Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, at Top Local, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. That's a lot of years of being the best, and of course, we're here with Bernie and we're talking cars. How you doing?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So today we're talking about a 2007 Honda Civic, a 12-year-old vehicle that had a front brake problem. What was going on with this Honda?
Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came in for service and one of the complaints was that when you apply the brake, there's a shuddering, like a vibration in the steering wheel when braking.
Mark: So I'm fairly familiar with shuddering, and what causes me, generally, to shudder, is generally slipping around on guts. What causes brakes to shudder?
Bernie: Well, most of the time, it's warped brake rotors and it's a fairly common occurrence. The odd time, too, if you have some severely worn-out front end components, like tie rod ends, that will also cause a shudder in the steering wheel, because as the brakes are applied, it causes the shake to be transmitted. But most of the time, the shudder is from a warped brake rotor.
Mark: So when you inspect brakes, just visually, can you see the cause of the shudder?
Bernie: Normally, not, but in the case of this vehicle, there's actually some interesting visuals to look at, so let's just get right into the pictures and I'll show you what we did see.
So there's our '07 Civic four-door. Plain car but exceptionally reliable, as Hondas are. Here's a view of the brake rotor. If you can sort of see, there's a blackish mark here. That's a heat check. Basically, the rotor, it's got very hot, and when you see these, that doesn't necessarily indicate there's going to be a shudder, but when you see that, you can tell that the brakes in this vehicle have got very hot. That's what causes those kinds of marks. Sometimes, if it gets even hotter, you'll get an actual bluish colour. You may have seen that on chrome exhaust on a motorcycle, sometimes. But anyways, that heat check is certainly a good indication that the rotors have got too hot.
Mark: What other parts might have been needed replacement? So you're going to replace the rotors and calipers, I guess, and clean the assembly.
Bernie: Well, not necessarily the calipers, but we will, in this case, replace the calipers, because when we get to our next picture ... So generally speaking, depending on the age of the brakes, sometimes you can just change the rotors, if the pads are nice and thick. In the case of this vehicle, we had actually replaced the rotors. I don't have the exact time frame, but we were able to get the rotors replaced under warranty. It's a regular customer. But it had been a while, so there was some labor cost to doing it, and we replaced the pads, as well.
But in this case, we found another interesting issue, and that is a broken bleeder screw in the brake caliper. So that, of course, necessitated the brake fluid was due to be flushed. You can't flush the brake fluid without removing the bleeder screw or do any other service, for that matter. So the calipers needed to be replaced in order to complete the service on this vehicle.
What else have I got here? Little closer view of the broken bleeder screw. You can usually put a socket on the end of this and it's broken off flush, so that was the other item we replaced.
Mark: So on this service, it was a warranty item to change the rotors?
Bernie: It was, yeah, yeah.
Mark: And why was that a warrantied item?
Bernie: A warranty? Oh, we'd actually replaced the rotors. I believe it was about a year and a half ago on this car, and we were able to get the rotors replaced under warranty by our supplier, so good suppliers do take care of us.
Mark: And so what was causing the hot spots?
Bernie: Basically, I would say the brakes had just got hot. You know, it's hard to tell what causes them and how people use their brakes, but all it takes, sometimes, to warp a brake rotor, is just to go down a hill and hold the brakes on for too long. Some cars just tend to be more prone to rotor warpage than others, and others, you can abuse them and they just never warp. I mean, I owned a Subaru Outback and I went through a set of brake rotors every eight months, and I could almost tell. If I have to make a panic stop, within a week, the car would be shuddering and shaking and I tried all sorts of brands and types and from dealer to everything. Unfortunately, not the right rotor for the vehicle. Should have been bigger or something different about it.
But anyways, as far as the hot spots, to me, that indicates the brakes have just been on too long. Now, a sticking brake caliper can also cause that, too. In the case of this vehicle, we don't think the calipers are sticking. Just a broken bleeder screw has necessitated repairs.
Mark: So that's not something we've ever talked about, broken bleeder screws. Is that a common issue?
Bernie: Not very much any more. It used to be more common in the past. A lot of manufacturers used to use little tiny bleeder screws and they've got to using much larger ones which are more durable, but I say it's not very common in this part. In Ontario, eastern US, northeastern US and eastern Canada, you'll replace a lot more bleeder screws, because they tend to corrode. It's rust. Water will get into the bleeder screw and it'll seize up. They actually put caps on the bleeder screws to prevent water from getting in, because that prevents it from corroding, but when you're driving your vehicle in salty conditions all the time, it'll happen more often. But where we live in Vancouver, it's not that common of an item, but from time to time, we need to replace them. They do break.
Mark: So Civics have a reputation for reliability. What issues do you find with them?
Bernie: They are very reliable cars and the only real issue that kind of surprised me ... A couple years ago, we have a client and it had a coolant leak and the actual engine block split. And it wasn't because it had got frozen, but there's actually a defect in some of the engines around this model year of Honda, where the actual engine block will crack, which is really unfortunate. Not super common, but common enough that it happens on a certain number, maybe one out of 50 cars. So that's really the only sort of defect I've seen with this vehicle. Otherwise, a bulletproof car and something on my highly recommended list.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for brake service or service for your Honda Civic, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call ahead to book, they're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Our YouTube channel, hundreds and hundreds of videos talking about all makes and models of cars and repairs over the last five years at Pawlik Auto Repair - search on YouTube. Or of course thank you so much for listening to the Podcast, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching and listening.