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2010 BMW X3; Front Brakes

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark: Any further comments on the BMW X3?

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

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


Bernie: Thanks Mark

2011 BMW M3 V8, Brakes

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

Bernie: Doing fantastic today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2012 BMW X1, Turbo Air Duct Pipe

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

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

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

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

Mark: And what did you find?

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

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

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

Mark: Did you just replace the seal?

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

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

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

Mark: Alright we’re back to you

Bernie: Back to me

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

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

Mark: How are these X1’s for reliability?

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2000 BMW 323i, Water Pump

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

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

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

Mark: And you found?

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

Mark: That’s just not good.

Bernie: Yeah, it’s just insanely worn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2010 BMW X3, Engine Oil Leak Repairs

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

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

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

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

Mark: So did you find anything else interesting?

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

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

Bernie: No it’s plastic.

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

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

Mark: So this could cause engine damage?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

How reliable are BMW X3s?

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

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

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

Mark: A number of things, what are they?

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

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

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

Mark: How about brakes, steering, suspension?

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

Mark: How about electronics?

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

Mark: Any last thoughts on the BMW X3?

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

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

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2005 BMW 330Ci Coolant Overflow Tank Replacement

BMW 330ci

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver; Vancouver’s highest rated and best reviewed automotive service company. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing really well.

BMW 330ci

Engine compartment of 330ci - much of what you see is plastic

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a BMW, a 2005 330, what was going on with this car?

Bernie: Well this car came into our shop with quite a bad coolant leak, it actually was to the point where I think the owner was driving down the highway and the engine actually stopped running because it got pretty warm and shut down which is a good thing before it destroyed itself but yeah the main reason it came was for a coolant leak.

Mark: So I’m going to digress for a second, is there a reason why it would shut down like that, is there an electronic protection that would shut it off?

Bernie: I suspect that’s probably the case although I don’t know for sure having not driven the car, I mean a lot of cars if you overheat it to a certain degree it will actually, you know it will actually stop because it can’t physically run anymore so actually I’m not sure whether BMW has that capability; it would be a good thing because we do fix cars where people have overheated them to the point where they’ve cooked their engines so it’s not a good thing.

Mark: It’s not a good thing to do. So where was the coolant leak coming from?

Bernie: The coolant leak was coming from the coolant overflow bottle and the bottle basically spit suddenly and this is a pretty common issue that we see in these vehicles so, yeah I can share a couple photos, actually hang on, get to the photo share thing, just a second here, here we go. There’s the BMW engine compartment with lots of plastic pieces and before we look at this I’ll just show, this is the coolant overflow bottle, it was cracked, this sits on the side of the radiator, the red arrow points to a big long crack along the length of the bottle and we do see these from time to time; it’s fairly frequent once the car gets a little older, plastic, it’s brittle, it’s under a lot of stress. The BMW’s there a lot of plastic in the engine compartment, this is a view of the top of the engine and pretty much everything black you see there is made of plastic with the exception of a piece that runs along the sort of lower portion of the photo, a long piece that runs from left to right, that’s a metal piece painted black but pretty much everything else you’re looking at in black is plastic. There’s the intake manifold is on the right near the back, the big BMW word, that’s the valve cover area, that’s all plastic and at the front is the radiator, it’s kind of buried and hidden but to the right you can see a sort of round piece with, right sort of lower corner that’s where the radiator cap is and the overflow bottle we replaced is down there. So these are the many of the plastic pieces that they have on this car, so I will stop the sharing, come back and talk.

BMW 330ci

Cracked overflow tank - the red arrow points to the large split in the plastic tank

Mark: So all of this plastic cause engines are hot, plastic doesn’t do all that great with heat, repeated cooling so it seems like not a great idea why are they using so much of it?

Bernie: I think weight reduction is probably the biggest reason but plastic is also highly moldable, you can, you can mold it into any shape so it’s helpful for certain things that require flow of liquids, flow of air and you know it I think it’s increasingly cheaper to work with than it used to be at one time but I think weight is the primary reason. I mean in all fairness plastic nowadays isn’t what it used to be 30 or 40 years ago where you couldn’t even make anything, I understand that they even have plastic pistons in engines although I’ve never seen one but I think for high level racing they’re actually used or its experimental anyways, but for a lot of parts they work fine but there’s only certain lifespan and plastic unfortunately tends to fail rather suddenly, we have like this coolant overflow bottle, basically we had this vehicle actually in for service the day before it came back for this leak and the thermostat housing was leaking, did a number of repairs on the car and I mean unfortunately the car came back in the next day with this big coolant leak. The day before we replaced the thermostat housing, we pressure tested the cooling system, there wasn’t a drip of coolant or leak coming out, next night he’s out driving on the highway, the bottle splits and you know without any warnings so almost with the BMW when you get 10 years old it’s not that preventative maintenance to just start changing some of the plastic parts, the radiator has plastic, the overflow bottle is plastic of course. A lot of the coolant hoses even have plastic ends so it’s great, you can clip these pieces together you know, from a manufacturing perspective it’s amazing but once it gets a little older like after like you said a lot of heating and cooling cycles plastic gets brittle and breaks.

Mark: So are there metal replacements available for any of these parts?

Bernie: Some of them there is, not for the radiator, not for the overflow bottle or the hoses for that matter but there are for some models there are thermostat houses that are available not for those newer models though but it’s really the older ones you can get metal thermostat housings, water pumps are one thing, water pumps themselves are made of metal but the impeller, the blade that turns inside the water pump it’s a lot of European cars use plastic impellers, we’ve even seen them on medium sized Isuzu trucks as well which is kind of shocking but the thing about plastic impellers is they just crack and break without warning so you have a water pump it looks on the outside it’s working perfectly well but it isn’t pumping any water so with these we always replace with metal impellers so again the reason they use plastic on these is just simply weight production but they fail you know and that’s without warning so.

BMW 330ci

Automatic Transmission Thermostat: this part is broken and this is typically how they look when replacing the coolant tank. It sits in the bottom of the tank.

Mark: How was the customer, you you’ve done a bunch of work, their car basically broke down on the next day, what would, what happened with that.

Bernie: Well for us it’s always highly embarrassing because the kind of work we try to do, with everything we do we like to be very thorough and make sure we’ve covered everything you know without of course selling the person a brand new car when we do our repair, by doing it the most reasonable way you know, it’s rather irritating for the customer and for us when the car gets towed back a day later. You know what we did for this customer, we replaced parts, we didn’t charge him any labour, you know it was a few hours’ worth of work that we did for no charge, we did charge him for the parts, it wasn’t our fault that failed but me I’m just interested in customers being happy with what we do so we replaced the parts and took the car out for a very long road test to make sure there wasn’t some other issue causing the vehicle to shut off suddenly, so we’re pretty satisfied, we inspected everything and it all looked to be pretty good but this is the kind of thing we do in certain cases where it may not be our fault but we figure the car just been in, spent a bunch of money, want to just do a little extra to make them happy.

Mark: Sound pretty fair.

Bernie: We try.

Mark: So if you’re looking for a fair and useful and honest mechanic, honest maintenance place for your high end vehicle, your low end vehicle, doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle it is from diesel to high end Mercedes, these guys repair it all Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Give them a call to book 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2008 BMW 128i Ignition Coil Diagnosis Repair

BMW 128i

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver’s highest rated and 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well this morning.

Mark: We’re going to talk about a 2008 BMW 128i that had some ignition coil problem. What was going on there?

2008 BMW 128i Ignition Coil Diagnosis Repair

2008 BMW 128i

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, was running rough and the check engine light was on.

Mark: So what did your diagnosis find?

Bernie: What we found was, so we connected the scan tool and we found there was several codes stored for engine misfires, did some further diagnosis and we found two ignition coils that were dead. Typically when this happens, we normally replace all six, there are six of them and if one dies or two dies, usually the others are not too far behind, that’s what our experience has found with these cars. In the past, we’ve done one or two and then found the customer may often come back in a couple months with another dead coil. So it just kind of makes sense to change them all.

Mark: So are ignition coil failures common on these cars?

BMW 128i

Ignition coil from BMW 128i

Bernie: They are actually, we do quite a number of them and yeah, so this is a pretty common issue. That and a lot of German cars, it seems like Audi as well, Audis and Volkswagens, the coils fail. Fortunately they are not overly expensive parts, so to change six of them, or four or eight depending on how many your engine has are not hugely expensive. But it is pretty common on these BMW’s.

Mark: Was there anything else that you repaired on your service while doing this job?

BMW 128i

Spark plugs from BMW 128i

Bernie: Well we did the spark plugs as well, this vehicle had enough kilometres on it that the spark plugs were nearly at the age that they need to be replaced. It’s not a lot of extra work once the ignition coils are out to change the spark plugs. So that makes a lot of sense. We also changed another part, when we’re doing ignition coils, we noticed there was an oil leak, a small oil leak from a part called a Valvetronic Motor Gasket. So we replaced that as well, it was right in the vicinity, a little extra work but not a lot when we’re doing the ignition coils. So I’m just going to share a couple pictures while we’re here - so how does that look, can you see the picture of the gasket? Here is our BMW, a nice little 128, it’s a small compact BMW. There is a view of the ignition coil, as I said there are six of these parts and that’s what one of them looks like. Spark plugs, which is a sample of a couple of the old spark plugs that we replaced, and this is our Valvetronic motor gasket. If you look at the bottom on the picture you can see there’s a sort of oily film, that’s where the leak was coming from.

Mark: So what is a Valvetronic motor?

Bernie: A Valvetronic motor, sorry we’re still screen sharing here, ok we’re back, the Valvetronic motor is basically, it’s an actuator for the variable ballast timing. BMW uses a sort of a, it’s a, how do I describe it easily, there’s a sort of extra arm on the camshaft and it adjusts the valve timing, so it’s BMW’s method of variable valve timing and it works really well. It’s amazing, it has an awesome set of these broad cast style, the power you get out of a modern engine and this is just one of those kind of devices that gives you that smooth power from low end to high end on many modern engines. So the motor basically in a very fast amount of time will adjust the valve timing to whatever the computer desires it to be.

BMW 128i

Valvetronic motor gasket. Note oil leakage at bottom of gasket

Mark: Based on load and speed.

Bernie: Load, speed, fuel economy needs, exhaust emissions, it’s all taken into account and into the brain of the vehicle computer and sets everything, it’s pretty amazing. You know, it’s another thing to go wrong but I mean, generally they’re, generally the system is quite reliable. We’ve rarely replaced any parts or pieces for it, but given enough time, like they say with anything, it’ll break down but this gasket was not an uncommon leak. So just fix them and it’s done

Mark: So how are theses cars overall?

Bernie: They’re pretty good, they are quite reliable, you know ignition coils, we certainly see a number of those pieces, there is the odd oil leak. I think generally, I think the car is quite reliable but there’s an interesting study that came out a couple of months ago about overall car maintenance costs and the BMW came out on top as the highest maintenance cost vehicle, so just something to note if you’re buying one. Now I’m sure it’s not as bad as a Ferrari or something exotic, but as an average look over car, BMW came out as being the highest cost. Interestingly enough, if you want to know the lowest was a Toyota product, Toyota Lexus and Scion. So, something to keep in mind but still a great car, you know I mean, not that crazy amounts of things go wrong with them.

Mark: So if you have a BMW that needs some service, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. Give them a call to book at 604-327-7112. Remember they are 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

BMW Transmission Fluid Replacement 2001 BMW Z3

BMW Z3

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, 16 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, how’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: It’s a beautiful sunny morning; we’re going to talk about transmission fluid, how exciting. So you have a story about a 2001 Z3 BMW. What’s going on with the transmission fluid on this vehicle?

BMW Z3

2001 BMW X3

Bernie: With this vehicle, nothing in particular other than the owner wanted a transmission flushed based on the age of the vehicle. This is a Z3 convertible, it’s a second car for the owner, it’s a pleasure vehicle, takes it on some trips here and mostly in the summertime. It's a beautiful convertible, a lot of fun to drive and it has very low kilometers, only about 75,000 kilometers which is really low for this age of vehicle but the transmission fluid had never been serviced so he wanted it done.

Mark: So was the fluid really dirty?

Bernie: Not particularly, a little discoloured as you would expect from usage on a vehicle like this but yeah, not particularly dirty.

Mark: So is transmission fluid replacement something that BMW recommends for their vehicles?

Bernie: Well they actually don’t. They’re very adamant about it in fact; I’ll share a couple of photos with you here: adamant to the point of placing this sticker that’s on the bottom of the transmission; which says, "warning no oil change or top off necessary, lifetime transmission oil fill". They also warn you other fluids will cause non warrantable transmission damage. Now I mean it’s not rocket science to get the right kind of fluid and they have part number for the fluid on the bottom or it says Dexron III. Interesting thing about Dexron III is that is your regular type of transmission fluid that has been used on cars for years and years and years. I’m just going to cancel the screen share.

BMW Z3

Warning label on transmission found on many BMW vehicles

Mark: Yeah, you did

Bernie: So Dexron III has been used on automatic transmissions for years and years in American cars, Japanese cars, many European cars up until around the early 2000’s and many, many manufacturers recommend transmission flushes but BMW doesn’t.

Mark: So why would they not recommend it when other manufacturers do?

Bernie: The whole idea behind it is to present the consumer who’s buying the new car with a very low maintenance cost, you know they can say "this is what it costs to maintain this car you know over the next five years, you need to change the oil, we need to do this and that but the transmission fluid off the list," it keeps the maintenance cost on the car down so they can advertise that as being a benefit to owning a BMW. Now it depends on what you want to get out of your car, I mean do you want to keep your car for five years, if that’s all you want to do is buy a new car and keep it five years, great, don’t worry about the transmission but if you’re going to keep a car for ten years, fifteen years, and really get the most money out of the car by doing a transmission service here. It is really a worthwhile thing to do.

Mark: So does changing the transmission fluid make any difference to how it shifts?

Bernie: We never like to say that doing a transmission flush is going to make a difference, but sometimes it does, and in the case of this BMW with very low kilometers with fluid that wasn’t really all that dirty the customer called me back and said his transmission shifts a whole lot better: was way smoother with snappier shifts. So it actually does make a difference sometimes, in spite of what BMW says about never changing the fluid. We’ve had customers with Volvo’s who’ve had some shifting problems where changing the fluid has made a difference, again I don’t recommend it if there’s a problem but often it can make a difference.

Mark: So the results are variable. What does your shop do when doing an automatic transmission service?

Bernie: Well we always do the most thorough service possible and replace as much fluid as we can. There’s really two kinds of transmission fluid services. One, and it depends upon the kind of transmission: some transmissions do not have a transmission pan and they don’t have a filter so in that case we drain the fluid, then we hook up our flushing machine and we just simply flush the fluid. The machine pumps in new fluid and with the vehicle running the machine allows the old fluid to pump out so it basically replaces pretty much all the fluid in the transmission. That’s the simplest kind of flush. On vehicles such as this BMW that have a removable pan and a replaceable filter we will remove the pan, we replace the filter, we clean the pan. We look for any debris inside the pan: if there’s a bunch of metal filings, well that’s a bad sign, probably not worth even continuing to flush, if it’s bad. We rarely run into that; then we replace the pan gasket the filter and then we hook up the flush machine and then we flush the fluid out from there, so it’s a real thorough service.  As for for price: there’s a variety of prices that various shops charge but to do a proper flush is time consuming, it does use a lot of fluid. Costs are anywhere on average 2 to 4 hundred dollars depending upon the car, the type of fluid  and on some vehicles, Land Rovers and Range Rovers for example, they have an integrated pan, filter and gasket, it is very expensive and time consuming and that could be a 6 to 7 hundred dollar job but it’s worth doing it right to make sure it’s done properly.

Mark: If you want to extend the life of your vehicle this is the way to make sure it happens basically, is that right?

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: So any other thoughts on automatic transmission service?

Bernie: Basically every vehicle needs one from somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand kilometer range; whether the manufacturer recommends it or not it’s a good to do. The key thing with a lot of these maintenance recommendations from a lot of manufacturers is that most components use the same kind of fluids, the vehicle is driven in the same kind of conditions and different manufacturers have different ideas on what you need to do but transmission flushes should be done on every vehicle.

Mark: So if you want to maintain your vehicle the guys to see, as you can tell Bernie is pretty passionate about making sure your vehicle is running for a long time and as trouble free as possible. These are the guys to talk to Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, they’re busy so be prepared, you might have to wait a little bit or check out their website, tons and tons of information on there pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2007 BMW X5 Coolant Leak Repair

BMW X5
BMW X5

2007 BMW X5

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the famous Bernie Pawlik, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Sixteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver.

Mark: We’re going to talk about a BMW X5 - it had a coolant problem? What was that?

Bernie: The owner of the vehicle called us and said he some greenish coloured liquid dripping in his driveway and so he wanted us to have a look at the vehicle. So we brought the vehicle in and had a look at it.

Mark: So what was the concerns with the leak?

Bernie: Well basically our first step was to put the vehicle up on the hoist, and being a BMW we removed a number of covers underneath the engine area so we could see the bottom of the engine, had a look and didn’t find anything, which was surprising. We put our pressure tester on, had it on for about 10 minutes. Our expectation was there would be something dripping out quite quickly and easily determine what it needed. But after an hour, there was nothing under there and we were almost about to give it up and say that obviously whatever is leaking is so minimal we don’t need to worry about it because his coolant level was actually full. The owner said he put in a small amount of antifreeze, but it was very, very minimal. We looked for a little longer and found there is actually some dripping right at the very back of the engine but really, really small amounts. From that point, everything is hidden under this BMW, we had to look quite a bit further.

Mark: So where was the leak actually coming from?

Bernie: Eventually we found the leak coming from the valley pan. I’m going to show you some pictures here. The valley pan sits in the center of the engine. This is a screenshot view, this is a view actually of the intake manifold with the engine removed. On your right and left side you can see a sort of cylindrical silver object, more noticeable on the right side, those are the two cylinder banks were the cylinder heads are located. So the valley pan sits in-between the two heads and on a BMW V8, there’s a pan that the yellow arrow points to. This valley pan has a gasket around it and that’s full of coolant underneath. The red arrow actually points to actually where the leak was located and here’s a closeup view of sort where that red arrow, oops I’ll just go back here, this is the red arrow and this is a close up view of that area. You can see a bluish coloured bolt, sort on the center of the picture, there’s a bluish colour looks like crystals or liquid, anyways that’s where the coolant was coming from. It was seeping down the back of the engine and seeping around the front of the engine sometimes, the leak was very small at this point so it took a long time for the coolant to build up and seep over the sides of the vehicle. Yeah, so that’s basically where we found the leak coming from. Just to put things into perspective, this is what the engine looks like with everything intact and that red arrow I’ve got there points to the intake manifold which is a very large plastic object that must be removed before we could even find out where the leak was coming from. On top of it is the air filter box so there is a lot to remove here to get at the leak. We weren’t quite certain where the leak was coming from until we removed the intake manifold because there are coolant pipes, I’ll go back a couple of pictures here. There are pipes that run across the top of that valley pan and where the green arrows are pointing at the bottom of the picture, those point to the different pipes, coolant pipes. So these can also have leakage, there’s O rings and seals at either end and those can cause leakage too. So in this case, it was a matter of dismantling before we could find the leaks.

BMW X5

View of BMW X5 V8 engine valley pan after intake manifold was removed. Yellow arrow points to the valley pan; red arrow points to the area of the coolant leak; green arrows point to the coolant pipes.

Mark: So was it a big job, it was a big job to find it, was it a big job to actually fix it?

Bernie: Well once we actually found the leak, it wasn’t so much of a job because about two thirds of the job is to remove the intake manifold and reinstall it. So from that point we removed the valley pan, changed the seals on the heater pipe, and there’s a pipe at the front, we changed that pipe, it actually all comes as one piece so we changed those and then put everything back together. So it’s a fairly labour intensive job but it’s better than it used to be. The older BMW 4litre V8’s had a valley pan as well, but it had twice as many bolts, it was much larger and had a number of pipes going across it. They’ve actually improved the design of this although, you know, it’s still obviously not perfect because it leaked. But it’s an improvement over the past.

BMW X5

Close up view of coolant leak on left side of valley pan. The blueish coloured material beside the bolt is antifreeze.

Mark: So any other further thoughts on coolant leaks on this vehicle?

Bernie: Obviously the valley pans are issues, water pumps on BMW’s are problematic over time. I mean on this one, the kilometres are fairly low on this vehicle, the water pump is good and everything else is good. Typical to BMW they use a lot of plastic components in their cooling system so they do fail but that usually happens when the vehicle gets older. This one is a 2007 so it’s still not that old, give it another ten years, there will probably be some plastic hoses and bits and pieces breaking but for the time being, it’s good. This 4.8 litre engine is definitely redesigned, it’s an improvement over the previous generation for 4 and 4.4 litres.

Mark: So if you’re looking for service for your X5, for your BMW products, the guys to go see is Bernie, Pawlik Automotive, I got Bernie and Pawlik mixed up there. Give Bernie a call to book your appointment 604-327-7112 in Vancouver or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

BMW X5

View of 4.8L engine assembly. The red arrow points to the area of the valley pan located below the intake manifold and air filter box.

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