How to Buy a Good Used Car

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

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2000 Porsche Boxster IMS Bearing Replacement

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

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

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

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

Mark: So what’s a IMS bearing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: Can you show the car again?

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

Mark: So which models and years does this affect?

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

Mark: This must affect Caymens as well then.

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

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

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

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

Bernie: You’re welcome Mark

Don’t Rely on the Warning Lights on your Dash

warning light

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

Bernie: I’m doing really well Mark.

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

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

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

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

warning light

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

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

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

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

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

warning light

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

BMW Transmission Fluid Replacement 2001 BMW Z3


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

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

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


2001 BMW X3

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

Mark: So was the fluid really dirty?

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

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

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


Warning label on transmission found on many BMW vehicles

Mark: Yeah, you did

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

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

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

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

Bernie: We never like to say that doing a transmission flush is going to make a difference, but sometimes it does, and in the case of this BMW with very low kilometers with fluid that wasn’t really all that dirty the customer called me back and said his transmission shifts a whole lot better: was way smoother with snappier shifts. So it actually does make a difference sometimes, in spite of what BMW says about never changing the fluid. We’ve had customers with Volvo’s who’ve had some shifting problems where changing the fluid has made a difference, again I don’t recommend it if there’s a problem but often it can make a difference.

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

Bernie: Well we always do the most thorough service possible and replace as much fluid as we can. There’s really two kinds of transmission fluid services. One, and it depends upon the kind of transmission: some transmissions do not have a transmission pan and they don’t have a filter so in that case we drain the fluid, then we hook up our flushing machine and we just simply flush the fluid. The machine pumps in new fluid and with the vehicle running the machine allows the old fluid to pump out so it basically replaces pretty much all the fluid in the transmission. That’s the simplest kind of flush. On vehicles such as this BMW that have a removable pan and a replaceable filter we will remove the pan, we replace the filter, we clean the pan. We look for any debris inside the pan: if there’s a bunch of metal filings, well that’s a bad sign, probably not worth even continuing to flush, if it’s bad. We rarely run into that; then we replace the pan gasket the filter and then we hook up the flush machine and then we flush the fluid out from there, so it’s a real thorough service.  As for for price: there’s a variety of prices that various shops charge but to do a proper flush is time consuming, it does use a lot of fluid. Costs are anywhere on average 2 to 4 hundred dollars depending upon the car, the type of fluid  and on some vehicles, Land Rovers and Range Rovers for example, they have an integrated pan, filter and gasket, it is very expensive and time consuming and that could be a 6 to 7 hundred dollar job but it’s worth doing it right to make sure it’s done properly.

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

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: So any other thoughts on automatic transmission service?

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2001 Mercedes G500 Oil Pan Gasket Leak

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

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: So how was the pan gasket replacement?

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you again soon.

2006 Volvo XC70 Engine Mounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2008 Mercedes S63 AMG Suspension Repair

Mercedes S63 AMG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Mercedes S63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz s63 AMG

Mercedes S63 AMG

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

1987 Toyota Celica GTS Brake Repair

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

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: So any final thoughts on this service?

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Should I Buy a Diesel Vehicle?


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

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

For more about diesel engines click here

For another opinion on diesels click here

2008 Mini Cooper Oil and Coolant Leaks

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

Bernie: I’m doing very well today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: So pretty complex and expensive repair?

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

Mark: Any further thoughts on Minis?

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

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