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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

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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!

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Not Clean VW

Hey everyone, we are back in action with another volume of Shop Shots. This week’s pictures are a little late, thanks to the internet being down at work. But never fear, we are still rolling along. Alright, enough rambling, let’s get to those pictures.

Not Clean VWThe first picture today comes from a fellow VW tech named Matthew in WI. The tech working next to him had to pull the seat up for a repair. This is what he found. It looks like enough hair to make a little critter.

This is a shot of under the drivers seat. You can see the shifter at the top right of the picture. That may also be a nickle at the bottom left. I have seen lots of hair and gross stuff under customer’s seats, but this may be the worst.Thanks for sending this in Matthew.

Volkswagen Transmission FailureI talk a fair about VW transmission issues, and valve body failures. I figured it was time to actually show you guys what a VW valve body looks like. The valve body is what controls the fluid in the transmission. It uses solenoids to hold or release fluid pressure.

I replaced this one for an extremely hard shift from 2nd gear to 3rd gear. The job is pretty easy. The only part I don’t care for is being covered in transmission fluid. The up side is, all the tools I use on the job are really clean when I am done. Most automatic transmission fluid as great detergent packages in it. It is one of the best things for cleaning tools.

VW Flywheel failure

Staying with the VW transmission theme, we move to a manual transmission. This is a close up of a dual mass flywheel. The customer had their car towed in because it would not start. The car had severe damage to the clutch and release bearing. In addition to that, the flywheel shifted. Normally you can see the bolts through the 6 bolt holes. As you can see, there is very little bolt head showing.

I have seen that before, but this was the worst I have dealt with. I was not able to shift the flywheel to gain access to the bolts. I had to take some extra measures and cut the flywheel off. It was not pleasant, but we got it done.

That wraps it up for Shop Shots this week. Don’t forget, if you have any VW or general car questions, use the Contact me form and ask away. I will do my best to help you out. Also, if you have a question odds are others do too. So ask away!

Metal in DSG transmission fluid

Happy Tuesday everyone. It is a rainy and cold Tuesday here. I hope the weather is better for you. Today I want to share a little story about car repairs, and how sometimes they wrong. Well, not really “go wrong, but more unexpected. This would fit in well as a Shop Shot, but I think it needs more information.

A customer brought his 2009 VW Jetta in for repair. His concern was a delay when shifting into reverse, and a strange shift from first to second gear. I test drove the vehicle and finally got the DSG transmission to shift poor. I have driven enough cars with a DSG(think a manual transmission that shifts automatically), to know what it feels like when the mechatronic unit starts to fail. The mechatronic unit is the brain, and controller for the transmission. This one was not bad, but it did need to be replaced.

The symptom the customer had was very minor. The car was 100% safe to drive. I didn’t have any issue with letting him drive his car for a few days while I waited on parts. This is a very normal thing. If the car does not have a safety issue, or another major problem, we let the customers keep their car.

When the customer brought his car back, I started the repair. I removed the transmission oil pan to gain access to the mech unit. Once the pan was off I found the unexpected part, METAL!

Metal in DSG tranmission fluidNotice the shiny silver streaks in the pan. That is tiny metal chucks that have settled. There was also plenty of metal in the fluid. As soon as a mechanic finds a problem like this, it is time to stop and evaluate the situation.

From here I took some pictures and sent them to VW technician help line. They are key in advising whether to repair or replace a transmission. This one was a slam dunk REPLACE! There is very little chance you can get all the metal out of this transmission. Even if you could, it would cost just as much to repair, as it would to replace.

There is nothing that this customer could have done different. They did the service the transmission requires, at the proper interval. The transmission just failed. I don’t know exactly where the metal came from. I have to send the transmission back to VW for them to analyze. So odds are I will never know exactly what happened. The good thing for the customer, this was all covered under their warranty.

This is not something that happens all that often. When it does I like to share. What do you guys think, did this customer luck out or what? Don’t forget you can follow all the stuff the community is doing. It is as easy as clicking your favorite box to the right, it will take you right there. 😉

Volkswagen Routan Tranmission Problem
VW Routan Transmission Problem

This is how far down the transmission was disassembled

I have posted a few pictures of this battle over the last few weeks. The guys of a automatic transmission, and the VW Routan downed for several weeks. Now the the car is finished, I can tell the whole story. Some of the details are a little fuzzy. I was the 3rd mechanic involved, and most of the information I got was well beyond second hand.~Oh, and the names have been changed to protect the innocent~

In mid April, a customer brought their VW Routan in for service and a few concerns. The mechanic that got the job is one of the senior level guys in the shop. I think that he has more experience working on cars than anyone in the shop. On top of that, he is a really smart guy. I will call him Jim. The customers concern was the van would roll back while on a hill. Jim proceeded in the proper manner for diagnosing the vehicle. Attempting to duplicate, then making sure there was an issue. He test drove another Routan, and that one did not act the same.

Before proceeding with a transmission repair, Jim called VW technician help line. That is pretty standard when in comes to trans repairs. The guy at tech line advised him to remove the transmission, disassemble it, and try to find an issue. I am sure that Jim could not contain his excitement knowing he was about to remove, and disassemble an automatic transmission.

So far so good, but here is where the story gets crazy. See Jim, at the time, was on semi light duty. That means he would not have been able to remove the transmission. That job is about as far from light duty as you can get. The service manager shifted the removal of the transmission to another mechanic. Lets call him, Ted. Ted removed the transmission. He did an outstanding job labeling each part, bolt, and connector. That would make it easy for anyone to reinstall the transmission. As “luck” would have it, Ted went out with an injury about a week later. He is still out of work, but doing better. 🙂

The transmission is now on the work bench waiting for Jim to disassemble, and diagnose. This is not really a job that any of us in the shop do very often. On top of that, this is NOT a VW part. The transmission is a Chrysler part. Jim spent some time disassembling the transmission. At that point, I am not sure that he found a problem. I do know that he ordered some parts needed to reassemble and started the process of putting it back together.

I was off while when the reassembly started. I get a text from the service manager asking me to come in and help him out. I was not able to come in that day, but I was more than willing to help Jim when I got back to work the next day. When I come into work the next day, I find out that Jim is now out on medical leave. Due to the fact that I am the only certified Routan mechanic in the shop, I get the honer of putting it back together.

Just to recap, we have one mechanic remove the transmission, another take it apart, and now a third

mechanic to put it back together. No problem right? Think about it this way. Imagine a 10,000 piece 3d puzzle. Each piece fits both ways, you don’t really have a clear picture of what it looks like, and the only way to now if it is right, is to finish. No problem right? 😉

I take about an hour to evaluate the entire situation. I am trying to find the logic that Jim used to disassemble the trans. To he honest, I don’t think that he did a great job organizing the parts. He might be able to figure out what is happening, but few others would.

Volkswagen Routan Tranmission Problem

Here is the mess that I came into

As I start my journey, I have the following aids

  • repair manual
  • parts list
  • training book

Armed with as much information as I can find, I spend about half a day putting the guts back together. Finding that I had to order some more parts, the job was on hold for a few days. I came in on my day off the next week. I spent almost the entire day at work finishing assembly, and then installing the transmission. I was not able to finish the trans install, so I went in to work on my next day off to wrap it up.

I finished the install. Then started the car. Yay, it starts, things are looking good so far. Next I test reverse. Wheels roll in “R”. All of that uncertainty I had about the repair was starting to go away. I shift the van into drive. NOTHING. Wheels don’t turn. I shut the car off, thinking that if I just try again, everything would be fine. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t. I spent about an hour going over the things that I could see. Nothing jumped out and said “HEY YOU SCREWED ME UP”.

I had never felt as defeated in my career as I did at that moment. I had just spent my 2 days off plus half another day rebuilding this transmission, only to fine that I did something wrong. After a few phone calls, and a couple of other tests, I knew I was pulling the transmission back out. Our regional guy came out to help me out. We did some further testing, but the conclusion was the same. The transmissions was coming out.

I pulled the transmission back out of the van. Then took it back apart. As I Routan transmission problemgot to the point where I first start, we find the problem. 1 missing seal. 1 stupid seal missing. I was not really happy that I didn’t put that seal in, but I was glad to find a fixable problem. I ordered some parts, reassembled the transmission, and put the van back together. This time SUCCESS! all gears shift properly. The van drives great.

The van was in our shop for over 6 weeks. The customer was in another Routan for the entire time. As of right now, I think they are getting a new van. They were pretty awesome about the entire situation. I totally feel bad they were stuck in limbo for so long.

I checked the time that I had into the job. Over 30 hours of work time on this van. All things considered, I got paid okay on the job. I was able to get paid for both repairs. I am pretty thankful for that. I am really glad to put this job behind me. 🙂

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I can’t believe that this is the 10th volume of Shop Shots! It seemed like just yesterday that you guys were helping me name this series! As always, you will see pictures of the random things that I see around the shop. AND…..GO

This is a close up of some bearing damage inside a manual transmission. This actually belonged to a great friend of mine Daniel. His concern was a noise, and trouble getting into gear. We decided to replace the transmission, but I really wanted to see what went wrong. There was metal in the fluid, so I knew that it was bad new. I did a really early post when I first started this car blog. In that post you can see the metal chunks on the drain plug. This is one of the few manual transmissions I have had an issue with.

While we are on the subject of transmissions, here is the guts of an automatic transmission. This comes from when I was at training for Routan transmissions. This is about 1/4 of the parts that make up the rings, clutches, gears, seals and so on. Automatic transmissions are really an engineering marvel. Actually, all transmissions are pretty awesome.

This is leaves, pine needles, and dirt built up on the cowl of a Jetta. On the surface it just looks bad, but it is actually a big deal. I have seen countless cars get water leaks due to leaves building up on the cowl and around the windshield. The get stuck in the water drains and that water will go somewhere. The crappy part is that somewhere is inside the car. I actually totaled 2 cars due to water leaks caused by this exact thing! One was a Touareg that was had mold everywhere. The estimate I wrote was for about $42,000 in repairs. Take a minute and make sure you don’t this happening.

 

Last but not least, this is a quick video of a crazy noise. This car was whistling when it was sitting at idle. When I revved it up, it would stop, but as soon as I let off the gas, it would make this noise. I remember the first time I heard this I thought, “What the hell, this is not gonna be fun to fix”. It turns out it is a really easy fix. There is a check valve that only lets air flow one way. Well it gets stuck and causes this noise. WARNING– this noise is loud, I recommend turning down the volume!

Well, that wraps up another volume of Shop Shots. I am always looking for new post topics, if you have a suggestion, just contact me, or post up in the comments. Also, don’t forget to swing by Humble Mechanic on Facebook and say hi!