2006 Honda Civic Engine Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re with Bernie Pawlik, Vancouver’s best auto repair service experience, Pawlik Automotive. They are 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 Honda Civic, now this is a little bit unique. You did an engine replacement on a Honda, that’s kind of different. What happened?

Bernie: Yeah, so we replaced an engine on a Honda. It’s a little unusual. Basically it’s a 2006 Honda Civic, came to us for a maintenance service and it had a coolant leak so we pressure tested the cooling system and we found the engine block was actually split and was leaking coolant right out of the engine block. I’ll just go straight into sharing a couple photos because it’s interesting to look at here. Now are you seeing this? Ok - so that’s the front of the engine block on the Honda Civic, that sort of dark reddish thing you see up above with the two bolt holes, that’s the exhaust, that’s where the exhaust manifold bolts up to the engine. The red arrow points to the area where the coolant was leaking and you can see a bit of a bluish discolouration below it, that’s the Honda antifreeze. Now here’s a closer up view of that area and you can see the bluish stain now, the crack is actually not visible and I kind of regret not taking a photo when we had the pressure tester because you could see coolant spraying out but that red arrow points to the leak, it’s on that sort of casting web of the engine was where the coolant was leaking out so basically nothing you can do about that but replace the engine.

Mark: So is that a common occurrence on this kind of motor?

Bernie: Well strangely enough it is, although this is the first time we’ve ever seen it and prior to this week I would of told you that Honda engines are bullet proof and they pretty much are, but this is a common occurrence on this engine and actually Honda has issued a TSB. They’ve extended the warranty on this vehicle to ten years for any engine problem for this particular issue - 2006 to 2009 model years.

Mark: So you know that is a common occurrence because of the, how do you know that it’s a common occurrence if you guys haven’t seen it that often?

Bernie: Well, what I judge as a common occurrence, even though our shop is growing, we’re still a pretty small shop, I mean we don’t do Honda’s all day long so, there’s a whole world of things that happen that we don’t see. But the first thing you do, our junior technician, he’s the one that did the diagnosis, he looked up, looked for technical service bulletins which is something that we do in our business and found a bulletin for this particular issue and there’s a 10 year warranty. So sadly enough for the customer, we got the repair job because this vehicle is just a few months out of the warranty period. Sadly for the customer, it’s too bad it didn’t happen four months ago because then he would of got the engine job done for free. So once there is a technical service bulletin issued that becomes a common problem because manufacturers identified there are issues and they need to rectify, they need to deal with it and they tell their service departments and the general public that this is something that needs to be done and this is how you fix it.

Mark: So no warranty on this vehicle, I guess it was, what kind of motor did you replace this faulty engine with?

Bernie: We got a good used engine, it was a low mileage used engine. I don’t anticipate that they’re going to see any problem with this engine. Obviously it’s used and you’d think well it might happen again and yes, it could possibly. But these engines besides this issue were incredibly reliable and we do work on a lot of these Honda’s and this is the first time we’ve seen one. So, just to go a little further just because it’s a bullet, doesn’t mean every single one of these cars has the problem, it’s just a more frequent occurrence than it should and that’s why Honda extended the warranty to give good will to their customers.

Mark: So is there anything that a Honda owner can do to prevent this from happening?

Bernie: No, it’s just basically a manufacturing defect that will show up on some engines and just to keep in mind if you have a 2006 to a 2009 Civic and the engine block splits, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a warranty. Although with the 2006 model, again that time is passing so by the end of the year it will be in the 2007 range. You can do the math. So yeah nothing you can do just, change your oil, flush you cooling system, change your fluids and do your service. These are very reliable cars, they’re excellent.

Mark: So if you need some service on your Honda Civic on your Honda anything, these are the guys to call in Vancouver, Pawlik Automotive 604-327-7112 to book, they’re busy give them a call or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Remember Vancouver’s best auto repair service experience. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.

2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 Turbocharger Replacement


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark for Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning.


2012 Mercedes ML350

Mark: So we have another Mercedes Diesel GL350 with a big service. What happened with this vehicle?

Bernie: The engine started making some pretty horrible noises, and the owner took it to Mercedes where they told her she needed a new engine. She wasn’t extremely happy with their price quote, which was high, it’s a lot of money to do an engine in one of these cars and she brought the vehicle to us.

Mark: So it’s another diesel with the motor perhaps gone, what ended up having to be replaced?

Bernie: Well what we found actually was the turbocharger was bad in the case of this vehicle. But this is another vehicle, a 2012, so it’s only four years old at this point, 48,000 kilometres, still young and to my mind, almost a brand new vehicle. The oil hadn’t been changed in over a year and according to the dash was 20,000km over due for an oil change. A very bad thing to do on any engine, especially on a Mercedes 3 liter diesel. We’ve already talked about this in a previous blog post about the engine we replaced. So we did our diagnosis on it and listened to it: it sounded like the engine was blown with horrible knocking sounds. We authorized engine repair work and started taking things apart.

Mark: So what, tell us about the diagnostic process, what did you go through to get to that level of that you might need that level of service?

Bernie: Well, initially listening to the engine, and black smoke blowing out along with the check engine light on for a variety of different trouble codes; just the sound of the engine and based on the lack of oil change and we made a pretty quick assumption that there’s something in the bottom end of the engine had given way. What was interesting is when we authorized the engine repair, we started pulling things apart, we took the turbo duct off and Matt, our technician, who was working on it, he noticed that the turbocharger was severely worn. This is completely blown and I’ll show you a video in a minute of the turbo. The turbo is a little turbine and it sits in a bearing and it usually has a tiny bit of play, but this one is actually completely broken and we thought wait a minute, maybe it’s just the turbo. So we thought, let’s take a diagnostic a little, let’s be a little more thorough here, so we put everything back together, we’ll drain the oil out, found the oil wasn't all sludged up which was the case with our last engine job, so that was a positive sign. We took the oil filter out and cut the oil filter apart just to examine it and there were a few metal particles, but not much, just a few little fine particles. We thought, hey maybe it’s the turbo that’s bad, so we put some fresh oil in the engine, started it up and listened to it and really the only noise we could hear was coming from the turbo. So at that point we authorized with the customer to change the turbo,  flush the oil a few times because it’s been so long overdue and see what happens from there.

Mark: So what was involved with the repair process?

Bernie: Well we basically replaced the turbocharger, but in the process, we also, there’s a turbo oil stand which we have to remove, found that to be partially flooded due to the oil sludge. We tested and verified that there was actually good oil flow through there because we didn’t want to find, perhaps an oil passageway plugged up and we put a new turbo in and it blows it. But clearly the turbo had been damaged from lack of oil changes. We drained the oil out, again found there was really not much sludge in the oil which was a positive sign. We did a couple of hot oil flushes, so we actually did two oil changes on the engine then we filled it with proper oil. So that was basically the repair procedure, put it back together and that was it.


Top of engine view of 2012 ML350 diesel engine. The red arrow points to the turbocharger

Mark: So let’s see that turbo. What’d that look like?

Bernie: Yeah, let’s look at a couple things here, first I’ll share some pictures and here, we’ll start with some pictures. This is the picture of the actual engine compartment. That red arrow points to the turbocharge and so the turbocharger, if you look, there’s a sort of black piece that goes across the front of the engine, right in front of that red arrow and that’s the air intake. So the air is sucked into the engine into the turbocharger, there’s a turbine blade in there and that blows the air out through that silver pipe that goes forward towards the front of the engine and that give the engine it’s boost, it’s high pressure and the turbine sits inside this turbo mechanism. Just another quick photo, there’s our 2012 GL model vehicle. So let’s go back here, I’ll start the screen share again and we’ll look at this turbo. Ok so there’s our turbo - ok so here’s a quick, crude video.

Mark: Oh, that’s not supposed to happen

Bernie: Yeah, all that movement there is not supposed to happen at all and the camera is supposed to be steady too but I did a quick video without the tripod. I’ll just show it to you again, it’s pretty amazing, like that is just worn beyond belief. Now we’re looking at the exhaust side of the turbine here, the intake side which is on the other side, and the shaft is broken between the two, so there’s no turbo boost and this blade gets spun when the exhaust runs through, so you can imagine the kind of racket, the kind of noise it would be making. So the good news is that was basically it. Now after we put the turbo in and we started the engine up and it ran, but it started blowing a lot of smoke out because when the turbo failed there are oil passageways inside the turbo and it just filled the exhaust system and the intake system full of engine oil. So it was a bit of an embarrassing drive for Matt when he went out: there were clouds and clouds of smoke everywhere.  When he came back the engine was running quite rough, making some bad noise and we thought oh oh, it’s not fixed. But the good news is we shut it off and left it for a little while, ran it for a little longer and I think what was happening was there was so much residual oil in the intake system, and being a diesel, an oil burning engine, it would get little blasts of engine oil coming in that would cause the engine to run intermittently rough and make knocking sounds from bad combustion. So we took it out for a good long drive, burnt the rest of the oil out, embarrassed myself a little bit, after about 15 minutes the oil burning stopped and the engine ran smooth and it was good.

Mark: So it sounds like maybe this owner dodged a major bullet.

Bernie: I think so, but I wouldn’t count on the longevity of this engine. And this is actually the scary thing, we did a few posts about buying used cars and it might be that this owner may sell this vehicle and it’s going to be running great but how would you know if you bought a used car that this amount of work had been done? That this oil has been neglected like that? There’s no real record of that other than if they showed the bill for this work or if someone actually contacted us, so that’s a bit of a risk you know, just to add to our used car post we’ve had. You just hope and assume people have done good maintenance and this is why you need to ask people, do you have receipts for all your maintenance, have you done all your oil changes on time? Because if people can’t produce them that can be a real red flag, as we talked about the last person who had this particular issue had a twenty two thousand dollar job for a blown engine and his turbo for some reason was working. So yeah, I think the owner dodged a major bullet here which is great, very fortunate.

Mark: And then probably the life of this motor is compromised?

Bernie: Absolutely. You know, there’s no doubt about it. You just can’t go that far without oil changes, without causing some kind of damage.

Mark: So final lesson is if you have a diesel, change your freaking oil.

Berne: Exactly, I mean I can’t say enough and especially with so many modern cars, especially a Mercedes, I mean it tells you right on the dash, change the oil. Just follow that. It’s so simple. They couldn’t make it any simpler unless, we phoned you up when it was due and kept calling every day you didn’t do it. It’s just, the clock keeps ticking, it’ll tell you 20 days over due/ 21 days, 22, its like you got to do it, otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of money. Those are my final thoughts, change your oil unless you drive a Tesla, change your oil.

Mark: So if you need service on your vehicle from a guy who cares, from a company who pride themselves on incredible customer service and giving you the best deal and the best advice possible, not spending a dollar more of your money than is needed or deserve, these are the guys to call in Vancouver. Pawlik Automotive. You can book your appointment at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: You’re welcome. Thanks Mark.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix A/C Condenser Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s best automotive experience. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well Mark. How are you?

Mark: Good. So air conditioning repairs, hard to think of right now given that we’re in the middle of you know fall in the summer of 2016 here in Vancouver; it’s been rainy but I guess you had a 2006 Grand Prix that had some ongoing air conditioner problems.

Bernie: It has, and um it’s a good example of how air conditioning systems can be a little complex to fix over time, um yeah so basically so what was happening with this car, a few months, actually I think over the last few years the owner had experienced some problems with the air conditioning and a few months ago he said let’s get this fixed up so we did a diagnosis on it, found the compressor had a pretty substantial leak and looked around the rest of the system, couldn’t find any other leaks at the time so we replaced the compressor and we also replaced the accumulator at the same time which is kind of a filter drier filter, replaced that unit at the same time, felt the system was working great, went out of town for about a month or more, came back and it wasn’t blowing cold as he had wanted it to.

Mark: So how did you find the first leak?

Bernie: Well the first leak we found initially with a refrigerant detector; we have multiple methods of finding refrigerant leaks; they can be very tricky sometimes it can be kind of small, sometimes they can be large. Large ones are always better to find but the, with this particular refrigerant leak the original one we found with an electronic refrigerant detector; the second time around we looked at the vehicle and we found that it was in fact low in refrigerant again, not empty but low so we did some tests, now when we did the first repair we added some UV dye to the system, it’s an ultraviolet dye and when the vehicle, when the leak occurs it, it mixes with the oil and it comes out you can see like a green glow, so I’m going to share a photo, screen share a photo here with you, if I can get this to work. There we go. This is a picture of the condenser, so this was what we found was faulty the 2nd time, this is the condenser, it’s like a radiator that sits in front of the engine and if you notice on the left, bottom left corner of the picture you can see a very greeny kind of glue, you can see that there’s like an oil coating on that side and if you look on the right side of the picture you see it’s just sort of black, blackish type of film but when you look towards the left you can see a sort of oiler film on it and in the bottom left corner you can see a green dye which is absolutely a hundred percent conclusive evidence of a leak from the condenser. So the leak, the leak UV dye is one of our favourite ways to find leaks because it, it’s extremely conclusive but many times a leak that’s small we can’t find it.

Mark: So what was involved in replacing this condenser?

Bernie: Well a condenser, it’s located at the front of the vehicle and it’s always in front of the radiator so uh it’s usually a fairly labour intensive job in this car and it was. In this vehicle you have to remove the radiator and then drain the cooling system, remove the radiator and then you can take the condenser out and some are not so difficult and others are even worse but that’s basically what’s involved and of course we have to evacuate whatever refrigerant is in the system first, then remove the condenser, replace it and then do another service on the, on the AC system so we deep vacuum it and then refill it again.

Mark: So you mentioned that you repaired this vehicles AC system a couple months before, did you charge for each diagnosis?

Bernie: No we don’t; what we do because the way air conditioning systems work and we can never be 100% sure we fixed it, what we do at our shop is we have a one year basic diagnostic warranty on air conditioning diagnosis so it’s something if we look at the vehicle and we determine it’s this particular problem we will do the repair if the customer wants to, see how it works out, if it works fine great, but if something else were to happen then we’ll just continue diagnosing it for you know within the year for no extra charge and in this case too we also evacuated and recharged the system for no extra charge as well. It doesn’t make sense to be paying for things over and over but often we just cannot see the other leaks and things until you know, again the system is repaired and it gets up to pressure and starts working.

Mark: So it’s almost like it, it causes cascades, one you got a big problem in one area and that seems to be the only issue but once you fix that, then all the little problems start to show up, is that kind of what’s going on in the case?

Bernie: Exactly, you know the thing is you know, the system hadn’t worked in a few years so it may have developed a leak in this condenser that you know, was not noticeable until the system is actually functional and the pressures were back. Air conditioning is really interesting because it involves, I mean, it has a, I don’t even know what it’s called, I guess a chemical like a liquid but the refrigerant, the R134 is basically, it changes state from a high-pressure gas to a high pressure liquid to a low pressure gas to a low pressure liquid and the temperatures fluctuate throughout the whole system so it’s under a major amount of stress plus it sits under the hood of a car where it’s at least, you know, it’s extremely hot so it, it’s amazing how well they work and how reliable they are but you know, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Mark: So air conditioning can be pretty expensive to fix?

Bernie: It can be, I never like to use the word expensive, I was thinking about that word because it’s always a judgment or a perception in people’s minds but yeah, generally it’s not the cheapest thing to repair I mean, sometimes you may get away with a couple hundred dollar repair, it isn’t like some simple electrical item, but often like, like a job like this particular vehicle is probably I’m thinking it’s probably $1,500 to $2,000 but with the two repairs, so it’s a fair amount of, it’s a fair amount of cost. I usually find there’s sort of two camp of people with car air conditioning, there’s the people who want it and are willing to spend the money to fix it and there’s the people who just don’t care and don’t spend it so.

Mark: Yeah, it’s not that big deal for us here.

Bernie: Well, exactly it’s not exactly I mean Vancouver doesn’t stay hot a lot long, I mean we had like a summer in March, April and May, it’s kind of different but you know again you can always roll the windows down we seem to get used to air conditioning in cars and one time air conditioning was a luxury option and now it’s I find it rare, very rare to find a new car that, that doesn’t have air conditioning, it’s just like very car has it, it’s real standard equipment, even more popular that power windows now.

Mark: So if you’re in Vancouver and you love your air conditioning, it’s not working right, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can call them to book your appointment at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

How to Buy a Good Used Car – Where to Buy Cars

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, 16 time, maybe more winners of best auto repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So, um, we’re going to talk about the last kind of section of buying a good used car; where’s a good place to buy a car?

Bernie: Well as I see it there are three options to buying a good used car, actually buying any used car whether it’s good or bad, one is a private sale, second from a dealership, and the third is from an auction.

Mark: Alright, so what are the advantages of a private sale?

Bernie: So for private sale, I usually think price is one of the advantages, not always, you have to do your homework as I mentioned in previous hangouts but price is definitely generally better and also you get to meet the owner of the car, you get to know how did this person take care of the car, you can talk to them about, you know, see if they have maintenance receipts, um, often you can buy a car from the original owner, if it’s an older car you can see how they maintained the car and it gives you an opportunity to decide, hey do I want to buy this car based on the person who’s even owned it, so that something that you don’t get when you buy from a dealer or auction house, is to get to know who’s owned the car and how they’ve taken care of it. So that to me is an advantage of the private sale, much more personal.

Mark: Yeah, I remember looking for a car and we went, quick story, and we went and the guy jumped in this car, started it, floored it, literally floored it right cold, blam and o.k. guys take it for a test drive, and it’s like, no thanks.

Bernie: Yeah, that’s an excellent example of you know, where you see the personality, the person who owned the car and you go I don’t think so, you can just tell the cars going to have problems. So that’s a very good, very good example.

Mark: So what about buying from a dealer? What’s the advantages from buying from a dealer?

Bernie: So dealers, there’s a few, there’s a wide range of dealerships. There are your branded dealerships like your GM, your Subaru, your Volvo dealership and generally these dealerships only sell what I call good cars, they’re usually late model cars, probably not much more than 5 years old, they’ve still got some, they’re still higher priced, they’ve got some good value, they probably took them in a trade in and they make sure they sell cars that are fairly decent. Your next category of dealership is your independent dealership; now these range anywhere from you know, you’re extremely sketchy auto sales person that’s made a reputation, made the car sales business horrible up to some very high quality used, independent used car dealerships. It’s really worth doing your homework before you buy a car again from these kind of people, find out where the dealership is, I mean if you like the car that you’re looking at, you know suss out the dealership and you’ll get an idea whether they sell good quality cars or not. So advantage of dealers, I mean you know, some of the lower end dealers will sell any piece of crap and try to make it look good, but the higher end independent dealers will again sell pretty good cars because their reputation’s on the line, they don’t want to sell you a piece of junk. What else, oh yeah, dealerships will often offer in-house financing, especially the larger dealerships so that’s, that’s another advantage, I mean of course you can finance pretty well any car but you know, it’s kind of a one stop shop, you can buy the car and finance it and take care of the whole transaction in one shot.

Mark: Alright, the final category, excuse me, is auctions, what, what are the downfalls or advantages of using an auction?

Bernie: Well, I think auctions are risky, this is where you really need to do your homework, this is really where you need to know what’s a good type of car, you don’t want to walk into an auction going, well I’ll just put a bid on any car, that’s a bad mistake, I’ve seen people who’ve bought cars at auctions that wouldn’t be worth owning for free. So you need to do your research, if you know exactly, hey I want to buy this you know, 2000 or say, I don’t 2009
BMW X5 and you know the price range, you know what looks good, you know what doesn’t, what the price range is for mileage you can look over the car although you can’t really take it out on a road test, you don’t really know the history of the car but can probably get a pretty good idea but again, it’s about knowing the car, doing your research, then you might have the opportunity to get a good deal. The thing about auctions is a lot of times people get caught up in the hype of the auction, they end up bidding way more money for a car that isn’t worth it, so you’ve got to know what you’re doing for auctions. I would say it’s probably your final option and the thing about the cars, it really becomes a commodity in an auction house, is just a machine that’s sitting there and who knows how it’s really been taken care of or who’s done what to it, there’s not really a lot of, you know, I’ve got to say a good independent car dealer or even a you know, a branded dealership usually does an inspection on a car and goes over it, so an auction house won’t even go that far, but there are some guarantees in place but it’s a little dicey. So I’d say that would be my very last choice for buying a good used car.

Mark: Yeah, it’s probably something where if you’re willing to do a lot of the research and you really know cars, although you don’t even get much of a chance, lifting the hood isn’t going to tell you a lot about how the car’s going to run or just starting it and seeing if it’ll, you don’t still know if the brakes or steering are any good but it’s, there’s a lot that can go wrong even with a low mileage car as you’ve pointed out, you know, 50,000 kilometer vehicles and the motors are done.

Bernie: Absolutely, we’ve got a, you know we’ve seen a couple where you know, just recently worked on some cars where you know, we’d done some work on the engines and I know they don’t have a lot of life left in them and you know, some could be some of these things in auction and it could actually pass your sort of immediate test, oh that car’s not bad, it might actually work for a while and blow up in a year so, I mean how of a used car is that? So um, yeah, that’s so, as I say auctions are definitely, I mean a lot of dealerships buy from auctions but you know, they’re experienced pros and they don’t always make the right choice either. If you’re buying a used car you usually have one shot at it and most people don’t want to buy a couple. Oh, I’ll get rid of that one, it’s a lot of work. You want to make your choice and do it right the first time.

Mark: Any final thoughts?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, I guess a lot depends on how much money you have to spend as well, I mean if you’re looking only to buy a $3,000 used car you’re pretty much going to be in the market of buying for a private sale is really the way to go, you don’t want to go to some car lot and buy a $3,000 car, I mean it’s I don’t know it’s just, to me it’s just too risky, they pawn off too much junk but if you’re looking, you know if you have a budget for a 2 or 3 year old car I mean you’re pretty much, pretty much going to be buying that from a dealership of some sort whether it’s a good independent dealership or a, or a brand, a branded dealership and often those cars have a bit of warranty left on them as well. So, it depends on what you’re buying and it’s almost as important when you buy a used car to be realistic, if you’re buying a 3 year old used car, not much is going to go wrong with it but if you’re buying a 12 year old car, well it’s old, you know and stuff is going to happen no matter what, so you know, don’t buy a 12 year old car expecting it to be like a new car.

Mark: Right so if you’re looking to buy a new car and you need an inspection before you purchase the believe me, learned the hard way, you must get an inspection before you put your money down; these are the guys to call Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

How to Buy a Good Used Car Part 2

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of the famous Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 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: So we’re going to talk a little bit more about buying a good used car and some of the other pitfalls to be avoided. What are some of those?

Bernie: So I’m going to talk about some categories of cars that you should be extremely cautious, possibly avoid completely but if you’re going to buy one just be extremely cautious. So I’ve basically broken it into four areas; first one, rebuilt write-offs, second old cars, third rusty vehicles and fourth, vehicles that are priced low because they need a lot of work. So these are some of the areas where you need to tread with extreme caution.

Mark: Alright so rebuilt write-offs is the first category, what, what is a rebuilt write-off and why would I be, want to be cautious about them?

Bernie: So a rebuilt write-off is basically a vehicle that’s been damaged to the point where the insurance company has written the vehicle off, it’s basically not repairable but that doesn’t mean it isn’t repairable, it’s just not economically repairable to say you crash your car, it cost $10,000 to fix the car, it’s worth say 9 or 10 thousand dollars. They decide, we’re not going to fix the car, we’re just gonna scrap it so that doesn’t mean it would cost $10,000 to go to the conventional body shop route but for somebody who would buy the car for cheap they might be able to get used parts, put the car together and make it work and then sell it and make some money but this is where you’ve got to be really cautious, you need to know what was the damage and who repaired it. I’ve seen some cars that have been so badly repaired it’s just, it’s, it’s scary and so you can save money by buying a rebuilt write-off but often the savings are not to be had at all. An example, I had a customer who bought a, it was only about a one year old Chevy Cavalier few years back paid about $4,000 less than the going rate for a year old cavalier, the car had been so badly repaired and the first clue was when we found 2 oxygen sensor wires had been plugged together the wrong way so it was very evident that whoever had worked on this car had no idea what they’re doing with cars. It had a transmission leak but long story short, by the time he was done getting the car back into reasonably good operating shape it cost him the same amount of money as it would cost to buy a good used cavalier. He’d bought that used cavalier he would have still had a couple years warranty on it because once your cars written off there’s no manufacturer’s warranty anymore and he would have been able, and he would not have had a car with a rebuilt title on it and who knows what else is really wrong with the car too, you just never know, so um, so that’s a good lesson to avoid. A happy story of a rebuilt write-off with a customer a while ago that a CX5 Mazda had dents all over the roof and hood and it was pretty evident when you looked at it, this thing was probably in a hail storm and it was dented everywhere and I talked with the customer about it, yeah we bought this thing, it was a rebuilt write-off from Alberta, it was pretty cheap and you know that’s probably a pretty good deal if you’re happy to live with a dented car you know and pay less money, mechanically it’s perfect so, that’s the thing about rebuilt write-offs. I’d just share something here if you’re wondering how you know the vehicle’s a write-off, of course you might want to ask the, ask the person you’re buying it from and they should tell you, is this showing Mark? Can you see this?

Mark: it’s up now

Bernie: OK, cool, ok so this is a copy of a British Columbia Insurance paper of a vehicle registration paper, you notice the red arrows I put in there, it says vehicle status but these vehicles are

Mark: we’re back to you Bernie

Bernie: Back to me, o.k., uh, let’s see what’s going on here. Let’s see if we can re share this thing because this is an important piece of information to know. All right, all right, let’s try this again. . do you see it?

Mark: Yup

Bernie: Good, o.k. so there is arrows pointing to a line that says Vehicle Status and right there if this is a rebuilt, if you’re buying a rebuilt vehicle there are the words rebuilt will be right in that area so that’s something to look for.

Mark: So what is that form?

Bernie: That is a registration, that’s a Vehicle Registration form in British Columbia, every car has one so I don’t know, other I mean other provinces and states have, have all have registration sheets, they should have something that mentions that because a rebuilt vehicle in Canada is the same as rebuilt vehicle in the United States, it’s all, it carries with the title and the serial number of the vehicle all the way no matter where you go with it so. The other downside of a write off vehicle as I may have mentioned, it’s always worth less money so if you buy a rebuilt write off for less money than say the going rate when you go to sell it you’re going to get less money too, of course when a car’s 15 years old is anyone going to care, maybe not but you really got to think about it. I personally just avoid buying a write off vehicle no matter what the price is.

Mark: So your 2nd category was old cars, how do you define old cars and why should we, they be approached with caution?

Bernie: So old cars and I mean these are, everyone has a different opinion of an old car because I meet people who have a four year old car go oh my car is getting old but to me a 4 year old is not an old car, it’s still practically brand new, I mean to me like after 10 years a car is starting to get old, more things go wrong and once you hit the 15 to 20 year range you, you’re really looking at the realm of old cars and the thing is when cars get older it’s harder to get parts, they become less mainstream, it’s harder to get new parts, hard to get used parts and more stuff goes wrong with the car so again you know, you can buy old cars for cheap but we see so often people they buy like an old, like an 1992 Mercedes and you know it’s a nice car but it’s old and things go wrong, they cost a lot to fix, um newer cars are also a lot easier to diagnose and repair than older ones are so I personally unless you really want an old car, like if it’s a classic that’s probably worth the money and it’s going to be your second car but if you’re looking for a daily driver, I’d avoid an old car, you’re just going to run into problems and you’re going to be our shop a lot more frequently than you probably want to be and probably be disgruntled about spending the money but you know, if it’s something you really want this car, you love it, it’s great and you’re willing again it’s always approaching with your eyes open knowing what you’re going to get into, knowing that you’re going to have more repairs and parts might be harder to find then it’s o.k. but personally I’d avoid it.

Mark: Alright, so next on your list was rusty cars, this seems pretty obvious but why should we avoid rusty cars?

Bernie: While rusty cars, I mean it’s like buying a, you know I hate say it but it’s like dating someone with cancer and you’re hoping for a long-term long life, you know, it’s not going to last but I mean rusty cars are, are safety comprised, again you’re probably going to get one for cheaper, again this goes into cheap car categories at least we hope but the repairs can be more expensive as well because things like brake lines rust out and just parts that don’t normally need to be fixed on a non rusty vehicle costs more money to fix so again you know, if you’re buying a used car I would avoid anything with you know, excess rust and especially if you’re in a collision, rust is you know, it weakens the vehicle so you could be hurt or severely.

Mark: So your last category is vehicles that need a lot of work, what do you mean by that?

Bernie: So, so sometimes you can come across a vehicle that’s you know, that this for sale at substantially below the market value and it’s because it needs some work. A really good example we had a while ago, I had a customer bought a Range Rover, it was about I don’t know, he paid about $15,000 for it when the going rate on these particular Range Rovers in good condition is about 25 so that’s a lot cheaper, you know, that’s 10 thousand bucks off, it’s a great deal but this vehicle looked like someone, I mean it’s kind of shocking for a luxury vehicle that someone would treat this thing like a piece of garbage, I mean the interior had like scratches and scrapes and there’s parts missing, it was, it was someone’s beater but I guess if you have, you know, if you make a million bucks a year you can afford to turn a Range Rover into a beater but this car it had like mechanical problems and had like the body had a few scratches and scrapes and long story short by the time we ended up fixing the vehicle back into decent running condition, he paid about, I think he paid about 7 or 8 thousand dollars in repairs so that put the vehicle from 15 up to about 23 thousand and the vehicle still esthetically needed some cleanup and work and some other mechanical items so really you got to be really very cautious when you buy these kind of things, to really do the math, to really look at it and go what am I actually going to be spending because honestly he would have probably been better off to find, to spend 25 thousand bucks on a nice Range Rover you know, that someone had taken good care of, I mean karmacally it also feels better when you buy a car where someone’s taken care of but again cars that need a lot of work usually end up not being worthwhile but you know again you got to do the math and whatever has a theme with all these stories is give us a call, call a mechanic you trust and say I’m looking to buy this vehicle, it’s a rebuilt write off, what do you think or this cars got a bit of rust, you know this car needs a bunch of work, do you think it’s worth it and you know run it by your professional and get an opinion, best way to save money and make sure sort of thing if an ounce of gold is say worth a thousand dollars and you can get it for 900 bucks, well that‘s a good deal but with a car you never know whether a used car is really worth, it’s hard to equate, there’s a lot of variables, where an ounce of gold is an ounce of gold.

Mark: So if you want some help with your gold purchases or your cars and you’re in Vancouver, give Bernie Pawlik a call at 604-327-7112, book your used vehicles in for a repair, maintenance or if you’re looking at buying something, if you need an inspection they’re experts at it, they’ve seen a lot in many, many years of doing this or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2007 Mercedes CLK320 A Level Service

Mercedes A service

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of the same Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Mercedes 2007, fairly recent, only 9 years old, not quite an old car yet, a CLK320, what’s this A level service that we’re going to talk about?

Mercedes A service

2007 Mercedes CLK320

Bernie: Yes, so this is a nice convertible Mercedes and as you mentioned it's 9 years old but really to me it’s not old: it looks like a new car and drives like a new car. This is a very low mileage car. The A Service is basically a Mercedes basic maintenance service and Mercedes has different levels of service but A is basically the starting point.

Mark: OK so how often does an A Service have to be done?

Bernie: Generally every 12 to 15,000 kilometers, there’s a reminder on the vehicle that will come up that will tell you it’s due for an A Service or B sometimes there’s a C and D, different Mercedes they have different things but generally every 12 to 15,000 kilometers is the service interval on this vehicle.

Mark: So what the other service levels, I guess what other maintenance services need to be done on Mercs?

Bernie:  I'II explain an A Service first which is basically an oil change along with a maintenance inspection so with that service we would look at the fluid levels, adjust the tire pressures, check the lights, wiper blades, visual under hood and under car inspection. It’s not generally a wheel off, brake inspection and that’s when we get into the B Service which is a more thorough service and that’s done every second time. As far as other maintenance services for Mercedes there are fluids that need to be changed from time to time and spark plugs of course, not very often though, but the A Service is the most common.

Mark: So what other, is there other additional items that are required in an A Service?

Bernie: Generally not but air filters may need to be replaced, the cabin air filter also is not difficult to inspect so depending on the mileage that may need to be replaced and on Mercedes the brake fluid generally needs to be flushed every two to three years so that’s something we would look at, so those might be additional items but again we evaluate it during the A Service.

Mark: So why would brake fluid need to be flushed?

Bernie: Brake fluid absorbs water out of the air and it’s called a hygroscopic fluid; it will somehow, I don’t know how, it’s kind of magical but water seeps into places like in through plastic parts and metal and hoses and somehow it gets into your brake system. We have a tester where we can test the water content of the brake fluid. European manufacturers they’re really big on flushing brake fluid. I guess the northern European climate where a lot of Mercedes and German vehicles come from, its a rainy type of climate so moisture gets in there. European manufacturers are concerned about that kind of thing where a lot of other manufacturers are not, and they should be. That’s why brake fluid needs to be flushed and the more water that is in the fluid the will lower the boiling point goes and it’s amazing if you ever look at a chart, it’s kind of scary when you get up to 4%, the boiling point drops by 100 degrees Fahrenheit or maybe it’s even 150, it’s quite a lot. If you’re going down a really steep hill and you need to put your brakes on a lot you could actually lose them if there’s too much water in the brake fluid.

Mark: And that is definitely a scary thing if you’ve ever had that happen, it is, you press on the pedal and nothing happens and it is not good.

Bernie: I’ve actually experienced it, I had a Subaru that we got the brakes kind of cooking hot, we didn’t quite lose them but it was hard to stop the car and so it I’ve noticed it but it doesn’t happen too often. I’ve got a couple photos to share of this car if we have a minute here to look.

Bernie: Yeah, o.k. yeah so there’s our Mercedes and there’s a view of the engine compartment, not a lot to see other than those nice plastic covers that hide all the little details but a simple clip and removal and the engine is visible underneath. It’s a V6 in this car; it’s a 3.2 litre V6. You can usually tell what size engine a Mercedes has by the name of the car CLK320, it’s a 3.2 litre engine. So we’ll leave here, we’re back.

Mercedes A service

3.2 Liter engine with plastic covers hiding the complex components

Mark: So as a Mercedes owner, can I count on the dash reminder system?

Bernie: Yes, they’re actually quite reliable. So this is the reminder that comes on and tell you A Service due: visit workshop or B Service, it’s quite reliable and I like it more than some other cars such as BMW’s that have 24,000 kilometer oil change intervals, Mercedes are more like the 15,000 range which I think is really reasonable. They all use the same kind of oil even though BMW specifications is different than Mercedes, they’re all meant for the same specifications but by the time you hit 24,000 kilometers it’s pretty ugly but at 15 your oil still has some life left in it which is what you want. You don’t want to change really old oil, so yeah, you can count on it and the other thing it also has is a timer so if you only drive, 5,000 kilometers a year it’ll remind you after a year or so, maybe a little longer that you should change your oil because it’s getting old. So yeah, I would count on it, it’s good.

Mark: Any final thoughts about Mercedes and servicing?

Bernie: Yes: as a final thought change your oil. We’ve got another Mercedes diesel in our shop where someone has gone 20,000 kilometers beyond the oil change interval, blown their engine and it’s another you know over $20,000 bill, actually this one the turbochargers wiped out too so it’s going to add even more money. Oil changes on Mercedes aren’t cheap but engines are way, way, way more expensive so follow the reminders on your dash, they make it easy.

Mark: So cautionary tale, make sure you follow your reminders on your Mercedes and if you need service for it the guys to call in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 book your appointments, they’re busy, smoking busy because they’re popular, they do a great job and check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark

How to Buy a Good Used Car

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

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So it’s a bit colder and wetter in Vancouver more like we’re used to. We’re going to talk about buying a used car, a good used car. So how and why would I buy a used car?

Bernie: Well there’s a lot of good reasons to buy a used car and I think especially nowadays cars are built so well contrary to what some people have you know, they think that the good old days are better. Modern cars are built so well, if you were to buy a car let’s say even a couple years old you may as well be buying a brand new car at a hugely reduced price so there’s a lot of financial value in buying a used car.

Mark: So is price really the only reason to buy a used car?

Bernie: I think so, I mean for any given model of car that you take, a used car is always cheaper and sometimes substantially so if you give it a few years. Depreciation is a huge issue with cars when you buy them and the moment you drive them off the lot you lose a lot of money right away so there’s a lot of good value in used cars, I’ll just share some stuff, share something with you here, just some quick research I’ve done. Here’s some price comparison, so for $20,000 just a few of the brand new cars you can buy would be a Chevy Cruise, a Kia Elantra, Toyota Corolla a Honda Civic and there’s a lot of others that I haven’t mentioned here Mazda, there’s Volkswagen, there’s a lot of offerings for $20,000 but if you spent your $20,000 on a used car you can get something a little larger like say a 2012 Honda CRV, extremely reliable car, will last a long time or a 2012 BMW 328i Xdrive with a navigation system, a lot fancier of a car or again for $20,000 you can buy 2011 Subaru WRX with only 51,000 kilometers, nice sporty fast car, you can drive around in style and you know, so those are some of the options that are available in that, in that. Now if you were to spend $40,000 you know, you can buy, you know a brand-new fully loaded Subaru Outback or Forrester, slew of other you know sort of lower end European luxury cars. There’s a lot of Japanese really good Japanese cars for 40,000 bucks but you know you can also buy a 2012 Audi S5, V8 Quattro or uh or something more practical like a 2013 Toyota Highlander, I mean not a very old vehicle, you know and a little larger or a luxurious 2010 Range Rover supercharged. Those are, those are some of the options and if you want to spend less money like in the $10,000 will buy you a great used car, even $5,000 bucks if you do your homework you can probably buy a good used car as well.

Mark: So aren’t there a lot of pitfalls or potential pitfalls with buying some of these fancier vehicles and wouldn’t maintenance start to become a financial burden?

Bernie: Absolutely and the fancier the car you buy generally the more problems you’re going to have with it and you know, sometimes the repairs can be astronomically more expensive I mean for example if you were to take a $40,000 vehicle and you chose either the Highlander or the Range Rover, the Highlanders going to give you almost no problems for many, many, many years, you know very cheap to maintain. The Range Rover on the other hand is going to have problems, I mean if I was going to buy one of those I realistically probably consider spending you know, budgeting three to five thousand dollars a year on repairs and maintenance. So if you know that kind of thing and you really want the Range Rover I mean you’re going to save a lot of money over a new one and have a great car.

Mark: All right so what do I do to protect myself and make sure I’m not buying a car or vehicle that’s not going to be, I’m not inheriting a lot of somebody else’s problems?

Bernie: Well there’s a few things; so first of all you do your research, you set a budget, how much do you want to spend on the car and then you, you’ve got to factor in maintenance costs as well, you can’t just go, oh the car’s 10,000 bucks and it’s a BMW, great, I’m going to buy it. Just remember there’s a reason why the car that was worth $50,000 a few years ago is only worth $10,000 now because there’s repairs and things that are going to need to be done, so you really have to look at the big picture. You look at reliability reports for cars and you talk to people, you call, you call people like us at our shop here in Vancouver, you know you’re looking at a car, call us, we can give you some advice, let you know what kind of car is good if what you’re looking at is a worthwhile thing to buy or you can consult your mechanic that you trust. There’s lots of resources out there, but do your homework, that’s the most important thing. There are other things that we can do beyond that but the first step, do your research, do your homework.

Mark: Well having been through this experience what about making sure, I meant to but didn’t darn it, was to bring the vehicle into you to get a vehicle inspection prior to buying it, isn’t that a good idea?

Bernie: You know I think that’s the most important consideration and when I think of over the years of people who have bought you know, made bad used car choices I think they could have all been avoided, I mean every one of them could have been avoided by either calling someone like us, like a trusted mechanic someone they deal with or ourselves, you know to ask you know, I’m thinking about buying this car, what do you think and then if you know if the advice you get is yeah that seems like a good car, then get it inspected, don’t just assume you know, we charge about $150 plus taxes to do an inspection on a car, it’s, it’s cheap, I mean there are cars that I have seen over the years that aren’t even worth owning for free so it’s a $150 even if you spend it three times, it seems like a lot of money but it’s well worth it to get the right car because it’s like a marriage, you want to marry the right person otherwise it’s going to cost you a lot in the end. I was going to say too I mean just from experience, just talking about reliability of vehicles and in doing research I mean it’s also important to choose the right car and not to get emotionally attached, we can talk about that further in our next, next hangout but you know really important to make the right car choices.

Mark: So this is all great, kind of overview info, are we going to dig into this a little bit more coming up?

Bernie: We are absolutely, you know I was just going to say to summarize, you know what we’ve talked about, you know it’s great, great to buy used cars because you can save a lot of money, you can get a better and fancier car than you might be able to afford but the key is to do your research, do your homework, make sure you know what you’re buying, you know, don’t make a bad decision, don’t make an emotional decision, consult somebody, yeah and so our next episode were going to look at you know, types of cars to avoid and the steps you can take to make sure you buy a good used car.

Mark: So we’ve been talking to Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They do an amazing job of looking after your vehicle, vehicle maintenance and service and repairs in Marpole in Vancouver. Give them a call to book your appointment, they’re busy 604-327-7112 or check out their website; packed with all kinds of information pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2000 Porsche Boxster IMS Bearing Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience and they can back up that claim. They are 16 times winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their clients. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Porsche Boxster, there was some sort of bearing failure or replacement you did. What’s going on sounds pretty serious?

Bernie: Well it is. So the intermediate shaft bearing on this Boxter failed which is a common issue on many of these early 2000 and mid 2000 Porsche engines. Yes, so yeah definitely a very serious issue.

Mark: So what’s a IMS bearing?

Bernie: Yeah, the IMS bearing stands for intermediate shaft and this is a very, very common failure on this vehicle. The intermediate shaft basically is a, as the name implies is intermediate between the crankshaft and the camshafts is a chain that drives the intermediate shaft and that in turn drives the camshaft timing chains.

Mark: Wow, does that, so that failure internally in the engine, does that require or necessitate a full engine overhaul?

Bernie: Well generally yes once the bearing fails it generally does. This particular customer was lucky in that the bearings started making a squeaky noise and did not completely fail. This is the bearing still intact although it did wear to the point of putting a few metal particles into the engine but very minimal, I mean they do fail to the point of you know the, the bearing completely blows apart. I don’t have any pictures to show you of that but if you look on the internet you’ll see some really nice photos of these bearing where they completely fail and of course at that point I mean, it’s, it’s game over for the rest of the engine so that’s, you know, so these folks were lucky, the bearing started making a squeaking sound before it completely failed.

Mark: So you’ve had a whole bunch of debris in the motor, how long in your engine going to last with that running around inside there?

Bernie: Well it’s kind of difficult to say, I mean from what we can see there’s very minimal amount but it’s never a good thing for the engine, you know and at this point but it seems to run fine so we’ve left it you know, but I’ve given the owner a warning that you never know how what sort of incurrence you’ve got left in it, you know basically the replacing this bearing it’s always important to do it before it fails, that’s kind of the key.

Mark: So do you think it’s a good idea to change this bearing as a regular service item, a maintenance item?

Bernie: Absolutely, I mean that’s, that’s the key issue, it’s really important to replace it, I mean they’re probably good for you know, 75,000 kilometers. There’s various you know, opinions on it, that seems to be about the sort of average. When you were asking is it wise to do this as a maintenance item and yes it absolutely is, I mean any time a clutch wears out on, on one of these vehicles it’s important to do the intermediate shaft bearing. It does add a substantial cost but the cost of replacing an engine on this vehicle is horrific, you know and on a 2000 Boxter the vehicle is actually very good value, they’re not very expensive but you know a complete engine job in one of these vehicles is worth more that the whole vehicle so you really to make sure you do your maintenance and replace this. Now if your vehicle is an automatic you just want to automatically remove the transmission at a certain point and replace the IMS bearing. It’s like a maintenance item like a timing belt, you would change it at certain intervals; the IMS bearing is the same thing. So there’s our bearing, if you look where I’ve got this pointer here you can see a few meal filings and bits and pieces that, that is metal that’s actually leaked out of you know bits that leaked out of the bearing so that’s not a good sign but the bearing and seal are intact so just a very minimal amount of debris left this bearing. This is a photograph of the opening, the back of the engine where the bearing sits and that’s right with the bearing pulled out of the engine so the new one is pressed in, we buy them from a company called LN Engineering, they’ve developed an amazing product where you can actually replace this bearing, just from Porsche it’s not available as a separate replacement piece. So those are some of our photos.

Mark: Can you show the car again?

Bernie: Yeah, there’s an example it’s a 2000 Boxter, it’s an example of a vehicle that has an IMS bearing in it.

Mark: So which models and years does this affect?

Bernie: Definitely from 99 up to, to the late 2000 model year in 911’s and Boxters and the only thing, up until about I don’t have my years exactly correct, up until around 2006 you can put these replacement kits in but after that you, after that, after that you’ve actually got to disassemble the engine to replace the IMS bearing and after around the 09 model year they stopped using it all together which is a good thing.

Mark: This must affect Caymens as well then.

Bernie: Yeah it does, yeah certainly it does. Yeah, yeah, so it’s important to check again if you own a Porsche you know, check with your mechanic, find out you know, which model year it is. Find out whether you have an IMS bearing, it really it’s important to know whether it’s ever been changed, if it hasn’t been it’s worth looking into doing it.

Mark: So are there any other stupidly engineered engine parts in horizontally-opposed Porsches, I guess it just really applies to mid-engine and rear engine Porsches.

Bernie: It does, yes there is nothing like this found in the front engine or the V8 models. You know off the top of my head I can’t think of anything else, I mean this is really a you know, for such an amazing car that’s really a kind of a dumb piece of engineering on their behalf but yeah there’s nothing else that’s really that you know, that’s so key and critical as let’s say it’s like a timing belt on an engine, you just need to replace it at the right interval you know or you risk blowing your engine, so in this case it’s much more expensive than you know breaking a timing belt so if you own one of these cars make sure you either replace the IMS bearing or you know that it’s being replaced in the recent future and then say it’s a maintenance item, you have to do it.

Mark: So if you’re looking for a reliable place to look after your Porsche or any other vehicle pretty much they do it at Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Give him a call 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, they have years’ worth of videos and blog posts and all kinds of interesting information on there. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: You’re welcome Mark

Don’t Rely on the Warning Lights on your Dash

warning light

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

Bernie: I’m doing really well Mark.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about reliance on your dash lights; should you trust your dash lights?

Bernie: Yes, absolutely! This post was inspired by a 2003 Toyota Matrix that just came in for a maintenance service yesterday. A regular customer, very good customer, intelligent person, came in for a routine service, I asked him as I usually do, do you have any concerns? Yes I have two, there’s a couple of noises, one of them will be an engine noise that happens under certain circumstances: so I wrote down the notes, wrote up a work order, passed it to Matt our technician. He started the engine, drove it around the block and came back a little concerned because the engine was making a lot of rattling noises and the low oil warning light on the dash was flickering on and off.

Mark: So what did you find was the cause of all that noise?

Bernie: Well the engine was extremely low on oil. The owner, when I mentioned the low oil stated that he never saw the oil light come on. I said it did for us so maybe it just reached that critical level but I’m going to share a photo here with you and this is the oil that we drained out of the engine. That is a 4 liter bucket and this engine has a 4 liter oil capacity and that’s how much oil we got out of it which is about, looks like I’d say less than half liter so these engines are designed to run on a certain amount of oil, usually you could go a liter low and you’re still safe so you could have that bucket three quarters full and still be running a safe engine but that low is really, really bad.

warning light

This is all of the oil that we drained out of this engine: that pail should be full!

Mark: So what did you think, how could the engine be so low on oil and the owner not know it?

Bernie: Well a couple things, first off all engines burn oil, it’s just something that happens. Now sometimes an engine will burn so little oil that you could drive 20,000 kilometers and you never have to add a drop but that’s usually the exception. It’s normal to burn oil, even a liter every thousand kilometers is still within the specification on any engine. So how would the owner not know it, basically the only way you don’t know it is by not checking the oil yourself, that’s really the only thing you’ve got to do and I recommend to people every 2nd time when you go to fill up your tank, pull the dipstick, check your oil, that’s the best thing to do and I have to admit I’m guilty of not doing it myself sometimes but it is critical to check that because engines burn oil, they leak it, and usually you can see leaks on the ground but if you don’t see drips the engine is burning oil.

Mark: So are there warning lights on the dash for low oil?

Bernie: Well, yes and no and this is where you really have to know about the car that you own. You need to know, does your car have a low oil warning light, some do, some don’t. I’d say probably 30 percent of cars on the road have a low oil level warning light and the other 70 percent do not have that light so you need to know that. I have an older suburban, a 2001 suburban, it has a low oil warning light so when if the oil gets about a liter low a light comes on in the dash that says that you need to add oil; which is awesome and I trust that. A lot of European cars don’t even have dip sticks, like the fancier European cars, BMW’s, there isn’t even a dip stick so you have to rely on that light, it’ll come on and it’ll tell you but you need to know if your car has this light or not. When I mentioned to the Matrix's owner about the severely low oil his response was" well the oil light never came on." Many people have an assumption that all cars have a low oil warning light but they don’t, they have this light. . . and I’m going to share a photo with you here. This light here, this is a dash view of a Subaru dash and that is the oil light that you’ll find on a generally like older Subaru’s and possibly even brand new ones, I don’t know but that is very typical of many cars, most cars have that light, it looks like an oil can with a little drip on it. That light is the oil pressure warning light and that is usually the only oil warning light that you will find on most cars. What it is there for is to tell you that the engine oil pressure is too low and it’s really meant to indicate that there’s a catastrophic oil failure problem in the engine not that your engine’s low in oil. The only time you really want to see that light come on is when you turn the key to the on position, all the dash lights come on, that oil light should come on telling you that the light actually works, the system works, as soon as you start the engine that light should go off within a second, if it stays on or if it flickers on you need to bring the car in for service immediately, but the first thing to do is check your engine's oil. So without rambling on too much basically get to know what kind of car you have, does it have a low oil level warning light or does it not have the low oil level warning light. By the way every car has this low oil pressure warning light in some way shape or form.

warning light

The green arrows point to the low oil pressure warning lamp. This is not a low oil level warning lamp but an indicator that oil is not being pumped through your engine.

Mark: So is keeping the oil full even more important on the higher tech engines we have today with variable valve timing and multiple cams and multiple valves etc.?

Bernie: Absolutely, it is absolutely critical and it’s scary when I think of the technology in a modern engine that is so reliant on having full oil and quite often we’ve had cars come in with a check engine light on and scanned it, done some diagnosis and found the actual cause of that light coming on was actually low engine oil because variable valve timing system relies on a proper flow of oil to operate the actuators to the variable valve timing system and so it’s a bit of a good early warning but again you don’t want the stuff to happen. It’s just so much more expensive, it used to be an engine with pistons, cam shaft, rocker arms, an old fashioned V8 for instance, a lot less moving parts in them than a modern engine, even a Toyota Matrix which is not a really high tech car, it has a timing chain, overhead cams, it’s complex and even the cheapest car you buy is incredibly complex, it’s like a Ferrari of 30 years ago for complexity so you really, really want to make sure your oil’s full, more important now than ever.

Mark: So, check your oil every 2nd fill up or go call these guys, they’ll look after you; 604-327-7112 Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, check out their website packed with information, pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

BMW Transmission Fluid Replacement 2001 BMW 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?


2001 BMW X3

Bernie: With this vehicle, nothing in particular other than the owner wanted a transmission flushed based on the age of the vehicle. This is a Z3 convertible, it’s a second car for the owner, it’s a pleasure vehicle, takes it on some trips here and mostly in the summertime. It's a beautiful convertible, a lot of fun to drive and it has very low kilometers, only about 75,000 kilometers which is really low for this age 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 dirty.

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

Bernie: Well they actually don’t. They’re very adamant about it in fact; I’ll share a couple of photos with you here: adamant to the point of placing this sticker that’s on the bottom of the transmission; which 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.


Warning label on transmission found on many BMW vehicles

Mark: Yeah, you did

Bernie: 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: 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 "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 BMW. 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 by doing a transmission service here. It is really a worthwhile thing to do.

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

Bernie: We never like to say that doing a transmission flush is going to make a difference, but sometimes it does, and in the case of this BMW with very low kilometers with fluid that wasn’t really all that dirty the customer called me back and said his transmission shifts a whole lot better: was way smoother with snappier shifts. So it actually does make a difference sometimes, in spite of what BMW says about never changing the fluid. We’ve had customers with 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 does 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. 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 we drain the fluid, then we hook up our flushing machine and we just simply flush the fluid. The machine pumps in new fluid and with the vehicle running the machine allows the old fluid to pump out so it basically replaces pretty much all the fluid in the transmission. That’s the simplest kind of flush. On vehicles such as this BMW that have a removable pan and a replaceable filter we will remove the pan, we replace the filter, we clean the pan. We 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 run into that; then we replace the pan gasket the 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.  As for for price: 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. Costs are anywhere on average 2 to 4 hundred dollars depending upon the car, the type of fluid  and on some vehicles, Land Rovers and Range Rovers for example, they have an integrated pan, filter and gasket, it is very expensive and time consuming and that could be a 6 to 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.

Mark: So any other thoughts on automatic transmission service?

Bernie: Basically every vehicle needs one from somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand kilometer range; whether the manufacturer recommends it or not it’s a good to do. The key thing with a lot of these maintenance recommendations from a lot of manufacturers is that most components use the same kind of fluids, the vehicle is driven in the same kind of conditions and different manufacturers 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 pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

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