Winter has arrived: are you prepared for what’s ahead? Do you know what needs to be done to make sure that you and your vehicle make it through to spring?
Here’s a helpful list:
1st Be sure that maintenance services are up to date (oil changes, inspections and previously recommended services that are due)
2nd Be sure that your wiper blades are in great condition.
3rd Be sure that your engine’s antifreeze protection is good for colder temperatures than you will be driving in.
4th Be sure that your washer fluid has antifreeze protection
5th If you use snow tires have them installed in November (or sooner if you live in early snowfall country). If you don’t use snow tires this is a good time of year to replace marginal all season tires.
6th Be sure that your battery is in good condition.
7th Be sure that your air conditioning is functioning well (it helps to very quickly defog your windshield and increases your visibility)
8th Be certain to have an emergency kit if you are planning a trip. This kit includes warm blankets and/or sleeping bag; a candle and matches; water and couple days worth of snacks.
Following these suggestions will help you and your car survive whatever type of winter that might be thrown at us.
In mid October the CBC ran a story about premium gasoline and how, for most cars it was a waste of money (http://goo.gl/G5qR4). They went so far as claiming that its use caused higher levels of pollution from the tailpipe than regular fuel. While I agree almost entirely with the statement that it is a waste of money if your car does not require premium I found the claims of excessive pollution to be dubious. I admit that I did not watch the TV program, however while looking at the website article the picture of the technical expert with his gas analyzer set off alarm bells for me.
I had some discussions with those in the know about auto emission testing and they confirmed my thoughts: that it is very unlikely that using premium fuel when the manufacturer does not recommend it is going to cause any noticeable increase in tailpipe emissions. The gas analyzer shown in the picture is a piece of equipment similar to one that we own at our shop and while it is highly precise it is not capable of reading the very low emission levels that modern vehicles put out with enough detail to make such a conclusion. Modern vehicles have very sophisticated electronics, sensors, computers and catalytic converters which control emission levels and the simple use of premium fuel verses regular fuel cannot be detected by this type of gas analyzer. My recommendations are: 1) Don’t worry about the pollution increases as they are negligible to none-existent. 2) If your manufacturer doesn’t recommend premium, save your money and use regular. 3) If you own a premium fuel recommended vehicle as I do you can run it on regular if the engine performs well and doesn’t knock and ping: mine works great.
Your car’s brakes rely on brake fluid to transmit the force that your foot applies to the brake pedal to each wheel’s brake. Occasionally a brake system will develop a leak and if left unchecked for long enough this can cause some serious safety concerns. Fortunately modern cars have a warning light which illuminates on your dash when the fluid level drops too low.
Recently we serviced a vehicle with the dash warning lamp on. We inspected the fluid and found the level very low. Upon performing a brake inspection we found the left brake caliper leaking, and further inspection revealed something more interesting and potentially very dangerous: the inner brake pad soaked in fluid was disintegrating. This could have crumbled apart upon hard braking and caused a serious inability to stop. Fortunately we caught this in time, repaired it and made the car safe. While it is normal for your brake fluid level to drop over a long period of time you should have your brakes inspected at least yearly to be sure that the system is safe.
Studies have found that drivers over 45 years old are far more proactive with car maintenance than the younger generation is. Why would this be?
I would say that a couple of factors are at play.
1st: the older generation has grown up with cars that required more routine maintenance than today’s generation of cars. Cars of 30 years ago required annual tune-ups just to keep the engine running properly.
2nd: as people gain more life experience with age, they experience the consequences and costs of neglect and many know that maintenance does in fact save money and reduces stress.
For younger drivers it is essential to know what your car or truck needs for maintenance. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, which is part of your owner’s manual, has this list.
There are also additional services that are not shown in the manual that can greatly enhance your car’s life and save on overall vehicle operating costs. To be properly informed, read your owner’s manual and find a shop that you trust to advise you on the proper maintenance to keep your vehicle running trouble free. A good maintenance routine will save you money and the stress of an unwanted breakdown!
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.
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!
It seems innocent enough… your car’s working great, you live an incredibly busy life, you drive a lot and the car’s new. Why bother following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule?
We encounter this scenario at our shop from time to time. It shows up as a vehicle that has not been maintained to factory specs; in fact the factory schedule has been completely ignored. The consequence of this is two fold: first, damage is taking place to your vehicle even if you can’t feel it right now; and second, your warranty will be void should you need to make a claim.
Recently we had a client who came in for his first oil change on a Japanese vehicle with 50,000 kilometers on the odometer. It was quite frankly a miracle that his engine was still running but it was and in fact running fine.
However tell tail signs of abuse were present as grungy deposits were visible inside the engine. Hopefully this is one of those rare engines that can take excessive abuse and still survive: we do see that… not very often, but sometimes.
What is perhaps worrying is that, should our client have an engine problem, he will have no warranty coverage as he has not followed the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This could be very costly as a replacement engine job could be $5000.00 or more. Five oil changes costs around $300.00 and more should have been done, but 5 would have satisfied the manufacturer’s schedule.
That’s a huge cost difference.
Be certain to follow your maintenance schedule: it definitely saves you lots of money and gives you peace of mind. Remember – poor maintenance can void your warranty.
A tire pressure monitoring system offers convenience, are a smart safety addition and they are proven to increase the life of your tires!
TPMS show inflation pressure which governs the performance of a pneumatic tire. Safety performance like braking distance and lateral stability require the inflation pressures to be maintained as specified by the vehicle manufacturer.
Extreme under-inflation can lead to thermal and mechanical overload caused by overheating and subsequent, sudden destruction of the tire. Plus, under-inflation adversely affects fuel efficiency and tire wear. Tires leak air naturally and over a year, even a typical new, properly mounted tire can lose from 20 to 60 kPa (3 to 9 psi), roughly 10% or even more of its serviced proper pressure.
The significant advantages of TPMS are illustrated by the costs of tire under inflation:
• Consequences of low tire pressure: Punctures (approx. 80% of punctures are caused by inadequate tire pressure), Increased tire wear due to added flexing work, Increased fuel consumption due to higher rolling resistance
• Fuel usage: for every 10% of under-inflation on each tire on a vehicle, a 1% reduction in fuel economy will occur (According to the GITI). In just the US, the DOT estimates that under inflated tires waste 2 billion US gal. (7,600,000,000 litres) of fuel each year.
• Poor tire life: Tire disintegration, heat buildup, separation and sidewall/casing breakdowns are mostly caused by under inflated tires. Running a tire even briefly with low pressure breaks down the casing and stops the option to retread the tire.
• Increased downtime, higher maintenance and repair: Under-inflated tires cause expensive downtime, maintenance and premature tire replacement.
• Poor safety: Under-inflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in 40,000 accidents, 33,000 injuries and over 650 deaths per year. On the other hand, tires properly inflated provide greater stability, handling and braking efficiencies and more safety for the driver, the vehicle, the loads and others on the road.
• Environmentally Bad: Under-inflated tires, as estimated by the Department of Transportation, release over 57.5 billion pounds of unnecessary carbon-monoxide pollutants into the atmosphere each year in the United States alone.
Tire pressure monitoring systems are mandated in many countries now and offer real advantages; call us to find out about equipping your vehicle.
We love servicing new vehicles and always appreciate working with the clean, shiny and newly painted undercarriage and suspension components.
Many of our clients bring their new vehicles to us for service but some take their new cars to the dealer. Is it because they feel their warranty will be voided if the dealer doesn’t service it? Is it because the glitzy feel of the dealership somehow pulls on them and makes them feel like these are the folks who will best service this car? Were they told that their car must be serviced by the dealer? Or perhaps, after years of fixing their old car we are thought of as the “old car repair shop.”
Whatever the reason it is time to bust a few myths:
My warranty will be void if anyone other than the dealer services my car.
If there is a warranty related problem the dealer won’t take care of me because I have done my service elsewhere.
The dealer knows my car better. It’s new technology and they have the tools to fix it.
If there is a recall only the dealer will know that.
I hope that this sheds some light for you and helps you make a choice as to who services your car.
As a further advantage to dealing with us we are your 3rd party advocate to be certain that your vehicle is being properly serviced and any warranty related concerns are brought to your attention. So much of your car is hidden and unless someone mentions a concern you are unlikely to know that it is needed.
If you like the service and value that you get from the dealership by all means stick with them; however do know that you have a choice, and I believe that we offer a fabulous choice, superior to the dealership.
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.