Today’s post is a maintenance service performed on a beautiful, very low mileage 1994 Ford F250 equipped with a 7.3 liter diesel and brought to us by a client from Southlands, Vancouver.
This vehicle came to us with a subtle starting concern. After numerous engine starts, both hot and cold, we determined there was nothing wrong with the engine or fuel system. We assured the owner that there was reason to be concerned.
We then proceeded with a maintenance service which included changing engine oil and filter along with a fuel filter replacement. As we got into the service a few noteworthy concerns were found. This is the value of routine maintenance and inspections: potential problems are found early and rectified before they turn into expensive repairs.
The first issue found was an extremely dirty and sooted air filter. Replacement was simple but had this filter been left much longer it would have caused severe air flow restrictions and poor engine performance. Undoubtly it was already causing issues.
Extremely dirty air filter. A filter this dirty will restrict air flow to the engine,
The second finding took place during the fuel filter replacement. Mounted below the fuel filter is a water separator and inside we found many dirt and rust particles. Had any of these escaped past the fuel filter extremely expensive fuel injection repairs would have been needed.
Water separator which mounts at bottom of fuel filter. The numerous particles can be seen on the bottom.
This is what we drained from the fuel filter and water separator. Only clear diesel should be present.
With these services completed the Ford F250 was in good order, however we recommended that the owner return in 6 months to reinspect the water separator and fuel filter for further particles.
Another point of this story is to remind you that maintenance is not just a function of mileage: it is also a function of time. Vehicles suffer wear and tear even when used very little. A good maintenance schedule takes account of both time and distance.
Our latest featured service is a repair on a 2005 VW Touareg for a ‘Hood Open’ warning light concern. The vehicle was brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.
Unusual repairs are a frequent motivating factor for writing these posts, and this vehicle certainly fit that criteria. Our featured 2005 VW Touareg came to the shop with several concerns and one was that the ‘hood open’ warning light would constantly display on the dash. While the warning light was annoying the fact that this prevented the windshield wipers from operating made this a safety concern.
This vehicle is designed with very close tolerances between the wiper arms and the hood; if the hood is open it will be scraped by the wipers. One of the functions of the hood switch is to disable the wipers if the hood is open.
Our diagnosis began with inspections of the hood switch and hood adjustment. All was good with these components. We then proceeded further with our tests where we found the problem to be caused be a microswitch on the side of the radio. Say what? A switch on the side of the radio causing the hood open warning to illuminate. Yes, surprisingly this was the case. Why this circuit is wired in such a way is truly baffling. To me, it represents the culmination of German engineering gone too far.
Nonetheless this was the cause of our concern and we found that by disabling the switch we were able to eliminate the incorrect hood open warning and restore the operation of the wipers. When diagnosing a modern vehicle you never know what strange things you may encounter.
Radio from 2005 VW Toureg. This is the view of the left side of the radio with the radio removed from the dash. The red arrow points to the microswitch that was causing the hood ajar warning light to stay on. What's the relevance? I don't know; but repairing the switch fixed the concern.
Today’s featured repair is spark plug replacement on a 2008 Ford F150 Pick up with a 5.4 liter engine, brought to us by a client from Port Moody.
2008 Ford F150
Spark plug replacement on a Ford Truck can be an eventful service. At least it has been until now, because with this service we discovered something amazing and that is that Ford has redesigned their cylinder heads and spark plugs and finally got it right on 2008 and newer trucks.
In order to appreciate just how amazing this is we need to look at the history of Ford V8 spark plug replacements. All was good and there were no problems until the advent of the Triton engine in 1997. This motor was a departure in design from previous V8s and incorporated many innovations including aluminum cylinder heads. These first generation engines had the distinction of suddenly blowing out spark plugs and tearing out the threads in the heads at the same time. As you can imagine, this left many a truck stranded by the side of road and cost their owners a pretty penny to fix.
Ford partially addressed this issue on some engines but created a new set of problems with a uniquely designed 2-piece shell spark plug. This plug incorporated a long sleeve that projected past the threads and into the combustion chamber. Over time carbon deposits built up around the sleeve; when it came time to remove the spark plug it wouldn’t turn. By virtue of this design this end of the spark plug often broke off and remained stuck in the cylinder head.
The "mid term" designed spark plug that would break off in the head. At left is the broken plug and at right is a new spark plug.
Fortunately there are many toolmakers with creative solutions and they have made tools specifically designed to remove these broken pieces. Without the tool the only repair option would be to remove the cylinder heads, and on this engine that is a horrifically expensive proposition.
Back to our featured Ford F150. Our client came to us for routine maintenance replacement of his spark plugs. Having seen first hand how costly repairs could be on these trucks when they were sent to a Ford dealer for replacement he wanted us to take on the job as he knew that we had the special tools. Apparently several Ford trucks in his work place were taken to the dealer for plug replacement and this resulted in cylinder head removal.
Imagine our delight (and our client’s) when we found that this truck featured the redesigned engine that uses a normal spark plug. This plug still projects far down into the combustion chamber but is now treaded all the way. There is no more chance of this blowing out of the head because the threads were too short and there is no more seizing from carbon deposits and breaking off due to 2-part shell construction. Finally after 10 years Ford has got it right!
The newly designed Triton V8 spark plug. Nice long threads for a solid grip and no silly 2 piece shell design to break.
A/C system failures usually fall into one of three camps: electrical, mechanical or leaks. The latter is by far the most common. On a vehicle air conditioning system there are many places to leak: numerous seals where hoses connect components; the hoses themselves; the condenser which is located in front of the radiator; the compressor, a belt driven unit mounted on the engine; the accumulator or dryer; and finally the evaporator.
The evaporator is the unit in the A/C system that delivers the cold air inside your cabin. It is among the most expensive parts to replace during an air conditioning repair due to its location: buried under the dash and inside the A/C /heater box. It is also difficult to leak test due to its hidden location.
Diagnosing an automotive air conditioning concern is a systematic procedure. First tests are to determine whether the electrical side is functioning correctly and second is to determine whether there is refrigerant in the system.
If there is little or no refrigerant there is a leak. Several methods of leak detection can be used and we usually employ them all. First is a visual inspection. Second is to add nitrogen gas under high pressure. Third is to add UV dye, partially charge the system and run it until a leak is found. A leak may be apparent after 5 minutes or may take several months (which of course requires an inspection after the car has been driven for a while). Fourth is to utilize an electronic leak detector, a sort of ‘refrigerant sniffer.’
Our featured Dodge truck required several methods. UV dye was already installed and we found very small leaks at the condenser and the hose seals to the compressor. We filled the system with nitrogen gas and that’s where we discovered a big leak: there was a large hiss coming from the evaporator core and pressure was dropping rapidly.
Most evaporator leaks are not this easy to find. They usually seep a tiny amount of refrigerant in their hidden chamber, out of sight and detection. The large, obvious leak on this 1998 Dodge Ram was most fortunate from a diagnostic perspective.
Repairs involved replacing the evaporator, condenser and hose seals at the compressor. We also replaced the accumulator as it functions as a filter for the A/C system and should be done anytime a leak of this magnitude is present.
Interesting, this truck had 350,000 kilometers on the clock and was in exceptionally good condition. It stands as a testament to the longevity of a well maintained vehicle.
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 verdictas the dealership 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 uncommon 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 burnt exhaust valve . There was no apparent cause and it looked like it may have been a manufacturing defect: 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.
Inside of cylinder head, intake valves are on right and exhaust valves on left, red arrow points to burned valve
Burned exhaust valve
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.
Top of cylinder head with from cam carrier cap removed. Red arrows point to oil passageways in cylinder head and green arrows point to oil holes in camshafts. These are all part of the variable valve timing system.
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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 have 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.