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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look Into Fixing Your Car

I know that most folks really don’t want to know the technical details of their car repairs: let’s face it, cars are very complex and beyond the understanding of most people. And this is fine, however as a shop owner and technician I think a little bit of insight into what the technician has to do to repair and service your car goes a long way to create a sense of value for you.

With that in mind I’ve included a picture of a wiring diagram from a recent diagnosis on a 2006 Mercedes. The window washer wasn’t working when you push the washer button. No sounds were heard so it was obvious that the pump wasn’t running and the concern was electrical: either the pump was dead or it was not receiving power when it was supposed to.

This wiring diagram shows the complete wiper and washer system and what is amazing to note is, in addition to the numerous wires, there are 6 computers involved with this system! Now before we get too overwhelmed by that complexity (because as technicians we could…) we need to develop a diagnostic strategy. Fortunately in this case the best place to start and not involve all the complex electronics is at the washer pump itself: we access the pump and test the wiring to the pump. While doing this we found that power and ground was good which confirmed that all other items in the circuit, including those 6 computers were good and the pump was bad.

Fixing Car Washer Pump

Wiring diagram: Note the computers which are circled in red. The washer pump is on the bottom left of the diagram

Diagnosing this concern was quite simple but at some time one of these computers may malfunction and diagnosis will be far more complex and expensive.

Now before you get all smug and say “I don’t have a Mercedes, I drive a Chevy”… Rest assured that things are almost as complicated: while there may not be 6 computers there is at least one, if not more.

While it may seem overly complicated to have all of these computers, and in some cases I believe it is, there are specific reasons for it. First, the number of wires in the car is reduced substantially and second, functions in the car are easily integrated. An example is your door lock system flashing the lights and tooting the horn when locking or unlocking your door with the key fob. With that basic system in place adding an alarm function is easy. This is a simple example of the many ways that your vehicle’s electronics coordinate many functions.

There you have a little insight into why a seemingly simple problem can take way longer to fix than you expect and cost what it does. The realm of the Auto Service Technician is complex and the tasks that we must perform in order to keep your car in great shape require expert knowledge and ongoing training.

How We Save You Money By Repairing Instead Of Replacing

When it’s possible and we can be certain of doing a lasting repair we will choose to repair something instead of replacing it.

Here’s an example from a recent repair on a 2002 Acura MDX.

Our client’s concern was that the right headlamps were not working. During our diagnosis we found that the low beam bulb just installed by the client was defective and worked fine after we put in one of our own. The right high beam however did not work and I also noted that the DRL lamp on the dash was on and that the DRLs (Daytime Running Lamps) did not work. Diagnostic testing found that these concerns were caused by a defective DRL module. We were able to open up the module and while inspecting inside found a couple of dried up solder joints connecting a relay to the circuit board.

DRL circuit board: the yellow arrows point to the broken solder joints which only require resoldering to restore the DRL module to full operation

At this point repairs could go 2 ways:

1. Replace the DRL module; or 2. Solder the bad connections.

Our client opted for the 2nd option and saved over $100. That’s just one way that we save you money whenever we have the option.

Proper Diagnosis Saves You Money

Proper diagnosis is essential before repairs. It sounds simple and makes sense but it is amazing that some folks would rather avoid this critical step. The same holds true for many auto repair shops who would rather guess at what is wrong and waste your money on unneeded repairs.

We recently serviced a 2000 Dodge Truck that had a check engine lamp on and a slightly rough running engine. The vehicle had been at another shop where they replaced spark plugs, ignition wires and a fuel injector in #8 cylinder. We found that the check engine lamp was on for a code P0308 which indicates a misfire detected in #8 cylinder. While the previous shop must have found this code, the fact that a number of parts were replaced and the concern remained indicates that diagnosis was not done. In all fairness the spark plugs and ignition wires may have been old and been due for replacement but it looks like the fuel injector was just a guess.

We took the time to do a proper diagnosis and found the concern was caused by poor compression in #8 cylinder. After the cylinder head was removed and tested, a crack between the intake & exhaust valve seats was found to be the culprit. With a new cylinder head installed the truck ran great, as it should have if proper diagnosis was done the first time.

Dodge V8 cylinder head showing crack between valve seats

What We Do – A BNI Presentation

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

Good Morning, I’m Bernie from Pawlik Automotive.

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

Pawlik Automotive is an auto service shop located in the Marpole area of Vancouver, BC. We’ve been in business since 1991 which makes us 20 years old this year. We service most makes of cars and light trucks and we do pretty much all the maintenance and repairs that your car will need. What we don’t do is bodywork, windshields and detailing.

I want to speak today on a few aspects of our business that are unique.

Let’s face it there are a lot of auto repair shops out there but there are several things that make Pawlik Automotive an excellent choice for servicing your vehicle.

Wholistic Approach

We take what I call a wholistic approach to vehicle service. Auto Inspection reportWe look at the whole car, evaluate it and let you know what service is required now and what is required in the future. The basis of that service comes via this very colorful and detailed inspection form. Having us as your partner in vehicle service undoubtedly saves you money in the long run.

An Honest Mechanic

We don’t use a heavy handed or fear based tactics as a way of selling service.

    I can give an example from this week: we had a client who complained that her brakes were making a noise. I drove the car and noted a grinding noise at some times: it was intermittent and coming from her front brakes. Upon inspection we found 4 mm remaining on the brake pads and the rotors were in good condition. 4 mm on this car could last another 20 to 30,000 kilometers and there was no safety issue involved. We let her know that we could replace her pads & rotors now and eliminate her noise or she could safely leave them and live with the noise. She opted to leave them, a $500 sale walked out the door while our integrity remained intact!

Fleet Maintenance

Another area of specialty for us is fleet maintenance: essentially these are vehicles used for business and most often these would be trades companies: plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, rubbish removal companies and garden maintenance companies just to name a few.

What makes our service so valuable to fleets is our thorough inspections along with accurately recording the work needed and booking future appointments along with reminding them of when service is needed.

    I can give an example of how we’ve helped one of our fleet clients: Action Integrated SecurityWe service a company called Action Integrated Security who have about 15 vehicles, mostly heavily loaded vans. When they started bring their vehicles to us they were in pretty bad shape but we got them maintained to our high standards.
    One area of concern remained and that was that some of their vans were eating brakes at an alarming rate and this was in spite of our use of the best quality brake parts available. After a few of their trucks ran into horrifically expensive brake jobs which could have been prevented by inspections, the company’s owner, upon my suggestion now brings all of their vehicles to us for every service.
    They had been going to quick lubes for oil services as this was convenient for them as their technician did not have to be without a vehicle. Unfortunately quick lubes don’t look at the whole vehicle and much was being missed. We now inspect their brakes at every service and note any quick wearing brakes so they can be dealt with before they wear out. This is saving them a lot of money.

Diesel Vehicles

Diesel cars and diesel trucks are another area of specialty for us. Many auto repair shops don’t do diesels but we love them and have invested in the equipment and education to diagnose and repair them properly.

    An example of some of our diesel service is on 6 liter Ford diesels:Ford Diesel Head Gasket Repairs these are very common in pick up trucks from 2003 to 2006 model years. Unfortunately this engine is not reliable stock but with proper repairs it can be made bulletproof and we have done this to a number of these engines.

Proper Diagnosis

Doing proper diagnosis is very important to fixing a modern vehicle and it is a big part of our business and it’s something that we do very well. There are many expensive parts to go wrong so it is essential to take the time to find out what the exact cause is so that our client’s money is not wasted.

    Here’s an example of the value of diagnosis: A couple of days ago we had a Dodge truck with a check engine lamp on and it’s engine running with a slight misfire. His previous shop had not done diagnosis but had installed many parts in hopes of fixing the concern: new spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap & rotor and a fuel injector in 1 cylinder.
    They had charged him a fair amount of money and while some of these parts may have been needed they had not solved his concern. We diagnosed his concern and found a bad intake valve in #8 cylinder which required some engine work. Chances are most of the other parts were unnecessary and were a waste of his money: had this vehicle owner done diagnosis first he would have undoubtedly saved hundreds of dollars.

Pawlik Website

Over the past few years I’ve invested heavily into our website and created educational materials. I write blog articles frequently about all sorts of auto repair topics and have created several videos on how we do our work and what makes us unique.

I encourage you to take the time to look around as it explains a lot about how we do things here at Pawlik Automotive.

If you have someone that you’d like to refer to us please ask them to look at our videos as it will give them an idea about how we do things and what makes us unique. Pawlik Auto Repairs YouTube ChannelWhile I have fun making these I do it so that people will learn about what makes their vehicle tick and what goes into the work that we do so they can get a better understanding of the value that we offer.

Please take a couple of minutes to view one of my videos this week. Just go on You Tube – Pawlik Automotive. I’d love to hear your feedback.

So Much is Riding on Your Tires

If you feel a wobble, vibration or hear clunking sounds while driving your vehicle it would behoove you to have your vehicle inspected for the concern as soon as possible. We recently serviced a Mercedes with, what the client described as a vibration in the vehicle at around 60 kilometers an hour. During my road test the vibration was very apparent and to the point that driving in the vehicle was uncomfortable. I suspected a bad tire in the rear and slowed my speed because it felt dangerous. Up on the hoist it was apparent that both rear tires were badly worn especially the right rear. After inspecting the old tires off rim I noted this very dangerous crack between the tread and the tire casing: it was only a matter of time before this tire completely blew apart. The lesson here is you never know when a shake or vibration is going to cause a catastrophe so it is best to have the concern inspected immediately. The same goes for clunks and other odd noises. Sometimes noises and vibrations are really no safety concern at all but it is best to have it professionally looked at to be certain.

Dangerous tire: note the crack running along the edge of the tread

Auto Repair Diagnosis

Diagnosis for Check Engine Lamp

Acura Repair Diagnosis – The Computer Does Not Make it Simple!

Today we’re going to do a diagnosis on an Acura 3.2 TL. Our clients complaint is that the check engine light is on and the vehicle otherwise runs fine.

We’re going to go through the whole diagnostic process and you’re going to get to see just what’s involved in diagnosing a “check engine lamp” concern.

Clients often are concerned about the cost of diagnosis. They can’t quite understand what’s involved.

“Can’t you plug a computer in and tell me what’s wrong with it?”

Here’s a video that shows why…

Car repair diagnosis video shows how we methodically diagnose and repair a check engine light problem on an Acura. Pawlik Automotive – call 604-327-7112

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Auto Repair Diagnosis Our clients complaint is that the check engine light is on and the vehicle otherwise runs fine.

We’re going to go through the whole diagnostic process and you’re going to get to see just what’s involved in diagnosing a “check engine lamp” concern.

Clients often are concerned about the cost of diagnosis. They can’t quite understand what’s involved.

“Can’t you plug a computer in and tell me what’s wrong with it?”

Diagnosis for Check Engine LampOnce we plug it in… that only gives us a direction with the information. To find out what’s wrong we have to follow up with further tests. The piece of equipment that we’re going to use today is our Snap-On Modus diagnostic tool.

We can scan the vehicle’s computer and from there we can get the basic information about what codes are stored in the vehicle’s computer.

On our scan tool, we’ve got several codes that are stored. One, the P1676 I’m not certain of so we’ll have to look that one up. There’s several engine misfire codes from cylinders 1, 4, 5, 6 and there’s also a code for the Evap system.

Diagnosis Computer CodesWe’re going to take the vehicle on a road test now to find out what’s going on… I’ve been driving for a little bit and the engine doesn’t appear to be misfiring and it seems to be OK.

Back at the shop, let’s look into those trouble codes that were shown on the scan tool in 3 different systems of the vehicle. The first issue P1676, is a communication issue between the transmission computer and the vehicle computer.

The second issue is all the engine misfire codes. The third issue is the P1456 Evap code and that seems to be involved with the fuel cap. That has been a very common failure on this vehicle.

We produced this video to show you what’s involved in diagnosing a modern vehicle that has the check engine lamp on. The test procedures are different for every vehicle and every type of concern.

The basic principle is still the same. It is not simply a matter of plugging in the diagnostic computer and having it tell us what is wrong. The computer is only part of the diagnostic process, giving us trouble codes and information that the vehicle computer sees.

Diagnosis Ignition coil replacementFrom here, we must test specific components and wiring circuits to find the real cause of the concern. During this diagnosis you got to see both a simple and a complex diagnosis and we hope that this helps you understand what’s involved in properly diagnosing and repairing a modern vehicle.

Range Rover Air Suspension Repairs

Range Rover air suspension parts

Among the many luxuries of the Range Rover is its air suspension system which is immensely useful for allowing this truck to ride low and safely at high speeds, and yet with the push of a button to gain a few inches of ground clearance for slow speeds on rough roads. Over the years we have serviced air suspension systems on many vehicles including Subaru, Lincoln, Cadillac and Range Rover. Undoubtly, air suspension adds complexity to a vehicle and with that complexity comes more repairs. Often these repairs are very costly with the air spring or strut costing into a thousand dollars per corner and the compressor assembly in the hundreds to thousand dollar range.

Recently we came across a refreshingly inexpensive air suspension repair on a 2006 Range Rover HSE. An air suspension failure warning appeared on the dash and the system became inoperative: stuck in the high ground clearance position. With scan tool attached we found a trouble code indicating a blockage in the air suspension exhaust system. Further diagnose found the cause of the concern: a plugged air compressor muffler. With the muffler plugged, the system could not vent the air from the springs and lower the vehicle!

The newly designed muffler on left and the old plugged up unit on the right

The muffler’s function is to quieten the air flowing in and out of the compressor and over time this one had plugged. After replacing the muffler along with an updated dryer assembly to prevent future failures, the system functioned normally. Diagnosing the Range Rover is a real treat when compared to many of the older generation air suspension systems. The Range Rover features a comprehensive series of trouble codes to help pin point areas of concern along with excellent scan tool data readings of all components. This is in contrast to systems found 10 to 20 years ago on Subaru, Lincoln & Cadillac which had no scan tool data and perhaps a few basic trouble codes.

Is air suspension worthwhile? I can answer it this way: yes it costs more to repair but it is unbeatable for giving a vehicle the versatility to ride level under all load conditions and if so designed, to give a vehicle like the Range Rover the best of both worlds: a comfortable to drive city/highway cruiser and a serious, high clearance off-road vehicle.

Ford 6 Liter Diesel Cylinder Head Gaskets: The Right Way

F350 Head Gasket Repair

Serious repairs require serious action: take this 2005 Ford F350 Superduty diesel repair for example, where we recently replaced cylinder head gaskets. This is a huge job which was made a lot easier by removing the truck’s cab.

While this may seem to be an extraordinarily complex amount of work, removing the cab to access the engine is well worth the effort. Having done it with both cab on and cab off I can say that this is the only way to go: the several hours to remove the cab make the engine repair so enjoyable. Without the cab confining the engine, we can stand right beside it with nothing in the way to interfere with the work at hand.

For this particular repair our client wisely opted to replace the head bolts with studs: a repair that is sure to last as studs provide a superior clamping force to bolts. Doing the head gasket with studs requires cab removal.

With the engine repairs completed, the cab was lowered back into place and all systems were reconnected to the engine and chassis in much the same way as happens on the assembly line.

While some businesses like to advertise “no job too small” you can see that for us, no job is too big!

Ford F350 Superduty with Cab off exposing the 6.0 Liter engine

Turn Signal Switch Repairs With A Surpising Twist.

Subaru turn signal switch

OK, I’m being a bit facetious but every once in a while I get surprised when repairing a car.

Today I had a 2001 Subaru H6 Outback with an interesting turn signal concern: when the signals cancelled to the center (off) position there was a very fast ticking sound coming from the signal flasher. Clearly there was a defect in the turn signal switch causing a slight amount of current flow to the flasher unit.

Removing and inspecting the switch was the next step and here’s where the miracle was found. The switch not only removed easily and separately from the rest of the switches on the steering column but it was also possible to dismantle it. Upon dismantling I found excessive carbon sticking to the grease inside the switch. This carbon allowed a slight amount of current to continue flowing through the switch. Cleaning the carbon and old grease, regreasing the contacts and reassembling the switch was all it took to restore proper operation.

Inside the switch, note the dark carbon deposit, this was causing current flow to flasher unit. After cleaning the black was all gone

This is where we differ from many shops in that we will take the time, when possible, to dismantle and repair a part as opposed to just changing the part. It was a miracle that this part could be serviced this way as most units are sealed and can’t be repaired.

It’s also a shame, because in many cases we can save our clients lots of money with repairs.

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