Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. And we're talking cars. And we're with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So today's victim is a 2014 Mercedes Benz C350 4Matic, long name, that had front brake problems. What was going on with this Mercedes Benz?
Bernie: So, the owner of the vehicle is a customer of ours with another vehicle. Had just had a dealer service done on this vehicle and they told him his brakes were nearly worn out, although they told him the fronts had about 40% remaining in the rears were getting less. So he brought it to us for a thorough inspection and to see what was going on with it.
Mark: So is 40% as a measure of the brake wear accurate or useful?
Bernie: I don't think so. A lot of shops from dealerships to independents to chains or specialists often use percentages in brakes. And it's a simple way to give a customer an idea of what they have left with their brakes, which is a good idea, but it kind of misses the mark in terms of accuracy. What is 40%? Is that 40% of the whole depth of the brake pad? And so, does that count that you really don't want to wear the brake pad to zero. There's a lot of things missing in that percentage recommendation. It's also something that's easy to do. A technician can kind of look and go, yeah it's about 40% left. Oh, it's like 30. So, it at least gives some information to pass onto the client, but it's not really entirely accurate.
Mark: So what's a better measure of brake wear?
Bernie: Well, the better measure is to actually use a brake measure gauge, and give a measurement in millimetres. Then that way you know. On this vehicle, a new brake pad usually starts out at about 12, for the front anyways, and the rears are about 10. Again, I'm being a little approximate here. So, if you give a measurement then you can kind of have an idea. Now I did a quick calculation. If the front brakes are 12 millimetres, 40% of that is 4.8 millimetres thick. So, that's still a fair amount of brake material. Usually two is considered completely worn out. Well zero is completely worn out, but two is really the longest you want to go with changing them. Let's get into some pictures here. I'll just show you some of the tools we use to measure things.
So there's are a 2014 C350, two door, nice coupe. Quick little car. This is our brake, this is our tool we use to measure brake pads. So, this isn't in the yellow ranges. This tool is kind of neat because it has green, yellow and red coloured bars, which kind of makes it handy. Once you get into three millimetres or two, which is as thin as it goes, that's a red bar. Then green is up six millimetres and up. But it's just kind of in the cautionary area. So you can see, if you look in this area here, this is the actual brake pad remaining. It's got four millimetres. And what I've found in experience is, once you take the brakes off, there's usually one pad that's probably worn a little worse than the measuring tool can see. So, if it says four millimetres, you've probably got something that's getting down to three. So, that's one accurate area of measurement.
The other thing we do is measure the brake rotors. Now, I'm not showing any rotor measurement here, but this is kind of typical of many European cars. The brake rotors, you can see some grooves worn in here. And to look at a closer photo, it's kind of hard to get the three dimensions here, and the photo is a little soft. It's not the sharpest picture I've taken. But you can see the original edge here where the rotor was.
And if you were to actually see this rotor and run your hand along here, there's a substantial drop. There's a lot of metal that's worn off this rotor. So, we do measure them. And what you'll find is if you compare to the specifications of the rotor, it's pretty much the rotor wear limit. So, it needs to be replaced as well. Now, there's not really any reason to rush out and replace these rotors if you're not doing brake pads at the same time, unless they're warped. And here's a comparison of our old and new brake pads. You can see this is the new brake pad at 12 millimetres. Our old one at four. And now, if you say 40%, to me it's a little confusing because I would think in my mind, okay, it's, the car's got 70,000 kilometres. I've got 40% of my front brakes left. That means ... Just doing some quick math here, they're a little less than half worn, I've probably got another 50,000 kilometres before my brakes wear out.
But that's not the case. They do need to be ... They're at the time where they can still last a little longer, but they could be replaced. And we actually did do them because the rears were worn substantially worse. So, it's not a bad idea to do them all at the same time. So there's our pictures show.
Mark: So, measuring the actual depth, actually taking the wheels off the car and measuring all the brakes, which it doesn't sound perhaps like the dealer did, is a more accurate thing than just giving an eyeball percentage?
Bernie: Yes. Yeah, it is. And now, there is a way. Sometimes on cars they have exceptionally open wheels. We can actually take a measurement through the wheel, but it's not very often you have a wheel that's that open that you can see through. So yeah, taking the wheel off is really the best way to do the inspection. And that way you can have a really close look at the inboard pad, the outboard pad, see if the calipers are moving property. If there's any other issues. It's the best way to do a brake inspection.
Mark: So, what service did you actually end up doing on this vehicle?
Bernie: So, we replaced the front and rear brake pads and rotors. As I mentioned earlier, the rears were worn worse. They were down to about two millimetres. And the owner could have left the front for a little while, but chose to do the fronts while the car was here. And then that way he's not going to need to come back for service anytime soon. I mean, he may have got a year more out of these brakes, depending on how much he drove. But I would say, it's not overly expensive just to do them now. But again, we leave the client the choice to do that. We also did a brake fluid flush at the same time. Brake fluid every two years on these vehicles. And according to his records, he hadn't done it. So we did that at the same time.
Mark: 70,000 kilometres in a 2014, it's not being driven all that much, but maybe driven kind of fast.
Bernie: Yup. Yeah. And that'll wear your brakes a little harder too.
Mark: Anything else that you need to do to service a 4Matic vehicle?
Bernie: Well, the 4Matic, so that's basically Mercedes all wheel drive system. So, there's a little more complicate ... Or I'd say a lot more complication to this vehicle. There are CV axles in the front. I mean, they don't need servicing unless something wears out. But there is a front differential. There's a transfer case unit, and an extra drive shaft. So there are extra parts and pieces, and just be prepared with a 4Matic that you will spend substantially more money when something goes wrong. Things like maybe an oil pan gasket, because the axle shaft goes through the oil pan. The front end is more complicated, and a lot of other, not this particular model, but certain 4Matic cars, the control arms are substantially more money, like by a magnitude of four or five than the regular non 4Matic model just because for some reason they just charge a lot more for the 4Matic part. So, that's what we've found on 4Matics. There are more expensive things to fix, but it's a nice car. And it's a good option, you're not ... the thing with Mercedes is you've got ... it's rear wheel drive otherwise. There are traction issues at certain times, and especially if you get a lot of snow. I mean, this isn't a great deep snow car, but for an average snowy road you could be stuck at home. But 4Matic will get you where you want to go.
Mark: And how are C350s for overall reliability?
Bernie: It's a good car. Really, there's nothing major about this. It's a 2014, so it's only five years old and there's really no major problems showing up with the car yet. I mean, given another five years, a few more things might crop up. But overall it's a good reliable car, and the owner of this vehicle has had no problems whatsoever.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes Benz in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. And of course, you have to call and book because they are busy. Or check out the website, PawlikAutomotive.com. There's many years worth of posts on the blog about repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars. Of course, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, over 300. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast and watching, and we appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.