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.