Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, serving Vancouver and area for 38 years. Maintaining and repairing all makes and models of cars and light trucks. And of course, 21 time winners, almost lost it there, 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and we're talking cars. How're you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So 2004 Honda Accord had an axle shaft replacement. What was going on with this car?
Bernie: So this car got towed to our shop. The owner was driving it and suddenly just stopped moving forward. There was some hideous noises and the car just would not move forward. Figured maybe the transmission had blown up or something like that. So the car was brought in the shop and we had a look at it.
Mark: And what sort of testing and diagnosis did you need to do?
Bernie: Well in this case, of course, we needed to try out, we put it in drive to see if the car moved. Of course, we heard the noises. Put the car on the hoist, did a visual inspection was all the testing and diagnosis we needed to find that the axle shaft on the left side, it actually snapped in half. Now this is a one inch, sold steel bar that had worn out and actually snapped in half. Let's get into some pictures because this is really the fun part.
So there's our 2004 Accord, two door, nice car. And you know, 15 year, 16 year, 15-16 years old now, still in really good shape because the owner takes good care of it. There's our axle as we found it on the car. So this is looking under the driver's side. You can see the tire, the front tire here. This is the outer CV joint. The axle shaft moving in this direction and that's the other part of the axle shaft. That is just worn down to a taper which is really unusual and snapped. I have a few more pictures of this because it just intrigued me so much. Again there's another view of it. You can see this rubber piece, we'll talk about that in a minute, but this basically is a solid metal bar. This rubber piece is just fitted over top for, it's a vibration dampener but it's the axle snapped off inside of that area. And finally the axle shaft laying on the ground in two pieces. So this is the inner CV joint. This part goes into the transmission. This is the outer Cv joint which bolts into the wheel, splined and goes into the wheel hub that drives the wheel. There's rubber boots on either side and they're inside the CV joint which I call a constant velocity joint inside there. And then of course, our axle, it's broken in two. As you can see, this is pretty large piece of metal and worn down into quite a taper before it actually snapped.
Mark: Ok how? How did this break?
Bernie: Well that's an excellent question and I have to say that I think, I'd like to say that I've seen it all, well to be honest, I've never seen anything like this. We have a new technician we just recently hired who's moved from Ontario and he said he's never seen anything like this. But what I can say, is the car was from Ontario, spent at least the first 8 years of it's life in Ontario, so subject to salt and the you know kind of ugly road conditions and you can see the sort of rustiness on that shaft which is not something you'd normally see in a car that was say, driven around Vancouver for it's life.
So there's some road salt for sure, maybe some grit got in there and then sat in behind. Again, I'll just get this picture up here. You know, there's some grit probably got in behind this little vibration dampener piece here and probably just slowly wore away the metal of the shaft. That's the only thing I can think of. It's just a very unusual situation. If this piece wasn't here, this probably would not have happened but I think it just created a perfect trap for salt and dirt to just sit in and eventually just ground away the shaft. There's really very little movement of this part because it's basically just a bolted on a piece of rubber. But somehow there must of been enough flex and movement that just over time wore it away.
Mark: It wasn't rotating on the shaft that rubber dampener?
Bernie: No it doesn't rotate. It's actually clamped onto the shaft and these parts are, they install these from the factory. When we get replacement axles, they ever normally have these pieces. I believe it's a vibration dampener, I don't even know 100% for certain, but replacement axles don't normally have them because they tend to be cheaper quality. I hate to say that but they don't ever cause any problems, it's never noticed, oh the car's vibrating like crazy because you don't have a vibration dampener on the axle.
Mark: So what are the usual issues you find with drive axles?
Bernie: Well let me, actually I'll go back into the screen share because this is a good, this picture of this axle is actually a really good thing to look at again. So the usual issues with axles are the CV joints will wear out and that CV joint is hidden inside this area here or inside this one here and the outer front CV joints are subject to a lot of abuse. The wheel, not only is the wheel rotating and pushing the car back and forth and sometimes if you accelerate hard there's a lot of pressure put on this but also as you turn and go around a corner, it's putting pressure on an angle. So this joint is subject to a lot of force and wear and it used to be that these joints would wear out a lot. In the earlier days of front wheel drive cars, replacing CV joints as a frequent service because they'd start clicking and clunking and that's not really happening a lot anymore which is a good thing. They've beefed up the quality of these parts substantially over the years. So that replacing CV joints is not overly as common of a service as we used to do. The other part that wears out probably more frequently is this boot. This is a rubber boot and again, it's subject to wear because it's twisting and moving around. Sometimes, the inner boots. This is common on Subarus. The inner boots will often wear because they sit right over top of the exhaust system where there's a lot of heat. So the boot will tend to crack. But the quality of these rubber boots also has improved over the last couple of decades. Again, you know, in sort of the 80s and 90s, a lot of these boots were made out of a rubber that would crack and by the time you it a 100,000 kilometres, a lot of these boots would crack. We'd end up replacing them. But nowadays, they tend to last much much longer. You can see that this boot has been seeping a bit of grease. This darkness here. There's even a little a bit of grease right here. There's a bit of grease that's starting to seep out of this boot. But again it's not broken or torn, so that's pretty amazing for a 15 year old axle shaft. So those are kind of the common things. I have seen the odd axle break but usually I think the last time I saw something, the actual cage, there's a cage that holds the ball bearings, had snapped and so it wouldn't allow, it sort of allowed the ball bearings to fall out of place. But a shaft broken like this, first time and probably the last time.
Mark: Well you never know. With electric cars they have a lot of torque. They might snap axle shafts.
Bernie: That's a good point. I mean we really don't know again with electric cars, we really don't know. But the good news with electric cars and all that torque is they're using axle shafts that have been used for a long time on gasoline powered cars. That you know, they've beefed them up to be pretty strong. So but you never know. Maybe that'll be the issue. You know, there will always be something on every kind of car that that's a common problem and maybe on electric cars it'll be the axle shaft. Who knows - probably not though.
Mark: Hondas have a reputation for being very reliable. How is this generation of Accord?
Bernie: Yeah, this is a super reliable car. It's really good. You know, the owner of this car takes good care of it and we service a lot of others that you know, around this vintage and there's still good cars. You know worth fixing. Worth keeping. There's not really a lot of engine problems. There are some transmission problems with these around this model year. So you do have to be a little careful with that but other than that, you know generally engines are really good. Do have timing belts so that is an expensive maintenance service that needs to be done. But you know, once it's done it's good for a long time. This is definitely on my recommended list car.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Honda or your axle shafts in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead they're always busy. Lots of cars to fix in Vancouver. And of course, thanks so much for watching the podcast and listening. And of course, you can check us out at pawlikautomotive.com, the website, over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars. Over 300 videos on the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, thanks for watching.