Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2007 Mazda MX5 Miata A/C Condenser Replacement

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

Bernie: Doing really well. It's a beautiful day in Vancouver.

Mark: This week's victim is a 2007 Mazda Miata. Had an air conditioning problem. What was going on with this little sports car?

Bernie: So, basically an air conditioning problem. The AC system wouldn't blow cold air, just warm, which of course needed to be repaired.

Mark: And what tests and diagnosis did you have to perform to find out what the problem was?

Bernie: So, with air conditioning, when air conditioning's not working, there's a number of reasons it could not be working. So, we have some set test procedures we do in our shop to properly diagnose and repair the right issue. And that procedure often starts just with a basic test of the controls. And then from there, we test to see if there's actually a refrigerant in the system. The largest problem with air conditioning is generally a refrigerant leak. So, that's the next procedure we go to.

And by the way, the other thing we do is part of testing with this refrigerant to actually identify the refrigerant firsthand. There's ... Almost all cars have a refrigerant called R134A. But along the line, people can either put contaminated refrigerant in if it's been previously serviced, or people put in some ... You can go to auto parts places and buy these fill kits, and so that can contaminate your refrigerant and mucks up our equipment.

So, we test the refrigerant first. Make sure it's proper 134A, of course. Well, we tested this vehicle. We found there was no refrigerant in the vehicle whatsoever. So, we knew that was the start of where we needed to deal with.

So, from there we have a few methods of finding where it's leaking. Often, vehicles will have a UV dye installed at the factory. If it's not installed, we'll have to install it at some point in the process. But in this case, we actually used nitrogen gas. It's an inert gas. You can put ... You can crank up the pressure to three or 400 PSI, which is the maximum pressure of the system. And that's often a good way to find leaks. Thing with air conditioning that's frustrating is we can't always find every leak. Some of them can be hidden, they can be very minute, but we were fortunate in the case of this vehicle, we could actually hear a little hissing sound, and we traced it to a leak in the AC condenser. That's the unit that's located in front of the radiator. And there was definitely ... We could definitely hear hissing coming out of there. So, we were onto it. It was perfect.

Mark: So, what does the AC condenser do?

Bernie: Well, the AC ... Why don't I actually, before we talk about ... Let's just share a couple of photos here.

So, there's our Mazda Miata. And the condenser. There's our view of the condenser. So, what the condenser does is essentially without getting too scientific, it basically takes the heat that was inside of your vehicle cabin and through a process of changing the pressure and the state of the refrigerant. The refrigerant goes from ... It changes state four different times. I'll talk about that in a second. But changing the state of the refrigerant and the pressure, it'll actually disperse the heat that was inside the cabin of your vehicle out into the atmosphere, which is what the condenser does.

So, this sits in front of the radiator of the vehicle, and it'll basically radiate the heat out into the atmosphere. So, same way a refrigerator works. It's exactly the same system. There's four state changes in the refrigeration. There's high pressured gas, high pressure liquid. Low pressured gas, low pressure liquid. It's kind of a neat system, but anyways. It works very well. So, this is a condenser. You can see a sort of little stained area here. It's a little discoloured where I've got the arrow. That's where the leak was coming from. There is also oil in the system. There's ... The compressor, of course, it's a pump. It has pistons or moving parts and requires lubrication.

So, there's oil in the system, and that's a usually a sure fire way to find a leak. However, this condensers buried between the radiator. It's often not visible. So, air conditioning repairs can be definitely some of the trickier work we do in our shop, or any shop for that matter. So, if your air conditioning systems not working, you can expect that it could be easy or it could be very complicated. And sometimes it can be frustrating because it takes a long time to find a leak.

See, just based on personal experience, I have a 2001 Suburban, and the refrigerant leaks in that vehicle after a few months. I've looked high and low. This has a rare air conditioning system to find the leak with all the best equipment I have, and I still haven't found it yet. But of course I haven't start stripping. Sometimes you have to rip things apart to find it, which is very time consuming and costly. So, there's another view of our leak here as well.

Mark: What's the blue arrow showing?

Bernie: The blue arrow shows the receiver dryer, and I know I posed a question for you to ask me, so I'm going to jump ahead on it. And that was was there anything else that needed to be replaced at this time? So, the answer's whenever you do a major repair on air conditioning, it's usually recommended to replace the receiver dryer or cumulator, which is a similar component, but slightly different. This unit actually acts as a filter in the system. It also has a desiccant, which absorbs moisture. Any moisture inside the refrigerant system can be damaging. So, removing that is important.

So, once you develop a leak like this, of course atmospheric ... The air can get in, moisture from the air, it can get into the desiccant and ruin it. So, replacing the receiver dryer is a good thing to do. Often, that's a separate component, but on this Miata, it's actually incorporated with the condenser. And that's something we see on some models of cars. It's ... So, a bonus. The component was wrong in this vehicle, required the receiver dryer to be ... It all actually packaged in nicely for the consumer.

Mark: So, I'm sure this is a question you get a lot. Couldn't you just re-fill the AC system and put something in it to plug the holes?

Bernie: Well, this is a good ... This is a really good example, because we get people calling all the time. My air conditioning's not working. Can you recharge it for me? And the answer we always say to people is, no we have to do a diagnosis first. And people get frustrated because people are not informed properly how an air conditioning system works. It should never leak refrigerant. There is always a problem. If your refrigerant level is low, there's a leak somewhere. Now, there's probably a normal amount that your car will go through, and sometimes if it takes three years or fur years, the refrigerant levels dropped a bit, it's okay to recharge the vehicle. But until we've actually seen the vehicle and assessed it, we can't tell what you're going to need.

Now, you can imagine, we've just shown the example of a hole in the system. How long's the refrigerant going to last if we put it in? I mean, this person wouldn't get a days use out of it, especially when we put the nitrogen pressure and it's hissing. There's a clear leak there. So, the answer's most of the time you can not refill a system. You always need to figure out what's wrong with it. And it's not ... I'm still trying to figure out whether it's illegal to actually refill a system in British Columbia. It's probably not, but it's close to ... It's unethical at the very least.

Mark: And why's that? AC ...

Bernie: Well, a refrigerant ... The refrigerant is a ... It has very high global warming potential. R12, which used to be Freon, the very common refrigerant. It was responsible for putting a hole in the ozone layer. And fortunately, we ... I say 'we' as a species, discovered that, and actually took action and changed it. And that layer is fixing itself, which is fantastic. So, Freon, it was illegal to vent that into the atmosphere. It has to be captured and destroyed. So, R134 was developed as a substituent for that. R134 does not damage the ozone layer, but it does contribute to the greenhouse effect. It's much worse than say the pollution that comes out of ... The exhaust that comes out of your car. Very high amount.

They've actually come out with a new refrigerant now called R1234Y. I should know this. For some reason, I'm having a little ... Haven't got the number right. But anyways, there's a refrigerant. It's been out used on cars, newer cars. It's also ... It's very expensive, but it has no ... It doesn't damage the ... It doesn't contribute to global warming. So, it's a better refrigerant. But I've heard through the grapevine that they might be changing that to something else too. So, I don't know. Every once in a while they change it. But R134A is the common one. It's still widely in use.

Mark: And how are Mazda Miata's for reliability?

Bernie: Oh, they're awesome. They're awesome cars. I've often thought of a Miata as a reliable English sports car, because they're kind of like a classic English sports car convertible with ... But just with that Japanese reliability. They're fantastic cars. We even service some that are really ... They're 20 years plus old, and they're still working well.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik ... Or your air conditioning system. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 6043277112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website. pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there about all makes and models of cars, repairs, maintenance, and of course, we really appreciate you listening to the podcast. And thanks, Bernie.

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

2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG – A Service

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series, and of course 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 and 38 years of repairing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. Of course, we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today, a 2009 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG, A service. What was happening with this super high performance vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so the car just came in for us a basic service. An A service is the, I like to call it, the lower level of services. It's the simplest service that the car needs. That's why the car came in. No complaints, just basic maintenance.

Mark: What's involved in an A service?

Bernie: The A service, I mean the heart of the A service is an oil and filter change. What else is involved is inspecting all the fluid levels. We also put the vehicle up on a hoist, make sure nothing's loose suspension or steering wise. It's not a full steering or suspension inspection, but it's a basic inspection, adjusting tire pressures. Of course, these cars have tire pressure monitors, so they'll tell you long before you come in for service if your tires are low on air, but nonetheless we look, set the tire pressure to spec, look at the air filter and an under hood inspection. And light, the lights of course we look at, but again, these cars will tell you if your lights are are out. There's a lot of self-servicing these cars do, but it's all looking at the things that the car doesn't look at that we take care of too.

Mark: Anything extra required because this is an AMG?

Bernie: No. Really, it's not. The services basic. I mean the thing about the AMG is it's the performance package that comes along with it, but there's nothing extra that needs to be done. I would say, like an SL series that has active body control, those have hydraulic suspension, but actually even the non-AMG version has it, but those often will sometimes require fluid replacement in the suspension system. But this car doesn't have that, so it's a nothing that's required.

We'll just go into a picture here of the vehicle. You've got the car?

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: Beautiful. Awesome. Yeah, so there's our 2009 C63. Nice looking car. Fast as can be. What I like best about AMGs, not only do they drive nice, but the engines. It's a good looking engine. With so many cars, and this includes some Mercedes. A lot of Mercedes, you pop the hood, you just have this plastic cover that goes on top of the engine, you don't really get to appreciate the beauty of the engine like you did and I think that's some of the appeal of older cars. When you look under the hood, you go, "Wow, look at that engine. It looks neat."

With an AMG, you often get that a lot. Though I will say I'm an SL65 is a little disappointing. It's a V12 twin turbo and it has a big huge plastic cover over the top, so they didn't do such a nice job on that engine. But a lot of these AMGs, this one in particular looks really nice.

Mark: This is a V8?

Bernie: This is a V8. It's a 6.2 liter V8. They call it a C63. I guess it's pushing 6.3 liter, but it's actually classified as a 6.2. The other thing that's neat about AMGs is they all have this tag on the engine here, on these V8 engines, it actually says who built the engine and if you look on YouTube, you can actually find some neat videos in the AMG factory of them putting these engines together. It's a neat process to watch. I mean I've rebuilt, I've built a lot of engines in my time, but it's neat when the, you know, in this AMG factory, it's like a laboratory, so super clean.

Of course you want it to be clean, but I mean this is like extra, extra laboratory like, and because it's a large manufacturing facility, all the pistons come all labeled for the cylinders, and they all arrive on a cart, and it's kind of a neat step between someone building an engine in their small shop or a massive factory just manufacturing the engine.

It'd be kind of a cool job. It probably gets tedious after a while, but it's kind of neat thinking, "Hey, you built this engine yourself." Yeah. So so there we go.

And as I say, it looks beautiful. It looks beautiful afterwards. I guess if it doesn't work or blows up, you could always phone the factory and go, "Hey, Adolf. My engine blew up. He didn't do a good job." Or 10 years later you go, "Hey, that was a good job you did." Anyway, I digress. All right.

Mark: Did you find anything else that needed to be done on this vehicle?

Bernie: No, not in this particular service, actually, it was just the basic service, so it was good to go. Of course, the next level of services is the B service, which includes everything in the A plus brake inspection and looking at things in further detail.

The thing about the brakes on a Mercedes, of course they are monitored with a pad wear sensors which are accurate most of the time, so if the brakes were to wear out in between, a warning light will come on telling you you need to do something with your brakes. But we usually, the full brake inspection, steering suspension inspection is something we do at the V service. But yeah, there was nothing else required at this time.

Mark: And so we know you, obviously waxing quixotically about AMG engine building. You like AMGs. I know you have one of these, not necessarily this model because. Do they cost more to service than regular Mercedes Benz products?

Bernie: Well, the potential is there for a lot more expensive repairs, but for the most part the thing that's nice about an AMG is that it's still a factory, it's still a production level car. It's nothing. It's not really in the realm of exotic unless you get into an SLS or some car like that. I mean, they have bigger brakes, the brakes costs more, and some of them can be substantially more expensive in some models, but for the most part, they're not a lot more. I mean, the oil service on this car cost no more than it does on a lesser, you know, a C300. I mean, maybe 10 or $20 more, but there's not a lot more. I mean, you're certainly going to be paying a lot more money for gas in this car because of the large engine and that extra horsepower. But the potential is there to spend more money but for the most part, it's not a lot. It's not a lot worse than the base model.

I think that's the nice thing about AMG. For a lot of cars, it gives you that sort of almost supercar performance without the supercar hassle. You know, things like Ferrari's where things are, you know, it'll, or Aston Martins, where of course they're more exotic, but they're just so much more, I mean, so much more expensive to fix by magnitudes of like 10. It's kind of crazy and harder to get parts for it, so these are easier to deal with.

I think it's a good option, I mean, any of these. And of course BMW has their M series, and Audi has their performance line as well, but this is a nice car for sure if you want a nice four door that goes really fast.

Mark: So there you go. You need service for your Mercedes Benz in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. On the blog, there's literally hundreds of articles and videos. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos over the years of all makes and models and types of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.

2004 Mazda 3 Windshield Wiper Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. Of course, 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 in 38 years of servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mazda 3. I actually had one of these. This has a wiper problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So, the wiper problem, basically when the owner turned the wiper switch on they wouldn't work, which is absolutely a problem.

Mark: What test did you do to diagnose this issue?

Bernie: So, with any wiper issue, of course, everything's electric. Actually, that makes me think way back a long, long time ago there actually used to be vacuum operated wipers. They used to use engine vacuum, which was really not a good way to do it but they did. It's kind of like free energy. But, anyways. Wipers, the whole system is electric with a few mechanical parts. Obviously, you can see, the wiper arms and blades. But, when you turn the wipers on nothing would make any noise, there was no movement. So, we test the electrical circuits, test the switches, the motor. Everything checked out good, which left only one thing and that was the wiper relay as being the fault in the issue. Kind of process of elimination. So, yeah.

Mark: So, with that being just the relay, I've replaced relays in my pickup trucks a long time ago. But, so that was a pretty simple fix. Was this a simple fix?

Bernie: Well, of course it wasn't a simple fix other wise we probably wouldn't be talking about it today. No, Mazda in their wisdom decided to actually incorporate the relay into the passenger side fuse box unit. It's a very complicated... It's not just a fuse box, but it's actually a complicated unit full of relays for a variety of different items. The relay is not just a pull out unit, which it could be. It's actually incorporated right into the circuitry of the relay. So, that actually involves... That actually makes the repair much more complicated. You actually have to replace the whole relay unit. So let's just have a look at some pictures.

All right. So, there's our '04 Mazda 3. Here's a wiring diagram, just kind of gives you an idea just of what we work with when we do a diagnostic on something like this. This, you know, it's hard to see it because I know the screen's small. But, this is the switch. So there's basically five wires going in and out of the switch. The motor is over on this end of the circuit here. So there's a ground, which is one side of the circuit. Then the other power items are here. Everything else comes out of this fuse box. So there's power in the fuse box, there are... If you can read it this says front wiper low relay, and the front wiper high relay. So there's two relays, they get the information... You get the signal from the switch, and there's also, if you note, there's a little micro computer here as well. So there's quite a lot that goes into this.

So, this is what we're faced with when we do a diagnostic on a vehicle. Especially on the electrical circuit. It's a matter of verifying all those items. So, our fuse box is... There's a view of the fuse box removed from the vehicle. The fuses, we actually took the fuses out before we dispose of the unit. It's always handy to have some spare fuses to use for test purposes. But the fuses sit in here. There's a number of... These are where relays normally sit. But, there were actually no relays in this fuse box. There's the option to put them in, but I guess various cars they use for... Depending on options. But, once... Anyways, there was and actual external replaceable relays. Everything is located inside the fuse box. So, we'll look at a couple other views here.

Here we have one of the circuit... This is one of the circuit boards here. One view of the circuit board. So, we took the relay box apart. So this gives you an idea of the complexity that's inside. I mean, there's a micro processor here. Actually, several of them. These are the back side... There's a couple of relays here. Some capacitors.

Again, I'm just showing you... There's a lot of electrical pieces. This is the other side of the circuit board. Again, several relay's here. Undoubtedly a couple of this are for the wiper. But you can see, again, the complexity. It's not like we can just pull something out, or solder something in. It's a much more complex... Oh, yeah. I was going to say about soldering in, of course. Then there's one other view here. I just got to find my picture. Maybe the picture never made it on the list. Okay, we don't have it here. But that's okay. You get the gist of it. This is actually two circuit boards soldered together. I wanted to show a view of that, and you can see when you look on this one here. You can actually see all these soldered joints here are actually connections all the way around to another circuit board on the other side. So, they put a lot into this box,

Mark: So, what part options were available then?

Bernie: Well, there's new or used. There's plenty of these cars around. A used part was pretty attractively priced, and the car is pretty old. A new one is quite expensive. I believe it was somewhere around the $900-1,000 range, Canadian. The owner opted to go with the used part, which was substantially less expensive.

Mark: How often do you recommend used parts?

Bernie: Well, we look into it for certain things. Again, when you look at a price differential with something like this, between used and new, it's often an attractive idea. Things like brake parts, for instance, you never get those used. Because they're just a wear out item and there's no cost savings. But, certain items it's worth looking at. We do a lot of used engines. The thing with used parts is the warranty is much lower. So there's more risk to the consumer, the customer, our client, if the repair doesn't go well given time that it's going to cost more money to do again. But, we do recommend them a fair amount. At least give the option and someone can choose. There are times where we would never recommend a used part based on we know that something is such a common failure item that it's not worth spending the money on a used part because the risk is too high.

Mark: So, once you replaced this old fuse box, and the relay was working properly... Did this vehicle have the rain sensing wipers? I know mine did.

Bernie: No, this one doesn't have that. Yeah.

Mark: So that might have been one of those other relays.

Bernie: Yeah. The rain censure usually, I mean... Well, that micro computer that we saw in the wiring diagram, which is in that... Of course, you saw in the pictures as well. I mean, it's not hard to just send a... This is the great thing about modular computers is it's easy to just add for the manufacturer. Like, let's just add this sensor, reprogram something and away it goes. It just works with the rain sensor. But, I think the rain sensor is something that comes on newer models. It's a nice feature.

Mark: So, and everything worked, obviously, after you got this together?

Bernie: Yeah, it worked fantastic. Yep. The next thing I was going to say about electrical parts like this used is we can plug them in and right away we know that they work. Now, actually I know a couple podcasts ago we talked about a Mercedes air bag module where you couldn't use a used part because it had to be programmed for the car, and it's... So, it really varies from car to car. Some of them are harder. That's why this auto repair business, it's kind of a custom business. You need to know what works in what car, and what doesn't on the other. What repair works for a Mazda doesn't necessarily work for a Mercedes. Not because a Mercedes is so much better, it's just the way it's made, so.

Mark: So that's from a Mercedes owner as well.

Bernie: Yeah.

Mark: Mazda 3 is getting on in years. These cars are... They've been around for awhile. They've gone through many iterations. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: They're really good. You know, I've been servicing for them years, and years, and years. Through all the different generations. They keep getting better, and better. But, there are good used, I mean it's a good used car to buy. Even these older ones are still good. As time has gone by for certain problems that didn't exist come out... What do I want to say?

They come out of the woodwork so to speak. Like, the 2.3 litre engine seemed so reliable for many years. Then all of a sudden they all started failing. So, if you wanted a better buy a 2 litre engine is... In these older models a 2 litre engine's safer, they don't seem to fail. But, I mean, any old car, and this is 15 years old now, so it's a little long in the tooth so to speak. But, I mean, a really good reliable car. I would highly recommend them.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, 320 plus videos on there about all makes and models, on repairs of all sorts of vehicles. Cars and trucks. Thank you, so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate, and thank you Bernie.

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

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.

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