Automotive Stuff

      This is just a page where I have some thoughts, relevant links to things that interest me & possibly some guides & tutorials on VCDS. I'll start off by saying that I'm not a mechanic, I'm just good at research, asking my mechanic the proper questions & learning. I'm a fan of VW vehicles.

Record Keeping & Repair Logs

      One of the first things I think someone should do when they get a "new" to them car is start a log of all the work that is done on the vehicle. If you don't have this, start doing it. If you aren't sure about the car's records as you're the second or third owner, check the vehicle CarFAX. if available. I keep a log of the parts & work that have been done on my car, where it got serviced, when, the miles & other important data. This has become important & very helpful for me as I now have a record of when things start to fail, have failed/lasted past their usefulness and/or if the data matches with what the average mechanic, website or recommended interval suggests. After collecting enough data, I'm able to tell if something fails before it's supposed to, if I got a bad part, or if I should take care of something before it gets worse.

      This is extremely helpful if you happen to take your car to a mechanic that doesn't have the best of invoices. I also take occasional photos of the parts that go into my car so I know what I should probably replace it with later, if it fails. It also helps let me know if the person working on my car is going with quality parts, or junk. You eventually learn where to source good parts versus bad parts. Many people use Amazon to source their parts. A high quality place to get parts is RockAuto. For European cars, especially diesel vehicles you can stop by your local NAPA store to get most of what you need in terms of the proper manufacturer-specific oil for your vehicle. One of the most popular brands for oil/fluids is Liqui-Moly - they are one of the few companies that make oil that meet Volkswagen spec for oil. The document linked may be out of date as it is from an older copy of Repair Manual I have for 2004 VW Jetta. I pulled the file from Erwin.

Service Manuals

      I believe everyone should own the service manual for their vehicle. If you can't get the original manual, a Haynes/Chilton (they're the same company) manual is sufficient. Although I don't do work on my own car, referring to the manual is helpful to understand how a particular part works & fits together. This may be unique to German cars, but the drawings are extremely accurate & the exploded views are an engineer's wet dream. If you can get the electronic version of your service manual, even better!

      With faster internet connections there has been a trend of moving service information out of print & into an electronic database or online format. You may not have the ability to get the factory service manual for your vehicle unless you go to the manufacturer directly. A valuable resource in these cases is OEM1Stop. It is a site that links you to various OEMs & their pages to get the service information for their vehicles. You can buy access that you need for specific amounts of time.

Car Parts

      When it comes to car parts, there are many companies out there providing varying quality of parts. I normally ask a mechanic what they recommend for a given application & if they prefer sticking with OEM parts or aftermarket parts. Depending on which part failed, you will want to stick with OEM, or stick with parts made in a particular country. For example, many VW parts are made in Germany. Parts made in China are typically prone to failure or have been known to be associated with shady individuals who sell bad parts - be careful & shop for known, working parts. For VAG marques, I highly suggest using ECSTuning as a starting place. From there, you can check a few other sites for similar parts, better pricing or better shipping depending on where you are located. ECS Tuning typically has almost everything you'd need for your vehicle. Anything else can be filled in by GermanAutoParts (not to be confused with Deutsche Autoparts, which in my opinion isn't as great). An OEM part supplier that fills all the gaps that these other sites don't have (see TDI parts) is Parts Vortext -- they are a VW dealer based out of New Jersey.

      One other thing worth mentioning with car parts is you want to keep the OEM configuration of your vehicle unless you are changing it's purpose (e.g. instead of a 'daily driver', using the vehicle as a track car). Don't make the mistake of going with "Stage 1", "Stage 2", etc. parts for your vehicle unless you are going to attempt to squeeze out as much performance out of the vehicle as possible. The "Stage $X" designations are usually blanket terms to cover how much work needs to be done to a vehicle & if prerequisite modifications are required. The stages typically build on top of each other & rely on each other. The basic stages go from 1 to 3, whereas some vehicles & brands may be known for higher stages depending on the work put into them.

      If you're searching for parts for a vehicle in general, a good starting point can be RockAuto, AutoParts Warehouse, 1A Auto. 1A Auto has some great YouTube DIY videos as well. You should have your VIN number handy & know the make, model, engine code handy when ordering parts online. It makes it much easier knowing you have a 2012 TDI B7 Passat with a specific engine.

Scan Tools

      There are hundreds of scan tools out there & they are each targed to a different demograpic & application. This table is a somewhat gross simplification, but it gets the ideas across.

VCDS/VAGCom/Scan Tool Notes

      I have random information on scan tool stuff here or things I'm working on for this page or otherwise:

#DieselGate

      For those interested in the VW #dieselgate & want to learn more about the technology behind it, you might want to check out this archived thread from Reddit. It's written by someone that works on Diesel systems. It's very informative! You can see EricTheCarGuy's thoughts here along with HumbleMechanic's thoughts here on the matter. Updates to follow.

People to follow

      Here are some people that I think you should follow if you want to learn how to fix your car, learn more about cars, car repair or the automotive industry. You may also pick up a few tips & tricks if you're a shadetree mechanic. Check out their YouTube channel, website, blog, whatever it is they post. It may seem redundant to link to all of their sites as it's easy enough to follow the links, but having them all in one place is helpful as I answer a lot of questions on Reddit from time to time. These individuals have extremely high quality content & most of them know each other. Except for those MightyCarMod guys, they're kind of way over there :)

Personality Site Twitter YouTube
Eric The Car Guy EricTheCarGuy.com! @EricTheCarGuy EricTheCarGuy
ETCG1
(ETCG1 covers the industry)
The Humble Mechanic HumbleMechanic.com @HumbleMechanic HumbleMechanic
ChrisFix ChrisFixed @ChrisFixed ChrisFix
Scotty Kilmer Scotty Kilmer.com @Scottymechanic ScottyKilmer
Thomas EVOVCDS ExoVCDS Forums N/A :( ExoVCDS
EngineeringExplained Patreon for EE @jasonfenske13 EngineeringExplained
MightyCarMods MightyCarMods @mightycarmods MightyCarMods
BMACVAGS BMACVAGS @BMACVAGS BMACVAGS
BMAC Car Mods

Good vs Bad Mechanics

      Just as with Sysadmins, there are good & bad mechanics, along with the shops that they are a part of. If possible I'd always ask the mechanic directly about their experience working on vehicles, see if they are ASE certified & if they have worked at independent shops, dealerships or both. A good mechanic has no problem being watched while they work & will happy answer questions if asked. They will also show you the work that needs to be done, what they did & will let you take photos/make notes of the parts they put into your vehicle. The rest is essentially up to you. Mechanics also usually have a very good memory about the vehicles they work on & the owners of those vehicles.

      If you think a mechanic has done a good job on your car, I'd suggest to continue going to them or request them to work on your vehicle going forward. Normally they (or the people who run the shop) like getting snacks as gifts, maybe sometimes a gift card for the mechanic specifically if they stay late & work on your vehicle.

Helpful Links

VAGlinks - probably the best site out there to use as a jumping pad :)