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Happy Thursday everyone! As you probably know, I have been on vacation this week. This is actually the second time I have ever taken a week of vacation time in my working career. It has been a week filled with working in the yard, and hanging out with the family.

I also updated my phone a few days ago, in typical Iphone fashion, the update crashed my phone. I had to restore it from the last backup in February. Since all of the Shop Shots come from my phone, I am missing a lot of pictures. So, Tech Tip of the day, be sure to back your phone up! Ok, lets do this!

This is a picture of a screw I found in the tire of MY Passat. (yep I got screwed) I was leaving the store and noticed it. I did not remove the screw, it was holding air, and I didn’t want to have a flat. The thing about the location of the screw is, it will not be repairable. An object that is in the outer most of a tire tread is not repairable. The flex of the tire at that point to really high. Any repair, plug or patch is not safe. I will most likely be replacing this tire.

When it comes to repairing tires, we have 3 types of repairs, patches, plugs, and patch-plugs.

  • A plug is installed from the outside of the tire. Think of using gum to plug a water leak, Clark Griswold style. It is actually a little better than that, but you get the idea. This repair is fine for a temporary repair, but not the best way to fix a tire.
  • A patch is installed from the inside of the tire. It is a great way to repair a tire. This must be done by a professional, because the tire will need to be removed from the rim.
  • A patch-plug is the BEST way to repair a tire. It combines both methods. Covering the hole from the inside, and filling the hole with a plug. If you have a choice when getting a tire repaired, use this type of repair.

Any mechanic will tell you that we see dumb stuff like this all the time. People run wiring in the door jams is the most common dumb thing we see. The worst is when it is a big power wire from the battery to a radio amplifier. If you notice not only are the wires ran through the door jam, but it is secured with, you guess it, DUCT TAPE! I think that is was a GPS that was wired in this way. PLEASE do no do this.

I literally laughed out loud when I found this picture again. This is a picture of a Jetta airflow meter, and intake hose. I think the customer thought they had an air leak. They sealed it with tape. Then they put tape on the connector. I don’t remember what type of tape it was, it was not duct tape. I remember it came off pretty easy, but I wasn’t happy about messing with it.

This is another pride and joy picture I have. We had an EOS come in to the shop for the semi-common EOS water leak issue. The seats and seat belts were moldy, so I have know idea how long the water was in there. I removed the seats and found these little guys growing. Yep, little tiny mushrooms. Let me say that again, MUSHROOMS growing in an EOS. How awesome is that. I am sure it was really unhealthy for me to be working on that car, but live and learn!

If you have some of your own Shop Shots, come by and post them in the Humble Mechanic Forum. Don’t be stingy with your good pics. The community over at the forum is really cool come by and check it out.

1 more thing, yesterday I was featured on a really cool technology blog. I did an interview with Matt talking all about car technology. He has a great blog with a lot of awesome information. Swing by and check out my interview!

I wrote a post last week about what happens when an aftermarket breathalyzer is installed poorly. It is HERE if you missed it.

Well, as promised, Here is the follow up to what happened.

When I published that post, the repair was in a limbo state. The customer didn’t want to pay the bill, and the company that installed it didn’t want to pay the bill. I noticed yesterday that the Touareg was still at the shop, but it did not have license plates on it. It had been days since we had heard anything, so my service adviser called the customer. He said that they actually bought his car from him!

I don’t have the juicy details about how much they gave him, but honestly, I don’t think that he cared.  It probably worked out the best way that it could have.

I am sure it was some type of insurance settlement. I don’t think that this customer will be buying another VW, but more importantly, I don’t think that he will be drinking and driving again. I HOPE ANYWAY!

 

Volkswagen water damage

We all know that drinking and driving is bad.  More important than anything, its dangerous.  The number of anti drinking and driving ads should tell the story.

Your probably wondering why a mechanic would be writing a blog post about drinking and driving.  I do not work in a body shop. I am not a paramedic, police officer, or any type of first responder.  I can’t say anything about that side of DUIs.

The side that I see is purely related to vehicle electrics. One of the “punishments” of a DUI is having a starter lockout device installed. Most of us call this a breathalyzer. Basically, it prevents the starter from turning until someone blows into it.

The person that gets the DUI has to pay for this device to be installed, they have to pay monitoring costs, and they have to pay to have it removed. Check out some of the cost of DUIs.Here is where I come in.  It seems that the guys, or gals, that install these devises, do not know much about modern cars.  I have ran into 2 that they have messed up.

The first time I encountered a breathalyzer issue was on a GTI. The girl had the thing installed, then the check engine light came on, and the car would not run. After some initial diagnosis, I found an injector wire that was soldered. Now the actucal WIRE repair was fine, but soldering on modern cars is a big time NO-NO.  It turned out that they fried the engine computer.  This type of repair runs about $1500.  Thankfully for her, the company that installed it, paid for the repair.  Plus note, she is now a great customer of mine!

The latest fun with a breathalyzer is actually still going on.  I am not sure how long this guy has had the breathalyzer in his Touareg, but my guess is about a year. His Touareg has had a number of issues over the years.  I mean, the 2004 Touareg had its problems all on its own. This time the car got towed in because it would not start. I spent some time with it and found that the ECM(engine control module) was not being controlled properly. I jumped the power relay (which controls power and ground ironically enough) and drove the car in the shop.

I must have spent about another hour testing different systems. I narrowed it down to the ECM. We told the customer that we would start with replacing the ECM,and go from there. He purchased an ECM from a junk yard. Thats not really something I want to install, but its what the customer wanted so I used it.

After installing the ECM, the car started right up. “GREAT, I fixed it”, thats probably what I said, and I probably said it out loud, because I tend to do that. I put the covers back on with the car running and cleaning the car up. When I shut the car off, the cooling fans stayed on. If I had the Touareg running for an hour, that would not have been a problem. I only had it running for a few minutes. Not knowing if the issue was the used ECM, or something else, I was basically back to square one.

I spend about 2 more hours searching wiring diagrams, and tracing circuits. It turns out the relay that I had an issue with initially, was still the problem. Now the problem was the relay would not release(before it would not activate). So after banging my head against the wall, I decided to pull up the relay plate and just “take a look”. As any tech with a few years under their belt will tell you, “sometimes you just got to dive in and take a look”.

What I found was SEVERAL main power wires that were under water. Even if you are not a car person, you know that electricity and water do not mix. I have repaired tons of wiring harnesses due to water damage. This one is the first Touareg that I have seen it happen to.  I guess when the company installed the breathalyzer device, they did not secure the cover properly. The box is right under the windshield wipers, so water was bound to get in.

The scary part about these harnesses, is VW is not really that clear on where they go. It could just be the connectors under the hood, it could be ALL the wires from the headlights to the taillights.  The only way to know for sure is to order one and see. Most of the body harnesses cost $2000-$4500 for the part, and probably about the same for labor.

The crazy thing is, the car is just in a holding pattern. The customer is fighting with the company that installed the breathalyzer to make them pay for the damage. They say they are not responsible for ANYTHING. To the customer point, they are the one that messed his car up. On the company’s side, if he would have never got a DUI, it would have never been a problem.

I am not really sure what will happen with this repair. I will write a new post as soon as I get an update.  Be sure to subscribe for all the updates!