Auto Mechanic

Auto Mechanic

Charles ~ Humble Mechanic

Raleigh, NC

Male, 32

I am one of about 200 master certified VW techs in the USA. I do everything from basic maintenance, to advanced diagnosis. I eat, sleep and breathe VWs. I also have my own website dedicated to helping everyone to understand their car, and see the behind the scenes of being an auto mechanic. You can see more at

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Last Answer on October 20, 2013

Best Rated

Interesting re: your blog and how it affects your business. Just wanna say fwiw, that if there was a local mechanic blogging honestly about the in's and out's of the business, I'd drop my current mechanic for him in a heartbeat. Keep it up.

Asked by billbo jackson almost 11 years ago

Thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate that. If this was my shop you bet your butt I would be working to get folks in to my shop.

Since I have to tread so carefully around my shop, I want to help as many people as I can!

When you first started out, did you have bosses who encouraged you to overcharge or upsell customers on fixes they didn't need?

Asked by greatscott about 11 years ago

Thankfully no. I work for a great dealer and a great company. Sadly it is something that happens. We have sold things that did not fix a check engine light before. When that happens we always take car of the customer.

When you're off the clock and driving down the road and you see someone pulled over with car trouble, do you stop and help?

Asked by Green Jiant almost 11 years ago

@Green, It really depends on the situation. The bad part is, there is not a ton of things that I can do to repair a car on the side of the road. If it is something like a flat tire, we are good to go. Much more than that, you are calling a tow truck.

My dad bought me a 2011 vw golf for 3000 at an auction that sells cars that have been in accidents, the insurance appraiser estimated that it would cost 18000 to fix the car (mostly body work) Is it possible that the appraiser over estimated?

Asked by Silvia over 10 years ago

I think the estimate could be close. Wrecked Vws are a nightmare.  You could probably save a fair amount but having worked on tons of wrecked vws they rarely come out right. 

How much does it cost to set up an avg-size shop?

Asked by bourbon please over 11 years ago

To be honest, I am not really sure. It will really depend on they shop. Something like a 5 bay shop that will work on all cars, do tires and alignments, and all general service, can cost ~$100,000. That should cover the basics like lifts, tire machines, brake lathe, alignment rack. Consider that most A-level, or top mechanics have over $20,000 invested in tools. If you will be specializing, that will most likely involve buying more tools. To open the doors of a VW dealership service department, you are looking at ~$400,000. Now, if a few people got together you could open a shop much cheaper. Buying an old shop, using used equipment and so on. The short answer is it costs a ton of money. :)

First, lemme say that I've met some BRILLIANT and honest mechanics who are awesome at what they do. That said, do you ever feel like certain people turn their nose at the blue-collar nature of the profession? (F them, btw).

Asked by JC Tampa over 11 years ago

You and me both. Nothing more intimidating than meeting a mechanic that will forget more than I could ever know. I would say that most people are really cool to me when they find out what I do. I still get the customer that will look down their nose at me. They think that I am 'just a mechanic". I find it funny. I am the "grease monkey" that will have to program their Iphone to work with their radio. I will say that the number of people that do that has gone down over the years. I think when the economy went to hell a few years ago, people shifted a little. They are starting to realize that sitting behind a desk does not equal success. That makes me feel really good. We are (as a country) remembering that blue collar jobs are SUPER important. They are not just for drop outs, or slackers. These jobs require a very high skill level. Great question!

If a car gets submerged in water (like in the case of hurricane flooding), will it still run once drained?

Asked by Moe Betta over 11 years ago

Hey Moe, This is something that I have been thinking a lot about today as well. Like all really good questions, the answer is "it depends". I had a 1995 Jeep that had about 6in of standing water in it. I pulled the plugs, dried the inside, and she was good to go. Most modern cars have many more electronics than my Jeep did. I have seen so many VWs with water damage from a variety of causes. The damage varies so much. It can be as simple as drying one side of the carpet to totaling the car because of damage to the wiring inside the car. I have even seen a few cars that had the engine take water in, and ruin the engine. I also had a Touareg that had a water leak. There was no standing water in the car. The car sat for about a month with out being driven or even having the doors opened. I had to write an estimate for the mold damage(can you say hazard pay). The initial estimate was about $40,000. Basically everything on the inside of the car had to be replaced. Seats, door panels, carpet, dash, seat belts you name it and it was covered in mold. I would say that generally the type of damage you see after a storm like this SHOULD total a car. That doesn't mean it will be off the road. About 8 months after Katrina, I got a car that looked really suspect. It had water marks about 8 inches up the door panels. We checked the VIN and found that it came from LA. If we are talking about driving, then I think many cars will be drivable. You can almost bet on all of them having electrical issues. Water can ruin a car, and fast. It is really scary. I hope that anyone in the country buying a car any time soon, does the research. Do not buy a car that was registered in the areas that were affected. Thanks for the great question Charles