Mazda - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC


Category Archives for "Mazda"

2019 Mazda 3 First Maintenance Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's favourite auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And today we're going to talk about a Mazda 3. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So this is a first maintenance service. What was happening with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So it's a 2019, near new car and the owner brought it in to have her snow tires removed, summer tires installed, and to have the first maintenance service, it had about 7,500 kilometres on the odometer. So it was due for its first service. 

Mark: Okay. Wait a minute. Don't you have to take your car to the dealer? What about the warranty? 

Bernie: No, you don't. And that's a bit of a myth. I mean, some people don't hear that myth, but a lot of people do. Yeah, no, you don't have to take your car to the dealer. Your warranty will not be voided if you have it serviced elsewhere, provided of course, the service is done properly. You know, with the right fluids and the right filters and fluids, which we use. And, you know, the maintenance schedule is followed. 

Mark: And recorded, I suppose?

Bernie: And recorded. Yep. So you need to, you know, have it in invoiced, recorded. They used to have books, you know, where you'd stamp stuff in books. I mean, you didn't have to even do that, but that was something we've done for customers over the years. So if the vehicle is under warranty, you know, we would stamp their book that the service was done at a certain time, which makes it easier to prove if your engine blows up or something. But, yeah, no, you don't have to take it to the dealer. And many people think so. 

Now sometimes the dealers offer incentives, like free service for the first, you know, first one or two oil changes or something. They throw some stuff in, which, Hey, you as we'll take it up. But you know, if they don't, you're free to go where you want to go. 

Mark: And of course you guys provide that list of all the warranty or not the warranty work, but the service work that's been done over the years. So if somebody were to sell their car and one of that record you provide that as well, is that right? 

Bernie: Yeah. All of our invoicing is done in a computer. It's all saved. It's backed up to the cloud, the program system that we use so I mean, unless the cloud disappears, that data will always be there. And we frequently get clients who say, Hey, you know, can you send me all your service records? And it, you know, it's a little bit of work, but we're happy to do it and we can take care of it and we can just pull up all your invoices and send them all in. So we have records.

Mark: So was this just basically an A Service or what you call just like an inspection of the vehicle and oil change? 

Bernie: Exactly. It's basically an A Service, an oil change and a basic inspection of the vehicle. And of course while we had the wheels off, we can, you know, have a peek in at the brakes. It's not a formal brake inspection, but you don't really need a formal brake inspection for 7,500 kilometres anyways. It's all good. 

Mark: Were there any issues with the car?

Bernie: No, none at all. Everything was in a perfect working order. Nice and clean. It's always a, you know, a treat for us to work on a new car, cause everything's so clean and the metal's shiny and just things that, you know, things you just don't see as a car gets older. So it's always nice. 

Mark: So you've worked on Mazda 3s for decades, probably. How is this model? 

Bernie: It's really good. I was actually impressed with a few features of this car. So I tend to think of a Mazda 3 as a, it's kind of, it's a lower end car. But the features in this car are amazing. Like they're really high end, you know, like nice leather seats. And this thing even had a heads up display for the, if you don't know what that is, that's basically, it displays the speed up on a, it's projected up onto the windshield. So when you're driving down the road and you can see how fast you're going. And this was like a feature that was only found in really high end cars. I'm thinking like a 20 year old Corvette. It had that, you know, in a performance car. It just, there's just so many neat features in this car. It just really impressed me. And I often think, you know, if this is a lower end car you know, what can you do to make a higher end car better cause this is like driving a high end car. It's pretty awesome. 

Mark: And what about pictures? 

Bernie: Yeah. Let's look at some pictures.

Okay. So there's our car, the 2019. I mean, it's even a good looking car too, nice wheels as well. We'll have a look under the hood. I tried to take a picture of the heads up display cause I thought that was really cool, but for some reason it just wasn't effective. Maybe it would look better at night. I don't know. But here's the under hood view.

So that's a gasoline internal combustion engine vehicle. We wouldn't have said that a few years ago, but now with all the hybrids and electric cars, things tend to look different under the hood from time to time. But you've got, you know, things like your battery, air filter box, the plastic cover over the engine, intake manifolds here you can see a bit of the alternator there, part of the engine mount here. This is a common problem and a lot of Mazda 3s. These engine mounts wear out, you never know when cars get newer, and I do get people who call me for advice about should I buy this new car or not? And honestly, I'm not really the best person to say because you know, every new car works fine. It's just who knows whether this engine mount will be the same as it was in models that are 10 years old or whether they fixed it. But, washer fluid, if you know something you're adding to your vehicle is washer fluid. And of course, the engine oil, this vehicle does have a dip stick a lot of higher end European cars don't have that. But as technicians, we appreciate dipsticks no matter what kind of car it is. It makes life a lot easier to just be able to mechanically check your oil is, it's a good thing. Brake fluid located back here. 

So this is the SKYACTIV G technology that Mazda has been using since 2011. And they keep refining it a little ways, but basically SKYACTIV is Mazda's  answer to you know, high fuel economy, high efficiency engine. It's probably about, I don't know, exact percentages, but compared to the previous generation before SKYACTIV, the fuel economy is far better on these vehicles than it is, and more power probably by 20-30%, somewhere in that range.

So they did that by increasing the compression of the engine and then using direct fuel injection to deliver the fuel to the vehicle. And, and through that, a number of other technologies have improved the fuel economy enormously. So it works pretty well.

Mark: There you go. Customers happy with the brand new Mazda 3 and it's gonna run well for a long time. 

Bernie: Absolutely. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys just call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead even during crazy time right now. Pandemic silliness. They're still busy. And, if you're in Vancouver, give them a call, 604-327-7112. Check out the website Hundreds of articles on there. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you're listening to this, picking up this podcast, we'd really appreciate it and thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.

2015 Mazda 3 – Electrical Issues

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, and 21-time winners of Best Auto Repair In Vancouver, as voted by their customers. How are you doing today, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: We're talking cars. We're talking about a 2015 Mazda 3 that was having electrical issues. What was happening with this Mazda?

Bernie: This vehicle came to the shop with a few concerns. One was the check engine light was on. Second, it felt like it lacked power at certain times, almost stalled, and the steering was doing something. On my service advisor note, it said funky. So, I had to call the owner and said, "What exactly happens?" He goes, "Something just feels wrong with the steering." So, and when I finally experienced the issue, yeah, funky was actually a good description for it. When I turned the steering wheel at certain times ... So, this is an electric power steering vehicle, electric power steering. I'd turn the vehicle at certain times, the steering wheel would, like, kick. It would lose it's power, and it would just kick in my hand. It was like almost, you know, almost the arm breaking kind of kick. So, it was kind of a strange issue. And then, there's a warning light on the dash for the steering. This was an intermittent issue.

Mark: So, what other testing did you do on the vehicle?

Bernie: First thing, of course, is hook up a diagnostic scan tool and scan the whole vehicle for trouble codes. And what we found was a trouble code P0882, if I remember correctly, which is a transmission control module low voltage code. From there, of course, driving the vehicle was a key thing. And, the other thing I often do is, we have a database, a program that we access that has known vehicle faults. That's usually the first place I go to, to go okay, what could be causing this issue?

So, I go in there, and no one else had ever had this problem. At least, it wasn't in this database. So, sometimes you go, "Oh, that's going to be interesting," because we're kind of maybe not the first to ever see it, but it's a first to kind of publish any issues around it.

So, I mean, I looked at the diagnostic system. Kind of tried to understand the circuit a little bit. And, I tried to understood the circuit and what was going on, and figured okay, this vehicle is not getting power to the transmission module for some reason. It's either a bad battery, charging system, or wiring. One of the above, so it's a matter of making a test.

So next was to do a road test with the vehicle, go and see what was actually happening to it. So, as I mentioned, the steering was doing weird stuff. But then, it would stop doing that. It would seem normal. So, I went out. I road tested it. Hooked up the scan tool again. Looked at the module voltage while we were driving and just to see what was going on with that. And, I've got some pictures here I can show, because it's got some neat stuff to share here.

So, there's our Mazda 3 2015. So, it's only about a four year old car. Not too old at this point in time. This is a road test. So, this is actually monitoring the power steering module. And, you can see, you know, for the most part, this is around 14, 15 volts, which is the normal electrical system. And at some point, all of a sudden, starts dropping down, spikes way up, jumps all over the place. Drops down to almost 0 volts.

So, none of this stuff should be happening. This graph should be, basically, staying kind of around 13 to 14 volts, somewhere in that range. That's where the power should be with the engine running. So, clearly, losing power in the system. And, I noted at some point during the road test, the vehicle would also, when it came to a stop, the transmission seemed to be stuck in third gear. So, I think it had gone into a limp mode now.

What I was able to do is, put the transmission back in park, then go back to drive, and then it would shift normally. But clearly, when this was happening, the transmission module was also losing power at the same time. So, we were kind of onto it.

And, the other thing I didn't mention is, we do a full system code scan. A lot of modern vehicles, you can scan every module in the vehicle. It's really important to look at that. There's a number of low voltage codes in other modules, so that indicates kind of a major power fault in the vehicle.

Then we did some further tests. Now, visually, you know, I thought to myself, "Okay, this car, it's got the original battery. It's about four years old. That's kind of an average life span of a battery." You just visually look at this battery, this is a disaster. You know, there's stuff leaked out here. The case looks bulged. There's corrosion on this terminal, which this alone could cause a lack of power. So the next test was to actually test the battery, which we did.

And, there's the results of our battery tests. Sorry it's a bit of a fuzzy picture. But, 12 volt battery, bad battery. It's supposed to do 520 cold cranking amps. This thing measures 73 cold cranking amps. Although, the voltage, interestingly enough, was good. And, the other thing strange about this vehicle was that, when you go to crank the engine over, it cranked the engine over just fine. So, that's usually the first indicator that a battery's bad, it won't crank the engine over. But, it would do that.

The other interesting thing we do is, of course, we do a full charging system test. So, it did actually test the alternator. Voltage regulator failed, diodes failed. So we have suspected maybe the alternator was bad, but I figured better to replace the battery first, and then test the system after.

Just one other, this is the vehicle. This is the Skyactiv technology, which we'll talk about a little later. Sort of a view of the engine compartment and the battery before replacement. And, what else would we see? The coolant fill here, engine oil fill, and the dip stick there. Air filter in this area, brake fluid. No power steering fluid, because it's electric, so that makes things a little simpler.

Mark: And, was there any other indication that the battery was bad?

Bernie: There wasn't. As I was saying, you know, it's interesting, because I cranked the engine over several times. Because I right away suspected, okay, maybe it's got a bad battery. Cranked the engine over many times, and every time it cranked the engine over, it was just fine every time, so ...

Mark: What happened after you replaced the battery?

Bernie: Well, so, I replaced the battery. Clear the codes in the vehicle computer, went out and road tested it. And everything looked really awesome. Like, that graph that I showed initially, that had the big spikes, none of that was there. Just, everything stayed between sort of low 13 to high 13 volt range, consistently solid the whole time, all the way through.

Then, retested the battery, retested the alternator. That code that came back, the alternator was good. The voltage regulator good, diodes good. So, the battery itself was causing the alternator to malfunction.

Mark: So is that, in your experience, is it a better approach to replace the first known bad part and then retest? Rather than just, "Oh, everything's bad. Fix it all."

Bernie: Absolutely. And, this is why we have customers who, you know, we tell them it's going to be this cost for testing and diagnostics, "Oh, I don't want to pay for that." Well, when you ... We charge for it, because it takes time and proper testing to find the issues. And, we take the time to look at that kind of thing. And, it saves you money in the end.

If you go to somewhere that's just going to go, "Well, we'll do that for free or very minimal charge," they're going to go, "Okay, you got these two bad ... " Or, they're likely going to say, "You got these two bad components. Change them both, and you know, the client's bill would have been at least 500 dollars more, had they not done that.

Now, you know, as I say, we take that two-tiered approach. Let's test this first, see how it works. If there's a savings to do both at the same time, then it's probably worth doing. But, there's no savings. They're completely separate components. It takes very little to just put the battery in, test it, and then just redo the test again and see how it is. Very little extra effort compared to ... Yeah, so that's how we do things here.

Mark: Better for the customer, and easier for you guys in the long run.

Bernie: Well, exactly. And, you know, you can sleep at night better, knowing that we did the right thing, and it's always nice to know we give the customer the best value.

Mark: And, how long should a person expect a battery to last, a car battery?

Bernie: Well usually, I mean, the average life span on a battery is usually five years. Some will last longer. Some will not last as long. I mean, this one's made it for about four. So yeah, five years is about considered average. I mean, I find most cars, yeah, probably four years, four to five.

Mark: Here's another question. So, we're talking about 12 volt starter batteries, which are very different from as we move into an electric future. Batteries are changing incredibly.

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: It's a lead acid battery. So, those dirty terminals from never being cleaned and looked after, maintained properly, is that, perhaps, led to this battery failing prematurely, slightly?

Bernie: I don't think so, actually. I think those corroded terminals actually indicate to me more like the battery's actually bad. Because what'll happen is, when a battery gets bad and old, it'll start gassing more, and it'll ... Like, there's sulfuric acid in the gas, and liquids will come out. That'll cause the corrosion worse. So, I would say it's actually the other way around. The actual battery itself will cause that.

You have a good battery and a good charging system that's not overcharging, generally, terminals don't get corroded. It normally happens from something going bad. And of course, we clean the terminals as part of the service. It's critical.

Mark: And, that's probably thinking back to old batteries when you could fill up with the acid and all that sort of stuff. These are all completely sealed batteries today. Is this more of an issue? Or less of an issue?

Bernie: Well, actually, this battery is actually not a sealed battery. You can actually pop it open and add water to it. And, to be honest, I didn't do that. We don't normally ever do that. You really don't need to do that in any regular type of battery. The only type of battery that you would ever want to service like that nowadays is a deep cycle battery. But yeah, this battery actually still, it's kind of like old technology. You can actually pop the cap open and add ... You only add water to it by the way, because only the water will evaporate out of the battery. The sulfuric acid will never actually evaporate. It all stays in the battery. So, you can add water. But, you got to be careful the kind of water you add, too. You don't want to put any highly mineralized water in, because that can create problems.

But yeah, again, it's like with the age of this battery, even if the water was low in one cell and you topped it out, chances are you'd still have problems. You know, and this battery, again, probably had some kind of internal short circuit or something that was causing it to intermittently malfunction like it did. You know, allowed the car to start, and yet, failed the load test and would intermittently go bad. So, that's kind of the issue.

You know, with batteries nowadays too, I mean, even cars, non electric cars, there's more and more electrical components, so the batteries are more critical than ever. You know, especially like electric power steering in this car. It relies on a good, strong battery. So, and a good charging system. So, even a full internal combustion engine vehicle nowadays, still having a good battery is a critical thing.

Mark: And, you mentioned the automatic transmission had a sensor that was not getting enough power. Is that part of the shifting system, using electricity?

Bernie: Exactly. Yeah, so the code that we actually had stored in the vehicle computer, the main one, was for a transmission control module lack ... You know, like, insufficient voltage. So, again, when the voltage was dropping down from the battery, and say to the steering that I'd monitored, the same thing was happening to the transmission module. And, the same would happen to the engine module as well, I would think. So, I didn't monitor that circuit. There was no code for that, but clearly, that's why the vehicle was driving strangely and the transmission was shifting funny.

Mark: And, sticking in third gear when you stopped.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it's interesting how some of these basic electrical ... Sometimes, you know, when you're testing and repairing cars, you can think, oh, it's going to be some elaborate problem. And often, the basic things are the problem, like, the battery. We had a Chrysler vehicle this week that had a whole bunch of transmission trouble codes. And, we did some research on it and found that often, a faulty alternator caused these. Tested the battery and charging system, sure enough, found the alternator had blown diodes. And, that'll cause huge voltage spikes in the system. And, that'll cause the sensors to ... The computer can't quite read the sensors properly because it's getting strange voltage signals.

So, replaced the alternator, the car was fixed. So a lot of times, the more basic electrical things ... They have to be in good shape for everything to work properly.

Mark: And, the diodes in the alternator are part of what changes that A/C current into D/C to charge and operate the systems, the CAN bus system in the car.

Bernie: Exactly. And, you know, with the blown diodes, what'll happen is, instead of getting a nice clean D/C signal, you'll get a huge spike of A/C voltage that leaks past. So, you get what's supposed to be kind of a fairly flat 14 volts will all of a sudden, will often jump up to like, 16, and it'll keep spiking up and down. And, that just causes real strange, erratic things.

I've seen numerous issues with bad alternators, so we're going to ... drifting off the battery, but the battery and alternator, they really do work hand in hand. And, a bad battery can wreck an alternator. So, it wouldn't have been surprising on this Mazda that it would have needed the alternator. It just didn't in this case. Or, a bad alternator can also wreck a battery. So either way, it's good to make sure they're both healthy.

Mark: So, this vehicle, as you mentioned, has Batman's Skyactiv technology. Does it have a bat signal?

Bernie: No, it doesn't. But, it's Skyactiv, so ...

Mark: What is Skyactiv?

Bernie: Well, it's a name, like Honda Eco Dreams, and yeah. But, it's a technology that Mazda's put together for the best fuel economy, for the best horse power, for the best fuel mileage, you know, which is important nowadays. You know, every manufacturer's trying to get the most they can out of their engines. So some of the features, it's got much higher compression. In North America, it's like 13 to one compression, which is really high for an average engine. I mean, it used to be like, 10 to one was really high. But, 13, that's like race car high. And apparently, in other markets, the engine's actually 14 to one compression, which is like, unbelievably high.

So, they're able to do this through the way they do the valving of the engine. It has direct fuel injections, as opposed to the standard port injection that we've used for many years. So, port injection injects the fuel into the intake manifold right above the intake valve, whereas direct injection, it's like a diesel and injects it directly into the cylinder. And, most engines nowadays have this technology, and it gets way more precise combustion. And, it allows things, having these high compression ratio engines.

So, high compression ratio engine is more efficient. But, there's a lot of problems like engine knock and pings. So, they've had to do a lot of work around that to make sure it doesn't knock and ping, especially on regular fuel. It's a pretty neat accomplishment.

Mark: So, if you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, because they're always busy. Very popular guys, best auto repair in Vancouver. Or, check out the website, YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds, literally, over 350 videos, and blog posts on both of those places about all makes and models and types of repairs. If you like reading about cars, there's tons ... and listening about cars, or two goofy old guys talking about cars. It's on there. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. If you feel motivated, give us a like. Five stars is always nice. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching, thanks for listening. We totally appreciate it.

2005 Mazda 3 Extensive Repairs

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, host of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Of course, serving Vancouverites for over 38 years, repairing and maintaining cars and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How're you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So a Mazda 3 extensive repairs and maintenance. Extensive! What was going on with this Mazda?

Bernie: So, it's a 2005 Mazda 3 and the owner brought the vehicle to us who was heading on a long trip and wanted to make sure the vehicle was road worthy and had a few concerns. And we certainly noted a few when we road tested the vehicle. When you put the brake on, the brakes didn't work too well. There was some severe, sort of shifting in the front end of the vehicle when you hit bumps or applied the brakes. We knew there was something pretty serious in the front end. And this had been a customer that had been coming to us for quite a few years on and off so there was a bit, a couple of deferred maintenance items that needed to be done too.

Mark: So what, when you started tearing things apart, what'd you find?

Bernie: Well, we found a lot of interesting stuff. And I'll just get right into the picture show of what we've got.

So there's our 2005 Mazda 3. Still looks pretty good other than a few little scrapes and scuffs which is kind of normal but overall still a pretty decent looking car for a, what's that make it?

Mark: 14 years

Bernie: Fourteen years old. Yeah. So what'd we do? Well here's a nice pile of parts, and I think this hose here, I think snuck in here from a different job. I came into work Monday morning and there was this big pile of parts from Friday. These were a number of things that were replaced. So struts, we have a pair of struts here, we have a belt, a drive belt, there's a brake caliper here, there's a brake rotor that's been, actually, it was rusted on so badly it cracked in half when it was hammered off. There's brake hoses, there's a control arm bushing right there attached to a control arm, there's a control arm under here. What else do we got? There's am ABS wheel speed sensor sitting here and also some sway bar end links. So quite a few parts and pieces.

So what did we end up finding? So some of the shifting and the severe, dangerous feeling we felt in the front end was due to worn out control arm bushings and severely worn struts. There were some clunks as well contributed by the sway bar end links. So we basically replaced those major front end components. The brakes of course as you can see, the rotors were not in great shape, pretty badly rusted. So we replaced the brake calipers, rotors, pads and the brake hoses had cracks as well. So the brakes got a really good treatment, a full meal deal pretty much everything on the wheel side of the brakes was replaced. We also flushed the brake fluid. I mentioned there was some maintenance items that were deferred. We did a transmission fluid service. So that's a filter replacement and flushing new fluid through the system. No evidence of that in this picture. What else? And serpentine belts, they were worn as well so we replaced them.

There's also an ABS warning light on on the dash and we found that the ABS wheel speed sensor on the right front had a broken wire. You can see this broken wire here, the wiring connector was broken so we replaced it but the speed sensor still wasn't working and we found the actual sensor itself was bad. So we replaced both components and that restored that issue. So the ABS brakes were back in full function.

Just one other closer picture. This is a view of one of the rear brake rotors and you can just see the rustiness, I mean this surface from where I'm moving my mouse here, this should all be shiny metal kind of like this, and not rust. So basically the brakes are minimally effective, you know pushing against a rusted surface. So that's kind of our picture show. Lots of interesting parts, kind of fun when you do a complete repair like this and the car ends up driving away, no clunks and stops well. It's pretty rewarding. I know it was a fair size bill, but the client will leave going, "Hey I got good value for my money because my car's functional and safe again".

Mark: So it sounds like this was a lot of work, almost like a rebuild or partial rebuild of the vehicle. Was it worth doing?

Bernie: Well I think so, but of course every vehicle owner has to make a decision because sometimes when you're faced, and I'm not going to talk about the cost of the bill, but a lot of times vehicle owners are faced with a few thousand dollars bill and they go, No that's it, I'm out, you know, I'm replacing the car. And other people are going, No I'll keep going with it.

This car is, it is 15 years or 14 years old, it'll be 15 at some point. It's 165,000 kilometres, so not really high amount of mileage. I mean if it was over 200, I might be like, ah maybe it's time to not consider doing this. But 165 is not too much for this vehicle. Mazda 3s are a decent, reliable vehicle over all. So I tend to put them on a recommended list of cars to repair, of course, it depends on how far you leave it. But these are items that just needed to be done on pretty well any car if you leave it long enough. And obviously this vehicle has seen some rusty, salty climates to have brakes like that. So it's a little harder on the vehicle.

Mark: So that brings up a point, you said, where's the level of where they've left it too long, would it of been, I mean I know the answer to this, would it of been better to have been doing more regular maintenance and maintaining these items more gradually, rather than waiting for almost catastrophic failure to then repair everything at once? What's the better strategy here?

Bernie: Well I think it's better to repair on an ongoing basis because you don't get hit with a huge repair bill like this. And a lot of times, sometimes we get cars in and people you know, it comes with all this level of repairs and maintenance and people go Forget it, I'm getting rid of the car. Whereas if they'd, and so then they're faced with the purchase of another car which you know in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad idea but it's more economical to just keep repairing things as they go. For instance, it may be that if the car was brought in a year ago, we would of noted that hey, these struts and control arm bushings are worn, let's replace those right now and the brakes may have been ok. So smaller bill, spread out, it's a little easier on the wallet, let's put it that way, and terms of choices. A lot of times if you do things as things wear out, it's cheaper because you don't let things wear as far as they could. For instance, when you have severe front end wear, a lot of times you can end up wearing your tires out prematurely. So in this case, fortunately that didn't happen. But a lot of times, if you have a bd shock absorber or strut, it can cause your tires to wear funny and had you replaced them, you wouldn't be replacing tires as well.

Mark: So it sounds basically like Mazda 3s are very good cars overall and are there any other serious issues or common recurring issues with them?

Bernie: Well there's a few common things, like a couple of things come to mind like check engine lights will often come on and there's a variety of reasons that it'll come on. But one common one on Mazdas is that the thermostat will stick open or they open too soon and you not even necessarily notice a driving issue. Although in a cold climate, you may notice not as much heat in the vehicle, in the cabin. But a lot of times, that'll be a check engine light issue. That's a pretty common item. Ans also, there's a right side engine mount that will often fail and the vehicle will have a vibration when you're, if it's an automatic in drive, there's a certain vibration. So there's a couple common things that tend to wear out on these cars. And the only other issue we found, up until a few years ago, we used to think these were like bullet proof, reliable vehicles, but the 2.3 litre engine which this vehicle does have, does tend to have some problems. They will start burning oil and have some compression issues. So we've done a couple engine replacements on them. And this kind of came along suddenly and then we found out that a lot of other ones had that same issue. So the 2 litre model engine, sort of in this vintage or in the 2000 decade, tend to be really reliable but the 2.3 do tend to have problems after awhile. It's kind of hit and miss. Some of them go forever and some of them develop problems.

Mark: So maintain your vehicle regularly.

Bernie: Absolutely yeah, absolutely just maintain it and you'll get the best life out of it.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them in Vancouver at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You've got to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, hundreds of videos and posts on there, over 600 actually, I checked the other day.

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: Repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars over many years. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, over 400 videos there on repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars and light trucks. And of course, thank you so much to listening to the podcast and watching, we really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Yeah, thanks Mark and thanks for listening and watching. It's always fun.

2007 Mazda MX5 Miata A/C Condenser Replacement

Mark: Hi, It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series. And of course we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And 38 years repairing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well. It's a beautiful day in Vancouver.

Mark: This week's victim is a 2007 Mazda Miata. Had an air conditioning problem. What was going on with this little sports car?

Bernie: So, basically an air conditioning problem. The AC system wouldn't blow cold air, just warm, which of course needed to be repaired.

Mark: And what tests and diagnosis did you have to perform to find out what the problem was?

Bernie: So, with air conditioning, when air conditioning's not working, there's a number of reasons it could not be working. So, we have some set test procedures we do in our shop to properly diagnose and repair the right issue. And that procedure often starts just with a basic test of the controls. And then from there, we test to see if there's actually a refrigerant in the system. The largest problem with air conditioning is generally a refrigerant leak. So, that's the next procedure we go to.

And by the way, the other thing we do is part of testing with this refrigerant to actually identify the refrigerant firsthand. There's ... Almost all cars have a refrigerant called R134A. But along the line, people can either put contaminated refrigerant in if it's been previously serviced, or people put in some ... You can go to auto parts places and buy these fill kits, and so that can contaminate your refrigerant and mucks up our equipment.

So, we test the refrigerant first. Make sure it's proper 134A, of course. Well, we tested this vehicle. We found there was no refrigerant in the vehicle whatsoever. So, we knew that was the start of where we needed to deal with.

So, from there we have a few methods of finding where it's leaking. Often, vehicles will have a UV dye installed at the factory. If it's not installed, we'll have to install it at some point in the process. But in this case, we actually used nitrogen gas. It's an inert gas. You can put ... You can crank up the pressure to three or 400 PSI, which is the maximum pressure of the system. And that's often a good way to find leaks. Thing with air conditioning that's frustrating is we can't always find every leak. Some of them can be hidden, they can be very minute, but we were fortunate in the case of this vehicle, we could actually hear a little hissing sound, and we traced it to a leak in the AC condenser. That's the unit that's located in front of the radiator. And there was definitely ... We could definitely hear hissing coming out of there. So, we were onto it. It was perfect.

Mark: So, what does the AC condenser do?

Bernie: Well, the AC ... Why don't I actually, before we talk about ... Let's just share a couple of photos here.

So, there's our Mazda Miata. And the condenser. There's our view of the condenser. So, what the condenser does is essentially without getting too scientific, it basically takes the heat that was inside of your vehicle cabin and through a process of changing the pressure and the state of the refrigerant. The refrigerant goes from ... It changes state four different times. I'll talk about that in a second. But changing the state of the refrigerant and the pressure, it'll actually disperse the heat that was inside the cabin of your vehicle out into the atmosphere, which is what the condenser does.

So, this sits in front of the radiator of the vehicle, and it'll basically radiate the heat out into the atmosphere. So, same way a refrigerator works. It's exactly the same system. There's four state changes in the refrigeration. There's high pressured gas, high pressure liquid. Low pressured gas, low pressure liquid. It's kind of a neat system, but anyways. It works very well. So, this is a condenser. You can see a sort of little stained area here. It's a little discoloured where I've got the arrow. That's where the leak was coming from. There is also oil in the system. There's ... The compressor, of course, it's a pump. It has pistons or moving parts and requires lubrication.

So, there's oil in the system, and that's a usually a sure fire way to find a leak. However, this condensers buried between the radiator. It's often not visible. So, air conditioning repairs can be definitely some of the trickier work we do in our shop, or any shop for that matter. So, if your air conditioning systems not working, you can expect that it could be easy or it could be very complicated. And sometimes it can be frustrating because it takes a long time to find a leak.

See, just based on personal experience, I have a 2001 Suburban, and the refrigerant leaks in that vehicle after a few months. I've looked high and low. This has a rare air conditioning system to find the leak with all the best equipment I have, and I still haven't found it yet. But of course I haven't start stripping. Sometimes you have to rip things apart to find it, which is very time consuming and costly. So, there's another view of our leak here as well.

Mark: What's the blue arrow showing?

Bernie: The blue arrow shows the receiver dryer, and I know I posed a question for you to ask me, so I'm going to jump ahead on it. And that was was there anything else that needed to be replaced at this time? So, the answer's whenever you do a major repair on air conditioning, it's usually recommended to replace the receiver dryer or cumulator, which is a similar component, but slightly different. This unit actually acts as a filter in the system. It also has a desiccant, which absorbs moisture. Any moisture inside the refrigerant system can be damaging. So, removing that is important.

So, once you develop a leak like this, of course atmospheric ... The air can get in, moisture from the air, it can get into the desiccant and ruin it. So, replacing the receiver dryer is a good thing to do. Often, that's a separate component, but on this Miata, it's actually incorporated with the condenser. And that's something we see on some models of cars. It's ... So, a bonus. The component was wrong in this vehicle, required the receiver dryer to be ... It all actually packaged in nicely for the consumer.

Mark: So, I'm sure this is a question you get a lot. Couldn't you just re-fill the AC system and put something in it to plug the holes?

Bernie: Well, this is a good ... This is a really good example, because we get people calling all the time. My air conditioning's not working. Can you recharge it for me? And the answer we always say to people is, no we have to do a diagnosis first. And people get frustrated because people are not informed properly how an air conditioning system works. It should never leak refrigerant. There is always a problem. If your refrigerant level is low, there's a leak somewhere. Now, there's probably a normal amount that your car will go through, and sometimes if it takes three years or fur years, the refrigerant levels dropped a bit, it's okay to recharge the vehicle. But until we've actually seen the vehicle and assessed it, we can't tell what you're going to need.

Now, you can imagine, we've just shown the example of a hole in the system. How long's the refrigerant going to last if we put it in? I mean, this person wouldn't get a days use out of it, especially when we put the nitrogen pressure and it's hissing. There's a clear leak there. So, the answer's most of the time you can not refill a system. You always need to figure out what's wrong with it. And it's not ... I'm still trying to figure out whether it's illegal to actually refill a system in British Columbia. It's probably not, but it's close to ... It's unethical at the very least.

Mark: And why's that? AC ...

Bernie: Well, a refrigerant ... The refrigerant is a ... It has very high global warming potential. R12, which used to be Freon, the very common refrigerant. It was responsible for putting a hole in the ozone layer. And fortunately, we ... I say 'we' as a species, discovered that, and actually took action and changed it. And that layer is fixing itself, which is fantastic. So, Freon, it was illegal to vent that into the atmosphere. It has to be captured and destroyed. So, R134 was developed as a substituent for that. R134 does not damage the ozone layer, but it does contribute to the greenhouse effect. It's much worse than say the pollution that comes out of ... The exhaust that comes out of your car. Very high amount.

They've actually come out with a new refrigerant now called R1234Y. I should know this. For some reason, I'm having a little ... Haven't got the number right. But anyways, there's a refrigerant. It's been out used on cars, newer cars. It's also ... It's very expensive, but it has no ... It doesn't damage the ... It doesn't contribute to global warming. So, it's a better refrigerant. But I've heard through the grapevine that they might be changing that to something else too. So, I don't know. Every once in a while they change it. But R134A is the common one. It's still widely in use.

Mark: And how are Mazda Miata's for reliability?

Bernie: Oh, they're awesome. They're awesome cars. I've often thought of a Miata as a reliable English sports car, because they're kind of like a classic English sports car convertible with ... But just with that Japanese reliability. They're fantastic cars. We even service some that are really ... They're 20 years plus old, and they're still working well.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik ... Or your air conditioning system. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 6043277112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there about all makes and models of cars, repairs, maintenance, and of course, we really appreciate you listening to the podcast. And thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for watching and listening. We totally appreciate it.

2004 Mazda 3 Windshield Wiper Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. Of course, we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers in 38 years of servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mazda 3. I actually had one of these. This has a wiper problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So, the wiper problem, basically when the owner turned the wiper switch on they wouldn't work, which is absolutely a problem.

Mark: What test did you do to diagnose this issue?

Bernie: So, with any wiper issue, of course, everything's electric. Actually, that makes me think way back a long, long time ago there actually used to be vacuum operated wipers. They used to use engine vacuum, which was really not a good way to do it but they did. It's kind of like free energy. But, anyways. Wipers, the whole system is electric with a few mechanical parts. Obviously, you can see, the wiper arms and blades. But, when you turn the wipers on nothing would make any noise, there was no movement. So, we test the electrical circuits, test the switches, the motor. Everything checked out good, which left only one thing and that was the wiper relay as being the fault in the issue. Kind of process of elimination. So, yeah.

Mark: So, with that being just the relay, I've replaced relays in my pickup trucks a long time ago. But, so that was a pretty simple fix. Was this a simple fix?

Bernie: Well, of course it wasn't a simple fix other wise we probably wouldn't be talking about it today. No, Mazda in their wisdom decided to actually incorporate the relay into the passenger side fuse box unit. It's a very complicated... It's not just a fuse box, but it's actually a complicated unit full of relays for a variety of different items. The relay is not just a pull out unit, which it could be. It's actually incorporated right into the circuitry of the relay. So, that actually involves... That actually makes the repair much more complicated. You actually have to replace the whole relay unit. So let's just have a look at some pictures.

All right. So, there's our '04 Mazda 3. Here's a wiring diagram, just kind of gives you an idea just of what we work with when we do a diagnostic on something like this. This, you know, it's hard to see it because I know the screen's small. But, this is the switch. So there's basically five wires going in and out of the switch. The motor is over on this end of the circuit here. So there's a ground, which is one side of the circuit. Then the other power items are here. Everything else comes out of this fuse box. So there's power in the fuse box, there are... If you can read it this says front wiper low relay, and the front wiper high relay. So there's two relays, they get the information... You get the signal from the switch, and there's also, if you note, there's a little micro computer here as well. So there's quite a lot that goes into this.

So, this is what we're faced with when we do a diagnostic on a vehicle. Especially on the electrical circuit. It's a matter of verifying all those items. So, our fuse box is... There's a view of the fuse box removed from the vehicle. The fuses, we actually took the fuses out before we dispose of the unit. It's always handy to have some spare fuses to use for test purposes. But the fuses sit in here. There's a number of... These are where relays normally sit. But, there were actually no relays in this fuse box. There's the option to put them in, but I guess various cars they use for... Depending on options. But, once... Anyways, there was and actual external replaceable relays. Everything is located inside the fuse box. So, we'll look at a couple other views here.

Here we have one of the circuit... This is one of the circuit boards here. One view of the circuit board. So, we took the relay box apart. So this gives you an idea of the complexity that's inside. I mean, there's a micro processor here. Actually, several of them. These are the back side... There's a couple of relays here. Some capacitors.

Again, I'm just showing you... There's a lot of electrical pieces. This is the other side of the circuit board. Again, several relay's here. Undoubtedly a couple of this are for the wiper. But you can see, again, the complexity. It's not like we can just pull something out, or solder something in. It's a much more complex... Oh, yeah. I was going to say about soldering in, of course. Then there's one other view here. I just got to find my picture. Maybe the picture never made it on the list. Okay, we don't have it here. But that's okay. You get the gist of it. This is actually two circuit boards soldered together. I wanted to show a view of that, and you can see when you look on this one here. You can actually see all these soldered joints here are actually connections all the way around to another circuit board on the other side. So, they put a lot into this box,

Mark: So, what part options were available then?

Bernie: Well, there's new or used. There's plenty of these cars around. A used part was pretty attractively priced, and the car is pretty old. A new one is quite expensive. I believe it was somewhere around the $900-1,000 range, Canadian. The owner opted to go with the used part, which was substantially less expensive.

Mark: How often do you recommend used parts?

Bernie: Well, we look into it for certain things. Again, when you look at a price differential with something like this, between used and new, it's often an attractive idea. Things like brake parts, for instance, you never get those used. Because they're just a wear out item and there's no cost savings. But, certain items it's worth looking at. We do a lot of used engines. The thing with used parts is the warranty is much lower. So there's more risk to the consumer, the customer, our client, if the repair doesn't go well given time that it's going to cost more money to do again. But, we do recommend them a fair amount. At least give the option and someone can choose. There are times where we would never recommend a used part based on we know that something is such a common failure item that it's not worth spending the money on a used part because the risk is too high.

Mark: So, once you replaced this old fuse box, and the relay was working properly... Did this vehicle have the rain sensing wipers? I know mine did.

Bernie: No, this one doesn't have that. Yeah.

Mark: So that might have been one of those other relays.

Bernie: Yeah. The rain censure usually, I mean... Well, that micro computer that we saw in the wiring diagram, which is in that... Of course, you saw in the pictures as well. I mean, it's not hard to just send a... This is the great thing about modular computers is it's easy to just add for the manufacturer. Like, let's just add this sensor, reprogram something and away it goes. It just works with the rain sensor. But, I think the rain sensor is something that comes on newer models. It's a nice feature.

Mark: So, and everything worked, obviously, after you got this together?

Bernie: Yeah, it worked fantastic. Yep. The next thing I was going to say about electrical parts like this used is we can plug them in and right away we know that they work. Now, actually I know a couple podcasts ago we talked about a Mercedes air bag module where you couldn't use a used part because it had to be programmed for the car, and it's... So, it really varies from car to car. Some of them are harder. That's why this auto repair business, it's kind of a custom business. You need to know what works in what car, and what doesn't on the other. What repair works for a Mazda doesn't necessarily work for a Mercedes. Not because a Mercedes is so much better, it's just the way it's made, so.

Mark: So that's from a Mercedes owner as well.

Bernie: Yeah.

Mark: Mazda 3 is getting on in years. These cars are... They've been around for awhile. They've gone through many iterations. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: They're really good. You know, I've been servicing for them years, and years, and years. Through all the different generations. They keep getting better, and better. But, there are good used, I mean it's a good used car to buy. Even these older ones are still good. As time has gone by for certain problems that didn't exist come out... What do I want to say?

They come out of the woodwork so to speak. Like, the 2.3 litre engine seemed so reliable for many years. Then all of a sudden they all started failing. So, if you wanted a better buy a 2 litre engine is... In these older models a 2 litre engine's safer, they don't seem to fail. But, I mean, any old car, and this is 15 years old now, so it's a little long in the tooth so to speak. But, I mean, a really good reliable car. I would highly recommend them.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda 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 the website, YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, 320 plus videos on there about all makes and models, on repairs of all sorts of vehicles. Cars and trucks. Thank you, so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate, and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark. Thank you for watching and listening as Mark said, we really appreciate it.

2009 Mazda Cx9 Power Window Motor Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, 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: I’m doing very well this morning

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Mazda CX9 that you had to do a power window replacement in, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well, it was a driver’s window, I guess it’s no surprise as that’s usually the window that fails most commonly, it’s used the most. The window would go down, then when you went to put it up, sometimes it will only go up part way, the motor would make this weird kind of sound and it just wouldn’t move up. You could grab the window and kind of assist it up but these was a failure in the window motor and the regulator as well.

Mark: so I guess that necessitated taking the door apart. What did you find that was wrong?

Bernie: Exactly, yeah so, basically took the door panel off and then accessed the window motor and regulator, both of them are actually serviced somewhat separately, well sort of together sort of separately. It’s a pretty neat design. I was actually extremely impressed. I did this job myself which is kind of unusual because these days I don’t touch cars all that much but I did this one myself. I was just so impressed with the way Mazda designed this, the motor really easy to remove and then the window regulator, there’s access points and holes where you can access the bolts to unbolt the regulator from the glass, the gear and mechanism and everything on the regulator just comes out really easily. It’s just so well thought out, it’s a nice treat. Some window regulators are just a complete pain, we had a Porsche Panamera with a bad window, it was just a nightmare to change, hours of work and not really necessary and the Mazda works great. Yeah, so that was a nice refreshing thing to see. I’m going to share a couple photos while we’re here. So our 09 Mazda CX9. Nice looking, probably call it a sport utility, a large station wagon sport utility the of vehicle. Power window motor. What impressed me about this window motor as well, it’s just how small it is. Now I don’t have an older window motor to show you but this is the actual motor itself and this is only about two inches from here to here and in the past, a power window motor would of been four times that size for the actual motor part itself. It’s amazing how on modern cars they can make things powerful and effective and so small and compact that they use very little electrical energy. Now of course, this vehicle is eight years old and the window motor is worn out but you know, that’s still a fair good kick at the can for a lot of cars, it’s, some of them last longer but just because it has a bigger motor doesn’t mean it’s going to last longer. But anyways, I just wanted to share a couple of those things there with you.

Mark: So I guess the replacement was pretty easy then, straightforward easy to get to?

Bernie: Yeah, not very labour intensive and as I mentioned, very nice the way everything came apart, really nice, even taking the glass out of the window, once it’s unbolted, a lot of times you can’t get the glass out, there’s a lot to remove, the glass just lifts out through the hole, the opening where it slides up and down. So everything is engineered really well to do this job.

Mark: And how are Mazda CX9’s?

Bernie: Overall pretty good. We’ve actually serviced this particular vehicle since it was brand new and it’s had very few problems. I think the owner had an issue with the transfer case, it was replaced under warranty but really very few problems. Pretty good vehicle, probably not quite as good as say an equivalent Toyota, but generally a lot better priced, and really nice interior features, drives really well. It’s a good vehicle.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service on your Mazda products in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book an appointment, they’re busy you’ve got to book ahead or check out their website We’ve got five years plus worth of videos on there, tons of information. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

2007 Mazda 3 – Engine Replacement

Mazda 3

Today’s featured service is an engine replacement on a 2007 Mazda 3, brought to us by a client from West End, Vancouver.

Mazda 3

2007 Mazda 3 with 2.3 liter engine.

We service many Mazda 3s at our shop and have found them to be extremely reliable vehicles. The problems with these cars are few and those that do occur are very predictable. They happen with such clockwork that a budget of repairs and maintenance could be accurately drafted.

It was quite unusual when this vehicle was towed to our shop dead with a blown engine. There was no compression in all cylinders and coolant was present inside #1 and #2 cylinders. Clearly something had gone badly wrong though the owner’s only experience was that the car lost power on a highway drive and wouldn’t run any more: no strange noises, smoke or high reading temperature gauges were present.

Mazda 3

View of timing chain and cam gears with timing cover removed. These components must be removed and reinstalled with a cylinder head gasket replacement.

Mazda 3

View of overhead camshafts with valve cover removed. These must be removed to access cylinder head bolts.

Exploratory surgery was called for. We removed the cylinder head from the engine, an arduous task due to the chain driven dual overhead cams. With the head off we found something amazing: the engine block had melted between cylinders 1 and 2, and 3 and 4. The cylinder head gasket was also burned between these two cylinders and the cylinder head was damaged beyond repair. Only a severe overheating could have caused this damage but it seemed strange based on our client’s experience of driving the car and the fact that it had been serviced within the past few weeks.

Mazda 3

Engine block with cylinder head off. The red arrows point to the melted areas between cylinders.

Mazda 3

Close up view of burn between cylinders. So much heat was generated that the metal melted.

Mazda 3

View of cylinder head and engine valves. The red arrow points to another severely damaged area.

Replacement of the engine was our only option at this point and the client opted for a good used engine. While rebuilt engines are usually the better option due to their use of new parts and one to three year warranty, they are expensive and there are many good used engines available these days. The disadvantage of used engines is that you are never certain of what you are getting until it is running. The warranty is also much less , so while the bill is cheaper you are taking a risk. Generally it’s a good risk, as 99% of used engines we have installed have been good.

Firing up a replacement engine and doing final road tests is both a nerve-wracking and exciting time. This 2.3 liter engine roared to life after some extended cranking and immediately ran well, though there was one hitch: the exhaust system was filled with antifreeze and engine oil from the previous engine’s melt down. From the moment the engine started there were billowing clouds of white smoke coming from the tailpipe. These continued for several embarrassing kilometers into the road test. Eventually they stopped but it was certainly a testament to the fate that had befallen the original engine.

Mazda 3

White smoke caused by an exhaust system full of antifreeze. It took 15 minutes of driving to burn it out.

2007 Mazda CX9 – Rear Brake Pads And Rotors

Mazda CX9

This weeks featured service is a Rear Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement on a 2007 Mazda CX9, brought to us by a client from Dunbar, Vancouver.

Mazda CX9

2007 Mazda CX9

While a rear brake replacement is hardly an unusual service at our shop, or many other shops for that matter, this particular repair shows a great example of the care and detail that we put into this service.

The very first step before brakes are repaired is a detailed inspection. At our shop we start with visually inspect all components. We measure the thickness of the brake pads and rotors, or drums and shoes. We test the callipers and wheel cylinders for leaks and proper movement. We test the brake fluid. From there we can determine what needs to be replaced.

There is much more to a brake job than simply replacing brake pads. Let’s look at the individual items that require attention. These are all components that we addressed during this rear brake job.

1. The brake rotor. Otherwise known as the brake disc. This component is attached to the wheel hub and usually held in place by the wheel. Rotors are made of iron and vary in quality from car to car and from parts brand to brand. There are cheap rotors, mid priced ones, premium quality and high performance options available for most vehicles. Generally speaking cheap rotors warp easily and wear quicker.

Usually by the time brake pads wear out rotors are also worn out. Rotors are prone to rusting as they are composed of bare metal and exposed to the elements. While they can be machined on a brake lathe this practice has largely disappeared as many shops no longer have a lathe. Fortunately rotors are reasonably priced and a better brake job is done by using new rotors as they are of optimum thickness which helps disperse heat quickly.

Mazda CX9

Old brake rotor, note the excessive rust inside the drum area (center). This is where the park brake shoes apply.

Mazda CX9

New brake rotor

2. Wheel hub. This is where the brake rotor sits and is found sandwiched between hub and wheel. By the time the brakes wear out the hub usual gets rusty. Cleaning the rust corrosion from the hub is critical for a proper rotor fit and to prevent premature warpage and brake shudder.

Mazda CX9

Wheel hub before cleaning. Note the rusty surface.

Mazda CX9

Wheel hub after rust was removed. The parking brake shoes sit behind the hub.

3. Brake caliper. The caliper is the part that squeezes the brake pads against the rotor. It has one or more fluid filled pistons that operate when you press your brake pedal. There are often other sliding components with the caliper and keeping these parts free of corrosion and well lubricated is critical to long brake pad life and efficient brake operation.

The brake pads sit inside the caliper bracket and move slightly back and forth with every brake application. Over time rust corrosion sets in and causes pads to stick. Often pads will wear out prematurely when this happens. An important part of doing a quality brake job involves cleaning, removing corrosion and lubricating these critical moving parts.

Mazda CX9

Brake caliper bracket with shim removed. Note the rust corrosion. This causes the pads to stick and wear out prematurely.

Mazda CX9

Caliper brake after sandblasting away the rust. The shim below is new.

Brake caliper pistons can also seize up and so can the slider pins. When this occurs the calipers need replacement.

4. Brake pads. The brake pads are generally made of a composite material softer than the brake rotors. Once upon a time they were primarily made of that fabulous mineral asbestos. As with rotors, there is a wide variety of product offerings from cheap quality to premium to high performance. Generally we like to use as close to the original manufacturers type of pad as possible. This ensures good braking with minimal squeaks and squeals and good durability. On the subject of durability, many good quality aftermarket pads will outlast the OEM installed pads, sometimes by a substantial margin.

Mazda CX9

Rear brake pads. Old pad on left and new pad on right.

So there are the brakes and a list of components and steps to doing a proper long lasting brake job. Following all of these procedures ensures that the job is done correctly. It is what we do every time at Pawlik Automotive.

For more information on the Mazda CX9 click here

For more about disc brakes click here

Madza Vehicle Hangout

Talking Mazda with Bernie Pawlik, owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 14 time winner of best auto repair in Vancouver.

Mark: Good morning, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re a fourteen time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing awesome. How are you Mark?

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Mazda’s and these are pretty popular cars, especially with the new Madza 3 over the last decade or so. What can you tell us about them?

Bernie: Well, first off, I’ve worked on Mazda’s for years and years and I’ve seen many changes in Mazda cars, they have advanced technology. They’ve always been fairly reliable but I’ve always thought of them as a little bit under Toyota and Nissan, in terms of quality and reliablity, and maybe that’s not true, and Honda to boot, but they’re excellent cars – overall I think they’re great.

Mark: So over the years, I’ve seen a number of similar Mazda and Ford vehicles. What’s going on there?

Bernie: Well at one time Ford owned, until recently, they owned 7% of Mazda so they build some vehicles together which is probably a good idea to create a partnership there. Ford had divested a lot of their stock in Mazda. They still own a tiny bit but they don’t seem to build anything together anymore.

But some of the vehicles that have been outstanding over the years, the Ford small pickup trucks and the Mazda truck are essentially the same truck. The Mazda B series and the Ford Ranger – they’re similar trucks. They have made a reliable, again Japanese vehicles tend to be, I’ve always thought, more reliable than American cars, maybe not recently, but over a couple decades past. So it offered Ford a good, reliable Japanese vehicle and the Ford Probe and Mazda MX6, were a nice sporty car that was a combined effort. The main thing about these combined vehicles, is that you could often buy the Ford product on the used market, for substantially cheaper than the Mazda vehicle – just because it’s an American vehicle it appreciates faster. So if you could buy one of these Mazda Fords, you have a very reliable vehicle for a lot less money than the Mazda vehicle.

One thing that we’ve found over the years is that the parts for these cars, especially if you buy them from the Mazda dealer were often cheaper than buying them from the Ford dealer. Seems like Ford bought the parts from Mazda and just marked them up.

I think that’s one advantage with dealing with an independent auto repair shop is that you get the, we source parts and we offer the best price to our customers, whereas if you went to the Ford dealer, you’d be paying a lot more money for the parts.

Mark: So we’re experiencing a little bit of busy-ness even this early in the morning, which is great.

Bernie: I don’t know if you hear me with all that phone ringing?

Mark: Yeah we did. So what about Mazda’s current vehicles? How are they?

Bernie: Awesome. You know, I think the Mazda 3 is an awesome vehicle, very popular. We work on a lot of those vehicles. They’ve been out for over a decade now and they’re just super, reliable cars. We’ve yet to see one with a bad engine or transmission. I haven’t seen one burning oil which is really a good sign. There are a few issues with them – check engine light comes on for a few different components of fail, but nothing that’s really overly expensive to fix. They’re one of those cars, almost like a Toyota Corolla where you could actually predict how much money you’re going to spend every year on maintenance and repairs which is really nice to have a car like that.

Mazda makes a variety of other vehicles, they have their sport utility CX5, CX9 – totally reliable, very little goes wrong with those to, so they’re great vehicles.

Mark: So Mazda, we touched on the pickup trucks, so how are they?

Bernie: Food, it’s funny we talked about pickups in past tense because I just realized that when I was doing a little research for this hangout that Mazda hasn’t made pickup trucks or sold them for a few years now, but overall they were awesome pickup trucks. For compact pickup trucks they were great, they were very durable. We even have customers today, that have small Mazda B22 pickup trucks that were build in the early ’90’s. It’s a four cylinder truck, really simple, most have wind up windows and a lot of them don’t even have power steering, people just seem to hang on to them, they just keep going and going. We’ve had quite a few brought in for ring and valve jobs on the engines and then they tend to burn oil but they just keep on going and going. So excellent trucks. As I mentioned, the Ford Ranger used to be a Mazda truck as well. So great trucks. If you want to buy a brand new one, you won’t be buying it from Mazda anymore.

Mark: So I guess the conversation about Mazda is never complete without talking about the infamous bongo rotary engine.

Bernie: Yup, so the rotary engine was’t Mazda’s invention, but in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, seized upon the technology and ran with it as a good way to differentiate their brand from the other Japanese manufacturers and they stuck with it for quite a while. In the early ’70’s, they had a huge variety of cars and even a pickup truck with a rotary engine, but that soon died out. The rotary is not the most efficient engine, they tend to burn oil and they fail kind of quickly. Now they’ve certainly improved that but they’re still not a great engine. We work on a fair number of Mazda RX8, although there isn’t a lot of them on the road, we seem to see a fair number of them at our shop. They’re pretty good cars, but I mean the engines do tend to fail at an earlier age and I really wouldn’t want to keep one with much more than a hundred thousand kilometres. Repairing the engine on them is a highly specialized item, Mazda is probably the only people actually sell the engine. So you don’t want to get caught with one of those with an engine failure.
The RX8 seems to be fairly reliable up until the point when the engine wears out. Speaking of rotaries, they no longer make them around 2012 was the last year they made the rotary so that’s moved into the annals of automotive history now and I can’t imagine what the success of the engine that it’s going to come back anytime soon.

Mark: So Mazda, their advertising talks a lot about SKYACTIV technology which is something about fuel efficient cars. So what’s that all about?

Bernie: Yeah, so that’s where Mazda has focused a lot of their energy, their so called SKYACTIV technology and what it is, is redesigned engines and specifically fuel injection systems where they use direct gasoline injection which is quite popular in a lot of other cars. It’s basically the same kind of injection system that has been used on diesels for a long time. It just give gasoline engines an incredible extra amount of efficiency. We haven’t actually worked on a SKYACTIV Mazda because they are still fairly new but I think over the years they’re going to be as reliable as the other Mazdas. The fuel efficiency numbers that they claim are pretty much up there with hybrids, and the great thing about that is you don’t have the complexity that you have with a hybrid – all the extra electrical and electronic devices that potentially can go wrong. Fortunately hybrids have proved to be pretty reliable but you know when things go wrong they can be insanely expensive to fix.

It’s funny, when I was driving into work this morning I passed to Mazdas and they both were SKYACTIV vehicles so they’re really popular.

Mark: So any last thoughts on Mazda?

Bernie: Overall they’re great cars. They seem to have focused their market away from the obscure vehicles like the rotary and the pickup truck – they just focus now on cars and compact sport utility vehicles. Overall very reliable. I would not hesitate to recommend any of them except a RX8, unless you absolutely loved having a rotary vehicle.

One thing we didn’t talk about is the MX5 or the Miata which is I think an awesome car. If you like little sports cars, it’s a great car. I’ve often thought of it as an English sports car that has been built properly and reliable because those cars certainly weren’t at one time. So those are my thoughts on Mazda.

Great cars, very reliable, especially the Mazda 3 is all you can ask out of a car – it starts up every day and takes you where you want to go at minimal cost.

Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik at Pawlik Automotive – again they’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. If you’re looking for a great place to maintain your vehicle, these are the guys to call. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or go to their website – – it’s a world authority on auto repair. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.

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