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.
 

joshetude

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Location
Oakland, CA
TDI
2001 VW Golf
Undergoing my first Griffin Motorwerke experience right now. Will report back. $200/hr, but they were the only shop I found willing to look inside my Quantity Adjuster to find out what's going on with code P1562, rather than just replace the entire IP (which I already did 2 yrs ago). They were the only shop who stated they could do a "hammer mod," if called for.
 

kennethsime

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Location
California
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon GL TDI 5-Speed Baltic Green
After H&B Karmakanix let me drive away with a torn CV Boot which was absolutely gushing grease, I decided I wasn't going to go back.

I forgot to post, but had a pretty good experience with AutoPlus in Albany just before that "Atmospheric River" hit two weeks ago or so.

I tried to swap the boot myself, but got shut down by the silly metal boot clamp - literally. I called AutoPlus at 4:30pm on a Thursday, and they told me to bring it in first thing in the morning. They used the parts I supplied, and charged me just under $300 or so for two hours of work. The guy tried to save me money by offering to replace only the metal clamp (he couldn't see the rip), but I insisted on the full boot swap because I had seen the tear myself. I was stoked that they listened to me, did the thing I asked them to do, and charged a reasonable rate. Also, they have some excellent Audi posters on the wall. :cool:

Undergoing my first Griffin Motorwerke experience right now. Will report back. $200/hr, but they were the only shop I found willing to look inside my Quantity Adjuster to find out what's going on with code P1562, rather than just replace the entire IP (which I already did 2 yrs ago). They were the only shop who stated they could do a "hammer mod," if called for.
Let us know how it goes. H&B was $175/hour, Autoplus in Albany was $150. Seems to be the going rate these days.
 

joshetude

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Location
Oakland, CA
TDI
2001 VW Golf
After H&B Karmakanix let me drive away with a torn CV Boot which was absolutely gushing grease, I decided I wasn't going to go back.

I forgot to post, but had a pretty good experience with AutoPlus in Albany just before that "Atmospheric River" hit two weeks ago or so.

I tried to swap the boot myself, but got shut down by the silly metal boot clamp - literally. I called AutoPlus at 4:30pm on a Thursday, and they told me to bring it in first thing in the morning. They used the parts I supplied, and charged me just under $300 or so for two hours of work. The guy tried to save me money by offering to replace only the metal clamp (he couldn't see the rip), but I insisted on the full boot swap because I had seen the tear myself. I was stoked that they listened to me, did the thing I asked them to do, and charged a reasonable rate. Also, they have some excellent Audi posters on the wall. :cool:



Let us know how it goes. H&B was $175/hour, Autoplus in Albany was $150. Seems to be the going rate these days.
My guy around the corner here in East Oakland is $90/hr and can handle most of what I need (certainly something like a CV Boot), but he didn't want to deal w/the IP, told me to see a specialist. Mike @ Alfa Auto Repair: https://www.yelp.com/biz/alfa-auto-repair-oakland He's been there 30 yrs, knows diesels, works on all cars.
 
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girwin

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Location
Fairfax, CA
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon
My 2004 Jetta Wagon is throwing a 'P2196' error. Had the Oxygen sensor replaced when it first happened in July, then it came back. My mechanic doesn't know what else to do besides go to the dealer, which seems like the kiss of death to me. I've got an appointment scheduled with Albert at European Auto Repair in Alameda for the 26th, we'll see how it goes.
 

joshetude

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Location
Oakland, CA
TDI
2001 VW Golf
My car is *still* at Griffin...long story. So far I'm happy w/how they are handling things, will give the fuller story when the saga is thru.

I went to Albert at European once. I found him honest and direct and very knowledgeable. However, his hourly rate (like Griffin's and Tomas') is quite high, and he will not let customers bring in their own parts because (he stated very openly) markup on parts is part of how he makes his money. He also won't put in salvage parts, if I remember correctly. If $ was not an issue, I would have gone back, but on my tight budget, I need the flexibility of someone who will let me bring in my own parts and work with me to come up with options I can afford.
 

girwin

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Location
Fairfax, CA
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon
Josh,

"Honest and direct and very knowledgeable" sounds great to me! Thanks for the feedback, we'll see how it goes.

Regards,
Graham
 

NFSTDI

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Jan 11, 2006
Location
Sunny California :)
TDI
'98 Jetta
My car is *still* at Griffin...long story. So far I'm happy w/how they are handling things, will give the fuller story when the saga is thru.

I went to Albert at European once. I found him honest and direct and very knowledgeable. However, his hourly rate (like Griffin's and Tomas') is quite high, and he will not let customers bring in their own parts because (he stated very openly) markup on parts is part of how he makes his money. He also won't put in salvage parts, if I remember correctly. If $ was not an issue, I would have gone back, but on my tight budget, I need the flexibility of someone who will let me bring in my own parts and work with me to come up with options I can afford.
Albert said the same thing to me, many years ago. I asked nicely and I supplied parts. We got to know each other fairly well as he did quite a bit of work on my car. I concern myself more with a mechanics aptitude then I do with the posted labor rate. The mechanics at European Auto have a very high aptitude. Albert is honest and professional. That works well for me.
 

girwin

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Location
Fairfax, CA
TDI
2004 Jetta Wagon
So, I got my car back. Albert and his crew were conscientious, earnest and thorough. They found and fixed an EGR leak, a disconnected turbo hose, replaced the oxygen sensor and a headlight bulb in three hours' time. Engine warning light is off. Why my previous mechanic missed an exhaust and intake leak is a mystery to me, but European Auto Repair is much recommended!
 

NewTdi

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jan 15, 2004
Location
NorCal
TDI
2003 Bora, Reflex Silver
This is the kind of thing we used to tackle at the local GTG's before that one ******* got all litigious and the GTG's stopped happening.
I want to get the semi annual GTG’s going again but the big question is finding the correct space since I have let go of the warehouse space in San Pablo. It was a good run for 11 years.

I drove to PDX to have my car worked on by Justin; well worth the drive.

Good to know that there are some reputable shops in the East Bay.
 
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