Lexus - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC


Category Archives for "Lexus"

2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement

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

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim 2005 Lexus GX470. There was a timing belt replacement for this huge SUV. What was going on with this? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle was basically due for timing belt replacement. The owner brought the vehicle in. So we proceeded to do that. 

Mark: Was there any kind of indication that there was something wrong with the belt? 

Bernie: No, nothing wrong with it actually, just wanted to do it based on the time of the vehicle, the odometer at about 91,000 kilometres on it.

So it was not actually due by mileage yet, but you know, certainly by time this vehicle is now 16 years old, in great shape by the way, it's very low mileage for a vehicle like this. But yeah, it was time to do the belt from point of view of preventing anything from breaking.

Mark: What's the replacement interval for timing belts on this particular vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so on this vehicle, it's about 90,000 miles. For some reason my kilometre calculator isn't working right now, but I think that's somewhere in a 150,000 kilometres, somewhere around there, 150, 160. So you know, it's due around that. These are really robust belts. And so they will generally last quite a lot longer than the service interval, but I wouldn't recommend you do it because if it breaks, I'm not giving any advice here to leave it longer. I think it's always should be replaced, but they're just much more reliable timing belts in the, I mean, I'm working on cars for a long time.

They used to be these skinny little belts that had square teeth. And they evolved into curved tooth belts with that they're much wider. You can actually look at a couple of pictures right now and it kind of gives you an idea of what the belt looks like. 

2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement
2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement
2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement
2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement
2005 Lexus GX470 – Timing Belt Replacement

 So there's a view of the front of the engine. This is actually the new timing belt installed. I didn't take pictures all the way through the process, but this is one of the cam shaft covers back on. This is the cover removed on this side. So you can see the belt in here, but it's quite a wide belt, well over an inch wide. 

And as I was saying, like in the olden days, they were much thinner and they never lasted as long, but manufacturers got smart. They made them more reliable, with less frequent replacement. 

Mark: Is this a V6 or a V8? 

Bernie: It's a V8. very good reliable engine. I don't normally say too many bad things about Toyota's they eventually they'll well, it's a Lexus, but still a Toyota. Here's another closeup view. This is the variable valve timing actuator.

And there's the belt. You can see the belt kind of in there. As I said, these are with all the covers installed, but power steering pump is kind of loose here. You can see it's kind of sitting on an angle. So things are not fully back together, but at least it gives a view of the engine compartment.

Mark: What else did you replace with the timing belt? 

Bernie: Well, the water pump for one. This is a view of the water pump. We also changed the tensioners and most of the time we change the front engine oil seals as well because they tend to leak and cause problems. But we don't on all vehicles nowadays.

It used to be a one-time. By the time your timing belt was worn out. Your oil seals were usually leaking oil, but again manufacturers make them out of much better materials. So they tend to be very durable. Sometimes lasting I don't want to say the life of the car, whatever that is, but they may last for decades without failing.

Whereas in the olden days of seals, sometimes we'd take them out and they'd be hard as hockey pucks. They'd be leaking oil all over the place. Anyways, the water pump was one item we replaced. This is a weep hole. This prevents coolant from actually running onto the timing belt.

It goes through a passageway and can run out, but you can see this festering of pink here, there's cooling that's been leaking. Not at any large rate, but some coolant has leaked and with this kind of mileage, I mean, not doing the water pump is kind of a crazy thing, because it will fail for sure over the next while.

And then you have to take everything back apart again. And it's driven by the timing belt, so if it seizes up, the bearing fails, it seizes up, then it'll damage the timing belt. And that's definitely a something we don't want to do.

Mark: So this was another issue. Was there any other issues? 

Bernie: Yeah, so I was going to say you know, like the water pump, to us it's a standard job. Timing belt, oil seals to a certain degree. The tensioners as well, there are tensioners that have bearings that rub against the timing belt, idler pulleys, tensioners, those all get changed at the same time.

The only other thing we ran into is the radiator was starting to leak. And we replaced that as well, which is a little bit of extra work on top of the timing belt, but not a lot since we had covers and things, parts removed already. It's a little more accessible, but you can't see it so much here, but there was leakage at both tank scenes. 

And you know, this is the original rad, so really good life out of this radiator. We've got a closer up view of the leak. You can see, again, this sort of pink festering. This vehicle uses, if you can't guess by the colour, uses pink coloured antifreeze, something Toyota's used for quite a long time.

And you know, these are plastic tank radiators with aluminum cores, and they crimp these together. At one time, radiator shops would actually replace these. We could actually get these recored, but that's long gone. You know, radiators are all sold new now. When they were out, we just buy new ones.

That's the beauty of Chinese manufacturing it's made the price very inexpensive for a complete radiator. Whereas at one time it used to be very expensive. So this wasn't a major leak, could have been left, but at some point it's going to get a whole lot worse and why not do it now while you have it apart and then you won't have to deal with it again for a decade.

Mark: So how are these Lexus SUV's for reliability? 

Bernie: Oh super good. You know, there's not a lot that goes wrong with them until they get quite a bit on an age. I would think that this may well be the first major amount of money that the owner spent in this vehicle. And that's pretty good for a 15 year old vehicle.

I mean, they are complicated. There's a lot of fancy features to them. Some of them have electronic suspensions, so when things do go wrong, they are expensive to fix them and they will eventually wear out. But I just find on these that they just have a much longer life span and you generally pay a lot more for, you know, there was a time I was kind of hunting around for compact SUV. Looking at a European versus like a Lexus. And a Lexus, they're are a lot more money because people know that they're more reliable. 

Things like BMWs and Mercedes, they depreciate much faster because there are more problems with them. So you can buy the vehicle for cheaper. You'll just spend more money fixing it. You have to kind of do the math. Maybe it's better to buy the German vehicle over the Japanese, but you know, it all depends, but at anyways, very reliable. 

Mark: And the North American manufacturers aren't even in the running?

Bernie: Well, I guess when I'm thinking about Ford Explorers, what else would we have? Dodges? There's some Chrysler products. You know, there's some GMs that are good, you know, I dunno. I just for some reason, just compare the Japanese to the German. I think they're kind of the extremes and the Americans kind of fit in the middle. But yeah definitely if you want to buy a long-term good reliable vehicle, the Lexus is a great way to go. 

Mark: If you need some service for your Lexus or Toyota product, or any Japanese made vehicle in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604)327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Or you can book online They'll get back to you. They'll get the details. They'll make sure they're ready when you show up. Also check out our YouTube channel, hundreds of videos, many hundreds we've done this for 10 years. All makes models, types of vehicles, all types of repairs. And of course, we really appreciate you watching and listening. Thank you. Thank you, Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. It's always a pleasure.

2013 Lexus RX350, B Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So, today's victim is a 2013 Lexus RX, three 50 that had, was in for service. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle came to our shop for a B service. The B service is an oil and filter change and then a full vehicle inspection. So we go over the vehicle from front to back, a visual inspection. Look at the brakes, remove the wheels, rotate tires as necessary.

Few little things like lube door locks, hinges and latches. When we test the battery and charging system, look at all the lights, the wipers, underneath the vehicle for fluid leaks, inspecting the fluids, steering suspension, a thorough inspection of that area.

So a really good thorough look over the car. And that's basically the B service. So that's what this car came in for. 

Mark: So when you guys are doing this, you're just not just willy nilly going oh, well, let's have a quick look see, what's going on. You follow a process. 

Bernie: We have a very regimented routine, a digital inspection that we send out to our clients. And, I know you and I have talked about that in our previous podcasts. There's information out there on our channel that shows what's involved in the inspection. But yeah, no, it's not willy nilly. I can't say, there's a it's 150 point inspection because it varies from car to car, what we look at. But I kind of went over the main things. 

But what you'll get out of doing this inspection is a really full snapshot of what your vehicle needs, you know, at this moment in time, services that are due now, services that are going to be needed in the future. You know, at least into the one year future of the vehicle and whether it's safe, you know, if there's any major safety concerns, we can deal with them now. If they're a, you know, something that can be deferred, like say the brakes fr are four millimetres. Now we can do them today or you can, you get a couple more months of driving out of them. So it really depends on what you need. 

Mark: And so what kind of concerns, if any, did you find on this Lexus? 

Bernie: You know, surprisingly very little, well maybe not surprising because it's a Toyota product, but very little, actually, other than a couple of dirty filters and some slightly worn control arm bushings and some fluids that were dirty. But what was really interesting about this vehicle is this vehicle has 408,000 kilometres on it. And I'm going to just share the pictures because I think this is just so amazing. If you look at this, that vehicle 408,000 kilometres, in miles, I guess that's probably a 250,000 miles.

2013 Lexus RX350, B Service
2013 Lexus RX350, B Service
2013 Lexus RX350, B Service
2013 Lexus RX350, B Service

I mean, a lot of people start getting squeamish when their vehicle hits a hundred thousand kilometres. And, this has got four times that much. I'll say that it does drive still like a brand new car. It is only seven years old. So it's not that old, but it drives like a brand new car. The only issue with it is the engine has a slight bit of a clacky sound to it that kind of develops in Toyota's as they start to get older. But it's subtle. It's not really worth doing anything about, you'd probably have to replace the engine to get rid of it and it wouldn't really be worth it because it still runs perfectly well otherwise. That is the vehicle.

Just to verify it's true, yeah there's the odometer for 408,756 KMS. So pretty shocking really when you get into it, and to me, this is like, you know, the product of good maintenance and, and a well-built car to start. 

So looking at a couple of issues. This is the only sort of repair item that I recommended and not even a strong recommendation. I mean, this is still something that'll last at least in another year or more. 

The control arm bushings are starting to tear, you know, the rubber starting to wear out. But, really, even then, this is not that bad. It's still got lots of life, you can see it's, you know, the vehicle has a bit of rust. It's been driven a lot, you know, 408 Ks it's seen some places, it's been driven a lot. 

This is the other thing that just absolutely blows my mind. So this is, basically lying on the ground, looking vehicles on the hoist looking up. This is the bottom of the engine compartment. So this is the engine oil pan over here. Transmission pan here. This is the differential and transfer case unit for the four wheel drive because it is an all wheel drive vehicle. There is not a drop of oil, fluid, not even a weep of oil coming out of this engine. There's no coolant, no fluid leaks. Again, 410,000 kilometres. It's just absolutely astounding engineering.

Mark: So that's what you found that was of interest and a bit of a surprise perhaps, but do you see any other vehicles with that kind of mileage that need no work? 

Bernie: Very rarely. Very rarely. I keep thinking, you know, I own a BMW X3 with a quarter of the mileage, this vehicle has, I've already replaced the engine oil pan gasket, which is a horrific job. The water pumps failed and that's not just mine, I mean like every BMW  is like that. Mercedes again, oil leaks. English car like Jags, Land Rovers, I mean, they'll all develop some sort of issues. It's amazing, you know, for this kind of mileage, really, really, not typical of most cars out there. I mean, you know, you'll get a few. 

I mean, the one good thing this car does have going for it is that it isn't that old, you know, it was a 20 year old car with 408,000 k's that'd be a different, it would definitely be feeling its age a lot more, but because it's been driven so much, kept warm, it's obviously the engine has been warm and the whole drive train, it's definitely in better shape. So time is a good factor on this one, but still nonetheless, compared to a lot of other vehicles on the road, you just won't find this. And I've seen other Toyotas, you know, Corollas, you know, where I look underneath, again, 250,000 kilometres, not a drip of oil. It's pretty amazing. 

Mark: So Lexus is the high end brand of Toyota. Lexus and Toyota, same company, essentially. So have they always been this sort of trouble free if maintained? 

 Bernie: You know what, they haven't always been. They've always been, I think on the more reliable edge of cars, but I think about, you know, there's been certain model years where they've had head gasket problems and other issues.

So, you know, one thing that is sort of, that we've seen over the last decade or more, a lot of Toyotas tend to have leaking water pumps. That's sort of one of their major failure items. It's not really that expensive to fix. But over the years, I mean, I've been working on Toyota's for a long time. There's certain models of  head gasket problems, or certain other issues, but, they just keep getting more and more reliable. Like generally the whole automotive industry, engines are just way more reliable for the most part in the cars than they used to be. So I think you know, they're certainly, you can see why they're a notch above them.

And, you know, when I was thinking about comparing this BMW that I have, I mean, it's similar, an X3, is kind of a similar kind of car to Alexis RX 350, but the RX350's tend to be a lot more money than the BMWs. You know, for reasons that things, people know things don't go wrong. So they tend to hold their value a lot better.

So the BMW's tend to make a cheaper used car to buy, but I don't know, over the long run. I still sometimes weigh the math out as to which is a better way to go. But if you don't want to be in the shop, you know, fixing stuff, then the Toyota is the way to go. 

So there you go. If you need some service for your Lexus or Toyota in Vancouver, the guys to see Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. They're very popular. People like what they provide, they are reliable just like Lexus and Toyotas are. Or check out the website hundreds of articles, videos, all makes and models and types of repairs. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel. Same thing, hundreds. Check it out or leave us a review of where are you picking up the podcast. Thank you for listening. And thanks Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, podcast and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, and 20 time winners of best automotive repair in Vancouver and we're talking cars. How are you, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: 2008 Lexus IS250 is this week's victim. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop. The engine had an overheating concern and a couple of other issues, but the overheating issue was kind of the main issue, which is important. You don't want to overheat your engine, especially in a car like this, that's for sure.

Mark: What did you find was the cause?

Bernie: We did some diagnostic and testing and found that the major cause of the overheating was the water pump. It was leaking pretty badly, so the vehicle had lost a lot of coolant.

Mark: What sort of a job is replacing the water pump on a Lexus, on this Lexus?

Bernie: On this Lexus, yeah, it's a fair bit of work. The pump is pretty buried. Let's just get right into the picture show portion. Okay. So, here we go. So there's our IS250, decent shape for a now eleven-year-old car. So when you open the hood of this car, this is what you see. This is typical of Lexus for the last decade or more. They tend to cover everything in plastic covers. Not just the engine but the sides of the engine compartment. There's all these little clips that, frustratingly, tend to break. We keep them in stock because they tend to need to be replaced. We can see there's plastic covers and clips everywhere.

2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement
2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement
2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement
2008 Lexus IS250 Water Pump Replacement

The water pump is located down in this area here, and with the cover removed, this is what you get to see. So that's your V6 2.5 litre engine.

Mark: So this is a rear-wheel drive, kind of normally mounted engine.

Bernie: Exactly. It's a longitudinally mounted engine. It's got a fan on the front. The water pump is located down under this area, so if you say what kind of a job is it, well, you can't even see the pump, so usually when you can't see it, there's lot that needs to be removed just to access the pump. It's a fair bit of labour to change the pump on this vehicle, and you know what? I comment a lot about these plastic covers hiding everything, but this is a pretty complicated, I wouldn't say mess, of things to look at.

It's kind of neat, but you can see from a show-and-sales point of view why they probably put a cover over top, because it just looks a little more attractive, especially when there's no dust and dirt on it, when it's clean.

Here's a view of the water pump so again, a pretty straightforward type of water pump, but it's got a lot of bolts. It takes up a fair bit of real estate on the front of the engine, thermostat housing bolts in here, and there's the water pump pulley. The impeller is located in behind. There's a lot of housing for the amount of actual pump area.

Mark: Anything else unique about this water pump replacement?

Bernie: Well, I mean, other than it bolts in and bolts out, there's a lot of things to remove and reinstall. The other interesting thing about this replacement is the water pump gasket. Now, this is actually a really complicated gasket. It's a multi layer steel gasket. I've just sort of photographed it face-on, but you can see it's, the reason you have these rivets here, this is like holding, well, multi-layers of metal together, and you can sort of see it over here in this area. There's at least one, two, three layers of metal. This is the kind of thing you normally find on a head gasket so, yeah, it's a pretty complicated piece of engineering just for a water pump.

Mark: Why would they use such a complex gasket for that device?

Bernie: I've thought about this, and I don't really know, other than it takes up a fair bit of space in the front of the engine. I just don't see why a good, thick cardboard-paper gasket that was so frequently used in the past wouldn't do the same amount of work.

Perhaps, with the metal being largely aluminum, expanding and contracting, maybe they figured that it needed to have a gasket of this sort. And, of course, part of the procedure with the gasket like this is to torque everything properly. You don't want to just blast the bolts in because a gasket like this requires precise torques to make sure it's properly crushed but not overly so.

Mark: So this is an aluminum block engine?

Bernie: Aluminum block, yeah. And the water pump's aluminum. There's not much that's made of cast these days. I'm just trying to think. Of course, you know, there's a lot of diesels but, yeah, a lot of aluminum, especially this engine. It's not very heavy.

Mark: How long do water pumps normally last on these vehicles?

Bernie: Well, this is the first water pump replacement on this vehicle, so it's 11 years old, and about 150,000 kilometres. If you're in a place that uses miles, you can do the conversion. That's sort of the life of this one, and I guess it probably may have been leaking for a little while before he brought it in. That would be, yeah, that's sort of the lifespan of a water pump on this engine.

Speaking of water pumps on Toyotas, I talk about how reliable Toyota products are, Lexus being one of them, and they are, but it seems like one sort of typical thing you can count on replacing on a Toyota is your water pump. We do them on all sorts of Toyota products, even Prius's. There's not much that goes wrong, but water pumps seem to leak, so that's kind of the big thing on Toyotas, which isn't that big of a thing.

Mark: And how is the Lexus IS250 for reliability?

Bernie: It's good car. Definitely reliable. These cars do tend to burn some oil so if you have one, sometimes you're not going to make it through an oil change cycle without adding a litre or two of oil, which tends to happen on these engines, for some reason. But, overall, an excellent car. Well built, and not a lot of problems.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your IS250, or any Lexus or Toyota product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, if you're in Vancouver. And of course if you're somewhere else, we love you watching our videos. You can check out the website We get a lot of visitors from the United States and around the world. As well, on YouTube, there's hundreds of videos on Pawlik Auto Repair channel and, of course, thank you for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thank you for watching and listening.

2007 Lexus RX350 Cabin Air Filter Replacement

Mark:  Hi, it’s Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver.  Bernie has been servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years and Pawlik Automotive are so far winners of, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk cars and we’re going to talk about a 2007 Lexus RX350 SUV. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle had a concern that there was noise when you turn the heater on and there was not a lot of air flowing through the heating system.

Mark: And what did you find?

Bernie: What we found is very interesting. We found a lot of debris stuck inside the heating ducts that basically plugged the whole system up. Kind of unusual. I mean, we do cabin air filters quite frequently on cars and find you know, dirt and thing in there. We often get surprised that the thing, you know that the vehicle’s actually allowing air flow but this was kind of unusual for the amount of stuff we found here. I’ll just share some pictures. Our RX350. So what we found, this is the, this is what we found inside the heater duct. The procedure of course when someone brings a vehicle in is to verify their concerns, so we tested, you know this to make sure the heater fan is blowing and it clearly, there was some action happening and all the speeds were working but there was little air flow coming out anywhere. So we pulled, the easiest access was to pull the cabin air filter out and so what we found and I’m actually showing this picture after we removed some of the debris, was just a, the air filter box was absolutely full of leaves and these had actually escaped below the cabin air filter. So how they got past the filter is hard to, kind of hard to understand but I’ll show there’s a picture of the the filter too just covered in leaves. But somehow, the leaves managed to get sucked around the filter and plugged everything up.

2007 Lexus RX350 Cabin Air Filter Replacement
2007 Lexus RX350 Cabin Air Filter Replacement
2007 Lexus RX350 Cabin Air Filter Replacement

Mark: The filter looks kind of damaged as well.

Bernie: Damaged?

Mark: Yeah, it’s like the plastic is bent and broken.

Bernie: They’re, actually I’ll just re-share this again, you can see the filter now?

Mark: Yeah

Bernie: These filters are, most of them are pretty supple, they tend to bend and twist. So they’re not the most rigid filters. The odd cabin air filter does have a rigid frame but around the sides of these, there’s actually no frame at all. It’s just paper. so. it’s probably how it got sucked around it’s not, they’re not laboratory quality design I guess you could say, you know they do allow for a little bit of stuff to escape but there might be well a hole underneath here, I’m not quite certain. But yeah they do tend to get distorted and twisted up after awhile.

Mark: Ok, well, how did you get rid of all the debris?

Bernie: Yeah, so a vacuum cleaner was one, a shop vac with a very narrow nozzle, we were able to get in and suck most of it up and we also with the help of some compressed air to blow things up and agitate it and we were able to suck pretty well everything out of there and get it all out. And put a new cabin air filter in obviously and put everything back together.

Mark: So all these leaves, obviously they live next to or their car is parked next to a tree somewhere that’s doing its thing, and did that cause any other damage, those leaves being sucked through the system, to the heating or a/c?

Bernie: Not in this case, fortunately nothing. But you know, we have seen vehicles where a client will come in with you know, I turned the heat on, there’s some kind of strange smell, something burning. And we’ve seen vehicles where a leaf has got sucked in and there’s a heater blower resistor that’s usually in the heater box, it often gets very hot and so we’ve actually seen leaves where they’ll actually you know, start smouldering or even catch on fire. I’ve never seen a car burn up from it but you know, like it’ll actually, the leaf will actually start burning inside the heater box and melt down. And heater resistors can be damaged from debris getting on them. So it’s something to watch, for sure, but in the case of this vehicle everything is fine.

Mark: And is there any way to, that you could as an owner, help prevent this from happening?

Bernie: Well you know, cabin air filter is a scheduled maintenance item on pretty well every car, but it’s one that’s kind of easily overlooked. It’s hidden, it’s out of sight, out of mind. As much as we have a very rigorous schedule with our clients maintenance, the odd time we forget for some reason to recommend it. I don’t know why but we’ve been servicing this car for years, we forgot to change the cabin filter. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but you know we’re not perfect. It’s the kind of thing you can easily be forgotten and so I mean, every, probably just you know getting in the routine of changing at least every two years is a good idea to prevent this kind of thing from happening. But if you live somewhere that’s got a lot of pine needles or leaves, that’s you know again, it might be an idea to do it on an annual basis to prevent anything like this from happening.

Mark: And these are coming from, they’re falling on the car perhaps because we get a lot of rain here in Vancouver, big surprise, that the windshield wipers are actually wiping those leave into the front air intake behind the hood and then they’re being pulled into the air intake basically?

Bernie: Yeah, what does surprise me about this vehicle, I didn’t really look in any detail as to how leave of this size could get in because a lot of vehicles have a screen on the cowl, that’s the areas the front of the hood where the air get sucked in. It kind of surprises me that something this large can actually get in there because these leaves are you know, large and intact but somehow the design of this vehicle would allow that because a lot of vehicles we have come into our shop and they’ve got leaves all over the front of the cowl and the air ducts and we will often just take them outside and blow them off as part of the service. But yeah, that’s a key thing to again, if you look at the cowl of the vehicle, again which is the air at the front of the windshield and you see a lot of leaves stuck there, get rid of them, you know keep them out of the way because that’ll prevent them from getting sucked into the air intake system.

Mark: So there you go. If you’ve got a Lexus or your vehicle’s got maybe not blowing properly out it’s AC or heater, or you noticed a little bit of smoke coming out of there, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 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, we’ve got hundreds of videos on there or the YouTube channel or our new Podcast. Leave a review. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2004 Lexus ES330 Accelerator Pedal Replacement

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re talking about a 2004 Lexus, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop with a check engine light on and the vehicle going into a limp mode, so it had very little power from time to time.

Mark: Is that a typical thing? What did you find?

Bernie: Well obviously it’s not something that you want to happen because when you accelerate, you want to accelerate but anyways, yes what we found, we plugged in our scan tool, did a diagnostic and found a trouble code stored for an accelerator pedal sensor.

Mark: Ok that sounds kind of rare, what did you find? What was involved with that kind of a repair?

Bernie: So the diagnosis wasn’t too complex for this kind of issue. Usually these codes, when they occur, are usually caused by the sensor themselves. It can a wiring issue but there’s usually nothing, the wiring is all under the dash and very protected. It’s also a fairly common failure part. So what we found was the actual accelerator pedal sensor itself was bad and needed to be replaced.

Mark: So what was involved with actually doing that?

Bernie: Well that was a pretty complex repair. The actual complete pedal assembly which includes the accelerator pedal, the brake pedal, all the mechanism, all needed to be replaced all at the same time. That’s the only way they sold the part which is kind of strange. I’ll just share a photo here, it’s interesting looking at this pedal assembly. So this is the pedal assembly. This is the accelerator pedal right here which you can probably recognize if you look at it and this is the rest of the assembly, this bolts up to the firewall of the vehicle. You cans see the brake pedal here, the return spring, this is a wiring connector for the accelerator pedal sensor, so this is the actual sensor right in this area here and so this, so essentially this part actually unbolts from the rest of the pedal assembly but for some reason on this particular car, you have to buy this whole thing which is kind of crazy, surprisingly though the part is not that expensive. Now I’ll just share another couple photos while we’re looking here, we can see some of the complexity, you can see this electric motor here, there’s a cable here, you might wonder what the heck’s that doing there. Well that actually, this vehicle has an adjustable pedal height so you can adjust he height of the pedals, you know if you, which is a great feature because a lot of people have short legs but without adjustable pedals you have to push your seat forward which puts you right into the steering wheel and I always cringe when I see people who are short, who have their car seat set like that because I think what if you got into an accident, I mean you’re sitting right in front of the steering wheel especially if the airbag goes off, which it would, you’re right in the firing line, a lot more risk. So with adjustable pedals you can have your steering wheel further away and you can pull the pedals forward so it’s a neat feature but again it adds complexity all included with this part which is kind of surprising. Here’s just a close up view, this is the accelerator pedal sensor itself and the kind of mechanism you can see it’s a big spring here and it’s a little more complicated than just a sensor, there’s a lot more to this, we’ll talk that in a minute.

Mark: Ok that looks like it was a pretty expensive part even though you said it wasn’t that expensive.

Bernie: You know surprisingly the whole assembly was under five hundred dollars which really shocked me because you know considering Lexus parts are not cheap, they’re up there, they usually cost quite a lot of money. When we ordered the part initially, we gave the VIN number to the dealer, it’s a dealer only part, they sent over just the accelerator pedal piece and for some reason it was wrong which is strange when you give them the VIN number, the actual accelerator pedal, the wrong one was $900 just for the accelerator pedal but the whole assembly was under five hundred dollars which is a real surprise. Now it’s a lot of labour to put this thing in, you can see, the part is, it’s under the dash, the steering column has to come out, brake booster needs to be, there’s a lot of work involved in changing.

Mark: So with that electric motor is it still, is that what’s actuating the brakes in the hydraulic system or is that or do you have to lead the brakes and do all that stuff too?

Bernie: No actually that motor actually only adjusts the pedal travel so when you push a button on the dash it’ll pull your pedals closer or farther away from the dash. So if you have say, if you have shorter legs, to do that. That’s the only function with that. The brakes are pretty straight forward, they just clip up to that brake pedal, there’s nothing much to do with the brakes on that vehicle. It’s basically kind of plug and play once you get it all in there.

Mark: Right and so how often do accelerator pedal sensors fail?

Bernie: Well they do from time to time and they will on any car but they’re for the most part, pretty reliable. I mean this car is an 04 so it makes it what 13 years old. Just why you have a sensor, just a little bit of background, it used to be that cars would have a cable that attached from the accelerator pedal to the throttle and when you pushed the, it was a mechanical connection. Well for quite a few years since the early 2000’s, and sometimes a little earlier, cars have gone to an electronic throttle. So there’s a sensor and the actual pedal kind of feels like you’re pushing on a cable but it doesn’t, so thats why if you looked at those pictures you can see a couple of double springs and it’s a, there’s a lot of engineering that goes into just having the pedal feel right when you’re pushing it. But the, what happens as you push the pedal, a sensor picks up your foot movement that sends a signal to the engine computer and that then the computer can open the throttle or close the throttle when it chooses to or it can make other adjustments to the transmission or the engine to accelerate the vehicle, it doesn’t just have to be the throttle. So there’s a huge advantage in terms of performance, exhaust emissions, fuel economy that can be done by doing things this way. Now of course, when it’s electronic and it’s disconnected there’s going to be a lot of safety features built in, so that actual sensor has two or three swipers inside so they verify with each other that everything’s moving in the right direction. So if it picks up a glitch of any sort, it will put the vehicle into limp mode, you know the last thing you want is a car that’s going to take off on it’s own or not take off when it’s supposed to. so if there’s a problem, goes into limp mode you’ve got to fix it.

Mark: So there you go if you have a Lexus in Vancouver that you’re needing service for, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book ahead, they’re busy, you’ve got to book ahead or else check out their website, we’ve got almost six years of videos on there. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

Pawlik Automotive How Reliable Are Lexus Vehicles?

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s favourite auto service experience, 16, 17, how many times is it now Bernie?

Bernie: 17

Mark: Seventeen time winners of Best in Vancouver, how you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Really well.

Mark: So let’s talk about Lexus vehicles. How reliable are Lexus?

Bernie: Well in a nutshell, very reliable. There’s not a lot that goes wrong with them. They have a very good reputation. If you look at consumers reports and other reporting services for years and years and years, Lexus comes out on top for best reliability and lowest maintenance costs so they’re excellent vehicles in that respect.

Mark: So Lexus is the premium brand of Toyota, so how similar are they to Toyota?

Bernie: Well, in many ways they are very similar, although certainly they’re much more luxurious. So the interior fitments, you know the options in Lexus vehicles are definitely higher than Toyota’s. The Toyota Avalon is about the highest level of car that Toyota makes and Lexus kind of starts there and gets better, you find features like heated rear seats, just numerous luxury features that you won’t find in Toyota vehicles. But underneath the hood, a lot of them are similar and that’s a good thing because you’ve got shared components which keeps your repair and maintenance costs down and also allows the company to make more reliable components overall. So they are similar by they’re just you know, you won’t find a luxury version of a Toyota Echo for instance or a Lexus version of an Echo. But at the higher end models it just kind of goes up from there and they make a lot of sportier cars as well in the Lexus line which they don’t in Toyota

Mark: So what do you most commonly repair on Lexus vehicles?

Bernie: Seems like the most common repairs we do, I mean engine wise, so we’re talking newer, maybe in the last decade of vehicles, water pumps seem to leak, we seem to do a lot of shocks and struts and suspension items as well and again, these are on a little older side, you know they’re the 10 year and older cars, but really not a lot else, brakes of course things that just wear out in all cars, we do those. But it seems like suspension issues and the water pumps seem to be one of the weaker things, one of the components that seems to wear out more than other things. But other than that, they’re really exceptionally reliable.

Mark: So how about the hybrids?

Bernie: Hybrids are great. Hybrids, you know as a mechanic, they kind of scare me, not to fix them but just that there’s so much to go wrong, so much complexity and you’ve got your internal combustion engine and all the sophistication that goes along with that, plus you’ve got an electric motor, transmission unit, inverters, batteries, a whole plethora of other items that can go wrong and they rarely do. The only vehicle we’ve ever had was a Highlander hybrid that had a blown inverter. That’s the only major component we’ve ever seen go wrong with a hybrid. Now we don’t fit exclusively hybrids but generally there’s not a lot that goes wrong with them so it’s a kind of hybrid that I’d actually want to own myself. I don’t really want a car that I’d have to fix all the time especially one with the expensive parts, so the hybrid is, it’s a good option in these vehicles.

Mark: So what maintenance services are typically required on Lexus cars?

Bernie: So, things like spark plugs for instance, that will need to be replaced in the mid, between 100 and 200 thousand kilometres. We recommend fuel injection cleanings about every 50,000 kilometres for good improved maintenance, certainly oil changes on a regular basis are critical and especially when you get into the mid 2000’s and newer. The engine uses timing chains, you’ve got to change the oil regularly on these, you cannot let it get low. You’ve got to be religious with it, otherwise, you get into spending a lot of money and wrecking your engine, which you don’t want to do. Other maintenance items, timing belts up until the mid 2000, most Lexus, at least the RX330’s all use timing belts, some of the V8 engines use timing belts as well, even into the later 2000 model years, some of them use timing belts. So those are something that needs to be done around 160 thousand kilometres. Other than that, fluid flushes, transition, differentials that kind of thing, brake fluid, basic maintenance, timing belts are really the only big thing and unless you don’t change your oil then you’ll be doing timing chain repairs, which you don’t want to do.

Mark: So any final thoughts on Lexus automotive cars?

Bernie: You know Mark, they’re just really reliable, I highly recommend them. If you’re looking for a luxury vehicle, I’d recommend one of these over a Mercedes. I think sometimes they don’t quite have the prestigious feel for some odd reason, but they’re a beautifully built vehicle and very reliable which is worth a lot.

Mark: And that’s coming from a Mercedes owner

Bernie: That’s right, yup

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for repairs on your Lexus in Vancouver, the guys to go see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they’ve got 5 bays to serve you but they’re busy so you’ve got to call and book ahead or check out their website Remember 17 time winners as voted by their customers for Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2007 Lexus GS350, Motorvac and Spark Plugs

Mark: Hey, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver; Vancouver’s favourite and best auto service experience. Bernie your audio’s a little loud, I can hear myself.

Bernie: I’ll turn it down.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 07 Lexus GS350, you were doing some motorvacing and spark plugs, what’s that all about?

Bernie: Alright, well so this vehicle came to our shop actually for a few services, one of the rear strut replacement which were leaking but that’s not really the subject of our discussion today, but it also was due for some maintenance service. The spark plugs were due for replacement based on mileage and also we had recommended a motorvac fuel injection cleaning which we usually do at the same time so that, that’s what’s up on this vehicle.

Mark: So struts aside are some of these other services the equivalent of a tune-up since we don’t really do that anymore.

Bernie: Yeah, these are, you can say this is a tune-up, I mean there’s nothing to tune up on a modern vehicle, everything’s electronically controlled which is fantastic, you just hop in your car, you start the car and away you go, I mean electronic fuel injection and electronic ignition really made that happen you know a couple decades ago but you know with modern cars it’s even, even more sophisticated yeah, this is, this is what we need to do for a tune up. The spark plugs have a certain lifespan, they generally last quite a long time on, on most vehicles and which is a good thing because there’s a lot of, it’s a lot of work to take the spark plugs out on these vehicles so they do have a very long lifespan but they do eventually wear out. These weren’t essentially worn out but you want to replace them before anything happens, you want a seamless driving experience and the engine smooth all the time, it’s critical.

Mark: So what about Motorvac? What is that, what benefits is that service provide?

Bernie: So the Motorvac it’s basically a brand name for a machine; Motorvac is basically fuel injection cleaning machine. How it works is it, you basically disconnect the fuel system in the vehicle, we hook the Motorvac machine up to the, directly to the engine, it has its own pump, it has its own gas and we add a very concentrated cleaner. We run it for about approximately half an hour, sometimes a little longer if the vehicle hasn’t been done in a long time and also a couple additional services we do as long as it’s reasonably accessible we clean the throttle plate as well which gets gummed up so I mean basically what it does is it removed carbon deposits from the engine, it cleans the fuel injectors, any gummy deposits; when you clean the throttle plate there’s deposits that build up as well so it allows the air to flow into the engine much better and also if there’s a lot of carbon deposits on the valves it, that can actually store fuel. We don’t see the problem very often but in the past the engine, they wouldn’t go up hill because there was so much carbon deposits on the intake valve that the engine would actually absorb the fuel that was being injected into the engine, but the Motorvac will remove all that and basically restore performance like back to like new.

Mark: Can every engine be Motorvaced?

Bernie: Sorry Mark can you repeat that, I got a couple audio issues.

Mark: Can every engine be Motorvaced?

Bernie: Um, no. Most engines can, the exceptions really are carbureted vehicles which you can Motorvac it but it doesn’t make sense because it’s easier just to pour combustion chamber cleaner right down the carburetor and let it sit overnight and almost no cars have carburetors anymore, so, like none do, only vintage cars at this time. The other, this machine we have does diesel so we can do diesels, the one engine that it won’t do is gasoline direct injection. Now that is basically similar to a diesel because it’s injecting fuel like a diesel directly into the combustion chamber but what happens is you still get carbon deposits on the intake valves but this machine won’t do anything about it because it sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber so it’ll clean the injectors but you miss the benefit of cleaning the valves so those are one type of engine that we won’t do. Interestingly enough on this Toyota, there’s a couple unique things about this; it actually has a duel fuel injection system and has gas and direct injection and port fuel injection. The port injection is the one we can do the motorvac with and it’s been years, for many, many years and a lot of manufacturers are getting away from it to do gas direct injection but that’s a subject for another discussion.

Mark: So do you have any pictures of this Lexus?

Bernie: Yeah, I’ve got some pictures and we can talk about the fuel system as well but let’s just share a few photos here. Here’s the Motorvac fuel injection cleaning machine, it looks a little dirty, we use it a lot and it tends to get a little grungy around the shelf. This is a dual, I said it’s a dual machine, it will do diesel and gas and essentially you can see some hoses on the left side, these, actually this is the diesel, the gasoline side, these hoses hook up to the vehicle, to the fuel system and inside this machine this pumps in a variety of things, so that’s the unit. Here’s a photo of some spark plugs and these are the plugs that were removed from the vehicle. I didn’t actually look at to see how many kilometers were on it but these are the electrodes and there’s a lot of carbon deposits on these, so these plugs have been in there a long time and very, very good time to change them, they’ve, the owners really got his money’s worth out of these and finally there’s the Lexus engine. This engine is unique in that it uses, it uses gasoline direct injection and port injection as well, so that’s the engine and I believe I’m back.

Mark: Yep, so how does that work with dual injection like that?

Bernie: Well, how it works is the, and it’s all computer controlled, the vehicle will use the different fuel injection systems depending on engine speed, engine load, you know, going down the highway at higher speeds the port injection systems isn’t really working at all, the idle is kind of a mixture between the two and it varies different throttle openings and different times, it’ll use the two systems. It’s not just unique to Lexus, there are other Toyota vehicles that use it as well but it seems like a really good idea; extra complicated though, you’ve got to, you know two fuel systems so there’s a lot of extra stuff that can go wrong, of course being Toyota probably not a lot will which is a good thing.

Mark: So overall how would you rate Lexus vehicles?

Bernie: Very highly, really reliable vehicles, not a lot goes wrong with them, I mean they’re not bullet proof but you know really not a whole lot goes wrong with them and a very nice option for a luxury car, reliable luxury car.

Mark: So one thing I wanted to ask was about the Motorvac service, what, we sorted of touched on the benefits, it’s cleaning things, but how am I going to notice that in my car; what’s going to happen after I’ve had that done?

Bernie: Excellent question, so here’s some of the things that our customers notice because I do ask them frequently, how’s your car run; better fuel economy, the best report I had a 30% increase, better throttle response, you push the gas pedal down, it just responds faster and quicker, smoother idle, better start up, a lot of times a Motorvac is really good for taking care of subtle issues where the car just doesn’t quite, you know people come to us and go it doesn’t quite feel like it did when it was new and the Motorvac is often great at doing that because the vehicle computer will compensate for all sorts of little things like there’s a little too much carbon here or the injectors aren’t quite injecting the fuel, the computer will add some fuel, do a few things to mix it around but by actually removing all those items it will, it will, like the Motorvac will actually restore like new engine performance so it’s a great thing to do. Those are some of the things and to be honest I’ve had you know, one in maybe 10 customers tell me I don’t notice any difference, but it’s quite rare and almost everyone reports back, you know a noticeable difference to like wow, that’s fantastic.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service for your Lexus in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, you can call them at 604-327-7112 to book your next appointment, they’re busy, give them a call or check out their website at Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

2000 Lexus RX300, Water Leak Diagnosis and Repair

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver; they’ve just picked up another award. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I’m good, really good. Yeah proud to say we won the Best of the City in the Westender again this year for Best Auto Repair, so thank you for anyone who, anyone and everyone who voted for us. We really appreciate it.

Mark: I voted and you look after our vehicles and I appreciate it deeply, so we’re going to talk about a Lexus RX300; you had a water problem with this vehicle; what was going on?

Bernie: Well there was a lot of water in this vehicle; the carpet was completely soaked, there was you could hear water sloshing around in the carpets, front seats, back seats, passenger and driver side were completely, completely soaked with water, it was a real mess. It didn’t smell very good either, the leak had been there for quite some time.

Mark: So how did you go about finding this kind of flood damage?

Bernie: Well there’s a few, few things we can do and we always start with the simplest things; one of the simplest things any vehicle that has a sunroof, often the sunroof drains will plug up and that will cause water leaks to come into the vehicle so first thing, we test is the sunroof drains, were they good and in the case of this vehicle, they were fine. Some vehicles also have some common leak spots and so we’ll go to test those particular areas too, things that we know that are common. Now this vehicle there was nothing, the sunroof drains were good, and the common leak areas were all fine, nothing coming out of that area.

Mark: So where did you go from there?

Bernie: Where we went from there, things became really complicated. We had to strip the interior out of the vehicle so we removed all the seats, the front and back seats, we removed the console, we removed the carpets, basically removed everything from the inside of the vehicle, on the floor, dried everything out because that’s critical to figure out where the water’s coming in, there’s no obvious spots. Before doing that we sprayed around the vehicle and didn’t see anything obvious so there’s a lot of places water can leak into a car so this is the first step. We removed everything, hung the carpet out to drip, to drip out, wring out and drained the water out and dried the inside out, that was our, that was our first step and then from there we were able to spray the car down and find the leaks.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: Well so we found a few things. We found there was one at the floor of the vehicle on the passenger side, there’s, there’s rubber plugs that plug the floor, one of the plugs was missing, now that was probably a very minor contributor to the leak but nonetheless it was a source especially if you’re driving, water will spray up and it can seep in under the floor. There was one cause, the right rear door; the seal around the door at the top is leaking, a lot of water was coming into through that. We were able actually to reinstall the seal and it worked fine, it didn’t leak at all after that so the seal had kind of slipped out of position, wasn’t really obviously noticeable beforehand but once we started spraying we can see water coming in and we knew okay, that’s, that’s a leak. The third leak, this was the more complicated one was coming from around the front of the vehicle area and this involved a lot of disassembly, we could see water leaking under the dash near the driver’s, sort of where the driver’s left foot would be, called the dead pedal it’s like a sort of fake pedal where you can rest your foot and actually there was a leak from that piece as well as a bolt missing so that was causing water and spray in but there was a leak further up and we couldn’t quite see the source of it because it’s so much wiring and bits and pieces in the way so we had to end up taking the fender off the vehicle and the wiper linkage and everything to finally spray and found there was a leak at the very bottom left corner of the windshield so we had that resealed. We don’t do windshields ourselves, we sent it to a windshield shop and had it resealed, then before we put everything back together we resprayed the vehicle to verify that there was no water leaking. We also had the carpet shampooed as well as it was pretty, pretty stinky condition and dirty so it’s a good thing to do while you’re, while it’s all out. I’ll share a couple photos so you can sort of see the magnitude of what we had to take apart here, so this is the front left corner of the Lexus with the fender removed; so you can see there’s a lot of stuff off of here. The water leak was actually, this is the corner of the windshield most noticeable when we sprayed in this area but with the fender in place and all the wiper linkage and the panels in the back of the vehicle here, it wasn’t obvious where the water was coming from, it could have been ten different places at the back of the firewall so we were able to verify hundred percent where it was leaking from. The other photo I’ll share with you, this is just a pile of some of the parts that were removed so you have your fender here, the inner fender liner, these are the cowl pieces that go in the back of the vehicle, the windshield wiper linkage, just so, kind of gives you an idea of the extent of what we have to do, that we go through sometimes to find a water leak.

Mark: So how do you charge for this kind of a job?

Bernie: This type of job is basically, it’s just hour by hour, we have no idea of knowing when we start out where the leaks can come from or what it’s going to entail so we can give a rough estimate, you know of how many hours we think it’s going to take but really it’s, it can be anywhere from a couple hours to 10 or 12 depending on what, depending upon what we have to remove to find it and then what needs to be fixed so we found some interesting things in the past; we had a Mazda once where, you know it was a cracked body seam on the passenger front and the water would just spray in under a certain, in a certain time and again this is like we have to pull everything apart inside the car so it happens from time to time and usually when you get water this much in the vehicle you really want to take it apart and dry it out anyhow it gets pretty bad and you can get mold and health issues with that too.

Mark: So this is a definitely an older Lexus, 17 years old, is it, was it really worth fixing it?

Bernie: I think so, you know, Lexus are really well-built cars, they’re Toyota’s but they’re a luxury, luxury line of cars so they’re always, the features are a little ahead of their time, they’re really nice cars to drive new and still at 17 years old, still a nice car to drive, so I think you know, it largely depends on the mileage and how many dollars’ worth of repairs but we have, we have a lot of clients that hold their Lexus that continue to repair them and I think they’re, they’re worthwhile, you know, they’re well built cars and worth keeping.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service for your Lexus in Vancouver these are the guys to call, Pawlik Automotive, again voted Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, you can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Lexus Strut Replacement

Lexus strut replacement

Strut replacement on two different Lexus vehicles is our featured post.

Lexus strut replacement

2002 Lexus SC430

Lexus strut replacement

1993 Lexus ES300

There are many designs of suspension systems in cars, with Macpherson struts being very high on the popularity list. The shock absorber, spring and one leg of the suspension are incorporated into a single assembly. Struts are found in both the front and rear suspensions.

Advantages of struts are simplicity of manufacturing and thus lower costs. Disadvantages are less flexibility with the suspension geometry, and a slightly harsher and noisier ride when compared to some other suspension systems. This however has not limited their use to lower-end models as they are found on many expensive luxury and sports cars such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

This week we replaced struts on two Lexus vehicles: a 1993 ES300 and a 2002 SC430. While both cars featuring front and rear Macpherson strut suspensions there were a few differences with these cars, most noticeably age and mileage, but also the type of car: one being a sedan while the other a two-seat hardtop convertible sports car. The ES300 was 23 years old with 260,000 kilometers while the SC430 was 14 years of age with 99,000 kilometers. This information alone gives you an idea of how long struts can last.

Lexus strut replacement

The new strut assembly installed on the ES300

There are two ways to replace struts these days: one is to replace the worn out components and the other is to replace the complete unit. Complete units are, as the name implies a completely new strut: new tube and shock absorber, new coil spring, new mounting plate, dust cover, bearing, snubber and all other pieces. These are more expensive than individual components though the price is coming down. Installation labour costs are lower: simply unbolt the old unit and bolt in the new one.

Individual components are the other way to repair struts. Almost always, the shock absorber is the part that fails. Other common failure items are the strut mount and bearing plate. While individual parts are usually lower in cost than complete units there is more labour involved. On certain cars complete struts are not available and that was the case with both the SC430 and the ES300. This is due to relatively limited production of these cars.

Lexus strut replacement

The strut assemby partially disassembled on the bench. The upper strut plate is not yet installed.

There is mention in the industry that 80,000 kilometers is a good time to look at your struts as they may be worn by this time. In my experience this is usually far too soon to replace your struts, however, they may wear out by this mileage, and they may also last a couple of hundred thousand kilometers more. The key is to routinely have your car inspected to evaluate the condition of the struts. Once they are worn the poor ride quality is noticeable. When this occurs vehicle safety is compromised as you do not have the sharpness of steering, and during a panic brake application your car will not stop as quickly.

While many folks shy away from repairing struts on older vehicles the improved ride quality and safety makes them a worthwhile service on any car, Lexus included.

For more information about Lexus vehicles click here

For more about MacPherson Struts click here

2004 Lexus RX330 – Steering Rack and Pinion Replacement

Lexus RX330

Tuesday’s featured repair is Power Steering Rack and Pinion Replacement on a 2004 Lexus RX330, brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.

2004 Lexus RX330. These vehicles are built both in Japan and North America

2004 Lexus RX330. These vehicles are built both in Japan and North America


The Lexus RX 330 is a very reliable and well built mid sized Sport Utility Vehicle. Few things go wrong with them but like all cars and trucks eventually parts wear out. In the case of this Lexus the power steering rack and pinion was leaking fluid. To a lesser degree the power steering pump was also leaking so both parts were changed at the same time.

Most power steering systems consist of a pump driven by the engine, a pressure and a return hose and the steering gear: either rack and pinion or a steering box. Some systems also incorporate controls to vary the power steering effect and a cooler to keep the fluid from overheating. Variable effort power steering is a great feature because power steering is needed most when the car is not moving, once you are under way less effort is required. This improves road feel and reduces energy consumption.

Leaks are the most common problem with power steering systems. Other concerns come from noisy pumps, worn out rack and pinions, and worn drive belts.

Over the last 10 years many vehicles have switched to electric power steering. This has many advantages: less parts, no leaks, lower fuel consumption and improved steering control. We have yet to replace an electric rack and pinion or performed any repairs on such a system, however failures do occur and they can be very expensive.

For the time being there are many vehicle’s with conventional, hydraulic power steering systems so replacing pumps, racks, hoses and belts will continue to be required repairs on many vehicles, Lexus RX330s included.

For more information on the Lexus RX330 click here

For more about power steering click here

Lexus RX330

Lexus RX330 rack and pinion, and power steering pump on shop floor. The rack is the long piece.

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