Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well Mark.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a bit of an unusual vehicle for your shop so far anyways, a 2012 Ford Transit Connect electric van. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle wouldn’t start. When you put the key in the vehicle, you turn it on and then there’s an actual start position much like a gasoline powered car, you actually turned the key to the start position and when it works, the gauges jump up and you can hear little motors and things whirring in the vehicle and that’s basically when the vehicle is actually ready to drive. I don’t know if you’d call it the starting mode but the readiness mode. So it wouldn’t go into that mode much of the time.
Mark: So it wouldn’t start which would be a pretty big problem for any vehicle but I’m sure for an electric vehicle it’s kind of unusual. What was going on?
Bernie: It was just a matter of of trying to diagnosis and try to figure out what it is. So what we found in the end of this, I’ll straight to the chase, that there under hood there is a battery just like any regular gasoline powered car, there’s a small battery. It runs the accessories, it’s kind of like a starting battery and that battery was very weak and not apparently bad at first. It’s not like you know a usual gasoline powered car when you get in and the engine would just kind of go rrrrrl rrrrrl rrrrrl and go click when you turn it, but basically the same kind of thing, the vehicle wouldn’t start. So I’ll just share a couple of pictures under the hood of this vehicle before we talk about how we diagnosis that but that’s basically what the cause was. The battery is weak, it was old, it was an original Ford battery, it’s a 2012 vehicle, it’s now 2017, it’s 5 years old, about average life for a battery. So perfect timing. So let’s just share a few photos here of this vehicle, there’s the side plate of the vehicle with a nice electric tag on it, we’re going to have to cut the screen sharing and I’m going to refer you to our new Car Truth Show on Youtube, if you go there you’ll see a nice video under the hood, all explanation of the vehicle. So go there you’ll see all the details.
Mark: Alright. How’d you go about diagnosing this vehicle? Is it different than a gasoline vehicle?
Bernie: Well not a lot, I mean of course symptom wise it’s different but these vehicles have a plugin, diagnostic plugin an OBD2 connector just like every vehicle’s had since 1996 and I mean, fortunately they haven’t changed that because they may not require it seeing as there’s no emission testing to do in this vehicle, but nonetheless, it has that same connector and we plug it in and hook up our scan tool and look for codes and things. Of course, there is an engine module in this vehicle, like a gasoline powered engine, but it’s worth looking, what we do is scan the whole vehicle, look through codes and it’s interesting that they, the clue for this problem actually came from the anti lock brake system module of all things, where it said low battery voltage code and I’ll be honest it took a little bit of figuring to go ok what’s actually causing this and there’s a communication error codes throughout the system. There’s computer modules, any modern vehicle, there’s computers that talk to computers and if one of them isn’t working properly there’s a communication error, the vehicle won’t start and that’s exactly what there was and the ignition key module there was a communication error. So anyways, through testing further we realized the battery was dead and that was the problem. So that’s basically the diagnostic, it’s similar, just a little bit of a learning curve.
Mark: So you don’t see too may of these vehicles on the road, I can’t remember seeing any of them honestly. How reliable have you found they are?
Bernie: Well I can’t say I’m an expert on these vehicles because this is actually the first all electric car we worked on in this shop which is kind of exciting because I mean, there’s getting to be more and more of them every day on the road but I meet people who own them and I don’t hear a lot of complaints about them. I look online to see what, who’s complaining doubt them, are there problems with them and they don’t seem to be a lot and I think these are the kind of things we’re going to see. I mean, we’ve seen this with Prius’s as well, where this little starting battery won’t allow the car to start. So I mean really overall, the car should be quite reliable based on the simplicity, there’s basically one, I’m sorry I couldn’t show the photo, but when you pop the hood where the engine used to be, there’s just one big huge boxy motor piece with a lot of wires, there’s still a cooling system and a number of common components but there’s not oil to change, no oil to leak, there’s a lot of the problems we have with an internal combustion engine are not there. There will be similar, other problems with electrical items and who knows over time what those will be, but overall it’s going to be very reliable.
Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for a place that is rapidly gaining experience in electric vehicles, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check our their website pawlikautomotive.com. You can check out our fantastic YouTube channel, just search for Pawlik Auto Repair on Youtube or as Bernie alluded to, our new Car Truth Show, you can also find that on Youtube or at cartruthshow.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark