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2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. And we can say that because they've been voted 24 times as best auto repair in Vancouver, voted by their customers by the way, and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So todays vehicle is a 2014 Subaru Outback that had low oil. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: This is vehicle came to our shop on a recommendation by a friend who was concerned because the engine was making some noises and checked his oil and found that it was not reading, really it was very low. So that was a concern we were dealing with. 

Mark: So what kind of testing and inspection did you do? 

Bernie: Well, first of all, of course, checking the engine oil level to verify his concern. We did notice that the oil was very low. There was some slight noises in the engine. Did a visual inspection underneath the vehicle, looked around for oil leaks, found none. So there was no external oil leaks. 

It was due for an oil service. So we did change the oil. Found the engine oil was about two litres, low. Looked for a few other possible causes of engine oil consumption, like PCD valve and those kinds of issues, found none there. So basically the engine was low on oil. Changed the oil. The noises stopped, which is good. So I think the owner dodged a bullet there.  

Mark: So if there's no oil leaks or a plugged PCV valve, how did the engine oil get so low? 

Bernie: Well, basically these engines in this particular model, have an issue of burning oil. Some of them do some of them don't .We'll talk a little bit more details on that in a few minutes. But essentially for a car engine, if you're losing oil, you're probably burning it. Burning oils is a normal part of the combustion process. But on many engines you can go 10,000 kilometres or more between oil changes and not use a drop. I mean, a drop will be used, but very little. So you won't notice a difference, but oil consumption is normal. It's just when it becomes excessive, that becomes a problem. 

And I think people, these days are a little lazy. Very few people ever check their oil. You should really do it every one or two tank fulls. I mean, I don't even do it on a lot of my vehicles, but a lot of them have low oil warning lights, but if your vehicle doesn't have one, which a lot don't, it's important to check your oil.

Mark: So running an engine on, with low oil is pretty bad, not, not good. So did this cause any kind of permanent engine damage? 

Bernie: Well, I can't say for sure, but I would guess that it probably has some effect on the engine somehow. Once you start developing some noises in an engine, and we see this from time to time, people run their engine low on oil, we change it or top it up. The noise has stopped. That's a good thing, but there will be some damage somewhere because things that have been allowed to, timing chains run a loose or, you know, things just not lubricated properly. That will have a long-term effect on the engine. So how soon it'll show up, it's hard to know.

I'll have a look at a couple of pictures here. Here's the engine. 2014 Subaru.

2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

Plastic intake manifold, which is kind of common on Subarus. A lot of manufacturers, they find ways to lighten the car. They'll use plastics for certain things, but below it all is still good metal components. 

Not a lot to see here. I mean, it's, it's a boxer engine. Everything's kind of sits down below here, but I do have another closeup image of, just kind of looking down at the area.

2014 Subaru Outback, Low Oil

This is the oil filler cap, the oil filter's located conveniently right at the top of the engine. So it makes for simple replacement. 

And they put this nice little drip tray, diverting here, but this nice little drip tray here. So when you take the filter off, any excess of oil just stays in this tray here and you can wipe it up without sloshing it all over it down the side of the engine. But down here where my mouse is pointing here, these are the fronts of the cam shafts. So there's variable valve timing. This is a timing chain engine. And an engines with timing chains are even less tolerant to running low on oil than, say a timing belt engine. Cause you've got a lot of moving parts that require good lubrication all the time. Just make sure your oil’s full. That's the key takeaway.

Mark: So is this only a 2013 and 2014 model year issue? 

Bernie: It's mostly 2013, 2014, there's some 2015 and 16, but and actually 2015, there's quite a few, but in 2016, it tapers down and seems to stop at 2017. Now I've got a lot of that information, there's a website called carcomplaints.com, which is a good thing to look at, but they don't sample the entire industry.

I think most of their information comes from people complaining about. So, you know, in these certain model years that there's a much higher level of complaint, but once you get to 2017, nothing about engine oil consumption whatsoever. So I'm assuming that Subaru has got that figured out or else we're going to see a round of complaints coming up. Yeah, those are the critical years, 13 to 15. 

Mark: So could this repair still be covered by a manufacturers warranty? 

Bernie: It might be. You'd have to check with the dealer on that. And they may even offer an extension on some of these. I don't really know the details on that, but what I was just going to go through next is a TSB, which is a technical service bulletin put out by Subaru to address this exact condition.

This is just an example. I mean, this is many pages on this bulletin. A lot of details really for the repair industry, for the service advisor and the technicians to repair the vehicle properly. And these are things we look at in our business as well.

But subject of this TSB surface treatment change to oil control piston rings. So that's obviously where the issue is, with the oil control rings. But the original repair used to be, and this bulletin states it, to replace the piston rings, but they since changed that to replace in the short block of the engine.

So it's not a complete engine replacement, but it's a major job and not something you'd really want to pay for out of pocket. So if you are using some oil, you'll probably find it cheaper just to add oil, then actually take this on. But if your vehicle's still covered by warranty, it would be very worth doing.

There's a TSB number here. We'll put it in the the notes for the podcast and this. The one other image I want to share with you, they show some engine details and actually how to replace a number of the items. And this is just an inside view of the timing chain. There's basically two timing chains being a boxer engine. I just wanted to show this as there's a lot of moving parts inside this engine. So again, keep your oil full, keep it clean. These are the kind of critical things that people sometimes forget. And it's very important.

Mark: Would a third party warranty have covered this? 

Bernie: No, a third-party warranty will not. And it's always nice having a third-party warranty cause they'll fix things. But the one thing they do not cover is oil consumption issues. So you know, even if you're burning oil at a rate of, you know, a litre, every 500 kilometres, they won't cover it. So that's one thing to be aware of when you have a third-party warranty. 

Mark: So how would I check this? If I was interested in buying a used Subaru, how would I check. Is there any way to inspect for excessive oil consumption? 

Bernie: The only way you could is if you can make a deal with the owner of the vehicle, say, Hey, you know what we're going to fill the oil up. I want to check it 1200 kilometres, which was what this TSB says and see if the oil's low. The odds of that ever happening, I'd say it would be zero, but really there is no way to check it other than given time and driving it. I mean, if an engine is blowing blue smoke, of course that's an obvious indicator, but yeah, avoid. And the issue with this oil consumption is it doesn't get to the place of blue smoke at all. It gets burnt, but you don't ever see it. 

So unfortunately there really isn't a way, and that's why I'm kind of reluctant recommending these cars to people. They're fantastic cars, but this issue is just something you might not know. But if you get good maintenance records, you might actually find from the owner that, Hey, you know, this thing actually had an oil burning problem. I had the block replace and that would make the car definitely more valuable buy. 

Mark: Besides this issue, how're this kind of 2014, but also the whole range from like I saw 2012 was in there up to like 2016. How are they for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, they're really good cars. I think they're fantastic. You know, and they're less maintenance than the older models that had the timing belts. Cause you don't have to do that. And the head gaskets don't fail, like the timing belt model engine. So theoretically, assuming you don't get one that's burning oil, each it should actually last a lot longer and be a better car. So I think they're really good. I highly recommend them. 

Mark: So there you go. Things to be aware of if you're going to look at buying a used Subaru, but also if you have a Subaru and you want expert advice on how to get it repaired, how to make sure it lives as long as it can, is reliable. The guys to see in Vancouver, British Columbia are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, or you can book your service at pawlikautomotive.com. They'll call you. They'll check everything out with you. They'll be ready for you when you show up. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Of course, if you want to just research stuff, you can see all the videos we've done, close to a thousand on pawlikautomotive.com. All makes and models and types of repairs. Or on our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. We really, really, truly appreciate you watching and listening. And thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

1998 Subaru Forester, Gear Shifter

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 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. 

Mark: So an older victim today, a 98 Subaru Forester that had a gearshift issue. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle came to our shop with a few concerns. One of them, and actually the gear shifter was probably not the most major concern. The gear shift handle was really floppy. So normally when you move a gear shifter, it has sort of column gates. It'll move in a sort of pattern. it was very floppy. So that was one issue, but sort of more major issue with the clutch had a slippage problem. There's also some clunking and grinding noise in the front end. So those were some of the concerns we looked at. So there's basically three items going on with the car.

Mark: So what did you find is you diagnosed these issues? 

Bernie: Yeah, so we found there was an issue with the right front CV joint was worn causing the front end noise. We also found that the clutch had a pressure plate problem which we didn't find out till we actually remove the transmission. But, you know, just based on how the clutch felt there was definitely something going on. And also when we had the transmission out, we found the gear shift coupling was worn out, which was pretty obvious and noticeable. 

Mark: So I'm assuming that's easier to do to replace that part once you've got the transmission out?

Bernie: Yeah. Super easy. Not entirely difficult to do in the car. You know, if the transmission is in the car, but it's really easy to do in the transmissions out. It would be a no brainer, it made a lot of sense to fix it now, plus it was a concern. So let's look at some pictures. 

1998 Subaru Forester, Gear Shifter

There is the gear shift coupler. This is a brand new one from Subaru. A simple part, but it's basically got two rubber bushings that allow movement in two directions. Kind of like a universal joint, but a little different in terms of layout. This part connects to the transmission. This part here connects to the gear shifter.  

1998 Subaru Forester, Gear Shifter

And this is the unit installed on the vehicle. And there's basically a roll pin that attaches it to the shift shaft. This goes into the transmission. You're looking at the sort of back end of the transmission housing here. This is where the rear drive shaft slides into the transmission. So there's our brand new piece there.  

1998 Subaru Forester, Gear Shifter

So this is the old piece. So what wears out with this thing? Basically there's rubber. This is all sort of, I don't know if the original one's black or that's just worn like this over time, but you can see here that there is no rubber between this metal part and the edge. And if I was to have this in my hand, this just flopped around like crazy. So this rubber piece is completely worn out and allowed for a lot of movement in the shifter.

Mark: So this is an older car, but is this a common world part on these cars? 

Bernie: Not really. As you said, it's an older car. I mean, it's got a, what is it? 20 geez, you know, four years old now, at this point. It's almost pushing a quarter century. It's kind of surprising. I remember when these cars were new and the newest thing out there for Subaru. But yeah, I mean, it's not a common replacement part.

We do replace this coupler. It's different on different types of vehicles, but gear shift couplers do wear out. But it's usually a long-term item, you know as a car gets really old, there are more parts that will wear out over time. So this is one of those kind of parts. It's not a sort of something that's going to wear the first 10 years of life of the car.

Mark: It's going to take a few hundred thousand gear shifts to wear it out, in other words. 

Bernie: Exactly. And I was kind of thinking when I was preparing this podcast, you know, there's certain certain parts when you look at a car that you're sort of, you know, three to five-year wear out items, things like brakes that need to be done. And then there's your sort of ten year wear out items, things like spark plugs and timing belts in the past. And then you start getting into once your car gets older, they're sort of 15 year, 20 year parts. And sometimes you don't even know what's going to wear out once they get older, some things will last for, if you kept the car for 50 years, they'd still work. And other, other items would be certainly replaced several times. 

Mark: So being an older car, is it still worth keeping, is it still reliable. 

Bernie: Well, yeah, it is a pretty reliable car. I mean, parts for these are not too difficult to get still. You know, the owner had invested some money in this car in terms of upgrading suspension.

So he obviously liked the car and did a few things to it. I mean, the technology is not a lot different in this particular model than it is like in a ten-year newer model, you know, for a 2008, it's pretty similar. The only thing really different is the variable valve timing in the engine. So other than that, it's pretty much the same.

So, yeah, I mean, not really a bad car to keep. It really depends on your car and what you want to use it for. And the usefulness of the vehicle, again, you know, out in the sort of back roads is pretty good. And having an older car, sometimes if you're going to go out and go to the bush, you don't necessarily want a nice new car to scratch up. It's kind of better than sometimes having something old and maintaining it and keeping it good shape. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Subaru, old or new, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They service a ton of them. You can reach them on the website, pawlikautomotive.com. You can book your service right there. They'll get back to you. They'll talk it over. They'll find out what needs to be done. What's going on. Or you can call them (604) 327-7112. You have to book ahead. They're busy or just check out the website. If you've got nothing to do, you want to fall asleep, watch us. We have over a thousand videos on there, pawlikautomotive.com. All makes and models, types of repairs. 10 years of doing this. YouTube channel is the same Pawlik Auto Repair. You can laugh at us about the old ones. They're pretty funny. Many people do, join the crowd. We appreciate you watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek, Brakes

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 time winners, 24 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. 

Mark: Today's victim is a newer one, a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek that had a brake issue. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So the vehicle came in for a maintenance service and a brake inspection, and we found the rear brakes are worn out and needed to be replaced. So nothing out of the ordinary you might expect on a fairly newish vehicle.  

Mark: 2018. So how many kilometres were on this vehicle? 

Bernie: It had 57,000. So I guess we average it out. That's about 20 a year. It's sort of an average amount of driving. 

Mark: And I guess this would be their first brake job?

Bernie: Yeah, it was. You know, 60,000 Ks is kind of average for most vehicles with an automatic transmission. You get some vehicles with standards, the brakes last an awful lot longer. And of course, if it's an EV, they usually last way, way, way, way longer. But yeah, that's kind of average for a gasoline powered, automatic transmission vehicle. 

Mark: And what type of parts do you use for your brake replacements? 

Bernie: Well, we use a variety depending on car, but for this particular vehicle, we used a Napa, they're called the Adaptive One Line, which is their top line brake pads and rotors. And we use those for this particular vehicle. We find those work really well, good warranty. They're formulated right for the car. So yeah, that's what we use for this vehicle. 

Mark: So wouldn't the original Subaru brake parts be better? 

Bernie: No. Sometimes, I mean, there's nothing wrong with the original equipment because they're designed for the vehicle. And in some cases, in some cars, that's what we use. But we find a lot of times the aftermarket parts have better warranty. They last longer, I've had number of cars over the years where I've done cars with original brakes and they lasted for say 60,000 Ks.

And then 60,000 Ks later, the brakes still have lots of material left on. So a lot of times after market materials will actually last longer. So not always the case, but if you use the good stuff, it usually is the case. We'll have a look at some pictures here for a sec. 


2018 Subaru Crosstrek, Brakes

These are the old brakes pads. I mean, everything, kind of rusty and crusty that you kind of get after a few years of usage. And obviously this thing's been probably through some salty roads. I think of a 2018 is not really that old, but it's obviously seen a bit of salty roads. So the pads again, pretty near worn out. Not completely, but you never really want to let them get to that point. 

2018 Subaru Crosstrek, Brakes

Here's a picture of our new brakes with the Napa adaptive one rotors. The pads installed. Part of our service, we clean the caliper. So we take the caliper slider pins out. We clean, we lubricate them. We sand blast the caliper where the slider points are on the calipers. And then the good quality brake pads come with new mounting hardware as well. So we put that in. We lubricate the sliding points and make sure it all works good. 

Mark: And for anyone who's interested, there's an in-depth ancient video that we produced, I think, close to 10 years ago, or that you produced about 10 years ago, that shows in detail every step of the process of doing the kind of brake repairs that you've done for over a decade. So what kind of warranty do you put on your brake repairs?

Bernie: Yeah, so everything has a two year, 40,000 kilometre warranty. And you know, which is a really good warranty for brakes. I mean, unless it's a commercial vehicle. So I mean, usually, it's rare that we have to do any warranty work, but sometimes rotors will warp. I mean, that's probably the most common problem we get. Sometimes at least some noises or squeaks. 

We kind of offer a no nonsense warranty. If they're squeaks and squeals and things, we fix it and replace it. So it's not like, well, you know, squealing is normal, which it can be. You know, we fix it, we replace it. Our brake jobs, I'll say they're not the cheapest around especially when I drive by and I see a sign saying, a few miles from my shop, brakes $89.95. I'm going, what are they doing for 89.95? I mean, half the time, you can't even get a set of brake pads for that money. So I don't know what they're giving, you know, they should probably take that sign down. But you know we charge a fair amount for them and we back it up. 

Mark: And how Subaru Crosstreks for reliability? 

Bernie: They're good. I think they're a great car. You know, we've run into really no issues with them whatsoever, so far. They've been out for a while now. Probably maybe a decade, maybe not quite that, but yeah, they're good cars. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your brakes or for your Subaru in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can book on the website pawlikautomotive.com or who knew you could actually call them. Use ancient technology and phone them 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call or book online ahead. They are busy. If you want more information, like you want to look up that brake video checkout, pawlikautomotive.com. There's a search function there. There's over a thousand videos on all makes and models and types of repairs. Or the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. Same story. We've been doing this for over 10 years. And of course we really appreciate you watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2013 Subaru Outback, Drive Belt Pulley Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So this week's victim is a 2013 Subaru Outback. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the owner had a noise coming from the engine and he kind of figured, Hey, maybe it's not a big deal. I had a quick listen to it, it's actually a friend of mine. Said, Hey, actually, no, that is something to be concerned about. It was like a whining kind of growling noise coming from the engine when you rev it up. So that's what was happening with the vehicle. 

Mark: So how do you sneak up on engine noises in your shop?

Bernie: How do we sneak up on them, well very, very quietly and carefully. So I mean, the first thing to do of course, is to listen to the noise and see where it's coming from, what we suspect might be an issue. I kind of figured it might be a bearing in the drive belt pulley system. 

So the main tool that we use for a lot of engine diagnostics is a stethoscope. But it doesn't look like your doctor's stethoscope. I should probably should've brought a sample, but basically the thing goes in your ear like a stethoscope, and it's got a hose on it, but instead of being a flat piece like they put up to your chest. This one has a long cylinder with a very sharp pointed tip, and we can put it on individual components on the engine and try to determine where the noise is coming from. So that's the main tool we use. 

The other thing that's neat about the automotive stethoscope is you can pull off this sort of tip piece, and you can just use it as a listening device. So it just picks up sound. So you can kind of move around to certain areas of the engine, and go that's where the noise is coming from. Because sometimes the noises are mechanical sounds and sometimes they're more, I want to say audible. It's like, they're kind of in the air, so to speak. I'm having a hard time describing it. We use the tool in different ways. 

So anyways, for something like this, of course, the metal tip is the best way to find it. We pretty quickly determined that the idler pulleys for the belt, as we suspected, were worn out and that's what needed to be replaced.

Mark: So that's what you found with this Subaru. Do you have some pictures?. 

Bernie: Yeah, I do. Actually, I even have a video, which is really cool. So let's get into the pictures. So there's our 2013 Outback. Actually I'll get into the video right now, cause this is a really good example of what a noisy bearing sounds like. Can you see that okay. We should hear nothing. And usually a new bearing, it doesn't spin quite so fast and easy. 

2013 Subaru Outback, Drive Belt Pulley Replacement
2013 Subaru Outback, Drive Belt Pulley Replacement
2013 Subaru Outback, Drive Belt Pulley Replacement

There's a view of the drive belt system. So this is the crankshaft pulley down here. This is what drives everything. If you took the belt off, this is what would be spinning when the engines running. There's an idler pulley here, there, and there's a tensioner pulley here and there's a spring loaded tensioner assembly. Air conditioning compressor, power steering pump. And there's an alternator somewhere. I can't quite see it probably down, probably down here. 

Mark: Yeah, that looks like it. 

Bernie: Yeah, it seems like a, not a usual spot. No, actually this is the alternator up here. The tensioners back in here. So anyways, or the tensioners down here anyways.

Mark: It's like you've never worked on one of these. 

Bernie: Its's like I never worked on one of these. Yeah.I sound like a complete fool. But anyways so you can tell it wasn't me who actually did the service on it, but yeah, that actually the tensioner should be down here. So anyways these are the pulleys we replaced.

We also did the belt at the same time. You know, serpentine belts, which is the design of this belt. They're very durable these days. They last a long time. It used to be that they would develop cracks after a while. They use a different kind of rubber compound so they don't crack, like they used to. But they still do wear out. Like the grooves will wear and over time, you know, they won't contact the pulleys quite as well as they should.

So anyways, it's a good idea when one thing's worn out, just do them all at the same time. And then it's done forgotten about, you know, in the life of this car. You'll probably never have to do this service again. 

So there's the picture of the pulley. There's the bearing located in the centre of the pulley. 

Mark: So what would have happened if the owner had not fixed this issue? 

Bernie: Well, eventually the bearing would break apart. Eventually the bearing, you know, it's dry, like the lubrication it hasn't leaked out, but somehow it's burnt out of the bearing. Eventually the bearing would fail. The pulley would seize up. Of course the engine is still trying to turn it. The belt would burn up and all of your accessories would stop functioning. The alternator, air conditioning, power steering would all stop and your battery would go dead pretty quickly. 

But I mean, you'd notice a loss of power steering immediately. So that would be kind of the first thing. But there'd probably be some horrible screeching sounds along with it. Definitely not good. 

Mark: So how often do these pulley bearings wear out on Subarus or any car? 

Bernie: Well, they usually last a fair amount of time. I can't remember what the mileage is on this vehicle, but it's a 2013. So the car's about 8, maybe 9 years old at this point. So, you know, that's kind of an average life span for these kinds of things. Maybe, you know, 7 to 10 years on any car. It's not just a Subaru issue. It's pretty well any car that has a drive belt system and they all do. Sometimes you get more out of them, but that's kind of an average lifespan, I'd say 7 to 10 years. 

Mark: And how are 2013 Subaru Outback for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, they're an excellent car. I mean, very few problems with these things. There are some engine oil burning issues with some of these vehicles. And I know the owner of this vehicle, he has no problem with that. So you know, that problem isn't happening on this vehicle. But there are some that do have them. And I think it's kind of random, but it is fairly common. That was not an issue with the earlier generation of these engines. So the newer ones do have that problem from time to time. 

So you have to be a little cautious if you're buying a used one, but unfortunately it's the kind of thing where it's really impossible to test for that kind of thing. But if you didn't have seen, see any blue smoke, well you'd know that was bad, but they don't necessarily blow blue smoke. They just consume oil. So that's really the only issue with these cars. Other than that, they're fantastically reliable.

Mark: So if you're looking for some service on your Subaru in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They do a lot of Subarus. You can call them and book an appointment, 604-327-7112. Or check out and book online at pawlikautomotive.com. 

There's hundreds of videos on there for your nighttime pleasure as well. Good ones about cars and car repairs. As well, we have our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, close to a thousand videos on there. We've been doing this for 10 years. We appreciate so much you watching and listening. Thank you, and thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim of 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, a brand new car coming in for an A service. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, this vehicle came in for its first service. Due for an A service and an oil change. And that's what we did. 

Mark: So what's an A service, what's involved in that? 

Bernie: A services are our basic maintenance service. Oil and filter change along with a visual inspection of the vehicle, adjust the tire pressures. Do a visual look around under the car and under the hood. Look at fluids to make sure they're all full and clean and that's kind of, and the lights. And anything else of note, of course.  

Mark: Did you find anything that needed to be repaired? 

Bernie: Nope, of course, a brand new car it's like nothing, nothing, it's always a privilege working on a new car when everything's clean and including all the suspension components are still painted fresh. So yeah, nothing at all. We wouldn't expect it anyways, but you never know. 

Mark: So do you service new vehicles pretty often? 

Bernie: From time to time? You know, it's not a huge part of our business, but we do get some clients who bring their brand new cars to us for service. 

Mark: So any disadvantage or problems with bringing my brand new car to an independent shop compared to the dealer?

Bernie: No, no, nothing at all. I mean, the most important thing was if you do go to an independent shop, I mean, make sure they're using the right fluids, using the right oil is important and the oil filter. I mean in the case of this service, or any parts that are used should be, they don't have to be a Subaru parts, but they have to be at least equivalent quality.

And make sure all receipts are kept because obviously a warranty on the car, if there's ever an issue, you need to make sure they have all the documentation. You know, for us, we have a computerized data system. So we keep all our client's records. If you've been coming here a few years and all of a sudden your engine has a problem or a leak and you need to provide documentation. If you've misplaced it, we can always do it. But you know, just make sure you keep it yourself. That's the best thing. 

Mark: So people generally think that you have to go to the dealer to maintain your warranty. Is that true? 

Bernie: No, it's not. And it clearly states that you just need to have the vehicles serviced and often dealers will sort of insinuate that you need to bring it to them. It's actually not legal. There are laws that say, they cannot tell you they have to service the car. So if they do, that's actually illegal, but you know I mean, dealerships are good. I mean, they work on their, you know, it's their car. They, they know them. Some people just choose to go elsewhere. But they're really, I don't know. Are they the best? Not necessarily. I don't know if I answered that question right or not, or if I drifted off there.

Mark: It depends on how much the people care and sometimes a dealer they care and sometimes at an independent repair shop, you care.

Bernie: Exactly. I think it's really the relationship with the people and some vehicles, you know, when you buy it new, they'll offer free service or they'll offer a discounted maintenance package, so you might be able to buy like, you know, two or three years worth of maintenance for $500 or something like that.

You know, those often sound like a good deal but, they will cut corners on stuff like that. They may not do everything that might be necessary to do on the car. I mean, they'll do the basic stuff. They'll make sure that whatever's, you know, covers the warranty will be done, but a lot of extra things that are probably important for the longevity of the vehicle won't be done.

So that's just something to watch for. But you know, if you get free oil changes, Hey, why not take advantage of it? You know, for the time, if it's included or if it's a very cheap package. 

Mark: So this 2021 Crosstrek I'm was wondering when, how many kilometers till the first oil change?

Bernie: Well, this vehicle has about 9,600 kilometres. So that's about the range about 10 K's for the oil change. It's synthetic oil. So every 10 is good. So we'll just look at some pictures right now.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service
2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service
2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service
2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service
2021 Subaru Crosstrek, A Service

This is a brand new vehicle and came to us kind of dirty. So it doesn't look brand new, but it is. With a nice wash it'll look perfectly fresh. 

Yeah, there's the odometer 9,658 kilometres. So it's good time to do an oil change on a vehicle like this and kind of typical of most modern vehicles, almost everything uses synthetic oil now. So that's about the right kind of interval for most cars.

Just looking at a couple of things on this car, here's the under hood view. Your typical Subaru Boxster engine 2.5 liter. This one uses a timing chain they've been doing that for well, at least 10 years now. For most models they have timing chains. So there's no timing belt to replace, which is one advantage. That was a sort of a major maintenance expense on a Subaru about every 160,000 kilometers.

They've color coded everything under the hood. If you can use the word color-coded you know, things that you might want to look at and service, there's your engine oil dipstick in yellow. The coolant overflow bottle, engine oil goes in the yellow cap. There's a radiator cap. Washer fluid and the brake fluid cap. So these are kind of things to look at and service and fill from time to time. So they've kind of nicely color-coded that. 

Here's another view of the engine compartment. I found this battery interesting. This battery, I mean, as we're 2021, if you looked under the hood of a Japanese car in 1980, the batteries would look the same with these sort of twist on caps. They've used the same style of battery for years and for decades. And thought I just, this little view of the brake fluid is so clean. So if you ever wonder what clean brake fluid looks like, that's it, you know, it's six months old and you know, 10,000 kilometers old. So that's, that's clean brake fluid. That's how it looks when it's new.

Mark: So how are Subaru's for reliability? 

Bernie: Oh they're really good. I know we talk a lot about them. As I mentioned, this one is the timing chain model. I think, you know, that it was a good move, they did. It's reduced the cost of having doing a timing belt and the timing chain seemed to be really reliable. We haven't done one yet. It's been out for pretty much a decade. And along with that, I mean, head gaskets were a problem with the 2.5 liter engine, the timing belt models, haven't seen a head gasket problem on any of these. 

We did have one client with one of these timing chain engines where one of the covers had a leak. So we had to replace that. And it was a bit of a pricey job, but not crazy. And that's actually the only one we've seen, so. I'd say pretty good. I mean, there has been some oil burning issues, again in the last decade with some of these engines, so it's just something to watch if you're buying a used one. We can talk about that more in another podcast, but overall I think they're good vehicles. A lot of them use CVT transmissions and they seem to be pretty reliable, even though CVTs are kind of notorious for problems, but Subaru seem to be reliable. So overall good car. I like them. 

Mark: So, if you're looking for service for your Subaru in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. Call and talk to them. They'll find out what's going on with your vehicle, get you booked in for an appointment. Or you can book online at pawlikautomotive.com. You'll have some questions to fill out. They'll get back to you. They'll inquire. Get ready for you to show up. So they're ready to go when you show up for your service or repair. And they service in all makes and models, all types, even though old vehicles, even the brand new vehicles, all of them. Diesels, everything. Pawlik Automotive 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Thank you for watching. We really appreciate it. The website is pawlikautomotive.com. The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair. Thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. 

2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's best auto repair and service centre. 24 time winners, 24 times. Come on, 24 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing good. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2014 Subaru Outback that had a transmission issue. What was going on with this Subaru? 

Bernie: Well, this car is brought in for a routine maintenance, but one complaint the owner had was that the transmission seemed to have a delayed shift from park into drive or reverse. It just was a bit of a delay and sometimes that's normal, but he said it seemed to be something that was a new development. So we did inspect the transmission fluid. We did a quick code scan, nothing present you know, any sort of transmission issues. The fluid was very discoloured, likely never been serviced because it's often a forgotten item. And so we recommended doing a transmission service. It says a CVT transmission. So we, we recommended a service. 

Mark: So is there anything different involved in servicing a CVT compared to a regular automatic? 

Bernie: Really the major difference is the fluid. You have to use the proper fluid.  CVTs have a specific type of fluid because they work much different than a traditional transmission. There's some different components inside and they require a different fluid. So that's the main difference. Otherwise we do the service the same way that we normally do. We take the pan off the transmission. 

We do a very thorough service here. There are a lot of shops that don't do it thoroughly. But we take the pan off. We clean it, we replace the filter. If it's replaceable. On a Subaru, it's a wire screen. So we just cleaned the filter. We can inspect the inside of the pan, we reseal it. And then we flush the fluid with a machine where we can actually run some clean fluid into the transmission and pump the old fluid out.

Mark: So is it absolutely necessary to remove the pan? 

Bernie: Well, it's not absolutely necessary. However, the big difference is that when you take the pan off, you can inspect the inside of the transmission. You can clean the pan. And a lot of times debris will develop in the sort of bottom layer of the pan. So any little metal filings. And for that matter, you know, if there's actually metal filings or any sort of, you know, hard part wear then we can actually see that. And then that gives an indication, Hey, this transmission is wearing out. There's something going on here. Either you're going to have to repair it or at least keep an eye on it, something's wearing out.

So we get to see that. This transmission fortunately had none of that. It also makes for a better service because once you clean that all out, not all the fluid drains out the bottom, there's usually a sort of a lip at the bottom where the drain bolt goes. So you're, you're leaving a layer of fluid, maybe, you know, quarter to a half an inch layer of fluid in the bottom that doesn't get changed.

And that can make a difference to the longevity of the service that we do. So let's get into some pictures here while we're at it. There's the 2014 Outback. And this is what the fluid looked like when we took it out.

2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service
2014 Subaru Outback, CVT Service

So just so you know, I mean when this fluid is new, it's clear. So that has a lot of contaminants in it, it's brown, as you can see.

Mark:  It's doing its job basically.

Bernie: Doing its job absolutely. And this is a little sample into some caps. Now unfortunately this has like a little green seal at the bottom, so the fluid's not green. I didn't have a clear cap, so I just poured it in here. But this fluid is clear and this is, you know, brown. I mean, you can't even see the green bottom of the cap seal. So that's kind of different. 

This interesting too, when you look inside the transmission. This is looking up into the transmission. The filter sits in here over top of this, but this is kind of the body of the CVT transmission. Much different than you'd see in a regular automatic transmission where you would actually see the planetary gears and bands and drums and pieces like that. This is all kind of sealed in. There's some other components further up in here that we can't see, but a very much different look than you would get inside a conventional automatic transmission.

Mark: One of the things we've never really talked about is like, what's the difference in how hard, like transmission does a tremendous amount of work. It's an incredibly complex, automatic transmission is a very complex piece of equipment that is under tremendous forces. Extra heat all that kind of stuff that we use them for. Kind of take for granted, but it's pretty tremendous amount of engineering that's gone into make them so good. Is a CVT even more susceptible to breaking down or having problems or in any way like that?

Bernie:  You know, CVT is actually, I think, simpler. There's actually less parts and pieces. For some reason they're not really very rebuildable. For the most part they're expensive. A lot of them are not rebuildable. If something goes wrong with it, either replace it with a used part. I know Nissan's had a lot of trouble with their CVT transmission of which they've replaced many of them with extended warranties, like up to 10 years, which is good on their behalf. But, you know, the fact is I don't really trust Nissan CVT transmissions. Maybe, maybe the new ones are good, but they're older ones are certainly they've certainly had a lot of problems with them. 

But they are actually simpler. There's less parts and pieces, and it's kind of surprises me that, you know, you can't just go buy rebuild parts, but I talk with transmission rebuilders and wholesalers, and parts are just not really that readily available.

So there's simpler, but I don't think they're really as durable. And, you know, if you look at heavier duty, like pickup trucks, you know, like even an F-150, they don't use CVT transmissions in those because I don't think they're really, they can't really handle the abuse, you know, that's there. So I don't think they're as tough. They probably could be made to be as tough, but they're not, for some reason. 

Mark: And what's different. What's the core difference between a CVT - constant variable transmission and a regular automatic transmission? 

Bernie: Like a regular transmission has planetary gears with bands and clutches and they'll lock different. With a planetary gear you can create a number of different speeds out that gear, I would kind of get too, too much into it, but you can create a number of different speeds and directions with the transmission by just using a planetary gear. So it is a gear and then there's friction clutches and a band, which is a friction material that can lock either the drum or the different gears to create different speeds. And, you know, if you put two or three planetary gears, you can, you know, get eight, nine about a GMC truck that has a 10 speed automatic, which is crazy. You know, it's a lot of gears.  

So anyways, the CVT doesn't have those planetary gears. It uses like drums and band, like very hard metal bands that will actually vary the diameter. It's kind of brilliant. It'll vary the diameter and speed from one shaft to the other, by just changing where the band sits on the drum. So it's a pretty cool concept. That's kind of the major difference. But the thing with a CVT is you're not limited to two, five, eight, 10 speeds. You can put any gear ratio so that it creates a way you can kind of tune the whole drive train in the engine for maximum fuel economy, emissions and performance.

Mark: And for driving, instead of having the kind of that shift that you can feel, where the gears change with a CVT, how's it different?

Bernie: Yeah. That isn't there, but I believe in the earlier days they actually set them so they actually had a feel of a shift point because people are used to that  kind of shifting feel of a car accelerating. And, you know, it would seem weird that it doesn't have it, but you can kind of feel it in a CVT when you can just hear it accelerate and it's a different feel.

So you know, sometimes I think they put that in so we remember. It's almost like, you know, when cars get electric, I'm sure they'll have some with options of having the sound of a motor running just for the good old days. 

Mark: They do have that, actually. 

Bernie: Yeah. He could probably create as an option, you know, for your performance car so it feels like you're actually going fast when the motors just going zing. 

Mark: So how are Subaru CVTs overall for reliability? 

Bernie: I think they're pretty good. I mean, we haven't run into too many issues. But the thing about Subarus is their transmissions have been good for a long, long time. I mean, I've owned some Subaru's over the years, for like many years, their transmissions automatic or standard have really been very reliable.

That's one very strong part of Subarus. CVT seemed to be okay.  You know, for some reason I don't trust them. Like I prefer a conventional automatic transmission. They just seem to be tried and true. And there's been so many CVTs of different brands. I'm thinking like Nissan, Minis to mention a couple that have been very problematic. And they're not really repairable and rebuildable.

So Subaru seem to be okay. I mean, most of their models have them now, so it's hard to get away from it. Unless you have a manual. But they seem to have embraced the CVTs. And they seem to be okay. But I don't know. I still don't trust them myself, but millions of other people do. 

Mark: So why are the manufacturers moving to CVTs? What's the advantage? 

Bernie: I think it's fuel economy, exhaust emissions. I think those are the biggest reasons. 

Mark: And how are 2014 Subaru's for reliability? 

Bernie: So far they seem really good. And you know, I mean, they've gone away from the timing belt engine. So that's not a thing that needs to be serviced. And those timing belt Subarus, the 2.5 litres had head gasket problems. So we haven't seen one go bad on one of those. We have repaired some oil leaks from timing chain covers so that, you know, that is an expensive repair.

And the only issues with some of these Subaru's is engine oil, burning, unexpected oil consumption. And that is an issue that certainly happens on some models, not all, but that is a problem with some of these engines. But other than that, they seem to be, you know, very good cars.

Mark: If you need some service or maintenance for your Subaru, and you want experts who will look after you and do it right. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Or you can do it on the website pawlikautomotive.com. And if you're interested, there's hundreds of videos, literally hundreds, we've been doing this for nine years. All makes and models, types of repairs, videos, articles, you name it also on YouTube Pawlik Auto Repair. Check us out there. And of course, thanks so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

2010+ Subaru Reliability

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 Subarus, we're going to revisit talking about Subaru's and reliability mean maybe some of the later changes in the last decade. So we're going to talk 2010 on. How reliable of Subaru's been? 

Bernie: They've got a good reputation. There are some issues which we'll talk about, but generally they're pretty good. There have been some changes for sure. I'd say some for the better, some hard to know, you know, maybe not quite as good, but well, mostly for the better.

Mark: So let's work our way through the list. So starting with the engines, how are the engines? 

Bernie: So the engines are good. Now the biggest thing is in the early part of the decade, they were still using timing belts and you'll find those uncertain models up to maybe 2012 -2013. Actually the WRX STI still uses the timing belt. That's the only engine that actually currently uses a timing belt, but they went to a different technology with timing chain. The good news about that is there's no timing belt to be replaced at the specified interval. The chain seemed to be pretty durable that had never had a problem with a chain yet. 

The head gaskets have also been reliable because that's a problem with the 2.5 liter timing belt engine. Guarantee you'll have to replace the head gaskets on any of those models. They all go sooner or later. So the head gaskets, we've yet to see a problem with one yet. Not to say that they won't, at some point it will be a very expensive repair at that point because of the timing chain technology, but head gaskets, have been reliable. 

Really, the only thing we run into was an oil leak on one of the timing chain covers which was a fair bit of work, but again, you know, there was a bit of an outlier that's something we haven't really seen since. One big engine issue you know, that is somewhat known is oil consumption. A lot of these engines have oil consumption problems that wasn't there in the previous design of engine. So, there's a lot of owners I'm pretty unhappy with the amount of oil they had to add to their engine.

And I think there's been some work done on it. I don't know how that's progressed over the years, whether, if you buy a fairly current model, whether that's going to be a problem or not, but certainly in the earlier part of the decade there, you know, in the mid decade models, there has been some oil consumption issues.

So if you're looking to buy a used one, it would be worth doing a little research to see if what you're buying is actually an oil consumer or not. We won't get into all the details of how to figure that out, but that's something well worth looking into.

But other of that, I mean the engines are generally reliable. That's kind of the biggest thing to look for, I think is the oil consumption. 

Mark: So in the older models, then transmissions were generally reliable based on our old podcasts. Is that still the case? 

Bernie: They are still pretty good. But, one thing with the transmission is Subaru has gone to a CVT for most of their automatics. I'm not a big fan of CVTs. But I think, you know, there's been a lot of problems with CVTs in a variety of different makes and models of cars. And they're expensive to fix. For some reason, very difficult to get parts for. Nissan had tons of problems and extended their warranties.

But Subaru seems to be pretty good. We've actually never seen a CVT problem in our shop with one, but I do read a lot and there's some issues with valve body problems with them. And if that's the only problem, that's not so bad. But you know, older as you said, like the older automatics really bulletproof. Never had any issues or problems with them.

The older standards, again, never any issues or problems other than, you know, I mean the clutches wear out on standards and you can still buy Subaru's with standards as well. So, you know, again, not a big fan of the CVT, but Subaru seem to be more reliable and a lot of other brands. 

Mark: So all wheel drive. Subaru's are pretty famous for their all wheel drive system. How is the newer all wheel drive system? 

Bernie: Well I'll just talk in terms of reliability. I mean, Subaru, all wheel drive systems have been, you know, really pretty bulletproof. The one thing I've always liked about Subarus is even though it has all wheel drive, which adds complexity, there's never been any problems with it. They seem to be really reliable and the same goes with this decade, you know, everything's good, reliable. They may not be as fancy as some, you know, European models with electronic controls and things, but generally they're just very reliable. Kind of simpler and reliable, and they do the job. The wheels grip and there's few problems. So really it's something good to have. 

Mark: Okay, so let's move on to brakes, steering suspension systems, any issues in those areas?

Bernie: You know, the one thing I was happy to see on an Outback around the middle of the decade, and you know, there's been a couple of redesigns, is they went to, seems a subtle little detail only a the mechanic would notice, but, the suspension front control arm bushings, they changed to a design that they used to use back in the early part of the 2000s decade, which is a much more reliable design of control arm bushing. It's a horizontal bushy instead of a vertical bushing. For some reason they went to that in early 2000 and the vertical bushing and they're not very robust and they wear out. So the newer ones, it's got a much more robust suspension, for at least the control arm bushing.

So suspension has been really reliable. Brakes again, no issues, normal wear and tear, 50 to 80,000 kilometres on brakes type of thing. You'll get more mileage out of standard for sure. It's a good, reliable vehicle in that area. 

Mark: So Subaru's now are equipped, like many vehicles with driver assist technology. How about those systems? Are they reliable? 

Bernie: Haven't heard any issues with them. You know, driver assist technologies, you know, servicing that kind of thing is a bit of a specialty. As a shop owner, I've taken a couple of courses and looked into what's involved in actually servicing that kind of thing and right now  it's something that we're not doing. It's a huge investment, not only for equipment, but also you need a huge amount of space just dedicated to it. Which is kind of a drawback to that, we'll talk in a sec, but as far as Subaru's go the technology seems to be really reliable. 

I did actually do a road trip with a friend, pretty new Outback that had all that technology. It was pretty cool. You know, the car will slow down if you approach a car too fast and good safety features. So far it's been really reliable. 

The one thing that certainly adds to costs down the road and then these would be more in the area of the collision business. But, you know, whenever there's an accident of some sort, all this stuff needs to be recalibrated. There's a number of extra sensors and it adds an enormous amount to the cost of repairing a car. So while it does prevent accidents and collisions, when something does happen and it does, it can cost you a lot more. Even like a windshield, which used to cost say maybe $500 is now all of a sudden 1500 or $2,000 replacement. 

So, you know, as time goes by, it might well be that, you know, once it starts lowering in value, you know, you crack your windshield, it's like oh, car's are right off. So that's something to be watchful for. Nothing don't worry about right now because the cars still have a lot of value, but you know, as they get old. 

Mark: So I haven't heard much about, there has been very little news from Subaru about the upcoming wave of EVs or even hybrids. Do they, are they playing in that pool at all? 

Bernie: You can buy a 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid. Don't know much about it. And that's about all I know about Subaru hybrids. For a long time, they've had this pzev logo on the back, which is partial zero emission vehicle. So they've been trying to, you know, play that it's a low emission vehicle, but it's just basically got like fancy catalytic converters on it as far as I can see. Because I remember looking at it and I had a customer, we're going to a decade back now before 2010, and I go, Oh, what is with this vehicle. It's still runs. Its it doesn't have any start-stop technology or anything, but I guess under certain conditions it doesn't emit any other pollutants. Of course, there's always CO2 coming out as long as the is running. So, I think a little bit of a hokey play on, I don't wanna say play on words. I'm at a bit of a loss for what I'm trying to say here, but it's a little dishonest. 

Anyways, EVs, you know, there's some talk that they're going to be doing something with Toyota in the next five years by 2025, who knows how that'll pan out. It's been interesting because a lot of this seemed to be a lot of momentum going with all sorts of car manufacturing and we're going to go EV, and we're going full out with it. And then now there seems to be a lot of pull back from the Legacy manufacturers on getting into that kind of stuff.

So at some point, and there's no doubt, they'll come out with an EV because I think any car manufacturer going forward, like 10 years is going to need to have a huge lineup of EV vehicles to survive. But, you know, I've often pondered that with Subarus and wonder, you know, it seems like a lot of people who buy Subaru's are outdoorsy people. They buy them because they can, you know, throw some kayaks on the roof or bicycles and head off on some rougher roads and go do some exploring. And those are vehicles that are well suited for at least gasoline technology. 

You know, short range EVs are not going to be good for that, but you know, given time of course batteries keep getting better. And, you know, that won't be a concern anymore. But at least you can always carry extra can of gas or something with you now, if you want to go in the road. 

So I think for the marketplace of Subaru, maybe, they've kind of left that behind, but you know, as sooner or later the rug might be pulled out from under them. So that's all I got to say about Subaru and EVs, but I'd say probably more hybrids will be coming. 

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for a service for your Subaru in Vancouver,  BC, Canada. 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 booked up for weeks in advance. They're always busy. They're really busy right now. They're always been busy. They're busy. I make that a point. Call them, book ahead. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on both places, all makes and models, types of repairs. Thanks for listening on the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review if you're so inclined and Bernie thanks as always. 

Bernie: And thanks, Mark. And thank you for watching. It's always a pleasure.

2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor 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 Subaru's how are you doing today? Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim 2012 Subaru Impreza that had an air conditioning problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, the owner brought the vehicle to us with the air conditioning system, not working. And he pointed out to us that you could see the air conditioning clutch was burnt at the front of the air AC compressor. So there was an obvious issue with that part.

Mark: So not a lot of testing and diagnosis needed. Did you do any further stuff and then what happened? How did this happen? 

Bernie: Yeah, normally with an air conditioning issue, when a client brings a vehicle to us, we will do a diagnosis on the air conditioning system. Air conditioning is complicated, there's a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of hidden parts or places to leak, the fluid in the air conditioning system, switches from a gas to a liquid, high pressure, low pressure. And there's a number of places the air conditioning system can leak and a number of electrical components that can fail as well.

So diagnosis is complicated. In this case or say it can be commonly in this case, it was very obvious with the compressor burnt. Usually that's a fault of the compressor or the compressor clutch. So there wasn't really anything further required other than to actually replace a compressor to start. 

Mark: And how did that happen?

Bernie: It's difficult to say.  I will just share a couple of pictures and we'll talk as we go. So there's our 2012 Impreza. The owner's kept in very nice shape. Looks pretty much like a brand new car. It's always nice to work on older vehicles that are in good shape. 

2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor Repair
2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor Repair
2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor Repair
2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor Repair

Okay, so there's the front of the AC compressor clutch, actually probably better to show a picture of a new good one. This is where the belt runs the air conditioning compressor and it's an electromagnetic clutch. So it receives an electrical signal and the electromagnet closes the clutch and that'll cause a compressor to drive.

If you were to drive the compressor all the time, it's a huge waste of energy. Air conditioning draws a lot of energy from the engine. So, running it only when needed is best and you can obviously see, this looks all rusty and corroded. Basically this compressor was seized and the clutch was burned inside. 

So how this happened, there's a few ways this will happen. One is the compressor can actually seize internally. It's like a little motor. It's got pistons inside of it. And valves and plates and a lot of moving parts that can seize up so he could have seized internally. There's also a bearing at the front of the compressor that could have seized.

And there's a very large bearing where the pulley rides and those seize up as well. But when those seize up, usually the belt will burn up pretty quickly. So that was not the case with this vehicle. It was basically this part here, which rotates the compressor was seized. So until we took it apart we weren't exactly a hundred percent certain, but one of the first steps we do as we changed the compressor is to take it out and we drain the oil out of it as best we can to look for any particles. If we find particles, then there are further repairs required. If not, then the compressor itself could probably just be changed and it could be safe.

Here's another view of the two compressors. This is the old one. Here's the new one. You can see some oil, there's an inlet and outlet on the compressor. There's a suction side and the other side is called the discharge side. That's under pressure and as I said, we basically drain this out see if there's any particles in the oil. Fortunately for the owner of this one, there's nothing found, so the failure, it all happened at the front end of this compressor and nothing inside.

Mark: So, would it be possible to just change the clutch or do they come as a unit, the compressor and the clutch? 

Bernie: They just come as a unit. There was a time where you could change the clutch. I'm pretty sure in this case, so that the seizure was actually in the compressor, probably the front bearing of the compressor and not the clutch.

There's been times where we've changed clutch bearings, but it's getting to be a rarer and rarer phenomenon, you know, more and more parts and cars are sold as complete units. Unfortunately this compressor is pretty expensive. We put a brand new one in there. There weren't too many options. I'm not a big fan of rebuilt compressors because they, sometimes it lasts a long time, but I say sometimes because other times, you know, one or two years down the road it'll start leaking or fail in some way. So brand new is always better in this case because you know, the repair is going to last a long time.

Mark: And how often do you see this part fail? 

Bernie: It's not entirely uncommon. We actually see quite a few AC compressors fail on Subarus, and overall, you know, in cars in general compressors do fail, but maybe, you know, 20% of all the air conditioning problems we run into, maybe 20% of them are compressor failures.

Most problems are leaks, but you know, for any hard part failures, compressors are a pretty common. 

Mark: And how are 2012 Subaru Imprezas for reliability. 

Bernie: Oh, they're very good. Subaru has gone away from the timing belt on these models. These are chain driven engines, so you don't have that timing belt replacement that's required at usually about 168,000 kilometres. Also the head gaskets, they seemed to fix the head gasket issues because we've never done one yet on one of these type of timing chain driven engines, which is a good thing, because that will be a much more expensive job to do than it would be on the timing belt model engine.

But they seem to be quite reliable. The only complaints I've heard about these engines, we haven't seen it personally, but I've heard, engine oil consumption can be an issue, excessive oil consumption on some of these engines. And there is actually, doing a little research, there's actually a recall on some of these like 2012 to 14 Impreza, some different models, you know, a variety of different models, for valve spring failure. So it's an actual recall from Subaru. So if you do own one of these cars, you could check and make sure that the recall has been done. The valve spring failure will actually cause the engine to run poorly. It could actually, you know, in severe case actually caused quite a major engine problem. So definitely something worth looking at. 

Mark: And recalls are done at the dealer. 

Bernie: They are done at the dealer. Yeah. Yeah. All recalls are done at the dealer and you can just call a call a Subaru dealer and say, here's my car, here's the VIN number. Am I up to date on my recalls? And they'll know, they have a database, and if you haven't done the recalls, there's possibly a couple others for different things, but that's the only engine related and major one I saw, but yeah, they'll let you know, and a book in and do the job.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Subaru in Vancouver, they've done hundreds of them. The guys to call 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 the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos and articles on their all makes and models of cars, all types of repairs or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos on there. And Hey, thanks for watching or listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from. And thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service

2008 Subaru Forester - Maintenance B Service

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

Bernie: Doing very well today.

Mark: So a 2008 Subaru Forester that was in for a maintenance service. What was happening with this all wheel drive vehicle?

Bernie: Well not a lot. It was actually just in for a routine maintenance service. Due for an oil change. It was due for a B service and so that's what we did.

Mark: So how often do you recommend doing a B service on a vehicle?

Bernie: Usually every second service. So the first, the sort of, so I say first service would be an A service and second would be a B and you alternate between the two of them. Usually it's good to do a B service probably once a year but it depends on how much you drive. There's some people that drive a lot. That would probably need it more frequently and the people who don't drive a lot a little less frequently.

Mark: So what's done during a B Service?

Bernie: So a B service is, essentially an oil and filter change and then a full maintenance inspection. So a full vehicle inspection. Wheels off. Inspect the brakes, measure the brakes. Inspect the steering suspension system. Test the battery and charging system. Pressure test the cooling system. Full visual, it's a full visual inspection for oil leaks, fluid leaks. Look at all the fluids, Actually inspect the fluid levels and qualities. We also lube the door locks, hinges and latches which is a good thing to do on a sort of annual basis. So your doors don't start creaking too soon. Just a little preventative maintenance items like that. So that's basically, kind of sums up the B service.

Mark: So I know you do digital inspections and I actually have one. I'm going to share my screen with this and we can just go through that. We can talk about that.

Bernie: Yeah, awesome.

Mark: All right so here's we're at the bottom, so I'll zip up to the top.

Bernie: So this is from, this is not the Subaru, just to be clear. This is from your Toyota Venza that you used to own?

Mark: Yes

Bernie: So let's just scroll down. So this is, you know as a client, this is the inspection you'll get and by the way, it doesn't say from Pawlik Automotive. It comes from...

Mark: It's an 800 number. It's from the provider whoever, whatever auto serve I guess is the provider powering this service that you provide and then they just sent it from their phone number. So it's a text that you get.

Bernie: Yeah, so we also send it by text or email or both. But it won't say from Pawlik Automotive. So just so you know if it seems unusual. Open it up because it will be from us. So we have a reason for today's visit. Sometimes a client will come in with, there's some clunking noises or certain issues, that we can put on the inspection and address. And then other than that, things that are broken down into good, well green, amber and red essentially. And green are all the items that are good and don't need any servicing at the present time. And so you can see a variety of some of the things that we look at. Lights. Battery. The battery is tested. Belts, visual inspection on the belts. Brakes are measured. You can see on Mark's vehicle here, there's 10 millimetres in the front brake pad which is very thick. We also have photographs of things as well that you can look at. Usually we take pictures of things that are problematic. Sometimes we'll take pictures of things that are ok but usually you know, problematic items. As you can see here's a list of suspension components. Some brake components. Suspension components. We inspect, tire treads are measured. And then here we get into the amber items. These are suggested items. So you know, the engine air filter was, it was dirty, not severe. So it could be left until next time. Cabin air filter recommended only as a check records because cabin air filters are usually involved. Removing the actual filter to inspect and so by the time you do that, you may as well just change it. So again it's important to know the service records of the vehicle. We had recommended a fuel injection cleaning on this vehicle basically again, check records. So there were no red items on this vehicle. Nothing that needed to be done right away. So that's basically kind of how your inspection looks, If there are problems, like say, we find a loose part or an extremely dirty fluid, you know, something we think should be serviced, may not in instant, immediately, but really soon. That gets a red mark. So I know this was a good vehicle for you. There wasn't a whole lot that tended to happen.

But the good news with our owner of the Subaru, it was all greens and oranges too. So this car was in good shape for this time around too. You know, I'd share the inspection but it's kind of hard to do that with keeping client confidentiality. So thanks for sharing that Mark.

Mark: So you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do. So let's have a look at a few pictures here of this service. So there's our 08 Subaru Forester. Excellent condition. It's a well maintained vehicle. Here's a few pictures of things that we do include, I would include in the inspection. So again, these are shots that we put right into the inspection report and send to the client.

2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service
2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service
2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service
2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service
2008 Subaru Forester Maintenance B Service

So you can see the antifreeze, nice blue clean Subaru antifreeze, good to about -45 or 50. There's a picture of something good on the vehicle. Battery test again as our battery tester, you know verifies that the battery is at 100% charge. Good condition. This tester will actually say if the battery is bad or sometimes there are readings that would indicate to us that we may want to replace the battery. Brakes. We measure brakes.

This thing here, you can't really see it, there are 4 millimetres on the brake pad. You can just sort of see inside the wheel. This is the brake rotor. This is the brake calliper here. So it's kind of a close up shot if you don't really know what you're looking at. All just looks like a bunch of metal. But the brake rotors there. This is the brake pad assembly here and is this is the actual pad material, that friction material that wears out. And the metal backing plate, you definitely don't want to get to thing on this. But 4 millimetres is still good for a while. I figure the way this person drives, these brakes will be good for 6 months to a year on the front of this vehicle.

So again, there's a picture of that and as a final photo, we have the actual engine compartment on the vehicle. So this is a 2.5 litre Subaru intake manifold. This is still metal. They have gone to plastic intake manifolds but this is metal. Air filter box over here. So we inspect the air filter, air conditioning hoses. I'll just point out a few things. The brake fluid reservoir over here. Engine oil fill dipstick. Drive belts are located under here. So we visually inspect those to make sure they're, inspect the condition. The power steering fluids located over here. Battery. Those are a few of the things, just a few little highlights under the hood. This is a Subaru, they call a boxer engine. It's basically a flat engine. So the pistons, instead of being vertical are sideways mounted. The only other vehicle to do that are Porsches and in the 911s style and of course, old Volkswagens. This is kind of like an old Volkswagen Beetle. So its a, Subaru seems to be kind of the most common user of this kind of engine but it actually works really well. Very reliable. One thing that's good about a very low centre of gravity, the engine sits very low. So that's a positive thing for vehicle handling and stability.

Mark: So the inspection sounds very thorough. Would that find any issue that might be going on with my car, anything that would be coming up?

Bernie: No it won't. You're right, it is very thorough. We look at a lot of things but you know, there are, if your vehicle has specific concerns, especially say, the engine's not running properly, we don't address those type of things in this inspection. It's more of a visual maintenance inspection to kind of give you an idea of where, as you can see, things like brakes and tires and suspension issues we look at. So if your vehicle has some clunks when you go over bumps, there's a pretty good chance this inspection will find them. If you have a major coolant leak, we'll generally find that as well. But there are a lot of things that aren't covered in this inspection that require further diagnostics and this is a good starting place. If further tests are needed then we can advise you from there.

Mark: So how many kilometres were on this Subaru?

Bernie: This vehicle is just shy of 90,000 kilometres. So really good shape, you know underneath there wasn't even a drip or weep of oil coming from anywhere. We don't have any record of doing the head gaskets. I'm not sure if the owner has had them done or you know, 90,000 kilometres are still not too high. But we've done many Subaru head gaskets before 90,000 Ks but these are in excellent shape. So yeah, really nice and real clean car.

Mark: And were there any issues? Did you find anything wrong with the vehicle?

Bernie: No. Just a few fluids that we'd recommended. A few fluids based on mileage and age that were discoloured from a maintenance point of view. The transmission fluid is looking discoloured and the power steering differential fluid as well. They look clean but it's good to replace those fluids on a time basis because often you can open the inspection plugs on a differential fluid, you look and that fluid looks clean. It looks perfect. Then you drain it out and there's a few little metal flakes and filings and things that you don't really get to see until you actually drain the fluid. So it's good to be aware of the time and the age of these fluids and often just change them based on time. But other than that, the only thing we found, the vehicle as I mentioned, the brakes are at 4 millimetres on the front. Probably recommend 6 months to a year to replace those based on how much the owner drives the car.

Mark: So Pawlik Automotive services a lot of Subarus. How's the Forester for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, it's a really good reliable car. You know, I was thinking about this when I put that question down. Subarus are basically, the cars are the same on a lot of models. So it's not like a Forester is a lot different than an Impreza or an Outback. That a lot of them share the same drivetrain, the same engine. So that the reliability is pretty much the same cross models. Of course, the WRX is a different bird or the H6 Outback with the six cylinder is a different vehicle in some ways. But overall, super reliable, really good vehicles. I mean head gaskets are certainly the big issue on these vehicles but other than that they're pretty good.

Mark: So if you're looking for a good maintenance shop to look after your vehicle or you need service on your Subaru, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're always busy. 604-327-7112. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com or the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds and hundreds of articles and videos for your viewing pleasure. And thanks so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Not somebody just giving them a gift, that's people actually voting for them and saying this is the best. These guys know what they're doing and we're talking cars. How are you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well. After an intro like that, it just puts a big smile on my face.

Mark: So we're talking about a 2013 Subaru WRX. It had an oil leak problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so the car came into our shop for a maintenance service and inspection, and one of the things that we found was there's some oil leaking from the front of the engine timing belt area, a variable valve timing solenoid, somewhere around that area, and it needed further exploration and repairs.

Mark: So what was involved in repairing those leaks?

Bernie: So all that was involved was actually removing the timing belt cover and accessing the timing belt, because it's all hidden behind there. We found some cam shaft seals leaking, as well as variable valve timing solenoid gaskets leaking as well.

Mark: So do you have some pictures?

Bernie: I do, I do, and by the way, so we replaced the timing belt at the same time and we can talk a little more about that, but let's just get into the pictures here.

So there we have our beautiful 2013 WRX. Awesome little high performance cars. There's a good view of the front of the engine with the timing belt off. The timing belt sits in this area here. If you can just follow the mouse pointer, it kind of loops around here. There's the crankshaft sprocket and this is a dual overhead cam engine so it has four cam sprockets. Cam shaft seals here, which we replaced. Water pump also, which is very important to do at the same time as the timing belt.

2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair
2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair
2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair
2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair
2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair
2013 Subaru WRX, Oil Leak Repair

Mark: And this is a flat-six, right?

Bernie: Flat-four. Yeah, this is a turbocharged flat-four, inter-cooled turbo flat-four. Subaru doesn't make any turbo-sixes, although it'd be a pretty awesome option because it would go even faster, but yeah, this is a four.

Mark: And a lot of room in the front. Have you pulled out the radiator?

Bernie: We removed the radiator. Here's a view actually of the engine compartment with everything back in. You can see it's a lot tighter, but we did remove the radiator on this job. It's a standard transmission, so not too difficult, and just to access the bolts on the front of the camshafts, it's a little easier to access everything with the radiator out. Not difficult, doesn't add a lot of extra time to do that.

This is the whole package assembled. This is the intercooler. This keeps the charge air cool that's being blow basically blown into the engine by the turbochargers. As you compress that air, it gets hot. and so if you can keep it cool it has more density. Once upon a time, a long time ago, turbochargers never had intercoolers and this was a big performance upgrade to intercool a turbo. There's nothing that's been made in the last 15, 20 years that doesn't have an intercooler on it. And that's the same with supercharged engines too. So it helps boost the performance just by keeping the air at a certain temperature.

Now for other pictures we get into the meat of the job. So this vehicle has variable valve timing. This is one of the performance features of this engine. So these are the camshaft sprockets. If you look at some of our other podcasts and videos, you'll see that we do a number of timing belts on Subarus, but most of them are there the lower performance 4-cylinder versions and they don't have variable valve timing. So these sprockets are quite a bit more complex, more expensive as well.

There's one really good thing about this engine. Most vehicles with variable valve timing, you have to have special special tools to lock the camshafts in place. And this engine, you don't. These actually have pins that locate the cam sprockets on the engine, which is a fantastic feature because you can just look, put the cam sprocket on, just line the timing belt marks up and away it goes.

Whereas on most other engines you have to remove the valve cover, you have to lock the camshafts in a certain position by specialty tools to do it and then bolt everything up while everything's locked into position. So Subaru has made this job reasonably, I won't say easy to do, but reasonably easy to do. So it's kind of kind of a nice, refreshing treat. Less complicated of a job.

This is the variable valve timing solenoid and this is the gasket and this was one of the items that was leaking. So these solenoids control oil flow to the variable valve timing, the cam gears and getting against electrical signal. The engine has oil pressure, changes the oil flow through the cam, and that that changes the valve timing.

We talked about maintenance on cars, modern cars, this is why it's critical to change your oil at regular intervals. Any sludge, you can see there are very small holes. Any sludge that builds up in these will cause a malfunction of this system, or low oil level for that matter too. So critical to change your oil at the required interval.

Mark: Okay. There's a few issues here. So first, variable valve timing accomplishes what? It seems like a lot of complication.

Bernie: Well, opening the valves of the engine, the intake and exhaust valves, there's a certain optimum time to open them, but it's different at idle than it is when you've got the engine revving at 6,000 RPMs or halfway in between. So if you can vary the time the valves open and actually for that matter, vary the lift of the end of the valve, which this engine doesn't do, but some engines do. You can vary the lift of the valve, the opening. You can control the horsepower of the engine, you can improve the fuel economy and exhaust emissions. There's a number of things you can accomplish, so that's why variable valve timing is pretty much standard on most engines nowadays. Not all, but most.

Mark: Timing belts. Subaru, I thought they used dry chains. What are they using a timing belt for?

Bernie: Yeah, well interesting question. So, up until about, Subaru, the 6-cylinder engines, which they introduced around the 2000 model year, those are all timing chain engines, but the four cylinder up until about 2010, 2011, used a timing belt. Then they changed to a chain drive, but this engine still maintains the timing belt right up to modern, right up to, I'm not sure if a 2020 has gone to a chain, but certainly 2018 still has a timing belt.

So you might wonder, well, is that an inferior technology? And the answer is not really. I mean they've incorporated all the variable valve timing and everything that needs to be done. The disadvantage with a timing belt is that there is a set interval where you must replace it because it will break.

With a timing chain, it's theoretically supposed to last the life of the engine, but timing chains are very complex. There's a lot of pieces to them. Tensioners to keep them tight and things that wear out. We've done podcasts on Range Rovers where a number of them, this is a problem with that engine. 100,000 kilometres, the timing chains are rattling and you're faced with a six, in Canada, a $6,000, $7,000 bill to do the replacement. That's a lot of money for something that, like a timing belt job can be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the car if you do it complete and there's a set interval to do it. So you know, Subaru so far, with the timing chains had been reliable but I owned a six cylinder Subaru, around 250,000 kilometres, I mean every once in a while I'd start the car and the timing chain would rattle. So, you know, that car is long gone because it kind of wore out. They're supposed to last the life of the engine, but a lot of cars they don't and they can be very expensive to replace.

Timing belts, at one time, also used to be kind of an inferior design. I mean I think of a lot of older, oh, take Subaru for example, they used to have an engine that had two timing belts. One went to the right bank, one to the left. Some of those would break at 50,000 kilometres. Fortunately there was no engine damage but highly unreliable. And you know, you'd be lucky to get a hundred thousand kilometres out of them. And there are many other cars, you know, in the eighties and nineties that were like that. You'd go like in the 1970s when timing belts started coming out, I mean they didn't last very long either, but they've made them very robust. They last a long time. You know, 150, 200,000 kilometres is not abnormal for a timing belt.

Mark: So do these WRX motors have the same head gasket issues on the older ones that other Subaru 4-cylinder engines have?

Bernie: No, they don't. These use a much more robust gasket and we don't run into the same issues. It's pretty rare. I mean over the years, the dual overhead cam engine is not just a WRX engine. They did put them in some of the other Forester models. We do the odd head gasket in those, but pretty rare and never done one on a WRX yet. So they're pretty robust. They're much better designed, much better built.

Mark: So there you go. If you've got some leaky oil issues with your WRX Subaru or any Subaru, the guys who specialize in Subaru in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive and of course every other make and model of car right up to Porsches and Teslas and all sorts of stuff. Guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 350 blog posts, videos on repairing all makes and models and all kinds of types of repairs. All makes and models of cars and trucks. Over 350 videos on YouTube. Check it out. Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave your comments or your likes below. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching.

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