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2008 Ford F350, 6.4 Diesel, Exhaust Manifold Gaskets

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, talking cars this morning. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well

Mark: So actually, we’re talking trucks, I lied a little bit, we’re talking again about a 2008 Ford 350 diesel 6.4 litre diesel that had some exhaust manifold gasket issues. What was going on with this truck?

Bernie: Well this truck came to us with a couple of issues, one was a lack of pawer but not related to what we’re talking about today, that was one issue, the other is a very loud noise under the hood, a tic tic tic tic type of noise. So we had a look at it and found there’s an extremely bad exhaust leak at the rear of the next exhaust manifold, right where the manifold bolts onto the head, so assuming the gasket was blown out was our initial assumption.

Mark: So, we’ve gone over these vehicles, other vehicles in this line before, so I know this is a pretty extensive and complicated repair, was it?

Bernie: Yes, of course, it’s a Ford diesel. You know these well from our conversations too. There’s not much simple on a Ford diesel, actually for most diesels for that matter but definitely nothing simple on this vehicle. It was a cab off repair. I suppose we could of struggled and done it with the cab on, but I really really can’t imagine it would have been a lot of fun and really the amount of extra time it takes to take the cab off, makes the job well worthwhile, we can inspect a lot of other components at the same time and because we have to take the turbo charger off too, it just made sense to do everything all at the same time with the cab off. Once the cab is off, it’s still a complex repair. There’s still a lot to do to get to the manifolds off, they’re buried in there and really it’s still not easy.

Mark: So did you have to replace the manifolds?

Bernie: We did in this case. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t but what we found of course they, actually both of them had leaks and both had broken bolts at the back of the head. But yes, we did have to replace the manifolds. It just made sense financially to do them as opposed to having a machine shop do them, replace the studs on the manifolds, by the time you add all that up it’s just cheaper to replace the manifolds. Same cost to replace the manifold and you get brand new ones. I’ll share some photos while we’re at it here. Ok there’s the, this is the right hand exhaust manifold bolted up to the head and you can see this isa bolt, this is one of the bolts that bolts the manifold to the cylinder head, you can see no bolt head here, this one was gone, same with the other one down below. So those were both missing, broken off. What have we got here, this is our, you can see the evidence of the leak, this is on the left side this is where the leak was really bad and this black soot is all exhaust soot, it’s a diesel, very sooty and the gasket, there’s the manifold, this is the gasket right here, that’s what was blown out and a further view, this is with the manifold off and you can see the severe leak out the back here. This is all diesel soot and bolt holes here but no bolt hole here because the bolts have basically broken right off, and a final view, the gasket and this is the gasket at the rear as you can see, it’s missing a complete chunk, it’s just burned away. So there are the photos, the pictures tells it all.

Mark: So you didn’t have any shots of the cab off which would of been kind of cool, but what parts did you end up replacing with this service?

Bernie: So as I mentioned, we did do the manifolds, we inspected the Y-pipes, the pipes at the back because these are things we’ve replaced before. There were in good shape on this vehicle so we didn’t do those but all the bolts for the manifold, we replaced all of them because they get stretched and there’s no sense in using the other bolts. There’s a risk, there’s also a risk when we assemble it when a bolt looks good and it’ll snap so all those bolts are replaced, all the gaskets and that kind of takes care of it.

Mark: Any other parts or pipes that you replaced while you were at it?

Bernie: No actually just what I mentioned before, the manifolds and the bolts.

Mark: So this is a second kind of encounter with a 6.4 diesel recently. Are you seeing a lot more of these?

Bernie: We are. I really noticed a lot more of these are coming to our shop, I guess they’re getting older now, we used to see nothing but 6 litres and we still see a lot of them but diesels last a long time, so even though the 6 litre is a lot of work and can be an expensive vehicle to fix, it’s still a diesel, still got a lot of value so I imagine we’ll be seeing those for years and years to come. Yeah, there’s a lot more 6.4’s come into our shop, they’re getting older, things are happening to them, fortunately not blowing head gaskets with the frequency of a 6 litre but there’s still lots of the expensive repairs that they need and anything on a diesel tends to be expensive. The parts are high priced and the labour is very intensive. They pack a lot of stuff into the engine compartment.

Mark: Well isn’t that part of that, isn’t part of that where the pressures that diesel generates and that’s super high temperatures and stuff too as well from that fuel?

Bernie: Absolutely and I was thinking to myself as we are doing this hangout, why should these bolts break at the back of the manifold, like why would these be the ones? Well these are on a, on these vehicles with the regeneration system. They inject extra fuel into the rear cylinders so it creates all that extra heat to burn the soot out in the back, so there’s a lot more going on in the rear cylinders of these engines than there is in the front three on each bank. So bolts can snap anywhere, but it kind of makes sense when you think about all that extra heat, there’s just a lot more strain in that area. And really I mean diesels used to be extremely dirty and they’ve cleaned them up really well but all the problems with diesels are really 99% of them seem to be happening because of the emission equipment on them that’s where all the cost comes. So you know, having a clean diesel comes at a price. It’s amazing, quiet, very little pollutants coming out the back except for Volkswagens and a bunch of other liars now out on the market, but you know, compared to what they used to be with that black smoke and the stench, it’s pretty amazing what’s been accomplished, at a price.

Mark: Yes, so there you go. If you’re looking for service for your 6.4 litre diesel or any diesel that you might have in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They’re experts in it as I can attest, they looked after my TDI which I’m happily returning to Volkswagen on Monday, you can call them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2008 Ford F350, 6.4 Diesel, Alternator

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about, we’re doing a bit of a reprise I guess, we’re going back to Ford Diesel’s, this time it’s a 2008 F350 with the 6.4 diesel, there was an alternator problem, what was going on with this truck?

Bernie: Yeah so this vehicle as brought to us, towed in actually with an under hood wiring fire or an electrical fire under the hood, so that’s what the vehicle came in to us, pretty, potentially, serious issue.

Mark: So what did you find?

Bernie: So what we found upon inspection, we found that the lower alternator had basically had an internal short and meltdown. We didn’t see any flames. We hooked the batteries up and it started getting hot pretty quickly so we can only imagine that was a bit of a fire coming out of the alternator and it seemed like that was about the worst area of the damage was just the alternator itself. But yeah, it was the lower alternator.

Mark: So you say lower, is there an upper alternator?

Bernie: Yeah there is on some diesel vehicles. Ford’s and GM’s for sure, I’m not sure of Dodge’s, but those two brands you have the option of a dual alternator on some of their diesels. So yeah there are actually two of them on this vehicle.

Mark: Was there any other damage beyond the alternator?

Bernie: Fortunately for the owner of this vehicle, no, other than the belt, the drive belt was damaged but I mean, that would probably be something that would need to be replaced anyways but no, fortunately there wasn’t and it was a good thing for him because there is a lot of wiring that sits right above the alternator and I guess the way it caught on fire it didn’t cause any further damage. So very lucky that it got caught. I’ll share some photos. Our 08 Ford, nice white Ford four door F350 with the diesel and we’ll go to the next photo which is, this is the alternator. This is a lower alternator, it looks rather ugly, it’s had a fire extinguisher sprayed on it, things have melted onto the alternator and also the pulley was seized as well. So whatever happened, is a complete meltdown internally and the alternator would even turn anymore, so that’s our alternator. The belt goes here, one of the mounting holes here, but normally they’re a nice shiny aluminum piece without all this fire extinguisher debris.

Mark: So how unusual is this?

Bernie: You know for all the time I’ve worked on cars, which is a long time, this is only the second time I’ve ever seen an alternator meltdown like this. So yeah, pretty, extremely rare. Not sure what would cause it, just some sort of internal short inside, I mean there’s a lot of windings and wires inside an alternator. I’ll say it’s a pretty complex piece plus it’s directly hooked to the battery there is no, sometimes there is a fuse link but for the most part, it’s a direct connection between the alternator and the battery. So there is a lot of potential power that can flow through it, especially if it’s a short.

Mark: Anything that the owner could’ve done to prevent this problem?

Bernie: No, as an owner of the vehicle, this kind of thing is just a random failure, nothing you can do, no amount of good maintenance will prevent this kind of thing and the good news is it is extremely rare. So usually when alternators fail, they just don’t put out enough energy to charge the battery and they need to be replaced or the bearings will fail and they’ll cause a noise and that’ll eventually cause a problem. But with a short out like this, this is extremely rare. One thing I will add to, that if this happens to you in your vehicle, a lot of times your insurance will cover it because it is a fire, not a mechanical failure. So for the owner of this vehicle, he did have a portion of the bill covered by his insurance which was a really good thing.

Mark: So there you have it. If you have a failure in your alternator or you’ve got some weird noises or your car isn’t charging properly, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com - we have 5 plus years of videos on there, tons of information. Thanks a lot Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

VW and the TDI Emission Trickery

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.

Properly Functioning Glow Plugs Are Vital To Starting A Cold Diesel

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.

GMC diesel glow plugs: several of these glow plugs were dead and can be noted by the excessive carbon deposits on several plugs

GMC diesel glow plugs: several of these glow plugs were dead as evidenced by the excessive (black) carbon deposits on the tips

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.

How We Permanently Fix The Ford 6 Liter Diesel

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.

Keeping Your TDI Reliable For The Long Haul

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.

Partially blocked intake manifold. Surprisingly, in spite of being 50% restricted this engine still had plenty of power. Soon it will suffer from severe power loss.

 

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.

 

Valuable Maintenance For Your Ford 6.0 Liter Diesel

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.

The soot covered EGR valve as removed from the engine

 

The same EGR valve after cleaning

How to Prolong the Life of Your Diesel Fuel Injectors

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.

Modern Diesel Fuel Injectors and Engines

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.

Dodge Cummins Diesel Injectors, old & new: The old mechanical injector is on the top and the new style, common rail injector on bottom

Diesel Fuel Injectors Deliver a Fine Spray of Fuel Under Very High Pressure.

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.

How do modern injectors fair for reliability?

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.

Poor maintenance can also affect injector life

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:

First is to keep up your maintenance:

Change engine oil and filter regularly and replace fuel filters regularly.

Second is to add a lubricity additive to your fuel:

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.

Using the right fuel additive and performing proper maintenance will maximize your diesel fuel injector’s life: it’s a no-brainer that will save you thousands of dollars.

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

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.

It is almost always cheaper to do Car Repairs before they break. Here are a few examples:

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:
• Towing
• Lost work hours
• Arranging transportation to and from the Repair Shop

Intangible costs:
• 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.

save money on car repairs

1 Page of a maintenance schedule for 2005 Ford F350 6.0L Diesel

So there is your key to save money on car repairs: Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!

What We Do – A BNI Presentation

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

Good Morning, I’m Bernie from Pawlik Automotive.

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

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.

Wholistic Approach

We take what I call a wholistic approach to vehicle service. Auto Inspection reportWe 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.

An Honest Mechanic

We don’t use a heavy handed or fear based tactics as a way of selling service.

    I can give an example from this week: we had a client who complained that her brakes were making a noise. I drove the car and noted a grinding noise at some times: it was intermittent and coming from her front brakes. Upon inspection we found 4 mm remaining on the brake pads and the rotors were in good condition. 4 mm on this car could last another 20 to 30,000 kilometers and there was no safety issue involved. We let her know that we could replace her pads & rotors now and eliminate her noise or she could safely leave them and live with the noise. She opted to leave them, a $500 sale walked out the door while our integrity remained intact!

Fleet Maintenance

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.

    I can give an example of how we’ve helped one of our fleet clients: Action Integrated SecurityWe service a company called Action Integrated Security who have about 15 vehicles, mostly heavily loaded vans. When they started bring their vehicles to us they were in pretty bad shape but we got them maintained to our high standards.
    One area of concern remained and that was that some of their vans were eating brakes at an alarming rate and this was in spite of our use of the best quality brake parts available. After a few of their trucks ran into horrifically expensive brake jobs which could have been prevented by inspections, the company’s owner, upon my suggestion now brings all of their vehicles to us for every service.
    They had been going to quick lubes for oil services as this was convenient for them as their technician did not have to be without a vehicle. Unfortunately quick lubes don’t look at the whole vehicle and much was being missed. We now inspect their brakes at every service and note any quick wearing brakes so they can be dealt with before they wear out. This is saving them a lot of money.

Diesel Vehicles

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.

    An example of some of our diesel service is on 6 liter Ford diesels:Ford Diesel Head Gasket Repairs these are very common in pick up trucks from 2003 to 2006 model years. Unfortunately this engine is not reliable stock but with proper repairs it can be made bulletproof and we have done this to a number of these engines.

Proper Diagnosis

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.

    Here’s an example of the value of diagnosis: A couple of days ago we had a Dodge truck with a check engine lamp on and it’s engine running with a slight misfire. His previous shop had not done diagnosis but had installed many parts in hopes of fixing the concern: new spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap & rotor and a fuel injector in 1 cylinder.
    They had charged him a fair amount of money and while some of these parts may have been needed they had not solved his concern. We diagnosed his concern and found a bad intake valve in #8 cylinder which required some engine work. Chances are most of the other parts were unnecessary and were a waste of his money: had this vehicle owner done diagnosis first he would have undoubtedly saved hundreds of dollars.

Pawlik Website

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. Pawlik Auto Repairs YouTube ChannelWhile 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.