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2011 BMW X3 Electric Water Pump Replacement

Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Videos and Podcast. I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We're here talking about cars. How you doin' this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: We're, of course, speaking about a 2011 BMW X3 this morning that had a water pump problem. What was going on with this BMW?

Bernie: This BMW, the owner's complaint was that an overheat warning light would come on, on the dash and along with that, the vehicle went into reduced power mode, so you couldn't accelerate the vehicle properly. That was what was basically going on with the vehicle.

Mark: What sort of test procedure did you use to find the cause of the concern?

Bernie: First thing we always do when there's any cooling concern, of course I ask the client, what happened to the vehicle? In this case, was there steam, did you see leakage of fluid out under car? No, no steam, no fluid. We verified that. When we looked at the vehicle, of course, checked the coolant level, it was full in the coolant bottle, there was no leaks anywhere, so we knew the problem wasn't from a leakage issue, it was more ... perhaps the water pump wasn't operating or thermostat sticking kind of condition. Maybe a radiator fan issue. The next step with this type of car is to hook a scan tool up, see what kind of information is in the scan tool and when we scanned the engine there was a number of trouble codes for a electric water pump related issues, which I'll show you in a picture in a few minutes. We basically determined that the electric water pump was intermittently failing.

Mark: Electric water pump. Now that's kind of different. Why does this vehicle use an electric water pump?

Bernie: Well, the simple answer of why is because BMW chose to use an electric water pump, but they're actually, reasonably common in a lot of vehicles and as vehicles get newer, they're getting more and more common. A water pump traditionally as been driven by, it's a belt driven mechanical pump and as the engine is idling, it's turning it a certain speed and as the engine speeds up, of course, it turns faster and flows more water. All very good, but in the world of trying to get the most efficiency out of an engine, any accessory run off the engine takes power.

With the electric water pump, the idea is you run the water pump at the speed that's needed to do the job, to keep the engine at the right temperature. When the engine is stone cold for instance, you don't really need to flow any coolant through the engine at all for maybe a few seconds to a minute or two, depending on the condition. The electric water pump as the capability to do that kind of thing, so that's why they use it. It's basically for efficiency, fuel economy, mileage, power, all those things combined.

BMW isn't the only manufacturer that uses them. Actually a lot of manufacturers, especially Europeans and their luxury cars have used electric water pumps, more as an auxiliary pump, so it'll provide quick heat to the vehicle or perhaps it'll provide some heat to the vehicle when you shut the engine off, you can sit in the car for a little while and get a bit of heat flowing through the vehicle.

Electric water pumps have been used as an auxiliary pump for a lot longer than they've been used as a main pump, but this vehicle, this is the main coolant pump, it's electric.

Mark: You have some images?

Bernie: I do. Let's have a look here. There's our 2011 BMW X3. Pretty much, they've made this model look the same for I think 2011 up to about 2017 or '18. They all pretty much look alike. This is a 3.0 version, which is a twin turbo, a higher horsepower model.

Okay. Scan tool. Here's what we found when we plugged the scan tool into the vehicle. We can disregard the first bit of information, but there's a code here, it says message: electric coolant pump missing. It's not running when it's supposed to. Engine cooling system, reduced power, coolant pump voltage low. Again, another message for coolant pump not operating. An interesting thing is, with this particular scan tool we have, you can actually drill down into these messages and it'll show freeze frame data, when the item occurred and certain conditions that were occurring. It's interesting with this code here, I don't have a picture of it. You can actually see that this issue happened four times, previous to the time where it had set a lot of warning lights off, where the pump had been failing. It's a pretty good indication that, that was the issue.

I often say, we can't just plug a scan tool in and find out what the problem is. In the case of this vehicle, this is a very common failure item, so you can be pretty sure, once you see these codes that that's the issue.

Here's the electric water pump. Bolts up to the side of the engine. You can see inlet and outlet, big electrical connector here and yeah, that's basically it. Big motor inside here and commanded by the computer to run when it needs to and at various speeds, so it does not just run on full out, it can run at any infinite number of speeds.

Here's a thermostat. This is another item we replaced while we did the job. It's not necessarily required but there's no extra labor to do it and this is also an electric part here. There's an electrical connector here. Thermostat's ... again, these used to be a purely mechanical item, but on many newer vehicles, they're now electrically controlled so that the computer can send it a signal to open the thermostat, as well as it being mechanical, there's also some computer overrides. I'm just going to stop ... actually, you know what, there's one more picture I want to look at, to show too and that is the instrument panel.

This is the instrument panel in the BMW and what's very curious about this is there is a temperature gauge in this vehicle, however it's not an actual coolant temperature gauge, you can see it actually shows a little oil can. This is actually an engine oil temperature gauge. It's not really a very reliable indicator of engine overheating. The other thing interesting is, you see how high this temperature goes, a 170 degrees of coolant temperature, your motor would have been cooked long before it ever reaches that temperature. Engine oil temperature, it works differently than coolant, it warms up slower, it gets hotter over time and on a turbo charged engine, a lot of the time, if you're going down the highway, this temperature will go over a 120, which is fine, it's normal.

I don't know why BMW chose to put an engine oil temperature gauge, it's kind of a useless item. They really should have put a coolant temperature gauge. If you have a BMW, have a close look at this gauge and you can't really count on it, quite the way you can with a coolant temperature gauge because it'll give different readings. Just a little tip and bit of advice there.

Mark: You alluded to this is a common failure item on this model of BMW or is it on all BMW vehicles?

Bernie: There's a lot of BMW's that use this engine type and a lot that use electric coolant pumps and electric main water pumps and they'll all fail, it's an enormous failure item. They do on all of them. The more I work on cars, the more you can count on certain things. If you have a 2.5 litre Subaru timing belt engine, you can be guaranteed you're going to be doing head gaskets. I mean, it'll happen. It's kinda neat when you have those kind of guaranteed failures. Then you know when you're buying a vehicle, you know what to expect and what's going to happen. I mean, this is one of the things with a BMW, the electric water pump, it will fail at some point in time.

Mark: Is this an expensive repair?

Bernie: Well, expensive is always a relative term, but I would say yes, it is. There's a fair bit of labor involved, the part is very expensive. Canada-wise, it's in the $700-$800 range for the pump, so it's a lot of money for the pump. They're not really any cheap substitutes out there and you do want to use something that's good quality, even that thermostat is over $200 bucks for that electric thermostat. Again, they're expensive parts, bit of labor, it's not your 1970 Chevy non-air conditioned four door sedan, water pump, where you can buy a rebuilt pump for 40 bucks and thinking way back when labor was a lot cheaper too. In today's dollars, maybe a three, four hundred dollar job, whereas this BMW is 15, 16 hundred bucks taxes in. It’s up there for sure.

Mark: You mentioned the temperature control, any other items that you serviced at the same time?

Bernie: I mentioned the thermostat. We also replaced the engine coolant at the same time. It used to be that flushing antifreeze and cooling systems was a really common procedure on cars, the technology of antifreeze is really changed over the years, so much on the automobile. It used to be that you would flush your cooling system twice a year and thank God we don't anymore, because I hate to think of where all of that antifreeze used to go, down the drain probably. Nowadays, modern engine antifreeze and coolants are good for one or two hundred thousand kilometres, even more on some cars, you know five or 10 years flushing intervals, they really do last a long time.

Whenever you have a problem like this, this is a good opportunity to actually replace the engine coolant because it's probably near the end of its lifespan, it's a good opportunity to do it. Coolant flush and also the thermostat. Again, the thermostat wasn't the problem, but there's no extra charge for labor to do the thermostat because it all comes out with the water pump, so why not do it at the same time because it's probably gonna fail, who knows, next week, two years, whatever it is, but you have to take a lot of the stuff back off to do it.

Mark: You alluded to other European manufacturers, does anyone else use electric water pumps?

Bernie: Well, a lot of manufacturers do and the ones that come to my mind, I'm thinking Toyota Hybrids, I mean they have electric water pumps. A lot of accessories on hybrids are all electric. A lot of Prius's, I can't remember after 2011, they don't even have a drive belt, everything is electrically driven, the air conditioning, the whole thing. That's the one vehicle I can think of for example, but many vehicles use 'em and they're going to get more and more common because again, it's about having control over these items, where it's not just a pure mechanical device drawing power, you can go, hey, it's going to draw less power, that's going to give you better fuel economy and power and have better engine performance overall. Even oil pumps in some engines, they have an electrical component to them or they're electrically driven. Again, it's about having that computerized control.

Mark: How reliable are BMW X3's?

Bernie: They're pretty reliable, but BMW tend to have more issues perhaps than a lot of cars, so you'll spend more money on this car then you will on an equivalent SUV, of a lot of others, but I mean, generally, it's a nicely built car, good quality. This one has a lot of fancy stuff on it, so you can expect that you'll pay more money to fix it over time. Generally, pretty reliable car.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW X3 or any model of BMW, or you have an electric water pump that needs replacing 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 because they're busy or check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel: Pawlik Auto Repair, close to a 1000 videos on there on all makes and models and types of repairs. As well, thank you for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

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

2008 BMW 328xi Front End Clunk

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and videos. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. We're talking cars this morning. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, BMW 328, XI 2008 vintage, had a front end clunk. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Last Friday, the vehicle came in for some service and among one of the items there's a tire pressure warning light on. It needed a flat repair on the front left wheel so we did the flat repair. We noticed after we drove the vehicle, so we just unbolted the wheel and put it back on. We hoisted the vehicle up and down, of course, which we needed to do, there seemed to be a really loud clunk in the front end. Course it was late Friday. The customer needed the vehicle and we did not have time to look at it.  We weren't even sure if the clunk was possibly there beforehand. It turned out it hadn't been but for some reason this horrible clunk had developed in the front end. BMWs do have front end parts that wear out quite frequently. Things like ball joints or control arm bushings wear badly. We figured well maybe it just happened to have worn out, something like that had happened. That's what we figured was what was wrong with the vehicle. We proceeded to look. That's basically what led to the vehicle, so it came back for a look at. What we found was the engine mount bolts had broken on the right hand side. Basically the bracket that had held the engine mount in place had broken. That was what was causing the clunk. 

Mark: So do you have some pictures? 

Bernie: I do. Yeah, let's get into some pictures. There's our BMW 328. Nice, decent, all-wheel drive sedan. This is the engine mount bracket here that was loose. There's a bolt here. That's the yellow indicates the bracket. This is actually with the assembly redone but what we found when we did the inspection on the vehicle, no loose front end parts surprisingly. We found the heads of the bolts lying on the vehicle splash pans. These are three of the four bolts for the engine mount. You'll see they're actually all broken. The fourth bolt was no where to be found. It had worked its way loose at some point. These are all aluminum bolts. Obviously aluminum is not as strong as steel, which explains why they cracked. That's at least why they're broken, because a steel bolt would not break like this, but aluminum certainly will. That's what we found. The loose mount was causing it. When you'd hit a bump, the engine would be banging up and down on the frame of the vehicle.

Mark: Or I guess if you accelerated hard as well.

Bernie: Well, interestingly enough, it didn't because it was the right hand side so all the torque is on the left side so actually, fortunately for the owner of this vehicle, it was the right side that broke, because it was already sitting down on the frame of the vehicle. But it's surprising that we didn't feel more vibration in the vehicle when you accelerate, because you'd think that ... usually it transfers quite a vibration but for some reason, however it happened, it wasn't noticeable. 

Mark: So how could it happen? 

Bernie: How could it happen? Well, what we speculate happened was that these bolts had probably been loose for some time, and the fact that one of them was completely missing, I mean if someone had been in there previously and done a repair or-

Mark: And not tightened everything properly. 

Bernie: Either not tightened the bolts or the bolt was loose, or somehow they just worked their way loose over time. Obviously, the bolts were all loose and at some point, and I'm assuming it happened Friday afternoon at some point on one of our road tests or just jacking the engine up or down, the rest of the bolts were loose and snapped, maybe two out of three were broken. And the last one finally snapped and just kind of went crazy. But that caused the clunk. 

Mark: So why do they use aluminum bolts? That seems kinda crazy. 

Bernie: Good question. Yeah, you're right. It does seem kind of crazy because aluminum is such a light-weight material compared to steel. But it's really light-weight is the reason that they do it. When you consider a car how many bolts there are in the engine and in various spots, there's got to be several hundred pounds worth of bolt, so if you can reduce half of them. An aluminum bolt is a featherweight. It's really interesting holding these bolts 'cause we bought a package of new bolts from BMW and there's four of them in a bag and they weigh ... It's weird when you hold them, because they weigh nothing. It's like holding up a piece of paper. It just doesn't seem right, because the steel bolts you get used to the weight of something like that. That's essentially why they use aluminum bolts to save weight. And they've obviously done their engineering and figured okay we can use aluminum bolts here. We can use them there. That's why they do it. 

Mark: Are aluminum bolts reusable? 

Bernie: No. Well, I'll say only at your peril. I would never reuse an aluminum bolt. The factory way of doing things is you replace them, so this is why a lot of these kind of things are ... as long as the car's not too old. Aluminum bolt technology is something that's only been ... This is like a ten-year-old car, so it hasn't been used for too long. The Germans seem to like it a lot. But a lot of times these bolts will be stocked or pretty easy to get. We never reuse them because they're designed for one time use and that's it. 

Mark: Yeah. I remember Audi used to use these as well, right? 

Bernie: They certainly do. 

Mark: Could you substitute ... are there aftermarket steel bolts? 

Bernie: Oh yeah, you could use a steel bolt. The threads are all standard types of metric threads. You could just get the right thread pattern and use them. We just in this case of this repair, just chose to get the bolts from BMW. They're easy to get. They've got the right socket heads and that's what the factory recommendation is but you could certainly hunt around and try to find aluminum bolts. 

Mark: Steel bolts.

Bernie: Steel. I'm sorry, yeah. Thank you, Mark. You could certainly hunt around and find steel bolts and probably even get ones with similar heads on them, but that takes a lot of extra work. And a lot of times metric bolts and getting the right length and so on and the right type of head are difficult to find. So we went with the factory bolts and torqued them to spec, and all should be good. 

Mark: With a completely loose right side of the engine basically, that sounds like a pretty bad thing. Did any further damage occur from this issue or could it have occurred in the future? 

Bernie: Well, it certainly could have. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, it was a good thing it was the right side and not the left, because the left side as soon as you accelerate, the engine lifts because of the torque and the rotation of the engine. Usually at that point you get much worse damage of things like the radiator fence. Being a BMW, it may have a fan or some pulleys it will hit on things. But being the right hand side, I guess reverse is where it's a risk, because if you accelerate hard in reverse, the engine will jump up. In this case, fortunately nothing else got damaged. So that was a good thing. But it certainly can. A broken engine mount is a pretty serious thing. It can cause a lot of extra costly issues to occur. 

Mark: So we're learning things. Cars' crank shafts turn clockwise, basically. 

Bernie: They do. Yeah. Some engines actually turn counterclockwise. It depends on ... but I don't know of any rear wheel drive, this is essentially this is an all-wheel drive but BMWs are all basically rear wheel drive cars, so that they're longitudinal engine. I can't think of one that has a counterclockwise rotation. They all rotate clockwise. But some transverse mounted engines rotate the other way depending on which way they put the transmission and which way it's configured in the engine compartment. 

Mark: So how did the vehicle drive after your repairs? 

Bernie: It was good. Yeah, no problem no clunks. Just about perfect. 

Mark: And how are 328 and 328xi all-wheel drives for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, they usually need a few more repairs than your average vehicle. They're oil and coolant leaks develop on these after time. There's spark plugs and things, those type of things wear out as usual. Ignition coil failures are common. But overall, they're a pretty nice vehicle. But if you own one, expect that you're going to be spending more money on repairs and maintenance than you would on an equivalent type of Japanese vehicle. 

Mark: So your elegant European hot rod is going to cost you a bit more for maintenance? 

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs, maintenance on your BMW in Vancouver, the experts to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to call and book because they're busy. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. And thanks for listening to the podcast. Remember for all you others across North America, they can't diagnose things over the phone. We are not experts over the phone. We have to see your product in order to be able to give you an accurate diagnosis, so if you're in Vancouver, we'd love to talk to you. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for mentioning that. It's much appreciated. Thanks for watching our podcast. 

2011 BMW X3 LED Tail Light Repair

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Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. I think now it’s 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and serving and repairing, maintaining vehicles in Vancouver for 38 years. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So congratulations.

Bernie: Thank you

Mark: And I guess we’re going to talk about a BMW X3 that has a fairly common problem, the LED taillights needed repairing. What was going on with this 2011 BMW?

Bernie: So on this 2011 BMW, the right taillight was not functioning and through doing a little research, we found, so it’s an LED taillight that there’s a repair available to do this job, besides just changing the taillight. 

Mark: So with an LED, can you just change the bulb?

Bernie:  No you can’t. So an LED is basically, well it’s like a bulb but it’s an electronic bulb and they’re all a molded assembly, so the LED’s are generally molded right into the plastic of the taillight and the neat thing about it is when the light’s illuminated, it gives a kind of a nice band of light. You see a lot of new cars with kind of uniquely sculpted lights nowadays and that’s thanks to LED technology. They are individual lights but when you put a number of them together and put the right glass over the top of them, it looks like one strip of light. So no, you can’t just change the bulb unfortunately.

Mark: So what is the repair?

Bernie: So the repair is, there’s a little electronic driver module inside the LED taillight on this BMW and they tend to fail over time. If you look on the internet, there are repairs where you can re-solder the boards, but you know this is a fairly new repair to us, what we found in many cases is there is nothing to re-solder on the boards. They’re just basically, they just basically fry and wear out and according to some of the information I’ve read, if you re-solder them they eventually burn our again anyways. Again, it’s an engineering issue. They just weren’t built robust enough to last for a long time and this affects every X3 from 2011 up to at least 2016 or 17. So there’s a lot of models and a lot of years that’s out there.

Mark: Ok this seems a little bit, how do you repair it I guess?

Bernie: Yeah well, how do you repair it? Let’s have a look at a few pictures. So there’s an example of a nice 2011 BMW X3, 3 litre twin turbo model. There’s a photo of the culprit taillight. So this vehicle has inboard taillights, as well as outboard, and you can see, this is a nighttime shot, the right rear taillight it’s not functioning in this particular case. So the repair. So this is the unit that died, this is the board here. It’s a Valeo driver module essentially, has four electrical connectors on it with a pin. This is very small. I actually took this picture on a little carpet in my shop so you can see, this is a little pine needle that’s lying or little chunk of wood that’s lying beside so you get an idea of the scale. This is really small, it’s only about three quarters of an inch by two inches in size. The repair that we found is this particular thing here, it actually doesn’t look all that interesting compared to the original board, but basically all that’s out here is inside this module and the repair is to basically just snip the old connector out, solder in this new unit, and away it goes. So of course, after the repair, there’s our functional taillight.  

Mark: So I guess we haven’t really mentioned this, but I guess in most cases what people do is if they can’t replace that board, if they can’t do it themselves or they try and solder it themselves and it doesn’t last, what they have to end up doing is actually replacing the entire taillight assembly. Is that what happens?

Bernie: Exactly and if you go to BMW, no doubt they’ll just sell you a complete light assembly, they’ll never do a repair like this at a BMW dealer. I mean, there’s a lot of shops that don’t even know to do these kind of repairs. But yeah that’s basically it and it’s incredibly wasteful. I mean you’re throwing away a perfectly good unit that, you know, that’s otherwise good with the exception of this little module that’s dead. 

Mark: And does this save money?

Bernie: It’s huge, I mean it’s much less than half the price of a new one to take, you know for us to actually replace this particular unit, and it works every bit as well. So it’ll last just as long or longer than the original.

Mark: Yeah, LED lights being rated for anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 hours of use, which is a long time, 10 or 20 years.

Bernie: They last a long time and you’ll see on certain vehicles, I mean LED lights are getting more and more popular and a lot of them say on a truck for example, you can see they have a round light assembly and it’ll have, you can see like you know, 20 little LEDs and after a while one will burn out, and another one and you know, once I can’t remember the specs, once a third of them burn out, then the light’s junk and you throw it away. But for a lot of cars I mean the LEDs will last you know, 20 years, the light, the actual light assembly. So, they’re very, very durable.

Mark: And is this a repair you only offer in Vancouver?

Bernie: No, I mean of course if you’re in Vancouver and you have a BMW X3 with a taillight, please bring it to us, but if you live somewhere else and you want it repaired, you can mail it to us, we can repair it and send it back to you.

Mark: And how about LED lights, since they are so much more popular these days, what about LED light failures on other cars? I know a lot of other BMW’s have this same issue.

Bernie: Well you know, this is something that’s fairly new to us. I mean, LEDs, they have been around for quite a while but they’re starting to get to the point of failing on a lot of cars. So the answer is wherever possible, we’ll repair them, and it’s a need to research each individual car as we go. So certainly if you’re you know, if you need something done, contact us. We’ll look into it, see what we can do and its definitely, I’d say an area that we’ll be doing a lot more of because we can you know, it saves resources, saves money to fix it but it again, it’s a matter of how easy is it to disassemble. With the BMW, fortunately it’s a board that’s not hard to remove and it’s separate from being molded inside a piece of plastic. So they’ve fortunately made it repairable, unfortunately not as durable as it should be in the first place. 

Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for a repair on your BMW X3 taillight assembly, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book an appointment, book ahead, they’re busy. Check out their website at pawlikautomotive.com, our new Podcast on iTunes, Pawlik Automotive Repair or you can check us out on YouTube. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2011 BMW 335D; Glow Plugs

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Mark: Hi  it’s Mark, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Show. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So we’re talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years of repairing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and today we’re going to talk about a 2011 BMW 335D that had a glow plug problem. We don’t talk about these very often, a BMW diesel, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So the vehicle running fine, but a check engine light on and a code P0671 which is a glow plug fault, glow plug circuit fault, cylinder number one. So that’s what we were looking at on this vehicle.

Mark: And how did you diagnose this?

Bernie: Well, so they’re the code’s pretty specific. It says glow plug circuit fault and a lot of people would think oh yeah, it needs a new glow plug. Well actually the code’s a circuit fault. So the circuit is the glow plug, it’s the wire to the glow plug any related wiring and it’s also the control unit. Those are the items that could be at fault in this particular situation. So to diagnosis this particular vehicle, the glow plugs and the control module are all located underneath the intake manifold. So it actually required removing the intake manifold to do any further diagnosis on the vehicle.

Mark: Ok that sounds like a lot of work to figure out what was going wrong?

Bernie: Well it is actually a lot of work to at least get into what’s wrong and this is you know, where we like to do a little pre-planning with our client to say, you know to keep the cost down, if we were just to say, I just want you to diagnose this, it would be very expensive for us to take everything apart, test everything, put it all back together and tell you you know, this is what’s wrong with it. So it’s the kind of thing where we need to kind of pre plan what could actually be wrong with it. It could be the glow plug, it could be the control module, the most likely cause of the fault and with the vehicle being 7 years old, you might just need to replace, if one glow plug’s bad, you may as well replace them all. Or if it’s a lot of work to take the manifold off, why not just replace everything and then you’re done with it and it’s not going to leave anything to say 6 months from now, oh well plug 6 died or something to that effect. So this is the kind of pre planning we do in certain situations like this. Because it make more sense, if you’re going to take the manifold off to just fix everything at the same time. So once we remove the manifold, then we’re able to do some tests. We actually found the glow plug would actually heat up and light up and the module is faulty but as said, based on the mileage in the vehicle we ended up replacing all the glow plugs and the control unit at the same time while everything was apart. Let’s just have a look at a few pictures here.

This is the 2011 BMW 335D, your sort of standard BMW sedan but of course with a diesel under the hood. The engine again, covered in plastic with a nice, beautiful plastic, it’s hard to know what, you don’t really know what’s underneath until you take the plastic off. But this is the engine with the intake manifold removed and I’ve put some nice red arrows there indicating where the glow plugs are located. So the glow plugs were actually removed at this point, the intake manifold actually has two ports for each cylinder. So you have your lower set of ports, your upper set of ports. These are the fuel injector lines. The fuel injects are located up in this area here and the red arrows point to where the glow plug holes are. So we at this point removed the glow plugs and just for reference, the control unit sits down around this area under these hoses. What else have we got in the way of pictures here. We’ve got a view of the intake manifold removed. This has a swirl valve, well that’s a Mercedes term, but an intake manifold runner so you can vary the intake ports for different air flows and performance at different engine speeds. And here we have the EGR valve and throttle unit and in this area we did find some carbon deposits which we cleaned and we can talk about that a little later on. And finally the stars of the show, the glow plugs and the control unit. So here’s an example of two of the glow plugs. Your basic, standard type of glow plug and the control unit which looks like it says BMW on it, made by Bayer. These are, this type of control unit is very common. They look pretty much the same on a Mercedes, Volkswagen, a Isuzu diesel that we do a lot on, like in a medium truck. They’re basically all the same type of thing and they all tend to fail, same with the glow plugs and so once you get to a certain mileage, it’s best just to replace it all and be done with it.

Mark: So what did you find that was actually wrong? Was it the unit?

Bernie: It was actually the control unit that was bad in this case. As I mentioned we took all the glow plugs out and we were able to power them up and heat them and they all heated up fine. Now that still doesn’t mean the glow plug, even though it heated up fine didn’t have some resistance issue or something that the control unit found faulty. But in this case, the control unit was from what we could tell, the item at fault.

Mark: And you mentioned carbon deposits, I know that’s a huge issue on diesel intake systems. What did you find on this car?

Bernie: Well it wasn’t too bad as you could, I mean I know we’ve you know the pictures are gone now, but really there was actually a very minimal about of carbon deposit in the intake runners which is a good sign. This vehicle only has 78,000 kilometres, so it’s still pretty low mileage and it sounded, the owner I believe, has done a lot of highway driving with it so that all helps to, but we did find in the EGR valve and on the throttle plate, there was a lot of carbon deposit. We remove those and clean them out while we had everything apart. So that’ll definitely help airflow in the vehicle. 

Mark: Now something we’ve mentioned before about BMW’s, they use a lot of plastic parts, is this a plastic intake manifold?

Bernie: It sure is, yeah they use a lot of plastic wherever they can. Well a lot of other manufacturers do too, but yeah this is a plastic intake manifold. So nobody issues like that, you know I showed that swirl valve or you know, intake runner, whatever, every manufacturer has a different name, you know, those kind of things tend to wear after a while. I remember having a Ford years ago where that intake you know, after moving for years and year and years, it just wears the plastic away. So thats the kind of issue with plastic you know that you eventually get and the intake manifold will probably need to be replaced at some point. Who knows when. I mean at this point, it’s in very good shape.

Mark: And how are these BMW diesels for reliability?

Bernie: So far we’ve found them to be pretty good but you know, to be honest, we haven’t worked on a lot of BMW diesels. There’s not a lot of them out there. I think that’s mainly the reason, we’re starting to see more and more of them as they come off warranty and you know, there a few more on the market but when you compare it to Volkswagen or Mercedes, they really haven’t sold a lot of diesel vehicles or they’re pretty rare for BMW. Not so much for Volkswagen or Mercedes. 

Mark: And contrary to what people might think, this is a BMW high performance vehicle. In fact it might be the fastest 3-series and certainly in terms of torque, is that right?

Bernie: Yeah, it’s very peppy. After we did the repair I drove it, I go wow, it really moves well. So yeah, it’s a nice car, there’s really no compromise with a diesel. You know as I say, the thing about diesel’s that always worry me and we see it a lot, is they do cost a lot of money to fix when things go wrong and they tend to go wrong more than they use to. So you get a lot of good fuel mileage, you save a lot of money on fuel while you’re driving this vehicle that ’s for sure.

Mark: Absolutely. So if you need some service for your BMW diesel in Vancouver or your Mercedes or Volkswagen, the guys who are experts at it are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. We’ve got hundreds of videos on there and lots of them about all kinds of different diesels or our Youtube channel Pawlik Automotive or our new PodCast. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2010 BMW X3; Front Brakes

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Serving Vancouver for over 38 years. Repairing all makes and models of vehicles, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 2010 BMW X3, there was a front brake problem. What was going on with this car?

Bernie: Our client front the vehicle in for a scheduled maintenance service, a B service which is essentially an oil change and full vehicle inspection and service. And as we were doing our services, we look at the brakes, measure the brakes and the front brakes, pads were down to 3 millimetres, which is pretty near worn out. So that’s what was going on with this vehicle.

Mark: So can someone still safely drive with a vehicle that’s got 3 millimetres on the brake pads?

Bernie: Absolutely, you can still continue to drive. I mean 3 millimetres means there’s still 3 millimetres of brake pad left. However, once you’re down around 2 to 3 that’s considered worn out by most manufacturers. I mean you can drive it down to, right down to metal on metal if you want but of course at that point things start getting hot, rotors get damaged immediately, callipers can be damaged, so its best not to do it. Plus you start to loose on your stopping ability. So brakes stop a lot better, when these vehicles are new the brake pads are in around 10 to 12 millimetres, so 3 mills is about, I mean less than a quarter of the brake pad left. So I’ll just, the other thing too of course is time management.  BMW’s don’t need service all that often, so you think the car’s in for service, you’ve taken time out of your schedule to bring your car in to have it fixed, why book another appointment, you know, a couple months down the road to have the brakes done when they’re pretty much worn out, why not just get it all handled now. You’re free to choose what you want to do but if you’re managing your time wisely, it’s better to have everything done at one time and then just drive the car for a while. So let’s just have a look at a couple of photos here. Here’s out 2010 BMW X3. Nice little sport utility vehicle and our front brakes, oh where’s our brakes? I’ll stop the sharing, if you look at the video we’ll include the front brake pads and rotors. I’ll explain the photo, there’s a brand new, nice fresh brake rotor, you can see the pads, orange lubricant painted in in certain spots around the callipers which we can talk about.

Mark: So do you always replace rotors with the pads?

Bernie: Well on European cars, absolutely. What happens is, for some reason the pads are very hard on European cars, the rotors are made of a softer material and as the pads wear out, the rotors develop very deep grooves so you actually measure the rotor they’re usually right down to the minimum wear spec. But even on any other make and model of cars, rotors are usually replaced at the same time. They last a long time these days and by the time they get to the pads worn out, there’s usually some grooves in the rotors or rusted edges. Can they be machined? Yes. Is it worth it? Usually not because once you machine a layer off then the rotor becomes thinner and it tends to warp easier. So unless it in extreme circumstances, the odd time we’ll machine rotor but 99% of the time they get done new, the jobs done properly and it works fine.

Mark: So you’ve mentioned a few different pieces in the car, like the callipers, what are the callipers and did you replace those on this vehicle?

Bernie: They don’t need to be replaced all that often. In this case the callipers were fine. What we’d normally do is inspect the brake calliper. So we retract the piston. Does it move back in smoothly, are the dust seals ripped? If they’re not, then generally if it moves in freely, the dust seals are ok and then the slider pins are not enormously, you know hideously seized because sometimes they can get so badly rusted and seized they’re not reusable. But assuming all those things are good, in the case of this BMW it was, we reused the calliper.

Mark: I’m assuming that this can be, if you took a certain amount of miles, say 10,000 miles or a 100,000 miles or whatever the number is, and compared different vehicles, they’re all going to have different states of rust, of seizing, of, all kinds of issues depending on the manufacturer? Is that right?

Bernie: Absolutely and I mean brakes wear at a different rate and it depends on where you drive too. If you’re only driving in the desert of Arizona, rusting isn’t going to be that big of an issue. But if you’re anywhere where there’s moisture, especially where there’s road salt, that really accelerates the pace of rust damage on brakes enormously. But again, if you live like close to the ocean too, where there’s like sea spray, that kind of thing can also effect the life of brakes. Like a brake rotor is a bare piece of metal, so it’s very prone to rusting and of course, if it gets rusty, it wears the pads out too. The regular service on calliper sliders is actually a good thing to do, like every say 24,000 kilometres, which is what in miles, I don’t know, 16, 18 thousand miles, somewhere in that range. It’s a good idea to every couple of years to do a service on your brakes. Some brakes do last a long time, some vehicles you get over a 100,000 kilometres, maybe a 150,000 kilometres on a set of pads and rotors. So doing a regular service is a good idea because if the callipers seize up, the pads wear a lot quicker and you’ll end up having to do, it’s a little more work to do the services, but you end up not having to replace the parts as often, so it’s cheaper in the long run.

Mark: Any further comments on the BMW X3?

Bernie: It’s a nice little sport utility vehicle, say compared to a Lexus RX model you know which is kind of equivalent, it’s a little less reliable, there’s a few more things that are going to go wrong with it but things like oil leaks, you know those kind of things but other than that it’s a great vehicle. 

Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service for your BMW in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out our website pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie


Bernie: Thanks Mark

2011 BMW M3 V8, Brakes

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing fantastic today.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a BMW M3 which is the V8 model from 2011, so what was happening to this ultimate ticket machine?

Bernie:  So the brakes were, the client came in and the brakes were worn out so we did some brake repairs on the vehicle.

Mark: Ok, so brake wear is pretty normal in all cars, what’s unique about these ones?

Bernie: Well, I’d say what’s unique about this being an M3, it’s a sports model of a 3 Series BMW, the brakes are big. They’re meant to stop fast. The car’s got a V8 in it whereas most have 6 cylinders, some even have 4, so it’s meant to stop the car fast. The car accelerates fast, stops fast, it’s all part of the performance expectation of having a car like this. And a lot better than a lot of old American cars used to be where they’d have a lot of horsepower but not a lot of stopping power.  Anyway, so let’s have a look at these brakes because they’re pretty, large is kind of the key thing here, let’s have a look at a few photos. We’ll start here, this is the rear brake. This is the old system, this is before we removed anything from the vehicle. So you can see I mean, there’s nothing here for comparison, but it’s pretty large, if you see the calliper here but the brake rotor disc is large, they are all cross drilled rotors which allows for more airflow. Get onto our next picture here. This is a front brake rotor, again a view with, before the rotor was removed, you can see the shiny area and the original thickness of the brakes and this is typical of a lot of European vehicles, the rotors wear quite heavily in the inner areas, the pads are hard, the rotors are a little softer and they tend to wear the rotors pretty hard. So you’ll get some people in European vehicles, they stick just pads in, not a good idea because you’re putting it on a surface that’s not even, it’s a very uneven surface so it takes a while for the brakes to wear in and they work quite as well as it could if you did them the other way around. One more view we have here, this is our, this is a brand new rotor, you can see again the cross drilling and the inside via the rotary. There’s a lot of interesting technology here for airflow through the rotor, again it’s kind of part and parcel you get with one of these cars.

Mark: Ok, even though we don’t have something to compare with, this components are pretty large, so and yeah this is a pretty expensive service

Bernie: Yeah, there’s a variety of pricing. I mean once you start getting into the higher performance cars, especially European vehicles, there’s certainly a big price jump in rotors. These are not the craziest priced rotors but you know, the brake job on this was definitely more than you’d spend on a 3 Series BMW but not as much as some cars are. 

Mark: So you didn’t really mention any pricing, I guess there’s, how much, how expensive can rotors get?

Bernie: Well there are some AMG Mercedes, the rotors are $1200 bucks apiece, like an SL55 a SLK55, some of them, depends on which brake package you have, they have, the brake rotors are $1200 bucks apiece which is a crazy amount of money but they have different brake packages, some have them and some don’t. Also when you get into certain cars like Aston Martin, some high end Porsches again, they have really expensive brake rotors. You can usually tell by looking at them, the way their built, the actual rotors, there’s also bolts around the edge of the hub, a number of them, those are usually the expensive type of rotor. 

Mark: So why would rotors, some rotors cover over $1000, each?

Bernie: Yeah, each, that’s the key word. Some of it is exclusivity, but the other is the metal they’re made out of, they some of them use carbon composites. I’m not sure the, all the exact metallurgy but they’re pretty high tech materials where they resist fade, they can dissipate the heat extremely fast and that’s what you’re paying for with these kind of brake rotors. They don’t necessarily last any longer but they can handle the hear better so if you’re going a hundred miles an hour and you nail the brakes over and over you’re going keep stopping and that’s really the advantage of that. But how many people really do that, you know it’s a bit overkill, but having a good braking is important. 

Mark: So these M3’s have a pretty awesome reputation, how are they for reliability?

Bernie: I’d say really good, you know, if you want to get a nice high performance sports car, they’re excellent vehicles. You’ll certainly spend more money than you would on an average type of car, I always say this European you’ll generally spend more money than you will on a Japanese car, but for a performance machine, that’s a fantastic car, really nice especially with the V8 engine. 

Mark: So there you go if you’re looking for service for your BMW M3 in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or check out our YouTube channel, we’ve got hundreds of video on there. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2012 BMW X1, Turbo Air Duct Pipe

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners, almost unbelievable, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re talking BMW’s. We’ve got a BMW X1, what was going on with this mini SUV

Bernie: Well this vehicle came to our shop, pretty low mileage vehicle in great shape but had a oil leak coming from the turbo area and the owner had taken it another shop to get this maintenance service done and they didn’t want to repair or look at the turbo issue. They figured the turbocharger itself was leaking oil and it was a big job and beyond what they wanted to take on. So they brought it to us to have a look at it.

Mark: And what did you find?

Bernie: Well what we found was actually the turbo itself wasn’t leaking which I figured would be kind of a long shot with a low mileage BMW. What we found was there was oil seeping out of the turbo duct, the air intake turbo duct right at the turbocharger so it looked like it was coming from the turbo, but in fact wasn’t.

Mark: So maybe explain, how that air duct hose leaks oil.

Bernie: Excellent question. So inside, so the turbo, with a turbocharged engine there’s a lot of air ducting pipes that go from the turbocharger to the intake manifold, from the air cleaner and these are all hooked up to the crankcase breathing system and there’s a small amount of oil vapour that goes, leaks out of the crankcase ventilation system and it gets into the air ducts. So over time, some oil will build up and if the seal is leaking slightly, it’ll cause the oil to drip out. This especially happens in a low part of the system which is where this particular pipe was. So that’s basically how the oil gets in. Usually it take a lot more mileage to develop a leak, but we see it a lot on VW’s on those seals and ducts, but that’s basically how it works.

Mark: Did you just replace the seal?

Bernie: Well not in this case, this particular seal, you have to buy the whole pipe which is unfortunately an expensive repair. I’ll share some photos here, you can actually see the seal’s a rather special type of seal, not that they shouldn’t sell it separately, but for some reason they don’t. So let’s look at the pictures, so there’s our 2012 X1, basically an X Series platform just built into a little SUV, nice little small vehicle, compact, good fuel economy. This is our oil leak. So you can, this is basically the bottom of the turbo, now it doesn’t look like a lot but you can see a sort of oily film around this area here and this is the duct hose and the seal is inside that area. So this pipe, it was the piece we replaced.

Mark: And up at the top left, that’s the turbo housing?

Bernie: This is the actual turbocharger itself, this is the intake side and this is the exhaust side of the turbo, just right up here which is way out of focus, but yeah this is looking underneath the vehicle. Now where’s our other photo, yeah, so this is basically the seal inside the pipe, you can see it’s a kind of a special, double lipped type of seal. They also use nice easy to replace clip clamps so everything snaps together in a rather easy fashion once you remove all the covers and remove things as necessary to access it. It’s a fairly straight forward job and again it’s just removing everything to get there.

Mark: Alright we’re back to you

Bernie: Back to me

Mark: So is replacement of these air duct pipes pretty common on turbocharged vehicles?

Bernie: Well we do some and there’s a lot of turbocharged vehicles out there. These ducts, I mean things like oil leaks from ducts will happen from time to time, there’s also air leaks that can occur and that’ll affect engine performance. Sometimes you hear like a hissing noise, check engine light maybe on for low turbo performance and that happens from a variety of vehicle. We see a lot of older VW TDI’s that have leaks from ducts, intercoolers especially, they’re located very low down in the front right corner of the vehicle and if there’s oil that drips out, that’ll often be the intercooler or the actual seals on the turbo duct. So that’s not an uncommon thing we see, not too common for BMW’s with this low mileage but you know, anything happens on any car, at any time. So you’ve got to be prepared for it but usually they’re reliable.

Mark: How are these X1’s for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, they’re pretty good, fairly decent vehicle, don’t see a lot of problems with them so far.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service for your BMW X1 in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2000 BMW 323i, Water Pump

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik from Pawlik Automotive. We’re talking cars this morning. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a BMW 2000 323i that had a water pump problem. What was going on with this BMW?

Bernie: Well the vehicle, the owner was driving the vehicle and pulled into a job site and it was making a horrendous racket and they wisely decided to shut it off and have the vehicle towed to our shop to be repaired.

Mark: And you found?

Bernie: We found the water pump severely worn, I mean the sound coming from the engine was just horrendous and the water pump bearing was completely fried, was fried like broken apart causing the belt to flop around, the pulleys, the fan was way out of place and tapping things. So there was a lot of noises going on, a lot of racket. We’ll just get right into sharing a little video of the bearing because it’s really interesting to look at. So here is the water pump bearing.

Mark: That’s just not good.

Bernie: Yeah, it’s just insanely worn.

Mark: Basically that should not have any play in it whatsoever.

Bernie: That should not have any play, yeah no that should, I could grab that bearing, that flange and move it and there should be absolutely no movement at all whatsoever.

Mark: So what sort of other issues would be caused by the water pump failure like that?

Bernie: Well, there’s a lot of things that can happen and interestedly enough there was really no pre warning, although I suspect if the owner had listened a little more, there was probably some growling bearing noise coming from the engine but I mean, a lot of things could happen like when a water pump fails the engine can overheat. That’s a very typical issue, also old coolant loss is another common issue and surprisingly the coolant level was full in this car which was good because the engine never overheated and that’s a good thing. But usually when a bearing fails like that there’s a seal inside and the seal will leak of course, because things are just moving and an angle that they’re not supposed to. I think something with the design of this water pump, it’s very, it’s got a very long housing and bearings at each end and I think somehow the way the seal is situated just allows it to not leak. But again there was a real surprise because with a bearing that loose at least 99% of the time, the coolant just gushes out all over the ground. So fortunately in the case of this vehicle, that wasn’t, the water pump was the main thing that was bad.

Mark: So you replaced the water pump, any other parts need to be replaced?

Bernie: Well there was a few other things. So fortunately the fan itself wasn’t damaged even though it was whacking against the fan shroud and I guess in some cases to if this thing could of worn worse, it could of have just wrecked the radiator too because they often sit very close, the fan and radiator can sit close to each other but there’s no damage in that area. So what other items did need to be replaced, so when we took it apart, the fan clutch which is basically a mechanism that allow the fan to slip and improve, it makes the engine efficiency and fuel economy, but that piece was worn just from age so we replaced that, also the belts obviously got replaced. They were showing signs of cracking, and the tensioners and the pulleys were starting to wear so we replaced those too. So a few preventative items to prevent other failures down the road, but that was it.

Mark: So how are BMW’s for reliability? I have mixed experience, mixed results with them.

Bernie: They’re actually, these cars are actually I find are pretty reliable. They’re a little simpler, these older, like a 2000 BMW, it’s a little simpler of a car than some of the newer ones with direct fuel injection. They seem to have less problems. I mean, there’s a lot of plastic pieces that wear out but this car is 20 years old. We do regular service on it and it doesn’t really come in for a whole lot that more than you’d expect on a car that’s this age. So pretty good reliable car and a nice driving vehicle.

Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service in Vancouver for your BMW 3-Series, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they’re busy you’ve got to book ahead or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. We have almost 5 years of videos on there, hundreds and hundreds of them for you to peruse through, tons of information. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2010 BMW X3, Engine Oil Leak Repairs

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik in Vancouver. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, in fact and we’re talking cars. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a BMW X3 2010 version that had some engine oil leak problems. What was going on with this X3?

Bernie: So the client brought the vehicle in for a regular maintenance service, oil change and inspection and what we noted from the inspection was there was a couple of engine oil leaks. One from the valve cover gasket area, the other from the oil filter housing. These are common areas of leaks on these vehicles once they get a little on in age, this vehicle has about 100,000 kilometres. So that’s what we noted and so we went to proceed to repair the oil leaks.

Mark: So did you find anything else interesting?

Bernie: Yes we did, and this vehicle, so this vehicle had not had it’s oil changes done regularly, it was quite overdue for an oil service by many thousand kilometres and the oil service interval in these vehicles was 25,000 kilometres which in and of itself is a very long time. But what we found, it was apparent right away when we started the service and took the oil cap off there was a lot of sludge in the oil, inside the oil cap. So I’ll share a few photos. This is our, this is the oil cap. Just take a minute to have a look. This is the underside of the oil cap and all this stuff here, this is all sludge. This is like oil that’s been kind of, it’s kind of half tar, half oil stuck to the bottom of the oil filler cap. I don’t have a clean one to show you but basically all this stuff here, that my mouse pointer swirling around should not be there. Go to our next picture and this is the inside of the valve cover. So once we took the valve cover off, we replaced the valve cover gasket, this was coated all on the inside, now again you know without having a picture of a clean one, it’s hard to get exactly, know what we’re looking at here but just know that all this stuff here that my mouse pointer is going over, it’s a thick layer about 1/8 of an inch thick of just tarry, scummy build up inside the valve cover which is not a good thing. Just a couple of things here, this is where the spark plugs sit in the middle of the valve cover. So this is the spark plug tubes. So there’s, this is a 6 cylinder engine so we’re looking at the centre of the valve cover here. There’s also a Valvetronic actuator motor that goes through the valve cover and that sits in this position here. The oil filler cap sits right there, so if you get an idea of that cap, we’re looking at the underside, that’s where that would be sitting with all the sludge.

Mark: So just to interrupt you for a second, would this be normal, is this a metal valve cover?

Bernie: No it’s plastic.

Mark: So would, it might be black on the inside?

Bernie: It would be black and once it’s cleaned up, I mean you’d see something that looks a little more like this all the way through but you know it, nonetheless I mean, we have a very, we have an awesome parts washing machine in our shop and it’s kind of like a dishwasher for car parts. It does an amazing job, we had to put this thing through three or four times to get all the sludge out of it. So the thing about the sludge, it’s not actually going to cause any damage. I’ll just share another photo, this is the BMW, this is a 2010 BMW X3. So this is the last, there are two generations, so this the last of that generation so.

Mark: So this could cause engine damage?

Bernie: Well the actual sludge itself, yes it can, but what it really represents is that the oil had deteriorated badly so the lubrication quality of the oil is way lower than it should be and so there’s definitely some time down the road there’s definitely going to be a price to pay for this bad maintenance. Whether that’s worn out timing chains, this vehicle uses a variable valve timing and so those actuators and things, they rely on clean oil without sludge because the sludge will block the passage way. So it’s critical to have that clean oil. So yeah it represents a definite problem.

Mark: So what you’re saying is change your oil regularly?

Bernie: Absolutely. I mean we say, I think every hangout we talk about changing oil regularly, but yeah it’s so critical.

Mark: And how often should the oil be changed in the BMW?

Bernie: Well it depends on who you listen to. But my advice is probably about every 12 to 15,000 kilometres for any BMWs built in the last 15 years. Most of them, all BMWs they have a service reminder, it’s usually set for 25,000 kilometre oil changes which is ridiculously too long in my opinion. You know by the time, if you actually go the the 25,000 k’s,the oil is just disgusting. I mean it doesn’t resemble oil at all anymore, whereas if you do it at 12 to 15k’s you’re still getting oil that’s still got some cleanliness to it and I think it’s a much better option. So why they leave it that long, it’s a good sales pitch you know, when you’re buying the vehicle, you’re in the showroom, “Hey our cars don’t need that much maintenance, you can come in once every year or maybe every two years, the cars going to tell you when to change the oil, so you don’t need to worry about it” which is nice, it makes things simple. But in the end, it’s not a good strategy for long life of the vehicle, Depends on what you want, if you want to lease a car for three years and replace it by all means. But if you care about your car and you want to keep it for along time, doing it more often make a lot of sense.

Mark: So there you go, if you have a BMW if you need to have some service done on, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to book ahead they’re busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

How reliable are BMW X3s?

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik and we’re talking cars. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’ll get right to it, how reliable are BMW X3’s?

Bernie: Well, they’re pretty reliable vehicles but there are a few issues that these vehicles have that are worth noting.

Mark: A number of things, what are they?

Bernie: Well, a lot of it is around the engine, the engine area of the vehicle I’d say are probably the largest areas of concern. So as the vehicles get on with age and we’re talking up around 100,000 kilometre range, oil leaks will develop, valve cover gaskets are common, sometimes the oil pan will leak perhaps a little further perhaps on in the life of the vehicle, the oil filter adapter housing will leak, there are seals there, so this are the kind of common areas of leakage. Also performance issues, ignition coil failures are pretty common on these vehicles, so the engine will misfire, the check engine light will come on. That’s sort of a common symptom of that. There are also a lot of plastic parts in these vehicles, the radiators, the cooling system, thermostat housing, these kinds of things, there will be failures in these items too. So the plastic will crack and need to be replaced. So those are kind of the areas, oh and one other thing too, that over time the crankcase breather valve will fail and that can cause the check engine light to come on. It can also cause the engine to use a lot of oil, blow blue smoke, so there’s a number of things that can happen around that area too. So that’s a pretty common failure. This vehicle is basically, it’s a BMW 3 Series but converted into a SUV that’s called, it’s the crossover category so it’s kind of an enlarged 3 Series. So you have the same types of engines and same drivetrain, they’re an all wheel drive vehicle. So a lot of the problems that are experienced in the 3 Series vehicle, you’ll get in the X3.

Mark: So that seems like a lot and you’ve only touched on the engine. What else can go wrong with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well, so let’s go to the drivetrains, the transmission, differentials, transfer case. Generally these are all really reliable. We’ve run into a few transfer case issues but these are usually with real high mile vehicles, you know way over the 200,000 kilometre mark. So generally, the drivetrain in the vehicle is quite reliable. Never seen a transmission problem with one, not to say they don’t exist, but they’re generally very reliable. So the drivetrain is good.

Mark: How about brakes, steering, suspension?

Bernie: Again those areas of the vehicle are good. We’ve had a couple with ABS issues, like the ABS modules gone bad, we’ve had one with several wheel speed sensors which is not uncommon to any vehicle. Brakes last to the 50 to 70,000 kilometre range so they’re, it’s about average for a vehicle like this and you always have to change the pads and rotors, it’s the way European cars wear. But yeah, generally I mean that’s sort of normal brake life for a vehicle like this. And the suspension, not a lot of issues, they’re pretty good. Again if you get into the really high mileage area, 2 to 300,000 kilometres, things, like struts will start to wear out, but other than that, they’re really reliable.

Mark: How about electronics?

Bernie: You know, there are a few issues with electronics, little fiddly things and I can’t think of any specific thing off the top of my head, but generally things like windows, most of the power things work well but I know that owners of these vehicles will experience some problems with certain electronic items but generally they’re quite reliable in that area.

Mark: Any last thoughts on the BMW X3?

Bernie: I mean overall, it’s a pretty good vehicle. You will spend more money maintaining this vehicle than you will on some comparable items, say like a Japanese equivalent and you know, there’s a number of American vehicles, there’s Jeeps in this category too, but the BMW’s of course, are a much classier, nicer vehicle, so you get more for your dollar. You pay more, you get more but you know, there is more maintenance that will be required on this vehicle than you would on a lot of other brands.

Mark: So there you go, if you’ve got an X3 and you’re looking for reliability, performance and ongoing use of your vehicle, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You should check them out at 604-327-7112 or their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

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