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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86 Questions


Last Answer on October 20, 2013

Best Rated

Customer brings in his car. You realize it's SO flawed that if he continues to drive it as-is, he's at serious, fatal risk. BUT the high repair cost makes him refuse to get it fixed. Are you legally obligated to NOT let the car back on the road?

Asked by Brett_B almost 12 years ago

I have actually seen this more than one time. I have driven cars into the shop that scared the heck out of me. It stinks for everyone! I don't think that we have any legal obligation regarding the car. If we tried, I would assume the customer would just call the police. From there, I have no idea what would happen. In situations like this we keep VERY clear documentation. I write what I find in my story, and stress the the customer how dangerous the car is. I like to show them as well. If they still decline, then we have them sign that they know the car is not safe. I wonder if some states have a crazy law that would allow mechanics to do that.

Besides changing the oil, what's a common service that even the most car-ignorant people could take care of themselves if they just took 5 min to learn how?

Asked by Dee almost 12 years ago

I would say the BEST things that non-car folks can know is. 1)How to change a tire. Not replace a tire, just put the spare on 2)Replace the air and pollen filters. 3)BULBS! Learning how to replace bulbs is the big one. We charge ~$25 to install most bulbs. The odds of a bulb going out are 100%. Things like brakes are fairly easy, but often require special tools(rear brakes mostly). Plus that is a HUGE safety concern. Also, wiper blades. We install them for free, but that is an easy one. GREAT question

What in your opinion is the most reliable VW model currently?

Asked by Austin almost 12 years ago

I would have to say the new Golfs and the new Jetta Sport Wagons are the best. A 2.5L Golf with a manual trans can get 40mpg on the highway, plus packs about 180HP! The 2.5 had some issues early on(2005-2007) but they are awesome now. If I were going to buy a new VW(for reliability), it would be a 2.5L Jetta Sport Wagon with out a sunroof. We don't have many issues with them, but I would not want to chance it. I think the JSW and the current golf are among the best cars VW has put out since I started in 2003. That is not to take away from the TDIs, I just don't think most people will benefit from it

If I know nothing about cars, how can I tell if a mechanic is ripping me off?

Asked by teri_805 almost 12 years ago

GREAT question. Here are a few tips to help you out: 1) Ask the mechanic to actually show you what is wrong. Even if you don't know what you are looking at, seeing a leak or a broken part will give you some comfort. 2) Ask if you NEED it. What will happen if you don't do the repair. Will your car blow up (not likely)? Will it cost more later on? 3) Check your owner's manual. If it is not in there, you might not need it. You still might, but it may not be a critical as they are telling you. 4) Get a second opinion. That might also be a good way to negotiate a better price. Those steps might not completely prevent you from getting ripped off, but they'll certainly mitigate the risk.

How dangerous is your job? Ever see anyone get trapped under a car or anything?

Asked by KBB almost 12 years ago

On a day to day basis, it is not too bad. Cuts, burns, sore backs, and bruises are normal. I have seen a few guys get hurt. We had a tech not pump the brakes on a Touareg after doing a brake job. He backed up and pinned a guy to a car. He suffered a broken arm. That is about the worst I have seen. If you work smart and safe( glasses, hearing protection) then the job is pretty safe. I find that sloppy mechanics generally get hurt more.

How often do I REALLY need to get my oil changed?

Asked by Jay76 almost 12 years ago

Following your owners manual is key. That being said, that can require you to be sure you are checking your own oil level, along with the rest of the fluids. I think that 10k miles is too long for oil changes. I think every 5k is perfect. 10k is a long time to not have anyone inspect your car. It can mean the difference between replacing rear brake pads, and having to replace the rotors.

Is there a general rule of thumb where you tell clients they'd be better off junking the car than repairing? For example, if the repairs will cost more than X% of the value of the car?

Asked by Steiny almost 12 years ago

I don't have a set value that I use. I take it case by case. Thankfully that is not something that comes up all the time. For me it is more about the total picture of the car. Lets say a car that is worth $5000 requires a $2000 repair. If that $2k repair will make that car run perfect for several years, and all the other maintenance is done, I would say do it. If that $2k repair will just "get the car by" then we need to look at the overall condition of the car. Does the car need a $2k repair plus $1000 worth of maintenance? I might say trade it in. I guess any time you get into the 30%-40% range you really need to consider the big picture.

Do you think people overestimate the frequency with which mechanics try to rip customers off?

Asked by teri_805 almost 12 years ago

Short answer YES! Most folks know very little about modern cars. They have been told their whole life that mechanics(dealers) will rip them off. I have worked with a few guys that were complete hacks. I would not let them change the oil in my lawn mower. That is not the norm. Most of us are honest, and just want to fix cars right. The other issue is there is more than one person that comes into the equation. You can have a mechanic that is 100% honest, but a service advisor that is a lying scumbag. The best advise is try and find a mechanic that will be "your guy". Someone you can trust, and know that they are looking out for you.

What types of services or fixes are the most profitable for you?

Asked by the other guy almost 12 years ago

Ah yes the gravy work. It really depends. There are some universal "gravy" jobs. One of my favorites is a timing belt on 1.8t Passats. The labor time pays about 5 hours. If I hustle, I can do it in 1 hour. Also, tune ups, brakes, axle boots, oil leaks, some suspension work. Over time techs get faster and faster. Some techs do some jobs faster than others. As long as the outcome 100% correct.

Let's say a mechanic has a thriving shop - busy, profitable, happy employees, the works. If the mechanic wanted to, how could he scale that business? Obviously he could expand the existing shop or open others, but are there other less obvious ways?

Asked by 4 on the floor almost 12 years ago

Interesting question. One that I will answer 2 ways. First, if you are just looking for more income to the shop(nothing wrong with that, it is why you are in business) You can do a few things. Consider rotating shifts. This will allow the mechanics more time off, while keeping the shop full. Consider 4 teams that rotate days off. This can allow mechanics to work 4 longer days. This will also allow you to be open longer. That is the next point. Staying open later 1 night a week can help. You will get the folks that work during normal business hours, and can not make arrangements to leave the car to get work done. Fine tune your processes. Can you switch to a computer system that will allow the repair order to be generated faster? Can you print the RO in advance? That will save time, and allow more focus on the customer. Those are a few things that you can do to bring straight money in. Now, here are some things that might not bring you financial capital(on the surface) but will 100% blow your competition out of the water. TEACH! What if you set aside 2 nights a month and held a clinic for your customers? Teach them how to do small things on their car, air filters, wiper blades easy maintenance stuff. Teach them what good oil looks like, and how to tell if their coolant needs to be flushed. You might not make a ton of money that night, but the social capital you will build will be priceless. Offer the same type of class to the local high school drivers ed students. We teach kids how to drive, but nothing about changing a tire. THAT will set you apart. Start a blog( you can see my site for what I am talking about here) Much like the class, you can show folks what to do, what not to do, and share some of the crazy things that us mechanics see. Think in the terms of "likeable expert". Not only are you telling people how awesome your shop is, you are SHOWING them. I hope that can help spark an idea or two for you shop. Feel free to email me Charles (at) maybe we can bounce some more ideas around!!!

Just wanted to highlight one of your quotes, which is one of the most profound we've seen on Jobstr to date: "When the economy went to hell, people shifted... They are starting to realize that sitting behind a desk does not equal success." Nailed it.

Asked by Jobstr Frank almost 12 years ago

HAHA, Thanks Frank.

Why aren't there more female mechanics? Do you actively try and hire them?

Asked by McCrmck almost 12 years ago

This is a really good question, and not one that I have given much thought to. 1st, we actively try and hire the best, man, women, black, white, it does not really matter. We hire based on skill, knowledge and attitude. I have never seen a women fill out an application for a mechanic at my dealer. Now, as for the why. I think it has a lot to do with numbers. I am sure there are more "car guys" than "car girls". Most mechanics are "car people" in one way or another. That just works its way into the field. I have not worked with any female mechanics. I did go to tech school with a few female students. Most of them were awesome! Smart, logical, hard working, all things you need to be a mechanic. I can tell you that if a female wants to be a mechanic GO FOR IT!!!! Thanks for this question. It is something that I would like to know more about. I will update this post if I can find a good female mechanic to interview, and shed some light on what they think.

What made you decide to specialize in VWs?

Asked by RJ almost 12 years ago

I was a VW fan for a few years before working on them. The blue cluster lights were the first thing I fell in love with. I had a choice from VW, Audi, MB, BMW, and one more that I don't remember. There are more VWs on the road so that was the final deciding factor. I don't regret it for 1 second. Thanks for asking that, it is always fun to reflect on that decision.

Awesome thread, just read through it twice. Does being an auto mechanic translate into being handy in other non-auto areas (like household stuff and plumbing)?

Asked by Jacko almost 12 years ago

Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate that. It does some what. Although not as much as I would like ;) I will say that it does let me know what I am NOT capable of doing, or maybe what is better left to the pros. Things like drywall work and advanced wiring for the house. The cool thing is, I have a ton of tools to do many different jobs.tive tex I have started getting into working with wood. I built this hutch for my tool box. Mechanic Tool Box It came out really good. The Snap-on hutch costs about $3000. I spent about $250 to build that hutch. I figured that I had a few shots at making a hutch before I even came close to the snap on hutch. HAHA.

Every time I bring my car in for any kind of servicing, I'm told I need my air filters changed (even if it's just been a couple months). Is this b.s.?

Asked by benjiboo almost 12 years ago

Maybe. It really depends on where you are located. If you are near the beach, your filter may be getting clogged up with sand. That will cause it to need replacement more often. I would guess that you don't need a filter that often. If the place you are taking it to says you NEED a filter everytime, I would consider finding a new shop, or just tell them no, OR have them show you the dirty filter. That is the best way to know if you need one or not.

Do you thnik mechanics are more likely to take advantage female customers than males, and for that reason would you tell female customers to bring a guy with them whenever possible ?

Asked by greatscott almost 12 years ago

I have been waiting for someone to ask this question. I do not think that a female is more likely to get taken advantage of. Most of the time the mechanic does not know if it is a guy or girl bringing the car in. The type of customer that will most likely get taken is an ignorant one. I don't mean that to be rude, but it is true. A customer that says things like "Do whatever I need done" or "I don't know anything about cars" is really likely to get screwed. The plus of bringing someone(guy or gal) with you is a decision making teammate. Even if both people know nothing about cars. To be honest, I find that women are more educated about their cars. Thank you for asking that. I LOVE that question!

I've always been told to buy American, because if the car breaks down, the parts are cheaper and more readily available. Is that accurate?

Asked by The Rocket almost 12 years ago

I think that there is some truth to that. I also think there are more places that make and sell some parts for American cars. I would say that is true for just about everything except modern electronics. It is pretty much the same across the board. So many manufacturers share similar electronics. My advise for buy a new car is 1)Do some research on maintenance costs. 2) Test drive, test drive, test drive 3) Buy what you like and what fits you and your car needs. Great question!

Is there a consensus among insiders as to what car brands are most/least likely to end up in the shop for repairs? Is there a particular make/model that you'd advise everyone to stay far away from?

Asked by samsam almost 12 years ago

There are some common "great" cars. Most folks will say that Toyota is the best car on the road. Ask the folks at the dealers how that worked out a few years back. Then you read about how all german cars are trouble. Here is the facts. ALL brands have issues. Some more than others, but they all do. Cars will break, parts will fail, people will fail to maintain their cars properly. Then there is the fan mentality. Some folks are die hard Ford people. Me, I will not own another ford again. The one I had was junk. But I will also not own a Honda again. The service at my local Honda dealer was awful. The worst part was, I work for the company that owned the dealer. Brands that were thought of as bad years ago have really come along way(Hyundai and Kia). As long as you understand that all cars will break, buy the car that fits you and your needs. Oh, and good MPG doesn't hurt either.

I've heard about mechanics adding charges to the bill that really should just be a costs of doing business, like charging for oil rags and other misc supplies used during a servicing. Should I be fighting those types of charges or do you defend them?

Asked by Dr. Mike almost 12 years ago

It is the shop that adds that stuff not the mechanics. But that is not really your question ;) My dealer adds "shop supplies" to every job. They cap it at $20. There are times when we wave that fee just to help a customer out. I have really mixed feelings about the charge. You can make a good case either way. We could just add it to the cost of labor. Then when you compare labor costs we will be a few dollars higher. We can bill exactly what we use on each job. Then a customer will question why we used 2 shop rags instead of just 1. We don't bill separate for things like washer fluid, p/s fluid/ cleaner and so on. They are billed as part of the shop supplies. That is a charge that you can easily get removed. Just be cool about it and ask the shop to help you out. The customer that throws a big fit, and yells and screws about it, rarely get them removed. It is the shop that adds the charges, not the advisor that gets yelled at for it. Hope that helps. Charles

Do you ever feel like friends and family take advantage of your expertise and ask you for free help with their cars? How do you handle this?

Asked by slowgrind almost 12 years ago

HAHA, sometimes. When I started my current job, I moved 900 miles away from all of my family and friends. So it was not a huge deal at first. Everyone I knew I worked. It can get a little frustrating when the only time people call you is for car help. I try to help as many folks as I can, and LOTS of my friends drive VWs. Here is what happens more often. People will make big car choices with out asking me first. Then they are shocked when things go wrong. I hate to see friends and family spend money and time needlessly, when I know that I could have helped them.

Is there a particular book or video that you'd recommend to the auto-ignorant that'll at least give us a general overview about how the main parts of the car work so we're not TOTALLY clueless when we visit a mechanic?

Asked by Mellie almost 12 years ago

The average customer should turn to their owners manual. That will at least have maintenance schedule. It will keep you from paying for a service when it is not due. I have yet to find a "how a car works" type book that is worth a darn. So I am working on one. I want people to feel good bringing their car in for service. More like visiting a friend, rather than worrying "How am I going to get screwed this time" Start with your owners book. It is one of the most under used resources in the industry. I use customers books all the time. I can't know every feature on every car, so that is where I turn. If you happen to be put on the spot with a repair, ask the mechanic or service advisor to SHOW you the problem, and explain what is going on. If they can't or wont, get the heck out of there!

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 over 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'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 over 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.

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 over 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.

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 almost 11 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 almost 12 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 almost 12 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

When the economy tanked, auto sales completely fell off a cliff. But did that mean auto mechanics' business INCREASED, since people were hanging on to their cars longer?

Asked by jay almost 12 years ago

Short answer, no. We actually slowed down too. Some of that was due to changes in the shop. Most was due to the "economy" The truth is, people will find anyway to cut corners and save money. The weird part is the "needs" are generally cut before the wants. People will save money on food to afford the Starbucks. I found that people would still do oil changes, but anything else preventative was put off. It is was not completely broken it didn't need to be fixed. Looking back it was strange to see. Great question Jay!

Do you think pricey car alarm systems are worth it? Don't good car thieves know how to get around alarm systems?

Asked by The Sid almost 12 years ago

Hey The Sid, I have mixed feelings about them, especially on newer cars. I do think that a good alarm can help. It will help with rookie thieves looking to "smash and grab". I had a fairly high dollar alarm on my Acura. It got broken into 3 times and they only got my radar detector. Most modern cars have some type of immobilizer system. This will prevent the car from being started with out a matching key. What would stop a thief from just towing the car? I do agree that a good thief will get what they want. But hopefully they will choose another car, if they see you have an alarm. It is much like a lock on your door at home. It will keep honest people, and people that are on the fence out. You will still lock your door when you leave the house. I like the alarm that I have on my Passat. I use it for the keyless entry.. ;)

I have a 2003 Ford Focus SE. 4 Cylinder.The battery light has been coming on for a few months, it will come on, and go off. I can hear a difference in the engine when the light comes on.I took it to a auto parts store and had them do a diagnosis on i

Asked by Lindsay almost 11 years ago

What did they say was wrong? Battery lights generally come on when the battery or the alternator are failing.

can you give some reasons why a chev 2004 epica would be burning oil...about 1litre for every 1000km...thanks

Asked by Ray about 11 years ago

Thanks for the question Ray.

That amount of oil is considered acceptable by almost every car manufactorer.

Generally oil is lost one of a few different ways:

  • external leaks. This can be just about anywere on the engine, like valve covers, oil filters, and drain plugs just to name a few.
  • Internal leaks. Oil can leak past internal seals too. I have seen many cars have engine oil in the coolant(oil presure is higher than coolant pressure most of the time). It can also leak past the seals in a turbo charger.
Then there is what we generally call "burning oil". This can be worn internal engine parts like valves, valve guides, and piston rings.

If it were my car, I would make sure there are no oil leaks. If that was good, then I would just add oil when it was low. There is no easy or cheap fix for wearing internal engine parts.

Hope that helps Ray


Are most mechanics also in the business of buying junked cars for parts?

Asked by too many lemons almost 12 years ago

Many are. At my dealer, only 2 are. They will by cars that need some work, fix them up and sell them. It is kind of frowned on by the company. They see it as a mechanic competing for customers. I have bought 2 cars like that. 1 was a 1996 VW cabrio. I got it for $450. It needed a top, a battery and an ignition coil. I had the battery and coil, so I was able to drive it home that day. The other I got was a Jetta. I bought it for my sister.

Am I supposed to tip my car mechanic?

Asked by brikhaus over 11 years ago

Only if it's me ;) Okay, I am mostly kidding. You really don't need to tip your mechanic. We get paid well for the work we do. Now, if you have a mechanic that you really like, and they do a good job for you, tip them. The best tips are cookies or beer. This is also a good tactic if you are still trying to find a good mechanic. A customer that brings us cookies does get special treatment. It may not be "right" but it happens. You want your mechanic to remember you for being awesome.

Looks like you've touched on this, but HOW do mechanics rip people off? Is it just as simple as telling customers they need unnecessary repairs?

Asked by bowlingfersoup over 11 years ago

Sorry for the delayed response. I wrote an entire post talking about this exact question. Please let me know what you think..

What's the least busy day of the week to bring a car into a mechanic?

Asked by JoJo77 almost 12 years ago

That will really depend on the shop. We are open Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, and Saturday 7-4. I would say that Tuesday and Wednesday are the slowest days of the week. It feels like around 3pm is the slowest time of the day. I don't really have the hard numbers to back that up. It is more of a feeling. That is just my dealer. You can bet that most service departments will be really busy every morning, during lunch hours and right at the end of the day. We are usually really busy Fridays, Saturdays, and Monday mornings.

Ever see shows like "Pimp My Ride?" Are you a fan, or do you think they're just ridiculous?

Asked by JimBones almost 12 years ago

I really have mixed feelings about those shows. On one hand, they are totally ridiculous. Adding things to cars that BEG to be stolen. On the other hand, some of the work those guys do is really awesome. I have become very jealous of the folks that do upholstery work. Being able to sew custom seats, and dashes is really awesome. Basically, when they make custom stuff, I am on board. Adding 57 TVs is dumb, but making the custom enclosure for it is awesome, and a skill I wish I had!

I just took my '05 Expedition in for a tune up because the check engine light was on and it needed to pass emissions testing. It is now running way more rough than it was and the check engine light is now blinking at me. Do I have any options?

Asked by seth_208 almost 11 years ago

Sorry for the late reply. I hope that by now you got your Ford fixed. I am guessing a coil was not properly installed, or failed.

If you can, update your question so we all know what fixed your car.

My a/c will not work. 1996 Mazda B2300 I have checked the fuse, it is charged, and the compressor will cycle on and off, but it will still blow hot air. Anybody have any insight on what it could be?

Asked by kelly about 11 years ago

Hiya Kelly,
This is a pretty crappy time to have no a/c isn't it. It was 96 yesterday where I am YUCK!

Okay, back to your question. Can you give me a little more info?

  • When you say that the compressor will cycle, do you mean it cycles properly? Or does it turn on the right back off?
  • Does the cooling fan on the radiator work properly?
The other thing you need to check, is the vent temp ACTUALLY set to cold. Now, I know that you have turned the knob to cold. There is a door that moves to change the temperature of the air. I have seen the cable come loose on that temp door. You move the knob, but the door doesn't move.

The best way to check that is, with the car off, turn the knob back and forth a few times. You shoud hear a little thud. That is the sound of the door stopping at the end position. You can also look under the dash and have someone else turn the knob. Look for a cable or an arm moving.

Hope that helps. When you get it fixed, please update us with that was wrong.


what would make my 92 Honda accord Lx chug and sputter at 2000rpms and not go over that even when I have pressed the gas harder

Asked by jennifer monness almost 11 years ago

Hey Jennifer, it could be a number of things. I always recommend starting with normal maintenance. 

That symptom is also common with a clogged catalytic converter. 

How much has your blog helped your business?

Asked by billbo jackson over 11 years ago

Good question billbo, The short answer is NO. Now let me explain what I mean. I need to keep what I do somewhat off the main radar. I talk about things that some may consider not okay to talk about. I have to not only deal with VW, I have to deal with the company that owns my dealer. There are still so many companies that don't "get it". They don't want anything exposed, or given away. They don't want low level employees speaking for the company. No matter how you slice it, a mechanic is a low level employee. I have had a few customer come and ask for me at the shop, and that is REALLY awesome. But, I didn't build this blog and community to increase my shop hours. I built it to teach people about their cars, and give them the confidence to avoid being taken advantage of.

What do you auto mechanics wear on the job? Is there a particular kind of clothing or fabric that can stand up to grease etc, or do you just assume whatever you wear is gonna get destroyed?

Asked by playball! over 11 years ago

We have a service that cleans our uniforms. Off hand I don't know the material, but I will check for you. I pay about $200 a year for uniforms.

Why Does My 2000 Dodge Caravan Alarm comes on by itself when no one is around ?

Asked by Steve about 11 years ago

Generally it is a failing sensor. It could be for any of the door sensors or the hood or trunk. 

Do you think cars are getting TOO technologically advanced? Do you and other mechanics wack nostalgic about how older cars may have had fewer bells and whistles but were built far better?

Asked by The Occasional Auto Purist over 11 years ago

GREAT question. Funny, it was something I was chatting with my boss about today. It is an interesting thing to analyze. One the one hand, the less bells and whistles, the less things that can break. But there is another side to it. The more advanced cars get, the easier mechanics can interact with it. We can use a scan tool and see exactly what the car sees. Air, fuel, and even compression can be seen. It can be seen live while a car is driving down the road. We do get nostalgic for older cars. Mostly because we knew how to fix them faster. The new stuff always has a learning curve.

How would you describe your relationship with Volkswagen (the company)? Do Volkswagen representatives ever ask you for feedback regarding their cars, like what consumers are interested in buying or what parts are unreliable?

Asked by Jason over 11 years ago

Hey Jason, That is an interesting question. There are a few ways that this can happen. 1)There are feedbacks that the mechanics can fill out. That can be anything from an error in a repair manual to a part not fitting right. 2) When we replace a part under warranty, we generally send it back to VW. That allows them to do testing on the part. That is the primary way VW finds out about parts issues. Vw does not really ask us our opinions. You have to remember us mechanics are the bottom of the ladder. Many of the higher ups dont really care what we have to say. That is somewhat understandable. Many mechanics are very cynical and negative. What could be a constructive conversation turn into a whine party. Thankfully, they listen to their customers much more. :)

How good is the city & highway mileage of the Aston Mini Cooper in general?

Asked by Steve about 11 years ago

Steve, refer to the Maroni sticker. You can also get mpg from places like 


Asked by RANDALL almost 11 years ago

You need to find all the things that fuse powers. Then start unplugging them one at a time until you do not blow the fuse. With out proper test equipment, you will go through a lot of fuses.

we have 1995 vw cabrio, after putting in $2200 in parts and labor in this car we scheduled it to be aligned. Just to be told it would cost $94 because it would need to be shimmed. Now they say something is not lining up...wrong tie rods ends??

Asked by erica over 11 years ago

Hi Erica,

The part that would be shimmed would be the rear of the car. Do you know what will not line up? It could be the wrong tierods or tie rod ends. You may also have something else bent.
Please email me Charles(at)humblemechanic(dot)com.  If you have a copy of the alignment sheet let me know. I will take a look at it.

I hope you can help. I was driving up to the hill when suddenly my mercedes A class (170, fabric year 2000) stopped accelerating for some reason, so I stopped the motor and try again, it worked, but after I smelled some annoying smoke?

Asked by Betty about 11 years ago

This could be anything from being starved of fuel to a failing spark plug. If it did it, then is fine, keep a close eye on it. If it still is acting weird, take it to a repair shop/

do all tires have a temperature rating

Asked by pepe over 11 years ago

As far as I know, they do.

Toyota mechanic fails secure Front Passenger rotor to the caliper. Not loose, no bolts applied. While Driving home wheel banged R to L then locked up. After wheel was removed the brakes dropped. Is this a big enough safety factor for a case? Consider

Asked by DADE about 11 years ago

Yikes! I hope that everyone is okay. It hard to say whether sueing is a worth wild venture. Here is my take.

A good shop will take care of anything that happened as a result of this mechanics mistake. Whatever damage to the car needs to be repaired, and paid for by the shop. If the shop did that, I think that I would be fine with that. I don't think that I would be taking my car back either.

There is 1 execption, injuries! If someone got injured as a result of this happening, I would sue. Customers almost always have the upper hand in a lawsuit against a shop.

Thanks for the question DADE. I hope that it works out for you. Can you please update me on what happens? You can update here, or email me Charles(at)humblemechanic(dot)com.


have a 2000 volvo v70
Starting over a year ago at times it would take several attempts to start the car. This problem is getting much worse. It got to the point I would leave the car for several hours then it would start. Now, when the car won't sta

Asked by don almost 11 years ago

Will it crank? Does it sound like it wants to start? There are lots of things that can cause a car to not start. Batteries are the most common

this happened at a Toyota dealership. wouldnt I be able to sue for them telling me that the vehicle is good to go and they allow me to drive off the lot, when the vehicle was not to par w/ safety standards. They broke their service contract. Correct?

Asked by DADE about 11 years ago

You could sue them. I was just saying that if you do, be sure it's worth it. If the dealer fixed your car(as they should with out question) what other obligation do they have?


If they are giving you a hassle about fixing it, then I would put the screws to them for sure.


I guess my big question is, What are you trying to get from a lawsuit?


Don't think that I am on the side of the dealer here. They messed up, and they need to make it right. I just don't see a lawsuit being worth the time, energy and money..

bmw 318 convertible rear windows not working

Asked by marie graham about 11 years ago

I am not super familar with BMWs. At least not enough to tell you exactly what is wrong. Start by check fuses

bmrear windows not workingw 318 covertible

Asked by marie graham about 11 years ago

Start with the basics, check all the fuses. Odds are your BMW has a module that controls the windows. That is a great place to start..


1995 vw cabrio, our local garage is having a hard time aligning it, could it be the wrong tie rod ends i just had put on?

Asked by erica over 11 years ago

Hey Erica,

Sorry for the late reply, I didn't see thise question come in to my email.


Yes it is possible. There are many reasons why a shop cant get a car aligned. Do you know what measurement they cant set?


i need instructions on how to put a rearview mirror in a 1994 nissan altima.. its the kind of mirror that goes into the ceiling of the car

Asked by seth almost 11 years ago

Of hand, I am not 100% sure. There is most likely a cover that needs to be removed. Then mounts behind the cover


I have a 2005 Envoy XL Denali, i have replaced yesturday the oil sensor because the oil meter was playing low to high with flash message "Oil pressure low STOP Engine, Check Gauges. The mechanic successfully replaced the sensor and cleane

Asked by saq over 11 years ago

It sounds like you got it all fixed up?

yes I have a 2004 ford Taurus and it is having trouble wanting to start the battery is fine I think it may be the starter but I need an opinion

Asked by brandon about 11 years ago

If a starter fails, you may only get a "CLICK" or you get nothing.

If you can see the starter, try giving it a whack with a hammer. Sometimes the starter just gets hung up.

I have an 88 ford f150 withand inline 6 and a 97 ford crown Victoria with a v8 can I put the v8 into the truck without changing the transmission to

Asked by Quinten over 6 years ago


Hi, is it ok to connect the n75 valve to diverter valve on a vw golf 4 1.8t?

Asked by Rejan almost 7 years ago


Hi, my n75 valve is connected to diverter valve, is that right or wrong? Thanks

Asked by Rejan almost 7 years ago


Hi, I was just wondering what the best oil is for my 2016 Golf R? I was planning on using Motul Xcess. Thank you for your time.

Asked by T.J. almost 9 years ago


I hit a curb head on and now my brakes don't work like they used to. I feel like I have to press down all the way to completely stop and it was never like that before

Asked by Taylor over 7 years ago


I am really concerned about how expensive the repairs will be. I rear ended someone back in April, there was little damage except for denting my hood. But then it started stalling after a red light. Do you think its related to the accident?

Asked by Abby about 10 years ago


Would a oil filter from a six litre work on a 5.7

Asked by lisa about 9 years ago


Please review dealership walk through video on my car. Tell me if what they say is true. Also what is the cost to fix the oil leak? They want $1699 to fix it.

Asked by cbausemer almost 3 years ago


I have a 2006 honda CRV. When I drive on a smooth road between 60-80kmph vehicle shutters like going over a washboard . I take foot of gas and immediately shuttering stops. I just changed my snow tires over to summer tires and had them balanced.

Asked by george297 about 9 years ago


What is the most damage you have had to fix?

Asked by Danny over 4 years ago


should i sue a mechanic for not securing the rotor to the caliper and wheel locking up?

Asked by dade about 11 years ago


What fuse do I need to remove from a 2005 Buick LeSabre to disconnect the chime.

Asked by Jim, over 8 years ago


Have 03 passat took belt off and didn't align timing first. What do i do now

Asked by Heder over 9 years ago


I have a 2004 mitsubishi eclipse gs, I hopped a curb with my right rear and now I am hearing a "thud" that sounds like it's galling with a revolution of the tires, got new tires and the same sound, it happens at low speeds but not on the highway

Asked by Kyle over 8 years ago


I have did the front brakes on a 2007 hyundai entourage. It took me 2 hour to remove one off slide pins to find out it was different. It had a rubber boot on the end of it . I clean out and install new pin with rubber. It was I need the rubb

Asked by William almost 10 years ago


hello i have a question about a 2006 vw passat with a auto dsg trans would you beable to answer it please??

Asked by brendan over 7 years ago


describe the importance of operating all OBDII monitors for repair verification and don't make me pay

Asked by bob the builder over 5 years ago


Do any of he Catalytic converter cleaner products work ?

Asked by Carl over 2 years ago


describe the importance of operating all OBDII monitors for repair verification?

Asked by Bobbio over 5 years ago


Do any of the Catalytic converter cleaner products work ? Is there any of the Catalytic converter cleaner products that actually clean the Catalytic converter?

Asked by Carl over 2 years ago


Describe the inspection maintenance for OBDII monitors used in state inspections

Asked by bob over 5 years ago


Looking to get a bully dog for my truck going to use 20% promo code and won't let me

Asked by Zach about 8 years ago


Hi Charles! I have 2006 VW Touareg R50 V10 TDI.
In cold weather -15C,-20C, when car start driving after 10-15 minutes, on display message "STOP FAULTY RUNNING GEAR" but car running ok. What could be the problem? Thank you,

Asked by Maks, over 10 years ago


How long can I drive with a loose front differential bushing on a 2003 mercury mountaineer

Asked by apludog over 8 years ago


I have a 2005 golf 5 2.0 fsi 4 motion, wondering if i can fit a golf 5 gti (ed 30) engine in there and if the current gearbox would fit and resist the new engine and what should be changed along with the new engine, car used as daily, thanks

Asked by Jhonny about 5 years ago


Hey I just bought an 8.4 touch screen radio for my 2012 Chrysler 300. I'm changing the 4.5 screen to the 8.4. Will I need to change my rb1 and get the RB5 radio in order for the 8.4 screen to work?

Asked by JARVUS almost 7 years ago


I currently work at a Pep Boys in NC and by my understanding i have to have 2 years of experience before moving to mechanic, I want to go to a dealership but I'm unsure how the ranking of one goes as far as the shop structure. Can you explain it 2 me

Asked by Steven PBY over 8 years ago