Blog - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

Nitrogen Tires inflation: Is it Worth it?

Skip nitrogen filling your tires

The option to fill your vehicle tires with nitrogen is available at some service facilities and tire shops. In fact it might be one of the most promoted “great” thing to do for your tires in recent memory.

Is Nitrogen Filling worth it?

Some places offer it for free as a “value-added” whereas other facilities charge for it, and fair enough as there is a substantial cost for the equipment.

While Nitrogen certainly has benefits and is used in commercial aircraft tires and racing car tires, my conclusion is that the benefits are very minimal for motor vehicles.

Racing cars are operated under very stressful and exacting conditions where 1 PSI of tire pressure could win or lose a race. Jet airplane tires are subjected to extreme weather and heat conditions: a plane could take off in 40 degree desert conditions and land on a -40 degree runway. Also jet tires go from immobile to 200MPH instantly when the plane lands.

One of Nitrogen’s advantages is that nitrogen filled tires maintain their pressure more consistently than air filled tires; the reason being that compressed air contains some water vapour and this expands and contracts with heating and cooling.

Overtime, nitrogen filled tires apparently lose less pressure than air inflated tires due to its larger molecular size. Another supposed benefit of nitrogen inflation is longer tire life due to lack of oxidation of the inner tire rubber. While this may be true, is that of any value when the outside of the tires is surrounded by air?

Skip nitrogen filling your tires

When all is considered, there is no doubt that nitrogen offers some benefits, but for almost every motorist the benefits are negligible and I would say not worth paying for. Consumer Reports did a year long test on Nitrogen filling in 2006-’07 and concluded that “Overall, consumers can use nitrogen and might enjoy the slight improvement in air retention provided, but it’s not a substitute for regular inflation checks.”

Checking your tire pressures monthly is the best way to ensure they are properly inflated and you are keeping wear to a minimum and safety and fuel economy at its maximum.

As for the value of nitrogen tire inflation, you be the judge. I suggest you save your money.

Small Bearings Can Create Huge Problems

Bearing that could have seized at any moment

Regular Maintenance of your Automobile is almost 50% Less Expense Than Waiting For A Breakdown

Yes even my car is not immune to parts wearing out.

For about a week or so I noticed a subtle but unusual noise coming from my 2001 Subaru Outback H6’s engine. Unlike some I could name… I decided to check into what the noise was about.

I suspected that it might be a drivebelt pulley; and through diagnosis I found that the serpentine belt tensioner pulley bearing was severely worn.

After removal, the seriousness of the situation became evident: the bearing was so badly worn that it was hours or with luck perhaps days from seizing up and causing the belt to fail. The good news is that it was a very inexpensive repair!

The lesson here is that every unusual sound in your vehicle should be investigated. It is always cheaper to repair early than wait for the part to fail completely.

Bearing that could have seized at any moment

The worn out pulley bearing. The black particles are from inside the bearing!

To celebrate our latest “Best of Vancouver” win and to thank our customers, we’re offering $30 off our Gold Level 2 service and comprehensive inspection – until November 30, 2010.

Make sure your car or truck is reliable for the winter.

Headlights Then & Now

sealed beam headlights vs replacement bulbs

Last week we serviced two 1990’s vintage vehicles with burned out sealed beam headlights and it occurred to me that this is yet another technology that has almost disappeared. Most every modern car has a moulded headlamp assembly with small replaceable bulbs.

Sealed beam headlights debuted on cars in the 1940s. For many years they were round but in later years rectangular became the shape of choice. As they evolved they became brighter especially with the introduction of halogen bulb technology.

It is always interesting to see the evolution of automotive components: with the sealed beam headlight, the waste and sometimes complex replacement procedure is not missed.

sealed beam headlights vs replacement bulbs

Compare the size of the new bulb to the old sealed beam. It is a prime example of less waste!

Air Bag System Repair and Diagnosis

Airbag Light - get it checked

Sometimes the repair is simple and the diagnosis is hard!

This week we diagnosed and repaired an airbag concern on a 2003 Mazda Tribute (which incidentally is the same as a Ford Escape). Our client’s concern was that the airbag lamp was on.

Airbag Light - get it checked

While performing our diagnosis we found the lamp would not light at all and 2 codes were stored in the airbag computer. The light issue was solved by removing the instrument panel and replacing a dead bulb; this also solved one of the trouble codes.

We now focused on the other code which indicated a problem with the passenger’s side air bag. The diagnostic procedure had us look at our scan tool data while testing the side air bag module, its wiring and connections. The maximum resistance allowed in this circuit is 3.4 ohms and our scan tool reading was 3.2 ohms: very close to the maximum. Interestingly, the driver’s side had the same reading.

Further testing of components revealed no other concerns.

What we had was either an intermittent problem with a connector or component. Airbag systems are very sensitive to poor connections and these are common causes of Air Bag lights coming on.

To ensure good connections we applied Stabilant 22, a contact enhancer which creates a “good as soldered” connection to the terminals at the side airbag connector. The results on the scan tool said it all: resistance was now 2.2 ohms, very safely below maximum spec. We applied the liquid to the driver’s side with the same result likely preventing a future airbag light concern.

While an intermittent problem with the passenger’s side airbag may still be present, we had very simply created greatly improved conditions in the affected wiring circuits and could verify our results.

Modern CV Boots Last a Long Time

Believe it or not, cars are becoming better built and more reliable.

Having serviced cars for 30 years I’ve seen many items which once commonly wore out last much longer: examples are exhaust systems, timing belts and spark plugs.

We can now add CV boots to the list. CV boots are located on all front wheel drive axleshafts (and on some rear axleshafts) and serve to protect the CV joint and retain its lubricant. CV stands for Constant Velocity. The CV joint’s function is to ensure that your engine’s power is smoothly transmitted to the drive wheels.

A decade ago many CV boots would break around the 100,000 kilometer mark; now we see cars with twice that mileage with the boots intact. So while parts still continue to wear on cars you can be thankful that your CV boots are one item that requires less service and cost to you.

IF your vehicle is a bit older, it is important that these joints be checked out.

Damaged CV Joint Boot

Suburu Outback – Excellent Cars

set of suburu's

This here’s the Outback, mate!

What an interesting day: A shop full of Subaru Outbacks!

set of suburu's

Set of Suburu's

While we work on all makes and models, quite often we will service some of the same make or type of vehicle on the same day.

This is a first: having 3 of the same car in the shop at the same time. We service quite a few Subarus and while the models in the shop today are the same, these cars were in for different jobs.

In the far bay is a 2001 H6 VDC Outback in for upper radiator hose replacement. The center bay has another 2001, this one a 4-cylinder model and in for a number of services including a standard transaxle overhaul. In the foreground sits another H6, this one a 2005 model and in for a basic maintenance service.

Overall these are excellent cars and certainly have a loyal owner following.

Two of these vehicles belong to long term clients and these are their second Subarus. I’ve had 3 different generations of these cars myself, and like so many other cars they just keep getting better.

An interesting bit of trivia: the 2001 H6 3 litre engine has 212 horsepower while in 2005 the same 3 litre displacement puts out 245 horsepower. That is an amazing increase and mostly due to the fuel system and engine tuning.

Interior Air Quality Maintenance – How Often?

cabin air filter

How clean is the air inside your vehicle?

Cabin air filters trap dust and particles from getting into your car through your vehicle’s ventilation system.

When these filters are plugged they slow down the airflow into your cabin and impede the heating and A/C systems from functioning properly. Interior air quality may also be reduced and unpleasant odors can arise. Depending on road and air conditions, your cabin air filter will usually require replacement every 25,000 to 50,000 kilometers. Most cars built during the past decade have them.

cabin air filter

Used vs. New Cabin Air Filters

The picture says it all: on the left is an old and very dirty cabin air filter and on the right is a clean new filter. Our example comes from a 2002 Ford Taurus.

Some OE Tires Really Do Last

Every once in a while we get a surprise, today’s comes courtesy of a 2007 Jeep Patriot.

Equipped with Long Last tires...

We’ve been servicing this vehicle since new and it now has, after 3 years driving, 107,000 kilometers on the clock.

The surprise is when I realized that this vehicle still has its original tires and they still have lots of tread remaining: all very unusual for original tires which often don’t even last 60,000 kilometers.

2010 Best of Vancouver Pawlik Automotive

pawlik automotive best of vancouver winner 2010

2010 Winner Best Automotive Service

Pawlik Automotive voted Georgia Straight “Best of Vancouver” 2010 – We’ve very honoured to have been voted #1 – again! We’re very thankful to all our customers who supported us. It’s an honour that we take very seriously and will continue to do our very best to take great care of your car and/or light truck.

Best of Vancouver Winner - Pawlik Automotive

Best Auto Service

A Paradox: A Complicated Simple Repair

Corroded Fuse contacts

Part of what makes our job fun as auto service technicians is that we never know what we will encounter from day to day.

Case in point: a new client came in with 2003 Ford F150 pickup with the concern that his A/C (air conditioning) was inoperative. John went straight to work on the diagnosis and determined that the electrical side of the system was not functioning. Fuses were tested and all were good, but still there was no power at the A/C control panel on the dash.

With perseverance he finally found a most unusual cause of the concern: the contacts between the fuse and the fuse box had corrosion, blocking flow of the electricity. The corrosion was on the load side of the fuse which made it appear that the concern was elsewhere. After cleaning the corrosion in the fuse box and installing a new fuse, the A/C functioned perfectly.

Corroded Fuse contacts

Corroded but not blown!

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