BMW Transmission Fluid Replacement 2001 Z3

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, 16 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, how’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: It’s a beautiful sunny morning; we’re going to talk about transmission fluid, how exciting. So you have a story about a 2001 Z3 BMW. What’s going on with the transmission fluid on this vehicle?

Bernie: Well this vehicle, nothing in particular other than the owner wanted a transmission flushed based on the age of the vehicle. Just this is a Z3 convertible, it’s a second car for the owner, you know he drives it, it’s a pleasure vehicle, takes it on some trips here and there mostly in the summertime, beautiful convertible, a lot of fun to drive and it’s got very low kilometers, it’s only got, I think it’s only got about 75,000 kilometers which is really low for this kind of vehicle but the transmission fluid had never been serviced so he wanted it done.

Mark: So was the fluid really dirty?

Bernie: Not particularly, a little discoloured as you would expect from usage on a vehicle like this but yeah, not particularly, not particularly dirty.

Mark: So is transmission fluid replacement something that BMW recommends for their vehicles?

Bernie: Well they actually don’t which is, which is one thing they’re very adamant about it in fact; I’ll share a couple of photos with you here, umm, adamant to the point of, let me just get the screen share going here, so there’s our BMW Z3, nice convertible. This is the sticker that’s on the bottom of the transmission; let’s see it says, warning no oil change or top off necessary, lifetime transmission oil fill. They also warn you other fluids will cause non warrantable transmission damage. Now I mean it’s not rocket science to get the right kind of fluid and they have part number for the fluid on the bottom or it says Dexron III. Interesting thing about Dexron III is that is your regular type of transmission fluid that has been used on cars for years and years and years. I’m just going to cancel the screen share here if I can remember how to do it.

Mark: Yeah, you did.

Bernie: I did, oh perfect, excellent. Yeah, so Dexron III has been used on automatic transmissions for years and years in American cars, Japanese cars, many European cars up until around the early 2000’s and many, many manufacturers recommend transmission flushes but BMW doesn’t.

Mark: So why would they not recommend it when other manufacturers do?

Bernie: Well, the whole idea behind it is to present the consumer who’s buying the new car with a very low maintenance cost, you know they can say hey you know, this is what it costs to maintain this car you know over the next five years, you need to change the oil, we need to do this and that but the transmission fluid off the list, it keeps the maintenance cost on the car down so they can advertise that as being a benefit to owning a car. Now it depends on what you want to get out of your car, I mean do you want to keep your car for five years, if that’s all you want to do is buy a new car and keep it five years, great, don’t worry about the transmission but if you’re going to keep a car for ten years, fifteen years, and really get the most money out of the car, doing a transmission service here and there is really a worthwhile thing to do.

Mark: So does changing the transmission fluid make any difference to how it shifts?

Bernie: Well, we never, we never like to say you know, tell our customers that you know, do a transmission flush is going to make a difference but sometimes it does and in the case of this BMW which is what prompted me to do this hangout is that we did the flush on the vehicle with very low kilometers with fluid that wasn’t really all that dirty and the customer calling me back and saying this transmission shifts a whole lot better, was way smoother, snappier shifts so it actually does make a difference so in spite of what BMW says about never changing the fluid it actually makes a difference. So we’ve had customers of Volvo’s who’ve had some shifting problems where changing the fluid has made a difference, again I don’t recommend it if there’s a problem but often it can make a difference.

Mark: So the results are variable. What did your shop do when doing an automatic transmission service?

Bernie: Well we always do the most thorough service possible and replace as much fluid as we can so there’s really two kinds of transmission fluid services. One and it depends upon the kind of transmission, some transmissions do not have a transmission pan and they don’t have a filter so in that case you drain the fluid then we hook up our flushing machine and we just simply just flush the fluid. The machine pumps in new fluid as you know, with the vehicle running the machine allows the old fluid to pump out so it basically replaces pretty much all the fluid in the vehicle, so that’s the simplest kind of flush. On vehicles such as this BMW they have a removable pan, they have a replaceable filter and so we will remove the pan, we replace the filter, we clean the pan, look for any debris inside the pan, if there’s a bunch of metal filings, well that’s a bad sign, probably not worth even continuing to flush, if it’s bad. We rarely ever run into that though, then we replace the pan gasket filter and then we hook up the flush machine and then we flush the fluid out from there, so it’s a real thorough service and I would just be worried, I mean there’s a variety of prices that various shops charge but to do a proper flush is time consuming, it does use a lot of fluid and it is costly, I mean anywhere on average 2 to 4 hundred dollars depending upon the car, the type of fluid even some land rovers, land rovers and range rovers they have an integrated pan and gaskets, very expensive and time consuming and that could be like a 7 hundred dollar job but it’s worth doing it right to make sure it’s done properly.

Mark: If you want to extend the life of your vehicle this is the way to make sure it happens basically, is that right?

Bernie: Absolutely. Yup, absolutely.

Mark: So any other thoughts on automatic transmission service?

Bernie: Basically every vehicle needs it you know, from 58 somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand kilometer range is what you want to do, you know, whether the manufacturer recommends it or not it’s a good thing to do. It’s a key thing with a lot of these maintenance recommendations from a lot of manufacturers is they most of them use the same kind of fluids, the vehicle is driven in the same kind of conditions and different manufactures have different ideas on what you need to do but transmission flushes should be done on every vehicle.

Mark: So if you want to maintain your vehicle the guys to see, as you can tell Bernie is pretty passionate about making sure your vehicle is running for a long time and as trouble free as possible. These are the guys to talk to Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, they’re busy so be prepared, you might have to wait a little bit or check out their website, tons and tons of information on there Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2001 Mercedes G500 Oil Pan Gasket Leak

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of the award winning Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, sixteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about G wagons, my favourite, everybody should have a G wagon, 2001 with an oil pan gasket leak, what was going on with this massive vehicle?

Bernie: So this massive vehicle, I don’t know if everyone should have a G wagon, but they’re an interesting vehicle for sure and very popular around these parts. I don’t know why because they never go off road, although they could actually be the ideal off road vehicle, they’re pretty incredibly built. Anyways, this G wagon is for sale from a dealership that we deal with and they were just preparing it for sale and it had a couple of oil leaks. One from the valve cover gasket and the other from coming out of the bottom rear of the engine, so it did turn out to be the oil pan gasket but initially we weren’t a 100% certain. We needed to do a bit of diagnosis on it first of all, but yeah that’s what we replaced was the oil pan gasket eventually.

Mark: So what’s involved with changing the oil pan gasket? That’s got to be a pretty big service?

Bernie: It is a pretty big job on this vehicle, actually finding the leak was interesting. So I’ll just share a couple pictures here. So this is our beautiful G wagon, it’s a 2001 in beautiful shape, only 50,000 kms and still selling for $50,000 believe it or not. These vehicles, just blows me away how much value they hold, I mean they are very well built but for a 15 year old vehicle it’s a chunk of change and this one with 50,000kms is practically brand new. This is a view of the bottom of the vehicle, we’re looking at the transmission bell housing right there, sorry the bottom of the engine oil pan towards the transmission. The red arrow points to where you can see some oil seeping out of the engine, not a huge leak at this point but it’s definitely a leak and after removing the transmission, we found the leak clearly coming from this area right here. That arrow points right to the joint where the valve covers joins up to the engine block and with the transmission out we can get a very clear view of the rear main crank shaft seal which is another possible leak source and there was absolutely not leakage from there whatsoever. So we were extremely confident that we had our leak nailed down.

Mark: So you pulled the transmission off in order to completely diagnosis where this leak was coming from?

Bernie: We did. I mean, it’s a bit of a gamble to do that because you can change the oil pan gasket without taking the transmission out, but it’s really impossible to find where the oil is leaking without removing the transmission, in this case because the way the bell housing is designed and the way the engine is built there’s absolutely no way to see where the oil’s leaking short of removing the transmission. The good thing with this vehicle is that the oil leak was, I don’t know if just started but it was pretty minimal so we were actually able to get a good idea once we removed the transmission exactly where it was coming from. If you leave a leak until it gets bad, the oil sprays around everywhere and it becomes a lot more difficult to find the cause of the leak.

Mark: Yeah, with spinning parts and stuff I guess it gets spread all over and you don’t know where the heck it’s coming from.

Bernie: Exactly, now we have some pretty good techniques at our shop that we use, and a lot of other shops use them as well to find oil leaks. One of them, one is cleaning the leaked area and driving it to find where the oil is coming from, the other is we can add an ultraviolet dye to the engine oil while we run it for a little while and then we can look with special glasses and a special UV light and we can see where the fresh oil is coming from. But again, in the case of this vehicle, there was no way that any of these techniques are going to make any difference because all it’s going to tell us is that the oil is leaking from the back of the engine.

Mark: So how was the pan gasket replacement?

Bernie: Well once with the transmission out, the pan gasket replacement was quite simple. With the transmission out of the way it actually made the pan removal easy, with the transmission in it would be a lot more complicated to get the oil pan out. So it benefited having it out. The gasket is actually a silicone type forming gasket material, so we basically cleaned everything up, put the new gasket material in, bolted it all together and road tested it and verified it was all good.

Mark: So this vehicle now has probably zero chance of any kind of oil leak in that area for many years to come?

Bernie: Absolutely. Should be good for a long time, 15 years old it took to get to leak to this point, should be another 15 before it leaks again.

Mark: So if you want your vehicles to last, that’s one of the specialities of Pawlik Automotive, these are the guys to call. Check out their website or call to book, 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you again soon.

2006 Volvo XC70 Engine Mounts

Mark: Hi, Mark, Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik on a beautiful morning here in Vancouver, how’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing really well, it is a beautiful morning too.

Mark: So Pawlik Automotive, 16 time winners of Best Automotive Repair in Vancouver, you’re going to tell us a story about a 2006 Volvo XC70. What was going on with this Volvo?

Bernie: Well, this Volvo came to us because he had some vibrations when he was driving and some noises. So we looked at the car’s diagnosis and found some of this engine mounts were worn.

Mark: So is that a common thing finding engine mounts worn?

Bernie: It is fairly common, just trying to think frequency, we don’t do a lot of engine mounts these days, the quality of the engine mounts is a lot better than it used to be 20 to 30 years ago, especially on Volvos. I remember Volvo engine mounts used to break a lot on the older 240 boxy kind of cars, we used to replace them quite frequently, but newer vintage models are a lot more reliable and we replace them from time to time.

Mark: So is that a large job, it that an expensive job?

Bernie: It can be. It’s getting to be a more expensive job, the parts themselves are quite a bit more expensive than they once were. Engine mounts are actually quite high tech. We had some engine mounts on a Nissan that we did once that actually had an electrical wire connected to them, I have no idea, it wasn’t just a ground wire there was some sort of sensor in the engine mount. A lot of them are oil filled, they’re hydraulic mounts so the oil cushions the vibration of the engine. But the whole idea of an engine mount is to take the, you have to mount the engine and transmission obviously to the vehicle, you want to cushion the vibration. Just actually a little aside on racing cars you can get solid steel engine mounts. I remember when I was interested in drag racing, they used to have those and I mean it’d basically mounts your engine with a steel piece of metal straight to the frame, so every little shake in the engine is felt through the vehicle which is probably fun when you’re doing a 1/4 mile strip, but day to day driving no so much fun. Anyways, modern engine mounts a lot of them are oil filled to take the shakes and vibrations from the engine and transmission out of the equation. As far as cost, yeah, I’d say it can be expensive these days because of the technology of engine mounts and also just to get them in and out can be very difficult on many cars because of the tight engine compartment designs. This Volvo today, is an all wheel drive as well so it makes for a little more time consuming job.

Mark: So you found, you kind of covered this already but are Volvo’s engine mounts pretty good these days?

Bernie: Yes they are. This Volvo, I can’t remember the kilometres, it’s an ’06 so it’s about a 10 year old car, in the older Volvo’s the mounts would break more frequently. I’ll just share a couple pictures here of the engine mounts so you can get an idea of what they look like. So these are actually the three mounts that we replaced, on your left side you see two mounts that look similar, they’re round, these are the main engine mounts - one sits are the front of the engine and the other one sits at the rear. You’ll also notice if you look at the one on the left, there is a wire that’s wrapped around the mount and that’s actually a safety piece in case the rubber breaks. On this mount actually, it was kind of torquing fully to those wire safety mounts so the actual mounts were broken themselves. On the right hand side, that’s the upper torque bracket and these break on Volvos a lot on front wheel Volvos and rear, I mean all wheel drive Volvos, these torque mounts break frequently and we replace these a lot. That keeps the engine from twisting back and forth and, yeah, those are the mounts and I will get back to us, somehow here. So where were we with the questions? You were saying Volvo mounts fail - yeah.

Mark: So Volvo has had a pretty good reputation for tough and safe, reliable cars, how does this XC70 stack up?

Bernie: It’s pretty good. The one thing I will say about a lot of Volvos is that they have transmission problems and they can be very expensive and actually, this particular car we’re working on, we actually did a transmission replacement a couple months ago. It’s a very pricy job on many of these cars, so that’s probably the biggest downside on this sort of vintage of Volvos, transmission problems and it seems to happen to pretty much all of them. So that’s not such good news if you own this kind of car but overall the engines are very reliable. They do have timing belts that need to be replaced and that’s not very frequent, that’s about 160,000 kms interval but it is an expensive job because it’s a pretty high tech engine so it’s time consuming, quite a few parts involved. But overall, they’re good cars, very solid, they drive really nice, they are safe and I’d say they’re good. Pretty much average with a lot of other cars, except for the transmissions.

Mark: So if you’re looking for service for your Volvo or any other make or model of car pretty much, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website - tons and tons of information on there, the best in the world. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2008 Mercedes S63 AMG Suspension Repair

Mercedes S63 AMG

Mark: So 2008, it’s getting a little bit older, a Mercedes S63 AMG, pretty fancy car, suspension repair. What was going on with this car?

Bernie: Well the owner came to us, he said he had a problem with his left rear strut, this is an AMG that has the Active Body Control system so it’s a hydraulic and yes there was a problem with the strut, there was some fluid leaking out and the vehicle wasn’t riding too well.

Mark: So are there warning lights that get displayed when that’s taking place?

Bernie: Well sometimes they do. In this case there were no warning lights on. The  ABC (Active Body Control) is a very complex system: there's a reservoir full of fluid so if the fluid level gets too low or something happens it will set off warning lights and they do set them off quite easily if they pick up any problems; but there were no warning lights on this vehicle. I’m kind of surprised, it may be that owner had topped up the fluid and the issues were not something that, once the fluid was full, would switch on the warning light.

Mark: Right, so what did you end up replacing?

Bernie: We replaced the left rear strut, but first we did a diagnosis of the system, a quick electronic test and then a visual inspection. We found the left rear hydraulic strut was leaking fluid so we got a replacement unit, put that in and everything works great after that.

Mark: So from our past conversations, different makes of vehicles that have these ABC systems, was this an expensive repair?

Bernie: Yes, it is. I’ll just show a couple pictures here, you can have a look at this this suspension strut, but the answer is yes, it’s fairly, fairly pricey repair. Here’s our AMG S63, beautiful car. There’s, there’s a suspension strut right there, if you look down at the bottom of the strut which is that sort of narrow tube part, it looks a little oily and dark, and that’s where the oil’s been leaking out.  Inside the strut there are seals and valves all hidden behind that accordion piece and within the strut tube. So, is it expensive, the answer is yes it was. To buy this part from the dealer was almost $4,000 which almost blew me off my seat. These are always expensive from the dealer but $4,000 for one strut, if you can imagine having to replace all four that’s $16,000 plus installation labour and taxes; it makes for an incredible pricey job. It’s about $20,000 to do the whole car but we have a source out of the US, they remanufacture these struts, they also do air struts, that’s their specialty and they do a great job, lifetime warrantied and their part is a fraction of the cost of the dealer so it still makes for an expensive repair, much more palatable.

Mark: So, are remanufactured struts available for many of these kind of high tech European cars?

Bernie: They are, they seem to be available for pretty much all of them, this company we deal with has made a specialty of repairing these kind of struts and a lot of air struts, a lot of these vehicles have air suspensions, Mercedes, Land Rovers, of course we talked about a lot and a variety of other European cars use these kind of struts, so yeah they’re available for pretty much everything.

Mark: So any final thoughts on the repair or ABC strut systems in general?

Bernie: Well on the repair side one thing with struts is on a car with conventional type of struts, if one goes on one side you generally replace both on the same axle. But with these electronic systems there’s really no need to do either side if one’s leaking even whether it’s an air strut or hydraulic strut you can just replace each individual component as you go. Certainly when you’re paying 14 or 15 hundred dollars a strut you really don’t want to be putting more in than you have to and it really doesn’t affect the vehicle, once you’ve replaced the part it seems to work just fine, so individual corners you can just do them one at a time. As far as ABC systems they’re awesome. ABC by the way stands for Active Body Control and has many amazing advantages: the car sits level when you go around a corner, the car won’t lean or if there’s some sort of stability issue like one part is diving too much it will actually pump that strut up in a fraction of a second so the car rides well, its smooth, it improves safety in the vehicle as well so when you drive a car that has a system in it. The handling is incredible and to me it’s worth the money if you can afford it.

Mark: So if you’re looking for service on your high-tech fancy Euro saloon or Range Rover or you name it basically the guys to call in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them to book an appointment at 604-327-7112 or check out their website, there’s tons of information on there about all kinds of repairs of all kinds of vehicles Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Mercedes S63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz s63 AMG

Mercedes S63 AMG

Left rear strut from S63, note the blackish fluid leak just below the accordion covering

1987 Toyota Celica GTS Brake Repair

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of the award winning Pawlik Automotive - 16 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a little bit of an oldie but classic, I guess, in some ways to some people, the ’87 Toyota Celica GTS. There was a brake repair needed on this car, what’s the story?

Bernie: Well, you’re right it is getting to be a bit old, I was just thinking this car is 29 or 30 years old. It kind of shocks me when I think about it because when I remember when these cars were brand new and they were awfully nice. So what was going on with this Toyota, it was a bit of an old car, not in the best of shape, it was pretty rusty but obviously had some great value to the owner. He said there are some problems, it makes bad noises when I go around a corners and when I hit the brakes. So that’s basically why the car was brought in - driving noises and braking noises.

Mark: So you did an inspection, what did you find from your inspection?

Bernie: Well, lots of interesting things. I’ll start with the good stuff, the back brake pads and rotors were in good shape, let’s start with that, but the front brakes were worn metal on metal. Metal on metal means that the brake pads, they have a soft friction material and when they’re worn out, the metal backing plate rubs against the brake rotor which is metal, so that’s what metal on metal refers to. The brakes were worn down that far, which is worn out completely and causes horrible grinding noises. The brake calliper slider pins were seized, we also found, it’s a front wheel drive and we found one of the axel nuts on the left side was loose and that was causing the brake rotor to rub against the calliper bracket. That was easily fixed, just tighten the nut and away it went, that was fixed up but other than that it required some front brake work and also the brake hoses were cracked which happens when the vehicle gets older.

Mark: Ok, that is starting to add up to a lot of work for an old car. Was it in good shape? Was it worth fixing?

Bernie: Well, the car I mean in my opinion wasn’t in great shape and I wouldn’t of blamed the owner for saying you know I’m sending if off to the scrap yard, but he chose to fix it. I think to me, it’s really the value of the car is what he as the owner put on it and whether you want to fix it or not. Sometimes as technicians and shop owners we have judgments, oh this car’s not worth fixing or this one is and we get people with really nice cars that choose to not fix things, I kind of roll my eyes and then we get someone who takes a car that we think oh, this is a foot away from the scrap yard and they go, yeah I want to fix it and spend some money on it. So it’s really up to the owner to choose what they want to do. We’ll just have a quick look at this car here, just for nostalgia sake, it’s a ’87 Celica. There’s a bit of rust on this car so it’s not in great shape but after doing the repairs it actually ran really well; peppy, it’s got a lot of power so it’s got lots of life left in it and the mileage on the car isn’t particularly high so it will probably go for quite a while if the body doesn’t rust out completely on it.

Mark: So people don’t think about the big picture cost of car ownership always, why do you think that is?

Bernie: You know, I think people get emotionally attached to cars and they have these notions, I’ve had a number of people go, well the car’s only worth $4000 dollars and I don’t want to spend half the value of the car on repairing it and to me, I mean this Celica here is probably, he’d be lucky to get $500 bucks if you sold it on the open market, maybe a thousand but the repair was far in excess of value but what does it cost you to actually replace a car in terms of your time, you know looking for a car, the actual replacement cost, the added insurance? You just really need to sit down and really look at the facts and figures and the money and try to take the emotion out of it sometimes. Sometimes the cheapest car to fix is the car, or to operate is the car you already own. That being said, sometimes it gets to the point where it’s not worth doing certain things, we’re quite clear about that but you really have to sit and look at the money. People often go, I don’t want to spend $2000 dollars on that. Two thousand dollars might be all they spend on a repair in one yea. If you break that down to monthly payments, that’s under $200 dollars a month. Where are you going to buy a new car for that kind of money? You’d be lucky, you’d be making car payments and even the cheapest car is going to cost you $300 bucks a month and you’d probably be doing that for the next 10 years. But if you’re buying a nice car, which a lot of people are repairing you might be paying a $1000 bucks a month. So it doesn’t cost a lot to repair a car when you really break it down and look at it.

Mark: So any final thoughts on this service?

Bernie: Well you know, just the whole idea of doing this blog post, www haven’t talked too much about the brakes and the repair details, it’s really about what’s the value of the car to you and is it worth fixing and keeping going and how do you want to spend your money? That’s kind of the key thing. Some people love spending money on cars and some people don’t. We’re here to help which ever way you want to go. I’m happy to talk to people and work with them make a decision.

Mark: So if you need a reliable mechanic who will tell you the truth about your choices and be happy to go with you whatever way you want to go. You want to keep that old gem running forever, they’ll help you do that. If you want to get a real idea about that new car you’re looking at buying, Bernie is an expert, he’s done it for a long time. Give him a call 604-327-7112 or check out their website Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Should I Buy a Diesel Vehicle?


Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Gen, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 16 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, how’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So diesels, lots of controversy going on with diesels these days. I guess our question is should I buy a diesel vehicle and I guess as an owner of a Volkswagen TDI, I’m interested to hear what you have to say. Should someone look at buying a diesel vehicle right now?

Bernie: Well I think, what you really need to do before you buy a diesel vehicle is look at what you want to use the car for. Before we talk about that, let’s just look at some of the advantages of diesel engines. First of all, fuel economy in diesels is amazing for any given size engine: diesel, I believe is 20-30% more efficient than a gasoline engine. Also, these days diesel fuel is cheaper, it wasn’t that way a while ago but it is now, so you pay less to fill the tank as well. A few other advantages of diesel: traditionally diesel used to be very reliable, I’d say that these days it’s not quite as reliable, but it used to be very reliable. When gasoline engines needed tune-ups, diesels just needed oil changes and fuel filters and air filters and they just kept on going. Also if you have a truck, towing and hauling capacity of a diesel is far superior to a gasoline engine. It’s why, trains, ships, large industrial engines and trucks all use diesel. They are superior for heavy load performance.

Mark: So it sounds like the advantages outweigh some of the disadvantages, but what are some of the disadvantages?

Bernie: Well, disadvantages of diesel, generally you pay more money to buy a diesel engine vehicle. Now I did a little bit of research before I did this post and I looked at a few cars, a couple different lines of cars that sell diesels, and I looked at trucks. It seems like for a truck, you’ll probably pay eight or ten thousand dollars more to buy a diesel model truck; but for a car, I looked at the Mercedes GL models, and their diesel is actually the cheapest model. That kind of surprised me, but I think they have the diesel as their entry level model and then they start putting the larger engine V8’s and fancy other options and the AMG packages to boost the price. Volkswagen as well, you’ve had experience with the Volkswagen TDI, I believe that the diesel option was more money than buying the gasoline version, not a lot but a little bit more money, so you’ve got the upfront cost. The other disadvantage that I think with the diesels is that they’re not as reliable as they used to be. Some are really good, but others have a lot of problems and when things do go wrong with the diesel they cost a lot of money to fix. You’re not looking at a little $300 dollar repair bill, a lot of times it may be a thousand or two thousand dollars or more, so the repair bills can be substantial in a diesel.

Now one of the advantages if you buy a diesel vehicle is that it often has a higher resale value, so say if you spent $10,000 dollar more on that Ford F350 truck with the diesel over the gas, chances are a few years down the road when you sell it, you’ll get more money for that vehicle because it’s a diesel than a gas motor.

Mark: So on balance, maybe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but what else? What also should factor in to your choice about whether you buy a diesel of a petrol fuel vehicle?


Jeep Liberty Diesel - Top of cylinder head showing rocker arms and valves

Bernie: Excellent question. I think the idea it imporatant to look at usage. What do you want to use the vehicle for? I meet many people who buy diesel vehicles who probably shouldn’t have bought then in the first place. Just an example and I know that you live in Langley, you drive in to Vancouver quite often, maybe not every day but you’re the perfect person to own a diesel vehicle because your trips are long, they’re lengthy, the engine has time to warm up, you get good fuel economy and you’re moving; generally that trip is a moving all the time trip. I live four minutes from my work, it’d be silly for me to have a diesel. My gasoline engine barely gets warm from driving from Burkeville to Marpole. So it would be kind of silly for me to have a diesel because I’d have to end up, to take good care of that engine leave it sitting and idling for another 10 or 15 minutes just to get the engine warmed up. So it really depends on how you use the vehicle. Also with trucks, I meet many people, actually they’re mostly men and they have a thing about owning a diesel. It’s a guy thing: they are attracted to that noise and sound and the largeness of the truck. A lot of guys that buy these trucks, I’ll say Ford’s in particular have a lot of problems, and after some repair bills of a thousand or two, they get so pissed off with the truck they end up selling it and a lot of them end up buying a gasoline powered F150 truck; which is much more practical. It’s much more useful for every day, a lot less goes wrong.

But diesel is great if you need to haul heavy loads, it’s worth the extra money. If you’re hauling a boat, a trailer or you have a business where you’re hauling heavy loads, diesel’s great. So you really need to look at what you’re buying. Unless you just like spending tons of money on car repairs when your vehicle’s broken, but most people don’t like to do that.

Also we did a blog post about a month or two ago about a Mercedes that we had where the owner hadn’t changed the oil quite frequently but again it’s another example of perhaps not the right owner for a vehicle. A lot of the trips that this person did were short trips. It only had 50,000 kilometers on a six year old diesel powered vehicle, so that’s really very little usage. I didn’t quiz him entirely, but I have a feeling that his trips were extremely short so the engine never had time to warm up, in addition to that maybe not changing the oil when he should have, it ended up killing the engine early so had this person owned a gasoline powered engine, there would have been no problem, although again if they didn’t change the oil it would have been an issue but I think gasoline engines they’re a little more forgiving.

Mark: So, I have an interesting, another question do car sales people ever address people’s usage of a vehicle before they recommend a car?

Bernie: I have a feeling not,  they probably don’t think of these factors and I think if you’re out there selling a vehicle, it’s like oh yeah, great I can sell a diesel because it’s $10,000 more and I’m sure it’s more money in their pocket to sell it, the same with the Mercedes or the TDI Volkswagen, they’re just selling it on the benefit that it’s got great gas mileage. I would say that maybe a good salesman might ask but for the most part they would probably just be happy to sell them whatever they want to buy.

Mark: Well our experience was, we were test driving looking at potentially buying an SUV and we test drove I don’t know six, seven different brands, not one salesman asked us about our use case. That was not a part of the conversation ever and that’s multiple times, multiple test drives, multiple salesman at different dealerships so that’s not even in the equation, they just want to you know, sell you what you came into look at.

Bernie: Yeah, I think that’s true, it’s interesting, and this is a bit off the subject of diesels but this applies to hybrids as well. We have a client who bought a Toyota Prius a while ago and they drive it very little, it’s a 08 Prius it’s only got 60,000 kilometers, it’s got very little use: they’re very happy with the vehicle and not a lot’s gone wrong with it but when I think of the extra money that person paid for the Prius over what, you could have bought a Camry or something nicer for the same money. To me it’s kind of wasted on a person who’s just driving a small amount whereas I met a guy yesterday with a Highlander Hybrid, 3 years old, 180,000 kilometers. He drives 60,000k’s a year, now that’s the right kind of person for a hybrid because they’re using it all the time, it’s getting a lot of usage, they’re going to save the money on the fuel that the extra cost of the vehicle applies but a lot of people buy them for ideological reasons and I guess a lot of people bought Volkswagen TDI for ideological reasons too, you know, that they’re good on gas, and they’re good for the environment and we found out that at least one of those parts of the equation wasn’t quite right.


Engine compartment of F350 Super Duty featuring 6.4 Liter Power Stroke Diesel

Mark: Yeah, well that was our choice I mean we, I as you know I used to brag about the kind of mileage that we would get and still it’s amazing, it’s not as fun an experience knowing that we’re polluting the crap out of the environment right now. VW it trying to make it better, they’ve sent us these which are about $1,000 worth of credit cards to spend on, $500 we’ve got to spend at the dealer I don’t know what the heck I’m going to use that for, $500 I can spend wherever I want and that’s the start honestly, it’s, it’s going to cost them billions of dollars to fix their polluting diesels and that is a consideration I think that for all that performance you still get some issues. So what about biodiesel, what’s the, why wouldn’t I just be able to switch my car to biodiesel and fix the issue?

Bernie: I’m not an expert on biodiesel but what I do know is that we talked about this in the past is biodiesel really doesn’t reduce your NOx emissions that’s just a factor of the temperature of the combustion but it doesn’t really reduce your NOx emissions but it certainly does reduce CO and hydrocarbon emissions are much lower. Biodiesel is a more pleasant experience, we have customers who do run their diesels on biodiesel and even the smell of the exhaust is much nicer than a petroleum diesel especially when you one that burns vegetable oil. The smell of the exhaust is quite pleasant, especially in an older diesel.  Newer diesels have particulate filters so that you don’t smell the typical diesel stench. With biodiesel, there’s a little more maintenance, it can clog up your fuel filters a more frequently so you got to change them a more often but I think biodiesel is definitely a good way to go if you care about the environment.

Mark: Yeah, from what I’ve read, well I’ve run it in my previous generation vehicle and it was about 10 or 20% more power cause there’s a higher cetane rating in biodiesel so you actually get more power per liter or whatever and it is definitely, the car just feels a little, it likes it, it breathes a little easier, it runs a little easier. I don’t know, it might just all be in your head but other people commented on it as well, it wasn’t just me, so

Bernie: Yeah, I’ve hear that about biodiesels as well, it’s a little smoother and the engine runs a bit quieter.

Mark: Yeah, so if you’re looking for diesel expertise these are the guys to see, they know all the in’s and out’s of many different types of diesels, trucks, cars, you name it., tons of information on there including total frame off, rebuilds of Ford diesels or give Bernie a call for your next service 604-327-7112 Pawlik Automotive, they’re the guys. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

For more about diesel engines click here

For another opinion on diesels click here

2008 Mini Cooper Oil and Coolant Leaks

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver; 16 times winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well today.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Mini Coopers, a 2008 had some sort of oil and coolant leaks? What was going on there?

Bernie: Well, a couple things, the vehicle was brought to us for 100,000 kilometer service and the owner had some concerns about the, that there was some fluid, engine oil leaks that he’d had looked at the dealer and had a very large quote for repairs; so that’s what’s happening with the vehicle. We had a look at it and we did find in, a couple engine oil leaks and a coolant leak.

Mark: So what was going on with the coolant leak? Where was that coming from?

Bernie: The coolant leak was coming from the thermostat housing which is a fairly common issue on these vehicles. We’ve done quite a few of them recently. The um, it’s one of those plastic parts that I love to talk about, the thermostat housing is molded plastic; it incorporates the thermostat internally and you know these things, you know cause a lot of problems; on every vehicle they seem to be put on eventually.

Mark: So another plastic part, you’ve talked about those before, doesn’t seem to make sense that they would be using plastic in such a hot area.

Bernie: Well plastics are pretty amazing. Apparently, I’ve never seen them, apparently they actually make pistons out of plastic which is quite incredible when you think about how much heat is generated in that area but they’ve never caught on, obviously they’re experimental or for racing or something but plastic is you know, I think there’s a desire to use plastic because is A cheap and B you can mold it into any shape you want so you can create some pretty amazing pieces. Like this and I don’t have a photo to show you here but it will be on when we do this on our blog page, there’ll be a photo of this thermostat housing, I mean it’s quite an amazing, intricate piece. It has coolant pipes going all over the place which is something you could only really mold economically with plastic so there’s a reason they use it, I mean it does last a while but eventually it fails and sometimes I really question why they use it especially in things like water pumps where the, you know where like the water pump impellor they will use plastic and they break over time, they get brittle and break and fail and how much weight are you saving, I mean, ounces? It really doesn’t make sense to me.

Mark: So what about the oil, where was that leaking from?

Bernie: The oil was leaking from a few spots, the turbo, there’s a turbo charged engine so there’s an oil supply pipe to the turbo charger and that was leaking, also there’s a big oil filter housing at the front of the engine, it kind of wraps around under the exhaust manifold, it has a number of gaskets and seals, that was leaking as well from several spots, so those were the main oil leaks. There was also a minor oil leak from the valve cover gasket which the owner chose to leave at this point in time.

Mark: So pretty complex and expensive repair?

Bernie: It was, yeah, there’s a lot of work involved, the turbo charger, the exhaust manifold has to come off and actually the front bumper needs to be moved forward to gain access because everything is packed into that engine compartment pretty tight, so there’s a lot of labour involved to remove it all and replace the pieces. In this case the actual oil filter housing sometimes needs to be replaced and in this case the housing was a bit warped but the owner chose not to replace it, it adds a lot of cost to the repair so it probably would have been best to do it but I think to replacing the seals will work though the repair may not last as many years as it should.

Mark: Any further thoughts on Minis?

Bernie: Awesome little cars, I mean I’d say they’re not the most reliable cars around, you know if you’re looking for reliability the Mini’s not the car to buy but if you’re looking for a nice you know, European zippy sporty car, it’s got a bit of class to it, I think it’s a great car to buy but just be prepared, you will spend more money than you would on a Toyota or equivalent Japanese product although there’s probably not an equivalent but similar.

Mark: So if you’re looking for repairs on your Mini these are the guys to go see in Vancouver, Pawlik Automotive, give Bernie a call, you can book your appointment. They’re busy; 604-327-7112 or go to their website Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Maintenance Service

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark, Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the famous Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 16 times winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, how’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 2012, so fairly recent Dodge Caravan Maintenance Service, what was due for the service on this van?

Bernie: It was, it’s fairly low mileage van, 40,000 kilometers so it was due for an oil change service and a comprehensive inspection, we like to call it a M2 Service and so what that entails is obviously changing the oil filter, this vehicle uses synthetic oil so it’s got a longer oil change interval than, than previous generations and, and comprehensive inspection so we, during our comprehensive inspection we basically look the vehicle over from front to back, we’ll take the tires if needed, we inspect the brakes thoroughly, we inspect the steering suspension, we test the battery and charging system, pressure test the cooling system, we lubricate the door locks, hinges and latches and look at a whole bunch of other items on the car at the same time; provide a full report; it’s 150 point inspection so it’s very thorough. Got a lot of clients compliment me you know when I go through the inspection, they go wow, I’ve never, I’ve never had such a thorough inspection on my vehicle so it provides a lot of value.

Mark: So did you find any additional items from your inspection?

Bernie: Really uhh, only two items, one the air filter was dirty which is kind of par for the course and we replaced that and the only other item we found that needed service was the brake fluid had about 4% water. We have a tester where we can test water content to brake fluid and 4% water is very high which, but it happens over time when brake fluid’s not flushed. I’ve mentioned before about brake fluid, I mean it should be flushed every two to three years and the water basically comes out of the air, it just gets absorbed into the brake fluid. Brake fluid’s called a hygroscopic fluid, it’s a type of fluid that absorbs water so it, it loves water and it’s good to get it flushed out every couple of years.

Mark: So how are these newer Caravan’s, I know they’re incredibly popular, they had a bit of a bad reputation in the past, how are the new ones?

Bernie: They seem to be pretty good, we haven’t worked on a ton of them but I think they’re definitely a better product than they used to be. I don’t know how the transmissions are, I mean Caravan’s over the years have had a reputation for bad transmissions and I haven’t known these to be bad yet, um, but I mean overall they’re nice vans and I think, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I think they’re pretty good.

Mark: So any further thoughts on Dodge vehicles?

Bernie: Um, overall they’re pretty good. I, you know, just sticking with the Caravans I mean they’ve had a lot of competition; at one time they almost owned the minivan market, they were so, they were so popular, but there’s a lot of competition for Japanese, you know, the Japanese Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and there’s the Kia and Hyundai make minivans but I’m not sure if they’re American, I’m just trying to think what other American competition but there’s other, there’s other Ford and GM competition but I think the Caravans are, they’re well priced. Sienna, a Sienna Van is an amazing van, very reliable but you pay a lot more money, like substantially more money for Sienna, so you know, if you don’t want to fork out the capital cost, Caravan is actually a good value.

Mark: So if you’re looking for service on your Dodge vehicle, Pawlik Automotive 604-327-7112, get ahold of Bernie, book an appointment or go to their website at Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2009 Toyota Yaris – Water Pump

Toyota Yaris

Mark: Hi, Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Sixteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their clients.

Toyota Yaris

2009 Toyota Yaris

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Toyota Yaris, a 2009 - there was a water pump problem? What was happening with this Toyota?

Bernie: Well the owner originally brought the vehicle to us not for a water pump problem but for a strange noise that was happening. It seemed like a suspension noise in the vehicle. So we had the vehicle for a couple days, the first day we drove it, we could hear quite a loud racket, it seemed like a suspension rattle in the front of the vehicle, but it only happened under certain circumstances. We did a full comprehensive inspection on the vehicle and never really found anything wrong with the suspension which was surprising, but we did find the water pump was leaking and while we did the water pump, we found a couple of other interesting issues along with that. I'll share a photograph here - so there’s our Yaris, it's a 2009. There’s the water pump, I’m actually one picture ahead of where I want to be: that red, reddish colour stuff around the plug there, that’s antifreeze, Toyota antifreeze is a red colour, and that’s antifreeze that’s been leaking out of the water pump. So the water pump was leaking and that was evident and needed to be replaced. What we found that was interesting when we replaced the water pump is that the bearing was so badly worn in the water pump that the pulley was rubbing against the water pump housing and that red arrow points to, the pulley that sort of, how do I best describe this, the shinier, smoother piece at the bottom of the picture, and that’s touching the housing of the water pump right where the red arrow is pointing. That shouldn’t be happening. There should be clearance of about an eighth of an inch in that area, so the bearing was worn so badly, the water pump housing was rubbing and in the end we figured that this was actually what was causing the noise. Strange as it was, it seemed like a suspension noise but actually under certain circumstances the noise seemed to be occurring while you’re driving. So yeah, that’s what we found.

Toyota Yaris

Side view of water pump. The red arrow points to the pulley flange sitting right beside the housing. There should be a clearance of at least an 1/8 of an inch here.

Mark: So do water pumps typically fail on Toyota’s?

Bernie: Water pumps seem to be one of the most common failure items on Toyota’s. I’ve said for years they extremely reliable vehicles and I still say that to this day, they’re very reliable. But it seems like almost every Toyota we look at seems to need a water pump sooner or later. So that seems to be the one part that fails quite frequently on Toyota’s. We’ve done them on all sorts of V6’s, 4 cylinders, Yaris’s, Highlander’s, you know just about every make and model - Even Priuses.

Mark: So if I were a Toyota owner, is there anything I can do to look after my water pump?

Bernie: No, it’s just something that’s going to fail over time, it’s just the way the part’s made. Flushing the cooling systems is really the only thing but the water pump is really a very simple device. It’s a belt driven pump, the only thing that’s in there is the antifreeze, the only fluid in there and like all modern antifreezes in cars it's meant to last five to ten years and 150,000 or more kilometres. So there’s really nothing you can do to flush it out. The belts are a lot of times self tensioned, when they’re at their proper tension they last as long as they do. It’s just one of those things: water pumps wear out when they wears out.

Toyota Yaris

View of water pump: the red crusty deposits are from antifreeze leakage

Mark: So a few years ago, Toyota really got beat up in the press about some problems that they had. So how are Toyota vehicles these days?

Bernie: They’re excellent. I mean I don’t think really honestly think there was ever really a lot wrong with them and I think the media just jumped on it and went crazy because Toyota was overtaking the American manufacturers as the biggest  carmaker in the world. I have a, maybe it’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, but I have a feeling that there were some people didn’t like it very much and pointed some flaws out. Not that there weren’t some problems and things to be fixed but it really blew over so fast that it’s nothing you ever hear about anymore. So Toyota’s were always reliable all the way through. Toyota stepped up, fixed what they needed to do and they’re still amazing, reliable cars to this day. I highly recommend them.

Mark: so if you’re looking for service on your Toyota of any kind, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive - you can call them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2011 Range Rover – Suspension Repair

Range Rover Suspension

Mark: Hi it’s Mark of Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Pawlik Automotive have been voted Best In Auto Repair in Vancouver by their customers 16 times. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Range Rover Suspension

2011 Range Rover

Mark: So talking about a 2011 Range Rover with a suspension repair, another Range Rover, another suspension repair. What’s going on with these vehicles?

Bernie: Well, this particular Range Rover had a warning light on the dash for an ADS system fault. It shows a little symbol that looks like the vehicle with curved arrows that looks like its rolling. So that’s what was going on with this vehicle.

Mark: What’s an ADS system?

Bernie: ADS stands for Active Damping System and it’s basically a fancy term for the electronic shock absorbers. What they do on this vehicle: it has air suspension for the springs so you can vary the height of the vehicle, but for stability control it uses active damping suspension. The shock absorbers are electronic. The active damping control adjusts the suspension depending on what you need: if you’re on a bumpy road it’ll adjust it a certain way, if you’re on a smooth road it’ll adjust it a certain way and also if you’re going around a corner and the vehicle starts loosing some stability, it’ll beef up the shocks, tighten them up, whatever is needed. So it’s all part of the stability control of the vehicle and just the overall ride and effect.

Mark: So what did you find with this vehicle?

Bernie: What we found with this vehicle: the first step, is to connect our scan tool and see what kind of information we get out of it and what we found was a trouble code stored in the system (which there always is when the light is on). It was for a fault with the right front damping sensor. I don’t have the exact code written down in front of me, but there was a fault with that part of the system. So we did further diagnosis and what we found was a broken wire to the active damping solenoid, located at the top of the shock absorber. Now I’ll share a couple of photos here because these are very telling, now lets just get into that - so - this is our Range Rover here and here’s the wiring. Now this picture here, on the left hand side is the old wire that we removed, we basically had to replace both front shock wires because although the wire on the right hand side was actually broken, the one on the left was about to break and I’ll show a close up photo of that one later. On the left hand side is the original wire, you can see it’s been cut off, if you look on the right hand side where it goes over top of the other wire, it’s been cut off of the original wiring harness and the new wire is sheathed in plastic all the way from the rubber piece, there’s a rubber piece near the connector, it’s sheathed in a thicker plastic. The other wire, you can see it is wrapped in electrical tape and I’ll just get into the next slide - this is a close up of the broken wire or the almost broken wire. So the left hand side was still functioning but it wouldn’t be long before this wire broke and caused a failure. So again, if you look back here to this picture, I don’t know if my mouse pointer actually shows here, but that’s where that picture was taken. So that’s the wire that we replaced on both sides. Land Rover has an updated part that they sell that works a lot better. You can see that thicker sheath around the wire, it should last for substantially longer. This whole issue is part of a TSB - Technical Service Bulletin put out by Land Rover, obviously something they had a problem and they’ve upgraded the design of it and there is readily available information on how to repair it and new, upgraded, expensive parts to fix it.

Range Rover Suspension

Close up of about to break wire to left Active Damping shock absorber

Range Rover Suspension

old harness connector on left and new connector on right. Note the thick rubber cover over the wires, This is a much more robust part that should last for many years.

Mark: So wouldn’t this be a safety recall item?

Bernie: Well I guess not and I don’t know exactly what the criteria is for creating a recall as opposed to just a TSB but obviously it’s not enough of a safety issue to create a recall. While driving the vehicle with the light on, there wasn’t any noticeable difference in how the vehicle handled but I’m sure that under certain circumstances there would be. But it’s nothing like the vehicle is going to accelerate or you’re going to loose your brakes or suddenly go around a corner and the vehicle is going to drop and you'll lose control. It’s nothing like that. That might be the criteria but it does make you wonder when a part is so clearly, badly designed that they wouldn’t at least offer a complementary warranty for the first few years. The vehicle is a 2011, it’s only five years old at this point. It’s really a kind of part that should of been built better but now that we’ve fixed it, it should never be an issue on this Range Rover again.

Mark: So if you’re looking for expert help on your Range Rover or any of your vehicles, these are the guys to go see - Pawlik Automotive - give Bernie a call 604-327-7112 or check out their website, tons of information there Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

1 2 3 37