Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We're experiencing winter starting. It's raining here, and of course, Pawlik Automotive are 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. We're talking cars this morning. How you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well even though it's raining.
Mark: So we have a 2005 Jeep Liberty diesel, that had a no-start problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: The owner of the vehicle had pulled over his vehicle, it was running fine, stopped to do something. Went to start it. Turned the key and it wouldn't start. All the lights came on in the dash, but when he turned to the start position nothing happened. So had the vehicle towed in, and we proceeded to do some testing and diagnosis.
Mark: What actual testing did you do to find the cause?
Bernie: Well, look, of course the first thing with a no-start issue is to make sure the battery is in good shape, so we tested that. And it was pretty apparent that everything ... The battery was good, everything seemed to be working but there was no starting. The starter wasn't working, so I thought maybe the starter's the first thing to test, and it's relatively easy to access on this vehicle so we tested the power in and out of the starter and the solenoid, and the various wiring tests we do, and verified there was no power getting to the starter solenoid. So we knew the problem was somewhere else. There's relays, there's wiring, there's an ignition switch; these are all the other components. So we proceeded to test all these items and basically narrowed it down to a problem inside the ignition switch area.
Mark: With a diesel, is there anything different within that system, starting system, that's different than other fuel type engines?
Bernie: No, actually, the starting system is exactly the same as a gasoline engine. The only difference with a diesel is that usually they have a much more robust starting motor, because the diesel has a much higher compression, so it needs a more powerful motor to start. But if you look at the starter motor it doesn't look particularly large in comparison to a gasoline starter. It's kind of the way modern technology with starters has gone. They used to be ... you could notice a diesel starter was substantially bigger. Nowadays they look pretty much the same size, so they pack a lot of power in to a small space, but the actual electrical system and the starting system is exactly the same.
Mark: Once you narrowed it down to the ignition switch area, what was the actual cause?
Bernie: Well, what we found was there's actually an actuator pin, or coupler assembly, in between the ignition switch and the actual electrical portion of the ignition switch and the lock cylinder. Usually within the ignition switch you have the lock cylinder, the place you put the key, and then that usually connects to the switch, the electrical part. And in this particular vehicle there's actually a coupler that goes in between the two pieces, so we'll just get in to a little picture show here, and I'll show you what's actually going on. There's our jeep in the shop after repairs, and that's the coupler piece that's broken. This sits inside the steering column. There's the ignition switch, the part where the key sits over in this part here.
Mark: To the right.
Mark: To the right?
Bernie: Yeah, that's right, yeah. Sits over here, and then there's a little slot that fits inside this metal barrel here, and this connects over here, and then this, the ignition switch, the actual electrical part, clips on to this portion here. Now I've two arrows here. The yellow one shows a little metal piece here, and if you notice, where the red arrow is, there's not a metal piece. Well there's supposed to be one there. What happens is this actuator pin, the metal piece breaks, so when you the key it wasn't actually allowing it to turn quite far enough to actuate the starter. So that's basically the issue, so this part is the piece that needed to be replaced. And interestingly enough, it's amazing how cheaply built this part and component is, and everything kind of snaps together. It's plasticky and cheap, and I just sort of reflecting while I was working on it, how this is kind of at the time when Chrysler and Mercedes were married. You know, two companies. You couldn't really build different vehicles. I mean this stuff, it's made cheap and simple and snap-together, and if you look at a Mercedes, it would be much different in assembly. It's amazing that corporate marriage lasted as long as it did, because really very different building philosophies for these vehicles. Just a little side-thought there.
Mark: Is this an easy repair?
Bernie: Not really difficult. I mean, the diagnosis took a while, just to figure out where the actual cause of the concern was, but the repair itself is not all that difficult. However, as far as parts go ... that part we ordered a replacement after-market part, but if you go to a Chrysler dealer they'll sell you the whole steering column. So there are after-market parts available, you can just get that one piece, but if you go to Chrysler you're going to spend an awful lot of money on replacing that, and a lot of extra labor.
Mark: Good to know. Once back together, I guess everything started properly?
Bernie: Yeah, it worked fine. Worked great, just like it should.
Mark: Is this a common issue on a certain range of Jeep Liberties?
Bernie: Well, this is the first time we've actually replaced this particular piece, but it, as I mentioned, there's an after-market part available for it, so once somebody makes a part like that it's a pretty common problem. It just, for some reason it's the first time one of these has come in to our shop, and after ... it's a 13 or 14 year old vehicle at this point. But the owner had said that this problem had happened previously in the past, too, and he'd spent a lot of money at Chrysler having it fixed, so I assume he got the full steering column treatment, but it didn't last a whole lot longer. Sometimes when you look at a part, and you go, "Why did they build this so poorly?"
Mark: So do other models of Jeep use this same full Chrysler steering column treatment repair?
Bernie: They do, actually. So this part actually will fit a variety of Chrysler vehicles. Not just Jeeps. Everything right to Neons, and it's used in a variety of different vehicles from 1995, all the way up to 2007, so again, it's a common part and it may be if you have the same issue, that's that's the cause of your failure, but without testing things properly it's impossible to know, because there's so many other things that can cause it, but it's definitely a good place to look.
Mark: Now, what was this part called again?
Bernie: It's called an ignition actuator pin.
Mark: So there you go. If you're having some starting issues with your Jeep or Chrysler product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You must book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. You can see our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos covering all makes and models of cars on there, and thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching.