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Passat Engine Mount Auto Mechanic

We missed last week’s Shop Shots, but we are back today! This is your behind the scenes pictures of Volkswagen service. The good, the bad, and the crazy! Okay lets get to it!

Melted Volkswagen Fuse Auto MechanicThis is a fuse. Well, it is what is left of a fuse. This fuse came out of a Tiguan. We have seen a few Tiguans burning up fuses for part of the exterior lighting circuit. My buddy actually sent me this one. I think my dealer has seen 3 of them. I can honestly tell you all that I have never seen a fuse melted this bad.

Missing Intake Auto MechanicHAHA, I do actually laugh about 60% of the time when I put these pictures up. This Beetle came in this week. The car was towed in for another shop. The complaint was, “Brake pedal is hard to push”. I drove it into the shop, and sure enough they pedal was almost impossible to push the brake pedal. I also noticed that the MIL was on. when I pulled the car into the shop. This is what I found. The air filter housing, and intake pipe was MISSING. I laughed for a minute, then called a few guys over to take a look. When ever something like this happens, we all try to share the fun.

It turns out another shop put a brake booster in the car. They used a non-factory part, and it was worse than the bad one. The shop towed the car back to their shop to be repaired. HAHA

Passat Engine Mount Auto MechanicI posted this on Instagram a few days ago. Here is more information about these 2 parts. These are front engine mounts for a B5.5 Passat think 2001.5-2005. I refer to them as jounce bumpers. Most aftermarket places refer to them a snub nose mounts. Either way is cool by me. The entire engine was slamming up and down due to the condition of the mount. Oddly enough, the one on the left is the bad one 😉 Hard to believe that the part on the left and the part on the right are the same part. After I replaced the mount, the car was 100x smoother.

Smoking Volkswage Auto mechanicJust something fun to rap up Shop Shots. I noticed this just as I was about to lift the car off the ground. A cigarette got caught in the slot for the lower front spoiler. It stuck in perfect. Now the car looks like it is smoking. We brought the customer back to show her she had a broken CV boot. (btw I practice what I preach. Read “How to tell if a mechanic is ripping you off“) She noticed it, and asked me if I put that there. We all shared a good laugh at it.

Well, that pretty does it for another volume of Shop Shots! I think that I want to start taking your submitted photos for Shop Shots. What do you guys think? Post it up the comments below. I am sure some of you have some awesome car pics that you can share.

Lucky Mechanic

Yesterday we talked about what it takes to be a top level, Master mechanic. One thing that I left out was LUCK! Yep luck. Yes a good mechanic needs to have top notch diagnostic skills. But it never hurts to get lucky. I thought I would tell a few stories about getting lucky fixing cars.

A 2004 Passat wagon came in for the radio cutting out. It had been around and around the shop. The radio had been replaced several times, the amplifier had been replaced and rewired several times. The radio would only cut out once every few months. Like many times when a problem is sporadic, it never messed up at the shop.

When it got to me, I spend about an hour messing with it. Checking this, testing that. Looking at all the work that had been done to the car. Finally, and very frustrated, I flopped down in the back seat. The radio cut off. I stood up, and the radio came back on. YES! I found something. It might have not been the problem, but I was able to duplicate the customers concern.

I pulled the bottom of the back seat up. There was a nicely wrapped wiring harness that ran right under the seat. I pulled the harness up, and the radio came back on. It turns out that a small part of the body of the car was rubbing a wire. We never found it because we never had anyone riding in the back. It was something that the customer did not put together. A quick wiring repair and she was good to go!

I guess me getting mad at the car paid off. This next one happened to the guy that works next to me. It also happened last week. This is one of those weird electrical issues that we see from time to time.

The customer’s concern was the headlight was not working. The tech pulled the car in, and found nothing. All the lights were working. He checked all the faults in the vehicle and found several faults for lighting.

Next he disconnected the module that controls most everything in the car. That really made the car mad. Now all the things the customer told us started happening. It was not just the headlight, ALL the lights were going nuts. Some lights on, some lights really bright, some only half lit.

After diagnosing the car a little further, checking ground connections, fuses and so on, he had no answer. We chatted about the car for a while and didn’t come to any answer. He was pretty frustrated, and I didn’t blame him 1 bit.

While we were talking about the car, I started whacking the fuse panel with the butt of my flashlight. All of a sudden, the lights came on. Poof, just like magic. Not really sure which fuse or relay made the car happy, I started whacking again. This time everything worked fine. We turned the car off and let it sit for a few minutes.

When we turned the car on, the lights were off. I started whacking the fuses again and BAM, found it. We pulled the fuse and found that the fuse was burnt on the backside. Technically, the fuse was good. The issue was the fuse block. It was slightly melted causing the fuse to lose contact. Another easy fix, but a hard problem to find.

So you see, there are times where being lucky is good. Sometimes stumbling onto a problem is just as awesome as actually diagnosing the problem. Fixing a car is fixing a car, for the most part, I don’t care how I find it.

What Exactly Is A Master Certified VW Mechanic

Hi folks! I hope you all had an awesome weekend. Summer is here in full swing. Glad that I work in a shop that has A/C. 🙂

Today I want to talk a little more about what it takes to be a VW Master Certified Auto Mechanic. I was having a conversation with a good buddy of mine. He was asking me about being a certified mechanic, and what that really meant. I went on and on about how mechanics get to that level. He said “dang man, that is a lot of training, you should talk more about it.” So that is what we are going to do!

It takes over 520 hours of advanced classroom training to become a Volkswagen Master Technician

That is over 65 training days. I can tell you that it takes so much more. I started with VW by attending a training program. It 11 weeks of highly specialized VW training. I spent all day learning the “unique” way that VW cars are build, maintained, and repaired. It was a pretty tough program, 8 hours a day in class and 2-3 each night of homework. I think we only had about 14 guys finish the training. That gave me the basic level of certification, in addition to “Electrical Specialist”. That was all before a stepped foot into my current dealer job.

VW Master TechnicianEach one of these courses is instructor lead. So for each class, I would have to make a 360mile road trip. Like I said, coming out of VW academy I had all the core classes, all electrical classes, and a few of the other ones. Well, all but Routan, there was no Routan back then.

As you can see, getting all of those classes done is no small task. After the classes come the Master Technician Assessments. They consist of 50(i think) multiple guess questions. Closed book no cheating, either you know it, or you don’t. They are probably the hardest test I have ever done. I still don’t know how the heck I passed them. The first time, I failed all 5. After some hardcore studying, I passed all 5!

That just covers the “scholastic” part. The real world part is where a Master Tech is made. Years and years of getting my butt kicked by cars. Having to “just know” so many things that are not in any book, or manual.

For the folks that think that being a mechanic is an easy job. Take a look at the chart, you tell me if that looks easy 😉

One more thing, I posted this to Facebook, but here it is all official. Saturday marked the 1 year anniversary of Humble Mechanic. I am so excited to see what the future holds for this site. It is not always easy, but it IS always worth it! So thank you to everyone that has visited the site, posted a comment, like a post, retweeted something, emailed me, and so on. I really appreciate each and every one of you.

Last week The World Health Organization labeled diesel exhaust a ” carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)” Basically the WHO is saying that diesel exhaust is as bad for you as arsenic. ARSENIC, really? The WHO is telling people that diesel exhaust is more harmful than second hand smoke.

The way the story has been presented is very misleading. I am pretty sure that no one thinks huffing diesel(or any exhaust) is healthy, but is diesel exhaust really that bad? Well, it all depends. If we are talking the new VW TDIs then diesel exhaust is not bad at all. If you are talking about old industrial equipment, that might be a different story.

So what does this mean for the future of VW, and the TDI? In the immediate future it does not mean anything. It will take years for any type of new restrictions to come of that report. I am sure there will be pressure on all makers of diesel engines to clean up the tail pipe emissions. Here is what VW had to say about it.

Newer technologies ranging from improved combustion, to after-treatment exhaust fluid systems to (specifically) particulate filters have, “contributed significantly to minimize particulate emissions,” says VW.

The diesel engine has been a core product in Volkswagen’s powertrain offerings since the 1970s and will continue to be so into the future. “The diesel engine is highly efficient and remains an essential building block in Volkswagen’s drive to reduce CO2 emissions.”

The TDI will be a power house for VW for many years to come. The engines will get better, faster, more MPG, and produce less pollutants.

Just so no one gets too worried about diesel exhaust, here is what WHO did NOT tell you

  • “The main studies that led to this conclusion were in highly exposed workers”
  • WHO did not give an exposure level of any kind
  • They didn’t say it, but this is less of an issue in countries with higher quality diesel.

So what is my overall conclusion to the WHO. NO KIDDING! Does anyone really think that sitting in a room full of any type of smoke is a good idea? NOPE. Why would diesel be any different. I say, don’t worry too much about it. Just don’t stick your face in the exhaust pipe! Diesel fuel, the big culprit according to WHO, is getting better and better.

I wonder if there is influence by the people that think Hybrid is the answer. Anyone have thoughts? Is diesel going to kill us all? Does the higher MPH off set the slightly higher “risk”? Are hybrids really the answer?

Here are some resources if you want to read more

Hey folks!

So, we get into some technical stuff sometimes, and we also get deep into customer service. I am in an awesome mood today so I want to talk about some funny stuff. As you can imagine, we get some really strange customer concerns. Almost too good to believe.

 

At the end of each day, I look through the appointments we have. It gives me a chance to see what issues might come up for the next day. On Tuesday, I checked all our appointments and found this customer concern.

“Customer states that their puppy chewed through some wires under the seat. Customer attempted to repair, but airbag light is on.”

If I would have been drinking something, I would have spit it out. How does a puppy get under a seat? How does he stay there long enough to chew wires? Fast forward to Wednesday. I get the car and pull it in the shop. Here is what I find.

Too funny! I just wish he would have brought the puppy with him. I LOVE dogs. In fact, I have little Jettison laying across my lap while I type this post. Oh well, maybe next time.

Last night I also checked the appointments for today. Sometimes there are  concerns that make NO sense. Take this one for example.

Customer states, You replaced the tire pressure board.

That is all is said. What the heck does that mean? I don’t even know what a tire pressure board is. Something with the tire pressure monitor? Did replace it already? Do we need to replace it? I was totally cracking up. I guess I will find out what that means at some point today. I will post what happened in the comments. Even now I am giggling about it.. 🙂 This is where having a really good service advisor comes into play. They should be able to get the proper information from the customer and help me fix the car.

It goes with out saying that we get some off the wall concerns. It is not just mechanics, any service industry gets crazy things like this happen. I just wish I would have started documenting them years ago.. Imagine how funny!

If you know what a tire pressure board is, please share this post. You can impress ALL your friends.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Hey everyone! I am back in action on this fine Monday morning. As you know, I was at training for VW last week. I will do a little follow up about the training and some of the things that I learned while I was there. You might have also noticed that I took a little “digital break” this weekend. I just needed some time to recharge and get some things done around the house. Thanks for hanging in there for me.

Alright, let’s get into today’s post. A comment came in on a post last week. Alex from iHeartEuro asked me this question.

I had a question for you… maybe you know the answer. 2 years ago I had a fully loaded 2010 GTI and when I plugged a VagCom I found quite a few options that were DISABLED for some reason (memory driver heated seat, cluster sweeping, remote windows, coming home lights…) it took a few minutes to enable all of those things:) I am just curious why the dealers sell a car with all of these options turned OFF?

Okay, before I dive into this, let me explain what VagCom is. VagCom is an aftermarket diagnostic software. It mimics the VW scan tool. I will save my full take on the software for another day. Let’s just say, from a mechanic point of view, I will use anything to help me fix cars I can. I will leave it at that for now 😉

That is a really great question that Alex asked. Let’s break it down into a few different categories.

Mass Appeal

VW, like all car companies, has to appeal to as many people as possible. It is not just about style and fuel mileage, but features. The more things that a car can do, the less most people use. There are a lot of folks driving VWs that don’t know you can open and close the windows with the key in the door. All of the features and in the owners manual, but let’s be honest most people don’t read that. 😀

A perfect example is a performance exhaust. Sure you might get a little more power, but most folks don’t want the extra noise. I am not sure that this is why Alex found things turned off. I will say that cars are tested and tested to fit the appeal of the most drivers possible

Big Brother

Yes that’s right, D.O.T.  D.M.V.  E.P.A. C.A.R.B and probably a million more government agencies that have their hands in the pot. In one way or another every part in your car has to be approved by the government. Seriously, everything!

Lets say VW puts an exhaust system on one of their cars. This system will allow the car to get 50 miles per gallon. E.P.A says that it puts .001 too much pollution into the air. VW will have to redesign the system. Now the car meets the guideline, but we have lost 20MPG. Thank goodness for for aftermarket parts. ~ I will say that I 100% made that scenario up. I doubt that this exact thing would happen, but everything is government regulated.

Compatibility

With the newer generation of cars, we have the ability to turn things off and on. Like Alex said, he turned on the remote window function. I don’t think that function has any specific compatibility issues, but I don’t know for sure. The cool thing about MOST of the stuff we change on a car, is we can change them back. There is the opportunity to change something with unintended consequences.

Let’s say we turn on a really cool feature that only the European cars have. Everything is cool, but now our radio doesn’t work. I remember a Touareg that would not tune to the proper radio station. Instead of 105.1, it would be 105.2. It turns out the previous owner of the car turned off the “accept” screen for the navigation. This switched it to a Euro station programming.

Safety

To some, this might be a stretch, but remember just because YOU understand your car, doesn’t mean that everyone will. Let’s use Alex’s window example again. When the 2006 Jettas and Passats came out, customers were asking us to turn the remote window feature on. This would allow you to raise and lower the windows with the remote. A super cool feature btw! We were advised that the dealer was NOT to disable ANY safety feature. EVER!

When you use the windows with the remote, it disables “pinch protection”. Pinch protection will stop window operation when it hits something. The concern is someone operating the windows and someone getting caught in the window.

The other big one is tire pressure on a Touareg. When the tire pressure monitors go out on a 2004-2007 it can cost up to $2000 to replace. Disabling the system is REALLY easy, but not something that we will do at the dealer. If you don’t think that proper tire pressure is important, ask someone from Ford or Firestone. I would almost bet those tragedies are why we are required to have tire pressure monitors.

I hope that has cleared up some of the questions that everyone has. I am glad that VW has the option to “customize” their cars. Oh, and thank you to the aftermarket for helping with the rest! I have said it before, mod your car all day long, just remember this “You gotta pay to play” 🙂

One last thing~ While I am at training, it really gives me time to reflect. As we are coming up on the sites 1st anniversary I wanted to ask for a little help from you guys. Ok, here it goes

What can I do to make this site better for YOU?

Pretty simple right? I want to make sure that the time you guys spend here is as awesome as possible. What type of content would you like to see? More videos? More DIY? More pictures? More “How does that thing work”? Post any thoughts you have in the comments. Remember, this community includes you too!!

I see this debate come up a lot. It usually comes about when talking about the VW R32!

In 2004 Volkswagen made a VR6 AWD(all wheel drive) Golf. This car got the wheels moving with a 6sp manual transmission.To be honest, this is one of my favorite VW cars ever build. Then in 2008, Vw built another R32. This time, it was paired with an automatic transmission(DSG to be exact). The newest version of the “R” is now back to a 6sp manual transmission.

When the 2008 R32 came out, most people were complaining that the “needed” a manual transmission, and that it was a “sports car” so there was no place for an auto trans. I now see the opposite complaint. It goes “we want an automatic in the the ‘R’ “. I guess is almost impossible to please everyone. I do enjoy asking the question, Which one would you choose?

MANUAL
Back when I was a kid, people got manual transmissions for 4 reasons.

  1. Performance
  2. Fuel economy
  3. Cost
  4. Its what they prefer

Back then a manual trans would get much better fuel mileage. You could also count on huge savings on the purchase price. I remember about half of the cars we had where manual transmissions.

Today is a new day, the reasons that people use to buy a manual are not the same. The cost savings are almost nothing, and the fuel mileage can actually be worse. So it comes down to preference and performance. There are die hard manual trans fans. I would say that I fall in that category. I learned how to drive on a car with a manual. No one can take away someones love for driving a manual.

Then there is the performance side. For the average driver, a manual trans is just not as fast as an auto. The DSG is an automatic transmission. It shifts gears faster than you can. It is actually in the next gear before it shifts. So it you are driving in third gear, before the trans shifts out of third it has forth gear ready to go. Sorry, but we can’t shift that fast.

Automatic
The auto trans of today is highly computer controlled. The cars engine computer(ECM) and transmission computer(TCM) work very hard to optimize every part of a shift. This allows the vehicle to get great fuel mileage, and still be performance minded. The newer VWs have a “sport” mode that is pretty fun. The auto trans is definitely a “set it and forget it” way to drive.

My Passat is an automatic. While I prefer a manual, it is great on road trips and in traffic. The other nice thing is my wife and I can trade cars. She does not want to drive a manual. I have taught her how, she just doesn’t want to do it. So having 2 cars with automatics is nice. She lets me drive her truck from time to time. 😉

There are other forms of automatics, the CVT and the DSG. The CVT is just awful and I don’t want to talk about it. It is a gear-less transmission. The idea is it will always be in the right spot for power and fuel economy. I had one in a rental car one time. AWFUL! Audi has it in some cars, I just hope that it stays out of my brand. DSG on the other hand I LOVE! Super fast shifts, great fuel mileage, the option to shift yourself. Ahh love it! It does have some quirks, but I think they are largely due to perception. If you think of the DSG as an automatic trans, you might not be happy with the way it shifts, or the fact that it will roll a little on a hill. If you think of it as a automatically controlled manual trans, you will understand why it acts that way.

So that brings me to the big question of the day. Which do you prefer? Does banging though the gears and playing race car suit you? Or do you like to “shift” to “D” and just ride? I think that buying that Cabby has got my brain on my true love of driving. 2 post in the same week about driving~interesting 😀