Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local; we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver BC. Vancouver’s favourite auto service experience, 16 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver so far as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’m doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Chevy HHR, a real bit of an uncommon vehicle, this is a 2008; you did an engine replacement on, what was happening with this vehicle.
Bernie: Well this vehicle came to us, the owner of the vehicle experienced some engine issues. It wasn’t running well, the check engine light was on and it was running very poorly, quite roughly. Taken it to a GM dealer for a diagnosis and they told him the his engine needed to be replaced so he came to us for a second opinion on that.
Mark: So what did you find wrong with the engine?
Bernie: Well we found that the engine did in fact need to be replaced. There was no compression in number three cylinder and number four was a little on the weak side and also when you take the oil cap off there’s a lot of blow back, there’s a lot of pressure in the crankcase which, which would indicate something perhaps more serious than just, you can have low compressions from often it’s a bad valve but if you have like a lot of crankcase pressures it can be you know, perhaps it’s got a cracked piston or piston rings so, so the engine itself is definitely in very bad shape.
Mark: So what did you end up doing to repair the motor?
Bernie: So we put a used engine in the vehicle that was the most cost-effective repair to do on the vehicle, we removed the old engine and put a used engine in.
Mark: So how does a used engine compare with a new one?
Bernie: Well, cost is a huge factor I mean, you get this HHR, it’s not worth a huge amount of money at this point, it’s a nine year old, an almost ten year old vehicle, it’s a GM, it’s not, 150,000 kilometers, not worth a huge amount of money so a rebuilt, a rebuilt engine you know would probably cost somewhere around the $4,000 range just for the engine itself. We were able to get a used engine for about $1,200, low mileage, 70,000 kilometers so much more economical. The labour is pretty much the same to put a rebuilt or a used engine in but you know, used engine is certainly much lower price. Now a used engine is used so you know, there is a risk that we don’t know how it’s maintained so you’re buying something, there’s a definite risk to it, the warranty’s much shorter, usually a rebuilt engine is one to two years sometimes more on warranty, a used engine 90 days, so there’s a bit of a risk. We do lots of them and they tend to work out pretty well. Got a few pictures to share, while we’re at it, here’s our HHR engine, and actually I’m showing these out of sequence, but this is actually a back view, when you do an engine change in this vehicle you, you drop the engine and transmission assembly, it’s all held in and it’s called the cradle, it’s the front cross member, they built, they put everything together at the factory on this cross member and we basically when we do the engine job we just lower the whole cradle down with the engine and transmission and this is a view of the steering rack and this particular item here, I’m just pointing out, this is the steering shaft; what’s interesting about this vehicle, it has electric power steering which is a technology that’s pretty common for vehicles built in the last 10 years, some cars have it some don’t but it’s nice because there’s no hydraulic system, there’s no power steering hoses, there’s no power steering pumps, there’s a lot less, makes the job a little easier to do, a little less involved. There’s a larger view of the engine on, on the, this is actually a back view of the engine on the cradle still, this is the exhaust manifold we got the valve covers here, the transmission sits over in this area and then last photo to show you will be a front view of the engine, there we go, there’s a, there’s a front view of the engine sitting on the cradle again and there’s a number of accessories, things like the alternator that needed to be removed, transferred over but that’s, that’s generally what it all looks like on the . . . I think I close that, I think I’m back. So I can’t remember where we were for questions.
Mark: So what was the vehicle owner’s history with the car?
Bernie: Well that’s a good question, interesting question. He had actually just bought this vehicle and this could lead into a whole new hangout, but I’ve often said if you’re going to buy a vehicle, have it inspected because you never know what’s wrong with it and I asked what happened with it and he said well, we bought it and it had the check engine light on so obviously the price was probably a little cheaper, he said I figured it probably just needed some spark plugs. An expensive, expensive lesson in having a vehicle checked out beforehand because never make the assumption, I would always assume it needs the worst thing, if it’s something simpler the better but if you don’t really know get the vehicle inspected, I mean save money. I don’t want to talk about the bill for this job but you know, so there’s a lot of labour to put an engine in and also the catalytic converter was also damaged too because the engine had been running roughly for so long it damaged the catalytic converter so, you know a lot of expenses.
Mark: So how are HHR’s for reliability?
Bernie: I’d say they’re fair, and I won’t say fair, we don’t service a lot of them because they’re not the most common vehicle but this engine by the way is out of, came out of a Chevy Cobalt, so the drivetrain is very similar to a lot of other GM vehicles. They’re fairly reliable, not a lot goes wrong with them but you know, when you got a HHR was only a few years old with the actually exhaust, the exhaust pipe was cracked and leaking and needed to be replaced and just things like that strike me as not great quality but you know I’d say they’re sort of below average but not bad vehicles.
Mark: Inexpensive possibly.
Mark: A little bit on the more inexpensive side?
Bernie: Yeah I would say, yeah. I mean, generally vehicles, American vehicles have always traditionally depreciated more than Japanese vehicles. I compare your Japanese, I mean European vehicles are more luxurious, they often start at a higher price, many of them depreciate very quickly as well but some of the Japanese for depreciation are the least, and American vehicles are definitely pretty high so you can get good deals on them. Just make sure if you’re buying a used one that it’s running right, have it inspected, and see if it’s worth the money.
Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking to get a new vehicle, a new used vehicle, a pre-owned vehicle then the guys to bring your vehicle in to see are Pawlik Automotive, they’ll give you a good idea whether it’s a useful buy or not or if you just need service on your vehicle, your check engine lights on, get it into somewhere so they can take a look at it, it’s not something to be driving around with it on all the time. Bernie Pawlik at Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.