Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Drinky drinky, not wet and sticky

After 10 years of owning Flash (silver Jetta), I have finally replaced the broken drink cup holder for the front seats.  It was broken when I bought the car, and I didn't think much of it.  Looking back, I'm amazed at how used to not having a real drink-holder I became over such a long period of time.

Drink Cup Management the Broken-Holder Way
We would jam hard-sided cups between the driver seat and the e-brake handle.  I'm sure that put unwanted pressure on the handle, and it was then unavailable as an emergency brake because there was a cup jammed in there making it harder to grab the handle.  Sometimes, I'd fit a cup between the driver seat and the door.  If the cup was slickery, it would topple over and slide to the base of the seat belt, spilling contents under the seat.  Fantastic.  Lastly, I'd drive, juggling it from hand to hand or parking it between my legs.  Memories of that Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the hot coffee.  Ye-ouch.

Old Holder
old holder in pieces on the ground
The original 1999.5 to 2002 cup holder was poorly designed (sorry German designer, but its true).  It had multiple weak points that couldn't stand up to American drink sizes.  In my case, the slider mechanism broke where the plastic holder met the thin steel.  If you set a light drink in it, it would appear to be capable of holding it until you started driving uphill or accelerated quickly.  Then, the holder would take flight, bathing your shifting arm with beverage.

New Holder
In 2002/2003, VW designed a new, more sturdy cup holder.  Rather than 2 fixed diameter holes, the new design has spring-arms which flip outward to accommodate varied cup sizes.  It is also much stronger at the slider with thicker metal and thicker plastic, making the joint-point much beefier.  I got mine from AARodriguez operating as FixMyVW.  I doubt it will hold one of those ridiculous super slurpy cups from 7-11, but it holds a standard tall-coffee just fine.  After installing, we tried a full quart bottle of Dad's root beer.  It strained, so we pulled the bottle back out.  It grips a can very well, almost too well.  I was unable to quickly free a can of coffee energy drink, creating a small spill.  Basic drive-thru paper cups, however, are ideal for this new holder.  The arm will flip back with the back of your pinky or the base of the cup while you place the cup in the holder.  It doesn't over-grip on the waxy-paper cup, so it pulls out easily too.  Have I over-rev'd on the cup holder yet?  :)

Extraction / Install
Both cup holders are held in place the same way.  There are 2 small metal tangs on either side close to the cabin-end of the holder.  With a thin slotted-screwdriver on each side, press the metal tangs towards the center while pulling on the holder.  You may need a partner.  In Flash's case, the holder was so mangled, only one of the tangs was holding on, so I was able to free it by myself.  Clean the slot with some window cleaner or something.  This will be the one time in years you'll have this cavity open.  Installation is simply slide the new holder in until the tangs click-in.

I've had the great pleasure of hosting 2 nephews and a niece from Montana (the MT3) over the last 2 weeks.  It was a crazy time, but now we miss them terribly.  It did distract us from the approaching school season, though, so now we're scrambling to get kids ready for school, soccer and all the other things that seem to arrive with Labor Day's passing.  Before I know it, it'll be snow-season again.

Lastly, this past weekend, I officially took the bus off the road to replace the transmission input-shaft seal.  I haven't decided if I'll do anything else before returning him to service, but I've thought a lot about addressing the electrical short in the dash.  I'll post an updated "how to drop the TDI engine" complete with what tools are needed for each step soon.

That's it for today.  As always, thanks for following along.

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