Dodge Trucks - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC


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2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 24 time winners, best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a newer vehicle, 2020 Dodge Ram 3500. What happened with this truck?

Bernie: Yeah. So the the owner of this vehicle, actually it's a company vehicle. Someone in the company had put the wrong fuel in the vehicle. It's a gasoline powered truck, 6.4 litre Hemi. They put diesel fuel into the gas tank. Not sure how they did that, but they did. And the vehicle was towed in, because it wouldn't run.

Mark: Okay, that does not sound good. So what happened because of this? 

Bernie: Well, it basically it wouldn't run and that's yeah it isn't a good thing to do. Putting wrong fuel in the vehicle is definitely not a good thing to do. So yeah, essentially the issue was it wouldn't run. 

Mark: How do you repair that?

Bernie: Well, first thing to do is to drain the fuel tank out or to remove the contaminated fuel. So there's a couple of ways we can do it. On this vehicle, it was a bit of a pain. What are typical practice is that we activate the fuel pump in the gas tank and pump the fuel out. Assuming it's a vehicle with an in-tank pump or a fuel injected vehicle, which is everything that's been built for the last 20 plus years. 

Basically pump the fuel out. This proved to be a bit of a pain on this vehicle, because it has a fuel pump module that wouldn't allow us to just pump fuel straight out. So we have to hook up a a remote pump, pump the fuel out, took a while, but we got all the fuel out. Then we basically get a couple of Jerry cans, 10 gallons of fuel and pour that into the vehicle. So that dilutes down anything that might be left over in the fuel tank. It's not a big deal to have a tiny little bit of a diesel left. So we do that, then flush out the fuel lines. And then we attempted to start the vehicle. 

Mark: So, how did it go? 

Bernie: Well, it barely coughed and ran. So I figured, okay. What's the next step? You know, we'd pumped in the fresh fuel. Pull the spark plugs out, found that they were severely contaminated, coated with diesel fuel, which makes sense. Diesel's an oil. It's not meant to be combusted in a gasoline engine. So we basically replaced the spark plugs, which was actually quite an ordeal on this vehicle, because this is one of those V8 engines that has two spark plugs per cylinder. So it ended up being a pretty pricey, time consuming job to change all 16 spark plugs. So we did do that. 

And I'm gonna show some pictures here and you can keep asking me questions if you want. Okay, there's a spark plug. I'll show the truck in a minute.

2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

So there's our sparkplug. And if you look closely, I mean, it looks very black. You would not see this on something that isn't contaminated and to touch the spark plug, there was a definite oily film all over it. So that basically just would not allow the spark to jump from, if you look at my mouse pointer, this gap to that gap, that's basically where the spark jumps between that area, the ground and the centre electrode. So replacing the plugs, the engine started up fine. 

This is an interesting thing we noted on this truck. This is obviously not a factory sticker, but this company had put this sticker here. And spite of that sticker someone still put diesel fuel in. So I believe for these folks, this has happened before. This is the first time we serviced this company's vehicles, but I'm assuming they must have a mixed fleet of diesel and gasoline and had this issue occur before.

2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

So I don't know what could have prompted someone not to put the diesel in, I guess, a sticker right over top of the fuel cap, but that's not really practical.

2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

There's the truck. A big rubber hammer. Big rubber hammer. And this is what happened after we started the vehicle. So we, yeah, so this is the inside of our shop. 

2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

So we had to push the truck in backwards because it was a heavy truck when it was dropped off by the tow truck. So we pushed the truck in backwards and this is, when we got it running, I thought I'd take a picture because it was kind of comical.

Mark: And that, and that's with, you've got the exhaust actually running outside because you don't run the exhaust inside.

Bernie: No, this is just quickly starting it up just to see how it works. So we'll run a car for a few seconds with the exhaust in the shop. Our shop's pretty ventilated and we can pop doors open. But you know, in the summertime, of course these doors are all wide open, but at this particular moment with the startup, we you gotta fill the shop up. It's not the worst. I started a diesel once that had such a huge soot problem that it filled the whole shop of black particles. Not this shop. My previous little shop. It was just absolutely hideous. In like one second, it was kind of crazy. 

Did we see the truck? No. Well, let's get back to it. And the truck. There we are. Yeah, we did see it actually. Yeah, we did. Yeah. Just breeze past it. Well, I mean, after that other picture, this is not that interesting. But it is a nice looking truck, in my opinion. So our picture show for the day. 

2020 Dodge Ram 3500, Wrong Fuel

Mark: So what else could have been damaged by putting diesel fuel in the gas tank? 

Bernie: Well, there's a few things. Of course, the fuel injection system on this vehicle is fairly simple. I mean, it's the pump. And then the fuel injectors. If it was a GDI, like a direct injection system, you would have like a high pressure pump and then some more sophisticated injectors. So fortunately this is a port injection system, kind of the older style. So the injectors could have been damaged. They weren't at the end of the day.

Could something happen down the road? Possibly. I think they'll probably end up being okay. I mean, the other thing that concerns me, the innards of the engine should be fine. I mean, diesel has extra lubrication, which can never really hurt. But maybe the catalytic converters may have got a little too much fuel in them, but I don't think the truck ran for long enough to really cause much damage. And I think driving it will burn it out, but that that's certainly something else that could have happened. 

I mean, the other thing that we did do is we did a motor back fuel injection cleaning after we got the truck running just to clean the fuel injectors and just, you know, and that cleans carbon deposits off the valves and in the combustion chamber. So that helps to remove anything like that that may have occurred. So I think it was a nice little extra bit of help, short of taking everything apart. But time will tell what, you know, whether there's any damage or not down the road. But I think it's probably going to be okay.

Mark: Is there any clues with the owner to know if further damage has occurred later on? 

Bernie: Well, I would say that, you know, I think the thing to monitor is if the check engine light comes on, of course, things will need to be tested. Things like if the catalytic converters were to be damaged, for instance, they would probably cause a check engine light to come on for catalyst efficiency code or a worst case scenario might be, the cats may plug up.

And then that would cause like an engine performance issue. But the other area too is if the injectors go bad, there’s probably be either trouble codes or an engine misfire that develops for that. So I think the spark plugs will be no problem. Of course they're brand new and everything's all cleaned out now.

But those are a couple of things that could happen, but I say there coulds, I mean, it would be a shame, you wouldn't want to change a bunch of stuff just because it might happen. You can address that down the road, save your money, for things that may never. 

Mark: Do you know how far the vehicle actually ran? Did it start after the diesel was put in and run for a bit? 

Bernie: That I don't know. I never actually talked to the person who brought the vehicle in and I don't really know. But here's how I suspect it would have gone down, you know, for the first few seconds while there's still gasoline being pumped in, it probably would have been fine until a diesel got in and it probably wouldn't have taken very long until it just went bad. 

Mark: Wouldn't the diesel have sunk to the bottom of the tank too, so it'd be one of the first things that the pump would start pumping.

Bernie: I don't really know, but it kind of makes sense. It probably would. It's a heavier fuel, so yeah, I think that makes sense. So it probably would have sunk to the bottom and that would have been the first thing that got sucked out. Yeah, that's for sure. So, yeah, but I think just for the first few seconds, there would have been at least some gasoline in there. Yeah. But it's amazing how sensitive fuel is to the way an engine runs. 

Quite a few years ago, we had this diesel truck come into our shop and someone had put gasoline like a lot of it in the gas tank. And we pulled it out and we thought, Hey, you know, this stuff looks clean. It actually smells like gasoline and Nigel, my mechanic and I decide, Hey, free gas. What a great thing. Don't ever put contaminated gas in your vehicle. We both learned a valuable lesson.

He put some in his boat. He barely got up away from the dock and his boat sputtered out. And he met, he managed to get back. I put it in my Subaru Outback was like a fuel injected you know, six cylinder engine start up, drove it, all of a sudden the engine was making these horrible knocking noises. And I thought, oh my God, you know, I don't know if this engine's going to blow up. Like it was horrific. So, I mean, it went to the gas station, filled it up full of fuel and it managed to work its way out pretty quickly, but it just taught me a valuable lesson. Contaminated fuel really causes an issue. Pure fuel is really important. 

Mark: So this is the wrong fuel, gas into a diesel. How often do you see this issue?

Bernie: Well this was the first time we've ever seen it? Because the diesel pump hand nozzle is actually larger than a gasoline. So it's almost impossible to put it in. So I did not quiz anyone as to how it happened. It may have happened that someone poured it in from a jerry can. And in which case yeah, because that end spout is the same, or it could be that someone was so used to a diesel, they just held the thing in and somehow filled it. I don't know. I'm thinking the jerry can thing might be the way. 

We often see people put gasoline in diesel cars and we've done a number of things. I don't know if you've ever done a podcast about it. We could do the one in the future. Next time someone brings one in because it'll happen. It happens with somewhat reasonable frequency. 

Mark: Even though it's a different colour on the pump, it says diesel it's all by itself. The diesel pump generally. Gas is separate. People still mix it up. 

Bernie: Yeah. Well, you know I've a diesel truck. I've had it for a year and a half before that everything I owned was gasoline, but I still, every time I go fill it up, I'm always like, I always grabbed the nozzle and actually smell it because I'm going, I don't want to screw up because it's so easy to do. But one day I was a little, I don't know flustered, stressed out, rushed. And I almost grabbed the gasoline nozzle and you know, like I had it in my hand. I go, wait a minute. You know? So it's, it's an easy thing to do. And of course it's easy to put gas into a diesel because, because the nozzle is smaller.

So it happens. Fortunately all the diesels we've ever had, people, they've been at the gas station and go, oh crap. I did the wrong thing. And they tow it in right away, which is the best thing you can do. Or people have driven at a tiny little bit and it runs crappy for a second. And then it's like, we bring it in and to make a long story short. I mean, no one's ever damaged anything beyond having the fuel system cleaned out, but you know, that's subject for another podcast. 

Mark: And I guess those are your closing thoughts. 

Bernie: My closing thoughts. Yes, they are just, well, like you said, make sure you really check it. Like you said, the nozzles are different, but it's easy to make a mistake. So, and if you're pouring from a jerry can, be really certain of the kind of fuel you're pouring in. Smell it. Look at the quality of it. 

Mark: If you've put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, get it towed to Pawlik Automotive. We can help. You can reach them at their website, to book in, or in this case, it might be more of an emergency. So you want to call them (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. They're busy, but they'll try and fit you in, get it repaired.

This is serious. Things go boom when they have the wrong fuel in them, and it's really expensive and you don't want that. Check it out. We have hundreds and hundreds, close to a thousand videos of all makes and models and types of repairs. The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing there. We've been doing this for over 10 years now. And I thank you for watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. We're here with Mr Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're doing the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: 2001 Dodge Ram 3500, this is an oldie but goodie. Had a front axle joint problem. What was going on with this Dodge pickup?

Bernie: So the owner brought it into us. There was some clunking noises coming from the front of the vehicle. That was his primary concern with the vehicle. Other than that, everything was running really well.

Mark: So what diagnosis and testing did you do to find the problem?

Bernie: So our first step, of course, is a road test to verify the owner's concern, and we could definitely hear some noises coming from the front end. So the next part of the diagnosis is to do a visual inspection, and we hoisted the vehicle, had a look, and found the front left axle U-joint was worn out.

Mark: So what's involved in doing this repair?

Bernie: Basically we have to take the wheel off, the brake rotor comes off, the hub comes out, the hub assembly comes out, which is a fair bit of work, and then the axle shaft could be slid out from there. I could put some pictures up or if we want to have a look. 

2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement

So there's are a nice condition, 2001 Dodge. It's an 18 year old truck at this point, but it almost looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor, at least from this, from this angle here.

The a U-joint, so this is the front axle shaft. Oh by the way, I'll just go back. So yeah. So the axle U joint is in behind this wheel, and it's a four wheel drive, so it goes from the a front differential out to the wheel and allows for flexible coupling out to the wheel. Common on any American four wheel drive pickup truck. They all use this design of a universal joint on the end.

So there's our old axle. You can see a lot of rust in this area, which is a dead giveaway, even when the joints aren't worn as bad as this one. Often when we doing an inspection, we can see a bit a rust seeping out of one of these four corners of U-joint and that's a sure fire sign that the joint is worn.

Going a little further, this is the old joint taken apart. You can see that one half of it is completely rusted out. Inside the cup, there are needle bearings in here. This section here still has some grease in it, and the bearings were in decent shape.

Comparative, that is what the new one looks like. There's quite a quite a profound difference. There's little needle bearings in the joint, and, of course, no rust. And another sort of overall view of the U-joint with the grease nipple. Some of these actually come pre, you fill them pre-greased, and they have a higher strength seal in them, so you don't to lubricate them and some are lubricatable, and it's probably better to have the ones that you lube, because they face a pretty severe environment sometimes with moisture and water. It's down low on the vehicle. It's constantly exposed to rain, and if you actually happen to drive through puddles or streams or something, it's a very exposed component. So greasing them on a regular basis is a good idea, if it is greasable.

Mark: So is this like brakes, where if you do one side to get balanced, you have to do the other side?

Bernie: No, not at all. And this is the type of repair where it really, there's no economic sense to do both at the same time. We can inspect them very well visually. We can see them, and determine whether the joint in fact is this is good or not. And in the case of this vehicle, the one on the right hand side was in fine shape, so we just left it for the time being. You never know when it's going to wear out. It might be a few months down the road, it might be a couple of years, but it doesn't cost anymore to do... there's no cost savings in doing both at the same time, and there's no performance difference in doing it.

Mark: So this truck's, like you said, 18 years old. Is it still worth repairing?

Bernie: Oh yeah. Well, you saw the initial photo of the truck. It's in very good shape, and it's a dually. A dually truck, to me, is kind of a specific use vehicle. It's more like a tool or piece of equipment. There are some people who drive them around all day long, but it's kind of ridiculous. It's just that massive vehicle and the size of it. The thing that's great about a dually is if you're hauling a large trailer, you've got a big camper, it's a very useful vehicle, and being a diesel, and it's a Cummins diesel, they're very reliable. So this is a truck, if you keep it in good shape, it'll still be good 10 years down the road from now, and still worth putting money into. The initial investment to buy one is high, and keeping it in good shape, good state of repair, it's worth it.

Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Dodge Ram in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy. Remember, there are 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and we really appreciate you watching and listening. And thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.

2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection

Mark: Hi, good morning. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, of course, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and of course, we're talking cars! How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning. And actually, we're talking trucks today.

Mark: Ah, trucks, yes! It is truck day. It's official, February 28th's truck day.

Bernie: Yeah, that's right. International truck day.

Mark: We're just making it up. A 2005 Dodge Ram was, had a 3500 diesel, for a comprehensive inspection. What was going on with this heavy-duty, big beastie?

Bernie: Yeah. This vehicle came to our shop for a B service, and part of the B service includes a comprehensive inspection.

Mark: What do you do during a B service?

Bernie: A “B” service basically starts with an oil and filter change, oil filter service, chassis lube, and then the thing that differentiates the A and the B service is the level of inspection. For a B service, we do a thorough, comprehensive inspection where we look at basically all the components of the vehicle, test the batteries, charging system, remove the wheels, inspect the brakes, steering, suspension. It's a full-vehicle mostly visual inspection, but there are some actual test items that we do, as well. But it's a very thorough inspection. The B service is something you want to do probably about once a year on a vehicle, and depending on the car and, of course, how much you drive. That's basically the component. But the big differentiating feature on the B service is the comprehensive inspection.

Mark: Okay. What's so special about your comprehensive inspection?

Bernie: Well, it's awesome that you ask that, because I think what's special about our comprehensive inspections is we're very thorough. We've always done a very thorough inspection, and about almost two years ago, we went to a digital inspection platform, which integrates with our shop management software. It's a fantastic tool that you won't find at a lot of shops.

A lot of good independent auto repair shops use these electronic inspections, but they haven't really gone through the whole industry yet. But what's amazing, and we'll look at some pictures in a minute, of what you get, but where a technician ... actually, in this case, I worked on this vehicle. I can use a tablet or smartphone, go around, capture all the data, take pictures of things, and put it all into the inspection. Then we email or text it to you and you can look at the inspection yourself and go, "Okay, here's what's good, here's what's bad, here's what we recommend." And you can actually see it with your own eyes. A really good way to prove that we're honest in what we say, and you can see what's really going on with your vehicle. 

On that note, let's just get right into looking at the inspection. 

There's our 2005 Dodge Ram truck. A few dents and dings and stuff, this is a well-used vehicle. It used to be a landscaping company vehicle, so they used it well for what they needed to. And onto inspection.

2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection
2005 Dodge 3500 Diesel Comprehensive Inspection

This is what you will get as a client. This is what you'll see. Not with all these exact details, but this, I've actually done some screen captures of some of these, of this inspection. Again, you can see in the green, there's 79 items that we looked at that are okay. And in these 79 items, there's a lot of detail, too. If you look at it, you might add it up, going, "Oh, it's only at 89 point inspection." But there's many more items we look at that are sort of hidden in between.

We'll look at some of those. There's three items with suggested work, and then we have the seven items that have required service. When you get this inspection yourself, you'll be able to press these plus buttons, and expand on what's good and what's not. And for the purpose of this, I just did it screen captures because I wanted to hide the client's name and phone number and so on, and vehicle information.

But you can see, there's obviously a dash warning light, and there's a bulb out warning light. There's a running light that wasn't working, a tail lamp that wasn't working. Those are some of the red items. We can go back, look at a few of the orange items here. There's the parking break, was out of adjustment. And this was actually a concern of the client's, which we took care of.

The front tire wear was a little irregular, but the tread was still at nine millimetres. And balancing the tire, just watching it, would have been a good thing to do. And then, the spare tire had some cracked side walls, very old. It's a spare tire, you know. Again, how important it is, that's up to you as the owner.

What else do we have here? A few other items. Fuel filter ... again, we can recommend, check the maintenance records. Should be replaced. There's a transfer case leak. And here's a photograph. Now, you can click on it to enlarge. In the case of this video here, we can't do that, but there's basically, you can see the fluid leak.

These are the kind of things we can show you on the inspection when we do them. Going over a few other items here. We've got some of the good stuff. You can see, the oil's good, which we changed during the service. All these other fluids were inspected, they're all good. Some other good items, too. We don't just take pictures of stuff that's bad. This is our ... this truck has two batteries, so we actually take, test each battery individually on a comprehensive inspection on a diesel truck. This is actually a photograph of our battery tester, which tells that the findings in the battery, they were both good.

Again, we've got belts, air conditioning, these are some of the other items we look at. What else do we have here? We've got this. Brakes. Again, the brakes, we take measurements of the brakes and the brake rotors. Here's a photograph of the brake measuring gauge with the brake pads, so you can see it's actually in good shape. A larger photo makes it a little easier to read, but that's kind of the gist of it.

I think that's the inspection pretty much ... got to see pretty much the whole thing. That's what makes our inspections so special. You get to see it, you get to see what's good, what's not, and that's it.

Mark: And also, I guess, if you send that to the customer, they have the option of making a choice: do they want to repair something that's not dangerous that could be left for the next service interval, or do it now? Is that right?

Bernie: Exactly. And you get to see it, and we can actually do video with this, as well. We don't do it very often, but you can actually ... say we have a loose or worn ball joint, we can actually take a little video so you can actually see the play in the ball joint.

But, yeah, exactly. It gives options. And I've had a number of people, sometimes we tell people, "Oh, you have an oil leak coming from some spot." Well, I didn't really notice it on the ground, but when you see a picture of it, and you go, "Hey! That is actually serious." It gives you an opportunity to kind of ... if you're so inclined to be more proactive or if your budget's such that you don't have the money to do things, we can still prioritize things. But it just gives you a better picture as a car owner of what's going on with your vehicle.

Mark: And of course, it didn't look like this truck, even at 19 years old, needed a lot of work.

Bernie: No, it was actually pretty good. Is it 19 years old already? Wow. It's getting up there. Yeah, no, it actually was in good shape. And we've serviced-

Mark: 15. I'm sorry. I can't add.

Bernie: Yeah, it's about 15 or 14. But that's still getting up there! The owner of this vehicle, we've serviced this vehicle for quite a few years. We've taken really good care of it. Unfortunately, the engine actually needed to be overhauled a couple of years back, and the fuel injector's replaced. Some serious money's been spent on this truck to keep it in good shape, but there was no worn or loose front end parts, the brakes were in good shape, everything was actually really good other than the parking brake adjustment and a fuel filter replacement, and some worn-out rear tires.

And the transfer case seat, which, again, we note, "Okay, it's leaking. How serious is it?"  Well, just keep an eye on it. If you start getting a drip on the ground, then it's time to, you've got to fix it right away before you run out of fluid.

But, yeah, this truck's in good shape, and it's a testament to good ongoing maintenance. If you do that kind of thing, you end up getting these kind of inspection reports, and we do get a lot of new customers who haven't taken care of their vehicles and this thing will have, you know, 25 red things, and not as many green. You kind of want to keep it in the green.

Mark: There you go! If you want to keep your vehicle in the green, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. For repairs for your diesels or any make and model of used car or truck, or even new vehicles. They offer full-warranty support for your new vehicle, as well. The guys to see, Pawlik Automotive, 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy! Or check out the website,, the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. There's actually 300 plus videos on there. I actually counted them.

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: I was overestimating last week. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie!

Bernie: Thank you, Mark! And thanks for watching! We really appreciate it.

2008 Sprinter 2500-Gear Shifter Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here in beautiful Vancouver, where it's getting cold and rainy finally, had a fantastic October. I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 18-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking vans today. How are you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're talking about a 2008 Sprinter van. Now, I don't know if this is a Dodge or Mercedes because I think this might have even been when they were both as one.

Bernie: Yeah, this one was actually a Dodge, but they're essentially the same vehicle.

Mark: This had a gear shifter replacement. What was going on with the Sprinter van?

Bernie: Actually, the vehicle came to our shop for actually a different issue. Came in for a noise in the engine. We looked at it, diagnosed it, found the alternator was worn out, causing a noise. So we replaced the alternator, successful repair, road tested the vehicle, drove it around a few times, started, stopped, shifted it, and parked the vehicle out back of our shop. When the customer came to pick the vehicle up, started the car, went move it out of park, it's an automatic into drive and the gear shifter was just locked in park. So, that was kind of a surprise because there's nothing that happened before and just suddenly, all of a sudden, this issue occurred.

Mark: Okay. How did you, guys, break it?

Bernie: How did we break it? Well, that's the first question. Of course, for the customer to go, "Hey, what did you do to my van? My van was shifting fine beforehand." For me, I'm always going, "Well, what do we do? I actually do something wrong here." So, I mean, that's the first place I always stand in when something happens because over the years, I've had many cars where someone comes in, they need something to do awesome their battery just dies, like it just won't start the car. It's like, "Well, it's working fine when it came in." These are kind of things that just happened for us and more often than not, to me, I have to explain to the client, "Hey, by the way, this is nothing to do with what we did. But I'm always curious to go, "Hey, could it have been?" So, we looked at it and found, "No, clearly, there wasn't anything related." This van has about 300,000 kilometres. So it's got a lot of mileage on it, so it's old. At that point, anything could go wrong. It just so happened to have died when it was here, which is possibly fortunate because then the owner doesn't take it home an hour later or a day later. "Oh, it won't shift and has to come back." So, whether that's of any comfort or not, it's not usually, but to me, it helps at least saying, "Hey, at least it was here when it happened." So, yeah. 

Mark: And so, what did you find? What was going on?

Bernie: So yeah, from there, of course, we did some tests with a diagnostic scan to see if there's any codes and systems, sure enough, there was related to the gearshift module. And then from there, we did a little research, and testing, and found basically the gearshift module itself packed. It packed it in. So, we'll just go and do a couple of quick photos right now.

2008 Sprinter 2500-Gear Shifter Replacement
2008 Sprinter 2500-Gear Shifter Replacement

There's our 'O8 Sprinter van in good shape considering the amount of mileage. This is the gear shifter unit itself. So when we say shifter module, it's an electronic piece that was defective, which is this piece here but of course, it's not sold separately. There's a number of you can see there's a plug with about, I don't know, eight or 10 pins here. There's another wire that comes off here. There's a lot that goes on in these things surprisingly. Then the gearshift handle, of course, so the whole mechanism is replaced, the cables attached here, and this thing is if you have a Sprinter van, it's going to mounted on the dash. So, takes a bit of work to remove it, reinstall it. What is inside the shifter, of course, is as you move the gear shifter into different speed, you also have the ability to move the shifter. It just goes into drive at the bottom, but you can also manually shift gears at that point, so you move the shifter sideways and, yeah, you manually shift the gears up and down. So that's what adds some of the complexity to the shifter. There's also the interlocking mechanism, of course, that prevents it from unlocking from park.

Mark: So, were there any other items you had to look for or look at while you were diagnosing what exactly the problem was?

Bernie: Well, we work on a lot of Sprinters. This is the first time we run into a shifter issue like this. So, of course, we want to make sure we get the diagnosis right because that part is pretty expensive. We don't want to say, "Hey, replace this piece," and it being the wrong item. With a lot of Mercedes or any more modern vehicles, a lot of these modules, they talk to each other, they need to be programmed to speak to each other. So we did some research on what possible cause shifter problems. And so, came up with a variety of things through various forums and some of the search data, some of the repair information data we have, where you could simply do a flash reprogramming and it would make the module work again. I look at forums just for bits of information, but I find most of the stuff there is, quite frankly, useless. There's so many people, "Oh, your brake light bulb could be burnt out," and this and that happens. These are all things we look at to make sure and those are good things to test, but of course, in this case, what it really came down to there wasn't, let's say, a Technical Service Bulletin from Dodge. But that bulletin was issued almost right after the vehicle is manufactured and I'm thinking, "You know, this vehicle, it's 10 years old, over 10 years old now, 300,000 kilometres, that gear shifter has been moving around a lot." Clearly, the part is just worn out from age. So, some of the tests we did, we verified. It was communicating in some areas but not in others. There's something wrong and broken inside the gearshift module. So that's how we determined it. But just a word of caution, if you're looking on forums, just be careful that you're getting the right advice because there's so much opinion out there that's really not of any value. It's like just falling down a rabbit hole of useless conversation.

Mark: So, how complex is this repair job?

Bernie: Well, I mean, it involves removing some of the dash to take the shifter out and then installing the unit. Fortunately, there's no reprogramming to do. Although, we did have to clear codes and there were some relearn procedures that take place in the vehicle with the communication system. So that's something that takes a bit of time, but there's no reprogramming or reflashing of this module. So that was actually a surprisingly nice thing to find because so often on Mercedes' products, you change any one thing and you have to reprogram that module so it speaks to the other modules. So, that made for a bit of an easier repair.

Mark: You mentioned you worked on lots of Sprinters. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: They're pretty good. Although, of course, a lot of these have the three-litre diesel in them and we talk about the reliability of that particular engine. There's the other with the smaller diesel before the three-litre. I mean, those are pretty good. We don't run into a lot of problems with them and …

Mark: As long as the oil has changed?

Bernie: As long as the oil has changed, of course. I mean, regular maintenance is key, but really, they are pretty good vans, but the three-litre diesel, of course, you can look at our other podcast or you can look around, you'll see all the things that tend to go wrong with them over time. But generally, if you service the vehicle regularly and you use it hard, they're actually pretty good, and they're very practical design. One thing I do like about them is the size and the shape. You can stand up inside and it's a great tradesman's van and for many other things, for a motorhome, too, because a great vehicle overall.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for a service for your Mercedes, Dodge Sprinter van in Vancouver, the guys to see 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 YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there including many on three-litre Mercedes, Dodge diesels as well. Thank you so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.

2005 Dodge Ram 3500, Cummins Diesel Engine Rebuilt

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

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Dodge Ram 3500, 2005; you had to rebuild the Cummins Turbo Diesel on this vehicle, why was that?

Bernie: Well the engine, a couple issues, the engine was leaking some oil on the ground. It was coming out of the breather tube, this thing believe it or not actually has a breather tube that the crankcase, the blow by gas is actually going onto the road which is surprising because for a modern diesel they abandoned those in cars about in the mid-sixties because they’re so toxic but I guess diesels are theoretically not so bad but anyways this had a road draft tube. There was some oil dripping out of there, there’s a lot of, a bit of smoke coming out of there and the exhaust was just extremely smoky. Now we had replaced the fuel injectors a while ago in this vehicle because they were old and worn out, some 220,000 kilometers, kind of the age of, age to replace them but the smoke persisted in fact according to the owner was even a little worse. I would have attributed it that to the fact the injectors we’re not actually delivering enough fuel to the engine and now with the proper amount of fuel being delivered the engine was actually smoking worse which was unfortunate.

Mark: So what tests did you do to get the bottom of this?

Bernie: So we figured there must have been a cylinder problem because the other issue was that engine was running a bit rough, when it was hot the smoke pretty much went away and the engine ran quite smoothly but when it was cold to cool there was a distinct roughness like a misfiring of the engine so there’s some interesting tests we can do and I’ll share a photo here, one of our pretty cool tests. What you’re looking at here, this is actually on a lab skill that we have, it’s a wave form of the starter draw of the engine, so the starter motor turns the engine over and there’s six cylinders in the engine and every time it comes to a compression stroke there’s a, there’s an extra draw of power because it takes extra energy to push the, for the starter motor to push the engine through that cycle so if you look here you can see one hump, two humps, three humps, four humps, five and then where number six is supposed to be its flat. Now that basically indicates that one cylinder is really doing nothing. Now if everything was perfect they should all be six nice even humps but again there’s one missing here so that is the, that’s what was going on with that particular, so that was the first test we did. So we determined one cylinder was bad in compression, from there we did a compression test in the engine; now this is a really involved job, most diesels it takes a lot of work to do a compression test. In the case of the one we had to remove all the fuel injectors to install a compression tester and what we found this one cylinder had about 50 pounds of compression which is extremely low and all the others had 450 which is really healthy which explains again why the engine ran like a 5 cylinder, so from there we, from there we did a leak down test. Now a leak down test we blow air into the cylinder, number one cylinder that had the bad compression and with the cylinder top dead centre we can determine is it a valve problem, is it a piston ring or a piston problem and they’re only by the amount of air escaping, if there’s a lot of air escaping it was all going down through the piston rings, through the pistons so we knew we had to remove the head and investigate further; so the problems basically a piston ring problem not a valve problem.

Mark: So that sounds pretty severe, what else was damaged, was anything else damaged?

Bernie: Really when we took the engine out, we took it apart, uh basically what we found is that we when we took number one cylinder piston out there’s two compression rings on the engine, on the piston and they were both broken, they were actually broken into pieces, they all came out in eight different pieces and the other cylinders we took out, two of them had broken top compression rings so even though the compression was good they were definitely on their way out; also the cylinder wall had some pretty bad damage especially number one cylinder because the broken rings it causes a strange wear pattern in the cylinder so it required reboring the cylinder, makes for the engine block fitting with new pistons. I can share some photos, we’ve got lots of interesting things to look at here, so let’s have a look at some pictures. So here’s our, you can see this o.k. Mark?

Mark: Yep

Bernie: So we’re looking at this is the piston from number one cylinder, that, where the right here that’s where the number one, the top compression ring sits and this is where the lower compression ring sits. This bottom ring is the oil control ring which just basically prevents too much oil from, wipes the oil off the cylinder so you don’t get a lot of oil burning but basically these rings are both broken, you can see a lot of black carbon deposits along here, I mean this shouldn’t look like this. One of the cylinders that wasn’t, had good rings it had very little carbon deposits certainly none, it’s o.k. to have it above here because that’s normal but anything below that it’s you know, abnormal so that’s our, this is our bad piston, few other pictures of the engine just to go over some stuff. These are the timing gears so this is the crankshaft gear, the camshaft gear, the gear that drives the high pressure fuel pump and then the oil engine pump gears, really heavy duty stuff, I mean these are straight cuts just really solid big gears, you know it’s a Cummins diesel, this is kind of what you expect in this engine. This stuff is kind of bullet proof, not much can go wrong with it. A couple other interesting things, here’s, here’s our new piston with the, with the rings in place, you can see how clean and shiny it is, there’s the upper ring, the lower ring and the oil control ring, the uh and what else have we got to look at here that’s interesting. The other thing interesting on these engines is the connecting rods, usually it’s a fractured connecting rod instead of cutting these nice and smooth when they make the connecting rod it’s a big round circle basically, instead that bolts together, instead of cutting it and machining it they actually have a cool way of actually stress fracturing and cracking it and makes for a very precise fit and very solid structure so its commonly used in a lot of engines nowadays especially if its diesel, so if you look at it you can see the ripply lines there, it can only ever be fitted one way you can never mix them up, so uh yeah, so that’s basically a few photos from the engine, just going to get out of here so I can see myself again. I’m back.

Mark: So did you do any other engine repairs?

Bernie: Basically all the bearing were in pretty good shape and the connecting rod and the main bearings were in good shape, we replaced them anyways while you’re in there, you got to take them all out anyways, it’s not a lot of extra, you know it’s an extra couple hundred dollars to make sure that nothing’s going to wear in the future but everything was in good shape so basically the block was bored, a new piston, the only thing we did was we had the cylinder head redone. What can happen on these engines is the valve seats can suddenly drop out of the valves which causes the valve to jam open and the piston can hit the valve and can cause catastrophic engine damage so we’ve never seen that happen but apparently, it’s, it’s somewhat common so, so we had the head done at the same time even though technically we could have bolted the head back on and the engine would run fine but you just never know when, when that failure might occur so it makes sense to do it now.

Mark: Sure, renew the whole motor.

Bernie: Sorry?

Mark: Renew the whole engine.

Bernie: Yeah, basically it’s a complete engine rebuild; the cam shaft was in great shape, the tappits, those are other things that can wear, the rocker arm, those are all in fantastic shape so with the new injectors this will be basically a brand new, a brand new engine.

Mark: So we haven’t talked about engine repairs in these truck very much; people have the impression they’re bullet proof.

Bernie: Yeah, you know we rarely get any engine work on these engines, there’s really not a lot that goes wrong with them, they are really well built and I’m not really sure what, what happened with this engine, why, why it occurred like this. The owner’s you know, very big on maintenance, you know it’s not like its chipped or any high performance modifications, I mean those kinds of things will really can shorten the life of the diesel pretty quickly when you over boost the turbo or you know, hauling super heavy loads up a hill, you can see some of the burnt pistons from you know trying to fly up the hill with a heavy trailer on the back and an over boost to the turbo so you’ve got to be careful with it but with good maintenance it’s kind of surprising and they’re generally bullet proof but like anything they do have their problems.

Mark: Any guesses why it failed?

Bernie: Not really, you know I, yeah, really not certain, you know and it could be that the owner wasn’t the original owner so it could be that the previous owner you know, in its early days may not have maintained the truck as well as they should have, they may not have changed the oil often enough that caused enough wear in the engine early on that you know, contributed to damage. It’s hard to say and sometimes you know it’s like human health, I mean you can, you can do all the right things, you can eat good food, you can exercise properly, you can still drop dead of a heart attack at 40 and other people live a crappy life and live to a hundred and same with cars, I mean you get somewhere people maintain them badly they last forever and others where you know, you just miss a couple oil changes and it takes a good engine out or even its maintained well, something happens anyway, so.

Mark: If you’re looking for service for your diesel in Vancouver, diesel car or truck these are the guys to go see Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, they’re 17 times voted best auto repair in Vancouver, give them a call 604-327-7112, you have to book ahead, they’re always busy or check out their website Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Dodge Ram Truck Brakes

Dodge Truck Brakes

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing well.

Mark: So you guys have just won again - Best Auto Repair in Vancouver for the sixteenth time, that must feel pretty good.

Bernie: It is awesome, it’s a great honour.

Mark: And that’s from your customers voting?

Bernie: It is

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about Dodge Ram truck brakes. So what’s unique about Dodge Ram brakes?

Bernie: Dodge Ram truck brakes are pretty much the same as any brake system you’ll find in any vehicle, other than being in a truck, they’re large. Typically these days Dodge Ram trucks have four wheel disc brakes. In the past, they’d use a drum brake on the rear and a disc brake on the front. There is a variety of different brake sizes that you’ll find on a Dodge Ram truck whether it’s a 1500 1/2 ton, those will have smaller brakes whereas a 2500 3/4 ton or a 3500 1-ton will have larger brakes.

Mark: What goes wrong with Dodge Ram brakes?

Bernie: That’s typical like most vehicles, the pads wear out and the rotors wear as well as the pads. If it’s a drum brake, of course there are brake shoes that will wear out, wheel cylinders will leak and the drums wear. There are further things that happen, as the vehicle gets older: the calipers will wear out, the calipers will stick or seize up and brake hoses wear out.

Mark: So what’s the typical life span of these typical big truck brakes?

Bernie: That really varies. That’s an excellent question because it depends on how you’re using your vehicle and what you’re using is for. So for example, if you have a 1500 Series truck and you’re really loading it down fully, maxed out and maybe a little bit overloaded, your brakes won’t last very long. Whereas, if you have a one ton and you and never put anything in it or haul anything, the brakes could last a long time, a 100,000 km or more. It really depends on the load and what you’re carrying in the vehicle. It also depends on where you are driving, if you’re just driving around in the city that’s one thing, but if you’re driving in very hilly terrain the brakes will wear faster. If you’re driving off-road you’ve got dust and dirt and mud that will get into the brakes and wear them faster as well.

Mark: So any suggestions for maximizing the life of your brakes and keeping the cost down?

Bernie: Well first of all, with a truck it’s important to have the right load capacity for the work you’re doing, so if it’s a work truck, you don’t buy a half ton truck and haul around 2000 pounds of material day in and day out. Other than that the key to maximizing brake life is to pump the brakes and this is true in all cars. Have the brakes inspected every year. It's the most important thing, to see how they’re wearing. If there’s anything wearing abnormally get it fixed right away, that’ll keep your costs down.

Dodge Truck Brakes

2008 Dodge Ram 3500 front brake

Mark: So basically maintenance will help you repair the little things before the big things get impacted, is that right?

Bernie: Exactly. It’s much cheaper to fix brakes before they start making horrible grinding noises and they’re worn metal on metal. If you drive it for awhile, it’ll definitely cost you more money to do that. So better to fix them before that happens. It's also safer too.

Mark: So if you want safe brakes, reliable brakes, less expensive brakes, give Pawlik Automotive a call 604-327-7112. You have to book an appointment folks, they’re busy or check out their website in Vancouver. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

1998 Dodge Ram 2500 – A/C Evaporator

Dodge Ram

Our latest featured service is A/C Evaporator replacement on a 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup truck; brought to us by a client from Yaletown, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram

1998 Dodge Ram 2500. This almost 18 year old truck has 350,000 kilometers and runs and drives like new.

A/C system failures usually fall into one of three camps: electrical, mechanical or leaks. The latter is by far the most common. On a vehicle air conditioning system there are many places to leak: numerous seals where hoses connect components; the hoses themselves; the condenser which is located in front of the radiator; the compressor, a belt driven unit mounted on the engine; the accumulator or dryer; and finally the evaporator.

The evaporator is the unit in the A/C system that delivers the cold air inside your cabin. It is among the most expensive parts to replace during an air conditioning repair due to its location: buried under the dash and inside the A/C /heater box. It is also difficult to leak test due to its hidden location.

Diagnosing an automotive air conditioning concern is a systematic procedure. First tests are to determine whether the electrical side is functioning correctly and second is to determine whether there is refrigerant in the system.

If there is little or no refrigerant there is a leak. Several methods of leak detection can be used and we usually employ them all. First is a visual inspection. Second is to add nitrogen gas under high pressure. Third is to add UV dye, partially charge the system and run it until a leak is found. A leak may be apparent after 5 minutes or may take several months (which of course requires an inspection after the car has been driven for a while). Fourth is to utilize an electronic leak detector, a sort of ‘refrigerant sniffer.’

Our featured Dodge truck required several methods. UV dye was already installed and we found very small leaks at the condenser and the hose seals to the compressor. We filled the system with nitrogen gas and that’s where we discovered a big leak: there was a large hiss coming from the evaporator core and pressure was dropping rapidly.

Most evaporator leaks are not this easy to find. They usually seep a tiny amount of refrigerant in their hidden chamber, out of sight and detection. The large, obvious leak on this 1998 Dodge Ram was most fortunate from a diagnostic perspective.

Repairs involved replacing the evaporator, condenser and hose seals at the compressor. We also replaced the accumulator as it functions as a filter for the A/C system and should be done anytime a leak of this magnitude is present.

Interesting, this truck had 350,000 kilometers on the clock and was in exceptionally good condition. It stands as a testament to the longevity of a well maintained vehicle.

For more about A/C system operation click this link

For more about the Dodge Ram pickup click on this link

Dodge Ram

Evaporator core from our Dodge Truck. The green stain in the left lower corner is oil with UV dye from the large leak. The debris on the right side is deposited inside the heater/A/C box over time.

Call Pawlik Automotive For Your Next Service - (604) 327-7112

Pawlik Automotive is a 14 time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, BC - as voted by our customers!

Dodge Trucks – How Are They?

Dodge Diesel Pickup

Dodge Trucks with the owner of 12 time winner of “Best in Vancouver for auto repair” Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Good Morning, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, 12 times winning Best Auto Repair in Vancouver – voted by their clients – Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent.

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about Dodge trucks and I know your shop is becoming a bit famous for the work you do on Dodge diesels. They have a big range of trucks and vans etc – how are Dodge’s?

Bernie: They’re good. But like every make and model of car and light truck, they’ve got their strengths and weaknesses. For this hangout, any comparisons I make are going to be between the American trucks – the Ford’s, the Chevy’s, GM’s and Dodge’s and we’re going to start the discussion around the full size pickup trucks.

Mark: What are the strengths of the full size Dodge pickups?

Bernie: Well, in the strength department, I have to say, their engines have always been good and for as long as I can remember, and as long as I’ve been working on trucks they’ve had great engines. The gas engines have been good, the 225 Slant 6 was kind of a gutless engine but was very hard to kill, a very legendary engine. The 318 V8 was used for a long time, was almost as reliable – the larger V8’s were equally as good. The newer trucks are good, however some of the engines are good, but some are a bit problematic – like the 3.7 later and 4.7 litre V engines – they have an overhead cam engine – they do have a few problems than some of the others – valve seats fall out and if you don’t maintain them properly, there’s timing chain problems to be had – so there are issues with those and they’re very expensive to fix.

Diesels. This is where I think Dodge really has the edge. The Cummins diesel is a legendary engine, superbly reliable. There are a few factors that I think make Cummins a great engine. The Cummins diesel engine is found in industrial engines and trucks and it’s interesting when you look at a Cummins engine in a Kenworth or a huge mining truck or a Dodge pickup truck – the engines all look exactly the same except for their size – they just scale them up or down. To me, it’s a winning combination. It’s a well thought out design. It’s meant to be fixed and repaired, when it needs to be done which is not very often. They’re a lot simpler than the V8 offerings of the GM and the Ford, by the virtue that they have 2 less cylinders and yet they are the same size engine, so there’s a couple less things to go wrong. When fuel injectors cost $400 each – having to replace 2 less injectors can save an awful lot of money. If you’re looking for a reliable diesel, I would absolutely recommend Dodge, I think they’re definitely the way to go. Much less problems that the others.

Mark: OK, that’s a pretty winning endorsement, but you also mentioned some weaknesses.

Bernie: Yeah, there are definitely a few. One thing we noticed with a lot of modern Dodge trucks, steering linkages and ball joints wear out, tie rod ends. We’ve had many Dodge Ram 2500/3500 pickup trucks where all the front end parts are loose and worn out and a lot of time before 400,000 km. I think that’s too soon and it really should last longer than that – and the 1500 series also suffers some issues – the half ton trucks. One thing I have to say about the drive trains and suspensions in Dodge trucks built in the last 15 years seem a lot tougher. But in the past, I always got the impression that Dodge trucks weren’t built quite as heavy as Ford’s or GM’s – they just seemed a little wimpier – if I can use that word.

Mark: So is that some of the other areas of weakness?

Bernie: The other area, a lot of people say, is the automatic transmissions in Dodge trucks are weak, and I say it like apparently people say this, because we’ve actually not run into any, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, maybe no one has brought one by our shop. But we do see a lot of Cummins Dodge diesel trucks with standard transmissions a lot more than Chevy or Ford and I’m not sure why. They have a bad reputation for automatics so people go with standards. But if you’re looking for standard equipped Dodge truck, they seem to be much more available.

Mark: So speaking of transmissions, then we’ll switch into Caravans, that’s another sort of Dodge truck. The Dodge Caravan is legendary for bad transmissions.

Bernie: They certainly are and we’ve seen an awful lot of them and by the same token, I’ve seen people with Dodge Caravans that have had 200,000/3000,000 km and never had a transmission problem. It does happen much more frequently in most of those vans, but they’re not all guaranteed to have a transmission problem. But today I’m talking more about work truck, pickup trucks, you know the trucks that people use to haul their RV trailers. t’s interesting, a lot of manufacturers, they call their vehicles trucks and I don’t know if I’d call a Caravan a truck – it’s like a Honda Odyssey mini van is part of Honda’s truck lineup. But really to me, it’s more like a big car than a truck. But definitely Caravans have their transmission problems for sure.

Mark: So what about Jeeps?

Bernie: I haven’t really touched on Jeeps. Jeeps are owned by Chrysler and they do share a lot of the similar drivetrain components to Dodge trucks. But there are a lot of issues and we can do a separate hangout on Jeeps because there’s lots of material to discuss with Jeeps. We do a lot of them and have a lot of good and bad things to say about them.

Mark: And Dodge Vans?

Bernie: Dodge vans are awesome. They’ve had for years, between the ’70’s to the ’90’s, they had their Tradesman line of vans that were very popular and especially the Dodge Maxi van. It was the only big van offered, it was like 2-3 feet longer than a Ford or Chevy van, so they were quite popular. Good vans but I rarely ever see one on the road any more, they all seem to have moved on to the scrap yard. When Mercedes bought Chrysler, these vans were discontinued and they offered the Sprinter and I think they are, in my eyes, a brilliant van. They’re offered in various configurations from smaller to large, quite large and extended height; they’ve got some with dual wheels, some with half tons some are 3/4, one ton – so they come in a large variety for whatever uses you want to make of them. Most of them are equipped with a Mercedes diesel engine and it’s a good reliable drivetrain. On the downside, because it’s a Mercedes drivetrain engine the diagnostic and repair work is much more exclusive so not every shop can do them. We can, by the way, we’ve got all the equipment to do them but there’s a lot of shops that can’t, we’ve got a lot of extra equipment to be able to do so.

Since the divorce, if we can say, between Mercedes and Chrysler, the Sprinters are no longer sold through Chrysler so if you’re really set on a Sprinter you have to buy a Mercedes Sprinter. But Dodge now has a line of vans; the Pro Master and again, they come in a variety of sizes, there’s gas and diesel options, and I can’t really say much about them because I’ve never seen one in our shop because they’re fairly new but I know one day we will.

Mark: So any last thoughts about Dodge trucks?

Bernie: I think overall they’re great trucks. The Cummins diesel, in my opinion, is the best offering from the big three American manufacturers for diesel trucks which are an incredibly popular market. The gas engine trucks are good. I haven’t really talked much about Dakota’s – Durango’s as a medium sized trucks – these are reasonable trucks. We’ve seen some and once they get older they do tend to have a lot of problems. Things wear out – like they do in other cars but this seems like worse than others perhaps. The other thought about Dodge is they are typically cheaper than their Japanese counterparts especially if you think about the Caravan, for instance, you can often buy a Caravan for $20,000. They have a some what bad reputation for things wearing out but if you take the equivalent Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, they can often be $10,000-$15,000 more. So if you sit down and do the math and figure out hey, if I buy this Caravan for $20,000 am I going to spend an extra $10,000 on repairs over the next 10 years and you might find that it’s more worthwhile to just buy the Caravan instead of spending the extra money on the Toyota unless you really set on it. Those are the kind of things that it’s important to put down on paper and look at. I know I’m steering away from the Dodge truck but for any vehicle if you have any questions about them or whether is this the right vehicle to buy, please call us because I love talking to people about these sorts of things and helping make a proper decision. And thats my thoughts on Dodge’s

Mark: Awesome. So thank you Bernie – and again folks, these are the guys to call if you’re looking for maintenance for your vehicle – they specialize in getting your vehicle right and keeping it right for the long haul saving you a ton of money. Give them a call at 604-327-7112 or go to their amazing website Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark – talk again soon

Mark: Bye

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel – Clutch Replacement

Dodge Ram 3500

Our latest post is clutch replacement on a 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel pickup, brought to us by a client from Kensington/Cedar Cottage, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram 3500

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 – A rough and ready work truck


The 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 is a tough truck featuring a Cummins Diesel, 4 wheel drive, a tough 1 Ton drivetrain and a 6 Speed manual transmission. Dodge must have sold a lot of these trucks with standard transmissions because we service many of them at our shop. The ratio of Dodge trucks with standards to automatics is much higher than Ford and Chevy’s diesel trucks.

A tough truck needs a tough drivetrain and this vehicle fits the bill. The transmission in this vehicle is a Mercedes unit. The clutch uses a dual mass flywheel which can make this repair job very expensive. Clutch repairs on a dual mass flywheeled vehicle require the flywheel to be replaced and this often adds a thousand dollars or more to the repair costs. The dual mass flywheel has damper springs and moving parts that wear out in sync with the clutch disc and pressure plate.

Dodge Ram 3500

The massive transmission and Transmission and transfer case assembly removed from the truck to access the clutch

Fortunately there are alternatives: for most vehicles, clutch kits that include a solid flywheel and redesigned clutch assembly are readily available. These are substantially cheaper than replacing the dual mass flywheel.

Now you might wonder why dual mass flywheels are used in the first place. The biggest reason is that they reduce vibrations when engaging and disengaging the clutch. It makes the whole operation smoother. That is certainly most welcome on a diesel which is rough and shaky. They are also found in many high end sports cars and surprisingly also in economy cars such as the Nissan Versa.

For most clutch replacements with dual mass flywheels we opt for the solid flywheel replacement as most of our clients appreciate the reduced repair costs. Is there a disadvantage? None that we’ve noticed and we’ve done them on everything from big tough diesel Dodges to fast and sporty supercharged Mini Coopers.

While this Dodge needed the complete clutch the main component failure was the release bearing which broke apart. The truck was towed in but fortunately we were able to drive it into the service bay for replacement. One thing about big tough trucks is that they are no fun to push!

For more about Dodge Ram 3500 Trucks click on this link

For a video that explains dual mass flywheels click on this link

Dodge Ram 3500

The arrow points to what’s left of the clutch release bearing. This is only the inner section that slides on the collar. All the ball bearings have disintegrated and the outer section has come off.


Dodge Ram 3500

New release bearing installed

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