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Dirty Throttle Plates: a Sure Sign of Poor Maintenance

Dirty Throttle plate

Severely carbon deposited throttle plates can have a huge affect on engine performance.

Quite often, however, the concern is not noted until the vehicle starts stalling, your check engine lamp comes on or a general lack of power is noted. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve had 2 vehicles in for service that had excessively carbon deposited throttle plates.

Dirty Throttle plateCleaned throttle plate

Both of these vehicles were so severely encrusted that it was best to remove the throttle bodies to clean them. Regular maintenance is key to removing the deposits.

One service that we frequently perform is the Motorvac fuel injection cleaning. During this service your throttle plate is cleaned. A Motorvac fuel injection cleaning is recommended every 50,000 kilometers or 3 years. For those who follow this recommendation the severely encrusted throttle plate and all of its related problems will never occur.

A Classic Blown Head Gasket

volvo head gasket replacement

Cylinder head gaskets are a common repair on most types of vehicles and it is a repair that you may experience depending on the car that you own and the age of the vehicle.

Head gaskets do an amazing job and it is a miracle that they last as long as they do given the tasks they are charged with. The cylinder head gasket provides the seal between the top of your engine block and your cylinder head.

Engine coolant, engine oil and combustion pressures are all sealed by this gasket. Intense heating and high pressures occur at the top of the cylinders. Engine coolant, often above the boiling point of water, as well as oil are pumped under high pressure for cooling or to valves and camshafts for lubrication as well as oil draining back to the oil pan. Extreme temperatures and pressures are part of the head gaskets everyday job.

Head gaskets will fail (or blow, as we like to say in the trade) for many reasons: coolant leaks into the combustion chambers; external coolant or oil leaks; coolant leaks into the oil or oil leaks into the coolant; and sometimes between the cylinders.

volvo head gasket replacement

Volvo Head Gasket replacement

That is what happened on this 1991 Volvo 940 Turbo: the gasket blew between #2 and #3 cylinders and the engine ran very roughly.

Head gasket repairs are expensive so preventing them from occurring is in your best financial interest. Besides changing your engine oil and coolant at proper intervals — the only other thing you can do, is to ensure that you never overheat your engine as this will most often cause the gasket to fail prematurely.

Unfortunately some engines have been poorly engineered and their head gaskets fail no matter what you do. If you are considering buying a used car we can tell you the track record of many vehicles: just call us.

Timing Belt Replacement The Right Way

Audi Timing Belt replacement parts

Recently we had a 2000 Isuzu Trooper in our shop that had a whirring noise coming from the front of the engine.

What we discovered was causing the noise was worn out camshaft drive gears located inside the cylinder head: a layout rather unique to Isuzu. We also discovered 2 worn out timing belt pulley bearings.

This vehicle has 200,000 kilometers on the clock and just 20,000 kilometers previous, the timing belt was replaced at another shop. They had only replaced the timing belt and not changed any front engine oil seals, the water pump, tensioners or idler pulleys.

Audi Timing Belt replacement parts

Above are all the parts required to do a proper timing belt service on a 2003 Audi 3 litre V6 engine. For this service it requires: 4 Camshaft seals, 4 camshaft o-rings, 1 front crankshaft seal, 2 valve cover gaskets, 2 idler pulleys, 1 water pump, 1 tensioner pulley, 1 tension adjuster and finally 1 timing belt.

To do a proper timing belt replacement – all of these parts should be replaced, for if one fails, the whole job needs to be done again!

This was the case with our Isuzu. How often does that happen? Quite frequently!We have had numerous vehicles where the belt alone has been done only to have it oil soaked in a year or two; or seen the water pump fail 6 months after the timing belt was replaced.

The cost to replace all of the required parts is more expensive up front but if the job needs to be redone even within two or three years this makes the first job a waste of money. The best way, and ultimately the least expensive way is to do it right and that means complete the first time.

Call us to book your appointment and get your car ready for the heavy snow that’s coming…

Air Care- It Makes a Difference!

Failed AirCare 1992-mazda-miata

There is a myth that AirCare does nothing to help the air; it’s just a waste of time and money.

While the system is not perfect and a few vehicles fall through the cracks, overall it makes an enormous difference in the air quality of the Greater Vancouver Region.

Being a licensed AirCare repair center we get to see first hand evidence of just how effective most AirCare repairs are. A recent example just reinforced the effectiveness.

The Car: a 1992 Mazda Miata, running perfectly, failed its AirCare test due to excessive hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) with the following numbers: HC .9271 grams/kilometer and CO 20.9371 grams/kilometer.
Failed AirCare 1992-mazda-miata
Both of these readings were approximately twice as high as the maximum allowed: HC .5000 and CO 9.3200. After our diagnosis we concluded that the air flow meter was defective and telling the engine computer to inject too much fuel into the engine.

Fortunately, on this car, the air flow meter can be readjusted and after doing so and returning to AirCare we received the following Numbers: HC .0203g/km and CO .0119g/km.

This is an astounding difference: Hundreds of times less of these noxious pollutants.

The numbers speak for themselves. This repair had an added bonus: the engine ran even better and the owner will very likely enjoy greatly improved fuel mileage which will offset the cost of repairs.

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!

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.

Modern CV Boots Last a Long Time

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

Modern CV Boots Last a Long Time

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.

Air Conditioning Service

Car air Conditioning

What does it cost to “just recharge” my air conditioning system?

That is a question that we are occasionally asked. The answer is always, “We cannot just recharge it without first determining where the refrigerant has leaked out.”

It is illegal to refill an A/C system with a known leak.

Our first course of action is diagnosis. Many times the cause of non-functioning A/C is not low refrigerant but an electrical concern: a burned out switch, defective control unit or broken wire.
Car air Conditioning
After testing the electrical side of your A/C system we test for proper refrigerant type and charge. If refrigerant is low we must do a leak diagnosis and find the cause. Once the leak is found and repaired we can then recharge your A/C system. With the leak(s) repaired you will usually enjoy years of trouble free operation.

Here are some interesting facts: the current A/C refrigerant is known as R134a.

This chemical replaced the previous refrigerant R12, otherwise known as Freon. R12 is nasty stuff, as one molecule of it will destroy 10,000 ozone molecules.

R134a thankfully destroys none. That is great news for our ozone layer, however R134a is not entirely benign as it has a global warming potential of 1000. This means that one molecule of R134a is 1000 times more effective than one carbon dioxide (CO2) molecule at trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

For that reason we cannot legally, or morally, “just recharge” your A/C system.

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