Cars and the Environment - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

Archive

Category Archives for "Cars and the Environment"

Is Removing Diesel Emission Equipment A Bad Idea?

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 of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking about diesels this morning. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So removing diesel emission equipment. I see actually quite a few diesel vehicles in my area that are blowing excessive smoke. Is this just a malfunction or is someone removed the emission equipment? 

Bernie: It could be a bit of both. Now it depends on what age of diesel. Of course, older diesels do tend to smoke. That's a normal part of the way they were. But anything newer, and I'm talking like, 2008 and newer shouldn't be really blowing any smoke whatsoever. So if you see a vehicle, truck, car or anything like that, that's that age and it's blowing smoke, there's either either a malfunction or someone's removed emission mission equipment. And I, I know where you live and you know, I know that, it's very tempting to remove that stuff and people do it all the time around here.

Mark: So why would someone remove the emission equipment when it was put there for an important reason keeping our air clean? 

Bernie: Yeah. Well there are quite a few compelling reasons, if you don't actually care about the quality of the air that you breathe or about other people's air. But that aside, a few compelling reasons are it removes the complicated, there's a lot of complication to diesel emission equipment. There are particulate filters. There's a urea injection system to remove, again, to remove particulate. There are catalytic converters that again, reduce the emission from the diesel system plus, we can talk about the EGR cooler. These are more on the, on the engine side of things. An EGR system, which creates a whole different level of issues. 

So, you know, to keep a diesel clean, there's a lot of complexity to it. Not unlike a gasoline engine, but diesel emission equipment is sort of new and I think it's, it's kind of finding its way through the system, getting the bugs worked out. Unfortunately a lot of the stuff is really expensive. When it fails, it costs a lot of money to fix, on the other downside, the the fuel economy is not as good on an emission equipped diesel as it is on a non emission equipped diesel. So by removing, simply removing those items, you actually use far less fuel, which is certainly money in your pocket, and you can also get a lot more power out of the vehicle too.

So again, there's a, there's a number of advantages, but of course the disadvantages is a quality of our air. 

Mark: So you mentioned that these components, the system complicated as it is, it's probably expensive. How expensive is it?  

Bernie: Really expensive, you know, like the I mean, a particulate filter can be three or $4,000.

A catalytic converter, same amount of money. The urea injection system, there's, again, you know, it can be thousands of dollars worth of components and pieces there. So there's, there can be a lot of money, things to go wrong. Generally, these things do last a long time. There's also a number of sensors as well that can malfunction. They're not so expensive, but again, you know, you have like a check engine light comes on. Or it won't go into regeneration mode. It can be a couple of sensors. You know, you could walk out with $1,000 bill. So you know, it's tempting to go, well, it's just you know, spend a couple thousand bucks, get rid of it all.

And you know, but there again, there's a price to pay and we'll talk a little more about that. 

Mark: So an EGR, that's an exhaust gas recirculation, is that right?  

Bernie: It is. 

Mark: Okay. So why would you delete that? 

Bernie: Well, there's a number of, again, there's a number of issues that happen with that. What EGR does is it recirculates exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber of the engine and what the effect of that is, it actually cools the combustion temperature that reduces NOx emission. And you know NOx emissions are very high in a diesel engine. So that's, EGR has had been around for a long time, but what happens with the EGR system, you know, Ford 6 litres famous for this, they're EGR coolers would crack and create a whole number of problems. So a number of companies came out with EGR Deletes. You basically get rid of the EGR system and problems are solved. You know, some other companies, that Bulletproof Diesel, for instance, that have come out with basically Bulletproof Coolers where they solved all the issues that were inherent with the you know, EGR, original EGR Cooler. And that basically, you know, that's a basically good alternative. Once you put one of those in, your problems are basically solved for forever, so you can keep the EGR system. But yeah, I mean, the other disadvantage of EGR is it just, and we see this a lot on Mercedes diesels, a number of other smaller truck diesels and car diesels. It just puts a lot of particulate material and carbon deposits in the intake system that can block everything up and need to be removed. So, you know, having that not there would certainly eliminate that problem. But you know, again, there's, there's a price to pay environmentally, so better to keep it on and keep it working and fix it.

Mark: So to remove your diesel equipment or emission equipment from your vehicle, is this illegal or legal to do that? And are the police out there looking for people who've done that? 

Bernie: Okay, so legality in the United States, every state in the United States, it's 100% illegal to remove any emission equipment or tamper with anything.

In Canada it's a little more, more of a wild west kind of attitude. The research I've done federally at when a vehicle sold, it must meet the Canadian and federal emissions standards, but once the vehicle is sold, it's really up to each province to regulate that. So certain provinces of Saskatchewan, for instance, at least back a few years ago, it was, it's fully legal to remove any emission equipment from your diesel vehicle. I don't know about gasoline, I assume gasoline's the same thing. It's fully legal to remove any emission equipment and modify it any way you like. I know in Ontario, absolutely 100% illegal, just like the US. British Columbia, same thing I believe. At least if the police know that you've removed anything, they'll order it to be reinspected and setback to original specs. So that's, so that's kind of kind of how Canada works. You'd have to, you know, if you really want to know, you'd have to check each provincial law, but to be on the safe side, better to keep it all for sure. 

Mark: How expensive is it to restore them if you get caught? 

Bernie: While it costs a lot. And so as I mentioned, you know, a lot of these components cost thousands of dollars. I mean, if you, if you were to remove your emission equipment or are you having to buy a truck that has it removed, make sure you keep everything or you, not advocating doing it, but keep every single bit and piece. If you happen to buy a truck that's got the stuff removed. Hopefully the seller has everything to give you.

Otherwise, I think that makes that truck worth an awful lot less money. I mean, you're looking at thousands of dollars to put everything back back to original, and you know, that would be with the idea of buying, you know, basically the cheaper way would be to buy the, what's missing used and then just get a functional modified. But it's a lot of work to restore it. 

Mark: Is it only from trucks that people are removing the emission equipment? 

Bernie: Well, mostly, but you know, there are, you know, there are people who remove it from cars, TDI, Volkswagens. We even had a client with a BMW, a diesel station wagon, which is, you know, kind of like a surprising customer, I would think to want to remove emission equipment, but there was some, there was a couple of things that happened in the vehicle and another thing had happened. He said, I'm just going to take it to Alberta and have this stuff removed there's a shop that specializes in that. So, you know, it's everybody. I hate to say it, but people are cheap and self-centred, you know. I mean, I'm a person too. You know, some, but you know, people just, they care more about their own self interest a lot of times and they do thinking about the broader picture. When you think about the air that we breathe, you know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, I mean, the air quality in Vancouver was far worse than it is now. And the, the whole reason is because the vehicles we make are, they're just far cleaner. They've got better emission equipment, things function properly, and even diesels, you know, I mean they used to stink so badly. You just get, get next to an old diesel like a, I don't know, like early nineties or early two thousands Ford diesel pickup trucks, 7.3 litre. Great engine, by the way. But I mean, just the smell. I mean, you can barely breathe next to it and you get a brand new, a 6.7 litre Ford, you can just have a, you know, the engine is running, you can barely hear it. You can have a conversation and talk beside it. And you know, that's, you know, the technology, the advancements in engine design and also the emission equipment that's put on the vehicle. So there's a tremendous advantage to it. 

Mark: Of having the mission equipment? 

Bernie: But having it. Yeah. Yeah. Now, I know there are advantages to removing it, as we've said, but they're not really favourable in many respects. 

Mark: So isn't it foolish for a shop to actually remove this equipment based on the legal requirements to have that you must have according to the law emission equipment on your vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, I would say so. Absolutely. I mean, we don't do it at our shop. We have chosen not to do it. I know a lot of other diesel, progressive diesel shops that don't do it either.  I know Bulletproof Diesel, it's a company in the US they sell a lot of neat products for, you know, diesel vehicles to make them better. They don't sell any,  removal equipment either. There are companies in the US, Edge Diagnostics used to make a tuner that would allow you to delete everything. They got sued for millions of dollars by the EPA. So they're gone and out of business. And there are shops around, I mean, I actually know a dealership not far from me a, I'm not going to mention the brand name, but they actually remove emission equipment from their diesels. And, I said, Hey, how do you guys, you know, why are you guys doing that? Aren't you worried about your liability? No, we just get people to sign a waiver that they're using it for off road use. Well, which is ridiculous, you know, I'm sure it'll come back to bite them at some point.  You never know when the government's going to really clamped down. Like right now, they're right now they don't, but, you know, they can. So, yeah, I think it's foolish. 

Mark: Any final thoughts on the subject of a mission device removal?

Bernie: Yeah. Well, if you think, hey, no, no one's going to look for it.  I'll tell you that I've had a couple of customers in the last six months, both driving Dodge diesels, driving down the road, something happened, there a light flickered or malfunctioned and the police pulled them over. Kind of got a little suspicious that they may have removed some emission equipment and ordered them to have an inspection done to make sure that everything was in order. So those are the kind of simple things that happen. They're not usually cops out about looking, Oh, you know, with flashlights under a vehicle. But if anything happens, they get suspicious, you know, and it's sometimes the little things like a burned out light bulb that'll take you out. So, you know, I don't know my, you know, my final thoughts, keep it there, keep it working and keep our air clean. 

Mark: Yeah. For those who want to remove it, just think about removing all that equipment, parking that vehicle in your garage, closing a door and spending an hour in there. Would you do that? Would you want your kids to do that? Would you want your grandparents to do that? They're not going to live and neither are you. If you do that, it's deadly toxic. And then the more research is done, that's the minute particles that come out of a diesel are, are making us stupid, basically and killing us. 

Bernie: You know, the particulate from diesel is a carcinogen. It's very fine particle. It gets deep in the lungs and it's pretty serious. 

Mark: It's killing people. 

Bernie: Yeah, it is. You know, and so you know, again, we're, we're working on ways to get our world cleaner. I mean, when one day all vehicles will be electric and we won't have be having this conversation anymore. But, you know, in the interim, we're doing the best we can with the dirty fuel. 

Mark: So if you're looking for service for your diesel vehicle to keep it running clean and legally in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112. They're also experienced in putting diesel emission equipment back on vehicles so you can call them and inquire about that. It's a steep price to pay. Be aware of that. And this is in Vancouver, BC area of Canada. Thank you so much for watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Give us a like on the socials and thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

When Does It Make Sense To Own A Diesel?

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So one question that we've encountered quite a bit is basically people buying diesels when it's the wrong vehicle for the use case. So when does it make sense to have a diesel?

Bernie: Well, I think there's a couple of criteria that it makes sense to have a diesel. I'm thinking about some of those wrong things. I've had a number of people in the past who've bought like a... I'm just going to say Ford, I'm not picking on Ford, but they bought some Ford diesels that had been less than reliable. After spending thousands of dollars month after month to fix one thing after another, the thrill and the concept and the idea of having a... I'm going to say a, macho diesel, just wears off really fast and I see them coming back with a Ford F-150 gas powered, something a lot more sensible and what they need. We've also had a number of clients who own European vehicles, Mercedes in particular, where the the engines get carboned up or stuff happens, very expensive repairs and really, a diesel wasn't the right vehicle for them.

So when does it make sense? It makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. If you're going to buy a truck, it makes sense to buy diesel if you're hauling heavy loads frequently that's either in the truck or trailering them. If you're buying a car, it makes sense of you're driving long distances, but not short little start and stop distances. So those are really the main criteria to me of when it makes sense.

Mark: So why is that?

Bernie: Well, diesels need to warm up. They need to run hot and they take a while to warm up even with modern technology and they try to warm it up faster, a diesel takes a long time to warm up. Generally, the mass of a diesel engine, the actual engine block, is much more robust than it is on a gasoline engine because compression in a diesel is very high. The engine has to, it's a combustion, sorry... A compression ignition engine. So it has to compress the fuel, which will then explode at a certain pressure and temperature, but that requires a much more robust built engine. They're heavier, they're bigger and so they require a lot more energy to warm up.

When they're not warmed up, with modern emission controls on vehicles, which are required and they make a big difference in terms of the air that we breathe and the quality of the diesel engine, you can hear it from 10 blocks away and it's much more pleasant to drive because you actually really can't hear the engine rattling away. With all those items in place, it sends a lot of soot and particles back through the engine, they recirculate and things tend to plug up unless the engine's really hot. Then it tends to work really well. Also, a lot of modern emission equipment, like particulate filters require the engine to reach a certain temperature and highway driving is good for them because that tends to burn off the particles.

Mark: So the filters actually heat up and disperse the particles, burn them, and then re-burn them again so that they're coming out of the tailpipe more clean.

Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. They call it a filter. It's not really a filter. It's more like a storage. It's like a storage trap and then things are burned off at a later time.

Mark: One of the things that people do, I know for a fact, is take off all the emission equipment. Does that solve the problem?

Bernie: Well, it certainly solves a problem, a lot of problems in terms of carbon buildup and things plugging. It solves it for you personally, but it doesn't really solve it for the general public. Diesel soot is a known carcinogen. It's very bad. They're very tiny little particles that get in the lungs. A lot of people die from it. They don't drop dead. It's not like having been shot by a gun, you're not going to die instantly. It's a slow process, but it's a big thing. As annoying as a lot of these things are, and I can see why people remove them because the solution of not having it makes a big difference.

There's a lot of diesel trucks that used to get fantastic fuel economy. They put the emission equipment on, the fuel economy drops by 30% or 40%, you remove it, you're back way up to having an economical vehicle. But really, what makes our air in our cities good to breathe is all these emission equipment, even on gasoline engines. I always think that whenever I see an old car drive by and I can smell the stench of the exhaust, I go, "Man, I can't believe when I grew up that all cars were like that." We've done a fantastic job in terms of making gasoline powered cars really, really clean, still lots of CO2, but that doesn't smell and stink and cause at least the ground level pollution that we're used to.

It does make a big difference. Things can be removed, but it's better not to. My whole idea with this podcast is consider before you buy a diesel. Do you really need one? Because they do cost an awful lot more money to fix too. I often think all the money you save on fuel, you're just going to end up spending in ours or someone else's repair shop fixing things. So it's an important thing to look at. Consider is this the right vehicle for you because for some people, a diesel absolutely makes a lot of sense.

Mark: I guess there's a couple of other issues there. Diesel particulate in terms of it's detriment to human health is measured in parts per billion, which is incredibly small. Something over 20 parts per billion. Anything over that is detrimental to human health and there's tons of research on this now. There's literally diesel engine's soot is accounting for millions of deaths worldwide every year. This is not speculation. This is a fact. They can show it when cities like London, for instance, banned diesels from the downtown area, their air quality goes up pretty drastically, but it's also illegal isn't it? If you take that stuff off it is.

Bernie: It is. Yeah. It is illegal to do it, whether you're going to have a cop knocking on your door, probably not. Lots of people do it and I don't. We live in Vancouver, Canada, so they're not so many stringent standards. I don't know. I know California, you actually have to have your vehicle emission tested. Around here, you don't. We used to have it. We got rid of it. The air still seems pretty clean, but you can be a lot looser with your standards around here now. Honestly, does it really matter if you live out in some small town or in the middle of nowhere and your diesel puts out some particular? Not really, but every tight thing where you get more concentrated and lots more trucks and people around, it makes a huge difference really fast.

Mark: So there you go. If you're going to buy a diesel, what's your use case? Are you hauling a lot of heavy loads? Are you traveling long distances? A hundred kilometres, 150 kilometres kind of round trip every day, then maybe a diesel makes sense. Other than that, driving around town in your big 4x4 and not ever using it to haul stuff, probably not the best use case. It's costing you a lot of money. Is that a fair assessment?

Bernie: Absolutely. One thing, we actually didn't delve into too much there was car. We did just touch on it briefly, but I think a lot of salespeople do a disservice to their customers by selling them a diesel vehicle when they're really, again, they should be asking, "How much driving you do at this vehicle." This is something you've got to ask yourself if you're going to buy a diesel car or a SUV, I'm thinking like a Mercedes type of thing. There's a lot of ML320s and 350 diesels around. There's just a lot of them in our area. So many people don't buy them for what they need them for. They really should be buying the gasoline version. I think the salespeople really do a disservice by not asking, "What's your usage?" They're just, "Oh yeah, we've got this diesel. It's got great fuel economy," and people just buy it. Then a few years later, the engine's toast or things are plugged up and they're spending thousands of dollars to fix things they wouldn't have had to do. So just something to look at.

Mark: It's not an around town vehicle unless you're hauling stuff basically.

Bernie: Exactly, exactly.

Mark: Go electric. Anyways-

Bernie: Yeah, that's becoming an option if you just need short commutes, electric might be a-

Mark: Far better option.

Bernie: Yeah.

Mark: So there you go. Pawlik Automotive. If you want honest truth about your vehicle and what kind of vehicle to buy, maybe give Bernie a call: (604) 327-7112. He's looking dismayed. I've just offered free advice, but he will. They're friendly. They'll help you out. Quick conversation will ease your mind about buying the right car. Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them, again at: (604) 327-7112. Again, that's for booking appointments. They're busy. You got to call and book ahead. They're 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and PawlikAutomotive.com is the website. Check out lots of articles and videos on there about all makes and models of vehicles and repairs of them all. And of course, thanks so much for watching and listening. We appreciate it. Click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app. We appreciate it and thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.

Is Premium Gas Worth The Extra Cost?

In mid October the CBC ran a story about premium gasoline and how, for most cars it was a waste of money (http://goo.gl/G5qR4). They went so far as claiming that its use caused higher levels of pollution from the tailpipe than regular fuel. While I agree almost entirely with the statement that it is a waste of money if your car does not require premium I found the claims of excessive pollution to be dubious. I admit that I did not watch the TV program, however while looking at the website article the picture of the technical expert with his gas analyzer set off alarm bells for me.

I had some discussions with those in the know about auto emission testing and they confirmed my thoughts: that it is very unlikely that using premium fuel when the manufacturer does not recommend it is going to cause any noticeable increase in tailpipe emissions. The gas analyzer shown in the picture is a piece of equipment similar to one that we own at our shop and while it is highly precise it is not capable of reading the very low emission levels that modern vehicles put out with enough detail to make such a conclusion. Modern vehicles have very sophisticated electronics, sensors, computers and catalytic converters which control emission levels and the simple use of premium fuel verses regular fuel cannot be detected by this type of gas analyzer. My recommendations are: 1) Don’t worry about the pollution increases as they are negligible to none-existent. 2) If your manufacturer doesn’t recommend premium, save your money and use regular. 3) If you own a premium fuel recommended vehicle as I do you can run it on regular if the engine performs well and doesn’t knock and ping: mine works great.

Premium fuel (91 octane) at 14 cents more per liter is usually not worth the extra cost over regular fuel (87 octane).


Are Electric Cars All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

Slowly, very slowly, electric cars are making their way into the market place and onto our roads. The other day I saw a Chevrolet Volt proudly displaying a bumper sticker that read “I burn electrons” and it made me pause to reflect about electric cars. For some time I’ve thought about electric powered cars and know that undoubtedly they are the way of the future. With fossil fuel resources continuously being depleted and the atmosphere’s chemistry being perhaps critically altered we have no choice but to change the way our vehicles are powered. Electric vehicles offer so many advantages: few moving parts, minimal maintenance, no oil changes and high torque. Very low energy consumption at idle is a particularly compelling benefit for both one’s wallet and our atmosphere.

But are electric cars all they are cracked up to be? There are some serious issues to consider. Perhaps the biggest is that while the “I burn electrons” bumper sticker is cute, it is untrue. Electricity is not an energy source but a conveyer or currency of energy (the same is true for hydrogen). Electricity must be created from an energy source therefore electric cars really “burn” whatever creates that electricity. Currently in the US, half of the electricity comes from coal, a fuel far dirtier than the oil that electric cars so happily no longer burn. In BC we are blessed with clean hydropower but we have few rivers left to dam and dammed rivers have huge environmental consequences.

What will happen when all cars are electric? Where will the extra electricity come from? Sure, at this time, one can happily plug in their electric car without overloading the grid, but at some point this will no longer be possible. Cars and trucks use enormous amounts of energy; if every vehicle were suddenly electric we would not be able to power everything.

Another area of concern is the tax revenue from gas sales. Some portion (though arguable not nearly enough) of gas tax is used for road maintenance. How will roads be paid for when increasing numbers of cars are electric? Will it be reasonable that gas and diesel powered vehicles subsidize electric cars?

While I’m all for the potentially clean future that electric cars provide it will certainly shake up my industry: auto service and repair. I can imagine that in the fully electric car future that only 1/3 or 1/4 of today’s auto service facilities will be needed. Many repairs that currently keep us going will no longer be required: oil & coolant leaks, emission system repairs, oil changes, fluid flushes and tune-ups just to name a few.

Electric cars currently have a very limited market: they are very expensive to buy and their driving range is severely limited, making them a choice only for drivers who use their cars for short trips. This is where the Chevy Volt is great: because it also has a gas engine it makes the vehicle useful for long trips.

Where I believe the electric car will shine is when we create our electricity (and we will need a lot of it) from a clean source. That won’t likely be from solar or wind, though they will play a part. Most likely it will be nuclear, and while it isn’t trouble free it’s clean, global warming free and tremendously powerful. This puts the whole electric car debate into a bigger picture: not only must we make the vehicles, but we must simultaneously change our infrastructure, and that will be a big challenge.

There are many forces that conspire against this change but overall it will be worthwhile. Just imagine a world where electricity is created without burning something that creates CO2 and where cars run on electric motors. Our cities will have clean air and the stench of vehicle exhaust will be non-existent. Now that’s an exciting future!

Electric wheel motor unit as found on a Brabus Mercedes sedan. This vehicle has 4 of these motors, one on each wheel creating a whopping 2100 ft/lbs of torque. This is the future of the performance electric car market. This particularly vehicle as yet has no price tag and is largely experimental but the technology will be with us sooner than we think.

Why You Should Fix Your Misfiring Engine Immediately

A misfiring engine is a very serious concern that demands immediate attention, unless of course you prefer to spend thousands of dollars on your car repairs.

What is an engine misfire?

It’s easiest to explain when you understand how an engine works. An internal combustion engine has several cylinders which continually fire in sequence creating a smooth flow of power and this propels your car. When the firing sequence is not smooth the engine has what is called a misfire. There are many causes from a bad spark plug, ignition coil, fuel injector or engine valve just to name a few.

When a misfire is present you will notice are several things: first the engine will shake or shutter either at a constant speed or when accelerating, and your check engine lamp may come on. Often the check engine lamp will blink and this indicates a catalyst damaging misfire. This is something to take very seriously and have repaired quickly.

When an engine misfires, a cylinder’s worth of raw, unburned fuel is exhausted through the catalytic converters and out the tailpipe. Any raw fuel in the catalytic converters quickly overheats them and leads to their destruction. If misfires occur severely then damage occurs quickly. If misfires are subtle, then damage may not occur for a year or two. When damage does occur expect to pay a lot to fix it. Most modern vehicles use what are called close coupled catalytic converters because they are integrated with the exhaust manifold and tucked up tight to the engine. On a V6 or V8 engine these are usually followed by another catalytic converter further downstream.

Over the years we’ve seen many vehicles that have experienced misfire concerns, fixed them after the vehicle was driven too long and then had the car return a few months later with either plugged exhaust and/or the check engine lamp on with a catalyst inefficiency code. It’s very predictable!

Recently we repaired a V6 equipped 2003 Ford Escape that had a couple of defective ignition coils that were causing a severe misfire. Several months passed and the vehicle returned with a plugged exhaust system. So severe was the blockage that it caused the EGR valve to blow apart. We dismantled the exhaust system, performed an inspection and found the front converter had partially melted, broke apart and sent particles to the rear cat, plugging it. After replacing these 2 cats and the EGR valve the engine’s power was restored but a further major exhaust leak was present from the rear exhaust manifold. Final repair bill: $3600 taxes in. Ouch! This happens more often than you think.

The good news it that it is completely preventable.

If your engine ever misfires get it fixed right away and save your money.

Broken pieces of the front catalytic converter substrate, some of which were found inside the rear catalytic converter. Note that some of these pieces at the top are melted.

EGR valve that blew apart from excessive exhaust system backpressure.

What Does Your Check Engine Light Mean

That orange lamp on your dash that either shows a picture of an engine or says “check engine” is often misunderstood so here is the check engine lamp demystified.

 

  • This light is there to indicate a malfunction with your vehicle’s engine management system.
  • On any vehicle 1996 and newer it will illuminate for any concern that will cause excessive vehicle emissions.
  • Many times when the light illuminates you will feel no difference in the way your vehicle runs. This is because many emission reduction systems on your vehicle do not affect the engine’s performance. At times when you don’t feel diminished performance it is because your powertrain computer is compensating for the defect and readjusting things so that performance feels normal.
  • As with all amber lights on your dash, an illuminated check engine lamp indicates a concern that needs to be addressed but it is not crucial that it be done immediately (unlike your red oil lamp which, should it illuminate means stop your engine NOW).
  • If your check engine lamp is blinking have repairs conducted as soon as possible. The blinking check engine lamp indicates a catalytic converter damaging engine misfire. Usually when the lamp blinks this will be accompanied by a rough running engine. Failure to repair the misfire quickly will damage your catalytic converters and cost you a lot of extra money.
  • If you go to AirCare with your check engine lamp on and your car is 1998 and newer you will fail the test! So save money and have it fixed first.
  • When your check engine lamp comes on it is rarely associated with low engine oil or low coolant. It is however wise to check these fluids just in case they are low.

The Check Engine Light: some lights show only the orange outline whereas others show only the letters

 

What if my engine runs fine and I just leave the check engine lamp? If your lamp is on it is most important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Some items are more critical to repair than others as is the case with engine misfires. Other items can be left if your budget doesn’t allow for repairs today but it is best to know the urgency and the consequence of not doing the repairs now.

Reflecting on 30 Years of Auto Service

I recently serviced a vehicle for a man who has been my longest client with our relationship going back 30 years. I got to thinking about the car I serviced today, a 2011 VW Golf and the car he owned that I first serviced: a 1980 Plymouth Horizon.

The Horizon, while it got from A to B just fine was quite frankly a piece of crap. The engine revved too high at idle and it thunked into drive with severe harshness. These cars were interesting: they were built at a time when Chrysler was coming out of bankruptcy and Lee Iacocca was at the helm. With the writing on the wall that the big American cars of the 1970’s were out of favour, Chrysler copied the VW Rabbit and created the Plymouth Horizon and the Dodge Omni. They unfortunately were not as refined as their German counterparts. The late 1970’s and early 1980’s were an awful time for American cars and I can’t really think of one that was great.

Fast forward to our VW Golf of today: while not a high end car, it still has a fabulous sounding touch screen stereo, air conditioning and runs so smoothly that you can barely feel the engine running. The emissions coming out the tailpipe are extremely clean. It’s a great and welcome change from the past and makes me wonder what we might be driving 30 years hence.

86 Plymouth Horizon

2011 VW Golf

New GM Central Port Fuel Injection Unit

Finally a Newly Designed Central Port Fuel Injection Unit is Available

This replacement part is for GM trucks that use this fuel injection system. And there are many trucks: millions of them, built from 1992 to 2002. This system was fraught with problems almost from day one and it’s surprising that it took so long to build a replacement part to address the original design flaws.

Most of the concerns with this system are due to sticking poppet valves and a leaking fuel pressure regulator. This system is unique in that poppet valves are located inside a ‘box’ from which the fuel lines and injectors are connected. The poppet valves are electronically controlled inside this ‘box’.

The redesigned part’s major change is to install electronically controlled fuel injectors at the end of the fuel line. This allows for very precise fuel control which the original unit lacked. It also eliminates the need for the troublesome poppet valves.

A Recent Repair Illustrates How Bad This Can Get

We had a 1996 Chevy pickup with a V6 towed to our shop for a no start concern. After a thorough diagnosis we found that the fuel injection unit was defective and causing the starting problems plus an array of other concerns:


    • Very Rough Running Engine
    • Poor Starting
    • Horrible Fuel Mileage
    • Vehicle Was Running So Rich That the Catalytic Converter Had Been Destroyed

The good news is that after installing this unit our truck ran great. Even better news it that these new and improved parts cost less than the old designed parts!

The new and the old: New, redesigned part is on left, note the wires and larger electronic fuel injectors on the ends. The old unit is on the right.

AirCare Repairs Make a Huge Difference

90% of our AirCare repairs produce these huge results.

Some folks think that AirCare is a scam or at least a waste of time and I’m here to say that those thoughts could not be further from the truth.

We fix several cars and trucks per month and from experience I can say that the results speak for themselves. Check out the latest AirCare repair that we did on a 1995 Jeep Cherokee: the results are profound and just by fixing this one vehicle, less toxins are being released into our air.

AirCare before and after readings. The failed gas is circled. Note the huge reductions after repairs.

Most modern cars, especially the new models are very clean and release mostly CO2 into the air. This is a global warming substance and of great concern.

However, the most toxic pollutants are carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen emissions and properly running modern cars minimize those pollutants.

Air Care’s purpose is to keep these toxic pollutants to a minimum and it does a great job of doing so by identifying vehicles which put out excessive emissions. If you care to know more about the hazards of these pollutants there are many websites with detailed information.

Lets look at the details of this particular inspection and what the results really mean.

    Before repairs this vehicle emitted the following amounts of pollution in 100 kilometers:
    • 40 grams of hydrocarbons
    • 664 grams of carbon monoxide
    • 168 grams of oxides of nitrogen

    After repairs this vehicle will now be able to drive:
    5.7 times farther (571 kilometers) and emit the same level hydrocarbons
    19 times farther (1900 kilometers) and emit the same level of carbon monoxide
    • A whopping 83 times farther (8300 kilometers) for the same oxides of nitrogen pollutants.

These are big numbers that mean much cleaner air for all of us. Next time that you think that AirCare is a waste of time, please take time to reflect on these numbers.

This is not unique. 90% of our repairs produce these huge results.

Prepare For Winter Driving

Winter driving help

With winter just around the corner now is the time to be certain that your vehicle is ready to tackle the cold, wet and possibly snowy weather ahead. Though modern cars (those built within the last couple of decades) are often in fine shape to tackle all seasons it is best to be 100% sure that everything is in good order.

Winter driving help

Here Are Some Items To Pay Extra Attention To For Winter Driving:

    Good battery Condition: a weak battery will not start your car when the temperature drops.
    Antifreeze Protection: your engine coolant protection should be good for at least 5 degrees below the coldest temperature that you are expecting to experience.
    Washer Fluid Antifreeze: you washer fluid should be of the antifreeze type this time of year.
    Tires: whether you have snow tires or all season tires the treads must be in good condition and the tires properly inflated (more on snow tires below).
    Wiper Blades: should be in good condition and all lights should be functioning.
    Block Heater: if you plan to visit very cold areas a functioning block heater may be needed.
    • Any deferred maintenance that might be affected by cold or wet weather should be repaired (if you have questions about any items, please call us)

Snow Tires
The question of snow tires often comes up. Living around the lower mainland we are blessed with a mild winter climate where snow tires are optional. When deciding on whether to get snow tires or not here are a few things to consider: will you drive only in Vancouver? Will you drive your car in the snow? If you answered yes to these, then snow tires are likely not needed.

If however you plan to head to the mountains skiing or on trips to Whistler or the interior then snow tires are a very good idea and may be legally required. Do remember that while snow tires do require an additional investment they save the life of your other tires so over the long run don’t add a huge cost.

Air Conditioning
While few people think of air conditioning at this time of year in Canada, a properly functioning A/C system is actually a safety feature! When you need to defog your front window, which occurs frequently in our wet climate switching on your A/C will defrost the windshield in a fraction of the time that it takes without the A/C.

Brighter Lights
If you find your night vision less than optimal (and it is not your eyes) we have many options for brighter headlamps and would be happy to discuss what is available.

Safety Kit
Another item that is often overlooked is a safety kit: this could save your life if you happen to slide off the road or become stranded. A few items that come to mind for this kit would be candles & matches, a sleeping bag and/or warm blankets and some extra food and water.

As always we are happy to answer any questions that you have about your vehicle and its readiness for winter. If you have snow tires to put on please call us to book now to avoid the rush.

Wishing you a safe and happy winter driving season.

1 2 3

Let's Discuss Your Vehicle...

In order to provide an estimate, a diagnosis is the next step!