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2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan this morning, that had a coolant leak. What was going on with this vehicle, Bernie? Good morning.

Bernie: Hey, good morning. This Dodge Caravan actually had a very large coolant leak coming from the back of the engine. Well, in between the engine and the transmission. Pour some coolant in, and it would be dripping out almost as fast as you could pour it in. Not quite, but, almost as fast as. So, yeah, there was a very major leak coming from this engine.

Mark: So after you dried your shoes off, what was causing such a large leak?

Bernie: What we found, what I suspected, and it actually involves removing the engine from the vehicle to verify it, was that there was probably a frost plug that had failed. It didn't take long ... soon as I removed the radiator cap, note right away there was a lot of rust on the radiator cap, and sitting in the top of the radiator. The owner of the vehicle had told me that they'd recently replaced the radiator, and so something that ... it wasn't even an old radiator, had rust in the coolant. To me, suspicious immediately of ... it's probably a rusted out frost plug.

Mark: What is a frost plug?

Bernie: What a frost plug is, it's also known as an expansion plug. They put them in the engine block, the purpose, one of the purposes, supposedly, is to prevent ... if you had water in the cooling system, so this goes way back to when before antifreeze was invented, or used. If you had water in the cooling system, of course, when it gets cold out, water freezes and it expands, and as it expands, of course it'll crack the metal of the engine block. If you put these plugs in, these frost plugs or expansion plugs, these plugs are supposed to be pushed out by the expanding water, and prevent the block from cracking. In reality, that usually doesn't work. I've had many vehicles in the past where people have had water in the cooling system, it freezes and cracks the engine block. They don't actually work like they're supposed to, but they also do, apparently, hold the casting ... when they cast an engine block they actually hold some of the molds in place as well, so that's another reason, apparently, for having them, although I've never actually been in a foundry and seen a block cast, but that's another purpose for it. Nonetheless, they need to be intact. They're made of ... they're generally a metal plug made of a thin, maybe 16th inch think, millimetre thick piece of metal that's hammered, it's hammered and friction fit into the engine block. They are susceptible to rusting out.

Mark: Why had this frost plug failed?

Bernie: Bad maintenance. Clear and simple. Bad maintenance. And by the way, this part, a frost plug is worth about a dollar, just to put things in perspective. The labor involved in replacing it is huge. Let's just go into some pictures right now. Basically bad maintenance is what caused it. The owner had probably, it's a 10 year-old van, probably should have the cooling system flushed at least once, maybe twice in this age of vehicle, and I would suspect never had it done. Maybe there's a coolant leak at some point, they let it run with some water in it for a while, and it's a cast iron engine block, so it will rust up. We're getting some pictures. 

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Coolant Leak Repair

So there's the 2008 iconic Dodge Caravan, or popular as you would say. There's our first sign, before I even did any repairs on the vehicle, you can see the rust in the cooling system. That's a sign, right away, that there's a fair amount of rust throughout the cooling ... it never just stays in one spot, once it develops it tends to circulate around. There is a first telltale sign.

What's involved in this repair, is actually removing the engine and transmission from the vehicle, because it was leaking ... this is the bell housing area where the transmission bolts to the engine, and this is the rear frost plug. There's two of them, one here, one there. This is a cam shaft plug. This actually seals off an oil passageway. But there, where red arrow points, is a little hole that basically developed from the frost plug leaking out the coolant. When we look a little further, this is what the frost plugs removed ... and this is the kind of guck that was inside the back of the engine, the rust and corrosion. See, this is the back of the cylinder walls, these two areas, and this is just rust that had ... I stuck my fingers in here and dug a bit of it out, but that's basically the mess that was inside there.

In doing the service and repair I have a special flushing tool, and flushed all of it out. Still, once you develop this kind of rust, it's impossible to get rid of it all, but I probably removed about 95% of it in the process of doing this work. Just to look at things in perspective, after flushing out some of the heater hoses, this is what the coolant looked like. That's not yellow antifreeze, there are some antifreezes ... there are some antifreezes that have this colour, but this is definitely rusty water. So there's our picture show.

Mark: Basically, just from not flushing the coolant system, that would cause this much rust and damage in the interior of the engine?

Bernie: Yeah, as I said, my suspicion is that it may be that they ... well, first of all, it definitely didn't get flushed and serviced as much as it should've; and there was probably a time where it may have been low in coolant and the people had just put water in it for whatever temporary reasons. Maybe the temporary reasons were six months or a year, but between the two of those things, that's how the rust developed.

I actually purchased this vehicle from the owner. They didn't want to spend the money repairing it. So, essentially, they've taken a very good Dodge Caravan, with pretty low mileage, 150,000 km, and basically that vehicle is, to them, just junk. It's a shame, because one or two coolant flushes and some good maintenance, would be $200, $300. Not a lot of money. Yet, now they're out buying another vehicle. It really does pay to do your maintenance, especially ... if they'd paid for this repair, could be $3000 to $4000. Still worthwhile with the age of the van. It was otherwise in pretty good shape. Again, $300 or $3000, you know. As the Fram guy used to say, "You can pay me now, or pay me later." It's a classic example.

Mark: How often, other than too often, how often do you see these expensive repairs from lack of maintenance?

Bernie: From time to time we get vehicles in, and most of the times it's from people who haven't changed their oil enough, and the engine's just ... something's just blown up inside the engine. In all fairness, sometimes things blow up even for people who maintain their car well, but it's more often the lack of maintenance that causes these problems, or things that sludge up inside the engine, timing chain problems, rattles, cam gears. It's so important to change your oil and fluids regularly on modern cars. You don't need to do them as often as you did in the old days, I'm thinking 20, 30, 40 years ago, but with modern cars it's even more critical to do them when they're due or even sooner, just to ... it saves you a lot of money.

Mark: And Dodge Caravans have had a mixed, let's be kind, a mixed reliability record. Some years are pretty problematic with transmissions, and engines, depends on the motor. How is this generation of vans?

Bernie: These are pretty good. We don't see a ton of problems with them. It's been interesting ... with this engine I not only replaced the frost plugs, but I took the engine ... it had a couple of oil leaks, and I figured while the engine's out I may as well just re-gasket the whole engine, including the head gaskets, because you never know how hot this person got the engine, and I don't want to sell it to someone and find the head gasket's blown a month, or even a year.

Bernie: It's actually an incredibly simple engine, so there's not really a lot to go wrong with it. For reliability, the transmissions are definitely better than they used to be. Overall, they're actually a lot better than they used to be.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for maintenance and/or repairs on your Dodge Caravan, the guys to see in Vancouver 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 their website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos and articles on there about all makes and models. Of course, on our YouTube Channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same idea, hundreds of videos on all makes and models and types of repairs. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.

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

2009 Subaru Impreza, A/C Compressor Repair

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of course, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 19 time winners, 19 times voted by their customers as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well. 

Mark: So we're talking about a Subaru Impreza today, a 2009. It was an AC compressor issue. What was going on with this Subaru?

Bernie: So this vehicle came in with basically the belt drive in the AC compressor was gone and the compressor pulley was seized up. The compressor pulley bearing had failed and caused the belt to basically burn off. 

Mark: And there was no belt there at all? 

Bernie: No. No belt there at all.

Mark: No. 

Bernie: The belt is always turning with the engine running and the compressor pulley of course is always being driven. The compressor does switch on and off with the clutch but the actual pulley's always being driven. So if that seizes up belts will break.

Mark: So this Impreza was driving around with its pants down basically?

Bernie: Yeah. Kind of, yeah. I mean it drives fine without the belt on because the belt only drives the AC compressor which is a good thing in that respect. It doesn't affect the rest of the vehicle but the AC was no longer functioning. 

Mark: So what kind of repair needed to be done on this?

Bernie: So basically the compressor needed to be replaced and I'll just get right into some pictures here so we can have a look at things. But yeah, basically the compressor needed to be replaced to solve the issue, and the belt of course.

2009 Subaru Impreza, A/C Compressor Repair
2009 Subaru Impreza, A/C Compressor Repair

So this is our old compressor here, the original compressor with both drive belts off. This is the alternator over here. And the red area basically point to the ... You can see a sort of burnt area here. This is basically the compressor clutch assembly and this pulley here which rotates at all times with the engine running, it basically seized. You couldn't turn it.

And unfortunately I didn't get a video capture of it but is you stuck your hand on that pulley you would be able to wobble this thing back and forth. It was very loose so the bearing had basically worn out. It was very loose and of course caused this all to fail. At one time you could buy just the compressor clutches for vehicles and replace them. And if you did enough digging you could probably actually, possibly come up with a bearing replacement but usually at least by this point it's probably damaged the clutch pretty badly running loose.

So you'd want to replace the whole thing at this point. But sometimes if you have a bearing in early stages of failure you can replace it, but those parts are getting very hard to find nowadays. It's kind of replace the whole assembly type of thing which happens a lot in modern car repairs. This is our new compressor mounted. You can see it's much shinier and clean so this is what the ... The hoses are not attached to the system but that's basically the belt installed and new compressor put in place.

Mark: So, is this a large job?

Bernie: As far as air-conditioning no. I mean labor-wise it's not particularly difficult to do but it does involve of course evacuating the air-conditioning refrigerant and then recharging the system afterwards. But as far as actual component replacement it's one of the easier items to do on an air-conditioning system. I mean the evaporator is definitely the worst because that's located behind the dash and you have to tear the whole ... generally you have to tear the whole dash out on 99% of cars. There are a couple where you don't but yeah, 99% of vehicles you have to tear the whole dash apart to get the evaporator. So this is a pretty easy job to do. The parts are generally not that cheap though so it does end up being a pricey repair but it's not too difficult labor-wise. 

Mark: And is this a fairly common failure on Subarus?

Bernie: Not particularly. I mean any vehicle, these bearings will fail but it's not an everyday failure item we see. Certainly not as predictable as head gaskets are on these cars. 

Mark: And would the car owner have any warning prior to the failure?

Bernie: Yes. Normally you would. You'd normally hear a sound coming from the engine. There'd normally be some sort of grating sound, a grindy sound. As so sometimes it can be a little subtle but normally you should be able to hear something and certainly before the belt failed it probably made some very loud screeching noises. But by that point it's definitely too late.

Mark: So it's winter now in Vancouver which means no need for air-condition. Would it have been possible to have left this repair for warmer weather?

Bernie: So in this particular car, certainly you could have because as I said, the compressor's driven by its own belt. If you have a vehicle with a serpentine belt and that's a belt that drives all the components you really can't do that because you have to have that piece in there. Some cars you can actually get a shorter belt or an auxiliary pulley but it doesn't really make sense to do that for the most part. So the answer is, yes you could have left it but one thing about air-conditioning it actually provides an awesome defrosting function it's really just as useful in winter as it is in the summertime. I mean in the summer you want it to keep you cool but in the wintertime air-conditioning dries the air so it will defrost your windshield extremely quickly. And it's very noticeable if you have a car where you can turn the air-conditioning on and off with the defrost or triad you'll see just how effective having good working air-conditioning is. It will defrost your window very fast.

Mark: Or defog it

Bernie: Defog it, yeah. Exactly. Not frost. We say the word frost. Yeah, defog, get the fog off the inside of the windscreen. So yeah. It makes a huge difference and that's really a safety feature having that. And it actually saves you on fuel because you could sit in front of your house and turn the heat on for 10 minutes and then you've wasted a bunch of gas. But if you turn your air-conditioning on, one minute later its defogged and away you go. So it's a good thing to have working year round. And of course as it cycles year round it keeps everything moving and it actually keeps the components lasting longer than it would at other times of the year.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Subaru in Vancouver and you need some maintenance or some repairs the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to keep your windows fog-free or any other kind of repairs or maintenance. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy, unlike many other shops. Or else checkout our website pawlikautomotive.com, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair, hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and types of repairs as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching. We really appreciate it. 

2008 BMW 328xi – Front End Clunk

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and videos. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. We're talking cars this morning. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, BMW 328, XI 2008 vintage, had a front end clunk. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Last Friday, the vehicle came in for some service and among one of the items there's a tire pressure warning light on. It needed a flat repair on the front left wheel so we did the flat repair. We noticed after we drove the vehicle, so we just unbolted the wheel and put it back on. We hoisted the vehicle up and down, of course, which we needed to do, there seemed to be a really loud clunk in the front end. Course it was late Friday. The customer needed the vehicle and we did not have time to look at it.  We weren't even sure if the clunk was possibly there beforehand. It turned out it hadn't been but for some reason this horrible clunk had developed in the front end. BMWs do have front end parts that wear out quite frequently. Things like ball joints or control arm bushings wear badly. We figured well maybe it just happened to have worn out, something like that had happened. That's what we figured was what was wrong with the vehicle. We proceeded to look. That's basically what led to the vehicle, so it came back for a look at. What we found was the engine mount bolts had broken on the right hand side. Basically the bracket that had held the engine mount in place had broken. That was what was causing the clunk. 

Mark: So do you have some pictures? 

2008 BMW 328xi - Front End Clunk
2008 BMW 328xi - Front End Clunk
2008 BMW 328xi - Front End Clunk

Bernie: I do. Yeah, let's get into some pictures. There's our BMW 328. Nice, decent, all-wheel drive sedan. This is the engine mount bracket here that was loose. There's a bolt here. That's the yellow indicates the bracket. This is actually with the assembly redone but what we found when we did the inspection on the vehicle, no loose front end parts surprisingly. We found the heads of the bolts lying on the vehicle splash pans. These are three of the four bolts for the engine mount. You'll see they're actually all broken. The fourth bolt was no where to be found. It had worked its way loose at some point. These are all aluminum bolts. Obviously aluminum is not as strong as steel, which explains why they cracked. That's at least why they're broken, because a steel bolt would not break like this, but aluminum certainly will. That's what we found. The loose mount was causing it. When you'd hit a bump, the engine would be banging up and down on the frame of the vehicle.

Mark: Or I guess if you accelerated hard as well.

Bernie: Well, interestingly enough, it didn't because it was the right hand side so all the torque is on the left side so actually, fortunately for the owner of this vehicle, it was the right side that broke, because it was already sitting down on the frame of the vehicle. But it's surprising that we didn't feel more vibration in the vehicle when you accelerate, because you'd think that ... usually it transfers quite a vibration but for some reason, however it happened, it wasn't noticeable. 

Mark: So how could it happen? 

Bernie: How could it happen? Well, what we speculate happened was that these bolts had probably been loose for some time, and the fact that one of them was completely missing, I mean if someone had been in there previously and done a repair or-

Mark: And not tightened everything properly. 

Bernie: Either not tightened the bolts or the bolt was loose, or somehow they just worked their way loose over time. Obviously, the bolts were all loose and at some point, and I'm assuming it happened Friday afternoon at some point on one of our road tests or just jacking the engine up or down, the rest of the bolts were loose and snapped, maybe two out of three were broken. And the last one finally snapped and just kind of went crazy. But that caused the clunk. 

Mark: So why do they use aluminum bolts? That seems kinda crazy. 

Bernie: Good question. Yeah, you're right. It does seem kind of crazy because aluminum is such a light-weight material compared to steel. But it's really light-weight is the reason that they do it. When you consider a car how many bolts there are in the engine and in various spots, there's got to be several hundred pounds worth of bolt, so if you can reduce half of them. An aluminum bolt is a featherweight. It's really interesting holding these bolts 'cause we bought a package of new bolts from BMW and there's four of them in a bag and they weigh ... It's weird when you hold them, because they weigh nothing. It's like holding up a piece of paper. It just doesn't seem right, because the steel bolts you get used to the weight of something like that. That's essentially why they use aluminum bolts to save weight. And they've obviously done their engineering and figured okay we can use aluminum bolts here. We can use them there. That's why they do it. 

Mark: Are aluminum bolts reusable? 

Bernie: No. Well, I'll say only at your peril. I would never reuse an aluminum bolt. The factory way of doing things is you replace them, so this is why a lot of these kind of things are ... as long as the car's not too old. Aluminum bolt technology is something that's only been ... This is like a ten-year-old car, so it hasn't been used for too long. The Germans seem to like it a lot. But a lot of times these bolts will be stocked or pretty easy to get. We never reuse them because they're designed for one time use and that's it. 

Mark: Yeah. I remember Audi used to use these as well, right? 

Bernie: They certainly do. 

Mark: Could you substitute ... are there aftermarket steel bolts? 

Bernie: Oh yeah, you could use a steel bolt. The threads are all standard types of metric threads. You could just get the right thread pattern and use them. We just in this case of this repair, just chose to get the bolts from BMW. They're easy to get. They've got the right socket heads and that's what the factory recommendation is but you could certainly hunt around and try to find aluminum bolts. 

Mark: Steel bolts.

Bernie: Steel. I'm sorry, yeah. Thank you, Mark. You could certainly hunt around and find steel bolts and probably even get ones with similar heads on them, but that takes a lot of extra work. And a lot of times metric bolts and getting the right length and so on and the right type of head are difficult to find. So we went with the factory bolts and torqued them to spec, and all should be good. 

Mark: With a completely loose right side of the engine basically, that sounds like a pretty bad thing. Did any further damage occur from this issue or could it have occurred in the future? 

Bernie: Well, it certainly could have. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, it was a good thing it was the right side and not the left, because the left side as soon as you accelerate, the engine lifts because of the torque and the rotation of the engine. Usually at that point you get much worse damage of things like the radiator fence. Being a BMW, it may have a fan or some pulleys it will hit on things. But being the right hand side, I guess reverse is where it's a risk, because if you accelerate hard in reverse, the engine will jump up. In this case, fortunately nothing else got damaged. So that was a good thing. But it certainly can. A broken engine mount is a pretty serious thing. It can cause a lot of extra costly issues to occur. 

Mark: So we're learning things. Cars' crank shafts turn clockwise, basically. 

Bernie: They do. Yeah. Some engines actually turn counterclockwise. It depends on ... but I don't know of any rear wheel drive, this is essentially this is an all-wheel drive but BMWs are all basically rear wheel drive cars, so that they're longitudinal engine. I can't think of one that has a counterclockwise rotation. They all rotate clockwise. But some transverse mounted engines rotate the other way depending on which way they put the transmission and which way it's configured in the engine compartment. 

Mark: So how did the vehicle drive after your repairs? 

Bernie: It was good. Yeah, no problem no clunks. Just about perfect. 

Mark: And how are 328 and 328xi all-wheel drives for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, they usually need a few more repairs than your average vehicle. They're oil and coolant leaks develop on these after time. There's spark plugs and things, those type of things wear out as usual. Ignition coil failures are common. But overall, they're a pretty nice vehicle. But if you own one, expect that you're going to be spending more money on repairs and maintenance than you would on an equivalent type of Japanese vehicle. 

Mark: So your elegant European hot rod is going to cost you a bit more for maintenance? 

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs, maintenance on your BMW in Vancouver, the experts to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to call and book because they're busy. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. And thanks for listening to the podcast. Remember for all you others across North America, they can't diagnose things over the phone. We are not experts over the phone. We have to see your product in order to be able to give you an accurate diagnosis, so if you're in Vancouver, we'd love to talk to you. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for mentioning that. It's much appreciated. Thanks for watching our podcast. 

2005 Jeep Liberty Diesel – No Start

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We're experiencing winter starting. It's raining here, and of course, Pawlik Automotive are 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. We're talking cars this morning. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well even though it's raining.

Mark: So we have a 2005 Jeep Liberty diesel, that had a no-start problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: The owner of the vehicle had pulled over his vehicle, it was running fine, stopped to do something. Went to start it. Turned the key and it wouldn't start. All the lights came on in the dash, but when he turned to the start position nothing happened. So had the vehicle towed in, and we proceeded to do some testing and diagnosis.

Mark: What actual testing did you do to find the cause?

Bernie: Well, look, of course the first thing with a no-start issue is to make sure the battery is in good shape, so we tested that. And it was pretty apparent that everything ... The battery was good, everything seemed to be working but there was no starting. The starter wasn't working, so I thought maybe the starter's the first thing to test, and it's relatively easy to access on this vehicle so we tested the power in and out of the starter and the solenoid, and the various wiring tests we do, and verified there was no power getting to the starter solenoid.  So we knew the problem was somewhere else. There's relays, there's wiring, there's an ignition switch; these are all the other components. So we proceeded to test all these items and basically narrowed it down to a problem inside the ignition switch area.

Mark: With a diesel, is there anything different within that system, starting system, that's different than other fuel type engines?

Bernie: No, actually, the starting system is exactly the same as a gasoline engine. The only difference with a diesel is that usually they have a much more robust starting motor, because the diesel has a much higher compression, so it needs a more powerful motor to start. But if you look at the starter motor it doesn't look particularly large in comparison to a gasoline starter. It's kind of the way modern technology with starters has gone. They used to be ... you could notice a diesel starter was substantially bigger.  Nowadays they look pretty much the same size, so they pack a lot of power in to a small space, but the actual electrical system and the starting system is exactly the same.

Mark: Once you narrowed it down to the ignition switch area, what was the actual cause?

Bernie: Well, what we found was there's actually an actuator pin, or coupler assembly, in between the ignition switch and the actual electrical portion of the ignition switch and the lock cylinder. Usually within the ignition switch you have the lock cylinder, the place you put the key, and then that usually connects to the switch, the electrical part. And in this particular vehicle there's actually a coupler that goes in between the two pieces, so we'll just get in to a little picture show here, and I'll show you what's actually going on. There's our jeep in the shop after repairs, and that's the coupler piece that's broken. This sits inside the steering column. There's the ignition switch, the part where the key sits over in this part here.

2005 Jeep Liberty Diesel - No Start
2005 Jeep Liberty Diesel - No Start

Mark: To the right.

Bernie: Sorry?

Mark: To the right?

Bernie: Yeah, that's right, yeah. Sits over here, and then there's a little slot that fits inside this metal barrel here, and this connects over here, and then this, the ignition switch, the actual electrical part, clips on to this portion here. Now I've two arrows here. The yellow one shows a little metal piece here, and if you notice, where the red arrow is, there's not a metal piece. Well there's supposed to be one there. What happens is this actuator pin, the metal piece breaks, so when you the key it wasn't actually allowing it to turn quite far enough to actuate the starter. So that's basically the issue, so this part is the piece that needed to be replaced. And interestingly enough, it's amazing how cheaply built this part and component is, and everything kind of snaps together. It's plasticky and cheap, and I just sort of reflecting while I was working on it, how this is kind of at the time when Chrysler and Mercedes were married. You know, two companies. You couldn't really build different vehicles. I mean this stuff, it's made cheap and simple and snap-together, and if you look at a Mercedes, it would be much different in assembly. It's amazing that corporate marriage lasted as long as it did, because really very different building philosophies for these vehicles. Just a little side-thought there.

Mark: Is this an easy repair? 

Bernie: Not really difficult. I mean, the diagnosis took a while, just to figure out where the actual cause of the concern was, but the repair itself is not all that difficult. However, as far as parts go ... that part we ordered a replacement after-market part, but if you go to a Chrysler dealer they'll sell you the whole steering column. So there are after-market parts available, you can just get that one piece, but if you go to Chrysler you're going to spend an awful lot of money on replacing that, and a lot of extra labor.

Mark: Good to know. Once back together, I guess everything started properly?

Bernie: Yeah, it worked fine. Worked great, just like it should.

Mark: Is this a common issue on a certain range of Jeep Liberties?

Bernie: Well, this is the first time we've actually replaced this particular piece, but it, as I mentioned, there's an after-market part available for it, so once somebody makes a part like that it's a pretty common problem. It just, for some reason it's the first time one of these has come in to our shop, and after ... it's a 13 or 14 year old vehicle at this point. But the owner had said that this problem had happened previously in the past, too, and he'd spent a lot of money at Chrysler having it fixed, so I assume he got the full steering column treatment, but it didn't last a whole lot longer. Sometimes when you look at a part, and you go, "Why did they build this so poorly?"

Mark: So do other models of Jeep use this same full Chrysler steering column treatment repair?

Bernie: They do, actually. So this part actually will fit a variety of Chrysler vehicles. Not just Jeeps. Everything right to Neons, and it's used in a variety of different vehicles from 1995, all the way up to 2007, so again, it's a common part and it may be if you have the same issue, that's that's the cause of your failure, but without testing things properly it's impossible to know, because there's so many other things that can cause it, but it's definitely a good place to look.

Mark: Now, what was this part called again?

Bernie: It's called an ignition actuator pin.

Mark: So there you go. If you're having some starting issues with your Jeep or Chrysler product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You must book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. You can see our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos covering all makes and models of cars on there, and thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching.

2011 Land Rover LR4 Fuel Leak Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive videos and podcasts. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, two old farts talking about cars again. We're talking about a 2011 Land Rover LR4 that you had a fuel leak repair issue with. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: We done a service on this vehicle a few days prior to this job: a basic inspection on the vehicle and removed some running boards from the side that had been cut, been a bit rusted. The owner wanted them removed. So, we did that. And a couple of days later, he noted a fuel smell in the vehicle, like raw gasoline smell when he sometimes, when he'd drive the vehicle. So, the vehicle came back for us to investigate that issue.

Mark: All right. What did you find?

Bernie: Well, it took a while to find any fuel smell. You know, obviously we drive the vehicle and kind of sniff around the vehicle, and nothing was noted right away. So, we put the vehicle up on the hoist and sniffed around a little more, and then finally found some fuel leakage at the top of the fuel tank, which is not ... There's not much to see up there because the tank of course is stuck right up under the floor pan of the vehicle. But, there was definitely an odour of fuel coming from that area.

Mark: So, is there any kind of diagnostic equipment you need for this kind of concern other than your nose?

Bernie: Well, we don't need it, no. But yeah, that's ... You got to. A good nose and eyeballs are good for fuel leak diagnosing. I mean, again, we're looking for things and we're smelling around. So, if you haven't got a sense of smell, you definitely need to find someone in the shop who's got a sense of smell to find it. But, yeah, that's kind of the main thing now. In the past, we used to have a four gas exhaust analyzer. Some shops have five gas ... you know, four or five gas analyzer, and that was a very useful tool for finding fuel leaks. We don't use it anymore because there's no emission testing in Vancouver. Hasn't needed it ... We haven't needed it for a long time. And in all the cars we work on, they're really ... Having a gas analyzer is just a useless piece of equipment nowadays. So, at one time very important; not anymore. But it is actually very useful because you can sort of move around with the probe, and when you get near a fuel leaking, see the hydrocarbon levels just go crazy because that's what gasoline is. It's hydrocarbons. So, anyways, most of the specialty equipment we have are our nose and our eyes.

Mark: So, the leak was coming from the top of the gas tank. What's required to do that kind of repair?

Bernie: What we had to do was actually remove the gas tank from the vehicle, pull it down, and then inspect it further to see what was causing it. Was it a cracked tank? Was it a fitting on the fuel line? I did mention, too, this vehicle is fairly rusty. Even though a 2011 is not that old, but it obviously had been driven through some extremely salty climates. Fuel lines are all plastic, so we kind of figured it was probably something else. But you never know with ... There's always metal involved. 

2011 Land Rover LR4 Fuel Leak Repair
2011 Land Rover LR4 Fuel Leak Repair
2011 Land Rover LR4 Fuel Leak Repair

So, we'll just get to some pictures here. This is the top of the fuel tank. This is the ... This is actually a fuel filter, although it's basically where the fuel lines connect to the vehicle. One's a line here, and a line there, a line there. These are ... So, basically, the leak was coming right around this flange here where the fuel filter fit in. Going a little further into the taking things apart, we actually found the leak was coming from this part here. This is actually cracked. Fuel filter housing was cracked. And that's what was causing the leak. And I'm just going to go back again, now that you see what I did mention about rust. I mean, there's a fair bit of rust here. The vehicle has been in some pretty bad road conditions, so it's possible the plastic just cracked because plastic cracks. But it's also possible that it got a little strained from ... As things rust, they tend to expand and cause certain pressures on things. So, it's possible that that rust could have also caused that to leak. We'll just look at one last picture before we go. And that is, this is the actual new unit here. So, you can see some electrical connections here. This is actually a little surprising on this vehicle. This is actually a fuel filter, and it's like a sort of power unit. The fuel lines connect up here, but they actually ... Everything connects to the fuel tank module, which has the fuel pump and sending unit in, and that's actually a separate unit beyond this. So, not sure why they made it so complicated, because a lot of times they just make it all one unit. But this one, they make it two. Fortunately for the customer, is a lot cheaper to replace this than replacing the whole pump assembly.

Mark: So, the pump is where the fuel pickup is that goes inside the tank?

Bernie: Yeah, and that's further down. That's below. I don't have a view of the side of the gas tank, but that's further down beyond this piece. So, this piece is just sort of an intermediate piece. But on most vehicles, this part would actually be ... This part here would actually connect to ... would actually be the fuel pump, and it's all one unitized piece. For some reason on this vehicle, they did it in two parts. As I said, it actually makes ... It actually made this repair cheaper for the client, because often a fuel pump for a vehicle like this could be a thousand dollars. So, you know, this is a substantially cheaper piece.

Mark: With that being the fuel filter, is this not a regularly scheduled service item?

Bernie: Well, no. Normally, in the past, fuel filters used to be a regular service item. But since the mid-1990s, most vehicle manufacturers either stuck the fuel filter inside the gas tank or put very minimal filtration on the fuel. And the fuel filter itself is actually a non-serviceable item. If this was a serviceable item, they certainly wouldn't have put it at the top of the gas tank where you have to actually drop the gas tank to take it out, because that's a fair bit of work. There are very few cars. There's the odd European car that I can think of that has a fuel filter you can still replace, but the interval is so long. You're talking like in the 1 to 200,000 kilometre range that it's almost something you don't normally never need to do. And that actually makes an interesting question. Why did they used to have fuel filters and why do they not anymore? I've often wondered that, and I think that it's probably because the gasoline manufacturing process and storage of fuel has got so clean and tight that, you know, filtering fuel is just become a non-issue. So, I mean, that's kind of neat. I mean, there is still a filter, but it's extremely rare. I can't remember the last time we fixed one because the filter got plugged.

Mark: Are there any other major issues with this vintage of Land Rover LR4?

Bernie: No, they're all a pretty good vehicle. We don't see a whole lot of issues with them. I mean, as I said, you know, it's a Land Rover. It's a more complicated vehicle with the air suspension and all of the nice features of these vehicles. So, there's more to go wrong. But essentially, they're pretty well-built and pretty decent.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Land Rover 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 to book ahead. They're busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com; Youtube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair; hundreds of videos on there. Or, thank you very much for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.

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