Today’s featured service is oil pan replacement on a 2000 VW Jetta GLX, brought to us by a client from Steveston, Richmond.
2000 VW Jetta GLX with 2.8 Liter VR6 engine
This Jetta was towed to our shop with a very serious concern: there was no oil in the engine. The oil light had come on suddenly after the owner filled the gas tank at a gas station near their home. The car was then driven several blocks to their house. Checking the dipstick found no reading. Oil was added to the engine but it ran straight out the bottom.
Putting the car on our shop hoist revealed the cause: there was a hole in the engine oil pan.
At this point we had a dilemma on our hands and it required a conversation with our client. What we faced was a possibly, permanently damaged engine, however it might also be simply repaired by replacing the oil pan and adding oil. Knowing how long the engine had been run with the oil light on was crucial information. Apparently it had been several blocks. This is more than enough time to fatally wound an engine.
We decided that the best approach would be to first remove the oil pan and inspect. If we found no bits of metal in the pan then there would be a good chance that the engine might survive. Fortunately we found nothing but a few drops of oil in the bottom of the pan. The odds of renewed life for this engine were good.
Upon completion of repairs we fired up the engine. It started but ran very roughly and made a lot of noise. Given a few minutes the noise went away and the engine smoothed out: it sounded like a normal V6 VW engine. Our client was lucky.
We still don’t really know the extent of any possible damage and at some point this engine may fail.
What is important with this story is your oil light: if it comes on with your engine running shut off the engine immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so. This is critical. Next determine the cause. First check your oil level and if it is low add oil 1 liter at a time until it reads properly on the dipstick. Once the level is confirmed good, restart the engine and if the light remains on tow in your vehicle for repairs.
Bottom of oil pan from 2000 Jetta VR6 engine. The red arrows point to the holes in the bottom of the pan. You can also see numerous scrapes. Bottoming out your vehicle’s oil pan can cause these types of holes and cracks, and along with it sudden oil loss. If your oil warning light comes on while driving shut off your engine immediately.
The VW Jetta GLX V6 engine uses an aluminum oil pan and it can be broken very easily if it hits something. Bottoming out this car is not an option. Based on the easy availability of this part from numerous aftermarket sources this concern is obviously very common. If you own one of these vehicles, be careful.
Today’s featured service is Exhaust Gasket Replacement on a 2011 Nissan Versa, brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.
2011 Nissan Versa
While an exhaust gasket replacement seems like a rather ordinary, run of the mill repair, and something hardly worth a mention I found a rather humorous reason to write this post.
Over the years there have been jokes floating around about parts that don’t exist, the kind of blatantly obvious parts that couldn’t possibly exist but you could tell someone they needed and they’d never know the difference. In the carpentry trade it’s the elusive lumber stretcher (a tool). In the automotive trade one such part is the muffler bearing: a part that couldn’t possibly exist because bearings are only used on moving parts; and mufflers or exhaust systems of which they are a component, have no moving parts.
While the joke of this phantom part has floated around for years, imagine my surprise when an exhaust gasket arrived from the Nissan dealership and was called a bearing on the invoice. The muffler bearing was real; sort of. I would hardly call this a bearing in the sense that we think of it on a car, however from a different definition of the term, calling this part a bearing is appropriate.
Exhaust gasket for 2011 Nissan Versa. This is the “bearing” as it is described on the invoice.
Portion of the invoice that confirms the existence of the elusive ‘muffler bearing’
All joking aside this Nissan Versa came to our shop with exhaust so loud that it almost sounded like a noisy sports car. We determined that the cause was a worn out exhaust gasket between the manifold and the header pipe. At this point the gasket used is somewhat special as this is a flexible joint. The fact that this gasket was worn at this car’s young age and mileage (60,000km) was likely due to being an Ontario car. Road salt and harsh winters definitely shorten the life of many components “muffler bearings” included.
Our latest featured service is Spark Plug Replacement on a 2001 Subaru Forester, brought to us by a client from Burnaby, BC.
On Monday morning we were greeted by a phone call from a client whose vehicle we had just serviced the previous week. We had replaced his clutch and while the car ran great after being picked up, it started running roughly over the weekend. The check engine light also came on.
It’s always a bit distressing for us when we receive this type of call as we pride ourselves on doing great work and from this call we perceived the possibility that perhaps something from our work was not right.
We inspected the vehicle when it arrived and quickly verified that it had nothing to do with our recent clutch replacement. Diagnosis was the next step and from there we found a misfiring cylinder, something that had clearly developed since our repairs. Further exploration found the culprit: a severely worn spark plug in #4 cylinder.
Two spark plugs from 2001 Subaru Forester. If you look at the gap which the red arrow points to and compare it to the spark plug on the right you can see the large gap and a piece missing. This missing center electrode caused the engine misfire.
We replaced the spark plugs and along with it the spark plug wires. The wires were original and at 15 years of age were living on borrowed time.
Interestingly enough the failed spark plugs were platinum plugs, an upgrade from the originally installed type. While platinum plugs last longer they provide no additional performance advantage. Yes they do last longer but require additional energy to fire. You are better off to stick with the original manufacturer recommended plug and replace them at the prescribed interval.
Head Gaskets & Cam Case Seal replacement on a 2005 Subaru Outback is our latest featured service, brought to us by a client from Richmond, BC.
2005 Subaru Outback
Cylinder head gasket replacement is something that many Subaru owners will experience, and it’s a service that we have discussed before in our blogs. What is unique about this particular service was that the left camshaft case was also leaking oil, and this is very uncommon.
The camshaft case on the 2005 Subaru Outback is sealed with a special high quality silicone sealer and it rarely fails. While the heads were off it was a matter of taking the cam case off, cleaning all components and carefully removing the old sealer. After applying the new sealer and reassembling the case to the head this leak was solved.
Camshaft Case removed and cleaned. Ready for new sealer and reinstallation
Head gasket replacement is synonymous with Subaru although it is not always needed. The issue is not present on the H6 engine and that is a good thing because the cost to do H6 head gaskets is triple the price of the H4 2.5 Liter engine. Are head gaskets better these days than the past? Only time will tell. We were told many years ago that Subaru had corrected this issue but we still see failures. To put things in perspective, most cars have some issues and while head gaskets are a significant one, Subaru’s are still great, reliable cars in most aspects.
Our featured post is power window repairs on a 2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, brought to us by a client from Burnaby.
This 2006 Range Rover Sport arrived at our shop with a myriad of concerns ranging from air suspension system inoperation to worn suspension control arm bushings and front brakes, to name just a few. Another concern was that both front power windows didn’t operate. Our client had just purchased this vehicle for a low price due to the repairs needed and its neglected condition.
Our first step was diagnosis and from these tests we verified that there was no ground to the power window motors. All other circuits and components were good. Knowing this, our next step was to find the bad ground. This could have been a daunting task however through doing some online research we found that this was a common concern and the faulty ground was usually found in the wiring harness running along the floor near the passenger’s seat.
Armed with this useful information we removed the passenger seat and compartment trims. We pulled up the carpet and found a lake on the floor and a drenched wiring harness. Untaping the wiring harness we found the cause of the concern. The ground connection had disintegrated. We soldered the wires together and retaped them. Next step was to dry out the water, the carpet and especially the wiring harness.
Three wires for the front power window ground that we found broken apart. It is difficult to see how they were connected in the first place. As this fault is common they likely used a very poor connector that is prone to disintegration because we found no evidence of it. Our repair is permanent: we soldered all wires together.
Water doesn’t just get into a vehicle on its own so along with the wiring repairs we sought out the cause of the water leak and found it coming from the sunroof. The drains were plugged, a common problem on this and many other vehicles. After cleaning the drains we verified that all water flowed down the drain hoses and no further water leaked into the vehicle.
Final steps were to reassemble all removed components and doing a final retest: all the windows worked as they should. While this was quite an involved job it was relatively inexpensive compared to what could go wrong with the power windows. Thanks to the common occurrence of this concern and readily available information it kept the diagnosis to a minimum.
Our latest featured service is Brake Hose Replacement on a 2001 Volvo S40, brought to us by a client from Richmond, BC.
2001 Volvo S40
Brake hoses are a critical part of your brake’s hydraulic system. They are installed wherever a flexible connection is required. Usually there are four hoses, sometimes only three, and they are usually found near the wheels. Front hoses wear most frequently as they are subjected to up and down as well as side to side movement.
Brakes are operated by high pressure hydraulics. Hydraulics refers to fluids, and the braking system uses brake fluid. When you push your brake pedal the master cylinder delivers high pressure fluid to your brake calipers and/or wheel cylinders which press your brake pads or shoes onto the rotor or drum. Pressures can go over 4000 PSI. That’s a lot of pressure, so having tough components in good condition is critical to keep the brake fluid contained.
Worn brake hoses are found in two ways: one is when they burst, and this will be noted by a sudden loss of braking; the other is from a brake inspection where slight cracks are visible on the hose. Obviously the latter method is preferred as the hoses can be replaced before they blow and cause a very serious safety concern.
Our featured Volvo came to us on a tow truck with a blown left front brake hose. The owner was backing up the vehicle, applied the brakes and found the pedal suddenly sunk to the floor. Fortunately she was able stop the car before there was no collision. Had this happened out on the road and in a panic stop situation serious injuries or deaths could have occurred.
Inspecting this vehicle’s brakes was our first step to repairing this Volvo S40 properly. Along with the blown left front brake hose we found a severely cracked right front hose. The rears also had small cracks. On the positive side, the rest of the brake system was in good order. We replaced all four brake hoses and flushed the brake fluid and all was perfect again.
Routine brake inspections, performed annually will generally find any fault with your brake system including worn hoses. When it comes to your vehicle’s safety systems which includes brakes along with your steering and suspension prevention is key to saving money and prevent potentially tragic accidents from happening.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here this morning with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. He’s a Master Mechanic in Vancouver BC and he’s the owner of Pawlik Automotive which is a very heavily award winning kind of auto service place voted by their customers 12 times in a row so far, as the best auto service place in Vancouver. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Really good, very good.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about Audi’s and I know that Audi is part of Volkswagen, for quite a while now but how much different than Volkswagens are they?
Bernie: Well, there are a lot of similarities between Volkswagen and Audi and you’ll kind of see them more in the high end Volkswagens and the low end Audi’s, the similarities between the cars are quite noticeable. The engine platforms are shared between the two brands and this can work to your advantage if you own a lower end Audi, you’ve got basically a Volkswagen car which maybe doesn’t sound so good but it’s fixed up inside, it makes it a lot nicer car. The great thing about that is you know the more cars a manufacturers sells that are similar, the cheaper the parts are so it keeps your repair cost down and the labour operation may still be expensive but the parts are cheaper so that ends up helping you out in the long run. Some of the models that are similar are the VW Passat and the Audi A4, they share similar platforms and in the SUV area which we’ll talk more about later, VW Touareg and the Audi Q7 are similar vehicles as actually is the Porsche Cayenne, they all share the same platform although there’s clearly some differences between all those models. You know while we notice the similarity’s too between Volkswagen and Audi it’s just the feel of the vehicles, the way their built, there’s a certain German Volkswagen Audi feel to them which you see even in a mid-grade Volkswagen right up to a high end Audi, you know the fit and finish is certainly a lot better in the Audi, there’s a lot more buttons and accessories and things so you certainly know you’re in a luxury car with an Audi.
Mark: So you recently wrote a couple of blog articles about Audi being cheap to repair and then expensive to repair so can you elaborate on that?
Bernie: Yeah, the point I was trying to make in the first article about being cheaper to repair is most people have this idea that European cars are expensive to fix and for a lot of part that’s true but sometimes they are actually extremely inexpensive to fix and the point with the Audi, you know, this particular vehicle had an engine misfire, quite a severe misfire, it had a bad ignition coil and the price of the coils they were so cheap and these were not some made in China cheap, you know, copies they were name brand German made parts, they were so cheap, I could buy four of them for less than the price of one ignition coil for my Subaru H6 so just because it’s an Audi or Volkswagen or Mercedes or BMW for that matter doesn’t necessarily mean that the car’s going to be more expensive to fix, sometimes it can be actually substantially cheaper than a Japanese or American car but then you know the same week with an Audi A4 the transmission control module went bad and it was a $3,000 repair so it’s things like that, sometimes they’re cheap, sometimes they are really expensive but just because it’s a European car or Audi for that matter doesn’t mean it’s going to be expensive to fix.
Mark: So, what sort of repairs do you find with Audi’s and today we’re going to concentrate here on the SUV’s.
Bernie: Yeah, generally they’re pretty good cars but there are a few things that happen with them. Volkswagen, Audi vehicles, they tend to have a lot of electrical and electronic problems so you’ll find that if you’ve owned them for a long period of time you have a few issues with those. The brakes on the like the Q7 they seem to wear out really fast, they’re expensive to fix, tires wear out very fast too. I’ve had a number of people who bought them have been sort of disappointed with how much money they spend on maintenance and repairs. They’re a big vehicle and I’m not certain with the brakes, why they wear out so fast. I see that with a lot of other European SUV’s as well like Range Rovers, the brakes don’t last very long and yet they’re absolutely enormous, based on the size of the brake, it is a big vehicle but based on the size of the brake they should last for 150,000 kilometres and I’m not certain what causes them to wear out so quickly but the fact is, they do and whichever brand of parts we use seems to all wear at the same rate.
Some of the engines in these vehicles are very well built, they’re good quality but the oil changes or maintenance service is expensive, it’s all synthetic oil which leads to longer oil service interval but it does add expense. I’m thinking, brakes, tire wear; if you own an Audi SUV you’re definitely going to be spending more money than you will if you buy a Lexus, say, you know, if you’re looking in the luxury SUV market; beautiful cars tho, for sure. The VW Touareg is very similar and the high end Touareg’s their fit and finish on those is quite nice, almost close to an Audi but the Audi’s are a jump ahead. I know we’re not talking about Porsche today but the Cayenne is the same; it’s built on the same platform but they got to take it to a whole new level with performance and speed and try to get the sports car feel to it.
But that’s basically a lot of what goes on with those vehicles.
Mark: So high end luxury vehicle, great performance. How’s the diesel in the SUV?
Bernie: They’re good; these are a different model than we talked about TDI’s last week, they use a V6 diesel in the Q7’s and the Touareg’s as well. Really reliable so far, you know, that we haven’t seen a lot of problems with them so, I don’t have a lot more to say about them. They’re good and gives a nice option; you have a luxury diesel vehicle, that’s not much more I can say so far, we’ve seen very few problems with them.
Mark: Any last thought about Audi?
Bernie: You know Audi’s have come a long way, they used to be a kind of quirky, a bit of a quirky car going way back, you know as I’ve said before, written before, back around the late 90’s with the introduction of the A40 Audi brand really became a more mainstream, well-built vehicle and also way more popular so it was popular, that’s a good thing because they sell more of them and the cars tend to be built better. So any last thoughts? They are a great vehicle but you will, especially SUV’s, you will spend more money on those vehicle than you would if you owned a Lexus or even a large American luxury sedan, something like Cadillac Escalade; but good vehicle, very nice but definitely more expensive to repair.
Mark: Great. Thanks Bernie. So we’ve been talking with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They’re an award winning shop voted by their customers 12 times in a row as the best auto repair in Vancouver. Give them a call at 604-327-7112? What’s the number Bernie?
Bernie: 604-327-7112. You can tell it’s early, we’re both not thinking. Anyway, thanks Mark, appreciate it, we’ll talk again soon.
Our featured post is cooling system repairs performed on a 2007 Ford LCF medium truck, brought to us by a client from Collingwood, Vancouver.
2007 Ford LCF. Short wheelbase version rigged to haul small disposal bins.
The primary concern on this truck was that the engine overheated when the truck was loaded or going up a steep highway grade. This was indicated by the temperature gauge climbing very high. The owner had already replaced the thermostat and the fan clutch: neither of these parts solved the concern.
We road tested the vehicle and verified the climbing temperature gauge. This occured even though we had no heavy load or steep highway grade to drive the truck. A good hard highway drive caused the temperature to rise excessively. Back at the shop we inspected the vehicle thoroughly and found the concern: the radiator was plugged, but not internally as is common but externally.
The entire core, especially the bottom two thirds was plugged with dust and dirt. It was subtle but it was enough to block air flow through the radiator fins. This is a very unusual cause of overheating, though not entirely unsurprising as this truck is used to haul small disposal bins. Over the years it had spent enough time in dusty and dirty environments to suffer from this buildup.
Repairs involved us removing the radiator and cleaning the dirt off with a pressure washer (on a gentle setting). While we were at it we removed and inspected the water pump. The water pumps on these trucks use a plastic impeller and these are prone to breaking. When that happens the engine will overheat. We installed a new metal impeller pump as preventative maintenance.
After reassembly a good road test confirmed that the temperature remained normal.
The Ford LCF is a medium duty truck built to compete with the GMC Forward and Isuzu NPR flip cab trucks. While the GM/Isuzu trucks are extremely reliable the LCF has one major stroke against it: it uses a 4.5 Liter International diesel that is essentially a 6.0 Liter Power stroke engine with 2 cylinders missing. Most all of the myriad of concerns that occur with the 6.0 Liter also occur in this engine.
Radiator from Ford LCF before cleaning. This is the front view of the radiator. Note all the fluff and dirt on the core. This rad is very thick and all the fins were plugged. After cleaning the airflow was restored.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here this morning with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive; Pawlik is an award winning auto repair and auto maintenance shop in Vancouver BC. How are you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Excellent, excellent.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about TDI’s one of my favourites and Volkswagen is pretty famous for their TDI’s. So what makes it so special?
Bernie: Well that’s a great question. I think there’s a couple of reasons but first let’s talk about the history about TDI’s and Volkswagens. The TDI engines were first introduced in 1989 by Audi. TDI basically means turbo direct injection. Nothing really fancy, just a turbocharger and the injection goes directly into the cylinder as opposed to into a pre chamber which a lot of diesels at the time had but most modern diesels are really TDI but that’s Volkswagen’s term. So the early systems used mechanical pumps but they’ve evolved into the engines that we have today. In 2009 they went with the P electric injectors common rail system, these injectors can deliver up to five injection events per combustion and it’s amazing technology because this is what gives the diesels their quiet running, lower emissions, less smoke, yeah it’s amazing. They’re powerful; they’re peppy so Volkswagen auto group which includes Audi and Volkswagen, they’ve always made good deals for decades. They’ve also sold a lot of them in the North American market and it’s not a particularly favourable market for diesels, for some reason people in North America don’t really like diesels which I’ll go into in a minute but the only other manufacturer that seems to have had a consistent line of diesels in North America is Mercedes Benz. They too have made very good diesels for a long, long time but the thing in North America people traditionally don’t like the thought because they’re noisy; they blew smoke, they stink, the fuel is more challenging to find, not as many stations had it. The diesel engine did however have a couple distinct advantages, excellent fuel economy and simple maintenance. If you go back a few decades cars require regular tune-ups, the diesels didn’t. In Europe diesels have been very popular because fuel been much more expensive so people looked for economical alternatives. Times have changed, our fuel is much more expensive, maybe not at the moment but it’ll get back up there unfortunately at some point and the diesels have evolved, they’re quiet, they don’t stink, there’s no more clouds of smoke and Volkswagen which has always been at the forefront of diesel cars was a perfect choice for people wanting to buy diesels because they’re well developed and they make good cars.
Mark: So that’s a great bit of history but let’s talk about what you know best, repairs, service, what happens to these engines?
Bernie: well as I mentioned diesels have evolved but the maintenance requirement have really stayed the same and this is true for TDI’s as well as other diesels. Of course oil filter changes are required; fuel filter changes and air filter changes, and these are really all that you need to do on a diesel. The only difference with TDI’s, VW diesels they all use timing belts so they need to be changed at the recommended interval. Maintenance at the prescribed interval is really important on any engine but especially with diesels. Anything like a drop of water that gets into the fuel injection system, if it gets into the injectors, injection pump just wreaks havoc and it’ll cost a fortune to fix so you want to make sure that never happens so changing fuel filters religiously is important and I mentioned TDI’s use timing belts, if they break catastrophic engine damage will occur, so you need to make sure you change the timing belts at the prescribed intervals.
There are various intervals for different engines so you need to consult the Volkswagens specs to find out when to do yours.
So what goes wrong with TDI’s? Overall they’re really reliable; they have some glow plug issues. Occasionally we’ve had issues with turbochargers, now many times it’s not actually the turbocharger itself but they use an electronic actuator in a lot of turbochargers. The actuators go bad; it’s all a one piece unit so we have to buy the turbocharger which makes for a kind of pricey repair. Fortunately for the Volkswagens they’re not too expensive when compared to Mercedes and other brands.
Another thing that happens in TDI’s is pretty common over the history of the vehicles is that they get carbon deposits in the intake system, sometimes so bad that you can’t even, the engine will barely run up a hill so it’s a matter of carving it out, it’s time consuming but not a huge job.
That’s basically the problems I see with TDI’s.
Mark: So I already own a TDI Jetta and I love, it’s my second one, I love the car. Do you recommend them?
Bernie: Absolutely, they’re great cars and TDI’s are offered in a variety of different VW and Audi vehicles so you can go with a Jetta, it’s a more economical car, and you can go with an upscale Audi so there are a variety of vehicles you can have that engine in. They’ve always been reliable, you know and that’s really important when you buy a diesel, you don’t want to buy a crappy diesel. A few decades ago the Americans rushed and brought out a few diesel engines that were just absolute junk and there are some other ones out there that are not so good, so you want to buy a good diesel because the cost a lot to fix. One advantage of diesel is the direct fuel injection system and now a lot of gasoline powered cars use direct fuel injection so the fuel economy advantage they used to get with the diesel not quite there as much and there’s gasoline is creeping up close so if you’re looking to buy a new car and you’re thinking of a TDI, you might want to crunch the numbers, look at the prices and see if you want to do it but overall if you’re looking for a good diesel vehicle definitely highly recommended Volkswagen TDI and if you own one, we’re happy to service them to. We lots of work on them and we can fix them well.
Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re a 12 times voted best auto repair in Vancouver by their customers. So if you want a trusted place to get your sweet babies looked after, this is where to take them. Give Bernie a call at 604-327-7112 or go their great website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk to you again soon.
Today’s feature is a 96,000 kilometer service performed on a 2010 Subaru Forester, brought to us by a client from New Westminster.
2010 Subaru Forester
The 96,000 kilometer service has traditionally been a major service on Japanese cars. Why 96,000 kilometers and not the round number of 100,000? 96,000 kilometers is equivalent to 60,000 miles and because the US car market is so huge, and they still use miles the big market yardstick became the benchmark.
As cars have become more reliable and better built the 96,000 kilometer service is less involved than it once was. Going back 15 years and previously most Japanese cars 96,000 kilometer services included replacing all fluids: engine oil, transmission fluid, differential fluids, brake fluid, power steering fluid and engine coolant. There was a tune up with new spark plugs and fuel filter plus other ignition components as needed. Then there was the timing belt. Often we would also find that the CV joint boots were about to break open and needed to be replaced. As you can imagine this was a big service: lots of work and expensive.
Nowadays there is much less. Our featured 2010 Subaru Forester’s service was major but much less involved. All the fluids need to be flushed or replaced except the engine coolant. The tune up now only consists of spark plug replacement. Fuel filters are no longer replacement items. The timing belt is still there but is much tougher and will last until the 168,000 kilometer service. CV boots are also tougher and rarely need replacement. This brings the cost of the service down substantially however there are a couple of additions. This car needed the cabin air filter replaced and some of the fluids are synthetic which ups the costs of these services. Spark plugs are platinum and this raises the price over the plugs of yesteryear. Overall, for the car owner it is much more reasonable. It’s a reflection of just how much more reliable and well built today’s cars are.
Engine Compartment of 2010 Subaru Forester. The large metal piece in the center is the intake manifold. The fact that this is metal and not plastic will likely save the Subaru owner money. We see numerous problems with plastic parts.