Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2008 Porsche Cayenne Driveshaft Center Bearing

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. 38 years of servicing, repairing, maintaining cars in Vancouver, BC, Canada and of course today we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. Always awesome.

Mark: We're talking about a Porsche just to piss everybody off, or Porsche if you want to be German, Porsche Cayenne drive shift problem. What was going on with this SUV?

Bernie: The owner brought the vehicle to us for some maintenance service and probably his largest concern was a vibration when accelerating. It was pretty apparent from a road test it seemed like something that was probably a drive shaft or axle shaft related issue.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: Of course, we had taken a road test to verify the client's concern and get a feel for what was going on. Then, we did a hoist inspection and what we found was a worn out drive shaft centre bearing. There's a large rubber piece that mounts the drive shaft bearing basically to the frame of the vehicle, and then that rubber piece was broken. We'll just get right into pictures because that's the best way to show you what was going on. There's our Cayenne '08 base model. You can see this rubber piece here broken and flopping around. I'll just play it again.

Mark: Is that a bushing or something different than a bushing?

Bernie: I guess you could call it a bushing. A bushing is just basically a rubber piece that connects two parts, so yeah you could call it a bushing. It's just basically torn apart. They put that in to kind of isolate the vibration of the drive shaft from the vehicle. You could mount a metal bearing to a metal ... This is the bracket that holds it in place. You could mount it metal to metal, but there would be a lot of vibrations and noise it would transmit. The rubber helps keep that nice and smooth. I'll just do it one more time because it's just cool looking at broken parts.

Mark: Yeah.

Bernie: I love my work. That's the piece.

Mark: How difficult of a job is this to replace?

Bernie: Well, it's not too bad. It's fiddly. The drive shaft on this, there's a rubber donut on each end of the drive shaft. A lot of cars traditionally would use a universal joint, which is a metal piece with ball bearings. A lot of European cars have used this. It's a rubber donut, so it's kind of a flexible coupler with generally three or four bolts that hold one end to the transmission and another three or four bolts that hold the donut to the drive shaft, and then that allows a little bit of flexibility and movement. They're a bit of a pain to disconnect, but we removed that and then once a few brackets and shields are removed, then the joint can be taken off. There's also a CV joint in behind here, which is a flexible joint. That has to be taken apart. It's fiddly, but certainly not as much work as taking a transmission or anything else out. Easier than an axle shaft.

Mark: Is this a common failure item on the Cayenne?

Bernie: Yeah, we've done a number of them. This definitely wears out. It's a pretty frequent failure part on this vehicle.

Mark: What kind of timeframe does it take to fail? Or mileage?

Bernie: Well, this was an '08. I can't remember the mileage on this vehicle, but we're in 2019 so it's about over 10 years. It seems like a lot of the other ones we've done are probably on the 10, 10 plus year range. So, that's not a bad run.

Mark: You mentioned this is a base model. What type of engine is in this model?

Bernie: This is a base model with a 3.6 litre engine, which is a VR6 style VW engine. The Cayenne is a combined progeny between Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen. The Volkswagen ... I was going to say Tiguan. It's not a Tiguan. Touareg.

Mark: Touareg, yeah.

Bernie: Touareg, Audi Q7, and a Cayenne are similar. The drivetrains are the similar drivetrain. The insides of the vehicles of course are all different, depending on the manufacturer, Porsche obviously being at the highest end and going for the sportier, racier models. You can't buy a Touareg that's the turbo charged model like you can with the Cayenne. I mean, the rest of the inside of the vehicle is fantastic. I mean, it's hard to tell the outside, but the base model has a simpler, lower horse power engine and simpler.

Mark: How reliable are Porsche Cayennes?

Bernie: They're not bad. I mean, there's a few issues. I would say that this 3.6 litre 6 cylinder model, if you want a reliable car this would be the better one to go for. Less tends to go wrong with this engine than the V8's, especially around these years and a little earlier. Doesn't have a lot of problems with cooling systems and actual engine failure, so they're not, in my opinion, the earlier generation. '08's kind of getting out of that earlier generation. They're not so reliable with the V8's. Of course, they're more powerful, but they're kind of finicky and a lot of stuff goes wrong. The V8 models, they're also very noisy and growly. Often, when we first started servicing them, you listen to them and go what's wrong with this engine, and it's actually normal. They're just noisy. It's a nice SUV for sure. Being a Porsche, you'll just spend more money than you will on an other model. Of course, the fancier you get, the brakes and other items can be more expensive to fix.

Mark: You tend to have a little bit heavier foot if you have more horsepower.

Bernie: Yeah, but I mean it's a fun SUV. I mean, it goes fast and looks nice and handles well. It's a cool vehicle for sure.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your Porsche 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 are busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of blog posts and videos on there as well as on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast, watching the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.

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

2009 VW Tiguan Engine Oil Separator

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers in 38 years of maintaining and repairing cars in Vancouver. Of course, we're with Mr. Bernie Pawlik and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim, 2009 VW Tiguan that had an oil problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle actually came to our shop with a ... It was running very roughly. The check engine light was blinking, which is a serious issue that, I've said before many times, a check engine light if it's just on solid, you need to get some repairs done some time in the future, but when it's blinking, it's serious. It'll create a catalyst damaging misfire, which basically, without getting too wordy, means it'll cost you a lot more money if you don't fix it really, really quickly. So the owner smartly brought the vehicle in and we did some testing and diagnosis on it.

Mark: And what did your testing and diagnosis find?

Bernie: Well, we found a few things. One, there was some problems with the ignition coils. They were worn out. There was misfires in three of the four cylinders. We did a visual inspection. The spark plugs looked pretty old. There was also a little bit of oil seeping down the spark plug tubes, which can cause a misfire problem. It wasn't serious enough to fill the well up with oil, which creates a definite misfire. It wasn't that deep, but there was some oil seeping in. And also, there was a code for a lean air-fuel ratio condition. We did some further tests on that, and we found the engine oil separator was worn out and causing a major vacuum leak in the engine.

Mark: Okay. Oil separator. What causes an oil separator to fail?

Bernie: Well, on these type of vehicles, and a lot of similar vehicles, the oil separator, it's like a PCV valve. It's a crankcase ventilation valve. Some cars, they call it an oil separator. They do on this particular vehicle.

What this oil separator unit does is, it allows crankcase gases to be sucked into the intake manifold to be re-burned. It's a pollution reduction device, very effective. But if it doesn't suck the right way, it'll suck engine oil right out of the engine, into the intake manifold. Of course, then you have blue smoke and a whole bunch of other problems. So the oil separator separate ... prevents the oil from actually getting into that, getting mixed in with the crankcase gases. So that's how the unit works.

Mark: So positive meaning basically that it's taking what would be negative pressure and turning it, using that to pull the gases out of the crankcase and to be re-burned?

Bernie: Exactly. In the past, and we're going way back in the past, unless you look at a Dodge diesel from the mid-2000's, which they actually still add a road draft to, believe it or not, crankcase gases were vented out to the atmosphere. This was actually one of the worst pollutants that an internal combustion engine can make. If you smell it, it's the most noxious smelling fumes, because it's not really burnt gases. It's just gases that have escaped past the pistons, mixed with a bit of crankcase oil. It's a horrific smell, and really, really bad for the environment. So, it's one of those pollution devices that actually really is very effective and really doesn't rob an engine of any power at all, by doing it. It probably does a tiny bit, but it's so minute, you'd never notice it.

Mark: So what's the difference between a positive crankcase ventilation valve and an oil separator.

Bernie: I would say complexity is kind of it. But you'll find this term used on a variety of different vehicles interchangeably, European cars. I'm just actually going to show some pictures right now.

This is our Tiguan engine oil separator, or PCV valve. The PCV part is kind of in here, but this is the top side view. This is what you'd see if you look on top of the valve cover. This is the underside view, so this is with the unit removed. This is what sort of sits against the valve cover, so there's a gasket here. There's a number of passageways and rubber valves inside. You can't really see anything. That's why you basically replace the whole unit, because there's nothing serviceable on it. But the good news is, you can actually service this unit. It's a separate replacement unit.

Now, compared to a PCV valve, this is a PCV valve that's ... this is very commonly used, starting in the 1960's up. You'd find this on American cars, Japanese cars, earlier European vehicles. Nowadays, some cars still use this PCV valve. It does exactly the same function, believe it or not. This part costs about, I don't know, you can probably buy it as cheap as two or three bucks for some vehicles. But for some reason, European vehicles, they decided to get really complicated. And they fail a lot more frequently.

These PCV valves used to plug up, in the olden days. Again, they were cheap to fix and you could, every time you changed the oil, or every second oil change, you could pull it out, shake it, rattle it, if it moved, then it's good and you could keep it. But anyways, that's not the case in the Volkswagen. It's much more complicated. So there's our little picture show for the day.

Mark: Any idea why it's mostly European or VW vehicles?

Bernie: Yeah, well it's interesting you say that, because it seems to be mostly European vehicles that have this type of system. It's not just VW, it's even Range Rover, which is an English vehicle. I don't know, maybe there's an engineering school in Europe that all the automotive engineers go to, and they all learn to make a crankcase vent valve. Because it's interesting, when you look at cars, how on different continents, they have their unique ways of doing things, even though they're all the same, the internal combustion engine is the same thing.

But you won't find these kind of PCV valves, generally, on American cars, although they're starting to get more complex. But yeah, you'll find these on Porsches and Volkswagen, BMWs are famous for failing, Mercedes almost never. So they've got those built pretty different for Mercedes, but certainly the Porsche, VW, Audis, BMWs, they're all common failure. Land Rovers as well.

Mark:So what's involved in replacing this oil separator on the Tiguan?

Bernie: Well, on a Tiguan, fortunately it's not too difficult. It bolts on top of the valve cover, reasonably easy to remove and replace. So that's positive, because a lot of them are not such. A lot of BMWs, and it's a high failure item on a lot of BMWs, involves removing the intake manifold to access the crankcase vent unit. And there's a bunch of other plastic pipes that tend to break and crack at the same time. There are certain VW and Porsche products where you actually have to replace the whole valve cover, because that actual ... All the components are inside the valve cover. I mean, really brilliant idea. I mean, great from a manufacturing point of view. I'm being a little cynical. But when it comes to repair and replace, it becomes much more complicated. So on the Tiguan, it's pretty good. It's a decent job, not too crazily expensive.

Mark: So you mentioned oil leaking into the spark plugs. What did you do about .... spark plug tubes. What did you do about that?

Bernie: Well, at this point in time, we determined the leak wasn't severe enough to actually repair the leak. Normally, we would say, "Hey, let's just do a valve cover gasket and put new spark plug tube seals." But, that's not possible on this one, here. The good news is, the crankcase vent valve is easy to replace. The bad news is, doing a valve cover gasket on this particular engine is extremely complicated. You actually have to remove the entire cylinder head, and then disassemble it and the valve cover's all part of that. So we determined with the amount of cost and the amount of leakage that it would be best for the owner just to leave it and monitor it for the time being. It would have been a very expensive job. So, from an engineering perspective, that wasn't such a win for Volkswagen. But I'll give my thumbs up for the crankcase vent valve, or the engine oil separator, I should say.

Mark: How are Tiguans for overall reliability?

Bernie: They're not too bad. The key with any of these modern vehicles is maintenance. Change your oil regularly, and change it more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. A lot of them have very long oil change intervals with synthetic oil. Just do it, run it 75% of the time or less than they recommend. Then you're in the safe margin. You're in the safe zone. Combustion chamber cleaning, really important on these things, because they're a direct fuel injection, the valves can gum up. Or not gum up, sorry, get pretty serious deposits. So it's best to deal with those sooner than later. I'm losing my voice here. Sorry.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your VW or European vehicle or you've got a ... any vehicle that has a check engine light blinking, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're really busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and videos on there, as well as on the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, over 320 videos on all makes and models of vehicles and more every week. And of course, thank you, so much, for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

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

2011 Lincoln Navigator-Heater Hose Replacement

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, and we're here, of course, with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and 38 years repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, BC, and of course, we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today's victim, 2011 Lincoln Navigator. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop with some steam coming out under the hood, or smoke, and it was pretty apparent that there was a coolant smell when the vehicle came in the shop, so we basically found some coolant leakage on the right-hand side of the engine, dripping down the right-hand side of the engine.

Mark: And how'd you go about determining the source of the leak?

Bernie Pawlik: Well first test we do, of course, is a visual inspection. It was pretty apparent once we accessed everything under the hood that you could see that there was some coolant pooling up on the right-hand cylinder bank, and above that there's some very elaborate heater hoses. You could see the coolant dripping down from that area. We did put a pressure test on it. It was really apparent right away that the heater hoses were leaking, and we'll just get right in to a picture, because that's going to be the best thing to look at.

These here are the heater hoses on the vehicle. What we're looking at, there's an arrow pointing. I'll talk about that in a second, but what we're looking at here ... This is the right cylinder bank here. It's a V8 engine, and there's the ignition coil. There's one of the ignition coils right here, so we're kind of looking down at the top of the engine, and the leak was coming right from this plastic piece right here. These are kind of an elaborate hose. You can see they T off in a couple of different directions. There's plastic pieces that they're all molded specially and clamped together with plastic crimps, and so basically that was our cause of the leak right there. Dripping down, it would run on top, of course, on the top of the hot engine and create steam and some pretty bad smells.

Also, of course, you never want coolant to leak for very long, because that can cause engine overheating, but when it's at the top of the engine, you have a bit of a, this is a nice warning for you to repair the work first. Another thing, of course, of concern is when you have coolant dripping down here, you have a lot of electronic items, electrical pieces. This is a fuel injector connector, so again, you don't want a lot of liquids like antifreeze running into these areas, because this will cause a lot of further problems.

Mark: Is there a proper replacement procedure for these hoses?

Bernie: Well, I mean, I guess you can do it one of two ways. This was the problem right here, however, who knows how much longer this hose is going to last. It's the same kind of plastic fitting, same area. It's hot. Things go on here, so I'd say there's one of two ways you can repair.

You can repair what's broken, and you can leave this one to break next year or in a month or a week or five years down the road, or the proper repair procedure, in my opinion, is to replace all of these hoses, and that's exactly what we did. Then the owner can be assured that they're not going to have a problem. They're not going to be back next month for the other hose leaking, so that, to me, is really the proper way to do the repair.

Just cleaning up whatever leaked coolant there is that's present so it doesn't cause any further problems down the road, again, with the engine misfires or bad connections in the fuel injectors. This could end up being costly, costly things to fix.

Mark: As far as you know, is this is a common occurrence on these engines?

Bernie: Yeah, we do see these kind of plastic fittings leaking a fair bit. It's not like we fix them every week, but they're ... It's a pretty common issue once you start getting these plastic fitting hoses, and it's not just on Ford, but I mean, it is common on these engines because of the design of them. We've done a number of them, wherever you have these plastic fittings.

I'll just actually just go back to the picture really quick again, because there's another ... while we speak of common issues, these ... You can see our little connector. Well, it's on the end of the connector here, but this is like a push together connector, and GM uses these a lot on their hoses too. It's a big failure item, as well. These plastic connector ends fail. You may ask, "Well, if they fail so often, why do they use them?"

Well, it's all about quick, simple manufacturing. When you're in the manufacturing plant, it's ... If you just slide the hose on, it goes click, and it's done, and you don't have to worry about it. Whereas a clamp like this takes more time and effort to put together, so I think it's all about easy manufacturing, but when it comes to repairing and longevity, sometimes things aren't as good as they could be.

Mark: Is there anything that an owner of a vehicle like this could do to prevent or lengthen the life of these hoses?

Bernie: It's a great question. I really don't see anything you could do. I think it's really just inherently a problem with plastic. It only has a limited lifespan, and it's going to go when it goes. There are some plastic cooling system components where making sure you're flushing the cooling system and using the proper antifreeze might help prolong the life, but I would say in this case, it's probably nothing that you could do that would prevent the failure of these hoses.

If you're really prudent about it, you'd probably even want to change these after a certain timeframe, not wait for them to crack and leak, but to actually replace them. It used to be in the past coolant hoses weren't made as well as they are nowadays, and they would tend to fail sooner, and people ... Part of replacing, doing good maintenance on a car would be to change the hoses. But there was once a time when there was four or five coolant hoses. You had your upper and lower radiator hose. You had two heater hoses, and maybe a bypass hose, and it's like four or five hoses.

Nowadays, I mean, you could spend ... Some of the Land Rovers and things we work on, I haven't priced them all out, but there's probably $2,000 worth of hoses, so you don't necessarily want to go, "Hey, let's change them all." Although we have had customers who want to do that, because they care enough about reliability, but that's the kind of thing you could do to keep on top of it.

Mark: How are Lincoln Navigators for reliability?

Bernie: They're pretty fair. I mean, it's essentially a Ford product, so it's just like a Ford pickup truck but fancy, so I mean, you've got a few extra features that'll cause problems on you. One thing that does come to my mind ... We've had a couple of these vehicles recently where the run, and actually this truck had an issue too, where they have these nice fold-out running boards, so when you get in the vehicle and close the door the running board comes up, but when you get out to step out, the running board folds out.

Well, they're really expensive, and they were starting to see those parts fail, so the more fancy equipment you have, the more things you have to go wrong. Other than that, reliability basically the same as a Ford F-150. It's the same kind of vehicle, which is, I just say fair. It would be nice if they made these hoses with metal fittings instead of plastic, but it's what we're dealt with.

Mark: What you're dealt.

Bernie: What we're dealt, yeah.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Lincoln or Ford in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They work on a lot of them. They see them all the time. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. The YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there for your enjoyment, as well, thank you so much for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2004 Mercedes Benz SL500-SRS Module Replacement

Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years, and we're talking cars, how are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim, 2004 Mercedes Benz SL500, kind of a classic Merc, that had an SRS problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, the SRS warning light on the dash was on and that needed to be serviced and replaced, other than that, the car was in great shape and running well but the owner wanted that item fixed.

Mark: So, what's the SRS? Super Real Specialness.

Bernie: Yeah, well no, it's a little more boring than that. It stands for Supplemental Restraint System and kind of a fancy word for the air bag system, but there's a little more to the air bag system than just the air bags. And depending on the car, of course air bags have gotten more and more sophisticated and restraint systems over the years, originally they just came out and there was an airbag for the driver, that was kind of the original start to it and then they put one in for the passenger and then they started putting side airbags and then of course a lot of them were a little too powerful or they'd go off at a small accident, people would get hurt quite badly from the airbag, so they've become very sophisticated over the years and the other thing they've added, part of the restraint system is seatbelt tensioning. So what happens when you get in a collusion is that the seatbelt will actually pull tighter.

These things are all timed down to the millisecond, the airbag blows off, the seatbelt tensioner pulls you back so you don't get wacked so hard, but it all kind of keeps you in place and I mean, these things do save lives and reduce injuries drastically. So the SRS module basically there was a warning light on, when the light's on the system may or may not operate, so the interesting thing is you don't know whether it's going to go, whether it's not and it's one of those strange things because you don't need it until you need it and hopefully you never do. It will only ever work during an accident but if the warning light's on, the system's seeing a fault and a problem.

Mark: So how did you test and diagnose this issue?

Bernie: So, scan tool is the way to go. We have a very good quality scan tool, it works well with Mercedes, so we scanned it and found there was no communication with the SRS module. So there was our first problem there, whether there was anything more we couldn't know because the scan tool wouldn't communicate and just to be sure it wasn't a fault with our scan tool we have other brands of scan tools, we plugged them in and there was no communication either, so the next step is to access the SRS module, which is located under the console, it's a bit of work to get to and then test some of the key wiring components, like make sure it's got power, make sure it's grounded and then there's a communication network called CAN, it's a controlled area network. There's some wiring to that network and just to make it's actually getting the proper signals, so after doing all the lengthy testing we verified that everything wiring wise was good. Basically making the module the fault, so we replaced the module.

Mark: So any options available for parts for this vehicle?

Bernie: Well let's just do a quick little picture show here. So here's the SRS module, I mean nothing fancy to look at really, it's a little box about four inches square, I don't even have a picture wiring connector but it's got about I'm guessing a hundred wires that go in and out of it over in this area here of the module and there's an arrow, it actually has to be installed in a certain direction. You see it's got three bolts in different patterns, so you probably can't even bolt it in the wrong way if you tried. But there are accelerometers and things inside the sensors that can detect collisions and things like that. So the repair, that's the question you're asking, is that correct?

Mark: No, where do you get this part from?

Bernie: So, unfortunately the only option is the Mercedes dealer. You can only buy this module brand new and you can only buy it from a Mercedes dealer and the reason why is once you program the module for the vehicle you have to initialize the module through a proper scan tool. You have to set all the perimeters, does it have emergency calling, some of these cars basically if the airbag goes off it'll call a call centre somewhere and alert them that your car's been in a collision, it's kind of like GM OnStar, it'll do that.

So does the car have that option, does it have knee airbags, these are some of the questions that are asked when you program the module, but once you put the VIN number in the vehicle, once you initialize it for the car, it's basically locked in and you cannot change it and put it in another car, which in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous that you can't take a used module, reprogram it for something else but for some reason in Mercedes wisdom they've decided that once you lock it into the car, it'll only work on that car and never on anything else. I can talk about this a little more because I think to myself, why would they do such a thing? It's like, if we think of Mercedes on the good side, they don't want anyone to screw something up.

They want the system to be 100% reliable for that car, so you buy this fine German quality car and you put the right part in it and it's going to function as advertised, whereas if you were going to take a used one maybe there's a risk that it wouldn't be programmed properly, so from that point of view I can see why they do that, but from a perspective of waste, if you think of all the cars out there that probably use the same module, there's hundreds and thousands of them sitting in auto wrecking yards right now and their only fate is just to be disposed of or recycled because you can't use it in another car, and why wouldn't you?

It should be so simple to just erase the programming, redo it. Before we initialized it, I said it had a knee airbag when the car actually didn't and it's an error code and it wouldn't allow me to program it, so the car's actually smart enough to actually tell you what to put in the module. Anyways, that's my little rant about this particular module, but unfortunately it makes for quite an expensive repair as opposed to what it could be just because you have to buy the module new.

Mark: So this car's getting on over 15 years basically but it's really a nice model, is it worth hanging on to?

Bernie: Well this one certainly is, believe it or not this vehicle we worked on has actually only got 14,000 kilometres on it and if you put that into miles I think that's like, 8 or 9,000 miles, it's like a brand new car and it was amazing driving it because it really was as tight of a feel as a brand new car. It was beautiful and the owner of this vehicle apparently had previously passed away and the car sat in the garage for ten years, one of those kind of neat stories but this one was great.

But these are complex cars, there's a lot that can go wrong with them, so you just need to be prepared, and go hey, it's a nice car. You can buy it for a very good price, because they tend to depreciate nicely but over time you'll spend a lot of money repairing it. This module job was a couple thousand Canadian dollars over that by the time we diagnosed it, replaced the part, reprogrammed and did everything that needed to be done, so it's a pretty pricey repair but the owner will never need to do that again, but they'll be something else, so you could probably count on spending $2 to $4,000 dollars or more a year to maintain this car if you drive it around.

Mark: So there you go, if you're looking for a Mercedes repairs 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 really busy or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Pawlik Auto Repair is our YouTube channel, got that mixed up really well and of course thank you so much for listening to the podcast, we really appreciate it and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching and listening, we really appreciate it.

2006 Honda Ridgeline, Timing Belt Replacement

Mark: 2006 Honda Ridgeline timing belt replacement. So as we mentioned, a 2006 Honda Ridgeline is this week's victim, timing belt replacement was going on with this. What was going on with this Honda?

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop for a routine timing belt replacement and it had about I believe a 180000 kilometres, what's the mileage conversion on that? I don't know, maybe 120,000 miles or 110,000 miles, something like that and the vehicle was due for its timing belt replacement, never been done before. It's a 2006, so actually 12-13 year old vehicle, so it definitely had good use on the timing belt and we replaced it.

Mark: So what's involved in replacing the timing belt on this vehicle?

Bernie: Well it's actually a pretty decent timing belt service as far as those go. It is a transverse mounted V6, like all Honda type engines are, they sit sideways in the engine compartment, which can be annoying but actually this one's nicely built and readily accessible. To get the timing belt covered there's a few accessory items that need to removed like the power steering pump and the accessory belt and then after that it covers off and the timing belt's right in there to be replaced.

Mark: Besides the belt, what other parts do you replace on this 3.5 litre V6?

Bernie: That's a great question, so I mean often when either you look at maintenance schedule, it says replace timing belt, it doesn't tell you about all the other things. Well actually Honda does say inspect water pump, so they're a little further ahead of the game but we like to do a thorough service on these, I mean as I said this car is 13 years old, it's got 180,000 kilometres. There's other items that are going to be worn out or soon to wear out on the vehicle if they're not replaced, so doing a thorough timing belt job is really critical. Back in the olden days when timing belts would last only maybe 70 or 90,000 kilometres, sometimes you get away with things like tensioners leaving them because they're probably wear out by the second belt, but nowadays, they last so long everything tends to wear out. So let's just look at some pictures, so this is not our Ridgeline but this is a 2006 Honda Ridgeline a sort of, I like to call it a sort of pickup truck.

2006 Honda Ridgeline

There's a view of the timing belt area, this is with the original belt on, so this is with the covers removed, the power steering pump normally sits right in this area, it's been removed as well and you can see here's the belt, that's the crank shaft pulley, idler pulley and the belt and I'm just kind of rooting around with the mouse here, goes past the tensioner and down back to the crank shaft. This is the water pump located in here, so this pulley again, these pulley's are all driven by the water pump or sorry, by the timing belt and we replaced all of them because they're all of the same age, they're worn the same amount and while there was nothing actually really wrong any of them at the moment, who knows when any of these parts is going to fail and if they do, it's going to take the belt out with it and kind of defeats the whole purpose of replacing the timing belt.

In addition, behind the timing belt there are oil seals. There's an oil seal behind each camshaft pulley, so we removed the pulley's and we replaced the seals and the crankshaft pulley comes off and we replaced the seal back there. Again, these seals get hard with age, they start to leak, on this car they actually weren't leaking yet but the seals were starting to get pretty hard, so leakage is not far down the road and it's not a lot of extra work while you have everything apart. And let's just look at a couple other pictures, so there is another view of the timing belt looking straight down, again you can see the water pump. These marks our technician put on just to reference, so you can see where the pulley's line up. Lining up a timing belt is very critical, if any of these is one tooth off the engine will not run properly and if it's way off, the pistons and valves can collide and destroy your engine, so of course you got to do it properly, it's critical.

Now, here's a good overview of all the parts we replaced. So these were all the old pieces, so there's the timing belt, this is the tensioner pulley assembly and this is the hydraulic tensioner, this piece actually forces the belt and it keeps tight and it's oil filled so it keeps it at a constant tension. It used to be in the olden days, I don't know how far back the olden days are but before they had this technology is what I consider the olden days, the timing belt, you'd adjust to a certain tension and you'd leave it, but what would happen is by the time maybe 50,000 to 60,000 miles, 100k's, near the end of the belt's life, the belt would have stretched a little bit and there's often a lot of play.

So this tensioner completely eliminates that, so you never get excessive play in the belt throughout the whole life unless this part fails and they do and that can cause some issues in and of itself. There's the water pump and thee are the oil seals, the camshaft, two camshaft seals and the crankshaft seals. So there's a full overview of all the parts we replaced.

Mark: So what's the replacement interval on this Ridgeline?

Bernie: So Honda, they have the indicator maintenance light on the dash and the light will come on saying it needs an A or a B service and they have a bunch of numbers. So they only give a specific mileage interval under very extreme use condition, which I'll talk about in a sec, but if your warning with a number four comes on like an A or a B four, that's when the timing belt needs to be replaced, along with they recommend spark plugs and a valve adjustment. So what that actual mileage interval is I don't really know and to be honest, I'm not sure if that was actually on, on this vehicle or not, the owner of this vehicle does a lot of his own service but he wanted us to do the timing belt for him.

So I will say that at 180,000 kilometres I did look at the belt pretty closely and it actually looks to be in good shape, so I don't like to ever recommend to people and please don't take this as a recommendation, oh you can go a lot longer, the answer is yes, this could have lasted longer but we would have never known had we taken it a part, it could have been on the verge of breaking and it is 13 years old, so it is rubber but generally as I said, visually and physically it seemed to be in pretty good shape. That being said, we did have a Jeep Liberty Diesel a few weeks back, the owner had not changed the timing belt, hit about 200k's, the belt skipped teeth, destroyed the engine. The amount of money that cost to fix, it's not worth it. So had he replaced it a little sooner, it would have been good. So you never know how long your timing belt is going to last, it's best to replace it and if that warning comes on the dash do it.

Now, I'm just looking away at my screen here because there is one other thing that Honda recommends for replacing the belt, and that is there is a time interval if vehicle is regularly driven at temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit or under -20 degrees Fahrenheit or towing a trailer, so those are pretty specific conditions, I don't know if you live in the Mohave desert or something or Northern Canada and you drive it a lot, then they recommend replacing the timing belt every 100,000 kilometres or 60,000 miles, so just so you know that's the other interval. If you're cautious with your maintenance, I'd say 180k, this is a good amount of time to change it, it's best to change things before they look worn and broken. That way you just keep on driving, and it's done and you have peace of mind.

Mark: And you get another ten years out of the vehicle.

Bernie: Well exactly, that's right. Why be cheap? This is already lasted a long time and comparative to what timing belts used to be, this is double the length of what timing belts used to last a decade or two earlier, so the technology has really come along.

Mark: I was just going to ask that. Not as common of a job these days, how come?

Bernie: Well, a lot of the engines don't have timing belts anymore and the ones that do, the intervals tend to be pretty long. Like in this Honda, there are 160 to 200,000 kilometres in length, it's a lot of driving time. It's many years worth of driving time but also a lot of manufacturer's have gone away from using timing belts, they've gotten the timing chains. Chains don't have a set interval replacement, but one thing I will tell you is if you have a vehicle with a timing chain, change your oil regularly. Change it more frequently because good clean oil is critical for timing chains.

You cannot mess around. I mean with a timing belt, you've got a whole mechanism that's not lubricated and it doesn't matter, you've got a bunch of other components that aren't affected by your oil change but timing chains are highly critical for oil changes, so just bear that in mind, we're kind of drifting off the topic of timing belts, but as I say, a lot of manufacturers have gone to using chains, they're really more durable. They're meant if you take care of it, to last the life of the engine but some do fail and when they do they cost a lot more money than a timing belt to fix.

Mark: So how are Honda Ridgelines, I don't even know if they make these anymore, for reliability?

Bernie: I'm not sure if they make them either. So the engine in this is similar to a Honda Pilot, Accord, V6 Model, Odyssey, they use it in a lot of engines but anyways, the overall vehicle excellent reliability. To me Honda, Toyota, they're kind of number one in my books, not perfect vehicles, stuff does go wrong but they tend to be much more durable than most and I highly recommend this vehicle. I know the owner of this vehicle, he bought it brand new, he's done very little on it, which is pretty amazing for a 13 year old vehicle. We talk a lot about Range Rovers and certain Mercedes, and "nicer cars" and the amount of stuff that goes wrong with those in a period of 12 to 13 years can be quadruple what you got on a Honda or Toyota, so something to keep in mind.

Mark: You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. If you're in Vancouver and of course if you're somewhere else we love you watching our videos, you can check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, as we get a lot of visitors from the United States and around the world, as well on YouTube there's hundreds of videos on Pawlik Auto Repair Channel and of course, thank you for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

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

2010 Volvo XC70, Drive Belt Pulley Replacement

Mark: 2010 Volvo XC70 Drive Belt Pulley Replacement.

Mark: So Bernie, today's victim is a 2010 Volvo XC70 with a drive belt replacement. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle actually, it was the second visit to our shop. In the previous week, there were some concerns with the vehicle, some vibrations and clunks when shifting from drive to reverse, and into park, and accelerating. And we'd determined that a couple of the engine mounts were worn out. So we replaced the mounts, which solved a lot of the issues, but there was still one leftover noise that was occurring. It was an interesting condition. Most noticeable when you put it in reverse, and if you put your foot on the brake and rev it up. Now, normally, a person wouldn't do that, but this is what we had to do at the shop to find the noise. But when you're accelerating slightly in reverse, there would be this strange noise coming from the engine. So this is what we were looking at on this Volvo.

Mark: And where was the noise coming from?

Bernie: Well, the noise was coming from the centre of the engine compartment area, and this engine, it's a 3.2L Volvo 6-cylinder. It has a very unique distinction of having all the accessory drives in the centre of the engine compartment. They actually drive the accessories off the back side of the engine, not the front, like is normally done on, I'd say, 99.9% of every other car on the road. They've chosen a very unique system of having the drive belt pulleys, the air conditioning compressor, the alternator, power steering pump, and water pump all on the back side of the engine. And that's where the noise was coming from.

Mark: Oh, those Swedes. So, what was causing the noise?

Bernie: Well, eventually, after a very lengthy diagnosis, and we wanted to be sure we knew what we were doing, because there's some extremely expensive ... I shouldn't say 'knew what we were doing.' Knew what we were going to replace. There's some extremely expensive parts in this vehicle, and complication, which we'll talk about later. What we found is that the accessory drive belt pulley, which it's got a one-way clutch type mechanism on it was worn out, and causing the noise.

Mark: And how did you figure out that the pulley was the cause of the noise?

Bernie: Well, there's a few methods, but one sure-fire way to determine, sometimes, whether a noise is inside an engine or whether it's an external noise, is to actually remove the belt from the system. Now, actually removing the belt on this vehicle is very complicated, as I say, by the location. We'll look at some pictures in a second. But once the belt was removed, the noise had disappeared, so it was really a matter of thinking, okay, is ... And even with the belt off, there could have still been something that was loading the pulley or the rear-end drive unit, called the READ unit, in a strange way, that could have been causing noise. But we pretty much determined that the noise was coming from a pulley-related item, and after some time and testing, we found that this pulley was, in fact, bad. We also found that ... there's a tensioner pulley and an idler pulley, and they were both worn out, as well, so we replaced all of them. But those other two pulleys were not actually the cause of the noise.

So let me just get into some pictures, here. So there's our 2010 Volvo XC70. Nice looking station wagon, all-wheel drive, lots of nice accessories, and useful to go wherever you want to be going. So this is the 3.2L engine. So again, traditional with any modern engine, plastic covers over top of everything. But if you remove this cover, you can see the spark plug, the ignition coil area, fuel injectors, that sort of thing. This is the intake manifold here, and underneath here is the location of the alternator. And over here, underneath all these covers, this is where the rear-end drive unit is, and over here are all the accessories. The air conditioning compressor is buried underneath here, power steering pump is back here, and the water pump is way over here, driven by the power steering pump. So the belt is hidden, as I said. It's several hours' worth of work just to change the belt, believe it or not, on this car, so it's kind of a crazy design. Normally, all the accessories would've been over here, but I guess they decided, "Hey, we can cram the engine over further." And it's actually kind of a smart use of space, but complicated to repair.

So we'll just get into our next photo. So this is the accessory drive pulley. Inside, you're basically looking at, this is the part that bolts onto the shaft on the READ unit. And I'll just get into another picture that's perhaps a little more ... We were looking to view in this direction, but here's the pulley where the belt sits. And inside this large area here, there's a clutch mechanism. The smooth-out operation of the belt, mostly, I would think, is the idea of this, but this is what wore out. You really can't feel anything when you turn it, but once it's running and under a certain load condition ... as I mentioned, we got the noise happening most often with the air conditioning compressor switched off, the vehicle in reverse, left foot on the brake, and right foot accelerating a little bit. So about 1,000 rpms, there's this quite horrific vibration. That's how we got the noise happening most commonly.

And then, the other two items I mentioned we replaced, this is the tensioner assembly. So there's a big, round spring inside here, and this forces the tensioner tight on the belt. So this is the kind of thing that, why modern belts don't tend to squeal like ... When we work on the older car with v-belts, half the time they come in, they're squealing. And I remember, that was a big service we used to do. Tightening belts, replacing belts. It just never lasted very long. But on modern cars ... And it's a good thing on this Volvo, because it's so hard to get to, but they tend to last a long time. You know, 100,000 kilometres without any problem, where you try to get a, I don't know, a 1965 Chevy, you'd be lucky to get 20,000 miles before your belt starts screeching and squealing, and then you've got to adjust them, and you know, it's kind of crazy.

The other pulley down below here, this is the idler pulley. And again, you know, when we spin these bearings, they're very noisy, so it indicates the bearings are worn out. And we replaced them all, and the vehicle was nice and quiet afterwards.

Mark: So, you mentioned something called a READ unit. What's that?

Bernie: So this is a unique feature on this 3.2L Volvo engine. It stands for "Rear end accessory drive," and in order to drive these belts, and to conveniently locate them at the back of the engine, they had to create a separate mechanism that they wouldn't normally create. So the timing chain on this engine, similar to many Volkswagen and Audi products, is actually on the back side of the engine. And the READ unit actually, if they didn't have to drive the accessories off the back of the engine, they could've just put the timing chain straight from the crankshaft to the camshafts. And they have to have another piece sticking out the front of the engine.

So the rear end drive unit is a bunch of extra complexity. There's a timing chain that goes from the crankshaft up to the READ unit, then there's another connecting gear from there that goes to the camshaft. So it's an integral part of the timing chain. And they do fail. Very expensive to fix. And in this READ unit, there's also a shaft that sticks out in two directions: one goes to the pulley we replaced, which drives all the accessories, the other one goes to the alternator. And there's a coupler unit on that, as well, that can fail, too. So lots of bits and pieces. But that's what the READ unit is. An extra-complicated mechanical piece on the engine to facilitate this nice, crammed-in tight engine compartment.

Mark: So, overly complicated. Is it really worth all the hassle?

Bernie: Well, sometimes, you wonder. But, I mean, from an engineering point of view, I think to myself, well, it's a very efficient use of space. But, you know, when it comes time to pay the repair bills, you're going to be paying a lot more money, because there's a lot more that goes wrong. So I don't know if it's right or ... You know, I've kind of tried to stop judging whether cars are right or wrong, or I kind of tend to look at how well were the materials used to make it, and how durable is it? Because inevitably, most things will need to be fixed sooner or later. But how they make it? I don't know. It'd be interesting to have conversations with automotive engineers about some of this stuff. But yeah, if you don't want a complex vehicle, don't buy this particular one.

Mark: So, then, speaking of complexity, perhaps, how are Volvo XC70s overall for reliability?

Bernie: They're not too bad, but there are a few things we fix, and this is one item that tends to fail. As I mentioned, the belts, while reliable, can be expensive to repair. These are the kind of vehicle that have the rear differential bearings that wear out, so there's a few common problems, but overall, they're a pretty good car. I mean, they're a nice car. You'll spend more money than you will on a Toyota, but you usually hear me say that on every podcast anyways, but ... There's more to go wrong, and they're a little more complex. But a nice car.

Mark: You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment if you're in Vancouver. And of course, if you're somewhere else, we love you watching our videos. You can check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, as we get a lot of visitors from the United States and around the world. As well, on YouTube, there's hundreds of videos on Pawlik Auto Repair channel. And of course, thank you for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.

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

2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years servicing in maintaining cars in Vancouver and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. And of course, we're here with Bernie Pawlik talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning.

Mark: So, this week's victim is a 2012 VW Tiguan. I always choke a little bit on VW. Water pump replacement. What's going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. It's okay, Mark. It's a gas motor one. They haven't faked us out on these ones. Yeah. So this vehicle came to our shop. It had a coolant leak coming from under the hood, obviously, so we proceeded to do some diagnosis and testing to figure out what was going on.

Mark: What'd your testing and diagnosis find?

Bernie: Well, what we found was a coolant leak coming from the front of the engine kind of buried under the intake manifold. We'll look at some pictures in a little bit and you can see how typically complex this thing is under the hood. But there was a leak coming from around the area of the water pump, and that's where we proceeded next.

Mark: So, what was your next step?

Bernie: Yeah. So next step was we verified the area of the leak. Couldn't see it exactly, but it was around the area of the water pump, so we got in and removed the water pump, and that's where we found the issue.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: What we did we find? Here's a picture. This is the surface where the water pump bolts up to the engine block. The red arrow points to the area of failure here. If you look here, you can see there's a plastic channel. There's the channel there. Part of this plastic here is just basically broken away, allowing this O-ring to just flop out of place. Of course, it causes coolant under pressure to just blow out this way right down the side of the engine.

So, I know I say jokingly, we love plastic. I don't like to own plastic car parts because they wear out, but they do create a lot of work for us because they do I think tend to fail earlier than they should in many cases. This is sort of the backside of the water pump housing. This is the drive gear over here, but this is basically the area of failure. So the whole water pump assembly needs to be replaced. So that's what we found.

This is a view of the engine with the covers and everything on. The water pump is located down in this area here below the intake manifold. Again, there's a lot of work to access it and get at it. This is a view underneath the vehicle of the new water pump installed. You can see the drive gear, the hose outlets. There's a lot of complexity to put this pump in. There's a number of different connecting pieces. You can see a piece of the thermostat in there and the actual water pump impeller is in this area here. So the actual water pump itself is made of aluminum, but the housing is all plastic.

I think we have a final photograph to look at here. Again, this is a view down the engine with the plastic cover off the top. You can see the ignition coils and a little more of the area of the intake, but again, the water pump's buried under here.

I'm actually gonna go back to this picture of the water pump because this thing has a unique drive system. You see this cogged pulley here. It's actually driven by a tiny little drive belt. Looks like a little mini timing belt. I should've taken a picture of it, but it's about, I don't know, maybe four inches long and it goes to a drive pulley located under this area here. It actually involves removing that pulley to put the belt on. So that's another item that gets replaced at the same time as the water pump, because of course if that belt breaks, the pump won't turn and things will need to be done. The belt was starting to crack at the age of the vehicle so it was a good time to do it. But yeah, really complicated little job.

Mark: So why would they use such a complicated system? Just to fit it in the vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, just to fit it in the vehicle. The plastic, again ... I'm just gonna go back to sharing that picture of all the plastic here. You can see there's a lot of plastic in this area. There's plastic down here. The top of the engine, the valve cover's all plastic. The intake manifold's plastic. You got covers here, ducting. I'm kind of drifting off here 'cause why they fit it in, but there's a lot put into the engine compartment, so they tend to put things wherever they can. I mean, that's kind of a quirky drive system, but I guess the engineers go, "Well, that's a good spot to put it. Let's put it over there." Kind of like our Volvo we talked about a few weeks back where again, they put the alternator underneath the intake manifold and drive the water pump with kind of a crazy pulley system on the backside of the engine. But wherever they can fit stuff in the engine compartment, gets the car out the door, they can sell it and you as a consumer have to deal with it later.

Mark: Yeah. This is kind of a smaller size SVU.

Bernie: It is, yeah. It's a nice compact sized SVU. I mean, it's a really nice vehicle. Drives great. Good performance, decent fuel economy. I can't really see anything wrong with it other than that but along with the compactness comes complication. I don't know if there's any escaping it. Some brands are just more reliable than others.

Mark: And how are Tiguans for reliability?

Bernie: I'm gonna put them in the fair category. I mean, you get things like this plastic failure is common. Over the years, we've done a lot of ... You can probably look at a video we've done a few years ago or a blog post. I talk about plastic in VWs. It's an item that does fail a lot and causes the consumer extra money to fix, but overall it's a pretty decent car. I think my comparison was always you'll spend a little more money fixing this than a Toyota and there will be a few more things that will go wrong, but other than that, it's a pretty decent vehicle.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your VW in Vancouver BC, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. If you're in Vancouver, call to book ahead. If you're elsewhere, check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos there or of course, thank you for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it, and thank you, Bernie.

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

2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, podcast and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, and 20 time winners of best automotive repair in Vancouver and we're talking cars. How are you, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: 2008 Lexus IS250 is this week's victim. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop. The engine had an overheating concern and a couple of other issues, but the overheating issue was kind of the main issue, which is important. You don't want to overheat your engine, especially in a car like this, that's for sure.

Mark: What did you find was the cause?

Bernie: We did some diagnostic and testing and found that the major cause of the overheating was the water pump. It was leaking pretty badly, so the vehicle had lost a lot of coolant.

Mark: What sort of a job is replacing the water pump on a Lexus, on this Lexus?

Bernie: On this Lexus, yeah, it's a fair bit of work. The pump is pretty buried. Let's just get right into the picture show portion. Okay. So, here we go. So there's our IS250, decent shape for a now eleven-year-old car. So when you open the hood of this car, this is what you see. This is typical of Lexus for the last decade or more. They tend to cover everything in plastic covers. Not just the engine but the sides of the engine compartment. There's all these little clips that, frustratingly, tend to break. We keep them in stock because they tend to need to be replaced. We can see there's plastic covers and clips everywhere.

The water pump is located down in this area here, and with the cover removed, this is what you get to see. So that's your V6 2.5 litre engine.

Mark: So this is a rear-wheel drive, kind of normally mounted engine.

Bernie: Exactly. It's a longitudinally mounted engine. It's got a fan on the front. The water pump is located down under this area, so if you say what kind of a job is it, well, you can't even see the pump, so usually when you can't see it, there's lot that needs to be removed just to access the pump. It's a fair bit of labour to change the pump on this vehicle, and you know what? I comment a lot about these plastic covers hiding everything, but this is a pretty complicated, I wouldn't say mess, of things to look at.

It's kind of neat, but you can see from a show-and-sales point of view why they probably put a cover over top, because it just looks a little more attractive, especially when there's no dust and dirt on it, when it's clean.

Here's a view of the water pump so again, a pretty straightforward type of water pump, but it's got a lot of bolts. It takes up a fair bit of real estate on the front of the engine, thermostat housing bolts in here, and there's the water pump pulley. The impeller is located in behind. There's a lot of housing for the amount of actual pump area.

Mark: Anything else unique about this water pump replacement?

Bernie: Well, I mean, other than it bolts in and bolts out, there's a lot of things to remove and reinstall. The other interesting thing about this replacement is the water pump gasket. Now, this is actually a really complicated gasket. It's a multi layer steel gasket. I've just sort of photographed it face-on, but you can see it's, the reason you have these rivets here, this is like holding, well, multi-layers of metal together, and you can sort of see it over here in this area. There's at least one, two, three layers of metal. This is the kind of thing you normally find on a head gasket so, yeah, it's a pretty complicated piece of engineering just for a water pump.

Mark: Why would they use such a complex gasket for that device?

Bernie: I've thought about this, and I don't really know, other than it takes up a fair bit of space in the front of the engine. I just don't see why a good, thick cardboard-paper gasket that was so frequently used in the past wouldn't do the same amount of work.

Perhaps, with the metal being largely aluminum, expanding and contracting, maybe they figured that it needed to have a gasket of this sort. And, of course, part of the procedure with the gasket like this is to torque everything properly. You don't want to just blast the bolts in because a gasket like this requires precise torques to make sure it's properly crushed but not overly so.

Mark: So this is an aluminum block engine?

Bernie: Aluminum block, yeah. And the water pump's aluminum. There's not much that's made of cast these days. I'm just trying to think. Of course, you know, there's a lot of diesels but, yeah, a lot of aluminum, especially this engine. It's not very heavy.

Mark: How long do water pumps normally last on these vehicles?

Bernie: Well, this is the first water pump replacement on this vehicle, so it's 11 years old, and about 150,000 kilometres. If you're in a place that uses miles, you can do the conversion. That's sort of the life of this one, and I guess it probably may have been leaking for a little while before he brought it in. That would be, yeah, that's sort of the lifespan of a water pump on this engine.

Speaking of water pumps on Toyotas, I talk about how reliable Toyota products are, Lexus being one of them, and they are, but it seems like one sort of typical thing you can count on replacing on a Toyota is your water pump. We do them on all sorts of Toyota products, even Prius's. There's not much that goes wrong, but water pumps seem to leak, so that's kind of the big thing on Toyotas, which isn't that big of a thing.

Mark: And how is the Lexus IS250 for reliability?

Bernie: It's good car. Definitely reliable. These cars do tend to burn some oil so if you have one, sometimes you're not going to make it through an oil change cycle without adding a litre or two of oil, which tends to happen on these engines, for some reason. But, overall, an excellent car. Well built, and not a lot of problems.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your IS250, or any Lexus or Toyota product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, if you're in Vancouver. And of course if you're somewhere else, we love you watching our videos. You can check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. We get a lot of visitors from the United States and around the world. As well, on YouTube, there's hundreds of videos on Pawlik Auto Repair channel and, of course, thank you for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.

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

A/C System Repairs – 1989 Cadillac Deville

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here in Vancouver of course with Mr. Bernie Pawlik and they've just announced we're 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by other customers, and we're talking cars, how you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well and happy to have one the Best of Vancouver again, it's exciting news.

Mark: So here we go. We're talking about a 1989 Cadillac Deville, which is a pretty old vehicle but still the AC system had some issues and that's pretty relevant to all cars, what was going on with this Cadillac?

Bernie: So this Cadillac came to us, the owner really liked their air conditioner working properly, I mean it's one of the nice features of the Cadillac, in fact every car has air conditioning now so, they used to be kind of a unique Caddy feature but very important to the owner of this car and she'd had it repaired several times in the past and it still wasn't working properly, so we took a look at it, did some diagnostic and testing and found some interesting issues that I wanted to share.

Mark: So, with testing and diagnosis, what did you find?

Bernie: Well I mean, first issue we found was the refrigerant was quite low. We did a visual inspection for leaks, which we normally do, didn't find anything. Added some refrigerant, went to test the system and it was interesting because the compressor would switch on for a couple seconds, would generate some pressure and then switch off and it wouldn't run anymore unless we shut the key off, recycled it. We did the whole key start cycle and then it would run for a second or two and then go, so I mean, we figured we had a leak somewhere so we did a thorough leak test, couldn't find anything, so obviously whatever was leaking was pretty minimal.

We looked over the system electronically and weren't sure where there was an electronic problem or what it was, but finally realized that looking at the system pressures when starting up, the air conditioning systems have a high and low side pressure, and what would happen is we start the vehicle up and the compressor would kick in and we could manually kick the compressor in and even with a full charge of refrigerant, the low side went into a suction, like into a negative pressure, into vacuum, which is incorrect and then the high side pressure would not generate much pressure also, so we figured there was probably a blockage in the system somewhere so we kind of dug a little further and found some interesting pieces. A little bit of history, the compressor had failed on this vehicle once and the person I guess had not put oil in it and that caused the compressor to fail, so someone had put another one in, properly oiled the system, charged it and then it stopped working after a little bit and arrived at our shop. So there was some repair history to the vehicle and so, there we are.

Mark: So do you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do. I have some awesome pictures to share.

So what we have, this is an Orifice Tube, now this actually the item that we found was plugged. What we found was when the compressor had failed at least once or twice, or sometime in the process of repair, someone should have looked a little closer at the Orifice Tube and flushed the AC system. The reason I'm showing the new part is you can see this is basically a screen with a little small ... It's basically an Orifice, it's a small opening and as the liquid moves through here, it changes the pressure or changes the state, I'm not going to explain this correctly, but there's a state change from liquid to gas or gas to liquid and that's what causes it to generate cold air. What we found was this, this is, if you can even make sense of it, this is the Orifice Tube we took out of the vehicle.

All this black stuff, this is dirt debris and crap from a failed compressor that's basically just covered the Orifice Tube screen. I'll go back to the other picture because it gives you kind of an idea, that's a good one, that's the bad one. This thing was completely plugged, so when the compressor was generating pressure, of course it was trying to force the liquid through here, it wouldn't go anywhere and it couldn't suck anything because the liquid and gas wouldn't circulate through the system, that's the key with air conditioning, it's a circulation system. So a couple of other things were the Orifice Tube bolts into the evaporating core pipes, this is the fitting here and you can see, not so clearly but there's a lot of dark, gray debris in here, and one of the repairs we did, we'll talk about this in a minute was we flushed the system out and well, this is a bucket with a bunch of very, very black liquid in it, so those were the pictures I wanted to share with you.

Mark: So how does this much contaminant get into the AC system? Isn't a close system? Sealed?

Bernie: It is a closed and sealed system and how the contaminant gets in is basically as the compressor fails, there's components in the compressor or if it overheats, there's oil in the system that gets damaged. So once we figured everything out, it all kind of made sense. A compressor failure, someone didn't flush the system and that's basically what caused everything to block up, so the proper repair is to basically take things a part and flush it out. Now, we obviously replaced the compressor because that was damaged, there's also the accumulator in the system, sometimes it's a receiver dryer but there's slightly different operation components but that's the filter of the system.

That component we replace, we obviously replace the Orifice Tube because it was completely useless but everything else, we flushed all the lines and pipes out. We flushed the evaporator, we flushed the condenser. It's a nasty job, it requires extremely expensive special chemicals, and we basically blow these chemicals through the system and do it until it actually comes out clean. That debris you saw in the bucket, that's sort of the first round of flushing but we do it until everything comes out spotlessly clean and that removes all the debris.

Mark: And how did the AC work once you got everything back together?

Bernie: It was fantastic. It worked really well. Nice cold air, compressor cycled on and off just like it should, all the system pressures were normal and worked really well.

Mark: So since this is such an older vehicle, how have AC systems evolved over the years?

Bernie: Well, they've evolved in a few ways. One of them is a lot of the components are smaller, like the compressors, if you look on a 1970s car were massive. Some of them were almost ten inches long, circular compressor, which was what was on this Cadillac or some of them actually look like a little V engine. Chrysler's had those they're like a two piston V motor, it's kind of a cool looking piece but they've evolved down to quite small, I'm thinking some Subaru's for example, the compressors on those are only like about four or five inches deep and very small and they accomplish the same thing. I mean that's one thing, the components are smaller, the refrigerants have changed. Air conditioning used to use R12, which is an ozone depleting refrigerant, fortunately we stopped using that and gone through R134A, which doesn't deplete ozone but still creates global warming when it's released, it's a global warming chemical.

There's now a new refrigerant R1234A, which has been used on in the last few years on some cars, very expensive refrigerant, it doesn't deplete the ozone or cause global warming, so that's a good thing but I've heard word that maybe that refrigerant's going to be changed to something else, so who knows but that's kind of the most modern iteration. But that's really how air conditioning has changed, either than that, the system operation is pretty much the same whether you're talking from a Tesla to a 1962 Cadillac, it's all pretty much the same it's just with a Tesla and a lot of hybrids will be an electric driven compression not belt driven like you'll find on most other engines.

Mark: So this is a bit of a well aged, well loved vehicle, is it worth fixing?

Bernie: Well, the owner of this vehicle loves it, so she likes fixing. I'd say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it's like people have attachments to cars and so, if it's worth it to you, then it's worth it to you, you know. But there are cars were we will tell people, "We don't think you should spend your money on this vehicle," and sadly I see a lot of people who don't spend money on cars that are well worth fixing that don't but everyone has their opinion. The owner loves this car, so that's why we fixed.

Mark: So there you go. If you're in Vancouver and needing AC repairs the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there. As well, thank you for listening to the podcast and always remember we're in Vancouver, we don't provide technical support over the phone or by text, which I just got one. We're in Vancouver and we provide in person service because that's the only credible way to actually provide service for you and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for mentioning that. Thanks for watching, we really appreciate.

2006 Chevrolet Uplander Front Strut Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert producer, the Pawlik automotive podcast. And of course we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver servicing and repairing cars for 38 years in Vancouver, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And of course we're talking cars. How are you this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing pretty well.

Mark: So we're speaking about a Chevrolet Uplander. This is a little bit of a rare model, I guess, a minivan. What was happening with it?

Bernie: Yeah, well they're not entirely rare, I mean, this was actually the Chevy's replacement for the Venture van, but I think Ventures were horrible vans. They were like one of the worst products GM's put out in a long time and we can talk about those in another situation. But the Uplander is definitely a huge improvement. But yeah, I don't think they sold tons of them. I don't have the specs, but you certainly don't see as many as you did with the Ventures. So this van basically had a really bouncy ride to the vehicle. It's a regular customer, we've been servicing this vehicle for many years. And I do a service of picking this vehicle up at the person's house or the business. So I tend to drive it a little more often, and you notice right away the ride of the front of the vehicle is very bouncy, it just didn't feel quite right.

Mark: You had to replace the struts, is that what was going on?

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. So the front struts were worn out and basically, so I was saying the ride was bouncing. You know, people often wonder, well how do I know if my stress or shocks are warn? And by the way a strut has a shock absorber in it and that's the primary wear component is the actual shock absorber. How you can tell, I mean you can just feel it in the vehicle when you, when you come to a, especially if you come to a stoplight, the vehicle should, you know, you push the vehicle, you hit the brake, you come to a stop light, the front end of the vehicle dips and it bounces up once and stops.

And you know, if it bounces even a slight bit more, you can tell your struts are worn out, but you can also just get a general feel that the vehicle. Just doesn't feel like it's really gripping. I don't say gripping the road, but it just feels like it's a little out of control. Now we've been fixing cars for a long time so I have a feel right away. But if you have a vehicle that feels like that might be an indication your struts or shocks are worn that that extra bounciness is certainly quite noticeable.

Mark: So I'm sure there's probably a recommended interval to change struts, what is that?

Bernie: Well, there used to be an a recommended interval and this came from strut and shock manufacturers replace your shocks every 80,000 kilometres or 50,000 miles. And you know, over the years of working on cars, I've always thought that just seems ridiculous. Like I've had vehicles where the shocks and struts have gone way longer than that for years and years and years. Now of course, because I'm sure they've got a lot of pushback and negative comments about that, the recommendation for the last few years is check your struts at 80,000 miles, you know, have them inspected. So which is a much fairer idea, but really, as I said, you can tell right, most of the time right away by driving the car. There's also the bounce test you can do, which is you basically bounce the vehicle up and down a few times. Difficult to do on an F350, by the way. But on a one ton truck, like if I say not as difficult, impossible, but on an average car, even a minivan, you know, you can bounce the vehicle up and down and if the vehicle will bounce up after you let your hand off the vehicle and it'll drop down to a certain point, if it does any more bouncing then the shocks are struts are worn. So that's a, that's a good test.

But anyways, as far as the interval, you know, I really believe you just need to drive the vehicle and see how it goes. This particular van, it's a 2006 so that makes it 12 to 13 years old at this point and it's got about 150,000 kilometres I believe. So quite a lot over the 80,000 that was recommended. The thing about shocks and struts too, they're not like you know, if you don't do them you're going to create a lot of extra damage. I mean sometimes your tires can wear funny and sometimes you can actually have shock or strut wear and not even be aware of it and all of a sudden you'll have your tire's worn funny. There's some interesting issues that happen. We can talk about that another time.

But that's fairly rare. Not entirely common. So you know, replacing them at a certain set interval, like a maintenance item, it really doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think you're better to keep your money in your pocket and wait until the time when the wear is actually more applicable.

Mark: What's involved in replacing the struts on this van?

Bernie: So this vehicle, there's a couple of different ways to do it, but let's just get into some pictures while we're at it.

So there's the van, it's an '06 Uplander and that is the strut that we replaced. So there's a couple of ways you can do it, what's pretty common nowadays is what's called a quick strut, that's Munroes brand name, there's other brands around that do the same thing. But essentially what it is, it's a complete assembly. As I said, the main wear part when a strut wears out is the actual shock absorber portion, which is sort of inside this tube in the middle of the tube. This coily piece here is basically a dust protector and if you remove it, you'll see a nice shiny shaft and this is what moves up and down. You can see the the spring and then at the top to the spring seat and strut mount bearing.

That's also another part that tends to wear fairly frequently too, causing on some cars and creaks and clunks and noises and things. So the nice thing about a quick strut, again using that brand name, is you replace this whole thing. There's nothing left over to wear out and it's a little less labour intensive. You just unbolt it from the vehicle, you bolt the new one in and away you go. Whereas if you're just to replace the strut and maybe the bearing plate, we have all the tools to do it, you need to disassemble it because the spring is under a lot of pressure, and then change the parts over and then put it back together. So that's kind of the way it goes. I mean in the olden days too that a lot of struts, you could actually change the cartridge, the piece right inside, so you'd actually keep the tube, that's really old fashioned nowadays. So that's going back at least two or three decades now for that technology, so this is what we did on this vehicle.

Mark: So when you've replaced the struts like that, is a wheel alignment necessary?

Bernie: It is, on the rear, not necessary, not usually necessary. Sometimes it is, but on the front, absolutely because it does affect the steering geometry. Then the MacPherson Strut is one part of the steering geometry, it's kind of like the upper control arm and spring and everything built into one. So it kind of a neat feature, you know, neat design in terms of minimizing the amount of components in a front suspension. But yeah, it's critical to do it in alignment.

Mark: And how reliable are Chevy Uplanders?

Bernie: Well, as we talked earlier, I was talking about Ventures, I mean they're not bad, we've serviced this vehicle for quite a few years. This is a really good maintenance customer. You know, we've had others that we've serviced, they're actually quite a reliable vehicle and you know, GM did a good service compared to the Venture, we can do a whole podcast about all the things that went wrong and those vehicles, but we don't seem to see them as much on Uplander. So it to me this is a pretty decent minivan. Of course getting old now, you know, they haven't made them in awhile.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Chevy that you need some maintenance on, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos and articles about all kinds of makes models, repairs, maintenance items. As well there's hundreds of videos on our youtube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you mark. Thanks for watching. We totally appreciate it.

Let's Discuss Your Vehicle...

In order to provide an estimate, a diagnosis is the next step!