Volkswagen Vehicles – Repairs and Reliability

beetle-golf

 

 

 

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here today talking about Volkswagens with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of the 12 time winner of best auto repair in Vancouver, Pawlik Automotive. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: Great. So Volkswagens been around since before World War Two or just prior I imagine, they’ve been around for a long time and they’ve sure evolved.

Bernie: They have, you know Adolf Hitler originally had the vision of the people’s car, apparently in Germany at the time. All the cars that were around were very expensive but in America you could buy a cheap car so he had a vision of creating an affordable car that all the citizens can own so that’s kind of where Volkswagen came into being. It’s the people’s car and it was a pretty basic car up until the 1970’s, they pretty well had a lineup of the Beatle, a couple other offerings but they’re all pretty basic cars. The whole history of Volkswagen, the company, is pretty interesting if you have a chance to read it and look through it, its some interesting reading.

Volkswagen sales of air cooled cars were starting to plummet in the 1970’s so they need to do something new, they introduced the Rabbit and the rest as they say is history. Originally the Volkswagen was a rear engine, air cooled, rear wheel drive car. The Rabbit changed that around, put everything up in the front, water cooled which is far better, front wheel drive with a front engine.

Now it’s interesting, the Beatles, I remember when I was a kid there were so many of them around, I remember going on road trips and you could count them by the thousands on the road, honestly they were kind of pieces of crap, they had a lot of problems being air cooled, the heating systems weren’t very good especially in a climate where we live where there’s a lot of moisture as the cars age and they started getting rusty, the heating systems broke down pretty badly. You used to see a lot of people driving around with fogged up inside, people with cloths trying to wipe them down. They also were not very safe cars not only in crashes but you know, not being able to heat the car very well isn’t very good. The engines wore out quickly but fortunately they were cheap to fix. It’s been a long time since we’ve actually worked on an air cooled Beetle in our shop but I used to work on tons of them.

Now, so that’s kind of a bit of history of the Volkswagen.

Mark: So what issues do you find with modern VW cars?

Bernie: Well, they’re fairly well built cars, I mean they are so different from the Beatles, it’s amazing. But I’d say they’re definitely less reliable than Japanese cars, still well built vehicles and one of the major issue they’ve had starting I think around 1997 and I don’t know if they’ve fully solved this but the automatic transmissions have been really problematic, very expensive to fix, a lot goes wrong with them, sometimes in a very early mileage as well so there’s been a lot of unhappy VW owners with automatic transmission problems. Other than that there’s some electrical issues, power window failure, check engine lights come on quite frequently, some wheel bearing problems as well but overall the engines are pretty solid. Some do require timing belt replacements as well altho like a lot of other manufacturers they’ve gone to timing chains but there are still timing belts are definitely an issue to deal with on many models.

Mark: So, I know a lot of car manufacturers are shifting production to lower wage countries like Mexico and I also know personally that VW has done this so how’s that affected the quality of the cars?

Bernie: Well, VW’s built cars in Mexico and other third world countries for many years but I think they’ve shifted a lot more production in Mexico recently and while this has made the cars very attractively priced, you can buy a really nice Golf for not a lot of money, it’s a beautiful car, nicely equipped, drives really well but the fit and finish has definitely dropped off from the German built models and probably the reliability as well. Speaking of third world production it’s interesting that going back twenty or thirty years back when I used to fix a lot of Volkswagens I was amazed how cheap the parts were and this is because a lot of them were made in third world countries. Just to give an example a brake wheel cylinder for an American car would cost fifteen, twenty dollars maybe even a bit more, you could buy one for a Volkswagen for under five bucks so they really have the third world production of their car parts down pretty well and that saved a lot of money on repairs for the people who owned Volkswagens.

Mark: So any further thought on VW’s?

Bernie: Overall, good cars but as I said you can expect more will go wrong with a Volkswagen than the Japanese cars for the most part. They are nicely built and they have that European feel when you drive them, so if you like that kind of feel, go for it, buy one, but just expect that you might spend a little bit more money on repairs and maintenance. I not seeing Volkswagen solve their issues with the automatic transmissions so you might still be safe to buy one with a standard because they seem to be very reliable. One other thing, we’ve haven’t talked about Volkswagen vans or the fabulous TDI diesels and we’ll do that in our next Hangout. So that’s it for Volkswagens today.

Mark: Great, thank you Bernie. So that’s Mr. Bernie Pawlik. He’s been working on cars as you can tell for an awfully long time, over 20 years and his shop Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver has been voted by its customers as the best auto repair shop in Vancouver, 12 times in a row. So if you want some reliable service for your vehicle from honest mechanics, these are the guys to call. 604-327-7112 Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

2002 Saturn SC2 – Coolant Leak Repairs

Friday’s featured post is coolant leak repairs on a 2002 Saturn SC2.

Coolant leak

2002 Saturn SC2

While there are many places for coolant to leak on a vehicle our featured Saturn had a somewhat unique leak and repair solution.

Our first step with any repair is to test and diagnose the concern. Our client’s complaint was that engine coolant was leaking and needed to be topped up. A pressure test is the best way to find most coolant leaks and during our test we found one leak coming from a cracked coolant pipe. The pipe was integral with the intake manifold, a molded plastic part prone to failure.

Seemingly there was only one repair solution: replace the intake manifold, a time consuming job that required an expensive part.

While searching for parts we found a far more economical option: a revised and redesigned coolant pipe. The pipe is made from metal so splitting will never occur again. The repair was still time consuming as it required removing the intake manifold and cutting off the old plastic pipe however the end cost of the job was at least $400 cheaper as the manifold did not require replacement.

These are the types of repair solutions that we look for everyday; and when it’s possible we save out clients a lot of money on their car and truck repairs.

For more information about the Saturn SC2 click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_S-Series

For more about engine cooling systems check out this awesome video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7inC4lOpGs

Coolant leak

Intake manifold from Saturn SC2. Arrow points to coolant pipe. In order to install the revised part we cut off this broken plastic part and installed the new and improved metal pipe.

Coolant leak

The revised metal pipe.

 

2002 Land Rover Discovery – Coil Springs and Shock Absorbers

Our featured post is replacement of front and rear coil springs and shock absorbers on a 2002 Land Rover Discovery.

Land Rover Discovery

2002 Land Rover Discovery

Our client had recently purchased this vehicle and while doing a comprehensive inspection we found 2 broken coil springs. The shock absorbers, which were the same vintage as the springs, also needed replacement .

There are several different types of suspension springs used on trucks: torsion bar, leaf and coil. Additionally, some fancier vehicles, like the Range Rover use air springs which allow height adjustments in the suspension system. The Land Rover Discovery is a more utilitarian 4 wheel drive vehicle and uses coil springs.

Shock absorbers remove the oscillations of the springs. When your vehicle hits a bump it bounces on the spring and continues to do so until the energy of the bounce is gone. It may take several up and down movement for all of the energy to be used up. The shock absorber stops the bouncing and makes the vehicle ride smoother. If you’ve ever ridden in a vehicle with completely blown shocks you will likely feel sick from the continuous and uncontrolled bouncing.

For springs we had only stock replacement units available but for shocks there were several options. After discussing the various offerings with the owner we chose to install Bilstein shocks which are original equipment on this vehicle. These are a very tough and durable shock absorber that will last for many years and be able to handle the roughest roads. While the Bilsteins are substantially more expense than most other aftermarket shocks they are very worth the additional cost.

After replacement of the springs and shocks our client’s Land Rover Discovery sat higher and sat evenly. The ride was superb and the truck was ready for any road conditions.

For more information about the Land Rover Discovery click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Rover_Discovery

For more information on springs and shocks click here http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-suspension.htm

Land Rover Discovery

New rear coil spring & Bilstein shock absorber

2009 Jaguar XF – Fuel Pump Replacement

Today’s featured service is Fuel Pump Replacement on a 2009 Jaguar XF, brought to us by a client from West End, Vancouver.

2009 Jaguar XF

2009 Jaguar XF

This beautiful 2009 Jaguar XF suffered from a stumbling engine and no acceleration when the fuel tank level was low and the car was cornered hard. Connecting diagnostic equipment confirmed that fuel pump pressure momentarily dropped to zero on sharp right turns. What we had was a fuel starvation issue.

The Jaguar XF uses a saddle tank: a design common to many cars. The tank spreads out across the vehicle under the rear seat, but must be made in such a way as to accommodate the driveshaft and exhaust system. To do so it becomes thin in the center and is deeper on both sides. This requires a system with either 2 fuel pumps or a main pump and a pick-up pump. Our Jaguar XF uses a rather unique version of the latter. The main fuel pump sits in the right tank in a bowl which is filled with fuel by a jet section pump located below the bowl and in the left tank.

In order to cure our Jaguar’s ailments we replaced the main fuel pump and the auxiliary assembly to the left tank. A road test involving some hard right turns, with our diagnostic equipment connected verified good fuel pressure at all times.

While fuel pump replacement often involves dropping the fuel tank, the Jaguar XF, like most saddle-tanked vehicles provides fuel pump access from inside the car. This is a great thing because removing saddle tanks is very labour intensive.

Jaguar XF

Fuel pump assemblies from Jaguar. Red arrow points to main pump; Yellow indicates jet pumps

Fuel pump assemblies for 2009 Jaguar XF. Unit on left is the left tank assembly with fuel gauge sender and jet pump. The yellow arrows point to the jet pumps. The unit on the right is the right tank unit which contains the main pump inside the bowl assembly and indicated by red arrow. This unit also has a jet pump and fuel gauge sender
If you google fuel pump or fuel starvation concerns for this car you will find many results and there are recalls for some of these cars. This particular model was not one of those covered.

This 2009 Jaguar XF is a gorgeous car that looks great and performs well. The interior is luxurious, but perhaps the most interesting feature is the dash board air vents which ‘roll out’ when the key in turned on. While Jaguar cars have a poor reputation for reliability we find that those built since around the 2000 model year are good cars. The influence that Ford had on Jaguar was indeed positive.

For more information on the Jaguar XF click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XF

For more information about fuel pumps click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_pump

Jaguar XF

Diagram of fuel pump layout and fuel flow. #3 is jet pump, #4 is main pump.

Nissan Vehicles – Repairs and Reliability

Nissan

 

 

 

 

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. They’ve been voted twelve times, best auto repair shop in Vancouver and we’re going to talk about Nissan’s this morning. How are you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Really good.

Mark: Great, so Nissan is a very popular brand of vehicle. What can you tell us about them?

Bernie: Well, yes, they’re definitely popular. Nissan makes a wide variety of vehicles from subcompact cars to luxury sedans, large cargo vans, pickup trucks, sport utilities. They also make the fabulous Z car that was first introduced, the Datsun 240 Z in 1970. These cars had a very long running production line and it’s kind of interesting to watch the evolution of this car. You can see the whole evolution of the automotive industry in the way this car is built in terms of styling and performance and technology.

Mark: So I guess these are really fairly popular cars, so I assume you work on a lot of them. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: Yes, we work on lots of them and overall they’re very reliable. I mean the Japanese car so that’s usually synonymous with the reliability.

Mark: So what do you find that these cars need for service and repairs?

Bernie: Well like with all cars, oil changes for sure, fluid changes, routine service and inspections. If I consider sort of one faulty component that sticks out in my mind in the Nissans seems to the cam and crankshaft sensors on many models; they die out. It’s a very common issue. There are some vehicles even have a recall for repairs on those things and others don’t, I don’t know why but anyways that’s sort of the most common thing that comes to my mind. Other than that they’re very reliable.

Mark: So, Nissan has used something called a CVT transmission for many years. I’ve never driven one. What are they and how are they?

Bernie: Well CVT stands for constant variable transmission. Its an automatic transmission, that
has no gears basically, it can be in any gear but like typical automatic transmissions have multiple gear sets, originally going way back into the 60’s and earlier GM had powerglide two speed transmission, then automatic transmissions have evolved nowadays, a lot of cars have five and six speed transmissions, there’s even nine speed transmissions out there. But the CVT eliminates all that complication, all those gears. The inside of the transmissions are very simple but strangely enough they’re really expensive to fix and I’m not sure why because you’d think that simple and fewer components would make it cheaper but it’s not. Nissan’s had a lot of problems with these transmissions. You find them in a lot of their cars, the Muranos have them, so many problems, they’ve had a lot of problems with them to the extent that they actually extended the warranty on them, on a lot of the vehicles to ten years to cover the CVT transmission; so you know, there’s still issues. When they work well, they’re good.

Mark: So if they’re so problematic and expensive to fix why are they using them?

Bernie: I think the usual reasons, I mean most manufacturers do things on their vehicles to first of all improve fuel economy, lower the exhaust emissions and better engine performance. They try to make that sort of triangle of things work. CVT transmissions allow manufacturers to tune their engines in a way that you just can’t do it when you’re having to shift gears so it’s a completely different way of operating a drive train in a vehicle and it actually does have a lot of advantages. I’m not really a big fan of CVT transmissions just due to the fact that you know, the issues that I cited above, I mean there’s a lot of problems with them and Nissan’s not the only one. They’re also expensive to repair and the reliability is a little dodgy compared to just your sort of your standard automatic transmission.

Mark: So, Nissan has a big range of vehicles.

Bernie: They do, you know they have very popular vehicles, like their sport utility’s very popular, their pickup trucks are a popular line, they also offer pretty good value, I think when you compare to, I tend to compare Nissan to Toyota, I think they’re kind of head to head competitors and I think Nissan, their trucks generally seem to be a little lower priced, maybe not quite as good but pretty close. I think better value in a lot of ways. Nissan also offers a full size pickup truck and they have a cargo van, quite a large cargo van that competes against the American vans, I find they can look a bit ugly but you know they’re an awesome Japanese built vehicle.

Mark: So what about Pathfinders and the other Nissan Sport Utility.

Bernie: Pathfinders are great, I mean, very popular vehicle. I would say they’re, you know, just a little less reliable than a Forerunner but you know, really close. Nissan also has an Xterra which is less popular than a Pathfinder, look similar but the Xterra is actually a much tougher truck than a Pathfinder. It’s a body on frame designed vehicle with solid axels, so it’s a little tougher of a driving vehicle but if you’re looking for an off road, like if I was looking for an off road type of vehicle I would definitely choose an Xterra over a Pathfinder. The Pathfinder’s got more of a car ride; they try to make that compromise. Some of the Xterra’s were offered with supercharged engines as well which makes for a nice powerful fun small truck.

Mark: So I remember reading in some of your blog posts to beware of and personally have experienced this, beware of vehicles that were sold only in Canada. Does Nissan have any of these?

Bernie: Yes, they have a few and yeah it’s always worth being concerned about that. As a worldwide seller of vehicles which Nissan is, they pick certain markets and models for certain cars and in Canada you know, they will sell some cars they don’t sell in the US but what makes the job tricky is that all the repair information that we receive and the huge amazing parts network of car parts we have in North America is really based on the cars they sell in the US because their market is infinitely huger than ours. So when a vehicle is not sold, a Canadian only model it’s harder to get parts and repair information is more exclusive; it just makes our job a little more difficult but we can always get all the parts we need, you have to get a little more creative with sometimes your repair strategies and parts acquisition but the parts are always available through the dealer, just you may pay a lot more money for it than you would if you aftermarket parts. Some of the Canadian models that I can think of over the years, the Nissan Micra, it’s been gone for a long time but it was a tiny mini subcompact car and the Nissan Multi was also a very popular, kind of a small minivan or boxy station wagon depending upon which way you look at it and then what a more modern offering would be is the Nissan Xtrail, it’s a very popular vehicle. It’s based on the ultima drive train and so a lot of the parts are easily available if you order things from Ultima but some of the things are a bit tricky. As I said Canadian only models, is not correct, it’s just models weren’t sold in the US. When you look around the world, it’s amazing the different varieties of vehicles that Nissan and for that matter other Japanese manufacturers make us. I was recently in the Caribbean on a holiday and I was amazed, visiting these different island how all the cars are almost all Japanese or Korean, vehicles we never see here but really useful cars.

Mark: So any final thought on Nissan?

Bernie: You know the more we talk about Nissan the more things kind of come to my mind, but overall they’re very well made cars and they make very good cars and light trucks. It’s impressive when I think about some Maxima’s that we’ve worked on over the years and you know at over 200,000 kilometers, put on the hoist, look at the vehicle, there’s not a drip of oil coming from the engine, transmission’s not dripping anything. They’re working perfectly, you know this is a really well built vehicle so Maxima is a nice high end vehicle but even their lower end vehicles are still equivalently as good so you know, I’d say, if you like they’re a good Japanese car to buy, there’s a good variety from cheap compact economical to luxury; pickup trucks or sports which anyway you want to go.

Mark: Great. So we’ve talked about Nissan with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the award winning Pawlik Automotive, 12 times voted by their customers as best auto repair shop in Vancouver. You can reach them at Pawlikautomotive.com or give them a call at 604-327-7112. Book your next appointment. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

Dodge Trucks – How Are They?

Dodge Trucks with the owner of 12 time winner of “Best in Vancouver for auto repair” Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Good Morning, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, 12 times winning Best Auto Repair in Vancouver – voted by their clients – Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent.

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about Dodge trucks and I know your shop is becoming a bit famous for the work you do on Dodge diesels. They have a big range of trucks and vans etc – how are Dodge’s?

Bernie: They’re good. But like every make and model of car and light truck, they’ve got their strengths and weaknesses. For this hangout, any comparisons I make are going to be between the American trucks – the Ford’s, the Chevy’s, GM’s and Dodge’s and we’re going to start the discussion around the full size pickup trucks.

Mark: What are the strengths of the full size Dodge pickups?

Bernie: Well, in the strength department, I have to say, their engines have always been good and for as long as I can remember, and as long as I’ve been working on trucks they’ve had great engines. The gas engines have been good, the 225 Slant 6 was kind of a gutless engine but was very hard to kill, a very legendary engine. The 318 V8 was used for a long time, was almost as reliable – the larger V8’s were equally as good. The newer trucks are good, however some of the engines are good, but some are a bit problematic – like the 3.7 later and 4.7 litre V engines – they have an overhead cam engine – they do have a few problems than some of the others – valve seats fall out and if you don’t maintain them properly, there’s timing chain problems to be had – so there are issues with those and they’re very expensive to fix.

Diesels. This is where I think Dodge really has the edge. The Cummins diesel is a legendary engine, superbly reliable. There are a few factors that I think make Cummins a great engine. The Cummins diesel engine is found in industrial engines and trucks and it’s interesting when you look at a Cummins engine in a Kenworth or a huge mining truck or a Dodge pickup truck – the engines all look exactly the same except for their size – they just scale them up or down. To me, it’s a winning combination. It’s a well thought out design. It’s meant to be fixed and repaired, when it needs to be done which is not very often. They’re a lot simpler than the V8 offerings of the GM and the Ford, by the virtue that they have 2 less cylinders and yet they are the same size engine, so there’s a couple less things to go wrong. When fuel injectors cost $400 each – having to replace 2 less injectors can save an awful lot of money. If you’re looking for a reliable diesel, I would absolutely recommend Dodge, I think they’re definitely the way to go. Much less problems that the others.

Mark: OK, that’s a pretty winning endorsement, but you also mentioned some weaknesses.

Bernie: Yeah, there are definitely a few. One thing we noticed with a lot of modern Dodge trucks, steering linkages and ball joints wear out, tie rod ends. We’ve had many Dodge Ram 2500/3500 pickup trucks where all the front end parts are loose and worn out and a lot of time before 400,000 km. I think that’s too soon and it really should last longer than that – and the 1500 series also suffers some issues – the half ton trucks. One thing I have to say about the drive trains and suspensions in Dodge trucks built in the last 15 years seem a lot tougher. But in the past, I always got the impression that Dodge trucks weren’t built quite as heavy as Ford’s or GM’s – they just seemed a little wimpier – if I can use that word.

Mark: So is that some of the other areas of weakness?

Bernie: The other area, a lot of people say, is the automatic transmissions in Dodge trucks are weak, and I say it like apparently people say this, because we’ve actually not run into any, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, maybe no one has brought one by our shop. But we do see a lot of Cummins Dodge diesel trucks with standard transmissions a lot more than Chevy or Ford and I’m not sure why. They have a bad reputation for automatics to people go with standards. But if you’re looking for standard equipped Dodge truck, they seem to be much more available.

Mark: So speaking of transmissions, then we’ll switch into Caravans, that’s another sort of Dodge truck. The Dodge Caravan is legendary for bad transmissions.

Bernie: They certainly are and we’ve seen an awful lot of them and by the same token, I’ve seen people with Dodge Caravans that have had 200,000/3000,000 km and never had a transmission problem. It does happen much more frequently in most of those vans, but they’re not all guaranteed to have a transmission problem. But today I’m talking more about work truck, pickup trucks, you know the trucks that people use to haul their RV trailers. t’s interesting, a lot of manufacturers, they call their vehicles trucks and I don’t know if I’d call a Caravan a truck – it’s like a Honda Odyssey mini van is part of Honda’s truck lineup. But really to me, it’s more like a big car than a truck. But definitely Caravans have their transmission problems for sure.

Mark: So what about Jeeps?

Bernie: I haven’t really touched on Jeeps. Jeeps are owned by Chrysler and they do share a lot of the similar drivetrain components to Dodge trucks. But there are a lot of issues and we can do a separate hangout on Jeeps because there’s lots of material to discuss with Jeeps. We do a lot of them and have a lot of good and bad things to say about them.

Mark: And Dodge Vans?

Bernie: Dodge vans are awesome. They’ve had for years, between the ’70’s to the ’90’s, they had their Tradesman line of vans that were very popular and especially the Dodge Maxi van. It was the only big van offered, it was like 2-3 feet longer than a Ford or Chevy van, so they were quite popular. Good vans but I rarely ever see one on the road any more, they all seem to have moved on to the scrap yard. When Mercedes bought Chrysler, these vans were discontinued and they offered the Sprinter and I think they are, in my eyes, a brilliant van. They’re offered in various configurations from smaller to large, quite large and extended height; they’ve got some with dual wheels, some with half tons some are 3/4, one ton – so they come in a large variety for whatever uses you want to make of them. Most of them are equipped with a Mercedes diesel engine and it’s a good reliable drivetrain. On the downside, because it’s a Mercedes drivetrain engine the diagnostic and repair work is much more exclusive so not every shop can do them. We can, by the way, we’ve got all the equipment to do them but there’s a lot of shops that can’t, we’ve got a lot of extra equipment to be able to do so.

Since the divorce, if we can say, between Mercedes and Chrysler, the Sprinters are no longer sold through Chrysler so if you’re really set on a Sprinter you have to buy a Mercedes Sprinter. But Dodge now has a line of vans; the Pro Master and again, they come in a variety of sizes, there’s gas and diesel options, and I can’t really say much about them because I’ve never seen one in our shop because they’re fairly new but I know one day we will.

Mark: So any last thoughts about Dodge trucks?

Bernie: I think overall they’re great trucks. The Cummins diesel, in my opinion, is the best offering from the big three American manufacturers for diesel trucks which are an incredibly popular market. The gas engine trucks are good. I haven’t really talked much about Dakota’s – Durango’s as a medium sized trucks – these are reasonable trucks. We’ve seen some and once they get older they do tend to have a lot of problems. Things wear out – like they do in other cars but this seems like worse than others perhaps. The other thought about Dodge is they are typically cheaper than their Japanese counterparts especially if you think about the Caravan, for instance, you can often buy a Caravan for $20,000. They have a some what bad reputation for things wearing out but if you take the equivalent Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, they can often be $10,000-$15,000 more. So if you sit down and do the math and figure out hey, if I buy this Caravan for $20,000 am I going to spend an extra $10,000 on repairs over the next 10 years and you might find that it’s more worthwhile to just buy the Caravan instead of spending the extra money on the Toyota unless you really set on it. Those are the kind of things that it’s important to put down on paper and look at. I know I’m steering away from the Dodge truck but for any vehicle if you have any questions about them or whether is this the right vehicle to buy, please call us because I love talking to people about these sorts of things and helping make a proper decision. And thats my thoughts on Dodge’s

Mark: Awesome. So thank you Bernie – and again folks, these are the guys to call if you’re looking for maintenance for your vehicle – they specialize in getting your vehicle right and keeping it right for the long haul saving you a ton of money. Give them a call at 604-327-7112 or go to their amazing website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark – talk again soon

Mark: Bye

How Much Service do Land Rovers and Range Rovers Require?

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re talking with award winning, 12 times voted Best in Vancouver by their customers from different publications in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik from Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent, and you?

Mark: I’m good. So we’re doing an early morning one today and we’re going to talk about Land Rovers and Range Rovers, pretty fancy vehicles, seems to be a lot more of them around these days – So do you see a lot of them in your shop?

Bernie: Yeah, we do. We work on plenty of Land Rover vehicles. They’re really nice vehicles, generally very tough and luxurious for sure, but they are somewhat problematic, which is kinda good for us.

Mark: So, problematic, doesn’t spending a lot of money on a high end vehicle ensure a trouble free ride?

Bernie: Definitely not. I think it’s kind of interesting, at least with European cars, there seems to be a correlation between how much you spend on a car and how much service you have to do. You’d think to yourself, if you buy a good quality car you’d have less problems but it seems to the exact opposite. In all fairness, in a complex vehicle, a luxury car, there’s a lot more things that can go wrong. But it seems like they don’t make them quite as well in some ways, especially when compared to the Japanese luxury cars like Lexus and Infiniti, they seem to be a little more trouble free.

Mark: So what sort of issues do you see with Land Rover and Range Rover?

Bernie: Well, there’s lots of stuff and I’ll say they’re getting better with each passing year. Going back to the mid to late ’90’s, there were quite a few of engine problems with their V8 engines, they have cylinder liners that would sometimes fail, not a lot, but when they do you have to replace the whole engine, they’re not something that can be readily machined like a lot of standard V8 engines could be. Oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets and a number of different spots are common. In the early 2000’s some of the Range Rovers had a BMW V8 engine which you think would be great but they’re actually not the best V8 engine. There’s a lot of problems with them, I mean they’re good when they’re younger but as they get older, they start to get oil leaks and coolant leaks and they’re pretty expensive to fix. So they got away from all that, it seems like the engines these days are pretty good in the Land Rover and Range Rover car, or trucks, I should say.

Mark: What other kind of issues do they have?

Bernie: Well, most Land Rovers, and all Range Rovers certainly, use air suspension which is great because you can change the height of the vehicle for different road conditions, or if you’re going down the highway, the vehicle can drop down for more stability, it’s a great feature, but a lot of things go wrong with air suspension. There are sensors on each corner of the car, there’s an air bag which is basically a giant air spring on each corner and eventually those bags will leak. It can take quite a few years, but they do leak. Probably the biggest problem the compressors that uses an air compressor to fill the air bags and over time, the compressors will fail for various reasons. But one model of Land Rover, or sorry Range Rover, they actually put the air compressor in the trunk underneath the spare tire, which is a great spot for it. Other models, they put the air compressor outside the vehicle, underneath the vehicle, inside a somewhat weatherproof box, but of course it’s not fully weatherproof, water gets in eventually and wears it out. And it’s just a stupid place to put it because this is an off road type of vehicle which is designed to go off road and that’s the last place you want to put an electronic device. Anyways, that’s what they’ve done and you have to deal with it.

Mark: So are these good off road vehicles?

Bernie: They certainly are, they’re built very tough, they’ve got solid frames, large drive train components. One exception is the Freelander or the LR2, which is a replacement of the Freelander. These are more car like models, but the main LR3, LR4 Land Rovers and the Range Rovers, they are definitely big truck type vehicles. Land Rover has that reputation for being an off road vehicle, you see them driving through the Serengeti, they have a well deserved reputation. You can pretty well take a lot of the older ones pretty much anywhere, they’re simpler vehicles, but with a lot of these more modern ones, most people, they never get off road, they’re just a nice little luxury ride around town or up to Whistler for the weekend. But the great thing about it is if you get tired of the night life up at Whistler, or sitting around in your hotel room, you can always go off on some rough logging road and go exploring and you’ll get there and back most likely. the only thing I’d worry about is scratching the paint and maybe wrecking the nice low profile tires and wheels. We have one client who has an LR3, he goes out hunting with his buddies, it has the air suspension and everything so you can adjust the height ride. He goes out quite frequently and uses it for what it’s meant for, drives around daily and it’s a tough truck, it works really well.

Mark: So you mentioned something about the Land Rover Freelander

Bernie: I did, and this is the only vehicle we’ve worked on in our shop in years that I can say, is a piece of junk. It’s a horribly built vehicle and is really actually the only vehicle I can think about other than maybe like an older Hyundai or a Lada – that I can say is a piece of junk. The engines in the Freelander, at least the ones sold in North America uses a strangely designed V8 engine and what happens with this engine is it uses cylinder liners that are held in place with some sort of strange adhesive or glue. And eventually after not too long, maybe five years the liner fails, or the glue fails, and the cylinder liner starts flopping around and that causes the head gasket to leak. The only way you can fix it, is to replace the engine with an engine from Land Rover. There is nobody who can rebuild it, nobody can fix it, and these engines rebuilt by Land Rover may well be new engines. The problem is so bad apparently, that Land Rover was actually buying the vehicles back from customers and actually just sending the vehicle off to get crushed. I find that just appalling when I think about it, I mean, any vehicle built should last for at least twenty years, if you take good care of it – if you choose to keep it that long. But the fact that some of these vehicles you wouldn’t even get a 100,000 km out them, before sending them to the scrapper is horrible.

Apparently in Europe they sell the Freelander with a diesel engine which is really reliable, so it’s just the engine offering that they put in it makes it a crappy vehicle around here. Now they replaced the Freelander with the LR2 which is a much nicer vehicle and it uses a Ford/Volvo drive train, but interestingly enough, we had one a little while ago where we did a service where both the front and rear differential pinion bearings were worn out, it made a horrible noise when you were driving down the road. It didn’t even have 80,000 km on it, and apparently the rear pinion bearing failure is very common on these. So I don’t know, they’re not built all that well either. That’s all I can say on those, they’re not great vehicles.

Mark: So that’s a pretty scathing review, you normally don’t say that kind of stuff about bad things about vehicles.

Bernie: Really I don’t. I think almost any vehicle you can buy nowadays and even within the last ten years is a good vehicle. But the Freelander really is a piece of crap and I find it frustrating being in a business where we’re trying to fix vehicles and get them going and save people money and yet it feels like with the Freelander no matter what you do it’s a waste of time because it’s just a ticking time bomb. So it’s not really worth our efforts to even work on one.

Mark: So here we go to the dealer, kind of viewpoint perhaps, the Land Rover and Range Rover especially are really fancy, high end vehicles, very expensive, aren’t they best serviced especially at the dealer?

Bernie: Well, the definitely are fancy and sophisticated vehicles, however any shop with proper equipment and skilled technicians can work on them. We’ve invested a lot in equipment to work on Land Rovers and Range Rovers. We’ve got the right diagnostic equipment and the service equipment to do it. Dealers generally do a good job, but we were recently shocked, we had a client who had a two year old Range Rover, 2012, 20,000 km, was quoted $1,200 for service from the dealer. We did the same service for $450 taxes included everything, out the door. And I really can’t figure out what they could have possibly done for $1,200 on a two year old, 20,000 km vehicle. So you know with dealers of the European cars, we often see people with huge quotes for service and I’m not sure what they’re getting. It’s not the case with all of them, but some of them, it’s crazy, I don’t quite understand. So I think there’s the opportunity for us to save, especially people with high end luxury cars a lot of money on their service

Mark: So it sounds like you can save people a lot of money on service

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely in many cases we seem to find that.

Mark: Any final thoughts on Land Rover and Range Rover?

Bernie: Overall they’re great vehicles but they cost a fair bit of money to buy in the first place, but because it’s a luxury vehicle, you can expect to pay more maintenance and repairs. They’re more complex built, there’s more parts to break so that’s going to cost more money. A lot of times they’re a bit exclusive, so you’re stuck with a dealer for parts. And the other area with Land Rovers, that can make them kind of expensive is that somewhere in their servicing and I’ll just leave you with a final example; a transmission service on an LR3 for instance, normally we take the pan off, clean it and put a gasket and filter in and flush it with a machine. The Land Rover uses a synthetic fluid which is not uncommon, it’s more expensive, quite a bit more expensive but lots of cars use synthetic fluid. But with the LR3, the transmission pan is complete assembly of a pan, a gasket and a filter, it’s several hundred dollars for the part, and then labour wise to get it off – it was never really designed to be removed easily, so it’s another couple hundred dollars labour in addition. So it makes for a very expensive transmission service, still worth doing every 100,000 km to keep the transmission alive but that’s just an example of what you do end up paying sometimes to service these vehicles. But overall, great vehicles, a few more problems than some but we can service them and we love working on them.

Mark: Awesome, thanks. So we’ve been talking Land Rovers and Range Rovers with award winning, best in Vancouver for auto service, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at pawlikautomotive.com a fantastic website with tons of information or give them a call 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon

Mark: Bye

Maintaining and Repairing Mercedes

Answering common questions about Mercedes Maintenance with Bernie Pawlik

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning mechanic and car repair and maintenance expert extraordinaire, Mr. Bernie Pawlik in Vancouver BC. How’re you doing tonight Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent Mark, how are you?

Mark: I’m good. So we’re going to talk about Mercedes. You’ve worked on them for quite a while, tell us about them.

Bernie: Yes, we’ve serviced Mercedes for a number of years. They’ve always been excellent cars, personally, I haven’t cared much for them up until around the 2000 model years came out though.

Mark: So why’s that?

Bernie: Well, prior to around the 2000’s, they’re kind of, well, Mercedes cars had some strange quirks – I mean, they’re great cars, but they had some strange things with the gas pedal linkages had a lot of extra play so you had to push the gas pedal extra hard to get the car to move, the cars were kind of floaty riding, big steering wheels – kind of bus like, boatie cars, luxurious and good but kinda boatie. Things changed, Mercedes became a tight car, responsive and became a more fun car to drive. Also around that time, they changed their the fuel injection system. For a long time, they used a Bosch K Jetronic, it’s a continuous fuel injection system, worked good when it was new but it’s a kind of semi mechanical system that had a lot of problems. Tough to diagnose and expensive to repair. So now they’ve gone to an electronic fuel injection, way simpler to diagnose, way more reliable, better to repair.

Mark: So, you didn’t like those cars very much, but were they pretty good cars?

Bernie: Oh, absolutely. Mercedes have always been well built cars, and are cars that last a long time. We rarely ever see an engine or a major component, like a transmission or rear end, ever of wrong in a Mercedes. They seem to last almost forever.

Mark: I know some people, I’ve always had this impression about them that they’re so unique and different that they should probably on be serviced at the dealer. Is that true?

Bernie: No, absolutely not. While they are somewhat unique, any shop that’s got proper equipment and skilled technicians can service a Mercedes and do them well. For example, we recently purchased a dealer level scan tool for our shop, it’s got amazing support – if we run into a tricky issue, we’re not sure what we’re reading, or the problem is too complicated, we can actually download the data files from our scan tool and send them off to the offices of this company – they have dedicated technicians, they analyze it and they can tell us hey, this is the problem. So we have that dealer level service that we can do it. We’re not the only shop that has that but there’s not that many that have it. It’s a pretty big investment.

Mark: So what do you have to fix on these cars?

Bernie: Well, on most modern Mercedes, the ones built in the last 15 years; we do a lot of brakes, routine maintenance, oil changes and inspections. Check engine light diagnosis is another common issue and repairs related to that. Another thing about the Mercedes is they’re also very advanced, they’re also very electronic and they do have some issues with their electronics, certain modules going bad, you know electrical items so there are a few more of those things to fix than your average car.

Mark: So what’s different about Mercedes maintenance service?

Bernie: Well, their maintenance services are pretty much like any other car, but they have a maintenance reminder system that’ll come up on the dash, again not unique to Mercedes, but they way they do theirs is a little different. They have like, generally there’s an A service and a B service, sometimes there’ll also be a C,D and an E, but mostly it’s an A service and a B service. The A service is basically an oil change and a light maintenance inspection; while the B service is the oil change with a full comprehensive inspection and maintenance service. Generally you do an A service, then a B, then an A, and then a B. The other thing about Mercedes, like a lot of other German cars these days, they have very long oil change intervals, I mean personally I think they’re almost too long, some of them are up to 24,000 km between oil changes. You know, when we change oil that old, I mean when I say it’s too long, when we change oil that old, it really smells bad and it just looks horrible. I think at that point I think it’s too far contaminated to be used, but anyways, that’s what they recommend. But I’d say, that if you have a 24,000 km oil change interval, you should change the oil a few thousand km sooner, maybe 20,000 km or sooner.

Mark: So why would they have such long service intervals?

Bernie: Well, there’s a couple of things. I think one, from a marketing perspective when the salesman and woman is showing the car in the showroom, they can brag to the perspective client – hey look at this car, it’s great – you buy it, it’s expensive, but you don’t have to change the oil very often, you don’t have to come in for service all that often, the car is going to tell you when it needs to be serviced. And when you think about it, a lot of people who buy those cars new, they’ll just lease it for short term periods, maybe three or four years. So for them, if they only drive 60 or 80,000 km, they might only need three or four services which is kind of a nice sales feature. On a positive note, environmentally, it’s a good thing to have a longer oil change interval because you don’t need to produce as much oil, you don’t need to use as much oil, waste as much oil and recycle it, so it’s better that way.

Mark: so how do they away with such long intervals? Do you think it’s ok?

Bernie: Well, the way they get away with it is, they use special synthetic oils and special long life oil filters, all of which we use by the way when we do a Mercedes service. The oil capacity on these engines is also quite large, like 7-8 litres, whereas an average V6 to V8 engine traditionally is taking 4-5 litres of oil. So you’ve got more oil which takes longer to get dirty. As I said earlier, I think 24,000 km is too long and the oil is severely contaminated by that time, but I don’t think if it was really that serious of an issue, they wouldn’t recommend it because obviously they wouldn’t want their engines to be destroyed in a short period of time, but that’ll at least satisfy the warranty period and perhaps a little longer but given a lot longer like 150,000 – 250,000 km it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. So, long oil changes are a good thing, just do go the full length. That’s my feeling on it.

Mark: So what else is great about Merk’s?

Bernie: Well, in the North American market, we get all the medium to high end models and I think that’s generally because they have to ship them from Europe, you know it costs a lot of money to put a car on a ship. If you’re buying it in Vancouver you have to ship it all the way across the country so the freight costs are really high – so why not sell a high end car where there’s more value and they make more profit. In Europe there’s many lower end Mercedes models available, things with wind up windows, stuff that we don’t really see here. That being said, all Mercedes are high quality cars. They are often innovative. If you want to know what kind of new technology you’re going to see in a car that’s mainstream in ten yeas, just have a look at a high end Mercedes model now. Just some things I can think about from the past, like 50 years ago – a lot of cars used DC direct current generators to charge the battery which wasn’t a very great system but everyone used it. Alternators were cutting edge, technology Mercedes had them early and within 5-10 years of Mercedes adopting it, everyone else had them. Another feature, like if you look back at some high end Mercedes of 10 years ago, they had a credit card key, that was actually the key, you could just walk up to the car, pull the door handle, the car opens, push a button and the car starts. Well now a days, lots of cars have that, even your average low end models have that. Just look at what’s new and fancy with Mercedes and that’s what you’re going to see in 5-10 years time in most other cars.

Mark: So, I know in some ways you’ve criticized Mercedes, but you’re actually a Mercedes owner, so do you have any final thoughts about these cars?

Bernie: Well built cars, the one I have is fun to drive, nice quality, it feels like a great car to drive and I get a lot of pleasure out of just driving it – so I think a lot of people who buy Mercedes feel the same way. Generally, they’re durable, they’re cars worth keeping for a long time, your repairs can be expensive for some items and for other items they’re not so bad. But like many other European cars, they can depreciate very heavily so they can make a pretty good used car value if you don’t mind paying a bit more for repairs than a Honda or Toyota. Those are my final thoughts.

Mark: Great thanks Bernie. We’ve been talking with an auto repair genius, Mr. Bernie Pawlik. He has an award winning business as Best Auto Service in Vancouver. They have won 12 times so far – best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by customers from a couple different publications. You can reach them at pawlikautomotive.com or give them a call 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel – Clutch Replacement

Our latest post is clutch replacement on a 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel pickup, brought to us by a client from Kensington/Cedar Cottage, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram 3500

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 – A rough and ready work truck

 

The 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 is a tough truck featuring a Cummins Diesel, 4 wheel drive, a tough 1 Ton drivetrain and a 6 Speed manual transmission. Dodge must have sold a lot of these trucks with standard transmissions because we service many of them at our shop. The ratio of Dodge trucks with standards to automatics is much higher than Ford and Chevy’s diesel trucks.

A tough truck needs a tough drivetrain and this vehicle fits the bill. The transmission in this vehicle is a Mercedes unit. The clutch uses a dual mass flywheel which can make this repair job very expensive. Clutch repairs on a dual mass flywheeled vehicle require the flywheel to be replaced and this often adds a thousand dollars or more to the repair costs. The dual mass flywheel has damper springs and moving parts that wear out in sync with the clutch disc and pressure plate.

Dodge Ram 3500

The massive transmission and Transmission and transfer case assembly removed from the truck to access the clutch

Fortunately there are alternatives: for most vehicles, clutch kits that include a solid flywheel and redesigned clutch assembly are readily available. These are substantially cheaper than replacing the dual mass flywheel.

Now you might wonder why dual mass flywheels are used in the first place. The biggest reason is that they reduce vibrations when engaging and disengaging the clutch. It makes the whole operation smoother. That is certainly most welcome on a diesel which is rough and shaky. They are also found in many high end sports cars and surprisingly also in economy cars such as the Nissan Versa.

For most clutch replacements with dual mass flywheels we opt for the solid flywheel replacement as most of our clients appreciate the reduced repair costs. Is there a disadvantage? None that we’ve noticed and we’ve done them on everything from big tough diesel Dodges to fast and sporty supercharged Mini Coopers.

While this Dodge needed the complete clutch the main component failure was the release bearing which broke apart. The truck was towed in but fortunately we were able to drive it into the service bay for replacement. One thing about big tough trucks is that they are no fun to push!

For more about Dodge Ram 3500 Trucks click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Trucks

For a video that explains dual mass flywheels click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnaXB8q3uzQ

Dodge Ram 3500

The arrow points to what’s left of the clutch release bearing. This is only the inner section that slides on the collar. All the ball bearings have disintegrated and the outer section has come off.

 

Dodge Ram 3500

New release bearing installed

How are Subaru Cars for Reliability?

Talking Subarus with the owner of award winning Pawlik Automotive, Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning mechanic in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing tonight Bernie?

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subarus. How are Subarus for reliability? So tell me, what’s your experience with Subarus? I understand that you service a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive.

Bernie: Yes, we do. I don’t know but for some reason seem to service a lot of them at our shop and I’ve owned three of them actually over the years, three different generations of Subarus; they’ve all been really good cars.
Mark: So what can you tell us about Subarus? Why have you driven them for so many years?
Bernie: Well, for me the appeal of the Subaru, it’s the all-wheel drive system and in many models you get a higher ground clearance than an average car, so it gives a person a lot of options, what I like is you can drive on paved roads, logging roads, you can go a long ways in the snow, you can usually get to work on any given day no matter how much snow there’s on the ground. There’s a lot of great attributes to be found in a Subaru that you would also find in a 4×4 pickup. The great thing about a Subaru is that it’s a smaller car; I think it’s kind of a perfect marriage between a car and a 4×4 pickup.

Mark: So are Subarus reliable?

Bernie: Yes they are. As far as repairs like most modern cars they require very little repairs, maintenance is minimal. The major components such as engine transmission, four wheel drive system, differentials, you know the really expensive parts, they’re super reliable, the electronics are reliable, I kind of think of the Subaru as a 300,000 plus kilometer vehicle. It’s a category of vehicle that we see if you maintain it well you’re going to get 300,000 kilometers easily out of it without a lot of major expense.

Mark: So I’ve heard that head gaskets can be an issue with Subarus; is that true?

Bernie: It is and it’s probably their one major flaw. It’s only true on the 2.5 litres, 4 cylinders which is the most common engine. The gaskets develop external coolant and oil leaks, usually between 100 to 200 hundred kilometers. It’s a major expense but once it’s done it’s not something that you’re likely going to have to deal with again and other cars have that head gasket failures too, it’s just on a Subaru it’s almost a guarantee.
Mark: Any other maintenance issues?

Bernie: So the 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder have timing belts that need to be replaced about every 160 thousand kilometers. Of course again this is not unique to Subaru a lot of other engines have timing belts and they require replacement around that interval. I believe over the past couple of years Subaru the 4 cylinders now only actually have gone to a chain so you no longer have to replace the timing belt.

Mark: So what about the six cylinder engines? How are they?

Bernie: They’re great. I actually have a 2001 H6 Outback; I’ve owned it for many years, it’s been totally reliable. The H6 uses a timing chain so there’s no belt replacement required and the head gaskets don’t suffer from the same fate as the 4 cylinders. That being said, the 6 cylinder is a very complex engine and should anything go wrong it’s really expensive to fix so I keep my fingers crossed for my own car and those that own them but so far it’s got well over 200,000 kilometers and nothings gone wrong with it. So it’s good.

Mark: So in your experience who buys Subarus?

Bernie: Well, I think there are a couple groups of people that buy them. I think first it’s the people who buy them it’s a life style car for getting them to their outdoor activities and people who want to go off the beaten path but don’t want to own a truck. The second people are families; they’re looking for a compact but useful and roomy vehicle. The Subaru Forrester is a great example, it’s a boxy vehicle, it’s got lots of room, not huge mind you but it’s a good sized vehicle to haul a couple kids and your stuff around and the third group are the young guys looking for an awesome performance car.
I haven’t touched on the Impreza STI yet, I mean this is an awesome super-fast, great handling car. It’s equipped with the fabulous Subaru all-wheel drive system so while these cars are fairly expensive they’re nowhere near the price of a European sports car and you get incredible performance out of it so for a young guy, it’s a reachable kind of car.
Mark: Sure so that’s the base model that Subaru won the World Rally Championship for many years.
Bernie: Exactly, it’s based on that platform and they’re super-fast and a lot of fun to drive.
Mark: Awesome, anything else?

Bernie: As I’ve said before Subarus are great cars and when my Outback wears out I’ll probably buy another one because I love the car. If you’re looking for a versatile car that will take you places that many cars won’t I’d consider buying a Subaru. If you’re looking for an exciting, fast rally kind of car again the Impreza STI is an awesome car and if you’re in the Vancouver area and you own a Subaru bring it to us for service. We know the cars really well and we can keep yours running reliably for years and years.

Mark: So, we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, recent winners again of the best auto repair shop in Vancouver as voted by the readers of the Georgia Straight, that’s their twelfth win between a couple different publications. You can find them at PawlikAutomotive.com or give them a call at 604-327-7112 if you’re looking for an honest mechanic, this is the guy. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

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