“We Make Marines”

Note: This article is intentionally time-late and void of names in order to protect the privacy of our Marine. Everything written here is perishable info that is outdated.

Our daughter’s first job as a General Maintenance Technician (GST)…

My plans to take the car on more road trips and camping adventures hasn’t exactly come to fruition. Most of that is a result of procrastination and spending money on other interests/projects. Hot weather played a significant part in the decision, too. A change in my daughter’s career choice has impacted our ability to hit the road, as well. We had counted on her as a house and cat sitter when we’d leave for a few days. She made a sudden decision to join the Marines around the same time that I was kicking around the idea of camping and “microlanding.” She surprised everyone; now we have a Marine! Continue reading

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90,000 Miles and APR Stage 2 Update

Looking at the latest activity on my blog, I can see that there’s been hardly any activity at all! I’ve been busy doing other things: LIFE. 🙂  The car has surpassed 90,000 miles without any significant issues. It continues to be a great commuter car as well as a travel car and workhorse. One of my largest summer projects was to purchase a shed, place it, and then move everything into it from out of a storage unit. The baby trailer was definitely the hero of that endeavor, as was the Dutton-Lainson winch that I featured recently. I don’t think I’ve shared anything about the shed. So, I’ve shared a few photos in the album below. I’ve also done some work on my subwoofer system, supported a bicycle event, removed my “rear seat delete,” had the paint corrected and ceramic coated, and updated my APR Stage 2 software. I’ll share details below. Continue reading

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Dutton-Lainson Hand Winch for Baby Trailer

I’ve shared several stories and videos about how I put my baby trailer to use. One unsung hero of my setup is my Dutton-Lainson 2000-lb hand winch with 20-ft nylon strap. Calling this a “hand winch” is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the winch can be operated manually using its included hand crank. But, with a 40:1 gear ratio, moving anything the 11-ft distance from the end of my ramp to the front of the trailer would take a LONG time, not to mention a LOT of cranking. Instead, I use a cordless drill on the winch’s hex drive, which makes the operation MUCH faster. It’s akin to having a light-duty power winch on my trailer, but without the electrical connection or load to the tow vehicle. Continue reading

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12V Battery Failure and Upgrade to Group 48 AGM

I experienced somewhat of a weak start one morning a few months ago. But it didn’t happen again. Weeks later, I was listening to music over my lunch break and the sound quit. That was strange. The stereo was still on and the time counter was still running. After a small amount of troubleshooting, I concluded that the battery voltage had fallen to a point that the Helix amp had shutdown and all I needed to do was start the car and recharge the battery. That was my hint that the battery was nearing the end of its lifespan… after just two and a half years. I went to a shop and saw that they carried Interstate batteries and asked about it a replacement. The shop owner said “If the car starts, then you don’t need a battery.” I heeded his advice to wait. Four months later, I got the dreaded “click” when I pressed the START button. Continue reading

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80,000 Miles and Rear Seat Delete!

It’s been a while since I last reported a milestone. I skipped the 70,000-mile report because I had just shared about my car’s second birthday. Time has flown and now I’m past 80,000 miles. I continue to enjoy my commute, not that commuting 35 miles each way in urban traffic is fun, but the car makes it more enjoyable. The driveline is holding up very well to the Stage 2 tune, even with regular towing. Having the extra power on tap for authoritative passes is a good thing, too! My modifications have slowed due to me being quite content with the car, but they haven’t completely ceased. I’ve gone and done the unthinkable… Continue reading

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Possible Changes to Content?

My blog and my YouTube channel are relatively slow-moving. I tend to believe it’s because I’m compelled to share stories or news as I do things with the car. I had more to say when I was modding the car, although I must admit that my mod-journey was slow, too. Once my mods were 99% complete (are they ever 100%?), the stories sort of halted since I don’t pursue many car-related activities such as autocrossing, drag racing, or car shows. I’m sure you don’t want to read about my commutes. But I’ve got an itch to travel and think my content may shift towards road trips and even camping, all with the GTI (of course). Continue reading

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Pros and Cons of Various Cargo Transport Methods

As I wrote about my hitch-mounted cargo carrier, why I bought it, and why I stopped using it, I felt compelled to create lists of the pros and cons of each cargo transport method that I have at my disposal. Each has its merits, drawbacks, and levels of planning required before use. Oddly enough, my “baby trailer” is the most convenient go-to option if my ball mount is already installed. Here is my list of  pros and cons between my three cargo carrying options, hitch-mounted cargo carrier, rooftop cargo box, and a small utility trailer. I’ve included price examples using the least expensive options available online as well as what I paid for my own selections. Keep in mind that these prices are for the cheapest combinations available, but don’t include tiny trailers from discount stores due to their dismal 45-mph speed rating. I suspect most will prefer more sturdy options, which are more expensive. I’ve also created a lengthy YouTube video, which I eventually broke into smaller segments linked below: Continue reading

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Pro Series 20×48″ Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carrier

As I make updates to streamline some of my web pages and menus, I found myself with orphaned information about my hitch-mounted cargo carrier. I used it a lot on earlier cars, but not so much with my GTI. I still have the carrier, but I don’t use it as much now that I have the rooftop cargo box and trailers as other options. How did I use my hitch carrier? Why did I stop using it? What do I use instead? Continue reading for my answers and to learn some pros and cons about hitch-mounted cargo carriers. Continue reading

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Cabin Blower Motor Replacement

I’ve enjoyed my GTI. Mechanically, it has been problem free, mile after mile. Sure, there have been a few minor issues that were no fault of the car itself. Other than those minor issues, the car has been perfect… until now. My interior blower motor (ventilation) started making some sickly noises around the 70,000-mile mark. It was disappointing on a car that was just over two years old, especially knowing that the blower motor on my Mk3 lasted nearly 14 years and over 375,000 miles. My Mk7’s fan speed began to fluctuate until it eventually became unreliable, working only from time to time. With January’s “Polar Vortex” heading our way, I knew I wanted that fan working and blowing heat for my early morning commutes. When I shopped for the new blower, I was very pleased to discover that it is removed and installed without tools. Continue reading

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Stuck in the Mud; Saved by the “More Power Puller”

Have you ever wanted to take to the mud with your summer performance tires and see what your Mk7 can do? Yeah, neither have I.    But it still happened. I’ve made a few references to my yard projects in earlier posts. One of those projects was the widening of the slab outside my rear garage door. I bought ten extra bags of Sakrete to make sure I didn’t run out during the job; but somehow I still wound up with 22 bags left over. With a week of bad weather on its way, I decided to move the leftover bags into my cargo trailer to keep them dry until I could decide whether to return them or use them on another project. The scene was set… Continue reading

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Yakima Showcase 15 Wrap-Up (Pun Intended, Leaks Resolved)

If you’ve read my Long-Term Review of the Showcase 15, then you know that I was extremely disappointed to discover that many of its rivets leak during even light rainfall, causing the bottom of the box to pool with water. Imagine my surprise to learn that the rivets are also made of plastic and have no sealing precautions whatsoever. That’s unacceptable in a $700 box! Sure, Yakima has its lifetime “We’ve Got Your Back Guarantee,” which includes free repair or possible replacement for the life of a cargo box. However, the customer is responsible for shipping to their facility in Washington State. That would cost me around $150 in freight charges for an item this large. And what if the “repair” is just more of the same leaky rivets? No thanks! Instead, I committed to finding a way to fix it on my own. Continue reading

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Getting Stoned With My GTI!

I’ve been working on a drainage project behind my house. My back yard slopes toward my house, which means that rainwater from the two homes uphill from me collects against my back door and eventually culminates into a river through the garage. Replacing what was likely a 30-60 year old wooden door was a great start. But I needed to divert water from the back of the house. Gravel-encapsulated drains, aka “French drains,” are a popular way to carry out that feat. My aggressive project required thousands of pounds of #57 stone. So I put my GTI and baby trailer to work. Continue reading

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Two Years Old Plus Turbo Weather!

Yes, it’s photoshopped from last year…  🙂

Time flies when I’m having fun! Veteran’s Day marked the second anniversary of my GTI purchase. It also happens to fall at the onset of “Turbo Weather.” Temperatures are in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, so my intake temperatures are ideal for making power. The car has been running great. Power is good, my alignment and ride comfort is good, and I haven’t had any problems. I’m on the verge of taking the car for its second annual inspection. The car has 66,000 miles, so I’ll check the brakes and suspension ahead of time just to make sure that the inspector doesn’t pull a fast one on me. Other than that, I’m sure everything is fine.   Continue reading

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Overheating Equipment in the Trunk?

My last few entries have been about changes to my stereo and ham radio projects. I’ll finish the series by answering a frequently asked question: “Doesn’t your equipment get hot or risk overheating under the trunk floor?” I considered that possibility after feeling a hot Helix amplifier and had even designed a forced ventilation system to help mitigate any unseen problems. I had some fans on hand, but decided to wait for the car’s first warm weather to assess the setup. The summer of 2017 came and went without a single problem. Sure, the amplifiers felt warm, one was even hot, but how bad was it? I added a remote temperature sensor to the trunk in 2018 to make a better analysis. The results were surprising… Continue reading

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Ham Radio Display Relocation

When I first bought my car, I chose to mount my Icom ID-5100A display down by the gearshift because I had become accustomed to having my smartphone mounted high on the dash. The display location certainly made for a good photograph, one that combines ham radio, the GTI (Plaid seat), and manual transmissions. But it was  not ideal for convenient operating. Eventually, I decided to try a D-Dock for my smartphone, which freed some real estate on my dash. I decided to use my existing ProClip mount to move my 5100 display to a more visible location (see the photo below). I like the improved visibility! Continue reading

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D-Dock Smartphone Dock and Android Auto

I’ve used smartphones in my cars for over 10 years. I don’t text and drive, but I like being aware of when I receive a message and will take a look at short messages. I WON’T read a message that’s more than a few words if I’m on the road. Instead, my family knows a simple “Call me” is usually enough to get my attention and allow me to make a one-touch call. I started using my phone for navigating as Google Maps and 4G LTE networks expanded and became more usable. Eventually, I could use travel-related apps and certain food apps while stopped. Having the phone mounted someplace visible was good for a lot of things. Then Volkswagen started equipping their cars with Car Play and Android Auto. Driving was bound to change… Continue reading

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Long Term Review: Helix Sound Upgrade

Believe it or not, I’m no audio systems expert, despite what this photo may compel you to believe. I just know more about stereo upgrades than the average driver; plus, I know how to get what I want in an efficient way. A 30-year career in electronics doesn’t hurt, either.  😉  Plenty have mentioned that I could have installed a better system with digital signal processing (DSP) than the Helix system. A quick look at Crutchfield.com shows that DSPs can be expensive. Then one has to add an amplifier, the wiring to/from the trunk, and whatever else is needed, especially the parts required to break into the factory wiring harness or connector (I hate cutting factory wires). My enthusiasm for that level of effort has waned as I’ve gotten older. The Helix upgrade saved a lot of time and effort in the long run. I’m still quite pleased with it. Continue reading

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60,000 Miles; Plus Musings About Future Volkswagens…

My drivetrain warranty is officially over now that I’ve reached 60,000 miles. Amusingly, I declare that as though my power upgrades hadn’t killed the warranty already. HAHA! The car’s been running great. My list of mods continues to grow slowly. Since my 50k update, I’ve tinted the windows, added a few 3D printed accessories, went even darker on the glass by adding VW accessory sun shades, added an 8-inch European MIB2 display, and finally mounted my powdercoated Nogaros. I’ve also been working my GTI like a mule by hauling plenty of rock and dirt loads with my utility trailer. Feel free to click each link to read more.  Continue reading

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Eight Inch MIB2 Display

I’ve been very pleased with the MIB2 infotainment system in my GTI. The display size is adequate, sound quality is good, and the system introduced me to AndroidAuto. If you’ve explored my site, then you know that I’ve upgraded my system with Helix and beyond. In time, I learned that the European version of my car has an 8-inch display. I was not shocked. As a longtime Volkswagen enthusiast, I am perfectly aware that Europeans get all the best stuff in their Volkswagens. Americans want it, too. HAHA! Thankfully, someone has found a way to import the larger displays and their associated bezels and sell them as a kit. It’s an expensive upgrade, so I avoided it for some time. Then the kits went on sale, dropping in price just enough for me to make an impulse buy. Continue reading

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OEM Pop-In Sunshades (Rear)

I tinted my glass a few months ago, but I was still intrigued by Volkswagen’s pop-in shades, P/N: 5G0-064-365. 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 16,000 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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Spare Tire Access Improvement

As I routinely accessed the spare tire area to make small improvements to my electronics package, I learned that the spare tire could not be removed unless I emptied the entire trunk, to include removing the floor panel, due to the way the trunk’s rear trim piece was made. This photo shows the factory trim piece with a straight edge, presumably for a cleaner look. However, this clean look blocks part of the tire and requires that it be shifted forward before being lifted up and rearward for removal. This is fairly inconvenient, even when the car is unloaded and driving locally. Imagine having to unpack the trunk during a road trip or on a rainy day. Now imagine having to remove a 68-lb electronics panel anywhere but home with a proper stand to protect the subwoofer (see this photo). Regardless, I’ll never remove that panel in the rain! I needed to improve my access to the spare tire. Continue reading

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