Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 23, 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2014 AMG Mercedes E63, what was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop for a maintenance service. The owner had a couple of concerns as well, but mostly came in for an A maintenance service. And we did find a couple of issues with the vehicle. 

Mark: So what brought this hot rod into your shop?

Bernie: Well, besides the A service the owner had complained that sometimes it felt like the engine had a bit of a misfire and we noticed, well we road tested it and came back into the shop, you could smell oil burning off the engine, and you could see a bit of smoke puffing out here and there under the hood, which wasn't a good sign.

Took a look at it. It was pretty apparent that valve cover gaskets were leaking and they leak right on top of the exhaust manifold slash turbocharger. The turbochargers, it's a twin turbo engine. The turbos are tucked right in nice and compactly in right underneath the cover area. 

 Mark: So where was the oil leaking from? 

Bernie: From the valve cover gaskets, it was pretty apparent. We didn't need to get into any complex diagnostics on this one. It was pretty apparent where the cause of the leak was coming from. 

Mark: So how do you go about repairing that? 

Bernie: Well, actually there's a couple of ways, so it can be done in car, but we chose to actually drop the engine assembly out of the car. It's really hard to access a lot of the bolts and to cleanly remove the valve cover. And we felt like, there's a little bit of extra time, but much more worthwhile way to do a proper repair to just to drop the engine and then work on it. So I'll just get into some pictures here. 

Mark: And these cars are built to actually do that right. 

2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair

Bernie: They are and we're finding that more and more that you know, cars,  removing engines and transmission assemblies is not really that difficult. This is an all wheel drive car too. And really not that time-consuming, I mean, it's a few hours to get it out and get it back in. But once you do it, then doing the work as much simpler than doing it in the car and much less difficult on the technician too. Because you get to stand and work on the engine as opposed to... be hunched over. Yeah be hunched over. 

2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair
2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair
2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair
2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair
2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair
2014 Mercedes E63 AMG, Valve Cover Gasket Repair

Here's a view of the engine. This is before disassembly. I took these photos when this service was just a maintenance repair. So you can see again, this isn't the first E63 or engine we've looked at, but it's a beautiful looking engine I have to say. They've done a nice job for most of these Mercedes AMGs making them good looking engine. 

There's our engine out of the vehicle. The vehicle sits above us out of view. And basically you've got your valve cover here. You can see some oil stainage here. There's the turbocharger right there. Oil leaking, right from where my mouse pointer is straight down, dripping off this. Of course it's got a tray here, but it does drip off and eventually hits the turbocharger.

Mark: And the turbocharger is red, like literally molten, almost molten metal temperature.

Bernie:  They can get that way for sure. Absolutely. They get super hot and you know, oil leaks never used to be a big deal on cars a long time ago. But now with crammed engine compartments and the amount of heat going on, an oily can be a fire hazard. It's  not like in the olden days. Oh, well this is an oil leaking. I remember when, you know, in younger years, I mean, a car would never catch on fire from an oil leak. It never happened. 

But you know, nowadays this kind of thing can happen, especially if oil is sprayed under any sort of pressure. I mean, at this point it's just a seep, but this again, you can see a closer view here, kind of wet right in that area. Another closer view with items removed and you can actually see the oil sitting right in there and running down there. So, I mean, at the very least it doesn't smell that good for nice hot rod engine and the smoke coming out of the hood is a little disconcerting. Again, there's a view with the wiring harnesses and the ignition coils removed. You can kind of see a better picture of the top of the engine. 

And our final last picture. This is what the valve cover off. So you can kind of see the inner workings, the two camshafts, these cam lobes here drive the high pressure fuel pump. And there's one on each side of the back of the engine. So that adds a bit of extra strain onto this cam shaft. You can see the timing chain here, not as impressive as the older series of Mercedes, where they had double roller chains. These guys have gone to the skinny, single row chain design, kind of like land rovers that are a failure item.

And so far, we haven't seen a lot of problems with these, but I would say that they are certain to fail much sooner than the earlier style of Mercedes engines with the double roller chains. Less moving mass, I guess, is why they do it. And this one does look a little beefier than the Land Rover chain, but not a lot. And you consider this is a 500 plus horsepower engine. I don't even know the exact specs, but it's way up there. So there's our picture show. 

Mark: So that engine sitting on a, basically a subframe, that you on both that. And once you've unhooked the engine from everything, it just drops out of the vehicle.

Bernie: Yeah. Well, we don't like to drop it out. That would be kind of get a mattress underneath and bounce it off. Yeah. You can do that thick, spongy, a trampoline or something, but yeah, so basically we just have a rolling bench that we put underneath and set everything in place. And then we actually leave it, that stays in place and the car body just goes up right above it. It's pretty cool. And you got like a nice built in engine stand and room to move. And you know, as I said, this can be done in the car and it's, there's a lot of room for making mistakes. 

I'll just actually get right back into this picture again here because I've got it up. But  this gasket here, everything needs to be scraped away all around the edge of this gasket. All old silicone needs to be removed. And then, you know, really the tricky part is putting it back down if there's anything in the way. And there often is when you do it in the car. Cause you're trying to push wiring harnesses out of the way and vacuum hoses or whatever bits and pieces. And you tend to have to fight with that kind of stuff. And sometimes when you do, you might, you know, the valve cover, won't go cleanly on, you might smudge the silicone and then the thing leaks. It's not quite as good of a job as you can do when you have everything off. 

Mark: So good quality control is quite a bit higher than when you do it this way.

Bernie: Way better for sure. And honestly, you know, we don't want to do this job as a warranty job. But for the customer, we want to make sure that the car, this car is what, seven years old, you know, seven years from now, maybe that's when the gas gets starts to leak again or maybe not.

Mark: Yeah, so job all done. Everything's backing the vehicle. How'd the vehicle run after repair? 

Bernie: Yeah, it was good. We actually had a chance to look at the spark plugs and the ignition coils and things while we had everything off. The spark plugs had been replaced. Remember, I did mention there was a concern of a bit of an engine misfire, but we never found anything obvious wrong. It ran fine afterwards. I mean, something that may need some diagnostic down the road and this vehicle has had some custom tuning done to it. So that can always affect how things run, shouldn't make it misfire, but there can be some interesting issues that occur from that. 

Mark: And what kind of mileage was on this car?

Bernie: About 85,000 I think. Somewhere in the 80,000 kilometre range. So not a huge amount, still pretty young and kind of disappointing to have a valve cover leak this magnitude at this age. I mean, that wouldn't have been a 1972 Chevy V8 that probably, would've had four valve cover gaskets by now, but you know, on an engine of this caliber, with that kind of sealing technology, it is a little disappointing considering we see some cars, you know, a variety of different vehicles with two or 300,000 K's, don't have a drip of oil coming out. It's kind of disappointing. 

Mark: Is that a bit of a function of the fact that it's such a high horsepower, kind of, it is a hot rod, basically custom style engine. 

Bernie: Well, I think that could be part of it. I mean, you know, the heat under the hood has got to be tremendous, especially in that valve cover area, because you've got those turbochargers sitting underneath, even though there are heat shields, there's still gotta be a lot of heat there. So that could be definitely part of why the silicone decays quicker in that area. It probably is. 

My daughter has a Jeep, it's like a four cylinder Jeep, you know, basic vehicle, couple hundred thousand K's, not a drip of oil coming out of it. I'm going, you know, that's, that's a Jeep, you know, and again, same kind of silicone technology, Toyotas, same thing, couple of two, 300 Ks, no drips, but they're not performance engines like this. So that's probably doesn't make a lot of sense. 

Mark: And how are these E63 AMGs is for reliability?

Bernie: Well they're pretty good. I think these are definitely a little more problematic engines than the earlier, like say the 55 series, the supercharged engines though, you know, there's issues with these engines that are more common and prevalent than with the older models. So, and expect to have more repairs and I mean, of course it's a Mercedes, it's a high tech high, highly complex car. So great car, just a thrill to drive. But it'll cost you. 

Mark: If you are looking for service for your AMG 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 Hundreds. Not exaggerating hundreds of videos on there. We've been doing this for nine years now. Hundreds of videos, all makes and models of cars, types of repairs. Check out the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing. Thanks for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. And thank you Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. It's always a pleasure.

1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience Vancouver, BC, Canada, and of course, 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers not making that up. 23 times. Bernie we're talking cars. How are you doing?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is an old one, a 1992 VW Transporter that had a bit of a ring gear problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle came to our shop. The owner had a complaint. The starter would wouldn't engage. It would just make a grinding sound when he went to start it. And he replaced the starter. It's a bit of a do it yourselfer, he'd replaced a starter many times. And basically he'd found the ring gear was worn out. 

Mark: So what testing and inspections did you do? How did this show up? 

Bernie: The vehicle was towed to our shop. So you know, and as I said, the owner had done a lot of his own work on it. He said, look the ring gear is worn out. So we put it up on a hoist and just visually verified that in fact, the teeth and the ring gear were worn out and it needed to be replaced. So pretty simple on that end. 

Mark: So, how did the starter and ringer work together? 

Bernie: Well basically the ring gear is a very large, it's a ring gear very large diameter, generally a foot or two in diameter, depending on the size of the engine, well  two feet is maybe on a large diesel, but you know, usually a foot, foot and a half in diameter, big ring that bolts onto the back of the engine. Sometimes it's part of the torque converter for the transmission or the flywheel. And the starter motor has a very small little gear that engages into that ring gear.

So when you turn the key to start, the starter motor, there's a plunger that moves a small gear into the ring gear and the starter motor turns rotates the engine. So that's basically how the whole system works. And then of course, when you let the key back off, it all retracts and the engine is started and running, hopefully everything works like it normally does. Well, that's kind of how it works. 

Now of course you know, as this gear meshes in and out all the time, eventually there's a little tiny bit aware. And sometimes over the years, this is a 92, so it's getting pretty old. There's been a lot of years of the gear meshing together and it basically wears the teeth out. 

Mark: So, I guess sometimes these are incorporated into, they're not separate. Is it a separate piece on the VW? 

Bernie: It is now. Yeah. On this one is actually part of the torque converter. So the transmission has to come out to replace it. It actually has to come out on pretty well every vehicle. I can think of one vehicle where you don't, but we won't talk about that right now, but 99.9% of any vehicle on the road if your ringer goes bad. Either the engine or transmission has to be removed to replace it. So, and in this case, the ring gear is incorporated in the torque converter.

So let's look at some pictures. 

1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced

So there is our worn out ring gear. Yeah. If you can see these teeth, we'll be looking at some good ones in awhile. You can see these teeth along here, like someone's hammered them flat compared to these nice looking teeth down here. So the interesting thing with ring gear wears, it doesn't wear the whole gear.

It only usually wears one or two spots because when an engine stops, it almost always stops in the same spot. You know, one of two spots. So it's always, it seems to engage  in the same area and it'll just wear that spot out. If it stopped in a different place every time it would be kind of a different ball of wax.

This is the torque inverter removed. Again you can see the ring gear. And if you look around this area in sort of the bottom left here, you can see these teeth like a little less, quite a bit worn compared to these teeth at the bottom and around the side. 

This is a view of the ring gear when it was actually in the vehicle. So this is where the starter bolts in. That yellow arrow points to the starter drive bushing. This is something that does need to be replaced from time to time when you do the starter usually. And you can see, again, the red arrow points to a worn out tooth on the ring gear. 

Now we'll look at the new piece. You can see the teeth. Not only is it nicely painted blue, but the teeth are very much in good shape. So when they replaced this torque converter, they actually weld a new ring gear on and there's a bigger view of the torque converter. Again, you can see all the teeth look to be very tall, nothing pounded down, so works much better that way

Mark: So you're replacing the torque converter as well as the ring gear. Do they go around the same time or ... 

Bernie: They're actually welded together as an assembly? So a couple of things happened with ring gears. Sometimes you get a thing it's called a flex plate, and it's basically a plate that bolts up to the crankshaft of the engine.

It's kind of a thin metal plate, a thin, I mean, thinish compared to a relative term, I guess. It's a thin metal plate with the ring gear attached to the outside. It's kind of all formed together, welded together. And then the torque converter bolts onto that. Some engines like this one with the ringer is actually bolted the torque converter.

And if you have a standard transmission with a clutch using the ring gear is incorporated into the flywheel, which is a much more massive object than a flex plate. So it depends on what kind of transmission, but it's always either the torque converter, the flywheel or the flex plate.

Mark: So this geared situation with the two, the small gear on the starter, the big ring gear, is that the typical design do all vehicles use this kind of design of starter motor ring gear? 

Bernie: Well, they do, unless it's a hybrid. And so if you have like a Toyota Prius or, you know, just use that as example, but a lot of hybrids. The motor generator unit actually will start the engine. So when it's commanded, it'll be spinning, it serves as the starter motor and the generator kind of incorporates several items into one. And so that eliminates the ring gear, the starter. There's also some GM vehicles that are it's called a mild hybrid. It's like a 48 volt system. And it would actually use a starter and alternator become they become one unit and that'll actually start the motor with it that uses a very robust drive belt system. So again, that eliminates the ring gear and starter, but any other internal combustion engine uses this system. I guess as time goes by with hybrids, it's getting less common.  

So how common of a repair is this on VW Transporter vans are on any vehicle?

We do them from time to time. I mean, I can say probably we might do a couple of year and we do a lot of cars in our shops, so it's not a really common repair, but it does happen from time to time. I guess the next question. How do you know your ring gears are bad? In this case the starter wouldn't turn anymore. But usually you can tell when your ring gear is going, because when you turn your key to start, it'll make like a loud kind of clanging sound like instead of the engine actually cranking over normally. So if that's happening, your ring gear is probably, I mean, sometimes it can just be the starter drive gear that's bad, but that's usually indicating your ring gears on its way out. And actually, if you do get any noises like that, it's probably good to inspect it and change the starter right away, because you might prevent ring gear damage because starter's much cheaper than replacing the ring gear. 

Mark: So how are these vans for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, they're awfully old now. You know, in their day they were pretty good. I mean, there's step up from, I like them better than the rear engine vans in many ways. They're much more reliable than the rear engine vans.

But you know, again, this is almost a 30 year old van now, so things are going to be happening and yeah, what can you say, they're getting old. You'll be doing repairs.

Mark: It's nearing the eventual inevitable end. 

Bernie: It is. But it's funny how a lot of old VW vans are still around and I mean, they're worth a fortune now compared to what they used to be. For some reason, VW vans had a very long lifespan for some reason. Now, again, these Transporters are a little more mainstream because they're front wheel drive, but Yeah, the old, you know, a lot of them seem to last longer than your usual on the road vehicles. So we'll probably see a few of these for years to come.

Mark: How expensive of repair was this?

Bernie: At least $2,000 Canadian. I can't remember the exact thing is at least 2000 a lot. The torque inverter's not being insanely expensive, but there's a lot of labor involved to pull the transmission out. It's really shoehorned in there. Not a lot of fun to remove and re-install. So mostly, mostly labor, but some parts.

Mark: If you're looking for good, reliable service, honest service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to call Pawlik Automotive. (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We love you calling from other places, but we can't help you over the phone. It's in person. This is real-world stuff. Check out the website Hundreds of videos on there. All makes models, types of repairs. We've been doing this for nine years now. And of course the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. We really appreciate you listening and watching the podcast. Leave us a review if you like what we're doing. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. Always fun.

2017 Range Rover Sport HSE, TD6 Diesel Maintenance Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. That's the important part, right? They're voted by their customers, not just some magazine bestowing on them and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So 2017 Range Rover diesel. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop. It was due for a maintenance service, an A level service. And that's what we did on the vehicle. 

Mark: So, what do you do during an A level service? 

Bernie: The A-level service on this vehicle, I mean, the heart of the service is an oil and filter change. But along with that, we adjust tire pressures, do a visual inspection of the vehicle, under hood inspection. Look at fluids. Inspect lights. I mean, a lot of these things are monitored by computer these days and things like lights, but it's always good to look at them because surprisingly enough, there's the odd light that isn't monitored on certain vehicles. You'd think everything would be, but it's not. So that's something we look at and yeah, fluids and that's basically it. 

Mark: So it's a diesel, anything different because in the service realm, because it's a diesel?

Bernie:  Yeah. Well, there was one additional item on this vehicle and that is the diesel exhaust fluid needs to be filled up during a service. And that's basically the only additional thing that we would do. I mean this particular service, it was due for air filters and cabin air filters which we replaced. But that's not a normal part of the service. It's a once in a while type of thing. 

Mark: So diesel exhaust fluid. What the heck is that? 

Bernie: So diesel exhaust fluid is kind of the latest, and I say latest because it's been out for more than a decade now, it's the latest exhaust emission technology on diesels. You know, there's NOx emissions, which are the big thing on diesel engines. Need to be reduced.

There's various ways you can build an engine, you can put EGR valves. You know, programming and things to reduce NOx, but really the ultimate way to do it is with a device called an SCR. It's a selective catalyst reduction and is the last piece in the exhaust system before the muffler.

So most modern diesels, they have the oxidation catalyst, which comes as the exhaust streams out, goes to the catalyst, then it goes to the particular filter and now it goes to the SCR. And the SCR has a urea injector, and that uses a special type of fluid. It's like a urea based fluid that's injected into the SCR that reduces NOx to pretty much nothing. So that's kind of like the magic bullet in diesels nowadays. 

It's the one I know I've talked about before. It's the one that Volkswagen didn't want to do so they could do their emissions without it. And instead they faked it and because they didn't want the additional cost of putting an SCR system in the vehicle or the exhaust fluid system.

Mark: $18 billion dollars later, they learned their lesson.

Bernie: Yeah, it would, it would have been cheaper just to charge a little more money for the cars and be honest with people, but, you know, it's just getting off on Volkswagen. I mean, it's caused them to invest in electric technology. And I think they're going to be one of the winners in terms of that. So in a way it's bad and good. 

And I'm just gonna share a couple of photos real quick. I didn't take a picture of the engine on this thing, but there's, you know, a nice little picture of the the name badge in the back of the vehicle.

2017 Range Rover Sport HSE, TD6 Diesel Maintenance Service
2017 Range Rover Sport HSE, TD6 Diesel Maintenance Service

And always beautiful looking Range Rover to me, always a beautiful style, good looking vehicle. And you know, it looks pretty much the same with the diesel, it's just when you pop the hood, that's where you see the difference and some of the specs.

Mark: So does that diesel exhaust fluid add a lot of cost operating cost to this vehicle? 

Bernie: The actual fluid is really cheap and it lasts, you know, between probably I have to top it up every, maybe eight to 10,000 kilometres, depending on driving conditions and so on. And it, it's not expensive. I think on the bill of this service was about 45 bucks for the fluid and the tank was very low. So it's not a huge cost over that period of time. It's not like fuel, it's marginal. It's maybe a few cents on a litre of fuel for the amount that's used. So it's really very little, but where the cost does come in is when things start to break down, when things get old. 

It's a complicated system. The fluid freezes very easily. So it has to be kept warm. So it's got a very complex system. It's got a tank, it's got a heater, it's got a pump, you know, obviously computer controls and an injector nozzle and piping. So there's a lot of bits and pieces that go wrong and they do eventually.

So this is a young vehicle. It's only four years old. It's got, you know, 50,000 kilometres, not much going on with it yet, but given, another five years, something in the system may fail and it's expensive to fix. 

Mark: What are some of the other maintenance requirements for this three litre diesel? 

Bernie: So fuel filters are one of them. Those are the things you won't find on the gasoline engine. Of course, I mentioned air, the engine air and the cabin air filter. But the fuel filter is one of them. And then the only other thing that's interesting on this engine is it has a timing belt, which is unusual for a modern engine. Most, you know, late model vehicles don't have timing belts anymore, but this one does there hasn't been a Range Rover Land Rover product in quite some time that's had a timing belt. At least in North America, but this one does. So that's the one other unusual maintenance requirement.

Mark:  Because that does have to be replaced on a certain strict maintenance schedule. 

Bernie: It does. And if you're wondering when that is, it is a 180,000 kilometres or a112,000 miles. That's the recommended interval. So now, if the vehicle is 10 years old, you probably want to consider doing it. If you haven't got up to that mileage, but you know, they generally build these pretty well, but a failure of that belt will cause catastrophic engine damage. If it's old enough, it's probably won't be worth fixing, but if you do fix it, it'll be expensive. So the belt needs to be done at the right time. 

Mark: So how are these Range Rover diesels for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, so far so good. We don't work on a lot of them and they're not very common. I mean, there are a lot of Range Rovers around Vancouver and not a lot of diesels. So we've got a few clients with them, not many compared to gasoline models. So far they've been good.

Hopefully they will be a better quality, more reliable product than Mercedes, which we see a lot of. Not that Mercedes are bad, but there's just a lot that goes wrong with them. But hopefully these are going to end up being more reliable in the long run, but so far so good. They are nice and they've got good power, good torque. They can haul a lot of weight. So it kind of adds something, if you're looking to haul weight and you know say tow a boat or something, this could be a better vehicle than the gasoline powered one. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Range Rover in Vancouver, BC Canada, you can call Pawlik automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Check out the website or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Both have hundreds, no exaggeration. Hundreds. We've been doing this for nine years. Hundreds of videos on all makes and models and types of repairs. Of course, thank you so much for watching and listening to our podcasts. We really appreciate it. And thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. And thanks for watching.

2002 Ford Windstar, Rear Axle Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. As voted by their customers. That's insane. 23 times Bernie we're talking cars. How are you doing?

Bernie: Doing well? 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2002 Ford Windstar that had a bit of an actual problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle, actually the rear axle was broken in the vehicle, making some pretty horrific noises when the owner was driving it. 

Mark: That might be a problem. What type of rear axle does this vehicle have?

Bernie:  So this a front wheel drive vehicle. It just has a solid beam axle on the rear, basically just a big metal bar that connects one end of  the left wheel to the right wheel to the spindles. And that's basically the axle. It's a pretty simple design, just a big gigantic chunk of metal. You know, obviously machined to precision for somewhat precision, but no moving parts or anything mechanical, just a solid beam of metal. 

Mark: So how do you bust that? 

Bernie: Very good question. I'd say it probably just metal fatigue. Let's just get into some pictures right here so we can see what's going on.

2002 Ford Windstar, Rear Axle Replacement
2002 Ford Windstar, Rear Axle Replacement

So this is the back of the vehicle. The camera's pointing forward, you can see the fuel tank up here. You can obviously see right away there's a big broken chunk of metal here. And again, as you can see, it's a big solid axle. There's a stabilizer a rod that connects from the body to the axle to keep it from sideways movement.

You got your coil springs and then of course there's arms that go forward as well, trailing arms. We'll get into a closer picture here of the crack. There you can see the crack. So there's obviously, you can see some rust on the metal and it's, I guess what happened at some point a slight crack developed, and as this happens, it just gets worse and worse over time until it finally breaks. But why, kind of hard to say for sure. I mean, it's a pretty solid chunk of metal. Never, never actually seen something like this break before, so there's always new and fun stuff in our trade and this is one of them.

Mark: So what'd you do to repair this issue? 

Bernie: So we basically just got a used axle assembly, which came with the trailing arms and removed all the pieces as we needed to and just swapped it in. It's a perfectly good use part to buy because of course it's a solid piece of metal. We can look at a visually, make sure it all looks fine. And being a 2002 and a Ford likely they wouldn't even sell us part new anymore anyways.

Mark: So, is this a pretty time consuming or complex job? 

Bernie: Not too bad. You know, simpler than an actual rear end with with moving parts in it like an actual differential type of rear end. You know, there are brakes to bleed, brake hoses to disconnect, brake parts to swap over, you know, being, we're getting it from a used axle.

 It's definitely a good chunk of time to do the job, but not really crazy. 

Mark: So this is an 18 year old van. Windstars, they're not even made anymore. Not very many of them around how are they for reliability?

Bernie: You know, they, weren't the greatest vans. I would put them on one of the lower end reliability vans. I mean, like you said, there's very few of these left. They were very popular for a long time, but a lot of them didn't have the best engines. They had head gasket problems, a number of things I would say they weren't the greatest in terms of reliability.

In 2002, there was a lot of American minivans that really weren't very well built. Weren't very reliable, and this was definitely among one of them, but this one has survived. And you know, it keeps on going. So, you know, the thing that the cracked axle, of course, it's just a weird, bizarre kind of thing, but not really indicative of the reliability of the van. There were other issues. Transmissions were problematic too on these, electronic items and things. It wouldn't have been on my most recommended lists. 

Mark: So was it worth repairing? 

Bernie: Yeah, it was worth repairing. I mean, the owner has been a customer of ours for a long time and takes pretty good care of it. So, you know, it was still worth repairing for him. Some people may have given up. It really depends on your circumstances, but for this one, it was okay.  

Mark: If you're looking for some service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website Hundreds of videos, almost nine years worth of videos of us doing this all makes and models and types of repairs. The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds. Not exaggerating hundreds. And of course, thanks for listening to the podcast and watching. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. How many times is it Bernie? 

Bernie: It's 23 times 

Mark: 23 time winners. Oh my God. 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. I think we must be getting old because we can't even remember how many times it is now. 

Mark: Well, it just gets lost in the fog of, you know ... it's an honour and a privilege. My 1 brain cell. That's right. We're going to talk about a 2018 Mercedes C43 AMG. Little hot rod. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the owner called us, they had their car at the dealer. They had a leaking tire and Mercedes wanted to replace the wheel and they asked, Hey, do you guys have any, you have any options? It's a lot of money for this wheel. What can you do? And I said, absolutely, we can have the wheel repaired. So they towed the vehicle over and we proceeded to work on having the wheel repaired. 

Mark: So how does a wheel like this get, have an issue like this? 

Bernie: Well, it's very low profile tire on this car, and we're gonna look at pictures in a second. So with these low profile tires, the moment you hit a pothole, it's winter around Vancouver, the roads tend to get bad around this time of year, and it's easy to hit a pothole. And when you do that, the tire just doesn't have any room to compress like you would, if you had a much higher profile tire. So the wheel, you know, sometimes it'll wreck the tire. Other times it'll actually wreck the wheel, it'll crack the wheel because it'll actually hit the edge of the pothole. So this is what happened with this vehicle. It cracked the inside of the rim, not an uncommon issue. We see this on a lot of cars with low profile tires, and it's very repairable. 

Mark: So doesn't need to be replaced then, basically? 

Bernie: No it doesn't. Mercedes chose, I guess their only option on the menu is replacement, but for us and many other shops, and it's very general practice around the automotive industry, repairing wheels is big business. And just have a look at some pictures here. 

2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair
2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair
2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair

So there's our C43. Again, you can see exceptionally low profile tire on this car, nice rim, a lot of money, $1,400 in Canada for this particular wheel. So it's not cheap. Yeah. Each yeah. Each yeah. There's inside of the wheel. And you can see a little, it's not the greatest picture, but you can see a little hairline crack and obviously when this vehicle hit the pothole or whatever happened, it crushed this tire up enough that that would actually hit something and crack the wheel. It's aluminum so it cracks. 

So the repair method is basically take the tire off the wheel. They weld it and they weld in a new metal and repair and it's a hundred percent bulletproof. I mean, the one thing I will say on the downside. If you happen to be looking at the inside of the wheel, you will see this repair, but you can't see it from the road and for the cost, which is about, you know, in the two to $250 range in Canada, it's a lot cheaper to fix than buying a new wheel. There's our picture show. 

Mark: So is the wheel, as good as new. 

Bernie: Yeah. I'd say it absolutely is as good as new other than, you know, this vehicle did a little bit of curb rashing on it. We didn't have that repaired at this point, but that is again, another thing that wheel repair shops can do. They can actually repair wheels that are chewed up by curbs, and they do a nice job. The wheels basically come out looking as good as brand new.

So in this case, the wheel did not look as good as new, but a function absolutely as good as brand new. And I mean, unless you hit another pothole and exactly the same spot that weld will hold really nicely. We've done this many times and we've come across many wheels that have been repaired and they'll work perfectly well.

Mark: So why would the dealer not offer repairing the wheel instead of just only wanting to sell them a new wheel? 

Bernie: Well, it could depend on the business model. I mean, ultimately the best repair job is to just replace the wheel with a brand new one. It's more profitable too, since they are in the business of selling parts. They make better money at it. And Mercedes you know, in my opinion, they do lots of great work, but they are a little less caring about people's wallets. They're selling the expensive cars. They don't care quite so much. It's like, well, if you don't want to do it our way, no problem. I've seen a lot of interesting repairs quoted from Mercedes that have been done in the aftermarket for fractions, like you know hundreds of the price of their quotes, because they just want to do the whole full meal deal. Yeah, I think it's partly their business model, partly, maybe some arrogance and partly some liability they're worried about. They just want to make everything perfect and right. You know, it's a high standards kind of car, so I can just kind of see where they come from and it's German, German engineering. So there's a culture around that, and I'm German. 

Mark: This is coming from an AMG owner himself. 

Bernie: Yeah, that's right. And my background is German too, so I can make fun of it kind of at least I hope. 

Mark: So how are these C43 AMGs for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, so far pretty good. I mean, this is a fairly new car. We haven't run into many issues with them and yeah, it's a nice car and certainly it goes like a rocket, it's like a little rocket sedan. It's pretty cool little vehicle. Good car so far. You know, give it a few more years and we'll see what some of the issues are. Again, it's a Mercedes there's more stuff that always goes wrong and a more complex car. So it'll cost you more than your average fancier Japanese car, I think to fix.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Mercedes in Vancouver guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, or you going to crack in your wheel. Come and see them. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. Check out the website There are literally hundreds of articles and videos on there. We've been doing this for over eight years now. Hundreds of types of cars and types of repairs of all makes and models of vehicles, light trucks. Check out the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. We appreciate you watching and leaving us a thumbs up. And of course, thank you for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. 23 times Bernie we're talking cars. How are you doing? 

Bernie: Excellent. 

Mark: So today's victim 2006 Land Rover LR3 that had a transfer case issue. What was going on with this Land Rover? 

Bernie: Yeah. So the owner of the vehicle brought the vehicle to us with a complaint of a front end noise. While she was driving the vehicle. There was some kind of grinding kind of noises going on in the front end. That was the complaint. 

Mark: So what testing and diagnosis did you do to find the problem?

Bernie: Well, the first step of course, is the road test the vehicle. Listen for the complaint, which we heard quite easily. And then from there put the vehicle up on a hoist. Pretty sure it was some kind of drive train issue, a bearing of some sort, maybe an axle bearing or something.

So we listened to all the drive train components and found that the the transfer case was the culprit, there was likely a worn out bearing inside the transfer case that was causing the issue. 

Mark: So what does a transfer case do? 

Bernie: So transfer case, you'll find this only in four wheel and all wheel drive vehicles of which of course Land Rovers are. Transfer cases basically transfer the motion of the vehicle like normally this would be a rear wheel drive vehicle, but with the transfer case that also runs the drive shaft to the forward axle. So it gives you a four wheel drive. Now transfer cases used to be at one-time a pretty simple component of just a big chain that would run the drive shaft to the front axle.

And most of them had two speeds. So you'd have like an extra low range. This would be kind of, we're going back into the days of four wheel drive trucks. So you'd have like a low range and you could crawl up steep hills and use the kind of utility that four wheel drives were meant for. Well, this vehicle has that capability, but it also with modern vehicles, they're all wheel drive. So there has to be some slippage between the front and rear axle. Otherwise things will bind up when you go around corners. And if you've ever owned an old truck that has, you know, a four wheel drive system in it, you'll notice if you put it in four wheel drive, you go around the corner and the vehicle will almost stop moving because it locks up. 

So these have slipped clutches inside there's some complexity to them and also with Land Rover, they have these different terrain control module. So they can adjust the transfer case to lock in different ways, depending on what you're going over. Perhaps favouring the front or rear axle or both, it really depends on what's going on.

So there's a lot inside a transfer case on a lot of modern vehicles. And this one. Yeah. So that's basically what we got. 

Mark: So, is this a common problem? 

Bernie: No, this is actually the first transfer case we've done on a Land Rover and this vehicle actually has about 240,000 kilometres. So it lasted quite a long time. Overall and in general, I mean, transfer cases do last a long time. Unless you abuse them or they develop a leak and you run them out of oil, but this one was full of oil. It just basically I'd say just wore out from old age. 

Mark: What did you do to repair the issue? 

Bernie: This one, we put a used unit in it. It was at the time we sort of looked into options. It seemed to be the most cost effective. And for the customer, not wanting to keep the vehicle much longer, again with the mileage, this was the least expensive option to do, as opposed to repairing it or replacing with a new unit. So, you know, had had much lower mileage and being newer, we could have done something like that but replace it with something new or rebuilt it. But let's just go through some pictures right now. 

So after the installation, we just took the old one apart to see what was actually wrong with it. And we figured it was a bad bearing. So this is the transfer case separated. And you've got basically a big planetary gear on this side. There's a number of clutch packs in here that again, allow that four wheel drive control. This is the chain that drives between the front drive shaft and the rear drive shaft.

2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair
2006 Land Rover LR3 Transfer Case Repair

So the power generally goes through this direction. If you can see my mouse pointer, this goes to the rear drive shaft and this area here, this goes to the front. So again, you've got some nice big gears. That chain is enormous. It's probably about two inches. Thick you know, there's a lot of strain on that chain, so it needs to be tough and well-built, and that's actually an item that does wear out on transfer cases from time to time. The chain will stretch and you have like a banging kind of sound inside the transfer case, but not in this vehicle. 

This is the actuator motor that controls the transfer case on this vehicle. Again, you know, in the olden days, you'd have a lever in your vehicle and you'd have to, you know, make sure you're either stopped or whatever condition in. You could pull this lever and shift into different drive ranges or four wheel drive and two wheel drive. But this is done electronically with this motor. Interesting little note on here, I noticed that if dropped, scrap. So you don't want to drop this motor because it'll probably be wrecked, although I guess you could try it and see, but there's the electrical connector right there. So that's the actuator motor, which sits on the side of the transfer case. 

Now, as we tore further into it, again, you can see some of these, these are clutch packs. You won't find these on a cruder type of four wheel drive vehicle, but you will on the Land Rover because again, it's got the all wheel drive capability. So there's certain amount of slip in these clutches and there's controls that will make them, I'd say it firmer or less from like grippier or less grippier, depending on what's happening. And this is where using the proper fluid is also critical because it has certain coefficients of friction that are important. And if you don't use the right fluid there can be a problem. 

So again, looking a little further down, there's a planetary gear. This is an item that's actually operated from the actuator motor. You can see it'll move various items to allow, you know, high and low ranges as well as different  four wheel drive. What am I trying to say?  Locking abilities. Looking further, and this is actually the culprit. It's the front bearing in the transfer case. This is what we found was worn. And this you can see a bit of the oil is left over and you see all these nice little, beautiful, artistic looking patterns. That's all metal particles floating around inside the oils. So that stuff is floating through the transfer case and of course grinding everything else up.

Could we have just changed this bearing? Possibly, but and cleaned everything probably would have been quiet, who knows how long it would last though, you know, with having all that metal in there that can really create quite a few issues.

This is the bucket of oil we pulled out of the vehicles. It's kind of a telltale sign of severe damage. Again, this oil should be clear and it's full of metallic particles. And what else have we got here for pictures? I think we're nearly done, not a little, you know, a few, this is a little spacer that goes next to the bearing. You can see all these little shiny bits those are all chunks of metal from the bearing. 

I think that's enough looking at horrifically worn parts. 

Mark: So why a used unit? Why not just replace it with a new unit? 

Bernie: Cost. I didn't, you know, I don't know that we actually even priced out the cost of a brand new transfer case. It would be thousands and thousands of dollars and used one is much cheaper. And generally these pieces are repairable, but you know, again with the time involved, it's a lot of extra labor to do it.

 If it was a younger vehicle, I'd probably been worthwhile. We got a much lower mileage transfer case. So it shouldn't go for years. And you're asking if it's a common problem and I'd say it's not. These are pretty well built units. So with lower mileage, it should go over quite a few years without any further problems.

Mark: And so how did the vehicle work after you had done all the repairs? 

Bernie: Oh, it's good. Awesome. Nice and quiet. And ready to tackle the city streets or the mountains if you want to go that far. 

 Mark: There you go. If you need to have some service done on your Land Rover, Pawlik Automotive are experts. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Check out the website hundreds of videos on there on repairs on all makes and models and types of vehicles, types of repairs. The YouTube channel is the same, hundreds of videos on there. We've been doing this for almost nine years. We really appreciate you watching and listening to the podcast. And thanks Bernie. 

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

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor

Insert Video

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with my good friend, Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 23 time winners, 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well today. 

Mark: So today's victim 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had something weird happened with that blend door motor, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So blend door motor is actually part of the heating system and the owner's complaint was that on the right side of the vehicle, this is a dual climate zone vehicle, there was no heat. They couldn't control the heaters, just blowing out cold air. 

Mark: So what tests did you do to find out what was going on, where the problem was? 

Bernie: There's a few tests we can do, because these things are all electronically controlled, they have little motors that control things, and it's fairly advanced. You know, it's an electronic climate control system. We can hook a scan tool up. We can actuate things. We can do tests and see how things are working on the electronic end of it.

So we did that and basically concluded there's something going on with the blend door motor, like everything electrically was working fine from the electronics perspective, but it still wasn't operating the door. So we figured we had a mechanical problem. At that point, we did a little physical inspection access to blend or motor and found there's a broken gear that attaches to the end of the door where the motor actuates and moves the door.

Mark: Okay. So how do these motors and blend doors work? 

Bernie: Well, basically inside a heating box there's, they're pretty complicated. So you have your air conditioning condenser on one side, you have your heater core on the other side, which is the hot air, the cold air. And then depending on how you do your settings, that there are doors inside with motors that actuate them, that they will either blow air up to your defroster. They'll blow it on the floor. They'll blow cold air on one side, hot air on the other. However you want to choose it. All of them have doors and motors, so that makes it very complicated setup. 

 I'll get into some pictures, just show you the repair, the motor we did, but that's basically how they work and what happens. So if something breaks of course, if a door breaks or motor breaks, things don't operate as they should.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blend Door Motor

There's our Jeep. Beautiful 2011 Grand Cherokee. Nice model, fully loaded. With all the nice options is what makes these vehicles nice. Here's a view of the the heater control panel. So you can see, you know, in this particular moment, it's set for 18 Celsius on the driver's side, 20 on the passenger. And there's the controls. Now what was happening of course is no matter which way you set this, doesn't matter how hot you'd do it it would still only blow cold air on the one side, cause the door was stuck in one position.

The part. There's our old motor, this is the broken gear. And there's the actual gear again. You can see a chunk of plastic missing. I don't have the other parts of the gear, but there's big teeth that stick out in this area here. And again, this is the motor kind of with the gear assembled onto the motor.

And there's a picture of where the unit sits and there's a little arrow there. There's the new gear you can, if you look closely, you can see about five or six teeth on the gear and that sits, the actual blend door is inside this area here. So this whole assembly here, this is part of the heater box. This only part of it. A lot of these will take up three quarters of the underside of your dash it's an enormous amount of space underneath. So that's basically it. We're done with our picture show. 

Mark: So obviously you had to take out the entire dash to get to where you could affect repairs on this blend door. 

Bernie: We didn't actually. The good news for this repair is we didn't actually have to take it all apart. A lot of times you do. Sometimes they put the blend doors right at the very back of that heater box. And so you have to actually take the whole dash out just to get it one motor. But this one here was actually accessible with the glove box removed and a few items, really, not that difficult. So fortunately for the owner, not a really expensive repair, so that was a good one for them, for sure.

And sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes they can be a simple replacement. Sometimes the motor needs to be replaced or in this case, the gear, you know slips in on the outside, which makes it easy. They've actually done something right on a Jeep for once. Actually they do lots of good things, but you know, sometimes you wonder why didn't they do it easier?

And sometimes they just can't because there's so many motors, you've got to put some in back and some are just not going to be accessible and easy to get at. You just hope that when they make those, that they'd use the very best quality parts and sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. 

Mark: So they make it complicated because it's a complicated system on the outside basically, is that right? 

Bernie: Exactly. I mean, there's just a lot of complexity to it. As I mentioned earlier, you're basically controlling cold air from the air conditioning condenser on one side. Heat on the other side, you're wanting to blend it with the exact amounts. So when it says, you know, 18 Celsius, you're getting 18 Celsius air.

So there's sensors that pick these things up, but inside, you may want to be blowing defrost or in your face. And so there's a lot of different things going on and that's what makes it so complicated. And they need motors to do that. In the olden days, there was doors, but there's this simple cables that go from one to the other, but you'd either have like hot or cold.

And you know, people want the nice stuff nowadays. We're just used to it. Climate control air conditioning used to be exclusive to cars like Cadillacs, if you go back like 40 years ago. And now it's like most base model cars, a lot of them have climate control. It's pretty simple, but it's not really simple, but it's just been made so commonly that it becomes cheaper to put in. 

Mark: So you service a lot of Jeeps at Pawlik Automotive. How are they for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, there's a lot of things that happen to them. There's a variety of issues and you know, we've done a lot of podcasts. So I'd say they're not the most reliable vehicle on the on the planet, but they're pretty good. I mean, like a Grand Cherokee is a nice luxury SUV. You can go off road, you can drive in snow. So it's a useful vehicle, but there are a few more things that tend to go wrong with them than a lot of other vehicles.

Are they more expensive to fix than a European SUV? No. Less reliable than a Toyota, but they fill a kind of niche that isn't available in some other brands. So good vehicle, but you know, be prepared to spend a little more money fixing it and maintaining it than you would for some other cars.

Mark: And it's good off-road and good in the snow, like you mentioned. 

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. It's a kind of vehicle where you can take it anywhere. And of course, you've got some capacity to stick things in the back and it's a utility vehicle. You know, again, this one's a V8, so it's not good on gas. I mean, Jeep Grand Cherokees have a reputation for being horrible gas, guzzling, inefficient vehicles. So again, it depends on the kind of vehicle you want to own. But you know, there are V6 models that are much more efficient. 

Mark: There you go. If you need some service for your Jeep in Vancouver, BC, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. They work on a lot of them. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. (604) 327-7112 to set your appointment or if you're from outside the region, check out the website We have hundreds of videos on there for over the last eight plus years. Or the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, all makes models, types of repairs, all kinds of stuff.

You can see us going from goofy to somewhat less goofy. We thank you so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching. Thanks for putting up with us.

2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 21 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So happy new year, we're going to talk about a 2010 Honda Crosstour that had an alternator problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop the owner's complaint was the battery had gone weak and the car was hard to start. So that was his main complaint, not the alternator, but the battery was weak. 

Mark: And what testing did you do to find what the problem was?

Bernie: Well, the first test we do is called an AVR test, which is basically an alternator voltage regulator test, is what that stands for, but it  includes testing the battery, of course, which is a kind of heart of the vehicle's electrical system. So we test the battery, test the alternator voltage regulator, starter draw, and a number of different things.

And we found that the battery was weak and needed to be replaced, but also the alternator had blown diodes. Our tester will actually single out some components inside the alternator that are bad. So in this case, it said the diodes were bad and that'll cause a very low voltage signal and erratic voltage getting to the battery.

Mark: So I think I remember replacing diodes in an alternative. Couldn't you just replace the diodes?

Bernie: Well, you could, but it's kind of a specialty repair. It's not something we get into at our shop and really most, unless you're an auto electrical specialist that rebuilds alternators and starters, you really, people don't really get into doing them. Like, to be honest, I've never even done them myself. Yeah, I've changed voltage regulators on alternators when they used to be doable on some, but not diodes. It's kind of a specialty type of thing. I mean, not rocket science, but even getting the parts is tricky. They're not the kind of thing you find in a normal auto parts store. You have to source them out. 

So let's just get into some pictures while we're at it.

2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement
2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement
2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement
2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement
2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement

So here's our 2010 Crosstour, which is basically an Accord, little sort of a puffed up Honda Accord, maybe a little SUV. I don't know if you could even call it a compact SUV, but it's a little, kind of a puffed up type Accord.

Here's our alternator. This is the replacement alternator we put in. The diodes sit behind this cover. And there's quite a few items that need to be removed to actually access the diode pack. There's a front view, pulley main power terminal. And there's basically two electrical connectors on an alternator. There is also this one here, which does the field and a few other items.

This normally connects to the computer and some voltage battery and ground signals. That's basically a view of the alternator location. Of course, here's the engine compartment. As I mentioned, it's like basically a V6 Accord type model with a 3.5 litre engine.

There's our new battery installed and the alternator sits down in this area of the vehicle here, buried. A little bit of work to get it in and out. There's another closer view. This is the backside of the alternator. Way down in there. So it kind of gives a view. I've got a couple of other pictures I want to talk about in a minute, but we'll just get back to talking. 

Mark: So that after that, of course it's basically good as new and will last another 10 years.

Bernie: Well, you would hope. We would hope it lasts another 10 years. But one thing about alternators is normally when you buy them, they're never brand new. Although there are some offered as brand new nowadays. There's been more new starters on the market available, but what I, not to slam Chinese, but they're cheaply Chinese manufactured a lot of them. And they're really what I've found over time is it's better to just most of the time, unless it's an actual OEM component, it's better to replace it with a rebuilt. But rebuilds don't tend to last as long as originals. You know, they replaced the diodes if necessary. And in this case, of course, when the old one is sent back, they'll put new diodes in. They've changed bearings and brushes and things, common wear out parts, but certain items, unless there is a common failure part, they won't replace them.

So sometimes over time, you know, after a few years of use, the alternator will fail again. But normally we buy good quality rebuilds and have a good, long warranty on them to keep a good long life. But it may not last for 10 more years, we hope. 

Mark: So, is there anything that an owner can do to maximize the life of their alternator?

Bernie: Well, there's a couple of things. One is to always make sure you have a good battery in your vehicle. If your battery gets weak and we, you know, part of our B service or comprehensive inspections, we test vehicle batteries on most cars, unless it's a European car with a very hard to access battery.

But in most cars, we test the battery and if it shows signs of being weak, it's best to replace it. Even if the car starts fine, because that really taxes your alternator. So those are the kinds of things as a car owner, if you have your battery tested, it's on an annual basis, and it shows any sign of weakness, it's better to replace it beforehand that'll put less strain on the alternator. And last longer.

Of course, if you're jumping someone else's vehicle like boosting someone with a dead battery, make sure you hook the cables up properly. Your cars running you know, in case if you hook things up backwards, you could damage the alternator. It's possible. There, there are some protective fuse links that'll prevent problems like that happening. But if you do, you know, if you hook a battery up backwards or something if you're changing it yourself, you can create some problems. But those are rare exceptions. 

Mark: So alternators has been around for, I dunno, 60. Yeah, 60 years since they were placed generators, how did they change in that extended lifetime?

Bernie: Well, they've got a lot more compact. If you look at a car, say from the sixties, the alternators were quite large, probably six or seven inches in diameter. A lot of them are like four inches now, much smaller. And the other thing is in the olden days, they had a separated voltage regulator. Then sort of the next phase of development was that the voltage regulator is built into the alternator. And now a lot of them, while they may have a voltage regulator built in, there's also a computer control. So it'll switch the alternator on and off on demand, which improves fuel economy, efficiency, power.

If you're, if you happen to be blasting up a hill and you don't really need to be charging your battery, but there needs to be more power to the engine, it'll cut the alternator and then you have more power and then it can just switch it back on again. So there's all sorts of little things that that can be done with computer controls. So that's kind of the biggest thing. 

And then of course, if you start getting into hybrid vehicles, the alternators on a lot of vehicles are built into the motor generator. So it's all changed. But compactness is certainly the key for sure. 

Mark: So how are Honda Crosstours, this is a fairly, not that long of a model year run. How are they for reliability? 

Bernie: They're great. And they're basically the same as an Accord and yeah, very good vehicle. I would highly recommend it. I did want to actually just make one more comment on something too. It's just part of the service on these things, for many years, a lot of cars have when you disconnect the battery, you have to enter a radio code.

It's like an antitheft procedure. And I started thinking about this car, it's kind of annoying because most vehicles, the radios have become integrated into the dash. So it's not like the olden days where if you stole a radio out of a certain vehicle Volkswagen Cabriolets used to be very popular because you can cut the roof, take out this nice Blaupunkt radio and stick it in any, sell it, or stick it in any car you liked.

2010 Honda Crosstour, Alternator Replacement

It was a good thing to do, but nowadays they've gone away from that. But it's interesting with Honda, I'll just do one more picture share before we go. As we, if do we fix the radio, of course, there's a code and you have to find these codes and enter them into the vehicle.

It doesn't take a long time, but it can be frustrating in service to find the radio code. So this one, you have to enter a radio and navigation system code to get everything operational. Now, I don't know why they do that because who's going to steal this radio. I mean, where else are you going to put it, but in another Honda Crosstour and people just don't do that. So that's my little rant for the day.

Mark:  If you're looking for service for your Honda in Vancouver, the guys to see Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy even now, even in the middle of a pandemic, they're still busy. So call ahead and book or check out the website. Hundreds of videos, articles on there over the last eight plus years. Our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing. And of course thank you for watching and listening to the podcast. We truly appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

Tire Pressure Tips

Hi, I'm Bernie from Pawlik Automotive. Welcome to our series of car maintenance tips for car owners. Today we've got a really exciting subject for you. How to check the tire pressures. 

The first step is to locate the proper tire pressure for your vehicle. You'll find this on a placard located inside the driver's door, and this will give you the proper tire inflation pressure when the vehicle is cold. Don't look on the tire for your proper inflation pressure. People do make this mistake. That's the maximum pressure the tire can handle, but it's too much generally for a proper ride of the vehicle. Your tire pressures must be checked with the vehicle is cold, and that would include a short drive up to two to three kilometres. After that, I would suggest you add a couple of pounds pressure to the reading on the placard. 

So step two is to get your tire pressure gauge out. And in this video, we're going to demonstrate a couple of different types of gauges that are common. One is a dial type of gauge and the is a pencil type.

Step three is to locate the valve stem on your wheel, remove the protective cap, and then push the gauge onto the valve stem that will give you the reading of the current entire pressure. 

So your next step is to remove air from the tire if there's too much pressure, and you can do that by pushing on the little valve core. You can do that sometimes by pushing the gauge lightly. If you hear a hissing sound, that means air is coming up at the tire. You need to add air to the tire. You do that by simply pushing your tire inflater on top of that, if you don't have a tire inflator like a compressor at home, you can go to a gas station they usually have air at gas stations. You can also go to an independent garage or a tire store where they'd be happy to help you out as well.

Your final step is to put the plastic cap back onto your tire valve. If you've lost that or it's missing, don't worry about it, you can have one put on at a later date. You won't lose any air pressure because of it. And that's basically it. 

So how often should you check your tire pressures? About once a month.

Thanks for watching. We hope you found this useful. Stay tuned for our next exciting auto maintenance tip video.

2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. That must feel pretty good, Bernie. 

Bernie: It does. Yeah, it's very exciting. Especially in this year of some tenuous news with COVID. It's nice having some good news and another win for Best of Vancouver. It's really good. Thank you everyone. 

Mark: So we're going to talk about a 2017 VW Golf that had some basic maintenance service. What was going on with this fairly new car? 

Bernie: Yeah, fairly new car. The vehicle is due for some maintenance services, the oil service, and a couple of other things had already been done elsewhere, but the owner brought it to us to do some larger catch-up items.

Mark: So, what was the mileage on the vehicle? 

Bernie: It's got 55,000 kilometres. So still pretty young. As you mentioned, it's a 2017, so that makes it about three or four year old car at this point in time, depending on when it was purchased and 55,000 Ks. So still young, you know, runs great. Just due for some maintenance to keep it young and running great. 

Mark: So, did you replace some things at this service? 

Bernie: Yeah, we replaced spark plugs, we flushed the brake fluid, changed a couple of filters, a cabin filter and the engine air filter, did a tire rotation. There's also a concern with the tire pressure monitoring system. There's a warning light on, but that just turned out that we just needed to do a reset on the system. So that was pretty straightforward. So not a huge amount of stuff. 

Mark: So do we have some photos? 

Bernie: We do have photos. Let's have a look at some pictures.

2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services

So there's our nice shiny red 2017 taken on a bright day in Vancouver. Nice treat. The engine, so that's a 1.8 litre TSI. It's turbo stratified injection is what that means. It's basically a fuel injected turbocharged 1.8 litre engine, very efficient. The direct fuel injection system. We'll talk about that in a few minutes, but kind of state of the art technology for an internal combustion engine these days for getting the best power in mileage you can get out of such a thing.

There's a view of the back of the engine you can see the turbocharger at the back of the engine there. Just the top of it and the exhaust down-pipe. Other pictures. What do we got here? The spark plugs I mentioned we did replace those. Kind of a unique looking spark plug. If you're familiar with looking at spark plugs, what's unique about this is it doesn't have that long connector on the top of the spark plug.

Usually there's a, you know, it sticks up about half an inch where the spark plug wire ignition coil sticks on. And this is almost flush with the top of the ceramic insulator. That's got a kind of unique ignition coil design that kind of plugs into the top. And also the insulator, a lot of them have ribs on them and some don't.

So to me, it also has kind of a unique look when it doesn't have the ribs on it. I think the ribs are primarily there for a spark plug wires to clip onto it. It's probably why they originally designed them like that. But, you know, with modern engines, the coil just sits over top of it. So it's not really all that necessary. 

I mentioned we did a brake fluid flush. So this is kind of how the brake fluid flush looks down at the wheel side of the vehicle. We basically open up the bleeder screw. We have a flushing machine, which I'll show you the next picture. We have a bucket here with a hose on it. So we don't pour brake fluid all over the ground, but we basically just pump, this is a pressure bleeder. It pumps fluid through the system from the master cylinder down to the brake lines. And eventually when it comes out clear, then we stopped the flow through that one. And that's the pressure bleeder. This is a very old looking thing. Looks, I always thought it kind of looks like R2D2 on Star Wars, got the three wheels and it's basically a tank filled with brake fluid and we put air pressure in the bottom and it attaches to the top of the master cylinder. Pumps fluid under pressure. It really good way to bleed brakes and if you're alone doing a service, it's perfect because you can pump the fluid through you don't need a second person to do it. Plus for flushing brake fluid, even better because you can move large volumes of fluid through the system. So that is our share for today. 

Mark: So, was there anything else that could have been done to service this vehicle? 

Bernie: Well the other thing we didn't do, and I'm not certain why we didn't, is a direct injection cleaning service, direct fuel injection cleaning service. We call it a GDI service, gasoline direct injection service.

So those vehicles, I mentioned that has direct fuel injection, what direct fuel injection is, is the fuel injector sprays a fuel right into the cylinder, not on the intake valve, like it used to happen traditionally and direct injection is, it's always what's been used in diesel, but it's been adopted for gasoline engines for, you know, 10 years, most modern cars have it. Some don't still. Even some Toyotas actually have a dual system where they have the port injection and a direct injection system. And it's used at different times. I mean, talk about added complication, but I guess they feel like it works, but for the Volkswagen, it's got the direct injection.

Now what happens is overtime, the intake valves used to get sprayed with fuel and port injection system. So they kept clean, but over time, because these aren't sprayed in fuel, carbon deposits build up on top of the intake valves causing performance issues. And it can lead to some expensive repairs if you don't service the vehicle properly. So doing an injection clean, probably every 30 to 40,000 kilometres is really important on any direct injection engine. 

Mark: Well, what again, what happens if you don't do that service?

Bernie:  So what happens if you don't do it? Carbon buildup will become excessive and you'll start developing performance issues. The engine may not idle properly. It might lack power, stumble, you know, all sorts of issues like that can happen and removing it becomes very expensive if it becomes too thick. We, the system we do, the service we do is with a chemical it's sprayed into the engine and it basically softens the carbon off the engine, which burns off.

It can handle small amounts if you do it on a routine basis, but if you leave it until it, you know, there's a huge crust of carbon, it can either involve removing the cylinder head from the engine you know, very expensive or there's another technique called Walnut blasting where you can remove the intake manifold, sort of seal things up and you blast the intake valves with crumbled walnut shells, which is similar to sandblasting. But of course, as you can imagine, blasting sand into an engine is not a good thing to do, but walnut shells are hard, but not hard enough, they'll basically they'll burn up in the engine. They won't cause any further damage, but it's an expensive service.

So getting the injection system cleaned every again, 30 to 40,000 kilometres is an important thing to do on this Volkswagen or any other vehicle with gasoline direct injection. 

Mark: So basically this is because the fuel, the gasoline fuel is also a solvent, when it's put into port, it's hitting the top of that valve which is a, I don't know, almost a triangular shape. 

Bernie: They call them the tulip shape. It's like a triangular shape. 

Mark: Yeah. And that top part isn't in a hot part of the car. It's on the cool side of the cylinder, but that fuel is hitting it. And then it opens and the fuel, runs into the cylinder, cleaning the carbon off of there that might build up. When you're putting it straight into a cylinder, you don't have any fuel in the port above. 

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. No, you might think, yeah, that's right. You might think to yourself well, why, if it's just the intake valve is basically air being sucked in the engine, you think, well, why is air causing carbon deposits to be built on the valves? And so most of it comes from the crankcase breather system where there's you know, the engine we've talked about this in the past, but an internal combustion engine has to have a breathing system.

If it's completely sealed, it'll explode because certain amount of pressure escapes, the piston rings. And the engine would blow up. So it has to breathe. Now, if you breathe those gasses to the environment, it's horrific, it creates horrific pollution, plus it stinks. So for a long time, they've had a PCV valve system. It's a closed system. It sucks the crankcase vapours back into the engine to re-burn them. But in that there's always a tiny little minute amount of oil vapour and that eventually will stick onto the intake valve. So that's really what causes a lot of that. It's from that system.

Mark: And that oil being deposited on there, even though it's minute amounts, the valve is obviously extremely hot. Thousands of degrees probably close to. 

Bernie: Oh, not even that. It's actually not it's in the hundreds, but it's still pretty damn hot. It's hot. You don't want to touch it. 

Mark: It would cook your burgers pretty easy.

Bernie: Oh yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. 

Mark: And so that basically changes the oil into carbon and a deposit is stuck on the valve and causes problems, essentially. 

Bernie: Exactly. Yeah. 

Mark: So you want to wash it off? 

Bernie: You want to wash it off and clean it? Yup. 

Mark: Is there anything that I could do as an owner of one of these direct injection cars that could prevent these carbon deposits from building up on the valves? 

Bernie: Well, there is a couple of things. First of all, gasoline manufacturers have developed a standards called top tier fuel. So if you use a gas, that's got top tier, and you'll get that at any name, brand station, well in Canada, like Esso, Chevron, any of those kinds of stations their fuels are all top tier. I bought gas in the US, you see on the pump a lot of times it'll say top tier fuels. So just because you're buying gas from a non-name brand station doesn't necessarily mean it's not top tier, but I would check into that because it can make a big difference. The way they formulate the gasoline has cleaners in it that will prevent carbon deposits to a certain degree, but not entirely it keeps them at a minimum.

The other thing you can do is change your oil regularly, and that's probably more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Don't push it to the very limit where if they tell you it's 12,000 Ks, change it at 10. Do it a little early because again, it keeps the oil clean and fresh and that can prevent the deposits from happening also.

Mark: So, that's the maintenance services on this vehicle. So how are VW Golfs for reliability? 

Bernie: They're good vehicles. Not overly expensive, European technology vehicle. They run well, they drive nice. I'd say they're a good car. You know, they're not overly expensive to fix. The engines are generally pretty good on these cars. We've run into a few issues on the style of engine on some other models. No eventually there's some issues developed with timing chains. I'm not sure if this particular model has any issues with them, but some of the Tiguans have a similar design have that, but overall I'd say it's a good car. For a compact car, it's a nice car to drive for sure. I would recommend it. 

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your vehicle, any make, model, type of vehicle, any kind of light truck. The guys to see in Vancouver, BC are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. They only take reservations folks, you just can't walk in most days and get in there. They're busy. 

Check out the website, If you're not sure about what kind of service you might need for your vehicle. We have hundreds of videos and articles over the last eight, nine years. Same on the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. You can find it on there. Thanks so much for listening to and watching our podcast. We really appreciate it. And thanks Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.

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