Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

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.

2010 Nissan Cube, Maintenance and Repairs

Mark: Hi it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience 21 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver, only 21 times. It's a lot of years of doing a fantastic job for the residents of Vancouver and area. People come from a long ways actually just to get their vehicles serviced at Pawlik and it's because they do a good job. Today we're talking about a 2010 Nissan Cube that had some maintenance and repair issues. What was happening with this Rubik's cube?

Bernie: Rubik's cube, that's a good name for it. I've just got to start with a picture of the car because it's just such a unique looking vehicle this cube. I don't know if it's ugly or good looking but it's certainly an exceptionally practical use of space. It's a box car let's put it that way. So, there's our picture for the day.

So yeah the vehicle, so this has been a regular client of ours for many years. We've serviced this car since new. It came in for a maintenance service, a B service, it had, some of the complaints were some clunks in the steering and suspension area of the vehicle or when you're going over bumps and it was due for a B service.

Mark: So you mentioned clunks. What did you find was causing that?

Bernie: There was some worn out control arm bushings in the front, and also sway bar end links, and the upper strut plates were worn out as well on the vehicle. So there was a number of items causing clunks and thunks when you go over bumps.

Mark: So was that just replacing the struts and tie rod ends or?

Bernie: Exactly. In the case of this vehicle the struts seemed to be in pretty good shape so we just ended up replacing the strut plates and the struts felt really firm even though the vehicle is getting on in age and probably around the time you should replace them. It just made sense to do the plates. It's not that difficult to do the job. And the control arms we replaced, mostly what wears out with control arms are the bushings. The bushings a flexible rubber attachment piece that it's bolted between the frame of the vehicle and the control arm or the end of the control arm and the steering knuckle unloads off the ball joint at that end.

But there's a lot of movement of actually these joints or the bushings tear or crack and then they get excessive play and cause a thunking and bumping sound. So, sometimes you can change just a bushing other times the whole control arm needs to be replaced and sometimes even if you can do the bushing it makes more sense to do the control arm and because the ball joint may wear out soon so why not just do the whole thing and then it's complete and done.

Mark: So during a B service, that's your more extensive service item. You also look at maintenance items like spark plugs, fluids, lubricating, all the basically checking everything. What else did you find in this?

Bernie: Yeah. So, we basically cover all of that now. Things like spark plugs we don't necessarily visually inspect them. On this vehicle spark plugs are to difficult to access so we look at maintenance rec and we look at manufacturers maintenance recommendations and we look at our own history or if it's a new client to us we find out from the client, "Do you know if these had been done recently?" Other items like fluids of course we inspect them, we do this B service is a comprehensive inspection so we also do a wheel off brake inspection. We look at everything quite thoroughly, lubricate door locks, hinges and latches, those kinds of things to keep the vehicle in good order so when you pop the hood it pops up or you open the doors it's not a creaking sound, those kind of preventative maintenance items we do.

Mark: And you guys follow a checklist to do this, right?

Bernie: We have a checklist and we do this with our electronic inspection which I think we've talked about in previous podcasts or videos. And yeah, we follow a pretty thorough checklist of things to look at.

Mark: What is it a 138 point something like that?

Bernie: We don't have a point number. The inspection we used to do had 150 points on it. This one probably has either more or less depending on the kind of car we work on. So, it really depends on what the vehicle is but as I said there's a very thorough list that pretty well covers everything. It doesn't cover diagnosis so we may have clients who come in, "Hey, my check engine lights on." And certain vehicles we will include a vehicle scan and we can give at least a code report on, "Hey, this is a particular code." But to actually test and diagnose that is an additional cost. So, but a lot of other things we do on a B service where as long as it's reasonably accessible we will test the battery and charging system with test equipment. So again, you get a report on that kind of thing and the pressure adjusted cooling system. So again, if there's hoses or things that are about to fail we can find those kinds of things too.

Mark: And did you find anything else that was due in that department on the Rubik's cube?

Bernie: Yeah, the spark plugs were due for replacement. We did those. And there was a couple of other fluids that were discoloured and needed to be done so we also serviced those as well at the same time.

Mark: And how many kilometres were on this vehicle?

Bernie: About 200 it's actually got a fair amount. The vehicles actually in good shape for the age and the owner has been pretty good in terms of doing maintenance on it. I have to say, I can't say quite perfect. There's been times where oil changes have been left a lot longer than they should have and the vehicles survived well. It's not something I recommend to anyone. You should always do your oil changes on time or sooner. There's just so many expensive things to go wrong but some people do tend to push the envelope and this one has survived well so far.

Mark: And how our Nissan Cubes for reliability?

Bernie: Well I can't say we've worked on a ton of them because there aren't a ton of them around but based on this one this has been a really car. There's been really very few issues of any sort other than just normal wear and tear. We've put a few sets of tires on it and a few sets of brakes and this is the first time we've done any sort of major suspension work on the vehicle. So, overall it's a pretty good car. I think doing proper maintenance on it it should last for quite a lot longer.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Nissan product in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. For maintenance and repairs 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. On YouTube of course there's over 350 videos on for all makes and models and types of repairs. Pawlik auto repair is their search term. And of course, thanks so much for listening and watching to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Share it with your friends. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2015 Honda CRV, Cabin Air Filter and Maintenance Service

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. It's unbelievable. 21 times. Come on. Aren't there any other good places to get your car fixed? Well, maybe not. These are the guys that their customers vote for as being the best auto repair in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well, and there are lots of other great shops around. We're just fortunate to have customers who vote for us, which is... Thank you.

Mark: So there you go. The guys at Pawlik do a great job. Today, we're talking about a 2015 Honda CRV that had a cabin air filter that needed changing. What was going on with this Honda?

Bernie: So the vehicle came to us for an A maintenance service, which is the most basic service that's required on the vehicle. It's essentially an oil change with a basic vehicle inspection. So what we do during that service is look at the lights, adjust the tire pressures, inspect the fluids. We use a two post hoist, so we get the vehicle up in the air, we can wiggle the wheels, make sure there's nothing obviously wrong with them, anything obviously loose. This vehicle's pretty low kilometre, so wouldn't expect to find anything, but you never know. Yeah and that basically covers it. The B service is more involved, which we take wheels off and look at things in more depth. The A service is pretty thorough for what we do. We also found the cabin air filter was dirty and that needed to be replaced. That was really the only other thing that was due at this point in time.

Mark: So what does that look like?

Bernie: Cabin air filter, well let's have a look, because this one, this one was a nice dirty one so it's worth a couple of pictures.

So there's our 2015 CRV, we just washed it. It's a fall... You can tell it's a fall day in Vancouver because there's leaves that have fallen on the ground and it's been moist out. There's the cabin air filter, typical, very dirty cabin air filter. Just so... I don't have a picture of a brand new one, but this white is basically how the whole filter should look. There should be none of this grey, dirty stuff. So this vehicle's four years old, about 50,000 kilometres, a bit less than that. This filter's definitely not been changed. So that's kind of what 50,000 kilometres of driving around the city of Vancouver and maybe Province of British Columbia will do. These filters will get dirtier or less dirty depending on where you drive. So if you happen to be driving in an area with a dusty climate, this filter will plug up certainly a lot quicker.

Mark: Is replacing the cabin air filter complicated?

Bernie: No, it's a really, really pretty straightforward service. And as much as we like to do everything on people's cars, I mean if you're somewhat handy in doing it yourself, it's not a hard thing to do on this vehicle. It's just accessible from the inside and it's not a difficult service to do.

Mark: So the filter that's dirty, what kind of damage does it cause?

Bernie: Well, nothing really. And as bad as this filter is, we've actually seen a few that are even worse than this. But I mean what can happen is it can put some strain on the heater blower system because you're sucking against a blockage. But I can't think of in my whole automotive career where we've ever had one where you can sort of... The motor is straining and you can tell afterwards that it's working better. But clearly there will be some difference in terms of how the air flows to the vehicle. But I've never seen any damage caused by one, but we have seen some tend to come apart and they could get in and tend to block parts of the heater blower of the squirrel cage fan. So again, it's important to change it on a regular basis and regular... This car is four years old. So this has gotten the most life out of it. It's probably gone a little too long, but probably every three years on average is a good time to do a cabin air filter in a car.

Mark: And of course there's whatever it's causing damage as far as your lungs are going.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. And I was thinking a little bit, while kind of putting this podcast together, what... For so many years, cars never had cabin air filters. This is something that's sort of been around for maybe the last 15 years. And many cars never had them in the past. So what's changed? I think car cabins have become more sealed than they used to be. If you think of cars back in the 60s, it wasn't entirely abnormal to have wind whistling, air leaks, and only something like a Cadillac would probably be really air tight. Even then it wouldn't be. So, there's a lot... You're kind of breathing a lot of air that's in a more confined space so you want to kind of keep it clean. Plus the world's getting probably more polluted and people spend more time sitting in their cars in traffic jams with diesel trucks and those are cleaner than they used to be, but city diesel trucks, all those kinds of things I think contributed to the idea of "Hey, let's make the long driving experience a little more pleasant."

Mark: So not all cars today even have cabin air filters?

Bernie: Nope, not all of them. Most cars I'd say do. But a lot of times, that's the kind of a regular maintenance item we look for on vehicles. And if it's a new client or someone who we haven't done the cabin air filter for, sometimes it's kind of a surprise when you find, "Oh, this car doesn't have one." So yeah, not every car has one. I'd say that probably 80% do. Might even be... That number might even be higher now. But yeah, not every car has one.

Mark: And how reliable are the 2015 Honda CRVs?

Bernie: Well, I was going to immediately go, "Oh yeah, these are super reliable, like all Honda's," but these are still a little bit new to us at our shop. It seems like cars that are a little older, we tend to service a little more frequently and haven't seen a lot of problems with CRVs. But these... So I did a little research and there's actually a number of complaints in these vehicles. Engine vibration problems. Not certain exactly what the cause of that is. But that seems to be about the biggest complaint in this vehicle, engine vibration problems. Interestingly enough, looking at the newer CRVs of 2017 and '18 that these are different engine, there's a lot of problems and this is pretty serious fuel contamination in the engine oil. So the oil level starts going up because there's gasoline somehow leaking into the engine lubricating system and that can cause some serious damage breaking down the engine oil and causing engine damage. So that's a pretty serious issue.

So I think with the CRV, it's good to be a little cautious and expect you might have a few more problems than you would from the past models. Again this is a car, maybe if you're buying a used one, you might even consider getting an extended warranty. I often say with Japanese cars, I don't worry about it because they're so reliable. But this one, this one may have a few issues.

Mark: So there you go. A bit of word of caution on the newer models of Honda CRV. If you're looking for service in Vancouver for your Honda, your guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. There's hundreds of videos in both places and blog posts on repairs. Huge range of repairs, huge range of makes and models. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. It's appreciated.

2007 Dodge Sprinter 3L Diesel – Hard Starting Issue

Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert here 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. These are online polls that customers, some of the magazines and newspapers in Vancouver create every year and Pawlik has won 21 times Best Auto Repair. They're not involved in it. They're just getting voted for by their customers. How're you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well, doing very well.

Mark: So a 2007 Dodge Sprinter 3 litre diesel. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, the owner had a couple of concerns. There was a suspension clunk but her primary concern was the vehicle is hard to start sometimes. The weather's been getting a little colder in Vancouver and there's been a couple of times where she had to crank the engine over, it wouldn't start and then back a little later and it started up. So that was the primary concern of the vehicle.

Mark: So what, where do you start to test for that? What did you find?

Bernie: Yeah, well for starting of course, is just to actually try the vehicle. So we left the vehicle overnight and tried it the next morning and I actually looked at it myself just briefly and cranking it over I could hear that the engine was a little laboured and I noticed a glow plug light on the dash stayed on for a very excessively long time which is kind of unusual in these vehicles. It's usually a few seconds and then it shuts off. So ok there's something going on there. You could just tell by the way it was cranking over that the battery may have been a bit weak or the glow plugs were bad or something of that nature. So I mean that's the first step is just to verify the clients concern. It did actually start for us. Ran a little rough for a bit and then picked up and smoothed out. So the next step is to hook up a diagnostic scan tool. We have a really good one for European vehicles, and just do a full vehicle system scan and from that we've got a nice report and a lot of really good information which I will actually share right now.

So this is just the engine module. There's a screen capture of what our scan tool prints out for the engine module. These are a list of stored codes. You can see, a lot of this stuff will look like gibberish, but I'll go through it step by step. So again, some codes stored, current and stored MIL means the check engine light is on. Interestingly enough and I have to verify that because we're still in process of looking at this vehicle. I didn't notice the check engine being on which is interesting. Either the bulbs burned out, someone removed it because this vehicle was purchased about a year ago. It's possible someone actually removed them, removed the bulb or it just burnt out or there's some other malfunction of some sort. But anyways these are you know, this is an interesting issue. Its something definitely to be looked at. But there's codes, glow plug cylinder three, cylinder 5, cylinder 2. Open circuit, basically means a glow plug isn't, the circuit's open. It doesn't necessarily mean the glow plug itself is bad. It probably is the glow plug. There's also another code here, Mercedes uses all these interesting codes and you've got, there's a lot of studying we have to do to get knowledgeable in these vehicles but glow plug output stages excessive temperature and the output stage is basically the module. Again here output stage supply voltage is low. So I mean, this could indicate that the battery is weak but a very common problem with these vehicles is the glow plug modules go bad. As well as the glow plugs. You know, this vehicle is a 2007, that's 12 years old. Perfectly legit that you'd have a few glow plugs worn our at this point in time and they usually do wear out sooner. Couple other interesting codes here. Not likely going to affect the starting of the vehicle but definitely the running condition, right EKAS end position sensor and the left, and these are on the intake manifold runner indicating that the actual intake manifold runner valves are not opening properly. And then this last code down here, diesel particulate filters, soot content of the particulate filter is too high for regeneration. So that again is an issue that might be a plug particulate, sorry, a particulate filter but it could also be that the vehicle has just not been run hot enough for a long period of time.

Mark: Wow, looks like there's a lot to repair there. Where would you start?

Bernie: Yeah, of course with the clients concern, where we start is with the glow plug issues. I mean that would be the place to start. The battery test is something we haven't done yet but if the battery is weak, absolutely replace that, replace the glow plug module and the glow plugs and then these other codes of course are issues to be dealt with. But in a separate manner. I'll just share some more pictures here.

Here's a picture of some glow plugs. This is actually not for this particular engine but it's a kind of similar. It's a you know, the power wire connects up here, the glow plug is grounded through the threaded body of the glow plug through the engine and then this is a heating element and if you actually test this on a bench, it gets very red. Almost instantaneously. So this thing heats up and in like you know a second. You have like red hot heat to warm the cylinder. The glow plug control unit is, basically this is a view of what a new one looks like. There's a main power wire and then there's wires that go off to each glow plug. And this unit monitors, not only powers the glow plugs, but it monitors the resistance in the circuit. And so it can tell whether these glow plugs are actually doing what they're supposed to be doing and set a code back to the computer if it's not functioning properly.

And finally, there's those codes at that EKAS sensor and this is actually a view from a different engine but the same design of engine with the intake manifold off. And this is the intake manifold runner valves. This is a very common problem on these engines. There are plastic intake runners and there's a little motor here called a swirl valve motor. It basically actuates this rod here. There's two of them. One on each manifold. It changes the intake manifold porting, depending on what speed the engine is going at. And there's a sensor right here and this sensor will actually tell whether this rod is being moved to the proper position because of that code, to me it would indicate that this rod is probably worn out. Happens all the time. Carbon buildup is a common problem. There's a few ways to cure this one. It's often to replace a complete manifold. It may also mean that the sensor is bad. We'e had them where the rods work but the sensors are bad. So that's another issue. So those are a few things. But this is a very expensive repair. It's common on these engines. That kind of soot and carbon deposit is common and it's just something that kind of happens with engines. And seeing as there was a code for soot particles, a particulate filter to soot it up, chances are that these are probably pretty sooted too on this vehicle. It's not driven a lot.

Mark: So this vehicle, you've mentioned that this is a Mercedes engine, a couple time which might puzzle some folks. This is from the generation when Dodge Chrysler was owned by Mercedes and they were sharing some of their technology back and forth. So that doesn't occur anymore, I don't think because it's Fiat that owns Chrysler at this point.

Bernie: They now use Fiat diesels. I don't know if that's better or worse.

Mark: So why would there be so much carbon and issues on this engine? Just a bad engine design or is there something else?

Bernie: It's just typical of any modern diesel with and EGR system and carbon buildup just happens. It's a part of how these things work. There are specific cleaning tools that are available. We don't own any. They're difficult to use and actually in Canada they're not so commonly sold anyways. But there are actually ways you can actually remove carbon deposits without taking the engine apart. But it's just a function of how these modern diesels work with the EGR system. I mean this is why we have clean diesels, "Clean Diesels" but cleaner that they used to be. You don't have a lot of particles and soot and stench coming out of the tailpipe. This is what makes that technology possible. But on the downside, we end up getting a lot of plugged passageways and things that would not have happened a couple of decades earlier on a diesel engine.

Mark: And is there a way to mitigate against that buildup?

Bernie: Well usage, you know, proper usage of a diesel is really the most important thing. And what I found out and talked with the owner of this vehicle, is that this vehicle is not driven a lot. It's only like a sort of three kilometre trips on a daily basis is how it's being used for the owners business. So this is really not a good use of a diesel engine. A diesel needs to be started up, driven long distances, nice and hot. Ideally, if you started up in the morning and you just left it idling all day long. Well not idling, but drove it around for a lot of the day and good hot drive then shut it go. That would be the best use for this kind of engine. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't do that. They just drive it around like a regular car. Maybe you know drive 5 or 10 kilometres to work, shut it off, come home and that's really not a great use of an engine like this.

Mark: So with all this list of repairs, what kind of price range? What's this going to cost to get it all fixed up?

Bernie:Well I'm just going to shoot out some random numbers. So please don't call and quote me and say, "Hey you said on your video this is what it is", but just some random numbers, you know like glow plugs could be in and around a thousand ish dollar type of repair. With he control unit, maybe a bit more. I mean the other risk with the glow plugs is that they do seize in place and these are very small items and they're very small threaded passageways. Carbon deposits build up and they can seize up from time to time. Most of the time we get lucky, but sometimes they seize up, then you have to drill them out. That can add a huge amount of extra cost to repairing it. So that's another risk and that's not factored into that cost I made there which you know can add an extra several hundred to a thousand dollars depending on what happens. This intake manifold issue, again I mean it's a few thousand dollar type of repair depending on how we do it.

There are alternatives that someone kindly actually called me, had seen one of our videos and said, "Hey have you actually seen this repair kit?" You can actually buy metal repair rods for these things. It's actually a fantastic repair. So we can actually, instead of replacing the whole manifold, actually clean all the carbon out. We have really good ways of cleaning that out when it's out of the vehicle and put these metal repair rods in which saves a lot of money over buying the complete manifold.

And you know, I hate throwing away stuff that's good. So I mean, the rest of the manifold is aluminum. It can tend to last a long time. So that is an alternative some of the times that we can do. But again either, no matter how you slice it, it's a you know a few thousand dollars to repair. And then of course, the particulate filter that one again can be in the thousands of dollars of range. So you know, we've had people, bills are way over ten thousand dollars for plugged particulate filters, turbochargers and the list can go on and on. So when I meet someone who's going, "Oh I don't have quite enough money to spend on this diagnostic." I'm going you probably want to get a different vehicle because you could be in for a very pricey journey.

Mark: So other than engine issues, how are Sprinter vans?

Bernie: They're really good and I know why people buy them. I mean it's a fantastic vehicle in terms of you'e got the nice excessive height inside. There's a variety of options in Sprinters. You can get a half ton Sprinter or you can get a dually one ton, so you can haul a lot of weight. They all have pretty much the same engine give or take the year. I've seen camper vans with Sprinters. So they're a good size vehicle. I mean the brakes tend to wear out like any other vehicle. Nothing excessive and they're not outrageously expensive to repair. The steering suspension systems are generally pretty good. So you know, there are things that go wrong but they're not, nothing worse than any other type of van. But they're a really practical van and there are some gasoline engine models available. Although I can't think of ever having repaired one, had one come in our shop. But that might be a better alternative for a lot of people. The great thing about the diesel is it is very economical fuel wise. It's just that when things go wrong and they do, you're going to be spending a lot of money to repair it.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs for your diesel vehicle in Vancouver, the experts in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos on there and blog posts about all makes and models and types of repairs including a lot on diesels. Of course, there's our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair and of course, thanks so much for listening and watching, we really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

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