Madza Vehicle Hangout

Talking Mazda with Bernie Pawlik, owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 14 time winner of best auto repair in Vancouver.

Mark: Good morning, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re a fourteen time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing awesome. How are you Mark?

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Mazda’s and these are pretty popular cars, especially with the new Madza 3 over the last decade or so. What can you tell us about them?

Bernie: Well, first off, I’ve worked on Mazda’s for years and years and I’ve seen many changes in Mazda cars, they have advanced technology. They’ve always been fairly reliable but I’ve always thought of them as a little bit under Toyota and Nissan, in terms of quality and reliablity, and maybe that’s not true, and Honda to boot, but they’re excellent cars – overall I think they’re great.

Mark: So over the years, I’ve seen a number of similar Mazda and Ford vehicles. What’s going on there?

Bernie: Well at one time Ford owned, until recently, they owned 7% of Mazda so they build some vehicles together which is probably a good idea to create a partnership there. Ford had divested a lot of their stock in Mazda. They still own a tiny bit but they don’t seem to build anything together anymore.

But some of the vehicles that have been outstanding over the years, the Ford small pickup trucks and the Mazda truck are essentially the same truck. The Mazda B series and the Ford Ranger – they’re similar trucks. They have made a reliable, again Japanese vehicles tend to be, I’ve always thought, more reliable than American cars, maybe not recently, but over a couple decades past. So it offered Ford a good, reliable Japanese vehicle and the Ford Probe and Mazda MX6, were a nice sporty car that was a combined effort. The main thing about these combined vehicles, is that you could often buy the Ford product on the used market, for substantially cheaper than the Mazda vehicle – just because it’s an American vehicle it appreciates faster. So if you could buy one of these Mazda Fords, you have a very reliable vehicle for a lot less money than the Mazda vehicle.

One thing that we’ve found over the years is that the parts for these cars, especially if you buy them from the Mazda dealer were often cheaper than buying them from the Ford dealer. Seems like Ford bought the parts from Mazda and just marked them up.

I think that’s one advantage with dealing with an independent auto repair shop is that you get the, we source parts and we offer the best price to our customers, whereas if you went to the Ford dealer, you’d be paying a lot more money for the parts.

Mark: So we’re experiencing a little bit of busy-ness even this early in the morning, which is great.

Bernie: I don’t know if you hear me with all that phone ringing?

Mark: Yeah we did. So what about Mazda’s current vehicles? How are they?

Bernie: Awesome. You know, I think the Mazda 3 is an awesome vehicle, very popular. We work on a lot of those vehicles. They’ve been out for over a decade now and they’re just super, reliable cars. We’ve yet to see one with a bad engine or transmission. I haven’t seen one burning oil which is really a good sign. There are a few issues with them – check engine light comes on for a few different components of fail, but nothing that’s really overly expensive to fix. They’re one of those cars, almost like a Toyota Corolla where you could actually predict how much money you’re going to spend every year on maintenance and repairs which is really nice to have a car like that.

Mazda makes a variety of other vehicles, they have their sport utility CX5, CX9 – totally reliable, very little goes wrong with those to, so they’re great vehicles.

Mark: So Mazda, we touched on the pickup trucks, so how are they?

Bernie: Food, it’s funny we talked about pickups in past tense because I just realized that when I was doing a little research for this hangout that Mazda hasn’t made pickup trucks or sold them for a few years now, but overall they were awesome pickup trucks. For compact pickup trucks they were great, they were very durable. We even have customers today, that have small Mazda B22 pickup trucks that were build in the early ’90’s. It’s a four cylinder truck, really simple, most have wind up windows and a lot of them don’t even have power steering, people just seem to hang on to them, they just keep going and going. We’ve had quite a few brought in for ring and valve jobs on the engines and then they tend to burn oil but they just keep on going and going. So excellent trucks. As I mentioned, the Ford Ranger used to be a Mazda truck as well. So great trucks. If you want to buy a brand new one, you won’t be buying it from Mazda anymore.

Mark: So I guess the conversation about Mazda is never complete without talking about the infamous bongo rotary engine.

Bernie: Yup, so the rotary engine was’t Mazda’s invention, but in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, seized upon the technology and ran with it as a good way to differentiate their brand from the other Japanese manufacturers and they stuck with it for quite a while. In the early ’70’s, they had a huge variety of cars and even a pickup truck with a rotary engine, but that soon died out. The rotary is not the most efficient engine, they tend to burn oil and they fail kind of quickly. Now they’ve certainly improved that but they’re still not a great engine. We work on a fair number of Mazda RX8, although there isn’t a lot of them on the road, we seem to see a fair number of them at our shop. They’re pretty good cars, but I mean the engines do tend to fail at an earlier age and I really wouldn’t want to keep one with much more than a hundred thousand kilometres. Repairing the engine on them is a highly specialized item, Mazda is probably the only people actually sell the engine. So you don’t want to get caught with one of those with an engine failure.
The RX8 seems to be fairly reliable up until the point when the engine wears out. Speaking of rotaries, they no longer make them around 2012 was the last year they made the rotary so that’s moved into the annals of automotive history now and I can’t imagine what the success of the engine that it’s going to come back anytime soon.

Mark: So Mazda, their advertising talks a lot about SKYACTIV technology which is something about fuel efficient cars. So what’s that all about?

Bernie: Yeah, so that’s where Mazda has focused a lot of their energy, their so called SKYACTIV technology and what it is, is redesigned engines and specifically fuel injection systems where they use direct gasoline injection which is quite popular in a lot of other cars. It’s basically the same kind of injection system that has been used on diesels for a long time. It just give gasoline engines an incredible extra amount of efficiency. We haven’t actually worked on a SKYACTIV Mazda because they are still fairly new but I think over the years they’re going to be as reliable as the other Mazdas. The fuel efficiency numbers that they claim are pretty much up there with hybrids, and the great thing about that is you don’t have the complexity that you have with a hybrid – all the extra electrical and electronic devices that potentially can go wrong. Fortunately hybrids have proved to be pretty reliable but you know when things go wrong they can be insanely expensive to fix.

It’s funny, when I was driving into work this morning I passed to Mazdas and they both were SKYACTIV vehicles so they’re really popular.

Mark: So any last thoughts on Mazda?

Bernie: Overall they’re great cars. They seem to have focused their market away from the obscure vehicles like the rotary and the pickup truck – they just focus now on cars and compact sport utility vehicles. Overall very reliable. I would not hesitate to recommend any of them except a RX8, unless you absolutely loved having a rotary vehicle.

One thing we didn’t talk about is the MX5 or the Miata which is I think an awesome car. If you like little sports cars, it’s a great car. I’ve often thought of it as an English sports car that has been built properly and reliable because those cars certainly weren’t at one time. So those are my thoughts on Mazda.

Great cars, very reliable, especially the Mazda 3 is all you can ask out of a car – it starts up every day and takes you where you want to go at minimal cost.

Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik at Pawlik Automotive – again they’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. If you’re looking for a great place to maintain your vehicle, these are the guys to call. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or go to their website – – it’s a world authority on auto repair. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.

1996 Toyota T100 – Starter Replacement

Today’s featured repair is starter motor replacement on a 2006 Toyota T100 pickup truck, brought to us by a client from Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Toyota T100

1996 Toyota T100, still a good looking and very reliable truck at almost 20 years old

Toyota has been building pickup trucks for years and they have proven to be among the most reliable on the road. This 1996 truck, now almost 20 years old still runs great and looks good to boot. One reason for it still being on the road is the maintenance and care that it has received through its life. Clearly, good attentive service pays off.

Our featured Toyota T100 came to the shop with a couple of concerns and one was a grinding sound from the starter. The truck started fine but there was definately something wrong. Upon removing the starter the cause of the noise was very evident: the starter drive gear was severely worn.

Whenever a starter drive gear is found damaged a thorough inspection of the ring gear is required. The ring gear is a large gear mounted on the engine flywheel or flex plate that turns with the engine. When your key is turned to start, the starter drive gear engages with the ring gear. Many times when a starter grinds the noise is caused by a worn ring gear. It is an expensive repair requiring removal of either the engine or transmission.

Fortunately for our client his ring gear was in good condition. We replaced the starter motor and no further noises were present.

For more information about starter motors click here

For more information on the Toyota T100 Pick up truck click here

Toyota T100

Starter motor from our featured Toyota T100. The blue arrow points to the severely damaged drive gear. When the key is turned to start the solenoid, which is located in the square section of the starter pushes the drive gear into the engine's ring gear and then the starter turns your engine over.

Subaru Head Gasket Repairs Bernie Pawlik of award winning Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC is talking us through a Suburu Head Gasket repair, and why this is something most Suburu owners will encounter. Pawlik Automotive has been 14 times voted as best auto repair shop in Vancouver, BC.

Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair Shop in Vancouver. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subaru head gasket repairs, so all over to you.

Bernie: Awesome. Well Subaru head gaskets are something we do quite a lot of at Pawlik Automotive and if you own a Subaru with the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine which most cars come with you’ll probably have to deal with the head gasket at some point in your time of owning the car so let’s have a look at a few things. I’ll explain why, where the head gaskets leak from and a few different issues about the head gasket and you can kind of get more of a sense of what goes on with these cars.
So the first thing I’m going to do is share an image, when it comes up, let me know when you see it Mark.

Mark: There it is.

Bernie: Are we there, perfect, good. So that’s a top view of a Subaru engine around a 2000, 2000 model year Forester, 2.5 litre engine. That’s the top view of the intake manifold that runs across the top those nice bright blue things are your spark plug wires, the alternator sits in the front, it’s the wire to the alternator’s got the nice red, bright red cap on it, so that’s basically the top of the engine. Now the head gaskets are down lower, kind of where those blue wires they kind of lead off the side, those go towards the cylinder heads. So what happens typically with Subaru cylinder heads, can you see that image Mark?

Mark: I can see it now

Bernie: Perfect. So this is the underside of the engine kind of a close up view of where the cylinder head gasket meets the engine, so the bright blue arrow that actually points right to where the cylinder head gasket is located and to the right of that is the cylinder head itself. Now the red arrow points to an oil leak and that’s typically what happens with Subaru head gaskets, they leak oil. Sometimes they’ll leak coolant as well and the cylinder head gasket is a very complex gasket, it seals the combustion pressures of the engine. It also seals oil and it seals coolant so there’s a lot going on and there’s an extremely high temperature so it works, the head gasket works really hard. Anyway so the red arrow, that’s the most important thing to look at, that’s where, that’s an oil leak coming out of the cylinder head gasket. You know, typically they can start off very slowly and not much to worry about but after a while they can become quite severe to the point of dripping a lot of oil on the ground.

So moving onto our next image, this is the actual cylinder head gasket removed from an engine that had a leak. The few arrows there point to various things; the red arrows all point to where the cylinder head bolt holes go, the very large holes in the middle, that’s where the pistons basically sit in the valves, that’s the combustion chamber of the engine. The green arrows point to coolant passageways so antifreeze flows through those while the engine’s running and that helps keep your engine cool and from overheating and I only pointed a couple of those passageways out and then the blue arrows point to usually where the problems with the head gaskets lie and if you look on the left side you can see all that black materials basically flaked off. The way cylinders Subaru head gaskets are made its typically a metal gasket and then they have some type of, I wouldn’t say it’s rubberized but it’s a type of coating and the coating through the heat and the cooling process it did, basically deteriorates after time and that’s when it starts to leak oil so typically those large passageways on the bottom will leak oil and that’s basically just the oil returning back to the bottom of the engine, it’s not under any pressure but its, you know it leaks over time. So that’s your head gasket that you’ll probably experience if you own a Subaru at some point. That’s kind of what it looks like when it’s old and taken apart. Just a view, this is what the cylinder head itself looks like from the inside of the engine. This particular engine had pretty high mileage and we actually had the valves redone on the cylinder head because it had, there’s a lot if you look on the left side, those are the valves and the combustion chamber, you can see a lot of blackish thick deposit and if you compare that to what you see on the right hand side there’s a lot of oil getting into that particular cylinder so we had the heads, the valves reground on this particular head and everything cleaned up.

Normally we don’t need to do that, there’s a variety of things that need to be done on Subaru head gaskets, sometimes it’s just a simple matter of changing the gaskets, the head bolts and it’s done, other times the work is a little bit more thorough.

Okay, so moving on, so that’s the cylinder head, just another example the items on the top, the two round pieces on the top, those are the exhaust valves and then the larger ones below are the intake valves and the round thing in the middle, that’s your spark plug. The head gasket goes around, sits if you can imagine from the last picture and I’ll click it on again so can kind of have an idea, that’s the head gasket, that’s the cylinder head. You can see there’s a correlation between holes and that’s how it all works.

Just another view of the top of the Subaru engine, this is with the intake manifold off and this is a job where we had the new head gaskets in, we’re putting it back together so the red arrows point to where the intake manifold bolts on and the actual red arrow actually points to the cylinder heads themselves. The blue arrows point to the timing belt cover and that’s a picture we’ll go into in a second. I just also want to reference that the green arrow which points to the, that’s a coolant pipe which, engine coolant flows through that pipe to the engine block. There are a couple seals in there, we always replace them, they rarely leak but while we’re doing the head gaskets its’ a simple extra jobs so those are some of things we do when we’re in doing a cylinder head gasket job to make sure it’s thorough; six dollars for some gaskets and a couple minutes of labour so it’s well worth doing while everything’s apart.

So the other big component on the Subaru and they can be an expensive maintenance item is the timing belt. These generally last about a hundred sixty thousand kilometers, you can probably push them a little longer, I wouldn’t recommend it because if it breaks pistons and valves collide and it costs a lot of money to fix. So it’s best to do it at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers interval. These, I basically show all the components we normally change when we do the timing belt. The blue arrows point idler pulley, so the timing belt runs along these pulleys and there are bearings inside the pulleys so we always change them because they’re worn, you never know when they’re going to fail and it’s best to make sure they’re all new. The green arrow points to the hydraulic tensioning unit, now it also has a pulley that can wear but it has an oil filled high pressure tensioning unit and it’s critical that keeps proper pressure on the timing belt. The light blue arrow points to the water pump. Again we replace these when we do the timing belt because A. it’s driven by the timing belt and if the bearing were to fail then it would damage the timing belt and cause the whole thing to break apart plus the water pump can leak so it’s best to change it when the timing belt is due and the last black arrow points to I’m not sure if that’s a crank shaft or cam shaft seal but there’s two cam shaft seals and a crank shaft seal, we always replace those when we do the timing belt.

So just kind of getting back to just a question you may have in your mind is well, what if I take really good care of my can, can I prevent the timing belt or sorry can I prevent the head gaskets from leaking and the timing belt is a given, it needs to be done at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers no matter how you drive. Can I prevent the head gaskets from failing and the answer is unfortunately no, it’s just the design maybe we’ll call it a defect which is just a design of the Subaru engine will typically cause the head gaskets will fail and you need to replace them.

So that’s hopefully gives you some ideas about what is involved with the head gaskets on a Subaru; as I said we do a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive, we’ve got some pretty good expertise on doing them. If you ever have any question you can reach us at 604-327-7112. Anything further to add Mark?

Mark: No. Thanks Bernie. Very thorough with lots of detail on how or why it takes so much time, why it’s a big job to change the head gaskets on the Subaru and possibly even why, you can see where the bolts are and where they aren’t so maybe that’s the reason why they fail. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. You can learn more at or to book your next appointment. Give them a call 604-327-7112 Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you again.

2006 BMW M6 – Transmission Hydraulic Unit Replacement

Today’s featured repair is replacement of the transmission hydraulic unit on a 2006 BMW M6.


2006 BMW M6

The 2006 BMW M6 is an awesome car, featuring a V10 engine coupled to a Getrag SMG III semi automatic transmission.

Trying to combine the best of both worlds this transmission has a clutch but no clutch pedal and has no conventional standard transmission gearshifter. You can choose to shift it yourself by moving a shifter handle or clicking paddle shifters on the steering wheel. You can also set it to automatic and allow the computer to do the shifting for you.

This all happens compliments of a hydraulic control unit that mounts on the top and side of the transmission. Large solenoids take the place of the shifter handle and the clutch is operated by an electronically controlled hydraulic slave cylinder. All of these components are serviced as a single assembly: when one part breaks, the whole unit must be replaced.

This was the service that was required on our M6. The clutch worked fine but the transmission would not shift gears. As you might guess the hydraulic unit was extremely expensive (many thousands of dollars). We were fortunately able to source a good used unit. Replacement involved removing the transmission which provided access to the hydraulic unit. It was a time consuming job but reasonably straight forward as the hydraulic assembly bolts onto an essentially manual transmission.

After repairs a road test was performed and everything functioned well.

We work on a wide variety of cars and trucks at our shop and always appreciate a road test in a fine high-end sports car. This BMW unfortunately was a huge disappointment. In spite of the 507 horsepower monster engine the car really lacked the get up and go that we expected, and much of that can be attributed to the semi automatic transmission. The delay between shifts really affects the thrill and performance of this car. A regular manual or an automatic transmission would be far superior.


Top and left side view of the semi automatic transmission. The red arrows point to the solenoid unit on top of the transmission. These connect to the transmission shift rods. Yellow arrow points to the clutch slave cylinder & green arrow points to the hydraulic reservoir. These parts are all included with the hydraulic unit.

For more information about the BMW M6 click here

For more information about semi automatic transmissions click here

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 – B Service

Our latest feature is a B Service performed on a near new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350, brought to us by a client from Coal Harbour, Vancouver.

Mercedes-Benz GL350

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350

The 2013 GL350 is a beautiful and practical diesel powered crossover sport utility vehicle loaded with all of the features that one would expect from high end German manufacturer.

A Mercedes-Benz B service consists of an engine oil and filter change, tire rotation and a full, thorough inspection of the entire vehicle. This vehicle features a BlueTEC diesel which is Mercedes-Benz’s trademarked name for their ultra-low emission diesel engine.

Like many modern diesels it requires a special diesel exhaust fluid which is also replenished during this maintenance service. Diesel exhaust fluid, also known as AdBlue is used for NOx emission reduction and provides the extra edge that keeps modern diesels running so clean.

Some folks have expressed concerns about the additional cost of DEF, however it is a very minimal expense if purchased aftermarket. If you buy it from the dealer you will usually pay a lot more, and there is no difference. DEF has a standardized ISO spec: it is 32.5% pure urea and 67.5% deionized water.

From a visual perspective this engine looks the same as those offered since the late 2000’s however it is quieter and with the additional exhaust emission equipment has none of that horrible sooty, stinky exhaust from diesels of the past. With the exception of the incredible fuel mileage you can barely tell that it’s a diesel.

Mercedes-Benz GL350

Engine compartment of GL350. The dusty plastic cover hides the very high tech BlueTEC diesel engine

For more information about the Mercedes Benz GL class vehicle click here

For more about Diesel exhaust fluid click this link

Pawlik Automotive – Honest Auto Repair – Testimonial

Bernie has been working on my cars for seven or eight years now. The thing that’s really great about Bernie is something we did just recently, we went on vacation in January and I knew that my general maintenance was coming up. When we were getting ready to go I called Bernie and I say “Hey, can I leave the car with you while we’re away for the week?” Bernie’s only about five minutes away from the airport and so he said, “Yeah, bring it by.” We dropped it off and went straight to our flight. You know we were on the beach for a week, drinks, sunburn, come back, everything’s done.

Every single one of Bernie’s guys are really engaging, they’re super nice. They’ll explain things to you so that you understand. I’m not a car guy, they just tell me what I need to know and they tell me in a way that I understand. They’re just the nicest, most personal guys. I love going by Bernie’s, they’re just a super friendly group of people.

Pawlik Automotive Customer

Pawlik Automotive – Reliable Auto Repair – Testimonial

Being a sales rep, it’s absolutely integral to my business to have a reliable vehicle. Bernie from Pawlik Automotive has always come to my rescue. He makes sure my car is running efficiently, they even give me a budget for future projects so that I can be prepared. I know nothing about vehicles and what is fantastic about the team at Pawlik Automotive is that I know that they are always fair and giving me an honest answer about what needs to be done on my vehicle.

Pawlik Automotive Customer

1994 Ford F250 7.3 Diesel – Maintenance Service

Ford F250

1994 Ford F250 with 7.3 liter Turbo Diesel

Today’s post is a maintenance service performed on a beautiful, very low mileage 1994 Ford F250 equipped with a 7.3 liter diesel and brought to us by a client from Southlands, Vancouver.

This vehicle came to us with a subtle starting concern. After numerous engine starts, both hot and cold, we determined there was nothing wrong with the engine or fuel system. We assured the owner that there was reason to be concerned.

We then proceeded with a maintenance service which included changing engine oil and filter along with a fuel filter replacement. As we got into the service a few noteworthy concerns were found. This is the value of routine maintenance and inspections: potential problems are found early and rectified before they turn into expensive repairs.

The first issue found was an extremely dirty and sooted air filter. Replacement was simple but had this filter been left much longer it would have caused severe air flow restrictions and poor engine performance. Undoubtly it was already causing issues.

Ford F250

Extremely dirty air filter. A filter this dirty will restrict air flow to the engine,

The second finding took place during the fuel filter replacement. Mounted below the fuel filter is a water separator and inside we found many dirt and rust particles. Had any of these escaped past the fuel filter extremely expensive fuel injection repairs would have been needed.

Ford F250

Water separator which mounts at bottom of fuel filter. The numerous particles can be seen on the bottom.

Ford F250

This is what we drained from the fuel filter and water separator. Only clear diesel should be present.

With these services completed the Ford F250 was in good order, however we recommended that the owner return in 6 months to reinspect the water separator and fuel filter for further particles.

Another point of this story is to remind you that maintenance is not just a function of mileage: it is also a function of time. Vehicles suffer wear and tear even when used very little. A good maintenance schedule takes account of both time and distance.

For more about the Iconic Ford F250 click on this link

2005 VW Touareg – Hood Open Warning Light

VW Toureg

2005 VW Toureg

Our latest featured service is a repair on a 2005 VW Touareg for a ‘Hood Open’ warning light concern. The vehicle was brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.

Unusual repairs are a frequent motivating factor for writing these posts, and this vehicle certainly fit that criteria. Our featured 2005 VW Touareg came to the shop with several concerns and one was that the ‘hood open’ warning light would constantly display on the dash. While the warning light was annoying the fact that this prevented the windshield wipers from operating made this a safety concern.

This vehicle is designed with very close tolerances between the wiper arms and the hood; if the hood is open it will be scraped by the wipers. One of the functions of the hood switch is to disable the wipers if the hood is open.

Our diagnosis began with inspections of the hood switch and hood adjustment. All was good with these components. We then proceeded further with our tests where we found the problem to be caused be a microswitch on the side of the radio. Say what? A switch on the side of the radio causing the hood open warning to illuminate. Yes, surprisingly this was the case. Why this circuit is wired in such a way is truly baffling. To me, it represents the culmination of German engineering gone too far.

Nonetheless this was the cause of our concern and we found that by disabling the switch we were able to eliminate the incorrect hood open warning and restore the operation of the wipers. When diagnosing a modern vehicle you never know what strange things you may encounter.

For more about the VW Touareg click this link

VW Toureg

Radio from 2005 VW Toureg. This is the view of the left side of the radio with the radio removed from the dash. The red arrow points to the microswitch that was causing the hood ajar warning light to stay on. What's the relevance? I don't know; but repairing the switch fixed the concern.

2008 Ford F150 – Spark Plug Replacement

Today’s featured repair is spark plug replacement on a 2008 Ford F150 Pick up with a 5.4 liter engine, brought to us by a client from Port Moody.

Ford F150

2008 Ford F150

Spark plug replacement on a Ford Truck can be an eventful service. At least it has been until now, because with this service we discovered something amazing and that is that Ford has redesigned their cylinder heads and spark plugs and finally got it right on 2008 and newer trucks.

In order to appreciate just how amazing this is we need to look at the history of Ford V8 spark plug replacements. All was good and there were no problems until the advent of the Triton engine in 1997. This motor was a departure in design from previous V8s and incorporated many innovations including aluminum cylinder heads. These first generation engines had the distinction of suddenly blowing out spark plugs and tearing out the threads in the heads at the same time. As you can imagine, this left many a truck stranded by the side of road and cost their owners a pretty penny to fix.

Ford partially addressed this issue on some engines but created a new set of problems with a uniquely designed 2-piece shell spark plug. This plug incorporated a long sleeve that projected past the threads and into the combustion chamber. Over time carbon deposits built up around the sleeve; when it came time to remove the spark plug it wouldn’t turn. By virtue of this design this end of the spark plug often broke off and remained stuck in the cylinder head.

Spark Plug Replacement

The "mid term" designed spark plug that would break off in the head. At left is the broken plug and at right is a new spark plug.

Fortunately there are many toolmakers with creative solutions and they have made tools specifically designed to remove these broken pieces. Without the tool the only repair option would be to remove the cylinder heads, and on this engine that is a horrifically expensive proposition.

Back to our featured Ford F150. Our client came to us for routine maintenance replacement of his spark plugs. Having seen first hand how costly repairs could be on these trucks when they were sent to a Ford dealer for replacement he wanted us to take on the job as he knew that we had the special tools. Apparently several Ford trucks in his work place were taken to the dealer for plug replacement and this resulted in cylinder head removal.

Imagine our delight (and our client’s) when we found that this truck featured the redesigned engine that uses a normal spark plug. This plug still projects far down into the combustion chamber but is now treaded all the way. There is no more chance of this blowing out of the head because the threads were too short and there is no more seizing from carbon deposits and breaking off due to 2-part shell construction. Finally after 10 years Ford has got it right!

Ford F150

The newly designed Triton V8 spark plug. Nice long threads for a solid grip and no silly 2 piece shell design to break.

For more about the Ford Triton V8 click here

For more about spark plugs click here

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