Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. 21 times. How do you do that?
Bernie: Got a lot of good customers.
Mark: Your customers must love you because they're the ones who are voting for you, and that's awesome, vote for how good your company is. Plus all the five star reviews I'm noticing.
Bernie: Yeah. I feel very privileged.
Mark: So today we're talking about a 2012 Toyota Prius, which is a hybrid vehicle and came in for maintenance service. What was going on with this Prius C?
Bernie: Yeah, basically the vehicle just do for a basic maintenance service. And the customer did have one complaint, which we'll talk about a little later. But other than that, it was just due for basic maintenance and based on the schedule, it was due for a B service.
Mark: So what's involved in a B service on a Toyota Prius?
Bernie: Well, essentially it's the same as pretty much any other vehicle. It's an oil and filter change, unless of course it's a pure electric car. I guess I'll have to take away the term B service, as time goes by. So it's an oil and filter change, a full vehicle inspection. So we look at the brakes, steering, suspension, you know, the under carriage of the vehicle, visual inspection under the hood and under the car. Test the 12 volt battery and what one thing you know, we also do with this vehicle is scan the vehicle. We do it for a lot of B services on newer cars, but especially important on a hybrid because there could be some hidden stored trouble codes. It might be worth alerting the owner of the vehicle to, for issues that may be upcoming or something that could be occurring.
Mark: So what, are there different items that you would specifically check for because this is a hybrid?
Bernie: There's not really a lot of you know, the whole hybrid system is pretty much hidden away. There's not a lot to, you know, like for instance, the high voltage battery is under the seat or in the trunk, depending on the model of the car. On this particular one, it's under the seat, so there's nothing really to look at there. You know, on all the high voltage cabling, of course, and, and inverter transmission, all that kind of thing is all sealed and hidden away and really just keeps on functioning until there's a problem. But visual inspections, of course, are important.
Mark: So I think you mentioned this car had over a hundred thousand kilometres. Any special items due at this time? Wasn't 96,000 kilometres, like time for most Japanese cars for a major service?
Bernie: Yeah. The 96,000 kilometre thing is kind of old now. I think in the eighties and nineties, that was a big service interval for Japanese vehicles. Timing belts were due to be replaced, spark plugs, tune-ups. All those kinds of things. It was a time for an expensive service. A lot of, you know, I remember too, a lot of vehicles, the CV joint boots would be about ready to rip apart, so you'd change those. And so it could make for a pretty big service.
But nowadays, a 96K service is pretty much history. And on this particular vehicle, there wasn't really anything due, you know, this is just over a hundred K. There wasn't really anything due at this particular time. There's a coolant cooling system, flush, due I think it's around 168,000 kilometres and spark plugs are up there, maybe a little further down the road.
So, you know, those are a couple of maintenance items that are on the list. But other than that, you know, until you reach those intervals, from Toyota's perspective, it's really, oil changes and inspections. It's pretty much it.
Mark: So were there any other service items that you might recommend on hybrid vehicles?
Bernie: Yeah, there's a few things. And then a lot of these apply to, you know, an internal combustion engine vehicles in general. But let's just have a look at some pictures of the car first and then and we'll talk about some service.
So there's our Prius C, nice little compact car. This is based kind of based on a Yaris platform, but, anyways, it's a little compact. It's a compact version of the Prius. The C stands for city. So where do we have here? Okay. There's our under the hood view. So there's the internal combustion engine on this side. It's a 1.5 litre engine, so it's smaller than a regular Prius uses a 1.8. This one uses the 1.5 litre, so it's smaller. This vehicle, when it came out, had the highest fuel economy rating of any vehicles sold, except for a plugin hybrids or electric vehicles at the time.
On this side we have our, this is the inverter, this unit here. And we'll just go into some closer views of each side of the engine compartment.
So this is to me is like the height, kind of the hybrid side of the vehicle. So the orange cables of course, anything with orange cabling is high voltage, this is dangerous. You don't ever want to touch this stuff without high voltage gloves, unless the system, of course, is discharged. You can see the shielding around these wires to, its protection, also protects from electromagnetic fields as well, being dispersed to the vehicle. But there's again, there's the inverter, the high voltage plugs and underneath way below, this is the transmission with the motor generator units that drive the vehicle. So there's a lot of complexity inside here. Almost all electronic until you get down below, and then you get your mechanical devices, your motors, and some gears.
Internal combustion engine, 1.5 litre with no timing belt. So that again, that 96 K interval we talked about, it's not applicable. And of course, most timing belts are usually get almost double at lifespan now. So they improved things. But, there's your, yeah, basically under hood view, cooling system. There's two cooling systems on these hybrid vehicles. One for the, one for the hybrid system and one for the internal combustion engine. And I think that ends our picture show for today.
Mark: Now we don't see that there's actually two motor generators in this vehicle?
Bernie: There is, yeah. And well, I can just get back to the picture again just real quick. We don't have pictures of them in this show and we'll get some in some future slides so you can see the inside of one of these units. But the motor generator units are below this, this thing, it says hybrid synergy drive. This is the inverter. The inverter by the way, converts the DC voltage from the battery to AC for different accessories, as well as for the actual hybrid drive. So there's a lot going on in this thing. It's all electrical and electronic of course. But a lot goes on in this unit converting AC to DC and DC back to AC and for a variety of different items. You know, it powers up the 12 volt. With the DC converter powers up to 12 volt electrical system, which runs all your lights and everything else. Plus the air conditioning is also run on an electric as well. So the hybrid inverter works for that too. Tripping over my tongue here. Anyways. Yes, there are two. So the two motor generator units mounted below this thing and they sit inside the transmission and surprisingly the transmission, I've dismantled a few of these units there. They're not very complicated that you'd think there'd be a lot to them.
There's one planetary gear set in between the two units and the rest of it is basically two large electric motors. So it's actually quite simple. Surprisingly.
Mark: And why do they use two different electric motors?
Bernie: Yeah, so on this particular motor generator two, which is the larger one and sits further outside, like the motor generator two is sort of on this side, motor generator one would be over here next to the engine.
The MG two drive is actually what drives the vehicle and MG one starts and stops the internal combustion, well it starts the internal combustion engine. It's also used for regenerative braking as well. So they kind of share the work. So that's the kind of simplest explanation for it.
Mark: Sure. So the regenerative braking is what, where the brakes are, the car is actually slowed by that MG one, and then that energy that's generated in the generator from the slowing the car down, is actually a recharging the battery, is that right?
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. And that is really, the biggest advantage of a hybrid vehicle, it's not that it's the vehicle's driven on the road by an electric motor, it's the fact is that breaking energy is captured. It's put back into the vehicle and it's not wasted like it is on every other car. So this is why a hybrid, when you look at the fuel mileage specifications, city mileage is higher than highway, whereas on a normal internal combustion engine, it's always the opposite because it's much more efficient on the highway, but a hybrid is much more efficient in the city.
So this is where it's important. Before you buy one to go, where am I driving my vehicle? If all you're doing is highway driving a hybrid is a waste of money. But if you, you know, you're doing city driving like most people do, then there's a definite efficiency improvement. Enormously.
Mark: And that's distinctly different with a pure electric vehicle.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. But you know, the thing about a pure electric vehicle, is you're also recapturing the energy of braking and that's going back into the battery as well. So you know, again, an electric vehicle is more efficient in stop and go traffic.
Mark: Right. So it's just overall more efficient.
Bernie: Yeah. Yeah because you're recapturing that wasted stopping energy, which is something that we've just dispersed out into the atmosphere in terms of heat and dust for, you know, since cars have been invented.
Mark: So did you find any other issues with this car?
Bernie: The only other issue that was going on with the vehicle, the owner had a complaint of a, there was a noise coming underneath the engine or underneath the car. And so we, it was pretty apparent, we figured ah that it sounds like an exhaust rattle because it only happened when the internal combustion engine turned on. It turns out there was a loose heat shield, which we removed and solved the issue. So not bad for, you know, the only problem we found an eight year old vehicle was a, it was a loose exhaust shield.
Mark: So what's different about the Prius C from the other Prius models?
Bernie: Yes, as I'd mentioned it's just a compact version, like a Prius C is like a Yaris. It's a tiny little car, whereas..
Mark: It's even tinier.
Bernie: Even tinier. Yes, exactly. Well, I tend to think of a Prius is kind of like a Corolla sized vehicle and the Prius C is kind of like a Yaris size vehicle. So it's got a smaller engine, a 1.5, the regular Prius, Prius V, the larger ones, they use a 1.8 litre engine.
So, you know, and they have more power, but it's, it's a larger car. So it's compact, you know, and if you want a nice little economical car to bomb around in, this is it. This is the one.
Mark: So three motors, three different, drive trains essentially, or one drive train, but three different, powering mechanisms. rHow are the Prius C for reliability?
Bernie: Super good. You know, Toyota is a, you know, I've said this before, you know, and when hybrids first came out I thought, Oh my God, this is like the worst idea ever because it's so complicated because you basically got two systems. And it's true. There's a lot more to go wrong. But Toyota's proven, you know, that things are really reliable. There are, you know, a few models that have had some issues, but really. It's pretty minimal. Like they're really reliable. I mean, you get taxis that have been running and they run them all the time and run them for a long time, and they're, they're very reliable. So, I mean, that's proof right there.
Mark: Yeah five, 600,000 kilometres is standard.
Bernie: Oh yeah, even a million. No problem. You know, and the thing that taxis like about them is that the brakes don't wear out as fast as they would. I mean, normally like a, I think a lot of taxis, I've heard, we don't service taxis, but you know, a set of brakes on an average taxi cab would have lasted one or two months where they can get a year out of them on a hybrid, which is pretty, that's a pretty substantial amount. Now for an average...
Mark: 12 x difference.
Bernie: Oh yeah, exactly. And for an average person driving, and we have customers with hybrids that are over 10 years old. We've never done anything other than a brake service, which is basically cleaning and lubricating the brakes so they keep lasting. So you know, that's, I mean, that's, again, another advantage less wear out. Overall, you know, they're excellent cars. I don't hesitate to recommend them. They've got a really good track record, so.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Toyota Prius in Vancouver, and you want experts who actually have training and have deep knowledge and experience in fixing these vehicles, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. They're always busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of articles on there. The YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Of course, if you like the podcast, give us some star ratings, some love, check us out on the socials. And thanks so much for watching. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. And thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, and they're 21 time winners. I think they're pretty good. You think if you win 21 times in a row, you're pretty good. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well. I always love that introduction because it does make me feel pretty good.
Mark: 26 and you know, you're welcome. It's earned, you earned it. You guys do a hell of a good job.
Bernie: Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you everyone for voting for us because it really does, it's a real honour.
Mark: So 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid you have, we're doing some service work on this vehicle. What was going on with this Toyota?
Bernie: The vehicle was brought in as a new customer, brought in for a maintenance service and due for a B service, which is, we often say a B services in oil and filter change along with a full vehicle inspection.
Mark: So hybrid vehicle, what's unique about it?
Bernie: Well, of course, the hybrid drivetrain is unique. But there's not really a lot different in the servicing. I mean, it's still, it still has an internal combustion engine that needs an oil and filter change. You know, we do a, we do a thorough vehicle scan of this vehicle with an electronic scan of the vehicle, which is, which we include in a lot of other vehicles, but it's especially important in a hybrid because there are a lot of electronic systems that.
If there's a fault of some sort, it could be picked out. Of course, if it's a major fault, there'll be a warning light on your dash, of some sort. But it's just good to just see if there's anything there that might be any cause of concern for the client, but other than that, you know we inspect the brakes. Wheel off inspection, rotate tires if necessary and needed. I mean, some cars you can't rotate the tires because they're different sizes. A Highlander you can, so we rotate the tires, lube the door locks, hinges and latches. And just to do a general inspection of the brakes, steering, suspension, cooling system, charging system, that type of thing.
Mark: So were there any other additional issues that found with the vehicle?
Bernie: A couple of dirty filters, like the engine air filter and the cabin air filter. But other than that everything else was good at this time. Not due for any other service items at this particular time.
Mark: And what was the kilometerage on this vehicle?
Bernie: Kilometerage! Glad you changed that, because I always write mileage. I go, why do we do that when we use kilometres in Canada, but a 90,000 kilometres, so just under 60,000 miles for those folks across the border or in England who still use miles.
Mark: And what maintenance services were due at the specific amount of usage?
Bernie: Yeah. So for this vehicle, basically the oil change interval is a 16,000 kilometres, 10,000 miles. I personally would do it a little more frequently, like maybe 10 to 12 on the oil service. I think it's important to change the oil just a little more often than manufacturer recommends, but that's nonetheless the manufacturer recommendation.
Spark plugs 192,000 kilometres, I think that's 120,000 miles somewhere in there, transmission fluid and 160,000 kilometres, a hundred thousand miles and engine coolant is 160, transmission actually doesn't have an interval on this vehicle unless you do it using it for heavy duty use.
But I think it's important to do it probably around a hundred thousand kilometres. You know, there's a lot inside the electric, you know, the electric motors are bathed in the fluids, so it's important to change it. So next service we'll recommend to the owner to change the transmission fluid.
And it's not a difficult service on these vehicles. It's not a flush, like a traditional automatic transmission fluid. In this vehicle it's more of a drain and fill like a standard transmission. So simpler, you know not that costly compared to an automatic service.
Mark: So, do you know off the top of your head, is this a nickel metal hydride battery or lithium-ion?
Bernie: I, you know, I don't know. For some reason I'm going to, I'm going to take a guess that it's a lithium. But I could be wrong. I know Toyota, they, they're kind of around the cusp of changing a few things around, so it might still be a nickel metal hydride because it's a straight hybrid and not a plugin, but I'm pretty sure the plugins all have nickel metal, lithium ion, sorry.
Bernie: Let’s get into a couple of pictures here.
So there's our redesign, actually redesign in 2016 a Highlander. Good looking vehicle. What else do we got here? For pictures, there's, there's the outside, of course, several look under the hood. Here's the under hood view. So this is the internal combustion engine located under this hybrid synergy drive plastic cover. Over on this side is where the transmission is located. We actually have the air filter out of this vehicle. So that's why that strange gap is there, which you may or may not notice, but anything marked orange, those are all high voltage cables. So this is where, you know, any servicing has to be done with caution around these high voltage cables. And there's not a whole lot to see on, you know, there's a lot of covers and things that can be removed, but it does have a radiator in the front. Interesting, what I find interesting about this, and actually I'll go into the next picture. So I've kind of split the next pictures to look at two different sides of the compartment.
So let's, this is a sort of internal combustion engine side, but, so on the right hand side, you notice the brake reservoirs over here and the ABS brake and a number of brake components are located over on the side of the vehicle. And yet the brake pedal is actually over on the other side. So this is a fully electronic braking system. it's all drive, I mean, most brake systems on hybrids, they're all essentially brake by wire. But this is interesting because they moved the reservoir and everything over to the passenger side of the vehicle, completely away from the pedal like you would find in a traditional vehicle. And the actual pedal it's interesting. It feels like you're pushing on a brake pedal, but that's all controlled electronically and with dampers and things to give you a feel like you're actually pushing on a brake as you would in a traditional car, but it's actually just, it's completely electrically activated, so when you push the brake, you may actually not even be activating the brakes in the car. It may just be the hybrid drive unit that's slowing the vehicle down in regenerative braking, but of course, when you put a hard activation, then it uses the regular brake system fully. That's a view of that side of the engine compartment.
This is kind of a closer view of the sort of call a transmission side. The hybrid drive unit is actually down here. The transmission, which has a two electric motors and there's, this is the cooling system for the hybrid. There are two separate cooling systems. So one for the hybrid side, one for the internal combustion engine and being an all wheel drive vehicle, the Highlander, along with a Lexis counterpart, has an electric drive motor in the rear. So the all wheel drive is actually accomplished electrically and not with any coupling between the drivetrain. So there's no transmission tunnel and going down the middle with the driveshaft. It's all done, the rear drive is all electric and that's our picture show for the day.
Mark: Is the battery basically underneath the floor pan?
Bernie: I believe so. Older Highlanders it is. And so I would say that this would be in the same spot. I didn't really tear it apart to look in detail. It's funny that there's not a lot of information about these. I mean, I sort of go, you know, just to educate myself for the podcast. I'm okay wonder where, you know, let's have a look at this and how is it different from the previous model years. And there's really nothing, nothing out there, you know, in order to find a lot of these things, you really have to, you know, go rip through repair information or actually start tearing the car apart. But I would say that they wouldn't have redesigned the vehicle much any appreciable way. I mean, that's a good spot to put the battery under the seat.
Mark: And how our high a Highlander hybrids for reliability?
Bernie: Well, they're really good. Now this generation, there's no issues that I could find with it, but you know, I know that on the older generations we're talking like the, I guess would be the second generation Highlander or first, anyways it was a, you know, in the a 2000 model years. First decade of the two thousands a lot of them had inverter problems. Most of those were covered by a recall or factory extended warranty, at least in the US they were. In Canada we weren't so lucky and often owners were had to foot the bill, which is substantial, huge, like, you know, a bit shy of $10,000 parts, labor to do an inverter so they're a very expensive item. And I don't know why they didn't extend that warranty to Canada, but probably not enough people yell and scream up here or something or we don't have enough lawyers to to make that happen. But anyways, inverters have been a problem. Pretty frequent problem. But interestingly enough, I looked at some sites just to get some more information on, it's called carcomplaints.com. It’s pretty good. It's got a lot of good information on issues. In 2009, they just show the Highlander Hybrid is having an enormous spike in problems compared to others. But they all seem to be brake related issues or ABS brake system and nothing with the inverters. It's funny as none of that's mentioned. So my caution is you got to watch websites that have information. Because a lot of times it's just a vent for people to complain about stuff and it doesn't quite paint the full picture of the vehicle. So there's a lot of stuff that happens on these that isn't showing there. And a lot of things I wasn't aware of that people are complaining about. So, but you know, to me it's a good vehicle overall. It's just got to watch the inverter on the older ones, the newer ones I'm sure they've solved that issue.
Mark: And how about, is this a vehicle that you would recommend?
Mark: Depending on year, I guess?
Bernie: Yeah, it depending on year, but you know, I think anything older that you buy, you've just gotta be a bit cautious and just know that, you know, when it's out of warranty, you know, there's the potential for some extremely expensive parts to fail. You know, there's the hybrid battery.
Generally they, you know, these have all lasted a lot longer than people have thought, but, you know, there are potentially more expensive items to fix. But you know, I mean, this vehicle is newer. I mean, I definitely recommend them. I think they're really well built overall. There's very few problems with them. It's a Toyota. They're very good, you know, if you get something with lower mileage, you're probably better off, but you will pay more money of course. And I think with hybrids, it's always a balancing act of, you know, are you actually going to get the value out of the improved fuel mileage if you're, you know, if you're driving strictly highway driving, you're probably not going to see any benefit. If, you know, if your most of your driving is around the city, then you, then you'll get the benefit of the approved mileage and the efficiency that a hybrid offers.
Mark: Versus the extra cost of having a hybrid versus just as plain ice engine model.
Bernie: Yeah. Versus the extra cost. And you know, we see that, I mean, we, we do a lot of diesel repairs. I'm not going to single out any other manufacturer, but you know, we do, we see a lot of diesels and some of them aren't so well-built and all that money you save on diesel fuel is often spent in our shop or other shops fixing mechanical problems. And you go, well, where's, where's the actual savings? You would've been better just to, I don't know if it's better for the environment. I don't want to say that, but you know, you may have been better off to just burn that up and fuel then have them, you know, spend the money. There's no savings there. So it's always a balancing act. You never know. And then of course there's the environmental issues to take into account when you try to formulate it all it gets kind of complicated. But the other thing about a hybrid is there's less CO2 going out into the air from your vehicle. For sure. That's an absolute fact when you're driving it.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your hybrid in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call them, book ahead. They're busy or you can check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds over 600 articles and videos of all makes and types of repairs. For many years now we've been doing this. And of course on YouTube, over 350 videos, do a search for Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Leave us a rating on iTunes or Spotify. We would much appreciate that and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. Please subscribe. We love doing the material.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing today, Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: So today's victim is a 2001 Toyota 4Runner that had a steering problem. What was going on with this SUV?
Bernie: Yeah. So the vehicle came to our shop. The owner did move to Vancouver and needed an out of province inspection on the vehicle. So we proceeded to do that. And one of the items that we found is that the steering rack and pinion, not only had a torn boot but also had a leak as well. So that was a required replacement item to pass the inspection.
Mark: So what does the rack and pinion do?
Bernie: Well, basically, the rack and pinion connects your steering wheel to your wheels. More accurately connects your steering wheel to the steering column, and the rack and pinion connects to the steering column. And from there, it transmits the movement of your steering column and wheel out to the road wheels through a couple of tie rod ends. And so the rack and pinion, this is where the power assist occurs in this vehicle. Some racks are not power assist, of course, most are but that's just where the power assist occurs. And also the movement from creates a movement from side to side.
Mark: And rack and pinion is a replacement for steering box?
Bernie: It is, you know, used to be that you would have a steering box in place where the rack and pinion would be in the rack. And pinion provides a couple of advantages. It's simpler, there's less moving parts, and it's, it's a tighter because there's less moving parts as well. It's also tighter. There's a, it gives a better control over your steering. So it was quickly adopted. It's been around for a long time, but really kind of commonly came into use around the 1980s. And ever since it's been used in most vehicles. I mean, there, there's some that still have steering boxes and you'll find those, you know, like in large trucks, they still use steering boxes cause they do provide it. They're very good and heavy duty applications. But for most vehicles and light trucks, the steering rack does a great job.
Mark: Yeah. So if you've ever driven a vehicle from the sixties or fifties that didn't have power steering, you know that it took, they had big steering wheels and it was a, it was a long ways before you turn the wheel, before the wheels would turn. And that play was basically what made the steering box operate. Rack and pinion took that away.
Bernie: Exactly. Now, in all fairness, you know, some vehicles do have steering boxes that have pretty tight steering, but as things wear, they tend to get a lot more movement and looseness. Why don't we just get into some pictures here?
Mark: How durable are rack and pinions in the 4Runner?
Bernie: Oh, yeah they're really good. You know, they do wear out. I mean, this one I would say is certainly original, and this is a 2001 vehicle, so we've got about 18, 19 years of usage, so that's pretty good. I know on these vehicles, they have and I'm not sure if this model year, whether it's slightly nerve, but there's a bushing that used to wear on the rack and pinion, or would cause the rack to get a little sloppy. So if your steering had a bit, there's a little more movement in your wheels, a little less controlling your steering, sometimes the rubber bushings would wear and you could actually replace them.
Anyways here's a picture of the rack and pinion as removed from this 2001, 4Runner. The arrow here points to the actual ripped boot which and this part can be replaced separately. It doesn't require a whole rack, but in this case, there was fluid leaking out in this area. And you know, that's a sure sign the rack and pinion is worn out. So there's no sense in changing a boot when you, when you have a leaking rack. there is fluid here. This is just because the rack and pinion has been removed from the vehicle and it's leaked fluid out of where the power steering hoses connect. So that's not a problem, so to speak. Getting into some other pictures here.
What have we got here? Here's a close up. This is the, a torn boot. The boot basically keeps water and dirt from getting inside the, you know, you can see, this is a very shiny piece. This is the actual rack. It's a toothed piece. so inside the rack and pinion inside here, there's a very long shaft. You can see a little bit of it here. Big long shaft. And in this section of the shaft from about here to here, there's gears on it. And so, and this part here, which is the pinion has another little tiny gear, and that'll move the rack back and forth as you turn the steering wheel. This part here connects up to your steering column and your steering wheel. And we'll do it a little more close up of that particular piece, which is here. So in here you can see this is where the steering column attaches. There's the power steering pipes that go out to the rack and pinion. And then if this was a non power steering unit, it wouldn't have any of these pipes or hoses. And it's very rare to find a car with non-power rack and pinion steering. But there are some around, and probably just in generally more older models. This here we have ran into one other issue with this vehicle. You know, sort of based on age and maybe climate conditions with the hose required replacement. When we went on and do the fitting, it was basically seized and snapped off. So it's also required a power steering pressure hose. Usually not a very common thing to replace at the same time unless it's leaking. But you know, sometimes we're in the middle of a job and expect to unbolt something that normally unbolts and it doesn't. So that's a, this arrow points to the fitting that was leftover from the power steering pressure hose. And this fitting here is where the return goes. So fluid flows in one direction and returns out the other way. And what else have we got here? Just a quick view of the engine compartment in this 4Runner, a 3.4 litre, V6 engine, very common in these vehicles, used for a long time. Fairly reliable, but there are some issues and we can talk about that in a little bit.
Mark: So any other leaks or issues common to rack and pinions?
Bernie: The only other issue, I mean leaks, 95% of the racks we replace as a matter of fact, almost a hundred, I think 100% of the racks we replace these days are for leaking , you know, which happens on every vehicle sooner or later. But the, the other issue we used to see a lot, and especially in the 1980s, was a, it was something we called morning sickness. And what happened in the, in the 1980s, GM Ford, Chrysler, all the American manufacturers went fully in on rack and pinion steering. Everything had rack and pinion steering. It was like the big new thing. And you know, for good reason. But in their haste to manufacture them or figure things out, the rack and pinion's used a soft aluminum housing with hard metal seals or graphite. They were hard type of seal. And over time, these seals would wear the aluminum housing. So it would create a gap in inside the housing and the allow fluid to flow past. And so when the vehicle was cold, you got to turn the steering wheel and you have no power steering. It was known as morning sickness. Super common problem. We replaced racks on pretty well every GM vehicle back then and many Fords, I can't remember about Chrysler's, but certainly GM and Ford was a big issue. And it just turned out to be again, the solution was just to put some, a hardened metal in where the aluminum housing was and that would prevent the problem from happening. And of course, it got figured out. It never happens anymore. But it was a big issue way back when. So I haven't seen a morning sickness vehicle in a long time.
Mark: So aren't many steering racks these days, electric, how does that work and what issues do you see with them?
Bernie: Yeah, so a lot of steering racks are electric. One of the bigger, couple of reasons, it's more efficient. I mean to have power steering in the traditional sense, you need to run a hydraulic pump and it tends to run all the time. And really you only need it when the engines idling or maybe at very slow speed maneuvers. Other than that. Once you get in the highway, you don't need it. So there's a pump that's being driven. It's a waste of energy. So electric is awesome because it's just completely on demand. They generally use an electric motor in the rack and pinion, but some actually put it on the steering column. But that motor provides the power assist and it'll do so only on demand situation. The other advantages as we've got to into vehicles, not only hybrids and electric cars, but vehicles with start, stop technology. It's essential to have electric rack and pinion because you've got to have power steering even when the engines off. So that's a critical component. But as far as problems, we've never replaced an electric rack and pinion in our shop ever. They are very reliable, not 100%. I know that there are some that do have issues, but I think a lot of them have been covered by manufacturers warranty. The problems had been kind of figured out quite quickly. And besides getting maybe in an accident where you actually bend the rack or create some other problem there, they're usually really reliable. That's good news for vehicle owners. And of course, they are very much more complex and much more expensive. So it's a kind of part you don't really want to be replacing.
Mark: So with the 4Runner, how difficult of a job was this?
Bernie: It's not really too difficult. I mean, it's a few hours work to take the rack and pinion in and out. You do need some special tools and big tools. And doing it on a hoist is critical, but it's not the, racket and pinions vary from being, you know, really simple to remove to some, some are really buried in under the frame of the vehicle and require a lot of finagling to get in and out. This one is pretty straightforward.
Mark: So this 4Runner is 18 years old now. Is it still a worthwhile vehicle to keep?
Bernie: Yeah, it is. I would say, well, you know, it depends on how well it's been maintained, but 4Runners were really well built vehicles and they still retain their value really well. I remember there was a time when, you know, a 4Runner, had the lowest depreciation rate of any vehicle on the road. I might still be the case, I'm not sure. But I mean, they are a really well-built vehicle. I would, I like to say not a lot goes wrong with them. I mean, there were some issues with this. You know, I showed a picture earlier, and maybe I'll just get back into a screen share we'll look at the engine here. So this 3.4 litre, 4 cam, 24 valve engine, they did have a lot of head gasket problems with these particular engines. And a lot of them were covered by warranty, but yeah, head gaskets were definitely a big issue. This is also a timing belt engine, so it does require a timing belt replacement and that's, you know, obviously a critical thing to do. You'd never want your timing belt to break on one of these. But many Toyotas and I'm not saying this as one of them, do not have interference fit engines so that if the timing belt breaks, you're just going to be stranded on the road but not damaging your engine. And I believe this is one of those such engines, but I never liked to think of that. It's never good to take that chance because if you do bend any valves or cause any damage, it costs a lot more money to fix. But a timing belt is a maintenance item on these engines. So that's, you know, something that'll probably cost you in a one to $2,000 range. You know, changing the water pump and all the other tensioners and pulleys and pieces of seals that should be done at the same time. Yeah but other than that it's a generally good solid vehicle. You know, 18 years old. Of course, things will go wrong, but it's a well-built truck. And you know, if you can get a good used one for a good price, you can afford to spend a bit of money on maintenance because it's a good vehicle.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Toyota 4Runner, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 600 articles on there, videos all makes and models of vehicles, repairs, maintenance items. Of course, the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, over 350 videos there now and growing every week. And of course, thanks so much for watching listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching listening.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver and Vancouver's best auto service experience. 21 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 we're going to talk about Toyota Prius. What kind of services do Toyota Prius need?
Bernie: Yeah, well, there's a variety of services they do need. I mean, let's talk just generally about the reliability of the vehicle overall first. My first. thought when the Prius came out, a couple of decades ago now is, "Oh my God, this is way too complicated".
You know, you're not only have an internal combustion engine to deal with, but all the electric drive, train batteries, inverters, all the bits and pieces that make it work but, you know, two decades later, it's turned out to be one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.
You look at taxi cab fleets, 20 years ago, they were all largely American cars and now they're all mostly Toyota Prius's or you know, Camrys, that kind of thing. So they're, it's proven to be very reliable and a huge cost reduction vehicle you know, when operated, especially for a long range type of heavy use vehicle.
Mark: So no car is perfect. What goes wrong with them?
Bernie: So, yeah. So, I mean, Toyota's are legendary for reliability, but there are things that do go wrong with these vehicles. I mean, overall, you know, the internal combustion engines are pretty reliable. I mean, some of them do develop some oil consumption issues over time.
And I'm, I'm just kind of painting the Prius with a broad brush, because there's four generations of Prius. So there's a, you know, we go back the first generation goes up to about 03 and from 03 to 09 there's a second generation, which is where the Prius really sold a lot of cars. Generation three, 09 up to about 2015 and then 2015 and newer is the latest generation. Most of the vehicles we see are in generation two and three. So that's where we have most of our experience with these cars. Anyways yeah, so what goes wrong? I mean, the you know, water pumps fail, that seems to be a pretty common issue in a lot of Toyota engines and there are electric water pumps on certain models, different generations, there's failures with those, the water control valves. I mean, there are a few failures with the drive motors, the electric drive, motors, inverters, batteries do eventually wear out, but they've all proven to be pretty reliable. And then we don't repair a lot of those more major components, which is a good thing because they are very expensive to repair and do after time sort of require a, you know, some thinking to whether it's worth the cost, but for the most part they are. I mean, if you've taken good care of it, it's a good reliable car.
Mark: So what about routine maintenance items?
Bernie: So, yeah, so of course, it's an internal combustion engine vehicle and it needs oil changes on a routine basis. Again, don't stretch your oil change intervals out, because these are very high tech engines. They need their oil changed. They need clean oil in there. There's a transmission, the transmission does need a fluid change every once in a while, there's coolant, of course, brake fluid. Things like power steering fluid are eliminated because it's an electric power steering system. So there's one less fluid, but routine inspections are important on any vehicle. As time goes by, of course, suspension components wear, the brakes need to be looked at again, they do last a long time, but things do need to be looked at just to be inspected. Actually one repair item that I will mention that is frequent is the 12 volt batteries do go bad quite a lot and they cause all sorts of interesting issues in terms of starting the vehicle. So that's, that's another area that again, testing that battery on a routine basis is an important thing to keep your car reliable.
Mark: So, a Prius has two different battery systems.
Bernie: It does, it has a high voltage battery system, and then it has the traditional 12 volt, battery system. And that 12 volt battery system keeps all the lights, the radio, and it actually allows the vehicle to start as well. So, you know, the starting functions can't happen without a proper 12 volt, 12 volt battery. That allows the contactors to close and allows the battery and energy to flow into the motor. So, so it's a very critical part of the vehicle. And you know, you may not notice it's bad like you would in a traditional car, because on a traditional vehicle when your battery is bad, the starter might be, it won't start, but on a Prius, if the battery is weak, it'll still keep starting. But then on a number of quirky issues may show up. So testing it is a good thing to do on a routine basis.
Mark: We also mentioned brakes there, hybrids use or some of them definitely use regenerative braking, so that recharges the battery. How does, how do the brakes last on a Prius?
Bernie: Well, for the brake, as you mentioned, it has regenerative braking. That's one of the best things about a hybrid is the energy of braking, which is wasted on every vehicle other than a hybrid or an electric car, is the energy is recaptured. The drive motors turn into generators and they send the energy back into the battery, which is why a hybrid really gets way better mileage than a conventional, non hybrid type of vehicle. Interestingly enough, if you're just driving straight down the highway and you don't use the brakes at all, the hybrid really doesn't have a lot of advantage. But you know, when you're going down a hill or normal sort of city type of driving, which is what most people do there, that's where the advantage comes in. Anyways the regenerative braking system is really very reliable because it uses the drive motors and the batteries. One of the advantages of a hybrid is the normal service brakes, the brakes at the wheel are used very little. In a panic stop, of course, they're, they're used primarily, but in any other sort of regular breaking stop, they barely get used. So they can last a long time.
Taxis, you know, the traditional taxi cab, non hybrid, they may have changed their brake pads every month or two, whereas on a hybrid, a lot of times they'll last a year. So that's a huge savings for a taxi, not only in dollars, but in terms of downtime and, you know, because the car can keep going. It doesn't need the service. But anyway, for your average driver, the brakes should be serviced every once in a while. Probably around our climate in Vancouver, every couple of years. A good idea to do a break service, take the breaks apart, clean, lubricate everything, remove corrosion from the brake pad, sliders. In more hostile climates, like you know, Eastern Canada and the US where road salt is poured on the road six months of the year. You know, things like brake rotors will probably wear out, just from rusting out, cause it's a solid, it's a bare metal surface. But also the, you know, again, the pad sliders are subject to more corrosion. So an annual break service and that kind of climate is probably more valuable.
Also, of course, brake fluid, needs to be flushed. Brake systems in these are actually very, like, the hydraulic system is very complicated compared to a regular car because as you push the brake pedal, you're actually actuating, it's not just, pushing on the brakes as it would normally do in most vehicles you know, pushing fluid out to the wheels. It's actually actuating electronic valves to first of all, do the regenerative braking. Then if it needs fluid sent to the wheels, then it'll, it'll actuate it, you know, basically the ABS unit. So there's a lot more complexity. So flushing the brake fluid, you know, again, like in most climates, every two years is really critical to keep things functioning and flowing and keep your repair costs down.
Mark: So pretty much a basic set of a normal internal combustion engine car maintenance items.
Bernie: Exactly. I mean, things are a little different. I mean, transmission fluid, you know, the automatic, it has a transmission, but it's much, it's different than a traditional automatic transmission. It has some gears, but very little, mostly motors. So it doesn't, and it's cooled it sort of internally with a, with a cooling, you know, with its own separate liquid cooling system. So you know, fluid does need to be changed, but, you know, for maybe different reasons than you would in an automatic, traditional automatic transmission. But nonetheless, you know, it's got most of the things that need to be done on a routine basis, but overall, less, less expensive maintenance than you need to do on a, on a traditional internal combustion car.
Mark: Any further thoughts on the Toyota Prius?
Bernie:You know, overall it's a great car. I mean, my impression just driving in them is that they are kind of a cheap feeling car and they're kind of noisy inside. And I think, you know, where the Prius is, kind of Toyota's entry level model, and they do a fantastic job. I think they, you know, they've poured all their money into the drive train and made it reliable. And that's really the most important part of any vehicle is to keep that reliable. You know, if you're looking for a little more upscale drive, you know, there's a Camry, a Lexus has hybrids. They'll use the basic same, that same type of system and same level of reliability. So if you're looking for something a little more upscale, and you can always go with those and you'll, you'll have the same level of reliability and they need the same kind of services.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Prius in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, got a call and book ahead because they're busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 600 articles on there on all makes and models and types of repairs. Over 350 videos on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.
Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive video and podcast series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Auto Repair in Vancouver, BC. 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers, and of course, we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So 2004 Toyota Sienna is today's victim. What was going on with this? Wiper motor problem? What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, the rear wiper on this vehicle had quit working. We'd done some diagnosis and found the motor was dead. Actually, this client brought this vehicle to us quite a while ago and so he'd been living with a dead motor for a while. This was the day to repair it.
Mark: So what might have caused the motor to die like this?
Bernie: Well, if you looked at our podcast we produced last week about some tips on preserving your windshield wiper and motors, which I mean a possible cause of this could have been that there was a lot of snow on the back window when he went to use it, burned the motor out. Could also be that he left the motor on the windshield wiper was iced and frozen onto the back window at some point in the past and caused the motor to burn out. That's a common cause of these kind of issues.
Mark: Any other causes?
Bernie: Other items that happen is of course, it's just things just get old and wear out, and that does happen. The other thing, too, is rear wipers are one of those things where sometimes people will very rarely ever use them and it's kind of like a parking brake, where if you don't use something for a long time it may actually just stick and gum up and not work. We see that with parking brakes, for example. People with automatics, they never use the parking brake and all of a sudden one day, they're on a steep hill and they say, "Hey, I better use the parking brake." It hasn't been used in five years, they put it on and the cable sticks. I mean, the wiper motor's a little different, but it can have the same kind of issue if you don't use it for a long time.
One other item we do find with wiper motors, too, is moisture intrusion. A seal can get weak and then water can seep down the shaft and into the motor and jam it up. In the case of this one, and I'll show pictures in a few minutes, it didn't look like there was any evidence of that. Hard to know, but those are some of the causes.
Mark: Is this a complicated replacement?
Bernie: Not particularly on this vehicle. There's a panel that needs to be removed on the back and then the motor sits right there. Wiper linkage and the wiper arm has to come off, but that's pretty much it. We can actually get into some pictures right now.
There's an 04 Sienna. This is not the vehicle we worked on, but I like this picture because it actually shows the back of the vehicle and there's your rear wiper with the motor. The motor will be located right back in here. When you pop the tailgate open, there's a panel and that can be removed and that's where the motor's located.
There is the motor. This is the old one, out of the vehicle. I mean, it really doesn't look ... it looks to be in really good shape, but somewhere inside the motor's burned out or something's happened that's causing it not to work. You know, sometimes if it'd been rust and moisture damage, you'll often see some rusty, sort of evidence of rust around the shafts or seeping out of the motor. This is just one side of the motor, but the other side looked fine, too. That's basically it. Pretty simple device.
This is a motor. It's got the linkage, well it doesn't really have linkage because it's one piece, but it has all the gear mechanisms and whatever causes it to move back and forth, the gears, they're all in one assembly so pretty straightforward.
Mark: And how did you replace it?
Bernie: So we used a used part in this case. You know, it's an older vehicle. A new motor was really only available from Toyota and really quite expensive. We were able to obtain a used motor for about half the price of a new one and the owner was good with that. That's what we did and it worked great.
Mark: Are used parts always a good option?
Bernie: No, they're not. You know, we do it on a case by case basis. Based on experience, certain items ... say a wiper motor like this. We can test it, we can listen to it, make sure it's not growling and making weird noises before we install it. Then it's a pretty good guarantee at least that the motor itself is in good shape when we install it. There are certain items that are not worth risking used. Over the years, I've seen cars where they have, certain engines will have very common failures and it doesn't make sense to spend the money and the amount of work involved putting a used engine in whereas a remanufacture engine would just make so much more sense, although a lot more money. The possibility of failure is quite high.
So that's kind of what we look at. There are other used parts where, I mean, it's just basically a solid piece of metal and you can be pretty assured it's going to work. Used parts, again, it's on a sort of as ... you got to kind of do a cost benefit analysis of doing a used part.
Mark: And of course, after replacement, works everything works fine and this fifteen year old Toyota Sienna has a lot of life left in it, is that right?
Bernie: Oh yeah. Yeah. It's a good vehicle. Definitely very reliable vehicle. I will say, in terms of cost for repairs, a lot of these vehicles, they can be a little costly. As I was saying, the new wiper motor was a pretty expensive piece. We'd done some repairs on one of the sliding doors in the vehicle, this has power sliding doors, and there was some pretty expensive latch ... I can't remember exactly what we did on it it, but the final bill was quite expensive and so I'm going okay, it's ... sometimes we think Japanese vehicles are so much cheaper than a German vehicle, but often they're not. They just tend to last longer before things tend to go wrong. You can be faced with some expensive repairs on Japanese vehicles. Just often, things are built as assemblies and you can't buy just a little piece for it.
Mark: And wiper motors can be pretty expensive as well. I think we mentioned that last week.
Bernie: They can, absolutely. And it really depends from car to car. In some more common cars, I think of American cars as being more common, which is not necessarily true, but in more common, there's a lot remanufacture options available. Things like rear wipers, for instance, they're not a very common replacement item, so they, a lot of times there's not a lot of aftermarket replacement pieces for them. Front ones, there's a lot more options.
Mark: So there you go. If you're needing some service on your Toyota Sienna, or any Toyota product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They are busy always. Or you can check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Literally almost a thousand videos on there now of different makes and models of cars from the last 8 years of our doing these kind of broadcasts, as well we don't give over the phone estimates and we don't really like giving advice because we don't know your particular situation. So please enjoy our podcast and videos. Thank you for watching, and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching. We totally appreciate it.
Mark: Good morning! It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers, and we're talking cars.
Mark: How are you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Today's victim is a 2009 Toyota Highlander with a brake backing plate issue. What was happening with this Toyota?
Bernie: This vehicle, our clients were concerned. There was a squeaking noise, kind of intermittent but coming from the rear of the vehicle somewhere. That was their primary concern. It's kind of a rotational squeaking noise. When we looked at it, we found it looked like the noise was coming from the back brake area.
Mark: And what else did you find?
Bernie: Well, we did a brake inspection. What we found when we took everything apart, was a lot of rust on the brake backing plate, in fact, the right rear backing plate was so badly rusted, it was starting to disintegrate. And when that happens, the rotors, parking brake shoes, things start to rub in ways that they're not meant to rub, so that was causing the squeaking sounds.
Mark: Okay. Why would that happen?
Bernie: Basically, the backing plates, it's rust. There's vehicles from back East, eastern US, where they use a lot of road salt. I'll just get in some pictures right here, so we can have a better idea of what's going on, but it's road salt.
Here's our Highlander. I mean, as far as road salt, you'd never guess, the outside of the vehicle looks in good shape, and I have to say, auto manufacturers have really done a great job over the last couple of decades making their cars out of good quality metal, because back in the ... especially the seventies, and eighties, a lot of cars, especially some Japanese cars, were really bad. They just rust out, and cheaper quality cars, rust was a big problem.
But nowadays, we do find problems underneath the vehicle, where vehicles have been driven in those kind of corroded conditions. Here's the left rear back plate. This is actually the one that was in better shape, a little more solid than the one on the right, but you can see, a lot of rust here, a lot of rust; the paint's basically gone. And down here is sort of the worst area on this side, but on the other side, it was literally ... It rusted so bad, it was breaking apart.
You can see here, the parking brake shoes have never been changed. There's still some material on this shoe, but the angle I took the photograph on, the rear shoe had very little friction material left. This is kind of the ugly part of it, and getting back to ... That's a replacement. This is on the right-hand side, the side that was worse worn. You can see the plate is solid, the shoes are thick, and there's a final picture. That's the brakes back together, new rotor, new ... Sorry, not new ... New pads, new rotor. The calipers were actually still in good shape, so we're able to clean and lubricate them, and make all that work.
Mark: Were there other brake components that were worn out as a result of the rust?
Bernie: Well, not necessarily as a result of the rust, but at this point, other things needed to be replaced. The pads and rotors were worn. You know, rotors tend to take the brunt, especially in salty climates, rotors tend to get damaged really quickly. The surfaces rust, because it's bare metal, and they heat and cool, heat and cool, and with salt, they just start to rust pretty badly. Driving around this kind of climate where we use very little road salt, they can tend to last a long time. But in saltier climates, they go pretty fast.
Mark: Well, let's be specific. In snow, in climates where they get a lot more snow, where they use more road salt.
Bernie: Exactly, yeah, that's a good distinction. Yeah. No, I'd say road salt climates are the worst. But actually, interestingly enough, if you live near a coast, where there's a lot of wind and sea spray, that can actually have a pretty bad effect on your vehicle, too. We do see some vehicles that have damage from that. You have to be a little cautious if you live somewhere by a windy coastline. Almost have to treat your vehicle almost like you would driving it in road salt kind of conditions.
Mark: What can you do to alleviate or kind of take some preventative actions in an area where there's a lot of road salt or it's just basically a salty climate?
Bernie: Well, best thing to do is flush the undercarriage of your vehicle as frequently as possible, and that's always easier said than done, especially if you live somewhere where the temperatures remain sub-zero for maybe a month or two on end, and you're basically just left with having the salty grime under the vehicle. It may not be possible, but where it is possible, flush underneath the vehicle as much as you can, because that will prevent this kind of thing happening.
And that's really getting a hose into a back brakes, it's getting it underneath the vehicle, spraying all over the place, because this is where the salt sits and starts corroding things like brake lines and fuel lines and brake backing plates, thin sheet metal kind of pieces.
That's the best preventative thing you can do, if possible. I also had a client once from Montreal, where they use a lot of road salt, and she told me ... had an older Volvo. I said, "It's surprising how little rust there was in this car." It was a 10-year old Volvo. And she said, "The secret, what I've done is, I never let ... when it's road salt season and cold out, I never put the vehicle in a heated garage. It always stays outside so it stays cold all the time." I thought, that's a pretty smart idea. Something you might wanna take on if you live in such a climate. You don't get the privilege of getting into a warm car in the morning, but at least your car will last longer, which is probably a good thing.
Mark: And the joys of scraping your windshields.
Bernie: Yes, yeah. There's all sorts of other things there, but preventing ... Once you bring a car, it's got salt on it and moisture in a nice, warm climate, the salt just starts eating at the metal and ...
Mark: The chemical reaction takes place.
Bernie: Chemical reaction's having a good time.
Mark: How are Toyota Highlanders for reliability?
Bernie: Well, they're awesome. Yeah. Really good, nice little SUV. Smaller size. You know, very reliable. Not much bad I can say about them. They really ... Do the maintenance, they'll last a long, long time.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for any kind of brake backing plate issues or squeaking or service on your Toyota Highlander in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. We've got hundreds of articles and videos on there over the last eight years, as well. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds, literally. Getting close to a thousand, actually, on there, and all makes and models and types of problems and repairs, and of course, thank you for watching the podcast. And thank you, Bernie!
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thank you for watching!
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking about cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we have a 2009 Toyota Venza that has interior mold. This is pretty unknown territory for us to cover. What was going on with this Toyota Venza?
Bernie: Well, yeah, this vehicle was brought to us by a client who, they'd moved from Alberta, they'd left the vehicle sitting for a few months, and wanted to now insure it in British Columbia, so if you're unfamiliar with the laws around these parts, when you bring a vehicle into British Columbia, it has to have a provincial safety inspection on the vehicle. So we got into the vehicle, or opened the door, and found this severe mold, like really dangerous level of mold inside the vehicle. And so what prompted me to want to do this podcast is, I want to educate folks who are moving, perhaps from other places, of the dangers of mold and how it can happen in vehicles. Or if you're planning on storing your car, that this is a real issue that can happen.
So we'll get right into pictures, because that really shows the best ... So there's our Toyota Venza on the outside. It's a little dirty. Again, it had been sitting for a while. But nice, clean, straight body on this vehicle. But getting into pictures that sort of ... we say a picture is worth 1,000 words, that's the picture. This is the passenger seat. I'm not an expert on mold, but there's definitely a few different strains and types of mold. And really not removable by shampooing, especially this black mold. Once it gets in, it's in there and stained, and it'll never come out of the interior.
Another view, this is the back seat of the vehicle. As you can see, it's covered as well. The driver's, we'd been sitting in it with blankets on top to protect ourselves. But other areas, too. This is just, when you open the driver's door, you've got mold and dirt here, there's mold growing down in these areas, and just all over the vehicle, and in any sort of space where there's some organic material, basically mold growing.
Mark: So is there anything that can be done about mold when it's this severe?
Bernie: You know, what the owner of this vehicle's faced with doing, because ... well, first thing we thought is, okay, we don't even want to get in this vehicle and drive it. Let's get it to a detailer to have it cleaned out and taken care of. So we took it to a nearby detailer, very reputable, they do a good job, and their first look was "Oh, you know, we can't clean this out. That'll never come out of the vehicle." If it was light mold, maybe a lighter colour, they might have been able to shampoo it off. But they kindly treated it with an ozone machine, which kills a lot of mold spores, and certainly reduces the odour greatly, to the point where we could actually at least get in the vehicle and use it. But we always had a mask on.
But the long and short of it is what the owner of the vehicle's now gonna be doing, is actually having the interior ripped out of the vehicle. Some things can be shampooed and cleaned, but the seats will more than likely need to be replaced, the upholstery and the seats.
Mark: So as you alluded to, it's not really even safe, when the mold is this bad, it's not really even safe to be in the vehicle, is that right?
Bernie: No, definitely not. You could get very sick from mold. I mean, I've been in a lot of cars that are moldy. We've probably all been in, walked through a house that's got a little bit of mold in it. But long-term exposure to these kind of things could cause some pretty severe sicknesses. So it's definitely not the kind of thing you want to be in.
Mark: And so how did mold this severe form in the vehicle? What's sort of the history behind it?
Bernie: So this vehicle was brought from Alberta, which is a much drier climate. The owners had left it sitting for a little while, a few months, she told me. And when they got back in the vehicle, it was full of mold. And she said "I was really surprised, because in Alberta you can leave things indefinitely, and you never get mold. It's a much drier climate." But here on the coast, it's wet, and mold is just the kind of thing that happens. I've been in people's cabins that have been left to get too cool and moldy. But a lot of things that cause mold, of course, are moisture and organic material. So you spill some coffee on the carpet of your car. There's something for mold to ... I'm not a scientist on this stuff, but mold will form around these kind of things. And you know, it's really where there's moisture, there's maybe a little bit of warmth, but not a lot of air circulation and usage, the mold will develop.
Mark: Yeah, this almost looks like the kind of level of mold that you would see from a car that had been in a flood or in a hurricane or something like that.
Bernie: Well, exactly. Now, yeah, and of course the key with that is there's too much water content in the vehicle. So for whatever reason, you know, there's a lot of moisture in this vehicle, and that's where it came from. This certainly wasn't a flood vehicle, but that's the kind of thing you can expect from a flood-damaged vehicle also.
Mark: So how can you prevent this from happening to your vehicle?
Bernie: Well, that's an excellent question. And of course, as I said, the reason I wanted to do this podcast is for someone who's moving from a drier climate to a moist climate, just be aware that mold is a big issue if you leave a vehicle sitting. Where you store the vehicle is, of course, important if we're talking about cars. If you have a heated garage or maybe an underground, in an apartment complex storage where it's very dry, that's a good place to store it, because mold isn't gonna likely form. But for other areas, I mean, I have an RV trailer. I always put these, they're called Dri-Z crystals, I'll show you a picture in a minute, in the trailer. And this prevents mold from forming, because I can guarantee you it's in the first year of owning a trailer, it would have been full of mold. It's just the way we use these things, there's moisture, mold forms really quickly.
So we'll get back, do another quick screen share here. Yeah, so this is a really good mold preventative technique. So if you have a vehicle, say you're not gonna drive it for a month or two and it's gonna be stored outside or wherever, there's moisture, you can get one of these, it's like a special basket, and it holds these crystals. And underneath it traps water. So putting one or two of these inside a vehicle would be a fantastic thing. Even one is probably enough. And that basically just takes all the moisture out of the air. Somehow they bond with these crystals and it drops in this bucket here. So that's a really good way to prevent mold. There are probably some other chemical methods that I'm not aware of. I've used this in my RV trailer and it works fantastic. And I'll just show another shot, you can see more detail. This is with the top of the basket, these are these crystals. And I don't know how they do it, but it just absorbs moisture right out of the air.
One caution, though. If you do do this, be very careful with this water. If you spill it on anything, it's highly toxic. And it'll stain fabric, so just be careful with it.
Mark: So the interior obviously needs a lot of repair on this, and expensive repairs, I would assume, on this Venza. But how was the rest of the car?
Bernie: Oh, it was good. It needed a couple items, had a cracked windshield, typical for Alberta. Every car comes from Alberta with a cracked windshield. That, and a tail light, and a check engine light. You know, a few minor repairs. Other than that, the vehicle's in really good shape. Only 110,000 kilometres. So it's a Toyota, lots of good life left in it.
Mark: And a Venza.
Bernie: And a Venza.
Mark: I'm a fan. So ...
Bernie: Yeah, you're a fan of Venzas, I know.
Mark: And of course, we don't have rocks in British Columbia, just wet.
Bernie: You say rocks?
Bernie: Oh, yeah, we do. It's kind of a joke, but it's like some places the roads are a little more gravelly, cracked windshields are just the norm.
Mark: So there you go. If you have run into mold in your vehicle, take precautions, don't leave them out for very long, or come and see us at Pawlik Automotive. You can reach us at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead, we're busy. Or check out the website, PawlikAutomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. There's hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and different issues with vehicles, and years of vehicles. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of Pawlik Automotive Podcast here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So this week's victim is a 2003 Toyota Matrix that had an EVAP system problem. What's an EVAP system and what was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Alright, well first of all the vehicle came in with a check engine light and it had been at our shop previously several months ago with the same check engine light and the same trouble code. I'll talk about that in a minute but the EVAP system basically is a, it stands for evaporative fuel system and what it does is it prevents gasoline vapours from escaping to the atmosphere. Gasoline, if you've ever filled your gas tank up on a hot day you'll see all that vapour kind of floating away, unless you're in the US with one of those gas pumps that keeps the vapour contained. Basically what happens is that gasoline is very volatile and it evaporates very easily and that evaporated fuel is all hydrocarbons that creates smog and a lot of pollution. It's a huge issue, you think oh it's just drifting away but it actually creates a lot of issues so, not to mention it's actually your money that's actually floating away in to the atmosphere so it's a good idea to keep the gas contained and that's what the EVAP system does. It's rather complicated, I mean it involves a gas tank, a sealed fuel filler, and a number of pipes and valves and sometimes motors to keep the system contained but it allows the air to be, as the gas is being sucked out of the tank of course it allows air to be displaced but it doesn't allow air to go back, it doesn't allow the fumes to escape back to the environment. So that's basically what the EVAP system does. It's pretty complex but you know it does its job.
Mark: So again what was going on with this Toyota Matrix?
Bernie: So no performance issue and that's pretty common with EVAP system codes. The performance of the vehicle is often not affected, under certain circumstances it will be but most of the time it doesn't really affect the performance it's just that the system has picked up a fault that could cause gases to evaporate out into the air. So I'll just get into some pictures right away here.
Here we've got...what do we have here? Start, there's our 2003 Toyota Matrix, a little old but it's still in really good shape. Look at the trouble codes. So here's a scan on one of our scan tools that show the trouble codes. P0440, there's a malfunction in the system and then a P0446. The evaporative emission control system vent control malfunction. So this is a little more specific of a code and you can see there's a current and history. This is a way trouble codes are often stored. They'll, depending on the scan tool, show what's actually there at the moment and what's history so sometimes you'll only have a history code and not a current code. Anyway that's a question for another time. But what we found with this vehicle, because we'd actually done a previous diagnosis, and actually I guess, I know we had another question of how difficult are EVAP systems to diagnosis and I'll just jump right into that.
These can be really complicated and fiddly to diagnosis and what some of the reasons why is that there are certain valves, there's a purge valve and a vent valve, and they'll often malfunction intermittently so we can run through all the tests and we can test it all and it all works fine, clear the codes send it away and then a week later the check engine light is back on because the system malfunctioned. So sometimes, you know we often rely on our data bases of what are common faults in these vehicles. One of the common issues that we ran, so last time we did the diagnosis we did the full system test. We tested for leaks, we found none. We tested all the valves and controls. Everything was working fine. The gas cap was very old and a bad gas cap will cause some of these codes. We replaced the gas cap and released the vehicle with the codes cleared and a few months later the light comes back on again.
So without spending a lot of extra money of the clients to test everything that we have already tested, we figured the best thing to do is to just go to the next most common fault and that's the vacuum, the VSV valve on the canister purge tank. That's an extremely common fault on this vehicle and it had never been changed, it was original to the vehicle. It's 180 thousand kilometres, 15 years old, so it made sense to change it at this point in time.
Mark: So you have a picture of that?
Bernie: Yeah I do. Yeah so that is the VSV, you can see it's a- that's the mounting bracket, extremely rusty. And where this unit mounts, right up here, this is the charcoal canister so this is a big component of the EVAP system. They've used charcoal canisters actually for a long time before they went to all this electronic, sort of monitoring of the EVAP system. This has been around since the late 60s, just to trap gasoline vapours but it wasn't quite as sophisticated as is now. But there's the location, that's the new valve installed. There are various, as you can see the number of hoses that run to a number of different locations and different parts of the vehicle. Hoses that run to engine, hoses that run from the gas tank, hoses that go to the fuel filler neck, they're all over the place. Anyone of these hoses can leak so when we do testing on the system we all test, you know to find out whether there's leaks anywhere in any of these components. And that ends our picture show.
Mark: So what happened next?
Bernie: What happened next? We replaced the valve, cleared the codes, and so far it's working fine. Now again as mention, this was one of these repairs where we'd already done all our testing and we couldn't find a problem, so we've replaced a couple components, so we'll see how things go. It's not the way we normally like to do things in our shop. We really like to test and find things that are wrong but often, as I said with these valves like that VSV valve, they can malfunction intermittently. They'll be, you know you test it and you power it up manually and it works fine, works fine, works fine and then, you know, a hour later something will happen and it won't work. So a lot of times if it's a known common fault on a vehicle it's a good idea to replace that just to put it aside. Leaks are a good thing, you know leaks are a pretty solid thing to test. We can see them, we can verify that pressure's dropping and in this case it wasn't so, an electronic valve like that is a good call.
Mark: So for troubleshooting it's really important that you gather as much information as possible before you jump to what might seem like the obvious conclusion but often isn't. Is that fair?
Bernie: Exactly. Yeah exactly.
Mark: And how are these Toyota Matrix for reliability?
Bernie: They're good. Yeah I mean they're awesome car. Very little goes wrong, even these EVAP systems are very reliable. You know if you're living, by the way EVAP system faults happen a lot more if you live in a climate with a lot of salty road because it tends to corrode things and wear things our a lot faster. But yeah really reliable vehicle.
Mark: So there you go, if you want experts in diagnosis and troubleshooting to look after your vehicle the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 if you're in the Vancouver area. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy. Check our their website, pawlikautomotive.com; YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Thank you very much for listening on iTunes, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Yeah thanks for watching and thank you Mark.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here this morning with Mr Bernard Auto Pawlik, the big bopper himself, here in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a Toyota Solara. It's a kind of a unique vehicle, a 2006 that had a timing belt problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So yeah, so this vehicle came in for a B maintenance service, which is for us it's an oil, basically an oil change service with a full vehicle inspection. Out of doing the maintenance inspection we determined the timing belt needed to be replaced.
Mark: So if we're talking about timing belt replacement I assume you got a lot of other stuff that you have to change?
Bernie: There are other items to replace at the same time as the timing belt. Generally when we do a timing belt, we'll do the water pump, the front engine oil seals, the timing belt tensioner. Any pulleys that are ... Anything really affected by the timing belt, or anything that can directly affect the timing belts life span, we do all at the same time.
Mark: Did you find that it was worn out, or was it just a scheduled change?
Bernie: Well we basically replaced it on the mileage of the vehicle and the fact that we couldn't see any evidence that the belt had been replaced. Now you might want to ask can you not look at the belt? The answer is not without a lot of difficulty. I learned a long time ago when I had a customer with a Subaru many, many years ago. Where it was getting near the mileage of the timing belt, I looked at the timing belt, popped the cover open, it wasn't hard too hard on that car. Looked at it, go yeah it looks fine. Month later the car got towed in with a broken timing belt. So I've kind of learned, now you just never judge them. Now that being an older Subaru those belts are, they break a lot easier, these ones are a lot more robust. But you really can't tell the condition of the timing belt unless you actually take it off. There are a few tell tale signs, we'll look at some pictures in a few minutes of the age of a belt once you take it apart. Things have changed a lot with timing belts, they used to be if you got 100,000 kilometres on a timing belt you're really lucky. That Subaru I was mentioning, those things would often break at 50,000 kilometres, they were kind of a bit of a some bad engineering there. But 50 to 100,000 kilometres was kind of a normal interval for timing belt, now they're up in the 150 to 200 range, and often will go a lot longer than that. Just due to redesign of the belt and how they're built.
So we can get into some pictures here.
So there's our Solara, these come in convertible and none convertible but this is the convertible model. Real nice vehicle, very similar to a Camry in design and operation, same engine and same drive train. Here's the timing belt and a couple of the components we replaced. So there's the water pump, there's the timing belt tensioner pulley, and of course the belt itself, which is rather fairly long belt, a V6 engine. For our final photo this is a close up of the belt, so I mean the actual teeth on the belt are on the backside, but you can see on this side there's all the lettering. When these belts are new they all have like writing on them, either from Toyota or whatever, after market manufacturers, the brand name, the belt number, some other information. The fact that there was actually none visible on this just tells us the belt’s old. I mean the rubber was fairly old, but was it about to break? Not really, but you just don't want to take a chance with that kind of thing. So that's our picture show.
Mark: Okay. I've lost my screen here. So what's our next question?
Bernie: Our next question, excellent. So we talked about visual inspections, what do we have? Well timing belt interval, generally in the 150 to 200,000 kilometre range. Closer to 150 is really where you want to do them. Depending on the age of the vehicle as well, that has a bit of a factor in it. This vehicle is 06, that makes it about a 12 year old vehicle, seeing no evidence that the belt had been replaced it's a good time to do it. A 12 year belt is getting pretty old. Also, I guess the question too of all the other items we do, with the water pump, the tensioner, the seals, I mean is that necessary to do it? People are often conscious of the cost, to do everything complete is a fair amount of money. You can just change the belt, however if the water pump fails and it very well likely will pretty soon, or any of the tensioner pulleys, or the tensioner itself, which is a hydraulic unit gives way. The whole job is basically a waste, you have to take it all apart again and do it. So what we do is do the whole job complete, get it all done and then you don't have to worry about it for another 10 years, which I think is the best way to do it. Better to spend the money now and do it fully than ... I've seen so many times when people have taken it somewhere else, and gone I had the belt replaced but I didn't want to do the water pump. A year later they're in for the water pump, and hey I should have done it right the first time. So that's the best thing to do.
Mark: Yeah, so is that a case of everything in that kind of, if we're talking about the front end of the engine, or whatever, and all those pieces that are run off of or have something to do with the timing belt, they all wear at the same place, at the same rate in effect. So the belt is worn a little bit and stretched out tight a little bit, puts maybe a little varying amount of pressure on the water pump, or whatever the reality is of it. That they all, they've gotten used to the state of wear that they're all in. When you put the new piece in it actually puts more pressure and wears out the water pump, or the tensioner faster?
Bernie: Well it does probably put a little more pressure but like modern, all modern timing belts are all self tensioned so they theoretically have the same tension all the way through. But it's more of an age issue, I mean a bearing will only turn for so many times before it eventually fails. Now some might go for a 100,000 kilometres, some might go for 500 but you don't really know when that's going to happen. What we do know is when it does fail you're going to have take everything apart and do the timing belt again. Most of the time when we do the timing belt, you spin the bearing, you can hear it's dry, it spins very freely. Like you can tell the lubrication's drying up, and it's not as good as it could be. Same with water pumps, I mean they will leak eventually or the bearings will wear out as well. So it's just better to replace it because you know that it's only going to be a matter of time before it goes. You might get lucky, it might last 10 more years, but that would be like a statistical anomaly as opposed to being, you know what…
Mark: What would normally happen.
Bernie: Yeah, what would normally happen exactly.
Mark: Timing belt replacement around 150,000 kilometres, is that true across all makes and models of cars?
Bernie: Pretty much, and I say 150, that might be a little sooner than some recommended. A lot of them are like around 168, which I think is 110,000 miles. But yeah usually somewhere around the 150 to 200 range is where most of them are recommended. I mean the 200 is pretty high, I think there's a couple of Ford products I've seen that have it recommended at that mileage. But yeah, if you're thinking the 150 to 180 range that's definitely time you're going to need to do the timing belt. But check the manufacturers schedule, that's one thing that's really important to look at and follow that one.
Mark: So when a timing belt replacement, this is a pretty major job from all the parts that are being replaced.
Bernie: It is, yeah, I'd say it's a major maintenance service and certainly you know when you look at two engines on a car, you think okay I'm going to need a timing belt replacement on this one. Say another engine has a timing chain that doesn't need it, I mean there's a ... If you do it properly, I mean a sort of average timing belt job can be $1500 to do it with the water pump, the tensioners, the pulleys, all those kinds of things. Or it can be a bit less, it can be a bit more depending on the car. That's a fair amount of money to put out on a maintenance service, you think well great I'd rather have a timing chain engine. But timing chains do fail, and when they do the cost is a lot higher. So I mean with a timing chain you never know, it may last forever, and it may fail and you just never really know. But the key to timing chain engines is you've got to make sure you follow your oil change intervals. Because you've got that many more moving parts that are affected by, that good clean oil makes a big difference.
Mark: So what happens if the timing belt breaks?
Bernie: Good question, so if the timing belt breaks your engine will stop right then and there and it won't start again. That's if you have a none interference fit, well that's with any engine. But the other thing is if you have an interference fit engine, which is an engine that's built in such a way that the piston and valves can collide if the timing belt breaks. Then you'll have catastrophic engine damage, the valves get bent, and it becomes extremely expensive to repair. This particular Toyota engine by the way, I was looking for some information is it inference fit or not, I got conflicting information. There's a number of different, if you look on the internet, there's a number of different sites that have lists of engines that tell you, are these inference or not. One website I looked at says yes, the other one says no. Then another one said conflicting information, treat it as an interference engine. So really the best thing to do is treat any car as an inference engine because I mean it's inconvenient when it breaks anyways. But if it does break and causes valve damage it's just horrendously expensive.
Mark: Is this a V6 that Toyota used across a different range of models of vehicles?
Bernie: Oh yeah they've used it in, you'll find it in Lexus vehicles, you'll find it in Camry's, Avalon's, Lexus, a variety of Lexus products. Pretty common engine, excellent engine, very reliable.
Mark: How are Toyota Solara's for reliability?
Bernie: It's a Toyota, they're awesome. Yeah, really nothing I can say that's bad about them, they're really good. I mean really the timing belt is one of the, sort of one of the major maintenance items you're going to deal with on this engine, that's pretty much it.
Mark: So there you go if you're looking for a service for your Toyota product, since we've pumped Toyota's tires so hard here usually. We like their products, they're reliable vehicles. The guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. We appreciate you folks watching from all over the world, but please if you're calling for service and you're in Vancouver we'd love to hear from you. If you're calling for us to diagnose your car issues over the phone we can't do it. Just can't. So give us a call if you want to book an appointment at 604-327-7112, you have to call to book ahead 'cause we're busy. Or check out our website pawlikautomotive.com, we're on YouTube, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there. As well as of course we're really appreciating you watching our podcast. Thanks a lot Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi it’s Mark, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Show and Podcast. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well Mark.
Mark: So we’re talking about cars with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years of servicing and maintaining cars, trucks, vehicles in Vancouver and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and today we’re going to talk about a 2005 Toyota 4Runner. What was going on with this vehicle Bernie?
Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop, a regular client of ours, and the steering was stiff, especially in one certain direction when you turned the steering wheel there was a stiff, tight spot to the steering.
Mark: Ok, so what did you find that was going on?
Bernie: What we found, we did an inspection on the steering and suspension system and what we found was the universal joint, the U-joint at the end of the steering column, down to the steering rack and pinion was worn out, basically it was just seized in one direction and that was causing the issue. Basically what happened the U-joint allows a twisting motion to occur and when it seized in one direction, it just becomes very stiff to turn the wheel in that one area.
Mark: So why do you need a U-joint in the steering column?
Bernie: Well I’ll just talk a little history on the steering column. In the olden days, when cars were well, even up into probably right into 1950’s and 60’s, the steering column is just pretty much a straight, long shaft and it would run from the steering wheel down to the steering box. And actually here’s a scary thought, I mean, steering columns used to actually be just a big, huge steel rod and you can imagine what happens when you get in a head on collision and that front of the vehicle gets pushed back a foot or two, basically that steering column just got shoved right into your chest and a lot of people died from that. So one of the first things, one of those sort of safety things, well I say first things, I mean they didn’t really do it probably til the 50’s or 60’s, 60’s for sure, it was mandatory to have a collapsible steering column. So the shaft could actually compress, the steering column would actually be like an accordion type thing where it would actually fold on impact. So that’s a good feature for staying alive in a collision. But anyways, the universal joint, it sort of came after that when steering columns, the vehicles started getting shorter, not such long hoods, they would perhaps go, hey let’s put the steering box, the steering rack and pinion further back in the vehicle and so there’s the universal joint allowed the shaft to go straight and then downward and that allowed the flexibility in the steering column.
Mark: Ok, so back to the worn U-joint in this truck, what was causing the, what would cause that to happen, what would cause it to just wear on one side?
Bernie: Well what happens, this one here wore from rust corrosion. These, we’ve replaced them on some vehicles and sometimes they just wear out just because, you know they just get moved and turned a lot. But this one here suffered kind of a hard life. The vehicle spent a lot of time out, I would assume on salty roads and basically it was corroded. So at this point we can go into a couple pictures. Toyota 4runner, really nice shape at least it is on the top side and well talk about this in a minute. But anyways, you know beautiful 2005 Toyota 4Runner. This is our steering column U-joint. So this is the universal joint right here. This is the actual part that we replaced. You can see from the picture it’s extremely rusty and corroded and this is the U-joint. So it’s basically a cross piece with bearings and it’ll flex in two different directions but this one basically you could only move it in one direction. So that’s what was causing our issue.
Steering Column U-Joint
Mark: Alright, so rust isn’t something we’ve talked a lot other than in brakes and cars don’t seemingly rust like they used to, how often do you see vehicles like this?
Bernie: Not that often around here but it’s surprising. actually this is sort of the second part of this story. So the steering column U-joint is one, the second is the owner of this vehicle bought this vehicle about six months ago, maybe a little longer. He didn’t get an inspection on it because it was a great deal, it only had 114,000 kilometres which is very low mileage for a vehicle like this. Looks beautiful on the outside. He drove it, he goes yeah it drives great, the price was right, he bought it. He brought it to our shop, I’m not going to say how much money he spent, but let’s put it this way, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars on things like rusted out exhaust, this is another issue now the steering column U-joint. So it’s really important to have a vehicle inspected before you buy it and we’ve said this before. You never know, you look on the outside, you look at the mileage, you go, hey it’s a great deal based on those factors but the one factor that wasn’t in there is where’s the vehicle been driven. We live in Vancouver, it’s a pretty, we don’t get a lot of snow here, we get a bit, there’s a bit of salt that maybe goes on for a couple weeks or a month a year, but in other climates, you get a lot of salt. We recently did an inspection on a 2015 Subaru, only 60,000 kilometres, 3 year old vehicle, looked underneath it, there was a lot of rust corrosion already starting to develop. Nothing debilitating but given time that vehicle would definitely have a lot more repairs needed. Now it’s a local car, but the people, they buy these vehicles because they go skiing a lot to Whistler which is nearby. A lot of snow on that road, a lot of salt is used. So those are the kind of things you really got to look fo when you buy a vehicle. but yeah, rust is not as bad. Vehicles are really much better built than they used to be. But salt still takes it’s toll. Once the vehicle gets ten years old, then you really start to see the problems
Mark: Haven bought one of those kind vehicles in my past of vehicle history, I am familiar with this.
Bernie: Me too, you know, I’ve bought vehicles like that to and it’s like it just reinforced my conviction, have it inspected, really take a second look at it, don’t get too attached to anything just because the price is right or you like the vehicle. You know, you’ve got to look for the right one, otherwise you’re going to end up paying a lot of money to get it set straight later.
Mark: So any final thoughts on this repair and Toyota 4Runners?
Bernie: Well just final thoughts, pre purchase inspection. Whenever you buy a used vehicle, don’t just assume the deal’s great. Really have it looked at and 4Runners, I mean they’re great vehicles. Besides the issues with this thing, it’s still an incredibly reliable vehicle, really nice driving, definitely, probably the best SUV of its type on the road.
Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service and you’re in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Or check out our blog at pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos on there and articles as well as our YouTube channel and as you’re probably enjoying this on iTunes. Welcome to iTunes for the Podcast of Pawlik Automotive. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.