Dealer Service - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

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Why Change an Expensive Assembly When a Few Bearings Will Solve the Concern

We recently serviced a defective angle gear unit on a 2003 Volvo V70 AWD. The angle gear unit is an important component of the Volvo all wheel drive system: it is a simple assembly that transfers power from the front transaxle to the driveshaft and transfer case unit in the rear. Inside the angle gear unit are two shafts both with 45 degree bevel gears. Each shaft has two bearings supporting them, allowing them to spin freely.

Our client came in concerned that the dealer had quoted her over $3000.00 to replace the unit and was wondering if there were less expensive options. After road testing the vehicle we concluded that there was likely only a worn out bearing inside the unit. Unfortunately there were no separate bearings or gears sold for the angle gear unit; it seemed our only option was to buy a completely rebuilt unit from Volvo and if this was the case our price would have been about the same as the dealer.

Determined to find a better priced solution it seemed a good idea to dismantle the angle gear unit, inspect it and see what damage was present. We did that and found one severely worn bearing on the pinion shaft. Normally when one bearing is bad it is best to replace them all as the others will likely wear our soon. Through a bearing supplier we were able to find all the bearings to repair the unit (there are four in total) however we spent a great deal of time trying to find the main pinion bearing as this was a highly specialized type of bearing.

The inner moving components of the angle gear unit. The arrow points to the worn pinion bearing. The angle gear unit is a very simple mechanical device: these are the only moving parts.

It’s very frustrating when an easily fixable item has no parts available. There is no earthly reason why Volvo could not be selling bearings for the angle gear unit as they sell bearings for most every other part of the vehicle. In the end we completed the job for under $2000, taxes included and the angle gear unit performed marvelously. It was only by our determination that were able to find the right parts to do the job. Whenever we can we will replace the basic parts, like worn bearings to save you money.

How We Saved a Client a Fortune on His Turbocharger Repair

Saving money is always a good thing; however when it comes to auto repairs be cautious because often along with low price comes inferior quality. We always strive for the highest quality at the best price and are very pleased when we can take the time to do a great job and save our client lots of money. Recently we did just that.

The vehicle serviced was a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 3 liter Mercedes turbo diesel engine. While quite rare in Jeeps, it is common in various Mercedes vehicles and Sprinter vans.

Our client’s concern was a severe lack of power and the check engine lamp on. After diagnosis we determined the turbocharger to be defective. This vehicle uses a very complex variable geometry turbo which incorporates an integral electronic actuator. The actuator was the defective part but unfortunately was only available with a new turbo assembly. Rebuilding was not an option so it appeared that we were stuck to the dealer. Our client had already been to the Chrysler dealer where they also diagnosed the turbocharger as the problem. His quote was over $8000 installed. They were also not too reassuring as they stated that the engine computer could also be bad and substantial extra costs could be involved. We confirmed that only the turbo was defective

Brand new turbo assembly, the black box near the bottom is the actuator unit which controls the variable geometry mechanism.

Our first phone call to the Chrysler dealer was a shock: the turbo assembly was over $6000 for a new unit. We spent some time looking at options: Mercedes dealers and ordering through a US Chrysler dealership and while these reduced the price it would still have run him around $7000 installed. After more digging we were able to purchase a new turbo directly from the manufacturer for under $3000. This is an exact original replacement part. Installed with taxes, his bill came in at under $5000, substantially lower than just the turbo from Chrysler.

After replacement the engine ran great, the check engine light was off and full power was restored. So sometimes low cost and quality do go hand in hand and when we can deliver high quality at a low price we will.

We Service New Cars

We love servicing new vehicles and always appreciate working with the clean, shiny and newly painted undercarriage and suspension components.

Many of our clients bring their new vehicles to us for service but some take their new cars to the dealer. Is it because they feel their warranty will be voided if the dealer doesn’t service it? Is it because the glitzy feel of the dealership somehow pulls on them and makes them feel like these are the folks who will best service this car? Were they told that their car must be serviced by the dealer? Or perhaps, after years of fixing their old car we are thought of as the “old car repair shop.”

Whatever the reason it is time to bust a few myths:

Myth 1:

My warranty will be void if anyone other than the dealer services my car.

Fact: Any qualified auto service facility can perform the manufacturers recommended maintenance and your warranty remains valid. By the way it is illegal for anyone selling you a new car to state that you must have your car serviced at their dealership.

Myth 2:

If there is a warranty related problem the dealer won’t take care of me because I have done my service elsewhere.

Fact:

    The dealer is obliged to repair any warranty concerns that the manufacturer authorizes and most are happy to do so as it is business for them.

Myth 3:

The dealer knows my car better. It’s new technology and they have the tools to fix it.

Fact:

    While dealer technicians are specifically trained on their type of vehicle all cars function the same way with only subtle differences. We have state of the art equipment and repair information that is equal to or better than the dealer.

Myth 4:

If there is a recall only the dealer will know that.

Fact:

    We have a state of the art database which lists all manufacturers maintenance schedules as well as recalls. We look these over every time your car is brought in for service.

I hope that this sheds some light for you and helps you make a choice as to who services your car.

As a further advantage to dealing with us we are your 3rd party advocate to be certain that your vehicle is being properly serviced and any warranty related concerns are brought to your attention. So much of your car is hidden and unless someone mentions a concern you are unlikely to know that it is needed.

If you like the service and value that you get from the dealership by all means stick with them; however do know that you have a choice, and I believe that we offer a fabulous choice, superior to the dealership.

Underside of 2011 Dodge Avenger in for its first service

Repairs Save Lots of Money

Nissan Murano Seat Bracket welded

Some shops just replace parts while others will repair parts when possible. We recently had such a situation at our shop which saved our client a substantial amount of money.

The vehicle was a 2006 Nissan Murano with a broken driver’s seat. Our client was driving his vehicle when he suddenly heard a loud crack and the rear of his seat sunk.

Removing the seat and examining it revealed the cause: the cross bar at the rear of the seat had broken on the left side. Two repair options were available: one was to buy a new seat bracket assembly from a Nissan dealer and the other was to dismantle the assembly and weld the bracket back together. Costs for the new part with installation were over $1000.00 but repairs could be done for $350.00. Fortunately this is an all steel part and very weldable. Our client opted for the weld repair and during the process we added some extra metal to reinforce what was a very poorly designed and inherently weak part.

While some jobs require replacing a complete assembly, repairs like this, where possible can save hundreds of dollars and we love to do that whenever we can.

Broken seat bracket

Welded back to original form

The bracket with reinforments welded in

Dealer Service

Is Dealer Service your best choice?

Unfortunately, over and over I am reminded that they don’t always do a great job.

Even though I’ve been an independent mechanic and shop owner all of my adult life I still hear this notion, like many people, that the dealer is the best place to get your car serviced.

They may be more expensive but they will always do what’s best for the car, do fine quality work and they are experts because they service their own brand.

Behind the nice appearance of their facility and people, the shuttle service and the washed car… the overall work on the vehicle is often not that great!

Case in point: we had a new client today with a 2002 Volvo XC90. The vehicle has 130,000 kilometers on the clock and until today had always been dealer serviced.

While the engine oil had certainly been replaced we found a number of very dirty fluids, especially the transmission. This fluid is normally a clear bright red colour, however on this vehicle it was as black as old engine oil: clearly long overdue for service.

Clean Oil vs Dirty Oil

We advised the client and they wisely did the fluid flush. Why do dealers neglect these important fluid replacements when they are so glaringly needed??

So often we see this on dealer serviced cars: critical fluids not replaced.

The cynic in me has to ask… “Is it because they don’t really care about the longevity of your car?” After all if the transmission blows up, that makes you a perfect candidate for the sales department and a new car.

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