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Hi everyone. Today I want to talk about having a realistic expectation when getting your car serviced or repaired. To some this may be a touchy subject. See when you talk about having realistic expectations as a customer, some people think that means settling for poor service. Friends, let me tell you it DOES NOT mean you need to settle for anything less than great service.

Here is why I think we need to have an honest talk about this. A customer came in for her free 10,000 mile service. This is part of the VW Free Maintenance package. It is a pretty simple service, basically just an oil change and tire rotation. We completed her service with out a  hitch. After a service, VW sends customers a survey. Customers can comment on how their service went. I can’t post her exact comment, so the next part is just a paraphrase.

It was disappointing that my clock was not changed to daylight savings time. I did not  changed it on purpose to see how thorough service was.

Just to sum that up, the customer was upset with us for not changing the time on her clock. Seems a little silly doesn’t it? She based her satisfaction on something that we didn’t know she wanted.

Now I have no problem changing a customer’s clock for them. Seriously it take just a few seconds. I mean really, I would be glad to do it. BUT, I made it a policy many years ago to not change a customer’s settings.

  • I do not change the radio station, I turn it off if I need to.
  • I don’t adjust the mirrors
  • I do not move the seat(unless I need to take the car on an extended test drive)
  • I wont change the MFD display
  • I do not change the A/C or heat settings

Who is to say that the customer did not have their clock set that way on purpose. If the clock was 10 minutes off should I change it? I generally pay zero attention to a customer’s clock.

Whenever a customer has a concern, I think about how I could handle it differently. About the only thing we could have done differently would be to ask the customer if they wanted their clock changed. That might be something I explore when we change the time on the clocks.

As a customer, the best way to get the that little extra is to ASK! It doesn’t matter if it is your mechanic, or your bartender. Most of the time doing those little things is no problem. I don’t think it is fair to be mad that something didn’t get done, that we didn’t know you wanted.

What do you think? Is it reasonable for a customer to be mad about that? Please post up your thoughts in the comments below.

VW Fender liner repair

Hi everyone. We are back to the regularly scheduled programming with Shop Shots. I was just thinking, if you ever want to go back and see some of the older pictures, just click “Shop Shots” under the header at the top of the page. That will take you through all 46ish volumes. Some times it is fun to take a look back at the older stuff. Okay, let’s get rolling

VW Fender liner repairI posted this to Facebook last week. I know that some of you don’t follow the FB page and I didn’t want anyone to miss this. You are looking at a wheel house(or fender) liner from 2004 Jetta. Someone used zip ties to “sew” the liner back together. That means they took the time to drill 42 little holes, then weave some zip ties through. All to reattach a broken fender liner.

Part of me thinks it was a total waste of time and zip ties. A new fender liner is about $75. The time and energy was much more than $75 worth. On the other hand, it was very well done. The repair was pretty strong. Plus we all have something to talk about. Bravo for being industrious.

Subaru engine damageIf you really know your VW engine, you are thinking, “Wait, this doesn’t look right”. That is because it is the engine out of a Subaru Legacy. the dealer sold an older Legacy a few weeks ago. I am not sure what happened but it came back overheating. After some diagnostics, the tech working on it found one of the 2 head gaskets blown. You can see VR6 damage from a blown head gasket here.

The tech took the heads off and replaced the head gasket. When reinstalling the parts, something failed. When he started the engine, one of the valves fell down in the cylinder. You can see the witness marks on the piston. Those shiny silver marks should not be there. That is the damage from valve hitting piston.

WARNING the next pic may not be suitable for everyone. (drug content)

 

Okay I warned you!

Drugs found in VW carI gave the warning because some folks are sensitive to this type of thing. I had to remove the back seat from a Beetle convertible last week. When I pulled the seat bottom up, this pipe rolled out. It was actually a pretty good hiding spot.

I don’t really care what people keep in their cars. It is their car so do what you want. Just know that if you keep this kind of thing, the entire shop comes to check it out. Then we get a big time laugh out of it. HA.

Well, that about does it for today’s Shop Shots. One quick thing. I posted yesterday’s blog post to FB around 9:00am. For some reason FB did not post it to the wall. If you want to avoid any of that mess, the best way is to subscribe. Use the box on the top right. I don’t sell or spam your email. It just makes sure you get posts when they are released. I will also do little things for the subscribers from time to time. 😉

Failed Volkswagen water pump

Happy Wednesday everyone! Like always, we have the behind the scenes pictures from a VW dealership. I hope you all know how much I like doing these Wednesday posts. I try to capture all the fun things that happen in a service department. Well, all the stuff that is clean enough to share anyway 😉

Body work on a VWI have talked before about signs of body work on a car. The things that you need to look for before buying any car, new or used. Here is a classic example of what that can look like. The hatch of this Jetta has been hit. I don’t know the story, but I can see the results. From the factory, most car makers paint all the nuts and bolts that hold the body together. Things like fenders, hoods, and doors generally have the the fasteners painted. Checking for the paint missing or broken like these are can give clear evidence of body work.

If a car just had some cosmetic damage, you probably will not see this. There is no reason to remove a fender to fix a scratch. Most body shops will fix that right on the car. Also know that even new cars can have this. They should not be selling them as new, but I know some places will.

TDI VW pump failureThis is a picture of the fuel tank on a new TDI diesel Jetta. The trucking company mis-fueled the tanks. Because of that, the customer filled their car with gasoline. This one was not the customers fault. It was not a HPFP failure, it was clearly a car that had been mis-fueled.

When I removed the in tank fuel pump, I found all this debris. It seemed to be dirt. I am not exactly sure what the heck it was, but it was everywhere. It was stuck in the pump, and all throughout the tank. I was able to clean it all out. That meant I got to bury my face in a gas tank for about 30 minutes. There are 2 lessons we can learn from this

  1. Be careful where you fill up your tank. You might be filling it with the wrong fuel or pumping contaminants into your tank.
  2. Never under estimate how important a fuel filter is. If there was not a filter on the in tank pump, or near the engine, all this would have totally ruined the fuel system.

Very dirty car floor shop shots VWThis is the floor of a VW Jetta. As you can see it is covered in dirt, leaves, and pine needles. Normally I would not care one bit about that. This car had a recall to rewire the airbags in the seats. That means hanging out on the floor board of this car. You can also see the back seat was jam packed full of stuff.

I don’t really care if a customer has a clean car, or a dirty car. I am not really a fan of smelly cars, but that is another story. I do not really care for working on the floor of a car that is covered in nasty. If you are planning to bring your car in, please at least pick it up a little.

Failed Volkswagen water pumpI want to wrap up today with this. What you are looking at is a water pump from a 2001 VW Jetta 2.0l. This is a very common point of failure on that engine. The reason is the impeller is plastic. It is molded onto a metal shaft. Over time the plastic breaks loose and the pump stops pumping. If your mechanic tells says your water pump has failed, this may be what it looks like.

Another round of Shop Shots in the books. Be sure you do not miss next weeks volume. We are doing a best of and that will be super fun! Also, I have a few things I want to giveaway, but you will need to tune in next week to see what they are. I may drop a hint or two on Facebook in the mean time. 😛

Do you enjoy Shop Shots? If so, I would really appreciate you sharing with your friends and family. That is the best way to spread the word about the site, and help folks with their cars. Just click on the little buttons below. EASY!

Volkswagen electrical repairs

We talked yesterday about getting stuck as an auto mechanic. Like I said it happens to all of us. So today I thought I would share some auto mechanic secrets. 😉

Over the years I have seen some strange things. You can read just about any Shop Shots post to get an idea of some of that stuff. There have also been some really weird things that have fixed cars. These are all real. I could not make this stuff up. Trust me, I have tried.

Hard Reboot aka Battery VooDoo

Volkswagen electrical repairs

Thanks to a fellow VW tech for this pic

This is my go to repair. When ever I have a strange electrical issue I do this. It is basically a hard reboot of all the car’s computers. It is kind of like your computer at home. Sometimes it gets stuck in “stupid mode”. Or like my old TV. Sometimes the sound would not work. If I pulled the plug out of the back, then plugged it back in, it would work. That TV just died. HA

To perform the “battery voodoo” Disconnect both cables on the vehicles battery. Then touch them together. I generally leave them for about 5 minutes or so. This will reboot the entire car. It forces all the modules in the car to recheck themselves and talk to each other. There is probably a million different things that this has fixed. It is fun to watch new technicians faces when they learn this for the first time.

This is generally the first things that VW tech line tells us to do when we call them. One word of caution. If a car has to batteries, disconnect BOTH batteries, or make sure you don’t try and start the car. It turns out that a Phaeton will start with the convenience battery disconnected. It then sets the jumper wire on fire. 🙂 Oh, another word of caution, don’t put out car fires. Just let the car burn.

Soft Vehicle Reboot
While this does not fix as many issues as the battery voodoo, it does do some cool stuff. VW had a flash update a few years ago.Sometimes when the update finished, the MIL would be on. There would be no codes stored, or information given. The light would stay on until you locked and unlocked the car. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but it worked.

There are 2 ways to soft reboot a car.

  1. Simply turning the ignition on and off. That is called a key cycle. That will make the car do a partial reboot. Plus many sensors need to see a key cycle before they come online
  2. The second way is really simple, but sounds tricky. All you have to do is get out of the car, and get back in. If you get out of the car, lock it, unlock it, and perform a key cycle, the car will do a full soft reboot.

From time to time we have issues with cars not communicating with our scan tools. The fix was a the full soft reboot (#2). The soft reboot is nice because it does not delete all the cars values like the battery voodoo. This is a good first step specifically for a customer.

Unplug The Problem Module
This one is pretty new to me. We had a guy in the shop going round and round and round with an issue on a 2001 or so Passat. He replaced what he thought was the issue. Double checked, then triple checked his work. He tried to do the battery voodoo and it didn’t work. Left with little choice, he called VW tech line. They told him to unplug the module for about an hour. Would you believe that fixed the issue?

It seems that some of the older cars get stuck in “stupid mode”. That was the first time I have ever seen that happen. I know that he felt great to get the car fixed, and even better knowing he didn’t mess up the car.

Recode The Module
Most, if not all, modules in cars have a coding. That is what tells the module what it is, and what features the car has. Recoding that module performs a hard reboot, but only on that module. The best example is the older Touaregs and Phaetons. When I would run into a strange electrical issue on either one of those cars, I would recode the “Gateway” module. That was like the main communication point for all the modules in the car. I would go into the module with the scan tool and recode it. I would not change the coding, but recode it to the same coding. The coding was 6, and I would just recode it to 6. That would force that “Gateway” to recheck the entire system. It worked like a charm.

On the newer cars, this is not such a great choice. Codes are now “long coded”. Instead of being a coding of 6, it is more like 015b05661a0000001b. Getting that coding wrong can be a disaster. I miscoded a convenience module on a 2007 Passat one time. Many things didn’t work, but when you opened the trunk, the gas door opened. When you opened the fuel door, nothing happened. I had to call VW and get the proper coding.

I have no doubt there are many other strange things that fix cars. Do you know any? Post them up in the comment section. I know I get a kick out of that type of thing. I am sure that everyone else will too.

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Humble Mechanic Logo

I really wanted to do something different today. We get into some serious business about cars, car repairs, tools, auto mechanics an so on. So today I want to do something totally fun. Let’s play a little game.

Here is how this works. Oh, its only fun if everyone posts what they think in the comments.

Question 1
So You are designing a new car for James Bond. What defensive equipment would you put on the car? Oil slick, tack deployment, how would you keep Mr. Bond safe?

Question 2
What is best cartoon car? No rules here, as long as it was a cartoon. It can also be a truck or a van.

Question 3
If you could add any feature to your current car, what would you add? It can be something real, like Bluetooth, or something like that espresso machine like Suzuki’s commercial. HA!

Question 4
If you could drive ANY car in the world, real or imaginary, what would it be?

Question 5
What will the “green car” of the future be? Odds are it will not run on puppy kisses, and teddy bear dreams. What will the “green car of tomorrow” be powered by. Side note, I hope it is puppy kisses.

Bonus Question
What is the most embarrassing car you could drive? Again, real or imaginary, you better not say a 1988 Cabriolet that is covered in chalk!!!!

I present you with the questions, now it’s your turn to answer them. Go ahead and reach for the stars. Okay let’s see what y’all got!

Shop Shots Auto mechanic pictures

Hi folks, it’s Wednesday so that means you get some Shop Shots today! These pictures come to you from behind the scenes of a Volkswagen dealership’s service department. This is some of the things that auto mechanics see.

Shop Shots Auto mechanic picturesThere is actually a lot going on in this picture. This is a 1999 VW Passat. The car came in for an issue with the ABS module. I hopped in the car and seen this. The door panel was missing. This is not something I was overly concerned about. The customer didn’t mention anything about it. If you look where the glass meets the door, you can see two wedges. That is what is holding the window up.

I am sure that the regulator had failed. The funny thing is, the left rear window was the same way. This poor Passat was just about at the end of it’s life. Oh, and it smelled awful.

Shop Shots Auto mechanic picturesOUCH! What you are looking at here is the oil pan for the transmission. This customer ran something over. What ever they hit punched a very strange hole in the transmission pan. Generally when a transmission have this type of damage the underside of the car has multiple impact points. This one didn’t. It was just this damage.

If you look inside the pan you can see some of the valves in the valvebody. Those are the valves that control the transmission fluid and make the transmission work. As you can imagine, this caused a pretty severe leak. The transmission actually had to be replaced. Thank goodness for car insurance.

Shop Shots Auto mechanic picturesI was getting out of a car last week. As I went to shut the door, this little guy caught my eye. I had to take a second look. Then I had to pick him up and see if it was in fact Jim McMahon. I am sure I have told you guys that I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I have been a Bears fan my whole life. I still remember the 1985 team and the Super Bowl Shuffle. Granted I was 5 but I still remember it.

What the heck is a customer doing with a Jim McMahon figure in the door panel of their car? You just can’t make this stuff up.

Well, that does it for another week of Shop Shots! I am back in the shop today after having a few days off. Next week I will be traveling for VW training. I will be going to class for the Jetta Hybrid. I am really looking forward to the class. I really think hybrid tech is cool. I can totally foresee many of the things on hybrids being standard equipment on nonhybrid cars in the near future.

Do you dig this blog? What to help spread the word and grow our community? There are so many really easy ways to do it. Share it on Facebook, tweet it out on twitter, and for shop shots, feel free to pin it to one of your board on Pinterest. I am pretty sure if you do that your car will get better gas mileage. (okay, probably not, but that would be really awesome!)

Automotive Service pictures Shop Shots VW belly Pan

Okay I have to tell you guys something. I never thought we would get to Volume 25 of shop shots. I just want to take a second to thank each and every one of you that have made doing this so much fun! Seriously, you guys freaking rock!

Let’s talk some automotive shop pictures! Oh, and I have another “Reader’s Ride” this week. Remember if you want to submit your car, just email me some pictures and a short description, and I will put you on. Don’t be shy 😀

Automotive Service pictures Shop ShotsGross! This is a pictures of a cabin air filter from a Jetta. As you can see it is filled with nasty. The stuffing that you are seeing is some of the sound deadener from the car. I didn’t find anything living in there(thank god). I was still grossed out by how much dust and junk was caked into the filter. Please don’t let your pollen filter get this nasty, especially if you have allergies. I will be replacing my filter as part of my road trip prep.

Automotive Service pictures Shop Shots VW belly PanThere is a rhyming saying about duct tape, but I will leave that to your imagination. Now this might come as a surprise, but duct tape can’t fix everything. This is the bottom of a Beetle. The customer had hit something at some point. The belly pan(part that is hanging down) has been torn off. The customer attempted to reattach it.

As you can see they tried several different methods. Duct tape didn’t work, so a bent up coat hanger is the next best thing. The big issue is the part that holds the belly pan up is broken. That would be a $800+ repair. We see this kind of thing a lot. I was lucky enough to catch a picture of this one. the guy that works next to me in the shop was working on this Beetle

Automotive Service pictures Shop ShotsI didn’t realize how weird this picture looks until now. I promise that I didn’t photo shop this or anything. Really, I would have no clue how to do that.

I was standing in the drive aisle waiting to talk to my service advisor. I glanced out to the covered breezeway. I was checking out a new 2012 Passat. I noticed something hanging from the car. At first I figured it was a clip from the car wrap.I must have looked at it for a full minute. Then it clicked, they are scissors. The scissors were jammed up into the little flap just in front of the rear wheel. I walked out and plucked them off the customers car.

It turns out the customer was talking to my service advisor. I walked back in and asked him if he wanted a survivor. I don’t think the customer thought that it was as funny as I did. How often do you see a pair of scissors jammed into the bottom of a car?

Reader’s Rides

Humble Mechanic Readers Rides

This is Garrett’s Jetta. Just some back round. Garrett has been an awesome part of the community. He is the one that chose Luv a Dub for the Cabby project! He also has had some crazy electrical issues. What kind of Vw driver would he be with out it? 😛 Thanks for submitting Garrett! Here is what He had to say.

Here’s a pic of my car to start. Hope everyone else digs the idea.
It’s a 96 jetta, 202k miles, pacesetter headers an custom cat-back, aluminum intake, pioneer head unit and speakers, 3000 watt 12 pioneer premier sub. Custom blue dash lighting. Eibach pro-kit springs and dampers. I drive it every day an love it very much 🙂

You survived another round of Shop Shots! I hope you all enjoyed. On a totally other random note, is anyone watching the Olympics? I am just now getting sucked into watching the swimming. WOW how awesome are these people. Good luck to all the athletes!