Tag Archive for: water damage


VWheritageI got something a little different for you guys today. A special edition of Shop Shots, well sort of. The folks at VW Heritage contacted me a while back. Their shop flooded. We talked about giving folks some tips on dealing with flooding. So take it away Tara.

According to statistics the winter of 2013/2014 has been the wettest in the UK since 1910.  Extreme weather,  storms and heavy rain are on the rise globally with the threat of climate change, and predicted to increase in the US as well.

VW Heritage, a car firm based in the south of England, got a taste of this first hand recently when their UK workshop was flooded on New Year’s day: In the weeks leading up to New Year 2014 our home county of Sussex saw some of the heaviest rainfall in decades.

Our mechanic, Ben, got a call from the alarm company on New Year’s day because the movement of water flooding into the garage had triggered the motion sensors.   He arrived to discover 2 feet of water filling the workshop.

Water had been gushing from the flooded road nearby and down the ramp, straight into our unit, where Ben’s Mk1 Jetta Coupe build project and the boss’s rather special Mk 1 Golf were both stored.

Fortunately, the Golf kept the water out, apart from some soggy carpet, and we’d put the TDI engine and box up on the crane, out of harms reach – but the boot of the Jetta did get a little damp. We also lost some electrical tools, a welder, the heater and all the stuff that was on the floor, or stored low down.

Looking on the bright side, we got away lightly in comparison to the National Corvette Museum sink hole disaster recently in Kentucky. Plus, we get to share the lessons we’ve learned from our experience with others:


Top tips to prepare your garage for a flood

  • Re-assess what you keep on lower level shelving, on the floor and in the bottom of your toolbox. Big toolboxes have great storage for drills, and other electrical items that you rely on day to day.  Sadly water levels rise up, and these tools will be the first to get wet,  along with the heavy welder you leave on the floor, and the heater that takes the chill out the air.  If you can’t keep these items permanently stored  a few feet off the ground, then at least move them temporarily if there is any threat of heavy rainfall or flooding.
  •  Make sure drains nearby are kept clear, remove any debris, leaves, and blockages. Not a very pleasant job,  but you’ll be saving yourself an even nastier one later –   cleaning up afterwards is pretty gross!
  • Seal interior walls with waterproofing compounds and paints – they can’t keep water out but they can stop it seeping through and creating more damage. For timber use a wood preservative protective coating.
  • Shallow floods penetrate weak points in the building such as air vents and cracks in brickwork.  Check the building both inside and out for cracks and holes,  and then plaster or use filler or water-proofing sealant. Regular maintenance will limit the amount of water that can seep through masonry walls. Water-resistant coatings applied to porous surfaces will also fill any cracks in the masonry or the joints. To avoid trapping water in the wall purchase coatings that are micro-porous so that the wall can breathe.
  • A water proofing epoxy or hard wearing waterproof paint on masonry or concrete floors will minimize damage and make it easier to mop out water if it does come in.  Depending on your existing floor, you may need to prepare the surface before applying. There are a number of decent tutorials and lots of advice online.
  • Consider installing a hoist or mini crane to allow you to store valuable, easily damaged parts above ground or in the apex of a workshop roofspace.
  • Installing breaker sockets will ensure that if water gets into any electrical kit it switches the socket off rather than shorting out.
  • It sounds obvious but if it’s been raining heavily, keep tuned in to local news and weather stations, especially if you’re in an area that’s liable to flooding.  Severe weather and flood warnings will be issued in advance of predicted flooding.
  • A water proofing epoxy or hard wearing waterproof paint on masonry or concrete floors will minimise damage and make it easier to mop out water if it does come in.  Depending on your existing floor, you may need to prepare the surface before applying. There are a number of decent tutorials and lots of advice online.
  • If you think flooding is imminent, place sandbags around doors and entrances, you can contact local builders’ merchants for stocks of bags and sand. The use of flood barriers like this will only delay the penetration of water but at least you can buy yourself some time and move all your tools and valuables out or off the floor.


Tara Gould works for VWheritage (http://www.vwheritage.com/) who offer genuine and top quality classic VW parts for restoration and repair.





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!

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.

Strange VW

Hi folks, welcome back to another volume of Shop Shots. If you are joining us for the first time today, let me tell you a little bit about what Shop Shots. Over the years I have seen some crazy things at the dealership. Everything from severe failures of DIY, water leaks that have totaled Volkswagens, and so many other strange things. This is a way for me to share those things with you. And let’s face it, me tell you about them is one thing, seeing them is another. So let’s get in to the shots.

Volkswagen Wiring problems This is a shot is the trunk of a VW Phaeton. The car has a million and one features, that means a bunch of wiring. VW really pulled out all the design stops on this car(they really should have left some in 😉 ) The trunk wiring harness is designed so you never see any wires. Unfortunately, the contraption they use fails from time to time. The repair is replacing the harness in the trunk lid. It is not a bad job, but there are a bunch of wires. Those wires just control the trunk. Think about how many the rest of the car has.

VW Waterleak issuesLooking at this, I wish I could have gotten a better pictures. You are looking at a wiring harness under the carpet of a Touareg. At some point the customer had a water leak. My guess would be the windshield, but I don’t know for sure. This customer was passing through and their car just shut off. The tech working on it did some heavy diagnosis to find that the drivers carpet was wet. Wet carpet is a BAD thing.

We pulled the carpet back and found the wiring harness had be opened and wires were repaired. We dug further and found a corroded splice of 4 main wires. It was a somewhat simple fix. We had to cut the wires back, and solder the connection. It reminded me of a post I did when I first started the blog. If you want to see what Touareg water damage really looks like, hit that link.

Strange VW To finish up today, I thought I would post this. You guys know, I am all for doing what you want to your car. This however, I do not understand. This is one of the weirdest steering wheel covers I have ever seen. I just don’t understand how someone could drive with their hands touching that. I was not the one working on the car. If I was, you bet I would have worn gloves.

Well, we have another week of Shop Shots in the books. Thank you all for tuning in, and welcome to all the new readers. If you want to see some of the older volumes of Shop Shots, just hit the tab at the top that says “Shop Shots” That will take you back through all of them. Well, all the ones I properly categorized.

Volkswagen sunroof water leak

Happy Wednesday everyone. Thanks for tuning in to this weeks Shop Shots. These are some of the behind the scenes pictures from a VW service department. You will see cars torn apart. The crazy way that things break, and the goofy things that customers do to their cars.

Broken Bushings on a 2003 PassatI have been asked what a damaged/worn bushing looks like many times before. I finally got a great picture of what that looks like. This is an upper control arm on a 2003 Passat. If you look right at the tip of the arrow I added, you will see a crack. That crack runs all around the bushing.

This car came in with a suspension noise. The more you turned the wheel, the worse the noise got. Broken bushings can cause a clunk, squeak, or thud. When a bushings breaks like this it puts more strain on the rest of the suspension. That can cause premature wear on the other components. This Passat got new control arms that come with new bushings.

Heater core replacement PassatLet’s keep the Passat theme rolling. This Passat came in for a water leak. After some checking, the mechanic next to me found that the heater core was leaking. The heater core is a small radiator behind the dash of your car. Coolant moves through the heater core. As air moves across the heater core it is heated. Bam, your car has heat.

In order to replace a leaking heater core, the dash must come out of the car. It’s almost like the heater core is installed, then the rest of the interior is installed around it. The job is not that bad. It’s a lot of parts to take off. The only bad thing is these cars are getting old. That means the plastic trim can be brittle, and break very easy. We generally have to tell customers there may be some breakage. Sadly it’s almost unavoidable.

Volkswagen sunfoor water leakHere is a rare shot of a water leak in action. You are looking behind the headliner of a Tiguan. This tube is the drain tube. All VW sunroofs have a channel to catch any water that makes it past the seal. Some times the tube gets clogged, and water backs up in the channel. The water will leak past the drain tube on to the headliner.

The repair for this is to add a sealant to the tube. It’s a pretty easy repair. The worst part about this job is cleaning up the water.

Engine damage from low oil pressureWe don’t see a ton of internal engine damage. When we do, it’s generally pretty cool to see. This is a bearing for the cam shaft. The cam shaft does not ride on the bearing. It actually rides on a very thin film of oil. Many times we don’t know exactly what happened here. When we pulled the oil pan down, there were little ribbons on metal in the oil. It looks like some of that metal got into the bearing.

Because we never found the exact cause of the damage, we have to quote an engine and turbo charger. If we were just to quote the top end of the engine, we might have missed the actual failure.

Well that wraps up another volume of Shop Shots. I try and say it from time to time, but this is totally my favorite posts to do. I have a few other updates for you guys. As some of you know, we put our house up for sale a few weeks ago. We sold our house in about 40 hours. We also found a new place. We will be moving in January. I am sure there will be a new blog coming. I want to catalog all the things that we do to the property.

Car Flooded in Hurricane Sandy

As folks clean up and restore or rebuild their lives from Sandy I think this is a very relevant topic. Before I get into talking about cars with water damage, I need some help from you guys. I want to help out the folks in the northeast. How and where are you guys donating? I am several hundred miles away, and I want to be sure that what I donate goes to the victims of Sandy. And thanks to everyone that has helped out those people that truly need it.

I know that you might think donating a little bit doesn’t really help. You can’t donate $500,000 like VW did, or maybe you can’t afford to fly there and put your boots on the ground. Trust me when I say that every bit helps. How do I know? Well I dealt with something similar when I was a kid. The short story is, our house was leveled by a tornado. We had nothing. I mean nothing but the clothes we were all wearing. If it was not for donation from the Salvation Army we would have been in big trouble. Even some old clothes or can goods do more for a family in need than you can imagine.

Well, that took a weird turn. Let’s get into today’s topic. How do you avoid buying a car with water damage? I can’t guarantee that after reading this post you will be an expert in spotting water damage. I can tell you that you will be much better at it. You will be able to spot 90% of cars that have had water damage. If you want to read more just click VW Water Damage. That will give you a few posts about the effects of water in a car.

Get a vehicle report
You need to do this before you buy ANY car. A vehicle report is a great way to how the basic history of a car. Things like

  • How many owners
  • Where the car was registered
  • If the title has been branded. This means the car was totaled, or the odometer has been tampered. (more about this in a minute)
  • Some reports show maintenance records.
  • Accident damage over 25%

Reports like Carfax can show more information than what I listed above. As much information that you can get from these reports, I find they are not always 100% accurate. I have seen clean reports on cars that have a ton of damage that was repairs. They also don’t show the quality of a repair.

The information that will be accurate is the title information. The who, what, and where of a vehicles title is almost always perfect. The report will also show a title issue or “brand”. That means the car has had a significant issue and it is forever attached to the car. Things like odometer rollback, a total vehicle loss, or flood damage are the most common ones. Granted, the TMU(true mile unknown) can be a clerical error, I would still be cautious of any branded title.

Car Flooded in Hurricane Sandy

There is no repairing a car after this amount of water damage

Visual inspection
This can be a tough thing to find when dealing with water damage. If someone is trying to pull a fast one, most plain sight damage can be cleaned or hidden. Carpets can be cleaned. Door panels can be shined up to not show the water line. But here are a few tricks to find the hidden damage.

  • Look under the seats.
    Most people will not clean really well under the seat. Staining of the carpet can be seen clearly under the seats.
  • Look at the seats
    Most detail companies miss the part of the seat between the seat and the center console. Move the seat back and for to try and see the entire seat.
  • Check the seat tracks.
    Severe rust build up on the metal seat track may indicate water damage. I have seen slight oxidation on a seat track, but if you are not sure, error on the side of caution.
  • Look at the fuse panel
    Water leaking into a car seems to always find its way into the fuse panel. Look for any signs of the plastic turning white, or connections turning green. Also be sure to look here for any rust on metal parts.
  • Look for discoloration.
    Harsh chemicals may discolor carpet or seat fabric. Make sure the color matches. If you see big spots that look “bleached” it may not be water damage, but it may be a car to avoid anyway!

Like I said, SEEING a water damage from a car that has been cleaned really well can be tough. Look in the crack where you normally don’t look at a car.

Get touchy feely
Touch all the lower trim and carpet of the car. Many times water will cause a change in texture of trim or fabric. I have found that long term water exposure makes trim feel sticky. Not like it is covered in candy goo, but a slight stickiness.

Leather(or leatherette) gets a a little saggy when exposed to water.Generally it gets discolored too. Fabric in the carpet or seats gets a strange feel too. Try and compare carpet or seats to another car, and see if you feel a difference.

Also give the carpet a good push with your hand. Try to compress it as much as possible. Generally when people do not completely dry carpet, water will sit in the padding. When you push it down, the water may come to the surface. If you push on carpet and your hand gets wet, you know it has had water in it.

Use your nose
This is the slam dunk way to tell if a car has been Car Flooded in Hurricane Sandyflooded, THE SMELL! I can generally open the car door and immediately tell if a car has had a water leak. The smell is unmistakeable. I think old mildew is the closest I can get to describe it. Even though I have stupid allergies, I have a pretty tuned nose for water leaks. I recommend you not rely on the overall smell of the car.

Put your nose close to several lower surfaces of the interior. Under the seat, the carpet,and under the dash. There is sound dampeners behind that dash that will hold water. I don’t think anyone would take the dash out, just to dry them There are ways that people try and hide water leaks with fog machines, or “enviortreatments” they generally mask the smell. I have yet to see any of the treatments work great. They either poorly mask the funk, or make it smell like harsh cleaners. The harsh cleaner smell does wear off pretty fast. Then the funk comes back.

I hope that no one ever has to use any of these methods when buying a car. I just can’t get the imagine the number of cars that should be recycled that will be resold. The sad part is many folks will think they are getting a great deal. You all know that old saying,

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Well I could not agree more.

If you have any other advice for people please share it below. The more information we all have, the less likely we will make a very costly mistake. Also, please consider sharing this post with people you know. At some point we will all be in the market for a different car.

If you are not signed up for email updates, please consider it. I don’t send spam or sell your email and junk like that. It is strictly used for updates for the site. It eliminates Facebook from the mix. They are making it harder for me to get the information out to everyone. I would hate for you to miss a post because of FB or Twitter. Plus when we do contests and fun stuff like that, the folks on email updates usually get first dibs.

2003 VW passat Water leak

It’s Wednesday and you all know what that means, Shop Shots! These are the pictures that will you not see anywhere else. Maybe that is a good thing(HAHA). Who else will show you all the crazy things that happen to people’s cars? Okay, let’s do this.

Timing Chain Damage VR6 VolkswagenLast week I posted a picture of a VR6 that was taken apart. One of the bolts backed out and the timing chain came off. This is one of the covers that covers the timing chain. The bright part is where the chain was slapping against the cover. This is just the tip of the ice burg. Like I said last week there where several bent valves, among other damage.

The update is VW is buying this customer a brand new engine. The customer is paying some of the cost. I don’t know the exact numbers. I can tell you it is nowhere near the $7000+ that she was expecting to pay. I am really happy that VW stepped up and helped this customer out. It is great when a really VW helps a customer that truly loves their car. By the way, I think the engine alone was about $6500, ouch!

2003 VW passat Water leakIt has been a long time since I posted a VW water leak picture. The last one was a Touareg water leak. That is actually a good thing. Water leaks can be one of the most awful things to deal with, both for the customer and the mechanic. I have seen many cars totaled because of water damage. Plus they stink!

These are the connectors for a 2003 VW Passat convenience module. That module controls all the convenience features(D’uh?). Things like power windows and lock, and the vehicle alarm system. The connectors are covered in corrosion. That makes for very poor connections. This is something that is generally repairable. It involve replacing all 40 or so wires in the connectors. Generally replacing about 6inches of wire as well. This customer decided to no repair the vehicle. Sadly, another VW bites the dust.

Worn out VW tireThis goes into the “bad news” category. We have talked tires before. This is where the parts of the tire separate. This is very very dangerous, and begging for a tire blow out. The tire is several worn on the inner edge. If you look at the right side of the picture, you see the outer edge of the tire. It still has some tread. Granted, it not in great shape, but not as bad as the inner edge. When inspecting tires, you need to check the whole tire.  Thankfully, this customer replaced all 4 tires.

That wraps it up for this week. Another round in the books. I hope you all enjoyed the pictures this week. I am still taking your pictures for the Readers Rides. You can use the Contact me form, or just email me Charles(at)humblemechanic(dot)com.

Are you on instagram? If so, let me know. I post a few more pictures during the week. Just search humblemechanic and follow me. I also like to follow what other folks are posting.