Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik - of the award winning Pawlik Automotive - just winners again as voted by their customers as “Best Auto Repair” in Vancouver. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: I’m good
Mark: I have a forced smile on my face - we’re going to talk about VW TDI’s - I’m an owner of one of these cars, when we last talked about these we both had high praise for these vehicles and it turns out it was an illusion. They are very fuel efficient but they’re also polluting like crazy because of what Volkswagen has done so maybe you can tell us a little bit about what happened, what’s gone on.
Bernie: Yes, essentially the TDI was sold as a green diesel car. It had everything that people wanted; power, performance, excellent fuel economy and low emissions. High emissions are a common thing in diesel engine along with excellent fuel economy. Power and performance weren't there in the past; but now VW (along with most other manufacturers) combined all three but VW had a few tricks up their sleeve and the emissions weren’t what we excepted them to be.
Mark: So how was VW able to make the emissions low on an emission test and yet have cars that are emitting up to 40 times the regulated amount of nitrous oxide?
Bernie: Well they did some interesting, kind of crafty software programming: - they were able to write code so that when a vehicle was on a dynamometer being tested for emissions it would perform differently. The vehicle used a combination of the GPS system, the steering angle sensor input & wheel speed sensors to tell the computer that “hey this vehicle is not going anywhere, it’s being emission tested.” It would perform what was best for emissions, but as soon as the car started moving up the road, it would go back to its other programming for better fuel economy and performance.
Mark: So there are lots and lots of diesel cars and trucks on the road, how does everybody else deal with nitrous oxide, fuel economy and engine performance - those ultimate 3 things that we all want out of our vehicles?
Bernie: Well what everyone else does and actually Volkswagen does on certain models but not the two litre engines that they sell to North America is use a urea system. It’s basically a tank with an extra chemical that is injected into the exhaust system, into a special catalytic converter and that eliminates the oxides of nitrogen. Volkswagen was originally planning on using the Mercedes BlueTEC system back around 2005, at least some people at VW wanted to use that but others decided, hey let’s develop our own system. They worked on developing their own system and it obviously didn’t turn out as good as they thought. The urea system is an add on, and there is an added cost, however it is very minimal but there is the added hassle of having to add extra fluid to your vehicle every once in a while. It's what everyone else does, even heavy trucks use an urea system for emission reduction.
Mark: So going forward, what kind of options does VW have? I guess it’s VW and Audi and Seat - there’s a bunch of companies that use these same motors.
Bernie: Yes, exactly. Well as far as I see it, they’ve got one of two options. They reprogram the vehicle so it runs all the time for the reduced emission standards; of course the cost of this will be lower fuel economy and reduced performance. This will disappoint the owners who bought the cars for the performance and the economy. Secondly; they can add a urea system which will be extremely expensive for Volkswagen. It will probably take up a bit of trunk space in your vehicle and then you’ll have to add the urea to the vehicle as well. As I said the cost for urea is really minimal unless you buy it at the Mercedes dealer.
Mark: So do we just give up on the idea of clean diesel?
Bernie: I don’t think so, I mean it seems like it works well with the urea system but it’s obviously not quite as what the VW TDI was advertised as being. So yeah, I think the clean diesel works and you and I have talked about the biodiesel option as well as it’s much cleaner than petroleum diesel.
Mark: Well it’s far less polluting. So I guess the big question is how does Volkswagen - why’d they think they could get away with it, why’d they have the nerve to pull off such a stunt - I guess we can’t really know for sure but what is your expert opinion not that, why do you think they did it?
Bernie: Well I think they, as I was saying earlier, were going to use the Mercedes BlueTEC system and then decided, no let’s do our own system. So they obviously did their research and they did their development and found that their system didn’t quite match up to what they expected and they made the choice - let’s just fudge it on the emission test because you know, there’s probably a cost factor involved. You and I were talking earlier: the Jetta’s and a lot of these cars, maybe not the Audi, but the Jetta is a lower end car, they’re a cheaper car so they don’t have the profit margins so, they screwed up and decided to fudge things instead of spending an extra $5000 on the car and putting a urea system in. They probably started with a few cars and they just got so deep into it they keep on going with the “fudging” as I like to say.
Mark: So you mentioned that other vehicles have this, that are using the urea type systems - I know that my dad’s old diesel truck used to get really good mileage and I know that from talking to you that some newer ones for a time there didn’t get as good mileage. So what was going on there?
Bernie: So in the late 2000’s, I think it was a hard time for the diesel industry, the US put some very stringent emission regulations that the manufacturers had to meet. A lot of American trucks, if we can move away from Volkswagens for a minute, went from having minimal emission equipment to now having to add catalytic converters and items for NOx reduction and it just threw the gas mileage in the toilet. They went from twenty miles a gallon on a lot of trucks to eight miles a gallon which is extremely annoying for a lot of owners; and there were lots of problems associated - the diesels just weren’t as reliable.
I might add, we blame Volkswagen the corporation, for doing these kinds of things but there are a lot of diesel truck owners who have removed their own emissions equipment. It’s completely illegal, but we think "well you know, it’s my own truck, I’ll just do what I want" and who cares about the emissions. There are many companies that sell exhaust systems to bypass the catalytic converters and there is software made to bypass the whole system. So there are a lot of polluting diesel vehicles out there, not just Volkswagens, but people do it individually and after-market companies do it.
Mark: And then when, what was the change? That’s kind of resolved itself with the newer vehicles, is that right?
Bernie: Yeah so going forward there are basically the newer generation of diesels, at least the American trucks and pretty much all the diesel vehicles out on the road except for the Volkswagens that use the urea system. That gives you the best combination. You can make an engine that has good power, good fuel economy and then just deal with the excess NOx emissions in the exhaust system with the urea and catalytic converter. It seems to work out well.
Mark: So any final thoughts?
Bernie: You know sometimes it seems innocuous, "oh well, it’s just a little more pollution, whatever." But there are statistics, there are people actually out there dying because of this. It’s not like being shot with a bullet or being run over by a car where the results are immediate. It’s slow, it’s hidden - I mean I don’t know anyone who's died from car pollution, and most of us don’t, but it’s out there. I was just reading that apparently in London, they’re saying 3000 people a year die from pollution of diesel exhaust. I know London is kind of a dirty city and it’s big - but you know, the results are real.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Volkswagen does going ahead: they’ve got a big hill to climb to fix this problem and restore their credibility with their customers and it is probably going to take a long time. The V6 Volkswagen diesels are all fine. There are no issues with those, it’s just the 2 litres in North America that you need to be concerned about. We’ll do another hangout where we’ll talk about what specific things you can expect if you have a TDI Jetta and what you might need to do going forward.
Mark: Awesome. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They are an award winning shop, 15 times voted Best Auto Repair in Vancouver . Bernie is a worldwide expert on auto repair and auto maintenance and you can reach them www.pawlikautomotive.com or give them a call and book your next appointment today at 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.
Just what exactly is a glow plug and what does it do? A glow plug is a heater and is so named because it glows red hot when activated. Diesel engines are compression ignition engines and rely on hot air (under extreme pressure) to combust the fuel. A cold engine with cold air temperatures creates difficult combustion conditions resulting in either no engine start or a very difficult start with smoky exhaust. The addition of glow plugs to heat the cold combustion chamber allows the diesel engine to start quickly and smokelessly. Glow plugs are connected to a glow plug controller which is either switched on by a temperature switch or the engine computer at the time that the extra heat is required. Glow plugs usually cycle on and off after the engine has started for up to two minutes to ensure good combustion.
How do you know if your glow plugs are not functioning properly? There are a few ways based on the vintage of your diesel. On older diesels, around 2000 and earlier models, you will notice long crank over or no start when cold. You might also notice that the engine runs rough on start-up and smokes excessively for a short period of time. On newer computer controlled diesels you’ll rarely ever experience these poor engine start and running issues. This is because, after the slightest glow plug defect is detected, your check engine lamp will come on. With it a stored trouble code indicating which glow plug may be faulty will be logged in the computer.
Almost every automotive diesel (car or light truck) uses glow plugs however there are some exceptions. The Cummins diesel as found in Dodge trucks has no glow plugs but instead uses a grid heater in the air intake. This warms the air as it is sucked into the engine. It only switches on during very cold weather.
How often should you change your glow plugs? Unlike spark plugs, there is no recommended maintenance replacement interval for glow plugs. They are normally changed when either cold start issues present themselves or your check engine lamp comes on with a glow plug code (and after diagnosis it is determined that the glow plug is faulty).
Cranking over a diesel engine takes a lot of energy and your starter motor works very hard. All diesel vehicles have either two batteries or one humongous battery to provide the power for the starter. Starters, due to their size are very expensive, so a quick easy starting engine is much easier on your starter. With the quick start that glow plugs provide your starter lasts much longer, saving you money.
The Ford 6 liter diesel engine is fraught with numerous problems however all of these can be overcome. In this video we will show you what we feel is the ultimate repair solution for the 6 Liter: repairs that will keep the engine performing reliably for years and years.
Many of the 6 liters problems stem from the design of the engine and oil cooling systems. This engine uses a unique system in which the engine oil cooler is mounted inside the V of the engine. Here coolant flows through narrow passageways which eventually plug up causing coolant flow restrictions and excessive oil temperatures. From here coolant flows to the EGR cooler which, due to its narrow passageways also tends to clog. Excessive coolant temperatures eventually lead to head gasket failures and even a destroyed engine if left long enough.
For the truck shown in this video, the owner wisely chose to do the ultimate repair job; a repair which eliminates all the weaknesses of the 6 liter engine. This includes cylinder head studs to prevent future head gasket failures, a Bulletproof EGR cooler plus the bulletproof remote engine oil cooler system. A number of minor but nonetheless important upgrades were done during the procedure including new oil stand pipes and STC fitting on the high pressure oil pump.
Let’s get started:
First step is to remove the bumpers and accessories from the front of the truck then disconnect all items necessary to remove the cab from the vehicle. This includes evacuating the A/C system, draining the coolant, disconnecting the steering column, brake lines, coolant and heater hoses, wiring and much more.
Once the cab is raised the engine is readily accessible and a pleasure to work on.
Stripping the engine down is our next step and the next few photos reveal just that, with the heads, oil cooler assembly and high-pressure oil pump removed.
The many dismantled parts can be seen in this enormous layout.
Next steps include cleaning components such as the block deck and cylinder head surfaces along with the oil pump cover and all of the many bolts and miscellaneous parts.
We are now ready to put things back together:
The high-pressure oil pump is reinstalled along with a new and improved STC fitting. On occasion the old STC fitting would break and when this occurred would crack the back of the engine block.
Following pump installation, the cover is installed and tightened down.
We next move onto installation of the Bulletproof remote oil cooler adapter: this is a complete assembly that bolts in place of the engine oil cooler and cover.
Cylinder head studs are installed, then head gaskets, then cylinder heads. Heads are torqued to spec. During head installation, fuel injectors are reinstalled with new seals, along with rocker arms and bridges.
Covering the valve gear sits the high-pressure oil manifold and installed along with this are the upgraded high-pressure oil standpipes. The original designed pipes and seals would fail resulting in a loss of oil pressure and an engine no start.
To ensure an easy start up the oil system is primed until oil flows from the manifold test port.
We’re now onto installing valve covers and the turbo stand
Next is the Intake manifold along with a Bulletproof EGR cooler, this component has been rebuilt to eliminate the causes of failure in the original cooler. Check out the differences between the Bulletproof’s large tubes and the original’s thin tubes: the durability looks very evident.
Some next installations include the oil and fuel filter adapters and plumbing. Because we are using the Bulletproof oil cooler system the original oil filter is no longer used.
Next comes the turbocharger, the FICM or fuel injection control module and the remaining wiring, hoses and sensors.
Here’s how it all looks from front and back, fully assembled and awaiting the cab to be remounted.
With the cab back down we can now work on installing the rest of the Bulletproof oil cooler system which includes first relocating the power steering cooler near the bottom of the radiator. We next install the cooler, pipes and hoses.
The remote oil filter is mounted behind the left front bumper bracket.
Final assembly requires reinstalling and reconnecting all other under hood components, then filling the cooling system, recharging the A/C and we are ready for start up.
After a successful start up, warm up and inspection for leaks our 6 liter Ford truck is ready to go for many miles of trouble free operation having had all major original design flaws corrected.
VW TDI diesel engines have been around for two decades in several evolutions: distributor type and common rail injection. They are fabulous engines and have always been state of the art, featuring quiet operation, lots of power and acceleration, and best of all their fuel economy allows a trip from Vancouver to Calgary on a single tank.
Maintenance is relatively simple requiring routine oil and filter changes, fuel and air filter changes and rarely, timing belt replacements. Reliability of the engines is excellent however there are a few concerns that occur from time to time. Glow plugs and glow plug system failures occur from time to time.
One other concern is clogging of the intake manifold which happens commonly on late 1990 to early 2000 Jettas and Passats. Over time the EGR valve, located in the intake stream allows fine soot particles to build up, eventually building up so severely that air flow is restricted. It can become so bad that the engine has too little power to pull the car up a hill.
When it becomes this sooted, the intake manifold must be removed to do a thorough cleanout. In exceptional cases the cylinder head must also be removed and the head dismantled to clean the valves. Obviously it makes sense to service the intake before blockage becomes severe.
At 100,000 kilometers it makes sense to remove the EGR valve and inspect for deposits and at this point clean them if present. From that point on, reinspecting and cleaning if needed every 50,000 kilometers will ensure a reliable and trouble free TDI experience; just be sure to replace the timing belt every 150,000 kilometers.
EGR valves cause many concerns on Ford 6L diesel engines: the most common one being that the valves stick due to excessive soot deposits. While there are few simple services that can be done on these complex engines, cleaning your EGR valve just happens to be one of those rare simple ones.
The EGR valve service involves removing the valve and cleaning it with combustion chamber or carburetor cleaner. With the valve removed the intake ports where the valve is installed are also cleaned. Doing this service will prevent many an EGR related driveability concern due to a sticking or plugged valve.
Perform this service every time you replace fuel filters and it will only add to the reliability of your truck.
Diesel engines and diesel fuel injectors have changed remarkably in the past decade: gone are the rattly, smoky, stinky, low performance engines from the past.
Today we have the modern diesel: powerful and quick to accelerate, smoke free and quiet, with the added benefit of low exhaust emissions, and often times amazing fuel efficiency. 60+ mpg in a VW Jetta TDI is common!
There have been many changes that have allowed this remarkable transformation and one of the major contributors is the fuel injector which has undergone an enormous revolution.
On older engines all components within the injector were mechanical. The injection pump, again a purely mechanical device, precisely controlled the quantity of fuel to be injected.
Fast forward to today: the fuel injector’s controls are now electronic and the mechanical injection pump is gone. In its place is the common rail system. What common rail means is that all fuel injectors get their fuel from the same fuel rail under the same pressure. There a two types of common rail system: one with very high fuel pressure and another with low pressure fuel that uses high pressure engine oil to boost fuel to a very high pressure inside the injector.
While solenoids have been used inside the injectors the pinnacle of modern fuel injector technology is the piezoelectric crystal which, when electrically energized minutely changes the shape of the crystal and switches a small fuel chamber on and off. The on/off flow in the small fuel chamber triggers the top of the fuel injector to open and close and in turn spray fuel into the engine. The miracle of this injector is that it allows precise injection control to the millisecond.
Old diesels received only one shot of fuel during their combustion stroke while modern diesels receive several injections at precisely timed intervals and this has created the amazing engines that we have today. Through these timed injections more power is produced and the knocking sound, so common to diesel engines is virtually eliminated.
Well they have their concerns and quite honestly many are problematic. However much of this may be due to recent changes in diesel fuel refining.
In the late 2000s, ultra low sulfur diesel fuels were introduced in North America. Minimal sulfur emission is great for the environment but unfortunately for the diesel fuel injector, the refining process removes some lubricants that are crucial to long injector life. All diesel engines built 2008 and newer have upgraded injectors but those prior will likely suffer early failures.
Injector failures show up in a number of ways such as long crank times or no starts, smoky exhaust (usually black) and rough running.
With the expensive components in a diesel engine, performing oil and filter changes and fuel filter changes at or before the prescribed interval is essential.
Replacing modern injectors is very expensive, typically costing several hundred dollars per unit along with a very labour intensive operation. So you may wonder, what can I do to prolong the life of my injectors and avoid expensive repairs? There are several things:
Change engine oil and filter regularly and replace fuel filters regularly.
These additives will restore the lubricants missing from modern ultra low sulfur diesel and prolong the life of your injectors. While there is addition cost, some of these additives will boost the cetane rating of your fuel and pay for themselves with improved fuel mileage and performance.
The best way to save money on car repairs is simple:
It’s with routine maintenance.
Routine maintenance means that at specific time intervals, based on how much you drive, you have your car serviced following a maintenance schedule.
The very minimum schedule that should be followed is the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Following this schedule will make certain that you fulfill all of your requirements should you have a warranty claim. Some manufacturer’s schedules are more thorough than others and a good maintenance shop will review the schedule and make additional suggestions to help further maintain your vehicle.
One oil change every 6,000 kilometers for 60,000 Km equals 10 oil changes and a total cost of around $600.00. A lack of oil changes causing a blown engine is $4,000.00 and could easily cost double that based on the type car that you drive.
An average, thorough timing belt replacement (with water pump, pulleys and oil seals) can range from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00. Neglecting it and letting the belt break puts you back in the $4,000.00 and probably far more expensive price range.
Replacing brakes before they start grinding could be as low in cost as $300.00 but if left until grinding could easily run you $700.00 or far more.
Other Tangible costs:
• Lost work hours
• Arranging transportation to and from the Repair Shop
• The stress of readjusting your schedule
• Being without your car when you need it
Through routine maintenance you will know the condition and lifespan of many of your vehicle’s parts. At specific intervals critical services like oil changes and fluid flushes will be done extending the life of your vehicle.
Will routine maintenance eliminate all surprises? Unfortunately it will not, but it substantially increases your odds of trouble free driving.
So there is your key to save money on car repairs: Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!
Pawlik Automotive is an auto service shop located in the Marpole area of Vancouver, BC. We’ve been in business since 1991 which makes us 20 years old this year. We service most makes of cars and light trucks and we do pretty much all the maintenance and repairs that your car will need. What we don’t do is bodywork, windshields and detailing.
I want to speak today on a few aspects of our business that are unique.
Let’s face it there are a lot of auto repair shops out there but there are several things that make Pawlik Automotive an excellent choice for servicing your vehicle.
We take what I call a wholistic approach to vehicle service. We look at the whole car, evaluate it and let you know what service is required now and what is required in the future. The basis of that service comes via this very colorful and detailed inspection form. Having us as your partner in vehicle service undoubtedly saves you money in the long run.
We don’t use a heavy handed or fear based tactics as a way of selling service.
Another area of specialty for us is fleet maintenance: essentially these are vehicles used for business and most often these would be trades companies: plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, rubbish removal companies and garden maintenance companies just to name a few.
What makes our service so valuable to fleets is our thorough inspections along with accurately recording the work needed and booking future appointments along with reminding them of when service is needed.
Diesel cars and diesel trucks are another area of specialty for us. Many auto repair shops don’t do diesels but we love them and have invested in the equipment and education to diagnose and repair them properly.
Doing proper diagnosis is very important to fixing a modern vehicle and it is a big part of our business and it’s something that we do very well. There are many expensive parts to go wrong so it is essential to take the time to find out what the exact cause is so that our client’s money is not wasted.
Over the past few years I’ve invested heavily into our website and created educational materials. I write blog articles frequently about all sorts of auto repair topics and have created several videos on how we do our work and what makes us unique.
I encourage you to take the time to look around as it explains a lot about how we do things here at Pawlik Automotive.
If you have someone that you’d like to refer to us please ask them to look at our videos as it will give them an idea about how we do things and what makes us unique. While I have fun making these I do it so that people will learn about what makes their vehicle tick and what goes into the work that we do so they can get a better understanding of the value that we offer.
Please take a couple of minutes to view one of my videos this week. Just go on You Tube – Pawlik Automotive. I’d love to hear your feedback.
While Diesel engines are remarkably tough they are not indestructible and can be expensively damaged when abused. Take a look at these pistons from a Dodge Cummins Diesel. The vehicle owner had installed a performance chip in the computer and taking advantage of the extra horsepower hauled a trailer at high speed up the Coquihalla Highway.
It was undoubtably an impressive site, watching a truck and trailer maintaining the speed limit uphill through the steep mountain grades. However a severe price was paid when a knocking noise developed in the engine. After tearing down the engine the damage was found: a partially melted piston caused by the relentless uphill quest for speed. This is an expensive diesel repair.
If you own such a vehicle take care when driving, especially after making performance upgrades or modifications: all engines are built to take a set amount of strain and overdoing it could cost you big money.
Serious repairs require serious action: take this 2005 Ford F350 Superduty diesel repair for example, where we recently replaced cylinder head gaskets. This is a huge job which was made a lot easier by removing the truck’s cab.
While this may seem to be an extraordinarily complex amount of work, removing the cab to access the engine is well worth the effort. Having done it with both cab on and cab off I can say that this is the only way to go: the several hours to remove the cab make the engine repair so enjoyable. Without the cab confining the engine, we can stand right beside it with nothing in the way to interfere with the work at hand.
For this particular repair our client wisely opted to replace the head bolts with studs: a repair that is sure to last as studs provide a superior clamping force to bolts. Doing the head gasket with studs requires cab removal.
With the engine repairs completed, the cab was lowered back into place and all systems were reconnected to the engine and chassis in much the same way as happens on the assembly line.
While some businesses like to advertise “no job too small” you can see that for us, no job is too big!