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How Reliable are Toyota Sequoias?

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik we’re talking cars. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So Bernie, you’ve been doing car repairs for over 30 years, we have this little series running where we’re talking about the reliability of all sorts of different vehicles. Today we’re talking about the Toyota Sequoia. How reliable are Toyota Sequoias?

Bernie: I’d say to put it very simply, very reliable.

Mark: All right, that’s pretty definitive. What kind of competitors are there in this category, what does this vehicle even look like?

Bernie: Well it’s a full size SUV, let’s while you say what does it look like, let’s just share a photo real quick, so there is a 2005 Toyota Sequoia, as you can see it’s the full size, pretty much full size SUV, equivalent I would say to a Suburban, actually probably not as big as a Suburban, but maybe a Tahoe, a Chevy Tahoe, Ford Ex, a little smaller than a Ford Excursion, not an Excursion that’s a massive vehicle, the Expedition, the Ford Expedition. You know a little bigger than an Explorer so kind of in that category of mid to full size SUVs. So for competitors, I mentioned them really it’s the Chevy Tahoe Suburban type vehicle of the Ford Expedition/Explorer category and how does it fair?

Mark: How does it fair against those?

Bernie: I’d say very reliable. I’m not such a big fan of the Ford products, there are a few issues that they have that are I would say, put them on a much lower scale of reliability. I put the Toyota way up there. I find the Tahoe’s and Suburbans are really highly reliable as well. They’re all kind of equivalent quality vehicles.

Mark: What about some of the other Japanese and Korean makes?

Bernie: You know for some reason I can’t think of another imported vehicle that’s of this size and of these sort of model years that’s equivalent to it.

Mark: So this is bigger than like a Kia Sedona, this is larger.

Bernie: Yeah, this is larger. This is a body on frame truck, this is a full, actual real truck. Now I know that Nissan has the Nissan Titan, the pickup but I don’t believe they have a SUV version of that but the equivalent pickup trucks in the Nissan and full size Toyota are comparable.

Mark: So what kind of problems do you see with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well not a lot and I will say to be fair, we don’t see a ton of them because there’s not a lot of them on the road. They’re not a huge selling vehicle like a, there’s a lot more Tahoe’s and Suburbans and we work in a lot of Ford products. We don’t see as many of these vehicles and really I mean, very few issues with them. They are very reliable. I always look at research and what other people are seeing on them, there’s a few complaints of transmission issues in the earlier years, so earlier meaning around 2001 up to about 04, that vehicle I showed you in the photo is 05, by that time the transmission concerns seem to be non existent. But there’s very little it seems to go wrong with them and all we do on them with the clients we have is basic maintenance services, brakes, oil services and whatever other maintenance items are required.

Mark: Does this vehicle use a timing belt?

Bernie: Yeah, it does. Up to around 2010 on the 4.7 litre V8, they’re all timing belt engines so that’s something you need to address; 08 and newer there’s a 5.7 V8, those are all chain driven and once you get into the 2010 years and up, they’re all chain driving engines. So but yeah, the belt is something that definitely needs to be done and usually I think the service interval is about 168,000 kilometres which is a 105,000 miles I believe. So that’s when you need to replace it.

Mark: what about timing chains, do they ever need service?

Bernie: Not unless, not normally, I mean a timing chain, there’s no replacement interval on it. It’s meant to las the life of the engine, however long that is and sometimes that’s really up to how well you take care of your engine. Timing chain engines you really got to be rigorous with your oil changes, follow the maintenance schedule of sooner. Don’t leave it too long. It’s, that’s when the timing chains wear. There’s a lot of plastic guide rails and pieces and that’s when they deteriorate. So you really don’t want to do anything to cause your timing chain, timing chains to need replacement because they are so expensive to do

Mark: What about the resale value on these vehicles?

Bernie: Really high and that’s actually, I’d say that’s where the Toyota’s have an edge over the Suburbans and Tahoe’s and especially the Fords. Toyota’s always, they’re higher price to buy generally speaking for equivalent model, so you’re going to pay more to buy them but over time, the depreciation on Toyota’s is generally a lot less. So the good news is if you buy a brand new one you actually retain more of your value in the vehicle but when it comes to buying a used one, they often cost more money to buy but they’re, they are durable, they’re reliable. So you’re paying money for that. But yeah, the resale value is good for Toyota. I remember for years, the Toyota Forerunner actually had the highest resale value of any vehicle. You buy a new one for say $50,000 you can sell it three or four years later for $45,000 so that’s outrageously good resale value and I’ve heard that the FJ Cruiser which is a kind of unique little sport utility vehicle, again they have extremely high resale value. So that’s one thing that’s very positive about Toyota’s.

Mark: This would be a vehicle you’d recommend?

Bernie: Absolutely yeah, it’s a great vehicle. If you’re looking for a good quality, large SUV, you can even get these with three rows of seats, so you can haul a big family around, they’ll use a lot of gas, it’s a big vehicle but again super reliable, very nice ride, they’re available in a range of models right up to fully luxurious so, just short of a Lexus in terms of luxury features, so pretty amazing, very good vehicle.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for a Toyota Sequoia they get the mark of, the stamp of approval from Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. If you’re needing service on your Toyota products these are the guys to call 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

How Reliable Is The Toyota Camry?

Mark: Hi, this is Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, we’re talking cars. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well Mark.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about the Toyota Camry first thing, how reliable is the Toyota Camry?

Bernie: Overall I’d say it’s a pretty good car. There are a few issue through the years, the Camry has been around for a long time and overall I’d say it’s a very good car.

Mark: So Toyota has a pretty good reputation for reliability and I trust that Camry is pretty much the same?

Bernie: Yeah they are. There’s a few, we’ll go through a few different model years. There’s been a number of generations of Camry, I started trying to figure it out and it’s probably like six or eight, cars been around since the early 1980’s and it’s change a lot. They used to be a very narrow type of vehicle, they’ve gone to a wider body vehicle, I’d say generally always reliable for the era they’re in. When you compare a 1980’s car you have to kind of compare to whatever other 1980’s models were around, not to modern standards. They’re really good vehicles overall. Some interesting issues that I can remember from some of the earlier Camry’s which was carbon buildup in the engine. So you get these cars where they wouldn’t go up a hill, like when you get to the top of a steep hill, all of a sudden the car couldn’t accelerate any more. Problem was actually really simple. It was carbon buildup on the valves of the engine. This is kind of like a beginning of an issue that you know for decades now we’ve done fuel injection cleanings and combustion chamber services to eliminate that problem but what would happen is that intake valves would get covered in carbon deposits and the fuel injectors will be injecting fuel and will all getting soaked and absorbed into the carbon and so as the engine is going up the hill, it wasn’t getting enough fuel. So it’s kind of an interesting issue but something that I remember from the older Camry’s. Also the older Camry’s you get transmission problems as well, but these are so far in the past. I can’t remember the last time I saw those 80’s generation Camry’s. Camry is one of those cars, it’s a good practical car and once it’s lived it’s lifespan, people just send them to the trash can so to speak.

Mark: So how about the later ones, how are they?

Bernie: The later ones are good, I mean they’ve got progressively better. There is an issue with Camry on around the 2007 model year. A lot of excess oil consumption, a lot to complaints around that, so with Toyotas, what I’ve found and I’ve said this many times before you really have to change your engine oil on a regular basis. Now I’m not blaming necessarily bad maintenance, but because there are some obviously engineering defects but really with the Toyota, you’ve got to change your oil every five to eight thousand kilometres depending what kind of oil you use, what’s in there, but really change it early. It’s the best thing you can do for a Toyota. But definitely around the ’07 model year, a lot of companies of excessive oil consumption. So that’s not a great thing, so something to look out for if you’re purchasing a used Camry from a decade ago.

Mark: So one of the things that we mentioned a lot is timing belts and I guess do all Camry’s have timing belts and how often do they need replacement?

Bernie: So Camry has used timing belts through the years for quite a while, they use it right into the 2000 model year on the V6 engines, generally the interval on them is around 160,000 kilometres but in the earlier models the interval was more around 96,000 kilometres or 60,000 miles. So you just need to know which year and model it is to find out when the timing belt interval is. But the 4 cylinders have not used a timing belt in a long time all the newer sixes are all chain driven, so you don’t need to worry. But the best thing to do is, you can look up the information or call a mechanic you trust and get the information.

Mark: So in the late 2000’s, Toyota had the sudden acceleration issue, non-issue blown up kind of thing, were Camry’s one of the affected models?

Bernie: They were. Camry’s were one of the models, I was doing a little research before we got on this hangout, and around the late 2000’s when the recall starting coming out with sudden acceleration issues. Camry is definitely one of them, I think there’s about 5 million vehicles affected. It was a big recall. To put things into perspective, a lot of the problems were just floor mats sticking on the accelerator pedals, that was part of the issue. We see that in a lot of customers cars when people come in with complaints of things and the car doesn’t go fast enough because a floor mat stuck underneath the gas pedal or, you really have to be careful, you have to watch our for your floor mats are positioned on your car, not just Toyota but any car. Anyways, the recall dealt with floor mats and then they actually redid the accelerator pedal because their did seem to be some issues with the accelerator pedal and they did some reprogramming with the vehicle in order that if you, it’s an electronic reprogramming but if you push the brake on the vehicle and you had a foot on the accelerator at the same time, it would actually cut the engine power which is interesting because I notice that when we go to diagnose modern vehicles. A lot of older techniques we would use, sometimes would be to put the right foot on the gas pedal and accelerate and put the brake on and we would use this technique for certain things and I noticed on a lot of newer cars you can’t do that. The moment you put the brake on the car, the engine won’t run anymore. It’s kind of frustrating for a mechanic to do a diagnostic when you’re limited to certain things, the computer limits you but that’s one of the safety features they put in. It’s good idea because obviously if your car is having run away acceleration, you want to be able to stop it.

Mark: So overall, it sounds like this is a pretty good car.

Bernie: Yeah, I like Camry’s, I mean there are a few years with a few issues like I said with the oil consumption so you to to watch that but overall they’ve been throughout the years very reliable, it’s kind of to me a large Corolla, maybe not quite as reliable as a Corolla, but pretty close.

Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service for your Toyota Camry in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, you must book ahead, they’re busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks a lot Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

How Reliable Are Toyota Sienna Vans?

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local over here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive and we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: Toyota Sienna vans, pretty long running mark. How reliable are Toyota Sienna vans?

Bernie: Very, I like these vans a lot, I think they're super reliable. The other thing that's good about them their crash test ratings are also really good, which is a good thing to have in any vehicle, but especially if you're hauling your family around which is why a lot of people buy them. That's another bonus when you're buying a vehicle, you know it's not just a nice vehicle and it's reliable but it's also safe.

Mark: The Sienna maybe seems a little conventional compared to it's predecessors.

Bernie: It does, Toyota had some very quirky vans before the Sienna. The Previa was a very odd looking vehicle and the LE van, which was the predecessor to that one probably looked a little more conventional but again was odd. Both of those vehicles were mid-engine, the engine was actually kind of in between the passenger and driver seat underneath. Pretty neat use of space, but they were only limited to a four cylinder so they really lacked power. Some of the Previas like the LE models I mean they were really nice, they were really well equipped. One of the neat distinctions about that vehicle is it had a little cooling compartment, it was like a beer fridge in a car, of course it's not for beer but for pop but a little fridge in the car that worked off the air conditioning system so it was kind of cool. They were neat designs but really kind of odd ball vehicles, but very reliable. I mean we still work on Previas and they still keep on going, they're very good.

Mark: What are some of the issues you see with Siennas?

Bernie: Well really there's not a lot of continuous issues with these vehicles. I mean I find some of the older ones the valve covered gaskets will leak and so they need to be repaired. The only real concern over the years with these engines, if you don't maintain them properly, is sludging and the oil sludging in the engine which is not uncommon on Toyota's. You've got to do your oil changes regularly which we talk about all the time, but that'll prevent that but that is an issue if you start neglecting the engine, oil sludging will happen, it'll destroy the engine.

Mark: Do Sienna engines use timing belts and how often is it changed? If so, how often do you have to change them?

Bernie: Yes they do use timing belts. From 1998 up to 2006 there's a timing belt in the 3 litre and the 3.3 engines. The recommended interval is 144,000 kilometres or 90,000 miles, so that's an important service to do. You don't want it to break, but yes they do have timing belts up to the 2006 model year.

Mark: What engine options are available for Siennas?

Bernie: Siennas are basically all V6's except interestingly enough for two model years, 2011 and 2012 they use a 2.7 litre 4 cylinder. It's also, by the way, a timing chain engine so there's no belt to replace in that engine. As far as engine, so everything else is V6, the early years, the 3 litre, then they went up to a 3.3, and then finally this newest generation uses a 3.5 litre engine which is timing chain driven, has variable valve time and all of Toyota's nice modern technology.

Mark: Are these vehicles available with manual transmissions?

Bernie: No

Mark: Why would you want manual?

Bernie: No, they're strictly automatic in all the years, so you're stuck with an automatic but easy to drive. I got a couple pictures to share actually if we just want to have a look at a couple of photos. This is a dashboard of a 2012 Sienna LE so this is a top of the line edition. Beautiful vehicle but you can see it's got a backup camera, it's got navigation system, nice radio, climate control A/C, and it's got stow and go fold away seats in the back, nice fitted interior with fake wood steering wheel. I know that doesn't sound very complimentary but it looks nice. The interior is absolutely awesome. When we get to the engine compartment not so interesting to look at. This just a good reliable engine, but it's got your big plastic cover over the top of the engine, that's the engine underneath there. This one it's a little dirty, it's got a few years of life on it but it's really not the most exciting engine to look at, it's just reliable and it works well. It's the best thing you can expect out of a Toyota.

Mark: Any other issues with these vehicles?

Bernie: You know I'd say personally from our mechanics point of view no, but I do read a lot of things on vehicles just to keep up to date. There's some complaints of paint peeling and fading on some of the models and some dashboard cracking issues, but other than that that's really all I see. They're really just overall a really good van.

Mark: Overall this seems like, in your experience so far, this is probably a good, maybe even the best minivan?

Bernie: I would say so. I mean you can't go wrong with buying one, there's really not much that goes wrong with it. I mean if you buy an older one of course you're faced with a little more maintenance like timing belt and just an aged vehicle will have more problems and more things to go wrong, maybe some valve cover gasket leaks and other issues. I mean really overall they're just a fantastic van. I'd say really the only downside is probably the price you have to pay for one because people know they're good, they command a pretty high dollar. The good news is if you buy one they don't depreciate as fast too. You buy something like a Caravan it's cheap but the price will just go, yeah a great van, I can't say enough about them.

Mark: There you go, if you have a Toyota Sienna in Vancouver and you're looking to get it serviced the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark

1987 Toyota Celica GTS Brake Repair

Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of the award winning Pawlik Automotive - 16 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a little bit of an oldie but classic, I guess, in some ways to some people, the ’87 Toyota Celica GTS. There was a brake repair needed on this car, what’s the story?

Bernie: Well, you’re right it is getting to be a bit old, I was just thinking this car is 29 or 30 years old. It kind of shocks me when I think about it because when I remember when these cars were brand new and they were awfully nice. So what was going on with this Toyota, it was a bit of an old car, not in the best of shape, it was pretty rusty but obviously had some great value to the owner. He said there are some problems, it makes bad noises when I go around a corners and when I hit the brakes. So that’s basically why the car was brought in - driving noises and braking noises.

Mark: So you did an inspection, what did you find from your inspection?

Bernie: Well, lots of interesting things. I’ll start with the good stuff, the back brake pads and rotors were in good shape, let’s start with that, but the front brakes were worn metal on metal. Metal on metal means that the brake pads, they have a soft friction material and when they’re worn out, the metal backing plate rubs against the brake rotor which is metal, so that’s what metal on metal refers to. The brakes were worn down that far, which is worn out completely and causes horrible grinding noises. The brake calliper slider pins were seized, we also found, it’s a front wheel drive and we found one of the axel nuts on the left side was loose and that was causing the brake rotor to rub against the calliper bracket. That was easily fixed, just tighten the nut and away it went, that was fixed up but other than that it required some front brake work and also the brake hoses were cracked which happens when the vehicle gets older.

Mark: Ok, that is starting to add up to a lot of work for an old car. Was it in good shape? Was it worth fixing?

Bernie: Well, the car I mean in my opinion wasn’t in great shape and I wouldn’t of blamed the owner for saying you know I’m sending if off to the scrap yard, but he chose to fix it. I think to me, it’s really the value of the car is what he as the owner put on it and whether you want to fix it or not. Sometimes as technicians and shop owners we have judgments, oh this car’s not worth fixing or this one is and we get people with really nice cars that choose to not fix things, I kind of roll my eyes and then we get someone who takes a car that we think oh, this is a foot away from the scrap yard and they go, yeah I want to fix it and spend some money on it. So it’s really up to the owner to choose what they want to do. We’ll just have a quick look at this car here, just for nostalgia sake, it’s a ’87 Celica. There’s a bit of rust on this car so it’s not in great shape but after doing the repairs it actually ran really well; peppy, it’s got a lot of power so it’s got lots of life left in it and the mileage on the car isn’t particularly high so it will probably go for quite a while if the body doesn’t rust out completely on it.

Mark: So people don’t think about the big picture cost of car ownership always, why do you think that is?

Bernie: You know, I think people get emotionally attached to cars and they have these notions, I’ve had a number of people go, well the car’s only worth $4000 dollars and I don’t want to spend half the value of the car on repairing it and to me, I mean this Celica here is probably, he’d be lucky to get $500 bucks if you sold it on the open market, maybe a thousand but the repair was far in excess of value but what does it cost you to actually replace a car in terms of your time, you know looking for a car, the actual replacement cost, the added insurance? You just really need to sit down and really look at the facts and figures and the money and try to take the emotion out of it sometimes. Sometimes the cheapest car to fix is the car, or to operate is the car you already own. That being said, sometimes it gets to the point where it’s not worth doing certain things, we’re quite clear about that but you really have to sit and look at the money. People often go, I don’t want to spend $2000 dollars on that. Two thousand dollars might be all they spend on a repair in one yea. If you break that down to monthly payments, that’s under $200 dollars a month. Where are you going to buy a new car for that kind of money? You’d be lucky, you’d be making car payments and even the cheapest car is going to cost you $300 bucks a month and you’d probably be doing that for the next 10 years. But if you’re buying a nice car, which a lot of people are repairing you might be paying a $1000 bucks a month. So it doesn’t cost a lot to repair a car when you really break it down and look at it.

Mark: So any final thoughts on this service?

Bernie: Well you know, just the whole idea of doing this blog post, www haven’t talked too much about the brakes and the repair details, it’s really about what’s the value of the car to you and is it worth fixing and keeping going and how do you want to spend your money? That’s kind of the key thing. Some people love spending money on cars and some people don’t. We’re here to help which ever way you want to go. I’m happy to talk to people and work with them make a decision.

Mark: So if you need a reliable mechanic who will tell you the truth about your choices and be happy to go with you whatever way you want to go. You want to keep that old gem running forever, they’ll help you do that. If you want to get a real idea about that new car you’re looking at buying, Bernie is an expert, he’s done it for a long time. Give him a call 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2009 Toyota Yaris – Water Pump

Toyota Yaris

Mark: Hi, Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Sixteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their clients.

Toyota Yaris

2009 Toyota Yaris

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Toyota Yaris, a 2009 - there was a water pump problem? What was happening with this Toyota?

Bernie: Well the owner originally brought the vehicle to us not for a water pump problem but for a strange noise that was happening. It seemed like a suspension noise in the vehicle. So we had the vehicle for a couple days, the first day we drove it, we could hear quite a loud racket, it seemed like a suspension rattle in the front of the vehicle, but it only happened under certain circumstances. We did a full comprehensive inspection on the vehicle and never really found anything wrong with the suspension which was surprising, but we did find the water pump was leaking and while we did the water pump, we found a couple of other interesting issues along with that. I'll share a photograph here - so there’s our Yaris, it's a 2009. There’s the water pump, I’m actually one picture ahead of where I want to be: that red, reddish colour stuff around the plug there, that’s antifreeze, Toyota antifreeze is a red colour, and that’s antifreeze that’s been leaking out of the water pump. So the water pump was leaking and that was evident and needed to be replaced. What we found that was interesting when we replaced the water pump is that the bearing was so badly worn in the water pump that the pulley was rubbing against the water pump housing and that red arrow points to, the pulley that sort of, how do I best describe this, the shinier, smoother piece at the bottom of the picture, and that’s touching the housing of the water pump right where the red arrow is pointing. That shouldn’t be happening. There should be clearance of about an eighth of an inch in that area, so the bearing was worn so badly, the water pump housing was rubbing and in the end we figured that this was actually what was causing the noise. Strange as it was, it seemed like a suspension noise but actually under certain circumstances the noise seemed to be occurring while you’re driving. So yeah, that’s what we found.

Toyota Yaris

Side view of water pump. The red arrow points to the pulley flange sitting right beside the housing. There should be a clearance of at least an 1/8 of an inch here.

Mark: So do water pumps typically fail on Toyota’s?

Bernie: Water pumps seem to be one of the most common failure items on Toyota’s. I’ve said for years they extremely reliable vehicles and I still say that to this day, they’re very reliable. But it seems like almost every Toyota we look at seems to need a water pump sooner or later. So that seems to be the one part that fails quite frequently on Toyota’s. We’ve done them on all sorts of V6’s, 4 cylinders, Yaris’s, Highlander’s, you know just about every make and model - Even Priuses.

Mark: So if I were a Toyota owner, is there anything I can do to look after my water pump?

Bernie: No, it’s just something that’s going to fail over time, it’s just the way the part’s made. Flushing the cooling systems is really the only thing but the water pump is really a very simple device. It’s a belt driven pump, the only thing that’s in there is the antifreeze, the only fluid in there and like all modern antifreezes in cars it's meant to last five to ten years and 150,000 or more kilometres. So there’s really nothing you can do to flush it out. The belts are a lot of times self tensioned, when they’re at their proper tension they last as long as they do. It’s just one of those things: water pumps wear out when they wears out.

Toyota Yaris

View of water pump: the red crusty deposits are from antifreeze leakage

Mark: So a few years ago, Toyota really got beat up in the press about some problems that they had. So how are Toyota vehicles these days?

Bernie: They’re excellent. I mean I don’t think really honestly think there was ever really a lot wrong with them and I think the media just jumped on it and went crazy because Toyota was overtaking the American manufacturers as the biggest  carmaker in the world. I have a, maybe it’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, but I have a feeling that there were some people didn’t like it very much and pointed some flaws out. Not that there weren’t some problems and things to be fixed but it really blew over so fast that it’s nothing you ever hear about anymore. So Toyota’s were always reliable all the way through. Toyota stepped up, fixed what they needed to do and they’re still amazing, reliable cars to this day. I highly recommend them.

Mark: so if you’re looking for service on your Toyota of any kind, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive - you can call them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2013 Toyota Prius V – Maintenance Service

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius

2013 Toyota Prius V

Our latest feature is a maintenance service performed on a 2013 Toyota Prius V, brought to us by a client from Kensington – Cedar Cottage, Vancouver.

The Toyota Prius V is the third generation of Toyota’s amazing hybrid technology. It features a larger engine than its predecessors which actually improves highway fuel economy. One unique feature of this car is the lack of drivebelts: this is the first production vehicle to come without any. All accessories are electrically operate and this further improves fuel economy.

This vehicle arrived with 21,000 kilometers on the clock and was due for a level 2 service: an engine oil and filter change along with a comprehensive inspection and tire rotation.

The inspection found no concerns and verified that the vehicle was in excellent condition. Being nearly new and being a Toyota this was expected, however it is important to confirm this with regular maintenance.

Modern vehicles are very reliable and certainly don’t break down as they once did. This can lead one to think that they can just be left to drive and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Along with current vehicle’s reliability comes ever increasing complexity and with that very high potential repair costs. You want to do everything in your power to prevent premature wear as it will be very costly. Fortunately routine maintenance is cheap.

For more about the Toyota Prius V click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_v

For more about hybrid technology click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_electric_vehicle

Toyota Prius

Engine compartment of 2013 Toyota Prius V. Gasoline engine is on left and bybrid drive components sit on right. The bright orange cables are hybrid wiring and are clearly marked as such so that safety precautions can be taken when working on this system.

1996 Toyota T100 – Starter Replacement

Toyota T100

Today’s featured repair is starter motor replacement on a 2006 Toyota T100 pickup truck, brought to us by a client from Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Toyota T100

1996 Toyota T100, still a good looking and very reliable truck at almost 20 years old

Toyota has been building pickup trucks for years and they have proven to be among the most reliable on the road. This 1996 truck, now almost 20 years old still runs great and looks good to boot. One reason for it still being on the road is the maintenance and care that it has received through its life. Clearly, good attentive service pays off.

Our featured Toyota T100 came to the shop with a couple of concerns and one was a grinding sound from the starter. The truck started fine but there was definately something wrong. Upon removing the starter the cause of the noise was very evident: the starter drive gear was severely worn.

Whenever a starter drive gear is found damaged a thorough inspection of the ring gear is required. The ring gear is a large gear mounted on the engine flywheel or flex plate that turns with the engine. When your key is turned to start, the starter drive gear engages with the ring gear. Many times when a starter grinds the noise is caused by a worn ring gear. It is an expensive repair requiring removal of either the engine or transmission.

Fortunately for our client his ring gear was in good condition. We replaced the starter motor and no further noises were present.

For more information about starter motors click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starter_%28engine%29

For more information on the Toyota T100 Pick up truck click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_T100

Toyota T100

Starter motor from our featured Toyota T100. The blue arrow points to the severely damaged drive gear. When the key is turned to start the solenoid, which is located in the square section of the starter pushes the drive gear into the engine's ring gear and then the starter turns your engine over.

How Are Toyota Cars For Reliability?

2008 Toyota Yaris

How reliable are Toyota cars?

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning mechanic and auto repair specialist, Mr. Bernie Pawlik in Vancouver, BC. How’re you tonight Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent, enjoying the rainy Vancouver weather.

Mark: So, we’re talking about Toyotas. Toyota has been a top seller for a really long time they have a great reliability record. So are they all that they supposed to be?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely, we’ve worked on Toyota cars for years. I personally own an old 1966 Crown Station Wagon, you’d have to Google it to see what it looks like, it’s a pretty bizarre looking vehicle. So, yes, we’ve worked on them for years in all shapes and forms from old 1970 Corolla’s to modern Corolla’s, Prius, Land Cruisers, Toyota pick ups – they’re not perfect, but they are a very good vehicle. They deserve the reputation they’ve got.

Mark: What kind of issues do you find with Toyotas?

Bernie: Well, most modern Toyotas require very little work of any sort, just basic maintenance, oil changes, some fluid changes now and again, the odd brake job which is normal on any car. On some of the more recent Toyotas, we’ve seen some water pump failures when the cars are five years old or a bit older, the water pumps seem to be a common failure item. Toyota at one time used timing belts in pretty well all their engines, but they seem to have gone away from that, most engines don’t have timing belts so that piece of maintenance is gone. Historically, Toyotas have been a bit finicky with oil changes, and what I mean by that, is that you need to change the oil regularly on a Toyota, you can’t go long periods of time over the oil change interval. I mean, that’s bad for any car, but for some cars you can get away with them, but Toyotas you can’t. Engines get damaged, and especially a modern Toyota, they’ve got variable valve timing, they’ve got double overhead cam with timing chains, those components are really sensitive to oil and when it gets old and dirty, it wrecks them fast and it costs a fortune to fix. So you don’t want to mess around with it, change your oil regularly.

Mark: So, there was that whole kerfuffle about the unintended acceleration issues – whatever happened with that?

Bernie: Well, first off there’s no concern with that today, Toyota has fixed whatever issue was going on with that and I think it was not as big a problem as the media made it out to be. I think the media grabbed the story, they went crazy, they just went nuts with it – as they often do with certain things. Sure there were problems and a few people died, sadly but Toyota took care of it, they fixed it. I ‘m not really a conspiracy theorist but you have to wonder about the timing of that whole issue, the American car industry was sliding down, GM which used to be number one in the world was now not number one, Toyota was number one, just kinda makes you wonder whether they fuelled the fire. There’s an interesting statistic is that if you look at the NTHSA – which is an American transportation safety authority, their report on unintended vehicle acceleration from 2002 to 2009 shows that Toyota actually has very low reports about 21,000 cars, whereas GM has 77,000 and Ford has 63,000 and Chrysler has 56,000. Each manufacturer has almost double or triple what Toyota had and yet we never hear in the news anything about the American cars doing that. So kind of interesting, something to think about. So, yeah, they’re great reliable cars.

Mark: Are there any things about Toyota that you don’t like?

Bernie: Well, this is probably being a little nit picky, but I do find them kind of plain. Often people will ask me, I want to buy a reliable car – I’ll say buy a Toyota. I’m not that drawn to them myself, I find them kind of plain. They don’t have anything that’s all that sporty, they’re all a little bit lack lustre, but they’re very reliable and solidly built. In the pizzazz department they lack a little bit, but you know if that’s not important to you, they make really good cars. If you’re wanting to go a little more upscale, you can always look at a Lexus. They make some nice sporty cars, fancier, same Toyota reliability just in a fancier package. And that’s a subject for a future hangout.

Mark: So Toyota is big with hybrids. What do you think of them?

Bernie: As far as hybrids go, Toyota is definitely king. They’ve invested a lot of money in hybrids, they’ve made a lot of different models, they’ve sold a lot of them. It’s a good thing that Toyota cars are reliable because a hybrid car is really complicated. You’ve got a very sophisticated gasoline engine coupled to basically to an electronic transmission drive motor with all the electronic controls – there’s a lot to go wrong with them. If you want a hybrid, you want something that’s really reliable as Toyota has definitely proved itself to be. When things go wrong with the hybrid, it can be really expensive. We had a Highlander Hybrid a little while ago, the inverter blew on it – over $7,000 for the part. Fortunately for these folks, they were from the US, and there happens to be a recall on that particular part in the US – but not in Canada for some reason but in the US. So they got it fixed for free but they were considering junking the vehicle because the cost was so high. That’s something that can go wrong with a hybrid, but it’s extremely rare. But as time goes by, more things will happen. The other thing, if you’re considering buying a hybrid, it’s really important to do the math. How much gas do you need, a hybrid will save you on gas around the city, but not so much if you’re doing a lot of highway driving. so you’ve got to know what kind of driving you’re doing, where you’re doing it. There are a lot of other options to like you might be better to get a TDI Diesel or some of the Mazda’s with the Skyactiv Technology get really high gas mileage… there’s lots of other options. The thing with the hybrid, do the math first.

Mark: Well, we’ve talked about this before, but as a proud TDI owner I did the math and it was clear, for me which was the better choice. So do you have any other thoughts about Toyota?

Bernie: No, really they’re great cars. The only thing I’d say about them is, they’re great cars because they’re built well but they also need good maintenance. If you’re looking for a great shop, we’ve worked on Toyotas a lot over the years, we have a lot of expertise on Toyotas from old simple models to modern hybrids. We keep up with all the technology. So we at Pawlik Automotive can take care of it for you. Do you oil changes, do your maintenance and that Toyota will keep going for ever and ever. That’s my final thought.

Mark: Thanks a lot Bernie, so we’ve been talking with voted Best in Vancouver for the 12th time, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or at their amazing website, www.pawlikautomotive.com – we’ve had comments from as far away as Pittsburg, PA people writing, raving about how good the site is. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon

Mark: You bet, bye

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid – Inverter

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Today’s featured service is diagnosis on a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota is definitely the leader in hybrid sales with a lineup of vehicles from the very popular Prius to the Camry and Highlander models. There are also several Lexus models that utilize these hybrid drive systems. Toyota hybrid vehicles are well built and have proven to be very reliable. This is fortunate because when something goes wrong the repair costs are astronomical. It’s one reason that I have not been a big fan of hybrid vehicles.

Our featured 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was towed to us from Whistler where the vehicle broke down and would not move forward or backward. Diagnostic tests found the inverter assembly defective. The part is only available as a complete unit, exclusively from Toyota. The cost: a whopping 7600 dollars!!!

This is not the only expensive component on a hybrid: battery packs are in the 5000 dollar range. The other major component, the motor/generator is something that I’ve never priced out, but you can be certain that it would cost much more than the inverter.

With hybrid drive vehicles extremely expensive parts costs are the big issue. In defense of this Toyota it was a well used high mileage vehicle with 156,000 miles (251,000 km). When questioning my Toyota dealer’s parts department they had only ever sold 1 of these units which means that failure is very rare.

Our clients were from Washington state and decided to tow the car home to ponder their options which might include trading in the vehicle for something new. Of course a vehicle that doesn’t run has very little value.

At our shop we increasingly see more and more hybrids for service and this is the first vehicle with a major component failure. Even some of the 10 year old Prius’ that we see are still going strong.

If you are considering buying a hybrid vehicle just be cautious and be aware that there are many very expensive parts that can fail.

For more on the Toyota Highlander click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Highlander

For more about Toyota’s hybrid drive system click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The inside view of the Inverter assembly with top cover removed: full of  complex electronics and electrical components.

2001 Toyota Prius – Inverter Water Pump Replacement

Toyota Prius

Our latest featured service is Inverter Water Pump Replacement on a 2001 Toyota Prius, brought to us by a client from Kitsilano, Vancouver.

Toyota Prius

2001 Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius’ have two water pumps, one to cool the engine and the other to keep the inverter cool. The inverter is a major component of the hybrid drive system converting the battery’s DC voltage to AC voltage to be used by the electric motor. Heat is generated during the process so a cooling system is incorporated to ensure long component life.

This vehicle came to our shop with the check engine light illuminated. Diagnostic tests found the cause of the concern to be an intermittently defective inverter water pump.

This part was relatively inexpensive and not overly time consuming to replace. That’s fortunate because many parts of the hybrid system are costly and difficult to repair.

Toyota Prius

The Inverter water pump. Compact and driven by an electric motor.

Toyota Prius’ have proven to be very well built and reliable vehicles which is exactly what you want in a highly complex car. This first generation Prius lacks the sophistication of the newer models, nonetheless it works well and it still saves lots of fuel.

For more about hybrid drive systems click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain

For more about the reliable Toyota Prius click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

Toyota Prius

Top view of the Prius engine compartment. The engine is on the left. The inverter and hybrid drive components sit on the right.

 

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