Mark: Hi. Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon. Wherever you are in the world. It's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. Twenty two time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, not just by some random guys that have been bribed. By their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing well. Doing well.
Mark: So today's victim. 2011 Ford Fiesta that had a fuse box problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop. The owner needed an out of province inspection along with, one of his complaints is that the vehicle would stall or some engine performance issues and a number of accessories that were, you know, intermittently working. And he'd mentioned that there were some problems with the fuse box or the fuses, that had been looked at previously.
Mark: Fuses. So where did you start looking in the fuse box?
Bernie: We did, exactly. Just yeah, we had to look in the fuse box. We can see there's a bit of moisture in there, which is never a good thing. Some corrosion and pretty well determined fairly quickly that that replacing that unit would be the thing to do because of the damage had gone too far.
Mark: So that's pretty rare. Isn't it? Is that a replaceable item?
Bernie: Okay. Well, two things. Yeah. So rare, I mean, we do replace fuse boxes from time to time. There's a lot of complexity to them and we can talk about that a little more further on, but, the actual replacement on this particular vehicle involves actually the fuse box as part of the main engine wiring harness. So it's a pretty involved job and, you know, different cars have different fuse boxes in different locations, but a lot of times they do come attached with a wiring harness. So it's a, it's a pretty involved repair.
Mark: So, were you able to repair the fuse issues, basically.
Bernie: Yes, we were. So let's just get into some pictures right here and have a look.
There's our Fiesta. Sub compact car. Nice little runabout car. Now let's get into some pictures here and look at some fuses. Okay. There's our fuse box. These are relays for a variety of circuits, fuses. So this is the under-hood fuse box, by the way, the main engine fuse box. So a lot of the fuses in this will be larger. These are called MAX or JKS fuses. They're a larger fuse, usually for higher power circuit loads and relays for a variety of different items, but most of the items served by this fuse box will be, engine components, lighting system components, heater blower, that kind of thing. A lot of it will be serviced by this.
And there's usually an under dash fuse box. Some cars have like two or three maybe even four fuse boxes for a variety of different things. But this, again, like the engine and lighting is sort of the main thing done by this fuse box, but they can do a variety of things.
So, as mentioned, this is a fairly involved repair. This is what came out of the vehicle. This is the fuse box and all the wiring attached to it. So this is not a plug in and plug out fuse box. There's a lot of wires here. It comes with the main battery cables, like even the ground strap, which is actually a separate piece. This is the main positive battery cable here along with, there's actually a most, all modern vehicles, they tend to monitor the current flow in and out of the battery so they can adjust the alternator output.
Again, it's a fuel economy and efficiency issue. So, it's not like they used to be where they're just simple battery posts. Everything's got more complicated and there are issues that happen with these particular parts too. But it's all been replaced.
This big rubber thing. This is a firewall plug. So all the wiring here goes inside the vehicle. And, yeah, so you can basically see there's a lot going on here.
Mark: That inside the vehicle stuff is for the fans and the heater and stuff?
Bernie: Well in this case, I'll just go back to that other picture. This, I believe because it's all kind of wrapped around, but I believe this plug here would plug into the under hood fuse box and the power would be distributed from there. So again, that would be the fan, the heater, all the instrument panel controls. A lot of it will be, at least the power will be fed through this item here in any communication needs to go back and forth will go through that wiring there. So there's a lot to be done, you know, removed, you know, and replaced. Here's a view of the job sort of partially done with the, I believe this is the new fuse box.
So this is the job partially done with the old one out and the new one being slowly installed, but there's wires that get routed back here and through the firewall. And, you know, the battery sits normally in this area, so a lot needs to be removed and you can see the headlights are out there's lighting circuits attached to this. So there's a lot going on here.
Mark: This looks like an enormously big job.
Bernie: Yeah. It's a pretty large job. It's a day worth of work to take it in and take it out. And, I know it's relatively simple vehicle compared to, you know, some that are out there if that's any consolation. It's a simple, modern vehicle. There's nothing that's simple anymore.
Mark: Yeah, it's not like it's got three computers and body control computers and et cetera.
Bernie: Well, it does have that. I mean, people tend to think and I still get people go, Oh, my car has computers, Oh yeah. It's got lots of them. They've been using them for years because that's actually, electronics is so cheap nowadays and so easy. They can put it in everything. Whereas, you know, 30 years ago would have been an astronomically expensive to put a lot of these things in, but now it's like, you know, once the systems are developed and they're used across platforms and it's easy to, you know, use these modules and a variety of things and it actually makes the car simpler.
Even with all the complexity of a modern car, there's way less wiring, because you've got computers that are talking to computers. All they need is two wires to talk to each other and then they can actuate devices locally. So we're kind of drifting a little off topic here, but that's a lot of the complexity of modern vehicles and usually it's reliable. It's just, when something does go wrong, then it can be difficult.
Mark: So you don't do very many fusebox replacements. So my first question is why. And then my second question is why do you have fuses and relays and all this stuff?
Bernie: Okay. Excellent question. So, yeah, we don't do a lot of them, but we do some now and again, and, the reason why, I mean, generally they're pretty reliable and robust, but you know, things like, well, this fuse box, so this car is from Alberta and, the other interesting piece of history on this car is that it was actually trailered behind a, probably an RV you know, a motor home, because it had brackets on the front and, and wiring. So even though the vehicle may not have that much mileage of actual driving, you know, it may have seen some excessive moisture and temperature extremes. So that can have an effect on the vehicle.
But you know, just sometimes things break down. There's a lot of heat that goes on, you know, with electrical circuits. So sometimes something will break down if it's not built as this tough as it can be. I forgot your second question. Oh, why fuses and relays? What a relay does is it actually provides power. It actually allows a high powered circuit to be shorter, like less wiring. So for instance, if you have a headlight switch, you can run all the power and say that the headlights need 20 amps of power. That requires a very thick fat wire and a lot of electricity and heat flowing through a switch.
So instead of having that, you can have a relay which is closer to the actual heavy electrical load. And then you can have, smaller wiring with very little power demand in the switch. So it actually lightens them weight of the vehicle up and puts less of a load on the switches.
So in the end, it's actually a lot more real liable. Thinking about actually back to the first car I owned was a 69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340. It's pretty cool car, but these Dodge Darts, they all, even the cheaper models, they all had a current gauge, an amp gauge as to whether the battery was being charged. And they would actually run the power from the alternator through the back of the dash and through this gauge and then back to the battery. Now it's super accurate because you, you know exactly what's going on with the battery, but the the downside is you're running this massive amount of maybe 50 amps of power through the back of your instrument panel. And it was a failure item. So, while you've got accuracy, you've created a problem. It'd be better to have some way of just getting some side of tap, you know, with a low voltage wire, low small current wire to just get the information. Again, not entirely as accurate, but good enough. So, drifted off a bit there.
Mark: And what about why fuses is that just for, in case something gets too hot?
Bernie: It's protection, because if you don't have a fuse, then the wires will burn and actually, you know, I'm going to go back to that 69 Dart of mine, because I learned a lot of interesting things. When I bought the car, it had this cool steering wheel. It was like a wooden steering wheel with chrome. They were kind of popular aftermarket wheels and they had this big chrome horn button in the middle. Well, it wasn't exactly the most robustly made item.
And I used to work for Via Rail on the train. So I parked the vehicle in the parking lot. Went out of town for a few days, came back, the car was dead. Oh, that's kind of weird. What I found basically the engine wiring harness had melted because the horn button basically held the horn in place. The horn button popped off and the horn went off, who knows how long it was, in some outback parking lot somewhere probably didn't bother anyone. The horn went off until it basically melted the wiring. Wasn't a fuse protected circuit. And so that's why we have fuses to you know, when things get too hot or overload something, it'll blow the fuse.
So, you know, people often they come into our shop and say, Oh, I've got a short circuit in my wiring. Well, if you have a short circuit, usually the fuse will blow or an overload or a short but sometimes I like to call it a long circuit, you know, or the circuits too long, or the wire breaks. There's a, it's a different thing, but the fuses are there for protection to protect wiring, you know, this car of mine actually have to have a lot of the car rewired, because of that. So that happens if you don't have fuses. Or if you have a fuse that pops and you put a fuse that's too big, you can damage your wiring. So you don't want to do that. You need to put the right fuse back in.
Mark: Or even worst case gas and fire don't mix too well and could burn your car out.
Bernie: Well, that's right. And you know, the other thing is burning wiring, you never know what's going to happen. It could actually catch fuel on fire and then the whole car burns up.
So yeah, you want your wiring to keep cool, keep proper and fuses are very important and there's a lot of them. It's amazing when you look at some vehicles and more complex vehicles, we work on like Range Rovers or fancier Mercedes. I mean, it could be like a couple of hundred fuses in different fuse box. It's quite incredible really. How many fuses, some vehicles have. The Fiesta again, kind of simple.
Mark: So how are Ford Fiestas for reliability?
Bernie: Well, we don't see a lot of them. They're not the most common cars here, but they are like, worldwide is one of the most common cars sold. Very popular in Europe and in North America, they've sold them in different eras. There's actually, I think there's seven or eight generations. I have to do a little Wikipedia looking, but, this generation, this 2011 is one of the newer generations has been sold in North America. They're generally pretty good. But one thing I did find I had to do a little research, transmission's problems seem to be pretty common. Sort of the biggest complaint and issue with this vehicle.
So if you are looking to buy one, transmission is definitely something to look at and make sure it's good. That's sort of not based on personal experience, but it could be a pretty big ticket item. So definitely something to look for and make sure it's good. And it's been serviced.
Mark: So how did the Fiesta run after you did this extensive rewiring job?
Bernie: Yeah, it was good. We tested everything, all the circuits, lights and horn and wipers and everything seemed to be working fine. Went for a road test. Drove great. So I think, you know, it's a large amount of work, but once this is done, I mean, unless you take the cover off the fuse box and spray water in it should work well for another 10 or 15, 20 years.
So, if you're looking for some service for your vehicle in Vancouver, you got some electrical issues. Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They are busy or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds, not exaggerating hundreds and hundreds of videos. We've been doing this for eight years now. All makes models, types of repairs, you name it. It's on there or the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, we really appreciate you listening to the podcast. If you like what we're laying down and leave us a review. Thanks Bernie.
Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.