It all started with a flat tire. We were in Austin for a craft show during SXSW, and when I went up to get the car from the parking garage, one of the tires was completely flat. It sucked.
We put on the spare tire, which turned out to also be completely flat. Lame again. After further inspection of the tires, it became quite apparent that they were in pretty terrible shape. Cracks all over them, and although they had enough tread left, the cracked rubber look was enough to worry us that another tire might lose all of its air soon too.
So we promptly went to Discount Tire to get some new tires. I settled on the Yokohama YK580 model. It was one of 2 fitting tires rated LRR (low rolling resistance). This is allegedly good for better MPG, and if I’m going to be driving a TDI, it’s going to get good gas mileage, dammit!
Back to my Shade Tree Mechanic Roots
I have always enjoyed working on cars. I worked on my Volvo S70 for a good 500 hours minimum, I would guess. I put a lot of time into many different jobs – shocks, tie rods, CV boots, fuel injector seals, pumps, brakes, etc. It sucked that the car broke down so much, but I really enjoyed fixing things on my own.
After replacing the tires, I thought about the upcoming 80k service for our Beetle. It involves a DSG transmission flush, oil change, new filters, etc. We also have a malfunctioning thermostat. AND we need a new timing belt. This whole service will be north of $2,000. Yikes!
Oh my god, it’s such a simple job. And the dealer quoted me $602 to perform the repair! I went out to ID Parts and got the required materials for $111.59, shipped. That’s $490.41 saved instantly. Amazing.
Building the Cribbing Blocks for Car Maintenance
The one thing that sucks about having a car so low to the ground is that you can’t get under it easily. Enjoying what I’d learned so far from MyTurboDiesel.com, I came across a great how-to article on building “cribbing blocks” for your car.
It turns out that relying on just a floor jack – or even cinder blocks – is an unsafe plan. These cribbing blocks (wooden jack stands) can handle the load much more efficiently. You jack your car up and put them under the tires, so you effectively get even more clearance than you would from a floor jack and jack stands alone, since the cribbing blocks go underneath the tires.
Since I have been feeling very DIY lately, I decided that it would be a great idea to have these cribbing blocks on hand for any time I want to do routine maintenance on our car (whatever car that might be, at the time). They even all fit in the back of our Beetle!
Dual Purpose: We can also use these cribbing blocks to jack up the corners of the tiny house on the concrete slab it sits on!
DSG 40k Service
As it turns out, performing a DSG transmission flush ($800 quoted by the dealer) is as simple as unscrewing the drain plug underneath the car and measuring how much fluid is drained, then pouring that much new fluid in the top of the car and replacing the filter.
ID Parts sells a DSG Service Kit, which includes all the fluid necessary and a filter – for $120. That’s $680 saved if I do it myself.
We found a potential spot to park our tiny house and live, and it happens to be in an area that doesn’t have a paved road all the way to the lot. Since there are plenty of rocks along the way, our defenseless oil pan will need some more protecting. There’s a great company called DieselGeek that makes Panzer skid plates for Beetle TDIs. The coolest part? They’re in San Antonio!
I’ll be getting one of those to make sure we don’t incur any unnecessary damage to the underside of the beetle. Also, doesn’t it just really look like the front of The Rock’s truck in Fast Five (and 6)? Badass.
Once that’s on, the only thing left to do will be to convert our Beetle into an off-road monster. I leave you with this final picture of inspiration.