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Volkswagen radio button pealing

Hey folks! Wednesday is here and you know what that means. It’s Shop Shots day! As always, these are your behind the scenes pictures of Volkswagen service. Also, make sure you read the entire post. I have something special at the end 😉

Volkswagen radio button pealingIf you own a 2005-2008 or so VW, then this will look really familiar. This is a radio from a 2006 VW Jetta with the radio buttons peeling. The black “soft touch” has peeled off, it almost looks like it melted. This happened on some of the switches in the car too. My thought was that chemicals we put on our hands, lotions, and anti-bacterial, accelerated the wear on the buttons.

The buttons are not replaceable individually. I have heard of companies that can replace the face of the radio so you could keep the stock look. Like with any factory radio issues. I think you are better getting a good aftermarket radio. You will get more features at a better price.

Strange Volkswagen PartsI was walking through the parking lot one day last week and walked past this little part bag. I happen to read it while walking by. It took a second for my brain to catch up and realize that the description was something weird. I had to walk back and pick it up. DRUCKTASTE, what the heck does that mean? Since I do not know German, it was Google Translate to the rescue.

It turns out that DRUCKTASTE means PUSHBOTTON. This was a package for a trunk release button. In all the years I have worked for VW, and all the push buttons I have replaced. I never noticed what the package said. That is your German lesson for today.

Smashed VW Transmission PanI feel like I post a lot of smashed VW engine oil and transmission pans. This pan is from a 2007 or so Beetle. If you look at the lower left part of the picture, you can see some grass smashed up into the sub frame. This car had ran off the road. The good thing for the customer is they didn’t break the pan. It smashed it, but there is no fluid leaking.

The thing to be concerned about is the damage to parts behind the pan. There are electronics that live on the other side of that pan. Any impact can destroy them. That makes for a very unhappy transmission. I am surprised there is not a fluid leak.

Okay, you might be wondering why I am posting a picture of a Snap-on cake pan. Well this is actually a really cool Snap-on magnetic tray. I got this from my tool dealer a while back. I am so excited to reach 33 volumes of Shop Shots. I want to give this away. So here is how you can get this tray.

  1. Share this post on Facebook. You can either click the icon at the bottom of the post, or share it when from my Facebook post.
  2. Tweet this post out. If you are on Twitter.
  3. Share the post on your website or blog.
  4. Pin ANY of the pictures on the post.
  5. Sign up for email updates. See the upper right corner. If you are signed up already, I will give you an entry.

It is really just that easy. You can enter as many times as you share the post. Just post a comment here and let me know how you shared. I will draw someone at random and send them this brand new Snap-on tray! It is just a small token of my appreciation for all of you! I will pick a winner Friday evening 10/05/12!

Shop Shots Car blog Auto Mechanic

Hey folks, it’s Wednesday so that means is time for some Shop Shots. As always this is your behind the scenes look at Volkswagen repair. Think of it as your way to see the crazy things that a VW mechanic sees, with out getting dirty. Don’t forget, if you want to share a picture from your shop, or of your ride, just contact me! Let’s do this

Shop Shots Car blog Auto Mechanic Volkswagen CC DamageI hate to see wrecked Volkswagens, but I really like to share the pictures of them with you guys. This is a picture of a 2010 CC. The left front got hit pretty hard. The outer edge of the wheel was about an inch off the ground. The strange thing about the damage is how isolated it is. I don’t think that a car hit it. The impact area is too small. I guess if a car hit at the right angle it would do that damage.

I would almost say that maybe a deer hit the CC. But the way the wheel is pushed in makes me rethink that. I will try and find out what happened. The truth is I probably won’t. I also find it strange we get so many wrecked cars. We don’t have a body shop.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicThis is fan destruction. This car came in with the concern “A blade on my fan broke and cut my coolant hose. When I opened the hood, I found this. The fan is missing all the blades. The radiator was all beat up, and a coolant hose had a big cut in it. I have never seen a fan break completely off the mount before. I also don’t really know how it didn’t punch a hole in the radiator.

I had to replace the radiator, the main cooling fan, the fan holder(also called the shroud) and the coolant pipe. Once I got all the parts replaced, I found the fans didn’t work. It turns out, luckily, the fuse was blown. That is probably the reason there was not more damage. Sadly we didn’t have the fuse in stock. I was not able to fully test the system. The customer declined ordering the fuse.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicOkay this will take some explaining. This is a shot of from under a beetle convertible seat, and behind the trim panel. I had to replace the rear window regulator on this 2005 Beetle. To gain access to the window regulator, the rear seat and the trim on the side. I removed the seat and trim no problem. So far nothing crazy, just another broken VW window.

When I went back to remove the window regulator I noticed something odd. There was something that was laying at the bottom. It was painted the same color as the car. That is odd because everything is just primer. Some how, there was a door handle just sitting behind the trim panel. How the heck does a door handle for the outside of the car get behind a trim panel in the rear of the car? Maybe it was at a body shop? I don’t know how it happened, but it sure is funny.

Shop Shots Car blog Auto MechanicI did a post yesterday about the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid.I had mentioned that the information is really limited because the car has not been released yet. Well here is a screen shot of our diagnostic software. As yo can see, it is mostly in German. Even though I have worked for VW for some time, I don’t speak any German.

The bad part is, this is the procedure for de-energizing the high voltage system. Good for us, the instructors had translated the test. I am 100% sure that this will be fixed by the time the car hits dealers.

Well, you have squandered away another Wednesday, but reading Shop Shots. Thank you Click and Clack for that line. HA. Most likely while you are reading this, I will be driving back from my training. Hopefully traffic will be good. Bad traffic turns a 5 hour drive into a 9-10 hour drive. You will know I hit bad traffic by the number of tweets I send from the road. Mass tweets=bad traffic. 🙂

Last week we talked about prepping your car before a big road trip. Now we are going to talk about the things that need to be done about a week before your trip.

So it’s one week before the trip. You have taken your car in or DIY’d all the maintenance. Your just ready to hit the road right? Well, not so fast, we still have some things to get dialed in.

Get your route in order

If the trip is one that you don’t make often, you will need to get the route down. I don’t mean you need to know it by heart, but an overview of the trip is important. Here are the things that I do when I plan out a driving route.

  • “Map Quest” the route. To be honest, I don’t even know if you can Map Quest anything. 🙂 I generally use Google maps. I will print out the 2 main routes for my trip. This way, you have a back up if your GPS fails.
  • Make sure the GPS is up to date.
  • If you have a smart phone, you can save the route to the phone. I am pretty sure that there are a lots of route guidance apps out there.

I know that might seem like overkill, but a few minutes of work can help if your GPS dies.

Share your plans

I remember being a kid and taking road trips to Missouri. My grandparents would always have the neighbors keep an eye on their house. They lived in a really cool court with great neighbors. It was strange that there was a really old, like early 1900s, cemetery right behind their house.

Today we still do the same with our neighbors. With all the cool technology, we can take it a few steps further. I will be emailing the route to the neighbors, and to my family. It’s just like sharing where you are going when you take a really long wilderness hike.

Now, don’t be foolish and advertise that you are not going to be home. THAT would be silly.

Get some entertainment

I generally do most of my road trips solo. I can be boring. I am kinda nerdy, so I survive the drive on podcasts! To me, podcasts and talk radio seem to make time fly. I also dig audio books. The first audio book I listen to was some strange “doomsday 2012” book. It talked about the Mayas coming from outer space and stealing your children, or whatever it was. HA, the book was awful.

This time, I get to road trip it with my wife. She is a podcast pro! We will be enjoying The Nerdest, Stop Podcasting Yourself, and Doug Loves Movies. I am sure if there was a Dr Who podcast, we would be listening to that too.

Loading up the Ipod with music, podcasts, and audio books will help avoid skimming radio stations trying to find something tolerable.

Make a backup plan

By the end of this post, you might just think I am crazy, OCD, or just plain nuts. The truth is, I try to make sure that I am prepped for things, especially when it comes to a road trip. Let’s face it, things can go wrong when you are on a 900 mile trip. So here are a few other things that I will be doing before a trip.

  • Print out a list of important phone numbers. Family, friends, anyone that you might need to contact in case of emergency.
  • Get a list of a few hotels along the way. If you get tired, you will have information on a place to stay. It beats the heck out of some sleazy roadside motel, or paying $300 for a night.
  • Make sure you have all your auto insurance information. If something bad happens you can’t just run home and get it.
  • Same goes for your bank account information and phone numbers.
  • CASH! Having some extra cash is always a great idea. On a road trip it is crucial. It be as simple as paying cash for the bag of Chex mix.
  • Make sure you have your car registration! Why would it not be in the car in the first place?

The cool thing about most of this stuff is, it’s one and done. Once you do it, you have the information. You can keep it in a safe place in the car.

Now that you have your car ready, and your mind ready, it’s just about time to hit the road. We will have one more set of checks before we leave. For that, you will have to wait until part 3! In part 3 we talk a couple of last minute car inspection, and my personal favorite, snacks and drinks.

I realized I forgot to tell you guys about the trip.(thanks Garrett) My wife and I will be traveling to Chicago for 4 days, 2 of which will be spent in the car. We will be visiting family and friends. We will also be visiting a few beer breweries. It will be nice to visit the city, see some friends and family, and enjoy some Chicago beer.

I also want to do something cool while we are on the road. I need some ideas. Post pictures to Facebook? Instagram, Twitter? How can we make this really fun? I did set up a ZELLO channel. It works like a walkie talkie for your smart phone. I will have it turned on the entire trip. Feel free to download it, and check out Humble Mechanic channel.

Mk3 VR6Jetta Auto Mechanic

As you all know, I have been working on a 1988 VW Cabriolet called Project Luv A Dub. When you are working with a car that is 25 years old parts can be tough or expensive to come by. So instead of hunting down things part by part, I was looking for a donor car.

I had planned on changing engines in the Cabby from day one. There are endless possibilities when it comes to swapping engine in that model VW. the only limiting factory is how much I want to pay. If budget were no obstacle, I would be putting the 1.4t fsi that is coming in the new hybrid Jetta. Since I am not rich I need a realistic swap. I figured I would just let the universe decide. When the right car came along, I would just use that engine and transmission.

I finally found the car. A 1998 Jetta with a VR6 engine. The add on Craigslist said it needed a head gasket. That is not something very common on any VW. I called the guy and we worked out a time to meet. He said he had another guy coming to look at it, but he would be willing to meet me too. This is were the story gets strange. So bare with me as you hear the tail of the VR~

The seller and I worked out a deal. I would pay him a few bucks more for him to meet me at a VW dealer. I know the service manager at a VW store one town over. We agreed to meet there. The seller called me around noon on Saturday. He told me the other guy was going to give him $300 more than I was, and he would not have to drive to meet the other guy.

This was an obvious attempt to get some more money out of me. Me being the guy I am, plus having watched Shark Tank the night before, I don’t play games like that. I told him to take the other guy’s offer, but call me if it fell through. Would you believe that the other deal fell through? Big shock right? The seller called me back and said that he wanted to sell me the car. Then he started freaking out telling me that I needed to promise to buy his car. A car a had not seen at this point.

I told him I would not do that. If he wanted to meet me he could, just like we agreed. He insisted on me meeting him at his house. Not being an idiot, I told him no, and that I was not interested in the car anymore.

Thinking that the whole thing was done, I get a call from the guy a few hours later. He tells me he will meet me where ever I want, he needs to sell the car. At this point I am not really interested in driving across town. The seller says the car will make it to my dealer and that he will meet me there. You might be shocked, but the car would not make it almost 50 miles with a bad gasket.

He calls me telling me that he will have to have the car towed. Again, I am not really thrilled with the buying this car, but its a pretty good deal. The seller show up an hour later than he said. First thing I notice, it is an AUTOMATIC! I asked the guy several times if it was a manual. So it seems he didn’t know the difference. We have some back and forth, and I tell him I don’t want the car.

At this point, he is begging me to buy it. What a change of events from trying to get more money from me. I tell him that I am only interested in the car for about $500. Surprisingly, he agrees and we make the deal. After some tax drama, and waiting I finally sign the title and the Jetta is now mine.

What a stressful ordeal over a few hundred dollars. My plan with the car is, take the parts I need for the cabby. Then part out the left over good parts. After that happens I will just send the Jetta to the crusher. I hate to see a VW go to the crusher, but it is a fitting end to a Jetta that has seen better days.

Next up, find a transmission for the car. I think I got that locked down. 🙂

Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

This situation happens about once a month.

Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

This is where the reader coil is located, just around the key hole.

Customer calls in saying they lost the key or keys for their VW. We tell the customer they will need to show proof they own the vehicle. Then they will need to have the car towed to the dealer.

Once the key comes in, we will have to program the new key to the car. The cost of a new Volkswagen key, remote, and programming is about $300.

So why the heck does getting a new key for a Volkswagen cost $300? My guess is the little mechanism that lets the key flip out is made of some top secrete element. Maybe a derivative of Turbonium? Okay, obviously that is not the case. Before we talk about why it costs so much, let’s talk

about how the system works.

Immobilizer

All VWs, and most every other newer car, are equipped with an anti-theft device that will prevent someone from “hot wring” the car. Volkswagen calls this system the Immobilizer. The car must see an authorized key, or it will not start. Well, on a VW, it will start and immediately shut off. ~FREE TIP, if your Vw start and shuts off right away, odd are you have an issue with the immobilizer system.

How It Works

There are 3 main components to the immobilizer system

  1. The vehicle’s key

    Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

    This is what the actual transponder looks like

  2. A “reader coil”
  3. An “evaluation unit”

The vehicle’s key has a chip inside of it called a transponder. It looks like a glass tic-tac. When you put the key into the ignition, the “reader coil” will energize the transponder in the key. Then the transponder will send a code back to the coil and on to the evaluation unit. If everyone is authorized, the evaluation unit will authorize the vehicle to start. If not, the car will start, or it will not stay running.

The Cost

Now that we know how the system works, let’s get into the cost. Anytime there is electronics in something the cost will go up. These new keys are not like the old ones you could get cut at the local Ace Hardware. Also, most newer keys have the keyless entry remote built into it. That will bring the cost up.

The keys and remotes also need to programmed to the car, adding a little more to the cost. That requires the vehicle to be at the dealer. When I program keys, I have to hook up the VW scan tool. Then we go online and retrieve the proper coding for the car. I don’t get to see the code anymore, it is loaded right into the car. Each key for the vehicle will need to be programmed to work properly.

Is It All Worth it?

Is going to all this trouble to prevent vehicle theft worth it? I think so. It will deter amateurs from stealing cars. But let’s face it, if someone really wants to steal your car, they will steal it no matter what you do.

I also have another tip. The keys that you find on Ebay, or that weird store in the mall are JUNK! I would say that ~95% of the keys that customers bring in to be programmed do not work. It stinks for them because they don’t really save any money. It usually ends in the customer paying twice for programming, or buying a key from the dealer anyway. Just be cautious when dealing in non factory keys.

If you remember what “Turbonium” is, post it in the comments. I am wondering if everyone knows what it is.

VW Cabby Luv A Dub project

Happy Monday everyone!

I am out of the shop today, so I thought I would give you all an update on the VW Cabby, aka “Luv a Dub”. I have had the car for about 3 months now. I must say that I wish I was further along that I am . You can probably guess that finding time can be tough. It can also be hard to work on cars all day, then come home and work on a car. 🙂

When I first bought the car, it needed a few things just to get it home. Those were all, “under the hood” type stuff. After fixing those issues, I brought it home and started on the interior. It has been more of a challenging than I expected.

Here is what I have done on the Cabby so far.

  • Clutch ~$80
  • Engine Mount ~$12
  • Clutch cable ~$18
  • Spark plugs $20
  • Distributor cap and rotor ~$15
  • Sound dampener ~$130
  • Bulk wiring ~$25(not installed yet)

Here is the pictures of the interior stripped down and the sound dampener put in.

So what is next for the Luv A Dub? Well, I found out why the cluster lights were not working. You can see the video of the “custom” lights at Meet Luv A Dub video. I decided to hold off on carpet and padding. I want to be sure that all the interior wiring is complete before putting some carpet in. The Cabby does not have a lot of interior wiring, but I want to make it right. Plus I know it needs some new speaker wires ran.

Thank you all for following the progress on the Cabby. I am really looking forward to the day when I can unveil her. That will be a good day.

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New VW TDI recall
New VW TDI recall

This is a new recall on the CR TDI cars. It is to help folks remember not to put gas in their diesel. This is what got the whole recall debate rolling

If you drive a VW, you know that at some point you will have an open recall. Even if you are not a Volkswagen driver, you still might have dealt with a recall or 2. But when is enough, enough? Lets take my Passat for example. It is a 2005 Passat wagon. It has had the following recalls.

  • Brake light switch
  • Install under body shield, and software update
  • Replace ignition coils.

Not too bad right? It is only 2 pretty minor recalls. Now, lets look at a Passat that is 1 year newer. You could be looking at the following recalls and updates.

  • Replace brake booster pipe
  • Install cover on wiper motor
  • Front seat airbag connector rewire
  • Steering column lock update
  • Intake manifold runner motor
  • PCV valve and breather pipe
  • Replace ignition coils

WOW no less than 7 recalls and updates. Is that too many? You can make a pretty darn good case for that. There are two ways we can look at the recalls.

That is a ridiculous amount of recalls
Just like I said, you can make a really good case about 7 recalls on a car. Does that mean that the manufacturer build a bad car? Well, in a sense, it does. Many of the recalls that I listed above were common repairs long before they were recalls. I rewired a ton of seat airbag connectors before that recall came out. We have been replacing the PCV valves on the 2.0t since it came out.

I imagine that it can be really frustrating for a customer. Imagine every other time you bring your car in for service, you have 2 new updates or recalls. I have seen that look on customers face. It is the “you have to be freaking kidding me, AGAIN” look.

I had a funny thing happen to me with the recall on my Passat. I brought my car into the shop for something. My service advisor( check out his interview on Behind The Wrench) said, “Hey man, you should throw those coils in while you got your car in the shop”. I didn’t really feel like it so I didn’t do it.

As my luck would have it, when I left that night, I made it to the end of the parking before my MIL starting flashing. Would you believe that the part that was on recall failed? I turned around and had to do the dang recall anyway.

At least they are taking care of the problem.
No car is perfect. If you think so, then I will gladly be the one to burst your bubble 😉 So every car has issues. How great is it that a manufacturer will take care of certain issues, free of charge. To be fair, I am sure that not all or those updates were voluntary.

I guess the main point here is really short and sweet. Be glad they are fixing something. It might turn out to be a proactive repair. If you have already paid for the repair, be sure to contact the manufacturer and try to get your money back.

So what do you guys think? Here are the questions to think about

  • What number of recalls is too many?
  • If you get a recall notice are you upset about it?
  • Do you get your recalls done right away?

Please let me know your thoughts! Also, if you have a mechanic that you love, please send them to the contact me page. I really want to get Behind the Wrench rolling again, but I need your help!