September 30, 2010

My Garage - Changing the Oil and Filter on the Passat W8

With my 2002 Passat W8 quickly approaching the 140,000 mile mark, it is once again time for an oil change. As crazy as it may sound to a gear head, I have always taken this car to the stealership to do what is a pretty simple maintenance operation. This because it is usually combined with some other service and my work schedule has made it pretty challenging to keep up with the maintenance requirements of all my cars especially my daily driver.

This time however I find myself with plenty of time in my hands and so I want to do the work myself. The owner's manual specifies that the beast wants SAE 5W-40 synthetic that follows VW 503.01 specification. The service records show that this car has always been given a diet of Castol Syntec 5W-40 so we are good there. But are we? Really? I keep finding all sorts of discussions in the forums concerning what oil to use in these cars. It is painful. I looked around and found a reference concerning VW specifications @ Opie Oils. With a 140Kmiles running on Castrol Syntec without any issues, I think it will be OK. The question really is... Is all this technological complexity really worth it? For a daily driver? A bit ridiculous... This is definitively NOT like my old Dasher (Passat B1). ;-)

The oil filter I ordered arrived yesterday... The o-ring is to replace the one in the oil filter unit.

I looked around locally and found a good deal on the oil at AutoZone so I stopped by and picked up 10 quarts. (One spare to top off when needed). Looks like I have everything I need!

There is a great writeup on the W8 Forum that explains the process in great detail so I am using it as my reference. The beauty of Internet forums!

I ended up using the following tools to get it done:
  • A short flat-head screwdriver ( (I used a coin instead) and a 10 mm socket to remove the bottom engine bay cover.
  • A 19 mm socket to remove the oil drain plug.
  • A 6 mm Allen wrench to drain the oil from the filter assembly.
  • Channel lock pliers to open the filter assembly.
  • A thin flat-head screwdriver to remove the oil filter cap O-ring.
  • Torque wrench set to 22 lb-ft to tighten the drain plug.
  • Catch basin of at least 10 quart capacity to catch the oil from the crankcase.
  • A small 1 quart bowl to catch oil from the filter housing.

The process began with the removal of the plastic under tray. The oil filter is neatly tucked away in the front of the car on the passenger side behind the bumper cover. I used the Allen wrench to remove the plug from the bottom of the filter cap and drained the oil into a plastic container.

There is at least 1/2 a quart of oil in there...

The interior of the oil filter housing is covered in oil so I allowed it to drain for a while and wiped the rest...

I used two containers to catch the oil simultaneously. That way I can let it drain while I do other things. Notice that I also used my hydraulic jack to raise the car on the passenger side to help drain the oil a little faster.

The O-ring in the filter cap should be replaced with the one that came with the new filter...

With the o-ring replaced and the new filter in its housing it is time to put it back together...

Looks like the drain plug was abused by the service departments that did previous oil changes. I put it back in and torqued to 22 lb-ft. as recommended. The filter went back in without a problem and I added a bit over 8 quarts of oil.

I added a can of Sea Foam to see if we can clean things out a little. I will probably have to change this oil again in around 5k miles. We will see what happens...

Upon first starting the car it stumbled and the chains rattled a bit as the tensioners pressurized. It idled rough for a minute or so but it eventually stabilized. I replaced the lower plastic cover while the engine warmed up. I then took it for a good test drive on the freeway to warm up the oil and called it done.

September 25, 2010

Le May Museum - Tacoma Warehouse

Stopped by the Le May museum's Coffee Cruise In. Got there pretty late so most of the people had already left but got to hang around the warehouse for a little while. More photos in my archives.

Click on the images to elarge

Spotted - Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

Came across this beautiful Aston Martin DB-7 Vantage this morning at the Le May museum Coffee Cruise-In:

September 20, 2010

Corvette ZR1 vs. Porsche 911 Turbo - Amazing Video

The guys at Motor Trend recently compared the Corvette ZR1 against the Porsche 911 Turbo. The results? An amazing video. Check this one out:

Source: Motor Trend

September 18, 2010

A Brief Visit to the Hat 'n' Boots Gas Station Buildings

The Hat 'n' Boots is one of the most unique gas station buildings I have ever come across. It is a structure that would be perfectly at home somewhere along Route 66 IMHO. I used to drive past this landmark almost every day back in the 90's and it always made me sad to see how they were rotting away.

I recently heard that they had been moved to a new location and restored. I stopped by Oxbow Park this morning to take a look at their new home. I am glad to see how they have been restored and placed in a location where people can appreciate them. They look awesome! You can learn more about this landmark @

B-17 Bomber Outside the Museum of Flight

Stopped by the Museum of Flight this morning to take a look at the B-17 Bomber and the Constellation that the museum moved out of the Boeing Plant 2 building last night. A biplane was offering rides and a couple of F-18 Hornets delighted us with some take off action.


September 12, 2010

Kirkland Concours d'Elegance 2010

Fantastic day at the Kirkland Concour d'Elegance. The cars were definitively worth it. Here are a couple of my favorites. You can find more photos in my archives.

September 11, 2010

Stratocruisers Car Show 2010 in Enumclaw, WA

Today we drove out to Enumclaw to check out the Stratocruisers Car Show. The weather was close to perfect and the turnout was pretty decent. Best of all, there was a great variety of vehicles for all tastes. From turn of the century Model T to modern machinery. Even a Bonneville Salts flat racer. We had lunch at the Cafe Panini and we can highly recommend it. Some of my favorite vehicles are shown below. You can also see a slide show of all the photos in my archives.Enjoy...

September 8, 2010

My Visit to the Golden Spike National Monument

The post about the Great Northern 2507 got me thinking about other steam locomotives that I have come across in the past. Looking at pictures of some of my road trips, I came across the ones of Golden Spike National Monument from back in the early 90's. The reproductions of the Jupiter and the 119 are both a great reminder of a by gone era and great works of art in their own right. It was just great to hear them and see them running.

The Great Northern 2507 - A Nice Surprise Along the Lewis & Clark Highway

Yesterday, while driving on the Lewis & Clark Highway along Columbia river, I came across an interesting road sign labeled "Historic Locomotive Ahead". I was really intrigued and so I followed the road down to the town of Wishram to see what it was all about.

I was really surprised to find such a beautiful steam locomotive preserved in such an odd location. However, after a little while it all made sense. It is after all a rail yard and train station. It is the Great Northern 2507. A Baldwin P-2.  You can learn more about it at the Steam Locomotive site than I can do it justice here. Not the most photogenic enclosure, however it was a pleasant surprise nevertheless. Better to see it protected in this way rather than knowing it may be rusting away somewhere. There are a few more pictures in my archives if you are interested. If you like steam trains, it is certainly worth to stop by if you are in the area.

September 7, 2010

Found a Copy of SM - Citroen's Maserati-engined Supercar

Stopped by Powell's Books in downtown Portland yesterday and found a copy of the book "SM - Citroen's Maserati-engined Supercar". Got it at a pretty good discount compared to what they are asking for on their web site. Looking forward to sitting in the porch and reading it later in the week.

My Garage - Replacing the Secondary Fan on the Passat W8

Well, the secondary fan on my W8 finally gave up the ghost the other day so I decided to bite the bullet and replace it myself. The challenge, there is really NO SPACE between the serpentine belt and the radiator to perform any kind of work.

So I ordered a new fan from 1st VW Parts and got it a matter of a few days:

I did some research on and Passat World. and figured out how to slide the Lock Carrier forward to the service position in order to free enough space to get the fan out. The process is well explained on those sites so refer to them for a step-by-step procedure. My main concern was if there would be enough flexibility on the hoses so that I could minimize having to disconnect anything or drain fluids on the W8. It turned out that both the AC condenser as well as the ATF oil cooler have flexible connections with enough freedom to allow sliding the Lock Carrier forward a few inches. Enough for me to do the work. I could not find the 120mm long bolts as suggested in the online articles but discovered that two 70mm bolts were long enough for what I needed.

So the grill,  bumper cover, bumper bar and lower engine cover had to come off as it normally does for any work related to the front of these cars.

Here are some diagrams for reference:

There are a number of screws that need to come off in order to slide the Lock Carrier:
  • Remove the screws on both sides of the top of the Lock Carrier.
  • The three screws that secure the plastic intake duct also need to come off.
  • I removed the headlamp assemblies as well. Only the one on the driver side is really in the way but I wanted to clean the whole front of the car since it was already open.

  • I also removed the headlamp washer assemblies as the hose connecting to the windshield washer tank appears to be a bit too short.
  • The screws connecting the bumper cover support to the Lock Carrier also had to come off.
  • Most importantly, the bumper support bolts have to come off. One of them needs to be substituted with a long bolt (or the VW Tool# 3411 if you can get one) that can support the Lock Carrier as explained on the links provided earlier on this post.

  • I disconnected the Oil Cooler from the Lock Carrier and supported it with a jack stand as it does not need to slide with the rest of the Lock Carrier.

  • One of the challenges of this procedure is that someone at VW in their infinite wisdom decided to locate one of the fan screws behind one of the temperature sensors. I mean, come on, what about CAD and superior German engineering (FIAL!) So, I ended up removing the sensor in order to gain access. This requires draining a little bit of coolant or at least capturing as much as you can from what is going to leak when removing the sensor.

  • I traced the wire leading from the fan to the area next to the coolant overflow tank.

  • Removing the fan involves undoing the three screws used to attach it to the LC and removing the connector cable. The cable is THE MOST PAINFUL PART of this project as it is routed via the lower part of the LC and then up on the driver side, finally surfacing under the driver-side headlamp assembly. The part of the route on the driver-side of the LC turned to be pretty difficult to reach with the LC on the car.
  • Installing the new fan required the reversal of theses steps. Fishing the cable via the original route with the LC on the car turned out to be a painstaking task but doable (be patient). 
The car is back on the road so I took it for a "test drive" down to the Columbia River Gorge.

Yep, it is all good in W8 land. For now anyway ;-)