2006 Cadillac SRX – ECU Repair

Cadillac SRX

Our latest featured service is ECU replacement on a 2006 Cadillac SRX.

Cadillac SRX

2006 Cadillac SRX, rear wheel drive with 3.6 Liter engine

This Cadillac came to our shop with an interesting concern: sometimes when the ignition key was turned to start the engine would not crank over. From listening to our client's description of the problem it seemed like the vehicle might have a bad battery or starter motor. From trying to start the vehicle it became clear that something different was at fault. Another interesting issue was that the key would intermittently be impossible to remove from the ignition switch. It was apparent just by the erratic nature of the concerns that this was an electronic issue.

Cadillac SRX

3.6 Liter engine with upper cover removed. Red arrow points to ECU

Our next step was to connect a scan tool to the vehicle, and from here we proceeded to do a scan of all vehicle modules. We found a couple of revealing trouble codes related to data link communication errors. Researching these codes further we found that 95% of the time the fault was with the ECU (Engine Control Unit).

Replacement of the ECU on this vehicle is fairly straightforward however it does require reprogramming. Modern car computers are all shipped without software programming because the ECU can fit a broad lineup of cars and all require different operating parameters. With reprogrammable software manufacturers can update the ECU, or any other module, as required. This happens from time to time as certain concerns become present. An example would be a check engine light that comes on due to the system being overly sensitive to certain sensor data. A reflash can eliminate this issue by reprogramming the computer with updated software.

Cadillac SRX

Part of the ECU replacement is flash programming the new unit. Shown is our laptop and the J2534 interface.

One thing that I found very interesting about this job was how small the ECU was: it was about the size of a large smart phone, with two large electrical connectors. It used to be that most ECUs were an 8 by 8 wide, by 1 inch deep box but no more: micro electronics is very much alive in the automobile.

Cadillac SRX

New ECU. Note the compact size

As for our Cadillac SRX, we installed the new ECU, performed the reprogramming and the vehicle ran great. Best of all it started every time we turned the key to start and the key came out of the ignition each and every time.

For more about the Cadillac SRX click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_SRX  You may find the transportation crash rating for this vehicle disturbing.

For more about ECUs click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engine_control_unit

2011 Porsche Cayenne Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

Porsche Cayenne

This week’s featured repair is valve cover gasket replacement on a 2011 Porsche Cayenne, brought to us by a client from Strathcona, Vancouver.

Porsche Cayenne

2011 Porsche Cayenne. Base Model with 3.6 Liter VR6 engine and rare manual transmission.

Although only a base model this Cayenne is rather special as it features a manual transmission along with the simple and reliable 3.6 liter 6 cylinder motor.

This engine has been used in the Audi Q7 since 2007. It’s a VR6 engine which is a unique Volkswagen design that was first introduced in the Golf and Jetta GTI models.

What is unique about this motor is that it is a very narrow V engine. At 15 degrees between the cylinder banks it only has one cylinder head. This creates a lot of simplicity and fewer parts: only one cylinder head, one head gasket, fewer camshafts and timing components. The engine is also very compact. VW engineers designed this larger engine to fit into the small engine compartment found in the sub compact VW cars.

The Cayenne of course is built to house much larger engines so the VR6 3.6 Liter has lots of room. Most Cayennes are equipped with powerful V8 engines. Unfortunately in their earlier years the Cayenne V8s were not good engines. They had a lot of problems with coolant leaks and other issues that caused early failures in many engines. This is completely unacceptable in any vehicle but especially in such a high priced model.

Back to our 3.6 L Cayenne and the job at hand. We performed a comprehensive inspection on this vehicle and found a few concerns: a couple of coolant leaks and a leaking valve cover gasket among them.

While the valve cover is not difficult to remove it sits buried under a rather elaborate intake manifold which features very long runners to help ram the air into the cylinders and increase performance. This engine also features a FSI fuel injection system. This is a direct injection system where the fuel is sprayed directly into the cylinder, the same as a diesel engine. Doing so provides many advantages in the realm of improved fuel economy and engine performance.

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche 3.6 Liter engine. Arrow points to location of valve cover gasket

Sitting on top of the valve cover all of these components must be removed in order to access the valve cover. The ignition coils then require removal and from there it’s a relatively easy job. From there it’s just a matter of reassembling all of the removed components.

Porsche Cayenne

Top view of 3.6 liter engine with front cover removed. The intake manifold sits over top of valve cover

Porsche Cayenne

Intake manifold assembly sitting upside down on workbench. Lower fuel injection rail and injectors are on the left.

Once completed our Cayenne was oil leak free. I often marvel at modern engine gasket technology. There are many cars on the road with over 200,000 kilometers on the odometer with no oil or coolant leaks. This is amazing! When I think back to cars built prior to the 1980’s gasket leaks occurred with great frequency. This is just another example of how well modern cars are built.

For more about the Porsche Cayenne click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_Cayenne

Want to know more about the VR6 engine, view this excellent video

2007 Mazda CX9 – Rear Brake Pads And Rotors

Mazda CX9

This weeks featured service is a Rear Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement on a 2007 Mazda CX9, brought to us by a client from Dunbar, Vancouver.

Mazda CX9

2007 Mazda CX9

While a rear brake replacement is hardly an unusual service at our shop, or many other shops for that matter, this particular repair shows a great example of the care and detail that we put into this service.

The very first step before brakes are repaired is a detailed inspection. At our shop we start with visually inspect all components. We measure the thickness of the brake pads and rotors, or drums and shoes. We test the callipers and wheel cylinders for leaks and proper movement. We test the brake fluid. From there we can determine what needs to be replaced.

There is much more to a brake job than simply replacing brake pads. Let’s look at the individual items that require attention. These are all components that we addressed during this rear brake job.

1. The brake rotor. Otherwise known as the brake disc. This component is attached to the wheel hub and usually held in place by the wheel. Rotors are made of iron and vary in quality from car to car and from parts brand to brand. There are cheap rotors, mid priced ones, premium quality and high performance options available for most vehicles. Generally speaking cheap rotors warp easily and wear quicker.

Usually by the time brake pads wear out rotors are also worn out. Rotors are prone to rusting as they are composed of bare metal and exposed to the elements. While they can be machined on a brake lathe this practice has largely disappeared as many shops no longer have a lathe. Fortunately rotors are reasonably priced and a better brake job is done by using new rotors as they are of optimum thickness which helps disperse heat quickly.

Mazda CX9

Old brake rotor, note the excessive rust inside the drum area (center). This is where the park brake shoes apply.

Mazda CX9

New brake rotor

2. Wheel hub. This is where the brake rotor sits and is found sandwiched between hub and wheel. By the time the brakes wear out the hub usual gets rusty. Cleaning the rust corrosion from the hub is critical for a proper rotor fit and to prevent premature warpage and brake shudder.

Mazda CX9

Wheel hub before cleaning. Note the rusty surface.

Mazda CX9

Wheel hub after rust was removed. The parking brake shoes sit behind the hub.

3. Brake caliper. The caliper is the part that squeezes the brake pads against the rotor. It has one or more fluid filled pistons that operate when you press your brake pedal. There are often other sliding components with the caliper and keeping these parts free of corrosion and well lubricated is critical to long brake pad life and efficient brake operation.

The brake pads sit inside the caliper bracket and move slightly back and forth with every brake application. Over time rust corrosion sets in and causes pads to stick. Often pads will wear out prematurely when this happens. An important part of doing a quality brake job involves cleaning, removing corrosion and lubricating these critical moving parts.

Mazda CX9

Brake caliper bracket with shim removed. Note the rust corrosion. This causes the pads to stick and wear out prematurely.

Mazda CX9

Caliper brake after sandblasting away the rust. The shim below is new.

Brake caliper pistons can also seize up and so can the slider pins. When this occurs the calipers need replacement.

4. Brake pads. The brake pads are generally made of a composite material softer than the brake rotors. Once upon a time they were primarily made of that fabulous mineral asbestos. As with rotors, there is a wide variety of product offerings from cheap quality to premium to high performance. Generally we like to use as close to the original manufacturers type of pad as possible. This ensures good braking with minimal squeaks and squeals and good durability. On the subject of durability, many good quality aftermarket pads will outlast the OEM installed pads, sometimes by a substantial margin.

Mazda CX9

Rear brake pads. Old pad on left and new pad on right.

So there are the brakes and a list of components and steps to doing a proper long lasting brake job. Following all of these procedures ensures that the job is done correctly. It is what we do every time at Pawlik Automotive.

For more information on the Mazda CX9 click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_CX-9

For more about disc brakes click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_brake

Pre-purchase Inspection Performed On A 2012 Audi A7

Audi A7

Today’s featured service is a pre-purchase inspection performed on a 2012 Audi A7, brought to us by a client from Granview-Woodlands, Vancouver.

Audi A7

2012 Audi A7

Prepurchase inspections are a frequent service at our shop and are very valuable to both the buyer and the seller of a vehicle. It is essential to know the status of the vehicle and nothing does this better than an unbiased inspection report.

For a seller it is vital to know the condition of the vehicle you are selling to be sure it is a safe and reliable vehicle, and if work needs to be done you can either disclose it or have it done. Knowing the condition of the vehicle also helps if the buyer gets an inspection and comes with a laundry list of problems used to negotiate a lower price. If you truly know it’s a good car you can command a higher price.

A prepurchase inspection is even more important for the buyer. Once you buy a used car you are generally stuck with it. Just driving a car can tell you a lot however it doesn’t tell all. Brakes can feel fine but you could be a month away from needing a thousand (or more) dollar brake job. An engine could be running fine but have serious fluid leaks that may not be apparent until the vehicle is inspected on a hoist. If the inspection finds any issues then you can make a powerful choice about the car or truck. Do you buy it or negotiate a better price? I’ve had more than a few people walk away from a deal and tell me the inspection was the best money they’d spent.

Audi A7

View of Audi A7 engine and its 3 Liter Supercharged engine.

Onto our featured vehicle: the 2012 Audi A7. We did this inspection for the selling dealer: a dealer who takes pride in selling fine quality, trouble free used cars. Having about 25,000 kilometers on the odometer and being only 3 years old there was little wrong with this car. But there was still a couple of things: while brakes were good tire treads were getting down. There was also a minor oil seep under the engine and the vehicle was due for a service. Fortunately for the owner the oil leak was covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and the maintenance service was still covered by the dealer’s maintenance plan.

The Audi A7 is an awesome car with amazing technology inside the car and under the hood. It is quick, smooth and luxurious. In an era of engines shrouded with plastic covers this engine is a beauty to look at. The car also features, among many amazing features massive disc brakes to slow this beast down quickly and safely.

Audi A7

Front wheel and tire on 2012 Audi A7. Note the large brake caliper and rotor.

Here are a few final points: 1) whether you are buying or selling, and you value an honest vehicle transaction, having a good prepurchase inspection is essential. 2) How the inspection is done and interpreted is critical. Every inspection is case specific and depends on the vehicle, the age, the price and the usage. What may be a problem on one car may not be much on another.

Audi A7

Center 2 pages of our 4 page 150 point inspection sheet.

For more about the Audi A7 click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audi_A7

2006 Range Rover – Fuel Pump Replacement

Range Rover

Our latest featured service is fuel pump replacement on a 2006 Range Rover, brought to us by a client from Dunbar, Vancouver.

Range Rover

2006 Range Rover

This Range Rover arrived at our shop by tow truck following a conversation with our client. He called explaining that his engine was cranking over but would not start. I explained to him that towing the vehicle to the shop was really all that we could offer. This is the case with most modern cars: due to their complexity there is little that one can do on the roadside, though sometimes you get lucky. On a positive note, modern cars break down rarely when compared to cars of the past.

After the vehicle arrived we diagnosed the concern. There are 3 basic things required to make an internal combustion gasoline engine run, assuming of course that the starter is turning the engine over: these are: compression, spark and fuel.

Based on experience we can usually get a pretty good idea of engine compression just by listening to the engine cranking over. In the case of this Range Rover it sounded good.

Next tests were for spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure. Spark and injector pulse were good.

Fuel pressure is tested by connected a fuel pressure gauge to the engine. Here we found no fuel pressure and this was why the engine failed to run.

At this point we were left with a few more tests to see if the pump was dead or there was a wiring or electronic issue present causing the pump not to run.

We verified that all things electrical were good and the pump was dead.

Replacing the fuel pump on this Range Rover is timing consuming due to the use of a saddle tank which incorporates two fuel pickups and gauge sending units. Fortunately the access is under the rear seat which makes the job a little easier.

Range Rover

Access holes to fuel pump (left) and left gauge sender and pickup unit (right)

Fuel pumps on almost all vehicles are located inside the fuel tank. There are several reasons for this: ease of manufacturing being one; the other is a performance advantage to having the pump at the source of the liquid instead of it having to suck the fuel from the tank. This is more efficient and uses less energy

Range Rover

Close up of fuel pump top cap. Note fuel hose and wiring connector

The disadvantage is in the access. As I mentioned this Range Rover is easier due to in car access. Many cars are not so easy: you must remove the fuel tank to change the pump.

Range Rover

New fuel pump assembly for 2006 Range Rover. On right side is the pump and gauge sender, on the left is the secondary pickup and gauge sender.

Should you ever experience your engine cranking over and not starting like this Range Rover did I can offer a couple of tips to you. Be sure to check your fuel gauge. On more than a few occasions we’ve had vehicles towed in with a possible fuel pump concern only to find the tank is empty. How might you know if it is your fuel pump? On most cars when you turn your key to start the fuel pump will run for a couple of seconds and if you listen closely to the underside of your vehicle you can hear a faint humming sound. It can be tricky to hear this but if you can, and you even suspect that you are low on fuel you might be best to get a Jerry can and a few liters of fuel into the tank: it might save you an expensive tow and diagnosis.

One other tip about fuel pumps, and this applies to all cars and light trucks: don’t run your vehicle low on fuel: the moment the low fuel warning light comes on, fill up your tank. Adhering to this will maximize the life of your fuel pump.

Range Rover

Fuel gauge reading empty and warning light on. This is not a good scenario. Do not continuously run your vehicle this low on fuel as it will shorten the life of your fuel pump.

For more information about fuel pumps click this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_pump

For more information on the Range Rover click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Range_Rover

Broken Motor Mount Repair – 2006 Acura TL

Acura TL

Today's featured service is engine and transmission mount replacement done on a 2006 Acura TL brought to us by a client from Surrey BC.

Acura TL

2006 Acura TL

This service was very interesting for one reason: all 3 engine mounts and all 3 transmission mounts were broken. What is even more amazing is that this vehicle has 6 mounts in total while most cars have only 3 or 4. In spite of this added reinforcement things still came apart. Most engine mount failures are noted in a car by a vibration or shake. Sometimes it's a clunk when accelerating or decelerating. As you might expect with this car it was much worse. When you shifted the gears from reverse to drive there was an exceptionally loud bang in the car. This was caused by the engine and transmission jumping around in the engine compartment. This is a very serious condition and one that can cause a lot of damage. It was a small miracle that this vehicle seemed to have sustained no further damage. Let's looks at the engine mounts. In this photo we see all the mounts laid out in their approximate positions in the engine compartment. The engine mounts are on the right and the transmission mounts are on the left.

Acura TL

Engine mount on right and transmission mounts on left

In this photo I have taken the broken sections of the mounts out so you can see the difference. I can't stress enough how unique this condition is. Having one mount broken apart happens but to have every mount broken is unheard of.

Acura TL

Mounts showing the broken parts

Here's a view of the right side mount first together and then taken apart, the small core piece in the middle was attached to the outer shell by very strong rubber which has been torn apart. This shows how this part is constructed: they all have metal end that bolt to the vehicle body and the engine or transmission and are connected with very strong rubber bonded in between. Some also feature an oil filled section to further cushion the vibrations from the engine.

Acura TL

Broken apart right engine mount

So there you have a brief education about engine mount, especially broken mounts. How long this vehicle had vibrations and clunks is hard to know but I suspect it had been a long time. Likely the owner or drivers of this vehicle drove it very hard.

As I said previously broken engine mounts can cause some very serious and expensive damage. Fortunately for this vehicle owner the mounts were it. He was lucky.

For more information about engine mounts click here http://www.doityourself.com/stry/5-problems-a-bad-engine-mount-will-cause

For more about the Acura TL click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_TL

Pawlik Automotive Repair of the Week Nissan Pathfinder Brake Repair

Nissan Pathfinder

Today’s featured service is brake repairs performed on a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder that was brought to us by a client from the Marpole neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Brake repairs are a frequent service at our shop. Working on Nissan Pathfinders are also a frequent serviced vehicle at our shop. What was unique about this service was the severity of the wear on the front brakes. Our client had brought the vehicle to us at the last possible moment before complete brake failure.

These brakes were so badly worn that the right inboard brake pad had been ground very thin and the pad had slipped out of it’s mounting. The brake caliper pistons were now rubbing against the rotor when the brakes were applied. The subsequent noise was hideous.

How long these brakes were grinding is hard to say but I would imagine it had been quite a long time.

Here is a view of the caliper pistons, severely damaged by rubbing against an already damaged brake rotor. The red arrows point towards the caliper pistons, note the metal filings. The yellow arrow points to the caliper dust boot. This is torn open and will allow water to get into the caliper and seize the piston.

Repairs to these brakes required new brake pads, rotors & calipers. These vehicles feature a captive rotor and that requires the front wheel hub to be removed to facilitate replacement of the rotor. When the hub is removed the wheel bearings are cleaned and repacked.

At Pawlik Automotive we have always taken extra time to thoroughly clean the wheel bearings and hubs before repacking them. This is something that is not done at many other shops. They opt to save time by squeezing out old grease and displacing it with new grease. That works OK but still leaves dirty old grease behind. It’s not the very best way to go. Doing a proper thorough clean ensures that the bearings will last as long as possible.

Here is a photo of 3 brake rotors: on the left lower we have a very rusty inner brake rotor, this was off the left front. This occurs from excessive road salt, sticky brake calipers or just sometimes old age. It is a very poor surface for the brake pad to push against and will drastically affect stopping distance.

The right lower rotor is the severely gouged rotor from the metal backing plate of the inner brake pad and then the caliper pistons.

The upper rotor is brand new. The smooth shinny surface says it all.

A few other items that we addressed with this brake job was a rear brake service and a brake fluid flush.

The rear brakes on this vehicle were in reasonably good condition: the shoes had plenty of material, the drums were good and the wheel cylinders were not leaking and their pistons moved freely. There was a lot of dust and backing plates were rusted. The brake service consists of removing the shoes, springs, hardware and adjusters. All dust is removed, components are lubricated as required and everything is reassembled; the final step it to adjust the brakes.

After repairs this vehicle stopped on a dime and best of all there were no objectionable noises.

While everything is repairable you definitely don’t want to wear your brakes to this extend because it’s downright dangerous.

2013 Toyota Prius V – Maintenance Service

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius

2013 Toyota Prius V

Our latest feature is a maintenance service performed on a 2013 Toyota Prius V, brought to us by a client from Kensington – Cedar Cottage, Vancouver.

The Toyota Prius V is the third generation of Toyota’s amazing hybrid technology. It features a larger engine than its predecessors which actually improves highway fuel economy. One unique feature of this car is the lack of drivebelts: this is the first production vehicle to come without any. All accessories are electrically operate and this further improves fuel economy.

This vehicle arrived with 21,000 kilometers on the clock and was due for a level 2 service: an engine oil and filter change along with a comprehensive inspection and tire rotation.

The inspection found no concerns and verified that the vehicle was in excellent condition. Being nearly new and being a Toyota this was expected, however it is important to confirm this with regular maintenance.

Modern vehicles are very reliable and certainly don’t break down as they once did. This can lead one to think that they can just be left to drive and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Along with current vehicle’s reliability comes ever increasing complexity and with that very high potential repair costs. You want to do everything in your power to prevent premature wear as it will be very costly. Fortunately routine maintenance is cheap.

For more about the Toyota Prius V click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_v

For more about hybrid technology click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_electric_vehicle

Toyota Prius

Engine compartment of 2013 Toyota Prius V. Gasoline engine is on left and bybrid drive components sit on right. The bright orange cables are hybrid wiring and are clearly marked as such so that safety precautions can be taken when working on this system.

2001 Jaguar XKR – Convertible Top Fluid Leak

Jaguar XKR

Our featured service is a 2001 Jaguar XKR Convertible Top Fluid Leak Repair, brought to us by a client from Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Jaguar XKR

2001 Jaguar XKR

One of the frequent failures on the beautiful Jaguar XKR convertible is rupturing of the hydraulic hoses to the convertible top latch. The leak becomes very evident to the owner as green oil leaks out of the top of the windshield/roof front attachment area above the console. The condition is known as the “green shower.” Once this occurs the top will no longer latch and must be moved up and down by hand.

So common is the issue that Jaguar sells a hose repair kit. It comes complete with newly designed lines and all the fittings to couple to the existing hoses down in the door pillar area.

Jaguar XKR

Old hydraulic hoses. If you look closely you can see the plastic jacket of the the hose with the yellow paint is blown open right under the other fitting.

While the repair kit is expensive and the job time consuming it is far easier and significantly less costly than changing the complete hoses to the rear of the vehicle where the hydraulic pump and valves are located.

To complete the service we cleaned the leaked fluid from inside the car. Considering how damaging an oil leak could be to the beautiful interior of this car, things cleaned up well. For the owner no evidence of the leak remained and the roof moved up and down as it was meant to.

Jaguar, for many years had a reputation as a finicky sports car, in the shop more frequently than on the road. With these Ford era Jaguars (1989 to 2008) the cars have become very reliable. As with most fancy European cars, their value slides precipitously and many models can be purchased used for a bargain price. The downside is that repairs can be expensive but if you’re prepared for that, you can drive a very luxurious vehicle for a fraction of the price of a new model.

Jaguar XKR

Convertible top latch mechanism with new hydraulic hoses installed

For more information about the Jaguar XKR click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XK

Madza Vehicle Hangout

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

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

Bernie: Doing awesome. How are you Mark?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: So any last thoughts on Mazda?

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.

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