Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. And of course we're here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, 38 years of servicing, repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So a Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011 model. What was, there was an engine noise? What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, this vehicle came to our shop. The owner was complaining of a ticking sound, a fairly loud clicking sound in the engine. So we had to look at that and did some diagnostic. It definitely wasn't normal.

Mark: And what did you find was causing the problem?

Bernie: So we isolated the problem to the right hand, right cylinder bank. This is a 5.7 litre Hemi V8, and there was definitely some noise in the right hand cylinder bank. So in order to diagnose it further, we removed the right valve cover, inspected to see if we could find perhaps a loose, something loose in the valve train. This is a pushrod engine. So the cam shaft is located in the centre of the V, sort of the classic spot for a V8, and has push rods running up to the push rods and rocker arms. We didn't see anything noticeable. We rotated the engine, ran it. Nothing was excessively noticeable. But we were certain that the noise was coming from that side of the engine. And doing some research into these engines and from some personal experience, we figured that it was probably, possibly a worn out lifter or a cam shaft problem of some sort.

Mark: What was the next step?

Bernie: Next step, removing the engine. And incidentally this engine also had a leaking oil pan gasket, which can be done in the car, but it's quite a labor intensive job. So at this point we knew we had an internal engine repair to do of an oil pan gasket to repair. So we authorized the client to let's take the engine out and take it apart and find out what's going on, and then we can fix it all in one shot.

Mark: So once you had the engine out, which is a big job, and apart, what did you find?

Bernie: So what we found, and we'll just get right into the picture show here, we found that, we did find wear in the cam shaft and we found one of the lifters worn out. These use roller lifters for low friction and that's what we found was worn out. So a combination between that, those two, is causing the ticking noise.

There's our nice 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Really nice condition. This vehicle has actually pretty low mileage, 114,000 kilometres. So it's still, in my eyes, kind of a brand new vehicle. This is the old and new cam shaft. So part of the replacement was to, we had to replace the cam shaft. We replaced all the rocker arm, all the lifters, rocker arms were in good shape. So the cam and lifters was basically the main component. But we also changed the timing chain and the a, it has variable valve timing. We changed the variable valve timing actuator gear as well.

While everything is apart, it just kind of makes sense. There's always wear in everything. But this is the new camshaft down here, and if you look up at the old camshaft, you can see worn parts. I'm going to just show a closer picture in a second, but you see this cam lobe is where this one has wear. There's wear in several others that's pretty pretty noticeable.


Mark: And 114,000 kilometres. Normally that wouldn't necessarily be that apparent.

Bernie: I wouldn't think so. I mean I think this is really excessive, but if you do a little research on these engines, there's a lot of problems with these, with the lifters and cam shafts wearing. We can talk a little more about why this would happen at such an early age in a minute. But again, this is a closeup view. This is the front cam and this is the one where the lifter was collapsed as well, or worn. And you can see this wear here, this pitting. The case hardening on the camshaft is coming off. And as I said, there are several other lobes. The lifters on the others were all working fine, but it was only a matter of time before they, all of this would tend to fail.

So these, interestingly enough, this is not something you're going to find on an old 426 Hemi, that the front cam journal is just going to be a big solid piece of metal. But these passageways, these are for the variable valve timing system. So up in the engine block there are passageways and there's an electrically-operated solenoid and that changes the oil pressure out to the cam gear, which is located in this area here. And that can adjust the valve timing of the engine.

So that's kind of how that's accomplished. So again, as engines get newer, this is the same old kind of classic V8 that's been around for since the '50s, but modern modifications make it work better and more efficiently.

Lifters, this is a set of lifters. These are interesting. When you buy them, they basically come as a, normally you just buy loose lifters. These coming in this plastic holder here and there, if you notice there's little round holes in some of them and not in the others. This engine has a variable, it's a variable displacement engine. So the computer can actually shut off up to four cylinders in this engine while it's running, for a better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. And it does it with the lifters. It'll basically just depressurize these. So they basically, the cam shaft and lifter moves, but it doesn't move enough to allow the valves to open, so they stay closed. So the cylinders are basically just causing no drag on the engine. Very minimal. So it's kind of an interesting system.

This is our worn out lifter here. I'm going to get into a little closer picture so we can see some details of what was happening. It's a little subtle, and a video may have been more useful, but if you'd notice, if you look at the gap between this point and that point and then you look over here where the arrow is pointing, you'll see it's substantially lower. And if I could grab this with my hand, I could, if I could show you, but what we're able to do is actually this piece will move up and down and it's not supposed to do that. So there's little needle bearings inside that have worn out and basically created a whole bunch of excessive play. And so that's, this is where our ticking noise is coming from.

Also on the lifters, they're in this plastic retainer. And there's a reason that it being a roller, of course, this has to always roll in the proper direction. And apparently these fail. I haven't seen one yet, but it's a reasonably common item where the plastic piece will break. And so the lifter will actually rotate sideways and not roll properly on the cam. And of course that will create wear in a real hurry.

So here's another kind of close up view. There's the lifter holder. There's the lifter that slips in and you can see it's got its grooved to fit properly in there. What else do we have for pictures here? I think we've, I think we've covered ... Oh yeah, the engine.

So yeah, there's the, it's a four, this is a Hemi. It's like Dodge's, Chrysler's made a good use of their branding from the 60s. You've seen a lot of their vehicles, their Chargers, their Cudas. A lot of the vehicles they sell are leftovers from the good old days in the late 60s early 70s, when their engines had huge amount of horsepower. This is a hemispherical cylinder head. The other thing, one thing's different about this over the original 426 Hemi, of course, is that it's a smaller engine, displacement wise, but it also has two spark plugs.

And as far as for details, I assume these are both fired at the same time, but there are some engines that do use two spark plugs, again, for just better combustion. It's kind of added complication. And of course when you have to change the spark plugs, it doubles the price. But they do last a long time. So that's our picture show for the engine.

Now I do have some other items if you want to ask me the next question.

Mark: Did you find anything else while the engine was out?

Bernie: Yeah. So the other item that I did notice while the engine was out is that you can see a, you could see some coolant leakage, very subtle amount of coolant leakage. You can see sort of, this is the front left oxygen sensor. And you can see some crusty buildup around this oxygen sensor. And there's a heater pipe right above this, and so very slight amount of coolant's been leaking, who knows how long, onto this oxygen sensor.

So it just made a lot of sense to change this part while the engine was out because of course you could actually get right in there and do it. I mean it's not a hideous job while the engine's in, but the oxygen sensors are actually a real pain to change in this vehicle. Very, very inaccessible. There was a lot of good things about doing this engine job, but the location of the oxygen sensors wasn't one of them. So we changed this oxygen sensor and these heater pipes, and I'll just get a little closer view of of this kind of thing.

There again you can see a little bit of the crustiness and this is a, it's interesting. It's a little, it's an assembly, a pipe assembly. It has a plastic elbow that goes through the firewall. And then there's a couple of other hoses at the other end that attach to the actual ... this is actually in the, I shouldn't say, this is in the cowl area and the firewall is actually further back. But they, it needs this adaptor to run the hose through the cowl.

What else do we have here? Oh yeah. Close up view. There's the oxygen sensor with the crusty deposits on it. Again, we changed that while the engine was out. I mean it, as far as we know it was working fine beforehand, but you never know how, that with that kind of stuff dripping on it, it'll definitely shorten the life span.

And there's one final picture of this. So this is that hose assembly. So I wanted to just get this elbow, but of course being a modern vehicle, they only sell the hose assembly. The good news is it wasn't very expensive, which is good. And it came with all the quick connect ends down here, which clip onto the heater pipes of the engine and the hoses. It comes with clamps. So the actual removal and reassembly process is actually pretty straight forward because it comes with all the parts and pieces you need. You don't need to hunt around. Do we have clamps, how do they go together? It's pretty straight forward.

But I often wonder, this vehicle's eight years old. What's going to happen when it's 15? Oh we're sorry we don't sell that part anymore. Then you've got to start custom making stuff and kind of annoying that way. So I'm back.

Mark: So you mentioned the mileage. It wasn't that high on this vehicle.

Bernie: Oh yeah. About 114,000 kilometres is really a pretty, a young vehicle. Low mileage.

Mark: So that's kind of early for this sort of catastrophic wear to be already taking place.

Bernie: I would consider that to be so, and you might want to ask, well why would that happen? And I think, I mean, there's always manufacturing defects and things that aren't made as well as they should be. But I mean really, this is where it's critical to change your oil on time or early every time. And when this vehicle was brought to us, it had, it was a little overdue for an oil change. It was a little low on oil, not critically. But those kinds of things can all make a difference. You just get a little slight lack of lubrication or the oil just breaks down a little too much. It's a little too old. That kind of thing will cause this sort of wear to happen on engines, and you never know from engine to engine.

We have customers who abuse the crap out of their car. We had a Subaru yesterday where the owner brought it in and every time she's like, if she's like 5,000 kilometres overdue for an oil change. And she'd been doing it for years. So there, I'm not saying, like you can get away with it in some cars, because some people will go, Oh yeah, well I did that. Well, yeah. Okay. You're lucky, because there's people who drink a case of beer a day and smoke five packs of cigarettes and lived to a hundred, but they're kind of rare. They are the very rare exception. So with cars, it's like change the oil. I mean that's really the critical thing. Change it when it's due. Even a little before it's due.

Mark: Could we make an assumption that this car was probably not really driven for long distances, like taken out and driven 250 miles in one goal kind of thing. It's been all stop and start in town. And that's even more critical for making oil changes on time.

Bernie: It is. Absolutely. That's a really good point. If you do a lot of straight highway driving, you can actually stretch your oil change interval out even longer because the engine is hot. It's warm. Everything's moving. Very, very good point, Mark. It's the city stop and go traffic is even harder on it. So cold starts and that makes a huge difference. So yeah, I mean even then it's worth changing the oil probably more often.

Mark: And a lot of sitting, probably, with the eight-year-old vehicle that's only got 60,000 miles or 70,000 miles on it.

Bernie: Yeah. Yeah. Not a huge amount of use.

Mark: How are Jeep Grand Cherokees overall?

Bernie: Well you can always ... thank you for bringing that. Overall, I mean, well, to me this is kind of a bad stain on the reputation of a Jeep, and if you do a lot of research you'll find a lot of these 5.7 litre engines have similar issues. You and I do a lot of podcasts on Jeeps because there are a lot of things that happen to them. This particular Jeep. It's beautiful. Like it's a really beautiful vehicle. Really nice to drive. It looks great. And I think Grand Cherokees have always been like that. I mean, they're a really nice vehicle. But they do have a lot of issues. I mean this one we, on this particular vehicle, and I think he's a fairly recent owner, secondhand. We've actually rebuilt the transfer case on it because it had an issue.

So it's had a number of problems at what I would consider a pretty early age. I have a 2001 Suburban, knock on wood. I've never rebuilt the transfer case. It's got triple the mileage of this vehicle. So there are a lot of things that do happen to Jeeps, and it could be that this one just suffered from some bad maintenance. That does happen to us. Unfortunately the risk when you buy a used vehicle, which is good to really look at, if you're getting a used vehicle, if you can look at the maintenance schedule. Because you're, there are some risks. But I'd say like for Jeeps, there are definitely more issues than average.

Mark: So if you want to look after your Jeep in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Can't just walk in. And they're only servicing people in Vancouver. So we appreciate your calls and interest from all across North America, but we can only serve you in the Vancouver, BC area, other than maybe some other circumstances. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Of course on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos and articles about all makes and models and repairs over many years now. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. And thanks for watching.

How Reliable are Jeeps?

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

Bernie: Doing well this morning.

Mark: So we're preparing for the apocalypse and we're going to talk about Jeeps. How reliable are Jeeps?

Bernie: Well they're reliable enough to get you to, if there's a zombie apocalypse, to get you out to the bush. Let's put it that way. We often wonder why so many people own Jeeps. But people love their Jeeps. The Wrangler, which is kind of your classic Jeep style which goes back to when Jeep was founded in 1943 as an army vehicle. The Wrangler is just a modernized off shoot of that. People love that vehicle and Jeep's been really successful with their SUVs, with the Grand Cherokee of course, which is a very nice luxurious, they have really nice luxurious platforms in a lot of them. They've been making that since the, the Grand Cherokee goes well into the 90s anyways.

Mark: Almost a pioneer in SUVs.

Bernie: It really is actually. I guess sometimes I argue maybe the Suburban is kind of like the original, but really Jeep Grand Cherokee really brought the SUV to the forefront and they're kind of like the poster child of the SUV and everything that's wrong with an SUV too because they're... a lot of them, they're not that big. Of course you can drive pretty well anywhere with them but they've got a hideous gas guzzling engine, not very economical. A lot of energy goes into to powering the drivetrain on these things. So really I think there was a while were the Jeep Grand Cherokee had about the worst gas mileage going for a long time. So there's some things that maybe not to be so proud of but they are an awesome vehicle in terms of what they do and people love them. And we do work on an awful lot of them. A variety of Jeep models.

Mark: Yeah, so what goes wrong with Jeeps?

Bernie: So let's just, we'll just talk for the last couple decades, say from the year 2000. As much as I hate to say it, there's actually quite a lot of stuff on Jeeps that does tend to go wrong. Let's just start on the engine side of it. So Jeeps, mostly gasoline engines but in the Grand Cherokee there are some diesel options. In the Liberty they put a diesel in for a little while too.

So let's just talk about that Liberty diesel. If you look at our list of podcasts and videos, you'll see a number of videos we've done and I won't delve too deep into them. But it is a vehicle I'd avoid. There's a lot of engine issues with these Liberty diesels. I believe it's an Italian made diesel engine, kind of a strange design and a lot of things go wrong with them. They're hard to get parts for. We're in Canada and we usually order all our parts for these out of the US where there's a lot more available but they are an expensive engine to replace. Things do tend to go wrong with them. So as I say with a lot of diesels, the amount of money to save on fuel because they are super economical on fuel, you will pay in repairs over the long run. And these Liberty diesels they were only around the 05, 06, 07, somewhere around that model year. So these are starting to get pretty old and we're seeing less of them getting repaired nowadays because I think they're just getting less economical as they tend to get older.

The Grand Cherokee had the Mercedes 3 litre diesel for a few years in the mid 2000s. I think 06, 07, 08 somewhere around that range. Just a few model years. We repair a lot of these. Again look at our videos and podcasts because we talk a lot about these. But same kind of typical stuff that we find with the Mercedes ML320. It's a common used engine and there's a number of things that tend to go wrong with these. Again over time.

Mark: Keep up your maintenance.

Bernie: Well, keep up your maintenance that's really the key factor with these things. But even if you keep up your maintenance, you're still going to run into a number of issues that tend to go bad with them. But there's some good maintenance items that can save you some money over time and we can make sure we take care of those in our shop. But as I say, look at our videos and podcasts, there's some good ideas.

Jeep stopped making the diesel for a while and then they brought it back with a... you know when Fiat bought out Chrysler, they brought back a Fiat version diesel and to be honest with you, I've never seen a problem with them. They're not really common. I think they've been out for about 5 years now. I don't hear a lot of bad things about them but I have to say, to me having been in the car business for a long time, to me Fiat and reliability just don't tend to go along well together. So I worry that given time that Fiat diesel could be worse than the Mercedes one, but who knows, maybe it's better.

So gasoline. So as I say most of them are gasoline. I mean, all the Wranglers are gasoline, they're mostly V6 engines. Pretty reliable. I mean, we don't see too much with those. A few oil leaks here and there. Some coolant leaks. Water pumps, those sort of things. On the Jeep Grand Cherokees and some of those models they're available with V8s. Hemis, there's some issues with those which we're going to talk about next week on an engine repair we're doing. But there's a few engine issues with these, they're not bullet proof reliable, as good as you'd think. You might think they'd be being the type of engine they are. The earlier straight 6s that they put in a lot of Jeeps and this went into the 2000s, those were really good engines. Really bullet proof, reliable engines. So if you're looking at something older and you can get on of the 4 lire straight 6 engine, those were really tough. I've seen people abuse them horribly and they still survived really well. That was a good engine.

Then we have some smaller Jeeps, Compasses, those type of things. They tend to be fairly reliable. A lot of them with 4 cylinder models. Pretty decent. And of course, I'm sort of thinking back to the V6 versions of the Liberty. The gasoline model, definitely not a great engine. A lot of problems with those, with timing chains and valve seats slipping out of the engines. Definitely, you know to me, a Jeep Liberty is not a great vehicle to own. You're probably going to have a lot of issues with those. Seems like the engines, whether you or gas or diesel you're going to have some issues with those.

Oh yeah, cooling system. You know especially with Jeep Grand Cherokee, they tend to have radiator problems I tend to think ahead of their time and they're an expensive radiator repair. The way they're built with the Chrysler style of doing it, they've sandwiched the, they've sort of built the radiator, the AC condenser and the power steering cooler, it's all kind of a modular assembly all put together. And taking the radiator out is a lot of work on these vehicles. So expect to pay a lot of money when you have a leaking radiator on a Jeep. And we've seen some too where the transmission cooler fails. So you get transmission fluid inside the radiator or worse. If you get coolant into the transmission, it'll cause the transmission to fail. But fortunately most of them we've seen have gone the way of going into the radiator which is at least more repairable. You have a good cooling system flush in the radiator. It's a much more complicated repair than I think it needs to be and myself, and my fellow technicians we often curse and swear when we do it. We go "Why did they build it like this!"

Mark: So what about the transmission and drive train?

Bernie: Generally these are pretty reliable. We don't run into too many problems with them. Yeah, generally pretty decent. Although, actually I will say, transfer cases. There are a few issues on the, you know, the manual transfer cases on the older models and some models are pretty much bullet proof. But there are some electronic transfer cases on Grand Cherokees. They have an actuator unit that tends to fail prematurely and we do find the odd transfer case issue. But the differentials are generally pretty good. The CV axles are pretty well built. Not too much problem with those.

Brakes again, you know, I'd consider them average. There's nothing that tends to go wrong with those prematurely than any other vehicle. Usually of course, pad and rotors need to be replaced. Some models have to have drum brakes. But yeah, they're generally good and reliable. A lot of them have ABS brakes and there'll be the odd ABS brake sensor that will fail and need some repair. But generally the brakes are pretty reliable on these vehicles and nothing above average for repair.

Mark: And how's the steering and suspension?

Bernie: Well there's some issues there with some models. You know in a lot of them, especially I'm thinking the more the Wrangler style. The tie rod ends tend to wear out probably sooner than they could. The ball joints on a lot of models tend to wear out. There's some control arm bushings on some models. The suspensions are different depending on again, which vehicle you're looking at. But there's probably a higher than average number of repairs needed on the steering and suspension system on these vehicles. Some rack and pinions on certain models as well. So you can be prepared if you own one of these that there'll be a few, you will be spending a few more dollars than you would on some other vehicles.

Mark: How's the electrical system?

Bernie: Generally pretty good. You know on some of these they're pretty complex especially on the Grand Cherokee. some of them are pretty fancy vehicles. But generally they're pretty good and pretty trouble free.

Mark: And how is the body, fit and finish?

Bernie: Well some of these are, I'd say ok. I mean especially the Wrangler of course is a more utilitarian vehicle so it's not quite as fancy and people don't expect it to be. I find like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, when they're new, they tend to be really nice but as they age they tend to get, I don't know, they get a little creaky and the fit and finish doesn't seem to be quite as good as they were when they were new. But we don't really run into a huge amount of electrical problems with them.

It does get me thinking, you know, the one thing we haven't talked about really is the air conditioning and heating system and there are a number of issues with Jeeps. And again, I'm thinking more of the Grand Cherokee models with AC evaporator core problems and heater core issues. You know, these can be expensive repairs that require the dash to be removed. So we see that on some models, not all but occasionally they do have issues like that that need to be repaired.

Mark: So to sum it up other than freeing yourself from a Liberty at all costs, how are Jeeps overall for reliability?

Bernie: You know again I'd say probably a little below average for some. I think a lot of people buy Jeeps because they like the vehicle and to me I thinks that's kind of one of the most important things in owning a car. Do you like the vehicle? Does it suit your needs and is it what you want? You will be paying a slight premium to own a Jeep in terms of repairs for that kind of thing. As I said, the Liberty is a model I'd avoid. There's a couple there to avoid but the Grand Cherokee is decent. The Cherokees are good. The Wranglers are ok. You will just spend a little more money than you would on some other vehicles.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service and maintenance on your Jeep in Vancouver, Bc Canada. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and blog posts on there about all makes and models of cars and repairs and reliability reports as well. And of course, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing. Many videos over 400 now. And thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.

How Reliable Are Mini’s?

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Mini's. We're going to talk about the BMW version of the Mini. And how reliable are BMW Mini's?

Bernie: A great question. So Mini is an iconic brand of vehicle and BMW seized it around the time the British car industry was basically kaput so to speak. The Mini was started in 1959 and as you and I chatted earlier, it never really changed from 1959 til 2000 when they stopped making them. You know to me, the Mini was kind of a piece of crap. Although people loved it and really actually it was a car ahead of it's time with the transverse mounted engine, front wheel drive and if you think about, it of you go back to 1959 nobody was doing that. Especially in the North American market where everything was large cars, with front engine, rear wheel drive, it was a great drivetrain configuration. But the Mini packed everything in a nice small space.

And I remember I had a friend in high school who had one and this guy was big. He was like 6'5" and he sat comfortably in this thing which is remarkable with a car so small. Where you could actually park two of them in a parking spot of an American car. But anyways, we won't talk about those old Mini's because to be honest, I don't have any experience with them and I'd never want to work on one anyhow. That's about how I feel about them.

But we'll talk about the Germanized version, the BMW version. They took a pretty neat brand, they stylized it and put modern safety features in it and beefed it up into a pretty cool car. I have to say, I often thought that they're kind of like little and not that neat. It wasn't the kind of car that appealed to me until I drove a, I think it was an 05 or 06 supercharged Mini and I go this is a really fun car. So I can see what the appeal is to the car. Why people buy them. So let's talk about reliability and we'll start at the heart of the car, the engine.

So there's quite a few issues with Mini's. A lot of coolant leaks, water pump failures, thermostat gasket. They use thermostat housings that are plastic, like a lot of cars and a lot of German vehicles. These tend to fail and leak coolant. So coolant issues are definitely one of the more common things that you'll run into. Also oil leaks. There are oil filter housings on various models at will leak. The oil filter adapter seals will start leaking. Also the odd oil pan gasket will happen. Timing chains can be an issue on some of them. We've actually never done one is our shop but when I read and look around it's a somewhat common concern on some of these, again it's more the mid 2000 to 2010 range, in the slightly older models. But people have experienced problems with a lot of things in these even with low mileage. I think with Mini, you don't have to have a lot of mileage to start seeing a lot of these issues that we're talking about here.

We've had the odd Mini too with poor compression and major engine failure. Who knows, that could be due to bad maintenance. But generally the engines are fairly robust but there are a lot of issues in some areas.

Mark: What about the transmission and drivetrain?

Bernie: So there's a few issues around those too. I mean, the general drivetrain, the CV axles, those kinds of things are pretty reliable but I would avoid buying one with a CVT transmission, that's a continuously variable transmission. There's a lot of problems with these at least in the US. There's a class action law suit against BMW over issues. But they're very, very... they fail commonly and they're very, very, very expensive to repair. Often more than the car's worth to repair. So I would avoid one with a CVT transmission. The standard transmission seems to be quite reliable but the clutches do wear out which is normal. They are expensive to replace because they have a dual mass flywheel which again, is not an uncommon feature on a lot of cars even right down to a Nissan Versa which is a base model car. But the flywheel itself is very expensive and there are kits available where you can put a single mass flywheel in but it's a fairly expensive repair no matter which way you go. So clutches are something that do happen. But this is a fun car to have a standard, I mean that's one of the, it's a fun driving car. So having a standard is a good feature. As far as the regular automatic transmission, don't really see any issues with those.

Mark: What about the brakes?

Bernie: Brakes to me are average. They're sort of an average wear type of thing, 50,000 kilometre type thing on brakes. Pads and rotors always and sometimes calipers as the cars get older. But nothing really about the brakes that stands out as being particularly bad, but just sort of average. Average wear out item.

Mark: How about the steering and suspension?

Bernie: Again, generally we don't see a lot of problems with that in our shop with the steering or suspension, like anything that wears out prematurely on these vehicles they're generally pretty good. Not to say that things won't, things like control arm bushings won't wear out and shocks and struts over a period of time but they're generally, fairly good in that department. Nothing glaringly bad.

Mark: Now we get into maybe a bit of a scary area for a British/German car, the electrical system.

Bernie: You know, again nothing really leaps to my mind about problems with those. Again it's fairly reliable which is a good thing because the electronics on the BMW version of the Mini of course are much more complex than on the British version. As we know, British electronics have that reputation of being very poor. The Lucas wiring system that they use in British car for many, many years is one of the worst things about the cars.

I was just thinking about Basil Faulty in Faulty Towers where he's whacking, it wasn't a Mini but it was a Maxi I think, where he's whacking the car with a shrub when it wouldn't start. If you've never seen that, you've got to look it up. It's hilarious. Faulty Towers where he's hitting the car with a shrub. It's hilarious. But yeah, that was probably an electrical system issue with that vehicle.

But yeah, generally with the newer Mini's, there's nothing you know, blaringly that's bad about them.

Mark: What about the body, fit and finish?

Bernie: Yeah, fit and finish on these cars are really nice. Again, the original Mini was kind of a cheap car. The BMW version is not a cheap car. It's a well built vehicle. Nice fit and finish. I can't really think of anything off the top of my head that's obvious that tends to wear out prematurely. So really in that department it's pretty good.

If you're going to buy a used one of course, just look at how well it's been previously taken care of and it should be overall a good car. We don't really run into any issues with power windows or door locks, that are above average or concerning. So you know, when we do these reliability podcasts of course, as I say with any car, any thing and every thing can go wrong at some point in time. We're just kind of looking at the common stuff that we see.

Mark: So overall, how would you rate a BMW Mini for reliability?

Bernie: Well I'd say that they're a little below average. And now reliability of course, they tend to start, they're reliable in that department. But as far as repairs, I'd say they're a little above average, maybe even quite a bit above average in terms of repairs. And sometimes at lower mileages than you'd think. I mean, they're a nice car, they're a fun car but do expect you're going to spend more money than average to repair and maintain the car.

Mark: And keep up your maintenance.

Bernie: Keep up your maintenance, again expensive technology. Change your oil more often that the scheduled maintenance, you know than BMW recommends. Make sure if you have any coolant leaks, fix them first. You don't want to overheat one of these engines or damage it because they're very expensive to repair.

Mark: So there you go. If you're needing service and maintenance on your Mini in Vancouver, BC Canada, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. There's the Youtube Channel, hundreds of videos on there, Pawlik Auto Repair, all makes and models and types of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching. It's always a pleasure to do these.

2016 Jaguar XF Maintenance Service B

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver for the Pawlik automotive podcast. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So 20 years, best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by your customers and probably going to win a couple more, I bet, this year. Today's victim is a 2016 Jaguar XF. What was happening with this fine British luxury automobile?

Bernie: So this car came to our shop that was basically just due for a maintenance service. No concerns. Not a very old car, 2016, this is three years old at this point. I guess maybe four. I guess we're almost ready for the new model year, this being July. So three, four year old car basically due for a maintenance service.

Mark: So that's a B service. What's involved in a B service on a Jag?

Bernie: So B service, essentially there's two major services, there's the A and the B, the A is an oil change and a basic inspection. The B, which we did this time, is an oil and filter change and then a full vehicle inspection. So on this vehicle we would remove the wheels, inspect the brakes, do a full steering suspension inspection, inspect all the fluids, a full visual inspection under the hood, test the battery and charging system, pressure test the cooling system, do the full look over the vehicle. Scan the vehicle computer, see if there's any codes stored, usually clear them because often on these kind of cars, you'll get a number of codes stored for a variety of things that are not really relevant. But one or two systems pick up a little flaw. They set a code, store it, and we would just reset all that. So that's basically it.

Mark: So you follow a checklist when you're doing that, is that correct?

Bernie: Very, very thorough checklist. Yeah. Yeah. And it's based on our own checklist plus the manufacturer has a list of specific items, but generally speaking, from car to car, they're all the same. Unless of course you have an electric car, there's different fluid, there's less fluids to look at. And obviously you're not going to look at spark plugs on an electric, pure electric car. So there's different checklists of things for different cars. But for the most part, any gasoline or diesel powered vehicle will have the same checklist in general.

Mark: So were there any concerns with the vehicle?

Bernie: No. This car came up with a clean sheet, to use a British soccer term, nothing much found on it. It only has 12,000 kilometres. So the owner drives very little and four years old, really very little going on with the car. Next service, I think a brake fluid flush would be ideal. But which will be in a year. But other than that it's really, everything was in very good shape.

Mark: So anything interesting about this vehicle that you want to talk about?

Bernie: Yeah, I want to, well one thing I really like about this vehicle and we'll start a picture show in a minute is just what happens when you start the vehicle up. There's some pretty cool, if you've never been in a car, if you have one of these cars, you'll know what I'm talking about. But if you've never been in one of these cars, it's pretty neat when you press the start button, a few cool things happen. So we have a little video and of course, a few pictures. So we'll just start.

There's the a 2016 XF Jaguar right there. And let's just get in. There's a neat little video here I'll just share.

That's basically the start and stop procedure on the vehicle. So when you start it, you can see the gear shift knob. There's no actual handle anymore. It's just a button you rotate, pops up and down. And also, what I didn't show in this video is on the instrument panel on the dash, there are two vents, air vents, and they rotate open. So they're normally in a closed position. And when you press the start button again, these vents rotate to the open position. It's kind of cool and when you shut the car off, they kind of go down. So it's kind of neat. There's some neat little hideaway features on on this car.

Mark: So with those kind of interesting features, electrical features, did you want to show the engine and stuff too?

Bernie: Yeah, here's a view of the engine compartment. So I'll just talk about the engine for a second because I know you have a question to ask me about that, those neat features. But here's a view of the engine compartment with the plastic cover on the top. This is a three litre turbo, sorry, it's three litre supercharged engine, which is remarkably like the five litre engine you'll find in some other Jaguar models and Range Rovers.

And the engine, interestingly enough, looks pretty much like the, it looks pretty much like the five litre but everything's just a little shorter because as two less cylinders. But the supercharger, a lot of the piping, very, very similar in design. So it's kind of, it's neat when you see a manufacturer use that kind of thing, in a way where they take the same engine, they kind of scale it back and.

Mark: So they've scaled it from a V8 to a V6.

Bernie: Yeah. And it kind of reminds me, I don't really know the internal engineering of this, the internal engineering of the engine, but there's different things you have to do in a V6 motor. But Americans when they went from their V8's seem to be popular, they went down to V6's in the 1970s for fuel economy. They have a lot of engines, they kind of did this where they take a V8 and they basically chopped two cylinders off and they did it in kind of a rushed fashion and some of them didn't quite, the engine didn't quite fire properly, like odd fire V6's just by nature of the construction of the engine. Anyways, we're getting kind of technical here and but nonetheless, it's a neat way to do things and probably saves a lot of money in the long run.

Mark: All right, so the doodads, for the electronic doodads that, the first question that pops up in my mind is what happens when the battery goes dead? How do you start the car?

Bernie: Well you start the car with a... Okay, so you start the car and you can actually jump start the car. Like generally the battery, I believe on this vehicle's either located in the trunk or under one of the, probably in the trunk, usually hard to get at. A lot of, used to be a battery was always found under the hood of a car. But that doesn't happen much anymore. It's always remotely mounted somewhere, which is probably a good idea because you cram more under the hood. However, this big red positive symbol here, if you pull that cap off, you can actually attach a jumper cable to the positive and then just find a good ground somewhere else under the hood. Some vehicles actually have a ground tab and this one may have one. I don't see it readily available. But you can often even use something like a bolt from the top of the strut if you had to.

So that's how you jumpstart the battery. But if that doesn't work, then you might wonder, well what if everything is just completely dead and you can't even, I need to roll the vehicle to get it on a tow truck. There is a way and that is, with this engine cover off, there's a little piece right here, little lever. So this is a tip if you own one of these cars, there's a little lever right here. And if you pull on this lever, this will actually allow, that will actually shift the transmission into neutral so you can roll a car. So it'll actually lock up and you can do that. So there's your tip. If you own one of these cars, of course it has this little booklet picture here with a question mark.

Mark: An I, information. That's right. Yeah, I knew I was saying the wrong thing anyways. You know that you can refer to your owner's manuals is what they suggest here. So this is a good thing. Always good to keep your manual in your car, by the way. That's another tip because you never know when something comes up, you go, "Hey, what? How do I do that? Or what's supposed to happen here?" So keeping your owner's manual on your car is always a good thing to do. And that's your tip for the day.

Mark: So Jaguar XF, obviously this is a complex luxury vehicle so a lot of electrical parts, a lot of superchargers, et cetera. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: Well, they're pretty good. I often think Jaguar as having the reputation of needing to be in the shop for repairs every week. They used to be like that a long time ago, but when I think about it, they lived in a world of cars that weren't very reliable anyways. As time has gone by, cars have just got better and better and better and more reliable. But so to have Jaguars. These are pretty reliable cars but they do have a lot of expensive things to go wrong. And one thing that that we've seen on some of these, like a little slightly older models is cooling system problems, they'll develop coolant leaks. That's something that's really important to keep an eye on. We had someone a while ago, the water pump was leaking. They left it too long and destroyed their engine.

A while ago I was taking a little walk, we have a really nice walk over the bridge called Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver and I was walking across the bridge on a nice sunny day and I noticed the guy coming up the hill in a nice Jag of similar type to this. And I could see smoke coming out from under the car. I go that's very unusual that I could smell antifreeze in the air. So this person obviously had a coolant leak. And I think, I hope that guy fixes that car soon because otherwise he's going to cook his engine too.

So with regular maintenance, you can deal with these things. But of course if a low coolant warning light comes on, take it seriously. As much as we like the work of changing an engine, we really don't, because it's money that you could have, it's wasted money.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Jaguar in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. Again, that's for people who live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Call to book because they're always busy, otherwise you're not going to get in. And of course thank you so much for listening to the podcast. There is more information on the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos and articles on there. Our YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same story, close to 400 videos on there. All makes and models and types of problems and repairs and maintenance and advice about vehicles of all kinds. We love them all, mostly.

Bernie: Yep, we do.

Mark: Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

How Reliable are Land Rovers and Range Rovers

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. And we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. And we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're going to talk about the reliability of a storied franchise in the automotive world, Land Rover and Range Rovers. How reliable are Land Rovers and Range Rovers?

Bernie: Yeah, well let's break it down, because that's a pretty big line of cars. Let's break it down into ...

Mark: A lot of years.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. We'll cover early 2000 up to modern, and of course modern being brand new. However, we don't really have a lot to say about brand new because they're new, and new cars are reliable and anything that needs to be fixed will be done at the dealership level. However we can and we do a maintenance service on brand new vehicles. It's just that anything that needs to be fixed will be sent back. And generally it takes a while for a vehicle to age into seeing what reliability issues are. Three to five years I think, and then after that, other issues tend to crop up. And we're going to be talking, as I said, the line of Land Rover and Range Rover is large. With the Range Rover, we're going to stick with the full size and the sport. And with the Land Rover, it's LR3 and LR4 models. The LR2s and Range Rover Evoques, we'll discuss those another time.

Mark: All right, so we've narrowed it down. Let's start with the engine. What kind of issues do you see with Land Rover, Range Rover engines?

Bernie: Yeah, so as far as engines, first of all, you'll find either a V6 or a V8, mostly V8. So V6's are not super common but they are available. And as some of the newer Range Rovers also have a supercharge V6, as well, which is a nice option because they do tend to be a real fuel consuming vehicle. Heavy, powerful, and then the engines will either be naturally aspirated or supercharged, one of the two.

So as far as reliability, with the supercharge, we see a lot of ... I'll just talk about problems. Supercharger nose cone failures, there's a little coupler in the supercharger nose cone that tends to wear out prematurely, so that's a definite reliability issue. And by the time you hit 100,000 kilometres, 60,000 miles if you're in in the US, that part will tend to fail and need to be replaced.

There's also the other issues, and again, we see this between 2013 ... Sorry, 2010 and 2013 models. Timing chains seem to wear out, mostly on the supercharged models, but they will even ... Yeah, and on the naturally aspirated ones, as well. For a few of those model years, they didn't build the timing chain tensioners substantial enough for that. There's a few pieces, and we have a video on, podcasts on that you can look at. But you generally, if you've owned one of these vehicles long enough, you'll most likely have to replace the timing chains and tensioners on that vehicle.

So those are the two major issues you'll see. Of course, if you don't have a supercharged model, you won't do the nose cone. The other issues we do see on on some other models are cooling system failures, hoses, couplers, small coolant leaks that tend to develop into larger coolant leaks. So those are things to keep an eye on, as well. And of course, if you have your car regularly maintained, you'll be able to pick those things up and fix them and service them. But coolant leaks are probably the bigger issue.

The good news is oil leaks are something we don't see a lot of on these engines. So that used to be something that would happen a lot more in earlier generations, oil Leaks, head gasket problems, and that doesn't seem to be happening in this generation we're talking about, so that's a positive thing.

Mark: How about the transmission and drive train? How are they for reliability?

Bernie: Really reliable. I can't really even think of the last time we ever did a transmission or a differential repair on these models, axle shafts. Everything in that department is really well built, really robust, transfer cases are good. There's a lot of electronic controls on these two and they all tend to work really, they all tend to be pretty reliable. So that's a good thing. And these vehicles, even though most people, at least around these parts, don't take them off road, we do have a few customers who actually do use them out in the bush and they tend to be very reliable and good, tough vehicles. So that part of the vehicle is, I wouldn't say it's bulletproof, but not something we see a lot of problems with.

Mark: What about the brakes system?

Bernie: So the brakes, again, pretty reliable, but they do tend to wear out faster than you might expect. Especially if you look in, you can see into the wheel and you look at a Range Rovers' brake rotor, they're just, they're massive, huge things. You think that with a brake rotor that size and large brake pads, it would dissipate the heat well and last for a long time, but they don't. You're lucky to get 50,000 kilometres out of a set of brake pads and rotors on these vehicles. Maybe a little more in an LR3 and 4, but the Range Rovers, they're heavy, and they tend to go through brakes a little more frequently, and they are expensive. They're not AMG-Mercedes or Aston Martin expensive, but they are a little more money than your average vehicle, just because of the size of the parts.

But the other components, like the calipers, tend to be pretty reliable. We changed the odd one on an older higher mileage model, or something that's been in a bad, rusty climate, but generally the brakes are pretty good. They just tend to wear out, need servicing a little more frequently.

Mark: So I know this next area we've definitely done podcasts about. Steering and suspension.

Bernie: Steering suspension. Yeah, that's an area on these vehicles that definitely tends to need some work.

Let's just talk about the steering. The steering is pretty reliable. We have done the odd rack and pinion, because they do tend to leak after a certain amount of time, but not a really common repair. Tie rod ends tend to be pretty good, but the suspension end of it, there's a lot of things that can go wrong, and do, on these vehicles. So these vehicles all have air suspension. Right away, that's an an added set of issues. The suspension compressors do fail on all of them over time. So the air suspension compressor will go bad, the airbags themselves fail after a time, although we don't do a lot of them, but they do tend to fail. So given long enough, you will end up replacing those air bags.

But we see 10-year-old and even 15-year-old models and they're still intact, so they are fairly durable, but they do fail from time to time. But the big thing on these is control arm bushings. And specific, the lower control arm has a rear bushing that tends to fail on very, I'd say, prematurely there. They tend to go pretty badly, but we've done full control arms on front and back on a lot of these models because they tend to wear out over time. They're all real nice rubber bushings for a nice, smooth ride. But they're not the most robust and durable, so given time, you will replace a lot of control arms on these vehicles to get the bushings fixed up. And how you'll know they're bad, you'll have creaky noises or there'll be a lot of clunks in the suspension, and those tend to develop over time though. That's probably the biggest issue with these that we find.

Mark: What about the body and interior?

Bernie: Generally everything in that department is pretty good. I can't really think of any issues. We don't do body work, but the fit and finish on these vehicles is all really good, high quality. The paints are good.

Interior wise we don't see any things falling apart or busting apart. The power windows tend to keep working for a long time. The door locks, there's a few things we fix here and there, but there's not really any alarming concerns, I'll put it that way.

Mark: And how both the electrical system?

Bernie: Again, electrical system is pretty reliable. With the amount of complexity on this vehicle, they actually tend to be pretty good, though we do change the odd alternator. It's important to keep a good battery in these type of vehicles. Any modern vehicles, especially something that runs the amount of electronics these do, having a good strong battery is an important thing to keep.

And generally batteries last five years, it's about the case with these vehicles, too. But every five years, you should change your battery. But we test them on servicing, and nothing fails prematurely. But electrically speaking, these cars are pretty good, and I know in the past, Land Rovers, Jaguars, had a bad reputation, the Lucas wiring systems. There's a lot of jokes-

Mark: They were a lot of fun.

Bernie: Yes. Yeah, there was a lot of problems, but that's long, ancient history. It's like we're talking about a different kind of car. As much as I do bash Fords now and then, it's probably the best thing that ever happened to Land Rover and Jaguar was that Ford bought them out, because they actually made them into pretty reliable cars, so there's our compliment to Ford.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service in Vancouver, BC, Canada for your Jaguar, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604)-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of articles and videos on there, or on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. All makes, models, types of repairs, maintenance issues, tips, et cetera. Many years now doing this. And as well, of course, we really appreciate you watching the podcasts and listening and thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2006 GMC Sierra 3500, 6.6L Duramax, Fuel Injector Replacement

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

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So 2006 GMC Sierra with the Duramax diesel. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop with the diesel engine running extremely rough. A lot of knocking noises coming from the engine and a lot of smoke coming out. I mean we're talking like a hideous amount of smoke pouring out the tailpipe when the engine was running.

Mark: Well, I know there's different types of smoke. What sort of smoke could you tell from... Was it inky black or was it cloudy white?

Bernie: Yeah, there was a lot of black and greyness to it. And with a diesel, you know, as you're alluding to, you can do a lot of... A lot of the diagnosis with the diesel is done through the smoke that comes out the exhaust. If it's really white, usually indicates that there's not enough fuel, too much air. If it's really black, it's too much fuel, not enough air. You know, grey is kind of a... Often we get grey in diesels that are over fueling or the injection process isn't working properly. And then of course the blue smoke that can be from over fueling as well or it can be, you know, from a worn out engine. A bad head gasket of course can cause a lot of white smoke. So we have a little tricks and ways to figure out what, you know, whether it's diesel fuel or whether it's engine oil. But in this case there was just a lot of smoke coming out and figured, you know, there's most likely a fuel injection problem of some sort.

Mark: So what diagnostic tests did you run?

Bernie: Diagnostic tests?

Mark: Yes.

Bernie: Well a scan tool is very useful in this vehicle. So this is a common rail system electronics. So the scan tool works fantastic to do it. There's a number of diagnostic tests we can do. One of them we did was there's a cylinder, a power contribution test to see which cylinder is contributing power to the operation of the engine. And it was pretty clear that number four cylinder, as soon as we killed that cylinder and shut it off the knocking noise in the engine disappeared. Smoke was reduced, not gone, but the knocking noise in the engine disappeared right away. And even though the engine was still a bit shaky because it's only running on seven cylinders, it was a definite noticeable difference. So we're on to something there for one cylinder. And there's also an injection balance rate, I believe. I'm trying to think of the right term. Anyway. So there's another PID to look out on the computer where it can tell how much the injectors are being compensated in terms of how much fuel they're delivering. And you know, there was another injector in a different cylinder that was quite a bit out of range for that as well. So we knew there was at least two bad injectors. So at that point we have the option, we can remove all the injectors, send them up, and have them tested. But in my past experience with doing that is like nine out of 10 times every injector is going to have some kind of a, you know... Not malfunction, but you know, it's not going to meet the specs. And so, with the age of the truck, it's, you know, well over 10 years old, quite a bit of mileage on it. It's time to just change all the injectors. Once one or two go bad, the others are, you know, probably not operating at 100% performance and need to be replaced.

Mark: So you concluded that the injectors were bad?

Bernie: Absolutely. Yeah. There was no doubt the injectors were the cause of the problem.

Mark: So how difficult is injector replacement in a Duramax?

Bernie: Well, it's not too bad on this particular model. The first generation Duramax, so it'd be a couple of years older than this model, required removing the valve cover. There's a lot of fuel pipe plumbing that needed to be removed under the valve cover. It's a very... Quite a large job. I mean I love Duramaxs. They're good engines, but that was definitely a downside of that particular engine. This one, however, the injectors are accessible without taking the valve cover off. It's still a fair bit of work, but you can undo all the injection pipes and change the injectors. A much simpler operation than in the previous. And there's no injector cups that go bad on these. It just... Just everything just fits together a lot better. It's made for much easier servicing on this particular generation of Duramax.

Mark: And do we have some pictures?

Bernie: Yeah, we do. Yeah. Thank you for reminding me. Let's get into that. Okay.

So there's our truck, a nice dually for hauling big loads, you know, with that big diesel you can haul a lot with this particular vehicle. Next photo we've got is the fuel injector. So this is one of the old injectors removed. As I said, you can see it's pretty simple. It's just one high pressure fuel line going to the injector, the electrical contact connection is there. And then the injection nozzle fits down into the cylinder there. There's the high pressure ceiling ring, and then there's a couple of other little seals that just kind of keep dust and dirt out of the injector bore. So that's basically it. A nice simple slideshow. I mean, you know, what goes wrong... I mean there's electronics inside here that fail. Also the injection nozzles can fail as well to deliver the right amount of fuel or they can be stuck open and just keep, you know, pumping like a fire hose. So that'll, you know, either... It's hard to know exactly what was wrong with this one. As I said, if we tested them, we could find out. But the testing in this case is really in the way the engine ran.

Mark: And how did the truck run after the repair?

Bernie: What was... Well there was a couple things. So immediately upon starting it up, the engine was, it was a V8, ran nice and smooth, no more knock, knock, knock, knock noise. But one thing that was a little disturbing is that there was still a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust and it seemed like, "Okay, what else could be wrong with it?" But what we determined... We shut the engine off for a while and let it cool down. It started up, there was no smoke but after driving it for a few minutes the smoke would increase and what we determined pretty quickly is there was just a lot of excess fuel. And the engine had been running so rich that it had been dumping fuel down into the exhaust system. The other issue too that we noted was that the engine seemed to be a little gutless. Like when you go to boot it, it would tend to lack power.

So immediately brought it back to the shop and just made sure we didn't leave any turbo ducts loose cause that... You know that does happen from time to time. A duct will pop off. Verified that was all good. There's no leaks of any sort. So the best thing we did, we took it off for a good hour, hour and a half drive on the highway up and down hills and after doing all that, the smoke cleared up because we burned everything out of the exhaust. It was embarrassing for a little while getting rid of that smoke. Once it disappeared then the turbo... There's a couple of codes that kept returning for a turbo under boost, but after driving it for a while and just getting it really hot and burning everything out, it actually cleaned everything up in the turbo and the engine at full power ran just fantastic.

Mark: So was that soot and build up in the turbos from the over fueling situation?

Bernie: That's what we figured probably happened. You know, this is a variable geometry turbo. There's a vein that operates and moves in it. It could have been sticking. So I actually took it out for the road test out in the highway and I could see on the scan tool... There's different things we can look at to see if it's actually responding the way it's supposed to. And initially it wasn't and then it started... It cleaned itself up.

So this is one thing that, you know, I realized a lot of times when we take on a repair like this, we think, "Okay, it's got the bad fuel injectors" and we need to remind our clients that, "Hey, by the way, there could still be other things afterwards because you never know if you've been driving it for a while like this what other... I don't want to say damage, but what other issues may have occurred because of this." Fortunately, it was good news. It just required an extra long road test to clean everything up. But we're kind of concerned that maybe the turbo had been gummed up to the point of needing replacement, but it didn't. So...

Mark: And how are Duramax engines for reliability?

Bernie: Well, I'd say they're good. They're certainly my first choice in terms of the American diesels, especially for the 06 model year. When you think, you know, what did Ford offer? Well they had their six litre and you can look at our plethora of podcasts and videos about the six litre. You won't see much about a Duramax. And the Cummins are really good too. But I like the Duramax. They just seem to have that little extra edge of reliability. And we very rarely ever do a lot of work on them. So that's, you know, maybe not so good for us, but good if you own a diesel, a Duramax.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Duramax in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website, Pawlikautomotive.com. On the blog, there's literally hundreds of videos and articles about repairs, maintenance of all makes and models of cars over a lot of years. A YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Same thing, hundreds of videos. And of course we really appreciate you watching and listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2014 Audi R8, Maintenance Service

Mark: Good morning. It's Mark Bossert at Top Local here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, and this is the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So, we're talking about a bit of an exotic car today, a 2014 Audi R8 that had a maintenance schedule. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, this vehicle just came to us for some routine maintenance service. It had about 24,000 kilometres, and we did an inspection. It needed an oil change and some air filters, and that was kind of all the car needed at the moment, but yeah.

Mark: Basically it had just been aging in a garage. Did you find any issues with it?

Bernie: No. Really, besides the air filters were dirty and obviously hadn't been replaced, yeah, there was not much really wrong with it. As far as mileage, it's pretty low. Not that there aren't things that do start happening to these cars, but as I say time is often as much of a car killer as mileage. Killer's isn't really the right word, but you know, it ages the car and it requires service. But in this case, nothing was needed. It was in good shape.

Mark: What's involved in an oil change on this vehicle?

Bernie: Well, they're a little more time consuming than your average vehicle. It uses a dry sump oil system, and I could explain that in a couple of minutes, but why don't we just get into a couple of pictures right now?

And you can see our R8 there sitting in the shop. The same platform as Lamborghini Gallardo. So you get get a bit of Lambo for the price of an Audi, which is kinda cool.

And what else we got here? We have one more picture, which is my favourite part. You know what's neat about this car is it's got that, if you ever look at these cars, it has that sloped back, I call it a trunk, it's not. It's a mid-engine car, and so you can see the engine on display through a glass cover, which is a really cool design feature.

But once things are removed, I mean, you can see there's two quite dirty air filters here. There's a big box that they're encased in, so they need to be replaced. You know, it's just a beautiful work of engineering, this engine. Really nice looking, very pleasing to look at. What can I say?

I was saying it has a dry sump oil system, and so that involves a little more work in terms of changing the oil. There's a number of oil drain plugs that need to be removed, not just one like a standard oil pan would have, but there are several that need to be removed, plus the filters kind of buried. That's kind of it. So it takes a little more time to change the oil, and of course the air filters are hidden away in a big box, so more time, but they don't need to be serviced too often.

Mark: So with a dry sump system, how does that work?

Bernie: So dry sump is basically, well like I guess as opposed to a wet sump is like a standard oil pan in a car. A standard car will have an oil pan where all the oil drains in this catch pan in the bottom of the engine, which will hold anywhere from four to maybe eight litres of oil depending on the engine, and a dry sump doesn't hold that oil in the bottom. It basically has a pump that sucks that oil, so the pan is essentially flat. The oil's sucked and it's stored in a separate tank in a different location, and the advantage to that is that you can pump the oil in and it doesn't ... It can be ... Well I guess, when you're driving really fast and you're going around the corner, the oil sloshes around and so there's a possibility that you could actually starve the engine for oil, so in some of your racing applications, all those kind of engines have dry sumps.

In the case of this Audi though, another reason it needs a dry sump is because the pan of course will stick down a lot, and this is a very low riding car, so to keep the centre of gravity low without having the oil pan there, you can actually mount the engine lower and put all the heavy parts, the weight down low where you want it for better handling. So, that's another reason for it as well.

I think I explained that. Is there anything else I missed about dry sump? I think that kind of explains it all.

Mark: That's pretty good. So, what's the recommended service interval on this car?

Bernie: Well, the first oil service, it's basically an annual service. So every 12 months the vehicles should be serviced, oil changed, and the vehicle inspection done. As far as mileage, every 10,000 miles or 15,000 kilometres is kind of the recommended, except for the first service is 8,000 miles, but then after that 15 ... Sorry, 8,000 kilometres, then after that it's 15,000 k's after that, or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Now if you only driven a thousand kilometres, I would assert you could probably go a couple of years between oil changes because it's not going to deteriorate or get contaminated that quickly. It's not necessarily a good thing to change oil too often either.

Mark: No, you're just wasting resources.

Bernie: Wasting resources, but there's also ... I'm not an expert on oil, but what I've read is that there are certain additives to oil that can actually poison catalytic converters. You change it too often, it gets phosphorus or something in in the oil. I could well be wrong about that, but if you were to change your oil too often it can actually poison your catalytic converter because this item gets burned off as time goes by, and too much of it will wreck your catalytic converter, so.

Not something we see very often, because most people don't change their oil too often, but it's something that I'm kind of cognizant of.

Mark: Sure. So this is obviously a very high performance semi racing vehicle. How reliable is it?

Bernie: Really reliable. I mean, I think the neat thing about now Audi R8 is that if you want to get into it, I mean it's essentially a Lamborghini Gallardo. This is a V8 model, so it's kind of tuned down a little bit, because I believe the Lambo's all have V10s, and of course the Audi R8's are available with a V10 as well. But I mean, the car goes really well. It's got like a 420 something horsepower in a 3,500 pound little rocket. It's was a pretty good moving car. I mean, they're very reliable. I mean yeah, they're going to be more expensive to fix than your average, like an Audi A4, but for the kind of car it is, it's a really good bargain and you can get them used for a good price. I mean, even new, they're well priced. I think if this is the kind of car you want, this is a great vehicle to own.

Mark: So, if you're looking for service for your R8 or any Audi 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.

Bernie: Always busy.

Mark: Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos and blog posts about repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars. And of course, bragging about 20 time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And, thank you so much for watching the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks for watching, and thanks Mark.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Maintenance Service

Mark: Good morning. It's Mark Bossert, Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. And this is the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. And we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So this week's victim is a Hyundai Sonata hybrid that came in for maintenance service. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle was due for a maintenance service, and we performed a B service on this vehicle. So the B service is basically an oil and filter change, and then it's a full comprehensive inspection. So what's included in that? A thorough checklist where we inspect the brakes, steering, suspension, cooling system, electrical system, scan the vehicle, visual inspection underneath the vehicle, looking for fluid leaks, worn belts, hoses, that kind of thing. Suspension components, as I mentioned. It's a very thorough checklist, and we do ours at our shop electronically. So we actually email or text message an inspection where you can actually look over the details and it'll break things down into what's good, what's something to watch for, and things that are actually needing immediate repairs.

Mark: So did you find any other repairs needed?

Bernie: No, this Hyundai was good. It's a 2016, so not very old, and I believe it's around 60,000 kilometres, so it's still pretty young. Nothing required at this point. And the vehicle would still be covered under warranty for a lot of items. So anything we would see, depending on, I guess we'd check with the manufacturer on the warranty, but anything that's warranty needed we'd send back to the dealer to get repaired.

Mark: So this is the first Hyundai hybrid that we've talked about. Is there anything unique about Hyundai's approach to making a hybrid vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, this vehicle's a little different. I mean, the Toyota Prius, the Toyota technology is kind of the most common that we see. And it's proven, it's durable. The Hyundai's a little different. I mean it's a hybrid, and I'll just get into some pictures and we'll discuss some of the technology and look at some pictures under the hood.

So there is our vehicle, this one's been a little customized. It's got a bit of a body kit, some nice wheels on it. It actually looks really sporty. It's a pretty cool-looking vehicle. As far as other items, you can always tell the Hyundai, they've got this blue symbol here, which is their hybrid technology symbol. The little green leaf, supposing it's ecological. So there's the view of the engine compartment from the top. So the gasoline internal combustion engine as we now like to call them, we just called them engines in the past, but now there's a new name for them. So the engine located here. This actually has a six-speed transmission, unlike some other vehicles that don't actually have a full transmission. This has one electric motor, one electric drive motor located probably around this area here. And then it has a transmission. It has a clutch that will disconnect the engine and transmission.

So it's a little different than some other designs of hybrid. Back here we have the braking, the master cylinder and braking components. I'll talk about those in a minute. We've got basically two cooling systems in this vehicle. This is an HGV, and so this is for the hybrid system. And then there's a cooling system over here for the engine. And we can talk about that one again in a minute too. I'll get into a couple more pictures. So this is a view, you can see the passenger side of the engine compartment. So there's a separate cooling system for the engine over here.

And this is kind of a unique component here of the hybrid system on this vehicle. This is actually a motor generator. So this is kind of like a starter motor and alternator at the same time. So this will charge the 12-volt electrical system and this will actually start the vehicle via with a drive belt. So it's gotta be a pretty skookum arrangement. You know, in the past of course the starter motor would engage and a gear would, I would say jump, but a gear would be engaged with the ring gear on the flywheel. But in this case it doesn't have that system. It has a belt drive start. So keeping this belt in good condition, of course, is going to be a very important item. And this is a water cooled unit as well. So again, when I look at this, I go, there's an expensive repair. The only other vehicles that I know off the top of my head that use a water cooled alternator are BMW, and it's a very expensive part. So I would expect this one would be equivalently expensive at the time that it goes bad.

Here's a view of the hybrid cooling system, which this is found on the driver's side of the vehicle. So again, there's two cooling systems to service, but given time, antifreezes last a long time. It's not like it used to be 20 or 30 years ago, where you have to flush your cooling system once a year. These antifreezes will last for five years or longer. So good long life, not much service required on these.

Mark: And that's for cooling the batteries, basically?

Bernie: That's for cooling the batteries. That's for cooling the motor generator section. Actually, not necessarily for cooling the batteries, 'cause the batteries are in the back, and they will more likely use the air conditioning system to keep them cool.

But the hybrid cooling system keeps the motors and inverter area cool. So the electrical components under the hood. This is the brake master cylinder. And what's kind of unique about it, it doesn't have a power brake booster as you would traditionally have in an internal combustion engine type of vehicle. A lot of electronics attached to this piece. It doesn't really show the full gamut of this piece, but when I look at it, I go, this is a unique component compared to what braking systems normally are. And of course it's a hybrid vehicle, so it uses regenerative braking. And how regenerative braking works is, as soon as you hit the brake pedal, it turns the electric drive motor into a generator, and that will use the, that'll basically slow the vehicle down and recharge the battery.

So that's really a huge advantage of a hybrid or electric vehicle, is you're using the braking energy to recharge the battery. There's a lot of complexity with this piece. When I look at stuff like this, I go "Well, that's a lot of money to fix," 'cause that's kind of where my life goes sometimes, since we're in the business of fixing vehicles. But hopefully like a lot of ABS type brake components, it'll be durable and have few problems. And it has a regular hydraulic system as well. So again, with this unit the electronics here will separate whether, how much is applied to the actual brakes at the wheels versus the ...

Mark: Generator.

Bernie: Generative braking. Thank you, Mark. Okay. What else do we have here? We've looked at this, the motor generator, the engine. I think we've looked at it all.

Mark: So I'm sure that this vehicle has a fuel savings. What do you think of it as a worthwhile purchase?

Bernie: Well, you know, I've been reluctant about hybrids for a long time. When Toyota came out with the Prius I was going "Oh, that's just way too complicated technology." And I always advised people don't buy it, there's too much stuff to go wrong. And actually, there is a lot to go wrong, but Toyota's proven the hybrid technology is very reliable, because nothing, very little ever breaks down on it, which is good. Battery, even there's actually a statistic that I read that apparently 95% of Toyota hybrids have never had the battery replaced. Which is pretty amazing, because that's people's biggest fear, is when the battery goes, it's a $5,000 or $6,000 replacement. But it doesn't happen very often. So that's a good thing.

Hyundai, we don't know. This technology's a little different. I see a lot of expensive items. Hyundais are generally pretty reliable. But as you and I talked before this podcast, they do have a lot of engine problems. We don't know how good the internal combustion engine is in this vehicle. And all it takes is one problematic component to really make the whole vehicle too expensive to repair given some time. So hopefully this will prove out to be a pretty decent vehicle. It's certainly, you know, the specs are 40 miles per gallon on the highway, which is really pretty awesome. So if it's generally like most Hyundai products, it's good, but hopefully they've done their work and built everything properly in the first place.

Mark: And do you have any, what's the range on electric only? Is this a plug-in hybrid or is it ...

Bernie: Yeah, this is not a plug-in hybrid. So I don't know. I don't know if the newest models, the 2019s, are plug-ins or not. Though that certainly makes it a more worthwhile vehicle too, I think, a plug-in hybrid is a much better option than just a regular hybrid. Not a lot more complexity to it, just to plug it in. And the advantages are huge.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for some service for your Hyundai in Vancouver, even the new ones, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call ahead and book because they're very busy. Or check out the website, PawlikAutomotive.com. YouTube series at Pawlik Auto Repair on YouTube, hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models of cars, all types of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2007 Honda Civic, Front Brakes Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, at Top Local, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. That's a lot of years of being the best, and of course, we're here with Bernie and we're talking cars. How you doing?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So today we're talking about a 2007 Honda Civic, a 12-year-old vehicle that had a front brake problem. What was going on with this Honda?

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came in for service and one of the complaints was that when you apply the brake, there's a shuddering, like a vibration in the steering wheel when braking.

Mark: So I'm fairly familiar with shuddering, and what causes me, generally, to shudder, is generally slipping around on guts. What causes brakes to shudder?

Bernie: Well, most of the time, it's warped brake rotors and it's a fairly common occurrence. The odd time, too, if you have some severely worn-out front end components, like tie rod ends, that will also cause a shudder in the steering wheel, because as the brakes are applied, it causes the shake to be transmitted. But most of the time, the shudder is from a warped brake rotor.

Mark: So when you inspect brakes, just visually, can you see the cause of the shudder?

Bernie: Normally, not, but in the case of this vehicle, there's actually some interesting visuals to look at, so let's just get right into the pictures and I'll show you what we did see.

So there's our '07 Civic four-door. Plain car but exceptionally reliable, as Hondas are. Here's a view of the brake rotor. If you can sort of see, there's a blackish mark here. That's a heat check. Basically, the rotor, it's got very hot, and when you see these, that doesn't necessarily indicate there's going to be a shudder, but when you see that, you can tell that the brakes in this vehicle have got very hot. That's what causes those kinds of marks. Sometimes, if it gets even hotter, you'll get an actual bluish colour. You may have seen that on chrome exhaust on a motorcycle, sometimes. But anyways, that heat check is certainly a good indication that the rotors have got too hot.

Mark: What other parts might have been needed replacement? So you're going to replace the rotors and calipers, I guess, and clean the assembly.

Bernie: Well, not necessarily the calipers, but we will, in this case, replace the calipers, because when we get to our next picture ... So generally speaking, depending on the age of the brakes, sometimes you can just change the rotors, if the pads are nice and thick. In the case of this vehicle, we had actually replaced the rotors. I don't have the exact time frame, but we were able to get the rotors replaced under warranty. It's a regular customer. But it had been a while, so there was some labor cost to doing it, and we replaced the pads, as well.

But in this case, we found another interesting issue, and that is a broken bleeder screw in the brake caliper. So that, of course, necessitated the brake fluid was due to be flushed. You can't flush the brake fluid without removing the bleeder screw or do any other service, for that matter. So the calipers needed to be replaced in order to complete the service on this vehicle.

What else have I got here? Little closer view of the broken bleeder screw. You can usually put a socket on the end of this and it's broken off flush, so that was the other item we replaced.

Mark: So on this service, it was a warranty item to change the rotors?

Bernie: It was, yeah, yeah.

Mark: And why was that a warrantied item?

Bernie: A warranty? Oh, we'd actually replaced the rotors. I believe it was about a year and a half ago on this car, and we were able to get the rotors replaced under warranty by our supplier, so good suppliers do take care of us.

Mark: And so what was causing the hot spots?

Bernie: Basically, I would say the brakes had just got hot. You know, it's hard to tell what causes them and how people use their brakes, but all it takes, sometimes, to warp a brake rotor, is just to go down a hill and hold the brakes on for too long. Some cars just tend to be more prone to rotor warpage than others, and others, you can abuse them and they just never warp. I mean, I owned a Subaru Outback and I went through a set of brake rotors every eight months, and I could almost tell. If I have to make a panic stop, within a week, the car would be shuddering and shaking and I tried all sorts of brands and types and from dealer to everything. Unfortunately, not the right rotor for the vehicle. Should have been bigger or something different about it.

But anyways, as far as the hot spots, to me, that indicates the brakes have just been on too long. Now, a sticking brake caliper can also cause that, too. In the case of this vehicle, we don't think the calipers are sticking. Just a broken bleeder screw has necessitated repairs.

Mark: So that's not something we've ever talked about, broken bleeder screws. Is that a common issue?

Bernie: Not very much any more. It used to be more common in the past. A lot of manufacturers used to use little tiny bleeder screws and they've got to using much larger ones which are more durable, but I say it's not very common in this part. In Ontario, eastern US, northeastern US and eastern Canada, you'll replace a lot more bleeder screws, because they tend to corrode. It's rust. Water will get into the bleeder screw and it'll seize up. They actually put caps on the bleeder screws to prevent water from getting in, because that prevents it from corroding, but when you're driving your vehicle in salty conditions all the time, it'll happen more often. But where we live in Vancouver, it's not that common of an item, but from time to time, we need to replace them. They do break.

Mark: So Civics have a reputation for reliability. What issues do you find with them?

Bernie: They are very reliable cars and the only real issue that kind of surprised me ... A couple years ago, we have a client and it had a coolant leak and the actual engine block split. And it wasn't because it had got frozen, but there's actually a defect in some of the engines around this model year of Honda, where the actual engine block will crack, which is really unfortunate. Not super common, but common enough that it happens on a certain number, maybe one out of 50 cars. So that's really the only sort of defect I've seen with this vehicle. Otherwise, a bulletproof car and something on my highly recommended list.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for brake service or service for your Honda Civic, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call ahead to book, they're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Our YouTube channel, hundreds and hundreds of videos talking about all makes and models of cars and repairs over the last five years at Pawlik Auto Repair - search on YouTube. Or of course thank you so much for listening to the Podcast, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie

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

Mercedes Benz Reliability

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Video Series. Of course, we're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well.

Mark: Mercedes Benz, the originators of automobiles actually, inventors, way back when. How reliable are Mercedes Benz vehicles in 2019?

Bernie: Well, I'd say overall they're pretty good. But one thing about a Mercedes that I'll say right at the outset is that it's a fancy car. It's a luxury car. They're all complicated vehicles, so if you're wanting simplicity and cheap to operate, this is not the vehicle to buy. That's where I'll start out with.

To me, I often define reliability as, can I get into my car and is it going to start on me every day? For the most part, Mercedes are bulletproof in that area. Where other things happen though, of course, where other reliability issues, if you're on a trip somewhere is this vehicle going to let you down? Is it going to go into limp mode and disrupt your trip, or your vacation? And generally, again, Mercedes are pretty good, but the key is getting servicing done on them.

I mean, Mercedes is a huge line of vehicles and I think what we'll do is we'll break it apart into different categories and talk about things. I mean, they have cars and SUVs, no pickup trucks, so to speak in Canada, or you have the sprinter vans. We'll leave that for a different separate podcast. We'll deal with the cars, the SUV, gas and diesel.

Of course, there are some new drive trains out now, electric and hybrid. And to be honest, I have nothing to contribute about that because they're just too new for us at this point, but in the future we'll undoubtedly be doing podcasts about those vehicles. Of course, there is the AMG too, which is the nice, fancy, high-performance line we can talk about a bit too.

Mark: All right, let's start with the engines. We've got basically two big categories that we can cover right now, which is the gasoline fuel or diesel fuelled engines. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: Gasoline engines in Mercedes, I find are really reliable. They have very few actual engine problems. There is one V6 model in around the 2000 year decade where they had some balance shaft engine issue problems, which can be expensive to fix. I mean that's the worst internal engine issue. Otherwise, they're pretty reliable. They do develop a few oil leaks, but again, they're not severe like a lot of other brands, other European brands.

The only thing that with engines I see, again, this is in the 2000 model year era, crankshaft position sensors sometimes will fail and the engine will just fail to run, or start, or die. Those are really the only issues with the gas motors. They're really quite bulletproof. And to me, definitely a better option if you want reliability in a Mercedes.

Mark: How are the diesels?

Bernie: Well, the diesels are another story. You can probably look on our podcast history and video history and you'll probably see we've done a lot of stuff on a three litre diesels, and that isn't the only diesel they have. There is a four cylinder offering as well, which is a little more reliable. But the diesels, they have a lot of issues.

Now, Mercedes had made diesels for a long, long time. Their early diesels back in the day before a lot of emission equipment were really, they're much more mechanical. They're very much more reliable. They're not very sexy performance, mind you. They're pretty slow, but you could count on that engine to just keep going, and going, and going and costs very little in an era when a gasoline engine was much more complicated to maintain. Gasoline engines just needed tuneups and spark plug changes and diesels didn't.

But nowadays, to me the tide has reversed. The diesels are actually the problem engines and the gasolines are the more reliable. It's interesting how that's changed. But, there is so much that goes wrong with the diesel. I'm sitting here almost stunned on where do I start with it? I'd say just probably look back at some of our other podcasts. I mean when they run great, they're fantastic, but just expect that if you own a diesel model, especially the three litre, there will be some substantial expenses keeping that engine going over time.

Mark: Regular service is extremely critical for the diesel Mercedes. Is that fair to say?

Bernie: Absolutely. Changing the oil regularly is key. There is a lot of engine failures on these where people just don't change their oil enough and the engine just basically just destroys itself, so that's really critical.

I think a lot of the fault with the three litre diesels is they're not really used how they should be. This engine should be used hot, running for long periods of time. A lot of people just do it for stop and go city driving. It's really the wrong engine for most people. That's what one of the things that ends up costing a lot of money on these things.

Mark: Let's talk about the transmission and drive train. How are those generally on diesel, or on Mercedes Benz vehicles?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean generally the transmissions and engines are pretty good. I mean, there are some transmissions failures. I mean, again, with every model year there are updates and changes. For a while there was a five speed automatic, then they went to a seven speed. I'm going back 10 or more years here in terms of my thinking.

But, one common failure item is a conductor played in the transmission that will often fail, and this is on both the five and seven speeds that causes problems. But, complete transmission failures do happen, but they're not super common. They're pretty reliable transmissions.

I'm actually speaking about automatics here because standards are incredibly rare in a Mercedes. We work on a hundreds of them and the only... of anything built say, year 2000, the only standard I've actually seen is a C series car. I was shocked to see this vehicle. It's just so unusual because everything else has automatic, so very rare to find a standard in a Mercedes that's been built in the last 20 years, or even longer. In the olden days, some of the diesels and the nice SL series, the old SLs had standards, but automatics are pretty much common.

But the rest of the drive train differentials, those type of things are really pretty much bulletproof. The axles, CV joints and the rear wheel drive, they're all pretty reliable. Some issues with the all wheel drive system in the 4Matic. We've had some axle shaft problems with the front axles in some 4Matic models. But other than that, they're... Everything is pretty reliable.

Mark: How about the exhaust system?

Bernie: Exhaust system, pretty much bulletproof. There are some, certainly some very expensive components, but they're all generally made of stainless steel and they last for a long time. The key, if you have an engine misfire of course fix that because that can cause your catalytic converter to get damaged. And diesels, we do run into diesel particulate filters that plug up or catalytic converters have failed because again, it's more of an engine problem that causes that. But, the actual exhaust systems themselves are really reliable, and on a gas engine it's rare to ever replace anything unless you get into the really old 80s and 70s models.

Mark: So, journeying into perhaps one of the weaknesses in German vehicles is the electrical system. How are the electrical components in Mercedes?

Bernie: Well again, generally pretty reliable, but there is a lot of... The electrical system and the electronics are highly complicated. There is a lot of stuff that's monitored. I'm just thinking about a video of one of our favourite, I'm saying that jokingly, favourite car guys who tends to say bad things about Mercedes, how complicated they are and how if you plug a scan to them it'll tell you your trunk light bulbs burnt out. Well, these are the things that a Mercedes will monitor. Every single one of your light bulbs is monitored.

There is some complexity there, but generally it's pretty reliable. I can't think of too many customers we have where they come in for an electrical problem. Things like windows, and power windows, those other electrical components are pretty reliable overall.

Mark: How is the suspension though on a Mercedes?

Bernie: This is where there is a lot of complexity as well. Some Mercedes just have a standard system. I say standard because it's just a regular shock or strut type system. There are some control arm bushings and things like that that wear out. But, a lot of Mercedes have air suspension systems, aromatic system, or some of them also have the active body control, the hydraulic suspension system, which these are all very complicated, especially the AVC, the hydraulic system, generally pretty reliable. But, there are some components that are exceptionally expensive.

For example, one hydraulic strut, depending on where you buy it is it would probably set you back anywhere between $800 to a couple of thousand dollars per strut, and there is four per vehicle. There is a hydraulic pump. There is a series of lines and hoses running through the vehicle valves. If you have to replace the whole system in just parts itself, you'd probably be looking at in labor $40,000. But, you'll never have to replace the whole thing. That's what you could be faced with if everything just blew. That being said, it's a pretty amazing suspension system because it just levels the car automatically, electronically all the time.

The air system is less quick to react. Again, there is some issues with the air suspension system. You find that in a variety of different Mercedes as well. But things like it has an electric pump, a compressor that'll, those fail. There are other electronic valves that fail. Some of the struts fail. We've also had electronic shock absorbers where they start leaking and some of them, in my opinion, in a little earlier in life than they should. I'd say, the suspension systems on Mercedes, the fancy ones, especially in their air ONE, it probably has a few more problems than it could.

What else? Yeah, I mean, but other than that, generally things like the controller, and bushings is a general amount of wear on those. Ball joints will wear out from time to time, but nothing exceptional.

Mark: The steering components, how are they for reliability?

Bernie: Again, pretty good. The only thing that stands out for me as a problematic area is some of the ML series SUVs. The steering rack will develop leaks. Sometimes the leak will be from the... There is actually a shaft kit you can get or a pinion... The steering shaft kit is available as a unit from Mercedes. Now, that component tends to leak, so you don't have to replace the whole rack, but sometimes the whole rack and pinion leaks. That's the one that stands out to me as being a weakness. But other than that, most of the others seem to be pretty good on most other Mercedes.

Mark: How about brakes? How are they for reliability and length of wear?

Bernie: Again, pretty good. Yeah, generally Mercedes's brakes are I'd considered them to be average in terms of wear. You'll always need to replace the rotors with the pads. They just wear like that. They're that type of European design where the rotors get deeply grooved as the pads wear. Some of them have of course fancier brake packages. We'll talk about AMG in a minute. But, they're generally priced somewhat normally. I mean, more than a Toyota Corolla. But yeah, that's a different class of car. But generally, prices are pretty reasonable on the Mercedes brakes. But, a lot of them they have cross drilled rotors and for better heat dispersion, and so those costs a little more, but they're not, nothing is outrageously priced.

And of course, they all generally have pad wear sensors, so they'll usually warn you when the brakes are worn out. But just as a note, not every brake pad is monitored, so it's possible that some pads can wear out before the light comes on, on the dash, but that's not too usual. Usually it's pretty reliable. Things like brake calipers, we don't replace them hardly ever. They're really quite reliable, so that's a good thing. They have good longevity. They're sealed well and they tend to last quite a long time.

Mark: What's the difference? We've mentioned AMG. What's the difference basically with AMG vehicles, branded vehicles compared to the regular Mercedes Benz vehicles?

Bernie: Well, it's certainly a bigger engine, and more horsepower. And usually along with that of course the transmission, the drive train may be bumped up to handle that level of power. Suspension systems are usually different, again, for performance and then brakes, stopping power.

Interestingly enough with AMGs, I mean you can have any AMG that has a regular brake system. I mean they're still an upgrade from the regular model, or you can have the actual AMG package, which is an even higher end brake system, and often these can be very expensive.

For instance on a, say an SL55 that they... The regular brake rotors on the regular AMG standard brakes they're about $300 a piece for the front. But if you have the AMG package, the rotors are $1,200ish a piece, so four times the price. They're pretty fancy. I mean, you can tell by looking at them why the cost is so much higher. But I know with the regular brakes they stop pretty darn fast. But, that AMG package will just give you a little extra edge, so if you're going 150 miles an hour and you keep needing to stop and then accelerate back up you can do it, but the other brakes they will probably be pretty good.

Mark: AMG is basically a race car for the road.

Bernie: It is. The thing I like about the AMG is they are... It's an elevated class of vehicle, for sure. Like where you say, it's like a race car for the road, but they're not quite as crazy as when you get into a McLaren, or a Lambo, or something. Of course, they don't look quite like that. They're more drivable.

Now with that being said, I mean an SLS of course is an AMG model, but that's in the class of the Lambo. It's a higher elevated vehicle. But, most AMGs are just fancied up but, in a very good way. A lot of the interior trim on an AMG too is nicer than it is in a regular Mercedes. Believe it or not, if you can actually do that kind of thing.

Mark: That covers the lineup. Overall, Mercedes, if you want a high end luxury vehicle, pretty fair to maybe better than average reliability. Is that what your verdict is?

Bernie: Yeah. The other thing about Mercedes, and I saw a statistic somewhere that there is a, and I can't remember the number, but there is a lot of Mercedes that are built are still on the road. Compared to other manufacturers, their lifespan on the road is much higher than your average car.

There is certain models of cars once you get to a certain age people just... They're just gone. You don't see them. I'm just thinking about some of the Subarus and Toyotas I've worked on over the years and it's like I go, you never ever see one anymore because they're just... They get to a certain age and nobody will ever fix one.

But certain Mercedes, they'll still be on the road, especially the SL series, the convertibles. We fixed those when they're 20, 30, 40 years old. I mean those cars, people just don't get rid of them. They're still a nice car to keep and fix. Some models will probably never go off the road unless people neglect them severely, so a pretty good car for longterm longevity. But as I say, they are expensive to fix, but keep up the maintenance. That's really the key.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for maintenance on your Mercedes Benz in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, our You Tube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Of course, thanks so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

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

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