well. The whale noise that you are hearing is the rim scrapping the control arm(the bent part in the pic above). We were really cracking up about the damage.

Well, there you have it, another round of Shop Shots in the books. A quick Cabby update, I drove her home yesterday. She is now safe and sound in my garage. I have to swing by work today and pick up the Passat..

If you think that the intro is totally amazing, mash one of the share buttons! It will help me thank the guy that made it.

Parts of a Tire

For some reason, I have tires on  the brain today. So we are talking all about the tires on your car. I don’t think that anyone would argue that having good tires on a vehicle is a vital to it’s performance and safety. But most of us give very little though to tires beyond that.

Lets decode tires a little.

Parts of a tire

Understanding what each part of a tire is will be very important though out this post. There are some parts that we don’t really need to worry about. You will never need to know or care about a “gum strip” on the inside of a tire. Let’s focus on the basics

TreadParts of a Tire
The tread is the part of a tire that contacts the road surface. The tread consist of a layer of rubber, compounded to suit the application purpose of the tire, and the thickness serves to protect the belt and carcass. The tread pattern serves the purpose of improving water drainage, providing traction, braking and cornering characteristics and long tread life.

The sidewall on each side of the tire, between the shoulder and the bead is the section that deflects most during running. The rubber coating serves to protect the carcass.

On the sidewall of every passenger-car and light-truck tire is an alphanumeric code that describes the dimensions of the tire. For most tires, this code will start with a “P”. Some may start with an “LT” to signify light truck. Some tires may have a “Max. Load” indication . When selecting new tires, it is important to make sure a tire’s load rating is at least a high as the tire you are replacing.

Provides continuous contact with the road while maneuvering. Shoulders wrap slightly over the inner and outer sidewall of a tire.

This is the section of the tire that makes seals the tire to the rim.

Tire Size and Rating

When talking about tire size, the measurements can be confusing. Once you read this, you will never wonder what P225/45R17 91V  means. Lets keep the example that I used and break down each part. By the way, this is the size tire my Passat needs. 😉

  • “P” That is for passenger car.
  • 225 – That is the width of the tread in millimeters
  • 45 – This is known as the “aspect ratio”. This is a ratio of sidewall height to section width. The easy way to remember what this number means is, the higher the number the “taller” the tire.
  • “R” Simply stands for “Radial” This has to do with the build of the tire. Almost all tires are “Radial”
  • 17 this is the size of the rim.
  • 91 This is the load rating of a tire, higher the number, the greater the load carrying capacity.
  • V Speed rating, the higher the letter the faster the tire goes? Well, the faster it will be stable anyway. 😉

Based on those numbers, that would be a pretty sporty tire. There are also a few numbers than indicate a tires performance. These numbers are usually a little harder to find.

This will be listed as a number. The higher the number, the longer the tire should last. This number is more a “theory” than anything. Tire manufacturers are not regulated in regard to this number. I would not solely rely on this number when shopping for tires.

The tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement as measured under controlled conditions on asphalt and concrete test surfaces. As of 1997, the traction grades from highest to lowest are “AA”,”A”,”B” and “C”. A tire graded “AA” may have relatively better traction performance than a tire graded lower, based on straight-ahead braking tests. The grades do not take into consideration the cornering or turning performance of a tire.

Tire’s resistance to heat and its ability to dissipate heat. The grades from highest to lowest are “A”,”B” and “C”. The grade “C” corresponds to the minimum performance required by federal safety standard. Therefore, the “A” tire is the coolest running, and even though the “C” tire runs hotter it does not mean it is unsafe.

Other Tire Information You Should Know

  • The “legal life of a tire” is SIX years from the date of purchase, or the life of the “usable tread”. The “useable tread” is when the original tread is worn to the wear bars which is 2/32 of tread
  • Make sure that you check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. Temperature affects pressure. When the tires are hot(after driving) the pressure will be higher. You might let air out of the tire to set it to the correct pressure. This will result in your tires being under inflated.
  • Some tire manufacturers recommend rotating tires every 6000-8000 miles. I think that is pretty solid advise. Remember, you can’t rotate your tires too much.
  • Michelin brand requires punctures to be repaired with a patch/plug. This fills the hole in the tire, and adds a patch on the inside of the tire. It really is a great way to repair a tire.
  • If you have an all wheel drive (AWD, 4motion) make sure you reffer to your owners manual. Some AWD cars require replacing 4 tires. That means if you damage a tire, you might have to buy a full set!

Well, I hope that I was able to simplify the vehicle tire for you folks. The work and engineering that goes into a vehicles tire is pretty fascinating. It is crazy to think that your car rides on little squares on the road. If you have any tire questions, post them in the comments. I LOVE talking tires..

If you learned that tires are more than round, let your friends know, but clicking one of the share buttons below!

VW brake caliper with zie ties

No, you are not losing your mind, it is Wednesday. I am thinking about moving Shot Shots up to Wednesday. What do you guys think, Yay, Nay, Don’t care as long as I post it? Today I have some more insider pictures for you.


HAHA, I am totally laughing about this picture! I actually took this today. It is a picture of a rear brake caliper on a 2001 Jetta. From what I can tell, the parking brake cable is missing a clip. Of course the best possible repair is wire and zip ties. There are 2 zip ties where the clip should be. The ball should not have that wire wrapped around it. I understand that people can’t always afford to fix their car properly, but PLEASE do no use zip ties on your brakes!


Would you believe that this is the SAME car? I have not seen a Jetta in this bad of shape in a long time. This is the mount that limits movement of the engine. It is commonly known as the “dog bone” mount. I guess that they lost the bolts? The thing about this repair is, it is not safe! Remember when we talked about safety being more than seat belts? Well this is a perfect example of something not safe. The bolts that belong in that mount are meant to shear. When the wrong bolt is used, it changes the needed force to shear the bolt. It may never be an issue, but it is something to think about. Side note, I am pretty sure this car could be several posts all on its own.


Ah the pink trail of death! The cool thing about VW coolant is that it is pink or purple. When it leaks, then dries, it leaves a trail of dried coolant behind. This can make finding leaks easier.If you are ever looking at a used VW, be sure to check the coolant pipes for this trail. This leak is actually hidden. The only reason I seen it was, the catalytic converter had been removed. The guy working on it, was replacing cats on a V6 4motion Passat. It is really one of the worst jobs we have!


What you are looking at here is the bottom of an oil pan removed from a EOS 2.0. If you look close, you can see the reflection of me taking this picture! The reason I took this was the carbon sitting in the bottom of the pan. If you notice the chunks in the middle of the pic, that is what I am talking about. This forms due to lack of oil changes. The customer might have been following proper maintenance, I don’t really know. Just another reason why I think a 10k interval service is WAY too long. This was an issue on the B5/B5.5 Passats like mine. PSA-Change your oil, with the proper oil!

Well folks, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots! If you would like me to keep doing this on Wednesday, let me know in the comments. If you don’t care what day, as long as you get them, post that too! Don’t forget, you can @ reply me on Twitter, if you use twitter! Also, don’t forget I am getting questions together for another Rapid Fire Q&A. If you would like to submit a question, the easiest way is to use this Contact Me form, or post in the comments!

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After a conversation on twitter, I wanted to talk a little about safety. Let’s face it, the environment mechanics work in, is not the safest place in the world. In fact we have to attend an annual safety meeting to be sure that we know NOT to put gasoline in a Gatorade bottle, because you will forget, and then drink it. 😉

There are very standard hazards like, slipping and falling, getting cut, and dropping things. A lot of times these hazards can be avoided, or the effects mitigated by wearing proper attire, and not being stupid! We had a guy at the shop stab a wire tool through his hand. He was holding the connector in the palm of his hand, and slipped or something, the result was him being out for several months. It is just like cutting something INTO your hand, instead of away from it. ~DON’T TO THAT~

We also deal in some pretty gross chemicals. Gas, coolant, brake cleaner, brake fluid (and more) can be bad news. Most are under pressure while in a car. Hot coolant will melt skin on contact. Most of the chemicals in a car are are very toxic. I use gloves almost all the time to try and keep my hands from getting jacked up. Well, that and I don’t really like getting dirty.(is that weird?) Safety when it comes to chemicals is so important. I can’t even begin to tell you what an eye full of gasoline feels like.

One of my lease favorite things about this job is dealing with cars that have water damage. Going beyond the smell, and dealing with interiors that are wet, they can have mold build up. I have worked on so many cars with water damage it is not even funny. I remember one Passat that I worked on, you could see the line on the door panel where the water had been. At one time there must have been 10 inches of water standing in the car. Turns out it was from New Orleans and was flooded by hurricane Katrina.

Inhaling badness is also something we deal with. The conversation on twitter was about a how one of the techs in the shop was being dumb and not paying attention to what he was doing. He had a car running while filling it with coolant. The coolant spilled over and hit the cars exhaust. That caused the coolant to become steam and “smoke” up the shop. The smell of burning coolant smells like burning syrup, and not in a good way. I also remember one time where an oil seal went bad on a turbo. This pumped about 2qts of oil into the exhaust. After replacing the turbo, I had to burn all the oil out. It looked the the shop was on fire. Let me tell you how breathing that stuff is awful, and then you stink like burning oil the rest of the day.

Working in a shop is not the most dangerous job in the world, but its does have some concerns. Most of the hazards can be avoided by not being stupid, and using proper equipment. Working smart and clean will help to mitigate lots of injuries! Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sore backs are not avoidable, but safety needs to be taken seriously!

One more thing, don’t forget to check out the Automotive Forum. It is not just for mechanics. I actually have a section just for customers to post questions, comments and brag about their mechanics! Just remember, I am trying to keep all the spam out. You will need to be approved, and that might take a few hours. If you sign up and don’t get an approval, just contact me with your email and let me know. I get about 50 spams a day on the forum.