Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

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

Bernie: Doing well today. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2016 BMW X5 that had an air suspension issue. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop, client's complaint was that the rear end of the vehicle would sit low. If he'd leave it overnight, the vehicle would drop and he'd come back to a low sitting vehicle. That was the initial issue, but it started like that. And now it basically remained down. So it was brought into us with the backend down.  

Mark: Was a real drag car. So what testing and diagnosis did you do to find the cause of the concern. 

Bernie: So the first thing we do is scan the vehicle, test the electrical end of the suspension system, and found that there was in fact, a blown fuse running the compressor. So we replaced the fuse. Everything seemed to be functioning fine. Now of course, a fuse usually blows for a reason. But it just seemed from what we tested and the operation of it, the compressor was probably okay. Maybe just a one-off overload. So we fixed it, let the client have it. And basically everything seemed to be working fine.

Mark: So did it stay working fine? 

Bernie: No, it came back the next day. And so perhaps we should have just gone ahead and go, Hey, let's just put a compressor in because the fuse blew. We do find that happens from some vehicles, but sometimes just a fuse replacement is good. And we do try to err on the side of doing things with the most cost-effective manner.

So we did some retesting found the compressor was basically all worn out. You know, would basically draw too much power under certain conditions. So we replaced the compressor, reset everything, and everything seemed to be working fine. 

Mark: So after replacing the compressor, did that fix everything?

Bernie: Well, it fixed some of it, but not entirely. So they, again after a day or two, the vehicle had actually dropped back down again, which was kind of a surprise to us because we had looked over the system pretty thoroughly. I'll just get into some pictures right now. So to make a long story short, we found the airbags needed to be replaced. In addition, which was a real kind of surprise for a vehicle of this age.

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

 So there's our BMW. A little dirty from Vancouver winter weather. A couple of views. This is where the compressors located underneath the vehicle on the passenger side. Under I guess, we call it the floor pan area. 

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

There's a kind of a better view. This is looking towards the front of the vehicle. There's the compressor. There's two lines here. And these go to both the rear air springs. This is actually just a rear only suspension system. It doesn't do the front. So it's there for level control. You know, if you put a thousand pounds of bricks in the back, this will bring the level of the vehicle up to full height.

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

So it's a 2016, didn't even have a hundred thousand kilometres. And we do a lot of air suspension work and it would be unusual to find that the airbags were leaking. We did a visual inspection of them. They all look to be in good shape, no cracks or excessive wear. But of course at this point we had to go deeper into it because it was obviously not working as we'd intended it to.

We found after spraying some tire soap, this is the kind of stuff we spray on tires to find leaks. We found these little tiny pinholes in the airbags, which is very unusual. You look, I mean, there's not even any cracks in this airbag. I mean, down here you know, it looks a little rusty.

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

This is just normal kind of wear and tear, you'd see on any sort of air suspension after a couple of years of usage. But it seems like the bags are just made out of a material that got kind of porous and got little holes inside of it. We found this on both sides of the rear. So kind of surprising again for such low mileage. And so we ended up replacing those and everything was good. There's a view of the old airbag out of the vehicle. 

2016 BMW X5, Air Suspension

Mark: So that fixed everything, obviously, but is that kind of changed how you're going to diagnose a BMW air suspensions in the future? 

Bernie: Well I would say definitely. Every step we took was good. I think just, it would be better I think in future, if we're going to do this over again, to just test the bags, you know, just make sure they're not actually leaking. Because as I said, it's kind of unusual as a vehicle. It's only about five, six years old to have a leaking air. But that, that would be, that would be the thing we definitely do next is to do an actual leak check on the bag.

It's kind of an unusual situation. I mean, another thing I would say is that, you know, the client really did want to have this vehicle back every day. So it was like, okay, let's fix it and give it back as opposed to, Hey we'll fix it, we'll leave it overnight and see how it works. That's often a procedure we prefer to do because it's nice to get a car in and out the door, but if we have it overnight, then we can verify, Hey, wait a minute, that didn't work. Let's go to step two. 

And I think at the end of the day, it makes for, you know, a happier client when everything's done first time. We aim to do that with every job, but every job kind of goes differently. 

Mark: So how are these, this age range of BMW, X5 for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, so far so good. They're a pretty decent car, but I have to say I'm not overly impressed with the air suspension system. You know, the air suspension does create issues in all vehicles. It's something that if you have it, it's fantastic. Things will happen. But generally I think these X5s are definitely built better than the older editions. If we go back a couple of generations. Much more reliable, but of course this is only six a year old vehicle at this point. So time will tell, but a nice car, for sure. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your BMW, any model the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them on their website to book pawlikautomotive.com or you can call them (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead or book online ahead of time. They're busy. Of course there's many hundreds, literally hundreds of articles, videos we've been doing this for 10 years. Every week, week in, week out, we put up another video on a repair, different makes and models, all kinds of repairs. Same thing on the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Check it out. If you're feeling sleepy or not feeling sleepy, you can watch us. We'll put you to sleep. I guarantee it. And thanks so much for watching. Thanks Bernie. 

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

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

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

Bernie: Doing very well today. 

Mark: So 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid that wasn't starting. What else was going on with his vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle was towed to our shop. It wouldn't start. It's been cold in Vancouver for awhile. It, it had warmed up, but the owner went out to start the vehicle and it wouldn't crank over. Nothing happened when he turned the key. 

Mark: So why wouldn't the engine start?

Bernie: Well, I mean, obviously you think, Hey, the battery has gone weak under the hood. So he did try to jumpstart it and it wouldn't start. So on this type of hybrid, which is the same as a Toyota Prius, by the way, the high voltage battery is required to actually start the engine. So that has to be in the right amount of state of charge to start the engine. If it's too low in voltage or the battery has gone dead, then your internal combustion engine won't start. 

Mark: So is that how you know that the high-voltage battery was the cause of the problem. 

Bernie: We did, but I mean the first step of course is to make sure that 12 volt battery is in at least decent shape. So our diagnostic procedures starts with testing the 12 volt battery, making sure it's got an adequate state of charge. Then we scan the vehicle computer to see what kind of trouble codes are there. And there was, I can't remember the exact code, I don't have it in front of me, but it was basically related to the high voltage battery being too low. So at that point we knew we had to address the high voltage battery and then deal with the issues there. 

Mark: So can the high voltage battery be recharged or is it just it's cooked? It needs to be replaced. 

Bernie: Yeah, no it can be recharged, but it's a very specialty process. Chargers are kind of unique. We actually purchased one from a company in Wister, Massachusetts, where I did some EV training and they're not really readily available. It's it's a very unique device and the procedure is kind of time-consuming, which we can talk about in a minute. 

Mark: So you're not going down to Lordco to get a charger for this high voltage battery. 

Bernie: You are not. You're not going to any sort of regular auto repair. And if you're watching this from somewhere else, Lordco is a large auto repair parts company in British Columbia, expanding into Alberta.

But yeah, you're not going to any sort of auto repair shop to buy these kinds of chargers. This is a very highly specialized service and repair. And in fact it involves us removing the battery pack. We'll look at some photos in a few minutes. We actually have to take the high voltage battery out of the vehicle, partially dismantle it to access the terminals to actually do the charging. 

Mark: Okay. So that sounds really like not very great engineering. So why wouldn't Ford make it a lot easier and maybe the other hybrid manufacturers the same way, make it a lot easier to charge these batteries because they must lose charge sometimes. Life happens. 

Bernie: Well, it's funny that you mentioned that. So I will say, this vehicle is very similar to a Toyota Prius and Toyota doesn't have any way to charge the battery simply either. You have to do, you know what we're doing if your Prius battery goes dead. But Ford, up until, in the Escape, up until 2008, actually had a switch in the back of the vehicle if your high voltage battery went too low. You could click a switch and charge the high voltage battery through the 12 volt charging system. 

But for some reason, 2009 and newer, they decided, you know, we don't really need that thing, so they didn't put it in. So the customer is now faced with a very large bill and a lot of inconvenience to have to fix this. I assume they must have figured, Hey, we can save a hundred dollars or a couple of hundred dollars per car. Why bother putting it in? So thank you Ford. But you know, keeps us in business. 

Mark: What's involved in actually charging this battery? 

Bernie: So we actually have to remove the battery, which is located in the back of the vehicle. I'm going to start showing some pictures while we're talking here. But we have to remove the battery from the vehicle. We have to take the cover off, remove a few components. We'll just look at that right now. So there's our a 2009 Escape Hybrid. 

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

And a kind of unique feature of this vehicle. You can tell it's a hybrid model from a regular one by this little vent here. If the rear glass here actually has a little opening and that's an air vent to actually cool the battery. Which is very important in keeping the battery alive for a long time.

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

 So there is the high voltage battery removed from the vehicle sitting on a tray. There's a big orange plug here. This basically shuts the voltage off. Makes the battery safe when you remove it. And you'll see it in a second here, but this is kind of an important thing. It basically disables the high voltage battery. Of course the battery is still alive inside. You have to be very careful. We use high voltage gloves, very critical component. You know, the battery voltage, and this is sort of like three to 400 volts. So there's a lot of power in here. 

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

So the cover needs to be removed. These are the high voltage terminals. This is the contactor packs. So this basically switches the voltage on to the vehicle or switches it off when it's not needed. So the high voltage system is not live while the vehicle sitting.

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

We have to access all these components to basically connect the charger. And here's a view of our special chargers I mentioned. So this is actually in the process of charging. So it's at 329 volts at this point 400 million amps of current is going. So it's a very slow charging process, takes hours and hours. We actually did over a period of a couple of days to get the power back into the battery. There are probably chargers available that'll do it way faster, but this is just kind of what we have available. And it's kind of unique. 

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting
2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

This is the battery back in the vehicle. This is that air vent I was showing you. This is where the air kind of gets hooked in. And there's a fan that blows air through the battery pack to keep the temperature at the right spot. 

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

The under hood view. There's the 12 volt battery. The internal combustion engine. Then the motor generator unit's over here, basically the transmission, which drives the vehicle. And one last picture to look at is after our repairs and road test. This is what we do after the repair. Road test the vehicle. Look at the scan tool. See what kind of information we've got.

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, Not Starting

So at the time of me taking this photo, there was 354 volts in the high voltage battery pack. And the good thing for the customer is the battery was in good shape because it says no fault cell failure, because if the cells are bad, this will show up as a fault. And then the battery will need to be replaced.

I mean, there are other things that could need it, but that's a surefire indicator that at least the battery decent. And average state of charge, this fluctuates too, depending on if you're going down hills for a long time, this state of charge will go way up. If you're you know, going up a hill and really booting it, the state of charge will go down. So at this point, this is what we're reading and there's our picture show. 

Mark: All right. So why do you think the battery lost charge in the first place? 

Bernie: Well, I asked the owner, I said, how long has the car sitting? You know, last time we've had a couple of these where people have left them for months and then when gone to start them and they wouldn't go. This one, he said it was probably off for 10 days, maybe a little longer. 

We figured it was very cold in Vancouver, like down to about -10, -12 Celsius, which is pretty cold here. It sat for a while. It might just be the combination that when he parked the vehicle, the state of charge was a little low and just the temperature caused the battery to run down.

So that's all we can figure. It seems a little on a short timeframe because you know, people have Prius's have left them for six months and they fire up. But you know, I think it's a combination of when it sat and the temperature, it just kind of, for some reason, the battery pack was discharged.

Mark: And the high voltage battery in the vehicle is charged by the motor generator.

Bernie: It is. Then they kind of work together. So if the high-voltage battery's dead, the internal combustion engine won't start, to charge the battery. So it's kind of a vicious cycle, but nonetheless, if you can get it started, then the internal combustion engine motor will drive the motor generator to charge the battery pack.

Mark: How did everything work after you charged and installed the battery? 

Bernie: Yeah, it was good. It actually worked fine. Started up right away. We retested the 12 volt battery that tested fine, and we went for a couple of good road tests. And I usually like to verify that everything works well and it's getting the motor generators charging the battery, the battery is driving the motor generator. It's all working. So that was a picture I showed with the scan tool. And as I said, it fluctuates. But yeah, happy ending after all. We never know when we go to take this charging process, whether the battery is actually going to survive it or not.

So we can tell, of course, once we hook the charger up and how the voltage comes through with whether the battery is going to be good or not, but at least at this point it's out and then the customer can opt for a new battery. By the way, a new battery for this is, I don't even know if he can buy one from Ford anymore, but I think I priced it, it was like $24,000 or something insane like that.

It's something crazy. It might be less, but I think last time we looked at one it was something like that. So there's lots of good used batteries out there. That's what I would recommend because they're generally pretty reliable. 

Mark: So how are these Ford Escape Hybrids for reliability? 

Bernie: I mean, generally they're pretty good. We've run into a few of these where the batteries have discharged, but overall it's a pretty decent vehicle. This one's now what 13 years old. I think it's got some pretty good life left in it. 

Mark: If you're looking for some service for your hybrid in Vancouver, the guys who are experts are Pawlik Automotive. They have all the tools. They have all the equipment. They know what they're doing to fix your vehicle. They're trained up and know how to fix your vehicle the right way, the first time. Pawlik Automotive. You can book on the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Or you can check out hundreds of videos, all makes and models and types of repairs are on there. There's our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Same story. We've been doing this for 10 years. Or you can call and book your appointment. (604) 327-7112. They'll talk to you. They'll get ready for when your service appointment is. They'll be ready. They'll look after you. They'll get it done right the first time. Pawlik Auto Repair. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2012 Jaguar XFR, Maintenance Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2012 Jaguar XFR. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop for a B service, a maintenance service which is due. We should probably about once a year on a vehicle of this age, that's why it came in. 

Mark: What sort of things do you look after in this kind of service? 

Bernie: So for this service, there's an oil change, a full vehicle inspection and little things like lubricating door locks, hinges and latches, we do as part of the B service. But it's basically a full look at the brakes, take the wheels off, rotate tires if possible and necessary because it depends on the vehicle. And look at all the fluids, test the battery charging system. Do a good thorough suspension inspection. 

Mark: Do you guys just do it from memory or do you have some sort of system you follow? 

Bernie: We have an awesome system and we have an excellent inspection that we send out. We basically do it all digitally. So our technicians capture all the details. There are certain set items that we look at and mark off, whether they're good, bad, or, you know, possibly needing service in the future. And we look at the maintenance schedule as well of the vehicle to see where, you know, the mileage and the time whether any thing's due.

And then we send a digital report out. It has pictures of things. If the brakes are particularly worn or the tires, or there's an oil leak, we'll send pictures of those things. So you can actually see what's going on as opposed to just taking our word for it. We are honest people, but you know, a picture just kind of adds to that, makes it reality.

Mark: So you mentioned how often. Is it like yearly, every two years, these services, this kind of comprehensive inspection is required. 

Bernie: It depends on the car and how often you're driving it. But usually for most cars, it alternates between an A and a B service. And of course with these, they use synthetic oil. You can go much longer intervals between oil changes. So you might only do one of these every two years. But it's probably, you know, again, it depends on how much you use the car. But it definitely, every second service is a B service with a full inspection. 

Mark: So what engine is in the XFR? 

Bernie: So this is the supercharged five litres, same one you find a Range Rover. We can have a look at a couple of pictures at this point. It's pretty cool. I mean, it's approximately 500 horsepower. I haven't actually looked at the exact specs, but there's the vehicle. I mean, a beautiful looking car too. I love the red colour.

2012 Jaguar XFR, Maintenance Service

I love this little hood ornament, but it's funny, I take these pictures with my Samsung smartphone, a lot of them. And it's funny how it makes this look pink just the way the light shining on the hood. I tried to alter the colour to make it look red like the car, but anyways, it's a nice little hood ornament there.  

2012 Jaguar XFR, Maintenance Service

This is the supercharged V8. There's a view of the engine with the top cover off. So you're basically looking at the supercharger here. It's basically the same engine as the Range Rover 5L. So it goes fast because the car certainly a lot smaller and lighter than a Range Rover.

2012 Jaguar XFR, Maintenance Service

Mark: So since it's the same engine, does it suffer the same issues as those in Range Rovers?  

Bernie: It does. You know, timing chains are an issue with these things. Supercharger nose cones wear out, they all kind of happen. Although, you know, maybe these aren't quite as common because we haven't done too many repairs on these V8s yet.

And it could just be that they're were worked a little less hard because it's in a car of lighter weight than a SUV, that's probably a thousand or 2000 pounds heavier. But all these issues do happen. You can count on it happening over time. You'll need to do the same kind of repairs.

So there's the air filter that we replaced. You know, the air filters get dirty over time. There's an, just an example of a dirty air filter. This one actually has two air filters. So we replaced them both. They're nice and clean.

2012 Jaguar XFR, Maintenance Service

 Mark: So the car runs great afterwards. How are these? And I'm assuming there wasn't any repairs required? 

Bernie: No, the other thing we did do was a brake fluid flush, which is, do usually do every two to three years. Pretty well any car, but yeah, there was nothing else required at this time in the car. Everything was in good shape. So yeah, car ran great. Good to go for a little longer. And that's the great thing about the comprehensive inspection. If there's no work needed to be done, you know that you're not driving around thinking, well, you know, something's going to wear out or my brakes almost at the edge of wearing out, or is there anything when safe and we can verify that.

Mark: And so how are these Jags overall for reliability? 

Bernie: They're good. I mean, certainly way better than old Jags. But you know they do have their list of problems when we talked a little bit about the engine issues. But overall they're good. But you will expect to pay more to fix them just because it's a fancy luxury car.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Jaguar in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the guys to see Pawlik Automotive. You can check them out their website pawlikautomotive.com. You can book online there. They'll call you back. They'll check out exactly what kind of service you might need or repairs you might need. And they'll be ready for when you show up for your appointment. Or you can call them 604-327-7112. Most of the time they answer the phone, because they're pretty busy. You have to call and book ahead though. Best auto repair in Vancouver. Pawlik Automotive. Thanks so much for watching, and thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2010 Honda Civic, Engine Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 time winners, best auto repair in Vancouver. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well today. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2010 Honda Civic that needed a new engine. What happened to this Honda? 

Bernie: So the vehicle was towed to our shop. The owner was driving and the engine seized up and needed to be replaced. So he brought it to our shop.  

Mark: So I know Honda's like any car wear out, but an engine seized, what happened to this engine? That's pretty rare. 

Bernie: Yeah, it is rare for Honda. Their engines are one of their stronger points. What happened is the owner was driving, it been raining a lot in Vancouver. If you watch the news, we've had some record epic, almost biblical rainstorms. He was driving along, hit a puddle water got sucked into the engine and seized the engine up.  

Mark: So was it an extremely deep puddle?

Bernie: I don't know how big the puddle was, but the reason why, because normally so I mean the way an internal combustion engine works, it sucks air into the engine, compresses it and with fuel mixed in fires a spark. So normally when a car is manufactured, they usually put the air intake fairly high up on the engine, it'll be like three feet off the ground. In this case, the owner put in a cold air intake, a performance modification, and this was mounted quite low down into the bumper. So it didn't take much of a puddle. I mean, all you'd have to do is hit a foot deep puddle of water or a huge amount of spray to suck air into the engine. 

And apparently I believe the story was, he was driving on the highway when it happened. So engine revving at maybe two or 3000 RPMs. Huge suction of air. Water in the piston compresses. Bam blows the engine apart. It literally blew it apart. And we can have a look at some pictures because that's the fun part.

2010 Honda Civic, Engine Replacement

Mark: Can I make a speculation? Wouldn't the water have turned to steam instantly too. So it would have even more power to explode the engine apart?  

Bernie: Well, it may have, but I think in this case, probably not because it probably drank so much in one suction that it probably just compressed it. But that's a good point, it could. I mean, we actually do combustion chamber cleaning treatments, where we actually suck water into the engine to clean carbon deposits out. It works really well in addition to a combustion cleaner, but we put a very controlled amount of water and very small amount that sucks in. Called hydraulicing, like when it compresses like that. But this, I think it's possible, but I think it probably happens so fast, it was probably cold. Didn't have time to warm up. 

Anyways, here's our engine. This is the replacement engine we put in. This is where the air intake system normally bolts up to the engine and the air cleaner box would normally sit in this area, this cold air intake. We'll look at pictures in the second, the pipe comes out here and goes downwards kind of hidden down in this area, into the front bumper.  

2010 Honda Civic, Engine Replacement

Let's have a look at the engine damage. So this is the front of the engine. The water pump removed. You can see this is the crankshaft pulley over in the left here. So we're looking at the front of the engine. Where the red arrow is pointing, there's a hole with some light, and this is a flashlight shone through the back of the engine, through the hole in the back of the engine, shining through the front.

What is here is a very bent, broken connecting rod. And it just flung loose in one second and busted the engine block apart. So that's the kind of thrilling, neat stuff. At some point, we may actually take this engine apart and may have a couple of other pictures to add at a later date to the show notes.

2010 Honda Civic, Engine Replacement

 Here's our cold air intake. This is the culprit for the job. There's the K&N style air filter. This is like a reusable air filter. That's supposed to allow a lot of extra air flow and create a humongous, extra amount of horsepower, which is what the selling feature of this is. But you can also notice there's a hole here.

So this intake has been, you know, again, these things don't always fit perfectly. It's been rubbing on the frame of the vehicle. And there's actually an additional hole. So air is being sucked in past the air filter. So that isn't a good thing. I mean, the engine was actually, you know, dirt could have been sucked into this engine and it probably was for a time.

2010 Honda Civic, Engine Replacement

 And there's a closer view of the hole in the air intake. Also, this filter is broken too, which probably wasn't a result of the puddle. It probably just, again, bad installation. Doesn't fit properly. Air filter broken. So this engine was probably doomed over time. So that's our picture show.

Mark: So you had to replace the engine. What kind of options do you have to replace the engine? 

Bernie: We went with a used engine. I mean, that's the most economical option. And the great thing is with the Honda Civic, they're very reliable. Getting a good used engine is not a hard thing to find. There are certain used engines where I wouldn't buy that because there are certain problems that occur over and over. But with a Honda Civic, it's pretty reliable. It's very rare that anything ever happens to them. So I think it's a very safe used engine. 

Mark: So let's discuss cold air intakes. This was a poor installation, but are they worth even putting into a vehicle? 

Bernie: I don't think so. I mean, they're supposedly we'll give you a couple of extra horsepower and I don't know what it is. I mean, the manufacturers are going to claim it does a lot more than I think you're going to find in the real world.

It makes a nice sucking sound. If you're interested in that kind of thing. Personally, I prefer engines that don't make much noise other than maybe a nicely tuned exhaust, but that's just my own preference. But I just don't really think it's worth putting one in. The value is so minimal compared to what you're actually going to get in return. And I mean, then you get a thing like a puddle, which happens a lot around Vancouver. But even if you live in Arizona, I mean, they get flash floods and rains and you might be stuck out there. And all of a sudden your air intake sucks in water that wrecks your engine. 

Now the owner of this vehicle has actually providing us a new air intake which is mounted higher up, which is smart at the very least. But there is an advantage to cold air being sucked into the engine. It is denser and it does provide more power if you really want that. There are ways you could do it, but it's not going to be cheap. You're going to have to do plumbing. You're going to have to have drainage in it. And you know, there are things that need to be done. But I would not advise, you know, save your money.

If you have to do it, put a K&N air filter in the factory air filter box. It might give you a one extra horsepower out of 200, you know, make you feel good about it. Other than that, I just wouldn't waste my money. 

Mark: Let's talk for a second about, you know, what about as a buyer of a used vehicle? Would you ever buy a vehicle, but would you recommend buying a vehicle that's been modified in any way? 

Bernie: Well, to me, it's a little bit of a stroke against it. I wouldn't not suggest not buying one, but to me, it is a little bit of a stroke against the vehicle. I think having everything factory is much better than having modifications. Some of the modified things is probably going to want to get a little more use and run it harder.

So usually, if it's stock and factory, it's going to be used less, not as hard theoretically better maintained. And when you have this cold air intake and you think, well, I don't really want to have this. I don't want to take the risk. You're gonna have to spend a bunch of money to get the factory intake system back into the vehicle.

So I think it's a stroke against the vehicle. I mean, there are other modifications that people do that are sometimes there's no negative to it, but you know, to me, that's always a bit of a red flag. At least a yellow flag. 

Mark: And probably if you notice that, then you probably want to make sure you get a very thorough vehicle inspection, even though that's not going to guarantee that you know, how long this vehicle is going to last. It's still a good idea to make sure it's done right and properly. And that the vehicle's safe after these modifications. 

Bernie: Exactly. And you know, the thing about buying a used vehicle is, there's always a gamble. There's stuff we can see. We can do a really thorough inspection. We can look at things and go, okay, this is what we see, but it doesn't mean that things aren't worn to the point where it's okay today. But in a week or two or a month or a year, some problem is going to show up from the modifications or maintenance. A vehicle inspection now it's like a photograph. It's just a snapshot of what is right now.

Mark: If you're looking for a vehicle and you need an inspection the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. Or you've got some issues with some modifications that maybe you did and you want to reverse, or who knows, you just need a reliable place where they're going to tell you the truth about your vehicle and get it fixed right the first time. Pawlik Automotive. You can check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. You can book on there as well. Or you can book through giving them a call 604-327-7112 in Vancouver, British Columbia. They'll get you looked after. Again, 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver. And we really appreciate you watching. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2006 Mercedes Benz ML350, Alternator Repair

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

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2006 Mercedes Benz SUV ML350. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop needing an alternator replacement. So that's what we did. 

Mark: So how do you test the alternator? 

Bernie: Well, there's a couple of ways you can test, what our sort of main go-to test is, we have a battery alternator starter tester, and like an AVR tester. We hook it up. And the first thing to test, you know, when any charging system issues to make sure the battery is in good shape. So it tests the battery first, then the alternator, test for the voltage output, the current output, and it also tests the diodes and components in the alternator, plus the test starter too. Basically the starter draw and see if there's any kind of unusual pattern of voltage, basically it'll sort of map the voltage patterns of the various components, which is important.

Mark: So, if that voltage pattern isn't correct, what does that mean? Where does that lead you to? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the voltage patterns are really, what it's looking for spikes in the voltage. So we're just talking about the alternator. So I'll just speak about that. So an alternator is basically, as the word alternate, it generates alternating current into a vehicle that uses direct current. So if you know a little bit about electricity, the electrons flow from one circuit to the other in a continuous loop. Whereas alternating current, the electrons flow back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I don't know how that really works, but it works. It's kinda one of those miracles of nature and we seem to have harnessed. 

But anyways, the alternator basically puts out three alternating current signals. And there's a rectifier inside the alternative that converts a direct current to direct current. And you want it to be a nice clean 12 to 14 volt signal. If there's spikes, like say a rectifier dial blows it'll cause jumps and spikes and the current, and we can see that on our tester. So for instance, you might be getting like 12 volts and it'll jump up like 16 volts and back to 12, which is really not a good thing. So the tester picks that kind of stuff up really easily. So those are the kinds of things we test. So we did verify the alternator was bad in this vehicle and the battery was good and the starter was drawing normal power. So the alternator replacement was what we needed to do. 

Mark: So with the blown diode, does the alternator cause other than just it does not charging the battery, I'm assuming, what else would it ruin the battery? Would it hurt the starter?

Bernie: Yeah. So a blown diode won't cause any issues with the starter, but it can cause issues with the battery. But it can wreak havoc with your electrical system. One example that I think about a lot that I kind of learned in earlier days, Subaru's around the late nineties, they'd often have blown diodes in the alternators.

And you could tell not only the alternator would make an unusual sound like a humming sound, sounds almost like a worn bearing, but it's not a bearing, but it makes a humming sound that can often be an indication the diodes blown. But you drive the car and they have a tachometer and the engine would rev up and when the engine was like 2000 RPMs, the tachometer pinned the needle at over 6,000. And it's because you're getting these extra voltage spikes through the system. And somehow the way the electrical system didn't filter that out. So it would cause the tachometer to do weird things. But there are a number of things you'll see in other vehicles like light bulbs that flicker or it can cause all sorts of weird running issues.

So you definitely don't want to drive a car with a blown alternator, even though it might actually charge the battery just fine. It's not as good as it should be, but the output might be adequate to keep your battery fully charged. So this is a good reason. And actually when we do a B service on the vehicle, we always test the charging system. A lot of times you may not even know your alternator has blown diodes, but we can tell and then recommend replacement. 

Mark: So what about a bad battery? Can that cause a problem with the alternator? 

Bernie: It can. Actually a bad battery can definitely cause alternator problems. So an alternator is basically, it's generating electricity and it's pumping it in, we can think of like water being pumped through a hose. It's pumping the electricity, the water back into the battery. Now, if the battery is bad, if it's got high resistance, which happens as batteries get old, the alternator's working harder to force that electricity into the battery. And so the alternator, which is maybe supposed to work, say I'll just take some random numbers, they go 10% of the time while you're running, it's now working like 30%. So it's overcharging, it's overworking. And of course that can shorten the life of the alternator.

So there are many times where, you know, on vehicles we do tests and we find the alternator and battery are both bad and we end up replacing both. So sometimes that happens. So this is another reason that it's important to have a good battery in your vehicle because a bad battery will shorten the life of your alternator.

So how difficult is the alternator replacement on a Mercedes ML350? 

Well, on this vehicle is not too bad, actually. We'll look at some pictures. So there's our vehicle. 06 ML350. In great shape still. 

2006 Mercedes Benz ML350, Alternator Repair

Pictures alternator. So this is a V6 model gasoline engine.

2006 Mercedes Benz ML350, Alternator Repair

The alternator is pretty easy to get it. Here's the alternator right here. So this is kind of a view. I lifted the engine cover off, which partially blocks it, but it's really not too difficult to get out. The belt has to be removed of course, but it's not really wedged in there like a lot of other vehicles could be. It's not really a super bad job. 

Again, here's the front view of the engine. So there's your crankshaft pulley, your serpentine belt. These are a couple of idler and tensioner pulleys, a water pump. Power steering pump should be over on the right. 

2006 Mercedes Benz ML350, Alternator Repair

Another view of the alternator from the passenger side of the engine compartment.

2006 Mercedes Benz ML350, Alternator Repair

So yeah, it's a bit of work to take it in and out. And of course, this is the electrical connector to the alternator. But overall, you know, not really too bad of a job to do on a car like this. There's our picture show. 

Mark: After replacement, everything ran fine? 

Bernie: All worked great. Yeah, we do a retest afterwards. Make sure all the outputs are good and everything's in good order and it was all good. 

Mark: And so how are ML350s for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, this is actually a vehicle we do talk a lot about on our podcasts. I mean, overall they're pretty good. Depends on what kind of engine you have in yours though, of course. The diesels are, we won't talk about the diesels because there's a lot of podcasts where we explain the, yeah, your face says it all. There's a lot of issues with the diesels. The gasoline ones are pretty reliable. V6s probably, you know, this is probably a good option. V8s work well too. Obviously higher fuel consumption, but some of them go pretty good. Especially the newer ones. There's AMG versions of these too. But they are a fancier vehicle. 

There's a lot more stuff to go wrong with than your basic car. But you know, depending on which model you buy, they're generally a pretty reliable vehicle. This one for an 06 is in great shape. And I don't think it's required a lot of work. So pretty good car overall. 

Mark: Maintain it properly, it will last, you give you a really long life basically. 

Bernie: Yeah. And even the diesels will give you a long life, but you'll just spend a lot more money fixing stuff. And it's important to buy the right vehicle for your usage. If you're just driving five kilometres a day just to get groceries, don't buy a diesel. You'll end up spending a lot of money, fixing it, and not saving any money on fuel. 

Mark: If you're looking for honest service for your Mercedes-Benz in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of videos on there. All makes and models of vehicles, all types of repairs. 10 years we've been doing this. As well there's the YouTube channel, same story. Pawlik Auto Repair. You can search on YouTube. Or you can just give them a call. You can actually book on the website or you can call them and actually talk to somebody (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. So they might not answer the phone instantly, but they will call you back and have a conversation. Get ready for when you show up and make sure you get the service you need as soon as possible. Pawlik Auto Repair in Vancouver. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2021 Tesla Model 3, Inspection

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

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So 2021 Tesla is today's victim, a Model 3. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So the owner of this vehicle had driven it, hit a pothole fairly hard. And I guess the vehicle didn't quite feel right. So he took it to the dealer. They did an alignment and inspection, rebalanced the wheels and he still didn't feel it was right. So he brought it to us for a second opinion.

Mark: So a second opinion, what kind of inspections and did you do any repairs? 

Bernie: Yeah. So first inspection of course, is a road test to verify the concern. Our technician looked at it. He didn't feel like there was anything really wrong with the way it drove. We did it on hoist inspection, nothing bent or broken. Everything looked to be in good shape and rebalanced the front wheels just to make sure they were all okay. No issues found there either. No bent wheels or anything. 

So we basically just verified that we thought it was fine. The owners still didn't think it was right, and I drove it myself and I thought, you know, there's nothing really noticeably wrong with it. I think sometimes we get in some kind of jarring situation that feels like something's damaged or wrong, but it seemed like it was working fine. 

Mark: So how big of an issue or potholes when it comes to causing vehicle issues? 

Bernie: Oh, it can cause a lot of problems, especially if you have a vehicle with low profile tires. I had a Mercedes SL55, very low-profile tires. I replaced at least two front tires that either myself or my wife, just hit a pothole a little too hard. And there's like, looked down all of there's a bulge in the tire. So, you know, potholes at the very least they'll damage tires, they'll crack wheels. It's especially bad with a low profile tire. We've had a lot of wheels we've repaired for either being bent or cracked. So that's certainly a factor. Also, steering and suspension parts get bent or broken. So you really do want to avoid potholes. And I've just noticed there's been a lot of them.

We're doing this podcast is mid January. We've had some snow in Vancouver, a couple of weeks of pretty cold weather. A lot of rain and there's a lot of potholes out. So you really gotta be careful around the winter season. There's places I know in Canada, I think Montreal that's like legendary pothole growth over the winter time. So you gotta be careful, really do avoid them. 

Mark: So Tesla's. Pretty newer vehicles, really, even though they've been around since 2012, What kind of repairs and services do you currently offer? And I think you guys are certified in electric vehicle repairs, is that right? 

2021 Tesla Model 3, Inspection

Bernie: We are. Well at this point in time, we don't have a ton of experience with Teslas. I say at this point in time, because every day that changes as we get more and more in. Teslas, I mean, they're kind of an exclusive car, so they haven't really released a lot of repair information. Their parts are very difficult to get. They haven't really built the business model out like a normal auto manufacturer. And a lot of people say that's good and it probably is good in some ways, but I think at some point they're going to realize, Hey, you know what, we can actually make money selling parts on cars. And I think they'll get the idea. 

By the way, we're looking at our Tesla Model 3 that we worked on. So we're looking to offer as much service as we can on them. And now, you know, as they've gotten older, of course, warranties are disappearing in a lot of them. So there'll be a lot more work and service we can do. We'll learn it. We'll do it. We'll do whatever it takes to service these cars.

There's a lot of them around Vancouver area. They're growing and growing and growing in popularity. So we'll definitely be offering services and doing whatever we can on them. We are able to get some steering suspension parts now through some of our suppliers, like Napa, which is great. And there'll be more and more of that as time goes by.

Mark: So you drove it. How did you like the Model 3? 

Bernie: Oh, it's awesome. It's such a zippy car. I mean, you put the pedal down and this thing just moves. It's pretty cool. It's a pretty neat car, but it does take some getting used to them. And the key, it's like a thin as a credit card. Just hold it up near the door pillar, you can open the door, hop in. It's kind of weird getting used to how the car works. It's all electronic compared to everything else. There isn't even like really a start button. It's just kind of a little different, but once you get used to it, you know, it's pretty cool. It's neat. Yeah. Very, very electronic that's for sure. 

Mark: So if you're looking for service for your EV, any maker model in Vancouver, one of the few places that actually services all makes and models of electric vehicles in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. And they're certified in it. They're trained in it. They know what they're doing. You can reach them at their website pawlikautomotive.com. You can book online there, or you can call them (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're busy. And of course this is just in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. So we want to thank you for watching. We really appreciate it. And thank you, Bernie. 

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

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, Rear Brakes

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. And I can say that because they've won best in Vancouver, 24 times as voted by their customers. The best place to get your car fixed in Vancouver, BC, Canada, we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. I have to ask you a question though, before we talk. I just make a comment. I love your background. You're a little colour changing. That's pretty cool. 

Mark: So Subaru Legacy 2016. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle is a regular client of ours came to our shop for a B service and just a refresher on the B service. If you watch our podcast, it's basically an oil and filter change along with a very detailed inspection. Something you should probably do on a yearly basis on any car that's more than a couple of years old. And you know, we look at the brakes, the steering suspension, all the fluids in great detail. It's a thorough inspection. Test the battery, charging system, cooling system. Preventative maintenance is what it's all about and safety. 

Mark: So is an older Subaru at this point in time, eight years old. So anything special about this older model of Subaru? 

Bernie: Well, this is a 3.6R version. So this is the six cylinder version. It's a flat six, kind of like a Porsche, I guess, not quite as sporty, but it's an awesome car. I mean, these are really nice vehicles. Well-built, nice interiors, probably not quite up to a Lexus quality, but you know, it's a pretty nice car. Great performance, good horsepower. 

Mark: So did you find anything that the car needed from doing the B service? 

Bernie: The only thing we found at this point was that the rear brakes needed to be done. They're not fully worn out, but close enough that the pads and rotors were such that they needed to be replaced.

So, let’s look at a few pictures of the car and the brake job, and we can discuss that in some detail. So there's the Legacy. Again, this is not an Outback or an off-road model. This is a sedan, but a very nice one. 

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, Rear Brakes

As mentioned, brakes. These are our old pads and rotors. The pads were down to about four millimetres, which is kind of right at the edge of where you want to start changing them are actually, no, there are actually three. So that's kind of where you want to start changing them and you can wear them right out to metal on metal, never recommend that. It's not a good thing for a number of reasons.  

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, Rear Brakes

The other thing that's a little unique about the brakes in this Subaru, this is a modification that you know, it's kinda modernize these cars, is that the rear brakes used to have a separate parking brake shoes. So inside this area where my mouse is kind of swirling around here, it was actually a brake drum and there would be brake shoes on the backing plate. This is a picture of the brake caliper, I don't have a view of it, but basically it was a parking brake was a separate mechanism. So on this vehicle, they now incorporate the parking brake into the brake caliper. And it's an electric brake caliber. 

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, Rear Brakes

So there's some extra service involved in doing this. You know, first, I mean the good news is the brake shoes are eliminated. They don't always cause a problem, but sometimes it does add an extra service, but to actually do the brakes on these with the electric parking brake involves a couple of things, either removing this actuator where the red arrow is pointing. Removing it and then retracting the caliper piston. 

Or there's a way with a scan tool to actually retract the caliper piston. And it varies, you know, this is not the only vehicle that uses, this is a very common system and a lot of vehicles and so it depends on which make and model we're working on as to how we do that particular thing. But that is an added step that it takes a little extra time.

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, Rear Brakes

 One area I want to talk about that we do with our brake jobs, little extra service that's involved as we clean the caliper bracket, unless we're actually replacing the caliper. We actually sandblast these caliper brackets. So I've taken the time to put all the arrows in these pictures, these are where the brake pads sit and ride. And it's very important that this is clean. Over time rust develops you know, kind of like what you have and the rest of it. And of course the brake pads don't slide very well when it's rusty like that.

So we clean that. We lubricate it. This is the extra touch I think we do at Pawlik Automotive that some shops do, some shops don't. But definitely the extra thing you can expect from us, the brakes will last a long time because of the time we put into it. I think that's the details on the brake job.

Mark: So what about the rotors? Do you just remove those and put new ones in? 

Bernie: Well, we removed them, but you know, the extra step we take with that is to clean the corrosion off the wheel hub. Wheel hubs they develop some corrosion and, you know, while we could just take it off, put a rotor in if it's not too bad, it's best to clean it. So we have high speed wire wheels that we use to get into the hub and move all the corrosion that way it's like putting fresh metal on fresh metal. The risk of not doing so is, if there's any rust there, it can cause the rotor to warp or run not true. And that'll cause the brakes to, it can cause vibrations and issues like that. So, we want to make sure that doesn't happen. So that again is another thing that we do to make sure. 

I mean, and the other thing is if you have something that's really bad, like really severe corrosion and you don't remove the rust, you have a little chunk of rust under there, you bolt everything up together the wheel could actually come loose. Because after a while of moving around, it kind of settles. And the wheel bolts weren't really as tight as they were supposed to be because you're crushing rust particles. So that's an extreme thing, but you know, it's something you want to prevent. 

Mark: So, I guess the other part of the system that I know, I don't really think about or forget about is the brake fluid. What do you do with the brake fluid? Anything? 

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, it's not necessary to do it with every brake job, but we usually every two to three years recommend flushing brake fluid. That's what most manufacturers recommend. And so in the case of this vehicle, we did actually do a brake fluid flush, which it was due.

We basically track that more over time. It's not just, oh, we did the brakes, let’s flush the brake fluid. It's a good time to do it while you do the brakes, if it's due. But if you're a regular client of ours, we track your maintenance and how often we've done things and when things are due. So things don't get over duplicated or over recommended, we can track things and make sure we do it at the right time. 

Mark: Now, typically isn't it, the front brakes that are wearing first? Have those been more often changed in this vehicle and this was just the back catching up because of the mileage?

Bernie: Excellent question. So I don't know when we've done the front brakes. I didn't back look at the history of it, but you know, that used to be the case where front brakes would wear out much more often than rears, but what's happened in vehicles over, I'd say maybe a period of 10 years is brakes got a lot more sophisticated.

And what I think manufacturers have done is they actually, when you put the brakes on a lot of times, they'll actually add a little more brake to the rear. Just for stability of the vehicle. I mean, the rear brakes don't do nearly the amount of work the front brakes do to stop it, but it does create a more stable braking of the vehicle.

And so there are a lot of times where certain cars, and we noticed this with Volvos, maybe 10 or more years ago, the rear brakes would actually wear out faster than the fronts. And that is usually due to this kind of modulation of the brakes where you need to hit the brake pedal. And it'll give a little more rear brake first. It's all kind of, you know, happens all very fast. You wouldn't even feel it, but it makes for more stable braking. So to answer your question, I don't know whether this is, you know, how this compares to the front brakes, but a lot of times you'll find on cars, the rear brakes will actually wear faster than the fronts.

Mark: Interesting. So how are Subaru Legacy's for reliability? 

Bernie: Excellent car, definitely a very good car. You know, these 3.6 engines have been around for a while. They're very reliable. We don't see any problems with them, which is a good thing because it's an extremely expensive engine to fix. They're not very common. Most parts are dealer only, or very difficult to find. So you really don't want stuff to go wrong with any Subaru six cylinder engine, because it's a very expensive engine to fix. But overall, very nice car, very well built. I think, you can get at least 10 good trouble-free years of a car like this and maybe, 15 or more. So good car.

Mark: So if you're looking for service for your Subaru in Vancouver, they service a lot of them four or five a week, it seems like. People to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can check out or book on their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds, literally hundreds of videos, including many, many, many on Subarus over the last 10 years on the website or on the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Or of course, if you want to book by phone, actually talk to somebody (604) 327-7112 in Vancouver. That's the people to call. Pawlik Automotive. Thanks Bernie. 

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

2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. And we can say that because they've been voted 24 times as best auto repair in Vancouver, voted by their customers by the way, and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So todays vehicle is a 2014 Subaru Outback that had low oil. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: This is vehicle came to our shop on a recommendation by a friend who was concerned because the engine was making some noises and checked his oil and found that it was not reading, really it was very low. So that was a concern we were dealing with. 

Mark: So what kind of testing and inspection did you do? 

Bernie: Well, first of all, of course, checking the engine oil level to verify his concern. We did notice that the oil was very low. There was some slight noises in the engine. Did a visual inspection underneath the vehicle, looked around for oil leaks, found none. So there was no external oil leaks. 

It was due for an oil service. So we did change the oil. Found the engine oil was about two litres, low. Looked for a few other possible causes of engine oil consumption, like PCD valve and those kinds of issues, found none there. So basically the engine was low on oil. Changed the oil. The noises stopped, which is good. So I think the owner dodged a bullet there.  

Mark: So if there's no oil leaks or a plugged PCV valve, how did the engine oil get so low? 

Bernie: Well, basically these engines in this particular model, have an issue of burning oil. Some of them do some of them don't .We'll talk a little bit more details on that in a few minutes. But essentially for a car engine, if you're losing oil, you're probably burning it. Burning oils is a normal part of the combustion process. But on many engines you can go 10,000 kilometres or more between oil changes and not use a drop. I mean, a drop will be used, but very little. So you won't notice a difference, but oil consumption is normal. It's just when it becomes excessive, that becomes a problem. 

And I think people, these days are a little lazy. Very few people ever check their oil. You should really do it every one or two tank fulls. I mean, I don't even do it on a lot of my vehicles, but a lot of them have low oil warning lights, but if your vehicle doesn't have one, which a lot don't, it's important to check your oil.

Mark: So running an engine on, with low oil is pretty bad, not, not good. So did this cause any kind of permanent engine damage? 

Bernie: Well, I can't say for sure, but I would guess that it probably has some effect on the engine somehow. Once you start developing some noises in an engine, and we see this from time to time, people run their engine low on oil, we change it or top it up. The noise has stopped. That's a good thing, but there will be some damage somewhere because things that have been allowed to, timing chains run a loose or, you know, things just not lubricated properly. That will have a long-term effect on the engine. So how soon it'll show up, it's hard to know.

I'll have a look at a couple of pictures here. Here's the engine. 2014 Subaru.

2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

Plastic intake manifold, which is kind of common on Subarus. A lot of manufacturers, they find ways to lighten the car. They'll use plastics for certain things, but below it all is still good metal components. 

Not a lot to see here. I mean, it's, it's a boxer engine. Everything's kind of sits down below here, but I do have another closeup image of, just kind of looking down at the area.

2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

This is the oil filler cap, the oil filter's located conveniently right at the top of the engine. So it makes for simple replacement. 

And they put this nice little drip tray, diverting here, but this nice little drip tray here. So when you take the filter off, any excess of oil just stays in this tray here and you can wipe it up without sloshing it all over it down the side of the engine. But down here where my mouse is pointing here, these are the fronts of the cam shafts. So there's variable valve timing. This is a timing chain engine. And an engines with timing chains are even less tolerant to running low on oil than, say a timing belt engine. Cause you've got a lot of moving parts that require good lubrication all the time. Just make sure your oil’s full. That's the key takeaway.

Mark: So is this only a 2013 and 2014 model year issue? 

Bernie: It's mostly 2013, 2014, there's some 2015 and 16, but and actually 2015, there's quite a few, but in 2016, it tapers down and seems to stop at 2017. Now I've got a lot of that information, there's a website called carcomplaints.com, which is a good thing to look at, but they don't sample the entire industry.

I think most of their information comes from people complaining about. So, you know, in these certain model years that there's a much higher level of complaint, but once you get to 2017, nothing about engine oil consumption whatsoever. So I'm assuming that Subaru has got that figured out or else we're going to see a round of complaints coming up. Yeah, those are the critical years, 13 to 15. 

Mark: So could this repair still be covered by a manufacturers warranty? 

Bernie: It might be. You'd have to check with the dealer on that. And they may even offer an extension on some of these. I don't really know the details on that, but what I was just going to go through next is a TSB, which is a technical service bulletin put out by Subaru to address this exact condition.

This is just an example. I mean, this is many pages on this bulletin. A lot of details really for the repair industry, for the service advisor and the technicians to repair the vehicle properly. And these are things we look at in our business as well.

But subject of this TSB surface treatment change to oil control piston rings. So that's obviously where the issue is, with the oil control rings. But the original repair used to be, and this bulletin states it, to replace the piston rings, but they since changed that to replace in the short block of the engine.

So it's not a complete engine replacement, but it's a major job and not something you'd really want to pay for out of pocket. So if you are using some oil, you'll probably find it cheaper just to add oil, then actually take this on. But if your vehicle's still covered by warranty, it would be very worth doing.

There's a TSB number here. We'll put it in the the notes for the podcast and this. The one other image I want to share with you, they show some engine details and actually how to replace a number of the items. And this is just an inside view of the timing chain. There's basically two timing chains being a boxer engine. I just wanted to show this as there's a lot of moving parts inside this engine. So again, keep your oil full, keep it clean. These are the kind of critical things that people sometimes forget. And it's very important.

Mark: Would a third party warranty have covered this? 

Bernie: No, a third-party warranty will not. And it's always nice having a third-party warranty cause they'll fix things. But the one thing they do not cover is oil consumption issues. So you know, even if you're burning oil at a rate of, you know, a litre, every 500 kilometres, they won't cover it. So that's one thing to be aware of when you have a third-party warranty. 

Mark: So how would I check this? If I was interested in buying a used Subaru, how would I check. Is there any way to inspect for excessive oil consumption? 

Bernie: The only way you could is if you can make a deal with the owner of the vehicle, say, Hey, you know what we're going to fill the oil up. I want to check it 1200 kilometres, which was what this TSB says and see if the oil's low. The odds of that ever happening, I'd say it would be zero, but really there is no way to check it other than given time and driving it. I mean, if an engine is blowing blue smoke, of course that's an obvious indicator, but yeah, avoid. And the issue with this oil consumption is it doesn't get to the place of blue smoke at all. It gets burnt, but you don't ever see it. 

So unfortunately there really isn't a way, and that's why I'm kind of reluctant recommending these cars to people. They're fantastic cars, but this issue is just something you might not know. But if you get good maintenance records, you might actually find from the owner that, Hey, you know, this thing actually had an oil burning problem. I had the block replace and that would make the car definitely more valuable buy. 

Mark: Besides this issue, how're this kind of 2014, but also the whole range from like I saw 2012 was in there up to like 2016. How are they for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, they're really good cars. I think they're fantastic. You know, and they're less maintenance than the older models that had the timing belts. Cause you don't have to do that. And the head gaskets don't fail, like the timing belt model engine. So theoretically, assuming you don't get one that's burning oil, each it should actually last a lot longer and be a better car. So I think they're really good. I highly recommend them. 

Mark: So there you go. Things to be aware of if you're going to look at buying a used Subaru, but also if you have a Subaru and you want expert advice on how to get it repaired, how to make sure it lives as long as it can, is reliable. The guys to see in Vancouver, British Columbia are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, or you can book your service at pawlikautomotive.com. They'll call you. They'll check everything out with you. They'll be ready for you when you show up. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Of course, if you want to just research stuff, you can see all the videos we've done, close to a thousand on pawlikautomotive.com. All makes and models and types of repairs. Or on our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. We really, really, truly appreciate you watching and listening. And thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2016 Volvo XC90, Coolant Pipe

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

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2016 Volvo XC90 that had a coolant pipe problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the owner came to our shop. He'd sprung a coolant leak. The engine was running a little hot and that's why the car came in. 

Mark: So how do you go about diagnosing that kind of a leak? 

Bernie: Well, first start, of course, is a visual inspection. Look under the hood, under the vehicle to see what we can see. It was evident that we could see some coolant dripping, sort of between the engine and transmission area. And from there we do a cooling system pressure test where it was pretty evident there was some coolant spraying out of a pipe that's sort of located under the intake manifold. I guess I'd call it a coolant bypass pipe, anyways there was a leak from there. So that's what was wrong with the vehicle. 

Mark: So what's involved with this repair? 

Bernie: Well let's just get into some pictures and we'll talk about what's involved in the repair. So there is our 2016 XC90.

2016 Volvo XC90, Coolant Pipe

This is the second generation car. We'll talk about this in a minute just go a couple more pictures.  

So here's the engine. It's a two litre engine.

2016 Volvo XC90, Coolant Pipe

The coolant pipe that we replaced is located, if you just follow this mouse pointer kind of underneath this area here. So what was involved is actually removing the intake manifold and the air intake box and so on, to access the pipe. And from there, once everything is removed, it's a pretty simple job, but of course it's the matter of getting everything out of the way to access the pipe. So that's basically it was involved. I mean, it's just few hours labor to take it apart and put it back together. 

There's our leaky pipe.

2016 Volvo XC90, Coolant Pipe

These are a quick connect type of pipe, which is common in most modern vehicle manufacturing. Plastic end with a sort of plastic shrunk over piece. And you can see from this picture here where the arrow points as a split in the plastic of the pipe, that's basically it.

Mark: So which engine is in this vehicle? 

Bernie: It's a two litre engine and interestingly enough, in this generation, so this is the second generation of XC90s, the original...

Mark: A four cylinder? 

Bernie: Yeah, it's only, it only has a four cylinder. That's the only engine it comes with is a a variety of different four cylinders, depending, I guess, on where you buy it in the world. There's a hybrid version. There are diesel versions and there are gasoline, some with twin turbo, someone single turbos, but they all use a two litre engine. So they've kind of changed the platform around, you know, the previous generation, there was a V8 model. There was a 3.2 litre, which was actually common for quite a while, then a few different six cylinder versions of the same thing. So they've shrunk the power plant down with this redesigned model, which started in 2015. 

Mark: So is this a common issue with this pipe on XC90s? 

Bernie: Well, this is the first one we've seen at our shop and I don't expect it's going to be the last one because I mean, this isn't, you know, an abused vehicle. It's not that old. And so I think that's probably, I would say defective design or when they built it, it didn't quite stand up to what they expected it to do. So I imagine this isn't going to be the last time we see one of these coming into our shop. And who knows what else we're going to see? But that's certainly one thing that'll, it'll be back. Things get predictable with cars? You know, certain items fail with frequency. 

Mark: Yeah. The engineers didn't quite think this through putting that, can I make that assumption? They didn't quite, it's not the best design in terms of putting that bypass pipe underneath everything else and then making it out of, instead of making it a metal, say they made it up the rubber. 

Bernie: Yeah. Well now this one is actually plastic. So, you know, and I mean, there's a lot of really good plastics, but there are a lot of plastics that just don't quite stand up to the test of time. And I've often said jokingly around our shop, you know, thank God for European plastics. Although they all use them, but you know, it seems like we do a lot of repairs on European vehicles with plastic, because it just tends to fail sooner than it would if it was metal. 

Mark: And it's used a lot more in vehicles than it ever has been, like when I thousand years ago, when I worked on cars a lot, everything was hard cast iron now it's plastic. 

Bernie: Oh yeah. It's amazing how engines have gone from yeah, like you said, like hard cast iron. If you look back to the sixties where there was hardly any aluminum used except maybe for the pistons and it's gone further and further. I mean, there's more and more plastic everywhere. I mean it makes sense. It's easy to manufacture. It's lightweight. There's good reasons for it. And you know, it's not as durable in many circumstances as metal is for sure. 

Mark: So Volvo is kind of famous for having supposedly having the safest cars on the road, what do you think? Are they still that? 

Bernie: No, I don't really know. I mean, I had to do a little thinking about that question and I mean, certainly a lot of other manufacturers have put safety as a very high priority, but I didn't do a little research into this vehicle and there's a lot of safety features on this particular model. The cab has got rollover protection, high strength steel in the roof. And I think a lot of the safety features of Volvos now, I mean, they were the ones who invented the three point seatbelt way back. I don't know even how long ago that was probably in the sixties or fifties or something.

But a lot of these safety features now are more electronic. They're collision avoidance features. And you know, they've put a lot of that into these vehicles and some of them are options, but are they safer than a Tesla, a Mercedes even some General Motors products? I can't really say for sure, but they still put a priority on safety. So they don't own safety like they used to at one time, but they're still pretty good. It's still very much considered when they build a Volvo. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Volvo in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can check out their website and book on there at pawlikautomotive.com. Or call them. Have a conversation they'll get ready for your appointment. (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy, always busy, pawlikautomotive.com. Check them out. Thanks Bernie. 

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

2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement

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

Bernie: I'm doing well today. 

Mark: So today's victim is a little bit older, 2010 Smart car that had a valve cover issue. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: And so this vehicle came to our shop for a general look over. It had a few concerns of which we repaired and there was a leaking valve cover gasket, but it wasn't too severe when we looked at it. And based on the cost of the other items that were needed to be repaired, the owner, you know, we sort of made an agreement, hey, let's not fix the valve cover right now we can leave that until a later time. So we did all the other work, left the valve cover gasket alone and went out for a road test and the vehicle wasn't running too well. 

Mark: So what happened on your road test? 

Bernie: Yeah, also the engine started misfiring and when we came back to the shop, reinspected it, found that there was oil in the spark plug tubes which are not exactly part of the valve cover gasket but it does involve removing the valve cover gasket. Now we weren't aware of that before because the vehicle ran fine when it came into the shop. And the valve cover gasket we only saw the external leak. We didn't pull a spark plugs out as part of our inspection because we would have found that. That's sort of the extra amount of work that, you know, we only do when necessary. So that now necessitated us doing the valve cover replacement. 

Mark: So the spark plug tubes were filling up with oil because of the leak from the gasket. 

Bernie: Exactly. I'm going to start showing some pictures, but the actual valve cover gasket leak that we saw was due to the external gasket on the outside, but there's also seals on the inside that seal a spark plug tubes from oil getting in. So they're not actually valve cover gasket, but they're part of the whole ceiling system. So here's our cute little 2010 Smart car. It's actually a convertible model too, which is kinda neat.

2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement

 All right. Other pictures. Valve cover. There's the new valve cover. This is where the spark plugs tubes sit. The ignition coils fit down in here and there's a seal that goes in there. Then this prevents oil from getting down the spark plug tubes. So that needed to be replaced as well. 

2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement
2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement

Now you can see the gasket here. We're going to talk a little bit about this. This gasket is molded right onto the valve cover, and we have to replace the whole cover to do this job properly. And I reason I know that is because there's actually companies that sell the valve cover gasket. And so the first time we ever ran into this a few years ago, we just changed the gasket and it started leaking and we got another gasket and it started leaking.

And then we decided to realize, oh, this is a molded type of factory sealer that they put on here. So we decided to do it with silicone and we tried that and it didn't work. And finally ended up after three times having to bite the bullet, buy the valve cover, which is a lot of money and seal it. So why companies sell a gasket when it doesn't really work, I don't know. But we can talk about today a little more. So this is that factory molded gasket. This is hard rubber. It's interesting. This isn't actually quite perfectly formed, but when it all bolts down and it's torqued top, it actually works really well. And it's kind of a, you know, one time use unfortunately. 

2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement

These are our ignition coils and you can see all this oil here on the ignition coils, especially this one here is, well as bad as the other ones. Then what happens is, as the oil starts filling up, it shorts out the spark plug and it won't fire. Now you can see three coils. This is a three cylinder engine. You can imagine if you take one ignition coil out of the picture, you've got only an engine running on two thirds of your spark plugs. Whereas if you have a V8 engine and one quits, you have seven eights of an engine, but this one, you only have two thirds. It's not a lot. And if two were to quit, while you basically have a one third, it doesn't even work. So it's really critical that there's no malfunctions on this type of thing. 

2010 Smart Car, Valve Cover Replacement

This is a picture looking down to the engine compartment. This is the new valve cover put in. The coils, this is sort of the lip of the engine bay. This engine is in the back of the vehicle. A little bit hard to get at the stuff. These wires here that I'm pointing out with the most pointer are for the ignition coil wires. The coils fit in here. And the fuel injectors are sitting here. There's wiring that needs to be connected up there as well. So those are pictures show.

Mark: Okay. So did you have to replace the ignition coils? 

Bernie: No, we didn't replace the coils. They were fine. We cleaned them up with brake clean, which removes all the oil and they were in good shape. So if you were to have left them for a very long time, it might wreck the rubber boots that go over the spark plugs. But in this case it was fine and they all worked fine. So they should work for quite some time. 

Mark: So other than evilness, why would someone make and sell a valve cover gasket when it doesn't work? 

Bernie: I really don't know. It's really dumb and kind of annoying in fact. Maybe on some occasions it works, but we've tried it a couple of times, as I said. We had one that we went through and it ended up costing us a lot of extra time and grief to try to fix it. Sometimes when you fix cars, you learn that certain things have to be done a certain way. And the more expensive route first off is the best way to go. It's just a little bit harder to sell when you're faced with a bill of a thousand dollars plus for a valve cover job and you go, wow, it's a little dinky car. You know, it's a lot of money when you could get a gasket. But you got to fix it the way that works. So, yeah. I'm a little annoyed that this manufacturer actually sells it in the first place.They really shouldn't. 

Mark: These are very unique automobiles, not a lot of them around. Three cylinder engine, which is kind of very strange in itself. How are Smart cars for reliability? 

Bernie: They're not bad, but they do have a lot of things that do go wrong with them over time. And they are expensive to fix because it's a Mercedes. They're kind of exclusive and they've never sold a lot in North America. I mean, for awhile, they were only selling them in Canada and not the US and I'm not really even sure what sort of volumes they sold in the US. But the original diesel models from the sort of two thousands decade, those were only sold in Canada. So parts are hard to get. They're kind of an expensive vehicle to fix once they get older.

So they're fairly reliable, but I think they reach a point where they're just not economically worth fixing anymore after a certain amount of time. This one still has pretty low mileage. It's a nice car because it's a convertible and still get some good life.

Mark: So if you're looking for service for your Smart car or Mercedes-Benz in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can check out the website and book on there, pawlikautomotive.com. They'll call you. They'll check out everything what's going on. There'll be ready for your appointment. Or you can phone them (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead or book online prior to your appointment. They're always busy. They will look after you. Best auto service in Vancouver, pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie. 

Thanks Mark. And thanks for watching.

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