Good East Bay TDI Mechanics?

joshetude

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Location
Oakland, CA
TDI
2001 VW Golf
Avoid both Auto Alpina and Berkely Auto Services. I had terrible experiences both places. I like Tomas, but as stated, they are expensive. Precision People's in Berkeley works on TDIs. I used to get work done from one of their mechanics "on the side." Unfortunately, he's changed his line of work. The mechanic around the corner from me at Alfa Automotive in East Oakland works on diesels and is super-affordable, but doesn't like to get involved w/anything too complicated (and is not a specialist). My deepest frustration w/owning my TDI has been inability to find a good local mechanic.
 

kennethsime

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Location
California
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon GL TDI 5-Speed Baltic Green
I had H&B Karmakanix at 4th & Bancroft fix some electrical stuff for me a few weeks ago. They charged a bit more than I was expecting, took longer than I was expecting, and ordered some parts without asking me to approve the extra cost.

I dropped off the car again today to do some suspension work - I'm finding I have to repeat myself a lot to get them to listen. Wish I had a lift to just do this one myself.
 

kennethsime

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Location
California
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon GL TDI 5-Speed Baltic Green
I had H&B Karmakanix at 4th & Bancroft fix some electrical stuff for me a few weeks ago. They charged a bit more than I was expecting, took longer than I was expecting, and ordered some parts without asking me to approve the extra cost.

I dropped off the car again today to do some suspension work - I'm finding I have to repeat myself a lot to get them to listen. Wish I had a lift to just do this one myself.
They did a good job with the suspension, but I was a bit frustrated with their communication.

I told them, repeatedly, that I wanted them to replace all the rubber while they had the car apart, which they didn't want to do. They did the tie rod ends & control arm bushings, which were 2 of the 6 things I asked them to do (ball joints, sway bar bushings, shock & strut mounts).

I think it's fine in the end, the car does drive pretty good, but doesn't feel quite as "fresh" as my last Jetta did when @Matt-98AHU installed new shocks/struts/bushings for me. Maybe it's the larger wagon body, maybe it's the heavier springs, maybe it's the ride height, maybe it's Bilstein vs. Koni, maybe it's the older rubber - I'm not well-versed enough to know.

They did do a good job of communicating once they actually began the work. The combo of the shock risers & towing springs maxed out the rear shocks, so they talked me through the options and we decided to just leave the risers out. They also worked with me between 4pm-5pm on a Friday to make sure I could pickup the car before the weekend - that was good of them.

I don't think any of the guys at H&B are TDI Specialists, but they do know how to work on German cars, and they are nice people.
 

joshetude

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Location
Oakland, CA
TDI
2001 VW Golf
FWIW, Biofuel Oasis keeps a list of customer recommended and un-recommended shops. Karmakanix made the "unrecommended" per one customer's experience of them "doing a bad job, misleading, and overcharging." This was in 2017.
 

tothemax

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
Location
Nevada
TDI
TDIs: 2003 Jetta, 2016 Q5 3.0
Yikes. Justin Old poopie and Matt does excellent work for excellent price. I almost want to drive up there....jsut to have my tdi fixxec.
Agreed! If the car is driveable maybe consider driving to Portland area to have either Justin, Matt or Rich from Fixum Haus handle the TB or other TDI work. These are 3 of the best TDI mechanics on the West Coast.

For minor TDI stuff or non-TDI related maintenance like brakes, shocks, transmission etc Tomas Sports Tuning & Vallejo German Car Clinic have been reliable for me in the past when I lived in Bay Area.
 
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B100

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Location
Berkeley, Eastbania
TDI
2003 Golf
As a different (maybe not-at-all TDI related) issue, my electrical gremlins are back. I replaced the car's battery earlier this year, and all weirdness with ESP and ABS alerts just after startup went away. Windows went up and down without hiccups, and headlights did not dim when pressing brakes. But now (right after new tires, hmmm) I'm getting the alerts. Something is amiss in my electrical setup... is there a good local VW mechanic who could tackle this? The engine runs like a champ, car starts & drives without any issue, just these alerts that all indicate intermittent voltage fluctuations.
 

kennethsime

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Location
California
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon GL TDI 5-Speed Baltic Green
As a different (maybe not-at-all TDI related) issue, my electrical gremlins are back. I replaced the car's battery earlier this year, and all weirdness with ESP and ABS alerts just after startup went away. Windows went up and down without hiccups, and headlights did not dim when pressing brakes. But now (right after new tires, hmmm) I'm getting the alerts. Something is amiss in my electrical setup... is there a good local VW mechanic who could tackle this? The engine runs like a champ, car starts & drives without any issue, just these alerts that all indicate intermittent voltage fluctuations.
Electrical can get expensive, quickly. I had a few electrical issues addressed at H&B. They were able to identify and fix a few things at a relatively reasonable cost:
  • Driver's side window control module (the one with the switches, part name is escaping me) was intermittent, they cleaned it and it works great now.
  • Window regulator on the rear passenger side replaced with an after-market unit. It took a few days after installation to adjust.
  • Cleaned up the connections for my front passenger speaker, which had become corroded.
I think I paid them $300 or so for all this. At the same time, they failed to identify the issue with my rear passenger door lock, which might be the wiring harness or might be the lock module. It's on my list to tackle myself now.
 
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