Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

When Does It Make Sense To Own A Diesel?

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So one question that we've encountered quite a bit is basically people buying diesels when it's the wrong vehicle for the use case. So when does it make sense to have a diesel?

Bernie: Well, I think there's a couple of criteria that it makes sense to have a diesel. I'm thinking about some of those wrong things. I've had a number of people in the past who've bought like a... I'm just going to say Ford, I'm not picking on Ford, but they bought some Ford diesels that had been less than reliable. After spending thousands of dollars month after month to fix one thing after another, the thrill and the concept and the idea of having a... I'm going to say a, macho diesel, just wears off really fast and I see them coming back with a Ford F-150 gas powered, something a lot more sensible and what they need. We've also had a number of clients who own European vehicles, Mercedes in particular, where the the engines get carboned up or stuff happens, very expensive repairs and really, a diesel wasn't the right vehicle for them.

So when does it make sense? It makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. If you're going to buy a truck, it makes sense to buy diesel if you're hauling heavy loads frequently that's either in the truck or trailering them. If you're buying a car, it makes sense of you're driving long distances, but not short little start and stop distances. So those are really the main criteria to me of when it makes sense.

Mark: So why is that?

Bernie: Well, diesels need to warm up. They need to run hot and they take a while to warm up even with modern technology and they try to warm it up faster, a diesel takes a long time to warm up. Generally, the mass of a diesel engine, the actual engine block, is much more robust than it is on a gasoline engine because compression in a diesel is very high. The engine has to, it's a combustion, sorry... A compression ignition engine. So it has to compress the fuel, which will then explode at a certain pressure and temperature, but that requires a much more robust built engine. They're heavier, they're bigger and so they require a lot more energy to warm up.

When they're not warmed up, with modern emission controls on vehicles, which are required and they make a big difference in terms of the air that we breathe and the quality of the diesel engine, you can hear it from 10 blocks away and it's much more pleasant to drive because you actually really can't hear the engine rattling away. With all those items in place, it sends a lot of soot and particles back through the engine, they recirculate and things tend to plug up unless the engine's really hot. Then it tends to work really well. Also, a lot of modern emission equipment, like particulate filters require the engine to reach a certain temperature and highway driving is good for them because that tends to burn off the particles.

Mark: So the filters actually heat up and disperse the particles, burn them, and then re-burn them again so that they're coming out of the tailpipe more clean.

Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. They call it a filter. It's not really a filter. It's more like a storage. It's like a storage trap and then things are burned off at a later time.

Mark: One of the things that people do, I know for a fact, is take off all the emission equipment. Does that solve the problem?

Bernie: Well, it certainly solves a problem, a lot of problems in terms of carbon buildup and things plugging. It solves it for you personally, but it doesn't really solve it for the general public. Diesel soot is a known carcinogen. It's very bad. They're very tiny little particles that get in the lungs. A lot of people die from it. They don't drop dead. It's not like having been shot by a gun, you're not going to die instantly. It's a slow process, but it's a big thing. As annoying as a lot of these things are, and I can see why people remove them because the solution of not having it makes a big difference.

There's a lot of diesel trucks that used to get fantastic fuel economy. They put the emission equipment on, the fuel economy drops by 30% or 40%, you remove it, you're back way up to having an economical vehicle. But really, what makes our air in our cities good to breathe is all these emission equipment, even on gasoline engines. I always think that whenever I see an old car drive by and I can smell the stench of the exhaust, I go, "Man, I can't believe when I grew up that all cars were like that." We've done a fantastic job in terms of making gasoline powered cars really, really clean, still lots of CO2, but that doesn't smell and stink and cause at least the ground level pollution that we're used to.

It does make a big difference. Things can be removed, but it's better not to. My whole idea with this podcast is consider before you buy a diesel. Do you really need one? Because they do cost an awful lot more money to fix too. I often think all the money you save on fuel, you're just going to end up spending in ours or someone else's repair shop fixing things. So it's an important thing to look at. Consider is this the right vehicle for you because for some people, a diesel absolutely makes a lot of sense.

Mark: I guess there's a couple of other issues there. Diesel particulate in terms of it's detriment to human health is measured in parts per billion, which is incredibly small. Something over 20 parts per billion. Anything over that is detrimental to human health and there's tons of research on this now. There's literally diesel engine's soot is accounting for millions of deaths worldwide every year. This is not speculation. This is a fact. They can show it when cities like London, for instance, banned diesels from the downtown area, their air quality goes up pretty drastically, but it's also illegal isn't it? If you take that stuff off it is.

Bernie: It is. Yeah. It is illegal to do it, whether you're going to have a cop knocking on your door, probably not. Lots of people do it and I don't. We live in Vancouver, Canada, so they're not so many stringent standards. I don't know. I know California, you actually have to have your vehicle emission tested. Around here, you don't. We used to have it. We got rid of it. The air still seems pretty clean, but you can be a lot looser with your standards around here now. Honestly, does it really matter if you live out in some small town or in the middle of nowhere and your diesel puts out some particular? Not really, but every tight thing where you get more concentrated and lots more trucks and people around, it makes a huge difference really fast.

Mark: So there you go. If you're going to buy a diesel, what's your use case? Are you hauling a lot of heavy loads? Are you traveling long distances? A hundred kilometres, 150 kilometres kind of round trip every day, then maybe a diesel makes sense. Other than that, driving around town in your big 4x4 and not ever using it to haul stuff, probably not the best use case. It's costing you a lot of money. Is that a fair assessment?

Bernie: Absolutely. One thing, we actually didn't delve into too much there was car. We did just touch on it briefly, but I think a lot of salespeople do a disservice to their customers by selling them a diesel vehicle when they're really, again, they should be asking, "How much driving you do at this vehicle." This is something you've got to ask yourself if you're going to buy a diesel car or a SUV, I'm thinking like a Mercedes type of thing. There's a lot of ML320s and 350 diesels around. There's just a lot of them in our area. So many people don't buy them for what they need them for. They really should be buying the gasoline version. I think the salespeople really do a disservice by not asking, "What's your usage?" They're just, "Oh yeah, we've got this diesel. It's got great fuel economy," and people just buy it. Then a few years later, the engine's toast or things are plugged up and they're spending thousands of dollars to fix things they wouldn't have had to do. So just something to look at.

Mark: It's not an around town vehicle unless you're hauling stuff basically.

Bernie: Exactly, exactly.

Mark: Go electric. Anyways-

Bernie: Yeah, that's becoming an option if you just need short commutes, electric might be a-

Mark: Far better option.

Bernie: Yeah.

Mark: So there you go. Pawlik Automotive. If you want honest truth about your vehicle and what kind of vehicle to buy, maybe give Bernie a call: (604) 327-7112. He's looking dismayed. I've just offered free advice, but he will. They're friendly. They'll help you out. Quick conversation will ease your mind about buying the right car. Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them, again at: (604) 327-7112. Again, that's for booking appointments. They're busy. You got to call and book ahead. They're 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and PawlikAutomotive.com is the website. Check out lots of articles and videos on there about all makes and models of vehicles and repairs of them all. And of course, thanks so much for watching and listening. We appreciate it. Click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app. We appreciate it and thanks, Bernie.

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

2015 Mazda 3 – Electrical Issues

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

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: We're talking cars. We're talking about a 2015 Mazda 3 that was having electrical issues. What was happening with this Mazda?

Bernie: This vehicle came to the shop with a few concerns. One was the check engine light was on. Second, it felt like it lacked power at certain times, almost stalled, and the steering was doing something. On my service advisor note, it said funky. So, I had to call the owner and said, "What exactly happens?" He goes, "Something just feels wrong with the steering." So, and when I finally experienced the issue, yeah, funky was actually a good description for it. When I turned the steering wheel at certain times ... So, this is an electric power steering vehicle, electric power steering. I'd turn the vehicle at certain times, the steering wheel would, like, kick. It would lose it's power, and it would just kick in my hand. It was like almost, you know, almost the arm breaking kind of kick. So, it was kind of a strange issue. And then, there's a warning light on the dash for the steering. This was an intermittent issue.

Mark: So, what other testing did you do on the vehicle?

Bernie: First thing, of course, is hook up a diagnostic scan tool and scan the whole vehicle for trouble codes. And what we found was a trouble code P0882, if I remember correctly, which is a transmission control module low voltage code. From there, of course, driving the vehicle was a key thing. And, the other thing I often do is, we have a database, a program that we access that has known vehicle faults. That's usually the first place I go to, to go okay, what could be causing this issue?

So, I go in there, and no one else had ever had this problem. At least, it wasn't in this database. So, sometimes you go, "Oh, that's going to be interesting," because we're kind of maybe not the first to ever see it, but it's a first to kind of publish any issues around it.

So, I mean, I looked at the diagnostic system. Kind of tried to understand the circuit a little bit. And, I tried to understood the circuit and what was going on, and figured okay, this vehicle is not getting power to the transmission module for some reason. It's either a bad battery, charging system, or wiring. One of the above, so it's a matter of making a test.

So next was to do a road test with the vehicle, go and see what was actually happening to it. So, as I mentioned, the steering was doing weird stuff. But then, it would stop doing that. It would seem normal. So, I went out. I road tested it. Hooked up the scan tool again. Looked at the module voltage while we were driving and just to see what was going on with that. And, I've got some pictures here I can show, because it's got some neat stuff to share here.

So, there's our Mazda 3 2015. So, it's only about a four year old car. Not too old at this point in time. This is a road test. So, this is actually monitoring the power steering module. And, you can see, you know, for the most part, this is around 14, 15 volts, which is the normal electrical system. And at some point, all of a sudden, starts dropping down, spikes way up, jumps all over the place. Drops down to almost 0 volts.

So, none of this stuff should be happening. This graph should be, basically, staying kind of around 13 to 14 volts, somewhere in that range. That's where the power should be with the engine running. So, clearly, losing power in the system. And, I noted at some point during the road test, the vehicle would also, when it came to a stop, the transmission seemed to be stuck in third gear. So, I think it had gone into a limp mode now.

What I was able to do is, put the transmission back in park, then go back to drive, and then it would shift normally. But clearly, when this was happening, the transmission module was also losing power at the same time. So, we were kind of onto it.

And, the other thing I didn't mention is, we do a full system code scan. A lot of modern vehicles, you can scan every module in the vehicle. It's really important to look at that. There's a number of low voltage codes in other modules, so that indicates kind of a major power fault in the vehicle.

Then we did some further tests. Now, visually, you know, I thought to myself, "Okay, this car, it's got the original battery. It's about four years old. That's kind of an average life span of a battery." You just visually look at this battery, this is a disaster. You know, there's stuff leaked out here. The case looks bulged. There's corrosion on this terminal, which this alone could cause a lack of power. So the next test was to actually test the battery, which we did.

And, there's the results of our battery tests. Sorry it's a bit of a fuzzy picture. But, 12 volt battery, bad battery. It's supposed to do 520 cold cranking amps. This thing measures 73 cold cranking amps. Although, the voltage, interestingly enough, was good. And, the other thing strange about this vehicle was that, when you go to crank the engine over, it cranked the engine over just fine. So, that's usually the first indicator that a battery's bad, it won't crank the engine over. But, it would do that.

The other interesting thing we do is, of course, we do a full charging system test. So, it did actually test the alternator. Voltage regulator failed, diodes failed. So we have suspected maybe the alternator was bad, but I figured better to replace the battery first, and then test the system after.

Just one other, this is the vehicle. This is the Skyactiv technology, which we'll talk about a little later. Sort of a view of the engine compartment and the battery before replacement. And, what else would we see? The coolant fill here, engine oil fill, and the dip stick there. Air filter in this area, brake fluid. No power steering fluid, because it's electric, so that makes things a little simpler.

Mark: And, was there any other indication that the battery was bad?

Bernie: There wasn't. As I was saying, you know, it's interesting, because I cranked the engine over several times. Because I right away suspected, okay, maybe it's got a bad battery. Cranked the engine over many times, and every time it cranked the engine over, it was just fine every time, so ...

Mark: What happened after you replaced the battery?

Bernie: Well, so, I replaced the battery. Clear the codes in the vehicle computer, went out and road tested it. And everything looked really awesome. Like, that graph that I showed initially, that had the big spikes, none of that was there. Just, everything stayed between sort of low 13 to high 13 volt range, consistently solid the whole time, all the way through.

Then, retested the battery, retested the alternator. That code that came back, the alternator was good. The voltage regulator good, diodes good. So, the battery itself was causing the alternator to malfunction.

Mark: So is that, in your experience, is it a better approach to replace the first known bad part and then retest? Rather than just, "Oh, everything's bad. Fix it all."

Bernie: Absolutely. And, this is why we have customers who, you know, we tell them it's going to be this cost for testing and diagnostics, "Oh, I don't want to pay for that." Well, when you ... We charge for it, because it takes time and proper testing to find the issues. And, we take the time to look at that kind of thing. And, it saves you money in the end.

If you go to somewhere that's just going to go, "Well, we'll do that for free or very minimal charge," they're going to go, "Okay, you got these two bad ... " Or, they're likely going to say, "You got these two bad components. Change them both, and you know, the client's bill would have been at least 500 dollars more, had they not done that.

Now, you know, as I say, we take that two-tiered approach. Let's test this first, see how it works. If there's a savings to do both at the same time, then it's probably worth doing. But, there's no savings. They're completely separate components. It takes very little to just put the battery in, test it, and then just redo the test again and see how it is. Very little extra effort compared to ... Yeah, so that's how we do things here.

Mark: Better for the customer, and easier for you guys in the long run.

Bernie: Well, exactly. And, you know, you can sleep at night better, knowing that we did the right thing, and it's always nice to know we give the customer the best value.

Mark: And, how long should a person expect a battery to last, a car battery?

Bernie: Well usually, I mean, the average life span on a battery is usually five years. Some will last longer. Some will not last as long. I mean, this one's made it for about four. So yeah, five years is about considered average. I mean, I find most cars, yeah, probably four years, four to five.

Mark: Here's another question. So, we're talking about 12 volt starter batteries, which are very different from as we move into an electric future. Batteries are changing incredibly.

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: It's a lead acid battery. So, those dirty terminals from never being cleaned and looked after, maintained properly, is that, perhaps, led to this battery failing prematurely, slightly?

Bernie: I don't think so, actually. I think those corroded terminals actually indicate to me more like the battery's actually bad. Because what'll happen is, when a battery gets bad and old, it'll start gassing more, and it'll ... Like, there's sulfuric acid in the gas, and liquids will come out. That'll cause the corrosion worse. So, I would say it's actually the other way around. The actual battery itself will cause that.

You have a good battery and a good charging system that's not overcharging, generally, terminals don't get corroded. It normally happens from something going bad. And of course, we clean the terminals as part of the service. It's critical.

Mark: And, that's probably thinking back to old batteries when you could fill up with the acid and all that sort of stuff. These are all completely sealed batteries today. Is this more of an issue? Or less of an issue?

Bernie: Well, actually, this battery is actually not a sealed battery. You can actually pop it open and add water to it. And, to be honest, I didn't do that. We don't normally ever do that. You really don't need to do that in any regular type of battery. The only type of battery that you would ever want to service like that nowadays is a deep cycle battery. But yeah, this battery actually still, it's kind of like old technology. You can actually pop the cap open and add ... You only add water to it by the way, because only the water will evaporate out of the battery. The sulfuric acid will never actually evaporate. It all stays in the battery. So, you can add water. But, you got to be careful the kind of water you add, too. You don't want to put any highly mineralized water in, because that can create problems.

But yeah, again, it's like with the age of this battery, even if the water was low in one cell and you topped it out, chances are you'd still have problems. You know, and this battery, again, probably had some kind of internal short circuit or something that was causing it to intermittently malfunction like it did. You know, allowed the car to start, and yet, failed the load test and would intermittently go bad. So, that's kind of the issue.

You know, with batteries nowadays too, I mean, even cars, non electric cars, there's more and more electrical components, so the batteries are more critical than ever. You know, especially like electric power steering in this car. It relies on a good, strong battery. So, and a good charging system. So, even a full internal combustion engine vehicle nowadays, still having a good battery is a critical thing.

Mark: And, you mentioned the automatic transmission had a sensor that was not getting enough power. Is that part of the shifting system, using electricity?

Bernie: Exactly. Yeah, so the code that we actually had stored in the vehicle computer, the main one, was for a transmission control module lack ... You know, like, insufficient voltage. So, again, when the voltage was dropping down from the battery, and say to the steering that I'd monitored, the same thing was happening to the transmission module. And, the same would happen to the engine module as well, I would think. So, I didn't monitor that circuit. There was no code for that, but clearly, that's why the vehicle was driving strangely and the transmission was shifting funny.

Mark: And, sticking in third gear when you stopped.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it's interesting how some of these basic electrical ... Sometimes, you know, when you're testing and repairing cars, you can think, oh, it's going to be some elaborate problem. And often, the basic things are the problem, like, the battery. We had a Chrysler vehicle this week that had a whole bunch of transmission trouble codes. And, we did some research on it and found that often, a faulty alternator caused these. Tested the battery and charging system, sure enough, found the alternator had blown diodes. And, that'll cause huge voltage spikes in the system. And, that'll cause the sensors to ... The computer can't quite read the sensors properly because it's getting strange voltage signals.

So, replaced the alternator, the car was fixed. So a lot of times, the more basic electrical things ... They have to be in good shape for everything to work properly.

Mark: And, the diodes in the alternator are part of what changes that A/C current into D/C to charge and operate the systems, the CAN bus system in the car.

Bernie: Exactly. And, you know, with the blown diodes, what'll happen is, instead of getting a nice clean D/C signal, you'll get a huge spike of A/C voltage that leaks past. So, you get what's supposed to be kind of a fairly flat 14 volts will all of a sudden, will often jump up to like, 16, and it'll keep spiking up and down. And, that just causes real strange, erratic things.

I've seen numerous issues with bad alternators, so we're going to ... drifting off the battery, but the battery and alternator, they really do work hand in hand. And, a bad battery can wreck an alternator. So, it wouldn't have been surprising on this Mazda that it would have needed the alternator. It just didn't in this case. Or, a bad alternator can also wreck a battery. So either way, it's good to make sure they're both healthy.

Mark: So, this vehicle, as you mentioned, has Batman's Skyactiv technology. Does it have a bat signal?

Bernie: No, it doesn't. But, it's Skyactiv, so ...

Mark: What is Skyactiv?

Bernie: Well, it's a name, like Honda Eco Dreams, and yeah. But, it's a technology that Mazda's put together for the best fuel economy, for the best horse power, for the best fuel mileage, you know, which is important nowadays. You know, every manufacturer's trying to get the most they can out of their engines. So some of the features, it's got much higher compression. In North America, it's like 13 to one compression, which is really high for an average engine. I mean, it used to be like, 10 to one was really high. But, 13, that's like race car high. And apparently, in other markets, the engine's actually 14 to one compression, which is like, unbelievably high.

So, they're able to do this through the way they do the valving of the engine. It has direct fuel injections, as opposed to the standard port injection that we've used for many years. So, port injection injects the fuel into the intake manifold right above the intake valve, whereas direct injection, it's like a diesel and injects it directly into the cylinder. And, most engines nowadays have this technology, and it gets way more precise combustion. And, it allows things, having these high compression ratio engines.

So, high compression ratio engine is more efficient. But, there's a lot of problems like engine knock and pings. So, they've had to do a lot of work around that to make sure it doesn't knock and ping, especially on regular fuel. It's a pretty neat accomplishment.

Mark: So, if you're looking for service for your Mazda 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, because they're always busy. Very popular guys, best auto repair in Vancouver. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds, literally, over 350 videos, and blog posts on both of those places about all makes and models and types of repairs. If you like reading about cars, there's tons ... and listening about cars, or two goofy old guys talking about cars. It's on there. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. If you feel motivated, give us a like. Five stars is always nice. Thanks, Bernie.

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

2006 Range Rover Coolant Pipe Repair

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert here from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: We're talking about a Range Rover 2006 variant with a coolant pipe replacement problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop with a, it was overheating and had a coolant leak.

Mark: What testing did you need to do to find the leak?

Bernie: In this case, I mean, the first place we always start with a coolant leak is a pressure test and topping up the coolant, of course, and if it starts just gushing out, then we know something is really severe, but if it doesn't, the pressure test is the next step, so that's what we did.

What a pressure test does is it puts the cooling system under pressure that you would normally experienced when an engine is running. The engine cooling systems have a pressurized cap. Pressure builds up in the system. If you have pressure, you can... The engine can run hotter and you don't lose your coolant, so it's an important thing, so we put the cooling system under pressure like you normally have when the engine is running and, that way, we can find out where the leak is coming from.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: We found a coolant pipe located on the back of the thermostat housing. It goes between the thermostat housing and the... basically the engine block, and that was leaking. It's a plastic part. I said it before. We love plastic. I mean, unfortunately, because it wears out, they could probably make it out of metal, but they make it out of plastic to save weight and, eventually, it does wear out. Although, in all fairness, this vehicle is now 13, 14 years old, 13 years old, so it's had a pretty good life.

Mark: Is this a common failure part?

Bernie: Yeah, it is. It is because the plastic deteriorates over time. I'm going to share a few pictures while we're at it here, so there's our 2006 vintage Range Rovers, still a very good looking vehicle, say, 13 years past. It still looks great.

Here's our pipe. This is the new piece. This is the old one, and you can see a chunk of corner missing off of here, and what happens is, over time, with heat cycling and heating and cooling, eventually the plastic becomes brittle and it eventually cracks and breaks. It's not under any physical strain because it's all held in place, but it will, it does break over time just from the heat cycling, and so... and you were is this a difficult part to replace? Is that correct?

Mark: Yes.

Bernie: Yeah, so this is where the pipe is located. This is where things get difficult, because the intake manifold sits right in this area here, right over the top of the edge of this pipe, so the pipe that'd broken in that you saw was sitting right here, bolts down here, and then these are intake manifold ports of the front two cylinders. It's a V8 engine, so it blocks over here, so there's a fair bit that needs to be removed to access to this piece.

Mark: Was there anything else that needed to make this repair?

Bernie: No. Actually, fortunately, this was it. We did do a visual inspection and found that was it. We did flush the cooling system, which is a good thing to do when you have the cooling system apart like this especially if the engines got hot. It's a good thing to do. Other than that, fortunately, it was straightforward.

Mark: Why wouldn't they use metal on this?

Bernie: Yeah, I think a lot of it is weight-saving. Two things, you can more easily mold a plastic piece, so that's one reason, and the second is that it's weight-saving. You can save. When you think about an engine, if you can use plastic parts, you can probably knock 30, 50 pounds off the weight of an engine, and the lighter the engine, the more efficient it is, so, in that respect, it's a good idea. There are parts we've done like certain BMWs, older vintages, where they actually make metal replacement parts for plastic thermostat housings. In this case, this vehicle didn't have such a thing, but I'd expect the plastic to last for another 10, 12 years anyways. It's the same type of part.

Mark: This is a non-supercharged engine, I'm guessing from how easy it was to actually do. Are they more trouble-free?

Bernie: I would say overall they are. I mean, there's less components obviously you've got. You don't have the supercharger, which in and of itself is a very expensive piece. I rarely see failures with the actual supercharger on some newer ones. You'll see. We have videos on the nose cone bearing failing, but, yeah, I mean, this is a simpler engine, and the cooling system is simpler on this vehicle as well.

The supercharge versions have pipes that run underneath the supercharger and intake manifold, which tend to fail and cost a lot more money to replace. They're like a rubber pipe assembly, a pipe and hose assembly, so there's more complexity in that, so, definitely, less to go wrong. You don't get the thrill of the immediate acceleration you do with the supercharge, but these things are more than adequate, a 4.4 litre engine. It's a pretty good engine. I think, around this vintage, I find these engines are actually quite reliable.

Mark: That was my next question. How are Range Rovers for reliability?

Bernie: We have a lot of videos and podcasts on these, so there are issues I'd say. Again, I was saying this is probably one of the more reliable engine models that you'll find around this vintage. The earlier ones, certainly earlier generation engines definitely had a lot more problems with oil leaks and things. These are pretty good for oil leaks. We've done actually a couple of cooling system repairs on this particular vehicle. Hoses tend to fail and pipes after a while, but, overall, I'd say these are pretty reliable, but you've got suspension problems, too, so, if you look through our collection of videos, you'll see some of the things that we see, but they're not bad, but you'll expect to spend a little more money on a Range Rover than you would for your average SUV.

Mark: One of your favourites, in other words.

Bernie: One of our favourites, yeah. They're nice vehicles to own. People like to keep them.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your Range Rover in Vancouver, British Columbia, 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, or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds, literally, of videos and blog posts on there about different makes and models and all kinds of repairs, or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, again, hundreds of videos, all makes and models and types of repairs, and, of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Feel free to give us a like if you enjoy what we're doing, and thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.

2011 BMW 335iS – Electric Coolant Pump And Thermostat Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, or 20 time winners, I'm sorry, 20 time winners. I'm cutting you short, Bernie. We're talking cars. How you doing?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today's victim is a 2011 BMW 335is. BMW has such long names. There was problems with the electric coolant pump and the thermostat. What was going on with this BMW?

Bernie: Yeah. The owner was driving the vehicle and an amber warning light for the coolant system came on the dash. Then, shortly after, a red warning light came on and the vehicle went into a limp mode. I'm not sure whether he had it towed in or whether it was driven in but, anyways, the vehicle was not running well. The other thing that was happening at the same time as the electric coolant, there was a loud noise coming from under the engine, which was actually the fan running at high speed. That's basically how the vehicle came in with cooling system problems.

Mark: What testing did you do and what did you find?

Bernie: First testing we always do on a cooling system is to verify is there coolant in the engine? Had a visual inspection, looked at the coolant, it was down a little bit. Added some coolant to it, but it only took about not even a cup of coolant, so really not low enough to cause any sort of issues. Pressure tested the cooling system, made sure there was no leaks, there weren't any. Then, we proceeded to the next step, which is to hook up a scan tool, essential item to do in this kind of vehicle, hook up a scan tool and see what was happening with the engine running temperature and the operating temperature.

We did that, found a couple of codes stored in the engine module and ran some tests and found that basically the electric water pump was not functioning as it was supposed to. Now, that loud noise under the hood was basically the radiator fan running at high speed. Again, that's an electric fan and it'll come on whenever the computer tells it to. It'll tell it to come on, if there's a problem found with the cooling system, it will tell it to come on. That'll create the coolest possible temperature in the radiator and help cool the engine down. Say, the water pump isn't actually circulating, it'll help keep the engine cool.

Mark: Is it possible to do diagnostic procedure, I guess, on this vehicle without a scan tool?

Bernie: Pretty much impossible. I mean everything nowadays on cars, this car included, it's highly electronic. You really do need a scan tool to do pretty much anything. As I said, I mean the visual tests and the pressure tests, those are important initial tests and that could be where the problems are found. You've got to use a scan tool. You've got to have one to do any work on this kind of car.

Mark: We have some pictures.

Bernie: I do, let's get right into it. There is our 325is, I apologize if the brake rotors look a little rusty. We just washed the car and it still has a bit of moisture on it and the brakes were sitting. That's what happens with brakes when they sit, the rotors get rusted. A drive around the block, all that rust disappears. This car doesn't look quite as nice as it could. Next photo, we've got ...

Mark: Scan tool.

Bernie: Scan tool. When we do the initial test, we test the system for codes. It's always best on a lot of modern vehicles to actually test the whole vehicle. We can actually do a full vehicle code scan, because sometimes there'll be a problem in a different module that actually relates to a module you don't think is... Is not related to the engine. It's helpful to get that information. In this case, there were four codes stored in the system, two of them not really relevant, oxygen sensors.

These aren't relevant to engine overheating issues, but these two are, engine coolant pump cutoff, engine coolant pump speed deviation. What's happening here is that the computer commands the electric coolant pump to turn at a certain speed. It expects a certain thing to happen and it's not happening. That's why this speed deviation code is here. It's a pretty clear diagnosis from this based on experience that the electric coolant pump is defective. There are tests we do to warm it up, make sure there isn't anything else going on and we verified that the coolant pump was in fact the problem.

The coolant pump, let's have a look at that. There is the electric coolant pump, pretty fancy looking unit. It's got a very large motor in it, very robust piece. Even though it's a very robust large motor, they don't last as long as you think they should because this is an exceptionally common failure on any BMW that has an electric coolant pump, which is a lot of models. The business end of it here, this is where the pump impeller is. There's an electrical connector here and then there's an inlet and outlet there and there. The coolant just... Simple otherwise. Couple of other items on this vehicle, there's an electrically controlled thermostat and this is bolted up to the water pump.

We replaced it at the same time because, again, this is a failure item on these vehicles. In this case, it wasn't the failure item, but it would not make a lot of sense to take all this stuff apart and not change the thermostat at the same time. This is an electrically controlled thermostat. You can see there's a connector here with a couple of pins sticking out where the wire goes. Now, why would they have an electrically controlled thermostat? The thermostat generally, this is actually inside of the thermostat taken apart. This is the actual thermostatic piece that opens and closes.

Normally, in the past, it's got a wax pellet inside that expands with the temperature of the coolant. As the wax expands, the thermostat opens and allows coolant to flow. If the temperature gets below the specified point, then the thermostat closes again. This keeps the engine at the operating temperature it's designed to keep at, but it's limited. It'll only do that specific temperature. With electrical control, it'll actually heat the thermostat. If the computer says, "Hey. We need to open this thing faster or let's get the engine cooler or let's keep the engine hotter," it can control that thermostat opening. It allows more control over the thermostat, and that's our picture show for the day.

Mark: The coolant pump was bad. Why would they use an electric pump?

Bernie: Again, it's control. As I talked about with a thermostat, there's control that can be had with having electric components. You can switch the pump on and off. You can't do that with a mechanically belt-driven pump. It just runs. When you're idling, it runs at a certain speed. When you rev it up, it runs faster and that's the limit of control. Whereas with an electric pump, they can pump it at a low speed, a high speed, whatever requirements are needed. If the engine is getting too hot, they can pump it faster. If they want the engine to warm up really fast, you can just leave the pump off and just let the engine warm up quicker. Those are some of the things you can do. That's why the electric pump.

Mark: Ultimately, it's causing better... That's part of the system. As well as with the electric thermostat, because you're controlling temperature more exactly, you can reduce emissions and increase fuel economy.

Bernie: Exactly, and performance too. Yeah. All three of those can all be controlled much better.

Mark: Is this an expensive repair?

Bernie: I always think of expensive as being kind of a judgment call. Yeah, it's not cheap. The electric pump itself, I can't remember the price off the top of my head, it's a pretty pricey part. If you own one of these cars, you will need to replace it. No ands, ifs or buts. I own a BMW X3 with the same type of engine, the electric coolant pump's gone on it already. They go on all of them and probably sooner than they should. Yeah, I consider this to be a pretty expensive repair, certainly more than it would cost to do a mechanical pump.

Mark: How are BMW 335s for reliability?

Bernie: They're good. I was thinking, I mean it's a good car, but there are certain issues that you're going to face with this car. I mean one of them is this electric coolant pump. I mean that's a guaranteed issue. Say you buy the car from new and keep it to 130,000 kilometres, you'll need to do this electric coolant pump. You'll need to do the thermostat. You'll probably have some ignition coil problems. This car actually had one after we fixed it. Went out for a road test, the engine was misfiring, one of the coils had crapped out. I don't know whether it was brought to us like that. It was no code in the system.

It may be that as the engine got hot, it caused the coil to fail or they just do on these things. You can pretty well count on ignition coil replacement, coolant pump replacement. There will probably be some front end bushings that wear out and some brake work, which those kind of things are sort of normal and expected on pretty well any car. I mean the nice thing is these are predictable, but they are... Some of them are expensive being a BMW. Also, there's some fuel injection issues with some of them as well, injector issues with some of them as well, but that's basically it. Otherwise, it's a really nice car. This is a sporty car, fun, lots of power. It's a fun ride.

Mark: Of course, in the future, as more and more of the European specs kick in, actually at the start of 2020, almost every vehicle is going to be using an electric everything. Basically everything is going to be running... Any accessory type stuff is going to be running off electric, because they have to in order to meet the emission regulations.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. Already, we have electric power steering in a lot of vehicles, which is fantastic because there's so much more flexibility. The neat thing about electric power steering as well, it has the potential to be super expensive to repair. We've never actually repaired one electric power steering unit in our shop ever, which is maybe disappointing because we do an awful lot of conventional power steering repairs. The good news about that is that there's a component there that's been electrified that's very reliable. Not to say it's 100%. I mean there's some that have had issues and I know that a lot of those have been covered by manufacturer's warranty.

There are things that have been kind of sorted out, but it's a really reliable system. I think they've had to do that. When you build something with a steering component, I mean if there's any problem with it, you don't want a failure where the car decides to steer its own way. I mean you're just asking for major lawsuits. I think the manufacturers of, this is my guess, but I think they've just taken it, gone, "Wait a minute. We can't F around this stuff. We got to make it like bullet proofly reliable."

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW 335 or any BMW, they're experts on it at Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, you have to call and book ahead. They're busy, always busy, but they do excellent work. You can check out the reviews, really highly reviewed. Of course, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thank you for listening and watching.

Pawlik Automotive 21 Time Winners Best Auto Repair In Vancouver

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver and we have an announcement as they've been voted again as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How're you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Well, with that kind of news, I'm super happy. It's awesome being acknowledged for that.

Mark: So, it's 21 times now. Twenty one times voted as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and this is the 10th time winning Best Auto Repair in Vancouver from the Georgia Straight newspaper. Who votes for these?

Bernie: They're all readers. It's a Reader Choice Award program. And obviously these would be customers of ours who vote. So since we're not like you know, a hugely branded company like well I won't say and names, but you know there'll be customers of ours who vote, who are readers of that paper.

Mark: What do you think the value of this is?

Bernie: Well, I mean, for us. I remember the first time we won back in 2008, I was thinking, oh this is kind of nice, but I'm just kind of a humble quiet guy, something, whatever. But then I started to get some customers coming in, I saw you in the Georgia Straight. I realized, hey this is actually a pretty good acknowledgment. And so the value for us is especially after 10 times is that we're recognized as being a really awesome good auto repair shop - like best in Vancouver according to our customers. So that's a really awesome thing and you know, for people, it holds us accountable too. I mean, I would like next year to be the best auto repair shop. So we've got to keep up the good work and keep people happy.

Mark: So why do you think people got for you?

Bernie: I think the work that we do is good but I think a lot of it is how we communicate with our customers and who we are as people. I mean, are we the best auto repair shop in Vancouver in terms of work. I can't say for sure. I mean I know a lot of really really good shops in Vancouver and there's lots of great shops all over the world but I think, you know to me, it's just the relationship we have with our customers. I think allows this to happen.

Mark: So 21 times. That's a lot of years. What does it take to be able to do that for that many times, that long, you'll be able to run your business and keep your staff dedicated to looking after your customers?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean we just, to me I'm always very careful and I can't say that we've satisfied everyone a hundred percent. I mean they're all, we're human beings. They're human beings. Sometimes personalities don't work. Sometimes a job might not go as expected but I think we try really hard to make sure that people are happy and I go out of my way most of the time, to make sure that people are happy with what we do. And if something happens where I really feel like, no this is not our issue, I'll say so and I you know, that's kind of what I can say about that. But we do care that people are happy with the work that we do.

Mark: And do you feel like honesty is a big part of this?

Bernie: Absolutely. Honesty, transparency and giving people options too. You know, we have a lot of people who come to us, who come in, they may have not had their car serviced in a long time and because they haven't found someone they trust or they're too busy or well for whatever reason. And there may be a huge list of things that the car could us to get back into really premium shape but we'll prioritize things and maybe, you know you'll need to do these two or three items like right now. These are important. Six months from now, you can do these. Down the road, you can do this. Depends on your budget, what you want to do. Some people say, yeah I want you to fix everything. Other people going, you know, I'm going to get rid of the car. We just leave that option open to people. So we just leave that option open to people. So I think that's a really big contributor to how people like to deal with us.

Mark: Do you guys ever just do the work and not let the customer know and then surprise them?

Bernie: No we don't. We have a mission statement. At least if we do that and a customer says, Hey I don't want to pay for that, they can walk out without paying because, well of course, they're probably be a conversation. But we have a mission statement that says you'll never pay more that the last estimate. So you know, if we tell you, Hey Mark, you're going to be paying 200 dollars including taxes for this inspection we're going to do in your car. That's the most you can expect the bill to be unless we've phoned you up and said, of Hey by the way you need this, this and this and its going to cost this amount of money. And you say ok I want you to do that for that amount of money. Then we'll make sure we have agreement so when you come in here, you know if you're expecting a thousand dollar bill. It's going to be a thousand dollars or less. It's not going to be over that.

Mark: And that leads to 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver.

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for a reliable place and place that really values honesty and clear communication to get vehicle fixed and of course a repair shop that is very up on what's going on with cars. They have the best equipment. They invest a lot of time and money including going to trainings on electrics and hybrids and all that sort of stuff coming up. 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. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, literally hundreds of blog posts and videos on there. Hundreds of videos on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching. Thank you for voting for us, it really means a lot.

2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Not somebody just giving them a gift, that's people actually voting for them and saying this is the best. These guys know what they're doing and we're talking cars. How are you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. After an intro like that, it just puts a big smile on my face.

Mark: So we're talking about a 2013 Subaru WRX. It had an oil leak problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so the car came into our shop for a maintenance service and inspection, and one of the things that we found was there's some oil leaking from the front of the engine timing belt area, a variable valve timing solenoid, somewhere around that area, and it needed further exploration and repairs.

Mark: So what was involved in repairing those leaks?

Bernie: So all that was involved was actually removing the timing belt cover and accessing the timing belt, because it's all hidden behind there. We found some cam shaft seals leaking, as well as variable valve timing solenoid gaskets leaking as well.

Mark: So do you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do, I do, and by the way, so we replaced the timing belt at the same time and we can talk a little more about that, but let's just get into the pictures here.

So there we have our beautiful 2013 WRX. Awesome little high performance cars. There's a good view of the front of the engine with the timing belt off. The timing belt sits in this area here. If you can just follow the mouse pointer, it kind of loops around here. There's the crankshaft sprocket and this is a dual overhead cam engine so it has four cam sprockets. Cam shaft seals here, which we replaced. Water pump also, which is very important to do at the same time as the timing belt.

Mark: And this is a flat-six, right?

Bernie: Flat-four. Yeah, this is a turbocharged flat-four, inter-cooled turbo flat-four. Subaru doesn't make any turbo-sixes, although it'd be a pretty awesome option because it would go even faster, but yeah, this is a four.

Mark: And a lot of room in the front. Have you pulled out the radiator?

Bernie: We removed the radiator. Here's a view actually of the engine compartment with everything back in. You can see it's a lot tighter, but we did remove the radiator on this job. It's a standard transmission, so not too difficult, and just to access the bolts on the front of the camshafts, it's a little easier to access everything with the radiator out. Not difficult, doesn't add a lot of extra time to do that.

This is the whole package assembled. This is the intercooler. This keeps the charge air cool that's being blow basically blown into the engine by the turbochargers. As you compress that air, it gets hot. and so if you can keep it cool it has more density. Once upon a time, a long time ago, turbochargers never had intercoolers and this was a big performance upgrade to intercool a turbo. There's nothing that's been made in the last 15, 20 years that doesn't have an intercooler on it. And that's the same with supercharged engines too. So it helps boost the performance just by keeping the air at a certain temperature.

Now for other pictures we get into the meat of the job. So this vehicle has variable valve timing. This is one of the performance features of this engine. So these are the camshaft sprockets. If you look at some of our other podcasts and videos, you'll see that we do a number of timing belts on Subarus, but most of them are there the lower performance 4-cylinder versions and they don't have variable valve timing. So these sprockets are quite a bit more complex, more expensive as well.

There's one really good thing about this engine. Most vehicles with variable valve timing, you have to have special special tools to lock the camshafts in place. And this engine, you don't. These actually have pins that locate the cam sprockets on the engine, which is a fantastic feature because you can just look, put the cam sprocket on, just line the timing belt marks up and away it goes.

Whereas on most other engines you have to remove the valve cover, you have to lock the camshafts in a certain position by specialty tools to do it and then bolt everything up while everything's locked into position. So Subaru has made this job reasonably, I won't say easy to do, but reasonably easy to do. So it's kind of kind of a nice, refreshing treat. Less complicated of a job.

This is the variable valve timing solenoid and this is the gasket and this was one of the items that was leaking. So these solenoids control oil flow to the variable valve timing, the cam gears and getting against electrical signal. The engine has oil pressure, changes the oil flow through the cam, and that that changes the valve timing.

We talked about maintenance on cars, modern cars, this is why it's critical to change your oil at regular intervals. Any sludge, you can see there are very small holes. Any sludge that builds up in these will cause a malfunction of this system, or low oil level for that matter too. So critical to change your oil at the required interval.

Mark: Okay. There's a few issues here. So first, variable valve timing accomplishes what? It seems like a lot of complication.

Bernie: Well, opening the valves of the engine, the intake and exhaust valves, there's a certain optimum time to open them, but it's different at idle than it is when you've got the engine revving at 6,000 RPMs or halfway in between. So if you can vary the time the valves open and actually for that matter, vary the lift of the end of the valve, which this engine doesn't do, but some engines do. You can vary the lift of the valve, the opening. You can control the horsepower of the engine, you can improve the fuel economy and exhaust emissions. There's a number of things you can accomplish, so that's why variable valve timing is pretty much standard on most engines nowadays. Not all, but most.

Mark: Timing belts. Subaru, I thought they used dry chains. What are they using a timing belt for?

Bernie: Yeah, well interesting question. So, up until about, Subaru, the 6-cylinder engines, which they introduced around the 2000 model year, those are all timing chain engines, but the four cylinder up until about 2010, 2011, used a timing belt. Then they changed to a chain drive, but this engine still maintains the timing belt right up to modern, right up to, I'm not sure if a 2020 has gone to a chain, but certainly 2018 still has a timing belt.

So you might wonder, well, is that an inferior technology? And the answer is not really. I mean they've incorporated all the variable valve timing and everything that needs to be done. The disadvantage with a timing belt is that there is a set interval where you must replace it because it will break.

With a timing chain, it's theoretically supposed to last the life of the engine, but timing chains are very complex. There's a lot of pieces to them. Tensioners to keep them tight and things that wear out. We've done podcasts on Range Rovers where a number of them, this is a problem with that engine. 100,000 kilometres, the timing chains are rattling and you're faced with a six, in Canada, a $6,000, $7,000 bill to do the replacement. That's a lot of money for something that, like a timing belt job can be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the car if you do it complete and there's a set interval to do it. So you know, Subaru so far, with the timing chains had been reliable but I owned a six cylinder Subaru, around 250,000 kilometres, I mean every once in a while I'd start the car and the timing chain would rattle. So, you know, that car is long gone because it kind of wore out. They're supposed to last the life of the engine, but a lot of cars they don't and they can be very expensive to replace.

Timing belts, at one time, also used to be kind of an inferior design. I mean I think of a lot of older, oh, take Subaru for example, they used to have an engine that had two timing belts. One went to the right bank, one to the left. Some of those would break at 50,000 kilometres. Fortunately there was no engine damage but highly unreliable. And you know, you'd be lucky to get a hundred thousand kilometres out of them. And there are many other cars, you know, in the eighties and nineties that were like that. You'd go like in the 1970s when timing belts started coming out, I mean they didn't last very long either, but they've made them very robust. They last a long time. You know, 150, 200,000 kilometres is not abnormal for a timing belt.

Mark: So do these WRX motors have the same head gasket issues on the older ones that other Subaru 4-cylinder engines have?

Bernie: No, they don't. These use a much more robust gasket and we don't run into the same issues. It's pretty rare. I mean over the years, the dual overhead cam engine is not just a WRX engine. They did put them in some of the other Forester models. We do the odd head gasket in those, but pretty rare and never done one on a WRX yet. So they're pretty robust. They're much better designed, much better built.

Mark: So there you go. If you've got some leaky oil issues with your WRX Subaru or any Subaru, the guys who specialize in Subaru in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive and of course every other make and model of car right up to Porsches and Teslas and all sorts of stuff. 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 because they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 350 blog posts, videos on repairing all makes and models and all kinds of types of repairs. All makes and models of cars and trucks. Over 350 videos on YouTube. Check it out. Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave your comments or your likes below. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching.

2003 Ford F350 A/C Hose Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series. Of course, we're here with Mr Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: This week's victim is a 2003 Ford F350 that had an AC problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: The air conditioning wasn't functioning properly, it wasn't blowing cold air. The owner had thought, well I can just get the system recharged, take it into another shop and they told them this AC compressor was cracked. They couldn't do the service and called us to replace this compressor.

Mark: What kind of diagnosis and tests did you do to find the problem?

Bernie: For this one, we just started with a complimentary visual inspection. We noted a couple of things. First of all, it didn't seem like the compressor was so much of an issue. There wasn't anything really noticeably leaking from it that we could see, but there was a very large leak coming from one of the air conditioning hoses, the discharge hose that comes off the air conditioning compressor and goes to the condenser. That was a very obvious visual clue that there was a leak, major leak, coming from this area and that would be the first place to start the repair.

Mark: Would you normally just do a thorough test of the AC system?

Bernie: We normally do a diagnostic. In this case, because of the circumstances of the vehicle coming to us and the obviousness of the leak, this was really the first thing to fix on the vehicle before we even proceeded with any further diagnosis because whatever else we'd find... And we did do a visual inspection of the rest of it. Didn't see anything else noticeable. This was the first place to start. No sense in changing the compressor if it wasn't really that noticeably bad, so this is where we started. I'm going to get right into a picture because it's really very noticeable.

This is our Ford F350 truck, only got the front end of the truck because that is a big camper on the back. It's a six litre diesel, first model year of a six litre diesel. This is our hose assembly. Here where you're looking in the passenger side compartment of the hood, this is called the discharge hose, you can see when you look at it, there's a lot of oil around here. It's very oily and there's a greenish colour to it. In the past, someone has put UV dye into this system. This is very common tool that we use to find air conditioning leaks. Some vehicles actually have the dye right from the factory.

Other times, we, I say we as service people, actually add the dye into the system. What happens is if there's even a trace amount of leakage that comes out, we can spot this with a UV light and glasses. It'll glow a bright greenish yellow. This leak is so severe. Usually with severe leaks, you can actually see the green tint of this leak right here. I mean it's a high pressure hose. Eventually, this sort of crimped fitting here breaks down and is going to start leaking refrigerant.

This is a hose assembly. This section here bolts up to the compressor. This hose is called the suction hose and basically it's on the suction side of the compressor. It's also interesting with air conditioning, you see two different diameters of hoses. There's a low side system and a high side. You don't sell the high side because it has very narrow diameter hoses. It's higher pressure. The low side has thicker hoses. There's our picture show for the day.

Mark: I guess the UV leads us down the path of how tricky are AC leaks to find?

Bernie: They can be really tricky. One reason I wanted to do this podcast is just this is a good news story. This is an easy one to find. We don't always get so lucky. I'll just take an example. I own a 2001 Suburban. It has rear air conditioning as well, so it has an array of pipes that run from the front of the vehicle right to the very back with the air conditioning pipes. I've had a leak for a couple of years. Slowly, over time, it leaks out. I have, actually over the years, I've had leaks but sometimes it'll last for several... It's lasted for a few years before it needed to be recharged.

I've looked over and over and over with all the tools and equipment we have and I've still not been able to find the leak in that system. The tricky thing with air conditioning is there's a lot of hidden components. There are pipes that are hidden. The condenser for instance, which is like a radiator in the front, I mean it has a front side that you can often see, but the back side you can't see. There can be a leak coming from the backside. If it's a small leak, you'll never see it. The evaporator core, which is what causes the cool air to be dispersed into the vehicle, it's like, again, like a type of radiator, but it's hidden inside a box and often it takes many hours to remove it.

There are no real easy ways to see those kinds of leaks. We have numerous ways and tools to find such leaks though. One of the pieces of equipment we have is a refrigerant detector. It's an electronic detector. It has a little probe on it. You go around the system and you point it at different areas. If there's a substantial leak, let's say even a minor leak, it'll pick up a refrigerant molecule and makes a beeping sound. The only thing I hate about this tool is it will do false alarms quite often unless there's a really noticeable leak... Like this hose would have caused it to beep, for sure.

It's not as good of a tool as I'd like it to be in terms of finding leaks, especially in hidden spots. The manufacturers always claim, "Oh this will find one molecule in a million molecules of air." I don't know. For some reason, they all seem to be elusive. The visual is often the best. We also use high pressure nitrogen gas. What we can do is charge the system up with high pressure gas. We can use the refrigerant detector as well with that. We can also listen for hissing sounds. We can also spray a tire type of item that we might find a leak for tires where it causes bubbles, so that's, again, another technique.

There's a variety of things we do. Unfortunately with air conditioning leaks, sometimes it takes a while to find the leak and it can be hit and miss. You can fix one. Then, a month or two or six months or a year later, the refrigerant's leaked out and there's another leak somewhere else. It can be frustrating. Hopefully in the case of this Ford, this is the only one because it was very obvious.

Mark: How was the AC on the Ford Truck after you did the repair?

Bernie: It was awesome. We put the hose on. We have a machine that does a vacuum on the system. You basically put it into a deep vacuum for about 30 minutes and then retest and make sure it holds a vacuum. It did do that. Now, that's never a foolproof guarantee that the system is good. If it fails the vacuum, that's usually a sign that you still have further leaks. It passed the vacuum test, we recharged it. It's blowing nice cold air and hopefully will remain so.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for repairs for your air conditioning and heating system as we move into winter now 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 busy. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Many years and hundreds of postings on there on all makes and models of repairs and types of repairs. As well our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, again, over 350 videos on there about repairs to all makes and models of cars and trucks. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it and look forward to the next one coming up. Thanks Bernie.

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

2007 Nissan Sentra Heater Blower Motor Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. And of course we're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 20 time winners, 20 times, as voted by their customers of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. And of course we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: A Nissan Sentra 2007, there was something going on with the heater. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came in, it had a very noisy, when you turned the heater blower fan on, it was making quite a hideous racket and needed to be repaired and replaced.

Mark: What's involved with repairing a heater motor?

Bernie: Well, on most cars it's, on many cars it's not that complicated. You can usually remove the blower motor through a little panel under the dash, maybe takes an hour or two worth of work. Unfortunately, on this vehicle, it actually involved removing the whole dash to get at the heater blower motor. It was an extremely involved job. Not too many cars like that. I'm thinking, some BMWs are like that, some Volvos, but kind of surprising for a Nissan. But that's what was involved, so the whole dash had to come out, the heater box dismantled to change the blower motor.

Mark: When you took the motor out, what did you find?

Bernie: Well what we found was a rodent's nest inside the blower motor, inside the heater box and all the items that the rodent had used to make the nest, which was mostly the insulation from under the hood, the firewall installation had been completely chewed away and conveniently moved into the a heater box. That was basically, it had basically plugged the cabin air filter. It had, there's debris all over the inside of the squirrel. Okay, this is kind of funny because we call this the blower off, get pictures of this thing. We call it a squirrel cage. It's kind of funny that that's named after a rodent, but it looks like kind of one of those hamster wheels that they run on. Inside the squirrel cage was just full of debris causing the motor to be off balance and caused a huge racket.

Let's get in some pictures because this is a fun part.

There's our Nissan Sentra, your basic, good basic economy car and the more interesting pictures we can get into are, let's get a look at the, there's the cabin air filter that we took out. Kind of broken apart, but you can see just full of, a lot of this is just debris. It may not have been serviced properly, but there's a lot of dirt, debris, very, very, very contaminated cabin air filter. Here's the, the squirrel cage of the blower motor. And again you can see it's full of leaves and debris and pieces of stuff. And I probably should've taken pictures. I didn't have a chance to take pictures of everything else that was in there because there was a lot more debris in there that was causing noise.

And it also looks like one of these fan blades is actually missing a piece, which will cause quite a vibration. We call this a squirrel cage. The motor's located back in here and that turns this big round wheel here and blows air so you know any amount of debris in it will cause it to go off balance. And of course create a huge, huge racket. As I mentioned, a lot of this was insulation from under the hood. This is the engine here. Looking backwards to the firewall, you can kind of see the wiper blades here and the windshield would be up in this area and this area here would normally have a some insulation. And what's left of it is basically whatever pieces are held to the attachment points and it's been completely chewed away.

That's where everything went. It migrated from, miraculously migrated from under the hood to inside the heater box. And we didn't see the rodent by the way, it had vacated the premises.

Mark: Just a winter home.

Bernie: Yeah, winter home. Yeah. Who knows. I'm assuming it had been done more recently, but because otherwise it may have been the blower probably would've been noisier, but it may have been made awhile ago and somehow got sucked into the fan. For whatever reason the rodent was gone. They kind of tend to come and go. That's maybe a good thing.

Mark: How often do you see this sort of thing?

Bernie: Well, not too often with heater boxes, we see it occasionally. But more commonly wire chewing is a common occurrence under hoods. This is very common. We do see some hoses being chewed from time to time as well. But wires are chewed because over the last 10 or more years, manufacturers have, to be more ecological or environmentally friendly have started using soy based insulation on their wiring. And this of course is tasty to many rodents and a disadvantage to car owners of course.

Mark: Anything that can be done to prevent rodents from chewing wires or attacking the under hood area of your car?

Bernie: Well, we're going to, I'm not going to get into all the details of that because there's some complexity and I haven't quite figured it all out myself, but we're going to put a link on the bottom of the video that has a really good website with some very specific ways and this person has got some very detailed ways you can prevent rodents from chewing, from getting under your hood and doing your wires. To be honest, I think it's almost more than I'd want to get involved in, but they're, if you followed it thoroughly, I'm sure it would work. If you took perhaps a few of his ideas, that would probably work well too. Interestingly enough, one common vehicle, there's a Honda that has a wire that often gets chewed and causes a check engine light and it sits right underneath the intake manifold in a Honda V6 engine.

It's an expensive repair, Honda actually sells a new wire and it has a wrap around the wire and it has a little picture of a mouse with an X through it. It's actually a rodent proof wire right from the factory and that's how bad rodent chewing wires are. And then actually the problem is so bad there's actually class action lawsuits against several manufacturers for rodent, for the wiring that they've put in their cars. It's a big thing.

Mark: After repairs, I assume everything was good in the heating department in this vehicle.

Bernie: Yeah, it worked fine. Nice. The fan was nice and quiet. Everything worked really well. Yeah, just like it's supposed to do.

Mark: And how our Nissan Sentras for reliability?

Bernie: Generally they're good cars, it's an economy car. We see very few problems with them other than basic maintenance. It's a pretty well built, decent car.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for support for your vehicle, if you've got any kind of rodent problems or if you need your Nissan Sentra or any Nissan product, looked after the guys to see in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 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 busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and videos on there as well. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, over 350 videos on all makes and models of cars and all types of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thank you for watching and listening. Always a pleasure.

2005 Mazda 3 Extensive Repairs

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, host of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Of course, serving Vancouverites for over 38 years, repairing and maintaining cars and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How're you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So a Mazda 3 extensive repairs and maintenance. Extensive! What was going on with this Mazda?

Bernie: So, it's a 2005 Mazda 3 and the owner brought the vehicle to us who was heading on a long trip and wanted to make sure the vehicle was road worthy and had a few concerns. And we certainly noted a few when we road tested the vehicle. When you put the brake on, the brakes didn't work too well. There was some severe, sort of shifting in the front end of the vehicle when you hit bumps or applied the brakes. We knew there was something pretty serious in the front end. And this had been a customer that had been coming to us for quite a few years on and off so there was a bit, a couple of deferred maintenance items that needed to be done too.

Mark: So what, when you started tearing things apart, what'd you find?

Bernie: Well, we found a lot of interesting stuff. And I'll just get right into the picture show of what we've got.

So there's our 2005 Mazda 3. Still looks pretty good other than a few little scrapes and scuffs which is kind of normal but overall still a pretty decent looking car for a, what's that make it?

Mark: 14 years

Bernie: Fourteen years old. Yeah. So what'd we do? Well here's a nice pile of parts, and I think this hose here, I think snuck in here from a different job. I came into work Monday morning and there was this big pile of parts from Friday. These were a number of things that were replaced. So struts, we have a pair of struts here, we have a belt, a drive belt, there's a brake caliper here, there's a brake rotor that's been, actually, it was rusted on so badly it cracked in half when it was hammered off. There's brake hoses, there's a control arm bushing right there attached to a control arm, there's a control arm under here. What else do we got? There's am ABS wheel speed sensor sitting here and also some sway bar end links. So quite a few parts and pieces.

So what did we end up finding? So some of the shifting and the severe, dangerous feeling we felt in the front end was due to worn out control arm bushings and severely worn struts. There were some clunks as well contributed by the sway bar end links. So we basically replaced those major front end components. The brakes of course as you can see, the rotors were not in great shape, pretty badly rusted. So we replaced the brake calipers, rotors, pads and the brake hoses had cracks as well. So the brakes got a really good treatment, a full meal deal pretty much everything on the wheel side of the brakes was replaced. We also flushed the brake fluid. I mentioned there was some maintenance items that were deferred. We did a transmission fluid service. So that's a filter replacement and flushing new fluid through the system. No evidence of that in this picture. What else? And serpentine belts, they were worn as well so we replaced them.

There's also an ABS warning light on on the dash and we found that the ABS wheel speed sensor on the right front had a broken wire. You can see this broken wire here, the wiring connector was broken so we replaced it but the speed sensor still wasn't working and we found the actual sensor itself was bad. So we replaced both components and that restored that issue. So the ABS brakes were back in full function.

Just one other closer picture. This is a view of one of the rear brake rotors and you can just see the rustiness, I mean this surface from where I'm moving my mouse here, this should all be shiny metal kind of like this, and not rust. So basically the brakes are minimally effective, you know pushing against a rusted surface. So that's kind of our picture show. Lots of interesting parts, kind of fun when you do a complete repair like this and the car ends up driving away, no clunks and stops well. It's pretty rewarding. I know it was a fair size bill, but the client will leave going, "Hey I got good value for my money because my car's functional and safe again".

Mark: So it sounds like this was a lot of work, almost like a rebuild or partial rebuild of the vehicle. Was it worth doing?

Bernie: Well I think so, but of course every vehicle owner has to make a decision because sometimes when you're faced, and I'm not going to talk about the cost of the bill, but a lot of times vehicle owners are faced with a few thousand dollars bill and they go, No that's it, I'm out, you know, I'm replacing the car. And other people are going, No I'll keep going with it.

This car is, it is 15 years or 14 years old, it'll be 15 at some point. It's 165,000 kilometres, so not really high amount of mileage. I mean if it was over 200, I might be like, ah maybe it's time to not consider doing this. But 165 is not too much for this vehicle. Mazda 3s are a decent, reliable vehicle over all. So I tend to put them on a recommended list of cars to repair, of course, it depends on how far you leave it. But these are items that just needed to be done on pretty well any car if you leave it long enough. And obviously this vehicle has seen some rusty, salty climates to have brakes like that. So it's a little harder on the vehicle.

Mark: So that brings up a point, you said, where's the level of where they've left it too long, would it of been, I mean I know the answer to this, would it of been better to have been doing more regular maintenance and maintaining these items more gradually, rather than waiting for almost catastrophic failure to then repair everything at once? What's the better strategy here?

Bernie: Well I think it's better to repair on an ongoing basis because you don't get hit with a huge repair bill like this. And a lot of times, sometimes we get cars in and people you know, it comes with all this level of repairs and maintenance and people go Forget it, I'm getting rid of the car. Whereas if they'd, and so then they're faced with the purchase of another car which you know in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad idea but it's more economical to just keep repairing things as they go. For instance, it may be that if the car was brought in a year ago, we would of noted that hey, these struts and control arm bushings are worn, let's replace those right now and the brakes may have been ok. So smaller bill, spread out, it's a little easier on the wallet, let's put it that way, and terms of choices. A lot of times if you do things as things wear out, it's cheaper because you don't let things wear as far as they could. For instance, when you have severe front end wear, a lot of times you can end up wearing your tires out prematurely. So in this case, fortunately that didn't happen. But a lot of times, if you have a bd shock absorber or strut, it can cause your tires to wear funny and had you replaced them, you wouldn't be replacing tires as well.

Mark: So it sounds basically like Mazda 3s are very good cars overall and are there any other serious issues or common recurring issues with them?

Bernie: Well there's a few common things, like a couple of things come to mind like check engine lights will often come on and there's a variety of reasons that it'll come on. But one common one on Mazdas is that the thermostat will stick open or they open too soon and you not even necessarily notice a driving issue. Although in a cold climate, you may notice not as much heat in the vehicle, in the cabin. But a lot of times, that'll be a check engine light issue. That's a pretty common item. Ans also, there's a right side engine mount that will often fail and the vehicle will have a vibration when you're, if it's an automatic in drive, there's a certain vibration. So there's a couple common things that tend to wear out on these cars. And the only other issue we found, up until a few years ago, we used to think these were like bullet proof, reliable vehicles, but the 2.3 litre engine which this vehicle does have, does tend to have some problems. They will start burning oil and have some compression issues. So we've done a couple engine replacements on them. And this kind of came along suddenly and then we found out that a lot of other ones had that same issue. So the 2 litre model engine, sort of in this vintage or in the 2000 decade, tend to be really reliable but the 2.3 do tend to have problems after awhile. It's kind of hit and miss. Some of them go forever and some of them develop problems.

Mark: So maintain your vehicle regularly.

Bernie: Absolutely yeah, absolutely just maintain it and you'll get the best life out of it.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them in Vancouver at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You've got to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos and posts on there, over 600 actually, I checked the other day.

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: Repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars over many years. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, over 400 videos there on repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars and light trucks. And of course, thank you so much to listening to the podcast and watching, we really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Yeah, thanks Mark and thanks for listening and watching. It's always fun.

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