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Good-bye Curby...
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
ok, i know i have engine ping. i am still having it a little every now and then, even though i've switched to a higher octane (89) fuel. this octane fuel does have ethanol.

i called my local VW dealership today about the catalytic converter recall and asked them how much it would be to hook my NB up to the diagnostic tool, and she said $55. CRAP! i think that's a rip. i guess the last time i did this was years ago and it was $30 then. total crock of sh*t. should i have to pay for the diagnostic aspect of this recall?

anywho, here are my questions:

1. will a VW dealership have a vag com diagnostic tool? i asked the customer service rep and she didn't know if it was a vag com machine or not.
2. can they pull codes from my car if i don't have CEL light on? i don't have any lights on indicating problems, but i sense that there is one.
3. i have another engine noise / rattle. can their diagnostic tool tell me what the problem is?

any help would be much appreciated. thank you.

edit: ok, i am looking online at vag com stuff. i see a kit for $229. what is so expensive? the software? the cable? i see some stuff on ebay for a lot cheaper. is this stuff junk? maybe a quick run down of this stuff might help me, too. is this stuff way beyond something that i can understand? i see that the software on ross tech's site is free, so does that mean the cable is $229? how easy is it to read the error codes. wow, i guess i have a lot more questions than i thought.
 

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a.k.a. porkchopzz4
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callisto9 said:
edit: ok, i am looking online at vag com stuff. i see a kit for $229. what is so expensive? the software? the cable? i see some stuff on ebay for a lot cheaper. is this stuff junk? maybe a quick run down of this stuff might help me, too. is this stuff way beyond something that i can understand? i see that the software on ross tech's site is free, so does that mean the cable is $229? how easy is it to read the error codes. wow, i guess i have a lot more questions than i thought.
The cost is in their time/labor in backward engineering the VAG-COM interface and software. Plus, you get unlimited tech support by buying, so that costs them money to provide. And considering how small the market is, at least in the U.S., they've got to be able to make money with such low volume.

The shareware version (with no tech support) is available for free.... there are schematics on how to "build" your own cable/interface or you can buy a cable on E-bay. But, it sure is nice to e-mail ross-tech when you run into a problem or question and get back a response quickly. Personally, I feel it is well worth the money - I've had nearly every light on the dash come on so far and been able to fix everything myself without ever having to take the car to the dealership. The VAG-COM has more than paid for itself.

I think you need to find out more details about the recall. The TSB/recall should start with the problem being experienced. If that is the problem you're having, they need to fix it. There shouldn't be any diagnosis necessary if it reads something like "rattling noise from inside of catalytic converter"... the VAG-COM isn't going to diagnose a rattle. :)

Oh, and in regards to using it: you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. I usually do an automated scan that goes through every module (like "brakes", "engine", "transmission", etc. are each a module) and sees if there are any codes stored. Lots of codes won't trigger a dash light, so this is pretty cool to see. Then you can copy them to a TXT file for viewing at your leisure. Then you'd usually want to clear the codes (once again, just a single click to clear all codes). At this point, drive the car for a day or two and scan again... if you have the same codes then those are items that are problems. If certain codes didn't reappear, they may be widely intermitant and probably not anything to worry about immediately. Posting the code(s) on here will get you tons of help on the actual diagnosis... as you already have seen in action.

There are lots more complicated stuff where you can manually enter parameters for stuff, etc... stuff that I will probably never have any use for. But just the basic scanning functionality I've described has keep me out of the dealerships clutches for the 4 years and 57,000 miles we've owned the car.
 

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Good-bye Curby...
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8,727 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
as always, thanks for your help justin. i have no idea if i have a problem with my catalytic converter or not. curby's engine and in general, the area around it, has been very noisy the last 6 weeks. lot of deep, throaty noises. i initially thought the muffler might need to be replaced, but the noise seems to come more from the center of the car, say, below the middle of the console.

so, it IS possible to get a vag com cable on ebay for $40 and the software for free and be able to diagnose problems with my car? cost is definitely an issue here (as always) and i really want to use this as a learning tool, as i am not capable of fixing things on my car myself. i'd just like to be more informed. i'd gladly spend the $229 if i had it, but i don't. i am SO curious to know if curby has things wrong with him, but i don't want to pay a mechanic (and especially not my local VW dealership) tons of money to try and find a problem that might not even be there.

autozone has a free diagnostic tool for cars 1996 and newer, but you have to have a light on, like CEL for instance. i have no lights on, only a sneaking suspicion that something is going to go wrong with my car, soon.

my boyfriend always gives me all this "the engine is going to sound different as the car ages...nothing is wrong with it...it's just noise" stuff, and i understand that, but i am more a fan of preventative maintenance rather than "wait until it breaks, then fix it". i am very paranoid about my car and i stress about it a lot since 1) it's all i've got, 2) i have 3.5 more years to go until it's paid off and 3) i have really no money to pay for any repairs right now.

ugh.
 

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180 Degrees out of faze
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You can get an inexpensive cable that will work with the Ross-Tech free software. The free software has some limitations built into it. The free software will scan the codes, and clear them for you. If you want to monitor more than just a few of the measuring blocks, you have to buy the full version for $99. All they do is email you an unlocking key that you feed to the program. That way you can monitor all the workings of the motor.
To see what the car is doing while you drive, just put the program into record mode, and drive around. Latter take a look at the data to see what is going on when it pings, or does other wierd stuff.

As for the pinging, it is usually caused by too high of a compression ratio for the available octane. Compression ratio creep, which requires higher and higher octane over time to correct, is caused by the build up of crud in the head and piston tops.

How hard/easy do you drive? Too easy of a driving style encourages the build up of crud in the motor. The good old Italian tune up will help blow that crud right out of the tail pipe.
 

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Good-bye Curby...
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
hannaco said:
As for the pinging, it is usually caused by too high of a compression ratio for the available octane. Compression ratio creep, which requires higher and higher octane over time to correct, is caused by the build up of crud in the head and piston tops.

How hard/easy do you drive? Too easy of a driving style encourages the build up of crud in the motor. The good old Italian tune up will help blow that crud right out of the tail pipe.
i think it's a little sluggish to drive lately. i've heard of this "italian tune up" before, but i don't quite get it. can you explain? i know you're supposed to drive the hell out of it, but how exactly do you do that and what does it do, really?
 

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180 Degrees out of faze
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Well, you have the basic idea. Third gear is a good starting point. Just put the right foot to the floor until you get close to the red line. What happens is that the high RPM and maximum power will encourage the carbon build up to loosen, and blow out of the motor.
There are fuel additives that will do the same thing, but without the fun.
 

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Good-bye Curby...
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Discussion Starter #7
hannaco said:
Well, you have the basic idea. Third gear is a good starting point. Just put the right foot to the floor until you get close to the red line. What happens is that the high RPM and maximum power will encourage the carbon build up to loosen, and blow out of the motor.
There are fuel additives that will do the same thing, but without the fun.
i feel like a dork asking these questions, but how long / how many times should i do this? isn't it harmful to the engine? how long do i drive it in the red?
 

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callisto9 said:
i feel like a dork asking these questions, but how long / how many times should i do this? isn't it harmful to the engine? how long do i drive it in the red?
Did you get an answer to your last question. I'm a girl too and don't know anything about car mechanics but think I have the same noise you have.:(
 

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Save a horse, ride a....
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I'd suggest turning the stereo up louder till you can't hear the noise anymore.

But anwyay...the 'italian' tune up, or the 'drive it like you stole it' tune up involves driving the car agressively (like high rpms, regularly flirting with the red line - though you don't actually want to drive in the red!!) the theory being that working the engine hard will loosen up any deposits (carbon, fuel additives etc) on the cylinders and head which might be causing pinging or knock. Once loosened, they will uncermoniously be combusted or ejected out the tail pipe with the exhaust. Just drive your car in this manner until...
1. You are arrested.
2. The noise goes away, but your water pump self destructs.
3. You need new tires.
Just kidding btw. But if you aren't a fan of driving your car aggresively, there are potent fuel injector/fuel system/engine cleaners that do the same thing in a slower, more sedate manner. I might suggest Redline SI-1 fuel injector cleaner www.redlineoils.com or search here www.bobistheoilguy.com under the additives forum for what others recommend (Sea Foam, Lube Control etc.)

Regarding the VAG-COM - I have the free software from Ross-tech and an aftermarket cable from ebay and it works fine for reading and clearing codes and for some of the measuring blocks. You might want to try here http://www20.brinkster.com/beowulf9/tdi/vagcom/ which is a listing from www.tdiclub.com of people who own a vag-com. Find someone in your area and they might scan your car for you.
 

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Thanks for the info - sounds like a good tip. Unfortunately, my noise isn't a PING and its too loud to cover with stereo, but at least I've eliminated one possibility.

Driving this way would certainly cause my "noise" to increase because it is at the high rpms, especially in 3rd gear when the noise is the loudest. Would that give you a clue as to what the cause might be?
 

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Good-bye Curby...
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Discussion Starter #11
Keimax4h said:
Did you get an answer to your last question. I'm a girl too and don't know anything about car mechanics but think I have the same noise you have.:(
i can't bring myself to do the italian tune-up. for now, as suggested, i have just turned up the stereo. i have the ping when it's hot and the tick when it's cold, so i always have at least one moderately loud noise in my engine area.

i have purchased an oil additive and will be trying that soon. rcy has some good advice though, try those links. once i try cleaning out my oil passages, i may opt for cleaning out my fuel lines as well. right now, money is slowing the process down (read: i don't have much after my timing belt work!). here's the additive i will be trying at the next oil change: http://www.auto-rx.com/

this has been a very frustrating issue for me, and despite having two mechanics look at / listen to it, nothing conclusive has been found. i am taking matters into my own hands until 1) i find something that fixes it or 2) something busts. i don't really know what else to do.
 

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callisto9 said:
i can't bring myself to do the italian tune-up. for now, as suggested, i have just turned up the stereo. i have the ping when it's hot and the tick when it's cold, so i always have at least one moderately loud noise in my engine area.

i have purchased an oil additive and will be trying that soon. rcy has some good advice though, try those links. once i try cleaning out my oil passages, i may opt for cleaning out my fuel lines as well. right now, money is slowing the process down (read: i don't have much after my timing belt work!). here's the additive i will be trying at the next oil change: http://www.auto-rx.com/

this has been a very frustrating issue for me, and despite having two mechanics look at / listen to it, nothing conclusive has been found. i am taking matters into my own hands until 1) i find something that fixes it or 2) something busts. i don't really know what else to do.
I may have misunderstood your description of you "non-ping" noise. Mine is more of a loud vibration of some sort and I should clarify that too as that I can't "feel" a vibration anywhere, it just "sounds" like something is vibrating in the front of my NB either in my dash or under my hood but it could be elsewhere as I'm not always good at determining where the sound is coming from. :( But I'm fairly sure it is nothing to do with gas since I use premium or the oil since it has been changed regularly since new and only has 20,000 miles or anything to do with any kind of maintenance because that has been done regularly also.

I thought it might have something to do with the mods that have been added by original owner since I would think it would be common to have vibrations when doing mods, although the mods were all done by a VW tech, still something could have come lose, just don't know where or how to find it. :headbang:

If you learn anything else or read anything that you think might apply to my noise, please e-mail or pm me if you think of it. I sure would appreciate it.
 

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Save a horse, ride a....
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callisto9 said:
i can't bring myself to do the italian tune-up. for now, as suggested, i have just turned up the stereo. i have the ping when it's hot and the tick when it's cold, so i always have at least one moderately loud noise in my engine area.

i have purchased an oil additive and will be trying that soon. rcy has some good advice though, try those links. once i try cleaning out my oil passages, i may opt for cleaning out my fuel lines as well. right now, money is slowing the process down (read: i don't have much after my timing belt work!). here's the additive i will be trying at the next oil change: http://www.auto-rx.com/

this has been a very frustrating issue for me, and despite having two mechanics look at / listen to it, nothing conclusive has been found. i am taking matters into my own hands until 1) i find something that fixes it or 2) something busts. i don't really know what else to do.

The Auto-Rx is good stuff, despite the fact that the website reads like a late night infomercial. Regardless, the testimonials at www.bobistheoilguy.com speak quite highly of the product. Be sure to follow the directions, especially regarding the rinse phase (i.e. non synthetic oil for rinse).
 
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