Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, and we're here, of course, with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and 38 years repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, BC, and of course, we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Today's victim, 2011 Lincoln Navigator. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop with some steam coming out under the hood, or smoke, and it was pretty apparent that there was a coolant smell when the vehicle came in the shop, so we basically found some coolant leakage on the right-hand side of the engine, dripping down the right-hand side of the engine.
Mark: And how'd you go about determining the source of the leak?
Bernie Pawlik: Well first test we do, of course, is a visual inspection. It was pretty apparent once we accessed everything under the hood that you could see that there was some coolant pooling up on the right-hand cylinder bank, and above that there's some very elaborate heater hoses. You could see the coolant dripping down from that area. We did put a pressure test on it. It was really apparent right away that the heater hoses were leaking, and we'll just get right in to a picture, because that's going to be the best thing to look at.
These here are the heater hoses on the vehicle. What we're looking at, there's an arrow pointing. I'll talk about that in a second, but what we're looking at here ... This is the right cylinder bank here. It's a V8 engine, and there's the ignition coil. There's one of the ignition coils right here, so we're kind of looking down at the top of the engine, and the leak was coming right from this plastic piece right here. These are kind of an elaborate hose. You can see they T off in a couple of different directions. There's plastic pieces that they're all molded specially and clamped together with plastic crimps, and so basically that was our cause of the leak right there. Dripping down, it would run on top, of course, on the top of the hot engine and create steam and some pretty bad smells.
Also, of course, you never want coolant to leak for very long, because that can cause engine overheating, but when it's at the top of the engine, you have a bit of a, this is a nice warning for you to repair the work first. Another thing, of course, of concern is when you have coolant dripping down here, you have a lot of electronic items, electrical pieces. This is a fuel injector connector, so again, you don't want a lot of liquids like antifreeze running into these areas, because this will cause a lot of further problems.
Mark: Is there a proper replacement procedure for these hoses?
Bernie: Well, I mean, I guess you can do it one of two ways. This was the problem right here, however, who knows how much longer this hose is going to last. It's the same kind of plastic fitting, same area. It's hot. Things go on here, so I'd say there's one of two ways you can repair.
You can repair what's broken, and you can leave this one to break next year or in a month or a week or five years down the road, or the proper repair procedure, in my opinion, is to replace all of these hoses, and that's exactly what we did. Then the owner can be assured that they're not going to have a problem. They're not going to be back next month for the other hose leaking, so that, to me, is really the proper way to do the repair.
Just cleaning up whatever leaked coolant there is that's present so it doesn't cause any further problems down the road, again, with the engine misfires or bad connections in the fuel injectors. This could end up being costly, costly things to fix.
Mark: As far as you know, is this is a common occurrence on these engines?
Bernie: Yeah, we do see these kind of plastic fittings leaking a fair bit. It's not like we fix them every week, but they're ... It's a pretty common issue once you start getting these plastic fitting hoses, and it's not just on Ford, but I mean, it is common on these engines because of the design of them. We've done a number of them, wherever you have these plastic fittings.
I'll just actually just go back to the picture really quick again, because there's another ... while we speak of common issues, these ... You can see our little connector. Well, it's on the end of the connector here, but this is like a push together connector, and GM uses these a lot on their hoses too. It's a big failure item, as well. These plastic connector ends fail. You may ask, "Well, if they fail so often, why do they use them?"
Well, it's all about quick, simple manufacturing. When you're in the manufacturing plant, it's ... If you just slide the hose on, it goes click, and it's done, and you don't have to worry about it. Whereas a clamp like this takes more time and effort to put together, so I think it's all about easy manufacturing, but when it comes to repairing and longevity, sometimes things aren't as good as they could be.
Mark: Is there anything that an owner of a vehicle like this could do to prevent or lengthen the life of these hoses?
Bernie: It's a great question. I really don't see anything you could do. I think it's really just inherently a problem with plastic. It only has a limited lifespan, and it's going to go when it goes. There are some plastic cooling system components where making sure you're flushing the cooling system and using the proper antifreeze might help prolong the life, but I would say in this case, it's probably nothing that you could do that would prevent the failure of these hoses.
If you're really prudent about it, you'd probably even want to change these after a certain timeframe, not wait for them to crack and leak, but to actually replace them. It used to be in the past coolant hoses weren't made as well as they are nowadays, and they would tend to fail sooner, and people ... Part of replacing, doing good maintenance on a car would be to change the hoses. But there was once a time when there was four or five coolant hoses. You had your upper and lower radiator hose. You had two heater hoses, and maybe a bypass hose, and it's like four or five hoses.
Nowadays, I mean, you could spend ... Some of the Land Rovers and things we work on, I haven't priced them all out, but there's probably $2,000 worth of hoses, so you don't necessarily want to go, "Hey, let's change them all." Although we have had customers who want to do that, because they care enough about reliability, but that's the kind of thing you could do to keep on top of it.
Mark: How are Lincoln Navigators for reliability?
Bernie: They're pretty fair. I mean, it's essentially a Ford product, so it's just like a Ford pickup truck but fancy, so I mean, you've got a few extra features that'll cause problems on you. One thing that does come to my mind ... We've had a couple of these vehicles recently where the run, and actually this truck had an issue too, where they have these nice fold-out running boards, so when you get in the vehicle and close the door the running board comes up, but when you get out to step out, the running board folds out.
Well, they're really expensive, and they were starting to see those parts fail, so the more fancy equipment you have, the more things you have to go wrong. Other than that, reliability basically the same as a Ford F-150. It's the same kind of vehicle, which is, I just say fair. It would be nice if they made these hoses with metal fittings instead of plastic, but it's what we're dealt with.
Mark: What you're dealt.
Bernie: What we're dealt, yeah.
Mark: If you're looking for service for your Lincoln or Ford in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They work on a lot of them. They see them all the time. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. The YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there for your enjoyment, as well, thank you so much for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark.