Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada in the midst of the lockdown COVID craziness times, and we're talking cars. And Pawlik Automotive is of course, 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Today we're going to talk about a fairly popular vehicle. A BMW 328i. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So what was happening with this three series BMW?
Bernie: So the car is a 2013 328i. The owner had a couple of issues. One was, an oil leakage, some warning lights on the dash, the engine didn't feel like it was performing properly, possibly some misfires. So those are the client's concerns and things that we looked at.
Mark: And so you did some diagnosis, what did you find?
Bernie: Yeah. So we start with a scan tool diagnostic. We basically hooked the scan tool up, did a full code read of the vehicle. There was a couple of codes in the engine, did a visual inspection of the vehicle and noted a lot of oil leakage. It was severe.
There was oil leaked out everywhere, all over the top of the engine, the bottom, sort of the usual spots that we might find oil leaks on this engine, like around the oil pan gasket area. It was oil around the oil filter, housing area down the front of the engine and in a lot of spots. But of course, without cleaning things up and doing proper diagnosis, it's hard to tell where it's leaking from. And we don't want to sell a bunch of work the customer doesn't need.
So first step, we did an engine shampoo. We cleaned it up thoroughly. And then ran the engine and noted immediately an enormous oil leak coming from the oil filter cap housing area. Actually where the cap sits, there's oil leaking right between the cap and the housing.
The other thing we noted was the engine oil service was way overdue, like by thousands of kilometres. So first thing we proceeded with was an A service, an oil service on the vehicle, and sealed that all up. And then we proceeded from there. We figured a lot of the problems with the engine may have actually been due to the fact that the oil level was a) low and b) just very old. So that's kind of where we proceeded.
I'm going to show a picture here actually of the oil filter while we're talking. So this is actually the car. It's as a 2013, you know, a classic BMW three series, you know, definitely their most popular model. Four door sedan. Nice vehicle for sure.
This is what the oil filter looked like. So we took the oil filter out. It had been in there so long, it actually just broke in half when we took it apart. This is the O ring seal that goes around the filter cap. I don't have a picture of the filter cap. It's basically a plastic cap and there's a replaceable seal. The seal is hard as a hockey puck. I mean, if we grabbed it, we could probably crack it in our hands. It was so hardened. So this is why the oil was leaking out. I mean, the filter, this is not uncommon when we see vehicles that have been way overdue for oil services. Mercedes or BMWs, any cartridge filtered vehicles. The material just breaks down and it goes hard and it just cracks apart.
Mark: Which engine is this?
Bernie: This is a two litre turbocharged engine. So BMW has done something interesting in the 2011 model year. Instead of using the six cylinder like they did in most models, or they did, in the say the three series that they had some four cylinders as well. You can usually tell the size of the engine by the number of the vehicles, say a 328. It would be a 2.8 litre engine. A 318 for instance, would be a 1.8 litre, which is a four cylinder. But now they've kind of got away from that and they changed the numbering around, but that doesn't necessarily reflect the displacement of the engine.
So this is a two litre turbocharged engine. Pretty amazing technology. BMW's used it for awhile. It's got all the bells and whistles, you know, of the best of internal combustion engine technology. Twin scroll turbocharger, variable valve timing. It's got, which BMW calls the dual VANOS systems. So intake and exhaust or variable valve timing. It's got the Valvetronic System, which is variable valve lift. It's got a gasoline direct injection. It also has a start and stop technology. So you're getting like the best fuel economy and performance you can really squeeze out of out of an engine like this.
Of course there's performance modifications, and they can make it a higher performance model. But you know, for an average driving car, you're really getting the best of both worlds. Fuel economy performance, reduced exhaust emissions, everything in one bundle.
Mark: And this is a four cylinder, rather than the old kind of tried and true six cylinder that they used for decades.
Bernie: Yeah, it is. It's a four cylinder. And they still make the six cylinder models, you know, with all of this technology as well. But they've gone down to the four cylinder in a lot. They use it in X3's, you know, the three series sedans and coupes, you know, so it's awesome. I mean lots of power. I can't remember the actual, I think it's 250 horsepower or something like that, which is pretty damn good, you know, for a little engine like that. And it's a nice compact engine too. There's a lot of room in the engine compartment because you can put a six cylinder engine in there. So it's actually nice to have a vehicle that has some, some extra space in an engine compartment that they haven't just crammed it all full of everything.
Mark: So as you mentioned, probably the height and what really all of the current popular auto manufacturers, or what we consider the historic auto manufacturers, are the best that is making really high performance or really efficient gasoline or diesel powered internal combustion engines. And are they ready for the future?
Bernie: Are they ready for the future? Well, they're trying. This could be a whole separate podcast. I know we talked earlier about Volkswagen and how their ID series is sitting idle. Maybe that's what the ID stands for, idle, due to software problems.
Whereas another manufacturer, like Tesla for instance, it started off more as a software company and a unique manufacturer. And they've kind of taken things in a different direction. I mean, I have no doubt that a lot of, you know, like the original car manufacturers are going to come through with some pretty neat cars, but they're just, you know, they'll muddle their way through for awhile and some of them probably won't survive.
Mark: So you've talked about the value of scheduled maintenance many, many times and how doing that, when it's due and how important it is for internal combustion engines and especially BMWs. But also many other manufacturers as well, especially with these high performance tweaked to the nines engines that are doing the very best possible way that they can. So what can happen when you leave your oil changes too long?
Bernie: Well, of course, we already looked at this picture of this oil filter. You know, that's not a good thing. This is supposed to filter and clean your oil. So I mean that's just one little thing that you can see. But I talked about all the technology in this engine. I mean, all these things require clean oil. When you start getting sludge, which builds up when you don't change your oil enough, it blocks things off. A variable valve timing system stopped working, and this isn't a BMW only thing. This is any car Japanese, North American, European, anything with an internal combustion engine. Clean oil is so critical for performance. Even carbon deposits that occur with gasoline direct injected engines can increase when you don't change your oil frequently enough. So that causes other performance problems with the vehicle.
So there are so many reasons to change your oil regularly that it's just so important. That's all I can say.
Mark: And how often should this type of BMW get serviced?
Bernie: Well, I know the manufacturer, when we reset the oil service interval on this vehicle, it said next service due 17,000 kilometres. My opinion, that's way too long. But you know, the owner of this vehicle left it way over that interval like by probably 10,000 k's I believe so. You know, and we see this often, people just, they get busy or they, whatever happens they don't do it. But even 17,000 kilometres is too long. I mean, really, in my opinion, and I think a lot of other people in our industry, 10 to 12 is probably as far as you should go. You know, when you change the oil at that interval, it's not so dirty. It's still got some cleanliness to it and hasn't deteriorated to the point that you get when you leave it way too long.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW in Vancouver, regularly scheduled service to make sure you get the maximum life out of your vehicle, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You got to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos and articles on there about repairs of all makes and models of cars. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel, hundreds of videos on there. Of course, thanks for listening to the podcast. Leave us a review wherever you're picking your podcasts up from, and thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking BMWs today. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well today.
Mark: So the German vehicle that you don't struggle with how to pronounce, the BMW. We're going to talk about proper maintenance for a modern BMW.
Bernie: Well, there's a bit of conflicting information. Sometimes if you look out in the world, if you look at the factory maintenance schedule, a lot of oil changes are scheduled for 24,000 kilometres. There's a lot of items. Over the years, BMW have said their transmissions don't require any service. It's often stamped onto the transmission pan. And, what we find out in the real world of doing services is, it's probably not the best way to maintain your BMW. If you care to keep your overall operating costs down and you want your car to last.
Mark: Okay, wait, now, isn't the factory maintenance schedule the best?They've engineered and built the cars they should know best, right?
Bernie: Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean the factory maintenance schedule, is well, I don't want to say it's the best. I don't think it is. And that's true with a lot of other manufacturers. We're not just picking on BMW. We're going to talk about BMW here, but this is true for a lot of other manufacturers. There are some competing factors in the maintenance schedule recommendations that aren't necessarily in the best interest of longevity of the car.
Mark: So what are some of these competing factors?
Bernie: So the competing factors are really, they're about sales. It's about selling the car in the showroom. For instance, you know, if you only need to change your oil in your BMW every 24,000 kilometres and never change your transmission fluid. If you look over the, say a period of a hundred thousand kilometres and there are rating agencies for these kinds of things, they'll look at the actual maintenance cost of a vehicle.
Now, if you have to do these services at a very minimal amount, then your maintenance costs are lower, and that's an attractive feature to buy the car. I mean, if you're in the showroom, you're looking at say a BMW versus an equivalent Audi, and the BMW is say, a thousand dollars a year for maintenance and the Audi's 1500. Well, that's a factor in, you know, that's a plus for the BMW. Is it, and I'm not saying that these are actual, I'm just making this stuff up, but you know, these numbers. But you know, that's a reason that you might want to buy a BMW over an Audi. So there's a pressure to make the maintenance schedule as long as possible.
I mean, there are also good environmental reasons. I mean, the less oil you have to change, the less oil it needs to produce, the less waste there is. And so that's a good thing. Also of course, most manufacturers don't really care how long their cars last. I mean, they want it to have a good reputation for a certain amount of time, but once the warranty is over, the car's, five or more years older, they don't really care so much about the car.
They want to sell you a new car. So, you know, that's the other factor in there that's competing with proper maintenance.
Mark: So many consumer advocacy groups recommend that you only follow the factory schedule? Why would they do that?
Bernie: Well, I think they want to protect the consumer, and there are a lot of unscrupulous people who make recommendations about services that are probably not recommended. There you know, are a lot of non-expert people in the automotive field who are just happy to just keep selling services that may not really need to be done. So they stand on the side of, Hey, the manufacturers built the car. These guys know what they're talking about. You're safer to go with that.
But what, what the consumer advocacy groups don't really do, is look into the real world of what actually happens to the cars. And that's us in the field of auto service, we get to see what happens to cars that are badly maintained and we can make better recommendations.
Mark: So your information is basically from the actual, your experience and the experience of other experts, other repair facilities and experts in the field?
Bernie: Exactly. And I mean, we're just a small shop. I mean, our volume of BMW cars is very minimal compared to other shops. And there's also a whole community out there that looks at cars.
I did a training program the other night. So this is the other area where we get information on BMW maintenance from someone whose shop, does a lot of BMWs and someone who's an expert in BMW service. So they're out in the field, they're talking BMWs they're looking at BMWs. They're looking at all the problems that happen and how can we maintain these vehicles better so that they last longer? Because what we ended up seeing is, you know, we don't see the cars generally from brand new. We start seeing them after they're, you know, four or five years old, off warranty, you know, suffered from the bad maintenance that the long oil change intervals, and all of a sudden things are starting to break in the engine. We're going, you know, if you'd only change that oil twice as often, you know, maybe done it every 10 or 12,000 kilometres, you know, this wouldn't have happened. So there's a lot of issues that we see. And that's where, that's where the expertise that we bring into the field.
Mark: So what do you recommend for proper maintenance on a BMW?
Bernie: Well, certainly more frequent oil change intervals are really the biggest thing. And using really good quality motor oils. What I learned on a recent training, is a lot of the oils that they recommend, these really thin weight oils are really only recommended for the manufacturers corporate average fuel economy. And so if the large manufacturers have a fuel economy standard that they must meet, it's a legislated thing. So if they can lower that amount then that helps them. So they can make a higher performance engine. If they put a thinner oil in, it increases the fuel efficiency slightly. So overall it improves it, but it doesn't necessarily make for better lubrication for the engine. It just helps the corporate standards. So again, this is another one, those double standard things that happens, but that's one thing.
I mean, the other thing, you know, with BMWs of course, you know, regular inspections cause there are the things that wear out. Even testing the battery, on a regular basis, like on an annual service, can make a big difference for things like turbocharger life. And another thing I've learned recently is that turbochargers can fail because of a bad battery. And you think, well, how can that be. A turbocharger is a mechanical device. There's an after running system in a BMW, you shut the key off, it pumps coolant through the turbochargers. If the battery's weak, it'll shut that system off. And the turbochargers can get hot, oil will sludge up inside the turbocharger, harden up, and it'll affect the lubrication of the turbo. So just a little thing like that. If that's tested on a regular basis, like annually and dealt with either recharged or replaced, then you might save yourself thousands of dollars on premature turbo failure.
Let's get into some pictures.
This is an example of a car we just did a service on. A 2008 328i. Hard top convertible, real nice car. So some of the information that we can get out of this car and in our service, I'm just going to look at some pictures I mentioning about battery. There's a whole plethora of information that we scan for, and I'm going to go through these kind of quickly. But this is like an energy diagnosis tests that's available through our scan tool. And it actually, this is an amazing thing with BMW. It looks at like the last 49 days of driving. This is, how far the car was driven, the number of journeys, the distance of the trips. This is an amazing bit of information. I'm sure like Tesla has like, you know, way more stuff that they probably analyze moment to moment, but this is again, a 12 year old BMW. Some of the other things it looks at is starting cycles and I won't get into all the little bits of information on this one.
Test the battery. So it tests the state of charge of the battery. You can see this is actually pretty low. This is like five days worth of battery state of charge. It's only at 61%. So recommend to the customer, Hey, you know, we should charge your battery up because it's probably a bit on the weak side. It also tells you the battery was replaced at this mileage, and that's the current mileage. So we can see that actually 6,000 kilometres ago the battery was replaced. And what kind of battery's in the vehicle and all sorts of other information. So it really is very useful. You can see this vehicle has actually sat a lot. So that's probably why the battery's a little bit on the low side, but that's a really useful bit of information.
Also gathered some other information from a BMW X3. This is actually my own personal vehicle. It's a 2011 X3. I can see the battery state of charge here. This is a slightly different report, but 80% you know, it's sort of average. We haven't been using the car quite as much these days because of the health situation, but generally we drive the car a fair bit.
But it's interesting looking at, this is the start ability, like the battery has to have at least this amount of charge for the vehicle to start. So looking at this number versus the actual state of charge can tell us, you know, what condition the batteries in. So really useful information that you can get from a regular service and a proper service.
And I don't want to, you know, cut anyone down, but you know, if you don't have the proper scan tools and you're taking it to a shop that doesn't have this level of testing and it's a simple test to do, you might be missing out on some valuable service that could save you some money.
Mark: And the rough cost of a, what's the range of price to replace a turbocharger or two?
Bernie: Or two? I can't remember off the top of my head. They're in the thousands.
Mark: Multiple thousands of dollars.
Bernie: Multiple thousands of dollars. So you don't want to do them. Now that that 328 and the picture isn't turbocharged. So you get off on that, but the X3 that I have is a twin turbo. And they do go bad. And I have to say, you know, I learned this testing information recently and I felt a little bad because the battery in my BMW did go bad recently. And I replaced it and I'm thinking, Hm, I wonder how long I actually left that in a bad state. And I hope I didn't shorten the life on my turbochargers because of it.
Car seems to work fine, but you never know. So these are the things that it's good to know, and this is what you can count on when you bring your car to our shop to have tested. And these kinds of details looked at on your BMW.
Mark: And how our BMWs for reliability?
Bernie: They're pretty good. They're a good, reliable car, but there's a lot of stuff that goes wrong with them. And they're, you know, you can expect to have a fair number of expensive repairs on them over time, but if you do good maintenance, you know, and change the oil more frequently than recommended and just keep up with that kind of stuff. You will keep your costs down and you will keep the car even more reliable. Things like you don't change the battery a little sooner, you know, will make a big difference to the life of the vehicle. So, know, they're good cars, I have to say, I mean, the BMW I've got has never let me down. You know, that's a nine year old car. That's pretty good. Maintain it. It'll keep your cost down.
Mark: So there you go. If you need expert repair for your BMW in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're still busy, even during COVID 19 right now. And of course, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, over 600 articles on there about repairing all makes and models, all types of repairs of vehicles. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there over many years now. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching and listening. We really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. 22 times they've been selected and voted, which is pretty amazing. So they do a good job. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well. Doing very well today.
Mark: So 2005 BMW 325 that had window and brake problems. What was going on with this vehicle
Bernie: Yeah, so the owner of the vehicle had mentioned he'd put his left rear window down, it made a horrible clunking sound. Something seemed to shift or drop, and he was able to actually get the window back up. But it seemed, you know, there was something that wasn't working quite right with that window. Also it was due for service, a maintenance service and the ABS brake warning light was on as well.
Mark: Were these issues related?
Bernie: No. All, all separate issues. And we're going to talk about the window regulator and the ABS issue, both in this podcast, but yeah, not related. Completely separate issues.
Mark: So what was happening with the window?
Bernie: Yeah, so the window, as I mentioned, he put the window down, there was a clunk sound and you know, the window didn't quite go up straight when he was able to get it up and he wasn't able to put it down again, but it wasn't, you know, it wasn't working properly. So, that was basically the issue with the window on the left rear.
Mark: And what did you do to repair it?
Bernie: So basically the first step of course, is a diagnosis. And we removed the door panel from the left rear door, looked inside. We can see that the cable from the a window regulator was all slack on one side, which indicates the regulator is faulty. We did test the motor, it seemed to work fine. So our recommendation was basically to replace the window regulator.
We'll just have a look at some pictures right now while we're at it. So there's our 05 325 E46 series vehicle. And as far as pictures, let's go to the window regulator.
So these are the two window regulators. This is the new one that we installed. This is the old one here. You can see a distinct difference between this piece and this piece and that is a plastic pulley that's no longer in place on this particular one here. So that's basically what happened. The plastic pulley broke. The cable got slack. There was enough tightness in the cable where it would go up and down, but it wouldn't obviously work as well as it should and eventually it would have failed for certain.
This is a view of the new window regulator with the motor installed. We were able to transfer the motor over, which worked fine, but you can see the cable's tight. This is a piece that attaches to the window. So this moves up and down, this is mounted vertically inside the door. So that's how that operates.
Mark: So that basically keeps the window square in the frame and basically winds up and down, hauling the window up and down.
Bernie: It does exactly. And the squareness in the frame is also due to the actual window sits in the mounts. Yeah. This also, if it's not sitting properly, will cause a window to sit on an angle or move up and down on an angle. Again, it depends on the design of the vehicle. This is a good simple design and actually works quite well. There's a lot of vehicles that have these cable designed regulators. Some of them are really complicated. They have cables and pulleys on both sides of the window. And those are even more of a nightmare when something breaks because the window goes all twisty and wonky. This is a pretty good straight forward simple design for cable regulator and pretty reliable too.
Mark: So what caused the pulley to break?
Bernie: Old age. You know it's plastic. We love plastic in this business, as I've said. You know, plastic, it doesn't last forever. Eventually just somehow wore out and broke. And you know, it's a 2005. That's what, a 14 year old car, so 15 year old car now. It's not unexpected that things would break at some point in time.
Mark: And was this a time consuming repair?
Bernie: Not really. It's not actually not too difficult. And it's actually pretty well built for repair. Some windows, some power windows can be an absolute nightmare. And this one's actually built pretty well. So BMW's are pretty good this way. At least in this type of model.
Mark: And what was happening with the ABS system?
Bernie: Yeah so the ABS. So that's a separate concern. So the warning light on the dash was on and there was no real issue in terms of the way the car braked. But what happens is when an ABS warning light's on, basically, normally shuts the ABS system off because the system detects a fault. So your brakes work as normal. And the only time that you would actually notice anything is when you go into a panic stop. And then the ABS system wouldn't be there.
Mark: And what procedures did you perform to diagnose what the problem might be?
Bernie: Yeah, so again, so for the ABS system, it's basically a scan tool diagnosis is where we start. So we scan the system. Look for trouble codes. We found a few. Most were related to the front right wheel speed sensor. So you know, from there road test. We can road test a vehicle and we can, on our scan tool, we can look at data and we can see what the readings of the wheel speed sensors are. So it'll actually tell us the speed of each wheel. The right front was giving us no reading. That's usually an indication that the sensor or there's something wrong with the wheel speed sensor, or sometimes a sensor ring will break in certain models of cars. But in the case of this vehicle, did a few further tests and found the actual sensor itself was defective.
I've got a picture of the wheel speed sensor. So that's the wheel speed sensor for the vehicle, the right front wheel. I mean all of them have a similar kind of look, but they are actually in this vehicle specific for each wheel and a this the part with the red arrow. This is the actual sensor that the bolts in onto the wheel. It's a little dark here, but there's a bolt goes through this piece here. This plastic piece fits in and the sensor, there's a ring, a tooth ring on the axle shaft. And as the teeth pass, the sensor can actually tell how fast the wheel is going, whether it's accelerating or decelerating.
It's actually extremely sensitive amount of data is calculated from this particular item. In a lot of BMWs the tire pressure monitoring system also works off the wheel speed sensors as well. So that might be a conversation for further podcasts. But it's, you know, nonetheless, that's how sensitive this whole system is. So this wire, you know, it's nicely shielded and the connector which connects to the rest of the wiring harness.
Mark: So are wheel speed sensors, do they fail commonly, like regularly or?
Bernie: Yeah. I think I've all the ABS issues we fix, and I'm talking about in sort of a broad spectrum of cars, the wheel speed sensor would be the most common item that we do fix. It's out in a hostile environment, you know, with moisture and rain and snow and salt and rust and you know, everything you can throw at it. Plus on the front wheels, of course the wheels are turning, you know, there was always movement and rotation. So the, these wires are under stress, all the time. So on the rear, they're definitely more stressed, but sorry, on the front they're more stressed, but we do replace rear ones as well. I mean they all go bad.
Mark: And is this a difficult repair?
Bernie: Well, this one wasn't too bad and surprisingly, I'll just go back to the picture again. Just the way the sensor was designed, like a lot of these things fit into a very tight bore like, you know, the hole in the actual wheel hub is very tight compared to the size of the sensor. And over time, rust and corrosion can build up and actually cause a sensor to seize up inside the bore so that it becomes difficult. But this one here there's a lot of room around it. It was just basically unbolt and it popped right out, which is really, it's a real godsend because they can be a real nightmare to repair sometimes, especially when they stick into the bore and you have to drill it out and pull it out and then you have to clean the bore out so the new one fits in properly. So that adds a lot of extra time, of course, costs to do. But, for this BMW, it's nice and easy. Well thought out. And actually in terms of replacement.
Mark: And how did everything work after the repair?
Bernie: Oh, it was good. Window good. ABS brake light off. System worked properly. So just like we like it.
Mark: Another happy customer from Pawlik Automotive.
Mark: So if you want repairs or service for your BMW 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 pawlikautomotive.com lots of articles on there. YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. If you're enjoying the podcast, leave us a review on Apple podcast. That would be awesome and thanks so much for watching. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening and we always appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local we're here wth 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 of course today we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well. And actually I do want to add, I haven't told you this yet, but we're actually 22 time winners now.
Bernie: Thanks to our customers. So. Yeah. It's exciting.
Bernie: To share that with you and everyone who watches this podcast first.
Bernie: Thank you.
Mark: BMW 320i is today's victim, a 2005 that had battery issues. What was going on with this BMW?
Bernie: This vehicle had battery issues plus a few other things. The customer came to us, first of all, the battery required boosting every time. It wouldn't start. And also there's some transmission shifting problems and a couple of other things. But those were the two main concerns. And of course, with the transmission shifting, you know, the owner was thinking, well, is it worth doing anything with this car or is it time to say goodbye? So those were the things we looked at.
Mark: So what was causing the transmission to shift badly?
Bernie: Well, it turns out the transmission issue and the battery issue, or one in the same. We're going to get right into the battery because there's some good pictures I want to show and we can start talking about what we found and why the battery caused the transmission to shift badly.
So let's just get right into a screen share here. So here's our 2005 BMW 320. I mean, it's an E46 chassis. BMW looks the same as pretty much all the other four door sedans of its type, depending on paint colour of course, and trim. But that's a, it's your standard. I call it your standard BMW.
Good reliable car in most cases. There's our battery. This is our battery. This is our positive battery terminal. This is what we found. This was causing, of course, it's obvious when you look at this, that the car might not start, but as this was also the cause of the transmission shifting issue.
Mark: Okay. So what causes such beauteous corrosion to take place on a battery?
Bernie: Yeah, so this is interesting because this battery is located in the trunk of the vehicle and 99% of the time, like almost a 100% of the time when we go to look at a battery in a trunk, it's very clean. You can't even almost tell the age of the battery, even if it's a 10 year old battery, because it sits out of the, you know, sits out of the elements of the hood out of the heat. It's actually a good place to put a battery really. It's not, it's a very unhostile environment, but this was kind of a surprise.
So what, you know, speculate as somehow, somebody, either the battery was defective or somebody you know, when they put the battery in, somehow broke the positive terminal and let acid leak out all over because this is basically an acid reacting with the metal that causes this kind of corrosion.
You can see this piece here, this is a current sensor. So these electrical systems are highly monitored in these cars. And with many modern cars. BMW may have been a little ahead of their time compared to some brands, but these vehicles are, they, you know, they monitor how much current is going through the battery. So the charging system and the rest of the electrical system can, you know, make choices and adjustments on how to manage the power.
The positive battery cable, clips right in here. So this terminal actually pops apart and the positive battery cable, which runs the length of the vehicle to under the hood, clips into there.
So but you can see, just by looking at it, this is not a healthy thing.
Mark: It's not a healthy thing to put your hands on either.
Bernie: No. And we wear gloves for most of the work we do here. So, yeah.
Mark: So you said that this is the transmission problem was caused also caused by the battery. How, how is that possible?
Bernie: So these vehicles are very sensitive to the operation of the electrical system. And basically what we did in terms of the diagnostic in the vehicle, of course, before replacing the battery, we were able to a hook a booster up, road tested the vehicle, extracted a number of codes. Did a little research and found there's a technical service bulletin by BMW for issues relating to the electrical system and battery. You know, the part of the technical service bulletin, you know, puts notes about whether, you know, someone's installed some aftermarket electrical equipment that might cause inter electrical interference in the vehicle or to look at battery and battery cable issues. And of course we found this and we figured we were pretty much onto something.
Of course the only, you know, it was a bit of a gamble for the customer because transmission repair is very expensive. And the only way to really get the electrical system working properly, is to install a good quality battery which is a glass mat battery in the case of this vehicle, and they're generally expensive. And then replace that battery cable end, which is not a cheap item either. We were able to find a good quality used one. As I say, those things rarely ever wear out. So this was a good used part. We were able to come up with that and we replaced it and it all worked fine. So, that's basically how it all works. You need good electrical flow. Any interruption in current flow can cause the transmission to shift improperly.
Mark: So how did you diagnose that the battery was the causes of transmission problem?
Bernie: Well, the TSB was one of them, you know, and it's basically, you know, with a lot of the work we do, it's a step by step procedure. Some things are clear, some things aren't. But once we have a technical service bulletin from a manufacturer that says, if the battery is bad or something, you know, to that effect and it's causing this. I didn't say guaranteed to find the issue, but that's a good start for our repair. And that's what we did. If that hadn't done it, of course we would have been into actually testing the transmission and diagnosing, you know, the electrical system or that the actual transmission itself. But in this case, a happy ending for all. The battery fixed everything.
Mark: So how'd the vehicle work after you replaced the battery and cable?
Bernie: Yeah, it was really good. Of course it started fine. Charging system worked well. The transmission shifted like it was supposed to. No more trouble codes returned to the transmission module or engine module. It was all good. You know, the vehicle did need some other repairs, but they were, you know, brakes and ball joints and things like that. But nothing electrical or drive train related.
Mark: So I know that 320's, at least in some years, are Canadian only models, I had one that was a nightmare. My fault for buying a bad car. But is this a Canadian only model?
Bernie: Yeah. I shouldn't say it's a, at least in North America, it's a Canadian only model. I'm sure they sell them in other markets around the world because Canada's car market's pretty small. So that's the only thing about this car that can be a little bit of a pain, is it was only sold in Canada, in North America. So getting, finding, looking up parts is a little more difficult, but most of the items on the car are the same as the 325 model and E46. They're all pretty much the same car, but of course the engine's a little different. It's a bit smaller, but pretty much the same. It was interesting because this car had California plates on it, but the owner had obviously bought it in Canada moved to California, came back to Canada. So it was kind of a, it would be even a more of a strange beast down in California.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW, even the rare ones 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. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com many, over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars repairs. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, over 350 videos on all makes and models of cars and all kinds of repairs. And of course, if you like what we're doing here on the podcast, give us a like on Apple podcast, we'd appreciate it and thank you for watching and listening. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. Always appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So we're going to talk about a BMW X3 that was having a battery problem. What was going on with this Beamer?
Bernie: So this vehicle came in for a regular maintenance service and battery. The battery was tested during the service and found that it was weak and needed to be replaced.
Mark: So were there any other indications beyond the readings on the testing that you guys did?
Bernie: Yeah. So how we found that the battery was weak. We have a tester, that we put on and it indicated the battery was near the end of its lifespan. The other thing that was noticeable is when you crank the engine over, it just felt a bit sluggish. It cranked over okay but it just had this laboured feel to it which you'd kind of get when a battery's weak and old, you know, the car still starts, but it had that feel. So that's the other indication we had that, Hmm, maybe this battery is not good. And the tester verified that.
Mark: So why are we talking about a battery replacement? This is pretty straight forward. Is there something different about replacing a battery on a BMW?
Bernie: Well, there is actually, there's a reprogramming process that's required that you have to do through a scan tool in the vehicle computer, believe it or not. It's never simple these days, but there's a number of different options of batteries you can put in the vehicle. And so yeah, that's kind of why we're talking about this because there's an added complication. And BMW is not unique to an X3. A lot of BMWs for, this is a 2011, you know, for at least five years previous to this, maybe longer, you know, this has been our required procedure.Failing to do so, the battery may not charge. So you put a battery in and a week later it's all of a sudden dead.
Mark: So you have to go in for service where you, they know what they're doing. You just can't do it yourself.
Bernie: Exactly. Now you might get lucky and put it in yourself and it might work, but you have to put exactly the same battery in and hope it was all programmed properly beforehand.
Mark: So is that part of why they made it this complicated?
Bernie: What, so you go back to the dealer for service? Well, that would be the conspiracy theory of it, but honestly, I mean the reason why is that they can control the, you know the electrical system can control the, make proper use of the alternators power.
It's more efficient if they know what kind of batteries in the vehicle. So, yeah, it's more complicated, but it's not really there, just so you have to go back to the dealer. Although that's probably like a nice little bonus. And of course you don't have to go to the dealer. I mean, we do it in any other good independent repair shop as has the tools and capabilities to do it.
But it makes for a more efficient charging system. I mean, these vehicles have very high electrical demands. You know, heated seats, heated steering wheels, electric power steering, you know, there's a number of things. If you get into a slightly newer model year, the start stop technology is part of it. So when you come up to a red light, the engine shuts off. And then as soon as you like your foot off the brake, the engine starts again for, you know, obviously reduced emissions and better fuel economy. So that again, requires a very good battery and a precise charging system.
Mark: So you mentioned there was different kinds of batteries. What, what. This is new to me. What, what, what batteries are different?
Bernie: Yeah, there are, yeah. So I mean, the traditional battery you know, in a vehicle is a lead acid battery. It's known as a flooded battery. And there've been you know, other technologies available, but this, this vehicle uses an AGM battery. It's called absorbed glass mat.
It has acid and lead plates like a traditional battery. But the way it's designed is different and it's much more efficient, lasts longer. Charges. quicker, has more power. So let's just get into a couple of pictures. I'll show you some stuff here. And then we can talk more about the AGM batteries.
Ok, so this is our scan tool screen that gives you the options for the battery capacity. When you replace the battery in the vehicle, you need to go into this particular, this is an auto logic, but you know, there are a variety of different scan tools that will do this particular job. So you can see different options here, 70AH, that means amp hours. So you can see these different options. Then you have the AGM options from 70 up to 105, the stock batteries a 90 amp hour AGM. And, so depending on which battery you put in the vehicle, you can put a non glass mat battery in but it, it's definitely, the vehicle comes with an AGM battery, so it's always better to use that. The other advantage of an AGM battery is, is it doesn't gas like a regular battery, like a regular lead acid battery, has gas that comes out of the battery as it charges. And because this battery is actually mounted in the trunk of the vehicle, you really don't want gas coming out.
So it does have a vent too, but the gassing is extremely minimal on an AGM battery. So it's pretty critical to use one of those on any vehicle. It has a battery inside the vehicle, but not all vehicles require that, but it's best to have it. So this is, this is the again, the screen again, we use the 90AH amp hour AGM battery in the vehicle. So that's what we programmed in.
Now other pictures here. This is our testers. So hook it up to the vehicle, says near end of life charged 62%. Now you think, well, maybe we could charge it up and make it better. But these, these testers are very intuitive. They actually test the resistance of the battery. They put a little mini load tests on the battery and they do a variety of things so it can, it can tell information about a battery that's you know that you can't often detect yourself, but as I said, we suspected the battery was weak just by the way it cranked over and the tester verified it.
So we get other messages here. Sometimes it says bad battery. Other times it'll say good battery and it isn't actually good. But, 95% of the time, these testers are really accurate. The other picture I want to show is this, this is the battery mounted in the back of the vehicle. The reason I took this picture, I mean this is just, it used to be that a battery would have a, here's the positive terminal here. You can barely see it and the negative terminal here, it would just have a one big thick fat wire coming off each of these terminals and that was it. We can see this thing has that as a, just a host of other items here, extra wires. It's like a junction box there. There are voltage and current sensors detecting how much voltage current is flowing in and out of the battery and they have it on the positive and negative side of this battery. So there's a lot of complexity here. This is mounted in the trunk. It takes a while even to just to change the battery cause you know, the hold down brackets, it's got a couple of hold down brackets and it's, you know, it's not like it used to be. We're just be under the hood. You pop two terminals off and away you go. So there's our picture show.
Mark: So what exactly is an AGM battery?
Berne: So it stands for absorbed glass mat and instead of having a, you know, just lead plates with a liquid, this sulphuric acid and water liquid floating around, it actually absorbs the lead acid mixture or sorry, the acid mixture in a glass mat plate, and it's all sandwiched together very tightly. So these batteries can handle a lot more vibration. They can be charged quicker. They have more power. There's just a lot of advantages to them. Plus they don't gas like a regular battery. There's no off-gassing, at least, or it's, I should say, it's very minimal. Now you're wondering what's the downside?
Well, the downside is the price there. There are a lot more money you know, 50% to sometimes twice the price, 50 to a 100% more money. But the good thing of it, the lifespan of this battery. This one and that's, it's hard to tell because when a battery is kept in a trunk, it all stays clean. Unlike when it's under a hood, where it is, where it often gets grungy. This battery, I'm pretty sure is original, which makes it a, we're in 2020. The battery is about nine years old. So that's pretty good life for a battery. I mean you will get the odd flooded, regular lead acid battery that will last that long, but it's extremely rare.
If you have a car that has one, you should probably go buy a lottery ticket because it's, you've beaten the odds pretty good. But you know, eight, nine years is pretty good. You know, kind of a, probably a lifespan you get out of these as opposed to the typical five years you get out of a regular battery.
Mark: And how did the X3 start and run after the battery replacement?
Bernie: Well, it was a noticeably different, you know, it wasn't like it was cranking really badly, but there was just a noticeable difference in terms of, it just felt peppier and more lively when it started. So that made a big difference, I would say, you know, about the life of these batteries is, you know, if you do have a vehicle with the start stop technology, you probably get a little less life out of it. And this issue with this battery would have probably been a little more noticeable because, you know, every time you stop the car, you know, at a light and it restarts that starters being used. So there's a lot more, a lot more activity involved. And you, you would probably notice a difference sooner on a vehicle like that. And the battery would probably live a little less long of a life because it's being used, you know, being cycled a lot more. But anyways, this is not the case with this. And the car was great.
Mark: So what's your opinion on BMW X3s, I know you actually own one of these vehicles as well. What do you think of them?
Bernie: It's a nice vehicle to drive, really nice. More issues than I'd like to see. I mean, I've you know, I'm kind of like, like anyone else. I love fixing cars, but I don't like fixing my own. And I think things tend to wear out in these cars a little sooner than they should. Things like, you know, they tend to develop oil leaks and coolant leaks. There's a lot of complexity and expense to them. So that's kind of, you know, to me, that's kind of the downside. If you own one, you're definitely getting a nice vehicle. It's a good feel, good looking, drives well, but you will spend more money, you know, for sure taking care of this and you went on, you know, say an equivalent, a Japanese or Korean type of SUV.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW or X3, if you have it in Vancouver or battery replacements, 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 always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com there's over 600 articles on there about all makes and models of cars and repairs. Over 350 videos on YouTube Pawlik Auto Repair, search on there. You can find our channel. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it, click the subscribe button.We'd really appreciate that even more and leave a review. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie; Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking cars. How're you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So BMW 328d xDrive. What was going on with this car?
Bernie: So this vehicle was brought to our shop. The owner had been servicing it at the BMW dealer his local dealership and there was an issue with it. It was running kind of funny, like lacking power, shaking, misfiring was what it felt like. And it's a diesel. And they basically said they didn't know what else to do with it and recommended they take it to a diesel specialist.
Mark: Ok wait a minute. Like the dealer didn't know haw to fix the brands car where they have the experts factory trained et cetera, et cetera blah blah blah, we're the best at fixing this car. They couldn't fix the car?
Bernie: Exactly and you know, this isn't the only time we've seen this. I mean, this is the first BMW we've seen like this but we had, actually same week, we did this repair last week. We had a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel. We have the same thing with a lot of these Jeep diesels, where the dealers can't, they don't really have the expertise to fix it. I think the thing abut dealerships, people don't realize they tend to cherry pick their work. They're into making profit. It's a good thing for a business but you know, what when you buy a vehicle it's a little bit outside of the normal edge. You can expect that kind of service from a dealer where they may not be actually able to figure out what's going with the vehicle, unless it's something simple. And in all fairness, it was a little complex in terms of, there's no plug the scan tool in and figure out what was going on with it. There was no information around that. But still you know any decent technician, I mean they should stand behind their products and their work, you know and charge accordingly to fix it.
Mark: So what tests and diagnosis did you do on the vehicle?
Bernie: So of course, our first thing with pretty well any diagnostic like this is, road test the vehicle, get a feel for the concern. We did that. Then next plugged our scan tool and did a full vehicle code scan and found nothing. There was no codes in the engine module. Nothing in the drivetrain. So at that point it was a little bit interesting. Ok, what could it be? So we drove it around a little while longer and kind of intuitively, myself and my other lead technician, we drove around quite a lot. I had a sense it felt like possibly an engine misfire but it also had a feeling like there could be something with the drivetrain. Like something that either the transmission or transfer case or something that was causing it to buck and shift and do some weird things. So that's kind of where we're at. We're kind of left with a feeling of what it might be.
Mark: Ok so that's where the 38 years of experience comes into play. No conclusive data to make a decision on but basically intuition. What were you next steps?
Bernie: Yeah so our next steps of course are research. Of course the dealer had already faced this problem and they had no suggestion other than take it somewhere else. There's a lot of information online. We have a lot of resources. We pay subscriptions for repair information programs that have a lot of good repair information and network. I way network or like other technicians, who may have found issues who post repairs. We did a little research there. Then our diagnostic scan tool also comes with a team of, it's a European scan tool. They have a whole team of technical resources people, where we can send in the data files. We get information from them. So when you come to our shop, this is the kind of thing that you get with a lot of the cars that we service. We have those resources that are really , the kind of thing you'd expect only from a dealership. Well actually in a way ours is better because we actually have resources. We we set the file in, talked with a technician who suggested possibly a transfer case issue. So our next step was basically to unhook the transfer case. It's electronically controlled. Road tested the vehicle, sure enough, drove perfectly well. The issue was gone. So the clear conclusion, the transfer case was defective.
Mark: So what's involved in repairing the transfer case?
Bernie: Well basically this is a replace the unit only type of job. So we bought a transfer case from BMW. Not certain if it was remanufactured or brand new. It certainly looked brand new when we took it our of the box but the do charge a kind of hefty core charge but nonetheless, it's an OEM spec BMW transfer case.There's a lot of electronic controls on these things and so that was basically the replacement. It's not an entirely difficult job. Fortunately it's a few hours work but fairly straightforward to unbolt and bolt back in and then there's some electronic programming that needs to be done to encode the transfer case to the vehicle which again not overly complicated. You have to have the right tools and data files but again not overly complicated and it worked fantastic.
So there's the nice 328d xDrive again. This is a diesel and..
Mark: A four wheel drive
Bernie: A four wheel drive, yeah and that as you know, adds some complications. So I mean all wheel drive is great but it certainly adds complexity. There are some vehicles where I find that the all wheel drive really doesn't create any extra costs and that Subaru is certainly one of them but a lot of European cars there are issues. So this is the transfer case. This is a view of the transfer case, it actually bolts up to the transmission end. So this would be the drive output to the front axle shaft, there the front drive shaft. And then this is a view of the rear end of it. So this goes to the rear drive shaft. This is, there's an electronic module, a control unit on the bottom of this thing. So there's the plugs underneath there. Fortunately for diagnostic purposes it wasn't too difficult to access them and unplug them and plug them back in. You know that is a piece of the transfer case. It obviously comes with the unit. So what's inside is probably fairly straightforward but you never know what these kind of things. You know they're not your sort of American style four wheel drive transfer case where it just locks gears together. These allow for smooth, they allow for slippage under certain conditions. So you don't feel like you're, the vehicle doesn't bind when you're going around corners. But of course, sometimes things go wrong like they did in this case.
Mark: So when you unhooked it, was it just running a straight pass through or just running the rear wheels, driving driving the rear wheels?
Bernie: I imagine that's what was happening. I can't really say for certain but all I can say is that the bucking and that strange power loss and all those issues that we were experiencing was gone. So is was something, I would imagine that there were some clutch packs inside the transfer case that were engaging and disengaging at times that they weren't supposed to. Causing the vehicle to shudder and do strange things and that could have been as a result of that electronic module or just sending the wrong signals or something with a worn out clutch pack or something like that.
Mark: Is this a common issue on xDrive BMW cars?
Bernie: So the owner of this vehicle fortunately had an extended warranty and in this particular warranty, we deal with a lot of extended warranty companies. This company insisted on sending an inspector over to have a look at it to verify that we diagnosed the right thing that they they were spending their money, the customers money wisely. So we took him out, drove it around, unplugged the module. He verified that he was happy with our diagnosis and actually he said, "Oh yeah, we see this problem all the time." According to the dealer I bought the transfer case from I returned the core he said, "We hardly see any of these things. It's kind of surprising". So different opinions but it seems like a common enough problem. So if you own one of these vehicles, you can expect you know, probably a transfer case repaired possibly at some point in the history of the vehicle.
Mark: So I imagine that the owner was pretty happy to have an extended warranty. What was the mileage on this vehicle?
Bernie: Only 62,000 kilometres So it's still a youngster. I mean very low mileage. You kind of think well, you know, when you're up to 150 or 200 K's maybe that would happen. But 62 is pretty young and the vehicle's of 2014 so its only 5 years old. So not really very old. Yes, I would imagine he was very happy to have that. Certainly more than paid for the price of the warranty with just this one repair job. I'm often sort of sit on the fence with extended warranty. Sometimes I think, well they're not worth it. You know certain cars like, a lot of Honda products for instance, they've you know, and Toyota's, they proved to be exceptionally reliable and having something like this go wrong with a car like that would be very unusual. But with a lot of European cars, there's so many fancy, expensive things that you know, they are, it is worth having most of the time, an extended warranty.
Mark: And this is a diesel without a lot of miles, not necessarily what we would recommend people to buy, but how are these BMW diesels for reliability?
Bernie: I'll be honest. We have very few clients with them because they're just not very common cars which explains whey the dealer is even saying take it somewhere else because even they don't have a lot of experience. When you look at the lineup of BMWs, there's very few diesels around. We have serviced a few. They've tended to be fairly reliable so far but all of them have been pretty low mileage and I hate to say it but they are a European diesel. There's a lot of stuff that goes wrong with Volkswagen diesels. A lot of stuff with Mercedes. So given time, things will go wrong with this vehicle. I mean certainly, the gas mileage is fantastic and there's a lot of of good features about it but I think it's a kind of vehicle you probably don't want to hang on to for too long lest there be some very expensive repairs down the road. But so far, you know, we haven't run into too many issues with them.
Mark: It might be a car that if you were driving for instance, a hundred thousand kilometres a year and doing a lot of highway driving, it might be a fantastic vehicle for that. But driving around town, maybe not the best choice?
Bernie: Exactly. Yeah I will say that with diesels, they've got to be hot. They've got to be really hot and driving a lot is good for it. Anything else you know, short trips definitely not the best for a diesel. Not good at all.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service and the dealer doesn't know what to do, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. It happens more often than you think. And of course pawlikautomotive.com is a place to check out over 650 articles on there about all makes and models of vehicles and repairs. Pawlik Auto Repair is the channel on YouTube and there's many hundreds of vides on there talking about the same thing. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast and watching. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark. And thank you for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, or 20 time winners, I'm sorry, 20 time winners. I'm cutting you short, Bernie. We're talking cars. How you doing?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Today's victim is a 2011 BMW 335is. BMW has such long names. There was problems with the electric coolant pump and the thermostat. What was going on with this BMW?
Bernie: Yeah. The owner was driving the vehicle and an amber warning light for the coolant system came on the dash. Then, shortly after, a red warning light came on and the vehicle went into a limp mode. I'm not sure whether he had it towed in or whether it was driven in but, anyways, the vehicle was not running well. The other thing that was happening at the same time as the electric coolant, there was a loud noise coming from under the engine, which was actually the fan running at high speed. That's basically how the vehicle came in with cooling system problems.
Mark: What testing did you do and what did you find?
Bernie: First testing we always do on a cooling system is to verify is there coolant in the engine? Had a visual inspection, looked at the coolant, it was down a little bit. Added some coolant to it, but it only took about not even a cup of coolant, so really not low enough to cause any sort of issues. Pressure tested the cooling system, made sure there was no leaks, there weren't any. Then, we proceeded to the next step, which is to hook up a scan tool, essential item to do in this kind of vehicle, hook up a scan tool and see what was happening with the engine running temperature and the operating temperature.
We did that, found a couple of codes stored in the engine module and ran some tests and found that basically the electric water pump was not functioning as it was supposed to. Now, that loud noise under the hood was basically the radiator fan running at high speed. Again, that's an electric fan and it'll come on whenever the computer tells it to. It'll tell it to come on, if there's a problem found with the cooling system, it will tell it to come on. That'll create the coolest possible temperature in the radiator and help cool the engine down. Say, the water pump isn't actually circulating, it'll help keep the engine cool.
Mark: Is it possible to do diagnostic procedure, I guess, on this vehicle without a scan tool?
Bernie: Pretty much impossible. I mean everything nowadays on cars, this car included, it's highly electronic. You really do need a scan tool to do pretty much anything. As I said, I mean the visual tests and the pressure tests, those are important initial tests and that could be where the problems are found. You've got to use a scan tool. You've got to have one to do any work on this kind of car.
Mark: We have some pictures.
Bernie: I do, let's get right into it. There is our 325is, I apologize if the brake rotors look a little rusty. We just washed the car and it still has a bit of moisture on it and the brakes were sitting. That's what happens with brakes when they sit, the rotors get rusted. A drive around the block, all that rust disappears. This car doesn't look quite as nice as it could. Next photo, we've got ...
Mark: Scan tool.
Bernie: Scan tool. When we do the initial test, we test the system for codes. It's always best on a lot of modern vehicles to actually test the whole vehicle. We can actually do a full vehicle code scan, because sometimes there'll be a problem in a different module that actually relates to a module you don't think is... Is not related to the engine. It's helpful to get that information. In this case, there were four codes stored in the system, two of them not really relevant, oxygen sensors.
These aren't relevant to engine overheating issues, but these two are, engine coolant pump cutoff, engine coolant pump speed deviation. What's happening here is that the computer commands the electric coolant pump to turn at a certain speed. It expects a certain thing to happen and it's not happening. That's why this speed deviation code is here. It's a pretty clear diagnosis from this based on experience that the electric coolant pump is defective. There are tests we do to warm it up, make sure there isn't anything else going on and we verified that the coolant pump was in fact the problem.
The coolant pump, let's have a look at that. There is the electric coolant pump, pretty fancy looking unit. It's got a very large motor in it, very robust piece. Even though it's a very robust large motor, they don't last as long as you think they should because this is an exceptionally common failure on any BMW that has an electric coolant pump, which is a lot of models. The business end of it here, this is where the pump impeller is. There's an electrical connector here and then there's an inlet and outlet there and there. The coolant just... Simple otherwise. Couple of other items on this vehicle, there's an electrically controlled thermostat and this is bolted up to the water pump.
We replaced it at the same time because, again, this is a failure item on these vehicles. In this case, it wasn't the failure item, but it would not make a lot of sense to take all this stuff apart and not change the thermostat at the same time. This is an electrically controlled thermostat. You can see there's a connector here with a couple of pins sticking out where the wire goes. Now, why would they have an electrically controlled thermostat? The thermostat generally, this is actually inside of the thermostat taken apart. This is the actual thermostatic piece that opens and closes.
Normally, in the past, it's got a wax pellet inside that expands with the temperature of the coolant. As the wax expands, the thermostat opens and allows coolant to flow. If the temperature gets below the specified point, then the thermostat closes again. This keeps the engine at the operating temperature it's designed to keep at, but it's limited. It'll only do that specific temperature. With electrical control, it'll actually heat the thermostat. If the computer says, "Hey. We need to open this thing faster or let's get the engine cooler or let's keep the engine hotter," it can control that thermostat opening. It allows more control over the thermostat, and that's our picture show for the day.
Mark: The coolant pump was bad. Why would they use an electric pump?
Bernie: Again, it's control. As I talked about with a thermostat, there's control that can be had with having electric components. You can switch the pump on and off. You can't do that with a mechanically belt-driven pump. It just runs. When you're idling, it runs at a certain speed. When you rev it up, it runs faster and that's the limit of control. Whereas with an electric pump, they can pump it at a low speed, a high speed, whatever requirements are needed. If the engine is getting too hot, they can pump it faster. If they want the engine to warm up really fast, you can just leave the pump off and just let the engine warm up quicker. Those are some of the things you can do. That's why the electric pump.
Mark: Ultimately, it's causing better... That's part of the system. As well as with the electric thermostat, because you're controlling temperature more exactly, you can reduce emissions and increase fuel economy.
Bernie: Exactly, and performance too. Yeah. All three of those can all be controlled much better.
Mark: Is this an expensive repair?
Bernie: I always think of expensive as being kind of a judgment call. Yeah, it's not cheap. The electric pump itself, I can't remember the price off the top of my head, it's a pretty pricey part. If you own one of these cars, you will need to replace it. No ands, ifs or buts. I own a BMW X3 with the same type of engine, the electric coolant pump's gone on it already. They go on all of them and probably sooner than they should. Yeah, I consider this to be a pretty expensive repair, certainly more than it would cost to do a mechanical pump.
Mark: How are BMW 335s for reliability?
Bernie: They're good. I was thinking, I mean it's a good car, but there are certain issues that you're going to face with this car. I mean one of them is this electric coolant pump. I mean that's a guaranteed issue. Say you buy the car from new and keep it to 130,000 kilometres, you'll need to do this electric coolant pump. You'll need to do the thermostat. You'll probably have some ignition coil problems. This car actually had one after we fixed it. Went out for a road test, the engine was misfiring, one of the coils had crapped out. I don't know whether it was brought to us like that. It was no code in the system.
It may be that as the engine got hot, it caused the coil to fail or they just do on these things. You can pretty well count on ignition coil replacement, coolant pump replacement. There will probably be some front end bushings that wear out and some brake work, which those kind of things are sort of normal and expected on pretty well any car. I mean the nice thing is these are predictable, but they are... Some of them are expensive being a BMW. Also, there's some fuel injection issues with some of them as well, injector issues with some of them as well, but that's basically it. Otherwise, it's a really nice car. This is a sporty car, fun, lots of power. It's a fun ride.
Mark: Of course, in the future, as more and more of the European specs kick in, actually at the start of 2020, almost every vehicle is going to be using an electric everything. Basically everything is going to be running... Any accessory type stuff is going to be running off electric, because they have to in order to meet the emission regulations.
Bernie: Yeah, yeah. Already, we have electric power steering in a lot of vehicles, which is fantastic because there's so much more flexibility. The neat thing about electric power steering as well, it has the potential to be super expensive to repair. We've never actually repaired one electric power steering unit in our shop ever, which is maybe disappointing because we do an awful lot of conventional power steering repairs. The good news about that is that there's a component there that's been electrified that's very reliable. Not to say it's 100%. I mean there's some that have had issues and I know that a lot of those have been covered by manufacturer's warranty.
There are things that have been kind of sorted out, but it's a really reliable system. I think they've had to do that. When you build something with a steering component, I mean if there's any problem with it, you don't want a failure where the car decides to steer its own way. I mean you're just asking for major lawsuits. I think the manufacturers of, this is my guess, but I think they've just taken it, gone, "Wait a minute. We can't F around this stuff. We got to make it like bullet proofly reliable."
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your BMW 335 or any BMW, they're experts on it at Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, you have to call and book ahead. They're busy, always busy, but they do excellent work. You can check out the reviews, really highly reviewed. Of course, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thank you for listening and watching.
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Video Series and we're here of course with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 20 time winners of the Best AutoRepair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and today we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So 2009 BMW ... 2000 sorry.
Bernie: 2000 yeah, it's an oldie.
Mark: Yeah, BMW 323I. Had an engine misfire. What was going on with this BMW?
Bernie: Yeah so the vehicle was brought to our shop. The engine was shaking, running rough, clearly a misfire condition was happening the check engine light was also on. So we proceeded to do some testing and diagnosis.
Mark: What testing and diagnosis did you do?
Bernie: Well so for a concern like this, first thing of course is to verify the client's concern by driving it, which we did. Second was to plug in a diagnostic scan tool and just retrieve stored trouble codes, see what data's available, see what information we can get. So that was the first step. Found several trouble codes stored, but most predominantly was a cylinder four misfire. Well there was actually two, cylinder four and cylinder one.
But when we can review data, and it'll say how often the misfire occurred and cylinder four was clearly I believe there's 74 or 70 occurrences, it's actually probably a lot more. But the data for cylinder four was much higher than cylinder one. Cylinder one may have misfired just because of number four, but clearly cylinder four had the issue.
So from there, we can narrow down our testing and there's a couple ways to, I mean, there's a few things that will cause a cylinder misfire, one could be bad compression, the other could be an ignition problem like the coil or spark plug, or it could be a fuel injector, or a massive vacuum leak. Those are some of the things that can cause a misfire.
But it's pretty obvious from years of experience, it's pretty obvious when you have an ignition misfire, you can feel the roughness and because the issue occurred suddenly, it's usually a good first place to start.
So from there, we have a really nice lab scope we can actually test the ignition firing pattern by just putting a probe on top of the ignition coils. Now this is a direct coil on plug ignition system, so it's a six cylinder engine and there's one coil per cylinder. So we can go and test each coil while the engine's running, and it was very clear looking at the scope pattern that the number four ignition coil was not firing properly at all, it was dead.
So basically found the problem right there. I mean the other way that we do it without this is we can take the coil out, we can swap it to another cylinder, clear the codes, see if the misfire now moves to the other cylinder, that's also an effective method to find the issue. In this case, it was verified right off the bat. So number four cylinder coil was dead.
Mark: So is misfiring a fairly common problem on BMWs?
Bernie: It is one of the more common issues that we repair on these vehicles, yeah. It is yeah.
Mark: And the ignition coil tested bad? What else and was there anything else contributing to this misfire?
Bernie: Well the other thing that we always test of course is once we verify the coil's bad, I mean, the coil fires the spark plug, so you know we didn't know the condition of the spark plugs. It wasn't like you know, I mean if we'd known they were replaced last week or a couple weeks ago and we'd done them ourselves, we probably wouldn't look any further. But because there was no history on spark plug replacement, the next thing to do is pull the coil out and do a visual inspection.
There's a big long coil boot, it's a rubber piece, I'll show a picture in a minute and then of course, inspect the spark plug. Pull the spark plug out, inspect that, and the spark plugs in this case were extremely badly worn. So I mean even if we changed the coil, firing on an old spark plug is probably not the best thing because the coil has to work a whole lot harder to fire, so.
Why don't we just get into some pictures? So there's our nice condition, 323I, still, 235,000 kilometres, still looking good, it's a nice car. Again, if you take care of your car, it'll keep looking good and keep running well. What do we got for the next picture?
So this is the coil boot. I actually didn't take a picture of the ignition coil for some reason, but the ignition coil sits up here. And this boot is, basically attaches. The spark plug sits down here. Now you can see this rubber, this is a soft rubber boot but with 235,000 kilometres and almost 20 years of life, the rubber's kind of hard and cracked, and it was breaking off. So this was another piece that we replaced while we did it.
This was kind of like the equivalent to a spark plug wire, but it's very short. But again, it's critical to have this sealing properly because with anything electrical, electricity always follows the path of least resistance. So for some reason a gap were to occur here, it might actually fire the spark down the side of the spark plug wall instead of down the insulator or against the spark plug tube instead of actually firing the cylinder. So pretty critical piece to replace.
And then finally, the spark plugs, and I apologize this is not the sharpest picture I've taken, but you can see even in a fuzzy image, this is the old spark plug, this is the new one. Besides looking a little grungy, I'll just go over a couple of pieces of spark plug. So this is the centre electrode that serves as positive terminal of the spark plugs, and you can see this one is flat and flush with the ceramic insulator. You can see this one here, the ceramic insulator even in a crappy photo has got cracks, and the electrode is really badly worn. It's not flat and flush to the edge, and these are the ground electrodes. These are kind of an interesting spark plug. They have four ground electrodes. A lot of spark plugs if you've ever seen them, this ground electrode kind of goes over top of this, and it fires the spark directly.
But these ones can fire in any direction to any of these four ground electrodes. But again if you can see these ground electrodes are really badly worn against the insulator, there's a huge gap. So there isn't a spark plug gap spec for this particular spark plug, but you can see visually just how badly worn this is. So it's kind of a miracle this thing was actually running as well as it did but also a testament to how long spark plugs last nowadays.
Mark: So how often are spark plugs scheduled to be replaced on this model of BMW?
Bernie: I didn't actually look up the spec, but I think it's somewhere around 160,000 kilometres. That's kind of a standard nowadays for spark plugs.
Mark: So and it looks like these were in right from new?
Bernie: I think so. They were actually BMW ... you know, they actually said BMW on the spark plug so that tells me they were original equipment spark plugs.
Mark: So that's a pretty long life.
Bernie: That's a very long life.
Mark: So BMWs have earned a reputation for needing a lot of expensive repairs. How's this generation of the 3 series?
Bernie: You know, these are pretty good cars. I mean, they do have their list of quirks and things, I can rattle off a few. I mean, among them you know, ignition coils are a failure item and the crank case vent valves are a failure item. There's a lot of cooling system issues with water pumps and plastic parts, thermostats, hoses, even radiators, plastic parts get brittle and there's some suspension bushings, control arm bushings. Those kind of things.
Other than that, it's a good reliable car. And you know I think with any car, if you know the things that are going to go wrong and these are fairly predictable, then you can decide, hey is this car going to be worth it? And if you're buying a used one, you know, have these items been fixed and repaired?
But generally I'd say these are less ... Even though they're complex for their age, they're actually less complex than a lot of newer ones and I'd say more reliable.
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 to book your appointment, or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on all makes and models of cars and types of repairs and maintenance and of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of The Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Video Series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver. Of course, 20-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers, including this year, 2019, and 38 years repairing cars in Vancouver. And, how are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Good, very good.
Mark: Excellent. So, we're going to talk about BMW, the ultimate driving machine, the reliability thereof. Are BMW's reliable?
Bernie: Well, that's a pretty broad question. There's ... I mean, there's a huge lineup of vehicles from your sort of, let's say, your sort of basic three series sedans, up to SUV's, luxury SUV's and the X5. Compact SUV's. We've got some very nice sporty models, including the Alpina, which is a ... I hope I said that properly, which is kind of a AMG'ish type version of a BMW. And, the M Series, high performance. So, there's a lot of variety in BMW. I mean, you won't find any pickup trucks. But, you can find pretty much everything else.
Mark: So, there've been some studies that claim that BMW's the most expensive car to repair. What's your experience in the shop?
Bernie: I'd say they are pretty expensive to repair. There's a lot that does go wrong with BMW's. Not all models, but I would say, in a nutshell, you could expect to be paying more to fix a BMW than a lot of other brands of cars. Maybe not any more than a Mercedes or another equivalent European car, but there are a number of issues that happen.
And, I know the study you're talking about. Kind of compiled from a database of auto repair costs, and I believe it was acquired, I think it's from a mobile auto service or an online booking service, and they kind of looked at the pricing and stuff. And so, it is somewhat accurate, but I don't know that it's really a full sort of sample of the whole automotive market place. But, I would tend to agree with that, generally. They are definitely more expensive.
Mark: And of course, is it fair to say that for the brand, BMW, we're talking about generalities. We're not necessarily branding or stating that they're X or Y, because certain models within any brand of vehicles that's made, certain models would be better. Certain models, eh, not so much. Is that true for BMW as well?
Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. There's a wide variety of issues in different models of cars. And, I mean, we can talk about some of the more specific things, but I think generally, some models are better than others.
I think I've said this on my pod, my daughter owns like, a 2003 Series. It's a really reliable car. I mean, very little's gone wrong. And, I know you had a three series that's maybe a little older, that you had all sorts of problems with. And, you know, we see other newer three series where there's a number of things. So, there are some common problems to them, but generally, some are more reliable than others.
Mark: So, let's work our way through. How are the brakes on BMW?
Bernie: Brakes are generally good. There's not really a lot of issues in the brake department. Pads and rotors, of course, need to be replaced. It's a typical European vehicle where, as the pads wear, they usually wear the rotors at the same time. So, to do a proper job, you'll do pads and rotors.
They also have an electronic wear sensor which is, it's a little additional item that you won't find on a lot of North American or Japanese cars, but that's another item that needs to be replaced. But other than that, the brakes generally, they have an average life span, 50 to 80 thousand kilometre type of range. Some of the SUV's, they might wear a little quicker. But, that's the general rate. So, brakes are good. Nothing unusual in that department. And, not overly expensive to repair, unless you get into some of the high performance M series where the rotors and pads are oversized.
Mark: What about steering and suspension?
Bernie: There's a few issues there. Control arm bushings, especially on some three series vehicles, have been problematic for a long time. They tend to wear out, and when you replace them, they tend to wear out really quickly even after that. So, that's certainly something we see. There's some ball joints will wear out in the suspension.
Other than that, pretty good. But, there are some predictable parts that we'll see on certain models that will wear out. And these are mostly, I think, like, the three and five series.
Mark: What about engines?
Bernie: So, engines, well, there's a lot to be said for engines. And, BMW really has two ... unless you get into the V10's ... but, I mean, two common engines. They have V8's, and they have their straight six engine, which they've used for a long time.
Now, the six cylinder engine is, you get some that are like, two litre, some that are a three litre, and they've just sort of changed the dimensions inside the engine to accommodate. But, on the outside of the engine, looks pretty much exactly the same.
And, of course, they modified them as technology's increased with variable valve timing, and variable valve lift, and all sorts of pretty nifty technologies. But, I think the six cylinders, generally, are much better than the V8's. There's some problems with the V8's that can be ... And again, I'm going back to kind of the early 2000 range where their timing chains would wear out. And just, horrifically expensive to fix. So, you know, like, it's like 25 or 40 hours labor type of time, if you can just add a, multiply that by a hundred dollars or a hundred and fifty, or whatever you pay for labor. You can see, that would be an extremely expensive repair, plus parts.
Coolant leaks are common on those V8's as well, and again, extremely expensive to fix. So, I'm often like, I like power and performance, but I find those V8's, I'd be kind of scared to own one. Six cylinders on the other hand, I mean, they do have their problems, but they're much more reliable in many ways. And, some of the issues we see with the six cylinder, oil leaks, valve cover gaskets will leak. Oil pan gaskets will leak. Oil pan gaskets, valve covers, oil filter housings, talking about a lot of different places here.
Some of these oil leaks are actually pretty expensive to fix, too. Like, on an X drive, drive shaft goes through the oil pan. So, it's a very labor-intensive job to change an oil pan gasket on many of these. So, they do fail on most of them, so that is an expensive issue.
Mark: How about coolant leaks?
Bernie: Coolant leaks, yeah. That's the other area. So, coolant leaks have been kind of a common issue. Water pumps, a lot of plastic parts in the cooling system that'll cause leaky seals and you know, some of these ... Again, I'm thinking kind of back a couple of, a decade and a half, a couple of decades. You know, as the plastic gets old, it tends to get kind of brittle. And, we even had parts in our shop where somebody just lean on a radiator, and the radiator neck where the hose attached to it will snap off because the plastic gets brittle and hard.
So, that's an issue that's been common with a lot of BMW's. And, I think if you're into preventative maintenance, you want to keep one for a long time, there's certain parts that we can recommend to you to replace, just for a liability purposes. You know, certain plastic hose ends and things like that. I think that kind of covers it for the cooling system.
Oh, one other engine item that does tend to fail too, and a lot of the six cylinder, the crank case vent valve is a pretty high failure item. And they will ... You'll know it's bad, the engine, sometimes you'll start the engine, and a big pod of blue smoke will come out the back. Or, you'll have to add a lot more oil than usual. You know, maybe a litre every thousand or five hundred kilometres. And, the check engine light may also be on with a rough running condition, depending on how badly the valve's deteriorated.
But, that's again, a thing to fix. Now, I know we've talked about a lot of problems here, but in favour of BMW, I mean, the general guts of the engine, like, things like the head gaskets are usually bullet proof reliable. The pistons, the compression, the internal workings of the engine, besides timing chains, tend to be extremely reliable. Like, the valves, the pistons. You know, things that keep the compression component of the engine are generally, very reliable.
Mark: So, what about transmissions, the drive train, all wheel drive? What about issues there?
Bernie: Usually, pretty reliable. I mean, the transfer cases can cause issues when the vehicles reach really high mileage, but they're generally pretty reliable and well built. We don't see a lot of transmission problems with BMW's. Again, pretty reliable. The drive trains, the drive shafts, differentials, they're all pretty good. CV joints, CV boots, they're all pretty reliable.
Again, when a car gets really old too, the things ... And, I'm saying old like, you know, 12 to 20 years old, then a lot of other issues start to happen. But, generally, that part of the vehicles is really, quite reliable.
Mark: What about fit and finish? The interior and the body?
Bernie: Yeah, it's nice. I mean, it's good quality. The components are generally well built and you don't run into a lot of problems. Like things like power windows, again, we don't fix a lot of problems with those. They tend to work pretty reliably, yeah. Overall, that part of the car is usually pretty good.
And, the one thing I realize about engines that I did miss is, there's a lot of newer models that do have four cylinder turbo charged engines, that they're generally a pretty reliable option, and much better on fuel than some of the other models, so just jumping back to the engine category.
Mark: And, how about electronics? Electrical systems? Generally, can be an issue with German cars.
Bernie: Can be an issue. I mean, we don't see, again, a lot of problems with them. I mean, I do know someone who bought a, I think it was an X3. It may have been brand new. And, she had a lot of problems with the, I think it was the navigation system or something. And, the vehicle was in the shop for months, trying to get fixed. And, those are kind of irritating issues that you hope you have warranty on. But, usually for the most part, the electrical and electronic systems are pretty good, which is great, because there's so much to it that they could be problematic and expensive. And generally, things are pretty good.
You know, as far as interior items too, like heating and A/C, again, pretty reliable. But, I know some models, I'm thinking the three series again, going back and sort of in the 2000's decade, the heater blower fans would tend to fail. Start making noise or not work. And, very expensive to fix. So, the way they're designed, it's a very labour intensive job, plus, an expensive part. So, that is one thing that can be an expensive issue.
Mark: So, let's pick on some here. Are there any particular models that you see a lot of?
Bernie: We service a lot of three series. We service a lot of X3's. Those are probably the most common for us in our shop. I think I've alluded to some of the, a lot of the issues I've talked about there would apply to those vehicles, with the exception of the V8 engine, because they don't put that in that model. You'll find the V8 in the larger five and seven series, and the X5 models. But yeah, I mean, I think I've kind of spoken ... Most of the issues I've talked about are related to those particular vehicles.
Mark: What about X3's? I know that's a model you see a lot of. It has some quirks.
Bernie: Yeah, I mean, I actually own one myself, so I can speak from personal experience. I mean, pretty reliable, but this vehicle, a hundred thousand kilometres, it's had some oil leaks, new oil pan gaskets need to be replaced. The oil filter housings leaked oil. The electric water pumps failed. And you know, that's actually another item that BMW, they've gone to electric water pumps. It's an expensive part. So, yeah, there are some expensive things. And in my opinion, not as reliable as they should be.
I'm most happy when these kind of things start failing at around the 200 thousand kilometre range, instead of a hundred, seems a little too young, in my opinion. But you know, they're good running vehicles.
The other thing in the little X3 issue, taillight. They have LED taillights that quit working. And, it's a manufacturing defect. There's a little module, a little electronic board that turns the LEDs on, and they fail. They're just not made properly, so if you go to BMW, they'll sell you a whole taillight, but we can actually fix it. We've done the research, and found out how to repair it for substantially lower cost.
But that again, is like, a little quirky thing on the X3. It doesn't seem to ... We've seen other BMW's where the taillights fail, the LEDs, and you have to buy the whole light because it's a different design. But generally, they're pretty robust and pretty durable.
Mark: What about the X5? I know that's another one that we've talked about a lot.
Bernie: Yeah, X5, coolant leaks, to me, are probably the biggest thing on those. The earlier generation of V8's were really bad. The newer ones are better. And, X5's do come with the six cylinder as well, which, I think, is a much more reliable option. So, some of the things we talked about, problems with the six cylinders, like, crank case, vent valves, some of the oil leaks and coolant leaks, those are the kind of things you're going to get with a six cylinder.
But yeah, the V8's are, they definitely have their sort of ... They're more expensive coolant leaks from coolant pipes that run under the intake manifold, and pieces like that. You know, again, the older X series too, the V8, the timing chains can be an expensive issue to fix, as well.
And, one thing I'll say about an X5, it's an all wheel drive, and a lot of them have very large tires on them. So, they're not great on gas. But, you know, you don't buy a car like that for good fuel economy. You buy it more for the luxury. But, they are kind of, probably a little worse than they could be.
Mark: BMW's, what are the steps as an owner, to kind of maximize the reliability of my BMW? What do I need to do in maintenance?
Bernie: Well, regular service, for sure. And, this is a great question. Thank you for asking it. You know, BMW's maintenance schedule, they really try to stretch out the oil change interval. A lot of them are 24 thousand kilometre oil changes. They've been using that for a long time, back in the early 2000's, even earlier than that, late '90's.
You know, in my opinion, way too long for oil changes. The only time you ever really want to do that is if you're doing nothing but straight highway driving. So, changing your oil for sure. But, I would say every 12 to 15 is a much better time interval. You're much safer, you're still, that's a long interval for an oil change, and you're going to be having cleaner oil.
BMW also, you know, a lot of their transmissions, they say you don't need to service them. They're filled for life fluid. But, the fluid in them is no different than any other transmission fluid. And, the system works exactly the same. There's nothing magic about a BMW transmission, and changing fluid in that, I would recommend doing that.
So, the brake fluid every couple of years. You know, regular service is kind of the key for everything. The control arm bushings I talked about earlier, I mean, when they get bad, you'll hear clunks and things. Or, the brakes will feel a little weird. If you bring your car in for regular service, you'll know all these things and you can fix them before they become big problems.
Mark: So, there you go. If you've got a BMW 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, always busy. And, of course, if you want to check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and blog posts on there. Videos on all makes and models, and all kinds of repairs. Our YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, hundreds, hundreds of them. And, of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thanks for watching.
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.