Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2011 BMW X3, Battery Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So we're going to talk about a BMW X3 that was having a battery problem. What was going on with this Beamer?

Bernie: So this vehicle came in for a regular maintenance service and battery. The battery was tested during the service and found that it was weak and needed to be replaced.

Mark: So were there any other indications beyond the readings on the testing that you guys did?

Bernie: Yeah. So how we found that the battery was weak. We have a tester, that we put on and it indicated the battery was near the end of its lifespan. The other thing that was noticeable is when you crank the engine over, it just felt a bit sluggish. It cranked over okay but it just had this laboured feel to it which you'd kind of get when a battery's weak and old, you know, the car still starts, but it had that feel. So that's the other indication we had that, Hmm, maybe this battery is not good. And the tester verified that.

Mark: So why are we talking about a battery replacement? This is pretty straight forward. Is there something different about replacing a battery on a BMW?

Bernie: Well, there is actually, there's a reprogramming process that's required that you have to do through a scan tool in the vehicle computer, believe it or not. It's never simple these days, but there's a number of different options of batteries you can put in the vehicle. And so yeah, that's kind of why we're talking about this because there's an added complication. And BMW is not unique to an X3. A lot of BMWs for, this is a 2011, you know, for at least five years previous to this, maybe longer, you know, this has been our required procedure.Failing to do so, the battery may not charge. So you put a battery in and a week later it's all of a sudden dead.

Mark: So you have to go in for service where you, they know what they're doing. You just can't do it yourself.

Bernie: Exactly. Now you might get lucky and put it in yourself and it might work, but you have to put exactly the same battery in and hope it was all programmed properly beforehand.

Mark: So is that part of why they made it this complicated?

Bernie: What, so you go back to the dealer for service? Well, that would be the conspiracy theory of it, but honestly, I mean the reason why is that they can control the, you know the electrical system can control the, make proper use of the alternators power.
It's more efficient if they know what kind of batteries in the vehicle. So, yeah, it's more complicated, but it's not really there, just so you have to go back to the dealer. Although that's probably like a nice little bonus. And of course you don't have to go to the dealer. I mean, we do it in any other good independent repair shop as has the tools and capabilities to do it.
But it makes for a more efficient charging system. I mean, these vehicles have very high electrical demands. You know, heated seats, heated steering wheels, electric power steering, you know, there's a number of things. If you get into a slightly newer model year, the start stop technology is part of it. So when you come up to a red light, the engine shuts off. And then as soon as you like your foot off the brake, the engine starts again for, you know, obviously reduced emissions and better fuel economy. So that again, requires a very good battery and a precise charging system.

Mark: So you mentioned there was different kinds of batteries. What, what. This is new to me. What, what, what batteries are different?

Bernie: Yeah, there are, yeah. So I mean, the traditional battery you know, in a vehicle is a lead acid battery. It's known as a flooded battery. And there've been you know, other technologies available, but this, this vehicle uses an AGM battery. It's called absorbed glass mat.
It has acid and lead plates like a traditional battery. But the way it's designed is different and it's much more efficient, lasts longer. Charges. quicker, has more power. So let's just get into a couple of pictures. I'll show you some stuff here. And then we can talk more about the AGM batteries.

Ok, so this is our scan tool screen that gives you the options for the battery capacity. When you replace the battery in the vehicle, you need to go into this particular, this is an auto logic, but you know, there are a variety of different scan tools that will do this particular job. So you can see different options here, 70AH, that means amp hours. So you can see these different options. Then you have the AGM options from 70 up to 105, the stock batteries a 90 amp hour AGM. And, so depending on which battery you put in the vehicle, you can put a non glass mat battery in but it, it's definitely, the vehicle comes with an AGM battery, so it's always better to use that. The other advantage of an AGM battery is, is it doesn't gas like a regular battery, like a regular lead acid battery, has gas that comes out of the battery as it charges. And because this battery is actually mounted in the trunk of the vehicle, you really don't want gas coming out.

So it does have a vent too, but the gassing is extremely minimal on an AGM battery. So it's pretty critical to use one of those on any vehicle. It has a battery inside the vehicle, but not all vehicles require that, but it's best to have it. So this is, this is the again, the screen again, we use the 90AH amp hour AGM battery in the vehicle. So that's what we programmed in.

Now other pictures here. This is our testers. So hook it up to the vehicle, says near end of life charged 62%. Now you think, well, maybe we could charge it up and make it better. But these, these testers are very intuitive. They actually test the resistance of the battery. They put a little mini load tests on the battery and they do a variety of things so it can, it can tell information about a battery that's you know that you can't often detect yourself, but as I said, we suspected the battery was weak just by the way it cranked over and the tester verified it.
So we get other messages here. Sometimes it says bad battery. Other times it'll say good battery and it isn't actually good. But, 95% of the time, these testers are really accurate. The other picture I want to show is this, this is the battery mounted in the back of the vehicle. The reason I took this picture, I mean this is just, it used to be that a battery would have a, here's the positive terminal here. You can barely see it and the negative terminal here, it would just have a one big thick fat wire coming off each of these terminals and that was it. We can see this thing has that as a, just a host of other items here, extra wires. It's like a junction box there. There are voltage and current sensors detecting how much voltage current is flowing in and out of the battery and they have it on the positive and negative side of this battery. So there's a lot of complexity here. This is mounted in the trunk. It takes a while even to just to change the battery cause you know, the hold down brackets, it's got a couple of hold down brackets and it's, you know, it's not like it used to be. We're just be under the hood. You pop two terminals off and away you go. So there's our picture show.

Mark: So what exactly is an AGM battery?

Berne: So it stands for absorbed glass mat and instead of having a, you know, just lead plates with a liquid, this sulphuric acid and water liquid floating around, it actually absorbs the lead acid mixture or sorry, the acid mixture in a glass mat plate, and it's all sandwiched together very tightly. So these batteries can handle a lot more vibration. They can be charged quicker. They have more power. There's just a lot of advantages to them. Plus they don't gas like a regular battery. There's no off-gassing, at least, or it's, I should say, it's very minimal. Now you're wondering what's the downside?

Well, the downside is the price there. There are a lot more money you know, 50% to sometimes twice the price, 50 to a 100% more money. But the good thing of it, the lifespan of this battery. This one and that's, it's hard to tell because when a battery is kept in a trunk, it all stays clean. Unlike when it's under a hood, where it is, where it often gets grungy. This battery, I'm pretty sure is original, which makes it a, we're in 2020. The battery is about nine years old. So that's pretty good life for a battery. I mean you will get the odd flooded, regular lead acid battery that will last that long, but it's extremely rare.

If you have a car that has one, you should probably go buy a lottery ticket because it's, you've beaten the odds pretty good. But you know, eight, nine years is pretty good. You know, kind of a, probably a lifespan you get out of these as opposed to the typical five years you get out of a regular battery.

Mark: And how did the X3 start and run after the battery replacement?

Bernie: Well, it was a noticeably different, you know, it wasn't like it was cranking really badly, but there was just a noticeable difference in terms of, it just felt peppier and more lively when it started. So that made a big difference, I would say, you know, about the life of these batteries is, you know, if you do have a vehicle with the start stop technology, you probably get a little less life out of it. And this issue with this battery would have probably been a little more noticeable because, you know, every time you stop the car, you know, at a light and it restarts that starters being used. So there's a lot more, a lot more activity involved. And you, you would probably notice a difference sooner on a vehicle like that. And the battery would probably live a little less long of a life because it's being used, you know, being cycled a lot more. But anyways, this is not the case with this. And the car was great.

Mark: So what's your opinion on BMW X3s, I know you actually own one of these vehicles as well. What do you think of them?

Bernie: It's a nice vehicle to drive, really nice. More issues than I'd like to see. I mean, I've you know, I'm kind of like, like anyone else. I love fixing cars, but I don't like fixing my own. And I think things tend to wear out in these cars a little sooner than they should. Things like, you know, they tend to develop oil leaks and coolant leaks. There's a lot of complexity and expense to them. So that's kind of, you know, to me, that's kind of the downside. If you own one, you're definitely getting a nice vehicle. It's a good feel, good looking, drives well, but you will spend more money, you know, for sure taking care of this and you went on, you know, say an equivalent, a Japanese or Korean type of SUV.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW or X3, if you have it in Vancouver or battery replacements, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com there's over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars and repairs. Over 350 videos on YouTube Pawlik Auto Repair, search on there. You can find our channel. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it, click the subscribe button.We'd really appreciate that even more and leave a review. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie; Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.

Truck Thieves Target Parked and Locked Ford F250 & F350’s

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And of course we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So Ford trucks. Last week, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which they do every year, announced the most stolen car list. So kind of stuck out. Out of the top ten, eight of them were Ford trucks. Why are Ford trucks being stolen so much?

Bernie: Yeah, this is awesome for Ford. I mean, they've got like 80% of the top 10. That's really not a very good thing. But the reason they were stolen, and there's very specific model years in that top 10 and they range from 2002 to 2007, their F250 and F350s. All of those vehicles do not have an immobilizer system. So you can basically go in there with some pliers or a screwdriver bang it in to ignition lock, give it a twist and truck is yours.

Mark: So there must be a lot of other older vehicles that don't have immobilizers, because that was something that was legislated later on in the 2000s. So why F250s and 350s?

Bernie: Excellent question. And I think the reason is probably mostly used for smash and grab theft, you know, the trucks are awesome. You steal the truck, of course you're not using your own vehicle for the theft. You're using something else. That makes two crimes. But you can go around with a truck and it's a big heavy duty beast. You can go bash, you know drive into say, a warehouse, just drive right through the front door, drive in, grab some stuff, take off, leave your merchandise, abandon the truck somewhere later. And of course, the truck is kind of used for the theft.

The other thing that I didn't mention, there's a top 50 list, and out of that top 50 list, 30% are Fords ranging from 1999 up to 2007. Interestingly enough, after 2007 there are none, which we'll talk about later. But you know, so if you have an F150 and you think, oh, no one's going to steal that, well they're there in the list too, they're just a little further down. But the heavier duty ones are, there's more appeal to those. And there might, yeah, there might be some parts stolen too as well.

Mark: So have you personally seen or repaired any stolen Ford trucks?

Bernie: Yeah, we actually, you know, we fix a wide variety of vehicles at our shop and Ford trucks are among one of our more popular vehicles, and we actually have had a couple of customers' vehicles stolen. We have a road behind our shop. It doesn't happen very often, but over a period of a few years, we've actually had a few Ford trucks stolen. And you know, they're easy to steal. Had a Ford van as well, where someone had, fortunately not stolen the vehicle, but they snuck into the vehicle and broke the ignition lock. I guess they got spooked or something because they never got away with the vehicle. But you know, this is, you know, it's obviously well known for thieves that these are easy vehicles to target. I'll say in one case, one of the trucks that was stolen was actually in for a head gasket job. It was a six litre truck and the owner wasn't too sad that it got stolen because it saved him, you know, he was committed to doing the job and it would be very expensive, but it's like, Oh, well, let's do bad, I'll just get another truck. So sometimes you know, thievery works out, but you know it still ends up costing us all money in the end cause the insurance company ended up paying for that vehicle.

Mark: So is there anything that a Ford truck owner can do to prevent this kind of easy theft?

Bernie: Well, there's definitely a couple of things you can do. So the first and the simplest thing you could do right now, you know, if you hear this and you don't have any theft prevention, you can get yourself a club. You could go to an auto parts store, you can buy a club. It's one of those pieces you stick on the steering wheel. Locks the steering wheel from moving. Or you can get ones that also lock the brake pedal to the steering wheel. You know, those are a bit of a pain in the butt because every time you get out, you've got to do it. But, you know, it shows that, hey, this vehicle is protected and it's going to make yours, it makes yours a harder vehicle to steal than the next one. Can those things be cut off? Sure they can, but it's, it's a lot of extra work. Thieves will have to take extra tools. So if there's two trucks sitting side by side, guess what? The one without the club is the one that's going to get stolen. So that's the easiest thing that you can do. You can order it online, you can go to an auto parts store. The second thing that's probably better, but more work and more cost is to get an alarm or an immobilizer installed. There's a wide range of these. Again, you could buy it online and do it yourself if you know what you're doing or take it you know, probably the best thing to do is find a reputable car audio place. Those are usually the places that do an installations of alarms, find a good one, get something put in, a good immobilizer, good alarm. You know it's a classic thing. You know, where alarms go off and people ignore them. But the thing is for a thief, once the alarm goes off, if it has no immobilizer, the vehicle won't start. It makes a lot of noise. And again, it makes it hard to steal. So those are kind of the two things you can do. And this doesn't apply just to a Ford truck. This applies to, to any vehicle, but you know, now that these are known to be, you know, high theft items, I mean, if you value your vehicle, you'll want to do something about it to protect it.

Mark: Is there any good news here for Ford truck owners?

Bernie: Well, the good news is if you have a Ford truck after 2008, they all have an immobilizer systems in them, so they don't even make the top 50 list after 2008. So you have an 08 and newer, you can rest easy because your vehicle has an immobilizer system in it. It doesn't mean it couldn't be stolen, but it's just not very likely.

Mark: So what other vehicles are in the top 10 and top 50?

Bernie: Well, there's only two other vehicles in the top 10 list. One is, I believe it's around the 2017 model year Lexus, the SUVs, the RX350-450 hybrids. Those are, I believe, number 7. I know these were stolen for different reasons. We're going to talk about this in a separate podcast. And then the other a in the top 10 is a 1998 Honda Civic SI model and again, different reasons for stealing those. That's kind of an old vehicle, it's a car, but they're specific reasons. So we'll do another couple of podcasts about this because they're again, they're things to talk about. Now, of course, those Lexus vehicles, they already have immobilizers and high tech security systems. So why they get stolen, we're going to talk about that. It's a different subject.

Mark: And what about other vehicles in the top 50?

Bernie: You know, a lot of them, a lot of them are, Honda's a huge, a huge number are Honda's. I'll just give it away right now. There are a lot of them are older ones. They have a certain engine that people like. So these are stolen basically for the engine, that people can put into for hot rodding other Honda's. I'd say that's the main reason and the others on the list are a luxury SUVs, there's a lot of Lexus, there's some Toyota Highlanders and Range Rovers. Range Rover Sport are in there too so.

Mark: And what about protecting your key fob because key fob cloning is a thing. What about, is that something that's worth doing?

Bernie: Absolutely you know, this is actually only something that's sort of come to my attention recently over the last couple of weeks, I think since these articles have come out and people been talking to me about it. And the one thing I can say, and we're going to do a little more research on this, but they say, never keep it close to your door because, there's a way that thieves can actually, with electronic systems, can actually clone your key fob and then they can actually start your vehicle and take it, which is probably how these Lexus vehicles are being stolen. But also, you know, any vehicle that has a key fob when you're, when you're walking away say, in a supermarket parking lot, you walk away, you lock the car with the key fob. There are ways that that key fob can be cloned and then people can break into the vehicle and steal things and then of course, eventually steal the vehicle. So it, what's recommended is to actually use the manual lock button in the vehicle when you're walking away. That way he doesn't send a radio signal out. That's not, I don't know if that's possible to do with every single vehicle, but if you're able to do it, I mean, I have an older Suburban and you know, that has a, I’ll walk away with the fob, but I usually just lock it with the lock button. And that sets a security system off and everything too. So if you're able to do that, that's a, that's something, and that's been talked about for many, many years that, you know, so that's one thing I just leave you with, but we'll do more research on this.

Mark: What we can do to protect ourselves from being cloned.

Bernie: Yes, exactly. That's right. Well, it's you know, they make cars more difficult to steal, which is awesome. But, you know that just ups the game for a smart thieves.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Ford truck and you want to get some advice about making sure it's hardened up a little bit, to not be such an attractive target, give Pawlik Automotive a call 604-327-7112.Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com hundreds of articles on there. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel. Thanks for much for so much for watching. Give us a like, rate us on YouTube or on iTunes. Thanks so much for watching us on YouTube and thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. It's always a pleasure.

Hyundai-Kia Engine Recall

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning.

Mark: So Hyundai and Kia, we spoken about this before, they have a pretty massive engine recall in, I probably bet it's worldwide, but I know for sure it's North America and CBC Go Public show just did a big program about this, talking about Hyundai and Kias engine problems. Do you have any new thoughts about this situation based on the program?

Bernie: Well, it's obvious that Hyundai and Kia are not doing a very good job of satisfying their customers because now of course, there's a huge, Go Public show and their class action lawsuits are in full force. So there's a definite problem, huge. And a lot of unsatisfied customers.

Mark: So the gentleman that was in the program, featured early in the program was, basically had his engine fail, was not aware that there was a recall, the repair shop that he went to offered him a used engine to be put in and after paying for it out of pocket and getting the new engine in, which was not cheap, then that engine failed. And Hyundai, now that there's a recall, says they're not paying for anything. So what do you think about that?

Bernie: Well, I think for the owner of that vehicle, it's a horrible situation overall and it's too bad he didn't know about the recall and I think Hyundai must've done him a big disservice not informing him that there was a recall. I mean, I just find that just incredibly slimy and why people hate dealerships and why it's probably actually good for my world, being in the independent auto repair shop business. But I do have to say that, you know, for this owner, he made a choice based on finances, you know, that a used engine would be a better option financially, but I would never put a used engine in a vehicle that has a recall or a problematic engine. Like I'm always very cautious when we put used engines in vehicles to find out what, what's the track record of the engine.

Recently we had a Toyota Echo, we did an engine job on. Toyota Echo nothing ever goes wrong with those engines. This vehicle had about, you know, 350,000 kilometres. The owner loves the vehicle. The engine wore out. We've got a nice low mileage engine. To me, that's a good deal, but when you get something like a Kia, which has a reputation, Kia or Hyundai with a reputation recall, you know, on an engine that that blows up, well that shop should never even given that customer the option, said, look, you know, we don't want to do this because it's too risky. You know, short of dismantling the engine may be looking at it, but then by the time you do that, the economics of changing the used engine are a kind of out the window. So, I mean, unfortunately that's the choice he made and unfortunately Hyundai is not stepping up to the plate because they really should, maybe not compensate him for the used engine because they never sold that to him. But at least, you know, get him a proper engine in his car that should have been done in the first place.

Mark: So what about Hyundais claim? They've come back and why they, they're denying his recall, paying for the first engine essentially because he didn't do proper oil changes. Or could not prove he'd done his, possibly he did his own oil changes. What do you think about that?

Bernie: Well I would say under a warranty situation, you know, covered by the vehicles warranty. You know, they have every right to demand the oil changes are done properly with the proper oils at the proper intervals. I mean, that's proper maintenance on the vehicle. It's not just about dealerships or the auto repair industry, you know, trying to get money out of people. I mean, it's a machine. It needs proper maintenance. So, you know, to me that's a pretty, that's a very legitimate thing to claim.

But this is a recall. This is a different situation. It's a known manufacturing defect. And I would think that they don't actually have the right to demand that. I don't know, I'm not a lawyer. I tried looking up some details on it. I wasn't able to find anything, but, so don't quote me on it, but I think, you know, this is why there's a class action lawsuit because they're obviously not satisfying their customers in ways that they could be.

And doing things like this is just, I mean, will this guy ever buy another Kia our Hyundai product? No. Will he ever tell anyone to buy one? No. So, I mean, they're just wrecking their own reputation along the way.

But I can't say enough of how important it is, we've talked a lot on our program about how important it is to change your oil at regular intervals. Hyundai claims, you know, every 12,000 kilometres, which to me is probably at the very edge of the limit of how often you want to change oil in a car like that because leaving it too long, just starts causing engine damage. But again, in this case, it's a recall for a known manufacturing defect. So I think it's a different situation.

Mark: So what about the slow delivery of the recall notice?

Bernie: I don't know what to say. I mean, that's just, you know, again, it's just foot dragging and really bad customer service. I haven't actually listened to the article. I've only read the transcript of it and they have quotes. I mean, you know, from someone who says they just don't care, you know, it's really, the truth is they just don't care is what I, is what I get out of it.

Mark: So they also speak about a couple with a 2013 Kia that had a similar engine explosion essentially, destroying the engine, but it's not covered by a recall because the engine is different and Kia claims that it doesn't have the same issue. And yet it actually responded the same way as the later engines are destroying themselves? What's that all about?

Bernie: Well, I think there's millions and millions of dollars at stake here, and I think they just want to you know, cover themselves, not pay any more money than they have to. So, you know, they've identified some as being problematic and I guess they found others that supposedly aren't. But again, when something like this happens and if it happens to enough vehicles with that same engine, perhaps they haven't cast the net wide enough, to actually bring in the problematic engine. So I can't say for sure. I mean, it could be for those people, it could be a one off issue. I mean, engines do have bearing wear and throw rods, and you know, it's possible. It doesn't say anything about their maintenance. I don't want to, I don't want to say anything. They've been very excellent maintenance customers and occasionally, something bad will happen.

But if this is starting to happen on these other engines, of course there should be a recall on that too, because the problem is wider than they think. But you know, auto manufacturers, I mean, we've just seen it with Volkswagen with diesel gate and the things that they did to cover up what they were doing, or even the Ford Pinto. I mean, apparently that fix for the Ford Pinto was a $3 metal ring around the gas tank filler. And yet, you know, when they were manufacturing, they actually knew it. They didn't do it. I mean, think like human lives. People died and they just, and people said, nah, it's three bucks, too much money over a million cars. So these are the kinds of people we're dealing with sometimes.

Mark: And the actuarial decisions of a few lawsuits is cheaper than us actually fixing everything. So one of the things they mentioned in the article and that we talked about before was that there might be a metal filings leftover from the manufacturing process in the engines, and that's what's causing these failures. What do you think happens with these engines that they fail so frequently?

Bernie: I actually haven't seen one or taken on a part you know, so I haven't seen it first hand, but there seems to be basically three recalls with Hyundai, three issues, major issues that are going on. And one of them is, you know, these engines just starting to knock suddenly and then basically blowing apart. They throw a rod, the connecting rod in the engine of the bearing wears out and it basically throws the rod through the side of the engine. That's what the hole is all about.

So anyways, the claim is some metal filings or some material were left behind in the manufacturing process and that gets into the bearings. I mean, these are very precision fit parts and it gets into the bearings, wears them out. It actually surprises me that they last as long as they do, if that's the case. That seems to be the main issue. But there seems to be a couple of other recall issues. There's an issue of a sudden fires occurring in some of them. And I believe there's two issues at hand here with those. One of them is oil leaks that occur and they happen right sort of over top of the hot exhaust system and that can cause a fire. So that's one issue.

And then the other, so that's not the same as this recall's being talked about here. But the other issue there's sudden engine fires that are caused by a fuel leak. And these are claimed to have happened after the engine recalls been done. And what is likely happening is that there's a high pressure fuel on these use a direct fuel injection system. The fuel pressure is extremely high. It's in the, you know I'm going to say 10 to 20,000 PSI range. So this is a huge high pressure fuel system, and the slightest amount of leakage, especially under high pressure, can cause a fuel to combust. So that's a, that's an issue. I think that there's a fuel line a lot of times when you do a service on vehicles with a direct fuel injection there's certain lines that are supposed to be replaced because they're just a one time use. They can't be torqued down properly again or be reliable. So I believe what's happening is they don't replace the line and then that causes a leak. So that's sort of the third recall. And again, they're not applicable to all the vehicles, but those kind of the three things that Hyundai and Kia are playing with right now.

Mark: I bet they can't wait for electric vehicles to come along soon enough. What are your final thoughts about this whole engine recalls situation, which applies to all manufacturers, in fact?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, it's just a sign of, it's just poorly handled situation and like you're saying, the actuary, you know, there someone looks at and goes, well, it's cheaper for us to do this. And you know well, I've just seen it over the years. So many things. I mean, I'm surprised sometimes at Ford's still in business with, you know, some of the engines they built them and they built some good cars and they built some real garbage. And they seem to have somehow just survived, you know, some way. But, you know, my final thought is, you know, this is really bad, you know, bad PR for Hyundai and Kia. Bad customer care and you know, you pay for it in the end. If you take care of your customers, they'll come back. If you don't, they'll go elsewhere. There's lots of competition in the car world, so people will be going elsewhere.

Mark: So there you go. If you've got issues with your Hyundai or Kia in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They'll look after you. They'll give you the honest truth, and they'll fix your vehicle and do it properly. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com there's hundreds, over 600 articles on there, about all makes and models and types of repairs. Over 300 videos on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Check it out, and of course, we really appreciate you watching the podcasts, listening to the videos, watching the videos. Leave us a thumbs up or leave us a good review on iTunes. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching, listening. We really appreciate it.

2001 Toyota 4Runner – Rack and Pinion Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well.

Mark: So today's victim is a 2001 Toyota 4Runner that had a steering problem. What was going on with this SUV?

Bernie: Yeah. So the vehicle came to our shop. The owner did move to Vancouver and needed an out of province inspection on the vehicle. So we proceeded to do that. And one of the items that we found is that the steering rack and pinion, not only had a torn boot but also had a leak as well. So that was a required replacement item to pass the inspection.

Mark: So what does the rack and pinion do?

Bernie: Well, basically, the rack and pinion connects your steering wheel to your wheels. More accurately connects your steering wheel to the steering column, and the rack and pinion connects to the steering column. And from there, it transmits the movement of your steering column and wheel out to the road wheels through a couple of tie rod ends. And so the rack and pinion, this is where the power assist occurs in this vehicle. Some racks are not power assist, of course, most are but that's just where the power assist occurs. And also the movement from creates a movement from side to side.

Mark: And rack and pinion is a replacement for steering box?

Bernie: It is, you know, used to be that you would have a steering box in place where the rack and pinion would be in the rack. And pinion provides a couple of advantages. It's simpler, there's less moving parts, and it's, it's a tighter because there's less moving parts as well. It's also tighter. There's a, it gives a better control over your steering. So it was quickly adopted. It's been around for a long time, but really kind of commonly came into use around the 1980s. And ever since it's been used in most vehicles. I mean, there, there's some that still have steering boxes and you'll find those, you know, like in large trucks, they still use steering boxes cause they do provide it. They're very good and heavy duty applications. But for most vehicles and light trucks, the steering rack does a great job.

Mark: Yeah. So if you've ever driven a vehicle from the sixties or fifties that didn't have power steering, you know that it took, they had big steering wheels and it was a, it was a long ways before you turn the wheel, before the wheels would turn. And that play was basically what made the steering box operate. Rack and pinion took that away.

Bernie: Exactly. Now, in all fairness, you know, some vehicles do have steering boxes that have pretty tight steering, but as things wear, they tend to get a lot more movement and looseness. Why don't we just get into some pictures here?

Mark: How durable are rack and pinions in the 4Runner?

Bernie: Oh, yeah they're really good. You know, they do wear out. I mean, this one I would say is certainly original, and this is a 2001 vehicle, so we've got about 18, 19 years of usage, so that's pretty good. I know on these vehicles, they have and I'm not sure if this model year, whether it's slightly nerve, but there's a bushing that used to wear on the rack and pinion, or would cause the rack to get a little sloppy. So if your steering had a bit, there's a little more movement in your wheels, a little less controlling your steering, sometimes the rubber bushings would wear and you could actually replace them.

Anyways here's a picture of the rack and pinion as removed from this 2001, 4Runner. The arrow here points to the actual ripped boot which and this part can be replaced separately. It doesn't require a whole rack, but in this case, there was fluid leaking out in this area. And you know, that's a sure sign the rack and pinion is worn out. So there's no sense in changing a boot when you, when you have a leaking rack. there is fluid here. This is just because the rack and pinion has been removed from the vehicle and it's leaked fluid out of where the power steering hoses connect. So that's not a problem, so to speak. Getting into some other pictures here.

What have we got here? Here's a close up. This is the, a torn boot. The boot basically keeps water and dirt from getting inside the, you know, you can see, this is a very shiny piece. This is the actual rack. It's a toothed piece. so inside the rack and pinion inside here, there's a very long shaft. You can see a little bit of it here. Big long shaft. And in this section of the shaft from about here to here, there's gears on it. And so, and this part here, which is the pinion has another little tiny gear, and that'll move the rack back and forth as you turn the steering wheel. This part here connects up to your steering column and your steering wheel. And we'll do it a little more close up of that particular piece, which is here. So in here you can see this is where the steering column attaches. There's the power steering pipes that go out to the rack and pinion. And then if this was a non power steering unit, it wouldn't have any of these pipes or hoses. And it's very rare to find a car with non-power rack and pinion steering. But there are some around, and probably just in generally more older models. This here we have ran into one other issue with this vehicle. You know, sort of based on age and maybe climate conditions with the hose required replacement. When we went on and do the fitting, it was basically seized and snapped off. So it's also required a power steering pressure hose. Usually not a very common thing to replace at the same time unless it's leaking. But you know, sometimes we're in the middle of a job and expect to unbolt something that normally unbolts and it doesn't. So that's a, this arrow points to the fitting that was leftover from the power steering pressure hose. And this fitting here is where the return goes. So fluid flows in one direction and returns out the other way. And what else have we got here? Just a quick view of the engine compartment in this 4Runner, a 3.4 litre, V6 engine, very common in these vehicles, used for a long time. Fairly reliable, but there are some issues and we can talk about that in a little bit.

Mark: So any other leaks or issues common to rack and pinions?

Bernie: The only other issue, I mean leaks, 95% of the racks we replace as a matter of fact, almost a hundred, I think 100% of the racks we replace these days are for leaking , you know, which happens on every vehicle sooner or later. But the, the other issue we used to see a lot, and especially in the 1980s, was a, it was something we called morning sickness. And what happened in the, in the 1980s, GM Ford, Chrysler, all the American manufacturers went fully in on rack and pinion steering. Everything had rack and pinion steering. It was like the big new thing. And you know, for good reason. But in their haste to manufacture them or figure things out, the rack and pinion's used a soft aluminum housing with hard metal seals or graphite. They were hard type of seal. And over time, these seals would wear the aluminum housing. So it would create a gap in inside the housing and the allow fluid to flow past. And so when the vehicle was cold, you got to turn the steering wheel and you have no power steering. It was known as morning sickness. Super common problem. We replaced racks on pretty well every GM vehicle back then and many Fords, I can't remember about Chrysler's, but certainly GM and Ford was a big issue. And it just turned out to be again, the solution was just to put some, a hardened metal in where the aluminum housing was and that would prevent the problem from happening. And of course, it got figured out. It never happens anymore. But it was a big issue way back when. So I haven't seen a morning sickness vehicle in a long time.

Mark: So aren't many steering racks these days, electric, how does that work and what issues do you see with them?

Bernie: Yeah, so a lot of steering racks are electric. One of the bigger, couple of reasons, it's more efficient. I mean to have power steering in the traditional sense, you need to run a hydraulic pump and it tends to run all the time. And really you only need it when the engines idling or maybe at very slow speed maneuvers. Other than that. Once you get in the highway, you don't need it. So there's a pump that's being driven. It's a waste of energy. So electric is awesome because it's just completely on demand. They generally use an electric motor in the rack and pinion, but some actually put it on the steering column. But that motor provides the power assist and it'll do so only on demand situation. The other advantages as we've got to into vehicles, not only hybrids and electric cars, but vehicles with start, stop technology. It's essential to have electric rack and pinion because you've got to have power steering even when the engines off. So that's a critical component. But as far as problems, we've never replaced an electric rack and pinion in our shop ever. They are very reliable, not 100%. I know that there are some that do have issues, but I think a lot of them have been covered by manufacturers warranty. The problems had been kind of figured out quite quickly. And besides getting maybe in an accident where you actually bend the rack or create some other problem there, they're usually really reliable. That's good news for vehicle owners. And of course, they are very much more complex and much more expensive. So it's a kind of part you don't really want to be replacing.

Mark: So with the 4Runner, how difficult of a job was this?

Bernie: It's not really too difficult. I mean, it's a few hours work to take the rack and pinion in and out. You do need some special tools and big tools. And doing it on a hoist is critical, but it's not the, racket and pinions vary from being, you know, really simple to remove to some, some are really buried in under the frame of the vehicle and require a lot of finagling to get in and out. This one is pretty straightforward.

Mark: So this 4Runner is 18 years old now. Is it still a worthwhile vehicle to keep?

Bernie: Yeah, it is. I would say, well, you know, it depends on how well it's been maintained, but 4Runners were really well built vehicles and they still retain their value really well. I remember there was a time when, you know, a 4Runner, had the lowest depreciation rate of any vehicle on the road. I might still be the case, I'm not sure. But I mean, they are a really well-built vehicle. I would, I like to say not a lot goes wrong with them. I mean, there were some issues with this. You know, I showed a picture earlier, and maybe I'll just get back into a screen share we'll look at the engine here. So this 3.4 litre, 4 cam, 24 valve engine, they did have a lot of head gasket problems with these particular engines. And a lot of them were covered by warranty, but yeah, head gaskets were definitely a big issue. This is also a timing belt engine, so it does require a timing belt replacement and that's, you know, obviously a critical thing to do. You'd never want your timing belt to break on one of these. But many Toyotas and I'm not saying this as one of them, do not have interference fit engines so that if the timing belt breaks, you're just going to be stranded on the road but not damaging your engine. And I believe this is one of those such engines, but I never liked to think of that. It's never good to take that chance because if you do bend any valves or cause any damage, it costs a lot more money to fix. But a timing belt is a maintenance item on these engines. So that's, you know, something that'll probably cost you in a one to $2,000 range. You know, changing the water pump and all the other tensioners and pulleys and pieces of seals that should be done at the same time. Yeah but other than that it's a generally good solid vehicle. You know, 18 years old. Of course, things will go wrong, but it's a well-built truck. And you know, if you can get a good used one for a good price, you can afford to spend a bit of money on maintenance because it's a good vehicle.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Toyota 4Runner, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 600 articles on there, videos all makes and models of vehicles, repairs, maintenance items. Of course, the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, over 350 videos there now and growing every week. And of course, thanks so much for watching listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching listening.

Services For Toyota Prius

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver and Vancouver's best auto service experience. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're going to talk about Toyota Prius. What kind of services do Toyota Prius need?

Bernie: Yeah, well, there's a variety of services they do need. I mean, let's talk just generally about the reliability of the vehicle overall first. My first. thought when the Prius came out, a couple of decades ago now is, "Oh my God, this is way too complicated".

You know, you're not only have an internal combustion engine to deal with, but all the electric drive, train batteries, inverters, all the bits and pieces that make it work but, you know, two decades later, it's turned out to be one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.

You look at taxi cab fleets, 20 years ago, they were all largely American cars and now they're all mostly Toyota Prius's or you know, Camrys, that kind of thing. So they're, it's proven to be very reliable and a huge cost reduction vehicle you know, when operated, especially for a long range type of heavy use vehicle.

Mark: So no car is perfect. What goes wrong with them?

Bernie: So, yeah. So, I mean, Toyota's are legendary for reliability, but there are things that do go wrong with these vehicles. I mean, overall, you know, the internal combustion engines are pretty reliable. I mean, some of them do develop some oil consumption issues over time.
And I'm, I'm just kind of painting the Prius with a broad brush, because there's four generations of Prius. So there's a, you know, we go back the first generation goes up to about 03 and from 03 to 09 there's a second generation, which is where the Prius really sold a lot of cars. Generation three, 09 up to about 2015 and then 2015 and newer is the latest generation. Most of the vehicles we see are in generation two and three. So that's where we have most of our experience with these cars. Anyways yeah, so what goes wrong? I mean, the you know, water pumps fail, that seems to be a pretty common issue in a lot of Toyota engines and there are electric water pumps on certain models, different generations, there's failures with those, the water control valves. I mean, there are a few failures with the drive motors, the electric drive, motors, inverters, batteries do eventually wear out, but they've all proven to be pretty reliable. And then we don't repair a lot of those more major components, which is a good thing because they are very expensive to repair and do after time sort of require a, you know, some thinking to whether it's worth the cost, but for the most part they are. I mean, if you've taken good care of it, it's a good reliable car.

Mark: So what about routine maintenance items?

Bernie: So, yeah, so of course, it's an internal combustion engine vehicle and it needs oil changes on a routine basis. Again, don't stretch your oil change intervals out, because these are very high tech engines. They need their oil changed. They need clean oil in there. There's a transmission, the transmission does need a fluid change every once in a while, there's coolant, of course, brake fluid. Things like power steering fluid are eliminated because it's an electric power steering system. So there's one less fluid, but routine inspections are important on any vehicle. As time goes by, of course, suspension components wear, the brakes need to be looked at again, they do last a long time, but things do need to be looked at just to be inspected. Actually one repair item that I will mention that is frequent is the 12 volt batteries do go bad quite a lot and they cause all sorts of interesting issues in terms of starting the vehicle. So that's, that's another area that again, testing that battery on a routine basis is an important thing to keep your car reliable.

Mark: So, a Prius has two different battery systems.

Bernie: It does, it has a high voltage battery system, and then it has the traditional 12 volt, battery system. And that 12 volt battery system keeps all the lights, the radio, and it actually allows the vehicle to start as well. So, you know, the starting functions can't happen without a proper 12 volt, 12 volt battery. That allows the contactors to close and allows the battery and energy to flow into the motor. So, so it's a very critical part of the vehicle. And you know, you may not notice it's bad like you would in a traditional car, because on a traditional vehicle when your battery is bad, the starter might be, it won't start, but on a Prius, if the battery is weak, it'll still keep starting. But then on a number of quirky issues may show up. So testing it is a good thing to do on a routine basis.

Mark: We also mentioned brakes there, hybrids use or some of them definitely use regenerative braking, so that recharges the battery. How does, how do the brakes last on a Prius?

Bernie: Well, for the brake, as you mentioned, it has regenerative braking. That's one of the best things about a hybrid is the energy of braking, which is wasted on every vehicle other than a hybrid or an electric car, is the energy is recaptured. The drive motors turn into generators and they send the energy back into the battery, which is why a hybrid really gets way better mileage than a conventional, non hybrid type of vehicle. Interestingly enough, if you're just driving straight down the highway and you don't use the brakes at all, the hybrid really doesn't have a lot of advantage. But you know, when you're going down a hill or normal sort of city type of driving, which is what most people do there, that's where the advantage comes in. Anyways the regenerative braking system is really very reliable because it uses the drive motors and the batteries. One of the advantages of a hybrid is the normal service brakes, the brakes at the wheel are used very little. In a panic stop, of course, they're, they're used primarily, but in any other sort of regular breaking stop, they barely get used. So they can last a long time.

Taxis, you know, the traditional taxi cab, non hybrid, they may have changed their brake pads every month or two, whereas on a hybrid, a lot of times they'll last a year. So that's a huge savings for a taxi, not only in dollars, but in terms of downtime and, you know, because the car can keep going. It doesn't need the service. But anyway, for your average driver, the brakes should be serviced every once in a while. Probably around our climate in Vancouver, every couple of years. A good idea to do a break service, take the breaks apart, clean, lubricate everything, remove corrosion from the brake pad, sliders. In more hostile climates, like you know, Eastern Canada and the US where road salt is poured on the road six months of the year. You know, things like brake rotors will probably wear out, just from rusting out, cause it's a solid, it's a bare metal surface. But also the, you know, again, the pad sliders are subject to more corrosion. So an annual break service and that kind of climate is probably more valuable.

Also, of course, brake fluid, needs to be flushed. Brake systems in these are actually very, like, the hydraulic system is very complicated compared to a regular car because as you push the brake pedal, you're actually actuating, it's not just, pushing on the brakes as it would normally do in most vehicles you know, pushing fluid out to the wheels. It's actually actuating electronic valves to first of all, do the regenerative braking. Then if it needs fluid sent to the wheels, then it'll, it'll actuate it, you know, basically the ABS unit. So there's a lot more complexity. So flushing the brake fluid, you know, again, like in most climates, every two years is really critical to keep things functioning and flowing and keep your repair costs down.

Mark: So pretty much a basic set of a normal internal combustion engine car maintenance items.

Bernie: Exactly. I mean, things are a little different. I mean, transmission fluid, you know, the automatic, it has a transmission, but it's much, it's different than a traditional automatic transmission. It has some gears, but very little, mostly motors. So it doesn't, and it's cooled it sort of internally with a, with a cooling, you know, with its own separate liquid cooling system. So you know, fluid does need to be changed, but, you know, for maybe different reasons than you would in an automatic, traditional automatic transmission. But nonetheless, you know, it's got most of the things that need to be done on a routine basis, but overall, less, less expensive maintenance than you need to do on a, on a traditional internal combustion car.

Mark: Any further thoughts on the Toyota Prius?

Bernie:You know, overall it's a great car. I mean, my impression just driving in them is that they are kind of a cheap feeling car and they're kind of noisy inside. And I think, you know, where the Prius is, kind of Toyota's entry level model, and they do a fantastic job. I think they, you know, they've poured all their money into the drive train and made it reliable. And that's really the most important part of any vehicle is to keep that reliable. You know, if you're looking for a little more upscale drive, you know, there's a Camry, a Lexus has hybrids. They'll use the basic same, that same type of system and same level of reliability. So if you're looking for something a little more upscale, and you can always go with those and you'll, you'll have the same level of reliability and they need the same kind of services.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Prius in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, got a call and book ahead because they're busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 600 articles on there on all makes and models and types of repairs. Over 350 videos on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive – Transfer Case Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking cars. How're you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So BMW 328d xDrive. What was going on with this car?

Bernie: So this vehicle was brought to our shop. The owner had been servicing it at the BMW dealer his local dealership and there was an issue with it. It was running kind of funny, like lacking power, shaking, misfiring was what it felt like. And it's a diesel. And they basically said they didn't know what else to do with it and recommended they take it to a diesel specialist.

Mark: Ok wait a minute. Like the dealer didn't know haw to fix the brands car where they have the experts factory trained et cetera, et cetera blah blah blah, we're the best at fixing this car. They couldn't fix the car?

Bernie: Exactly and you know, this isn't the only time we've seen this. I mean, this is the first BMW we've seen like this but we had, actually same week, we did this repair last week. We had a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel. We have the same thing with a lot of these Jeep diesels, where the dealers can't, they don't really have the expertise to fix it. I think the thing abut dealerships, people don't realize they tend to cherry pick their work. They're into making profit. It's a good thing for a business but you know, what when you buy a vehicle it's a little bit outside of the normal edge. You can expect that kind of service from a dealer where they may not be actually able to figure out what's going with the vehicle, unless it's something simple. And in all fairness, it was a little complex in terms of, there's no plug the scan tool in and figure out what was going on with it. There was no information around that. But still you know any decent technician, I mean they should stand behind their products and their work, you know and charge accordingly to fix it.

Mark: So what tests and diagnosis did you do on the vehicle?

Bernie: So of course, our first thing with pretty well any diagnostic like this is, road test the vehicle, get a feel for the concern. We did that. Then next plugged our scan tool and did a full vehicle code scan and found nothing. There was no codes in the engine module. Nothing in the drivetrain. So at that point it was a little bit interesting. Ok, what could it be? So we drove it around a little while longer and kind of intuitively, myself and my other lead technician, we drove around quite a lot. I had a sense it felt like possibly an engine misfire but it also had a feeling like there could be something with the drivetrain. Like something that either the transmission or transfer case or something that was causing it to buck and shift and do some weird things. So that's kind of where we're at. We're kind of left with a feeling of what it might be.

Mark: Ok so that's where the 38 years of experience comes into play. No conclusive data to make a decision on but basically intuition. What were you next steps?

Bernie: Yeah so our next steps of course are research. Of course the dealer had already faced this problem and they had no suggestion other than take it somewhere else. There's a lot of information online. We have a lot of resources. We pay subscriptions for repair information programs that have a lot of good repair information and network. I way network or like other technicians, who may have found issues who post repairs. We did a little research there. Then our diagnostic scan tool also comes with a team of, it's a European scan tool. They have a whole team of technical resources people, where we can send in the data files. We get information from them. So when you come to our shop, this is the kind of thing that you get with a lot of the cars that we service. We have those resources that are really , the kind of thing you'd expect only from a dealership. Well actually in a way ours is better because we actually have resources. We we set the file in, talked with a technician who suggested possibly a transfer case issue. So our next step was basically to unhook the transfer case. It's electronically controlled. Road tested the vehicle, sure enough, drove perfectly well. The issue was gone. So the clear conclusion, the transfer case was defective.

Mark: So what's involved in repairing the transfer case?

Bernie: Well basically this is a replace the unit only type of job. So we bought a transfer case from BMW. Not certain if it was remanufactured or brand new. It certainly looked brand new when we took it our of the box but the do charge a kind of hefty core charge but nonetheless, it's an OEM spec BMW transfer case.There's a lot of electronic controls on these things and so that was basically the replacement. It's not an entirely difficult job. Fortunately it's a few hours work but fairly straightforward to unbolt and bolt back in and then there's some electronic programming that needs to be done to encode the transfer case to the vehicle which again not overly complicated. You have to have the right tools and data files but again not overly complicated and it worked fantastic.

So there's the nice 328d xDrive again. This is a diesel and..

Mark: A four wheel drive

Bernie: A four wheel drive, yeah and that as you know, adds some complications. So I mean all wheel drive is great but it certainly adds complexity. There are some vehicles where I find that the all wheel drive really doesn't create any extra costs and that Subaru is certainly one of them but a lot of European cars there are issues. So this is the transfer case. This is a view of the transfer case, it actually bolts up to the transmission end. So this would be the drive output to the front axle shaft, there the front drive shaft. And then this is a view of the rear end of it. So this goes to the rear drive shaft. This is, there's an electronic module, a control unit on the bottom of this thing. So there's the plugs underneath there. Fortunately for diagnostic purposes it wasn't too difficult to access them and unplug them and plug them back in. You know that is a piece of the transfer case. It obviously comes with the unit. So what's inside is probably fairly straightforward but you never know what these kind of things. You know they're not your sort of American style four wheel drive transfer case where it just locks gears together. These allow for smooth, they allow for slippage under certain conditions. So you don't feel like you're, the vehicle doesn't bind when you're going around corners. But of course, sometimes things go wrong like they did in this case.

Mark: So when you unhooked it, was it just running a straight pass through or just running the rear wheels, driving driving the rear wheels?

Bernie: I imagine that's what was happening. I can't really say for certain but all I can say is that the bucking and that strange power loss and all those issues that we were experiencing was gone. So is was something, I would imagine that there were some clutch packs inside the transfer case that were engaging and disengaging at times that they weren't supposed to. Causing the vehicle to shudder and do strange things and that could have been as a result of that electronic module or just sending the wrong signals or something with a worn out clutch pack or something like that.

Mark: Is this a common issue on xDrive BMW cars?

Bernie: So the owner of this vehicle fortunately had an extended warranty and in this particular warranty, we deal with a lot of extended warranty companies. This company insisted on sending an inspector over to have a look at it to verify that we diagnosed the right thing that they they were spending their money, the customers money wisely. So we took him out, drove it around, unplugged the module. He verified that he was happy with our diagnosis and actually he said, "Oh yeah, we see this problem all the time." According to the dealer I bought the transfer case from I returned the core he said, "We hardly see any of these things. It's kind of surprising". So different opinions but it seems like a common enough problem. So if you own one of these vehicles, you can expect you know, probably a transfer case repaired possibly at some point in the history of the vehicle.

Mark: So I imagine that the owner was pretty happy to have an extended warranty. What was the mileage on this vehicle?

Bernie: Only 62,000 kilometres So it's still a youngster. I mean very low mileage. You kind of think well, you know, when you're up to 150 or 200 K's maybe that would happen. But 62 is pretty young and the vehicle's of 2014 so its only 5 years old. So not really very old. Yes, I would imagine he was very happy to have that. Certainly more than paid for the price of the warranty with just this one repair job. I'm often sort of sit on the fence with extended warranty. Sometimes I think, well they're not worth it. You know certain cars like, a lot of Honda products for instance, they've you know, and Toyota's, they proved to be exceptionally reliable and having something like this go wrong with a car like that would be very unusual. But with a lot of European cars, there's so many fancy, expensive things that you know, they are, it is worth having most of the time, an extended warranty.

Mark: And this is a diesel without a lot of miles, not necessarily what we would recommend people to buy, but how are these BMW diesels for reliability?

Bernie: I'll be honest. We have very few clients with them because they're just not very common cars which explains whey the dealer is even saying take it somewhere else because even they don't have a lot of experience. When you look at the lineup of BMWs, there's very few diesels around. We have serviced a few. They've tended to be fairly reliable so far but all of them have been pretty low mileage and I hate to say it but they are a European diesel. There's a lot of stuff that goes wrong with Volkswagen diesels. A lot of stuff with Mercedes. So given time, things will go wrong with this vehicle. I mean certainly, the gas mileage is fantastic and there's a lot of of good features about it but I think it's a kind of vehicle you probably don't want to hang on to for too long lest there be some very expensive repairs down the road. But so far, you know, we haven't run into too many issues with them.

Mark: It might be a car that if you were driving for instance, a hundred thousand kilometres a year and doing a lot of highway driving, it might be a fantastic vehicle for that. But driving around town, maybe not the best choice?

Bernie: Exactly. Yeah I will say that with diesels, they've got to be hot. They've got to be really hot and driving a lot is good for it. Anything else you know, short trips definitely not the best for a diesel. Not good at all.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service and the dealer doesn't know what to do, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. It happens more often than you think. And of course pawlikautomotive.com is a place to check out over 650 articles on there about all makes and models of vehicles and repairs. Pawlik Auto Repair is the channel on YouTube and there's many hundreds of vides on there talking about the same thing. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast and watching. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark. And thank you for watching.

2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service

2008 Subaru Forester - Maintenance B Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. Twenty one time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How're you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well today.

Mark: So a 2008 Subaru Forester that was in for a maintenance service. What was happening with this all wheel drive vehicle?

Bernie: Well not a lot. It was actually just in for a routine maintenance service. Due for an oil change. It was due for a B service and so that's what we did.

Mark: So how often do you recommend doing a B service on a vehicle?

Bernie: Usually every second service. So the first, the sort of, so I say first service would be an A service and second would be a B and you alternate between the two of them. Usually it's good to do a B service probably once a year but it depends on how much you drive. There's some people that drive a lot. That would probably need it more frequently and the people who don't drive a lot a little less frequently.

Mark: So what's done during a B Service?

Bernie: So a B service is, essentially an oil and filter change and then a full maintenance inspection. So a full vehicle inspection. Wheels off. Inspect the brakes, measure the brakes. Inspect the steering suspension system. Test the battery and charging system. Pressure test the cooling system. Full visual, it's a full visual inspection for oil leaks, fluid leaks. Look at all the fluids, Actually inspect the fluid levels and qualities. We also lube the door locks, hinges and latches which is a good thing to do on a sort of annual basis. So your doors don't start creaking too soon. Just a little preventative maintenance items like that. So that's basically, kind of sums up the B service.

Mark: So I know you do digital inspections and I actually have one. I'm going to share my screen with this and we can just go through that. We can talk about that.

Bernie: Yeah, awesome.

Mark: All right so here's we're at the bottom, so I'll zip up to the top.

Bernie: So this is from, this is not the Subaru, just to be clear. This is from your Toyota Venza that you used to own?

Mark: Yes

Bernie: So let's just scroll down. So this is, you know as a client, this is the inspection you'll get and by the way, it doesn't say from Pawlik Automotive. It comes from...

Mark: It's an 800 number. It's from the provider whoever, whatever auto serve I guess is the provider powering this service that you provide and then they just sent it from their phone number. So it's a text that you get.

Bernie: Yeah, so we also send it by text or email or both. But it won't say from Pawlik Automotive. So just so you know if it seems unusual. Open it up because it will be from us. So we have a reason for today's visit. Sometimes a client will come in with, there's some clunking noises or certain issues, that we can put on the inspection and address. And then other than that, things that are broken down into good, well green, amber and red essentially. And green are all the items that are good and don't need any servicing at the present time. And so you can see a variety of some of the things that we look at. Lights. Battery. The battery is tested. Belts, visual inspection on the belts. Brakes are measured. You can see on Mark's vehicle here, there's 10 millimetres in the front brake pad which is very thick. We also have photographs of things as well that you can look at. Usually we take pictures of things that are problematic. Sometimes we'll take pictures of things that are ok but usually you know, problematic items. As you can see here's a list of suspension components. Some brake components. Suspension components. We inspect, tire treads are measured. And then here we get into the amber items. These are suggested items. So you know, the engine air filter was, it was dirty, not severe. So it could be left until next time. Cabin air filter recommended only as a check records because cabin air filters are usually involved. Removing the actual filter to inspect and so by the time you do that, you may as well just change it. So again it's important to know the service records of the vehicle. We had recommended a fuel injection cleaning on this vehicle basically again, check records. So there were no red items on this vehicle. Nothing that needed to be done right away. So that's basically kind of how your inspection looks, If there are problems, like say, we find a loose part or an extremely dirty fluid, you know, something we think should be serviced, may not in instant, immediately, but really soon. That gets a red mark. So I know this was a good vehicle for you. There wasn't a whole lot that tended to happen.

But the good news with our owner of the Subaru, it was all greens and oranges too. So this car was in good shape for this time around too. You know, I'd share the inspection but it's kind of hard to do that with keeping client confidentiality. So thanks for sharing that Mark.

Mark: So you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do. So let's have a look at a few pictures here of this service. So there's our 08 Subaru Forester. Excellent condition. It's a well maintained vehicle. Here's a few pictures of things that we do include, I would include in the inspection. So again, these are shots that we put right into the inspection report and send to the client.

So you can see the antifreeze, nice blue clean Subaru antifreeze, good to about -45 or 50. There's a picture of something good on the vehicle. Battery test again as our battery tester, you know verifies that the battery is at 100% charge. Good condition. This tester will actually say if the battery is bad or sometimes there are readings that would indicate to us that we may want to replace the battery. Brakes. We measure brakes.

This thing here, you can't really see it, there are 4 millimetres on the brake pad. You can just sort of see inside the wheel. This is the brake rotor. This is the brake calliper here. So it's kind of a close up shot if you don't really know what you're looking at. All just looks like a bunch of metal. But the brake rotors there. This is the brake pad assembly here and is this is the actual pad material, that friction material that wears out. And the metal backing plate, you definitely don't want to get to thing on this. But 4 millimetres is still good for a while. I figure the way this person drives, these brakes will be good for 6 months to a year on the front of this vehicle.

So again, there's a picture of that and as a final photo, we have the actual engine compartment on the vehicle. So this is a 2.5 litre Subaru intake manifold. This is still metal. They have gone to plastic intake manifolds but this is metal. Air filter box over here. So we inspect the air filter, air conditioning hoses. I'll just point out a few things. The brake fluid reservoir over here. Engine oil fill dipstick. Drive belts are located under here. So we visually inspect those to make sure they're, inspect the condition. The power steering fluids located over here. Battery. Those are a few of the things, just a few little highlights under the hood. This is a Subaru, they call a boxer engine. It's basically a flat engine. So the pistons, instead of being vertical are sideways mounted. The only other vehicle to do that are Porsches and in the 911s style and of course, old Volkswagens. This is kind of like an old Volkswagen Beetle. So its a, Subaru seems to be kind of the most common user of this kind of engine but it actually works really well. Very reliable. One thing that's good about a very low centre of gravity, the engine sits very low. So that's a positive thing for vehicle handling and stability.

Mark: So the inspection sounds very thorough. Would that find any issue that might be going on with my car, anything that would be coming up?

Bernie: No it won't. You're right, it is very thorough. We look at a lot of things but you know, there are, if your vehicle has specific concerns, especially say, the engine's not running properly, we don't address those type of things in this inspection. It's more of a visual maintenance inspection to kind of give you an idea of where, as you can see, things like brakes and tires and suspension issues we look at. So if your vehicle has some clunks when you go over bumps, there's a pretty good chance this inspection will find them. If you have a major coolant leak, we'll generally find that as well. But there are a lot of things that aren't covered in this inspection that require further diagnostics and this is a good starting place. If further tests are needed then we can advise you from there.

Mark: So how many kilometres were on this Subaru?

Bernie: This vehicle is just shy of 90,000 kilometres. So really good shape, you know underneath there wasn't even a drip or weep of oil coming from anywhere. We don't have any record of doing the head gaskets. I'm not sure if the owner has had them done or you know, 90,000 kilometres are still not too high. But we've done many Subaru head gaskets before 90,000 Ks but these are in excellent shape. So yeah, really nice and real clean car.

Mark: And were there any issues? Did you find anything wrong with the vehicle?

Bernie: No. Just a few fluids that we'd recommended. A few fluids based on mileage and age that were discoloured from a maintenance point of view. The transmission fluid is looking discoloured and the power steering differential fluid as well. They look clean but it's good to replace those fluids on a time basis because often you can open the inspection plugs on a differential fluid, you look and that fluid looks clean. It looks perfect. Then you drain it out and there's a few little metal flakes and filings and things that you don't really get to see until you actually drain the fluid. So it's good to be aware of the time and the age of these fluids and often just change them based on time. But other than that, the only thing we found, the vehicle as I mentioned, the brakes are at 4 millimetres on the front. Probably recommend 6 months to a year to replace those based on how much the owner drives the car.

Mark: So Pawlik Automotive services a lot of Subarus. How's the Forester for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, it's a really good reliable car. You know, I was thinking about this when I put that question down. Subarus are basically, the cars are the same on a lot of models. So it's not like a Forester is a lot different than an Impreza or an Outback. That a lot of them share the same drivetrain, the same engine. So that the reliability is pretty much the same cross models. Of course, the WRX is a different bird or the H6 Outback with the six cylinder is a different vehicle in some ways. But overall, super reliable, really good vehicles. I mean head gaskets are certainly the big issue on these vehicles but other than that they're pretty good.

Mark: So if you're looking for a good maintenance shop to look after your vehicle or you need service on your Subaru, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're always busy. 604-327-7112. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com or the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds and hundreds of articles and videos for your viewing pleasure. And thanks so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

Winter Tire Options

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive Vancouver and we're talking cars. How're you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So winter is coming in Vancouver. Believe it or not, it's getting cold. We know the snow will come. What kind of tire options should I be looking at for my vehicle?

Bernie: Well, there's a few ways you can go. I mean, Vancouver, if you're not familiar with our climate, it's pretty temperate. I mean it does go below freezing sometimes. A few years ago we had snow on the ground for about a month which is highly unusual. Often we won't have any snow or there'll be one snow fall and usually when that one snow falls happens and it happens before the new year, everyone's lined up in front of the tire shops. It's front page news and it's exciting because everyone waited to the last minute because they didn't think it was going to snow. So Vancouver's funny that way. You go to any other places in Canada, people have already had their snow tires on far a long time and they're prepared for winter because they know what going to happen. So Vancouver, there's a few different snow tire options. I mean, you can not put snow tires on and that might restrict when you drive your car or you can go with a couple of different options. There are all weather tires and there are full winter tires. The full snow tires, I like to call them, it has the snowflake or the M+ S emblems on the side of the tire.

Mark: So what's the difference between an all season tire and an actual winter tire or snow tire?

Bernie: Well all season tires are meant, they call them all season so, you think well great, they're good for snow and they're good for everything but I think they used to be sold like that but as time has gone by, you know, we've realized that they're really not that good in the snow. They're good for rain. They're good for, they're basically three season tires. But once snow hits, they're not that good. The rubber compounds are harder and firmer. Softer rubber is better in snow and icy conditions and that's what snow tires have. Also, all weather tires, they have a combination between a soft rubber and a durable rubber. So you have the best of both worlds. So those are really a four season type of tire.

And I was going to talk a little bit of history on snow tires because you know, for people like us who have a fair bit of grey on our heads and you know beyond 50 years old, we kind of remember the days when cars, a lot of cars, were rear wheel drive or front wheel drive only. Now there's a lot of all wheel drive but in the traditional days of rear wheel drive, you know, people who did put snow tires on would just put them on the rear driving wheels and they'd leave their regular tires on the front. That was kind of the traditional thing to do or maybe put some chains on the back and it was all about getting traction so we could move forward in the snow. And not a lot of consideration was given to how does the car actually handle.

But nowadays, of course, we always use four tires on the vehicle because tire technology is really improved to the point where you can actually get much better handling and much safer handling with having four tires. Also with ABS brakes now which every car has, you get better stopping ability because you have evenness. So the key is to having same rubber compounds all the way around, the car will stop better as well.

Mark: So just to make the point again. You don't just put snow tires on the driving wheels.

Bernie: No. I mean there might be places. If you're somewhere in the deep north where there's you know, a crazy amount of snow and there's to a lot of people on the road, maybe you'd do that. But I think that really, I can't imagine anyone doing that. At least where we are it's always all four wheels. So yeah, that's an ancient practise.

Mark: So with that point clarified, what kind of options do I have as far as snow tires or all seasons?

Bernie: Yeah, so I mentioned the idea of you could just leave you all season tires on. If you're only driving, let's say for Vancouver, you're only driving around the city you know, you could just leave your all season tires on. You might find though, that when it snows out, depending on on the kind of car you have, you may not be going anywhere in a hurry. So that's something. If you're willing to just say, "Hey you know what, if it snows I'm going to park my car". Fine. But if you're going to do any driving that you know you're going to be driving if it snows and it very likely will. Or you're going to be going over any roads that require snow tires and there's a lot of them around this area. You know, highways leading out of town or if you live anywhere outside of Vancouver which a lot of people do and you're in a mountainous area with snow. Well you're going to need to, you should have some winter or snow tires on the car. A, you may get fined and B, you simply may not go anywhere. So that leaves you two options. All weather tires which I'd mentioned a little earlier which are like a four season type of tire. You don't have to take them off the car. You can leave them on year round. Or pure snow tires which you would change seasonally. You put the snow tires on obviously in the winter. Take them off and use your all season or summer type tires in the summer.

Mark: Ok, so if I go with a winter tire option, I need to switch them over every winter season and back in the spring. Is it better to get dedicated rims for those tires or is switching them back and forth ok?

Bernie: Well you can switch them back and forth certainly, but I think dedicated rims are really a great way to go. The initial investment of course, is heftier. You have to buy a set of rims and a lot of people opt for the sort of steel wheels which look kind of, in my opinion, a little ugly, so if you're willing your car to look ugly for a few months. You can always buy a fancier wheel too if you want, but I mean, it's a lot better, the initial investment is more money but down the road it's cheaper because you pay much less money for mounting and balancing your tires. Plus it's not so hard on your rims. I mean every time you take a tire on and off a rim, you're rebalancing it. You're causing wear to the tires and to the rim. So over time, it really does pay off. As I say, it's an investment but it's the better way to go.

Mark: So is there any reason why you would just go with winter tires and just keep them on instead of switching between the seasons?

Bernie: Well no, you would never do that. If you leave your winter tires on during the summer, the rubber compounds are very soft and they can start wearing really funny. Now I've seen the odd person do it and sometimes they get away with it and I've had some other people with cars where you know, by the time July hits, the tire treads are worn in the wonkiest patterns because you know, the heat off the road just basically destroys the tire. So if you have winter tires, you need to change them but this is where all weather tires come in. So the all weather tires are basically, as I was saying earlier, that it's a combination tire that has good handling in the snow. They're actually rated as a snow tire. They have the mountain and the snowflake emblem on them. So they're a legal snow tire and they handle well in the snow but they also have, the rubber compound is such that it can handle the heat as well. So it's a really awesome compromise and the thing about that that's great is you don't have to mount and dismount them. You buy them one time. You don't worry about storing your tires anywhere. So that's a really good option to consider as well.

Mark: Any disadvantages to those kinds of tires?

Bernie: Well they're not as good in the snow and they're not as good for durability. So that's the disadvantage. And so they're going to wear out faster than a traditional all season titre but you know, so you're paying a little bit more money but you're also saving a lot in the interim. So it really depends on what you want to get out of your car but I think all weather is a really good option. I've used them on cars I've owned myself. I think it's a really good way to go.

Mark: So how do I know when my snow tires are worn out?

Bernie: Well I mean, typically tires there are wear bars on tires and once the tread is worn down to that wear bar, the tire is legally worn out. You don't want to go that far because typically tires will, they start toy lose their handling ability way before you get down to that point. I mean, usually the tire tread, say is like at the 30-40% range you'll notice the deterioration in handling. The car will slip and slide a lot easier and with a snow tire that's even more pronounced. So good tread depth is key for snow tires. So you do want to have them at at least 40% I would say for optimum snow handling. You can have the tires measured as you go by but I'd say like you know, when the treads are down like 4 or 5 millimetres you're pretty much, and they start at like 10 or even a little thicker. When they get down to around that, you probably want to think about chaining them. You might get a little more out of them but that's kind of, again I'm talking about for optimum handling.

Mark: What about studded tires? Is that still a thing?

Bernie: Yeah studs are still available. Certainly somewhere like Vancouver, I think studded tires would be a horrible thing to have because 99% of the winter is on a dry paved road. So you have to listen to that clacking sound of studded tires and it's actually hard on the roads.There are legal requirements here and in most jurisdictions that studded tires have to be removed by a certain date. But if you live somewhere where there's continuous snow and ice on the road, studded tires are not a bad option, because you won't really notice the stud. Certainly if there's ice those certainly provide the ultimate grip.

Mark: Any final thoughts?

Bernie: You know, it's just about assessing the driving conditions, where you're going to be driving, what you're going to be doing with your car, can you afford to leave it. If you want the ultimate, of course in handling and flexibility, put the snow tires on. I mean, you can always count on getting wherever you go. It's a bit of an investment as I said with rims, but that's really the best way to go.

Mark: And always remember that getting going is the easy part in snow, stoping is the bit more sporty.

Bernie: Yeah exactly and one thing we actually hadn't, you know we just said final thoughts, but actually a couple of things just to get back into the conversation again.Handling with snow tires is much better, like with four snow tires. It also helps you go around corners and braking, but of course, you need to be cautious when you drive in snow. If I can just say a final thought, drive with caution. Especially, going up hill is one thing, and accelerating is one thing, but when it comes to stopping I mean that's when you can really lose it. So be very cautions when you drive, going around corners. You never know when sometimes the road can be, have really good traction and all of a sudden, it just turns into a slushy ice pit and you can really lose it really fast. So it's just really really good to be cautious driving in the snow. It's happened to me before. It's scary.

Mark: When your car turns into a bob sleigh, it tends to tighten a few things on your body.

Bernie: Yes it does that for sure.

Mark: So there you go. If you need some information on your tires, you want to check out your options. You need replacements or change overs for tires, you want to get an inspections on your car, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles on there. YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. And thanks so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. Happy and safe winter driving to you.

2004 Honda Accord – Axle Shaft Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, serving Vancouver and area for 38 years. Maintaining and repairing all makes and models of cars and light trucks. And of course, 21 time winners, almost lost it there, 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and we're talking cars. How're you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So 2004 Honda Accord had an axle shaft replacement. What was going on with this car?

Bernie: So this car got towed to our shop. The owner was driving it and suddenly just stopped moving forward. There was some hideous noises and the car just would not move forward. Figured maybe the transmission had blown up or something like that. So the car was brought in the shop and we had a look at it.

Mark: And what sort of testing and diagnosis did you need to do?

Bernie: Well in this case, of course, we needed to try out, we put it in drive to see if the car moved. Of course, we heard the noises. Put the car on the hoist, did a visual inspection was all the testing and diagnosis we needed to find that the axle shaft on the left side, it actually snapped in half. Now this is a one inch, sold steel bar that had worn out and actually snapped in half. Let's get into some pictures because this is really the fun part.

So there's our 2004 Accord, two door, nice car. And you know, 15 year, 16 year, 15-16 years old now, still in really good shape because the owner takes good care of it. There's our axle as we found it on the car. So this is looking under the driver's side. You can see the tire, the front tire here. This is the outer CV joint. The axle shaft moving in this direction and that's the other part of the axle shaft. That is just worn down to a taper which is really unusual and snapped. I have a few more pictures of this because it just intrigued me so much. Again there's another view of it. You can see this rubber piece, we'll talk about that in a minute, but this basically is a solid metal bar. This rubber piece is just fitted over top for, it's a vibration dampener but it's the axle snapped off inside of that area. And finally the axle shaft laying on the ground in two pieces. So this is the inner CV joint. This part goes into the transmission. This is the outer Cv joint which bolts into the wheel, splined and goes into the wheel hub that drives the wheel. There's rubber boots on either side and they're inside the CV joint which I call a constant velocity joint inside there. And then of course, our axle, it's broken in two. As you can see, this is pretty large piece of metal and worn down into quite a taper before it actually snapped.

Mark: Ok how? How did this break?

Bernie: Well that's an excellent question and I have to say that I think, I'd like to say that I've seen it all, well to be honest, I've never seen anything like this. We have a new technician we just recently hired who's moved from Ontario and he said he's never seen anything like this. But what I can say, is the car was from Ontario, spent at least the first 8 years of it's life in Ontario, so subject to salt and the you know kind of ugly road conditions and you can see the sort of rustiness on that shaft which is not something you'd normally see in a car that was say, driven around Vancouver for it's life.

So there's some road salt for sure, maybe some grit got in there and then sat in behind. Again, I'll just get this picture up here. You know, there's some grit probably got in behind this little vibration dampener piece here and probably just slowly wore away the metal of the shaft. That's the only thing I can think of. It's just a very unusual situation. If this piece wasn't here, this probably would not have happened but I think it just created a perfect trap for salt and dirt to just sit in and eventually just ground away the shaft. There's really very little movement of this part because it's basically just a bolted on a piece of rubber. But somehow there must of been enough flex and movement that just over time wore it away.

Mark: It wasn't rotating on the shaft that rubber dampener?

Bernie: No it doesn't rotate. It's actually clamped onto the shaft and these parts are, they install these from the factory. When we get replacement axles, they ever normally have these pieces. I believe it's a vibration dampener, I don't even know 100% for certain, but replacement axles don't normally have them because they tend to be cheaper quality. I hate to say that but they don't ever cause any problems, it's never noticed, oh the car's vibrating like crazy because you don't have a vibration dampener on the axle.

Mark: So what are the usual issues you find with drive axles?

Bernie: Well let me, actually I'll go back into the screen share because this is a good, this picture of this axle is actually a really good thing to look at again. So the usual issues with axles are the CV joints will wear out and that CV joint is hidden inside this area here or inside this one here and the outer front CV joints are subject to a lot of abuse. The wheel, not only is the wheel rotating and pushing the car back and forth and sometimes if you accelerate hard there's a lot of pressure put on this but also as you turn and go around a corner, it's putting pressure on an angle. So this joint is subject to a lot of force and wear and it used to be that these joints would wear out a lot. In the earlier days of front wheel drive cars, replacing CV joints as a frequent service because they'd start clicking and clunking and that's not really happening a lot anymore which is a good thing. They've beefed up the quality of these parts substantially over the years. So that replacing CV joints is not overly as common of a service as we used to do. The other part that wears out probably more frequently is this boot. This is a rubber boot and again, it's subject to wear because it's twisting and moving around. Sometimes, the inner boots. This is common on Subarus. The inner boots will often wear because they sit right over top of the exhaust system where there's a lot of heat. So the boot will tend to crack. But the quality of these rubber boots also has improved over the last couple of decades. Again, you know, in sort of the 80s and 90s, a lot of these boots were made out of a rubber that would crack and by the time you it a 100,000 kilometres, a lot of these boots would crack. We'd end up replacing them. But nowadays, they tend to last much much longer. You can see that this boot has been seeping a bit of grease. This darkness here. There's even a little a bit of grease right here. There's a bit of grease that's starting to seep out of this boot. But again it's not broken or torn, so that's pretty amazing for a 15 year old axle shaft. So those are kind of the common things. I have seen the odd axle break but usually I think the last time I saw something, the actual cage, there's a cage that holds the ball bearings, had snapped and so it wouldn't allow, it sort of allowed the ball bearings to fall out of place. But a shaft broken like this, first time and probably the last time.

Mark: Well you never know. With electric cars they have a lot of torque. They might snap axle shafts.

Bernie: That's a good point. I mean we really don't know again with electric cars, we really don't know. But the good news with electric cars and all that torque is they're using axle shafts that have been used for a long time on gasoline powered cars. That you know, they've beefed them up to be pretty strong. So but you never know. Maybe that'll be the issue. You know, there will always be something on every kind of car that that's a common problem and maybe on electric cars it'll be the axle shaft. Who knows - probably not though.

Mark: Hondas have a reputation for being very reliable. How is this generation of Accord?

Bernie: Yeah, this is a super reliable car. It's really good. You know, the owner of this car takes good care of it and we service a lot of others that you know, around this vintage and there's still good cars. You know worth fixing. Worth keeping. There's not really a lot of engine problems. There are some transmission problems with these around this model year. So you do have to be a little careful with that but other than that, you know generally engines are really good. Do have timing belts so that is an expensive maintenance service that needs to be done. But you know, once it's done it's good for a long time. This is definitely on my recommended list car.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Honda or your axle shafts 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 and book ahead they're always busy. Lots of cars to fix in Vancouver. And of course, thanks so much for watching the podcast and listening. And of course, you can check us out at pawlikautomotive.com, the website, over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars. Over 300 videos on the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, thanks for watching.

2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thirty eight years repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver. Twenty one time, only 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: 2008 Mercedes GL320 had some problem with the air suspension. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop not sitting properly. One corner of the vehicle was leaning down too low. Yeah, so that's basically the client's complaint. The suspension system just wasn't levelling itself out properly.

Mark: So how do you test to find out the cause of this?

Bernie: Well, first of course, a visual inspection. Then there's a couple of buttons on the dash you can press to raise and lower the vehicle. That wasn't working. Next step, a scan tool. A good quality diagnostic scan tool. We found a couple of codes in the system with low system pressure, and then we performed some diagnostic tests. The scan tool we have is awesome. You can run a number of tests where you can set the level of each air spring. You can test the pressures in different parts of the system. And what we found is basically the pressure was very low, and nothing we did would would operate. As the test went by we found the compressor basically was not operative and it basically died.

Mark: So, is the compressor the only part that you replaced?

Bernie: No, we also replaced the ... There's a solenoid valve pack located right above the compressor. We'll get into some pictures in a minute, but that's also a common failure item on this vehicle. It was original, like the compressor was, and so it was a good time to replace that piece. And not a lot of extra labor involved with the compressor out and it just made a lot of sense.

It's good to do these things. Often when parts are located nearby each other, there are sort of common failure items to replace them in partnership. It makes for the repair bill a little higher, but then the customer's not going to be coming back in a month or two or six months or maybe even a year going, "Oh, this side's not opening or closing. This spring's sitting too low," because this part's failed now. Then you've got to pull everything apart again and change the other piece. So, it kind of makes for a more thorough, satisfying repair.

Mark: And adds longevity. So did you find any other issues when performing these repairs?

Bernie: Yeah, we did. And what I'll do, let's just get into a quick picture share and then I'll talk about some other issues.

There's our full size GL320. This is a diesel. Again, yeah the full size, the ML's similar but a shorter, slightly smaller version. So this is a Mercedes full size SUV.

And, other pictures. So let's have a look. This is the compressor. This is with the right fender liner removed, so the wheel would be sitting right here. There's a big plastic fender liner comes out, and there's the air suspension compressor located right in this area here. The a solenoid valve pack that I mentioned is located right up here. We'll just get into a little more of a closeup picture of this piece.

This is the compressor, sort of viewed side on. This is the air inlet hose where the air is sucked into the compressor. So the red arrow indicates the compressor unit, which it goes back in, it's a fairly large piece, goes back in a little ways. And then the a solenoid valve pack sits up here. Basically, this is the main airline from the compressor and then it has five other lines that go off to various other areas on the vehicle. Four to the air springs, and one goes elsewhere, which is probably a vent line or possibly an air reservoir. Anyways, six lines on that piece.

Now what else have we got here? Yeah, so what else did we find? This is the main power connector to the compressor. This runs the compressor motor, and as you can see, it looks a little ugly. When I removed this, there's two electrical connectors. One of them which operates a solenoid, popped off right away. This one here required a bit of a hammer to bang it off and it was pretty evident as to why the connector was stuck. It basically had overheated in this plastic and melted. And why it overheated, this adds another issue that needed to be repaired.

Fortunately, Mercedes has repair wires and a nice connector plug in stock, so we can actually take these wires, cut them, solder them, put proper heat shrink covering on it, and it's got proper weather packs and a nice connector and everything fits well, and it's going to ensure the right connection to the compressor. So, that was the other additional repair we found, that this wiring plug had overheated.

Mark: So once you replace all this stuff, is it just turn the car on and everything works, or is there something else that you need to do?

Bernie: Well, you'd think it would because it's all computerized and it has ride height sensors and pressure sensors, and it would go, "Okay, there's not enough pressure in the system. Let's pump that up and let's raise and lower the height of the vehicle," but it doesn't seem to work that way. It seems to require a bit of finessing to get it going. So I had to basically manually power up the compressor to build up the pressure, and then from there, on our scan tool there's some height adjustments you can do to adjust the height level of the vehicle. And so that's a bit of an involved procedure, but once we did that then the vehicle sat properly and the whole system came back to life.

Mark: So, why did this compress your die? Is it just old age? This is an 11 year old vehicle.

Bernie: Well, old age is part of it. They only have a limited life span, and 11 years is a pretty good run for one of these parts. But the other thing, a bit of history on this vehicle, a couple of months ago the owner had some issues with the suspension system and we found the two front air struts were leaking air. The right rear also had a leak or there was something going on with the right rear. I believe the left rear had been previously replaced.

So we replaced three of the four air struts. So that, of course, taxes the system. This system runs very hot, as you can see, those wires that were melted. There's a lot of current. This system is fused with a 40 amp fuse, which is pretty large. And in my process of filling the air suspension compressor I put in a test relay, which basically bypasses the system and allows me just to power up the compressor.

And after running it for about three minutes, I pulled the relay out and it was so hot I could barely touch the connector pins. So there's a lot of heat generated, a lot of current flow, and so if you run the compressor a little too long it'll shorten the lifespan for sure.

So had these air struts not leaked, chances are the compressor may have lasted longer. But this is also one of the higher failure items on any air suspension system. The compressor, it works hard. It's not always on, but several times a day or during a drive it'll be on to adjust the suspension system.

Mark: So just so we're clear about it, when the air is leaking out of the air struts, the compressor has to run to try and replace that air that's leaking out so it's running a lot more.

Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. And what'll happen too is, there are timers in different vehicles, they have timers on the compressor or temperature sensors on some of them. So, if the temperature exceeds a certain amount in the compressor or runs for a certain amount of time, it'll just time it out. And this is when you start noticing how the car is not ... It won't level out properly because the compressor will run for a while, then it just shuts off and then it has to cool down and it'll run for a while longer. So there are built in features to prevent them from overheating and burning out, because that will happen if you have a bad leak. It'll just keep running and it'd fry the compressor, and who knows what other wiring issues will happen, too?

Mark: So, is there anything that an owner of an air suspension vehicle can do to lengthen the life of the compressor?

Bernie: Well there isn't really, other than if you happen to notice the vehicle's sitting funny, certainly get it diagnosed and fixed right away because that'll probably be causing the compressor to run too frequently. And so, the faster you can repair it, the longer your life of your compressor will be. So, that would really be the only thing I'd advise. Other than that, I mean, it's a self contained sealed system. There's no filters to change or anything else to do it. It really kind of runs itself, and the components will last as long as they do.

10 to 15 years is kind of what you're going to get out of an air suspension spring, so if you own an older one you can kind of count on they're all going to need to be replaced if it's 10 years old or older. They're all living on borrowed time. They are expensive, but an air suspension is awesome because you do have control over the height of the vehicle. You can raise and lower it in most cases for better ground clearance, or drop it down for better handling. If you pack it full of people and cargo, the car rides nice. But it all does come at a price.

Mark: So just to go back into this leak, how would you know that there's a leak in your air suspension? You come out and the car's sitting funny, or it's lowered?

Bernie: Exactly. You'll come out in the car sitting funny. That's the kind of thing where you come out in the morning, maybe you park your car at night, you come out in the morning and maybe the left front corner of the car is sitting too low or the right rear, or whatever it is. One corner of the car will be sitting too low, or you might-

Mark: Or all of them.

Bernie: Or all of them, yeah. If they're all down, that's an issue, too. You know, it's interesting. We actually have another Mercedes of this exact type in the shop right now, and the owner complained some issue with the air suspension. We looked at, it seemed to be fine. It needed some other work, so we did some other work on the vehicle. Brakes and a couple of other services. Put the vehicle back on the ground, drove out and the front air springs junk sunk. So they had tiny little leaks that weren't really apparent, but then after looking at it, okay the left front struts leaking. Of course now both of the front ones dive. So it needs air struts on that vehicle, too.

So if you notice anything that's sitting off, right away, that's the time to get it in for repairs. Unfortunately you go, "Oh yeah, it's going to cost money." It will, but it's better to do it sooner than later.

Mark: Yeah. It's going to cost money right away, but if you leave it, it's going to cost a heck of a lot more because now you're replacing the compressor.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. And the thing is, it may be that inevitably the compressor's going to go anyway because if it's original, it's never been replaced, and the vehicle's again, 10, 12 years old, the compressor's probably not got a lot of life left in it anyways. But fix it as fast as you can. That's the key with any vehicle. You fix what's broken, or any noticeable issue, fix that first and that'll save you money in the long term.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes or air suspension vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book. You have to call and book ahead, they're always busy. The website, pawlikautomotive.com. 640 plus articles and videos on there for your viewing pleasure. Dig in. There's tons of information on repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars. How to prepare your car for winter, et cetera. Of course, Pawlik Auto Repair is our YouTube channel where we have, again, quite a few hundred videos talking about all makes and models of cars. Thanks so much for listening to the podcast and watching. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

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