I drove to the dealer to get a set of ignition coils, commonly referred to as “coil packs,” while the rest of the family went to Sequoia National Park. They were not in stock. So, I ordered them for pick-up the following day. I returned to the hotel and edited photos until it was time to get ready for Mom’s memorial service. When the others returned from the Sequoias, they told me that they didn’t make it to any of the attractions that I had been targeting. There was a lot of snow and ice at elevation. The park does not clear the roads of snow. Even better, snow chains were required beyond a certain point and the road was impassible in a 2WD car without them. There’s no way I was renting chains to chain-up my GTI! I felt a TINY bit better in knowing that I didn’t drive all the way out there to be disappointed. The others still had a good visit, saw ONE Sequoia, and played in the snow, something that doesn’t appeal to me.
Mom’s memorial service was very nice. It was a blessing to hear what her friends had to say about her. Living thousands of miles apart and having a distinct mother-son relationship, I didn’t see every aspect of her life, especially not as the friend that she was to so many. Can you relate to a parent being only a parent? Watching her from afar over the years, I saw huge changes in my mother over the years. Yes, it is possible for adult children to see their parents grow over a lifetime. Perhaps my daughter will see me grow, too. But I’ve been a cool cat for a long time; so, maybe not. Just kidding! 😉 Anyway, hearing stories from her friends showed me the positive impact that she had on so many others. I’ve shared some photos of my brother and me, our wives, and our grown children throughout the rest of this entry. I also shared this video on my YouTube channel.
The following morning came quickly! My daughter had to be at the airport at 5am. So, we were up at 3:30 and on the road by 4am. Drop-off was short and sweet. Then my wife and I went to a nearby Starbucks to hang out until the VW parts department opened at 8am. I did more photo editing, plus IG/FB sharing. The coil packs were at the dealership at opening time. I went to the parking lot, where I hid my car behind a truck, and changed the coil packs in a stealthy manner. NO JOY! Damn! Well, the next step was exactly what I dreaded: A dealership visit.
The service advisor was very accommodating and got us in right away. He appreciated that he didn’t need to explain so much to me and that I had a thorough description of my problem. Being armed with the DTC info was helpful. He came out from time to time to get approval for different levels of troubleshooting. In short, the fault did not move from cylinder #3 when the tech moved coil packs or spark plugs to different cylinders. He checked the compression and leak down; both were excellent. He inspected the cylinders with a bore scope and saw nothing abnormal. He noted that the low pressure fuel pump (LPFP) output seemed below standard, but wasn’t sure if it may have been a sensor trick that the APR tune did to command more pressure from the pump. Yes, I disclosed that I am tuned. I did not want to risk the chance of the technician flashing my ECU as part of a guessing game, then creating a new problem altogether.
He suggested that I replace the LPFP and its controller for another $750. They lacked the tools to discriminate between the LPFP and its controller; they also lacked the tool to measure the actual output of the LPFP. The tech was working with ECU-reported pressures. Of course, neither part was in stock, nor could they be there for three days. I asked how a bad LPFP could affect just one cylinder. The service advisor could not provide a decent answer. He said that if the LPFP and controller did not fix the problem, and I KNEW it wouldn’t, then they’d work with Volkswagen tech support, who would require the car to be returned to stock before proceeding. THAT was a show-stopper for me, especially with my stock downpipe and other parts being 3000 miles away. I asked if the car was safe to drive; he said it was okay. I had already extended our stay an extra day and did not want to add another 3+ days. So, I paid my bill and left. It sucked that new coil packs and four hours of troubleshooting didn’t resolve my issue. But at least I knew the engine wasn’t damaged.
I called my mechanic in Virginia to get his opinion. He immediately leaned toward the #3 injector and agreed that the car was safe to drive since it could be driven gently without triggering the EPC indicator. It had been a LONG time since I had needed to troubleshoot a spark ignition engine (20+ years in TDIs). So, I must admit that I wasn’t sure how to troubleshoot right away. I needed expertise. But talking to my mechanic ignited a few memories from my old days. The conversation had me wondering why a dealer mechanic didn’t focus on the #3 cylinder and get to the injector. I hoped it was just an injector. The experience reminded me that some shops will just throw parts and customer money at a problem until something works. Never mind all the wasted parts… the customer gets to keep those while the shop keeps the money. 🙁
I didn’t take a single photo during that visit. With the rest of the family already in flight and us having plans to leave in the morning, we decided to head to the coast for the “requisite” Pacific Ocean photo. We had planned to drive to Pacific Grove, which is where we spent our honeymoon nearly 30 years ago. But that place was locked-down to a ridiculous degree. NO THANKS! Instead, we drove 140 miles to Cayucos for our Pacific Ocean visit. The timing was good for a sunset photo, which was the first Pacific Ocean sunset that I had observed with my wife since our honeymoon nearly 30 years ago. Yeah, I’m a romantic, shooting photos of my “mistress” while standing next to my wife! HAHA! I took a photo of her, too, and shared it above. The trip is now officially a “coast to coast” road trip. Next, we’ll get the cats and head east.