Mercedes - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

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2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. How many times is it Bernie? 

Bernie: It's 23 times 

Mark: 23 time winners. Oh my God. 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. I think we must be getting old because we can't even remember how many times it is now. 

Mark: Well, it just gets lost in the fog of, you know ... it's an honour and a privilege. My 1 brain cell. That's right. We're going to talk about a 2018 Mercedes C43 AMG. Little hot rod. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the owner called us, they had their car at the dealer. They had a leaking tire and Mercedes wanted to replace the wheel and they asked, Hey, do you guys have any, you have any options? It's a lot of money for this wheel. What can you do? And I said, absolutely, we can have the wheel repaired. So they towed the vehicle over and we proceeded to work on having the wheel repaired. 

Mark: So how does a wheel like this get, have an issue like this? 

Bernie: Well, it's very low profile tire on this car, and we're gonna look at pictures in a second. So with these low profile tires, the moment you hit a pothole, it's winter around Vancouver, the roads tend to get bad around this time of year, and it's easy to hit a pothole. And when you do that, the tire just doesn't have any room to compress like you would, if you had a much higher profile tire. So the wheel, you know, sometimes it'll wreck the tire. Other times it'll actually wreck the wheel, it'll crack the wheel because it'll actually hit the edge of the pothole. So this is what happened with this vehicle. It cracked the inside of the rim, not an uncommon issue. We see this on a lot of cars with low profile tires, and it's very repairable. 

Mark: So doesn't need to be replaced then, basically? 

Bernie: No it doesn't. Mercedes chose, I guess their only option on the menu is replacement, but for us and many other shops, and it's very general practice around the automotive industry, repairing wheels is big business. And just have a look at some pictures here. 

2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair
2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair
2018 Mercedes C43 AMG, Wheel Repair

So there's our C43. Again, you can see exceptionally low profile tire on this car, nice rim, a lot of money, $1,400 in Canada for this particular wheel. So it's not cheap. Yeah. Each yeah. Each yeah. There's inside of the wheel. And you can see a little, it's not the greatest picture, but you can see a little hairline crack and obviously when this vehicle hit the pothole or whatever happened, it crushed this tire up enough that that would actually hit something and crack the wheel. It's aluminum so it cracks. 

So the repair method is basically take the tire off the wheel. They weld it and they weld in a new metal and repair and it's a hundred percent bulletproof. I mean, the one thing I will say on the downside. If you happen to be looking at the inside of the wheel, you will see this repair, but you can't see it from the road and for the cost, which is about, you know, in the two to $250 range in Canada, it's a lot cheaper to fix than buying a new wheel. There's our picture show. 

Mark: So is the wheel, as good as new. 

Bernie: Yeah. I'd say it absolutely is as good as new other than, you know, this vehicle did a little bit of curb rashing on it. We didn't have that repaired at this point, but that is again, another thing that wheel repair shops can do. They can actually repair wheels that are chewed up by curbs, and they do a nice job. The wheels basically come out looking as good as brand new.

So in this case, the wheel did not look as good as new, but a function absolutely as good as brand new. And I mean, unless you hit another pothole and exactly the same spot that weld will hold really nicely. We've done this many times and we've come across many wheels that have been repaired and they'll work perfectly well.

Mark: So why would the dealer not offer repairing the wheel instead of just only wanting to sell them a new wheel? 

Bernie: Well, it could depend on the business model. I mean, ultimately the best repair job is to just replace the wheel with a brand new one. It's more profitable too, since they are in the business of selling parts. They make better money at it. And Mercedes you know, in my opinion, they do lots of great work, but they are a little less caring about people's wallets. They're selling the expensive cars. They don't care quite so much. It's like, well, if you don't want to do it our way, no problem. I've seen a lot of interesting repairs quoted from Mercedes that have been done in the aftermarket for fractions, like you know hundreds of the price of their quotes, because they just want to do the whole full meal deal. Yeah, I think it's partly their business model, partly, maybe some arrogance and partly some liability they're worried about. They just want to make everything perfect and right. You know, it's a high standards kind of car, so I can just kind of see where they come from and it's German, German engineering. So there's a culture around that, and I'm German. 

Mark: This is coming from an AMG owner himself. 

Bernie: Yeah, that's right. And my background is German too, so I can make fun of it kind of at least I hope. 

Mark: So how are these C43 AMGs for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, so far pretty good. I mean, this is a fairly new car. We haven't run into many issues with them and yeah, it's a nice car and certainly it goes like a rocket, it's like a little rocket sedan. It's pretty cool little vehicle. Good car so far. You know, give it a few more years and we'll see what some of the issues are. Again, it's a Mercedes there's more stuff that always goes wrong and a more complex car. So it'll cost you more than your average fancier Japanese car, I think to fix.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Mercedes in Vancouver guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, or you going to crack in your wheel. Come and see them. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. There are literally hundreds of articles and videos on there. We've been doing this for over eight years now. Hundreds of types of cars and types of repairs of all makes and models of vehicles, light trucks. Check out the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. We appreciate you watching and leaving us a thumbs up. And of course, thank you for watching and listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2012 Mercedes E63 AMG, Sway Bar Link Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim a 2012 Mercedes. One of your favourites, E63 AMG that had a sway bar link problem. What was going on with this car? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop with a few concerns, an inspection and we found that the sway bar end links were worn and causing a clunking sound in the vehicle when you hit bumps. 

Mark: So I'm assuming the clunking was from the sway bar links.

Bernie: Absolutely. Yes. I mean, it could be coming from lots of places and the sway bar links are probably the cheapest, easiest thing to fix on this vehicle. So fortunately for the customer, it was a fairly straightforward problem. 

Mark: So what is the sway bar link and what does it do?

Bernie: So the sway bar link. Why don't we just get into some pictures right now? And I can kind of explain what it does. So there's our car a nice little family hauler with, you know, over 500 horsepower twin turbo V8 engine. It's a lot of fun to drive this vehicle as you can well, imagine. 

So sway bar link. We'll just get right to the part. There is a picture. I apologize. It's a little fuzzy. 

2012 Mercedes E63 AMG, Sway Bar Link Repair
2012 Mercedes E63 AMG, Sway Bar Link Repair
2012 Mercedes E63 AMG, Sway Bar Link Repair
2012 Mercedes E63 AMG, Sway Bar Link Repair

This is looking up at the driver's side underneath, the wheel is over here on the left. This is the strut. This is the sway bar link here. Sway bar is this piece here and it goes across the frame.

So what it does is it keeps the vehicle stable. It reduces body roll. When you go around a corner fast that the vehicle body tends to roll in a certain direction and this,  just transfers some of that movement to the other side of the vehicle and keeps the vehicle more stable. So it's pretty critical for vehicle stability, I mean in the olden days, vehicles didn't have them. Almost every car that I can think of that's been built in the last while, has them, although I do have a Mercedes SL55 that has the active body control, which is a hydraulic suspension. It does not have sway bars because it controls the sway of the vehicle through the struts, it's so quick with hydraulic struts. It can adjust the body roll, you know, in microseconds with just a click of a solenoid and some fluid. 

But anyways, this vehicle is different, this is the bottom of the strut, by the way, it does have a variable suspension which is actuated by the struts. It's complicated. There's a lot of things on this vehicle that could be bad. But back to the sway bar, there's a ball and socket joint here that wears out and that's what causes the clunk in the sway bar end link. It's not just a Mercedes thing, like every car that has sway bars will develop clunks and clinks. Some of them are designed a little different, but this ball and socket joint type is very common on many vehicles, Mercedes obviously included. 

Let me just divert off a little bit, because I love AMGs. I mean, the neat thing about them is the engine. You got this handcrafted engine by, I think it's Errol Cork. And you know to me among the engines that we opened the hood on, these are nice looking engines. There's the top of the engine. Nice carbon fibre cover you know, the supercharged one, like the SL 55. It has a supercharger underneath, which you can see the top of, but they design these engines beautifully on most AMGs. There is one exception that I find it doesn't look that good. 

But here's the cover off. You can see there's a coolant reservoir, the ECU and a number of other components buried under here. So nice looking engine. As I say, the only one, I don't like the SL 65 has a V12 twin turbo. When they put this big plastic cover over the whole top, they kind of really cheaped out on that or never really kind of built it as well as they could.

Mark: Back to the sway bar links. What happens to sway bar links? So it's a ball and socket joint, it wears out. Basically what else can happen with that? 

Bernie: Well, once it clunks, it gets to be kind of irritating. Now you think, well, so it's irritating do I really need to fix it? And the answer, you know, like sometimes they will actually wear up to the point where they pop apart and I've never seen a problem with that, but what does worry me is it could happen that it pops apart in such a way that the bar comes out and say pokes the side of your tire and blows your tire apart.

That's to me probably the worst case scenario that could happen. Never seen it happen, never heard of it happening, but it's absolutely something that could happen. So that's why you want to replace them when they start clunking and banging. But the other components of the sway bar system, like on this car it's pretty simple. It's just a steel bar that connects from one side to the other with the links. There's some rubber bushings that attach that to the frame of the vehicle, those wear out. And they can cause a kind of thudding and thumping noise too. So those need replacement from time to time as well.

Mark: So I'm thinking if that comes apart, that's not a good thing, but you mentioned there's other components that need replacement. How often does this kind of stuff wear out on vehicles? 

Bernie: They actually wear out fairly frequently. You know, it's a repair we do quite a lot in our shop and it's not just Mercedes it's, you know, any make and model of car they tend to wear out.

So I mean, this vehicle has under a hundred thousand kilometres. It's you know, eight, nine years old at this point in time. So they're worn out. So that's kind of gives you an idea of lifespan. I think you're lucky to get about a hundred thousand Ks out of a set of sway bar links. They do tend to wear out, but it's not a very labour intensive process to replace them and they're not overly expensive on most cars. I will mention that there are some systems of sway bars that are more complicated. 

Certain manufacturers have them like a Range Rover comes to mind where they can actually disconnect the sway bar. There's a disadvantage to having a sway bar. And that is when you want your wheels to really move independently from one another, the sway bar kind of keeps the wheels, like the front wheels connected, or the rear wheels connects to a certain degree. If you have a vehicle like an off-road vehicle, like a Range Rover, you might want to actually have that wheel be able to, if you have a big deep pothole or something, or you're going over a rock. You might want to have that extra traveling suspension not affecting the other side of the vehicle. So they actually have a sway bar that will disconnect. And that adds a lot of expense.

I'm sure we've got a podcast about that system because we've repaired them and replaced them. And they're not a cheap repair, but on this Mercedes, fortunately this one's just a straight bar. Pretty simple. 

Mark: So this is an awfully cool car for a shooting brake or a station wagon. How are they for reliability?  

Bernie: Pretty good. You know, it's a pretty good car. I mean they do have some issues but it is a Mercedes. It's an AMG. It's complicated. There's a lot of extra components and pieces. I mean, twin turbochargers, there are some engine issues, which we could talk about at another time, but I mean, generally they're pretty reliable, but there's a lot of very expensive things that can go wrong on them.

So you know, if you buy one, just be prepared that you're going to be spending way more money on maintenance on this car than you would on on your average vehicle or a lesser model Mercedes for that matter. 

Mark: And probably a lot more on fuel, on tires and on brakes because 520 or 50 horsepower is tempting.

Bernie: It is absolutely. And I haven't priced the brakes out on this particular model. It doesn't look like it's got the fanciest of AMG brake packages. Some of them have very, very expensive brake systems and some have good brake systems, but they're not as expensive as others. They're more reasonably priced, but yeah, like you said, these are all like premium fuel vehicles. You know, they're not the best gas mileage, but you know being that is a twin turbo, if you're out in the highway and you're just cruising, you will get pretty good fuel economy for the kind of vehicle that it is. But around the city it's not comparable to Prius or we'll compare it to a Lexus hybrid, since it's in a class above a Prius. 

Mark: So you're looking for service for your Mercedes AMG product or any Mercedes or any European or any Japanese or any American product or light truck. The guys to call 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. Hundreds of videos on there. All makes models, types of repairs. YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same story, hundreds. We've been doing this for eight years. So we've got a lot of product on there. Thanks so much for watching. We really appreciate it. If you like what we're laying down, give us a like. Bernie, thank you. 

Thank you, Mark. And thank you for watching. We totally appreciate it.

2009 Mercedes GL320, DPF Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. Why? Because 22 times they've been voted Best Auto Repair in Vancouver by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So 2009, Mercedes GL 320, there was a DPF replacement. What's a DPF?

Bernie: A diesel particulate filter. And what that does, we can just cut right into that. It basically, traps those nasty black particles that come out of diesels. And it stores them, burns them off and sends them out into the air fresh and clean, which is why you can stand you know, by the tailpipe of one of these diesels and not feel like you're about to die like you would with the older ones. A lot of people remove them. We won't get into the politics of that. I like having DPR's because I like clean air. You know, we do the best we can with our fossil fuels for the time being. So this is one of those things that makes it happen, but it's an added expense on a diesel, you know, and things do go wrong with it over time.

Mark: So what were the indications that there was a problem with this? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop, the owner had a couple of concerns. He was actually having add a fair bit of oil to this engine. So this is the three litre Mercedes diesel, having to add a little more oil in than he figured he should have. And, also the check engine light was on. A bit of a lack of power too. So next step testing, of course, we found there's a code for a high soot content in the DPF, diesel particulate filter. And also doing some visual inspections on the vehicle, looking around, we figured that the PCV system was probably part of the reason it was using too much oil.

Also, the high exhaust back pressure can cause some issues with oil consumption as well. So a partially plugged DPF could do such a thing. So, you know, when the soot content this high, it's not flowing as well as it should. So for repairs, we ended up replacing the PCV system and we opted to do a cleaning on the DPF. There's a few options with DPF's. You can either just flat out replace it, which is the most expensive option. And there's a couple of different cleaning options. So we have a chemical cleaning process that we do in our shop. That's what we did on the vehicle. 

Mark: So what's involved in cleaning, using this chemical system?

Bernie: Yeah. So the cleaning process is basically a two part chemical process. There's a sensor we remove right in front of the DPF. I'll show a picture in a minute, we remove the sensor. There's a little tiny little wand that sprays a chemical in, and then, we leave that in for a little bit and then spray a second chemical, then you run it and that, cleans it out.

Not always a hundred percent effective, but that is the way we do it. So let me just, share some pictures here. So this is the DPF.

2009 Mercedes GL320, DPF Replacement

So, I guess, you know, by seeing it lying on the ground, kind of leaves the conclusion, we actually ended up replacing it on this vehicle in the end.

We'll we'll talk about that, but this is what the DPF looks like in this diesel. So as we look further forward on the exhaust, the catalytic converter attaches in this area here, and then from the catalytic converter is basically the down pipe from the turbocharger. So in this area here, and actually I've got a closer up shot.

I'll we'll look at that. This is just kind of gives you an idea of the whole length of the pipe. This connects to the mufflers and the tailpipes. There's a closeup of the unit. 

2009 Mercedes GL320, DPF Replacement

This is where we spray the cleaner in, right in this area here. So there's a sensor that we remove and we're able to spray, and there's like a honeycomb web of, I don't know exactly all the details of what's inside of it but basically that's where the cleaner kind of goes to work and, softens the particulates and helps burn it out quicker.

 In this area here is where the diesel exhaust fluid is injected into the exhaust system. So, again, we'll talk about that on another podcast, another time, cause I'm sure we'll have problems and issues with that, but that's where that diesel exhaust fluid ends up being sprayed into the system right in that area there. 

Mark: That's the blue part of this.

Bernie: Yeah the add blue fluid. Sometimes called a diesel exhaust fluid add blue. So that's part of the process. And, you know, Volkswagen, you know, the diesel-gate Volkswagen, they decided they didn't want to put that add blue system in because it's, it adds a bunch of extra money.

And so they fudged their numbers saying their diesels could be just as clean, but if you have this and this, it makes it really clean. Just cost more money, more stuff to add on.

Mark: So you mentioned that they're not the cleaning procedures, aren't a hundred percent effective. How successful generally are there?

Bernie: We find that, you know, in our shop, it's kind of a 50-50 type of thing. So this vehicle to do a little history. So it was a couple of weeks previous to this week that we, you know, did the work and, the check engine light did come back on. The oil consumption had dropped, which he was happy about from the PCV and POS cleaning may have helped, but mostly the PCV, I think. Oil consumption had dropped a fair bit, which is good. But basically his check engine light did come back on with a high soot load in the DPF. So we weren't successful with this one. We've done other vehicles where it does work well, it's just, you just don't know until you do it, but it's a fraction of the cost to do a cleaning. And I think worthwhile doing before you change the filter because the filter is a very expensive item to replace.

Now, there are other methods of cleaning as well. There are companies that will actually take these things. They'll bake them very high temperatures and blow them out. We haven't had a lot of success with them. We've had it done on a few, like Mercedes before, it hasn't worked. So we don't really normally we recommend it.

And a lot of these companies do that, they're really targeted more for large trucks, tractor trailer, semis, and that kind of thing, which actually works quite well. I'm not sure on, you know, sort of, your American light truck diesels, how well they work. We haven't run into too many issues with those yet, but definitely works well with big trucks.

So it's really, at this point we gave the client the option. Look, you know, we could have it baked. It probably won't work, or you know, let's replace it. It'll work better. And so he did it. 

Mark: So first, I guess what's the typical lifespan of a DPF? 

Bernie: You know, it's hard to know, and it really depends on the kind of driving you do. So this is a 2009, it's got about 154,000 kilometres on the vehicle, which is not a lot for a vehicle of that age. So what that tells me is this vehicle has probably been mostly city driven, short trips, and that's definitely much harder on a DPF than it would be had this person done nothing but highway driving. So how you drive it. Makes a big difference. And if you have a diesel, it's always important to make sure it gets warm. And you do at least some long trips. Ideally, if you just scooting around town a little bit, see if you can get up for highway drive on a Sunday, or, you know, whatever make some excuse to go for a highway drive.

I know it seems kind of wasteful, but it's really much better for the engine to get it good and hot. And you know, warms the engine up, cleans the exhaust system out, get out for a good burn down the highway. And that way it'll burn the particles out. So it may well be that the person never did this. That's kind of like the best thing you can do for that sort of thing. But I mean the average life kind of hard to say, it really depends on usage. 

Mark: Yeah so buy a diesel for its intended use, not driving around in the city, stop and go driving is the worst thing for a diesel. 

Bernie: It is the worst thing for sure. And people often buy these, you know, before you buy diesel, you need to know what are you buying it for and how are you going to use it? You know, if you're just driving five miles to work and back every day, don't buy diesel.

Mark: Get a bike.

Bernie:  Get a bike, absolutely. Yeah a bike or you know, something but just don't just, don't buy a diesel cause it won't work for that. But if you do happen to do that every day, and then you're heading off, out of the city every weekend, then it could work. But it really depends on your usage, but often with a car type or very light duty diesel like this, people buy them for the wrong reasons or they get sold on the idea. Oh, it's got great fuel economy. And the truth is it does, but the repairs are very expensive. So I think you need to be able to justify the repairs.

Mark: So, how did the vehicle work after you replaced the DPF? 

Bernie: It was awesome. So, you know, definitely felt more powerful, the check engine light remained off and we can look at data on the computer and it will actually tell what the soot  load is of the DPF and it was at zero so, which it should be since it's brand new, but it was, you know, all reset. Everything was good. So, so yeah, worked great.

Mark: So maximizing the life of your DPF is basically get out and drive up to the Caribou and back once in a while.

Bernie: Oh yeah, that'd be really good, but you don't even have to go that far. I mean, we live in Vancouver. If you drove from Vancouver to White Rock, I don't know, go out and have some dinner in White Rock once a week or something like that. 

Mark: And don't spare the horses. 

Bernie: That's right. Yeah, exactly.

Mark:  So there you go. If you need some service for your Mercedes diesel and you want experts who will give you the straight goods and fix it for you in the most economical way possible, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment in Vancouver, BC, Canada. You have to call ahead because they're busy and they're always booked. So you got to book ahead and if that's not working for you, you can check out our YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds, not exaggerating hundreds of videos on there for the last eight years. We've been talking about the repairs of many, many vehicles, all makes and models, all kinds of repairs. Or the website pawlikautomotive.com. We appreciate your watching the videos and appreciate you listened to the podcast. Leave us a review if you like what we're doing, even if I'm stumbling all over my words. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Appreciate you watching.

2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues

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

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2011 Mercedes E350, which was towed in with some electrical issues. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah this car had some interesting stuff going on. So, first off, the problem is intermittent, which always adds for some fun, but to bring the car into the shop and it wouldn't shift out a park. Some of the things we noted, we could start the vehicle, but you would have to use the key, not the push button start. The instrument panels all lit up with a bunch of warning lights. And the other thing we noticed is the power seat wouldn't operate along with the tilt features of the steering column. So that's just some of what we found. 

Mark: So, where did you start? 

Bernie: Well of course verifying the concern is the first thing. Second plugged in a scan tool, retrieved all stored trouble codes and there was a lot of them. We'll look at a picture shortly and I'll show you what was going on. But the first thing to do is just clear the codes and after doing that, we were able to actually shift the vehicle, move it around and do a few further tests. 

Mark: What did you do next? 

Bernie: What do we do next? So as I said, we did a few tests and nothing really, you know, we moved the tilt column pieces around, nothing seemed to happen there. The seats. Some of the areas where we thought the fault might be, nothing seemed to happen. So really the next step was actually to take it out for a very long road test until the problem reoccurred, as mentioned, it was intermittent. It had been going on for a little while for the owner. So that's what we did. 

Mark: How long did it take for the problem to reoccur? 

Bernie: Well, quite a long time. Our service advisor, Scotty took it out for a very long drive, I think out to Chilliwack over a weekend, nothing happened. And then a Monday night when he was driving home, pulling into his underground parking lot, all the lights came on and everything kind of shut down. So that's how long it took. So this is the kind of thing we're faced with sometimes, you know, is the long drive. I mean, we had a good conversation with the owner and said, look, you know, I want this fixed. It's my daughter's car. You know, it can't go like this. And rightly so, because of course, once it shuts down, it's completely useless.

So, that's how long it took for the issue to reoccur. From there, the next point was to rescan the vehicle computer because we previously cleared all the codes and see what had occurred. And again, it was a similar set of codes. Most of them seem to be errors with the can bus system or communication. The way these vehicles work, they have a, it's called CAN bus, it's a controller area network. And there's two wires that basically connect most of the computer some of them use different bus systems, but, the CAN is used throughout most of the vehicle, various modules will talk to each other and they'll communicate.

And if something goes wrong with that communication system, it causes all these kinds of errors. Like all of a sudden it won't shift because it hasn't got the right signal from one place or another. But interesting thing with the canned buses, it can be something that happened was in the front of the vehicle. It shuts the whole system down, something in the back, something in the middle, a module. There's hundreds of things and it doesn't necessarily tell you where it is. People think, Oh yeah, we just plug it in and away it goes. Well, the plugin is a direction, but it's not an actual solution. So that's kind of where we went. 

Mark: So that all seems pretty complicated. And I know there are many miles of wires in any vehicles, modern vehicles, especially where do you start? 

Bernie: Where do we start? So, one advantage we have with the scan tool we use, there's technical support that we're able to get. So we send a file off to the company. They have some experts who look at it and it's a great help for us to try to pinpoint a direction, based on their expertise. So from that, you know, the idea is either you rip up the carpet and the seats and inspect all the wiring under the vehicle because perhaps there was a flood of some sort. A bad connection somewhere. Or the other area maybe around the front of the vehicle, it could have been some damage and one of the sensors may cause the whole system to go down. So after doing a visual inspection, of course, that's a lot of area to take apart. Hours and hours of labor to look at something that, you know, we may not find anything.

We decided to take the front bumper off and look at it, which is not a small job, but we'd noted that it seemed like there's been some body repairs and of course, bad bodywork or repairs can be a good start of the problem. 

So I'm going to start with some pictures right now and there's our car.

2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues
2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues
2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues
2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues
2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues
2011 Mercedes E350, Electrical Issues

So wait, when we pulled the front, there's a fender cover on the driver's side, we found this clamp holding the bumper together. She's not a good sign. This is a sign of either someone forgot to take it off or some kind of crappy bodywork where they weren't quite able to put everything, you know, put it together with the proper fastener.

So we figured, Hey, you know, inspecting the front bumper is probably a good thing cause who knows what else has been done? So, we took the bumper off. The headlights. We did a number of tests, and what we found out of all of it, even though some of the wiring wasn't quite rooted properly. There wasn't really a problem in the front, everything actually ended up being okay in the front of the car.

So a lot of the process that, you know, doing this stuff is verifying what works and what doesn’t. We'd found that was good, but it was a good place to start. Moving further on, actually I'll just go through some pictures here of the various, module fault s. These are screen captures from our scan tool.

So when the fault happened, these are the different modules. Distronic, central gateway, engine electronics. You can see a lot of the looking at everything. I mean, the whole idea here, you can see that there's a number of modules here, but a lot of them communication. CAN communication, CAN signal, like a lot of it all points to the communication system in the vehicle of an error, but just so you can see the full gamut of it.

There's page one, there's page two. Again not all of them, you know, having CAN codes, but here's an interesting one too. The steering control module is a malfunction, current and stored. So this again could have been the area where it was, and that was actually the second area we started looking for problems again, here's page three.

So a lot of faults, a lot of errors, and all again, you know, communication. So what we found eventually, through moving the steering column back and forth and looking at a lot of those messages that we found, these wires chafed and inside here it's not the best picture I could have taken, but inside here, one of the wires here was actually rubbing against the steering column. There's two wires for the CAN system. One of them was a CAN wire and, that's where our problem was.

  Mark: That's inside the vehicle.

Bernie: That's inside the vehicle. That's with the steering column covers removed. This vehicle has power tilt and telescope steering and, you know, these wires here go to that steering module, which remember there was a code there that said stored in current. That was basically where we ended up finding the problem.

Mark: Was that just a lucky find or was that more like an educated guess basically. 

Bernie: It was educated based on the code we had, plus the tests we'd done in the beginning. So again, you know, had we gone to this first, maybe it would have saved some time for sure. But based on some of the body condition we found and some of the information we'd received starting with the front, seemed to be the best thing to do.

I've found over the years that bad bodywork can often cause a lot of problems, that's usually the best place to start. So having verified that, then we knew, okay, it's not there. Let's move on to something else. And it just so happened to that while Kevin was working on it, it was moving things around that the fault actually occurred.

So this vehicle, you know, when you get out of it, it moves the steering wheel out of the way. So, you know, it provides easy exit and entry features. So of course it's moving all the time. And what was likely happening is most of the time the wire wasn't touching, but the odd time you get into the car and then the steering column would move into place, short the CAN system out and everything would happen. Then another time you go to start it, it wasn't doing that and, everything would work fine. So that's what we found. After many hours. 

Mark: Yeah. So how did you repair it? 

Bernie: We basically took the wiring harness apart. We soldered in new wires to replace the old ones. Made sure we've protected it really well so it wouldn't short or move, you know, get damaged again in the future. 

So why, it seems like a bad design. Why was this an issue that this would occur in this car? It's not old. 

No, it's true. It's hard to say for sure. But Kevin had the impression that someone had been in there to maybe add an accessory or something to the wiring, in the steering column. That may or may not have been the case, but something seemed a little amiss. So it might be that someone, you know, someone had been in there doing something in the past and did not, you know, clip the wire in the right spot or it's just, it could have been bad from the factory and it does happen from time to time.

I mean, most manufacturers do take the time to try to make sure wires are routed properly, but you know, over time, you know, the vehicle gets tested and they can't test everything. So, you know, sometimes, you know, you find out 10 years later. Oh, that wasn't such a good idea or, you know, we're repairing it.

Mark: Yeah. So how often do you run into these wiring problems with Mercedes. 

Bernie: Not very often, fortunately, because, you know, as you can see by the way codes and all those modules, there's an awful lot of complexity to these vehicles. So fortunately we don't run into it too often, but it does happen. And I say, fortunately for us, cause it's time consuming to repair and for the customer, it can be very expensive.

There's no way of knowing when you start out, just what sort of, you know, final repair bill you're going to get because it's just basically time to look through everything and sort through it all and find the problem. But a variety of vehicles, we find wiring issues over the years, but it's not one of the highest amount number of jobs we do.

Mark: So the question on everybody's mind of course, is what did you do about the clamp? 

Bernie: What do we do about the clamp? You know, I'll have to ask Kevin about it. I believe we were able to remove it or re-bolt the bumper back together and it all stayed, it worked fine. 

Mark: Almost like a backyard job, maybe.

Bernie: Well, maybe. You know, and when we're, you know, a little ways into the process, like a couple hours in, and I thought, Hey, did we actually see if the vehicle had a rebuilt status on the insurance? And of course it didn't, it was actually. Bought from a reputable car dealer who would never sell a rebuilt vehicle, but that's again, you know, when you have a vehicle was rebuilt status, this is why if you watch our podcasts, you'll hear me often say, don't buy a vehicle with rebuilt status.

Those are the kind of things you can expect to find. Things like bad hoses, bad clamp up jobs and stuff like that. So, I mean, who knows how it was repaired? You know, unfortunately, even a reputable dealer doesn't always know the exact history of everything. 

Mark: And this could have happened after the car was purchased as well.

Bernie: Yeah. And the good news is from what we did taking the bumper apart, we made sure all the wiring was routed properly. There was no issues with anything in the front of the vehicle. So, if you've got the added bonus of, you know, making sure that that stuff is all in good shape and repaired properly.

Mark: If you need some service for your 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 always busy.  Or check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos and articles on there on all makes and models of cars, all types of repairs from fancy luxury cars to your basic runabout, to diesel pickup trucks. All of them are all in there. Almost eight years worth of like literally hundreds, guys hundreds. 

Bernie: We've got electric cars and hybrids in there too. 

Mark: Yeah. I forgot that mentioned those. Or you check out the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, everything's on there as well. And thanks for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review if you like what we're laying down. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2008 Mercedes Sprinter, Rear Axle Bearing

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

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So 2008 Mercedes Sprinter that had a rear axle bearing problem. What was going on with this van? 

Bernie: Well, when the vehicle was brought in for some service and, driving the vehicle down the road, there was an exceptionally loud noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. Doing a little diagnosis and testing. We pretty quickly determined it was the right rear axle bearing that was making the noise. Extremely loud.

Mark: So what was involved in replacing this axle bearing? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this is interesting on Mercedes, actually replacing this axle bearing, there's a few ways just to kind of go over. It's a solid rear differential. So, usually, you can either remove the axle shaft by one of a couple of ways. You normally press the bearing on and off the axle shaft.

But this is kind of unique on this Mercedes, or different. The axle is replaced as a complete assembly. You can't buy a separate bearing or hub for this vehicle. You have to buy the whole axle shaft. I wanna just get into some pictures right now. 

Mark: So why did they do that way?

Bernie: I don't really know for sure why they chose to do it that way, but we'll just go over a couple of pictures here.

2008 Mercedes Sprinter, Rear Axle Bearing
2008 Mercedes Sprinter, Rear Axle Bearing
2008 Mercedes Sprinter, Rear Axle Bearing

So here's the axle removed from the vehicle. Now you can see this part here, these splines, this is what slips into the gears and the differential, and it basically drives the axle and the axle bearing, the part that was worn out and making noise sits out here.

Now I have another picture here that illustrates this a little better. So that's the general look. If you look at this close up, you can see this shaft is extremely fat and it goes skinny down here. And now normally, for these type of bearing, a lot of axle bearings, you can press this part off the vehicle. It's often a fair bit of work, but with a hydraulic press, you can press the bearing off. But interestingly enough, there's no way you could do that on this bearing because the axle shaft is actually larger than the bearing shaft diameter. So they've made it smaller at the outer end. 

And as a final picture, you know, there is a possibility I didn't remove this cap because there's no sense because you can't buy the bearing separately anyways, in the aftermarket or from Mercedes but likely if you pulled this cap out, there might be a big bolt in there that you could actually unbolt the actual shaft from the bearing and hub assembly and, change it from there. So that's our little picture show. 

Mark: So is that a unique design? 

Bernie: Well, this is unique. To have to replace the whole axle, this is the only vehicle I've run across where have to replace a whole axle, just to get the bearing. But this design of that little cup I showed at the end with the bolt, a lot of Jeeps, have a design where you can actually change that hub and bearing, I'll go back to the pictures again.

You can change the hub and bearing like you can actually, this part will actually pull off the actual there's a little bolt in the middle, kind of similar to this. I, what I imagine is, and the actual shaft will slide off of that hub and bearing so on a lot of Jeep models, but I think some Dodge pickups as well, you can have this, you can replace this separately.

Why Mercedes didn't do it? I don't know. You know, just how, how, how they roll. So, how about the longevity of this? Does this part fail fairly often on sprinter van? No, they, they last a long time. We work in a lot of sprinters. This is the first one we've changed, you know, obviously not, No, not a foolproof item, but they do tend to last a long time.

So, as you can imagine, replacing a whole axle and bearing is probably pretty expensive and it is, it's only seems to be only available from Mercedes. We weren't able to find it after market. A solution, but, we did get a used one for the customer, which has about half the price of the new one. And it actually worked really well.

We can, you can easily test the bearing beforehand by rotating it. And, it, it's pretty obvious. I'll actually, I have one more thing to share here, and that is, that is a video of, of this bearing hair. So just bear with me a second and I'll, I'll, screen-share the, the, Share this video. So just, if you listen, you should be able to hear the sound of this bearing as I spin it,

be able to hear that barely. We'll see if we can crank the volume of that up in the, in the, After post production process. But anyways, that, that is a sound of an exceptionally badly worn bearing. So they used replacement part. We had, first of all, it wasn't nearly as rusty as this. And second of all, even when you turn it, you can, you can, it takes a fair bit of force to act by hand to actually rotate it and turn it.

So, you know, it's, it's obvious when it, when it's working properly.

So. this is just the shaft to act. So this is not changing the differential though, right? No, no. The rest of the differential is all inside. you know, it's further in, there's a lot more work involved, to do that. So, I mean, on, on one note, you know, actual labor portion of this job is not too difficult because you can just pull the axle out.

You don't have to press the bearing on and off, which is typical of this kind of design. And that can be time consuming and expensive as well. So, it's kind of like a, almost a plug and play operation, but, there are other factors as well, just to put in there that the a there's an abs wheel speed sensor that has to be removed.

In order to change this, this bearing, and those will seize in there frequently. This one actually good. This one actually did season the bore and needed to be replaced as well. So, you know, sometimes you'll get lucky and you'll be able to pull it out, but other times it, it won't come out and you'll have to replace that part too.

So that's just another added, part to it. And how often does one axle bearing goal mean that you've got to change both of them? You know, these are the kind of thing where they're completely independent parts. So if one's warned, we don't normally just change the other side. Just change it as you go, say the same with a lot of, you know, hub and wheel bearing assembly that you find in it.

I say modern cars. I mean, they've been around for decades now, but usually, usually if one's worn, it doesn't mean the other, no, one's going to be worn out. Sometimes you can change one. and the other ones won't wear out for another 10 years. So, it's just basically just replace it one at a time.

There's no, no cost savings whatsoever to change. both of them. And you work on a lot of sprinters, as you mentioned, how are they for reliability? They're pretty good. You know, we've talked a lot about them. There's other podcasts. I mean, it's got the three leader, a lot of them have the three liter Mercedes diesel.

It has a, you know, a number of issues we, that I won't get into now, but they're, they do, they do have their issues. but overall they're, they're a good van and they they're very popular because of the size and the, the dimensions, no breaks, breaks do wear out on them over time, but they're, you know, not, Not abnormally fast.

but generally speaking, they're a good, reliable van. You, you pay a lot of money for them, but they're, you know, they're very useful for what they do for the size and what you can pack into them. Plus they're economical to run with, you know, with the, with the diesel, even though there are problems and issues, you know, they certainly get incredibly good fuel economy.

So if you have a Sprinter in Vancouver or any kind of Mercedes product, or even the Dodge version of that, you can call Pawlik Automotive and get them to service those vehicles. They're experts in it. (604) 367-7112 to book your appointment, you got to call and book ahead. They're always busy.

Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com hundreds, seriously, hundreds and hundreds of videos and podcasts and articles on all makes and models of repairs, types of repairs. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel. You can check out our videos, that are again, seven years worth of doing this every week. Lots of them. 

And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review wherever you're picking up your podcasts. And thank you, Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.

2008 Mercedes ML350 ABS Sensor Repair

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.

2008 Mercedes ML350 ABS Sensor Repair
2008 Mercedes ML350 ABS Sensor Repair
2008 Mercedes ML350 ABS Sensor Repair

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.

A Tale of Two AMGs

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. 

A Tale of Two AMGs
A Tale of Two AMGs
A Tale of Two AMGs
A Tale of Two AMGs

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.

2011 Mercedes GL350 Air Suspension Repairs

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.

2011 Mercedes GL350 Air Suspension Repairs
2011 Mercedes GL350 Air Suspension Repairs
2011 Mercedes GL350 Air Suspension Repairs
2011 Mercedes GL350 Air Suspension Repairs

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.

2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs

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.

2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs
2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs
2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs
2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs
2008 Mercedes GL320 Air Suspension Repairs

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.

Mercedes Benz Reliability

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.

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