Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2013 Land Rover LR2 PCM Reflash

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. We're here with Mr Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: As we do this next version of our podcast, we're talking about a 2013 Land Rover LR2 that had a bizarre kind of a thing, a PCM reflash. What is a PCM reflash?

Bernie: A PCM reflash, well, I'll break the words down. A PCM is the powertrain, short for the powertrain control module, and that module you'll find that on any vehicle. The powertrain control module controls the engine and transmission. Once upon a time when computers were in their earlier generation, there would be an ECM which is an engine control module, and then they'd have a TCM, a transmission control module. They finally integrated it all into one because it kind of worked nicely as a package. The powertrain control module takes care of all that.

Plus, it gets inputs and signals from the body control module and processes it all to keep the engine and transmission running in an optimum way. A reflash is basically a reprogramming of the vehicle computer. These computers have a flashable memory, and they can be reprogrammed. At one time, again, we're going back over 20 years now, vehicle computers had the memory basically programmed in when you bought the computer, were just set for the vehicle.

The manufacturers, as computer technology got more complex in cars and the engine management systems got more complex, they realized they needed to be reprogrammed from time to time. It was a helpful thing. I'll just take General Motors, for example, they have one computer that fits in, say, I don't know, 2000 General Motors vehicle. They have one computer that'll fit in almost every model of vehicle. The difference is the way the programs reflash or the way it's flashed.

It'll be for a Cavalier with a four-cylinder engine it'll have a flash programming, for a Suburban with a V8 at a certain size it'll have a certain other kind of programming. That's a good way to keep the costs of the computers down, and you can program it. Now, reflashing is something that can be done after the fact where the manufacturer realized, "Hey, we need to make a change here so that you can reflash or reprogram." Short, simple explanation there.

Mark: Why did this vehicle need a PCM reflash?

Bernie: What happened with this vehicle, and we actually featured this vehicle in a podcast a month or two back where we replaced a camshaft actuator gear that was worn out. When the owner originally brought the vehicle to us, it had several trouble codes stored and the check engine light on. The one thing we addressed and fixed back then was the camshaft gear issue.

Since we did that, the owner had noticed the engine seemed to idle a bit rough. The check engine light kept coming back on, so we did a couple of other repairs to address that but still that rough idle persisted and the check engine light still kept coming on for a lean condition code and an EVAP code. Now, as I mentioned, we repaired a few parts and items but we were never able to get rid of the lean code and that rough idle was still present.

We weren't sure whether an engine mount was causing it. It was just a subtle shake, but, nonetheless, annoying for the owner. We figured at that point where we'd done every repair and verified everything we'd done that it was time to look and see if the vehicle could be reflashed, the computer program could be reflashed. That can be a likely cause of things like persistent check engine lights. When everything else is done and fixed to spec and it still won't perform properly, often a reflash is required. That's what we did.

Mark: Did it solve the concern?

Bernie: About a week and a half later we called the owner. He said it definitely runs a lot better. The check engine light did come on once, and he has a code reader. He switched it back off and it hasn't come back on since. I'd say we're pretty much, I mean we definitely solved most of the issues with it. There could be some other underlying problem, but he's definitely happier, much happier with the way it runs.

Mark: As technicians, how do you guys know when to reprogram the vehicle's computer?

Bernie: That's a good point. I just explained the circumstances of this vehicle, and that was a good example. Other vehicles sometimes a check engine light will be on, or there'll be a certain drivability symptom, and there'll be a technical service bulletin by the manufacturer suggesting reflash the vehicle computer. Those are ways we know. Otherwise, most vehicles built in the last 15 years will, or, well, last 10/15 years probably need to be reflashed if they have never been done.

The manufacturers are always looking at issues and creating new reflash files. Again, it's one of those things of if it ain't broke don't fix it. Is that the word?

Mark: Yeah.

Bernie: Sometimes if the vehicle's performing really well, it may not be necessary. With a computerized vehicle, you never know what performance, gas mileage that you might be missing, because the computer just takes care of things, so that it could actually be an improvement. I'd say most vehicles, that probably is the case.

Mark: When you guys are doing this, just to be clear about it from an electronics procedural viewpoint, you're downloading a file that you then upload into the computer to reprogram the EPROM in the actual vehicle computer, is that right?

Bernie: That is exactly we do. It basically just wipes out the original programming and puts the new one in. We download it from the manufacturer, directly from their website.

Mark: Is there a simple way for you to tell if the vehicle's PCM needs to be reflashed?

Bernie: Well, there's not really a simple way. You have to actually have the flash files, the program set up, and load into the vehicle computer. Then from there it'll actually tell you there's a reflash available for this vehicle. It's a bit of an upfront cost for the customer, because we have to commit ourselves to doing it once we buy the file. Then we access the vehicle computer, go through everything, and it'll tell us, "Yes, there's a reflash available."

Fortunately 95% of the time that's exactly what we find. Same with this Land Rover. It reads through the programming file and said, "There's an update for this vehicle," which we knew we were on the right track to at least creating some kind of performance improvement on the vehicle doing this. That's really the only way we can tell is basically just to get into the vehicle and do it.

Mark: Can you maybe just go step-by-step, once you've decided you're going to do that, what's the procedure to reflash the PCM?

Bernie: The procedure, we basically hook up our computer. For every manufacturer, we have to have their software system. For a lot of manufacturers we have that set in our computers already, and then we plug into the computer. We go onto their website. We buy the flash files, or the access to programming, and then from there we access the vehicle computer. Download the file, if I'm using the right word. Is it upload? No. Download the file to our computer and then perform the reflash procedure the way their software system works.

The neat thing about Land Rover, and I can actually get into sharing a few photos here. What I was going to say about Land Rover that's fantastic is their software system is actually a complete OEM system. Some manufacturers will only allow us to access the PCM or transmission control module, depending on what it has, to reprogram the vehicle. Land Rover's fantastic and Jaguar as well. This is that exact OEM software.

If you go to the Jaguar dealer, this is exactly the same equipment that they use. We have access to that. Probably better than 50% of manufacturers when you go in to do this procedure give, also, when we buy the software or the access, which we can subscribe to on a day basis or a couple of days, or months, or a year depending on what we want to spend and the cars we work on. This allows us to actually use OEM diagnostic software which is fantastic.

This is boring, but this is just basically a picture of after we reprogram the computer. Tells us software information and that the programming was done successfully. As I mentioned, this is OEM manufacturer software. The other thing we're able to do, can you see this okay, Mark?

Mark: Yeah.

Bernie: This allows us to run, again, manufacturer-specific tests. We have other really good scan tools in our shop that will do these kind of tests, but the nice thing about this is this is directly the manufacturer's made software. We know the test has run 100%. There was a code for an EVAP system fault that he'd had previously, and we did replace the EVAP canister. After that I reran the test, and you can see here, "Test passed. Tight system. Fault free."

From the manufacturer's test that there's no leaks in this EVAP system, which is a really good thing to verify.

Mark: Kind of touched on this earlier, but is there any times that it would not be a good idea to reflash even though it seems like you're saying that most cars could benefit from reflashing?

Bernie: The one area I'm a little bit cautious with is that once you reflash the computer, you can't go back to the old file. I can cite one circumstance that sticks in memory. I had a client who bought a brand new Ford F-350, 6.4 litre diesel. I think it was a 2008 or '09. Bought the truck. It was great. Had the great gas mileage you expect out of a diesel. Ford called him back in, "Hey, we need to reflash this computer." They reflashed the computer, did whatever they did, and the gas mileage dropped in half from 16 miles a gallon to 8. He was pretty pissed, as you can well imagine.

The reason, they had to do an emission reprogramming on the vehicle, which is why people remove the emission equipment off these vehicles because the gas mileage just drops in half. I don't know how you actually keep the air cleaner by burning twice as much fuel, but we can argue about that another time. Nonetheless, this is one circumstance where doing a reflash can have negative consequences and you can't go back. That's why we're a little cautious.

Normally, I mean in any reflash we've ever done in our shop it's always been positive.

Mark: Any last thoughts about this service?

Bernie: It's good. I don't think there's anything else. When I wrote the script, I'm thinking, "What else do I have to say?" I think we've covered it all. It's, again, just part of a good maintenance program on a vehicle to have the computer files checked every once in a while, maybe every couple of years. If you're not certain, it's a good idea to do it. You never know what the performance benefits will be. As I mentioned, once you do it there's no going back.

Bernie: Manufacturers normally don't do it unless there's a positive reason. I'd say for the most part if you come to our shop, ask us, we can talk to you more about it.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your Land Rover or you need a PCM reflash because of particular issues that you might be experiencing, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're really busy. If you're in Vancouver, please call. If you're not in Vancouver, please call your local service advisor. They can't diagnose your problems over the phone. It's not in integrity to do that. We have to be able to see your vehicle.

As well, we have a vast library on YouTube. Check us out at Pawlik Auto Repair, and on the website, Thank you so much for listening to the podcasts. Thanks Bernie.

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

2018 Subaru Crosstrek -A Level Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: We're talking about a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. A service, it had a service. What was going on with this almost brand new Subaru?

Bernie: I say a service. It's actually an A-level service, which we should have put there to be clear. And it's interesting, because this client, we've actually serviced this vehicle since brand new, now you're thinking 2018, we're in 2019. It may have had its first service but actually this is the fifth service we've done on the vehicle. The owner of this vehicle drives an awful lot. It's got about 48,000 kilometres already on in a year period. He drives a lot.

Basically, we do an A-level service, so at our shop an A-level service, basically the heart of it is an oil change, and then a basic maintenance inspection around that. What else is included of course is inspecting lights, inspecting all the fluid levels and qualities, under hood and under car visual inspection, adjusting tire pressures. That's basically that kind of bulk of it.

Mark: Was anything else in need of service on this pretty new vehicle?

Bernie: No, it actually needed absolutely nothing, so that's always nice and that's the advantage of owning a new car is that you don't need to do anything on it for a while. The owner's good, at least conscientious and changes oil on a regular basis and has it serviced, so that's really the important thing to do. And then when things do crop up, because they will as the vehicle gets older, you fix them as they go.

Mark: How often do Crosstreks require service?

Bernie: Well, this vehicle here is somewhere in the 10 to 12,000 kilometre range. It uses synthetic oil. This is a perfect candidate for a longer oil change interval. We do his normally at 12,000, around that range. He drives a lot, the engine's hot so that's a good amount of time to do the service. If you were the kind of person who maybe only put 12,000 Ks on a year, it'd probably be better to have it serviced a little frequently because that engine's gonna be running cold a lot more often, and that's harder on the oil than for a car that just runs hot.

Mark: And so a lot of people think that only the dealer can service a brand new car, and still have their warranty? Is that true?

Bernie: No. We've got a number of clients who buy new vehicles and bring them straight to us for service. They'd rather deal with us than going to the dealer, and there's no effect whatsoever.

The key thing is, is that you have to have your receipts or at least be able to access the receipts. We have them all in our computer but it'd be good to keep your own files. Make sure you do the maintenance as scheduled and have documentation. If the engine blows up in this vehicle, he's covered. He's done all the work, he's had the flues changed at the right time, and the service is all done at the proper time.

The advantage with us, is if we see an oil leak develop on the vehicle, it might be that the dealer looks at it and goes “It's not enough that we can run it under warranty.” But if you go in and say “Hey, there's an oil leak in this vehicle,” it's been found somewhere else, they're not gonna cover things up. There's actually an advantage because we're not biased in any way. We just call it as we see it.

Mark: How do you guys actually do the inspection? How do you log everything?

Bernie: Well, let's look at that. One advantage that we have at our shop, a lot of independent shops don't have, and actually even dealers have a ... We have an awesome electronic inspection system that we do. Let's just have a look at, an example of what you, as a client will receive after we do this inspection.

This is, as I mentioned, an A-level service. For the A-services, I mentioned it's a more basic inspection. We measure the tire pressures, we adjust the tire pressures, do a visual under hood and under vehicle inspection, look at lights, and that sort of thing. Now, this vehicle, this is actually kind of a boring inspection to look at, but as a customer, this is the kind of inspection you want. There's 45 items that we looked at and they're all okay. Which is, I'll have to say, pretty rare. We don't do these inspections all that often. There's usually always something that needs to be done.

But this is basically the sort of ... The basic view that you would get when we send the inspection report to you and we send this out either by email or text message or both. And there's a link and you just open it up and have a look at it. Most of our clients, quite honestly, are blown away by this inspection, just how thorough and how detailed it is. And when there's problems and issues, we take photographs of things.

This one here ... I'll just get to the next picture here. And so this is how it expands. You saw there was a little plus button, you can click on it, and go “I kinda wanna see what's going on with it.” Here you can see the windshield wipers. These are some of the things we look at. And I'm not gonna bore you with all the details but the other most interesting inspection to look at, this one here you can see that we take measurements of the tires. The treads are still practically brand new. Adjusted the pressures on the tires.

There are notes in certain places that can be clicked on and you can see. But if say there was a ... Say the tires were worn out, we normally take a picture of that so you can actually see the tread wear. It's like you being in the bay yourself and actually having us showing you stuff on the vehicle. It's a really good system and we're proud to use it and our customers love it.

Mark: And how are Subaru Crosstreks for reliability?

Bernie: Well, they haven't been out for a long time. We actually have not run into any problems with any of them so far, so I'd say it's a fairly new vehicle on the road. I'm sure some issues will crop up, like they do with all vehicles, but they are different in design. They still have the boxer and four-cylinder engine as they've used forever and ever. They always keep redesigning them and changing the format of the engine around. This one uses a timing chain, which they have for quite a few years now. They seem to be a little more reliable.

I think the only issue with the timing chain, what we've run into, was there was a leak in one of the ... We had a client with a timing covered gasket leak but that's about it. Head gaskets seem to be pretty solid on these things so far, which is a good thing, compared to the last generation where pretty much every one of them was a guaranteed head gasket replacement. So far, they're holding out well.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service and reliability for your vehicle, if it's a Subaru or any other make or model of vehicle, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, to book your appointment. Book ahead, they're busy. And if you're outside of Vancouver, in the other part of the country, call your local dealers. We can't diagnose your problems over the phone. It's not in integrity for us to do that.

As well, you can check us out on YouTube. Hundreds of videos on there of all makes and models of cars. Pawlik Auto Repair. The website, everything's up on there as well, Thank you so much for listening to the podcast, we really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

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

2008 Ford Escape Transfer Case Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking about cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, we're going to talk about a 2008 Ford Escape that had a transfer case problem. What was happening with this fine Ford vehicle?

Bernie: So the owner brought the vehicle to us. His complaint was there was a very loud noise while driving and some vibration under the vehicle. So that was the issue. And very noticeable when he drove it. Yeah, the kind of thing you don't want to drive very far.

Mark: And so what did you find and how did you diagnose it?

Bernie: Yeah, so for diagnosis, of course, we start with a road test to verify the client's concerns, which was very easy in this vehicle. And then we did a hoist inspection underneath and found that basically, I guess the best diagnostic tool we had in this case was a stethoscope and our ears. And there was a very loud noise coming from the transfer case. This unit's bolted to the side of the transaxle, the transmission, and basically transfers the ... It's an all-wheel drive, so it transfers the movement of the axles to the rear, as well as the front.

And a stethoscope certainly verified a lot of noise coming from inside the transfer case. We listened to other areas of the vehicle, and didn't really, nothing was too apparent. But the noise in the transfer case was so severe that, once we found it, it was pretty easy to confirm.

Mark: And so, doctor, why was the unit so noisy?

Bernie: Yeah, so basically when we took it apart, took it out, took it apart, there was some extremely badly-worn bearings, which is we suspected it would be. So badly worn, in fact, it was causing the gears to run on a strange angle. And that exacerbated the noise even further.

Actually, we can get into some pictures right now. 

So there's our 2008 Ford Escape. And here is a view of the, this is the transfer case unit removed from the transaxle of the vehicle. And a number of bolts removed here, as you can see. The unit's about to be taken apart for inspecting inside. And what we found, this is the sort of major issue. There's three shafts inside this unit. They all have bearings on either end of the shaft, and then this one here, you can see the cage, and you can see some of the rollers here.

But some of them are completely missing, so this bearing was worn so badly, it was just causing this shaft to just wobble back and forth. And, of course, with that level of wear, it was causing ... Of the bearing causing a horrendous noise, in and of itself. You can see here that a couple of gears where two of the gears mesh, and of course, with a bearing worn like that, these gears are not going to be running true to each other. And that causes noise, too. There's a lot of engineering that goes into building anything with gear, transfer cases, transmissions, to eliminate noise.

And if you drive a really old vehicle, like we're talking like 70 years old, back when they had straight cut gears, there was a lot of gear noise present in a vehicle. But nowadays, since then they've evolved, and there's no noise. But with a worn bearing like that, of course, that brings all the noise back. Another view of the inside. This is the other end of the ... This is the shaft actually put back in, and this is the other end of the shaft. You can see this bearing, the red arrow points, this bearing was disintegrating, as well.

The yellow arrow here just indicates a bearing that still looks at least together, probably badly-worn though. The gear oil inside this unit was just, it was absolutely hideous. It smelt awful, it was burnt. And the level was also low, too. Just a final shot here before we depart the pictures. This is the unit installed under the vehicle. You can see the exhaust system, the rear drive shaft is attached here, and then the axle shaft comes out to the right side of the vehicle here. So that's the unit bolted up to the transaxle under the car.

Mark: So what would cause these bearings to wear out in this kind of catastrophic fashion?

Bernie: Well, there's a few things. So first off, this is the first time we'd serviced this vehicle. It's 10 years old, we don't know anything about the repair and maintenance history. So it's entirely possible that the fluid had never been changed in the transfer case. That could cause it. 

Second of all, we found the fluid level was low, so a leak could have been present. It wasn't, like there was some oil on the case, but it wasn't covered in fresh leaks of oil, but the oil level was down so it's possible, it may have been running for a few years on a low oil level, which could cause the wear.

Third, it could be that just the bearing just started to wear out. I mean, these things happen. And of course, once the wear, it'll cause excessive heat, causes the fluid to burn. So even with good maintenance, things will still sometimes wear out. So one of three things, but obviously, if you keep your fluids changed on a regular basis, it's going to maximize the life of any component.

Mark: So how did you repair this transfer case?

Bernie: We actually got a good used unit and put that in. Parts are not readily available, the gears and things are not available. Bearings are certainly available and seals, so we could have possibly cleaned everything up, put new bearings in, and seals. But chances are, with this level of wear, there would be gear damage, and we never even cleaned it up to that point. We just decided, let's get a good used unit.

There was a lot of, we deal with reputable auto wreckers. One of the companies we deal with, they specialize in Fords. They had several of these on the shelf, so it tells me that it's not a really common problem, and this is the first one we've actually replaced. So they're fairly reliable, which makes for a good candidate for a used part.

Mark: And how are Ford Escapes for reliability?

Bernie: I'd put them in the fair category. I mean, there are a number of things that we do service on these vehicles. So certainly not as a reliable as say a CRV or a Toyota RAV4, which is in a similar category of SUV.

They're pretty good overall, but you'll expect to spend more money on repairs and maintenance, but less money to buy the vehicle. And by the way, it's the same as a Mazda Tribute. So either way, it's the same general vehicle.

Mark: So with these, basically with any of the perhaps ... Well, I guess with any vehicle, it's really important maintenance, but these ones might be even a little bit less tolerant of running with low fluids, or not having their fluids changed, is that fair?

Bernie: I think it's fair to say. But even a Toyota is actually one of the vehicles that's like least tolerant to lack of oil changes. For some reason, some vehicles and some engines seem to be able to handle more abuse than others. Now we're not talking about an engine here, but just overall general reliability. But the thing is, it's kind of a risk thing.

And as we've said on these podcasts, you can live off of French fries for a while, and you might live to be old. But chances are, if you avoid eating that kind of food all the time, you're going to be better. And it's the same with car maintenance. If you do the right things, it won't prevent everything from happening. But at least it'll minimize the chances.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for maintenance on your Ford Escape or other Ford products, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Please only call if you're in Vancouver. We can't diagnose products over the phone. We have to see it and there could be many things wrong, so if you're from out of town, call your local provider. If you're in Vancouver, give us a call to book your appointment. And thanks, Bernie. Thanks a lot.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2001 Chevy Suburban Intermittent No-Start

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. We're talking this morning about a truck, a 2001 Chevy Suburban, that had an intermittent no-start problem. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: What was going on with this rather large, rotund, boat anchor? SUV?

Bernie: Well, I add in, actually, this happened to be my own personal vehicle. What was happening is about a month and a half, two months ago, it developed this interesting no-start issue. I pulled into a store, got something, walked out, cranked the engine over. Cranked over fine, but it wouldn’t start.

I go, oh, that's weird. It's never done that before. I was a little flustered, and after trying it for a couple of minutes it started up, ran great, and I drove home going, oh, that's kind of weird, and it never gave me a problem for another couple of weeks.

I Mentioned it to my wife. She goes, “Yeah, it's done that once before, too.”

So, never gave it much of a problem, and because I'm busy, it's like the classic thing of the shoemaker's kids having their bad shoes. Sometimes, unfortunately, my cars get treated like that. In the case of this vehicle, it kind of went like that. It took about a month and a half, or so before we finally got to the final diagnosis and repair, which we're sharing on this podcast.

What happened in between is it just got slowly worse, but it seemed to always be consistent. If the engine was hot and you leave it for a few minutes, it would be hard to start. But, if you left it for a little longer, it would start just fine.

That was basically the issue, and it boiled down to being a bad fuel pump, at the end of the day, which was surprising because I'd replaced the fuel pump about three or four years ago with a high-quality pump that wasn't dead.

But, I figured, hey, let's get on top of this thing because the vehicle's got pretty high mileage. Let's make sure the pump's good, because they're one of the things that quit on these vehicles, and you don't want to be stranded somewhere. So, finally, eventually, this replacement unit quit, probably a lot sooner than I expected it would.

Mark: How did you diagnose that it was the fuel pump, and then how did you verify that the pump was the problem?

Bernie: Right. Well, initially, I didn't really ... I figured it was a fuel issue because ... Just by the way that the vehicle was operating. But, it didn't seem, initially, like a fuel pump, because, normally, when a pump dies, it'll do what we just did there. Maybe you might bang the gas tank, or something, to get it going. It doesn't usually restart after a couple of clicks of the key, so I figured maybe there's some kind of weird electronic or electrical glitch with the vehicle. A sensor, perhaps.

First step was of course to hook a scan tool up. Scanned it for codes. There was nothing relevant in any sort of way to a no-start issue. Tested some of the sensors like the crank sensor, which is a pretty important input, in terms of starting the engine. It was fine. Figured, possibly, again, because it was an intermittent issue and not happening consistently, I figured maybe there was an issue with the Passlock key.

There's a security system on these GM vehicles, and they have to send a signal. When you insert the key and turn it, it sends a signal to the computer to start it or not. It'll do exactly this. It'll crank over, but it won't start. It'll disable the fuel. So, tested out that system pretty thoroughly. It was all good.

Again, just kind of in life, it got busy and then, eventually, the vehicle got worse and finally died. Finally, the final straw was banging ... I had an emergency, I had to bang the gas tank with a hammer. It started up. So, okay, that's pretty much a guaranteed diagnosis right there.

Mark: Bringing back, flashing back to memories of crawling under this old Volvo I had, that I had to pound on the fuel pump to get it to go.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The reason that works, by the way, if anyone's wondering, is that the pump, it has motor with a ... It's called a commutator. It's got little brushes and eight spots on the motor. When one of them wears, the pump can't turn, but if you bang it ... And it doesn't always work. Sometimes the pump's so dead it won't work. But, sometimes, if you bang it, it just jolts the pump enough to move that little millimetre, or quarter of a millimetre enough, to just get the electricity to flow, and then the pump starts running.

Mark: Did you do something else to check that?

Bernie: Yeah. The other interesting bit of diagnosis, because I was ... The other one that I use is a lab scope, to look at the actual current ... It's called a current ramp test of the fuel pump. Just to see what was happening with it, because, as I said, I was surprised because the pump wasn't that ... I mean it was like three, four years old. It really shouldn't have died at this early of an age. So, I wanted to see exactly what this looks like, because this is a test we can do sometimes to test people's fuel pumps. And, you know, if someone's got an intermittent issue like this, it's a good way to see, hey, is the fuel pump actually the problem?

So, I'll just share some pictures here. We did this with a lab scope.

 Mark: What is a lab scope?

Bernie: So, what is a lab scope? This is basically ... I'll just share the picture here, we can see it. Basically, a lab scope, it's an oscilloscope that attaches either to ... It either takes a voltage or an amperage signal. In this case, we use a current probe, and we actually take a sweep of the actual current that's being drawn through the fuel pump.

So, this is with the new fuel. This is the engine running, and this is the current flowing through the fuel pump. So, on one side, we have the voltage being used, and on other side we time-frame. So, you can see, this is 100 milliseconds across here. This is a hundred one-thousandths of a second. So, this is ten one-thousands of a second.

So, you can actually calculate the speed that the pump's turning. I'm not going to get into that. It requires a little bit of math, but not a lot.

You can see little pumps here. One, two, three, four, five, six ... This is basically a healthy fuel pump. It's got a little bit of a dip. The reason it has these different little pulses is this is where the commutator, which is where the brushes run inside the motor ... This is where they contact. So, there's a change in current flow every time it goes past.

Now, this is a good pump. Let's have a look at what a bad pump looks like, the old one. Very hashy. There's some distinct rises here, but there's also very distinct drops. Now, this is a bit unusual for a fuel pump, too, because a lot of current problems with fuel pumps ... You'll often find, if you have a bad fuel pump, the pattern'll actually look like this, except it'll have one or two missing peaks here.

That often indicates, oh, there's a commutator that's actually worn off. Whatever was going on in this fuel pump caused a pretty radical spike in voltage. Interestingly enough, when the engine was running, it ran perfectly. But, I think, because these big spikes here required a lot of power to get the pump turning, that's why it wouldn't start. When you're cranking the engine over, the voltage is lower. So, it just didn't quite have enough juice to turn. But, once it was moving, it worked fine.

So, that's what we can see with a lab scope. There's many things we test with lab scopes. It can take a little extra time to hook it up, but often it'll verify things. I had someone some in with this concern, and said, hey, I got this intermittent problem, but it only happens once in a blue moon. This is the test we could of done that didn't take a lot of time, that could of verified, you know what, your fuel pump pattern's bad, we should change it.

Mark: So, after you replaced the fuel pump, everything ran well?

Bernie: Yeah, it started fine, ran well. Perfect. Yeah, really nice.

Mark: This is quite an old-

Bernie: We're giving life to the vehicle again.

Mark: This is an 18 year-old vehicle now, and it's yours. How does it run overall, and is it worth still keeping it going on the road?

Bernie: Yeah, it's really good. I've taken really good care of it, and the engine actually wore out at about 300,000 kilometres, so I replaced it. I put a 6.0L, so it's a slightly larger engine than the 5.3L that came in it. I put a nice, used 6.0L engine in it. It runs great. As I said, I've kept up all the maintenance and repairs on it. When you drive it, it just drives like a brand new truck still.

Even the shock absorbers, which surprisingly, they're still original, and I've towed a trailer with it. It's built well. The ride is perfect. It's smooth. The only thing I can complain about, the fuel economy is not great because it's a big beast, but other than that, it's a good vehicle.

I'll keep it for a few more years. It's worth doing, but again, the key is to fix things as they wear out, as opposed to leaving a big pile of things, and all of a sudden, it's like a multi-thousand dollar bill, and you go, no, that's not worth it, I'll just junk it. But, a replacement for a Suburban is a lot of money, even a good used one.

Mark: Yeah, instead of ... It's a heck of a lot cheaper to spend a few thousand a year than $80,000 or more on a brand new one.

Bernie: Well, actually, a hundred. The equivalent of this model, I've seen them in dealerships, it's over $100,000. That's a lot of money for a truck.

Mark: Yeah.

Bernie: But, if you keep it 20 years and you amortize it out, then that's only $5,000 a year, but you still need the $100,000. It's a lot of monthly payments, or a lot of cash upfront. Whichever way you go. So, a good used one works well.

Mark: So, I take back it's a boat anchor. It's just a good used vehicle that's fulfilling its purpose.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. It's not a boat anchor yet. It still works and runs, and it's a good boat hauler.

Mark: So, there you go. If you have a boat hauler or trailer hauler, or a people mover, that's huge and needs some maintenance, the guys to see in Vancouver 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 their website, There's tons of information on there as well. There's the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds, literally ... Over 400 videos on there of all makes, models and years of cars and types of repairs and maintenance as well. Thank you so much for listening to our podcast. We appreciate it, thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. We love having you as an audience member. Thanks.

1975 Chevrolet Corvette EFI Conversion

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. I'm the producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast here in lovely, rainy Vancouver. And we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best automotive experience. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. 19 times. And we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well other than it's rainy and extremely rainy.

Mark: Well, welcome to 1919. So, 2019 I guess.

Bernie: 2019.

Mark: Let's get in the right century. Although we are going back in time. We're talking about a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette that had an EFI conversion. What was going on with this classic vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle was pretty much stock Corvette. I mean, the engine had some work done on it. Not sure if much in the way of modifications, but essentially stock Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, HEI distributor. The client's concern was that the vehicle would tend to get flooded and it was hard to start, if not impossible. So we did some adjustment on the choke. Got it set up as best we could, but it still was never a really good experience. You start the car up, it would run for 10 or 20 seconds and stall. There was wear in the choke linkages and things. It was just things that wouldn't really allow us to get everything set up perfectly.

So that was basically the best we could get it and between cold start and a hot warm up and we're talking like 15 minutes driving, there would be some stalling issues or it would idle too high. Never quite perfect. That's kind of the best we could get it was to prevent it at least from flooding.

Mark: And so what did you do to repair this concern?

Bernie: Well, I talked to the owner about it and he said, "well, you know, I'm not super happy with that idea." He goes, "why don't we do an EFI conversion." Basically converting it to fuel injection. I said, "hey, what a great idea. You know, that'll eliminate all of those issues and bring the benefits of a modern fuel injection system to the vehicle." So that's exactly what we proceeded to do.

Mark: So what does that involve?

Bernie: Well, what that involves is removing the old fuel system. So we removed the carburetor, the old mechanical fuel pump, and then install a fuel injection unit. It's a throttle body fuel injection unit. It's made for quadra jet carburetor. Quadra jet carburetor has a smaller primary openings and larger secondaries. It's a unique GM feature. Anyways, this is a bolt on quadra jet conversion, so you bolt on a throttle body unit. Then there's a few sensors that need to be installed. A coolant temperature sensor. An oxygen sensor in the exhaust. And it need to be attached to the ignition system, to get an RPM signal.

Powers and grounds, of course. And then, the sort of larger part of the process is providing it with high pressure fuel. So, the gas tank has to be removed. A new fuel strainer put in. High pressure pump needs to be installed with fuel filters and then a return system also needs to be installed so the pressure can be regulated to the proper level and returned back to the gas tank.

Mark: So a lot of work basically.

Bernie: Yeah, a lot of work. I mean, it was a couple of solid days worth of work to do the job.

Mark: And how did the job go?

Bernie: Really well. It went fantastic. I mean, it just step by step, and the fuel tanks are kind of a pain to remove in this vehicle, but it was good mounting locations for the pump. The one little hiccough we ran into, for the fuel return line, fortunately there was actually two metal lines in this vehicle, the main fuel line and there was also a small, quarter-inch diameter fuel vapour line that ran parallel with the fuel line back to the vehicle. It hadn't been used in a long time. It was sort of just kind of disconnected, that emission piece so to speak. But the fuel return line was there, so we were able to tap into that. Unfortunately, when we fired the vehicle up, the return line had a big rust hole in it. 1975 car, you know, it's got quite a bit of miles on it and anyways, there was a rust hole, so we had to replace a couple of sections of fuel line. But other than that, flawless.

Mark: And do you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do. I got some pictures. We're going to start with a video here. This is ... I had a few videos I wanted to show, but due to technical difficulties, we'll just show the video here. This is the, you can see this okay?

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: This is the completed job, more or less completed job. It's a Hawley Spider, that's the EFI unit installed on the vehicle. You can see down the barrels. The fuel and return lines are installed here. There's a cooling temperature sensor down around ... sorry I'm kind of moving the camera around too much. I'll just click back here with this look again. Cooling temperature sensor right here. Maybe just pause the video. You get a good view here. This cooling temp sensor here. And all the computer controls for this unit are actually all inside the throttle body except there's a little console piece that you have to install inside the vehicle so you can do all the tuning and adjustments.

But, it's really pretty much all takes place inside this unit right here. So that kind of gives a good idea of that. So this is basically the way it looked after the installation. For some reason, somebody put this chrome air clearer on top of the snorkel piece originally, but it worked fine. That's the way it looked on the carburetor when it came in and it pretty well, you can't really tell it's got a throttle body fuel injection unit underneath. That's the old system, of course, with the old carburetor.

Again, you know, not a huge amount of difference, but certainly the newer unit looks a lot cleaner. And as I said this little photo of the original tag L-48, 8-1/2 to 1 compression. This is a 1975, really probably one of the worst years in the US for performance cars with all the emission equipment they were forced to put on. I think, I looked at the specs and this engine has 165 horsepower. Whereas four or five years earlier, it would have had 300, 350, somewhere in that range. A huge drop in horsepower, so this fuel injection unit actually helps out a lot.

Mark: And how did the car run and drive after the conversion?

Bernie: It was awesome. As I mentioned, I mean, the owner's main concern was, you know, you start the car and it would tend to stall and just was fiddly. The moment we ... there's a few little tuning procedures you need to do before you start it up. We fired it up, started it up and it ran, like, perfectly the whole time. Just stayed at a nice steady RPM. I was kind of waiting for it to stall and it never did. Just expecting it to, but just like perfectly smooth the whole way. Went out and drove it. Tons of power. To be honest, I never really drove it before to kind of get a feel for the amount of power, but for certain it's going to have a lot more power than before. I would imagine the fuel economy would definitely be better, too, because now it also has it oxygen sensor monitored, so it's tune to the right, optimum air/fuel ratio.

As best as you could get out of an engine like this, that's exactly why it's going to have. Yeah, really fantastic. I was really thrilled with the result, and highly recommend it for anyone who has an older car that wants to get the benefits and feel of a more modern vehicle. And yet it still sounds like a '75 Vet, which is cool.

Mark: So any downside to installing an EFI system on an old car like this, other than perhaps the cost?

Bernie: Yeah, cost is ... it's not a cheap job. But I say, none, other than, if you want you car to remain stock all the way through, then there's an issue with that. But otherwise to me it's just a no brainer. If you like the car, you want to drive it around a bit and you want it practical, this is just the best way to go.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for some repairs or maintenance on your old classic vehicle 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 ahead and book ahead, because they're busy. Or check out the website, YouTube channel under Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on all makes and models and years of cars and trucks. Or, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Yeah, thanks Mark and thanks for watching.

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged – Coolant Leaks

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're talking about a Range Rover. We're going to England, and why did I have a German accent? We're going to talk about a 2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, quite a high performance vehicle, that had a lot of coolant leaks. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well, the vehicle was originally brought to our shop, the client's concern was that the heat wasn't working properly inside the vehicle cabin. And especially it was noticeable that the driver's side was colder than the passenger side. So the first step in any heating system diagnosis, or one of the first steps is to see what the ... check the coolant level. We inspected the coolant level, found it was low, performed a pressure test on the cooling system, we found several leaks. So fixing that first was the key item.

One item we found that was leaking was the radiator, also the water pump had a leak and there was possibly some leakage coming from under the intake manifold. It was hard to determine between that and the water pump, where that was coming from. Because there's a number of, so many components that are ... things cover up each other, that it's hard to see things sometimes without disassembly. But that's what we found on our initial test.

Mark: So how do you spot all the leaks when there's so many like that?

Bernie: Well, I mean the radiator's located at the front, on the rad support in the front of the engine, so that's pretty distinct and you can see those kind of areas. The water pump, you can see, again, the area where the coolant's leaking. This is where coolant leaks sometimes get a little tricky to diagnose, especially on modern vehicles, where there's so many hoses and pipes and connections and things are buried. A lot of times we go on experience of, this is a common failed part. Or you actually have to start disassembling things to find out where the leaks are coming from. But on this one, we could see the water pump. They have a weep hole in the pump. You could see that was leaking.

None of these were gusher leaks, but there were enough that there was drips and consistent coolant coming out that needed to be repaired.

Mark: A lot of work, basically.

Bernie: A lot of work, yeah, absolutely. They don't make them easy on these vehicles. They're nice and like you said, high performance. To me that's often synonymous, on a modern vehicle, with lots of extra work.

Mark: So what's involved in replacing all those, and fixing all the leaks and replacing hoses that were leaking?

Bernie: The radiator of course is, I'd say, a simple remove the radiator and replace it. It's nothing simple on this vehicle. There's a lot of components that need to be removed, little flaps and guides that angle the air through the radiator. It's connected up to the AC condenser. Like, not actually connected, but bolted in that area. It just takes a lot of fiddling to get it in and out, not an easy job. Once that's out, of course, a water pump is not so difficult, because it's easier to access on the engine. But the real kicker of the job was, what we found is there's a hose assembly underneath the supercharger that was leaking, something we find from time to time and repair. And that was probably the major piece of work that needed to be done. I'll just show a picture of that, while we're at it. You can see this okay?

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: Look at the centre. So it's a V8 engine. We're looking at the centre in the engine, this is the valley area of the engine. And these are the intercoolers for the supercharger. The superchargers sits in the middle here, where my mouse pointer's moving around. That's been removed. You can see some hoses down here. There's one, two, nice and shiny. These are the new hoses. And these were leaking underneath the intake valley. The hose's complex, it goes to a number of different areas. Unfortunately, this picture's a little dark in the back, but as you can see, the hose starts way up front here, moves around, it goes to the back and splits off into several pieces.

Mark: So as the engineers try and route these complicated engines, route all the different pieces around, they've decided that they would put it under the supercharger? And how often does a hose like this fail?

Bernie: Well, this is not an uncommon repair for us at our shop. As the vehicle gets older, of course, these hoses are rubber, they're subject to a lot of heat, a lot of heat, sitting in this area here. So it's not the smartest design, in my opinion. It would have been better to use metal piping, perhaps a little hose here, metal pipe running back. Same with this one here, it could have been done with a metal pipe, and then put the rubber ends at the back. Or even just trying to minimize the amount of rubber would have been a smart idea. But they did it the way they did it, and we have to repair it however it's done. But certainly not the wisest idea.

Mark: Are they failing basically because of the heat cycling that's taking place underneath the engine like that?

Bernie: Yeah, I think that's a major cause. There's also some quick connect ends and pieces that can fail as well, on this and other hoses of these types of designs. But really, the heat is the biggest issue that causes these hoses to fail. In all fairness, the vehicle is, what, it's '06, it's 12 years old. That's a pretty good run, but there are ... My son recently bought a 1984 Toyota Celica and it has some original heater hoses on it. That's a much longer run of a car. But these aren't buried underneath anything, they're just kind of out in the elements. But good quality hoses and they're still lasting and they'll probably last ... they may last for another 10 or 20 years.

Mark: Yeah, the heater hoses already ... Anything that's dealing with moving fluid around in the vehicle's going to be really hot on the inside, but also then, they add the extra level of ... they're running on top of the cylinders, so they're really hot on the outside as well, basically.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. I can't say that there's anything wrong with the quality of this hose. When we were talking, I was thinking about a ... Way back, I used to have some clients with Hyundai Ponys, if anyone knows what that is. It's a piece of crap car, cheap. I mean it was as cheap as cheap could be. One thing I noticed about those cars is, one way they made them cheap is to use very bad quality hose. After probably five years of usage on these hoses, they were as hard as rocks. And you could take the hose and literally grab it and break it with your hand. So we'd replace those hoses on those cars a lot. And I noticed this was like a differentiating factor. You take a Toyota, 20, 30 years later, you've still got a lot of original hoses. You take a Hyundai Pony, a cheap car, five, six years, the hoses don't even last. That's where they save money on certain things.

So on the Range Rover, to diagnose, could they have made the hose tougher? Yes, but probably metal piping would have been better. But this is what we fix.

Mark: So how did the vehicle work after all of these repairs?

Bernie: The cooling system was great, but the heating system still had an issue. It was still not quite as hot on the driver's side as the passenger. So there'll be more to do. But there was, as you can imagine, quite a substantial amount of work and a bill and the owner needed the vehicle back. So we'll be tackling it for round two, probably a blend door issue inside the heating box, which is in and of itself going to be quite a job. But the most important thing with a heating system concern is making sure the cooling system is in good shape and delivering the right amount of fluid, coolant to the heater cores. Because without that, of course, you can fix all the other things and go, "Oh, it's still not fixed." And the risk is with the coolant leak, you can wreck your engine.

Mark: So we talk about Land Rovers fairly frequently. And this is a 4.2 lite supercharged engine. How is it for reliability?

Bernie: I like these engines. They're pretty good. They don't have a lot of problems compared to some other, like previous generation engines. The four litres, some of the BMW engines they've put in these were horrible. And some of the newer ones, of course, are nicer, but the five litre, the 2010-12, the timing chains go prematurely, the supercharger nosecone wears out, a lot of premature wear on those things. These engines seem to be pretty durable. This coolant hose is one of the bigger things we fix on them. And this vehicle's now 12 years old, so it's fair to have some repairs.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Range Rover or Land Rover in Vancouver, the guys to see, they're experts, are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 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, YouTube, got hundreds of videos on there, including many about Range Rovers and Land Rovers and all sorts of different kinds of repairs and maintenance issues as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you, Bernie.

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

2013 Chevy Volt, No Oil Pressure

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Video Series, and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's Best Automotive Experience. 19-time winners, of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: We're going into the land of electricity today a little bit, dipping our toe in. We're talking about a 2013 Chevrolet Volt. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle was brought to our shop, driven in. The electric motor works fine, but what would happen with this vehicle, as soon as the gas motor would run, within a few seconds the low oil pressure warning light would come on, and the engine itself definitely sounded noisy. Basically, there was no oil pressure in the gasoline engine.

Mark: Okay, that's not a good sign. What tests and diagnosis did you need to do?

Bernie: Well, this one was pretty simple. The owner had changed his own oil and filter and had mentioned, by the way, there was no oil. He said, "There's no oil in the filter." Which we pulled off and verified that was, in fact, the case.

Normally, when there's an oil pressure problem, we would often do a test and verify with a gauge, but it's very apparent when you start an engine, the little oil warning light comes on. You can hear the timing chain rattling that there is, in fact, no oil pressure in the engine. From there, it was just time to do exploratory ...I was gonna say surgery. Exploratory dismantling and find out what had actually happened. We suspected probably the oil pump had come apart for some reason, but that's where we figured, so we started by removing the oil pan.

Mark: You did some disassembly. What did you find?

Bernie: The first thing we started with was removing the oil pan. It was the simplest and first logical step, and once we removed the oil pan, the oil pickup assembly is actually integrated with the oil pan. It's kind of a smart idea. Usually, it's a separate metal tube. Inside the pickup, there's a little screen to protect large particles from getting into the oil pump, and sitting on top of that screen, is kind of a V-shaped screen, was a piece of what looked like an impeller blade from the oil pump.

So, we figured, "Hey, it's got to be the pump that's come apart." So, from there, we removed the timing chain cover and discovered that the oil pump was, in fact, I'd say blown to bits would be a good word. But, kind of broken to pieces. So, why don't we just have a look at a picture of that right now?

So here's our oil pump. This is the timing chain cover over here. And the crank shaft goes right through here, and the oil pump sits here and there's a little ... It's a bit elongated, or sort of a couple of flat spots in the circular area that rub against, that attach to the crank shaft and that drives the oil pump.

You can see that the red arrow here points to a very large crack, but you can see this whole rotor here is completely broken apart in several sections. One, two, three, four. These are the little impeller blades. As I mentioned, one of these was found inside the screen. Once we removed all this, we found the other ... how many more are we missing? Two more, lodged in behind the pump.

Pretty important to find that stuff. You don't want that floating around inside the engine and ... So, anyways, we found all the missing bits and pieces. Now, this is an interesting oil pump. It's a variable displacement pump. Pretty common in a lot of modern engines.

You know, with any gasoline engine, they're looking for maximum efficiency. Excuse me. And one way to get that, is to vary the displacement of the oil pump. The oil pump draws energy to pump the oil through the engine, so if ... and it's doesn't always need the maximum amount of flow and volume, so by varying the displacement of the oil pump, you can save fuel and still provide the proper amount of lubrication. So, that's what this big spring here is part of, and this whole section here will rotate and vary the displacement of the oil pump so it'll pump lesser or more volume depending on what position this is in. And this is common to a lot of, I say, a lot of modern car engines.

Mark: So, this is a very involved job. How does the fact that this ... Does it affect anything, that this is an electric vehicle, as well?

Bernie: Well, it does to a certain degree. I mean, the gasoline motor's separate on the passenger side of the vehicle, but there are some common shared components with the electrical system, the electric drive system, such as the air conditioner. And so, these components need to be de-energized before we disconnect wires. It adds a little bit of extra work to the job. You don't wanna have your hands anywhere ... The voltages are very high, and potentially deadly.

So, you have to de-energize a few components, but other than that, it's pretty much like any other gasoline engine Chevy vehicle would be.

Mark: Was there any other damage from those parts floating around, from the oil pump failure?

Bernie: Well, no damage from the parts floating around, but of course, one serious issue is when you have no oil pressure in an engine, it can damage it pretty quickly. The owner said he never ran it for more than a minute, once the light came on, and of course, changed his oil and started it and found it wasn't working.

We ourselves ran it a couple of times for a few seconds, which is not a lot of time. As part of our service, we removed one of the connecting rod bearing caps, inspected the bearing; looked perfect, as good as brand new. So, that's sort of one of the highest wear items in the engine, the connecting rod bearings, due to the forces and there's nothing that we found. So, figure it'll be ... We haven't actually put the vehicle back together yet. It's actually ... It's waiting for parts. It takes about a week to get the oil pump, which is part of the timing chain cover, and once that's back together, I'm quite confident it'll all work just fine.

Mark: So, how are Chevy Volts for reliability?

Bernie: Well, to be honest, we haven't ... we don't work on a lot of them. There's not a lot of them around. We're more than happy to do so, but the ... you know, as far as I know, the reliability is pretty good with them. I did a little online research just to see if there's any complaints. There's a few for a variety of things, and they seem to say this, 2017 models might be among the worst.

But, of course, these'll all be covered under warranty 'cause they're near new. But I'd say, you know, I do know a couple people who own them, they've been pretty reliable vehicles, so again, there's a lot of complexity with this vehicle because you've got electric plus a gasoline motor, and it's interesting how, again, the failure with this vehicle is on the gasoline motor side of things.

Mark: And this is ... the gas motor charges the battery, which drives the electric motor, is that ...That's how this, if I remember right, that's how this vehicle works?

Bernie: It does exactly. It's a plug-in hybrid, so you ... Not a plug-in hybrid. It's a plug-in electric vehicle. So, you plug it in, and then it has the gasoline motor as a backup. Which is actually an excellent combination, when you consider, you know, you can really take this vehicle anywhere you wanna go and never worry about running out of either electricity or gas.

I don't think the range is fantastic compared to, well, certainly nothing compared to a Tesla. But it's got good enough range to ... for most daily commutes, and you might never, almost never run the gasoline engine. But if you do, decide to go out of town and you want to keep driving, you can just keep putting gas in it. And it's a pretty efficient gasoline engine, so ... But, yes, that's exactly what happens. The gasoline engine charges the batteries.

Mark: All right! So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Chevy Volt, Bolt, whatever they happen to be making next, 'cause the Volt is now discontinued in 2019, as are all sedans in North America by Chevy, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You must book ahead, they're busy! Or you can check out their website, We have hundreds of videos on YouTube, Pawlik Auto Repair, on all makes and models of cars, all kinds of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie!

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

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Dash Lights Explained

Mark: Hi! It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series, and we're here Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: We're talking about dash lights. We're going through our little series on explaining what all these funny little lights on dashboards are. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and the dash lights. Tell us what all these instrument panel lights mean.

Bernie: Sure. Let's just get right into the picture. Though saying it feels like a ... I feel like a broken record sometimes because so many of these icons look the same and they are from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you're watching this series, of course, what's most important is what relates to your own vehicle. This is a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. It's a 3.3L gasoline-powered engine, which is pretty much, it's a couple different engine options, but there's no diesel so you're pretty much, I would say the lights in this are probably pretty much the same across the board.

We'll start with the red lights. As I mentioned in the past, the reds are the lights you want to take really seriously. They're meant to indicate urgent action is needed. However, I do find there's a couple here that are, at least one that's a little ... could be a yellow in my opinion, and on some cars they are. This light here that I'm circling, this is the airbag warning light. If something is wrong with the airbag system this red light will come on. Obviously, they don't want you driving without an airbag working but it won't affect your performance or drive in any way. It's just that if you get a collision there's a chance that your airbag won't be working if this is on. That's up to you as to what you want to decide to do.

These other red lights are certainly to be taken more seriously, many of them. This light here with the body with the seatbelt here, it just indicates your seatbelt's not buckled up. That action can be taken pretty quickly. If you have all your seatbelts buckled up and that light is still on, there's got to be a malfunction in the system. Usually, that's a very reliable light.

To the left, we have the battery, this light looks like a battery. This indicates low voltage in the vehicle system. It doesn't actually indicate there's anything wrong with the battery but usually it comes on when the alternator is not charging the battery. When the light comes on, chances are your car's going to be dead pretty soon. I would make my way to the ... as quickly as you can somewhere that you can have the vehicle serviced and repaired because you'll probably need alternator or maybe a drive belt. Sometimes when this light comes on, other lights will come on at the same time. Just be wary that that's something you probably going to need to service soon.

If we move to the right here, the oil can light. This is a very important light. This is a red light you would need to take very seriously. This indicates that there is no oil pressure in the engine. Also, of course, the electrical system can malfunction but don't take a chance on that. If this light comes on, check your oil first. If it's full have your vehicle towed in for service, it's very critical.

Same with this red light here, this is the temperature warning light. This is another one you really need to take seriously, indicating that the coolant temperature is too high in the engine. On this vehicle, it does actually have a coolant temperature gauge either to the left or right of the speedometer, I can’t remember. You can often verify it by looking at the gauge. If the gauge is, of course if it's high then you need to stop the vehicle immediately and have it repaired, towed in, get it repaired.

Up here, this is a brake warning light. Usually, it comes on with the parking brake on. When you release the parking brake, the light should go off. If it remains on, it can often indicate that your brake fluid level is low in the master cylinder, in which case you should have the vehicle inspected. You can look yourself and if you see fluid in there you're probably okay to drive it because it'll come on often when as brakes wear, the fluid will move from the master cylinder reservoir down into the brake calipers. It's not abnormal for the light to come but you should ... your brakes feel fine, have it inspected quickly within a day or two to see why that light is on, because if you're doing a fluid leak, of course, then your brakes will actually, pedal will fail. So it's important to verify what's going on with that.

This round light in the bottom, this is a security system warning light. If there's a malfunction in the security system this light will stay on. To the right, this is basically a power loss warning light indicating an issue with the electronic throttle or something that will cause the vehicle to run at reduced power mode. Again, that's a problem that needs to be fixed. There's our red lights. 

Let's move on to the amber. This is the tire, low tire pressure warning light. If this comes on, first thing to do is inspect your tire pressures. Of course, if you're driving and something feels bumpy or not right, go out and have a look at your tires because you probably have some that's flat. This, again, if all your tire pressures are good and the light remains on then there's a malfunction in the tire pressure warning system. Handy light to have though, because at least you know you're not running on a low tire and you can get it fixed.

Low fuel warning light goes without saying, put some gas in the vehicle. 

This one here, unfortunately, the picture is not to clear but it says ESPBAS. This is a brake assist system, electronic stability programming. Again that's like an issue with the traction control stability programming system. This is also a traction control warning light. If there's an issue with either these systems, this light will come on and needs some service. Same with the ABS brakes. Again, these are all add-on, safety add-ons to your brakes. The stability programming just keeps the vehicle theoretically stable when you're going around corners or making some kind of maneuvers where the vehicle might slip. It just adds a little bit of safety to the vehicle but it's not absolutely critical to the function, so that's why they have amber lights to warn you that something needs to be repaired in that system. Without the ABS brakes working, by the way, the vehicle will still ... should still brake normally, it's just that when you put it on the vehicle could skid.

Finally, our last light on the far right is the check engine lamp. This is a very misunderstood light, but it's actually more of an emission system warning light. When this light comes on, there's a malfunction in the engine or computer system that could cause your exhaust emissions to be excessive. It's not a warning that your engine level is, oil level is low, although sometimes low oil level can cause this because it's a variety of things the oil level can cause. If the light's on solid, take it in for a service soon. Soon meaning anywhere from same day or a week or two if it's running fine. If this light is blinking, however, that indicates immediate need for service because the engine has a misfire that could damage the catalytic converter and cost you more money. Blinking light, get it fixed right away. If it's just on solid, get it fixed soon. That goes through our entire 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan instrument warning light.

Mark: The check engine light, I'm sure that's caused you more concern than it really should've because there are so, so many ways that that can be triggered. Everything from not having the gas cap on to, you name it, there's many things. It becomes really difficult to diagnose at times, is that correct?

Bernie: There are times it's difficult to diagnose. There are literally hundreds of things that will cause that light to come on. As you said, the gas cap is often the simplest thing. If it does come on, check it, just loosen your gas cap off, tighten it, if it's really loose then that could be why the light was on. That's usually the simplest thing, but there are just a variety of different things. Sometimes, interesting enough, an engine could actually be running rough where clearly the exhaust emissions are out of whack or they would be out of whack and the light doesn't come on. I'm scratching my head go, "Why would that be?" Anyways, there are a lot of reasons for that light to be on, but, most importantly, when that light comes on, if the engine's performing well like it's running seems seemingly normally, it's not urgent to fix it. You should have it looked at but it's not ... you don't need to panic and freak out. If it's blinking, as I said, you got to fix it right away.

Mark: There you go. That's our little walk-through of the warning lights on a Dodge, the dash lights and the warning lights therein on a Dodge Caravan 2008 vintage. These lights will apply across most years of Dodge Caravans, is that right?

Bernie Pawlik: Yeah, they will, at least around this vintage of van. This is that square boxy style caravan. I can't remember what year they started doing that, but I think '08 is early in that vintage. Again, with your own vehicle as I always say, get get your owners manual out, have a look, but if you're looking at this video or podcast, have a look at the ... have a look at how this compares to your dash. If it's the same then take all our advice we're giving you here because it's all there.

Mark: There you go. If you need some service on your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are the Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to book ahead to have an appointment because they're busy. Two service advisors to help you out at all times as well. You can check out their website or our videos on Pawlik Auto Repair on YouTube, hundreds of videos on there, all makes and models of cars as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.

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

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan this morning, that had a coolant leak. What was going on with this vehicle, Bernie? Good morning.

Bernie: Hey, good morning. This Dodge Caravan actually had a very large coolant leak coming from the back of the engine. Well, in between the engine and the transmission. Pour some coolant in, and it would be dripping out almost as fast as you could pour it in. Not quite, but, almost as fast as. So, yeah, there was a very major leak coming from this engine.

Mark: So after you dried your shoes off, what was causing such a large leak?

Bernie: What we found, what I suspected, and it actually involves removing the engine from the vehicle to verify it, was that there was probably a frost plug that had failed. It didn't take long ... soon as I removed the radiator cap, note right away there was a lot of rust on the radiator cap, and sitting in the top of the radiator. The owner of the vehicle had told me that they'd recently replaced the radiator, and so something that ... it wasn't even an old radiator, had rust in the coolant. To me, suspicious immediately of ... it's probably a rusted out frost plug.

Mark: What is a frost plug?

Bernie: What a frost plug is, it's also known as an expansion plug. They put them in the engine block, the purpose, one of the purposes, supposedly, is to prevent ... if you had water in the cooling system, so this goes way back to when before antifreeze was invented, or used. If you had water in the cooling system, of course, when it gets cold out, water freezes and it expands, and as it expands, of course it'll crack the metal of the engine block. If you put these plugs in, these frost plugs or expansion plugs, these plugs are supposed to be pushed out by the expanding water, and prevent the block from cracking. In reality, that usually doesn't work. I've had many vehicles in the past where people have had water in the cooling system, it freezes and cracks the engine block. They don't actually work like they're supposed to, but they also do, apparently, hold the casting ... when they cast an engine block they actually hold some of the molds in place as well, so that's another reason, apparently, for having them, although I've never actually been in a foundry and seen a block cast, but that's another purpose for it. Nonetheless, they need to be intact. They're made of ... they're generally a metal plug made of a thin, maybe 16th inch think, millimetre thick piece of metal that's hammered, it's hammered and friction fit into the engine block. They are susceptible to rusting out.

Mark: Why had this frost plug failed?

Bernie: Bad maintenance. Clear and simple. Bad maintenance. And by the way, this part, a frost plug is worth about a dollar, just to put things in perspective. The labor involved in replacing it is huge. Let's just go into some pictures right now. Basically bad maintenance is what caused it. The owner had probably, it's a 10 year-old van, probably should have the cooling system flushed at least once, maybe twice in this age of vehicle, and I would suspect never had it done. Maybe there's a coolant leak at some point, they let it run with some water in it for a while, and it's a cast iron engine block, so it will rust up. We're getting some pictures. 

So there's the 2008 iconic Dodge Caravan, or popular as you would say. There's our first sign, before I even did any repairs on the vehicle, you can see the rust in the cooling system. That's a sign, right away, that there's a fair amount of rust throughout the cooling ... it never just stays in one spot, once it develops it tends to circulate around. There is a first telltale sign.

What's involved in this repair, is actually removing the engine and transmission from the vehicle, because it was leaking ... this is the bell housing area where the transmission bolts to the engine, and this is the rear frost plug. There's two of them, one here, one there. This is a cam shaft plug. This actually seals off an oil passageway. But there, where red arrow points, is a little hole that basically developed from the frost plug leaking out the coolant. When we look a little further, this is what the frost plugs removed ... and this is the kind of guck that was inside the back of the engine, the rust and corrosion. See, this is the back of the cylinder walls, these two areas, and this is just rust that had ... I stuck my fingers in here and dug a bit of it out, but that's basically the mess that was inside there.

In doing the service and repair I have a special flushing tool, and flushed all of it out. Still, once you develop this kind of rust, it's impossible to get rid of it all, but I probably removed about 95% of it in the process of doing this work. Just to look at things in perspective, after flushing out some of the heater hoses, this is what the coolant looked like. That's not yellow antifreeze, there are some antifreezes ... there are some antifreezes that have this colour, but this is definitely rusty water. So there's our picture show.

Mark: Basically, just from not flushing the coolant system, that would cause this much rust and damage in the interior of the engine?

Bernie: Yeah, as I said, my suspicion is that it may be that they ... well, first of all, it definitely didn't get flushed and serviced as much as it should've; and there was probably a time where it may have been low in coolant and the people had just put water in it for whatever temporary reasons. Maybe the temporary reasons were six months or a year, but between the two of those things, that's how the rust developed.

I actually purchased this vehicle from the owner. They didn't want to spend the money repairing it. So, essentially, they've taken a very good Dodge Caravan, with pretty low mileage, 150,000 km, and basically that vehicle is, to them, just junk. It's a shame, because one or two coolant flushes and some good maintenance, would be $200, $300. Not a lot of money. Yet, now they're out buying another vehicle. It really does pay to do your maintenance, especially ... if they'd paid for this repair, could be $3000 to $4000. Still worthwhile with the age of the van. It was otherwise in pretty good shape. Again, $300 or $3000, you know. As the Fram guy used to say, "You can pay me now, or pay me later." It's a classic example.

Mark: How often, other than too often, how often do you see these expensive repairs from lack of maintenance?

Bernie: From time to time we get vehicles in, and most of the times it's from people who haven't changed their oil enough, and the engine's just ... something's just blown up inside the engine. In all fairness, sometimes things blow up even for people who maintain their car well, but it's more often the lack of maintenance that causes these problems, or things that sludge up inside the engine, timing chain problems, rattles, cam gears. It's so important to change your oil and fluids regularly on modern cars. You don't need to do them as often as you did in the old days, I'm thinking 20, 30, 40 years ago, but with modern cars it's even more critical to do them when they're due or even sooner, just to ... it saves you a lot of money.

Mark: And Dodge Caravans have had a mixed, let's be kind, a mixed reliability record. Some years are pretty problematic with transmissions, and engines, depends on the motor. How is this generation of vans?

Bernie: These are pretty good. We don't see a ton of problems with them. It's been interesting ... with this engine I not only replaced the frost plugs, but I took the engine ... it had a couple of oil leaks, and I figured while the engine's out I may as well just re-gasket the whole engine, including the head gaskets, because you never know how hot this person got the engine, and I don't want to sell it to someone and find the head gasket's blown a month, or even a year.

Bernie: It's actually an incredibly simple engine, so there's not really a lot to go wrong with it. For reliability, the transmissions are definitely better than they used to be. Overall, they're actually a lot better than they used to be.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for maintenance and/or repairs on your Dodge Caravan, the guys to see in Vancouver 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 their website Hundreds of videos and articles on there about all makes and models. Of course, on our YouTube Channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same idea, hundreds of videos on all makes and models and types of repairs. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.

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

2009 Subaru Impreza, A/C Compressor Repair

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of course, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 19 time winners, 19 times voted by their customers as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well. 

Mark: So we're talking about a Subaru Impreza today, a 2009. It was an AC compressor issue. What was going on with this Subaru?

Bernie: So this vehicle came in with basically the belt drive in the AC compressor was gone and the compressor pulley was seized up. The compressor pulley bearing had failed and caused the belt to basically burn off. 

Mark: And there was no belt there at all? 

Bernie: No. No belt there at all.

Mark: No. 

Bernie: The belt is always turning with the engine running and the compressor pulley of course is always being driven. The compressor does switch on and off with the clutch but the actual pulley's always being driven. So if that seizes up belts will break.

Mark: So this Impreza was driving around with its pants down basically?

Bernie: Yeah. Kind of, yeah. I mean it drives fine without the belt on because the belt only drives the AC compressor which is a good thing in that respect. It doesn't affect the rest of the vehicle but the AC was no longer functioning. 

Mark: So what kind of repair needed to be done on this?

Bernie: So basically the compressor needed to be replaced and I'll just get right into some pictures here so we can have a look at things. But yeah, basically the compressor needed to be replaced to solve the issue, and the belt of course.

So this is our old compressor here, the original compressor with both drive belts off. This is the alternator over here. And the red area basically point to the ... You can see a sort of burnt area here. This is basically the compressor clutch assembly and this pulley here which rotates at all times with the engine running, it basically seized. You couldn't turn it.

And unfortunately I didn't get a video capture of it but is you stuck your hand on that pulley you would be able to wobble this thing back and forth. It was very loose so the bearing had basically worn out. It was very loose and of course caused this all to fail. At one time you could buy just the compressor clutches for vehicles and replace them. And if you did enough digging you could probably actually, possibly come up with a bearing replacement but usually at least by this point it's probably damaged the clutch pretty badly running loose.

So you'd want to replace the whole thing at this point. But sometimes if you have a bearing in early stages of failure you can replace it, but those parts are getting very hard to find nowadays. It's kind of replace the whole assembly type of thing which happens a lot in modern car repairs. This is our new compressor mounted. You can see it's much shinier and clean so this is what the ... The hoses are not attached to the system but that's basically the belt installed and new compressor put in place.

Mark: So, is this a large job?

Bernie: As far as air-conditioning no. I mean labor-wise it's not particularly difficult to do but it does involve of course evacuating the air-conditioning refrigerant and then recharging the system afterwards. But as far as actual component replacement it's one of the easier items to do on an air-conditioning system. I mean the evaporator is definitely the worst because that's located behind the dash and you have to tear the whole ... generally you have to tear the whole dash out on 99% of cars. There are a couple where you don't but yeah, 99% of vehicles you have to tear the whole dash apart to get the evaporator. So this is a pretty easy job to do. The parts are generally not that cheap though so it does end up being a pricey repair but it's not too difficult labor-wise. 

Mark: And is this a fairly common failure on Subarus?

Bernie: Not particularly. I mean any vehicle, these bearings will fail but it's not an everyday failure item we see. Certainly not as predictable as head gaskets are on these cars. 

Mark: And would the car owner have any warning prior to the failure?

Bernie: Yes. Normally you would. You'd normally hear a sound coming from the engine. There'd normally be some sort of grating sound, a grindy sound. As so sometimes it can be a little subtle but normally you should be able to hear something and certainly before the belt failed it probably made some very loud screeching noises. But by that point it's definitely too late.

Mark: So it's winter now in Vancouver which means no need for air-condition. Would it have been possible to have left this repair for warmer weather?

Bernie: So in this particular car, certainly you could have because as I said, the compressor's driven by its own belt. If you have a vehicle with a serpentine belt and that's a belt that drives all the components you really can't do that because you have to have that piece in there. Some cars you can actually get a shorter belt or an auxiliary pulley but it doesn't really make sense to do that for the most part. So the answer is, yes you could have left it but one thing about air-conditioning it actually provides an awesome defrosting function it's really just as useful in winter as it is in the summertime. I mean in the summer you want it to keep you cool but in the wintertime air-conditioning dries the air so it will defrost your windshield extremely quickly. And it's very noticeable if you have a car where you can turn the air-conditioning on and off with the defrost or triad you'll see just how effective having good working air-conditioning is. It will defrost your window very fast.

Mark: Or defog it

Bernie: Defog it, yeah. Exactly. Not frost. We say the word frost. Yeah, defog, get the fog off the inside of the windscreen. So yeah. It makes a huge difference and that's really a safety feature having that. And it actually saves you on fuel because you could sit in front of your house and turn the heat on for 10 minutes and then you've wasted a bunch of gas. But if you turn your air-conditioning on, one minute later its defogged and away you go. So it's a good thing to have working year round. And of course as it cycles year round it keeps everything moving and it actually keeps the components lasting longer than it would at other times of the year.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Subaru in Vancouver and you need some maintenance or some repairs the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to keep your windows fog-free or any other kind of repairs or maintenance. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy, unlike many other shops. Or else checkout our website, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair, hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and types of repairs as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching. We really appreciate it. 

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