Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2006 Nissan Murano Severe Steering Wander Repair

Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast here in Vancouver with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. How are you doing this morning, Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2006 Nissan Murano that had a severe steering wander issue. What was going on with this Nissan SUV? 

Bernie: Well this is really interesting. The owners complaint was when you, especially if you're going up a hill on the highway and you have to accelerate the vehicle would basically veer off into the other lane when you put your foot down on the gas. So I went out and road tested it, and drove up a steep hill, and sure enough I experienced that. You basically hit the gas hard and the vehicle would just veer off to the right. I even noticed on flatter roads when you just accelerate hard it would veer off quite substantially. 

Mark: So what was the cause of this concern? I'm assuming this isn't a front wheel drive SUV. 

Bernie: It's an all-wheel drive, actually, but you know a lot of the power goes to the front wheels, but yeah it is an all-wheel drive. So there's definitely torque in the steering and power being transmitted to the front wheels. I mean what we found was a worn out control bushing especially on the right front. It was the front bushing that was really badly worn. How did we find it? We basically did a steering suspension inspection, looked over things, and it was pretty apparent when we put some pry bars to things of this front control arm bushing was pretty badly worn. I'll just get into some pictures right now, we'll have a look. 

This is the right front control arm. There's a bushing in the rear attached with a bracket, and there's the front bushing, and you can actually see the bushings come apart. Now we may have even talked about this issue on a Murano before, I know  we talk about control arm bushings a fair bit, but this was worn so badly that the centre pin had actually come out of the bushing. This is normally cemented, the rubber is cemented to the metal in the centre of the bushing. This one had actually come apart which is that badly worn. 

Another photo we have here, this is a closeup, so you can see the actual bushing is worn completely apart, and that was causing an enormous amount of play in the front end. 

Mark: How does that worn bushing cause such a wander under power on a hill? 

Bernie: Well what's happening is when you accelerate, of course there's front wheel drive, it puts torque on the wheel, and that causes the front end to actually twist sideways with the pressure. It's actually like turning your steering wheel while you're accelerating. So that's what was causing that because when you let your foot off then it twists back, so that's what causes the torque steer. 

Mark: So when that bushings worn out, that twist is actually happening. When it's working properly you probably wouldn't even feel it when you accelerate up the hill, it would just go straight? 

Bernie: After we replace the part it just basically, you accelerate at it just goes straight because nothing’s moving. I mean there's the same amount of torque being applied but nothing’s being moved other than maybe a quarter of a millimetre or something there. It's always something. That's why these bushings, because they do have some movement to them, but not like that. 

Mark: And how did this bushing wear so badly? 

Bernie: Well bushings do wear out, but one thing that probably caused this to wear more than so substantially is that there was a small leak from the engine oil pan gasket, there was a little bit of oil seeping out onto the bushing, and oil and rubber do not mix well. Basically oil will soften rubber and eventually wear rubber parts out. So when you have a lot of clients, engines develop oil leaks after a while, I mean it's never good having an oil leak for the environment, but if it's something really expensive to fix, I mean sometimes it's gonna be thousands of dollars to fix an oil leak on an engine, and it's not worth it on an old car, the most important thing to go look at is what components are being affect by the oil. If the oil is just simply dripping down onto the road, again, not great for the environment, but it's not gonna affect your car, but if it's leaking onto any rubber parts it will wear them out. We've seen engine mounts wear out from oil leaks, and here it's the control arm bushing that's worn out, a number of things. So oil will damage rubber parts. 

Mark: And that's hitting that bushing because this is a transverse mounted engine? 

Bernie: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Fortunately on this vehicle the oil pan, it's the lower oil pan that was leaking, very simple and not very expensive to fix. So that was a pretty straightforward easy fix. 

Mark: And is this a common issue on Muranos? 

Bernie: Well control arm bushings do wear out, and sometimes the rear ones actually tend to wear more than the front ones, but I think with this oil leak that's what caused this one. But we do a number of control arms on these vehicles and the bushings, they do wear out. 

Mark: And how are Nissan Muranos for liability? 

Bernie: I'd put them in the fair category. They're not, you know they do tend to need more work than average I would say, maybe their work load is kind of average, but not as good as say a Toyota or Honda product of similar quality and age. They tend to need a little more work. 

Mark: So you save a little bit on your purchase but perhaps you have a little bit more maintenance to take care of. 

Bernie: A little more maintenance. There are a few things that tend to wear out on these vehicles. Overall it's a nice vehicle. A really nice driving vehicle. Just expect a little more repair than you might on a Toyota or Honda. 

Mark: So there you go, if you have a Nissan Murano and you need some service, the guys to call in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos on all makes and models of cars and issues on there for your enjoyment or eduction. As well we have our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you for listening, watching our podcast. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching. 

2011 Ford F350 6.7 Litre, Electric Fan Clutch

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, and we're here with Mr. Bernard "Auto" Pawlik, the big bopper himself of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2011 Ford 350 super-duty 6.7 litre diesel that had a problem with its electric fan. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle was  driving on a long trip up to the interior of British Columbia, which involves some pretty serious mountain drives. He had a long trailer on the back, drove fine to Hope. If you're familiar with the geography here, it's about 100 miles from Vancouver, drove fine, it's pretty flat road once you hit the mountain. Start hitting the mountains, the vehicle all of a sudden went into reduced power mode, there was warning lights on the dash and he really couldn't pull the trailer up the hills. And also, the temperature gauge was reading pretty high on the vehicle. So he came back down to Hope and made arrangements to have his trailer moved on, and came back to Vancouver where we had a look at the vehicle. 

Mark: So what did you find? Why was it going into reduced power mode? 

Bernie: Well, basically it was going to reduced power mode because the engine was overheating or running too hot. So it's a protective measure, which is a smart thing because a lot of people, as he mentioned, he goes, "I didn't even look at my temperature gauge until it started happening," and most of us don't tend to look at those kind of things although you should. You should glance at it every once in a while, but especially if you're going up a steep mountain hill and you're towing something, that's a smart thing though, is to be looking at that. And few of us who drive do, and a lot of cars have temperature gauges, but nonetheless, Ford just built that into the vehicle, so it prevents the engine from being damaged if it runs too hot. 

Mark: And we've seen that before with some other diesels, what happens, it melts pistons and stuff. So again, why was it going into reduced power mode?

 Bernie: Yeah. Okay. So it was going to reduced power mode, the engine was overheating. We did some diagnostic and testing. The coolant was full, there's no leaks in this truck, it only has 116,000 kilometres, still not the high mileage or there was some trouble code stored for the radiator fan, the electric radiator fan clutch. And we did some testing and found some broken wiring to the radiator fan. 

Mark: So an electric fan clutch, what does that actually do and how does it work? 

Bernie: So basically, the radiator, there's a gigantic fan that sucks air through the radiator, and in the olden days, the fan just be running all the time, but that draws a lot of power from the engine. So what they do is they put an electric, it's not needed all the time, they put an electric fan clutch in, so it engages and disengages the fan and that's set by the engine computer. So when it reaches a certain temperature, the solenoid engages the fan, and the fan will run and draw more air through the radiator. So essentially that fan was not working, and that's what was causing the engine to overheat. And of course, these vehicles have an extremely large cooling system, they're meant to handle a lot of heat. And especially when you're towing something up a hill, and that's when the problem showed up. The fan isn't really used all that much until you're really, it's a hot day and you're going up a steep hill and there's a heavy load. 

Mark: And what caused the fan clutch to not operate? 

Bernie: Well, I would say I chalk it up to a kind of a not a very well manufactured part. And let's just get into some pictures right now. We can have a look at the truck.

There's our F-350 2011. This is a, this is not just a super duty, this is like a super, super duty in my opinion. It's eight foot box full crew cab. It's a super long, big truck. You can haul just about anything and everything with this vehicle. Anyways, there's the truck. This is a sample of the two fan clutches. You see this okay, Mark? 

Mark: Yep. 

Bernie: Okay. So this is a brand new fan clutch assembly. You can see it's got a wiring connector, a little bolt bolt on bracket, and this is the old piece. And this is what we found was broken. I'll show a little more, another closeup. We disassembled this connector off the fan clutch, but right here, there's a plastic bracket that holds this wiring harness, and somehow the plastic had deteriorated and broken, caused this to start rubbing on the serpentine belt and broke the wires apart. So the actual fan clutch itself is great. It's really just the wiring connector, and of course the stubby piece that held it in place, it broke. So let's just look at a couple more closeup shots here. There's a little broken off nub here. Well, you can't actually see it, it's gone. And there's the new assembly, you can see this piece here with a little insulator that allows this to rotate and float freely from the fan clutch, and we have one final shot, there's our wiring connector. So you can see this. As the thing broke apart, this popped out, it was rubbing against the serpentine belt and caused the wire to stretch and break out of the fan clutch connector. 

Mark: So it kind of looks like the wiring connector is a separate part where you, can't you just replace that part? 

Bernie: Well, you certainly think they would sell that part because it is separate. But the answer is no. You have to buy as a complete assembly, and actually, come to think of it, because of the way it broke, the mounting tab on the fan clutch itself broke off. So as I was thinking about it in hindsight, why don't they just sell the wiring connector? Actually, it would only partially have helped because the actual mounting stub on the fan clutch was gone anyway. So I guess they anticipated that somehow it's going to break and be defective. 

Mark: And again, is this more of a plastic part in maybe a high temperature change environment that's not really lasting as long as it could?

Bernie: Absolutely. It's interesting, it's exactly what it is. Again, another piece of plastic that failed. 

Mark: So this truck has a 6.7 litre diesel, and that Ford's been using for a while, but I hope, I assume this is better and more reliable than some of the previous ones that we've done videos about. 

Bernie: Yeah, these are much better. There's a few issues with them, but really, comparative to the a 6.4 litre and then the 6 litre before it, far superior engine. I was just thinking about when I was doing this, writing up this podcast thinking I've been doing this engine for seven, eight years now, and there's really very little trouble with it, you know, the 6 litre, within a year they were making revisions, and changing things, and they knew right off the bat that was a bad engine and they did use it 'til about 2010 and in the vans. But really, these are great. We've serviced this since it's almost new. It's got about 116,000 kilometres. This is the first thing that's gone wrong, and it's nothing really in the engine itself. So really good. Definitely. If I was going to buy a Ford truck, this will be the engine, the diesel to buy. 

Mark: So going back to that fan clutch, is there anything like 116,000 kilometres, that's pretty early failure for this vehicle that could easily do 500,000 or more kilometres. Is there anything that an owner might do to not have this fail? 

Bernie: I really can't see what you could do because this part is sort of buried down. It's hard to get. It's reasonably hard to access, so it's not like you could even reach down and break it. There's nothing really you can do. It's just manufactured that way. And maybe this is a one off, it's a fluke, but I'd say that the answer to your question is there's really nothing you can do. It's just going to fail when it fails. 

Mark: So maybe if you have one of these and you' re towing stuff, keep one eye on the temperature gauge or it'll be obvious because it'll go into low power mode? 

Bernie: Exactly. And that's kind of the key. But it's interesting, on average city driving and on flat roads, it really isn't sometimes a lot of indication that your fan clutch isn't working. Sometimes the check engine light will come on to indicate there's a problem. And in the case of this vehicle, there wasn't. There was a stored code, but nothing to actually turn the check engine light on. But yeah, keep an eye on the temperature gauge is really the takeaway too, always have a look at that and keep an eye on it, especially if whatever age your vehicle is, especially if you're going up a steep mountain grade. Any car, truck, whether you're hauling a load or whether you're driving, because that's really where engines get cooked. 

Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Ford diesel, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of, literally hundreds of videos and articles about all makes and models on vehicles, repairs or our YouTube channel - Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos over the last five years, or of course, hopefully you're enjoying our new podcast, and thank you for listening.

Bernie: Thank you for watching. Thanks, Mark.

Cadillac Engine Mount Wear and Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive this morning and we're talking about cars. We're doing the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: We're going to talk about engine mount wear and replacement. This is actually on a "classic" old car, Cadillac. What was going on? You don't normally work on these.  What's relevant or interesting about this vehicle?

Bernie: We don't work on too many old cars, but I thought for this one it's a classic broken engine mount with a lot of damage and I thought it would be great example to show why you should obviously inspect your engine mounts and replace them because the cost and the damage can be pretty catastrophic. Especially, probably even more so on an old car because they didn't have some of the restraint features they put in some newer engine mounts, which we can talk about a little further down the road.  Certainly, as far as engine mounts, this is a great example to show why you don't want your engine mounts to actually break.

Mark: You mentioned that they've changed the technology over the years obviously, but is it still relevant, the engine mounts on this old vehicle, relatively comparison wise to newer cars?

Bernie: Great question 'cause a lot of cars, this is a classic car. It's your American car, standard rear wheel drive, so you have two engine mounts on the front, a transmission mount. A lot of cars that many of you will drive are front wheel drive or all wheel drive, they'll have a transverse mounted engine, which is an engine mounted sideways in the compartment. Some of you will have four mounts. Things are held in place differently, but the purpose of the engine mount is still the same and actually if you're driving a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf for an electric car, you still have motor mounts. You have to mount the engine down somehow. It's very relevant. Just basic on an engine mount, essentially what it is, it's two pieces of metal with some rubber sandwiched in between to isolate the vibration of the engine. Believe it or not you can actually get solid steel engine mounts, they're basically made for racing, good for drag racing 'cause it just holds the engine to the frame of the vehicle with a minimal amount of weight and the strain, you don't need that rubber isolation, but believe me, it would be the most uncomfortable feeling 'cause every little shake or vibration that takes place in the engine, which you aren't even aware of with regular engine mounts, you'd feel. The mount isolates that vibration you're feeling. They're essentially the same. We'll talk a little bit more about newer engine mount technology further down in the podcast. 

Mark: What happened with this engine mount and what damage was caused?

Bernie: Let's get right into the picture show because that's where the real juice is. Let's get things going here.

There is the radiator.  This is the thing that was damaged. What happened is the left engine mount, the one on the driver's side which sort of restrains the vehicle most of all when you're accelerating forward broke suddenly. The engine jumped up, the fan blade hit the radiator support, it bent the fan blade and hit the radiator and just ripped the radiator cord to shreds. You can see this nice round fan pattern. This all happened in one fell swoop. One minute the car was good, next minute it was just wrecked.  That is the radiator, there is the fan. You can see the fan blade's really badly, they're all bent, but this one got, must have hit the worst and took the worse damage. That is the fan. Obviously those need to be replaced. Here is your engine mount. Here's the old engine mount, broken. The reason it's blue is it was obviously the engine had been rebuilt and painted with the engine mounts in place.  This is the replacement unit. You can see this is the rubberized section in here. There's a metal piece, this part bolts to the engine. This part bolts to the frame of the vehicle and you can see it's clearly broken apart right here.  I was going to mention, on some newer engine mount technology these are pretty simple design engine mounts. Some next generation engine mounts, American cars, once you start getting up into the 80s, they put a little bracket, metal bracket that would extend from here around the mount or maybe this way around the mount. So, if the mount would actually break, it would actually restrain it from moving fully and breaking apart like this and probably preventing some of the damage that we saw. That didn't happen until you get into some of the newer, well the 80s is old now, but some of the newer vehicles.  I'm gonna share this video too. This actually shows the engine mount itself. You can see this okay Mark?

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: This actually shows the engine mount, don't be disturbed. The radiator hose is not hooked up. This is done with the radiator out. A lot of things disconnected, put just as an example to show what the mount looks like when it's broken. This is accelerating with the broken engine mount you can see what happens to the engine. That jumpiness should not be there. There should be a very slight movement, but that jump is basically the broken mount. You can just look at it one more time, just if you didn't get a chance to see that. A lot of strain there and that's why the driver's side mount restrains, this is when you're going forward. The passenger side does more when you're going in reverse on an engine like this.

Mark: All right. I've lost my.

Bernie: Lost your train of thought?

Mark: No, I lost my questions. 

Bernie: Gotcha.

Mark: What do we got next?

Bernie: We were talking about finding parts for this car, being an old Cadillac. People often wonder can you find parts for these things? The answer is yeah. It's not really too much of a problem. The radiator we were able to repair by having it recored. Radiator re-coring when I started my career was extremely common. There were a number of radiator shops around. They are not so common anymore because most of the time when we need a radiator we just buy a new one. They're often made cheaply offshore. Sometimes they're not as good as original, but nonetheless they're inexpensive and they do the job and we can replace easily. We had this radiator recored. What they do is they just unsolder the core, solder a new one in. Basically the outer tanks are left the same, they tend to last forever anyways. We had the radiator recored. The fan we replaced with a flex fan which has been a common part in the racing after market performance world for a long time. The owner of this vehicle wasn't too concerned about keeping it stock. He just liked the car. It's a nice convertible old car, but as long as it was functional he was happy with it. That was an easy item to find and the engine mounts we had to order out of the US. If you're in the US, it's easy enough to get online, but they weren't really available in any conventional auto parts stores around here.  Easy and extremely inexpensive. Parts available still. 

Mark: Okay. Can this sort of damage from this kind of failure occur on other vehicles even if they're not rear wheel drive?

Bernie: The answer is yes, but different things will happen.  For instance, if you have a transverse mounted engine, this is an engine that's mounted sideways in the engine compartment. It's still under torque and it's under strain so if the mount were to break, the engine can jump up. Things can get ripped and torn like radiator hoses get stretched and strained. Electrical wires. The engine can even hit the hood and dent it from the bottom side up. There's a lot of things that can happen that will cause damage. We don't normally see things too extreme.  What happens more with engine mounts nowadays is they tend to wear. They're a lot more high tech. There are some that are fluid filled which provides even more isolation from engine vibrations. There's even some that have electronic sensors on them and electronic actuators. I'll be honest, I don't know exactly what they do or why they would even go that far, but there are reasons for everything. Having actually replaced one because a sensor or a actuator's bad inside an engine mount, but fluid filled mounts will leak so there's a lot of things that do go wrong with them besides actual breakage. What you'll notice mostly is your car will have strange vibrations. Sometimes you'll be idling in drive and the car is just an odd vibrating feeling through the vehicle. That's usually caused by a bad engine mount.  

Mark: How else has engine mount technology changed over the years?

Bernie: Mostly, I guess the one thing I would say is they're definitely more reliable than they were in these old, this old Cadillac with the broken mount, that used to be a pretty common problem way back in the, say pre-80s era. Engine mounts they would actually physically break apart like this. Modern mounts the rubber compounds are a lot better. They do still break, but they don't usually come apart to this level. We did have an Acura a few years ago where someone actually left it so long all four engine mounts were broken and surprisingly it didn't cause any more damage than it just needed four new engine mounts.

Mark: I think we did a video about that didn't we?

Bernie: We did do a video about it because it was actually one of those really interesting things. Years ago I owned a 1970 Fargo van, which is basically a Dodge company that long ago ceased to exist, but it was a good Dodge van and I'd actually bought it from some friend's parents and all three engine mounts broke. The engine actually sat sideways in the engine compartment. Surprisingly the fan did not hit the radiator and there wasn't this level of damage. It was easy to fix. That's the kind of thing that used to happen. Again, nowadays, the still can break and it does happen, but you'll notice more of a vibration problem. Usually those are the kinds of things we usually replace engine mounts for nowadays.

Mark: Do other things happen to engine mounts besides just catastrophic failure like this?

Bernie: I think I just covered that, pretty much just, well fluid filled mounts will start to leak. They'll cause a lack of performance in the mount. Mostly vibrations. The other thing that actually comes to my mind is sometimes the mounts will break internally and they won't come apart like this one, but you'll go to accelerate and you'll feel this thumping sound in the car especially after you let your foot off the gas, there'll be a thunk. That's often a fluid filled mount that's worn out. Common in a lot of Volkswagens from a generation or two ago and a number of other vehicles too. Most of the failure's not complete breakage nowadays, it's just partial failure. Enough to cause an irritation and an uncomfortable feeling when you drive.

Mark: So if it's clunking and banging you need to go see Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, or on YouTube, just search for Pawlik Auto Repair, or of course our podcast. Thanks for listening and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you for watching. Thanks Mark.  

2013 Mercedes R350, Air Suspension Compressor

Mark: Good morning. It's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here this morning with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: Welcome back to beautiful Vancouver. You've been in Europe. How was it over there?

Bernie: It was amazing. It was hot and in the world of cars there's a lot, quite a variety, but obviously, being in Europe, lots of European cars, lots of fancy ones, too. Northern Europe, they have nicer cars than around Italy and Greece area. Been there once before so. Anyways, just in terms of cars, it's always interesting to look and see what's around and I actually got to St. Petersburg and I was looking around for a lot of old Russian trashy cars and there are actually surprisingly weren't very many of them. I saw a few old Ladas and a couple of rusty things here and there but for the most part their fleet of cars is actually in pretty good shape all around Europe, they're pretty nice cars. 

Mark: So today we're going to be talking about a 2013 Mercedes R350. Obviously a European sourced vehicle. They had an air suspension compressor. What was going on with the suspension in this vehicle? 

Bernie: So this vehicle was brought to our shop actually not for a suspension problem. Well, not an air suspension problem. We'd done a service a few months ago and we identified some control arm bushings were worn out so the owner brought the vehicle in. We replaced the control arm bushings. Did the job, every thing was great, the next morning he comes to pick the car up and car is sitting very low. Figured maybe we'd done something wrong doing the service. Looked it over and then basically what had happened is the air suspension compressor just packed it in at some point when we had the vehicle in our shop so they tend to die from time to time like that.

Mark: Okay, tell us about the suspension system in this vehicle. 

Bernie: It's air suspension so it relies of course on compressed air to keep the vehicle up. The great thing about the system is you can adjust it so you can raise the height of the raise and lower the height of the vehicle. Obviously when you're driving down the highway and you're just regular driving you want it low for stability but if you need some off road clearance, it's snowing or you go on a rougher type of road with pot holes and things, you can raise the height of the vehicle. There's also a couple of different modes for the suspension on this vehicle. You can adjust it for sport driving, you can have a more comfort drive or an automatic drive, which will kind of just take in between the two modes depending on what you want. 

Mark: So why would the compressor just die? This vehicle isn't that old.

Bernie: Well, compressors seem to be one of the items that tend to die on a lot of air suspension vehicle. Probably the most common failure component. We do a lot of them on Range Rovers. They tend to die. Interestingly enough, in having this vehicle, diagnosing it, we found, we came across a technical service bulletin from Mercedes recommending replacement of these compressors if they have a certain model year. So I'm thinking this campaign probably started when these vehicles were under warranty. Of course, this vehicle is out of the warranty period and it costs to replace but I think why the compressor died in this vehicle, you know, I think they just didn't make it good enough for the vehicle and there's a revised and upgraded version. 

Mark: Do you have some pictures? 

Bernie: I do. Let's have a look.

R350 Station Wagon style vehicle. All wheel drive. This is a gasoline powered vehicle. They do come in diesel as well but this the gas model not that it looks any different from the outside and then we can get to the compressor. So there's the compressor, the old failed unit. Not a lot to see, I mean, there's a motor in this unit and then there's also a storage tank and from the storage tank it distributes the air to a valve unit and that'll allow the vehicle to go up and down. So besides being a compressor, this also has some valving in it that will allow the vehicle to raise and lower depending on what the computers command. Not much to see with this thing. It's basically just the outside of the unit. So that's our pictures. 

Mark: So this is more complex than conventional suspension. Is that the main common failure part, the compressor? 

Bernie: We seem to do more compressors, like I mentioned earlier, than any other components but certainly the other major components that will fail on an inner suspension system are the actual shocks and struts themselves, or the air springs. And given time, probably ten years plus on any vehicle, your air springs or struts are gonna wear out and start leaking and it really depends on the mileage, the usage, where the cars been. I mean, sometimes you might get twenty years out of them but at some point you will need replace them and that's the other major expense item on the vehicle. Of course, the old lines and pipes and hoses and valves and a computer so potentially everything can go wrong but a lot of vehicles, things don't. There are some cars that the struts will wear out, and the compressor will never wear out. Other vehicles, the struts last almost forever and the compressors wear out but you can always be prepared with this kind of thing that anything and everything can and will go wrong.

Mark: So can air suspension be eliminated if the owner doesn't really wanna incur the high repair costs? 

Bernie: Yes they can on most cars. Most vehicles are made with air suspension as an option. I can't think, I'm not certain on this vehicle whether it's an option or not. It probably is. I know certainly for a lot of Range Rovers and Land Rovers there are kits available where you can just eliminate the air suspension. A lot of other vehicles, American like Lincolns, there's kits available. I used to own a Subaru that had air suspension. It was fantastic but of course when you get an old Subaru it's not worth a lot of money. A lot of customers we had would eliminate it with a kit where you just put in the conventional suspension. 

Mark: I had a Lincoln that the compressor failed too. 

Bernie: Yeah. You know, it's expensive to fix but I love air suspension for a couple of reasons. First, no matter what kind of load you put in the vehicle, you put five people and 400 pounds of suitcases in the back and the car doesn't sit like this. It just sits nice and level. Most air suspension systems offer ride height adjustments, which is again an advantage. You get a nice smooth low riding vehicle and then you can raise it up for off road or snowy conditions. So that again is an advantage but it comes at a price and often when a car gets old you don't necessarily spend five or ten thousand dollars on compressors and struts and things like that so there are options available. 

Mark: So back to the R350, it's a pretty unique vehicle, how is it for reliability? 

Bernie: I'd say it's fair. I mean, I'd say it's a unique shaped vehicle for Mercedes. It's kind of like, to me, it's more like a conventional large Station Wagon as opposed to an SUV or a Sedan but a lot of the components in this vehicle are shared among different models. The engines are shared between different models. You've got the BlueTec Diesel, which we've spoken a lot about. If you want an engine that's really reliable, I'd probably recommend that for long-term but it's good on fuel. Yeah, overall it's a pretty good vehicle. I mean, same as any other Mercedes. They're more complicated so things go wrong like this air suspension compressor but it's a nice vehicle and you just expect to pay a little more to repair it than a Japanese car.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to call ahead to book 'cause they're busy, even with Bernie having been on holidays, they were still busy the whole time. Or you can check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com or hopefully you're enjoying us on YouTube or our new podcast. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching. 

2007 Kia Rio Clutch Replacement

Mark: Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, and we're talking cars. How are you this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: A 2007 Kia Rio that was having a increasingly rare thing, a clutch problem. What was going on with this Kia?

Bernie: Well, the owner brought the vehicle to our shop with a clutch making a lot of noise and not functioning very well, so we proceeded to do some work on it.

Mark: And what did you find?

Bernie: Well, this is interesting, what we found. Just a little background. The way our shop's laid out, we often don't have parking out in front of the shop, so the owner of the vehicle drove the car to our shop. We parked it out back in our parking area out back and left it there for a day or so before we could work on it. Went into the vehicle to start it up and move it around into the shop, and pressed the clutch pedal. It made a big loud banging noise, and the engine wouldn't even turn over. It just made a click. So we went, "Huh, that's interesting."

Anyways, we had to actually have the vehicle towed around, because it's out on a road. Had it towed into the shop, and pulled it apart. Figured something catastrophic obviously happened to the clutch, something broke. What we found is the actual clutch release ... the clutch was so badly worn it basically jammed up and wouldn't allow the engine to turn over.

Mark: Wouldn't the clutch have been making some kind of loud noises or in some other indication that there was a problem before it sort of had this catastrophic failure?

Bernie: Absolutely. It would have been making noise for quite some time, I would think, prior to it wearing so badly. Some people's tolerance for noises and issues seem to be larger, if that's the right word, than others. Some people wait a little longer and don't quite take up the signs. Some people, it's like the first little minute noise, it's like, "I gotta get it fixed." Other people, it's like they wait till things break. As I say, the owner of this vehicle actually was able to drive it to the shop, so they waited to just about the very last minute. And I've had this happen a few times on cars, where something's making a noise. Just drive it into the shop, and all of a sudden the part actually falls apart. So sometimes people's timing is pretty impeccable.

Mark: As a result of the clutch being this worn, were there other further repairs required?

Bernie: Yeah. Well, let's go and look at some pictures, because this is interesting. I always love showing pictures of these kind of things.

Here's our '07 Kia Rio, nice little economy car. This is after the clutch was fixed, not that it looks any different on the outside. Let's have a look at some pictures of the clutch. This is what we found when we took the transmission out. 

This is the clutch release fork, and this fork is supposed to sit behind this part here, that's the clutch release bearing. There's the face of the clutch release bearing that actually rubs on the pressure plate. 

If you look down here, you can actually see a few little ball bearings. You can see some chunks of metal here. This bearing is basically completely broken apart. This fork has jumped out of place, and what happened is, at that moment where we pushed the clutch pedal down, basically the fork just broke off and ran right into the clutch pressure plate, which is turned by engine, and jammed everything up.

Here's a view of the pressure plate. That horribly scored surface there should not look like that at all. When everything's in good order, it should just look more like this area here. This has been scored extremely badly from the bearing basically being seized. We're talking about would it have been making noise? Yes, a horrific noise for probably quite a long time. What else have we got here? There's the fork after we kind of fiddled with it a bit. It's basically just, again, broken apart a little more. Again, all these ball bearings, they're supposed to sit inside a cage inside this surface here, so you can see it's all come apart pretty badly.

Other damage, this is the shaft. This is called the collar. It's on the transmission. This is where the clutch release bearing slides. You can see some pretty deep gouges here. This is pretty severe damage. Fortunately, we were able to repair it, but had we not been able to, and sometimes it happens, we would have had to replace the transmission. A lot of older American vehicles, this collar was a bolted-on piece, so you'd sort of bolt on here and you could replace it. But on most newer type of transmission transaxles, this collar's all part of the transmission housing, so if it's damaged you replace the whole transmission.

Mark: Manual transmissions are becoming a bit of a dying breed of way of shifting an engine's transmission.

Bernie: Sorry?

Mark: They're sort of, they're disappearing. They're not made very often anymore.

Bernie: No, they're not. They're certainly a lot less common.

Mark: This is a front wheel drive car?

Bernie: It's a front wheel drive, yeah.

Mark: So is that fairly tricky to pull out of the car?

Bernie: This one's a bit of work. You have to remove the subframe in this vehicle, so it's a little more involved than a lot of other transmission jobs. Some are easier than others. I mean, the easiest transmissions are your older American vehicles. Trucks, often they're very easy to remove the transmission. But as time as gone by, we do so many of them, they just become commonplace, and you don't ... It's more labor-intensive than, say, a traditional rear wheel drive vehicle.

Mark: With all the noise and indication, was there anything that the car owner could do to prevent this type of clutch wear and tear?

Bernie: No. I mean, the thing about the clutch release bearing is, it's just going to wear out when it wears out. It's a lubricated and sealed part, and at some point it will wear out. The thing with clutches is you never know which piece is going to go first. The most common wear item is the clutch disk, which is the friction disk, and you'll notice that's worn out, because when you go up a hill, all of a sudden the vehicle will slip. The engine will rev, but the vehicle won't move. That's sort of the most common problem. The bearing, as I say, it's a sealed bearing, so it'll wear out whenever it chooses to. You've just got to keep your ears open for noise, and when it starts making noise ... and you hear the noise as soon as you put your foot on the clutch, there'll be a grinding noise or just a louder noise than usual. If you hear any noise when you push the clutch pedal, there's something wrong, probably the release bearing is on its way out.

In the case of this vehicle, the extra repairs we needed to do was on that collar, and also the release fork got badly damaged. Sometimes forks need to be replaced anyhow, and it's not a very expensive part, but that was an extra piece that would not have needed to be replaced had this bearing not worn out so badly.

Mark: Now, I'm going to make a big leap here and just say that, do you think they were drag racing this car, because isn't this sort of a drag racing kind of issue that you could see?

Bernie: No, this is just a wear and tear issue. If you were racing the car a lot, yeah, you'd wear these parts out faster, but probably the disk would go more frequently. Really, I mean the reason everything's damaged is because it was left too long making noise. I know a month or two ago, we did a podcast on a Honda Element with a really badly worn release bearing. If you look back at that podcast, that bearing was one stage before this one. It was like, had the owner driven for another few days to a week, that would have busted apart just like this one. Listen for noises. When you hear them, get it fixed as soon as possible.

Mark: Kia Rios are a pretty basic economy car. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, they're good. Yeah, it's a decent, reliable car, for sure. There's nothing really that leaps out at me that's problematic or a common failure item on them. They're a pretty good car overall. You know, sometimes I think economy car, it's going to have cheaper parts, so it's not going to last as long, as opposed to a more expensive car, but really I think what you pay for often ... I mean, you do get better quality in some ways when you buy a more expensive car, but a lot of times it's more of the features and the ride that you get in the car, not necessarily the reliability. The economy car just doesn't ride as smoothly, and the doors are tinnier, and that kind of thing, but to get from A to B, still works the same way.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Kia in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube, hundreds of videos. Search for Pawlik Auto Repair. Repairs of all makes and models of cars over the last five years. Or, hope you're enjoying the podcasts, and thank you very much for listening. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement

Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast, and we're talking cars with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. How you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2008 Ford Explorer, the kind of infamous Ford Explorer. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop with an exhaust noise coming from the right hand cylinder bank and the exhaust manifold, gasket was basically blown on the right hand side.

Mark: Is this a common issue with this SUV?

Bernie: Extremely common with this SUV and also extremely common with F150's, we replace a lot of manifolds and gaskets. They leak and cause noise all the time.

Mark: Is this a particular engine that's doing this?

Bernie: Well, this is a 4.6 litre V8, which is basically similar to the 5.4, 4.6 similar, they're all kind of the same family of engine. And for some reason the manifolds warp, they leak, the studs break, there's a variety of things. And you can pretty much count on having to do them on pretty much any model. 

Mark: What is involved with doing this job?

Bernie: Well for this particular job it was just the right side that was leaking, we'd actually done the left a year or so ago for this customer. So what's involved is removing the exhaust manifold, generally replacing all the studs, there's studs coming out of the cylinder head so there's eight in total. We replaced the studs, nuts, gaskets, manifold. It's wedged in there, it's a very tight fit to get them out, it's a lot of work, but that's sort of what's involved. 

Mark: So if this is such a common issue wouldn't Ford make an engineering change to fix it?

Bernie: I don't know what they've done on the newer ones, we never know what things are like until a few years elapse. Things like recalls they wouldn't put anything like that out unless it's a safety issue, or any sort of extended warranty, they'll only do that when they think they have to save face for an issue. Like on Nissan they had a lot of problems with the transmissions, the CVT transmission they had a lot of issues with those. So, they extended the warranty for a number of years on those kind of things, sometimes they'll do that. For exhaust manifolds it's really not that high ticket of an item enough to get people to not buy Fords anymore. As far as re engineering hopefully they have done something because there's many years where this issue occurred. Any of these '08, 2010's a little older a little newer they all seem to have leakage problems. So, hopefully they've redesigned it.

Mark: And what's the reason for these manifolds and gaskets to leak so often?

Bernie: Well, I see a couple of things. The issue in and of itself is that there's a lot of heat and temperature differentials, it's aluminum cylinder head, cast iron exhaust manifold. Sometimes the studs will break and that's an issue that's been happening a lot, it's happened on a lot of different variety of vehicles with this particular type of design and it's very common. There's no reason why because it's an aluminum head and a cast iron manifold that it should have a problem, but there's a lot of the way it heats and cools. Often the studs will break, that's usually the first thing that happens. The studs nap and then of course the manifolds not held down tight, it eventually starts to leak and warp the manifold. 

Also sometimes the replacement kits that you buy, the aftermarket ones they don't have the best quality gaskets in them. I believe the owner had said this one had been done a few years ago, and it had the cheaper quality gaskets in it, which we never use. So that's another reason they can go even after they've been replaced. 

So I'll show you a couple of pictures here. I'll start here with the manifold. We'll talk a little bit about the gaskets in a minute. So here's the new replacement manifold. You can see this is the part that bolts the cylinder head, this bolts the exhaust pipe over here. So there's eight studs that stick out of the engine, and they go in this particular area, and there's one gasket here, one gasket in this area here. 

So for our next picture we've got the ... This is the old manifold we took off. So we measured it with a straight edge bar, so the straight edge bar and that's this black thing here, it's basically just a bar of metal but it's extremely precise. There's absolutely no deviation in this metal surface it's completely flat. So we use this to measure things like cylinder head warpage, exhaust manifolds. And you can see that at this point it's touching and on this area here there's a humongous gap. So what's happened is this manifold is warped quite badly, and it could be resurfaced but it would take an awful lot of material and metal, and for the cost of the manifold it's just better to replace it. I'm not showing the rest of the manifold as we saw in this previous photo here. This straight edge bar's being placed cross one of these services here. 

Gaskets, we mentioned gaskets. So this is a good quality gasket. I'm just losing my thinking this morning. It's basically two pieces of metal composite together. The cheaper quality gaskets they're like a metal clad fibre material and unfortunately I don't have sample to show in this picture, but this is the right gasket to have for this job. This is like the OEM Ford style gasket. And as an example of what you see here, this is sort of a side vie of the gasket. You can see there's two ... It's a multi-layer steel, that's what it is. So there's two layers of steel here so they can actually change with temperature and it does a much better sealing job than the other designs of gaskets. So, there's a bit of a gap here but once it's all bolted together it squishes. But again, this is the best type of gasket to have. 

Mark: Alright. Is that generally what ends up happening when you have these leaky manifolds, you replace the exhaust manifold?

Bernie: Most of the time. It depends from vehicle to vehicle. This is such a common issue that the manifolds are readily available. There's a number of good quality after market manifolds available and the price is not that high. Some of these from Ford are actually pretty expensive. And as I said, you can take them to a machine shop and they can flatten it out, like they can resurface it so it's completely flat. Again, it's sort of a cost type of thing. When we're doing the work it takes a day to send it off to a machine shop, a day or longer so the vehicle's kind of tied up. To do the job in a time efficient manner it's often better to replace it then the cost is not a lot more than getting a new manifold. Also of course every time you resurface it you're removing some material, and the less material you have the easier it is to warp in the future. So better to replace it really for the most part, provided the price is not too outrageous for the replacement part. 

Mark: And overall, how are Ford Explorers for liability? 

Bernie: Well, we talked about Jeep Liberty on a recent podcast. To me they're kind of in that vain of American vehicle reliability. There's a number of things that happen with these. You've got these manifold issues that probably shouldn't happen. I mean a lot of other vehicles similar type and design you never get leaky manifolds. They're pretty reasonably priced and they're a good vehicle overall, but there are a lot of little things that go wrong and can cost a bit of money here and there. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Ford Explorer, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they have a lot of experience with your vehicle. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube search for Pawlik Auto Repair, or hopefully you're enjoying our podcast and again thank you very much for listening. Thanks Bernie.

2004 Jeep Liberty Engine Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark with Top Local. We're here with Mr Bernie Pawlik doing the Pawlik Automotive podcast this morning. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark. 

Mark: So we're gonna talk about a Jeep Liberty this week, and you had to do an engine replacement. What was going on with this Jeep?

Bernie:The vehicle came to our shop.Towed in. Suddenly started running really rough and the owner had thought there was something wrong with the timing chain, so that's the process we took with the vehicle, looking at it.

Mark: And what tests did you do

Bernie: Well first of all, we went to see if we could start the engine, and of course scanned the vehicle for stored trouble codes, and we were able to start the engine. It ran really rough, but it did actually run and with the owners concern about the timing chain being a problem, we of course listened to see if there was a timing chain issue, and we couldn't hear any rattling or any noise of any sort. The engine was actually quite quiet other than it ran rough and there was a stored trouble code P0340 for camshaft position sensor circuit problems so we looked at things in that area.

Mark: And what did you find?

Bernie: Well we found, eventually, what we found was that the timing chain had broken but in the interim, it was an interesting diagnosis because the camshaft position sensor is located on the right cylinder bank and there isn't one on the left. A lot of newer engines would have two of them but this older engine just has one. And with that cam sensor code, it looked like it might be an electrical issue at first but we did verify it electrically as working. Eventually, we pulled the camshaft position sensor out, looked at it and we could see the camshaft itself was not rotating. So interesting that it would set that particular code with that description when it's not in fact a circuit problem at all, it's just that the sensor wasn't picking up a signal.

Mark: And why would the cam gear or the cam shaft not rotate?

Bernie: Well that's what we wondered and because I figured that this engine's actually running, it would be surprising that the cam would in fact not be turning. So we removed the valve cover and found that actually the timing chain itself was broken. Which explained a couple of things, the owner had said " I think it's the timing chain," and we ran it for a while, tried to verify it and couldn't hear a timing chain rattle because usually if there's a timing chain problem, there's always a noise, but finding a broken chain was a really unusual, an unusual find. 

Mark: So that's not something that you see very often, broken timing chain?

Bernie: No, as a matter of fact, I can't even think of the last time I ever saw one. I mean timing belts will break because they're rubber and they crack eventually and break, but a chain, it's a piece of metal, it's very, very, tough and very robust. A lot of time the guides will break, the chain will jump teeth, but to actually have a chain break, I can't even think of the last time I saw one. 

Mark: And so was there any other problems that were going on?

Bernie: Yeah, so, let's get into looking at a couple of photos here, here's our engine. This is the right cylinder bank with the valve cover off and you can actually see the timing chain. I've actually taken the timing chain piece out, this doesn't normally sit over here, it would be actually inside the engine. There's one piece of it, but this is why it was ... the rest of the chain is broken and stuck inside, but you can also see, there's supposed to be a rocker arm sitting here. It was actually lying loose, I just placed it here, but this rocker arm had popped off. So what we found had happened was the ... I'll just get the other photo here, the intake valve seat on cylinder number one had actually dropped out of position and this is a problem that happens on these engines. The valve seats will actually come loose and it jams the valve. It'll jam the valve in the open position, the piston comes up, smashes the valve and I think in this case, what happened is that this all happened probably in one foul swoop and broke the timing chain. So these arrows here, the red arrow ... Unfortunately this isn't the greatest picture; it's a smartphone picture, looking down at an intake port which is the valve's a couple of inches away from where the camera was taking the picture, but it's the best I could do with this camera. This is the intake value here, this piece where the red arrow is pointing. The yellow points to the valve seat, and the blue points to where the valve seat is supposed to sit. So you can see this thing here, this dark area here, is actually supposed to be up higher. So that kinda shows in a nutshell what happened with this engine. 

Mark: And which engine is this?

Bernie: Yeah, glad you asked, it’s a 3.7 litre V6. It's an overhead cam engine, gasoline. We do work on a lot of these with diesels for some odd reason, but yeah this is a gasoline motor.

Mark: And so the valve seat's dropped out, so that sounds like a pretty serious concern.

Bernie: It is and it does happen on these vehicles from time to time, it's actually one of the flaws of this engine and also the 4.7 litre V8 which is basically the same engine only with two extra cylinders. So this is a common problem with that line of engine. 

Mark: So that's pretty catastrophic and compounded kind of things. How did you repair this vehicle?

Bernie: So we ended up getting a good used engine for this vehicle. That was the cheapest way to go. Doing a full rebuild would be very expensive and far beyond the value of the vehicle. So we got a good used engine, and ran great after we put it in. 

Mark: And I guess was the piston compromised and the cylinder and all that? Is that why that it was gonna be more expensive?

Bernie: Well in order to repair it you'd have to do the timing chains, I mean at the very least, the timing chains, get the valve seats replaced, and you'd wanna do it on both cylinder banks because if one's dropped out, there's gonna be another one coming pretty soon. So in order to do all that work, it would far exceed the cost of even replacing with a used engine and at that point ... we never took the cylinder head off and looked at what damage happened to the piston. To break a timing chain, who knows what else has actually gone on inside the engine, so it would be pretty expensive to fix.

Mark: So normally, how reliable are Jeep Liberty's in this kind of timeframe?

Bernie: Well, obviously with this podcast, you've seen some of the worst stuff that can happen, the drop valve seats, and we've actually seen this happen on other Liberty's and not had this kind of catastrophic failure, so it doesn't always result in this particular problem. But timing chains do wear on these things. Valve seat drop out, that's probably the biggest issue. They're not the most reliable vehicles, there's a lot of little things that happen to them; it's not a Toyota. Toyota always seems to be the benchmark I go back to, but they are pretty decent vehicle for off-road but they have this little nit-picky things that happen. The engines are not the most fabulous. There's diesels, we talk a lot about those on our podcast, and they have their issues too. Personally, I'd go for the gas motor, just definitely more reliable than the diesel in spite of these problems. 

Mark: So there you go, if you have an older Jeep Liberty or a newer one, or any kind of Jeep, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112.  Get your vehicles maintained regularly and they will last longer. You have to call to book ahead because they're busy or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com We're on youtube, search for Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there showing repairs of all kinds of makes and models of vehicles. Hopefully you're enjoying our podcast. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching. 

2007 Mercedes CSL550 Control Arm Bushing and Ball Joint Replacement

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik and we're talking cars. How're you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today, we're talking about a 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550. Pretty nice car. There was a front end problem. What was going on with this Mercedes?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. Very nice car. What was happening, is the owner was complaining there was some clunking sounds when he hit bumps in the car, so that was what we were looking at and that's what we did an inspection on the front end and found a few interesting things.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: We found that the control arm bushings, so, there's two lower control arms on this vehicle and all the bushings had excessive play. We also found that one of the ball joints was extremely, badly worn, as well on the right, lower ball joint was extremely, badly worn also.

Mark: With all that kind of play, what needed to be replaced to fix the issue.

Bernie: There's different options, and it depends on the car. Sometimes you can buy just the control arm bushing, sometimes you have to buy the whole arm. In the case of this vehicle, we replaced complete arms, because that's what was available. Some of the arms, they call it an upper and lower control arm, only because of the way the ball joint mounts. But the upper control arms come with ball joints, but the lower ones do not. The ball joint is actually pressed into the steering knuckle. I might be saying this backwards, lower, upper. But, anyways, either way, one of the control arms comes with a ball joint, one does not. So, on the right hand side, the ball joint is pressed into the steering knuckle and then that one, we just replaced the ball joint only on that side. So, why don't I just go into sharing some pictures here, so you get an idea what's going on with this car. We'll start with a video, and you can see this worn area. Are you seeing this, Mark?

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Bernie: Okay. This is the worn ball joint. It spins very easily and then there's a lot of up and down movement in that ball joint that shouldn't be there. With someone with their hand, they should never be able to move that at all. It's normally very tight. So, the ball joint on the left-hand side was tight. It's brand new, but this one was completely worn. Now, there's our car, first of all. Beautiful, sleek looking ... got to love technology. I've got to roll with it sometimes.

Anyways, to make a long story short, that ball joint that you saw, that play, we cut the dust boot open. It was full of rusty crap and normally that's full of grease inside that boot. It keeps the grease in. So, somehow, moisture had seeped in, worn the joint out and caused all that excessive play.

Mark: Since you were replacing one, wouldn't it make sense to just replace the other ball joint at the same time?

Bernie: There are some parts when you do something on the right side of the car, you want to do the same on the left. It's like brakes, for instance. If you do a brake calliper on the right, you want to do the left as well, especially on the front, because it'll affect your braking. Something like a ball joint, it's a precisely made part, you know, machine to a exact tolerances, they're all the same. And there's really no ... if the ball joint on the left side is good, there's no reason to change it because likely, it's not going to be wearing, it could still last for 10 more years before it wears out. This one, unfortunately, got some water incursion, which wore the ball joint up prematurely.

Mark: How are these parts for longevity? Do they wear out frequently?

Bernie: They do. I think they do faster than they should. I mean, there's some cars where control arm bushings never wear out and others where they wear out kind of frequently. A lot of European cars have control arm bushing issues. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. There's a lot expected of them in terms of movement and plus, they make them in such a way, you get a nice, smooth, controlled ride, so it's a precise component and they do tend to wear out. Probably a little more on these cars than on some others.

Mark: Bushing, in this regard, is basically a rubber end piece that's built to be super stiff, but has some flexibility, so it's more flexible than if you just bolted the control arm to the frame.

Bernie: That is exactly what it is. I mean, if you actually just bolted the control arm to the frame solidly, there would be no movement. A bushing allows flexibility, but in a controlled manner. And I guess, the only other option you would have besides a rubber bushing would be an actual bearing that would move, but that would be a very hard metal to metal type of movement and so it would actually probably give an uncomfortable ride in the car. It would allow the movement and probably be very durable if you kept it lubricated, but it wouldn't allow for a very smooth ride. These bushings are very thick. A lot of them, you know, the rubber can be an inch thick surrounding a metal core, like ... if I'm explaining it right, I mean, the bushing can be three inches in diameter and then the centre core can be an inch, so there's a lot of rubber in between and there's a lot of movement there over time, but when it's new, it's pretty tight. If that explains it, I think?

Mark: Sure. And how are these CLS-Class Mercedes for reliability? Do you work on quite a few of these?

Bernie: We do. Yeah, they're pretty good cars. I mean, this particular one, we've serviced for quite a while. It's had its share of issues, you know, some fluid leaks and alternator and things like that that are worn out, but possibly it's not a very high-mileage car. My expectation would be it probably should have lasted longer, but that's what it is. They're not as reliable as Japanese cars as I often say, but it's a beautiful ride and I'd say worth the price of admission.

Mark: And a bit more of a high-performance vehicle really, for that size of car and sedan, really.

Bernie: It really is and actually this car drives. It's got a lot of power, surprisingly, you think, oh, you'd want the AMG if you wanted to go all out, yes that's true, but actually, this 550 is, it's very adequate in terms of power and performance. It's a pretty awesome car, not disappointing in any way. And yeah, nice step up from a, like a S-Class, which is more of a ... I want to say like a nice, conservative, luxury sedan. This has got some sportiness to it.

Mark: At the risk of insulting Mercedes-Benz fans in the world, S-Class is almost like an upgraded, slight upgrade, from a Jetta.

Bernie: Yeah, it is. Yeah, slight upgrade, yeah. I'd call it a large one, but, you know. We can talk about S-Classes later. I mean, great cars too, just different.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service and maintenance or any kind of repairs on your Mercedes-Benz in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, to book your appointment. You have to call ahead and book. They're busy. Check out their website, pawlikautomative.com. Check out their YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair and I hope you're enjoying the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2013 Acura TL A-Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik and we're talking automobiles. How're you doing, Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well today.

Mark: So, we're going to talk about a 2013 Acura TL that came in for service. What is an A-service on a 2013 Acura?

Bernie: An A-service is the most basic service you'll do on this vehicle, and it basically includes an oil change plus a basic maintenance inspection. 

Mark: So what is a basic maintenance inspection? I know it sounds real simple, but I've seen the list, you guys do quite a bit of inspecting.

Bernie: We do, yeah. So for the basic inspection, we'll look at all the fluids in the vehicle, check the levels and the quality of the fluids. We will adjust the tire pressures. We also do all our services on a hoist, a four-post hoist, so the wheels are sprung free off the ground, so we can generally wiggle all the wheels, give them a spin, make sure there's nothing like a brake calliper that might be sticking or an obviously loose suspension component, like a ball joint. Which is an advantage of having a vehicle serviced on a four-post hoist as opposed to a ... sorry, not a four-post hoist, a two-post hoist, where the vehicle's hanging free, as opposed to being on a ramp or in a pit, where the wheels are not lifted off the ground. We also look at lights, and just do a visual inspection under the hood and underneath the car, see if there's any fluid leaks, look at the belt, hoses. Again, a basic visual inspection.

Mark: So when you're mentioning, like you look at these things, you actually turn them on and off and make sure that things are working the way they're supposed to be looking, is that right?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, things like lights, for instance, we'll look through all those. Many modern cars have dash warnings if the light is out, like you can be pretty certain on a Mercedes, not 100% but pretty certain, that if there's no warning light on the dash, every bulb in the car is working. But a lot of other vehicles aren't that way. Acura's not quite that accurate, so it's good to look over the lights anyways, and we do it on all the cars we service. Things like, as I said, we spin the wheels, we wiggle the wheels, make sure there's nothing obviously loose, and then visually just look around at things. Get a flashlight, look at the belts, look underneath the car. If there's oil leaks and things, we can advise as to what needs to be done going forward.

Mark: And we've talked a lot about the importance of oil changes, because of people not changing their oil in most cases, so what type of oil do you end up using on an Acura, 2013 Acura?

Bernie: This vehicle requires synthetic oil, and a lot of newer vehicles are that way, so synthetic oils offer better lubricating qualities than conventional oils, and they also allow you to have a longer oil service interval. So you can go longer between oil changes, which, while it costs more money to actually use synthetic oil, it saves you time, because you don't have to come get your oil changed as frequently. So it's actually better, with our resources, to ... You don't have to change the oil more often, manufacture more oil, recycle the oil, it's actually better in the long run to have an extended oil change interval.

Mark: And what would be the next types of service that would be needed on this vehicle?

Bernie: I'll just talk about the service, the dash service reminder system that they use on Acura and Honda products. They've been using it for quite a few years. A warning will come on on the dash saying, "A Service" or sometimes it'll have like A one, two, there's basically six numbers and two letters. A or B. So B service is a more thorough inspection. This is, when we do a B service, we remove the wheels, we do a wheel-off brake inspection, we really look at suspension in much more detail, we test the battery and charging system, and cooling system. We can talk more about, but that's basically, it's a much more thorough inspection than the basic inspection. Also a B service has an oil change as well. But all these other numbers indicate other items. It might be an air filter on one, cabin filter on another, brake fluid on another, timing belt, spark plugs, they've actually got it all mapped out and it's actually pretty good. I find some of these reminders are ... BMW, for instance, I find their oil change interval's ridiculously long at 24,000 Ks, but Honda, when their light comes on saying to change the oil, it's a good time to do it. It's a little dirty, but not too dirty. I actually like the way their reminders are set up, it's really good. We'll just get into a couple pictures right now.

So there's our 2013 Acura TL, beautiful-looking, nice sleek-looking sedan. The engine, again, nice looking engine, this is with some of the covers removed so you can actually see it, because when you normally pop the hood it's mostly hidden away. This engine does have a timing belt, it's located over on this side of the engine, but what you're looking at here, this is the upper intake manifold, throttle body in this area of the vehicle. You've got your ignition coils over in this area on the front cylinder bank, with the spark plugs located below, oil filler cap. The rear cylinder bank, much more difficult to access, it's kind of hidden away under these covers. And one final item, the air filter, which we always inspect every service. You can see this one's pretty dirty, and there was actually a reminder as part of this maintenance reminder system, where it'll actually have an indicator to change the air filter, but we always do a visual inspection on it, wherever it's easy to do, and it's easy on this car. This filter's dirty, it's time to change it. It's not expensive, and no extra labor charge at this time. So it's a good thing to have a clean air filter. On that note, back to me.

Mark: So you mention this engine does have a timing belt. 

Bernie: It does. Yeah. Not too many engines, more and more engines are going away from timing belts, but this one still has one. Not really a bad thing, it's just, a timing belt is something that just has to be done at a scheduled service time, and these are usually about 144 Ks, seven years I believe for most of these, and you don't have to really worry about it because your dash indicator will come on, if it says a number 4 with the service, that means your timing belt is due. Also spark plugs at the same time. So that's going to be your priciest service to do on this vehicle, but not needed to be done very often. 

Mark: And you've mentioned how good the Japanese products basically are, is this the same? Is Acura in that same category of a well-built, long-lasting vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, they are. It's not like over the years they haven't had their problems, the earlier TL’s had a lot of transmission problems, that was a common issue. But generally speaking, they're excellent cars. Really reliable and you'll get a lot of life out of them if you want to do that. You can go a long ways and not spend a ton of money on them, they're really good. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Acura in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Call ahead to book, because they're busy, or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, we've got five plus years of many hundreds of videos on there. Or, hopefully you're enjoying the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thank you for watching. 

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