Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking Mercedes today. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So a 2008 ML350 that had an ABS problem warning light. What was going on with this SUV?
Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle was brought to us. It had a number of lights on, on the dash. Primarily the ABS light was the biggest concern. He'd actually taken it to another shop to have it scanned and diagnosed and repaired. But they, well, we can talk about this one later, but to make a long story short, it was at our shop too to be looked at. So we scanned the vehicle and found some interesting stuff.
Mark: So, is there any other diagnosis that you had to do after scanning it?
Bernie: We did. For sure. So, part of the procedure of course is to, with any diagnostic is to road test the vehicle. We did that the vehicle drove fine. You know, the thing about ABS lights to know is that when usually when an ABS warning comes on, it doesn't usually affect your braking system, because your base breaking system works as normal. It's just the ABS features, you know, that sort of antilock feel. If you've ever pressed the pedal hard and it, you feel the pedal vibrate, that will be shut off. In the features of antilock braking, which, you know, prevent the wheels from skidding, won't happen.
So you've got your basic brakes, but anyways vehicle drove fine. We found quite a few trouble codes starting the vehicle, but all of them pointed to the left rear wheel speed sensor. And there was all sorts of different descriptions for the codes. Mercedes are very detailed in a lot of their code descriptions and tests that they do on these things.
So there was even one that said perform visual inspection on censor, which I thought was kind of an interesting code description. So clearly we knew where the area of the problem was. And so our next step of our tests and unfortunately I have a video I really wanted to show. Maybe we'll maybe we'll be able to put it in with the with the final podcast, but it's not here available today, but we were able to look at each wheel speed sensor when we drive the car and compare how each centre’s operating.
So the interesting thing I noticed right away, so it has, you know, each wheel speed sensor and you would expect as you're driving down the road to have a reading of it. You're going like five kilometres an hour, five miles an hour. However it is. And they should all be relatively the same. Well, the interesting thing was as I went to that screen with the vehicle sitting in park and the engine running, you can see the left rear wheel speed sensor was, every wheel speed sensor said 0.7 of mile per hour. For some reason, I guess that's the default number when you're not moving. The left wheel speed sensor would start reading 3, 4, 10 miles an hour without the vehicle even moving. So clearly we knew there was a problem in that area of the computer or the sensor.
Mark: So you've found the bad sensor. Do you just change a sensor or are there any more tests that you do after that?
Bernie: You know, there's always different ways to deal with diagnostics. I'm going to actually go to a screen share here we'll just look at a few pictures while we're talking here.
There's the vehicle 08 gasoline powered pictures. There's a new and old wheel speed sensor. You can tell it's the old one, because there's a bit of rust and corrosion, which we frequently find. And wheel speed sensors can often be problematic to remove cause they rust and corrosion in place.
Fortunately, this one was not too difficult to remove and this is the actual speed sensor located bolted up in the wheel hub in the rear. There's the wire. So no, we don't just change the sensor. I mean, sometimes depending on what tests need to be done and depending on the price of the parts, sometimes we'll make the decision with the client. Let's change that piece first. In the case of this, we were able to do some testing on the wiring, resistance tests, and wiggle testing the wiring, and found that we when we would actually be under the vehicle, looking at the scan to a wiggling the wire, you can see the numbers jump around back and forth and normal and resistance test found the sensor was defective.
So there are other things that could have been. You know, there's a wire that runs from the rear of the vehicle to the front. Sometimes those are problematic. Not very often. The computer itself can be bad too. And we found that in other vehicles. So just jumping to the conclusion of let's just change the sensor can often lead to a, without a proper dialogue with the client can often lead to some dissatisfaction. Let's put it that way.
Mark: So, how was it all after replacement?
Bernie: Yeah it was good. Yeah. You know, right away the readings were normal. Everything read 0.7, when you're sitting there, no fluctuations are moving around. And once we drive it down the road, the vehicle ran you know, all the numbers were fine. All the warning lights went out. We cleared all the codes, nothing returned. So all good.
Mark: So the ABS sensor on this at 2008, so it's a 12 year old vehicle. Would it make sense to change any of the other ones or do you wait for them to go bad?
Bernie: We wait for those to go bad. So I think with wheel speed sensors, they're usually replaced as needed type of thing. They do tend to fail kind of on their own. It isn't like if one fails, the rest of them are gonna fail shortly after. And there's really no, other than diagnostically, there's really no advantage to changing the other ones because it's all a separate labor item to replace. It's on a different corner of the car. So there's no labor savings in doing them. And I've found in the past, if you change one, sometimes you won't have a problem for a long time with the others. Good question though.
Mark: So this is a gasoline powered ML350, how's it for reliability, especially compared to the diesels, which we know have a little bit of issues.
Bernie: Yeah. If you want to know about the diesels, of course, we have a many podcasts. I don't know how many, but there's gotta be 10 or 20 on diesel Mercedes, maybe even more. We do a lot of them. There are a lot of issues with the diesel engines, which don't happen with the gasoline engine. So you know, the rest of the vehicle like these ABS sensors are the kind of issue that'll happen on a gas or diesel. Suspension issues happen as well. But I'd say overall, a gasoline vehicle is definitely more reliable than a diesel, with the less expensive problems going wrong. So of course, your fuel, your price to drive it down the road is more expensive because of the fuel, but the diesel is very economical, but when it comes to repairs, the diesel will cost a lot more.
Mark: So there you go. If you're in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the place to go to get your Mercedes fixed is Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. Website is pawlikautomotive.com. The YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on all makes and models and types of repairs on both of those places. As well, thanks for watching. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review if you're so inclined, and thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. We really do appreciate it. It's a pleasure to do this.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Now we're talking AMGs, how are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well?
Mark: So a tale of two AMGs. What was happening with these two Mercedes high-performance vehicles?
Bernie: So the first car we'll talk about the C63 came our shop for some service. I found something interesting about this car. I actually own a SL55, a bit older and, there was a commonality between these two cars, not just that they're AMGs that I thought was, this is kind of neat. Lets let's do a podcast and talk about AMG vehicles.
So the C63 came to our shop with a few issues. The owner suspected that perhaps he had a head gasket leak because his coolant was down. The engine was running rough. Fortunately for him, we never found any of those issues. And I think he may have been a little, I don't know, maybe read some stuff on the internet or got a little, jumped the gun anyway.
There are some other issues with that C63 that we found, but I think that the base engine itself is probably in pretty good shape.
Mark: So your car is about 17 years old, 180,000 kilometres or so I think. Yeah. So what's the difference? What was the commonality between these two vehicles?
Bernie: Yeah, so the commonality is that these engines, so AMG engines are hand-built in a very fancy factory. I might add. There are a lot of really cool videos you can watch them on how they build these. I've watched one myself. It's pretty neat. So it's not like some guy in a dusty shop putting an engine together. This is like a, you know, building an engine in a laboratory, but the AMG engines are all hand assembled.
And on top of the engine, they have a little tag that has the name of the engine builder. So what I noted is that the engine builder for these two cars was the same. These engines was the same guy. Ricardo Beck. So if you actually get a chance to watch this podcast here, your engines are still performing well out there. 17 years later on an SL55 with 180,000 kilometres. Still runs like a dream. So good work, Ricardo.
Let's look at a couple of pictures while we're at it. So this is a 2003. These cars look kind of the same for quite a few model years.
And the other vehicle we have in our story here, this is a 2009 C63 AMG as well. You know, quite different cars, I mean the SL55 of course is a hard top convertible Roadster. This is basically a four door base model sedan, but with the large 6.2 litre engine in it.
So, let's get into looking at some pictures of engines. So this is the engine in the C63. And you can see the name tag right here, Ricardo Beck. And this is a 6.2 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine. And this is Ricardo's older work the SL55, 5.4 litre supercharged V8.
Mark: So what's different about these two engines other than the size?
Bernie: Yeah. So the displacement is different, obviously. So we'll let's talk about the 5.4 litre the, in the SL55. So this is supercharged V8 5.4 litres. It's an overhead cam engine, three valves per cylinder, two spark plugs per cylinder. Interesting. It's just kind of technology of the day, and non variable valve timing. Whereas if we look at the, we'll just get into the six point, this is a 6.2 litre naturally aspirated.
So the other engine we'll look at it in a second.
This is the intake manifold, the air filters sit here and a lot of that is done for visual. I mean, these are nice looking engines. When you pop the hood, they look good. Even my wife is not really a car person looks under the hood of our. SL55 and that's a good looking engine. So they've done a really nice job in terms of the visuals of these engines. Especially since a lot of cars, they put plastic covers around everything. You can't see anything. These are variable valve timing on intake and exhaust cams. So it's more sophisticated in terms of how the actual, the base engine itself is built than the 55, which is kind of older technology. The supercharger sits right here. These are the intercoolers, which cools the air that goes into the engine. Then the air filters sit out here, but kind of, you know, kind of a similar sort of look to these engines.
Mark: So what about performance wise? How different are they? I imagine that the huffer-less (supercharger-less) one is a little bit less juice.
Bernie: It's a little last, but not a lot. I mean, they both go really well. They've got a lot of immediate and instant power. I really like superchargers and not just in the Mercedes, but in other vehicles. And remember, years ago I had a customer, the Ford Lightening truck. So it's about the same size engine I think, it's a 5.4 supercharged. And because this is a pickup truck like an, F-150. Driving it you tap the gas pedal and it's like, the power is instantaneous. Like, Oh man, you can really get addicted to this. It's pretty nice. You know, probably basically equivalent to like, you know, a decent electric car has. It's about as close with an internal combustion engine I think that you can get to an electric car feel. Because it's the power, so immediate. And you know, compared to like, you know, Mercedes has a lot of turbocharged twin turbo models, they kind of got away from supercharging, not a hundred percent sure why, but you know, you can notice, I mean, even though the turbo models have an immense amount of power, there's just this immediacy of the supercharged engine. That just has that microsecond of extra, immediate power that you don't get even with two turbos and all the engineering they put into it.
Mark: So are there different levels of AMG engines and vehicles?
Bernie: Well, generally speaking, the AMG engines are pretty much the same and one thing that's nice about AMG is even though they are kind of an exclusive upper end car, they are mass produced. And you know, the nice thing about any of these engines are available in a wide variety of lines of vehicles. So for instance, the 5.4 litre supercharged engine is available in a G wagon, you can get it in E series, you can get it in an S series, CLS. Variety of models. So it's available across the platform and same with the C63. You see that again in a variety of models also.
So the engines are pretty much the same. Some of them have slightly more horsepower, slightly less, but they're pretty much the same. There's certain trim packages that are slightly different. For instance, in the SL55 I have, you can get different brake packages and mine has the cheaper brake package. Although it's got, you know, fantastic, huge rotors and pads, it doesn't actually have the real, the extra AMG brake package. Which provides even better breaking than, you know, I mean I can stop that car almost instantaneously. But you can get better brakes.
The good news about having the cheaper brake package is, it's way cheaper to fix. The brake rotors on the AMG package are about $1,200 a piece. The ones on the one I have are about $300, which is kinda nice when it comes time to repair it. But, you know, if you're driving continuously, racing, you'd probably want the fancier brake package.
So those are a couple of things. But the other thing that just to watch out for, you can certainly see a lot of cars in the road that says AMG on the back. People, you can buy AMG tags. You can get wheels that are AMG package. So Mercedes offers, you know, a little upgrades and people sometimes put them on to try to make the car look fancier, but you can always tell if it's a true AMG by the actual model number of the car.
For instance, like a SL55, is the AMG version. Whereas the non AMG is an SL500 or an SL550, depending on the year. So if it has the three digit sort of engine code or model code, then it's not an AMG. So that's kind of the difference.
Mark: So reliability is probably not a major concern for someone who's looking at an AMG, but how reliable are they?
Bernie: Well, they are really reliable. You know, that's the nice thing about them too you can get a really high performance car that's super reliable and, you know, while it's not a Lamborghini or Ferrari, it's pretty damn close. An SLS is upscale, is up in that class, but you pay a lot more money for that model. But you know, they depreciate heavily which is nice. So if you're looking for a used one, you can buy one for pretty cheap and they are pretty reliable. I mean, they're well-built cars. I, haven't spent a lot of money on the SL55 I've got considering the mileage. I mean, fortunately I can fix it myself, which is a savings. And I mean, don't expect to buy one and have it be cheap to maintain because they are expensive, but they are generally a well built, reliable car. They're just complicated. There's a lot that can go wrong with them and parts can be expensive.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your AMG or any Mercedes-Benz product in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Always check out the website. pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of articles and videos on there all makes and models and types of repairs. Our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts from. And thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and still functioning, still running during the COVID-19 craziness. Talking Mercedes-Benz this morning. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So a 2011 Mercedes GL, 350 that had air suspension problems. What was going on with this seven passenger SUV?
Bernie: So the owner brought the vehicle to us. He'd had some previous suspension issues repaired elsewhere, but he'd run into some other problems. The rear end of the vehicle was sitting very low and he'd found a few little bits and pieces lying on the ground, which he showed to us.
Some plastic pieces underneath the vehicle, but essentially the vehicle was sitting, you know, on a kind of an upward slope with the backend on the ground.
Mark: Never a good sign when you find plastic underneath your car that looks like it's designed for the car. So what and diagnosis did you do?
Bernie: So, of course first part of our air suspension diagnosis is a visual inspection to just see what the vehicle is doing. Verified, of course that the vehicle back end was sitting quite low, scan the vehicle computer, found a, you know, a number of codes for certain issues, but the really biggest part of the inspection was of course, figuring out what were these plastic pieces and why was the backend sitting low. So we hoisted the vehicle and we found the left rear airbag had basically was blown apart and it had come right off its mounting.
It kind of just clips into place. It's not really held in by anything other than its own, as a bag expands, it kind of mounts in the control arm and in the frame of the vehicle, but it's not really held in. It's lightly held in place at the top, and it'd come out completely out of its spot. And the plastic pieces were parts of the left rear ride height sensor.
So this is, this is what we found was wrong. And also the right rear airbag was completely deflated. So it wasn't blown, but you know, same age as the left side. So we figured, Hey, let's just start with both the rear airbags and get a new ride height sensor.
Mark: So what repairs were involved?
Bernie: Well, let's have a look at some pictures. So there's our Mercedes. This is after the repair of course, sitting nice. But when it was brought in this fender was sitting very low, near close to the tire.
So what repairs were involved? So replacing both rear air springs was needed and also the ride height sensor. This is the ride height sensor right here. And there's a, it's kind of hard to see in this picture, but there's an arm that sticks out off of here. And actually you can see everything. There's an arm that comes off of here. This is snapped off, that connects to a piece like about, about three inches long. It clips up here. So as the spring came off, it just knocked this and broke everything apart. Got another interesting shot here. This is a comparison of the old and the new, and you can, it's pretty clear to see what's wrong with this bag. The thing I wonder about this, did this thing make a really loud boom when it blew up or did it just kind of tear apart? But it's kind of interesting, but this is the bottom part of the air. So this just sits in the control arm and this part here actually does clip up into the frame of the vehicle, but it just kind of holds in place. And as the airbag is inflated, it will sort of mount and hold everything in place.
I mean, another example is the air spring normally sits up here at the top and then at the bottom and I can't exactly, I think it sits somewhere in and around this area. So those are the pieces we replaced.
Mark: Did that solve all the issues?
Bernie: No. Of course, after doing it, then we, start the vehicle up and with our scan tool, we can inflate the system. So it has an air compressor and the system needs to be inflated and everything worked fine on the left side, but the right side airbag would not inflate. So there was some further diagnosis and testing that we needed to do. And what we found is that the air suspension valve block was defective and causing that part of it not to work. So that's the piece.
So this is the other piece we needed to replace. It wasn't evident until we replaced the left side. And this is why we often explain to our clients when we find an issue, we say, okay, this is what we know so far, and this is what we've got to fix first. And often it'll solve everything, but sometimes it doesn't. And in the case of this vehicle, this is what we found.
So this valve block here there's basically five fittings here. And one of them comes from directly from the compressor. Four of these go to the different air springs and you can see electrical terminals here, so that the air suspension computer will gather all its information, how's the vehicle sitting? What's the height? You can also command the vehicle to sit higher. So as the computer receives its commands, it'll send electrical signals. There's air pressure in one area from the compressor, and this will pump up the springs as needed. So there are a number of solenoids. There's at least four to five solenoids in here that will open and close as needed. And this one was defective because it wouldn't allow any air flow from this area. So there's a network of plastic hoses that run through the vehicle that carry the air to the each air spring. So this is the other item that we replaced.
Mark: So you replaced that part? How did it all work from there?
Bernie: Awesome. Yeah. Everything worked fine. Everything levelled out really nicely and inflated properly, adjusted fine. Everything worked really well. And vehicle road fine.
Mark: So are there any, like further concerns or issues with this type of vehicle suspension?
Bernie: Well, so we replaced basically both the rear air airbags or air springs. He'd had the left front air strut replaced previously. And so there's basically the right front was still original. I mean, it was working fine and you never know how long these things will last. I mean, it may last for a couple of years. It might only go for a month. Hard to know. But the other area of concern is whenever you have a leak in an air suspension system is a compressor really gets strained. And it's, I would say that at some point, this compressor will probably need to be replaced sooner than later. Now of course, the vehicle is 9 years old at this point, almost 10 years old. So that compressor's had some pretty good life. But that is something that will likely need to be replaced fairly soon. We've had these vehicles where it's got a blown air strut or rear air spring. We replace it a couple months later, it's in, cause the compressor's failed. So at the present time is working really well. But you never know that does shorten the life. So if you have an air suspension issue, it's always best to fix it as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Mark: And how are for reliability overall?
Bernie: Pretty good. I know you could probably find quite a few podcasts about these. So this is the 3 litre diesel engine. There's a number of issues with these engines. We've talked about, I think, you know, really good maintenance is key with these engines. Getting the engine warm, changing the oil frequently. Those are all important things, but there are a number of things that do go wrong with them that are expensive. And of course the air suspension system is another issue. And that's, you know, with this particular vehicle, you know, you can, by the time it's 10 years old, count on having to replace, you know, a number of the air springs and struts and compressors, those kinds of things. So nice vehicle overall, but you know, they are expensive to maintain.
So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes-Benz 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 they're still busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com hundreds of articles on repairs of all makes and models, cars and trucks. Same on the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Thanks for watching. Leave us a review. We'd really appreciate it and thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. We totally appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thirty eight years repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver. Twenty one time, only 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: 2008 Mercedes GL320 had some problem with the air suspension. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop not sitting properly. One corner of the vehicle was leaning down too low. Yeah, so that's basically the client's complaint. The suspension system just wasn't levelling itself out properly.
Mark: So how do you test to find out the cause of this?
Bernie: Well, first of course, a visual inspection. Then there's a couple of buttons on the dash you can press to raise and lower the vehicle. That wasn't working. Next step, a scan tool. A good quality diagnostic scan tool. We found a couple of codes in the system with low system pressure, and then we performed some diagnostic tests. The scan tool we have is awesome. You can run a number of tests where you can set the level of each air spring. You can test the pressures in different parts of the system. And what we found is basically the pressure was very low, and nothing we did would would operate. As the test went by we found the compressor basically was not operative and it basically died.
Mark: So, is the compressor the only part that you replaced?
Bernie: No, we also replaced the ... There's a solenoid valve pack located right above the compressor. We'll get into some pictures in a minute, but that's also a common failure item on this vehicle. It was original, like the compressor was, and so it was a good time to replace that piece. And not a lot of extra labor involved with the compressor out and it just made a lot of sense.
It's good to do these things. Often when parts are located nearby each other, there are sort of common failure items to replace them in partnership. It makes for the repair bill a little higher, but then the customer's not going to be coming back in a month or two or six months or maybe even a year going, "Oh, this side's not opening or closing. This spring's sitting too low," because this part's failed now. Then you've got to pull everything apart again and change the other piece. So, it kind of makes for a more thorough, satisfying repair.
Mark: And adds longevity. So did you find any other issues when performing these repairs?
Bernie: Yeah, we did. And what I'll do, let's just get into a quick picture share and then I'll talk about some other issues.
There's our full size GL320. This is a diesel. Again, yeah the full size, the ML's similar but a shorter, slightly smaller version. So this is a Mercedes full size SUV.
And, other pictures. So let's have a look. This is the compressor. This is with the right fender liner removed, so the wheel would be sitting right here. There's a big plastic fender liner comes out, and there's the air suspension compressor located right in this area here. The a solenoid valve pack that I mentioned is located right up here. We'll just get into a little more of a closeup picture of this piece.
This is the compressor, sort of viewed side on. This is the air inlet hose where the air is sucked into the compressor. So the red arrow indicates the compressor unit, which it goes back in, it's a fairly large piece, goes back in a little ways. And then the a solenoid valve pack sits up here. Basically, this is the main airline from the compressor and then it has five other lines that go off to various other areas on the vehicle. Four to the air springs, and one goes elsewhere, which is probably a vent line or possibly an air reservoir. Anyways, six lines on that piece.
Now what else have we got here? Yeah, so what else did we find? This is the main power connector to the compressor. This runs the compressor motor, and as you can see, it looks a little ugly. When I removed this, there's two electrical connectors. One of them which operates a solenoid, popped off right away. This one here required a bit of a hammer to bang it off and it was pretty evident as to why the connector was stuck. It basically had overheated in this plastic and melted. And why it overheated, this adds another issue that needed to be repaired.
Fortunately, Mercedes has repair wires and a nice connector plug in stock, so we can actually take these wires, cut them, solder them, put proper heat shrink covering on it, and it's got proper weather packs and a nice connector and everything fits well, and it's going to ensure the right connection to the compressor. So, that was the other additional repair we found, that this wiring plug had overheated.
Mark: So once you replace all this stuff, is it just turn the car on and everything works, or is there something else that you need to do?
Bernie: Well, you'd think it would because it's all computerized and it has ride height sensors and pressure sensors, and it would go, "Okay, there's not enough pressure in the system. Let's pump that up and let's raise and lower the height of the vehicle," but it doesn't seem to work that way. It seems to require a bit of finessing to get it going. So I had to basically manually power up the compressor to build up the pressure, and then from there, on our scan tool there's some height adjustments you can do to adjust the height level of the vehicle. And so that's a bit of an involved procedure, but once we did that then the vehicle sat properly and the whole system came back to life.
Mark: So, why did this compress your die? Is it just old age? This is an 11 year old vehicle.
Bernie: Well, old age is part of it. They only have a limited life span, and 11 years is a pretty good run for one of these parts. But the other thing, a bit of history on this vehicle, a couple of months ago the owner had some issues with the suspension system and we found the two front air struts were leaking air. The right rear also had a leak or there was something going on with the right rear. I believe the left rear had been previously replaced.
So we replaced three of the four air struts. So that, of course, taxes the system. This system runs very hot, as you can see, those wires that were melted. There's a lot of current. This system is fused with a 40 amp fuse, which is pretty large. And in my process of filling the air suspension compressor I put in a test relay, which basically bypasses the system and allows me just to power up the compressor.
And after running it for about three minutes, I pulled the relay out and it was so hot I could barely touch the connector pins. So there's a lot of heat generated, a lot of current flow, and so if you run the compressor a little too long it'll shorten the lifespan for sure.
So had these air struts not leaked, chances are the compressor may have lasted longer. But this is also one of the higher failure items on any air suspension system. The compressor, it works hard. It's not always on, but several times a day or during a drive it'll be on to adjust the suspension system.
Mark: So just so we're clear about it, when the air is leaking out of the air struts, the compressor has to run to try and replace that air that's leaking out so it's running a lot more.
Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. And what'll happen too is, there are timers in different vehicles, they have timers on the compressor or temperature sensors on some of them. So, if the temperature exceeds a certain amount in the compressor or runs for a certain amount of time, it'll just time it out. And this is when you start noticing how the car is not ... It won't level out properly because the compressor will run for a while, then it just shuts off and then it has to cool down and it'll run for a while longer. So there are built in features to prevent them from overheating and burning out, because that will happen if you have a bad leak. It'll just keep running and it'd fry the compressor, and who knows what other wiring issues will happen, too?
Mark: So, is there anything that an owner of an air suspension vehicle can do to lengthen the life of the compressor?
Bernie: Well there isn't really, other than if you happen to notice the vehicle's sitting funny, certainly get it diagnosed and fixed right away because that'll probably be causing the compressor to run too frequently. And so, the faster you can repair it, the longer your life of your compressor will be. So, that would really be the only thing I'd advise. Other than that, I mean, it's a self contained sealed system. There's no filters to change or anything else to do it. It really kind of runs itself, and the components will last as long as they do.
10 to 15 years is kind of what you're going to get out of an air suspension spring, so if you own an older one you can kind of count on they're all going to need to be replaced if it's 10 years old or older. They're all living on borrowed time. They are expensive, but an air suspension is awesome because you do have control over the height of the vehicle. You can raise and lower it in most cases for better ground clearance, or drop it down for better handling. If you pack it full of people and cargo, the car rides nice. But it all does come at a price.
Mark: So just to go back into this leak, how would you know that there's a leak in your air suspension? You come out and the car's sitting funny, or it's lowered?
Bernie: Exactly. You'll come out in the car sitting funny. That's the kind of thing where you come out in the morning, maybe you park your car at night, you come out in the morning and maybe the left front corner of the car is sitting too low or the right rear, or whatever it is. One corner of the car will be sitting too low, or you might-
Mark: Or all of them.
Bernie: Or all of them, yeah. If they're all down, that's an issue, too. You know, it's interesting. We actually have another Mercedes of this exact type in the shop right now, and the owner complained some issue with the air suspension. We looked at, it seemed to be fine. It needed some other work, so we did some other work on the vehicle. Brakes and a couple of other services. Put the vehicle back on the ground, drove out and the front air springs junk sunk. So they had tiny little leaks that weren't really apparent, but then after looking at it, okay the left front struts leaking. Of course now both of the front ones dive. So it needs air struts on that vehicle, too.
So if you notice anything that's sitting off, right away, that's the time to get it in for repairs. Unfortunately you go, "Oh yeah, it's going to cost money." It will, but it's better to do it sooner than later.
Mark: Yeah. It's going to cost money right away, but if you leave it, it's going to cost a heck of a lot more because now you're replacing the compressor.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. And the thing is, it may be that inevitably the compressor's going to go anyway because if it's original, it's never been replaced, and the vehicle's again, 10, 12 years old, the compressor's probably not got a lot of life left in it anyways. But fix it as fast as you can. That's the key with any vehicle. You fix what's broken, or any noticeable issue, fix that first and that'll save you money in the long term.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes or air suspension vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book. You have to call and book ahead, they're always busy. The website, pawlikautomotive.com. 640 plus articles and videos on there for your viewing pleasure. Dig in. There's tons of information on repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars. How to prepare your car for winter, et cetera. Of course, Pawlik Auto Repair is our YouTube channel where we have, again, quite a few hundred videos talking about all makes and models of cars. Thanks so much for listening to the podcast and watching. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and Video Series. Of course, we're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: Mercedes Benz, the originators of automobiles actually, inventors, way back when. How reliable are Mercedes Benz vehicles in 2019?
Bernie: Well, I'd say overall they're pretty good. But one thing about a Mercedes that I'll say right at the outset is that it's a fancy car. It's a luxury car. They're all complicated vehicles, so if you're wanting simplicity and cheap to operate, this is not the vehicle to buy. That's where I'll start out with.
To me, I often define reliability as, can I get into my car and is it going to start on me every day? For the most part, Mercedes are bulletproof in that area. Where other things happen though, of course, where other reliability issues, if you're on a trip somewhere is this vehicle going to let you down? Is it going to go into limp mode and disrupt your trip, or your vacation? And generally, again, Mercedes are pretty good, but the key is getting servicing done on them.
I mean, Mercedes is a huge line of vehicles and I think what we'll do is we'll break it apart into different categories and talk about things. I mean, they have cars and SUVs, no pickup trucks, so to speak in Canada, or you have the sprinter vans. We'll leave that for a different separate podcast. We'll deal with the cars, the SUV, gas and diesel.
Of course, there are some new drive trains out now, electric and hybrid. And to be honest, I have nothing to contribute about that because they're just too new for us at this point, but in the future we'll undoubtedly be doing podcasts about those vehicles. Of course, there is the AMG too, which is the nice, fancy, high-performance line we can talk about a bit too.
Mark: All right, let's start with the engines. We've got basically two big categories that we can cover right now, which is the gasoline fuel or diesel fuelled engines. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Gasoline engines in Mercedes, I find are really reliable. They have very few actual engine problems. There is one V6 model in around the 2000 year decade where they had some balance shaft engine issue problems, which can be expensive to fix. I mean that's the worst internal engine issue. Otherwise, they're pretty reliable. They do develop a few oil leaks, but again, they're not severe like a lot of other brands, other European brands.
The only thing that with engines I see, again, this is in the 2000 model year era, crankshaft position sensors sometimes will fail and the engine will just fail to run, or start, or die. Those are really the only issues with the gas motors. They're really quite bulletproof. And to me, definitely a better option if you want reliability in a Mercedes.
Mark: How are the diesels?
Bernie: Well, the diesels are another story. You can probably look on our podcast history and video history and you'll probably see we've done a lot of stuff on a three litre diesels, and that isn't the only diesel they have. There is a four cylinder offering as well, which is a little more reliable. But the diesels, they have a lot of issues.
Now, Mercedes had made diesels for a long, long time. Their early diesels back in the day before a lot of emission equipment were really, they're much more mechanical. They're very much more reliable. They're not very sexy performance, mind you. They're pretty slow, but you could count on that engine to just keep going, and going, and going and costs very little in an era when a gasoline engine was much more complicated to maintain. Gasoline engines just needed tuneups and spark plug changes and diesels didn't.
But nowadays, to me the tide has reversed. The diesels are actually the problem engines and the gasolines are the more reliable. It's interesting how that's changed. But, there is so much that goes wrong with the diesel. I'm sitting here almost stunned on where do I start with it? I'd say just probably look back at some of our other podcasts. I mean when they run great, they're fantastic, but just expect that if you own a diesel model, especially the three litre, there will be some substantial expenses keeping that engine going over time.
Mark: Regular service is extremely critical for the diesel Mercedes. Is that fair to say?
Bernie: Absolutely. Changing the oil regularly is key. There is a lot of engine failures on these where people just don't change their oil enough and the engine just basically just destroys itself, so that's really critical.
I think a lot of the fault with the three litre diesels is they're not really used how they should be. This engine should be used hot, running for long periods of time. A lot of people just do it for stop and go city driving. It's really the wrong engine for most people. That's what one of the things that ends up costing a lot of money on these things.
Mark: Let's talk about the transmission and drive train. How are those generally on diesel, or on Mercedes Benz vehicles?
Bernie: Yeah, I mean generally the transmissions and engines are pretty good. I mean, there are some transmissions failures. I mean, again, with every model year there are updates and changes. For a while there was a five speed automatic, then they went to a seven speed. I'm going back 10 or more years here in terms of my thinking.
But, one common failure item is a conductor played in the transmission that will often fail, and this is on both the five and seven speeds that causes problems. But, complete transmission failures do happen, but they're not super common. They're pretty reliable transmissions.
I'm actually speaking about automatics here because standards are incredibly rare in a Mercedes. We work on a hundreds of them and the only... of anything built say, year 2000, the only standard I've actually seen is a C series car. I was shocked to see this vehicle. It's just so unusual because everything else has automatic, so very rare to find a standard in a Mercedes that's been built in the last 20 years, or even longer. In the olden days, some of the diesels and the nice SL series, the old SLs had standards, but automatics are pretty much common.
But the rest of the drive train differentials, those type of things are really pretty much bulletproof. The axles, CV joints and the rear wheel drive, they're all pretty reliable. Some issues with the all wheel drive system in the 4Matic. We've had some axle shaft problems with the front axles in some 4Matic models. But other than that, they're... Everything is pretty reliable.
Mark: How about the exhaust system?
Bernie: Exhaust system, pretty much bulletproof. There are some, certainly some very expensive components, but they're all generally made of stainless steel and they last for a long time. The key, if you have an engine misfire of course fix that because that can cause your catalytic converter to get damaged. And diesels, we do run into diesel particulate filters that plug up or catalytic converters have failed because again, it's more of an engine problem that causes that. But, the actual exhaust systems themselves are really reliable, and on a gas engine it's rare to ever replace anything unless you get into the really old 80s and 70s models.
Mark: So, journeying into perhaps one of the weaknesses in German vehicles is the electrical system. How are the electrical components in Mercedes?
Bernie: Well again, generally pretty reliable, but there is a lot of... The electrical system and the electronics are highly complicated. There is a lot of stuff that's monitored. I'm just thinking about a video of one of our favourite, I'm saying that jokingly, favourite car guys who tends to say bad things about Mercedes, how complicated they are and how if you plug a scan to them it'll tell you your trunk light bulbs burnt out. Well, these are the things that a Mercedes will monitor. Every single one of your light bulbs is monitored.
There is some complexity there, but generally it's pretty reliable. I can't think of too many customers we have where they come in for an electrical problem. Things like windows, and power windows, those other electrical components are pretty reliable overall.
Mark: How is the suspension though on a Mercedes?
Bernie: This is where there is a lot of complexity as well. Some Mercedes just have a standard system. I say standard because it's just a regular shock or strut type system. There are some control arm bushings and things like that that wear out. But, a lot of Mercedes have air suspension systems, aromatic system, or some of them also have the active body control, the hydraulic suspension system, which these are all very complicated, especially the AVC, the hydraulic system, generally pretty reliable. But, there are some components that are exceptionally expensive.
For example, one hydraulic strut, depending on where you buy it is it would probably set you back anywhere between $800 to a couple of thousand dollars per strut, and there is four per vehicle. There is a hydraulic pump. There is a series of lines and hoses running through the vehicle valves. If you have to replace the whole system in just parts itself, you'd probably be looking at in labor $40,000. But, you'll never have to replace the whole thing. That's what you could be faced with if everything just blew. That being said, it's a pretty amazing suspension system because it just levels the car automatically, electronically all the time.
The air system is less quick to react. Again, there is some issues with the air suspension system. You find that in a variety of different Mercedes as well. But things like it has an electric pump, a compressor that'll, those fail. There are other electronic valves that fail. Some of the struts fail. We've also had electronic shock absorbers where they start leaking and some of them, in my opinion, in a little earlier in life than they should. I'd say, the suspension systems on Mercedes, the fancy ones, especially in their air ONE, it probably has a few more problems than it could.
What else? Yeah, I mean, but other than that, generally things like the controller, and bushings is a general amount of wear on those. Ball joints will wear out from time to time, but nothing exceptional.
Mark: The steering components, how are they for reliability?
Bernie: Again, pretty good. The only thing that stands out for me as a problematic area is some of the ML series SUVs. The steering rack will develop leaks. Sometimes the leak will be from the... There is actually a shaft kit you can get or a pinion... The steering shaft kit is available as a unit from Mercedes. Now, that component tends to leak, so you don't have to replace the whole rack, but sometimes the whole rack and pinion leaks. That's the one that stands out to me as being a weakness. But other than that, most of the others seem to be pretty good on most other Mercedes.
Mark: How about brakes? How are they for reliability and length of wear?
Bernie: Again, pretty good. Yeah, generally Mercedes's brakes are I'd considered them to be average in terms of wear. You'll always need to replace the rotors with the pads. They just wear like that. They're that type of European design where the rotors get deeply grooved as the pads wear. Some of them have of course fancier brake packages. We'll talk about AMG in a minute. But, they're generally priced somewhat normally. I mean, more than a Toyota Corolla. But yeah, that's a different class of car. But generally, prices are pretty reasonable on the Mercedes brakes. But, a lot of them they have cross drilled rotors and for better heat dispersion, and so those costs a little more, but they're not, nothing is outrageously priced.
And of course, they all generally have pad wear sensors, so they'll usually warn you when the brakes are worn out. But just as a note, not every brake pad is monitored, so it's possible that some pads can wear out before the light comes on, on the dash, but that's not too usual. Usually it's pretty reliable. Things like brake calipers, we don't replace them hardly ever. They're really quite reliable, so that's a good thing. They have good longevity. They're sealed well and they tend to last quite a long time.
Mark: What's the difference? We've mentioned AMG. What's the difference basically with AMG vehicles, branded vehicles compared to the regular Mercedes Benz vehicles?
Bernie: Well, it's certainly a bigger engine, and more horsepower. And usually along with that of course the transmission, the drive train may be bumped up to handle that level of power. Suspension systems are usually different, again, for performance and then brakes, stopping power.
Interestingly enough with AMGs, I mean you can have any AMG that has a regular brake system. I mean they're still an upgrade from the regular model, or you can have the actual AMG package, which is an even higher end brake system, and often these can be very expensive.
For instance on a, say an SL55 that they... The regular brake rotors on the regular AMG standard brakes they're about $300 a piece for the front. But if you have the AMG package, the rotors are $1,200ish a piece, so four times the price. They're pretty fancy. I mean, you can tell by looking at them why the cost is so much higher. But I know with the regular brakes they stop pretty darn fast. But, that AMG package will just give you a little extra edge, so if you're going 150 miles an hour and you keep needing to stop and then accelerate back up you can do it, but the other brakes they will probably be pretty good.
Mark: AMG is basically a race car for the road.
Bernie: It is. The thing I like about the AMG is they are... It's an elevated class of vehicle, for sure. Like where you say, it's like a race car for the road, but they're not quite as crazy as when you get into a McLaren, or a Lambo, or something. Of course, they don't look quite like that. They're more drivable.
Now with that being said, I mean an SLS of course is an AMG model, but that's in the class of the Lambo. It's a higher elevated vehicle. But, most AMGs are just fancied up but, in a very good way. A lot of the interior trim on an AMG too is nicer than it is in a regular Mercedes. Believe it or not, if you can actually do that kind of thing.
Mark: That covers the lineup. Overall, Mercedes, if you want a high end luxury vehicle, pretty fair to maybe better than average reliability. Is that what your verdict is?
Bernie: Yeah. The other thing about Mercedes, and I saw a statistic somewhere that there is a, and I can't remember the number, but there is a lot of Mercedes that are built are still on the road. Compared to other manufacturers, their lifespan on the road is much higher than your average car.
There is certain models of cars once you get to a certain age people just... They're just gone. You don't see them. I'm just thinking about some of the Subarus and Toyotas I've worked on over the years and it's like I go, you never ever see one anymore because they're just... They get to a certain age and nobody will ever fix one.
But certain Mercedes, they'll still be on the road, especially the SL series, the convertibles. We fixed those when they're 20, 30, 40 years old. I mean those cars, people just don't get rid of them. They're still a nice car to keep and fix. Some models will probably never go off the road unless people neglect them severely, so a pretty good car for longterm longevity. But as I say, they are expensive to fix, but keep up the maintenance. That's really the key.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for maintenance on your Mercedes Benz 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. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, our You Tube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Of course, thanks so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive video series and podcasts and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And of course today we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: 2015 Mercedes Benz, CLA45 AMG, has a bloody long name. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle came to our shop for an inspection and we found that the front brakes, all we really found with the front brake pads and rotors were worn out.
Mark: Anything unique about the brakes in an AMG?
Bernie: Well, yeah, so AMG of course is a high performance version, the Mercedes high performance division and the brakes in any AMG model are definitely larger than their lesser model cars. So you know they're larger rotors, larger pads, larger calipers for obviously better stopping ability with the higher horsepower engines.
Mark: Is there only one type of brake option?
Bernie: No, actually there isn't. So interesting with Mercedes generally as a whole line. A lot of their cars you'll get a, say a C series regular sedan and they'll have like two or three different brake packages, which as an auto repair business, it makes it a pain to order the brakes sometimes, but on the CLA model, for instance, there are actually two different brake packages. There's the the regular brakes and then there's the AMG brake package and you think everything would have the AMG brake package, but, in this case, there was another option and this is true among a lot of other AMG vehicles. You'll have like this sort of regular AMG brakes, then you have the actual AMG brake package and the difference is very substantial in cost. For the rotors, I own an SL55 and the regular brake packages, for instance, like the brake rotors are, I can't remember, they're about about $300 per rotor for the front, but if you have the AMG brake package, the rotors are $1,300, like we're talking Canadian dollars, so you know $1,000 more per rotor. That adds a lot to a brake job.
Now the brakes are even bigger than, double my 55 and it's already got massive brakes and it stops really fast. With the AMG brake package has even bigger rotors. So I guess you know, we're going 150 miles an hour, you can keep stopping it really fast wherever you'd ever drive that fast. So the CLA kind of a drifted off a little bit. The CLA is the same thing. It has two different options. Fortunately for the owner of this vehicle, it had the cheaper rate package.
Mark: Any extra work required in replacing these brakes?
Bernie: No, there isn't. They're actually the same as any other Mercedes brake or most other brakes. Simple re-movement of the rotors, calipers, cleaning and servicing as we always do but there's nothing extra to do. Although some AMG models have, instead of like say two brake pads, they'll have, actually, the pad will be split into two pieces. It will be actually four brake pads per side. So it adds a little bit of extra labor but not a lot. On this car, it's basically the same. And actually we should get into some pictures.
Nice red CLA45 beautiful looking car. It's a little hot rod for a four door sedan. There's a view of the brakes. So again, the nice thing about the AMG too is they give a nice presentation. When you're looking at the wheel you'll see a nice, some are silver, some are red, you know with the AMG stripe and a nice sized caliper.
And you can see these rotors are, they're a pretty good size rotor cross drilled with some slots in them as well for extra cooling. And this is a picture of our old brake pads. So again, it's interesting, some of these, they have like little extra counterweights on the brake pads and I don't know why they do that. I probably should know since we're trying to speak intelligently about these things. But anyways, that's a picture of the brake pad. You can see the brake pad wear sensor goes in this area. You can see the pad's pretty well worn down, right where the pad sensor groove sits. So anyways, there's a few pictures.
Mark: So this is a smaller sized AMG vehicle. How is it?
Bernie: Oh, it's awesome. Fun little car. It's a two litre, twin turbo, really fast. I think zero to 60 in about 4.9 seconds, which is pretty quick, very quick. And yeah, it's a fun little car.
Mark: So there, if you are looking for some service for your AMG 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, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube video series, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos over the last five years on all makes and models of cars. And of course, thank you for watching the podcast. We appreciate it. And thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. And we're talking cars. And we're with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So today's victim is a 2014 Mercedes Benz C350 4Matic, long name, that had front brake problems. What was going on with this Mercedes Benz?
Bernie: So, the owner of the vehicle is a customer of ours with another vehicle. Had just had a dealer service done on this vehicle and they told him his brakes were nearly worn out, although they told him the fronts had about 40% remaining in the rears were getting less. So he brought it to us for a thorough inspection and to see what was going on with it.
Mark: So is 40% as a measure of the brake wear accurate or useful?
Bernie: I don't think so. A lot of shops from dealerships to independents to chains or specialists often use percentages in brakes. And it's a simple way to give a customer an idea of what they have left with their brakes, which is a good idea, but it kind of misses the mark in terms of accuracy. What is 40%? Is that 40% of the whole depth of the brake pad? And so, does that count that you really don't want to wear the brake pad to zero. There's a lot of things missing in that percentage recommendation. It's also something that's easy to do. A technician can kind of look and go, yeah it's about 40% left. Oh, it's like 30. So, it at least gives some information to pass onto the client, but it's not really entirely accurate.
Mark: So what's a better measure of brake wear?
Bernie: Well, the better measure is to actually use a brake measure gauge, and give a measurement in millimetres. Then that way you know. On this vehicle, a new brake pad usually starts out at about 12, for the front anyways, and the rears are about 10. Again, I'm being a little approximate here. So, if you give a measurement then you can kind of have an idea. Now I did a quick calculation. If the front brakes are 12 millimetres, 40% of that is 4.8 millimetres thick. So, that's still a fair amount of brake material. Usually two is considered completely worn out. Well zero is completely worn out, but two is really the longest you want to go with changing them. Let's get into some pictures here. I'll just show you some of the tools we use to measure things.
So there's are a 2014 C350, two door, nice coupe. Quick little car. This is our brake, this is our tool we use to measure brake pads. So, this isn't in the yellow ranges. This tool is kind of neat because it has green, yellow and red coloured bars, which kind of makes it handy. Once you get into three millimetres or two, which is as thin as it goes, that's a red bar. Then green is up six millimetres and up. But it's just kind of in the cautionary area. So you can see, if you look in this area here, this is the actual brake pad remaining. It's got four millimetres. And what I've found in experience is, once you take the brakes off, there's usually one pad that's probably worn a little worse than the measuring tool can see. So, if it says four millimetres, you've probably got something that's getting down to three. So, that's one accurate area of measurement.
The other thing we do is measure the brake rotors. Now, I'm not showing any rotor measurement here, but this is kind of typical of many European cars. The brake rotors, you can see some grooves worn in here. And to look at a closer photo, it's kind of hard to get the three dimensions here, and the photo is a little soft. It's not the sharpest picture I've taken. But you can see the original edge here where the rotor was.
And if you were to actually see this rotor and run your hand along here, there's a substantial drop. There's a lot of metal that's worn off this rotor. So, we do measure them. And what you'll find is if you compare to the specifications of the rotor, it's pretty much the rotor wear limit. So, it needs to be replaced as well. Now, there's not really any reason to rush out and replace these rotors if you're not doing brake pads at the same time, unless they're warped. And here's a comparison of our old and new brake pads. You can see this is the new brake pad at 12 millimetres. Our old one at four. And now, if you say 40%, to me it's a little confusing because I would think in my mind, okay, it's, the car's got 70,000 kilometres. I've got 40% of my front brakes left. That means ... Just doing some quick math here, they're a little less than half worn, I've probably got another 50,000 kilometres before my brakes wear out.
But that's not the case. They do need to be ... They're at the time where they can still last a little longer, but they could be replaced. And we actually did do them because the rears were worn substantially worse. So, it's not a bad idea to do them all at the same time. So there's our pictures show.
Mark: So, measuring the actual depth, actually taking the wheels off the car and measuring all the brakes, which it doesn't sound perhaps like the dealer did, is a more accurate thing than just giving an eyeball percentage?
Bernie: Yes. Yeah, it is. And now, there is a way. Sometimes on cars they have exceptionally open wheels. We can actually take a measurement through the wheel, but it's not very often you have a wheel that's that open that you can see through. So yeah, taking the wheel off is really the best way to do the inspection. And that way you can have a really close look at the inboard pad, the outboard pad, see if the calipers are moving property. If there's any other issues. It's the best way to do a brake inspection.
Mark: So, what service did you actually end up doing on this vehicle?
Bernie: So, we replaced the front and rear brake pads and rotors. As I mentioned earlier, the rears were worn worse. They were down to about two millimetres. And the owner could have left the front for a little while, but chose to do the fronts while the car was here. And then that way he's not going to need to come back for service anytime soon. I mean, he may have got a year more out of these brakes, depending on how much he drove. But I would say, it's not overly expensive just to do them now. But again, we leave the client the choice to do that. We also did a brake fluid flush at the same time. Brake fluid every two years on these vehicles. And according to his records, he hadn't done it. So we did that at the same time.
Mark: 70,000 kilometres in a 2014, it's not being driven all that much, but maybe driven kind of fast.
Bernie: Yup. Yeah. And that'll wear your brakes a little harder too.
Mark: Anything else that you need to do to service a 4Matic vehicle?
Bernie: Well, the 4Matic, so that's basically Mercedes all wheel drive system. So, there's a little more complicate ... Or I'd say a lot more complication to this vehicle. There are CV axles in the front. I mean, they don't need servicing unless something wears out. But there is a front differential. There's a transfer case unit, and an extra drive shaft. So there are extra parts and pieces, and just be prepared with a 4Matic that you will spend substantially more money when something goes wrong. Things like maybe an oil pan gasket, because the axle shaft goes through the oil pan. The front end is more complicated, and a lot of other, not this particular model, but certain 4Matic cars, the control arms are substantially more money, like by a magnitude of four or five than the regular non 4Matic model just because for some reason they just charge a lot more for the 4Matic part. So, that's what we've found on 4Matics. There are more expensive things to fix, but it's a nice car. And it's a good option, you're not ... the thing with Mercedes is you've got ... it's rear wheel drive otherwise. There are traction issues at certain times, and especially if you get a lot of snow. I mean, this isn't a great deep snow car, but for an average snowy road you could be stuck at home. But 4Matic will get you where you want to go.
Mark: And how are C350s for overall reliability?
Bernie: It's a good car. Really, there's nothing major about this. It's a 2014, so it's only five years old and there's really no major problems showing up with the car yet. I mean, given another five years, a few more things might crop up. But overall it's a good reliable car, and the owner of this vehicle has had no problems whatsoever.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes Benz in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. And of course, you have to call and book because they are busy. Or check out the website, PawlikAutomotive.com. There's many years worth of posts on the blog about repairs and maintenance of all makes and models of cars. Of course, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing, over 300. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast and watching, and we appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.
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, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and 38 years of repairing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. Of course, we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Today, a 2009 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG, A service. What was happening with this super high performance vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, so the car just came in for us a basic service. An A service is the, I like to call it, the lower level of services. It's the simplest service that the car needs. That's why the car came in. No complaints, just basic maintenance.
Mark: What's involved in an A service?
Bernie: The A service, I mean the heart of the A service is an oil and filter change. What else is involved is inspecting all the fluid levels. We also put the vehicle up on a hoist, make sure nothing's loose suspension or steering wise. It's not a full steering or suspension inspection, but it's a basic inspection, adjusting tire pressures. Of course, these cars have tire pressure monitors, so they'll tell you long before you come in for service if your tires are low on air, but nonetheless we look, set the tire pressure to spec, look at the air filter and an under hood inspection. And light, the lights of course we look at, but again, these cars will tell you if your lights are are out. There's a lot of self-servicing these cars do, but it's all looking at the things that the car doesn't look at that we take care of too.
Mark: Anything extra required because this is an AMG?
Bernie: No. Really, it's not. The services basic. I mean the thing about the AMG is it's the performance package that comes along with it, but there's nothing extra that needs to be done. I would say, like an SL series that has active body control, those have hydraulic suspension, but actually even the non-AMG version has it, but those often will sometimes require fluid replacement in the suspension system. But this car doesn't have that, so it's a nothing that's required.
We'll just go into a picture here of the vehicle. You've got the car?
Bernie: Beautiful. Awesome. Yeah, so there's our 2009 C63. Nice looking car. Fast as can be. What I like best about AMGs, not only do they drive nice, but the engines. It's a good looking engine. With so many cars, and this includes some Mercedes. A lot of Mercedes, you pop the hood, you just have this plastic cover that goes on top of the engine, you don't really get to appreciate the beauty of the engine like you did and I think that's some of the appeal of older cars. When you look under the hood, you go, "Wow, look at that engine. It looks neat."
With an AMG, you often get that a lot. Though I will say I'm an SL65 is a little disappointing. It's a V12 twin turbo and it has a big huge plastic cover over the top, so they didn't do such a nice job on that engine. But a lot of these AMGs, this one in particular looks really nice.
Mark: This is a V8?
Bernie: This is a V8. It's a 6.2 liter V8. They call it a C63. I guess it's pushing 6.3 liter, but it's actually classified as a 6.2. The other thing that's neat about AMGs is they all have this tag on the engine here, on these V8 engines, it actually says who built the engine and if you look on YouTube, you can actually find some neat videos in the AMG factory of them putting these engines together. It's a neat process to watch. I mean I've rebuilt, I've built a lot of engines in my time, but it's neat when the, you know, in this AMG factory, it's like a laboratory, so super clean.
Of course you want it to be clean, but I mean this is like extra, extra laboratory like, and because it's a large manufacturing facility, all the pistons come all labeled for the cylinders, and they all arrive on a cart, and it's kind of a neat step between someone building an engine in their small shop or a massive factory just manufacturing the engine.
It'd be kind of a cool job. It probably gets tedious after a while, but it's kind of neat thinking, "Hey, you built this engine yourself." Yeah. So so there we go.
And as I say, it looks beautiful. It looks beautiful afterwards. I guess if it doesn't work or blows up, you could always phone the factory and go, "Hey, Adolf. My engine blew up. He didn't do a good job." Or 10 years later you go, "Hey, that was a good job you did." Anyway, I digress. All right.
Mark: Did you find anything else that needed to be done on this vehicle?
Bernie: No, not in this particular service, actually, it was just the basic service, so it was good to go. Of course, the next level of services is the B service, which includes everything in the A plus brake inspection and looking at things in further detail.
The thing about the brakes on a Mercedes, of course they are monitored with a pad wear sensors which are accurate most of the time, so if the brakes were to wear out in between, a warning light will come on telling you you need to do something with your brakes. But we usually, the full brake inspection, steering suspension inspection is something we do at the V service. But yeah, there was nothing else required at this time.
Mark: And so we know you, obviously waxing quixotically about AMG engine building. You like AMGs. I know you have one of these, not necessarily this model because. Do they cost more to service than regular Mercedes Benz products?
Bernie: Well, the potential is there for a lot more expensive repairs, but for the most part the thing that's nice about an AMG is that it's still a factory, it's still a production level car. It's nothing. It's not really in the realm of exotic unless you get into an SLS or some car like that. I mean, they have bigger brakes, the brakes costs more, and some of them can be substantially more expensive in some models, but for the most part, they're not a lot more. I mean, the oil service on this car cost no more than it does on a lesser, you know, a C300. I mean, maybe 10 or $20 more, but there's not a lot more. I mean, you're certainly going to be paying a lot more money for gas in this car because of the large engine and that extra horsepower. But the potential is there to spend more money but for the most part, it's not a lot. It's not a lot worse than the base model.
I think that's the nice thing about AMG. For a lot of cars, it gives you that sort of almost supercar performance without the supercar hassle. You know, things like Ferrari's where things are, you know, it'll, or Aston Martins, where of course they're more exotic, but they're just so much more, I mean, so much more expensive to fix by magnitudes of like 10. It's kind of crazy and harder to get parts for it, so these are easier to deal with.
I think it's a good option, I mean, any of these. And of course BMW has their M series, and Audi has their performance line as well, but this is a nice car for sure if you want a nice four door that goes really fast.
Mark: So there you go. You need service for your Mercedes Benz 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, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. On the blog, there's literally hundreds of articles and videos. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos over the years of all makes and models and types of repairs. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and servicing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years, and we're talking cars, how are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim, 2004 Mercedes Benz SL500, kind of a classic Merc, that had an SRS problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, the SRS warning light on the dash was on and that needed to be serviced and replaced, other than that, the car was in great shape and running well but the owner wanted that item fixed.
Mark: So, what's the SRS? Super Real Specialness.
Bernie: Yeah, well no, it's a little more boring than that. It stands for Supplemental Restraint System and kind of a fancy word for the air bag system, but there's a little more to the air bag system than just the air bags. And depending on the car, of course air bags have gotten more and more sophisticated and restraint systems over the years, originally they just came out and there was an airbag for the driver, that was kind of the original start to it and then they put one in for the passenger and then they started putting side airbags and then of course a lot of them were a little too powerful or they'd go off at a small accident, people would get hurt quite badly from the airbag, so they've become very sophisticated over the years and the other thing they've added, part of the restraint system is seatbelt tensioning. So what happens when you get in a collusion is that the seatbelt will actually pull tighter.
These things are all timed down to the millisecond, the airbag blows off, the seatbelt tensioner pulls you back so you don't get wacked so hard, but it all kind of keeps you in place and I mean, these things do save lives and reduce injuries drastically. So the SRS module basically there was a warning light on, when the light's on the system may or may not operate, so the interesting thing is you don't know whether it's going to go, whether it's not and it's one of those strange things because you don't need it until you need it and hopefully you never do. It will only ever work during an accident but if the warning light's on, the system's seeing a fault and a problem.
Mark: So how did you test and diagnose this issue?
Bernie: So, scan tool is the way to go. We have a very good quality scan tool, it works well with Mercedes, so we scanned it and found there was no communication with the SRS module. So there was our first problem there, whether there was anything more we couldn't know because the scan tool wouldn't communicate and just to be sure it wasn't a fault with our scan tool we have other brands of scan tools, we plugged them in and there was no communication either, so the next step is to access the SRS module, which is located under the console, it's a bit of work to get to and then test some of the key wiring components, like make sure it's got power, make sure it's grounded and then there's a communication network called CAN, it's a controlled area network. There's some wiring to that network and just to make it's actually getting the proper signals, so after doing all the lengthy testing we verified that everything wiring wise was good. Basically making the module the fault, so we replaced the module.
Mark: So any options available for parts for this vehicle?
Bernie: Well let's just do a quick little picture show here. So here's the SRS module, I mean nothing fancy to look at really, it's a little box about four inches square, I don't even have a picture wiring connector but it's got about I'm guessing a hundred wires that go in and out of it over in this area here of the module and there's an arrow, it actually has to be installed in a certain direction. You see it's got three bolts in different patterns, so you probably can't even bolt it in the wrong way if you tried. But there are accelerometers and things inside the sensors that can detect collisions and things like that. So the repair, that's the question you're asking, is that correct?
Mark: No, where do you get this part from?
Bernie: So, unfortunately the only option is the Mercedes dealer. You can only buy this module brand new and you can only buy it from a Mercedes dealer and the reason why is once you program the module for the vehicle you have to initialize the module through a proper scan tool. You have to set all the perimeters, does it have emergency calling, some of these cars basically if the airbag goes off it'll call a call centre somewhere and alert them that your car's been in a collision, it's kind of like GM OnStar, it'll do that.
So does the car have that option, does it have knee airbags, these are some of the questions that are asked when you program the module, but once you put the VIN number in the vehicle, once you initialize it for the car, it's basically locked in and you cannot change it and put it in another car, which in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous that you can't take a used module, reprogram it for something else but for some reason in Mercedes wisdom they've decided that once you lock it into the car, it'll only work on that car and never on anything else. I can talk about this a little more because I think to myself, why would they do such a thing? It's like, if we think of Mercedes on the good side, they don't want anyone to screw something up.
They want the system to be 100% reliable for that car, so you buy this fine German quality car and you put the right part in it and it's going to function as advertised, whereas if you were going to take a used one maybe there's a risk that it wouldn't be programmed properly, so from that point of view I can see why they do that, but from a perspective of waste, if you think of all the cars out there that probably use the same module, there's hundreds and thousands of them sitting in auto wrecking yards right now and their only fate is just to be disposed of or recycled because you can't use it in another car, and why wouldn't you?
It should be so simple to just erase the programming, redo it. Before we initialized it, I said it had a knee airbag when the car actually didn't and it's an error code and it wouldn't allow me to program it, so the car's actually smart enough to actually tell you what to put in the module. Anyways, that's my little rant about this particular module, but unfortunately it makes for quite an expensive repair as opposed to what it could be just because you have to buy the module new.
Mark: So this car's getting on over 15 years basically but it's really a nice model, is it worth hanging on to?
Bernie: Well this one certainly is, believe it or not this vehicle we worked on has actually only got 14,000 kilometres on it and if you put that into miles I think that's like, 8 or 9,000 miles, it's like a brand new car and it was amazing driving it because it really was as tight of a feel as a brand new car. It was beautiful and the owner of this vehicle apparently had previously passed away and the car sat in the garage for ten years, one of those kind of neat stories but this one was great.
But these are complex cars, there's a lot that can go wrong with them, so you just need to be prepared, and go hey, it's a nice car. You can buy it for a very good price, because they tend to depreciate nicely but over time you'll spend a lot of money repairing it. This module job was a couple thousand Canadian dollars over that by the time we diagnosed it, replaced the part, reprogrammed and did everything that needed to be done, so it's a pretty pricey repair but the owner will never need to do that again, but they'll be something else, so you could probably count on spending $2 to $4,000 dollars or more a year to maintain this car if you drive it around.
Mark: So there you go, if you're looking for a Mercedes repairs 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 really busy or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Pawlik Auto Repair is our YouTube channel, got that mixed up really well and of course thank you so much for listening to the podcast, we really appreciate it and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching and listening, we really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. And of course we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mercedes SLK32 AMG. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So this really rare vehicle came to our shop for a pre-purchase inspection, which we did. The purchaser ended up buying the car, so we did some service work on the car as well.
Mark: So, this is an AMG model. What differentiates it from the regular model?
Bernie: Well, so for this particular, for the SLK, the major differences is the supercharged 3.2 litre V6 engine, which is a pretty awesome feature. I mean, that's definitely the biggest feature of the AMG. Also, it has nicer trim pieces, like fancier tail pipes. It looks like half of an SL tailpipe assembly, just with on one side. It's got the nicer AMG wheels, wider tires and wheels. And I'm not certain on this car exactly what the other features are. It's a little more basic than say an SL55 is compared to an SL500, but definitely has some beefed up suspension and performance enhances. But the engine is really the big thing.
Mark: What is unique about SLK series compared to SL's or other Mercedes?
Bernie: So, the SLK is basically a smaller version of the SL series. And I don't have the actual German translation front of me, but the S's roughly translate to sport, the L is light, and then the K is short. And it's interesting, because if you look at the other Mercedes line, you have your GLK, which is basically like a shorter, smaller version of a GL series. So, there's a German term for it. I'm not going to try to butcher it or anything. Porsche is about the best we'll go on the show, until I learn some more German. So what I find unique about this SLK car is that right up until ... They made the car from 1996 to 2004, and even up to 2004 it's got some features that you wouldn't really see in that era of Mercedes. Most Mercedes, they have electronic keys, the infrared keys, rack and pinion steering, things like that. This car is still has a mechanical key.
It's a much simpler version of a car. It's got a lot of the earlier 90s technology that's kind of just kept on going. So, some people may say that's a bad thing. I think it's kind of neat. It makes the car a little simpler. And this reminds me more of like a kind of a fancy Mazda Miata, just in terms of how the car is. So, let's just look at some pictures. So there's our SLK. Nice looking little car. As you can see, it's got the AMG wheels. It's a hard top convertible as well, which is awesome. So it gives you the ride, and when you're driving on a rainy cold day, it's just like having a hard top car, but you can take the roof off and then you have the benefits of the convertible. There's our 3.2 litre supercharge. If you're looking down at it really quickly, it really looks a lot like an SL55 engine, except it's of course two cylinders shorter. And it's about 350 horsepower, which is an awful lot to pack in this little car. It's, I think, about 32 or 3,400 pounds.
It's about 1,000 pounds lighter than an SL55, less power, but certainly enough to move this car really, really fast. The key I mentioned. So this is like a ... This is a 2004 car, but this key is really a very 1990s Mercedes type of key. It's a regular switch blade style key, and a regular toothed basic ignition. Steering is interesting. This is a ... I mean, it's hard to see a lot with the details of this picture, but this basically the view of the bottom of the steering box. This vehicle actually has a steering box, not rack and pinion, which of course is not quite as good in a way as rack and pinion steering. But it's interesting that it has this type of technology. And of course the car steers fine. And it's a lot simpler in construction than an SL series in terms of the way the geometry.
The lower control arms, which were actually one of the items we replaced due to worn bushings, it's just a simple wishbone style control arm as opposed to a lot of the newer ones where they have two control arms in the bottom and two at the top. I mean, there's advantages to that, but this has less parts and pieces. As I say, it's a simpler ... It's a nice car and it's simpler. And then here's our interior layout of the car. I know there's something else I want to point out about the interior layout of the car, that again is kind of a simpler throwback, but for some reason I can't think of it at the moment. So anyways, there's the basic interior layout of the car, and there we have it.
Mark: What services did you do on this car?
Bernie: Yeah, so some of the ... We did a number of catch up maintenance items, like a fuel injection cleaning and some fluid changes, drive train fluids. The control arm bushings and some of the steering linkages had wear, and also the tires were worn out.
So, their pre-purchase inspection helped them negotiate the best price, and then from there we repaired the vehicle and got it back in really nice shape. I mean it was ... I actually drove the car myself before he bought it, and the car drove really nice, but you could certainly feel the front end was wobbly, and didn't quite handle well. And then afterwards of course it's just the control was amazing. And of course, tires just make such a difference.
Mark: And how reliable are SLK cars?
Bernie: I find them fairly reliable. I mean, they do need the odd thing here and there. I'm saying it's a little simpler than a lot of Mercedes, with the technology a little older. But of course it's still got a lot of electronics. Some of the repairs we've done besides basic maintenance in the more basic SLK, we've done supercharger replacements on those. We've had convertible top issues, some simple wiring repairs. I think we've done podcasts or videos on these. But overall it's a pretty reliable car. And I think it's a nice ... I think this makes a nice ... If you're looking for a nice little semi luxurious little sports car, this is an excellent car. Especially the AMG model because it's got some really good performance.
Mark: So there you go. If you've got an SLK or Mercedes 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, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thank you so much for listening on the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching and listening. We really appreciate it.