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Touring The New Shop and Studio

I AM BACK!!Touring The New Shop and Studio

Happy Monday everyone. I am super pumped to be back. I hated putting the show on hold for so long. It was really the only way I could get all the work on the new studio done. I really am having a hard time explaining how much I love this new setup. It will give me the opportunity to do more videos that you guys have been asking me for. And with better quality. One thing I didn’t mention is the plans for the floor. At this time, I don’t know what I want the floor to look like. So for now, we are leaving the floor as is.

Sponsor of the Day.
CRP Automotive has been a very important part of this shop remodel. With their help we were able to do all this cool stuff. Now that the shop is ready, I can get deeper into DIY videos, parts reviews, and even make the failed parts videos better. CRP deals in the highest quality aftermarket parts. Check them out at CRPAutomotive.com

Join me as we tour:

  • Studio location
  • Spot open for your suggestions
  • Shout out to Jason from Engineering Explained
  • Cabinets from Lowes
  • The Cabby, aka Project “Luv A Dub”
  • The signs hanging in the shop
  • Future upgrades coming
  • Wheel all the things
  • EricTheCarGuy Meetup
  • Beer of the day
  • and more

Trouble viewing? Watch “Touring The New Shop and Studio ~ Video” on YouTube.

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This is the old setup for the studio

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Happy Monday everyone. I hope that you all had a great weekend. Today on the Automotive Podcast we have a great yet touchy topic. Is VW reliability a problem, or is it perception. I had written a blog post years ago about this very topic. It is one of the most commented on posts on the blog. You can check it out at VW reliability problems.

I understand that there are a lot of folks that have very strong feelings about this exact topic. I also know that many folks have experienced the pain of having a huge repair bill on VWs. But you can take the VW out of the conversation, and input any other manufacturer. That is right, people have big repair bills with Toyota too. I also realize that there is truth to the issues that VWs have. I am a dealer tech, I see it all the time.

Today on the Automotive Podcast we discuss:

  • Why this topic came back up
  • VW ranks 5 from the bottom on J.D. Power
  • Why I “promote” VW as a brand? I DON’T!
  • My affinity for the brand
  • VW are not the right car for everyone
  • What fuels the problems car manufacturers have
  • Buy what you like, and expect problems
  • The story about my CR-V
  • A salesman wants you to by their brand
  • We can substitute VW for any other car brand

Well that wraps up Episode 16. I know that I may have hit close to home with many of you. Feel free to post your comments below. Remember this is not me standing on a soap box. It is a community.

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10 years of fixing broken volkswagensYesterday was my 10 year anniversary of starting at my dealer. So much has changed in the decadethat I have been working for VW. Yet the industry largely stays the same. I am sitting on my couch drinking my coffee and reflecting on the past 10 years of being an auto mechanic.
I would like to share some thoughts with you all today.

I started in the industry in 2004. I was totally the “new guy”. While I had just spent over a year in tech school and training with VW, I didn’t really get how the dealership worked. I was very fortunate to have an excellent mentor named Robert. Rob and I shared much of the same ideals about working on cars. He really helped me hone my skills. It was a good mix of helping me out, and letting me get my butt kicked. Something that seems to be lost on techs these days.

While I took to the job pretty quick, it took me about a year to really get my feet under me and feel comfortable in the job. That was around the time where I felt I could be pretty good at fixing Volkswagens. I realized there was not really a problem I couldn’t walk through. That didn’t mean I was going to win every time, but I know I would get through it.

Change in technology
The change in automotive technology has been pretty big over the last 10 years. As a mechanic, it can be tough to adapt and keep up with with the changes. I look at the old guys that have been wrenching for 30 years. I can’t even imagine how they have lasted so long. Makes me wonder if I will be doing this in 20 years. Here are some of the more notable changes from my point of view

  • Tire pressure monitors
    They were on cars in 2004, but now they are required on all new cars. We can thank the folks at Ford and Bridgestone for that 😉
  • LED and Xenon lighting
    This is one of my favorites.There are lots benefits to LEDs. From brighter light output, and lower current requirements to selectable colors, we have just scratched the surface of LED use in cars. Plus they look cool!
  • Built in GPS and touch screen
    I think VW is woefully behind on the radio front. But even they have come a long way since 2004. Back then the highline radio was a Double Din radio with a CD and Tape player. The same radio my Passat has. LOL
  • Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity This goes hand in hand with GPS. With the lightning fast advancement in smartphone usage and function, we have seen Bluetooth become much more standard. It is for more than just looking ultra cool with an ear piece.
  • Faster communication with less wires
    While C.A.N. communication inside a car is not new, the rate of comm has really improved. Also the number of modules that talk and share information is expanding rapidly.

There have been more advancements over the years. But much of what we see is an improvement on an existing technology. Controlling car outputs using pulse with modulation is not new. We can just do it faster new. Pulse with Modulation or PWM is simply controlling an electric output by turning it on and off really fast. It is a different world to light a car light bulb today.

The Industry
As much as the industry has changed, it has also stayed the same. We seem to be stuck in the classic way things are done. There is no change in the flat rate pay plan for mechanics. I do think that we may be moving to something more consistent. We actually lost 2 techs last year to Tesla. One of the big attractions was being paid by the hour. I understand why companies think flat rate is a great way to pay tech. But part of me thinks that it is an outdated way to pay techs. At least the top level techs. That may be just wishful thinking. It might be time to dive into the pros and cons of flat rate again.

Social Media
While I said that the industry has not changed very much, we have also changed in the advertizing world. The introduction of “social media” has been interesting. I think that overall car companies have been missing a huge opportunity. They seem to be scared of what someone like me might say. I have even got in trouble for things I have posted on forums. In my mind, I would think that companies would want to embrace someone like me. How better to humanize your brand than to have someone that lives beat the drum for you?

A personal journey
The last 10 years have also been an amazing personal journey. I went from the new guy, to a mid level tech, to a team leader very fast. I spent a lot of time as a team lead being hating. Most of the techs I worked with didn’t like my attitude. I am an old school dude. I am not at work to be a warm and fuzzy dude. I expect techs to come to work, bust their butt, and go home. That does not seem to be the normal today. Even my boss tells me I am an old school guy. I consider it to a compliment.

The last few years I have been really working on bringing my game up. Trying to move away from the guy that everyone hates, to a true leader in the shop. It really involved me paying closer attention to individuals and finding ways to motivate other techs. It is tough for me. I am not the type of person that needs to be “motivated”. I do my job the best I can, because that is who I am. It took a lot for me to understand that everyone is not me. Different things motivate different people. One of my new goals is learning how to interact with coworkers in a different way.

It sure has been an interesting 10 years. Plenty of ups and downs. I have had days that made me love my job. I have also had days that I wanted to lock my toolbox and just leave. But the truth is, I have been at the same dealer for 10 years. This is an industry that has an average turn around of 2 years. It says a lot about the company I work for, and the management my dealer has. It also means the world to me to be able to work with the customers I have. It really is an honor to have met and worked with so many amazing customers. They are truly one of the best parts of my job. I have several friends now that started out as customers. The fact that so many people have 100% trust in me is an amazing feeling.

I want to finish up with a huge thank you. I really have a hard time expressing in words how thankful I am to all the people that have helped me in my career. From mentors to customers and followers of this blog. You are all the reason that I can keep going, and doing what I do. I give you all my sincerest thanks. I appreciate all of you so so much.

MK1 Vr6 Rabbit Cabriolet

MK1 Vr6 Rabbit CabrioletIt is time for a Cabby update. For those of you that may be new to the blog, let me do a little recap about this Cabby. In April 2012 my dealer purchased a 1988 VW Cabriolet. The purchased it and donated it for a local charity event. They painted it with chalk paint, and put stickers all over the interior. After the event, I bought the car. I really wish I could have got the car before the event, but it was for charity.

Once I purchased it, my goal was to get everything back to stock. I started with the interior. Hours of laboring trying to get all the stickers off. It didn’t take long to realize most of those stickers were not coming off. I turned my focus to rust treatment, and sound dampening. At first I had no intention of doing an engine swap. The plan was to get the 1.8 running better and just rock that. Well, I stumbled across a 1998 Jetta with a VR6. The bad part is the engine had a blown head gasket. I stripped the car, sold much of the parts, and send it to the scrap yard. The poor Jetta had a rough life. I actually picked up another VR6 with a manual trans. I rebuilt that engine, and now the MK1 Cabby has a 6 cylinder engine in it.

Where we are now
The cabby is slowly coming back together. Last weekend I spent some time putting the interior back together. I also attempted to crank the engine. It turns out that the wire on the starter was broken. I was able to fix that. So right now I am waiting on the following:

  • Header
    Actually I need a whole exhaust. This is the thing that is preventing me from starting the car.
  • Radiator
    I found mounts that will work great for the radiator. I need to clean them up and paint them. I need the header done before I mount up the radiator
  • Finish wiring
    I need to get the car running to be sure all the wiring is right. Once that is confirmed I can cut the rest of the wiring from the Cabby.
  • Fluids
    I do need to fill all the fluids, oil, coolant, power steering.
  • Suspension
    This is not something I need to start and drive the car. But I will be modifying the suspension.
  • Wheels and Tire
    I was hoping that I could use the factory wheels and tires. The tires are very dry rotted, and not safe. If I have to buy tires, I am getting wheels too. Man wheels are expensive. :/
  • Interior
    This is just a matter of getting everything installed and cleaned. I will be redoing a lot of the interior parts, but I want this car on the road. 🙂

There are some odds and ends that I am sure I need to wrap up. I will cross those bridges when I get there. Here is a quick video so you can see the Luv A Dub process.

I am pretty pleased with the progress. I hope you all have enjoyed watching the build. If you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments. Also, if you are doing a build similar share your progress. If you want to see more, check out the pictures on the Facebook page.

Southern Worthersee Banner

Every May the small town of Helen, GA hosts a European car show called Southern Worthersee. It is the US’s answer to the car show in Austria called Wothersee. Helen, GA is a replica of an Alpine village, and is one of the top tourist spots in Georgia. It really looks like a German mountain town.

This year I was able to make the trip for part of the show. The little town was packed with Volkswagens and Audis.Everything from brand new Golf Rs, and Audi RS4s to old air cooled Beetles and buses. There were so many cars there, it was hard to take it all in. I know that I missed some really awesome stuff. I think next year we will make a vacation out of it.

Here are the pictures that I took. If you find a your car, please post that it’s yours, and tell us a little about it. If you know who owns the car, please let them know. The one thing I wish people would do is, put a stat sheet on the car. That way people like me can give them the proper shout out and tell folks more about their car.

I did my best to get all the information correct. If I labeled something wrong(mk1 instead of a mk2) PLEASE just post it in the comments.

Thanks to everyone that was involved. It was also great to meet all of you. To the ones that I didn’t get a chance to talk to, I am really sorry.

MK1 Volkswagen Cabriolet
MK1 Volkswagen Cabriolet

Single round headlights, and the top down 🙂

On Monday the Humble Mechanic welcomed a new VW to the family. She is a 1984 Volkswagen Cabriolet. I picked this car up from a really nice guy on Craigslist. He bought the Cabriolet for his daughter. After owning if for a short time, the Cabby started to develop some drivability issues. After a taking it to a mechanic that was not very familiar with VWs, he decided to cut his loses and sell it.

I picked this Cabby up for $700. It is a little more than I typically spend on a car that does not run. The interior is in really good condition, so I stepped up on price. MY initial intent was to strip the interior out, and use it for Project Luv-A-Dub. It would be the easiest way to complete the interior. Plus have some random extra parts.

Once I got the car home, I started to think that maybe gutting it was not the best choice. She looks pretty good, but just doesn’t run right. I don’t think that swapping the VR into the black Cabby is on the table right now, but you never know 😉 For right now, I think I am going to work on getting her running properly. My gut says that the pump is the fuel tank is the main issue. That is just a feeling I have. I need to dive deeper into the diagnosis.

UPDATE:
Before I could post this post, my wife started talking about the car. I think that she is really starting to dig the look of the early MK1. So I guess that leaves me fixing this car up for my wife. Fellas, any time your gal is interested in your projects, you better give them exactly what they want. And ladies, the same goes for you.

 

 

black forest industries Oktoberfest

Happy Monday everyone!

I want to use today to give you all a recap of the Volkswagen show that I went to this weekend. On Saturday a local tuning shop Black Forest Industries held their second Oktoberfest. Surprisingly it is a German car show, with some German food, and local NC Beer.

I was able to roll out of work a little early and head over. Even though BFI is just on the other side of town, this was the first time I had been up there. Pretty lame that a really cool VW tuning shop is so close to me and I had never been.

black forest industries Oktoberfest

More shots of the Eurowise VR6 mk1

As with any time of show like this, first stop was the beer tent for a great local IPA from Natty Greene’s. Then I got to hang out with some friends to chat about cars, beer, and the food they had. As luck would have it, we were parked next to the Eurowise tent. Let me tell you that the guys from Eurowise in Charlotte,NC are awesome guys. They had their VR6 Cabriolet with them. Seeing this car in person really game me a kick in the butt to get working! They also gave me some inside info on the parts I NEED and the ones that I can pass on. I will be making the trip down to visit them, and pick up the VR6 kit for the Cabby. Seriously check these guys out.

I spent the next few hours checking out all the cars. There were some really great cars. Some folks with awesome taste in cars. VWs with incredible attention to detail. The kind of touch that most people would never even catch.

I also had the great opportunity to meet some readers of the blog. To be honest, THAT was the best part. It is really a total honer to meet people that I know because of the site. If any of you are ever in Raleigh, or the local area, please let me know. I would be more than happy to grab a pint with you!

Here are some pictures from the show. I have to give some photo credit to my buddy Stephen for some of the great shots.