January 30

2008 Mercedes ML320; Oil Leak Repair



Mark: Hi, this is Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. They've been serving cars and customers in Vancouver for 38 years. They're 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: We're going to talk about a 2008 Mercedes ML320 that had an oil leak. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well there's oil leaking, creating quite a spray of oil around the front of the engine. I say spray because there was oil leaking somewhere in the front getting on the belt and spraying it around. That was the bulk of the leak on this particular vehicle.

Mark: Other than the obvious, there's oil all over the place, how do you diagnose an oil leak?

Bernie: Yeah, so there's a couple methods we use for oil leak diagnosis. I mean the odd time on a car a leak can be so obvious that there's not a lot of time. I mean everything needs diagnosis, but it depends on the magnitude. Sometimes you get something like an oil pressure switch, for instance, which might be visible and you can see oil that's pouring out, pretty simple, but in the case of this vehicle this oil sprayed everywhere. The first step is to clean the oil off so we shampoo the front of the engine. We've got a few things, both engine shampoo and water is a good way to get it off. Then touch it up with some brake cleaner, which gets all the little bits, because once you spray oil around like that it's very hard to get rid of all of it.

Next step is the road test to see where the oil starts coming out of again. Now, this vehicle actually took a while because again there was so much oil sprayed around, you come back from a road test you go well there's some here, some there. That looks fresher than others so in this case it took a couple of road tests. Another method we use, didn't on this vehicle, is to add UV dye to the engine oil. It's a dye that when the oil leaks out we can look with special glasses and a UV light, you can see a green stain. It's brilliant. It works really well but I find with diesels, because the oil tends to get black, it doesn't work quite as well. Anyway, a few road tests. A few cleanings and we finally found the leak.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: Well we found the oil filter housing was leaking. That was the cause of the leak in this vehicle. The oil filter housing bolts up to the front of the engine. It's got a rubber gasket and it's a fairly common leak spot on this vehicle. I'll just go into a few pictures right now. This is the oil filter housing removed. Can you see this okay?

Mark: Yep.

2008 Mercedes ML320; Oil Leak Repair
2008 Mercedes ML320; Oil Leak Repair
2008 Mercedes ML320; Oil Leak Repair
2008 Mercedes ML320; Oil Leak Repair

Bernie: This is the oil filter housing. This is the gasket here actually that was leaking, so this bolts up to the engine block. The oil filter sits in here. To just sort of see where this is located on the car, we'll just get into a couple more pictures here. This is actually, little hard to get this view, but this is looking down at the front of the engine from the ... through the right hand, well the left hand side of the engine compartment. You can see a space here. This is where that gasket bolts up to. There's a pulley for the power steering pump here. That's kind of where that piece is located.

Then we've got the oil filter housing bolted back in, so if you were to look under the hood of this engine, take the engine cover off under the front left side of the engine, this is where the filter housing is and the oil was basically leaking down this area here. We'll just get into one other photo here. Actually we've already looked at this. This is a close up actually of the engine where the oil was leaking out. There we have it. I should be back.

Mark: You're back. How difficult was this leak to repair?

Bernie: Well this wasn't too bad on this engine. You know, couple of hours of work to take it apart. A little more time to clean everything up when you're done and verify it and road test it. As far as oil leaks on this engine it's one of the easier ones to deal with.

Mark: All right, and we, if I were to recollect correctly, we've talked about these vehicles fairly often. There seems to be problems. Why is that?

Bernie: Well we do talk about these a lot. We've talked about Jeeps with three litres. We work on a lot of these in our shop. It's a very complicated engine and I think that's where a lot of the problems lie with these things. Things just do tend to go, for some reason. I'd say they could be possibly built a little better, but there's a lot of complexity to this engine and I think that's really where a lot of the problems lie. They're just amazingly complex.

Mark: Is there a reason why they're so complex? What were they trying to get to with?

Bernie: That's an excellent question. You know if you look at your old-fashioned diesel, very noisy. Good on fuel. Decent amount of power, especially a turbo diesel, but very noisy, sooty, stinky. The nice thing about these vehicles is you don't have any bad smells. The engine is pretty quiet, lots of power, very good fuel economy. You get the best of all worlds, but to do that you have to have a lot of extra emission equipment. The fuel injection system's complex, plus it's overhead cams. They're using all the best of the modern technology and that's what makes it so expensive and complicated.

Mark: Must be maintained regularly as well.

Bernie: Must be maintained regularly, and I really think for people who own a diesel, you really, before you buy one you really need to know whether you're actually ... the way you drive is actually even good for the engine, because if you're just doing real short hop commutes around in town it's probably not even a good vehicle to own. We've been servicing these vehicles for a long time and I was sort of thinking, wow, there's so many problems with them and we fix so many of them, and the one that we've ... actually the very first one we fixed was in a Jeep, a three litre diesel, and had about 350,000 kilometres and something went wrong with the turbo. I mean it was the first time we saw the vehicle, but talking to the owner he'd really had nothing go wrong with it. He bought the vehicle, traveled across Canada several times and back, so he really used it for what it's meant for. Just getting the engine warm, driving it a lot, and that's really where diesels work well. Most people buy these things. They just drive around town a lot. They never get warmed up properly. They don't service them right and it just ends up costing you a fortune.

Mark: There you go. If you have a diesel in Vancouver that you need some service on the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website, PawlikAutomotive.com or our YouTube broadcast, we’ve done five years of these Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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