Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2016 Range Rover Sport, Front Brake Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. 24 times. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today's victim is a 2016 Range Rover Sport that had front brake replacement. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So the vehicle came to us with a brake warning light on the dash, that the brakes were worn out. And so we proceeded to do some service on it. 

Mark: What inspections do you do to kind of dig into that, that warning light?

Bernie: Yeah, so the warning light is pretty clear. It's like a brake pad wear light. So we do a brake inspection on the vehicle to determine whether it's front brakes or rear brakes. In this case, it was both. But yeah, that's the inspection we do. We look at the pads, we measure the pads, we measure the rotors, inspect the brake fluid, all the brake lines. So it's not just a, let's just throw some pads and, you know, rotors on it or whatever. We move the caliper pistons, make sure they're moving okay, and the caliber sliders are good. Yeah, it's a thorough inspection. 

Mark: And what did you find? 

Bernie: So yeah, the front and rear brakes were worn out on the vehicle. So the pads and rotors were worn out front and back. Calipers were in good shape, but this vehicle is not very old, 2016, so we wouldn't expect there to be anything else with the vehicle. But it's always worth inspecting, but pads and rotors all the way around. And the brake fluid was due to be replaced as well at the same time. So we're just going to talk about the front brakes today. The backs another time, perhaps. 

Mark: So what's involved in doing brakes on a Range Rover? 

Bernie: Well, basically there's three items to replace. So we'll just talk about the front brakes. There's new pads, brake rotors and brake pad wear sensors, which  each axle has a pad wear sensor to indicate with when the pads are worn out to give you a warning on your dash.

Mark: So how effective or the pad where sensors at actually detecting accurately, whether your pads are worn out or not? 

Bernie: Well, in this case, they were really good. I'm going to share some pictures of this point and we'll have a look at a couple of things and we'll talk about that a little more.

2016 Range Rover Sport, Front Brake Replacement
2016 Range Rover Sport, Front Brake Replacement
2016 Range Rover Sport, Front Brake Replacement
2016 Range Rover Sport, Front Brake Replacement

So there's our 2016 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Edition, which is very nice model. There's a little closeup of the brakes after we completed, a nice shiny new rotor, nice Brembo red painted caliper. It's a very large brake rotor. Although it's funny in this picture, you can't really tell so much, but it's a nice visual ratio of brake size to wheel size.  If that means anything. But, you know, I tend to think it makes the vehicles should stop faster. 

So here's a picture of our old parts. These are the front pads and rotors we removed from the vehicle. This little groove here is basically you know, helps dissipate heat can see it's pretty much worn out, especially on this pad here.

There's an edge view of our pads and this wire piece here, this is the pad wear sensor. So just one brake pad on the front axle has a pad wear sensor and on the rear just one brake pad as well. You know, on some vehicles, they have a pad wear sensor on every pad. It depends. Range Rover, Land Rovers just put it on one. So how effective is it? 

Well, let's just get a close up and we can actually look at the brakes. So this is the pad with the wear sensors. So you can see there's still probably, maybe two millimetres of pad left on this one. And the sensor is, I don't know if it's actually even touched. I didn't actually look really closely, but I don't even know if the sensor is touched. So it might be the rear one that actually set the warning light off. But if you look at this front brake pad, I mean, this is a spin as a piece of paper. So this pad is worn out and almost, almost ready to go metal on metal.

I mean, it would be a matter of a week before it would start grinding. So this is the yellow arrow here, basically points of what brake pads left. That's the pad wear sensor and the blue arrow just kind of points to the edge of the rotor, which is why we replaced the rotors. These brake rotors wear pretty hard on most European cars. As the pad, whereas it tends to wear the metal away on the rotor as well. So it's not really, if you could machine it, you'd be basically machining the rotor right down to its wear limit, which means in a short period of time, it will be under the wear limit and they just wear out really fast at that point.

So that's kind of an example of everything. I'd say, you know, the downside of pad wear sensors, when you have it on one brake pad is it doesn't monitor all the pads. So as you can see, there's quite a discrepancy between these two brake pads here. If you look how thick that is and how thin that one is.

So sometimes, you know, the brakes could wear to the point where they'll start grinding and the pad wear's warning light hasn't come on. But of course, once it grinds, you know you need to do some service. You just want to do it before that point. 

Mark: So Range Rovers are pretty big vehicles and they're very high performance. Probably got a lot of horsepower. So they need big brakes. How long did the brakes actually last on these vehicles? 

Bernie: Well, surprisingly not as long as I think they should. This vehicle has 33,000 kilometres and all four brakes are worn out in front and rear. And this is kind of typical of a lot of large European SUV's. Like Audi, the Audi Q7 for years you'd be lucky to get 25,000 Ks out of a set of brake pads. The newer Q7s are much better. They've reformulated the brakes somehow and they tend to last at least 50 now. So that's a good thing.

I think 50 is pretty decent for a set of brakes, but like 33 seems a little on the low side, and I've seen Range Rovers go up to 50. But you can sort of expect between 30 and 50 K's, you're going to go through a set of brakes. And I've said before, in other podcasts, it does surprise me because I mean, they are a heavy vehicle. They've got a lot of horsepower, but they have a huge brake. I mean, these brakes are bigger than you find on a lot of you know, there's the size of what you find in a one ton pickup truck.

And it's often the one-time pickup truck brakes on an American vehicle will last 100 Ks. So it's rather surprising that these don't last as long. But somehow I think in the formulations of the pad materials, in the rotor materials, they want to go for comfortable brakes so they probably put a slightly softer material in everything.

Mark: So does that mean that the brakes are more effective? So you're stopping power's a little higher or does it mean they don't squeak as much? Or why would they go with a softer material? 

Bernie: I think it's a combination of both. Now, even while I'm saying softer material, you think that wouldn't be so hard on the rotor. So because generally a softer brake pad, isn't going to wear the rotor metal so hard. But yeah, usually like a softer material will prevent squeaks and it'll grab better. But of course, if you're doing high speed braking, you don't want something that's too soft. So there's a lot of science that goes into brake pad and brake pad materials to get it right.

Mark: If you've ever driven down a steep road for a long time, you know, brakes get extremely hot. 

Bernie: Yeah, super hot. And I can't say enough about pumping your brakes, you know, put them on, slow down and let your foot off the brake. Let them cool down. It's really important. Don't ever go down a steep hill with your foot on the brake all the time, because you might find that you don't have any brakes. I've actually almost experienced that once in a car and it was a little bit scary. 

Mark: It's more than scary. Yeah more than scary, yeah. So you service a lot of Range Rovers at your shop, how are the 2016's for reliability? 

Bernie: So far, they seem good. Of course it is only five years old at this point. And I find sometimes you need a little longer of time before you find out the reliability of the vehicle. You know, we found timing chain issues with a lot of these engines. This one's fine. Of course it's very low mileage and five years old. But if you go, you know, a few model years back, timing chains are problems But so far so good. You know, I think first five years of these vehicles, you're generally pretty good. I mean, maybe a brake job, possibly a set of tires if you drive a lot. But other than that, so far so good. 

Mark: If you need service for your Range Rover in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Or go to the website You can book your appointment online and they'll get in touch with you. Get the details, get ready for you to come in. You have to call and book ahead. You have to book on the website ahead because they are busy. There's a reason why they're 24 time winners of Best in Vancouver because they are, simply. 

So check out the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. We've got hundreds, literally not exaggerating hundreds of videos on there, close to a thousand actually. Or check out the website, everything's there, transcripts, et cetera. We've been doing this for nine years. We've got every make and model and type of car you can probably think of and type of repair on there. Thanks for watching. We really appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's best auto repair and service centre. 24 time winners, 24 times. Come on, 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing good. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2014 Subaru Outback that had a transmission issue. What was going on with this Subaru? 

Bernie: Well, this car is brought in for a routine maintenance, but one complaint the owner had was that the transmission seemed to have a delayed shift from park into drive or reverse. It just was a bit of a delay and sometimes that's normal, but he said it seemed to be something that was a new development. So we did inspect the transmission fluid. We did a quick code scan, nothing present you know, any sort of transmission issues. The fluid was very discoloured, likely never been serviced because it's often a forgotten item. And so we recommended doing a transmission service. It says a CVT transmission. So we, we recommended a service. 

Mark: So is there anything different involved in servicing a CVT compared to a regular automatic? 

Bernie: Really the major difference is the fluid. You have to use the proper fluid.  CVTs have a specific type of fluid because they work much different than a traditional transmission. There's some different components inside and they require a different fluid. So that's the main difference. Otherwise we do the service the same way that we normally do. We take the pan off the transmission. 

We do a very thorough service here. There are a lot of shops that don't do it thoroughly. But we take the pan off. We clean it, we replace the filter. If it's replaceable. On a Subaru, it's a wire screen. So we just cleaned the filter. We can inspect the inside of the pan, we reseal it. And then we flush the fluid with a machine where we can actually run some clean fluid into the transmission and pump the old fluid out.

Mark: So is it absolutely necessary to remove the pan? 

Bernie: Well, it's not absolutely necessary. However, the big difference is that when you take the pan off, you can inspect the inside of the transmission. You can clean the pan. And a lot of times debris will develop in the sort of bottom layer of the pan. So any little metal filings. And for that matter, you know, if there's actually metal filings or any sort of, you know, hard part wear then we can actually see that. And then that gives an indication, Hey, this transmission is wearing out. There's something going on here. Either you're going to have to repair it or at least keep an eye on it, something's wearing out.

So we get to see that. This transmission fortunately had none of that. It also makes for a better service because once you clean that all out, not all the fluid drains out the bottom, there's usually a sort of a lip at the bottom where the drain bolt goes. So you're, you're leaving a layer of fluid, maybe, you know, quarter to a half an inch layer of fluid in the bottom that doesn't get changed.

And that can make a difference to the longevity of the service that we do. So let's get into some pictures here while we're at it. There's the 2014 Outback. And this is what the fluid looked like when we took it out.

2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service

So just so you know, I mean when this fluid is new, it's clear. So that has a lot of contaminants in it, it's brown, as you can see.

Mark:  It's doing its job basically.

Bernie: Doing its job absolutely. And this is a little sample into some caps. Now unfortunately this has like a little green seal at the bottom, so the fluid's not green. I didn't have a clear cap, so I just poured it in here. But this fluid is clear and this is, you know, brown. I mean, you can't even see the green bottom of the cap seal. So that's kind of different. 

This interesting too, when you look inside the transmission. This is looking up into the transmission. The filter sits in here over top of this, but this is kind of the body of the CVT transmission. Much different than you'd see in a regular automatic transmission where you would actually see the planetary gears and bands and drums and pieces like that. This is all kind of sealed in. There's some other components further up in here that we can't see, but a very much different look than you would get inside a conventional automatic transmission.

Mark: One of the things we've never really talked about is like, what's the difference in how hard, like transmission does a tremendous amount of work. It's an incredibly complex, automatic transmission is a very complex piece of equipment that is under tremendous forces. Extra heat all that kind of stuff that we use them for. Kind of take for granted, but it's pretty tremendous amount of engineering that's gone into make them so good. Is a CVT even more susceptible to breaking down or having problems or in any way like that?

Bernie:  You know, CVT is actually, I think, simpler. There's actually less parts and pieces. For some reason they're not really very rebuildable. For the most part they're expensive. A lot of them are not rebuildable. If something goes wrong with it, either replace it with a used part. I know Nissan's had a lot of trouble with their CVT transmission of which they've replaced many of them with extended warranties, like up to 10 years, which is good on their behalf. But, you know, the fact is I don't really trust Nissan CVT transmissions. Maybe, maybe the new ones are good, but they're older ones are certainly they've certainly had a lot of problems with them. 

But they are actually simpler. There's less parts and pieces, and it's kind of surprises me that, you know, you can't just go buy rebuild parts, but I talk with transmission rebuilders and wholesalers, and parts are just not really that readily available.

So there's simpler, but I don't think they're really as durable. And, you know, if you look at heavier duty, like pickup trucks, you know, like even an F-150, they don't use CVT transmissions in those because I don't think they're really, they can't really handle the abuse, you know, that's there. So I don't think they're as tough. They probably could be made to be as tough, but they're not, for some reason. 

Mark: And what's different. What's the core difference between a CVT - constant variable transmission and a regular automatic transmission? 

Bernie: Like a regular transmission has planetary gears with bands and clutches and they'll lock different. With a planetary gear you can create a number of different speeds out that gear, I would kind of get too, too much into it, but you can create a number of different speeds and directions with the transmission by just using a planetary gear. So it is a gear and then there's friction clutches and a band, which is a friction material that can lock either the drum or the different gears to create different speeds. And, you know, if you put two or three planetary gears, you can, you know, get eight, nine about a GMC truck that has a 10 speed automatic, which is crazy. You know, it's a lot of gears.  

So anyways, the CVT doesn't have those planetary gears. It uses like drums and band, like very hard metal bands that will actually vary the diameter. It's kind of brilliant. It'll vary the diameter and speed from one shaft to the other, by just changing where the band sits on the drum. So it's a pretty cool concept. That's kind of the major difference. But the thing with a CVT is you're not limited to two, five, eight, 10 speeds. You can put any gear ratio so that it creates a way you can kind of tune the whole drive train in the engine for maximum fuel economy, emissions and performance.

Mark: And for driving, instead of having the kind of that shift that you can feel, where the gears change with a CVT, how's it different?

Bernie: Yeah. That isn't there, but I believe in the earlier days they actually set them so they actually had a feel of a shift point because people are used to that  kind of shifting feel of a car accelerating. And, you know, it would seem weird that it doesn't have it, but you can kind of feel it in a CVT when you can just hear it accelerate and it's a different feel.

So you know, sometimes I think they put that in so we remember. It's almost like, you know, when cars get electric, I'm sure they'll have some with options of having the sound of a motor running just for the good old days. 

Mark: They do have that, actually. 

Bernie: Yeah. He could probably create as an option, you know, for your performance car so it feels like you're actually going fast when the motors just going zing. 

Mark: So how are Subaru CVTs overall for reliability? 

Bernie: I think they're pretty good. I mean, we haven't run into too many issues. But the thing about Subarus is their transmissions have been good for a long, long time. I mean, I've owned some Subaru's over the years, for like many years, their transmissions automatic or standard have really been very reliable.

That's one very strong part of Subarus. CVT seemed to be okay.  You know, for some reason I don't trust them. Like I prefer a conventional automatic transmission. They just seem to be tried and true. And there's been so many CVTs of different brands. I'm thinking like Nissan, Minis to mention a couple that have been very problematic. And they're not really repairable and rebuildable.

So Subaru seem to be okay. I mean, most of their models have them now, so it's hard to get away from it. Unless you have a manual. But they seem to have embraced the CVTs. And they seem to be okay. But I don't know. I still don't trust them myself, but millions of other people do. 

Mark: So why are the manufacturers moving to CVTs? What's the advantage? 

Bernie: I think it's fuel economy, exhaust emissions. I think those are the biggest reasons. 

Mark: And how are 2014 Subaru's for reliability? 

Bernie: So far they seem really good. And you know, I mean, they've gone away from the timing belt engine. So that's not a thing that needs to be serviced. And those timing belt Subarus, the 2.5 litres had head gasket problems. So we haven't seen one go bad on one of those. We have repaired some oil leaks from timing chain covers so that, you know, that is an expensive repair.

And the only issues with some of these Subaru's is engine oil, burning, unexpected oil consumption. And that is an issue that certainly happens on some models, not all, but that is a problem with some of these engines. But other than that, they seem to be, you know, very good cars.

Mark: If you need some service or maintenance for your Subaru, and you want experts who will look after you and do it right. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Or you can do it on the website And if you're interested, there's hundreds of videos, literally hundreds, we've been doing this for nine years. All makes and models, types of repairs, videos, articles, you name it also on YouTube Pawlik Auto Repair. Check us out there. And of course, thanks so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2015 BMW 435i xDrive, Front Tire Repairs

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. We have exciting news, now 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver, 24 times. Come on, give somebody else a chance. No, they're the best as voted by their customers and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim 2015 BMW, 435i xDrive. BMW has the longest names in history I think. Something was going on with the front tires on this vehicle, what was happening? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop for not a province inspection. It was coming from Ontario. And whenever you license a vehicle in BC, you've got to have a provincial safety inspection done on the vehicle to make sure it's compliant. So we did that and found that one of the front tires had a bulge in the sidewall, which is definitely a fail item. 

Mark: Can you repair a bulging sidewall?

Bernie: No, sidewall damage on a tire is not repairable. The only repair you can actually do on a tire is like a nail or a puncture in the tread area. And if you get too close to the edge of the tread, that's not repairable, but if it's sort of central to within an inch of the edge, you're good. Maybe even three quarters repairable. Sidewall no. 

Mark: So how does the sidewall get a bulge? Is it eating too much fat food? 

Bernie: Yeah. Yeah, it's bad, bad air. Usually what I find, especially with this car, it's got low profile tires. If you hit a pothole that's usually a way to get a bulge in the sidewall, but what happens is it actually causes internal damage to the tire.

So it's allowing air to escape from the sort of inside sealed area of the tire to the outer layers of the tire. And it's definitely indication of tire damage. And of course, if the sidewall blows, you know, pop it with a pin or something that you're going to lose all your air. So it's one step away from you know, disaster.

Mark: So I know, or I become aware that BMW, the later ones are using run flat tires. How are they to change? Is there anything different about run flats on a maintenance level? 

Bernie: Well run flat tires, the whole reason they have them is so that if you actually do lose air in a tire, so you have a puncture, you're actually able to drive a short distance, maybe 50 kilo meters, not at a real high speed to get your tire repaired.

And these cars don't have a spare tire. A lot of newer vehicles don't have spare tires and they don't have run flats. But the nice thing about a run flat as you can actually still drive and get your tire fixed. Changing them is a bit more work because the sidewalls are exceptionally stiff. That's the only way you can have a tire that you can run low on air. Any average tire, of course, it'll just squash up and ripped to shreds once  the air goes out of it. So it's kind of a neat design. Very expensive, by the way, like run flat tires, they're almost twice the price of a non run flat tire. So you can expect to pay a lot more money for the tires when you need to replace them. 

Mark: So once you were doing inspection, did you find anything interesting that you think caused the problem? 

Bernie: We did and sometimes you think, well, it's just a tire repair. Why are we doing a podcast? Well I've often been preachy about the idea of don't get plug repairs for tires. You know, the proper way to repair a tire is to take a tire off the rim, seal it with a patch plug, you know, inspect the inside of the tire. And when we took the tire off, we found some very interesting stuff. So let's get into some pictures and we can look at reasons why you don't want to just use a plug on a tire.

2015 BMW 435i xDrive, Front Tire Repairs
2015 BMW 435i xDrive, Front Tire Repairs
2015 BMW 435i xDrive, Front Tire Repairs
2015 BMW 435i xDrive, Front Tire Repairs

So there's our 435i with a nice dull wrap finish. This is what we found when we took the tire off. This is the inside sidewall, severely cracked, chunks of little bits of rubber inside the tire. This tire had probably had been run for a long time low on air. Who knows how long, hence the bulge, which I figured may have been more recent, but obviously it wasn't.

We looked further at the tire, this is a plug. Something you can pull into a garage, you could probably even get this yourself. Just poke it in with a piece of whatever rubbish material and a bit of glue. And that plugs the tire and your leak's fixed. Not a recommended or endorsed way to repair a tire.

And the reason why, I mean, they generally work. They do hold air in the tires because you're not getting a chance to inspect the tire. So there's the inside. There's the plug that stays in there. But you can see this crack in the sidewall. This was probably there long before this plug was put in and who knows how long this person has been driving on a tire.

That's really frankly, very dangerous. If this was not a run flat tire, it would blow out very easily because the run flat is a harder sidewall. There's at least a little bit of protection, but not much. When you look at this crack and this one all the way around the radius, the diameter of the tire. When you have a flat, get it fixed properly is what I'm saying. 

Mark: Don't use a plug. 

Bernie: Yeah. Don't use a plug. Now I do have to say there was one exception, I had a customer who he used to take his camper van on these rough logging roads. And he said, I usually get like one popped tire every time I go. So he goes, I bring a plug kit and a compressor. And I thought, well, you know, that's probably a valid way to repair it because you're not near a shop where you can actually take the tire off and repair it. And I'm like, well, you know, I guess that's okay. But you know, if you're repairing it immediately and not driving it, it's probably okay.

But if you're going into a shop, if they can't take the tire off the rim repair. You really shouldn't be dealing with them. 

 Mark: You mentioned this was a provincial inspection. So did you need to do any other repairs for the car to pass the safety rules in BC? 

Bernie: Yeah. So we found a couple issues with the car. One is the rear brakes were worn out. So they needed new pads and rotors on the rear. And being a BMW, there was actually an indicator and a warning on the dash saying rear brakes needed to be replaced. So the owner knew that when he came in and the other thing that needed to be done was there was tinting on both side windows and the windshield. You're not allowed to have tinting on front windows or windshields in British Columbia. Those windows have to be absolutely clear, just like the factory, no tint whatsoever. You can have the back windows tinted black, but not the fronts. So that had to be removed.

So, you know, as a preparation if you're watching this podcast, if you had tinted windows, if you want to speed the process up, you can get it removed. We fortunately have a neighbor who is in the tinting business. So he also removes tinting. So it's very convenient for us and our customers. But just so you know, tinting will fail your test. 

Mark: So you found one cracked sidewall, did you have to replace both tires? 

Bernie: We did both tires because the tire on the left side, the one that was good, you know, the tread was starting to get worn. This tire actually had better tread than the other side. It's entirely possible that they may have had a bulged sidewall problem. I had a Mercedes with low profile tires, and a couple of times I'd have to replace the front tires after winter because you hit a pothole, Oh, there's a bulge in the sidewall. Those weren't run flat tires, but you know, nonetheless, once you get a bulge, it's dangerous.

But yeah, we replaced both. I mean, it's always better, especially on the front to have both and the treads are much thicker on these tires. We replaced the left tire, you know, there's no damage whatsoever in the sidewall because of course they'd never been run low on air. If you run a tire low on air for a while, it does damage the tire. Many times we go to do a flat repair and we pull the tire off and it's damaged because it's been run low on air. So keeping it full is critical for the long tire life and your safety. 

Mark: If you want some expert maintenance for your BMW or any of your vehicles, if you feel like you got an issue, a bulging sidewall, the guys to call in Vancouver, Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead. Or you can use the website You can book your appointment right there on the website. They'll look after you, they'll call you. They will find out exactly what's going on and be ready for you when you arrive. So that you're in and out of there as fast as possible, but it will be done right.

And they're 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver. It's not a fluke after 24 times, their customers love them and you will too. Pawlik Automotive. Thanks so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So a fresh electric car, 2017 Chevy Bolt that had a blind spot lane warning repair. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the owner came to us. They apparently hit their back bumper on something and the blind spot warning and lane changing warning system stopped working in the vehicle. So they brought it to us to look at and see what we could do to repair it.

Mark: Now this is electric, so what kind of testing and diagnosis did you do? And was it any different than normal? The way you start. 

Bernie: For something like this? No, we basically hook up our trusty Snap-on scan tool, which has all the software for GM vehicles, including the Chevy Bolt. Do we say Bolt or Volt? It's funny how you can get confused with that. Anyways we hooked up our scan tool and interrogated the body system and found a store trouble code, which kept repeating for a communication error with the rear vehicle modules. So I can't remember the exact description of the code, but it kind of confirmed what we figured might be going on with the vehicle. So that was basically what we found through the scan tool part of it, which is again, as the initial part of the diagnosis. It's the basic starting point of the diagnostic. 

Mark: Gives you a general area where the problem probably lays basically. 

Bernie: Exactly. There's something communicating. There's a computer in the front or body control computer somewhere that's not communicating with the computer's in the rear of the vehicle related to the lane keeping system and blind spot warning. 

Mark: So what were your next steps? 

Bernie: Next step, pull the rear bumper, inspect the wiring. Now I'd mentioned they'd hit something. It was very subtle because the bumper wasn't crushed or cracked. There's a little tiny mark where it hits something. But we pulled the bumper off and we found a wiring connector that was just munched with all the wires you know, crushed and you know, popped apart, so we found the problem is pretty evident right then and there.

And I should probably just get into some pictures right now because that's where the interesting stuff lies. So there's our 2017 Chevy Bolt.

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair

So this is a little bit of damage on the bumper. You can barely see it. There's a tiny little crease right there and a little mark there. You know very minimal amount of damage.  Fortunately didn't damage, these are parking sensors, these round dots didn't damage any of those, didn't damage any lights. It kinda makes you wonder what with all these controls, why did he even hit something? But you know, I've got vehicles that have those and it's, I don't know, you can still hit stuff, it still happens. 

Broken wiring connector.  There's basically what we found.  So this is like a two in one connector. These pins and pieces are all popped apart. You can see this is like the weather seal. Very important to have these sealed, obviously because they're in the outdoor environment. And there's another picture here this shows another piece of the connector that's all munched. So you can kind of see what we're up against. 

Mark: Okay. So let me ask you a little bit of question. Perhaps we haven't prepared for, which is why in the heck did this happened from such a small little bump. 

Bernie: Well, what we believe happened and I'm not sure if I have a picture. Well, you know what, I'm going to jump ahead. This is the repaired connector, but this big aluminum plate here, this is the actual bumper. That other piece that has a little crease, is the plastic cover. And there's some foam in there. Behind this piece, there's a clip where the wiring connectors, this wiring connector that's all munched up is supposed to go. And it basically hooks in behind there. So it shouldn't ever get hit by anything, it's protected. But for some reason, what we conclude happen is as the person's backed up, this wiring connector was in behind in between the bumper, that metal piece and the plastic and just got crushed.

So bit of crappy luck for these people, because you know, this is only in one location. Had they backed up even a few inches over it wouldn't have cracked this, but for some reason it did. So that's basically why it happened. And when we repair it, of course, we ensured that everything was on the proper side.

So if something like this were to happen again, the wiring connectors out of harm's way. Now, why it was like that, it's hard to know. Was it a sloppy installation at the factory? Was this bumper off previously for some other repair or did somehow when it hit pull the thing apart and in a sort of two-part process of creasing in it it pulled the wiring connector apart and crushed it. It's kind of hard to know. Nonetheless, it was broken. So bit of crappy luck for the owners of this vehicle is what I can say.  

So as for repairs. Yes. There was a couple of options. One was to get new wiring harnesses from GM. I believe it was over $1,800 for the, they don't sell the connectors or plugs. You have to basically buy the whole wiring harness. So the wiring harness...

Mark: Wait a minute, wait a sec, $1,800 for a wiring harness?

Bernie: Yes. It's not an outlandish price but that's only one end of it. The one in the back bumper was I believe about $300. So the back bumper is complicated because it's got two radar sensors. I should have taken some more pictures, but it's got two radar sensors on the corner of the rear bumpers.

Plus it's got the parking sensors and of course it's got a light, so there's quite a few items as you can see. This is the body side of the wiring that we repaired. But you know, of course it's way too much money, but the $1,800 wiring harness, is a very, very complex piece of wiring. It's obviously not just a few wires. It's this plus it goes through the whole vehicle. We figured a much better, faster, and way more, way more cost effective way would be to put new wiring connectors, not an easy job, but we used these Deutsch connectors. These are a really high quality connector. They use a special crimper to crimp the wires on much like you get in a factory. I mean, it's OEM factory quality. All weather sealed. Available in a variety of sizes for different wire gauges and yeah, it's a great quality repair. 

So quite a few hours worth of work to take everything apart and do it right. But you know, the amount of time it took us to do that would probably less time than changing the wiring harness to the front of the vehicle. The only downside of course, if the back bumper ever got, you know, really destroyed whoever would be doing the future repairs would have to customize the wiring harness, but that's not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. 

Mark: So with all these electronic fanciness in there, that adds a tremendous amount of complexity, but in this case, because a lot of that stuff wasn't damaged particularly, it's just the wiring end of things that you're having to repair.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. But there's a lot in there. I don't know the price of these radar sensors, but I mean, there's a lot to them. I bought a new GM truck recently.  It's a nice for trailer towing. It's got all sorts of cameras and sensors and warning lights, and led lights to shine down the back to look at your cargo when it's dark out and just all sorts of stuff. But I cringe to think how much this mirror would cost to fix you know, oh and it tilts in, it's a little fancier. 

So I read an article just recently about, you know a Subaru that had a headlight problem and it was like $6,000 for a new headlight for a Subaru. I mean, that's, you know, we just don't expect those kinds of things out of an average kind of car that was $6,000, maybe on a Mercedes, but not a Subaru. And, you know, there's, if you get the Mercedes and BMW, it gets even worse. So, you know, with all these fancy features that we have on cars, there's a price to be paid and trying to avoid hitting something is really important. Of course, these things are supposed to prevent you from doing it, but it's, I don't know.

Mark: We can keep out smart anything.

Bernie:  Exactly. You know, it's not hard to do sometimes, so they help out. So yeah there's a lot of added complexity for sure. 

Mark: So the Chevy Bolt is a fully electric vehicle. What do you think of them? Are they reliable? 

Bernie: Yeah, I think they're really awesome. I mean, there are fairly new, so, I mean, there's not many repairs that we do on these kinds of things at this point in time. I would say though, there probably will be very little as there's not much in the way maintenance. And that's what kind of brings people back often, other than repairs or things breaking.

 We'll just look at some more pictures of the vehicle. Some under hood shots because I find it always interesting and looking at these things. There's a good under hood view.

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair

This is what you find in the engine compartment. I guess it's the motor compartment now of the Chevy Bolt.

So what's familiar. Well there's brake fluid here, the brake master cylinder, but a lot of this is all electronically controlled now. You've got computer modules here that you'd find. There's the 12 volt battery there which powers and runs all the other accessories. I believe this is an inverter I be wrong here. I didn't really research enough of what all the bits and pieces are under the hood of this vehicle. But everything with orange cables is high voltage, and this is all high voltage cabling.

The electric drive motor and unit will be down below here. You can see there's two coolant reservoirs here as well. There's some AC or heating pipes here. So again, I'm not sure how the system works and a lot of these things I tend to learn on an as needed basis. So I can definitely see an AC fitting here.

So a lot of electric vehicles will use the AC system for heat and cooling as well. So you know, there's some stuff that looks the same and a lot of stuff that's different. And then of course, repairs will be substantially different to do than you would normally do. As a matter of fact, I could see three coolant reservoirs here. So interesting.

The other thing I found interesting is this is the radiator cap. The radiator cap is like, there isn't even really a radiator there. They're so small. But what's interesting, it's only five PSI pressure, very low pressure. I mean, most internal combustion engines are up around the 15, some of this highest 18 PSI range because there's a lot of heat and pressure.

So again, these are very low pressure systems. So leaks, they won't occur as easily as they would on an internal combustion engine. They just don't have the same amount of heat generated as you would. 

Mark: Is there any other maintenance other than just maybe topping up fluids and brakes and suspension systems on an electric vehicle? 

Bernie: It's pretty much it. They have tire pressure warning, so. You know, I don't like to recommend that people just drive a car without having it inspected every once in a while. But when a car is brand new, you know, you can probably honestly drive one of these cars for a couple of years without even taking it in for service. You can top up your washer fluid, it'll have a cabin air filter that needs to be changed. I mean, there's no engine air filter anymore. The cabin air filter if you're a somewhat handy, is probably not difficult to do yourself. Rotating tires is an important thing to keep the wear even. 

And I think, you know, once the car gets a few years old, having an annual inspection will be an important thing because you never know, things do start to where at that point. You've got weather issues, road salt and that kind of thing. If you live in that kind of climate, getting it on your brakes. So brakes will need service from time to time, even though they will last a long time. Having service on brakes depending on where you live is going to be an important thing to do once every year, once every couple of years. Rotating your tires on a regular basis and just inspecting the steering and suspension, make sure there's no loose parts. It might be computer monitoring for all your fluids and tire pressures, but it doesn't monitor things like ball joints. 

There might be some kind of technology around that with nanotechnology in the future where everything will be told to you. But I think that's a little ways out. Give it five years. Yeah. But I think the key thing is when a warning light comes on, there's something that's going to need to be addressed. And that's when something will need to be repaired. I think it's hard to know what electric vehicles, what the issues are, because they're pretty new. You know, in Teslas, I mean, they've been around for over 10 years and they kind of keep to themselves. There's not so much published information out there. You know, but things like bad connections and corrosion will certainly be an issue, especially in areas where there's a lot of harsh winters and road salt. I think those things will start causing problems. Places like Arizona, where you got none of that, maybe nothing, hard to know.

Mark: If you need some service on your electric vehicle. They've actually serviced quite a few. The guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, (604) 327-7112. They've worked on Teslas. They've worked on pretty much all the electric vehicles. Not a ton of them, because they're not a lot of them on the road, but they have worked on them. They're trained up. They're up to speed. They're experts in these vehicles. They've worked on a lot of them. Give them a call (604) 327-7112. To book your appointment. You have to book ahead they're busy. Or you can go to the website You can book your appointment on there. They will call you back, find out what exactly what's going on with your vehicle. You can also look at over, I don't know, 500, 600 videos on there of all makes and models and types of repairs, including electric vehicles. Check out the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Thank you so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thank you Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.

2008 Honda Civic, Transmission Bearing

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 23 time winners, 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: 2008 Honda Civic had a transmission problem. What was going on with this car?

Bernie: Yeah, so this is a standard transmission and the owner had mentioned that when he had the clutch, either in or out, there was certain times there were some noises coming from the transmission. Figured either there was something wrong with the clutch or the actual transmission itself. So this is the concern we were dealing with. Transmission noises.

Mark: So how do you test or diagnosed those kinds of issues? 

Bernie: Yeah so first of all, of course, a road test to verify the concern and see where the issue's occurring. And then from there, we test it on the hoist with some listening equipment, stethoscopes and things to just listen and see when the condition occurred.

Because a lot of times you can kind of get an idea, is that a clutch problem or a transmission problem based on whether the clutch is engaged or disengaged or what gear you're in. So between the road test and the driving test, we kind of thought the clutch was more of the issue, but our next step was to actually remove the transmission to inspect. And actually found that the transmission input shaft bearing was actually the item making the noise. It was excessive of play in the barrel. 

Mark: So is this a pretty involved repair? 

Bernie: Yeah, it's a transmission removal and transmission disassembly. So yeah, there's a fair bit of work involved. Definitely more than if it was a clutch problem. Because we have to take the transmission apart and either, you know, overhaul it or repair it, there's a fair bit of work to be done.

Mark: So if the bearing is worn out, wouldn't that cause damage to the rest of the transmission? 

Bernie: Well it can, and it depends on how long you leave that kind of thing. I'll just get into a picture right now. 

So there's a view of the transmission. 

2008 Honda Civic, Transmission Bearing
2008 Honda Civic, Transmission Bearing

These are all the gears, basically the gear sets and the transmission. The bell housing is this part down here. And the bell housing basically attaches the transmission to the engine. And inside this large area here that I'm sort of swirling my mouse pointer around is where the clutch is located. This large gear here, this is the final drive gear. This is a differential section, so it's a transaxle actually not a transmission.

And the transaxle is basically a transmission, which are these parts here. Again, if you're reading this, you're not going to see it, but with the most pointer you can see, these are the transmission gears here. It's a five speed transmission, and this is the final drive section here, which is the differential section.

Anyway, so the bearing the red arrow basically points to the area where the bearings were worn. We actually ended up replacing two bearings in this one. The main shaft bearing, which I believe is over here. We basically replaced both those bearings in that area, but yeah, if a bearing wears bad enough in the gears, develop enough play between them it can start breaking gear teeth or causing damage in that area.

So also metal filings can be flung around inside the transmission, which can cause some  pretty serious damage. Fortunately there's a magnet inside the transmission and all the metal filings and where from the bearing, bits and pieces. And I didn't take a picture of it.

I should have, but all the bits and pieces, all went onto the magnet, which was perfect. So the magnet did its job and saved the rest of the transmission. So all we had to do is replace the bearing.

This is a closeup, that's the main bearing that was worn out. And again, that's a kind of a closer view of that. This is the reverse idler gear here just for reference, but that's basically the inside of the transmission. As I said there's two bearings we replaced in this area and that solved our issue.

 Mark: So you have to do take the transmission apart. Is this a fairly common for you guys? How do you proceed with this kind of repairs is something that you do on a regular basis? 

Bernie: Well as far as commonality, you know, the input shaft bearing failure on Hondas has actually been going on for quite a long time. So you know, as reliable as these cars are, that is one of the areas that does tend to go. We've seen it on Acura vehicles as well. So if you have a Honda with a standard transmission, an input shaft bearing failure is not an uncommon issue. It's not like guaranteed to screw up issue like Subaru head gaskets, for instance, on a 2.5 litre Subaru, but  it is common enough and it does happen. And normally, you know, with the transmission repair, often we would just change all the bearings. But in this case, because it's a fairly common input shaft bearing issue, and the other bearings we can spin them and get a feel for them.

They all seem to be in pretty good shape and all the metal filings and all gone onto the magnet. We felt it was pretty safe. We just cleaned the inside of the transmission, cleaned all the gears and just replaced the bearings that were worn. 

Mark: So you mentioned, this is a common failure item. What kind of year range are we talking about?

 Bernie: You know, I'm thinking that in the 2000, you know, the first decade of 2000s, it's common around then. I think even late 90s, there was issues. I might be a little off on that, but you know, certainly in the 2000s era that's definitely an issue.

Mark: So you always say Honda's are very reliable. Is this still the case with the 2008 Civic, with a manual transmission? 

 Bernie: Yeah, I still think it's a really reliable car. As I was saying a moment ago. I mean, it's not like if you have one with a manual, it's guaranteed the input shaft bearing is going to go bad. It does happen on some models. You know, the only other defect I've seen on these Honda's is around this model year again, is sometimes the engine blocks crack. 

We had one a while ago where, and this is not entirely uncommon issue, although we've only ever seen it with one client, but the engine block cracks and they have to replace the engine. So that's not a good thing, but again, it's an issue that happens, but not really commonly. So something to watch out for. Now the thing is, you know, if you don't have any antifreeze in your engine, you can certainly accelerate that process. But these are for, you know, people maintain their car well and have proper antifreeze. It's just some defect in the engine block. 

So it's probably one of those things where you have an inspection on the vehicle. It'll look fine, you buy it and it might happen. But those are just sort of two things to look out for on these cars. Otherwise I'd say they're pretty much bullet proof reliable.

Mark: Is there any way to lessen the odds of this transmission bearing going bad, like changing your transmission fluid a little bit more than what's recommended.

Bernie: Well, I'd say changing the fluid every 50,000 kilometres is a good recommendation, whether that would save the bearing or not. I don't know. We do a lot of Volvo differentials, rear differentials. They wear out even for people who change the fluid it's, I think sometimes it's a bit of a design defect that maybe the bearing just wasn't quite up to snuff for the job. But you know, certainly if you change the fluid more frequently, you've got a better chance of it surviving.

Mark: If you need service on your Honda 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. Or check out the website Hundreds of videos on there all makes and models and types of repairs.

The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair, same story, hundreds of videos. Hundreds of stories, all kinds of happy customers. Who've had their vehicles repaired. And of course, thank you so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thank you Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. We appreciate it.

2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners, 23 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: 2008 Volvo XC70 had some sort of power window problem. What was going on with this Volvo? 

Bernie: Yeah, so our client brought the vehicle to us the left rear power window. Wasn't working also the door lock as well. And there were occasional times when it would work, but most of the time it wouldn't. So that's the issue we faced. 

Mark: So what kind of testing and diagnosis process did you go through? 

Bernie: Well because of the kind of car with modern computer technology, we hooked our scan tool up and we looked to see what sort of signals we're getting from the various switches in the vehicle. And from the drivers main switch, we could see in the computer that all commands to the power windows were as they should be and what we expected, but the window wouldn't work. And there's bi-directional control. So we were able to operate some windows, but we couldn't operate the left rear window through that control. 

Mark: So digging into this now, how did you go a little bit further?  

Bernie: So what we would do in any older car, without computer system that is pull the door panel off the left rear door, start testing the wiring. Inside there's a, it's a pretty complicated setup. I mean, there's your basic power window motor and door lock actuator. Like you'll find in any car that's been built in the last 50 years, but what is more complex is there's a door module. There's a module and every door a computer sends a signal from the body control module. When it gets a signal from, whichever switches, it gets processed through that computer and that will send the signal to the motors to actuate it. So that wasn't working.

So we had to do some testing on the wiring and the area that we tested, we test for basic power and ground. All those were present, but the one area that we started focusing on us, it's called a LIN bus system. It's a computer bus system, the communication system between the computers that control a window system.

So those were the next series of tests that we did because clearly that issue wasn't getting the proper signal. From somewhere. Either by broken wire, defective module or something in that area. 

Mark: So, how do you test the LIN bus system?

Bernie: Well, we use a lab scope and I'll show you some testing. We'll just do a little picture show here. You should see a picture of a nice silver Volvo.

2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs
2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs
2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs
2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs
2008 Volvo XC70, Power Window Repairs

So this is basically on a lab scope. A lab scope is basically, it tracks time and voltage, and you can see at this point, this is a zero volts. This is 12 volts, and somewhere around little under 12 volts, maybe 11, is the highest voltage you get. And about one volt is sort of the bottom end. And this signal will switch. Back and forth in various patterns. But it's key to have these fluctuations. 

Now what we were getting when we hooked our test probe up to the LIN bus wire on the left rear module is it is basically stuck at 10 volts. It's just a solid line going across the screen. Obviously a problem. So we pulled the driver's door panel off where the door module is, and we found it, it had this signal that we're looking at here. We unplugged the other door modules to make sure there wasn't anything going on there. There was no signal coming from the LIN bus system to this door module, probably a broken wire somewhere along the lines. So that's kind of how the diagnosis goes. It's time consuming. That's basically what we found. 

Just kind of an idea here. This is a wiring diagram. I always show these because I really like people to know the complexity of what we're dealing with with a car. It's not just a matter of let's plug our scan tool in, Oh, there's the problem. You know, here it is, let's fix it. This often takes a few hours worth of dedicated time to fix these issues.

So this is just one example, but this is the left rear door module. You can see there are about 20 wires going in and out of this. Powers, grounds, signals, power to the motors, power to the power door lock. And in this one, wire that I've circled here. It says computer data lines, that's the LIN bus line.

This is where it's supposed to get that fluctuating signal, which it was not. So those was our diagnosis. So you probably wonder what did we do next? 

Mark: What do you do next, Bernie?

Bernie: So we kind of figured, at this point, you've got to kind of think, well, where would the most likely chance of a broken wire be? And it would probably be the driver's door because that gets opened and closed more times than anything. It gets the most exercise and gets the most wear. So we start pulling wiring apart part that went into the driver's door through the door jam and we found a broken wire. And here's a couple of pictures.

So the red arrow points to our broken wire here, which is part of this connector, main connector to the driver's door. And finally, one more shot again. You can see the wire broken. Yeah. So we basically repaired the wire, soldered, heat shrunk, extended it. We do whatever we need to do to make sure it's reliable and will last for another 10 15 years. And that's basically the repair done. After that everything came back to life in the rear door.

Mark: Essentially the LIN bus, that your scan tools, when you're checking things are going to point in a general direction most of the time. Without being very specific about, okay here somewhere in these miles of wiring, literally miles of wiring in the car, hidden in all kinds of cavities all over the place. There's a problem in one of these somewhere. It'll tell you perhaps which one, but it won't tell you where. Is that right? 

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. The scan tool really is just a direction of where to go for repairs. And interestingly enough, I mean, we have a tech support team with the scan tools we have, and we will often call them or send a data file in saying, Hey, here's what's going on. Have you got some thoughts or suggestions. Because most of these things we find are first time repairs, and there's a whole team of people that we have. So when you come to us, you've got that backing of a lot of experience. You know, which is what you get at either dealership, manufacturer level on some of what we have is probably even better.

But anyway, so we sent the file off with these particular trouble codes that we obtained out of the computer and the tech rep who is helping us suggest that it probably was a module because that's almost always what goes wrong. Well, you know, if we just go, let's just change the module, we would have wasted the customer's money and been doing more diagnosis for free.

So from there it just gives us a direction to understand how the circuit works and the information, and then we can go from there. So, you know, some repairs are simple. A lot of them are not, I think it's just important to know that  when you have something that's going on in your vehicle. 

Mark: And plus part of it's experience, like being able to know that, Oh, the rear window isn't working, let's just tear the rear door apart. And then maybe we'll find it kind of the guess and by golly method of diagnosis, which you don't use. No, we don't use. Basically a more thoughtful, true problem diagnosis way of finding the actual issue. 

Bernie: Yeah. It's very important to do that and follow a structures and procedures and that's the best way to find the issue and sometimes you go, okay, well let's just start at where it's most probably a problem and which we did the driver's door and that's where it was.

I mean, we could've started tearing the wiring apart at the rear door and through the rest of the vehicle, but it's, again, it's like probabilities of where are things going to happen? You know, the other area, when we find a wiring issue on a car, we'll often ask a client, Hey, has this car been in an accident recently? Or do you know anything about an accident history? Because again, wires don't normally fail for no reason. They're pretty durable. They could last a hundred years, but sometimes there's a reason. 

Sometimes it's the way something's manufactured, but when there's something that moves, it's in a spot where something is moving. That's where a wire can often be faulty. Or if there's been a collision and you know, there's been repairs done and maybe it hasn't been done properly or, you know, we see that a lot. So it's all about asking the right questions too. 

Mark: So after the repair, everything worked fine?

Bernie: Yep. Windows good, door locks fine, everything back to normal. And so really, I mean, it was a time consuming repair and costly in that manner, but you know, no expensive parts were required. These door modules are expensive. They often require reprogramming on Volvos, which I don't know why, but they do.

You have to program the module for the door. Even if you change the driver's door switch on a Volvo, you have to reprogram the computer for the door switch on many models. So it's kind of crazy and it's not, you think why, but the way it's built.

Mark: And how are these  XC70 Volvos for reliability? 

Bernie: Well overall, I'd say pretty good. This car has got over 200,000 kilometres. It's a 2008. So what's that make it, 13 years old now, you know, that's a fair bit of mileage. One thing we did find as there was some oil leaks on the engine, which looked to be probably a major repair. If the owner takes that on. They're not severe leaks, but we have done the rear differential on this vehicle. 

You know, they're a bit of a quirky design vehicle. They're a little more expensive than average to fix, but overall, a pretty good car. I think sometimes when you give a car time to age out and you can kind of see whether it's good or not. And I think these are pretty good cars. Just expect things like the rear differential. If it hasn't been done, you'll be doing it.  

Mark: They do a lot of differentials, rear differentials for Volvos and Land Rovers. If you need some service for your Volvo in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 or check out the website. You can book online there now. Or check out the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds on both of those places. Hundreds, not exaggerating. Over 500 over almost 600 videos, almost 700 I think. Videos all makes in models, types of repairs. We've been doing this for nine years. There's a ton of stuff.  Thank you for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 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, but I just noted you've rebranded yourself since we last talked.

Mark: It's easier to say TLR, that's it.. 

Bernie: It is, sounds awesome. So yes, we're talking cars. We're talking trucks. 

Mark: Trucks. Yes. 2015 Dodge Ram Hemi that had an issue with its camshaft. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop. The the owner had stated that they'd taken their vehicle to another shop and were told they needed to replace the engine. The engine out of misfire. We performed some diagnosis, did some testing and we found that was in fact the case. There was a misfire in the engine. 

 Mark: What diagnosis and testing did you actually do? 

Bernie: So you know, our basic procedures of course, to run the engine, verify the concern. We could definitely feel the engine wasn't running properly, connected some diagnostic scan tool equipment, test for codes, look at the computer data. It was pretty apparent. There was a misfire, I believe it was number three cylinder, pretty apparent. So from there we, you know, inspected the spark plugs, compression test on the engine. Compression was good.

 We inspected the fuel injectors made sure there wasn't anything else that was missed. Cause there's a number of things that could be. From there, it was basically remove the valve cover and see if the valves were opening. We know cam shafts you know, worn cam shafts are a common problem and verified the intake. The intake rocker on that cylinder was basically not moving at all or barely moving when the engine was cranked over. So problem found. From there as a matter of removing the engine, not replacing the engine but just repairing it. 

Mark: So how many kilometres are on this truck? 

Bernie: 128,000. Really not much, still a youngster. 

Mark: So I'm assuming that it's the cam shaft that's worn out and the lifters. 

Bernie: Cam and lifters, yep.

Mark: So why would it wear out so fast at this small amount of kilometrage? 

Bernie: Well, I did a little research into it because if you look at our podcast history, you'll see that we actually did one of these a couple of years ago on a Jeep 5.7 litre Hemi. And it's an exceptionally common problem on these engines.

 From what I could determine, I mean, bad maintenance is always something that I think can be an issue. And we look at some pictures in a minute, I'll show you just kind of an example of it. It's not that we found the oil was particularly bad on this engine. They may have done okay maintenance on it, but the service intervals are pretty long. The recommended Dodge interval was like 13,000 kilometres. It's synthetic oil, but you know, my mind I'm just way too long to go. The other feedback I got is it's possible that just idling these engines, the camshafts just don't get quite enough lubrication that the cam and lifter area, the cam are lubricated by splash  from the crank case.

And it's possible that, you know, it just doesn't get quite enough lubrication when the engines idling is not enough oil splashing around. So either way, whatever happens, you know, that these items do tend to fail. And now it could be bad materials too. It's kind of hard to know, but mean, that does happen from time to time to that where they just don't make the material is sufficient. So I guess what I'm saying, I don't really have a super definitive answer, but you know, obviously changing your oil on a regular basis, sooner than recommended is a good idea. 

So pictures. There's the side of our truck Ram 2,500 heavy duty 5.7 litre, very common engine package in this vehicle.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

And let's have a look at a few items here. So speaking of bad maintenance. This is the air filter we pulled out of this vehicle. I don't have a new sample, but it's basically supposed to be absolutely snow white and colour. And this thing is, is, is among the blackest dirtiest air filters we've ever seen. Now, a bad air filter isn't likely going to cause the cam to wear out, but is an indication of how well was this vehicle maintained. And I'd say that there was definitely some missing maintenance along the way. 

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

Okay. The cam shaft. There's a couple of lobes with some, this is some bad wear, but this, this isn't that really bad lobe. But a number of them were badly worn. Where's our really bad one, there's the bad one. I mean that that lobe is completely worn off. You can see it's kind of an egg shaped item. Well, the egginess has completely gone here and what happens is the lifter, these are roller lifters, they have like a roller bearing.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

They roll on the cam shaft for low friction, but over time, the roller bearings fail or something happens and it just ends up grinding the cam lobe down. We'll have a look at the cam lifters. Here we go. There's the lifters. There's a used lifter, but this one is in pretty good shape.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

This is the bad one from that cam lobe. Now you can see how the metal is just ground down, completely here. And if you look here, you see how much higher this roller sits. This was completely seized, but inside there's a little roller bearing. So it rolls and as I say it's a very low friction item, but all it takes is that roller bearing to skip a few times or wear out and then it'll disintegrate and start, you know, riding on the cam shaft in a funny way. Grinding it up and it just becomes a disaster from there. 

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

There's the new camshaft and you can see the lobes are nicely shaped. Everything's clean. This area here, this engine has variable valve timing, it's something they introduced I believe it's around the 2009 model year. So these oil passage ways are part of the variable valve timing system. Now because it's only on single cam shaft, of course they can only vary the valve timing for the intake and exhaust all at the same time.

Whereas if you have overhead cams or individual cams on each like exhausted intake, there's much more flexibility and adjustment. But the nice thing about this type of pushrod engine is it's simpler and there's less moving parts. I think that kind of covers it. I mean, a couple of views here.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

This is the engine. The engine must be removed to do this work so the cylinder heads have to come off to access the lifters. And so this is the engine being re-installed and another view of the engine with the intake on and assembled, getting close to running time. So that's most of our pictures, I've got a couple more to share as we talk a little further.

So further items that were damaged. Last time we did this, it was basically, you know, the cam and lifters were replaced. On this particular engine, we ran into a couple of other things.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

The rocker arms only on the intake side had been pounded out pretty badly. This is where the rocker arm contacts the top of the valve.

And here's an intake valve. You can see this top is supposed to be completely smooth and shiny, and you can see it's very pounded out and damaged. So all the intake valves had to be replaced, along with the valve springs had some wear. They were basically softer than specification and all the intake rockers. Exhaust valves surprisingly were all in good shape, but for some reason the intakes took the brunt of the wear. I think that concludes our slideshow.

Mark: Okay. So this is pretty catastrophic failure. Was it, this is a I'm throwing you a curve, would it have been cheaper to just get a used engine and put it in rather than doing this repair? 

Bernie: Well, it's an excellent question because we do a lot of used engines and I'd say no. A) it wouldn't have been any cheaper. I mean, the cost would probably have been the same, but the thing where they used engine is you're just buying an engine that's probably got the same problem that's going to happen again. So where used engines are good is where the failure is maybe someone just didn't change their oil enough, or they let the timing chain rattled too long and it broke. So that's it, but the engine is generally quite sound. So that's where used engine's good.  

I've had a few customers with Toyota's where they just, for some reason haven't changed their oil in the engine blows up, but like the engines themselves are, you've never have a problem with one. So that's a good used engine, but on this particular car, because of the problem, if you've got a used engine, you'd probably want to change the cam and lifters anyways, before you even put it in. So that's a great question, but yeah, it definitely not the best way to go. 

Would it be worthwhile to rebuild the engine while it doesn't really make any sense? Cause the rest of the engine is really quite sound like the pistons. The bottom end of these engines is really good and it's really pretty trouble-free. So you know, just doing the cam and lifters and fixing the valves and heads, it'll go for a long time. With good maintenance.

Mark: So camshaft and lift your issue, is this common on Hemi's? 

Bernie: Very common. If you Google it, you'll see it just, it's a huge, huge issue on this 5.7 litre engine. And it seems like it happens more on the 2009 and newer, and you know why that is. Not quite sure, but they introduced a few features on, on the 2009 and newer like variable valve timing.

And that can affect the way the oil flows through the engine. Also they have multiple cylinder displacement. So it can actually kill certain cylinders while you're driving down the highway when you don't need the heavy load to improve fuel economy. So these may have an effect on how the engine is oiled, because that's controlled through the oil system and the engine.

So why it's a failure? It's hard to know exactly, but again, I would just say change your oil regularly, like more frequently than recommended. And don't ever miss an oil change because it can be as simple as just missing one oil change can make a difference or just extending it a little too long.

Mark: Was this an issue on the older, like the Hemi has been around since the fifties, it's like 70 year old engine basically in design. Was this a problem in through the 50s, 60s, 70s? 

Bernie: Not that I know of course that's getting way back there. So the newer generation of Hemi's where I think they reintroduced it around 2002 and it hasn't really been a problem in those, but it is on these 09 and newers. And you know, there's a few other displacements of Hemi's to the 6.4 litre I think, I believe the Hellcat's is 6.2. I don't know if those have any problems, cause that's an extremely rare engine, but 6.4s do apparently have problems. We haven't seen one yet. It's not the most common engine either, but apparently they do have problems with the cams too. So,  you know, it's basically the same engine, just bored and stroked differently.

Mark: So would a diesel, I hate to ask this, would a diesel engine be a better more reliable option for this Dodge Ram truck heavy duty Ram truck? 

Bernie: Well, it's a good question because and my answer is it depends on what your application for the diesel is. If hauling some heavy loads, the diesel might be a better option. But if it's just kind of an around town kind of moderate load truck. I'd say probably not, because you can end up spending the kind of money this repair job costs on a diesel pretty easily with if the emission equipment goes bad or something like that. 

So well, you know, the operating cost of the diesel is lower. And I guess the other thing too is to buy the diesel truck costs a lot more money in the first place. So if you're hauling heavy loads, the diesel is probably a better way to go. But you know, on a lighter duty application the gas is probably still a better way to go. 

Mark: So there you go. If your Hemi is having some issues in Vancouver. Oh, here's another question. I forgot. Let me interrupt myself, Bernie. Sure we would you hear this with that cam lobe wearing out like that and scraping so bad? Would you actually hear something?

Bernie:  Well, yeah. So, you know, what's interesting about this particular issue is that this engine wasn't really tapping or clicking, like we would normally hear. I don't know why, because I last Jeep that we did the podcast on the reason we actually repaired that one wasn't because the engine was running badly. Cause there was a ticking sound in the engine. So yes, a ticking sound is the first issue it's like, you know, now there's multiple things that can cause that, but on this engine, you can be pretty sure if you've got a ticking sound, it's probably a failed lifter or a cam shaft.

And that other Jeep we did, I mean, the cam lobe was worn, but not particularly as bad as this and the lifter again had had collapsed, but the wear it wasn't as severe as this. So it was surprising that there wasn't a ticking sound, but normally yes, you would hear a ticking sound. And if you do hear that, that's probably the time to get it repaired before, you know, this engine probably went way too long and then all the valves have got pounded out. You know, that's not always a repair that's needed, but in this case it was. 

Mark: So if your Hemi's ticking, get it in for some service. If you're 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. Check out the website We have nine years of videos, all makes and models and types of repairs. The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair. Thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. And thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2003 Honda Accord, Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils

Mark: It's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well? 

Mark: So 2003 Honda Accord had a problem what was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the client brought it in, it was due for a maintenance service and she had also noted that the engine was running rough under certain conditions. 

Mark: So how do you go ahead to proceed and test and diagnose what was going on? What was the actual problem? 

Bernie: Yeah, so we road test the vehicle and we could confirm under, you know, a bit of a load condition, the engine was running roughly, like misfiring. And that's the first step. So we got our diagnostic scan tool, that'll help us get in the direction of which cylinder the issue might be occurring in. If there's a misfire.

So we look at the data on the scan tool. We scan for codes and found, there's actually a code for misfire in every cylinder. So when there's a code, usually it comes up as P something. And so P03O1 , for instance means cylinder number one, misfire.

And it's interesting when they use diagnostic trouble codes or set up certain  codes, mean certain things like a 300 series code is an engine misfire code. A 400 series is an emission systems code. So it's kinda well-organized but anyways, there's a number of codes for a cylinder misfires, all of them in fact, not just one. So that made for some interesting next level testing. 

Mark: What exactly is a misfire and how do you determine what's causing said misfire? 

Bernie: When an internal combustion engine is running and you could have anything from I mean, I think about in cars, what we found is, you know, 3 cylinders kind of the minimum that you'll find and 12 is usually the maximum. And any of those cylinders every time they go through their cycle, they're supposed to fire as a spark and it's supposed to work. You know, it's supposed to fire a good combustion cycle and if it doesn't, the vehicle computer through a, usually a crankshaft position sensor, the speed of rotation, will figure out, Hey, that cylinder didn't fire properly. You can also feel it usually. 

Sometimes you'll get misfire codes where you don't feel any issue, which can sometimes be a sensor problem or something else, but normally you'll feel a roughness in the engine. It just isn't performing properly. It shakes or shutters, something happens. 

So the misfire is basically a combustion event that did not occur. And there are a number of reasons for it. It can be anything from like bad compression of the cylinder, or it may be a valve is burnt. It can be a spark plug that isn't firing and ignition oil, computer problem, fuelling objector intake leak. There's a number of things. And misfires can happen at low speeds or high speeds. So there's a number of causes. So I think he had a two-part question. What's a misfire. And what was the other question, Mark? 

Mark: How do you determine what's causing it? 

Bernie: Yeah, so how do we determine? So we basically go through a tree of items to look at, first of all, and a lot of is based on our own experience.  I've worked on cars for my whole adult life. I can usually tell by driving along, yeah. It feels like an ignition misfire. It feels like the spark plug somehow just didn't fire that spark. There's just a certain feel to it. Which can, it's not a hundred percent accurate, but a lot of times I find it could be 95% accurate, but there are things we can test. And usually the easiest area to start with is ignition system. 

This has an individual ignition coil per spark plug. It's a six cylinder engine, so we can transfer spark ignition coils around this specific cylinder. What we did is clear the codes and we're able to narrow it down to a couple of cylinders that it seemed to be more common causes.

So we swapped ignition coils around between the different cylinders and the issue followed those ignition coils. So then we know that coil is the problem. Also, when we removed a spark plug, you can see they were pretty old. So again, that was something we suggested to do as a repair as well.

Mark: So I don't imagine it's, because they're fairly accessible most of the time. It's not that difficult to job. Replacing spark plugs and ignition coils. 

Bernie: On this Honda Accord is actually a pretty straightforward job. We're lucky here because a lot of V6 engines have an intake plenum that hangs out over the back of the engine. So the rear cylinder bank is very hard to access the spark plugs and coils. And you often have to remove the upper intake manifold to take those apart. So it can be quite a bit more time consuming. 

On a Honda they've nicely put the intake plenum square over the centre of the sort of V of the engine. So it makes for a pretty straightforward replacement. And we have pictures here. We can actually look at some stuff. Let's have a look at some pictures. 

So there's our, there's our 2003 Accord. It's a 18 year old car, but still in pretty nice shape where you can see a little scuff on the bumper here. If you look close enough, but still nice and shiny and  in good condition. 

2003 Honda Accord, Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils

There's the front cylinder bank of the engine. So again, it's a V6 engine. There's three ignition coils. The rear is kind of like, looks like the same. And fortunately as say you can access it.

2003 Honda Accord, Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils
2003 Honda Accord, Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils

The other thing about this car too, is it has more of a longer hood than you find a newer cars that can often make it difficult to access the coils in the rear as well. But fortunately, on this car, it's not too difficult. 

And there we have the old ignition coil and spark plug, you can see the spark plug, there's a fair bit of corrosion above the, usually you get, you find these after awhile, there's probably a tiny little bit of combustion gas leaks out through the porcelain of the spark plug, not a big issue, but it kind of indicates it's been installed for awhile. These are probably original spark plugs. Hard to be a hundred percent sure. 

And there's one of the old coils again, you can see a bit of corrosion that just kind of common on coils, but you know, inside they're magnetic windings and things that just tend to wear out or they could be cracks that can develop down this tube here, which could cause spark to leak out into the the surrounding the metal of the valve cover. There's our picture show. 

Mark: So why not just narrow it down to those two coils that you found were bad and change all the plugs, but just those two coils? 

Bernie: Well, that's certainly a possibility. And one thing I will say is when the vehicle was brought in and had a misfire in all cylinders. So that doesn't necessarily mean that they're all bad, but they could have all been bad at some point in time, or sometimes, you know, one or two cylinders will cause all of them to misfire.

Sometimes just clear the codes and see what reoccurs, what's happening right now. But anyways, to answer your question, you know, it's a mathematical thing sometimes. How much did the coils cost? How much time does it take to diagnose the issue? How old are they? If two have failed and the vehicles got 165,000 kilometres, how likely is it that the other four are on their way out? If two or three have failed now or getting weak. 

And then the question is if you can narrow it down to those two specific coils and we do have other ways to test besides swapping coils. We can hook it up to a lab scope. We can actually look at the firing patterns of the coils and see how they're firing. But besides that you know what happens in a month or two, and we've had this happen where we've had a vehicle, say it's a four cylinder, easy to change a coil. Hey, just change one. We found one that's bad then. A month later, the customer's back, Hey, the engine's running rough. Then you have to redo the diagnosis. There's a cost there. 

So I think it's better, we do them all. You know, we have a, usually a two-year warranty on these items. So customer has a two year warranty it's done, you know, finished anything happens, say a coil goes bad. They're still covered for two years.

So you know, whereas if we do just one or two and then, Oh, that one, you know, there's another one that's bad, there's more diagnostic fees and more testing. And it just makes sense.

Now the only time it may not, if you have a vehicle with a very expensive coil, I used to own a Subaru with an H six engine, very expensive for the coils in this engine, because it's not a common engine. So. I had one that failed. I just replaced one because it was so expensive to change the coil to do all six would have been a couple of thousand dollars in parts. Kind of ridiculous. So you just gotta do the math and figure it out, but usually it makes sense to change them all once the car gets old. 

Mark: And that's based on, like you said, pretty much your entire adult life working on cars and having gone through every other possible way of doing this to try and save money for people and finding that the best way is sometimes the easiest way. 

Bernie: Yeah. And when you think of it from a maintenance perspective, again, you know, I love aircraft maintenance because they fixed stuff preventatively because they can't really afford an aircraft engine to fail while you're mid flight.

So you're thinking, well, why would you want your car to do the same thing? Yes, it does cost a little more money to do that, but it makes your driving experience overall a whole lot better and more enjoyable. More peace of mind. You know, this is time to change the ignition coils. They've run their lifespan. This is time to do them. 

Mark: Basically save your frustration for all the other parts of your life. 

Bernie: That's right. Exactly. Exactly. But if your car runs well, that part's easy. 

Mark: You mentioned this vehicle has 165,000 kilometres. Was there any other service due at this time?

Bernie: Well, there's a couple of things. One thing we did do, and this isn't in the Honda schedule, we did a motor vac fuel injection cleaning, which is something we recommend every two, three, four years on a vehicle, depending on how much you drive it. So we did that during this service, which made a lot of sense, considering the engine had been misfiring and we'd never done one on this particular vehicle. This person's owned the car for a few years. So we did that. 

But the other you know, schedule maintenance item is the timing belt. This engine does have a timing belt that's due about I think 165 or 168,000 kilometres. So we didn't do it this service. But we will be doing it in the near future. So that's kind of the big service item on a Honda and actually spark plugs were actually due at this particular time. So it's a good time to do it all. So timing belt coming up next and that's kind of the major Honda item. 

Mark: And how are these, this is an 18 year old car? How are these age of Accords for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, that's a really good car. Now it's funny talking about reliability for a car this old, but at least we've had 18 years of experience to see what kind of a car it is. And the automatic transmissions have been a problem on Honda's of this sort of earlier, early 2000 generation. And I'm not sure if this one's ever had the transmission replaced, it works fine at this point, but that's definitely a problem that's happening. And often they happen, you know, fairly early on in the life of the car, in the five to 10 year old range of the car. So I consider that to be kind of a bit of a problem, you know, for reliability. But other than that, they're good cars. I mean, there's the expense of the timing belt, which a lot of engines don't have, but at least that's a predictable expense.

Whereas say a timing chain failure is a non predicted expense and a lot more money. So overall, you know, I think they're excellent cars. You know, do you want to buy an 18 year old car at this point? I mean, if you're looking for an older car, that's probably well priced. They're still reliable if you can get one that's well-maintained. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Honda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, or you can book online on their website, Of course, if you want to see us in living colour, there's hundreds of videos on there all makes and models and types of repairs.

Check out the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. We've been doing this for nine years now. There's hundreds close to a thousand videos on there, actually of all like I'm serious, all kinds of vehicles. All types of repairs. Thank you so much for watching. We really appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. I'll have to crack a bottle of champagne open when we do our thousandths video. 

2006 Volvo XC90 – Catalytic Converter

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with my good friend, Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 times. I might even have some news about that. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So 2006 Volvo XC90 had a catalytic converter problem. What was going on with this  vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop. Customer had a few concerns. One was a rattling sound in the exhaust system. So yeah, that's basically the bulk of it, but that was the biggest concern.

Mark: So what kind of diagnosis inspections did you do? 

Bernie: Well, because this client was new to us and they had a number of concerns besides the rattling and exhaust. We did a comprehensive inspection. So it's a full vehicle inspection and then looked at the exhaust. We could hear the rattling sound.

We basically do a visual inspection to see if there's anything loose, you know, wiggle things around, sometimes we'll use rubber hammers on things. Variety of things sometimes just running it with one person in the vehicle, getting the right speed or, you know, until cause of vibration, this is what we do. We have different listening equipment, whatever it takes. And what we found is that the catalytic converter had a rattle inside, internally. 

Mark: So how does, leaving aside the fact that you're using rubber hammers, which my wife likes to use on me. How does the catalytic converter rattle internally?

Bernie: So what happens is the way catalytic converter, it's basically got a shell body. We'll look at a picture in a minute and inside of it, there's this it's like a sort of metal honeycomb grid, it's all welded together, very compact. And usually there's some kind of fireproof lining that goes around that.

And eventually over the years as cars, you know, it's 15 years old, it's got a fair number of kilometres on it. Things will rattle around. Sometimes people will actually hit them depending on where it's located. They might bottom out and hit it. That wasn't the case with this vehicle. But sometimes if you were to hit the converter, you know, hard to say on a rock or something, or go over something that could cause it to come loose. Sometimes just over time, the metal expand and contract, expand and contract over the years, happens a lot. You know, eventually things will kind of get loose and start to shift around inside. 

Mark: So, how does that affect the performance of the catalyst in the converter? 

Bernie: Well, it eventually will degrade the performance because the exhaust, to be effective of course the exhaust has to flow through the substrate with all the precious metals causing a chemical reactions with the exhaust.

And so any exhaustive bypasses that, which it can eventually, especially if the rattle gets severe, will definitely degrade the performance of the converter. And you'll know that because the check engine light will come on, at least on a converter of this age, because it's anything after 1996, the converter is monitored for its efficiency. So that hadn't happened yet on this vehicle, but it certainly would at some point. 

Mark: So, are there other reasons, other than someone's stolen it, that catalytic converters require replacement? 

Bernie: Well, it's funny you talked about the stolen one, cause I was going to talk about that, but let me just share a picture for a second while we're talking about that.

There's our 2006 XC90. Still in good shape for a 15 year old car. 

2006 Volvo XC90 - Catalytic Converter
2006 Volvo XC90 - Catalytic Converter

And there's the catalytic converter assembly itself. So you mentioned stolen. So these things, on this particular vehicle, this part of the flange just sits against the turbocharger. There's a flexible pipe. And this is actually a failure item on a lot of exhaust systems will cause loud exhaust, and we can usually replace these. We can buy the flex couplings and weld a new one in. 

There's the catalytic converter right there. That's the body of the cat. And inside is that substrate. This one is located under the vehicle and people will slide under there or jack it up or whatever means they have with a SAWZALL, like a portable reciprocating saw. It's nice and easy to do nowadays because there's so many battery options available, and they'll just slice it out and you'll get out one morning, start your car. And it's super loud and catalytic converter's gone. 

But other reasons for failure is basically, you know, they're not supposed to ever wear out, but they will wear out eventually. And it's just when, who knows. I mean, I had a 2001 suburban I sold last year, had almost 400,000 Ks. Cats were still original and working fine. As I say, you, you just don't know how long they'll last. You know, a lot of times, they might get hit if they're underneath the car or the substrate will work loose and rattle. So those are really the reasons they'll need replacement.

Oh, we'll give another thing. They can get plugged. You know, if you have an engine that's misfiring, often the check engine light will blink. That's something you really need to fix. A check engine light that's on solid is fix it soon. A check engine light is blinking. That's a serious concern.

It indicates a catalyst damaging misfire. What happens is, an engine misfires it dumps a lot of raw gasoline down into the cat. It gets very hot and it will actually melt the substrate. So that's another reason for replacing these. They'll get plugged, you'll lose power. And that needs to be repaired.

Mark: So the chemical reaction that's taking place in there with the platinum, and I don't know what else is in there. 

 Bernie: Palladium rhodium platinum. Those are usually the materials. 

Mark: I was going to guess that. Okay. Sorry. They react with the exhaust gases and pull the pollutants out of the air, basically. So the exhaust is cleaner coming out of the tailpipe?

Bernie: Yeah, essentially that's what they do. They take any excess hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. They basically convert that into CO2 and water. That's basically the ideal reaction.

So we're basically pumping more CO2 into the air. But less harmful noxious type of pollutants. You know, that cause other diseases. Like carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are particularly bad hydrocarbons. 

Mark: We're getting rid of the kill you now stuff. But increasing the kill you later stuff.

Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. And we're doing a really good job of that because it's amazing how little of those other pollutants really come out of a tailpipe of a car that's been built in the last 20 years. 

Mark: So what kind of replacement options are available for this catalytic converter on a Volvo?

Bernie: Well, there's a couple. There's an aftermarket pipe and catalyst assembly. We sometimes will do custom work where we'll actually weld in a really high quality universal converter or you can buy a new converter from the dealer. We've talked to the customer with different options.

In this case, we actually went with the dealer converter. This is  actually an OEM Volvo catalytic converter. So the OEM converters cost a lot more money generally than the aftermarkets, but they are much better. They have a full catalyst load in them. And which is why they cost a lot more money.

You're not just paying for the name because it's from Volvo or from wherever you're buying. It actually is the best quality unit you can buy. But often the price can just be enormously expensive, but in this case, it was a lot more, probably about $900 more to use this dealer converter over an aftermarket. But clearly this will last for, if these people keep this car for another 15 years, which is doubtful ,it'll last for 15 years. Unless you have a misfire problem which can wreck the catalytic converter pretty fast. But as long as you keep the car in good running shape, it'll last definitely for the life of the vehicle if these people will keep it for. 

Mark: So is it possible to buy a used converter? And would that be a good idea? 

Bernie: Well used is a bit dicey. You know, I've actually seen auto wreckers that won't sell catalytic converters. I remember there's one said, you know, federal law won't allow us to sell one, which seems kind of ridiculous. And that could be an American thing. A company that used to be American company that used to sell a lot of used parts here, but we have bought used converters. We rarely ever do that because it's kind of risky. You don't know how long it's going to last for, and you don't know if it's going to be any good until you actually install it in the vehicle. 

I mean, we can bang with a hammer and make sure it's not rattling, but you don't know whether it's plugged or whether the efficiency is low until you actually install it. So it's a very risky item to do. You know, if you do it and it doesn't work, then you've got a lot of labor to pull it back out again, to fix it.

Mark: And probably now with the price of palladium, rhodium, platinum, that why people are stealing catalytic converters. A lot of wreckers aren't going to be selling the converter because it can get more money by recycling the precious metals. 

Bernie: Well, no, I would say that you could still, it's still worth more money as an intact item. I mean, if you consider a lot of auto wreckers, some of them have a, there's sort of a policy of selling it for half the price of new.

So I mean, this converter could, you know, they could potentially sell this pipe for six or 700 bucks or more even if someone would pay that for it. But then, you know, that's almost approaching the price of an aftermarket new converter. So you think, well, which way is worth it.

And if it only has a 90 day warranty, it's kind of hard to legitimize, but  I mean as a piece of scrap metal, that catalytic converter is probably worth a hundred bucks.  

Mark: There's gotta be an easy way to make a living. So how many kilometres run this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle had about 277,000 Ks actually. So it was quite up there. Ran really nice.

Mark: So how are XC90s overall and how are they for reliability? 

Bernie: Pretty good vehicles. You know, we've talked a lot about Volvos over the years. Certain quirks rear differentials wear out. They do have some transmission issues and some model years, the drive belt system on some of these is rather strange and expensive to fix, but overall I'd say they're pretty good.

And I think sometimes you have evaluate a car, you know, it's 277,000 kilometres it runs great. You know, needed a few thousand dollars worth of repairs, including this converter, but now the car is in good shape and it'll go for quite a while, I would say without any further issues. So, you know, overall a good car, but you will spend more money on these to fix them, but it is a, you know, kind of a top level European SUV vehicle. Good safety and comfort, creature comfort. So there's more to go wrong, a little more expensive to fix, but definitely a decent vehicle. And I think this one's proven itself over time with the mileage on it that it's a pretty good car. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Volvo in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The guys to call 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. You can book your appointment there. They'll call and confirm everything with you ahead of your appointment. 

Or check us out on YouTube. There's hundreds of videos on there about all makes and models over nine years worth of doing this. Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thank you so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

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

2014 Honda Acura RDX B-Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So 2014 Acura RDX is today's victim. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop for a maintenance service. It was due for a B service. So that's exactly what we did. 

Mark: So what's involved in a B service?

Bernie: So B service is an oil and filter change, plus a full vehicle front to back inspection. Wheels off. Tire rotation if needed and doable, which it is on this vehicle. It's only not doable if you have vehicle with different sized tires, front and rear. So that's basically it. We do a full inspection, one of our awesome digital comprehensive inspections and and the oil service.

And we can get straight into pictures right now because we can actually go over some of the details of our service, because it's pretty awesome. 

So there's the RDX. Very practical little compact SUV I think. And very reliable also. There's our V6 motor peppy and powerful also, you know, which is a good feature to have. The earlier versions of this at a four cylinder turbo, which actually worked really well too. But I kind of liked this V6 engine a little better.

 So the inspection, so we have a digital inspection that we do and breaks everything down. So this is what you would get as a client of ours. This is the inspection that you would see that we either send you a link by text or by email. Lists that 94 items are okay, 10 items of suggested services, which are, you know, things that kind of need to be done, but could be done at a later time. And then two items that should be done right now. And one is a third brake light, which is a bulb, well probably a bulb. And then the other we found when we tested the alternator, that there was a low output and a blown diode.

So, this view is a little small right here. I should've got a blow up picture of it, but this is actually a view of our test screen and actually indicates right from the tester that the diode is blown. We send really good information out with these inspections.

So we drill down a little further. We can look at a couple of the suggested items. So there's the service due light was on which we've reset. The wiper blades are smudgy. The transmission fluid was due by mileage. Again, we like to look at vehicle history but the technician recommended, check the vehicle history, sure enough it was actually in fact due. Does that make it a red? Well, it's not really mission critical to do it, but it's kind of important to deal with it. A couple of the other orange items, the sway bar links had some slight play in the rear. There's a photograph again, which we include, and these can be clicked on to enlarge. So you can look at them a little closely. And then there was a very slight oil leak from the engine or transmission area. So again, we'd recommended a diagnostic on that. It wasn't severe, but just something to keep in mind. 

 And then some of the good items and these are things that we also do. So we measure the brake pads. There are numbers here. Seven millimetres in the front brakes. We measure the brake rotors, inspect the calipers and other brake components. On the rear there's five millimetres. There's a measurement for the rotors. Tires we measure the tires, adjust the pressure. So these are all noted. And this is everything you get on the inspection. There's are our picture show for the day. 

Mark: So was there any problem with driving a car with a bad alternator? 

Bernie: Well, yeah, so of course, how the procedure goes is we present the inspection to the client and estimate out the major items and maintenance items. And from there they'll make a decision. Now the owner decided, you know what, I don't want to fix the alternator. It is pretty expensive to repair on this vehicle. It wasn't that it wasn't functioning. It just that it wasn't functioning properly. So the answer is yes, it should have been done. I'll say that I think he should have done it, but it's not my money to spend. Their logic was, you know what, if the battery goes dead, we'll just tow it in. So that is one thing that happens if the alternative is severely bad, of course your battery won't charge it and you won't get far. 

But with a blown diode, you're kind of getting two thirds of the amount of output. The risky thing is that it can send strange voltage spikes through your vehicle. And sometimes you'll, you know, the engine will either not run properly. Like it'll kinda run funny or lights might flicker or something. None of that was happening on this vehicle. So it wasn't a big issue in that case, but nonetheless, you know, it's something that should have been done.

However they did choose to do some of the maintenance items. The brake fluid you know, we'd recommended flushing. They fixed the bulb of course, which is good and inexpensive. And we did the transmission service, which was due also. 

Mark: So this vehicle's got 90, 90, 96,000 kilometres. Isn't this a major service interval on many vehicles? 

Bernie: Well, yeah, and especially for Japanese vehicles, 96,000 kilometres used to be the major service interval where you do the timing belt and spark plugs. These were the things that were kind of due. Usually transmission service. Sometimes, you know, again, we're going back a couple of decades where the CV boots, usually the material they were made out of, they were starting to crack and it was like a good idea to replace the outer CV boots.

You know, so it ended up being a pretty major service and you know, pretty costly, but, you know, once you get it done, of course, then you're good for another 96,000 Ks. This vehicle, not the same. The Honda has gone with it. They have the maintenance reminder that comes on on the dash and reminds you when you're due for service.

And I have to say that I really like their system. I find that Honda they're, you know, when their maintenance reminder comes on telling you your oil needs to be changed, it kind of comes on, I think the right time, it's not too late. Well, to me the right time is when it's not too late. When the oil is just hideously dirty, like you find on a lot of European cars that they come on, you can smell the oil, it's a little old, it looks a bit old, but not hideous. And I think that's really the time you want to do it. So you're not causing any damage to the vehicle. 

And then of course, they're pretty sophisticated on the Acura. There'll be like an A1 or an A2, and the letters mean different things. So for instance, like this vehicle has a timing belt and it is due to be replaced at a certain point, but actually a warning light will come on and it'll say when a service four comes on, that'll be the time to do the timing belt. So I mean, normally the timing belt interval on these engines is usually before they had this electronic alert was usually around 168 K. So I would expect it would come on around then, but it might come on sooner if you don't drive a lot. So it'll take those factors into play. Also, you know, when you look at the maintenance schedule, if you do actually tow a lot with this vehicle, which most people don't do, the timing belt replacement interval is actually a hundred thousand kilometres.

 But again, that's a severe use that most people won't do, but it's important to look at those kinds of details because the last thing you want is to break a timing belt. That makes for very expensive engine repair. 

Mark: And how are Acura RDXs for reliability.

Bernie: Yeah, really good vehicle. It's a Honda product, very reliable. Can't say much bad about them. You know, they need a few repairs here and there. I mean the alternators, one thing we have repaired on a number of these cars and also this thing did have a little clunk in the rear that I suspect might be the rear struts that are going because that is an issue also. But overall, a very reliable vehicle. Good value for sure. 

Mark: So if you need service for your Acura in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website Hundreds, nine years worth of videos, hundreds, many hundreds on all makes and models and types of repairs. Or check out the YouTube channel, same story there Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course thank you for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

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