Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, servicing and repairing, maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 2007 VW Toureg 3.6L, this is one of the VR6 engines and you had to do a valve cover replacement. What was going on that you needed to change the valve cover?
Bernie: What was going on, was this vehicle came to our shop, engine wasn’t running quite right. We did a scan and diagnostic on the vehicle and found there was a trouble code for a lean fuel condition and traced that to being a leak in the crankcase ventilation system and the crankcase ventilation valve happens to be built inside the valve cover. So that’s why the valve cover needed to be replaced. It’s not a separate unit. It’s all a modular piece.
Mark: Ok, that sounds a bit strange because a PCV valve is fairly regular maintenance item. So it required, why would they change it to make that simple part be part of the integral to the whole valve cover?
Bernie: Well I’d say why was probably from a manufacturing point of view. A lot of things on vehicles are done on a I call it a modular fashion, in other words, they kind of look at things and ok the crankcase ventilation valve, kind of part of the valve cover sits there, why not just put it all into one unit and when we build the engine we can just stick it all together and it makes it easy. So from I think a manufacturing perspective, it makes it a whole lot easier than having a separate component, like a simple PCV valve. Where you could actually unscrew the thing and replace it which would be like really simple and which used to be and it was the kind of part that a lot of times you go, even if you go to a quick lube shop and they’d go, oh there’s the PCV valve on top of the valve cover. Let’s just put one of those in because it costs $5 bucks and we can make an extra couple of bucks while we’re doing an oil change and it actually services that part. Nowadays it just gets stuck inside. Now granted, these are a little more just, a little more complex to the simple PCV valve and they flow a little more air, but really yeah why not put in on the outside and make it a whole lot easier to fix.
Mark: So you have some pictures?
Bernie: Yeah I do. Let’s have a look at some. Nice little 07 Toureg and we can go into the engine. So there’s the engine. Again, as you’re saying Mark, it’s a VR6 design engine which has been around for a while. Unique Volkswagen concept which works quite well, very compact for space and you only have one cylinder head which is kind of neat which instead of having a V which has two. Anyways, the valve cover is located here underneath the intake manifold and there’s a lot to get off to do this job. Manifold is not just a simple replacement. It has a direct fuel injection system and two fuel rails hidden, one under here, one further down, if you can see my mouse pointer, these both need to be removed in the process. And then the intake has to come off and then of course, all the ignition coils, the spark plugs, sorry just the ignition coils and then you have the valve cover located right in the middle. So it’s a few hours worth of work. It’s a lot to be done. Then we look at the valve cover. There’s the valve cover. This is the old one, it’s off and of course they don’t sell parts. The piece is located inside here. This is the breather hose, it goes off to the intake, and this is the inside view of the valve cover. So this is, that breather pipe is over here, there’s a valve in here and an air intake section here. So what will happen is the valve, it’s a rubber diaphragm valve sitting in a very hostile environment with noxious crankcase fumes and oil vapours and just really, just stuff that’s really hard on rubber and eventually the rubber diaphragm deteriorates. It rips a hole and it’ll end up sucking a lot of air through the engine. So that’s what causes the lean fuel condition. The engine’s actually, the system sucking air that it’s not supposed to and also cause a lot of pressure and suction in the crankcase as well. so anyways, that’s what we, that’s a little view of everything in there.
Mark: Ok, so let’s do a little comparison. The old PCV valves, maybe even from the 70’s, how often would those be, how often would you change those?
Bernie: Well, probably, they used to get changed probably once a year when you do a tune up on an old car like that. But how often do you really need to change them? Probably every 2 to 3 years. They would basically, the most thing would go wrong with those type of PCV valves, is that they’d end up getting plugged up with sludge and carbon deposits, you know as the crankcase gases are flowing through it eventually it leaves vapour on it and they’d end up plugging up. So that’s what would cause that.
Mark: And what about these new style ones, where that PCV valve is incorporated right into the valve cover?
Bernie: Well this vehicle’s 10 years old and it’s failed, so that’s kind of a , I would say, probably the average life span of these, but VW isn’t the only manufacturer of these. I mean there’s a lot, we did a Chevy Cruze a while ago that had a similar issue. Not that old of a vehicle, probably 100,000 kilometres, I don’t know 3 to 5 years old vehicle and the same kind of issue. And again, on that one, you have to change the whole valve cover. So that’s kind of the way a lot of auto manufactures are going. It’s all modular and some of them don’t last as long. Fortunately the Cruze was a substantially cheaper job than it is to do a valve cover on a Toureg.
Mark: And as we’re enjoying the lovely sounds of the emergency services speeding past…
Bernie: Yes, yeah the advantage of having your business on a main road.
Mark: How are these 3.6 litre VR6 engines for reliability and servicing?
Bernie: Well as far as reliability, they’re pretty good. You know, we don’t do a lot of, you don’t find a lot of things go wrong with them, I mean this is sort of one of there major things but they are potentially and extremely, I should say as far as servicing, I mean the oil changes are a bit of a pain to because the oil filter is located under the engine in a tricky to access spot. This particular engine actually is used on the Porsche Cayenne and An Audi Q7, so you’ll find a few different platforms of vehicles. But they’re all a little bit of a pain to access the oil filter. So the oil changes are a bit more work than they could be and there’s a lot to go wrong. I mean, there’s a lot potentially expensive repairs. The timing chain is on the back side of the engine so if it ever fails, it used to a lot in older VR6’s, not on these, but the old VR6’s, the timing chain failure was common. You have to pull the engine out to get at it or take the transmission out to access the timing chain. So it’s a lot of work. I don’t know why they built these things backwards but I guess the expectation is you’re never going to need the service it which is my thinking or if you do well too bad you’re going to have to pay for it. But other than that you know, they are actually quite a reliable engine.
Mark: So basically the VR6, just to digress for a second, is a V6 squished together in to still alit bit out of a line, but the cylinders are sort of, I don’t know how you describe it without showing a picture of it, they’re just sort of squished together but offset from each other?
Bernie: Yeah a typical V engine might be you know, I’ll just use my hands for example like a lot of V engines would have the cylinder banks would be like you that sort of 45 degrees and there’s a variety, some are wider, some that are narrower. But a VR6, what they’ve done is they’ve actually, I think it ’s a 15 degree bank. It’s very close. They kind of offset the cylinders so that one sits sort of unaligned. So they just kind of used the open space, it’s actually brilliant engineering and so they’ve incorporated the V engine into one cylinder head, with one cylinder head, one engine. Well you know they all have one engine block but just one cylinder head to do the whole job. So it’s a pretty neat feat of engineering and really it generally, they’re pretty reliable over all. As I said, the older VR6 the timing chain failure was a common thing but they seem to have eliminated that as an issue. So yeah it’s good, it’s compact which is a neat thing about it. It doesn’t take up a lot of space which is kind of a brilliant part of it.
Mark: So you get the power within a smaller space basically?
Bernie: Exactly, exactly and that’s important in modern cars. When you look, you know, they build a car smaller, there’s less hood length, there’s a lot more accessories and things stuffed inside. So it makes sense in a modern car whereas in olden days, you’d have hoods that are like you know, a 4 by 8 sweet of plywood would fit under there, you could fit that under there. I had a friend that had a Plymouth Fury, a 1968 Fury had a straight 6, one of those famous Dodge slant 6 engines, you pop the hood and there was enough room to stick a second engine beside it. So much space, you know it was crazy. But not like that anymore.
Mark: Yeah. Alright, so if you’re looking for service for your Toureg, Audi or Porsche in Vancouver that has a VR6 3.6 litre, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our Youtube channel Pawlik Automotive Repair or our new PodCast. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark.