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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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It is the same old story.

This car is a great car that will never break. But you need to buy a warranty “just in case”

If you have ever bought a car, you know the pitch. You have sat in the finance mangers office with they tell you how much you “need” that warranty.

Something that you guys may not know about me is, I have said those words. Years before I was an auto mechanic, I sold cars. That is right, I was a used car salesman. I spent about a year selling cars at Carmax. It was my very first job in the auto industry. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty dang good at it. Much like my job now, I was always ALL about the customer. I will save that for another post. Lets talk extended warranties.

If you listen to Clark Howard, he will tell you “Never buy an extended warranty”. He says that on everything except a car. So should you buy an extended warranty? Lets look at some pros and cons.

Pros
Here are some good reasons to buy that extended warranty

  • Fixing cars can be very expensive
    Not only the cost of labor, but the cost of parts can be really high.
  • Cars are not getting easier to work on.
    It takes thousands of dollars of tools and diagnostic equipment to properly work on cars
  • Vehicles have more electronics than ever
    Most modern cars have 20+ modules. That can add big dollars to a repair
  • It can reduce the worry of owning a car
    Do we really need more to worry about? I know I don’t

Cons
Warranties are not all hearts and flowers

  • It can cost over $2000.
    That is a lot of money to add to the cost of a car
  • You might not ever use it
    There is a chance that your car will never ever break
  • Your repair might not be covered.
    No warranty covers everything. NONE OF THEM! I don’t care what the sales person says
  • There is fine print
    It is a contract, there will be fine print!
  • Like other things, may people think they are a rip off.
    There is a possibility.

Considering whether to buy a warranty is a big decision. Most people do not consider it until they are having to say yes or no. If I were buying a car today, I would most likely buy a warranty. Yeah, I can do all the work my self, but I like not having to buy parts. Here are the things I would consider when thinking about an extended warranty.

  • Do I have the money to make a $500-$1000 repair. I might not want to make the repair, but cars don’t break when it is convenient.
  • What does it cover? Buying an “exclusion policy” is the ONLY way to go. That is a policy that will tell you what they DO NOT cover. If it is not listed, it will be covered.
  • Does it cover consequential damage? Lets say the power steering pump goes out. This causes damage to the power steering rack. Will the warranty cover both parts?
  • Does it cover electronics. If not, PASS! No point in buying a warranty that does not cover electronics.
  • Is there a deductible? Many warranties have a $50-$100 deductible That is not a deal breaker for me. Just something to be aware of.
  • Where can I get the car serviced. Some warranties only allow you to get your car serviced at certain places. Again, not a deal breaker, but something to consider.
  • Will I have to pay out of pocket for the repair? The good companies will pay the repair place directly. No need for customers to pay, then hope to be reimbursed.

A better way to think of a warranty is like an insurance policy. Something to have in your pocket in case something goes wrong. I usually ask people if they are willing to put an extra $30 away for cars repairs. If the answer is no, then buy the warranty.

If you have any extended warranty questions, feel free to ask me. I have been dealing with them since 1999.

Do you enjoy the site, have you been able to learn something from reading the post, and comments here? It would mean a ton to me if you would consider sharing it. Really, it means a lot to me. 😀

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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!!

Humble Mechanic Tool Box

 

Happy Monday everyone! As you know, today is my first day back in action. I had a great few days off, but it feels nice to be working on cars again. Anyway, I was thinking of something a little different today. I am doing a “Rapid Fire” question and answer post. These are mostly questions that have come in from Humble Mechanic Facebook page.And GO~

James~ Why do some car models stay in production forever (911, Beetle, Accord) while others only last for a few years before a similar but slightly different one replaces it?

Good question. I think it largely depends on sales. If a model sells really well, there is no need to update right away. There cold also be an issue with manufacturing parts to keep up demand for another year. Also changes in D.O.T. regulations and auto industry standards can force a design change. The switch from OBD I to OBD II is the reason there was no Jeep Wrangler in 1996, and the 1997 was totally redesigned

Craig ~ When is that Audi r8 tdi coming?

Soon I hope. The more TDIs we have on the road, the more R&D will go in to improving the technology. That will drive prices down so normal folks like us can afford it.

Benjamin ~what does a Chevy volt run in the quarter? 😉

Probably pretty quick. Electric motors have high torque and it is available instantly. You just might not make it much further than 1/4 mile. Especially if you have the heat on. Right Nissan??

Glenn ~1. In today’s car world, what can the “average” person actually maintain on their car? Years ago I was able to do a lot , now I’m lost under the hood.
2. Who do you trust to maintain your car, OTHER then yourself ?

1)The “average” can do a lot, but chooses not to. I usually recommend everyone know how to,
Change a tire
Change their wiper blades
Check all the fluid in the car(if that is applicable)
Check tire pressure
Beyond that, knowing how to change engine air and pollen filter is really good. Also knowing how to replace all the bulbs in your car is an awesome skill.
2) I am not a fan of letting anyone else work on my car. It really stresses me out. If I had to, i would interview the mechanic working on my car.

Brandon~ i was just wondering what your thoughts are on the upcoming Jetta Hybrid

I think the technology is really cool. VW tested the design with the Hybrid Touareg. I am a little concerned with reliability, but that comes with any design change. The one good point, there are some die hard hybrid fans, so that might open up a new and different customer base for VW.

Jeff~ What is your honest opinion about 2012 VW Passat made in U.S. and do you think VW will be reliable as a Honda? Thanks 🙂

So far the Passat has been great. The majority of the technology in the Passat has been in other VWs for a few years. The only system that is really new is the Urea injection for the TDI. We will have to see how that performs long term. As far as compared to the Honda,time will tell. All German cars are DRIVERS cars, that usually comes with more maintenance, and more service, but we shale see.

Jeremy~I’ve heard all VW dealer shops do is check the computer (previous blog posts noted that it’s NOT just that) and determine whether or not THEY will install a NEW tranny or send you elsewhere for a rebuild or used or whatever… what’s your take on it?

I would love to say that every mechanic goes through all the steps every time, but that is just not true. Transmission, especially automatic, can be really tough. You basically break it down into 3 categories, Electric, hydraulic, and mechanical. From there, you just plug away until you get close to an answer.
The fact is, most techs just check faults, and replace the trans. We don’t do much rebuild at the dealer level, its just as much to rebuild as it is to replace.

Steven ~ Just got a flat on my new 2012 Touareg…is a new tire covered?

Odds are that tire would not be covered under VW warranty. VW does not warranty tires. Any warranty on a tire would come from the tire manufacturer, like Michelin. The only way a flat would be covered is if the rim or the valve stem had a manufacturer defect. They will not cover outside influence, or damage. I have seen very few tires/flats covered under warranty. I have seen the dealer pay for repairs for brand new cars, or for really great customers, but it doesn’t happen that often.

Well, that pretty much round out the questions that I have. What do you guys think of this format? Is this something you would like me to do again? Feel free to post in the comment section and tell me what you think. If you have a question you want me to answer, you can Contact Me, or email me at Charles (at) hollerhomestead.com

Also, you might have noticed that the header is different. Does it blend with the back round too much, or is it good? One last thing, I added an archive section on the right side of the page. You can go back and check out some of my earlier posts. Some are really bad, so its funny to read.

 

Since VW issued a few new updates last week, it seems like a perfect time to talk about recalls, and what that actually means.

If you peruse the VW Facebook page, or any other platform that people can complain(cough “vw forum” cough), you will find that so many people think that any repair should be a recall. As we all know, just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it warrants a recall. So what the heck is a recall anyway? I did some research and had a hard time finding a definitive answer. So you get my interpretation of what a recall is. To me a recall is,

A vehicle repair that is required to maintain safe operation of a vehicle. A known issue has been identified by the NTSB, and the car manufacturer is required to notify customers of an outstanding repair.

Here are the key things you need to understand about a recall.

  1. The car manufacturer will notify customers of the issue and repair
  2. They are generally a safety related issue, but not always
  3. There will not be a charge for the repair

So does that mean if you get a flat tire, you should have a recall on your car? NOPE! Does it mean that a car company put the cup holder above the radio, and because YOU spilled coffee into the radio the company has to fix it? Yet again, not so much, even though it was a stupid design. 😉 Yep, everything is not a recall. I would recommend not fretting though, just because your car has a recall does not mean that you are in danger.

I remember VW had a recall on some of the A5(2005-2007) Golf and Jetta. My wife called me asking how many cars had headlights that have caught on fire. Well would you believe that we have not had ANY headlights catch on fire? She had seen a segment on the news talking about Jetta and Golf headlights. The news said something completely stupid about headlights and now they would explode(or something equally stupid). It turns out, we installed caps in the adjusters. No big deal. Recalls can expire, so make sure you have your information on file with the manufacturer.

Technical Service Bulletin (TSB)
Now we have Technical Service Bulletins, or TSBs for short. A TSB is issued by the manufacturer, but not mandated by the government. Basically all a TSB does is give a mechanics information to make a repair. It does not mean ANYTHING beyond that. There is no warranty associated with a TSB. There are people that will argue that if a manufacturer issues a TSB, they know there is a problem. If they know there is a problem, then the manufacturer should pay for the repair. I say it is worth a phone call, to ask if they will help you out. Officially, a TSB only give repair information, NOTHING else.

Required Vehicle Update (RVU)
I am not sure if other car companies have this, but I know VW does. A RVU is somewhere between a recall and a TSB. Customers are not notified about the repair, but they don’t have to pay for the repair. There are a lot of software updates done this way.

Every time a customer brings thier car to my dealer, we check for all open recalls, and RVUs. TSBs are only used if a customers car has a certain issue. It can be sort of confusing, but if you bring your car to a good dealer, they should be checking these things for you. If you DIY, give your local dealer a call and ask them to check your VIN(vehicle identification number) and check for any open recalls.

I hope that clears up Recalls, TSBs and other releases of information.
Remember, sign up for email alerts, you will be the first to get post updates, insider info, first dibs on contests, which will ramp up as the new site gets finished. Also, check out the Automotive forum, its not just for mechanics.

Oh, here is the retooled version of the new logo. It will be on Facebook. Just a sign of things to come