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Volkswagen technician

Volkswagen technicianRemember 2003? I sure do. It seems like I just made the decision to go to tech school. Many of you know that I attended Universal Technical Institute. While in tech school I worked my face off to overcome some challenges that I have learning things. In addition I worked a full time job too. That time set the course for the next 13+ years of being a Volkswagen technician.

From noob at tech school to just up and moving to a new state for a job, cars have been my world. Now I have reached a point where I have a choice to make. I can continue working with one foot in the dealership world, and one in the HumbleMechanic world, or I can commit to one. And most of all, thanks to all of you guys, that is a simple choice.

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Help Support The Show Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

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Bringing An Old Car To The Dealership For Service ~ AUDIO Podcast Episode 52

Happy Monday everyone. I hope that you all had an AWESOME weekend. It is getting to be car show season soon. Are your projects coming along? Today on the automotive podcast, we are talking about bringing your older car to the dealership for service. This is not a topic we have touched on before. We have talked a little about Bringing a modified car to the dealership before. This is a little different, but not too much.

Join me today as we chat about

  • Welcome a new human to the family
  • Dealer may NOT be the #1 choice for an old car
  • Dealers work mostly on newer cars
  • The amount of MK1 and MK2 VWs at the dealer
  • Why dealers don’t have older repair information
  • Why dealers don’t have old special tools
  • Getting older parts from dealerships
  • Cabrio ABS module
  • and more

Trouble viewing? Watch “Bringing An Old Car To The Dealership For Service ~ Podcast Episode 52” on YouTube.

As always I love to hear your thoughts. Please post them in the comments section below. If you have an idea for a show you can post it in the comments, email me, or use the contact me form! Again, thank each and every one of you for all the support! Don’t forget to subscribe here on the blog for updates.

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What exactly do I mean when I say “add-ons”? When you buy a new car, you do the negotiating, agree on price with the sales person. Then you move in to the office with the finance person. That is where they try and sell you the “add-ons”. This is one of my favorite Simpson moments. Yep, here we go with the add-ons.

So today we are going to talk about the pros and cons of these “add-ons”. My dealer offers:

  • Wheel and tire insurance
  • Extended Warranties
  • Gap Insurance
  • Key replacement
  • Simoniz or other paint/interior treatment
  • Security Coding

Wheel and Tire Insurance

Out of all the extras that F+I people try and sell you, this is the best(in my opinion). This plan can cover damage to a wheel, and or repair/ replacement of a tire. If you hit a pot hole and bend a wheel, they will pay for repair or replacement. If a wheel face gets scuffed at a drive-thru the insurance company will repair or replace it.

The same goes for tires. In Shop Shots Volume 58, I posted a picture of a tire that was damaged by a nail. The tire required replacement. The customer had purchased the tire insurance, so she didn’t have to pay the $180 for a new tire. It only takes a couple of repairs to fully pay for this insurance.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: This is one that I say BUY! If your car has upgraded wheels and tires, it is a definitely buy.

Extended Warranties

This would be a warranty on mechanical failures of your vehicle. I have dug deep in to this before. You can read more about Buying an extended warranty for a car. Here is the short version. There are many factors that go into this decision.

  • Do you have extra cash on hand to pay for repairs?
  • Can you do repairs yourself?
  • Can you live with somethings not working like power windows, power locks, air conditioning?
  • What does the warranty cover?
  • Where do you have to take the car for repairs?
  • Is there a deductible?

These are some of the things to consider when thinking about the extended warranty.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: Maybe, but if you do buy it be sure to get the most coverage you can. I highly recommend reading the post I wrote about it.

Gap Insurance

This one is 100% case by case. Gap insurance covers the difference between what you finance on the car, and what the car is worth. Let’s say you buy a $20,000 car. If you finance all $20,000 you are immediately “upside down” with the car. That means you owe more than the car is worth. Remember your car depreciates the second you drive it off the lot. So now that car you just financed $20,000 on i worth $15,000.

What would happen if you totaled the car the next day? Your car insurance would cover the value of the car, but what about the other $5000. This is where gap insurance would be a smart choice. Also if you buy a car and roll negative equity from a trade in, gap insurance may be a good idea.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: If you buy a car smart with a big down payment, there is no need. If you will owe more than your car is worth, it could be a good move.

Key Replacement

This is actually new to me. This covers losing or damage to a vehicle key. While it is true that vehicle keys are VERY expensive, I don’t know about this one. Volkswagen keys run from $200-$300 to replace. That is not pocket change, but if we are smart and responsible with keys, there is no need for this.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: At this time I am saying do not buy. If I come across something that makes a good case for this, I will let you guys know. Until then don’t buy

Simoniz

Simoniz is the brand my dealer sells. There are other brands of detail products out there. Basically this is the “Scotch guard” and “Paint protection” packages. This type of thing is the typical snake oil in my opinion. Sure you could make a case for this being a good idea, but I am just not there. I think taking good care of your car and keeping it clean is important. I think that this may not be the best way.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: I don’t think that this is one I can recommend. The products may work, but again, this just seems like a snake oil type thing to me.

Security Coding

This is a system that codes the body panels of a car. We put little stickers on the doors and lids of a car. It is an anti-theft device. I am not going to spend any time on this. I do not see 1 benefit to this. Lock your car up, and if someone wants to steal it, they will. Do you really want a car back after it has been stolen? I don’t think that I would.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: Simple, do not buy! Done and done

There are most likely other add-ons that dealers off. Some are good and some are not worth your money. Remember, these are big time money makers for the dealers. Yes some of them are a great value, but if they didn’t make the dealer money, they probably would not offer them.

Well I hope that this post can help someone make a good choice about the extras that dealerships sell. If you know anyone in the market for a car, please share this post with them. In fact, this may be one of those posts that can really help a ton of folks from making a poor choice while under pressure from a finance manager.

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This story comes from deep with in the Humble Mechanic customer service files. Okay this is actually something that happened yesterday. 😉

From time to time I like to share with you guys a story about doing the right thing. Service departments get a bad rep so when something good happens, I feel like I need to scream it.  I need you guys to understand a couple things about these type of stories.

  1. I am in no way bragging. Do not take this as a “look what I did” type of post.
  2. I want you all to take something away from this. I hope you will use this to do something good for one of your customers.

I had looked at a customer’s air conditioning system about a month ago. When I looked at it the first time, I found the a/c compressor was failing. Her car is a 2007 GTI with the 2.0t FSI. The compressor on those cars are a common failure point. I was able to get the a/c working better, but he system was failing. The estimate that I gave was about $1500 or so. The repair involved replacing several components and cleaning all the lines. As you might imagine, the customer declined the repair. $1500 is not pocket change. Plus the a/c was working much better, so she decided to hold off.

Fast Forward to yesterday. The customer had made an appointment to get her a/c replaced. She came in and we chatted a little. It turns out, her a/c has been working great! Her and I went over the pros and cons of making the repair vs not making the repair. I explained to her how not making the repair was really up to her. If she did wait, it would not cost her any more money. The parts were already failing. The repair I quoted would fix the car no matter how bad the a/c failed.

She again opted to wait on the repair. Now, here is what that cost me. It cost me about 2/3 of the day’s pay. Talk about a bummer for me. It was the big job that I had planned to do that day. The good part is, I was able to make the time up with other work.

Here is the real reason I am telling you all this story. I earned something with this customer that is far beyond the 7 hours pay. That is 100% trust. Think about it. I just told a customer she didn’t need a repair. What mechanic, or anyone in a service business does that? Someone who really gives a crap about their customers and their good name. It shows my customers that no matter what I will do right by them. That my friends is what it is ALL about!

If you are not doing right by your customer you are WRONG! I like to use these 2 little sayings from Gary Vaynerchuk  “It is about legacy, not currency” and “It is about running a marathon, not a sprint”. It is hard to argue with that!

I hope you guys can get a little something out of this post.The customer service part of my job is something that I take very seriously. I hope that all of you do too.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. It takes just a second to click one of the buttons below. See, wasn’t that easy? 😉

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We have talked about “Dealership repair vs Aftermarket repair” many times before. One thing that I didn’t touch on is the “Right to Repair” issue. This is legislation aimed at forcing auto manufacturers to provide more repair information and tool to the aftermarket. This is going beyond the how to information.

Based on the legislation, it seems that “Right to Repair” is trying to get information on the control modules in the car. You can read the legislation here. This comes from the “Right to Repair” site.

While the problems experienced by independent technicians are wide ranging, the following are three major issues now faced by independent repair shops in attempting to obtain the information and tools needed to work on today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles:

  • Codes needed to reinitialize vehicle computer systems are not made available. Independent shops often are able to perform many repairs only to be stymied at the end when they cannot obtain the code to reinitialize the vehicle’s computers and thus complete the repair. Absent entering the code, in many cases the car owner would not be able to restart the car following the repairs.
  • Information provided to new dealers is more effective than what is provided to independents. A great deal of diagnostic and repair data is provided to car company franchised dealerships over “hotlines” that are not accessible to independent repair shops or consumers. Information available through these dealer-only networks provide valuable diagnostic assistance for hard to solve problem and might also have information regarding safety related repairs that need to be completed, but which an independent shop and car owner might not be aware of until a technical service bulletin or recall is released, a process that can take months if not years.
  • The growing use of telematic systems by car companies will permit critical marketing and repair information to flow wirelessly using cell phone technology to the dealer, leaving the independents out of the loop. While telematics will provide extensive benefits to car owners, it also will be used by car companies and their dealers to tie the customer to the dealer long after the new car warranty has expired.

As I see it, the aftermarket wants to have full access to all of the control modules and their information. Anything from coding modules, to advanced diagnostics. It will also include the information that we get from VW technical help line.

The truth is, most of this information is already out there. Think about all the information that is in repair manuals like Alldata, Chiltons, Mitchell and so on. Most if not all of the information needed to repair modern cars is out there. It is just a matter of PAYING for it.

We can take VW for a great example. If you buy VCDS (an aftermarket diagnostic software for VW and Audi) you can do just about everything with anything we can do with the dealer scantool. You can also buy the rights to adapt new keys and control modules. That would allow anyone to perform just about repairs on VWs. Like I said, the channels are out there, it is just a matter of finding and paying for them.

So what is the solution?

Well, to me the solution is really easy. If an aftermarket wants to play, they need to pay. It might be a matter of buying the proper diagnostic equipment and tools. The funny part about that is, it will increase the cost of doing business with an aftermarket shop. Tool and repair manual companies can have the information available shortly after a new car comes out. Well within the warranty period. If an aftermarket shop wants to do advanced electrical diagnosis, then it is up to them to buy the proper equipment.

What would happen if car makers were forced to GIVE the information away? Would it give you more options on getting your car fixed? Yep! Would, at some point, raise the cost of buying that new car? Maybe.. Remember that the costs will always roll down hill to the customer. I don’t care what side of this you are on, NO ONE can argue that.

I will be keeping my ear pretty close to this one. With that said, what do you guys think? Do dealers have “unfair” advantages? Please keep in mind the word “UNFAIR”. I really would like to know your thoughts on this.. Post it up in the comments.

Dead Snake in a VW belly Pan Shop Shots

Time to get over “hump day” with some Shop Shots. All right, it’s time to get rollin~GTI button on a VW GTI

 

Check out the button on the far right. It says “GTI”. As you can imagine, that is not a normal button on a GTI. In this case, that “GTI” button was a push button start. Kinda cool right? I didn’t have a chance yo talk to the customer and see how he wired it up. It might have been a kit or something, I am not really sure. The part that I didn’t like was, you still had to put the key in the ignition. To me, it seems silly to have the push buttons start work that way. But hey, it is his car. I really do dig the button.

Dead Snake in a VW belly Pan Shop Shots

 

I was doing a service on a TDI this week. I started to take the belly pan off and a little tail peaking out. I could tell that whatever it was, was dead. Around the shop we were making bets on what it was. I am not an expert in creatures, so my guess was a gecko. When I took the pan all the way off, I found this little guy. Yep, that is dead snake. It looks like he was about a foot and a half when he was alive. That is the very first snake I have found in a car. As long as I don’t find any live snakes, I am good to go. 🙂

Damaged Engine Mount Shop Shots

 

Check out that picture framing. 😉 Lets start at the top left and more clockwise. The top left picture is a bolt hole in an engine mount. If you look carefully, you can see that all the top treads are missing. Compare that to the picture on the right. That is what a proper bolt hole looks like. Now check out the bottom picture. That is the bolt that came out. Here you can see some of the threads. When the mechanic removed the bolt some of the threads came with it. He didn’t do anything wrong. The threads were fatigued and failed. The bad part is, it cost the customer another $180, to buy a new mount.

I felt bad for the customer until I heard what she said about this. She told the service advisor that we were incompetent, and that other shops would have known this would happen. Well, here is the truth, NO other shops would not have found that before it happened. A bad shop would have rigged it up and never told her. We did the right thing, and I will stand behind that 100%.

CLick and Clack from Car Talk Shop Shots

 

When I heard the news that Click and Clack were not doing new shows I was pretty bummed. I love listening to these guys. The show is obviously less about car advise, and more about entertainment, but it had me listening for years and years. In 2008 my wife and I took a vacation to Boston. As luck would have it, Click and Clack were Emceeing a street fest in Harvard Square. We went to the festival and got a great spot. After the fest, I was able to sneak around the stage and chat with them for a minute. I am not really one to geek out over meeting people, but I was pretty dang excited.

Well, that wraps up the 20th edition of Shop Shots. I hope it helps everyone get through the mid-week blues. I know it does for me. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates. Just fill out the little box on the right side of the page. EASY! Oh, don’t worry about spam or any junk like that. I don’t do that crap.

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.

Podcast

Bringing A Modified Car To The Dealer ~ Podcast Episode 45

Today we are talking about bringing your car to the dealership. But more accurately bringing your modified car to the dealer. In my experience there are some dealers that are awesome about working on modified cars. Many techs are car nuts too. Then there are the dealership that think modified cars are the devil. I lean more to the side of loving modified cars. But there are some cases where you really do pay to play with getting your car worked on. Should you pay more for a service when the tech has to work around modifications that are not taken into account with labor times?
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Do you shop on Amazon?
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Help Support The Show
Many of you have asked about supporting the show. For that I thank you. For now, the best things you can do are SHARE THE SHOW, and shop with my links on Amazon. You will not spend any more money that you would normally. Here is the Amazon link ~ Humble Mechanic on Amazon or you can check out some recommended tools I have listed below.

Important links:

Join me as we discuss:

  • Cool part about modified cars at the dealership
  • Well modified cars are great
  • Poorly modified cars are not so great
  • Why modified cars may be more work for the technician
  • Areas where modified cars are a problem
  • How modified cars impact labor times and work flow
  • Who pays for repairs under warranty
  • Being honest about your car mods
  • It only matters when it matters
  • And more

Thanks for tuning in to the automotive podcast. I am really excited about the response. If you have an idea for a show, contact me via email, or use the contact me form!

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