OEM Pop-In Sunshades (Rear)

I tinted my glass a few months ago, but I was still intrigued by Volkswagen’s pop-in shades. The shades were recently on sale at Deutsche Auto Parts (DAP), so I made an impulse purchase. The kit comes with tight-fitting black perforated shades for the rear side windows and hatch glass as well as the retaining clips and a pry tool. The directions are vague, but easy enough to figure out. The fit and finish is excellent. But I can see how having these things installed with tinted glass may get me pulled over someday.   Continue reading

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More Nogaros, Now in Gunmetal Gray…

I recently found myself wondering if the 18×7.5-inch Nogaro could become rare in the United States. They seem to be common in the U.K. However, they were available only on the 2017 GTI Sport in the U.S. See this post for details. I had thought about buying a second Nogaro set just in case one of my wheels gets damaged. Being a wheel whore, I even considered a second set just to maintain the same look between winter and summer tire sets. Nogaro sets still sell for a pretty penny, with some sets going for $600-$700. So I was in no hurry to make a purchase. I had hoped to see a good deal on a set nearby someday. Then I got lucky and found a set at a great price. Continue reading

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OBDEleven Scan Tool Holder

I have an OBDEleven scan tool. I learned the hard way that leaving the scan tool plugged in full-time isn’t a great idea. Mine has lived in the glovebox for the past 18 months. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that. However, GolfMk7.com user “southpawboston” created a slick solution that I knew I had to have. The Mk7 GTIs have the MIB2 brains in the glovebox. There are holders on either side, one for SD cards and another for ID cards. Keeping spare SD cards in the glovebox is very handy for a photographer who sometimes forgets the camera’s SD card. I do not find the ID card holders very useful. This is where the OBDEleven scan tool holder fits. Southpawboston essentially created a fake OBD port that clips into the existing opening in our cars. Continue reading

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Bicycling Event Support

I had planned to enter my car in Sunday’s BugOut 81 show in Dinwiddie, VA. However, ongoing home projects and a long day on the road Saturday precluded me from making it a priority. What was I doing on the road Saturday? With no VW show to blog, here’s a story about driving behind the scenes in support of a growing bicycling event.  🙂  My local bicycling club, the Peninsula Bicycling Association (PBA), hosts two major events each year, one in May and one in September. I started driving a support vehicle (aka “SAG” vehicle) instead of cycling these events in 2012 as a way to serve the club. It became a tradition for me; I even served as SAG coordinator from 2013 to 2016. . Continue reading

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Hüper Optik Ceramic Window Film

I enjoyed a moderate tint on my Mk3 Jetta TDI for over 16 years. There were times when the tint was old, faded, or even bubbled at a point or two. I had opted for inexpensive dyed film for both the initial tint in 1998 and the retint in 2006. The dyed film was good for shade and cosmetic purposes. However, today’s ceramic window films are great for shade, cosmetics, and heat rejection. They’re also more expensive, but worth the extra cost. It can make the difference between needing the AC or not… or needing “Max AC” or not.  Continue reading

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50,000 Miles!

I’m still blasting-up the miles! I passed the 50,000-mile mark right when the car turned 17 months. I once predicted I’d reach 175,000 miles by the five-year mark. That was when I had a 50-mile each way daily commute. But I have a new commute that’s a tad shorter at 31 miles. Now I’m expecting to reach “only” 125,000 miles by five years. HAHA! I’ll probably still run the car to 150k by then since I love to drive this car! I tend to take it on road trips, so that’ll drive-up the miles, too. I’ve had a busy few months, both with modding my Mk7 and moving other VWs in and out of my household. I’ll share details about both below. Continue reading

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Vibrant 17950 Resonator

Upgrading to APR Stage 2 yielded great results, but the free-flowing downpipe also introduced a prominent drone, starting at 2800 rpm, even with an otherwise-factory exhaust system. At cruising speeds below 2800 rpm, the car sounded just as it did when it was new and stock. But the exhaust note would easily double in amplitude the instant the engine reached 2800 rpm. It’s not often that I cruise at 3000 rpm. But I sometimes find myself accelerating gently, perhaps being too lazy to shift since I know I’m about to slow down again, and my engine speed is hovering between 2800 and 3200 rpm, right where the drone can be most annoying. “Annoying” is a rather harsh term to describe my drone because it’s really not that bad. Still, I was happy to learn that I could eliminate or reduce it by replacing the factory front muffler/resonator with a different resonator. Continue reading

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Door Creaking (Resolved)

I noted some creaking in my door or B-pillar during my 30,000-mile entry. I had read reports of a weld that might have failed in a number of Mk7s. I was hopeful that was not my case. I noticed the sound mostly during low-speed maneuvering, even when barely rolling down my uneven driveway, but not usually on the highway. My first speculation was that I needed to check the interior panels that I had removed while installing my subwoofer and ham radio wiring. The interior panels fit with VERY tight tolerances, so it seemed logical that a couple of pieces may have been rubbing as the body flexed. The creaking seemed to disappear for a bit, but my celebration was brief… Continue reading

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Firestone Firehawk Indy 500… and Bent Wheels…

When my car was in for the APR Stage 2 upgrade, the mechanic noticed that the tread on one of my tires was separating. I had just starting hearing some noise that sounded a little like the tread wear bars pulsating against the pavement. There was enough tread on the tires to last until spring, but the tread separation sped my upgrade plan. It was probably a good thing that last week’s rain kept my newfound Stage 2 exploitation temptations in check. I had hoped to wait until I knew the freezing weather was behind us before mounting performance tires, but I needed something right away. I quickly upgraded to a set of Firestone Firehawk Indy 500’s. I hate the idea of tire shops mangling my pinch welds or over-torquing my lug bolts. So I mounted and balanced the tires myself at a nearby military auto/hobby shop. It was while balancing the wheels that I noticed two were bent. Continue reading

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APR Stage 2

I had planned to add APR’s downpipe and upgrade to Stage 2 in the spring. Being a relatively new resident of Virginia (I maintained Texas residency during my military career), I had created a financial safety net so that I wouldn’t have any unpleasant surprises when the 2017 tax bill came. As it turns out, I over-budgeted and had plenty of leftover cash. What a great opportunity to upgrade to APR Stage 2 and more! I didn’t have immediate plans for a new intercooler, but the surplus tax money made adding one an easy decision. I took my car to Euro Pros to have APR’s downpipe and intercooler installed, as well as new spark plugs and a flash to Stage 2. Continue reading

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Subwoofer Power Upgrade – Rockford Fosgate T1S1

My subwoofer journey has been a series of incremental improvements. My first setup accidentally included a subwoofer with dual 2-ohm voicecoils instead of dual 4-ohm voicecoils. The difference meant that my 300-watt amplifier could only output about 200 watts since the 2-ohm voicecoils had to be wired for 4 ohms. I quickly replaced that subwoofer with a 4-ohm version, which allowed me to wire the speaker for 2 ohms and get the full 300 watts of amplifier output. Later, I decided to make some changes that had me switch to an amp with a smaller footprint. Although the new amp is rated at 516 watts, its actual output was around 330 watts since I was still using the 2-ohm subwoofer configuration. That was more than enough because of how I had indexed the system, but I decided to make more changes… Continue reading

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Nogaro Wheels: Will They Be “Rare” in the Near Future?

The 2017 GTI Sport came with 18-inch Nogaro wheels. I’m not sure why VW chose to equip this trim differently from the other GTIs, but the fact remains that these wheels were sold on a relatively small number of GTIs in the United States (model year 2017 only). This is not to say that the wheels are rare or “limited edition.” Volkswagen sold far too many Sports to qualify for that title. Additionally, the Nogaro was the standard wheel on the European Golf GTD from 2013 through 2016. It sold in high numbers due to the popularity of diesels in Europe. So, it’s not as if these wheels are rare worldwide. But could they be rare in America someday? Continue reading

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40,000 Miles!

Smartphone photo while driving in the dark.

Happy New Year! My GTI continues to accumulate miles at a quick pace. At my current rate of driving, the car should reach 175,000 miles by the time it’s five years old. It’s scary to consider the car’s value at that point. I think it would be too low to bother selling, so I’d probably keep it even if I buy a newer car. I wonder if VW’s electric cars will be tempting for me by then? Most people are not terribly impressed that my 20-year old Mk3 Jetta TDI has 450,000 miles on the odometer. It’s an old diesel, right? But a Mk7 GTI with 200,000 miles may turn a head or two someday. Continue reading

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USP Motorsports Steel Oil Pan Conversion

Automakers continue to find ways to save weight for better fuel economy and performance. Some choose to eliminate the spare tire. Others, including VW/Audi, choose to use plastic oil pans on some of their engines. The risk of damage seems low, especially at stock ride height. But accidents happen: road debris, ice chunks, or even animals can damage a plastic oil pan. Sure, the odds of those things actually striking the oil pan seems low. Regardless, the day is ruined once the pan is cracked and the oil gushes onto the road. Even if I could get the car to the shoulder and turn off the engine before damage occurs, I’d still be in for a wait for a tow truck and the headache of replacing the oil pan under conditions other than my own. I also tend to believe that the plastic will become brittle after years of heat-cycling, meaning a lighter hit could shatter the pan. I decided to convert the oil pan to steel during a routine oil change. A steel pan is more likely to bend than crack, so it’s more durable. For just $69… Why not? Continue reading

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Long-Term Review: Yakima Showcase 15

I had some opinions about my Showcase 15 right away, but decided to wait until after its first real trip before writing a long-term review. I used the box on a Thanksgiving voyage from southeast Virginia to St Louis, Missouri, about 880 miles each way plus local travel. Prior to that, I had stored my Showcase outside and locked it to my trailer. I discovered water inside when I opened it to move it to my car. I put the box back on my trailer and then looked for the point of water intrusion the next time it rained. I found the intrusion point and more… Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Road Trip to St Louis

It’s been a few years since the last time my family of three piled into a car for a road trip. As much as I appreciate the higher fuel economy and spaciousness of my wife’s Mk6 Jetta TDI, I’m simply too spoiled by the comforts of my GTI to not drive it instead. I prefer to travel with the car’s interior nearly empty. In keeping with that practice, the GTI is perfect for two-person travel. Packing for three, as well as Thanksgiving food, I knew I’d want to load our Yakima Showcase 15. Our luggage went in the Showcase while our food and other necessities rode in the trunk. Continue reading

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One Year Old!

As I was writing about my clutch upgrade, I realized that the car was almost one year old. I put my name on this car on Veteran’s Day 2016 and drove it home the following day. So it became one year old over the past weekend. Don’t confuse sentiment with fact by noting that the car was manufactured in July 2016. Oops! I just did that!  😉  I’ll stick with Veteran’s Day as the anniversary since it’s easy to remember. I’ll also stick to my apparent 10,000-mile interval for reporting progress or problems. So this will just be a brief “birthday entry.” However, I will report that the odometer rolled past 34,000 miles on the car’s birthday.

It’s easy to think that my decision to buy a cupcake and pose it with a candle on a VW hubcap may border on freakish. First, I like cupcakes. Second, a true VW freak would have lit the candle! Okay, I didn’t light it because I was too lazy to find a lighter. HAHA!  😉

“Happy Birthday to You…”  (No, I didn’t sing to my car!)

Scott

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RSR Clutch Upgrade

I knew I was testing the limits of my stock clutch when I added 81 hp and 111 lb-ft with APR Stage 1.  The car drove great and the clutch held the extra power for over 15,000 miles (for a total of 34,000 miles). However, turbocharged cars LOVE cooler temperatures due to an improved ability to make horsepower and avoid heat soak. So it was little surprise when my clutch began to slip as temperatures dropped in October. I probably could have put off a clutch upgrade, but driving the original clutch on our upcoming road trip over the mountains was out of the question, especially since I may take the trailer. I had planned to buy a Southbend Stage 2 Endurance clutch, but then I changed my mind… Continue reading

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Smaller Rear Headrests

Many have scorned the large rear headrests in modern cars. Sure, they’re there for improved neck protection for rear seat occupants in the event of a rear-end collision (their function is as a “head restraint” rather than “head rest”). But they also reduce rearward visibility. My primary reason for disliking the larger headrests is because they interfere with quick folding of the rear seatback. I routinely carry a bicycle in the trunk and prefer that the seats lay down without restriction. I noticed a very light wear mark on the back of the front passenger seat that was caused by the rear headrest rubbing as I folded the seat down (even after adjusting the front seat first). As a result, I wanted shorter headrests so I could lay the seats down without having to adjust the front seats or remove the rear headrests.  Continue reading

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Ultra Tow Trailer Hubs

This isn’t exactly a “GTI entry.” However, my “baby trailer” spends enough time behind my GTI that it’s almost a part of the car. Since the trailer is two years old and has a fair chance of joining us on an upcoming 1800-mile road trip, I figured it was prudent to repack the hubs so that we don’t learn any tough lessons on the road. One hub was feeling a little sloppy, so I decided I’d replace the bearings instead of simply repacking them. Then I discovered “XTP Ultra Pack” hubs at Northern Tool. My project evolved from repacking bearings, to replacing bearings, to replacing hubs in just a few mouse clicks.  Continue reading

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