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funny stories

funny storiesWell folks we made it to another Friday. Because it is Friday, I thought it would be fun to share a few stories from the shop. This episode of the automotive podcast We get to have a few good laughs. Something a lot of us can use on a Friday 🙂

Today on the Show we chat about:

  • Funny things happen in every industry
  • Got yelled at about batteries when I worked in retail
  • Finding pot
  • Smelling pot
  • Passat with a secret compartment
  • Hotwheels
  • Growing mushrooms
  • Mold in a Touareg
  • Superman
  • Boogers

If you are having trouble viewing, see Funny Stories From The Shop, Podcast Episode 24 on Youtube.

As I said in the video, share your best work story in the comments below. I hope that you all enjoyed this show. If this is something you would like me to do more of, let me know in the comments below.

Tdi Diesel fuel system High Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

Happy Tuesday everyone. As you read this, my area is getting ready for a big snow storm. For the southern USA, this has been a crazy cold winter. We even seen temps as low as 8F. I know that some of you folks are cracking up right now. But for me that is record cold. With such cold weather, we have seen a huge run of issues with VW diesels. So today is a little about diesels and a mini Shop Shots, all in one. I have always had mixed thoughts on VW diesels.

Tdi Diesel fuel system High Pressure Fuel Pump FailureLike I said you are getting a mini Shop Shots today. This is a picture of the inside of the high pressure fuel pump HPFP on a TDI Jetta. While this is not a cold weather problem, we have had a run of them at my dealer. For those that think this is due to gas, I assure you none of the last 5 or 6 had gas. The metal bits in the fuel are from the gut of the pump. We have even seen a Passat TDI and a Touareg TDI with fuel system failures. These repairs run from $4000,-$8000. VW has been covering most of them so that is good for customers  **DISCLAIMER** I am not saying that VW is, or will cover this repair for you, or anyone you now.

VW TDI Cold weather kitMoving on to real cold issues with the Common Rail TDI. I posted this on Facebook last week. This is an updated charge cooler, intake pipe and some tubing. The issue is moisture freezing inside the cooler. This can prevent the TDI from starting. It can also go as far as causing major engine damage. We a Jetta at the shop now that we suspect having a bent connecting rod. It seems a small bit of ice can get up to the engine and cause the damage. Based on conversations, this is not the first one out there. I will be sure to post a picture of the damage when the engine is a part

There is one more issue I have seen that seems to plague the TDI in cold weather. That is turbo charger failure on the Common Rail TDI Passat. We had a car towed in with a glow plug light, check engine light, and no power. The faults were something related the car not having any power. (duh, it had no power) I did some checking and everything electrical checked out. Finally I removed the intake pipe and found that the compressor wheel was completely seized. It should turn freely, heck when spinning at top speed, some turbos can spin up to 100,000RPM. I do not have any pictures of that yet. I should be making the repair on Thursday.

After reading this, you must think I hate the VW TDI. That is just not true. I think the diesels are great. They have good MPG, tons of power, and are super clean. But there is no denying they are having some serious issues. The one good thing I can say is, VW has been great in taking care of TDI owners.

Damaged Volkswagen Wiring Problem

Happy Friday everyone. This week there is a slight change up in the schedule. I posted that Purolator oil filter review on Wednesday, so that pushed Shop Shots back to Friday. It’s all good really, Friday is a good day to post up some pictures. Let’s do it to this!

Damaged Volkswagen Wiper blad

When a customer brings their car in, a service advisor will take down notes on their concerns. Most of the time it reads “Customer states check engine light is on” or something like that. It can be really cut and dry. Then you get notes on a repair order that just make you shake your head. The repair order on this car stated “Customer states please check rear wiper blade”.

Generally when you have a concern listed like that it is due to a worn or torn wiper blade. I didn’t see the line on the repair order at first. It was on a second page. When I went back to check it, I could not help but crack up. Not only is the blade missing, there is no arm to attach it to. What made it really funny was when you turned the rear wiper on. It looked like a little boxer tail wagging around.

Damaged Volkswagen Wiring ProblemThis is some old school VW stuff here. You are looking at the lighting circuit from the instrument cluster of my Cabby. When I first got her, it had some weird blue LEDs lighting the bottom. When I got the cluster out, I realized why. The printed circuit was torn at both points the bulbs were. Most components of cars do not use this type of “wiring” any more. This really is old technology.

My plan to repair this is to use the repair kit for a rear defrost. That and some double stick tape. If it were in the middle of the circuit, I would just staple the connection back together. If anyone has another idea, please post in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts on this repair.

Damaged oil drain plugThis is just hilarious. I pulled in a used car to do an inspection on it. The car looked good from the outside. The inside was dirty, but nothing a detail would not fix. As I raised the car up in the, I noticed that it was leaking some oil. On further inspection, I found this gem of a drain plug repair.

Someone took gobs of sealant and packed it around the drain plug. My guess is the plug was stripped and leaking so this was their “repair”. I see this type of thing from time to time. When I do I think “It’s no wonder that people think mechanics are crooks”. Now, to be fair, I have no idea why this was done. It may have been so the customer could trade the car in. I guess it’s not just mechanics that do shady things. 😉 Either way, I got a good laugh from it. Just remember that everyone sells a car for a reason.

With that I think we have wrapped up this weeks Shop Shots. As always I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget you can connect with me on all the other cool media places, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. All you need to do is click on the icon to the right. It will take you there.

One last thing. I have mentioned before that I get guest post requests all the time. Well I wrote a Guest Post page describing how I feel about them. If you want to check it out, cool. If not no worries. That is cool too.

Metal in DSG transmission fluid

Happy Tuesday everyone. It is a rainy and cold Tuesday here. I hope the weather is better for you. Today I want to share a little story about car repairs, and how sometimes they wrong. Well, not really “go wrong, but more unexpected. This would fit in well as a Shop Shot, but I think it needs more information.

A customer brought his 2009 VW Jetta in for repair. His concern was a delay when shifting into reverse, and a strange shift from first to second gear. I test drove the vehicle and finally got the DSG transmission to shift poor. I have driven enough cars with a DSG(think a manual transmission that shifts automatically), to know what it feels like when the mechatronic unit starts to fail. The mechatronic unit is the brain, and controller for the transmission. This one was not bad, but it did need to be replaced.

The symptom the customer had was very minor. The car was 100% safe to drive. I didn’t have any issue with letting him drive his car for a few days while I waited on parts. This is a very normal thing. If the car does not have a safety issue, or another major problem, we let the customers keep their car.

When the customer brought his car back, I started the repair. I removed the transmission oil pan to gain access to the mech unit. Once the pan was off I found the unexpected part, METAL!

Metal in DSG tranmission fluidNotice the shiny silver streaks in the pan. That is tiny metal chucks that have settled. There was also plenty of metal in the fluid. As soon as a mechanic finds a problem like this, it is time to stop and evaluate the situation.

From here I took some pictures and sent them to VW technician help line. They are key in advising whether to repair or replace a transmission. This one was a slam dunk REPLACE! There is very little chance you can get all the metal out of this transmission. Even if you could, it would cost just as much to repair, as it would to replace.

There is nothing that this customer could have done different. They did the service the transmission requires, at the proper interval. The transmission just failed. I don’t know exactly where the metal came from. I have to send the transmission back to VW for them to analyze. So odds are I will never know exactly what happened. The good thing for the customer, this was all covered under their warranty.

This is not something that happens all that often. When it does I like to share. What do you guys think, did this customer luck out or what? Don’t forget you can follow all the stuff the community is doing. It is as easy as clicking your favorite box to the right, it will take you right there. 😉

I am a pretty big fan of people doing their own maintenance. I think it is important to understand at least the basics of the car they drive. All of that stuff goes out the window when DIY goes wrong.

We have talked before about DIY. There are several things that you need to consider when it comes to DIY verses paying someone to make a repair.

  • Price
  • Time
  • The proper tools
  • Know how

Those are just a few things you need to consider. You can read more about it at “Should you make a repair, or pay a mechanic?”

This is when a customer SHOULD NOT have done their own work. A mk4(1999.5-2005) Jetta was towed into the shop. I was not the one working on this car. I happened to catch one of the other techs pushing  a car in the shop. That is not really such a strange thing, but he was pushing it weird.

When I walked over to see what the heck he was doing, he told me the car had no brakes. I laughed and said “yeah right”. We got the car on the life, and sure enough, the car had no brake pads in the rear. With the wheel off, this is what we found

Failing VW rear brakes Yep, that confirmed it, no brake pads. The story that I got was, the customer tried to do a rear brake job. They took the brakes apart and even resurfaced the rotor. When it came time to reset the piston on the caliper, they realized they didn’t have the right tool.

On many modern cars, the rear caliper needs to be twisted back to reset. VWs are are the same way. There are ways to improvise the special tool. Before I knew anything about cars, I tackled the brakes on my Acura. I used a pair of pliers to twist the caliper back. It was a real pain in the butt, but it did the trick.

This is the back side of the caliper. The round part, piston, is what pushes the brake pad into the rotor. The piston is protected by a rubber boot. It keeps debris from getting into the caliper. As you can see this boot is ripped.

Let’s recap this DIY repair. If the customer would have brought their car to the dealer to have the pads replaced, and the rotors resurfaced, they would have paid about $270(that is just an estimate). Instead the customer paid

  • A bill to have the car towed to the shop
  • The time for us to pull the brakes apart and inspect the damage
  • Parts and labor to rebuild or replace the calipers.
  • Several days with out a car

This is a classic example of DIY not being worth it.

I hope that we can all learn something from this. I learned that trying to stop a car, even when pushing it, is really scary to try and stop.

I posted last week about upgrading the email service I use. That is currently on hold. There were a few things that I didn’t really like about the service I was going to use. I still plan on upgrading, it is just a matter of time. All that being said, make sure you are on the email list. I don’t spam or sell the information. That would be lame!

Humble Mechanic Logo

You have heard the horror stories,

I took my car to a mechanic and they broke this part.

Today I want to dive in a little deeper into what goes on behind the scenes when a mechanic breaks something. Generally you read about the situation from a customers point of view. That is the one that counts. But it is not all hearts and flowers from your mechanics point of view either. I am sure that the owner, or dealer is not too pleased. Basically it is lose lose all around.

When I had first planned to write this post, I was going to tell you all a story about something that happened to another mechanic in the shop. As luck would have it, I broke something yesterday, and I want to tell you guys about it.

I was replacing a front differential in a 2007 VW Touareg. This is a job that I have done before, but not something that I do often. Replacing this part takes a fair amount of finesse. There is about 5mm of extra space needed to remove the part. It’s a hard job, just one that needs care.

Just about the time I had the differential out, it slipped just a hair. Next I see a connector swinging near the steering rack. It seems that when the differential slipped, it hit the connector on the steering rack, and broke it. Now just a broken connector is not a big deal. I can totally fix that. The bad part is, the part that broke is part of the steering rack.

I got to a good stopping point and evaluated the damage. Knowing how VW builds parts I was pretty worried. I got with one of my parts guys and we confirmed my fear. The part I broke was not a spare part. Even though I could remove the part, it is not available separate. We even emailed VW parts headquarters with no luck. 🙁

So what happens next? Well, first things first, I get to go and tell my boss that I potentially damaged a $1000 steering rack on a Touareg. I don’t break things that often, but when I do I go big. That is the part price only. After the shock of possibly buying a $1000 part pasted, we brain stormed on an alternative.

  • Repair the part
    This was built into another part. I tried to find a way to make a repair, but no such luck. It was just a mass of copper inside the sensor. Repairing the part is a no go
  • Shop aftermarket
    We spend a good amount of time trying to find just the part I broke. Unfortunately there was no luck in this department either
  • Just get a new one
    This is definitely the easiest option.  But we are not talking about a $10 part. This would require a little more thought that just “Go order it”
  • Junk yard part.
    Odd are this is the route we will take. It will save a ton of money over a new part. This can be a slight dice roll. It may take a few tries to get a good part.

Once we have a solution for the part, someone needs to install it. Since I am the lucky one that broke the part, I get to install it. One of the worst parts about breaking something is having to install it for free. When a mechanic breaks something, they have to replace or fix it. The bad part is they will not get paid for it. That is only fair, you break it you fix it. Only seems fair right?

 So let me just sum up how much breaking stuff really stinks, 

  1. Customer is not happy, and may be with out their car for a while
  2. Service department might be buying a really expensive part.
  3. Not only will the mechanic have to replace/fix the part for free, they feel really bad about it.
This doesn’t even go into what happens when a mechanic is shady and “fixes” things. That I will have to save for another day. 😉
If you are an mechanic in training, or still fresh, don’t worry. These things happen, I don’t care how good you are. Even the top techs make mistakes. Remember “A Bad Day For A Mechanic“? It can and will happen to anyone!
Shop Shots auto mechanic pictures

Hi everyone! It’s Wednesday, so that means I am taking you inside an auto shop with Shop Shots! These pictures come from the shop that I work in . The pictures might not be cars that I am working on, but they are all real. Let’s do this!

Shop Shots auto mechanic picturesFrom time to time I find something gross. This is one of those times. This is a car that the guy next to me was working on. I walked over to check on what he was doing. I noticed a fair amount of oil under the intake manifold. The crank vent pipes tend to break on the 1.8t engines. I grabbed my flashlight to get a better look.

I happen to notice this little dead mouse. It looks like he was there for a while. The guy working on the car freaked out a little. It was kinda funny. Usually I am the one to get freaked out by stuff like this. I guess since I don’t have to work on that car, it was not as big of a deal. Poor little guy.

Shop Shots auto mechanic picturesOn a much less disgusting note, nothing died in this picture. This is the guts of a fuse panel. The customer brought her car in with some lighting issues. I found a fuse that was melted. It is something that I have seen a few times before. Thankfully, I had seen it before. This issue kicked another techs butt. I had the benefit of remembering his struggles, so I didn’t have to.

I wanted to see if there was an identifiable issue with the fuse block. I found the damage, but no culprit. I expected to see evidence of water intrusion. Not so much. Still I like to see what is going on inside the magic boxes. 😉

Shop Shots auto mechanic picturesThis is a shot I took of a screen in Guided Fault Finding(GFF). GFF is part of VW’s scan tool software. There are times when a really funny screen pops up, and this seems to be one of them. Please allow me to clarify what this is saying.

  • If the customer complains about this issue, treat it like it is a problem.
  • If there is a TSB or other repair information, follow what that says to do
  • If the first two things do not apply, don’t worry about it. There is nothing wrong

I love finding gems like this! HA

This falls under the “you gotta do what you gotta do” category. I actually borrowed this picture from my buddy on Twitter Jeremy. All I can say is Vise grips saved the day! I hope this is a temporary fix. If not they are asking for trouble, but it is still really dang funny!

Well that wraps up another week of Shop Shots. If you have any pictures that you want to submit for shop shots, just contact me! Also if you want to show case your car drop me a line! Oh, I hope that I didn’t gross everyone out too much with the dead mouse. 😉