Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Bernie has been servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years and Pawlik Automotive are so far winners of, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So we’re going to talk cars and we’re going to talk about a 2007 Lexus RX350 SUV. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle had a concern that there was noise when you turn the heater on and there was not a lot of air flowing through the heating system.
Mark: And what did you find?
Bernie: What we found is very interesting. We found a lot of debris stuck inside the heating ducts that basically plugged the whole system up. Kind of unusual. I mean, we do cabin air filters quite frequently on cars and find you know, dirt and thing in there. We often get surprised that the thing, you know that the vehicle’s actually allowing air flow but this was kind of unusual for the amount of stuff we found here. I’ll just share some pictures. Our RX350. So what we found, this is the, this is what we found inside the heater duct. The procedure of course when someone brings a vehicle in is to verify their concerns, so we tested, you know this to make sure the heater fan is blowing and it clearly, there was some action happening and all the speeds were working but there was little air flow coming out anywhere. So we pulled, the easiest access was to pull the cabin air filter out and so what we found and I’m actually showing this picture after we removed some of the debris, was just a, the air filter box was absolutely full of leaves and these had actually escaped below the cabin air filter. So how they got past the filter is hard to, kind of hard to understand but I’ll show there’s a picture of the the filter too just covered in leaves. But somehow, the leaves managed to get sucked around the filter and plugged everything up.
Mark: The filter looks kind of damaged as well.
Mark: Yeah, it’s like the plastic is bent and broken.
Bernie: They’re, actually I’ll just re-share this again, you can see the filter now?
Bernie: These filters are, most of them are pretty supple, they tend to bend and twist. So they’re not the most rigid filters. The odd cabin air filter does have a rigid frame but around the sides of these, there’s actually no frame at all. It’s just paper. so. it’s probably how it got sucked around it’s not, they’re not laboratory quality design I guess you could say, you know they do allow for a little bit of stuff to escape but there might be well a hole underneath here, I’m not quite certain. But yeah they do tend to get distorted and twisted up after awhile.
Mark: Ok, well, how did you get rid of all the debris?
Bernie: Yeah, so a vacuum cleaner was one, a shop vac with a very narrow nozzle, we were able to get in and suck most of it up and we also with the help of some compressed air to blow things up and agitate it and we were able to suck pretty well everything out of there and get it all out. And put a new cabin air filter in obviously and put everything back together.
Mark: So all these leaves, obviously they live next to or their car is parked next to a tree somewhere that’s doing its thing, and did that cause any other damage, those leaves being sucked through the system, to the heating or a/c?
Bernie: Not in this case, fortunately nothing. But you know, we have seen vehicles where a client will come in with you know, I turned the heat on, there’s some kind of strange smell, something burning. And we’ve seen vehicles where a leaf has got sucked in and there’s a heater blower resistor that’s usually in the heater box, it often gets very hot and so we’ve actually seen leaves where they’ll actually you know, start smouldering or even catch on fire. I’ve never seen a car burn up from it but you know, like it’ll actually, the leaf will actually start burning inside the heater box and melt down. And heater resistors can be damaged from debris getting on them. So it’s something to watch, for sure, but in the case of this vehicle everything is fine.
Mark: And is there any way to, that you could as an owner, help prevent this from happening?
Bernie: Well you know, cabin air filter is a scheduled maintenance item on pretty well every car, but it’s one that’s kind of easily overlooked. It’s hidden, it’s out of sight, out of mind. As much as we have a very rigorous schedule with our clients maintenance, the odd time we forget for some reason to recommend it. I don’t know why but we’ve been servicing this car for years, we forgot to change the cabin filter. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but you know we’re not perfect. It’s the kind of thing you can easily be forgotten and so I mean, every, probably just you know getting in the routine of changing at least every two years is a good idea to prevent this kind of thing from happening. But if you live somewhere that’s got a lot of pine needles or leaves, that’s you know again, it might be an idea to do it on an annual basis to prevent anything like this from happening.
Mark: And these are coming from, they’re falling on the car perhaps because we get a lot of rain here in Vancouver, big surprise, that the windshield wipers are actually wiping those leave into the front air intake behind the hood and then they’re being pulled into the air intake basically?
Bernie: Yeah, what does surprise me about this vehicle, I didn’t really look in any detail as to how leave of this size could get in because a lot of vehicles have a screen on the cowl, that’s the areas the front of the hood where the air get sucked in. It kind of surprises me that something this large can actually get in there because these leaves are you know, large and intact but somehow the design of this vehicle would allow that because a lot of vehicles we have come into our shop and they’ve got leaves all over the front of the cowl and the air ducts and we will often just take them outside and blow them off as part of the service. But yeah, that’s a key thing to again, if you look at the cowl of the vehicle, again which is the air at the front of the windshield and you see a lot of leaves stuck there, get rid of them, you know keep them out of the way because that’ll prevent them from getting sucked into the air intake system.
Mark: So there you go. If you’ve got a Lexus or your vehicle’s got maybe not blowing properly out it’s AC or heater, or you noticed a little bit of smoke coming out of there, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to book ahead, they’re busy. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, we’ve got hundreds of videos on there or the YouTube channel or our new Podcast. Leave a review. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark.