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Cover up car damage with stickers

Hey folks. Today we are back in action with Shop Shots! For Those of you that are new to the blog, let me tell you a little about Shop Shots. It started early in the blog about 2 years ago. I posted a few pictures of some fun things I seen at the shop. With some input from the early readers(love you guys) we decided to make it a weekly thing. One of the earliest readers of the blog came up with the name. Thanks for that Brett! Here we are 64 volumes later, and rocking along. Let’s do it to this.

 Cover up car damage with stickersFirst up is not the craziest thing I have ever seen. But since I am a hockey fan, I got a good laugh from it. This is the front bumper from a new Golf. I didn’t want to peel off the sticker to see what the damage looked like. Gotta love cool sticker placement, and DIY car repairs. 😉

Wood blocks on the gas pedal

This is one of the funniest things I have seen in my working career. You are looking at the pedals from a 2002 VW Cabrio. They look a little funny because they have wood blocks strapped to them. Yep, wood blocks! I remember hearing the joke about little old ladies needed to sit on phone books, or put blocks on the pedals. Never in my life did I think I would actually see it. If there is ever a “Best of Shop Shots” This picture should be on it. Big thanks to a fellow VW tech Howie for letting my use this picture.

dirty smelly carThis picture is one I took last week. You are looking at the passenger side floor of a Jetta Sportwagen. Let me point out a few things you can see in the picture.

  • pistachio shells
  • several straw wrappers
  • leaves
  • a Starbucks coffee topper
  • Lots of weird white hair
  • a Wendy’s wrapper
  • console trim that is falling off
  • And the icing on the cake A BOTTLE OF AIR SANITIZER!

As luck would have it, I had the pleasure of replacing the pollen filter in this car. The filter lives just behind the glove box. The bigger issue I have is that someone would keep their car like this, and just buy some spray to cover it up. I can tell you all that the spray didn’t help. This is one of those times I put a cover down to keep me clean.

Well, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots! Now that the Cabby is in a good place, I can get back to a more regular posting schedule. I can also get back to the PODCAST!

Non VW engine rebuild

Dubs For A Cause

Hi everybody(Hi Dr Nick) 😀 Sorry, I am a big Simpsons fan. It’s Wednesday, so let’s do some Shop Shots. Before we get to the shots, I have a couple of things to let you guys know.

Dubs For A Cause.
You might have seen the banner on the right side of the blog. It is a car show and charity event. If you are in the NC area, consider coming out and supporting a great cause.

Giveaway Winner
I did a giveaway on Facebook this weekend. You guys blew me away with the amount of shares and love! It made for an incredibility awesome weekend! The winner at random was Andrew Preston. Dude, contact me so I can send you the stuff. Seriously I can’t tell you how awesome you guys are. There will be more giveaways coming soon!

New Camera
Up until this point, all of my pictures were taken with my Iphone 4s. I switched phones last week. Now the pictures will be taken with my Galaxy S4. Not really super important, but many of you ask me about pictures and videos and pictures.

Volkswagen Water DamgeI have posted a lot of pictures of VWs with water damage. I have even posted pictures of control modules fried from water damage. This time it’s a little different. This is the first Pheaton I have seen with water damage. The Pheaton would not start. Then sometimes, it would try and start by itself. It is always scarey when a car tries to start by itself. This module lives under the carpet on the drivers side. I still can’t figure out why a car company would put a computer under the carpet. This one is not even in a protective box.

Vw Pheaton Headlight Let’s keep with the Pheaton theme. This was actually sent to me by a fellow tech. He was replacing a headlight bulb in a Pheaton. This may not come as a huge surprise, but replacing a headlight on a Pheaton is not a simple task. To replace the headlight bulb, you have to remove the headlight. To remove the headlight, the bumper cover must be removed.

I sometime wonder if car makers build cars just to screw with the techs working on them. LOL!

Non VW engine rebuildOkay, so if you are a VW fan, you know this is not a Volkswagen engine. It is a pictures of my friend’s freshly rebuilt Pontiac engine. Now, you might not be a muscle car fan. But that is okay. I posted this picture because there is something so beautiful about a freshly rebuilt engine. This engine had the works done, new, cam, new pistons, new bearings, a fresh paint job. The engine will be pretty awesome when she is done.

That does it for Shop Shots! Another awesome week of behind the scenes pictures. I just want to thank you all again for the amazing response from the contest on Facebook. I can’t say enough how much you guys rock!

Tire damage due to bad alignment

Happy Wednesday everyone. I hope that you are all rocking it this week. As for me, I am off work the rest of the week. I will be working around the house and yard. I will be doing a little work on the Cabby, but I fell short of having her ready for the Black Forest Show. I have a few quick things to tell you guys, then we will get into this week’s pictures.

Black Forest 3rd Annual Oktoberfest
This event is Saturday! The folks at BFI are hosting their 3rd Oktoberfest. This another local car show for me. The event will be a car show, plus will have food and local NC beer. As many of you know I am a huge craft beer fan. If you can make it, do it. Check out their event page here. If you are coming, let me know. I would like to say hi. I might even have something cool for you. I will know more about that tomorrow. 😉

Humble Mechanic Podcast
I started an Automotive Podcast. I have a few show recorded. I am still tinkering with the format I want to use. Look for more episodes soon. I am thinking once or twice a week.

Humble Mechanic Gear
I have a few things in the works 😉 I will leave it at that. It will be cool.

Volkswagen electrical ProblemsVolkswagen seems to be known for it’s electrical problems. I am not sure that they are any worse than other cars nowadays. There are 2 things that will cause the weirdest electrical issues, low battery voltage, and loose ground connections. For those of you that say, “I don’t know anything about cars” don’t worry. You know more than you think. Think for a moment about your TV remote control. How do you know the batteries need to be replaced? It stops working right? Or you have to really mash the buttons. Or only the volume up works.

Modern cars have more electronic than we realize. Every module talks to other modules. Basic relays are now control modules. Some modules only function as a slave module to another module. There are even modules that run on something called virtual power. Confused yet? Good, now you can accept the fact that cars need good voltage to function.

This mess of a connection at the vehicle battery was causing low charging voltage. This is an older Jetta, so the symptoms were minor. A baking soda/water mixture and a toothbrush can clean most of the corrosion. The terminal end may need to be redone.

Overheated Volkswagen Engine DamageDid you know that when you first turn your ignition on your car does a self-test of all the instrument panel lights? For about 3 seconds your instrument panel looks like a Christmas tree. Why is this important? You need to know what the warning lights in your car look like. Why is that important? So you do not do more damage to your car when something fails.

This customer totally ignored the flashing light, the warning “STOP COOLANT” that pops up, and the temperature gauge that was pegged to hot. They continued to drive until the car stopped running. You are looking at the inside of the thermostat housing. In good condition, this would be the same color of black the outside is. Instead, you are seeing the burnt up coolant residue. Driving the car so long while it was overheating turned a $1200 timing belt/ thermostat job into a $3000+ cylinder head or more. The V6 Passat has been sitting at the dealer for about 2 months now. Just waiting for the customer to figure out what they want to do.

Tire damage due to bad alignmentI talk about getting your car serviced a fair amount. I also have voiced my opinion of the 10,000 miles service interval. THIS is why I don’t like that higher interval. Not only is this tire completely useless as far as traction, it’s DANGEROUS! When you read or hear me talk about “cords and or threads” showing, this tire is what you should think of.

This tire is worn this way due to vehicle alignment. Someone had aligned the car about 20,000 miles ago. When they did that, one of the nuts on the adjustment point was left loose. This caused the vehicle to be out of alignment. How the customer didn’t notice the steering wheel being 45 degrees off, is lost on me. If this customer would have brought there car in for a proper service at 5,000 miles from the alignment, we may have caught the issue.

We need to talk more about vehicle alignments, but I think that is better left to audio or video. Reading about alignments is confusing.

Well folks, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots. We had some good ones this week. Don’t forget to let me know if you are going the the Black Forest show. It will be a good time. I will be posting pictures next week. Also, I will be live tweeting and instagramming from the show. One more thing. I want to throw a huge shout out to my buddies Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Swing by and check out their new website. The poke around in the “store”. You might find someone that looks kinda familiar. 😉 Wait until the 3rd picture in that link.

Water leak damage to VW

Happy Friday everyone! It was a really tough week for me, but I am off this weekend so I am in a great mood. I have a few things before we get into this weeks pictures.

Humble Mechanic Podcast
If you missed the automotive podcast I posted Wednesday, go ahead and check it out. I have been kicking around the idea for a while and finally just did it. I am pretty happy with how it went. You guys gave me some great feedback. The plan is to add the podcast as part of the content. So I will keep writing posts, posting Shop Shots, and just add the podcast in.

Dubs For A Cause
This year the Dubs For A Cause charity event will be huge. Like last year, I will be supporting the cause. I am a fan of car shows, but making them a charitable cause is even better. If you are in the Raleigh,NC area, come check it out. The even is November 9th from 11-5pm at Apex Tuning.

Black Forest 3rd Annual Oktoberfest
This event is awesome! The folks at BFI are hosting their 3rd Oktoberfest. This another local car show for me. The event will be a car show, plus will have food and local NC beer. As many of you know I am a huge craft beer fan. If you can make it, do it. Check out their event page here.

Humble Mechanic Gear
I have gotten a bunch of folks asking me about T Shirts, stickers, and hats. Now, I do not really want to be in the merchandise business. But if this is something y’all are really interested in, let me know. I think the logo would look awesome on a shirt. What do you guys think?

Okay, now that we got all that taken care of, lets get into this week’s Shop Shots!

VW Beetle InteriorI mentioned at the start, I had a rough week. This was my first job Monday morning. I replaced the heater box on a 2008 Beetle. The heater box is the box that has the heater core, evaporator, and all the doors that control the heat and air conditioning. This type of job requires removing most of the interior of the car. The job is not really that bad, just a lot of parts to take off. If you look at the bottom of this picture, there is a green magnetic tray. I had 2 of them full of screws. This is also the type of job you have screws left over. This time, I didn’t have any left over. That is always a good thing. 😉

Failed Volkswagen TurboThere are some jobs that mechanics do that they love. Then there are the jobs that are not fun at all. For me, replacing turbo chargers is on the not fun list. This is the inlet side of a common rail TDI turbo charger. I am not sure what the exact failure was, but I can tell you what happened as a result. It may have been due to low engine oil, but the turbo failed. When this happened, about 2 qts of engine oil was pumped into the air intake. It also pumped oil into the exhaust. Several hours, and a few thousand dollars in parts later, the car ran great. I posted another picture to the Facebook page. You can see all the failed parts I replaced here.

Water leak damage to VWWith great rains comes great water leaks. This the the shot of another VW Passat with a water leak. We do not see this type of thing nearly as much as years ago, but it still happens. This module is the Convenience module. It may be shocking, but this module controls the “convenience” features of the car, like power windows, power locks, interior lighting and more. The car also needs signal from this module to start.

After draining about 3 inches of water from under the carpet, I found that the wires were starting to corrode. It was not that surprising to find the green slime on the connectors. The customer declined the repairs, so I don’t know the exact cause of the leak. Based on the condition of the car, I am pretty sure there was multiple issues.

That wraps up another week of Shop Shots! Just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to the blog and never miss a post. I don’t share or spam your email, that is dumb. Also, I would love your thoughts on Humble Mechanic merch.

Volkswagen Timing Belt Water Pump Failure

Hi folks, welcome to another volume of your favorite series, Shop Shots. This is where you get a behind the scenes look at what an auto mechanic sees in their job. Some days it’s crazy broken Volkswagens. Then you may see a moldy car from a water leak, or a nasty customer. Then you might even get to see the weird things people forget to take out of their car when they trade it in. Seriously, that is the weirdest stuff. Some I can’t even talk about. LOL

Volkswagen Timing Belt Water Pump FailureThere are times when we see something fail and think “WOW this customer got so dang lucky”. This is one of those times. This customer had their car towed in because it was making a “chewed belt noise”. The tech verified the customer’s concern. It was a “chewed belt noise”. The noise was coming from, a chewed up belt. 😉

The water pump on this Passat failed. Usually a water pump will leak, or just stop moving water. This one was shifted sideways and completely locked up. It would not turn at all. You can see the resulting damage to the timing belt in this picture. All that fuzzy stuff is parts of the shredded belt. The lucky part was the belt was still in time. The damage to the water pump could have resulted in catastrophic engine damage. By catastrophic, we are talking damage in the $2500 price range. Again, lucky lucky lucky

Volkswagen backup CameraAfter a serious start to this weeks Shop Shots, this is something a little more fun. I pulled a 2013 EOS in my bay to replace the trunk latch. Nothing serious, the trim cover would not stay on. While I was backing the car in, the camera popped on with this view. It caught my eye because it makes my bay look like a giant mess. That is true sometimes, but not so much this day. Then it got me thinking, even though VW backup cameras are really good, you need to follow the instructions on the bottom of the screen. No matter how much technology new cars get, you still need to pay attention.

Propeller Shaft Damage Golf RThe last picture of the day comes as a warning to be careful when modding your Golf R, or any car for that matter. We have talked about a dealership mechanic’s view on modified cars before. I generally don’t care much about folks bringing their modified cars into the shop. This is the propeller shaft on a newer Golf R. The prop shaft connects the transmission at the front of the car to the rear differential in the back of the car. It is a key component in the 4motion system.

This customer had a custom exhaust installed. When they installed the exhaust, they had to unbolt the front side of the prop shaft. Fast forward to now, he has a horrible vibration on acceleration. I test drove the car with him to very the vibration. On the ride, we talk about leaving bolts loose, and not properly torquing them. I put the car up in the air and find one of the bolts missing, and the bolt hole not lined up.

I ordered all new bolts for him so we could get the car fixed. When the bolt came in, I attempted to install them. Notice I said “attempt”. I spent about an hour trying to get the bolts installed. The threads would not line up properly. Finally I pulled the front of the prop shaft off and found this. The sleeve that goes into the transfer case was severely damaged. I spent another hour just trying to get the prop shaft back on the car. The only repair for this damage was a new prop shaft to the tune of about $1700. The moral of this story is, you gotta pay to play. I feel bad for the guy, but modding a car is not cheap.

That does it for another round of Shop Shots! I hope you enjoyed the pictures this week. I sure enjoy sharing them with you. A few reminders before I sign off.

  • If there are topics you want me to talk about, post them in the comments below.
  • If you post a comment, be sure to check the box that says “” Then if you ask a question, you will get an email when I or someone else in the community answers.
  • I will be at the Black Forest Oktoberfest. Let me know if you are going, it will be good to share a beer with you. Save the date, 10/12/13
  • Thank you all for your support. This community means a lot to me, I really apprciate each and every one of you. I may not say it enough, but I think it all the time.
Nail in tire

Hi everybody! You read the title right, Shop Shots are BACK! We are on volume 58 of the pictures that give you a behind the scenes look at automotive service. For those of you that are new to the community, all of these pictures are taken with my Iphone 4s(for now 😉 ) One quick thing before we get into the pictures. I am working on getting the email alerts system worked out. If you have subscribed to updates, you should be in the new system. If you have any problems please let me know. You can contact me, or email me Charles(AT)humblemechanic(dot)com. I hope to have it totally worked out in the next few days. Alright, it is picture time.

Nail in tireThis type of thing really stinks. A customer came in for a tire that was loosing air. The nail entered the tire pretty close to the edge. Based on the place the nail entered the tire, it looked repairable. When I took the tire off the wheel, I didn’t expect it to be a giant nail. As you can see, the nail dug into the inner part of the tire. This damage can compromise the sidewall of the tire. Any time something like this happens, the tire needs to be replaced. Luck for this customer, she bought the wheel and tire coverage. I should do a post about the “extras” that dealers try and sell you. Some are junk, but the wheel and tire coverage is worth the money.

Vehicle tire vibration We are continuing the the tire theme. I didn’t really plan that, it just happened 😉 This customer brought her car in for a basic service. She also mentioned that she thought her car had a vibration on the highway. As part of the service she was getting we balanced the tires, and do a ton of visual inspections. The tech that was working on her car, found that the left rear wheel was packed with mud and rocks. This probably added a pound of weight putting the wheel assembly out of balance. When I told her, and showed her this exact picture she just laughed. She lives on a gravel road so this type of thing happened to her all the time. The tech cleaned the junk from the inside of the wheel and she was good to go!

Failed Diesel TDI fuel pumpThere is so much talk on the internets about VW diesels. Everything from the high pressure fuel pumps that “always” fail on the new TDIs, to failing cam shafts on the older Pump Duse engines. I wrote a post a long time ago talking about the Volkswagen TDIs. My opinion is basicly the same as it was back then.

What you see in the picture is the fuel pump that lives inside the fuel tank. It is coated in black goo. That goo is the result of failing seals in the fuel injectors. The bad part about this repair is it can be expensive. The issue of failing seals gets worse because of the high compression of the TDI. That causes the injectors to walk around in their holes. The “walking” causes the holes to no longer be round. So what is the repair? A new cylinder head to the tune of $5000 or so. Never a fun thing to tell a customer.

Well friends, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots! I know it has been a while be it really feels great to be back in action. Remember if you have any topics you want to talk about just post them up in the comments of a post. I always like to know what you guys want to know about. Hopefully the email thing is worked out and you all can get the updates again.

Volkswagen Oil Leak

Hey everyone, normally I don’t repost a post. Last week something got messed up with all of my websites. It was something with a malware or virus that affected the back end of all my blogs. It is all worked out and everything is working properly. Host gator got everything worked out, except Volume 56 of Shop Shots. I am really impressed by Host gator. They spent all day fixing all of my sites. If you ever need hosting, I can’t recommend them enough. There is a link at the right of the site, use it, don’t use it, it doesn’t really matter to me. But if you need hosting, they are the folks to use. Alright, lets get these pictures rolling.

Volkswagen Tire IssueWe start off with this tire blowout. This poor customer was driving on the highway, and had her tire fail. Many times when you hear folks talk about having a blown tire, it is not to this extreme. The reason for her issue was due to having old tires. The tires on her car had good tread. The problem was, the tire was dry rotting. When you look at your tires, or have them looked at, be sure the entire condition of the tire is examined. If you look at only the tread depth, you could be missing a safety issueVolkswagen Oil LeakIt doesn’t matter how many certifications that a mechanic has. We do more oil changes than just about any other repair or service. That means we never mess up oil changes right? WRONG! This is a drain plug for an oil pan. It is the primary thing that keeps the oil in the car.

The tech that performed this oil change, made a small mistake. He installed 2 crush washers. Basically he put 2 gaskets on. Despite what you think, 2 gaskets are not better than one. The crush washer takes up any space between the engine oil and and the oil drain plug. This also means that the drain plug is not properly torqued. Luckily it there were no issues. But that did not stop me from harassing the guy that did it.

Customer beer holder Growler boxOkay, this may in fact be the coolest thing on the planet. If you have followed the blog, or know me at all, you know that I LOVE craft beer. Seriously, it is crazy. I also have an amazing wife that works in the beer industry(it’s a tough life I know). Well she hooked up this super awesome beer holder from Growler-Box.com. Mike was able to take the Humble Mechanic logo and make a custom 6pack beer holder. If you like beer, swing by his site and check it out. He also has a Growler-Box Facebook page go ahead and give him a like.

I have also talked Mike into making me another one just like this. When I have the other growler box(I am not giving this one up 😉 ) Mike and I are going to do a fun give away. I will do a post about it, so stay tuned.

That pretty much wraps up Shop Shots. Sorry for the site issues last week. I am really glad things have been repaired. Thanks for hanging in there everyone. Also, be sure to stay tuned for that Growler-Box give away.