Engine repairs on a 2008 Saturn Vue is our latest featured service, and brought to us by a client from >>>>>>> Richmond.
2008 Saturn Vue equipped with 3.6 Liter engine
This low mileage (96,000 km) SUV came to our shop to confirm a diagnosis done by a GM dealership. The check engine light had come on and the engine had a slight roughness noticeable at idle. Their diagnosis concluded that an exhaust valve in #6 cylinder was not sealing properly. We extracted a code P0306, cylinder #6 misfire from the engine computer. After diagnosing the concern we came to the same verdict: that there was poor compression in #6 cylinder and the cause was an exhaust valve not sealing. This was an unusual problem with this engine and in fact an unusual issue with most modern engines.
Unfortunately this was a very large job on this particular engine. Our Saturn Vue was equipped with a 3.6 liter dual overhead camshaft, 24 valve with variable valve timing engine. There is a lot of complexity to this engine and it makes the removal of a cylinder head, which was required for the valve repair, very technical, time consuming and expensive.
In an effort to provide maximum performance along with minimal exhaust emissions and miserly fuel economy many modern engines feature complex components and along with them, expensive repair procedures. I cannot stress enough how important proper maintenance is on modern cars especially regular oil changes with good quality oils.
Upon removal of the cylinder head and the myriad components needed to facilitate the removal we found 1 exhaust valve burnt. There was no apparent cause found; it looked like it may have been manufactured poorly – a most unusual occurrence in a modern engine. For repairs we had a machine shop replace the valve and grind the seat and all was good again. All remaining valves in this cylinder head were perfect.
This engine had been meticulously maintained and that was a good thing. There was no sludge build up inside the engine, and while removing the 3 timing chains and guides we found no significant wear. Had there been damage our client’s repair bill would have climbed significantly.
After repairs the engine ran as smooth as silk and the check engine lamp remained off. The take away from this repair is two fold: first, even with proper maintenance things can go wrong, though they rarely do. Second, treat your modern car engine like you would if you owned a Ferrari. The technology in most modern engines is equivalent to such a car, it’s just not quite as radical.
Our latest featured service is rocker arm replacement on a 2005 Jeep Liberty Diesel, brought to us by a client from South Cambie, Vancouver.
2005 Jeep Liberty with 2.8L turbo diesel
This vehicle arrived at our shop via tow truck as the engine had stopped running during a highway drive. Prior to this the owner had experienced intermittent times when the engine lacked power, and this was most noticeable on hills.
Our first diagnostic tests led us to a non-functioning and stuck open EGR valve. While replacing the valve we also found the intake passageways severely plugged with carbon deposits which we cleaned. After these repairs the engine started but ran so poorly that it was still not driveable. Clearly there were further problems.
We performed a compression test and found all cylinders were good. We sent out the fuel injectors for bench testing and they all passed the test. We then ran the engine for some time are were finally able to get the engine computer to generate a misfire trouble code for number #3 cylinder. This important piece of information gave us a clue as to where the concern might be. With good compression and proper injector operation we suspected a camshaft or rocker arm problem.
The Jeep Liberty uses a 2.8 Liter Italian made 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel engine. This engine is constructed in a rather unique manner and features the valve cover and intake manifold cast as a single unit. The camshafts are also incorporated into this component. With this type of design it is impossible to inspect the valve train components without a very complicated dis-assembly.
Sometimes diagnosis is clear and simple, and at other times it is a process of elimination. This diagnosis was the latter and from all the information we had gathered thus far it was time to look under the valve cover.
Upon removal we found the cause: 2 broken rocker arm/tappet assemblies for the intake valves of #3 cylinder. With these parts non-functional the engine was not able to draw air into this cylinder and thus no combustion could take place. We also found the intake passageways were loaded with carbon deposits similar to what we had found in the EGR valve area.
With the valve cover removed this is the view of broken tappets and rocker arms. Red arrows point to the hydraulic tappets and you can see that they are bent over. The green arrows point to the rocker arms
Rocker arm failure is a common concern on this engine. Although only 2 were broken it made sense to replace all of them. We also had the intake camshaft reground as it had sustained some damage from the broken rockers. Timing belt removal was required in order to lift the valve cover and it made sense to replace the timing belt, tensioners, idler pulleys and water pump at this time. Also the Jeep had 90,000 miles on the odometer which is right near the factory recommended timing belt replacement interval.
Bottom view of intake manifold/valve cover/camshaft case assembly. While this is a terrible design from several perspectives; mostly that there is no way to view the valve train and reassembly is very risky, it does greatly reduce the number of parts to the engine. The blue arrows point to the camshafts. The red arrows point to the intake passageways. This photo was taken after painstakingly cleaning this assembly and removing the carbon deposits from the intake ports.
Before reassembly we thoroughly cleaned out all carbon deposits from the intake manifold and cylinder head ports. Between this cleaning and our previous intake cleaning the engine could now breathe to it’s maximum capacity.
When all was assembled and back together the engine started and ran great, and the owner stated that it had never run so well!
The top of the cylinder head with new rocker arm assemblies in place. Note the clean intake ports when compared to the photo below. This is a very finicky assembly as all rockers must be perfectly positioned when placing the valve cover assembly on top. We cannot visually see if the job was done right. It is only after several hours of hours of assembly that we can be sure.
Top of the cylinder head before rocker replacement and cleaning of intake ports. The red arrow points to the carbon coated intake ports. This greatly affects the engine’s ability to breathe.
How are Jeep’s for performance, reliability and maintenance? With Bernie Pawlik, owner of Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver – 14 times voted best auto repair shop in Vancouver by their customers!
Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from top local lead generation. We’re here with Bernie Pawlik, he’s the owner of Pawlik Automotive; they’re an award winning shop in Vancouver. They’ve been voted best auto repair in Vancouver 14 times by the clients which is a pretty amazing kind of record. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Really good, very good.
Mark: So Jeeps are what we’re going to talk about today and they’re a very popular vehicle, sport utility and I assume you on a lot of them.
Bernie: Yes we do, yeah we work on a lot of them and we’ve worked on them for years. I tend to think of Jeep as being the original sport utility vehicle not the Jeep, Jeep but the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee altho I guess you could argue the suburban came first but that’s almost too big to be utilitarian it’s more beast than sport beast you could call it but the Cherokee is smaller and you know, a little sportier, more useful in that way. Jeeps interesting history, I mean they were originally an army vehicle and Jeeps actually stood for GP which means general purpose. They have always been popular with a certain crowd but when they started introducing some more mainstream models like the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee which goes back a few decades, the brand became very popular. There is an interesting corporate history with Jeep, they used to be a private company at one time making army vehicles and then they sold the vehicles to the general public, then they became a part of American Motors for a long time until Chrysler bought out American Motors and really the only thing of value at AMC at that time was the Jeep brand and they captured it and Chrysler has done really well with it.
Mark: So how are Jeeps, are they bullet proof like their reputation are they reliable? What goes wrong with them?
Bernie: Well I tend to think of Jeeps as so, so vehicles, you know, they definitely have issues, I mean where to start. First of all they’re all wheel drive trucks so they’re more complex and they need more service, you know the transfer cases, the extra front differential and this is true of all 4 wheel drive cars and trucks, you know, there’s extra service for more complexity but a lot of all-wheel drive and 4 wheel drive vehicles are pretty reliable like Subaru’s which we talked about a lot and work on a lot. The 4 wheel systems rarely cost a lot of extra but on Jeeps a lot more seems to go wrong with them. The original style Jeep is a fairly simple vehicle but they have a few issues that come to my mind kind of like oil leaks and more fluid changes and just the general wear and tear you get with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Some Jeep engines have been really, really good, spectacular in fact, like the 4 litre, 6 cylinder straight 6 engine; it’s a really tough reliable engine. I’ve had a number of clients over the years who haven’t changed their oils as often as they should, quite frankly abused the engine and they just keep on going so I’ve only really seen one or two go bad so that’s a pretty impressive record. One of the push rod V8 engines too are really good, these are like the 318 and the 360, some are like the Dodge engines they’re just bullet proof reliable, really good, but there are some that aren’t so good. Those would be like the 3.7 litre, V6, the 4.7 litre V8 engine that you find in different models of Jeeps. 3.7 is very popular in the Liberty, you know they perform well but they’re prone to some expensive repairs. We’ve had some, it’s fairly common with the valve seats actually fall out, this is like an internal engine problem, it’s really expensive to fix and something that should never happen but it does. The timing chains also wear out prematurely and especially if you don’t change the oil enough, this is the kind of engine where you have to change the oil every 5,000 kilometers or you’re asking for trouble and there’s a lot of cars like that and people don’t know that and you won’t really know that until you find one that’s abused but anyways if you have one of these vehicles, change the oil religiously.
Jeeps also offered some kind of anemic 4 cylinder engines in some of their vehicles and I tend to avoid them although they have some more modern vehicles like the Jeep Compass, they come with 4 cylinders, they seem to be pretty good but the older traditional Jeep Jeeps or Cherokees with 4 cylinders I’d stay away from them, they’re just kind of wimpy, engines that don’t run too well. What else can I say here?
Other issues I’ve seen, Grand Cherokee, I think they’re built too complicatedly to be repaired, for easy repairs for example some Grand Cherokees to repair the radiator, it takes hours to pull the radiator out, they’ve got a complex fan arrangement and it just makes a job that could be five hundred dollars, it’s a thousand bucks and it’s just hard to talk to Jeep owners, hey you need a new radiator, it’s going to be a thousand bucks so, but there’s nothing you can do, just the way it’s built. So those are some of my thought on the repair side of things.
Mark: So Jeep has sold a few diesels recently, how are they?
Bernie: Some of them are good especially the Grand Cherokee. The Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel is basically a Mercedes 3 litre diesel, it’s the same Mercedes diesel you find in the ML 320, the R 320, it’s used in a lot of different platforms and they seem to share the same transmission as well so the drive train is partially Mercedes; it’s quite reliable, it is expensive to fix when things go wrong but overall, I mean, I’m kind of a big fan of German diesel engines, they’re well built, they’ve been around for a long time so it’s a good vehicle. We seem to work on a lot of them and generally they’re pretty good but they do have a few issues here and there. There’s also the Liberty uses a diesel as well, it’s not nearly as common and I was actually trying to figure out how makes the diesel engine and I can’t really tell who makes it. It’s not made by Jeep themselves, it’s not a Mercedes diesel, it’s a 4 cylinder, you know it’s a pretty good engine but I don’t like it as much as the Grand Cherokee diesel. It just seems a little unusual in its design and it’s a rare offering so parts are more difficult to get for it.
Mark: Any final thoughts on Jeeps?
Bernie: Well, Jeeps certainly has its following. Many people love Jeeps, they like the original style Jeeps, they seek them out, it’s the Wrangler I’m talking about, you know, it’s got it’s utilitarian look, it’s function and whatever people associate with the free fun loving remove the roof kind of lifestyle. It’s also a good off road vehicle as many Jeeps are so if you like to go off road; it’s a great vehicle for that. The Grand Cherokee, they’ve also created a very nice luxurious sport utility vehicle and that appeals to an entirely different crowd and personally I like the Grand Cherokees but I find a lot of them, they’re gas guzzlers, they almost optimize what’s wrong with the American car industry, you know, gas guzzlers, inefficient vehicles but I mean they are certainly nice and the overly complicated construction that I’ve seen in a few model years has kind of turned me off a bit of them, but they certainly are a great vehicle.
One positive thing I find about Jeeps, especially the original style the Wrangler type of Jeep is that they really hold their value and they last for a long time. There are not that many vehicles like that. Too many cars and trucks that people buy, it’ll be around for 10 to 15 years and they’re off to the scrap yard, you’ll never see them again but Jeeps they’ll stay around for a long time, kind of like convertibles and certain sports cars, they have along life span. So that’s it from me on Jeeps.
Mark: Thanks Bernie. My throat has let go so
Bernie: No problem. Thank you. I look forward to talking again soon.
Talking BMW with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s award winning auto repair and maintenance shop in Marpole, voted 13 times Vancouver’s best auto repair shop by it’s customers!
Mark: Morning, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive and we’re going to talk about BMW’s. How’re you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Really well, really well.
Mark: So BMW has developed a real reputation as a desirable car, very high tech vehicles, the kind of car that says “You’ve got it made”. So are they all that they’re cracked up to be?
Bernie: Well, they’re certainly well built cars and you know, whether or not they’re actually the ultimate driving machine as they once claimed in their advertising is to be debatable. But like many German cars in the high end scale, they’re well built and awesome to drive, but they are not without their issues.
Mark: So what kind of issues are you seeing with BMW’s?
Bernie: Well, some items that come to mind and these are mostly when the cars age a little bit are the water pumps leak, thermostats fail, some models, especially those with the V8 engines develop some expensive oil and coolant leaks. They usually happen when the engine gets little older, you probably wouldn’t see anything like that until the car is eight or ten years old.
I think BMW’s 6 cylinder engines are awesome. They’re definitely the best option if you want a reasonably trouble free car. It’s amazing the engine, the 6 cylinder BMW, they make them in every size from a 2 litre up to about 3.2 litre. If you look at the engine under the hood it looks like the same thing but they’ve just enlarged or contract the engine, put different accessories on. You know it’s a smart idea from a manufacturer point of view but it’s also great as they’ve had time to perfect it and make it work really well. I mean, over all, they’re really reliable engines. But like all complex machines, especially German cars, they’re kind of finicky-things like check engine lights goes off a lot for various things
Mark: So what other repetitive concerns do you see with BMW’s?
Bernie: Well one big one that we see, and this is usually on the 6 cylinder engine is the crankcase breather valves fail and when these valves wear out,, it can cause a number of issues like check engine light being on, sometimes you’ll start the car and a big cloud of blue smoke will blow out the back, or the car tends to burn oil; which is kind of serious but fortunately, it’s not a very difficult thing to fix. I mean it does cost a bit of money, but it’s not the complete engine which is a really good thing. We repair these frequently on BMW models, on the 6 cylinder engines. The brakes also wear fairly quickly on many models, especially the sport utility vehicles and like all German vehicles, when the pads wear, the rotors wear out too, they are very hard on rotors for some reason. But in all fairness, it’s not really any more than any other equivalent German car like a Mercedes or Volkswagen would be.
Mark: So how did BMW get to build such amazing cars, didn’t they start as a motorcycle company?
Bernie: I was doing a little research on this, they actually started off as an aircraft company in 1917, but they were forced out of the industry after the First World War and then they started making motorcycles and then they started making cars. But during World War II they got back into aircraft engines. They made some pretty amazing engines during that time, but after WWII they got back into cars and motorcycles again. It’s quite amazing how the company has evolved when you look at some of the cars and motorcycles they used to make. I’m always amazed when certain companies like Bombardier which started with snow mobiles and now they make world class commuters airplanes and trains but it’s funny how they evolved, but BMW has kind of done the same thing, they started with motorcycles and now they make some of the most amazing cars on the planet. If you’ve never seen a BMW Isetta, it’s worth looking at. It’s a hilarious looking car, it has the door of the car in the front and you climb in and there’s two seats, I’m not sure if it’s a three or four wheeled car. But the two back wheels are very close together and has an air cooled motorcycle type engine. It’s quite hilarious to look at. It’s hard to imagine that they would of built the kind of cars that they do now from that. When you look at the WWII aircraft engines, you can see where their precision of manufacturing came in and quality came in. It’s not surprising that they build the kind of cars that they do now a days.
Mark: So, I’ve heard that BMW’s don’t require service very often, can you tell us more about this?
Bernie: Well, BMW, like a lot of European manufacturers, pride themselves on infrequent service intervals and I think, in a way, environmentally it’s a good thing, the less often you have to change your oil is wasted and in need to be remanufactured and disposed of. It’s also a great selling feature for the salesman or woman, they can explain to their potential buyer, “oh you know this car is great because it doesn’t need any service, you’ll rarely have to come in for service and that’s one of the great features. There’s also electronic reminders for when the service is due. It me, it’s a somewhat an engineering coup that they’ve been able to do this. If you’re leasing a car for a short period of time, maybe 3-4 years, it’s a great sales feature because you don’t need to service very often and the can probably throw in some free maintenance or low cost maintenance, really the car is not going to need much. I mean, theses long service intervals, while there’s a lot of engineering that goes into them, I really think that it’s not best to stretch it out to that long, long term interval. Most BMW’s is 24,000 for oil changes, to me, that is way too long. By the time the oil hits 24,000km’s it’s really toxic. I don’t know how good the lubrication quality is. I know there’s a lot of engineering that goes into that, they wouldn’t suggest it if there wasn’t at least some sound basis for it, but I think that if you want to keep the car for longer term I wouldn’t go more than 15-18,000km before changing the oil. You know, the other thing too that happens of course, is when you’re leaving your vehicle for that long a period of time, you’re not getting inspections done, it’s great when a car is new, but as a car gets older, every 10-15,000km’s, you should really have the car hoisted and looked at, things will wear and you don’t want to be in an unsafe position.
One of the things that is amazing about BMW, a lot of newer BMW’s is that they have reminders for service, like they’ll tell you when your brake pads need to be replaced and these aren’t just wear sensors, but they’re actually computers, I don’t know how they figure it out yet to be honest. But they seem pretty accurate. With tire pressure monitors and that kind of thing you can almost trust the system for a while. But when the car gets older, like 8-10 years old and older, you will want to have it inspected on a routine basis.
Mark: Any final thoughts on BMW?
Bernie: You know, over all they’re great cars, they’re quite reliable, but being a fancy European car, you will usually spend more money than you would on an American or Japanese car but that’s not always true. BMW has a variety of models of cars, they’ve got sedans, convertibles, sport utility, some quite racy cars. They’re pretty amazing so if that car appeals to you, I’d say go for it. It’s a great car, but you will generally spend more money on maintenance and repairs than you would on a well built Japanese car. It’s interesting, sometimes even though they are more expensive, as I’ve said before, sometimes European cars can be cheaper to fix.
If you’re looking for a great shop to service your BMW, we can absolutely be that shop for you. So that’s all I have to say about BMW today.
Mark: Thanks Bernie. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, they’ve been voted 13 times Vancouver’s Best Auto Repair shop by their customers, which is a pretty amazing record. If you need any kind of service on your car or truck these guys to go see. Thanks Bernie
Our latest featured repair is head gasket replacement on a 2006 Subaru Outback, brought to us by a client from Port Moody.
2006 Subaru Outback
This is not our first Subaru head gasket post, nor is it likely to be our last. On every Subaru vehicle with a 2.5 Liter H4 engine this service is inevitable at some point in time. If you own one of these vehicles you will likely be faced with this repair. A frequent question that we get asked at our shop is how much does the service cost?
Before we get into that let’s look at what a head gasket is. The cylinder head gasket is far and away the most complex gasket on an internal combustion engine. It provides several functions all while dealing with different fluids and the high temperatures and pressures of the engine’s combustion process. The head gasket seals the oil pressure galleries, the oil drain passages, the engine coolant passages and the combustion chambers. On a Subaru H4 engine there are two head gaskets and each gasket seals two cylinders.
Getting back to costs: the simplest answer is that the minimum is just under $2000 with all taxes included. There are however many factors that go into this service that can and often increase this price substantially.
On Subarus there are two types of head gasket leaks that we typically see, the most common being oil leaking from the gaskets. This occurs on the single overhead cam models. The less frequent cause of leakage are combustion gas leaks into the cooling system and these seem to only occur on the dual overhead cam engines.
Vehicle mileage factors into the repair costs along with whether the timing belt has been replaced or is due for replacement. While the timing belt is a minimally expensive part and requires no additional labour at the time of head gasket service there are a number of other associated parts that should be replaced when the belt is due (usually at 168,000 kilometers). These include the belt tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump and front crankshaft oil seal.
Combustion gas leaks always require additional machine shop work to pressure test and resurface the cylinder heads. As mentioned previously this happens mostly on the dual cam engine. Labour to remove and reinstall the cylinder heads on the dual cam motor is also more labour intensive. Adding it all up, the dual cam is always more expensive than the single cam.
As you can see there are a many factors that come into play with each different head gasket replacement. Fortunately for the owner of our featured 2006 Subaru Outback this job came in at the minimal cost as the vehicle had low mileage, the heads were not warped and the timing belt was not due for replacement for a long time.
Our latest featured service is engine noise repairs on a 2002 Infiniti I35, brought to us by a client from Little Mountain, Vancouver.
2002 Infiniti I35 photographed on a rainy Vancouver day
The Infiniti I35 uses the Nissan VQ35DE V6 engine found in many models of Nissan and Infiniti cars and light trucks. This is a great engine: smooth, powerful and best of all, very reliable. In spite of these attributes this vehicle came to us in a very unhappy state with several noises were emanating from the engine area. They were so loud that, as the vehicle owner put it, the radio would not drowned out the sounds.
We performed an engine compartment noise diagnosis which consisted of two lengthy road tests with the vehicle warm and cold along with underhood and undercar inspections. Several interesting things were found: the timing chain had a horrible rattling sound and this was most noticeable when the engine was started cold. A loud rattle was present from the exhaust system and the engine had a horrible knock and pinging noise under certain throttle loads. Further inspection found the engine oil level very low, and the oil was old and dirty. Interestingly enough, the check engine light was on and we scanned the vehicle computer for codes where we recorded a P0021 stored code. This indicates an overadvanced cam timing from position A sensor.
From this information we determined that the low and dirty oil was likely causing both the timing chain rattles and the P0021 code because both of these components require clean engine oil and a full capacity to operate properly. After a hot oil flush and an oil and filter service the timing chain noise completely disappeared. This was great news for our client and it brings me to the moral of our story: do not let your engine oil run low and do not let it get dirty. Check it regularly and change it regularly. Modern engines are just too complex and expensive to damage by such simple neglect.
The other two noises were simply repaired by an overnight combustion chamber cleaning and repairing a loose exhaust shield. With all three of these repairs the vehicle sounded quiet and the radio was no longer required to mask horrible engine noises.
Our latest featured service is ABS Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Replacement on a 2005 Ford E250 Van brought to us by a client from Hastings/Sunrise.
2006 Ford E250 Van
This van arrived with an interesting concern: during low speed stops the brake pedal would get very hard and there were strange noises present. The van had been recently purchased and the owner knew there was a problem with the brakes. He had taken it to several shops but no one had a definitive answer. After listening to his concerns and taking the vehicle for a road test we knew quickly that the cause of the concern was in his ABS system.
Even though we knew which system was problematic we still needed to find the exact cause. We also needed to verify that there were no further issues with the brake system. A thorough brake inspection found good front brake pads, slightly warped front brake rotors, dirty brake fluid and almost worn out rear brake pads. While many of these issues required attention they were not the cause of the concern. Testing the ABS brake system on our scan tool found the rear wheel speed sensor dropping out at low speeds. This was the cause of our client’s concern. There were still further steps to take in the diagnostic process and we proceeded to test the rear wheel speed sensor with a lab scope where we verified the bad sensor readings found on the scan tool.
The rear wheel speed sensor is located in the differential and consists of an electrical sensor and a large sensor ring mounted against the ring gear. On close examination we found the sensor and the ring had physical damage. We then proceeded to our next step, removing the differential cover and inspecting. Here we located the cause of the damage: broken limited slip clutch components. Unfortunately for our client the damage was extensive and required a new differential carrier assembly, but on a positive note none of the gears had been damaged by the large metal parts floating around inside the differential. Had this occurred costs would have been substantially higher.
After replacement the vehicle was road tested and the brakes performed normally with no more stiff pedal and strange noises.
Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from Top Local Lead Rankings. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik owner of Vancouver’s Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver BC and they’ve just won for the fourteenth time, Best Auto Repair and Auto Service place in Vancouver; Pretty Amazing. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Good, very honoured to have won again, it’s awesome.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about the Ford 6 Litre Diesel which has a bit of a reputation, maybe a negative one, you know a lot of the coverage. What are your thoughts about this vehicle?
Bernie: Well, definitely there are a lot of negative comments and they’re probably well deserved; the problems with the Ford 6 Litre is legendary. If you own one of these vehicles or if you’ve just bought one you can expect there’s probably going to be a lot of repair bills coming down the line; if you’ve owned one for a while you’ve probably already experienced a few large repair bills.
Mark: So what sorts of things go wrong with these engines?
Bernie: Well, there’s a lot and it’s maybe easiest to start with what doesn’t go wrong with them, I mean the bottom ends of these engines are really solid, the pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, engine block, timing chains those are all really solid parts, you can count on those for a long, long time but what does go wrong; head gaskets blow, EGR coolers fail, engine oil coolers plug up, fuel injectors have problems, there’s a number of electrical sensors and things that will go bad, there’s just a lot of things. But there are also some solid things we can do to fix this engine, keep it reliable and keep it trouble free for a long time.
Mark: So is that what the term bullet proofing refers to?
Bernie: It does, excuse me for a second here. So, though there are many ways to do repairs in these engines and bulletproofing is a term that refers to the more permanent repairs solutions and it also refers to using parts from a company called Bulletproof Diesel. This company has looked at all the common faults and made some really excellent parts that really never fail and if you look at this picture here you can see that the bullet proof oil cooler, sorry the Bulletproof EGR cooler on the left side, that’s the original Ford cooler and on the right side that’s the Bulletproof cooler. Basically taken apart, welded solid tubes in there, it just lasts forever and it costs really a couple dollars more than a Ford cooler. Bulletproof, they’ve also gone so far as to create a remote engine oil cooler which it takes the oil cooler from the valley of the engine and you mount a cooler outside, externally so that it uses air to cool the engine and this eliminates a huge number of problems. Now bulletproofing also refers to some other items such as installing solar head studs and the thing with heads, originally the heads were held down with bolts but studs provide much superior clamping force on the heads virtually eliminating head gasket failures in the future. One common cause of head gasket failure is the turbochargers will over boost and you don’t, you’ll never really know it but what happens is it causes the heads to lift although it’s on a microscopic level but that’s enough to blow a gasket so with studs installed that will definitely not happen. You may wonder why does this engine have so many problems and I think it’s really down to the design, Ford had a really good engine with a 7.3 litre power stroke but over time that engine just wouldn’t meet modern emission standards so they designed this, Navistar, which built the engines for Ford, designed the 6 litre engine and they probably rushed it into production because there’s a lot of problems with it. One thing about the engine is it’s unique in that it uses the high pressure oil system to boost the fuel injection pressure so use electronic injection with high pressure oil, that’s got a lot of extra power under the engine but it’s created a whole number of problems and unfortunately the customers have paid dearly for that bad design but on a positive note it’s created a gold mine for the repair industry which again it’s not good for the customer. Problems with these engines you know I think we’re really noticed early on and Ford made a lot of modifications to the engines over the years that they built them but none of them made the engine super reliable without doing some of these Bulletproof repairs. So you know people ask, if you have a 6 litre how would I repair it to make it reliable; what would you go about doing. I would start the conversation with how do you want to take care of this truck, what do you want to do with the truck, what will you be using it for, hauling heavy loads or are you just going to be driving it around town and if the vehicle is working fine there really not any reason to do a lot with it. I get a lot of phone calls from people almost every week, they’ve looked on the internet, they’ve bought one of these trucks or looked at our videos and blogs, Oh my God what do I do and I say relax don’t worry about it; just see how it’s actually working first.
So there’s a few ways to repair them. The cheaper end if you are actually experiencing coolant leaks and head gaskets are blown you can just replace it with the original bolted head, that’s the cheaper end job, put all original parts and it will work fine but it will fail again at some point or you can do the bullet proofing job, costs a bit more money but you are ensured that you’re not going to get in there again and do any of those repairs probably ever or if you’re really going for the heavy duty truck put the bulletproof oil cooler in. It’s definitely a lot more expensive but again it eliminates a lot of issues from happening.
There’s a few other problems that happen on these truck to the injectors fail, those will go with or without head gasket problems. The other thing, the Thickem which is a fuel injection control module, is a common failure item as well, that’s an externally bolted on item so it’s not really a huge amount of work to do.
So cab off repairs, this is something that we often do to repair these engines and people say should I, why do you go through such great lengths to . . . .
Mark: Bernie we were looking at a picture with an arrow, what was that of?
Bernie: Oh yes, thank you, I got distracted. That picture with the arrow by the way was one of the common failure items on one of these engines called STC fitting and what that is, it’s basically a high pressure oil fitting, those items fail so we do the bullet proofing work we replace that piece. That fitting fails it will actually break the back of the engine block so one of those beautiful design ideas that can cost a fortune to fix but it’s something we fix with the bullet proofing process so, sorry didn’t explain that.
I assume were looking at the cab off right now?
Bernie: Perfect, o.k. so with the cab off you can see with this cab lifted and it looks like a lot of work and it does take a little while to get it off, we can get right into the engine and do the work and it’s absolutely amazing way to go. If we’re doing a full job like head gaskets and top end work, you know, the top end oil coolers and that kind of thing, to lean over the cab is a back breaking job, it can certainly be done but the amount of time it takes once you lift off the cab off, it makes the work in the engine compartment really simple and really as a technician a pleasure to work on so this is why we do it, either way it’s a very big job so that kind of explains cab off.
Mark: So that’s a heck of a lot to bite off, I mean that’s a lot of pieces to unhook and then rehook up because you’re basically taken, you’re at assembly stage, like right in the factory kind of thing, so is that something, like do I even dare ask if you’d recommend one of these trucks to somebody?
Bernie: Well, you know what, they are nice trucks, it wouldn’t be my first choice personally, I mean working a lot of diesels we see Cummins with very few problems, we see Chevy Duramax, we hardly ever work on Duramax’s because they have so few problems but the Ford trucks are nice especially like the F350, a Harley-Davidson edition, it’s a beautiful truck and the engines can be made to be pretty reliable just if you buy one you will spend more money fixing it, there’s no doubt. If you’re really hell bent on a Ford, you know, just make sure you get one for a cheap price and do your research, see what’s been done, there’s a lot of these truck have been fixed up so probably a lot of used ones will have heads already done, bullet proofing done, you just need to check that out and if it hasn’t been well at some point it might fail. The last thought I’ll leave you with is, we do work on a number of these trucks where people have not actually had to head gaskets or had much other than maybe CGR coolers, or a couple injectors so they can last a long time without problems but you just never know, it’s a bit of a gamble. So that’s all I’ve got to say about 6 litres today.
Mark: There’s lots to say.
Bernie: There’s a lot to say, then there’s the 6.4 which is enough for another hangout.
Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with the owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik, he’s a master mechanic, been doing this for an awfully long time, expert in many, many types of vehicles including diesels. They’ve had enquiries from around the world about doing diesel repairs, in fact because of the excellent work that they do and you can reach them at Pawlikautomotive.com or you can give them a call to book your next maintenance and service or repair at 604-327-7712. Thanks Bernie.
Today’s featured service is oil pan replacement on a 2000 VW Jetta GLX, brought to us by a client from Steveston, Richmond.
2000 VW Jetta GLX with 2.8 Liter VR6 engine
This Jetta was towed to our shop with a very serious concern: there was no oil in the engine. The oil light had come on suddenly after the owner filled the gas tank at a gas station near their home. The car was then driven several blocks to their house. Checking the dipstick found no reading. Oil was added to the engine but it ran straight out the bottom.
Putting the car on our shop hoist revealed the cause: there was a hole in the engine oil pan.
At this point we had a dilemma on our hands and it required a conversation with our client. What we faced was a possibly, permanently damaged engine, however it might also be simply repaired by replacing the oil pan and adding oil. Knowing how long the engine had been run with the oil light on was crucial information. Apparently it had been several blocks. This is more than enough time to fatally wound an engine.
We decided that the best approach would be to first remove the oil pan and inspect. If we found no bits of metal in the pan then there would be a good chance that the engine might survive. Fortunately we found nothing but a few drops of oil in the bottom of the pan. The odds of renewed life for this engine were good.
Upon completion of repairs we fired up the engine. It started but ran very roughly and made a lot of noise. Given a few minutes the noise went away and the engine smoothed out: it sounded like a normal V6 VW engine. Our client was lucky.
We still don’t really know the extent of any possible damage and at some point this engine may fail.
What is important with this story is your oil light: if it comes on with your engine running shut off the engine immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so. This is critical. Next determine the cause. First check your oil level and if it is low add oil 1 liter at a time until it reads properly on the dipstick. Once the level is confirmed good, restart the engine and if the light remains on tow in your vehicle for repairs.
Bottom of oil pan from 2000 Jetta VR6 engine. The red arrows point to the holes in the bottom of the pan. You can also see numerous scrapes. Bottoming out your vehicle’s oil pan can cause these types of holes and cracks, and along with it sudden oil loss. If your oil warning light comes on while driving shut off your engine immediately.
The VW Jetta GLX V6 engine uses an aluminum oil pan and it can be broken very easily if it hits something. Bottoming out this car is not an option. Based on the easy availability of this part from numerous aftermarket sources this concern is obviously very common. If you own one of these vehicles, be careful.
Today’s featured service is Exhaust Gasket Replacement on a 2011 Nissan Versa, brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.
2011 Nissan Versa
While an exhaust gasket replacement seems like a rather ordinary, run of the mill repair, and something hardly worth a mention I found a rather humorous reason to write this post.
Over the years there have been jokes floating around about parts that don’t exist, the kind of blatantly obvious parts that couldn’t possibly exist but you could tell someone they needed and they’d never know the difference. In the carpentry trade it’s the elusive lumber stretcher (a tool). In the automotive trade one such part is the muffler bearing: a part that couldn’t possibly exist because bearings are only used on moving parts; and mufflers or exhaust systems of which they are a component, have no moving parts.
While the joke of this phantom part has floated around for years, imagine my surprise when an exhaust gasket arrived from the Nissan dealership and was called a bearing on the invoice. The muffler bearing was real; sort of. I would hardly call this a bearing in the sense that we think of it on a car, however from a different definition of the term, calling this part a bearing is appropriate.
Exhaust gasket for 2011 Nissan Versa. This is the “bearing” as it is described on the invoice.
Portion of the invoice that confirms the existence of the elusive ‘muffler bearing’
All joking aside this Nissan Versa came to our shop with exhaust so loud that it almost sounded like a noisy sports car. We determined that the cause was a worn out exhaust gasket between the manifold and the header pipe. At this point the gasket used is somewhat special as this is a flexible joint. The fact that this gasket was worn at this car’s young age and mileage (60,000km) was likely due to being an Ontario car. Road salt and harsh winters definitely shorten the life of many components “muffler bearings” included.