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1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience Vancouver, BC, Canada, and of course, 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers not making that up. 23 times. Bernie we're talking cars. How are you doing?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is an old one, a 1992 VW Transporter that had a bit of a ring gear problem. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle came to our shop. The owner had a complaint. The starter would wouldn't engage. It would just make a grinding sound when he went to start it. And he replaced the starter. It's a bit of a do it yourselfer, he'd replaced a starter many times. And basically he'd found the ring gear was worn out. 

Mark: So what testing and inspections did you do? How did this show up? 

Bernie: The vehicle was towed to our shop. So you know, and as I said, the owner had done a lot of his own work on it. He said, look the ring gear is worn out. So we put it up on a hoist and just visually verified that in fact, the teeth and the ring gear were worn out and it needed to be replaced. So pretty simple on that end. 

Mark: So, how did the starter and ringer work together? 

Bernie: Well basically the ring gear is a very large, it's a ring gear very large diameter, generally a foot or two in diameter, depending on the size of the engine, well  two feet is maybe on a large diesel, but you know, usually a foot, foot and a half in diameter, big ring that bolts onto the back of the engine. Sometimes it's part of the torque converter for the transmission or the flywheel. And the starter motor has a very small little gear that engages into that ring gear.

So when you turn the key to start, the starter motor, there's a plunger that moves a small gear into the ring gear and the starter motor turns rotates the engine. So that's basically how the whole system works. And then of course, when you let the key back off, it all retracts and the engine is started and running, hopefully everything works like it normally does. Well, that's kind of how it works. 

Now of course you know, as this gear meshes in and out all the time, eventually there's a little tiny bit aware. And sometimes over the years, this is a 92, so it's getting pretty old. There's been a lot of years of the gear meshing together and it basically wears the teeth out. 

Mark: So, I guess sometimes these are incorporated into, they're not separate. Is it a separate piece on the VW? 

Bernie: It is now. Yeah. On this one is actually part of the torque converter. So the transmission has to come out to replace it. It actually has to come out on pretty well every vehicle. I can think of one vehicle where you don't, but we won't talk about that right now, but 99.9% of any vehicle on the road if your ringer goes bad. Either the engine or transmission has to be removed to replace it. So, and in this case, the ring gear is incorporated in the torque converter.

So let's look at some pictures. 

1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced
1992 VW Transporter, Ring Gear Replaced

So there is our worn out ring gear. Yeah. If you can see these teeth, we'll be looking at some good ones in awhile. You can see these teeth along here, like someone's hammered them flat compared to these nice looking teeth down here. So the interesting thing with ring gear wears, it doesn't wear the whole gear.

It only usually wears one or two spots because when an engine stops, it almost always stops in the same spot. You know, one of two spots. So it's always, it seems to engage  in the same area and it'll just wear that spot out. If it stopped in a different place every time it would be kind of a different ball of wax.

This is the torque inverter removed. Again you can see the ring gear. And if you look around this area in sort of the bottom left here, you can see these teeth like a little less, quite a bit worn compared to these teeth at the bottom and around the side. 

This is a view of the ring gear when it was actually in the vehicle. So this is where the starter bolts in. That yellow arrow points to the starter drive bushing. This is something that does need to be replaced from time to time when you do the starter usually. And you can see, again, the red arrow points to a worn out tooth on the ring gear. 

Now we'll look at the new piece. You can see the teeth. Not only is it nicely painted blue, but the teeth are very much in good shape. So when they replaced this torque converter, they actually weld a new ring gear on and there's a bigger view of the torque converter. Again, you can see all the teeth look to be very tall, nothing pounded down, so works much better that way

Mark: So you're replacing the torque converter as well as the ring gear. Do they go around the same time or ... 

Bernie: They're actually welded together as an assembly? So a couple of things happened with ring gears. Sometimes you get a thing it's called a flex plate, and it's basically a plate that bolts up to the crankshaft of the engine.

It's kind of a thin metal plate, a thin, I mean, thinish compared to a relative term, I guess. It's a thin metal plate with the ring gear attached to the outside. It's kind of all formed together, welded together. And then the torque converter bolts onto that. Some engines like this one with the ringer is actually bolted the torque converter.

And if you have a standard transmission with a clutch using the ring gear is incorporated into the flywheel, which is a much more massive object than a flex plate. So it depends on what kind of transmission, but it's always either the torque converter, the flywheel or the flex plate.

Mark: So this geared situation with the two, the small gear on the starter, the big ring gear, is that the typical design do all vehicles use this kind of design of starter motor ring gear? 

Bernie: Well, they do, unless it's a hybrid. And so if you have like a Toyota Prius or, you know, just use that as example, but a lot of hybrids. The motor generator unit actually will start the engine. So when it's commanded, it'll be spinning, it serves as the starter motor and the generator kind of incorporates several items into one. And so that eliminates the ring gear, the starter. There's also some GM vehicles that are it's called a mild hybrid. It's like a 48 volt system. And it would actually use a starter and alternator become they become one unit and that'll actually start the motor with it that uses a very robust drive belt system. So again, that eliminates the ring gear and starter, but any other internal combustion engine uses this system. I guess as time goes by with hybrids, it's getting less common.  

So how common of a repair is this on VW Transporter vans are on any vehicle?

We do them from time to time. I mean, I can say probably we might do a couple of year and we do a lot of cars in our shops, so it's not a really common repair, but it does happen from time to time. I guess the next question. How do you know your ring gears are bad? In this case the starter wouldn't turn anymore. But usually you can tell when your ring gear is going, because when you turn your key to start, it'll make like a loud kind of clanging sound like instead of the engine actually cranking over normally. So if that's happening, your ring gear is probably, I mean, sometimes it can just be the starter drive gear that's bad, but that's usually indicating your ring gears on its way out. And actually, if you do get any noises like that, it's probably good to inspect it and change the starter right away, because you might prevent ring gear damage because starter's much cheaper than replacing the ring gear. 

Mark: So how are these vans for reliability? 

Bernie: Well, they're awfully old now. You know, in their day they were pretty good. I mean, there's step up from, I like them better than the rear engine vans in many ways. They're much more reliable than the rear engine vans.

But you know, again, this is almost a 30 year old van now, so things are going to be happening and yeah, what can you say, they're getting old. You'll be doing repairs.

Mark: It's nearing the eventual inevitable end. 

Bernie: It is. But it's funny how a lot of old VW vans are still around and I mean, they're worth a fortune now compared to what they used to be. For some reason, VW vans had a very long lifespan for some reason. Now, again, these Transporters are a little more mainstream because they're front wheel drive, but Yeah, the old, you know, a lot of them seem to last longer than your usual on the road vehicles. So we'll probably see a few of these for years to come.

Mark: How expensive of repair was this?

Bernie: At least $2,000 Canadian. I can't remember the exact thing is at least 2000 a lot. The torque inverter's not being insanely expensive, but there's a lot of labor involved to pull the transmission out. It's really shoehorned in there. Not a lot of fun to remove and re-install. So mostly, mostly labor, but some parts.

Mark: If you're looking for good, reliable service, honest service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to call Pawlik Automotive. (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We love you calling from other places, but we can't help you over the phone. It's in person. This is real-world stuff. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos on there. All makes models, types of repairs. We've been doing this for nine years now. And of course the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. We really appreciate you listening and watching the podcast. Leave us a review if you like what we're doing. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. Always fun.

2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. That must feel pretty good, Bernie. 

Bernie: It does. Yeah, it's very exciting. Especially in this year of some tenuous news with COVID. It's nice having some good news and another win for Best of Vancouver. It's really good. Thank you everyone. 

Mark: So we're going to talk about a 2017 VW Golf that had some basic maintenance service. What was going on with this fairly new car? 

Bernie: Yeah, fairly new car. The vehicle is due for some maintenance services, the oil service, and a couple of other things had already been done elsewhere, but the owner brought it to us to do some larger catch-up items.

Mark: So, what was the mileage on the vehicle? 

Bernie: It's got 55,000 kilometres. So still pretty young. As you mentioned, it's a 2017, so that makes it about three or four year old car at this point in time, depending on when it was purchased and 55,000 Ks. So still young, you know, runs great. Just due for some maintenance to keep it young and running great. 

Mark: So, did you replace some things at this service? 

Bernie: Yeah, we replaced spark plugs, we flushed the brake fluid, changed a couple of filters, a cabin filter and the engine air filter, did a tire rotation. There's also a concern with the tire pressure monitoring system. There's a warning light on, but that just turned out that we just needed to do a reset on the system. So that was pretty straightforward. So not a huge amount of stuff. 

Mark: So do we have some photos? 

Bernie: We do have photos. Let's have a look at some pictures.

2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services
2017 VW Golf, Maintenance Services

So there's our nice shiny red 2017 taken on a bright day in Vancouver. Nice treat. The engine, so that's a 1.8 litre TSI. It's turbo stratified injection is what that means. It's basically a fuel injected turbocharged 1.8 litre engine, very efficient. The direct fuel injection system. We'll talk about that in a few minutes, but kind of state of the art technology for an internal combustion engine these days for getting the best power in mileage you can get out of such a thing.

There's a view of the back of the engine you can see the turbocharger at the back of the engine there. Just the top of it and the exhaust down-pipe. Other pictures. What do we got here? The spark plugs I mentioned we did replace those. Kind of a unique looking spark plug. If you're familiar with looking at spark plugs, what's unique about this is it doesn't have that long connector on the top of the spark plug.

Usually there's a, you know, it sticks up about half an inch where the spark plug wire ignition coil sticks on. And this is almost flush with the top of the ceramic insulator. That's got a kind of unique ignition coil design that kind of plugs into the top. And also the insulator, a lot of them have ribs on them and some don't.

So to me, it also has kind of a unique look when it doesn't have the ribs on it. I think the ribs are primarily there for a spark plug wires to clip onto it. It's probably why they originally designed them like that. But, you know, with modern engines, the coil just sits over top of it. So it's not really all that necessary. 

I mentioned we did a brake fluid flush. So this is kind of how the brake fluid flush looks down at the wheel side of the vehicle. We basically open up the bleeder screw. We have a flushing machine, which I'll show you the next picture. We have a bucket here with a hose on it. So we don't pour brake fluid all over the ground, but we basically just pump, this is a pressure bleeder. It pumps fluid through the system from the master cylinder down to the brake lines. And eventually when it comes out clear, then we stopped the flow through that one. And that's the pressure bleeder. This is a very old looking thing. Looks, I always thought it kind of looks like R2D2 on Star Wars, got the three wheels and it's basically a tank filled with brake fluid and we put air pressure in the bottom and it attaches to the top of the master cylinder. Pumps fluid under pressure. It really good way to bleed brakes and if you're alone doing a service, it's perfect because you can pump the fluid through you don't need a second person to do it. Plus for flushing brake fluid, even better because you can move large volumes of fluid through the system. So that is our share for today. 

Mark: So, was there anything else that could have been done to service this vehicle? 

Bernie: Well the other thing we didn't do, and I'm not certain why we didn't, is a direct injection cleaning service, direct fuel injection cleaning service. We call it a GDI service, gasoline direct injection service.

So those vehicles, I mentioned that has direct fuel injection, what direct fuel injection is, is the fuel injector sprays a fuel right into the cylinder, not on the intake valve, like it used to happen traditionally and direct injection is, it's always what's been used in diesel, but it's been adopted for gasoline engines for, you know, 10 years, most modern cars have it. Some don't still. Even some Toyotas actually have a dual system where they have the port injection and a direct injection system. And it's used at different times. I mean, talk about added complication, but I guess they feel like it works, but for the Volkswagen, it's got the direct injection.

Now what happens is overtime, the intake valves used to get sprayed with fuel and port injection system. So they kept clean, but over time, because these aren't sprayed in fuel, carbon deposits build up on top of the intake valves causing performance issues. And it can lead to some expensive repairs if you don't service the vehicle properly. So doing an injection clean, probably every 30 to 40,000 kilometres is really important on any direct injection engine. 

Mark: Well, what again, what happens if you don't do that service?

Bernie:  So what happens if you don't do it? Carbon buildup will become excessive and you'll start developing performance issues. The engine may not idle properly. It might lack power, stumble, you know, all sorts of issues like that can happen and removing it becomes very expensive if it becomes too thick. We, the system we do, the service we do is with a chemical it's sprayed into the engine and it basically softens the carbon off the engine, which burns off.

It can handle small amounts if you do it on a routine basis, but if you leave it until it, you know, there's a huge crust of carbon, it can either involve removing the cylinder head from the engine you know, very expensive or there's another technique called Walnut blasting where you can remove the intake manifold, sort of seal things up and you blast the intake valves with crumbled walnut shells, which is similar to sandblasting. But of course, as you can imagine, blasting sand into an engine is not a good thing to do, but walnut shells are hard, but not hard enough, they'll basically they'll burn up in the engine. They won't cause any further damage, but it's an expensive service.

So getting the injection system cleaned every again, 30 to 40,000 kilometres is an important thing to do on this Volkswagen or any other vehicle with gasoline direct injection. 

Mark: So basically this is because the fuel, the gasoline fuel is also a solvent, when it's put into port, it's hitting the top of that valve which is a, I don't know, almost a triangular shape. 

Bernie: They call them the tulip shape. It's like a triangular shape. 

Mark: Yeah. And that top part isn't in a hot part of the car. It's on the cool side of the cylinder, but that fuel is hitting it. And then it opens and the fuel, runs into the cylinder, cleaning the carbon off of there that might build up. When you're putting it straight into a cylinder, you don't have any fuel in the port above. 

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. No, you might think, yeah, that's right. You might think to yourself well, why, if it's just the intake valve is basically air being sucked in the engine, you think, well, why is air causing carbon deposits to be built on the valves? And so most of it comes from the crankcase breather system where there's you know, the engine we've talked about this in the past, but an internal combustion engine has to have a breathing system.

If it's completely sealed, it'll explode because certain amount of pressure escapes, the piston rings. And the engine would blow up. So it has to breathe. Now, if you breathe those gasses to the environment, it's horrific, it creates horrific pollution, plus it stinks. So for a long time, they've had a PCV valve system. It's a closed system. It sucks the crankcase vapours back into the engine to re-burn them. But in that there's always a tiny little minute amount of oil vapour and that eventually will stick onto the intake valve. So that's really what causes a lot of that. It's from that system.

Mark: And that oil being deposited on there, even though it's minute amounts, the valve is obviously extremely hot. Thousands of degrees probably close to. 

Bernie: Oh, not even that. It's actually not it's in the hundreds, but it's still pretty damn hot. It's hot. You don't want to touch it. 

Mark: It would cook your burgers pretty easy.

Bernie: Oh yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. 

Mark: And so that basically changes the oil into carbon and a deposit is stuck on the valve and causes problems, essentially. 

Bernie: Exactly. Yeah. 

Mark: So you want to wash it off? 

Bernie: You want to wash it off and clean it? Yup. 

Mark: Is there anything that I could do as an owner of one of these direct injection cars that could prevent these carbon deposits from building up on the valves? 

Bernie: Well, there is a couple of things. First of all, gasoline manufacturers have developed a standards called top tier fuel. So if you use a gas, that's got top tier, and you'll get that at any name, brand station, well in Canada, like Esso, Chevron, any of those kinds of stations their fuels are all top tier. I bought gas in the US, you see on the pump a lot of times it'll say top tier fuels. So just because you're buying gas from a non-name brand station doesn't necessarily mean it's not top tier, but I would check into that because it can make a big difference. The way they formulate the gasoline has cleaners in it that will prevent carbon deposits to a certain degree, but not entirely it keeps them at a minimum.

The other thing you can do is change your oil regularly, and that's probably more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Don't push it to the very limit where if they tell you it's 12,000 Ks, change it at 10. Do it a little early because again, it keeps the oil clean and fresh and that can prevent the deposits from happening also.

Mark: So, that's the maintenance services on this vehicle. So how are VW Golfs for reliability? 

Bernie: They're good vehicles. Not overly expensive, European technology vehicle. They run well, they drive nice. I'd say they're a good car. You know, they're not overly expensive to fix. The engines are generally pretty good on these cars. We've run into a few issues on the style of engine on some other models. No eventually there's some issues developed with timing chains. I'm not sure if this particular model has any issues with them, but some of the Tiguans have a similar design have that, but overall I'd say it's a good car. For a compact car, it's a nice car to drive for sure. I would recommend it. 

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your vehicle, any make, model, type of vehicle, any kind of light truck. The guys to see in Vancouver, BC are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. They only take reservations folks, you just can't walk in most days and get in there. They're busy. 

Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. If you're not sure about what kind of service you might need for your vehicle. We have hundreds of videos and articles over the last eight, nine years. Same on the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair. You can find it on there. Thanks so much for listening to and watching our podcast. We really appreciate it. And thanks Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.

VW Tiguan Reliability

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're going to talk about the reliability of the VW Tiguan today. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well? 

Mark: So how reliable is the VW Tiguan? 

Bernie: Fairly reliable, with a few issues and most of them seem to be in the earlier model years of the vehicle. Some of the newer ones don't seem to have the same issues. It might be that they just need a little more time to age before the issues occur.

Mark: So how long has the Tiguan been around? 

Bernie: So in North America, it's been around since the 2009 model year and  you still buy a brand new one. So it's a what's that give them an 11, 11 year run of a 11, 12 year run on models. 

Mark: And it's basically a small or midsize, I don't know, it's smaller than midsize. It's kind of a compact SUV. 

Bernie: That's the category it's in. Yeah, it's a compact SUV. Nice little size vehicle. I mean, Volkswagen has the Touareg, which is definitely a much bigger vehicle. Completely different platform, it's basically the same as an Audi Q7, a Porsche Cayenne, and the VW Touareg are all on the same platform.

They look kind of different, but they're all kind of similar designs. Some have the same engines, you know, with little tweaks here and there.You wouldn't expect to buy a Porsche and it's got the same specifications as a Volkswagen and vice versa. So they do tweak and change those, but our vehicle, the Tiguan is definitely in the smaller category.

Mark: So what are the main issues that you've seen with this vehicle? 

Bernie: The main issues we've seen, and are really well documented out in the world are timing chain problems, timing chain tension or failures. These happen on kind of on a premature basis. Expensive damage can occur. You'll notice if you have an issue like this, there's a rattle from the timing chain will happen. Get it fixed immediately because if you leave it too long and the timing chain skips teeth or brakes, you'll wreck the engine and need to replace it. 

The other area is water pumps. These things use a kind of a strange design of water pump and there's issues with those failing prematurely as well. Those are kind of the two main things that we see on these vehicles. That's kind of the bulk of the main problems. 

Mark: So those are engine related problems. What about the transmission and drive train? 

Bernie: Transmission drive train, they all seem to be pretty good. There's not really anything major that goes on in that department. I always say that, you know, anything is possible on any car, but they seem to be pretty reliable. Most by the way, you know, most of them are automatics, at least in the North American market, it seems like everything's available in an automatic format. There are, in other markets like in Europe and different places, DSG, that's a direct shift gearbox transmission available. But in North America is mostly six speed automatic up to around 2017 or 18 and they go to an 18 speed automatic, sorry, six speed and eight speed. I've been thinking about bicycles a lot lately so my brain is adding an extra 10 on front.

Mark: What about steering, suspension, braking concerns? 

Bernie: Again those items are all pretty good in these vehicles. I mean, there's nothing abnormal, that tends to wear prematurely in the steering or suspension. Brakes seem to have you know, pretty decent average life span. I think of average life span is about 50 to 80,000 kilometres on a set of brakes. These vehicles definitely fit into that category. So they're good that way. There's nothing really obvious that that wears out prematurely on these vehicles. 

Of course, if you're buying a used one, always get an inspection, you never know how it's been used or what's happened to it. You know, things do wear no matter what. We're kind of just looking here at the really obvious, bad things and recurring problems. 

Mark: So what maintenance items would you suggest that people need to look after assiduously on if they have a Tiguan or are looking at buying a Tiguan?

Bernie: Yeah, so, obviously at the very minimum follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. So oil services need to be done at the prescribed interval. I believe it's probably around 10,000 kilometres. It's a synthetic oil in these vehicles. So you can go for a little longer, but it is a turbocharged engine. So that's, you know, turbocharged engines are under a fair bit of strain. So changing the oil more frequently is a good idea. 

The other area of maintenance is cleaning the fuel system or cleaning the valves. Cleaning the direct injection fuel systems involves a different service should be done every about 30 to 50,000 kilometres. And, you know, failure to do that can result in carbon buildup on valves. And if it gets excessive, you have to actually remove the intake manifold, blast out the carbon with a walnut blaster. It's a huge job, or actually even remove the cylinder head, which you really don't want to get into.

So doing regular services, cleaning the system is a very good idea on a routine basis. And you probably won't find that in the factory maintenance manual. So again, you know, if you're in Vancouver, you want service? We can take care of that. If you're somewhere else, make sure you ask your provider to do that service every 30 to 50,000 kilometres. You'll keep your engine running properly and prevent expensive problems. 

Other than that, you know, the transmission fluid needs to be changed at a certain interval. If it's an all wheel drive there's rear differential fluid, and brake fluid flushes about two years would be kind of critical.

Coolant does need to be flushed, but not very often, probably every five years. That kind of covers the bulk of it. And routine inspections of course prevent issues from happening. If oil leaks are noted, they can be fixed before any problems happen, not prematurely, or any problems happen. 

Mark: So would regular oil changes help with the problems that you've seen with the, with the drive train or with the engine I mean, with the, I can't think of the word, the timing chain, timing gene.

Bernie:  It certainly won't hurt it, but no, the answer is it's really a manufacturing defect. They just didn't build the components strong enough. So if you stretch your oil changes too far, absolutely it will have effect on it. It's not doing any good, but, even if you do your oil changes religiously and maybe even, you know, do them 30% sooner, you might get a little more life out of it, but, you know, chances are you'll need to do it at some point anyways. It's just part of that nature of the design of the vehicle, but, you know, good maintenance can never hurt.

Mark: So that'd be an issue if you're looking at buying a used one of these that you need to consider. 

Bernie: Absolutely. The best used vehicle to buy would be one that you're buying it from someone who has all the maintenance records or you're able to access them. If you're buying from a dealer, if they actually have the maintenance records from the previous owner, that'd be a good thing to do and look them through and see how this person maintain the vehicle. It's really important.

Mark: If you're looking for a VW Tiguan in Vancouver or repairs, maintenance, looking after it, considering one. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and videos on there about all makes and models of cars, all kinds of problems, 7 years worth. Of course, there's the YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair, again, videos on there. And we really appreciate you watching and listening to the podcast. Leave us a review on Apple. We appreciate it. And thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.

2011 VW Golf Rear Brake Caliper Repair

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, and we're talking VW Golf this morning. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So a VW, 2011 Golf that had a problem with the brakes, a brake light warning. What was going on with this Volkswagen?

Bernie: Yeah. So the customer brought the vehicle in, there's a brake pad warning light on the dash. So obviously he was concerned about that and that was his primary concern with the vehicle. Stopped okay. But there was a warning light on. 

Mark: So what kind of diagnosis and inspection procedure did you follow to find out what was going on?

Bernie: Well, it's always important when someone comes in with a warning, light to determine what the actual warning light says. And in the case of this vehicle, it says brake pad warning. So on this vehicle, there's only one brake pad that has aware sensor on it. That's the front left. So that's a pretty good indication that there's something either wrong electronically or the actual brake pad is worn out. Brake pad warnings are usually a European car thing. Some cars have, you know, a sensor on every wheel. Some have just one, like this, Volkswagen, some have like one sensor per axle. So it's not an exact warning on each pad, but I'm trying to think, there's actually a couple of cars that actually have a sensor on every brake pad, which is, you know, that gets to be pretty accurate at that rate.

Anyways from there, an inspection. We do a regular brake inspection like we do on any car to determine, you know, the condition of the brakes. You know, how thick are the pads, how are the rotors, did the calipers retract properly? What are the conditions of the brake hoses and fluid and so on. We look at all those items and then determine what the vehicle needs. 

Mark: So how did that lead to a rear caliper being replaced?

Bernie: Yeah. So I'm talking more about the rear caliper on this vehicle. I mean, there were other things that we changed that we've discussed in other podcasts.

The front brake pads and rotors were worn out and needed to be replaced. That was one of the primary issues. We found on the rear brakes, there was about five to six millimetres left on the rear brake pads. We've got a slight uneven wear, but that's still a fair bit of material. But what we noticed when we visually inspected the brakes before we took the caliper off. As we could see, the right rear caliper dust seal had been twisted pretty badly. And we figured that at least we should do a service on the back brakes to clean and lubricate it and, you know, reestablish the position that dust seal before things get worse.

Mark: So how does the rear dust seal get twisted? 

Bernie: So on these brakes, when you do a brake repair, you basically have to retract the caliper piston. And normally that happens by just squishing the piston back into its bore with pliers or special tools. But this is a parking brake on the rear brakes, and that requires the caliper piston to actually be rotated with a special tool. So somebody probably rotated it. They didn't either lube the end of the dust seal or they just allowed it to get twisted while they put it back in. There's a bit of friction that happens and that's what created the damage to the dust seal.

Mark: So that doesn't sound like such a big deal. Maybe. Why did that lead to a caliper replacement?

Bernie: We'll get into some pictures right now. With the twisted seal, what happens is it allowed the seal to crack and let water into the caliper and freeze up the piston.

So let's have a look at a couple of pictures. So here's our 2011 VW Golf. And our caliper piston. So this is a view of the caliper here, this dust seal, and I didn't take an after picture, but this is the before, this is supposed to be a nice seal. It covers over this whole area from here to here, and you can sort of see, it doesn't look like it sits properly.

2011 VW Golf Rear Brake Caliper Repair
2011 VW Golf Rear Brake Caliper Repair

And inside here there's rust and that is supposed to be covered with this dust seal and no moisture or rust in that area. So as that happens, this piston starts to seize up in the bore and cause the brakes to wear unevenly. So that's why we ended up replacing the caliper.

Mark: How serious an issue would of this been over an extended period of time?

Bernie: Well, what would happen if we hadn't done anything with it, is the brake would start to wear rapidly as the caliper piston seized up. Calipers will sometimes just seize without sort of warning that, you know, all of a sudden you're driving and your brakes start getting hot or smoking in a really extreme condition.

So that's what replacing the calipers, you know, like in this case, is all about. Preventing that kind of thing from happening. So it can be pretty serious. Once we noticed that kind of issue is happening, it needs to be addressed.

Mark: And how often on a Golf are brake calipers replaced?

Bernie: Not often. This vehicle has about 200,000 kilometres, so it's a pretty high miler. And these were definitely the original calipers. So they've got a pretty good long life. Most brake calipers do tend to last a long time, but it depends from car to car. 

Mark: So might we assume or guess, that they had a problem with their parking brake and somebody tried to monkey with it and fix it and didn't exactly, weren't experts in doing it. 

Bernie: I would say not necessarily with the parking brake. With the regular brakes. I'll just get back into this picture here for a second here. As I mentioned, the caliper piston has to be twisted back in. And this isn't a greatest view. But if you look on the front face of this caliper, there's usually a couple of little holes and there's a special tool that will actually press this piston, you rotate it and it presses the piston back in, in this direction that I'm moving the mouse pointer back into the caliper bore. That needs to be done when you do a brake job, because as the pads wear, the caliper piston moves out in this direction. So when you put new rotors and pads in, then the caliper piston of course has to be moved back.

So what I think is more likely, is whoever did the last brake job just wasn't really very careful to make sure this dust seal sat properly and that's what caused it to wear out. I mean, dust seals will crack and break with age, but the way we found this one, of course there was definitely some other underlying causes.

Mark: So this wasn't the first break job? 

Bernie: No, definitely not. But 200,000 kilometres was a long time, but I know you've owned a Volkswagen product. This was a standard transmission you can get a lot, as you well know, you can get a very long life out of brake pads and rotors on these kinds of Volkswagens. They last for, I know that your Jetta had 130,000 kilometres when you moved on. Somewhere around there. And I remember the brakes were still in very, very good, the pads were probably still eight millimetres thick, which, you know, at that rate it probably would have lasted 300,000 kilometres. Although something would have probably seized up or corroded by then. But you know, they were still on a trajectory to a long life.

So it's easy to get a a hundred thousand kilometres on a Volkswagen standard transmission, you know, Golf or Jetta vehicle on a set of brake pads and rotors. A hundred thousand easily. 

Mark: And how are VW Golf's for reliability?

Bernie: They're good, decent cars. They have a few quirks and things here and there, some engine issues with certain models, but otherwise, you know, a pretty good car.

Mark: Stay away from the diesel. 

Bernie: Yeah. Well, I mean, the diesel is reliable, but we know that they weren't exactly forthcoming with their emission specs. So you're polluting more than you know, if you're buying it for a clean diesel, you're not really that clean.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your VW in Vancouver, from experts, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. Even now, they're still busy. They have a smaller crew right now. Some people have been laid off because of other requirements that they needed family-wise and, hey, it's still busy enough that you've got to book ahead. So 327-7112 to book your appointment in Vancouver. If you need to check out what's going on, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of blog posts and videos on there over the last almost 11 years. As well, the YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos on. They're all makes and models of cars and types of repairs. Thank you for watching. We really appreciate it and thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching. Always a pleasure.

2009 VW Tiguan Engine Oil Separator

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers in 38 years of maintaining and repairing cars in Vancouver. Of course, we're with Mr. Bernie Pawlik and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim, 2009 VW Tiguan that had an oil problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle actually came to our shop with a ... It was running very roughly. The check engine light was blinking, which is a serious issue that, I've said before many times, a check engine light if it's just on solid, you need to get some repairs done some time in the future, but when it's blinking, it's serious. It'll create a catalyst damaging misfire, which basically, without getting too wordy, means it'll cost you a lot more money if you don't fix it really, really quickly. So the owner smartly brought the vehicle in and we did some testing and diagnosis on it.

Mark: And what did your testing and diagnosis find?

Bernie: Well, we found a few things. One, there was some problems with the ignition coils. They were worn out. There was misfires in three of the four cylinders. We did a visual inspection. The spark plugs looked pretty old. There was also a little bit of oil seeping down the spark plug tubes, which can cause a misfire problem. It wasn't serious enough to fill the well up with oil, which creates a definite misfire. It wasn't that deep, but there was some oil seeping in. And also, there was a code for a lean air-fuel ratio condition. We did some further tests on that, and we found the engine oil separator was worn out and causing a major vacuum leak in the engine.

Mark: Okay. Oil separator. What causes an oil separator to fail?

Bernie: Well, on these type of vehicles, and a lot of similar vehicles, the oil separator, it's like a PCV valve. It's a crankcase ventilation valve. Some cars, they call it an oil separator. They do on this particular vehicle.

What this oil separator unit does is, it allows crankcase gases to be sucked into the intake manifold to be re-burned. It's a pollution reduction device, very effective. But if it doesn't suck the right way, it'll suck engine oil right out of the engine, into the intake manifold. Of course, then you have blue smoke and a whole bunch of other problems. So the oil separator separate ... prevents the oil from actually getting into that, getting mixed in with the crankcase gases. So that's how the unit works.

Mark: So positive meaning basically that it's taking what would be negative pressure and turning it, using that to pull the gases out of the crankcase and to be re-burned?

Bernie: Exactly. In the past, and we're going way back in the past, unless you look at a Dodge diesel from the mid-2000's, which they actually still add a road draft to, believe it or not, crankcase gases were vented out to the atmosphere. This was actually one of the worst pollutants that an internal combustion engine can make. If you smell it, it's the most noxious smelling fumes, because it's not really burnt gases. It's just gases that have escaped past the pistons, mixed with a bit of crankcase oil. It's a horrific smell, and really, really bad for the environment. So, it's one of those pollution devices that actually really is very effective and really doesn't rob an engine of any power at all, by doing it. It probably does a tiny bit, but it's so minute, you'd never notice it.

Mark: So what's the difference between a positive crankcase ventilation valve and an oil separator.

Bernie: I would say complexity is kind of it. But you'll find this term used on a variety of different vehicles interchangeably, European cars. I'm just actually going to show some pictures right now.

2009 VW Tiguan Engine Oil Separator
2009 VW Tiguan Engine Oil Separator
2009 VW Tiguan Engine Oil Separator

This is our Tiguan engine oil separator, or PCV valve. The PCV part is kind of in here, but this is the top side view. This is what you'd see if you look on top of the valve cover. This is the underside view, so this is with the unit removed. This is what sort of sits against the valve cover, so there's a gasket here. There's a number of passageways and rubber valves inside. You can't really see anything. That's why you basically replace the whole unit, because there's nothing serviceable on it. But the good news is, you can actually service this unit. It's a separate replacement unit.

Now, compared to a PCV valve, this is a PCV valve that's ... this is very commonly used, starting in the 1960's up. You'd find this on American cars, Japanese cars, earlier European vehicles. Nowadays, some cars still use this PCV valve. It does exactly the same function, believe it or not. This part costs about, I don't know, you can probably buy it as cheap as two or three bucks for some vehicles. But for some reason, European vehicles, they decided to get really complicated. And they fail a lot more frequently.

These PCV valves used to plug up, in the olden days. Again, they were cheap to fix and you could, every time you changed the oil, or every second oil change, you could pull it out, shake it, rattle it, if it moved, then it's good and you could keep it. But anyways, that's not the case in the Volkswagen. It's much more complicated. So there's our little picture show for the day.

Mark: Any idea why it's mostly European or VW vehicles?

Bernie: Yeah, well it's interesting you say that, because it seems to be mostly European vehicles that have this type of system. It's not just VW, it's even Range Rover, which is an English vehicle. I don't know, maybe there's an engineering school in Europe that all the automotive engineers go to, and they all learn to make a crankcase vent valve. Because it's interesting, when you look at cars, how on different continents, they have their unique ways of doing things, even though they're all the same, the internal combustion engine is the same thing.

But you won't find these kind of PCV valves, generally, on American cars, although they're starting to get more complex. But yeah, you'll find these on Porsches and Volkswagen, BMWs are famous for failing, Mercedes almost never. So they've got those built pretty different for Mercedes, but certainly the Porsche, VW, Audis, BMWs, they're all common failure. Land Rovers as well.

Mark:So what's involved in replacing this oil separator on the Tiguan?

Bernie: Well, on a Tiguan, fortunately it's not too difficult. It bolts on top of the valve cover, reasonably easy to remove and replace. So that's positive, because a lot of them are not such. A lot of BMWs, and it's a high failure item on a lot of BMWs, involves removing the intake manifold to access the crankcase vent unit. And there's a bunch of other plastic pipes that tend to break and crack at the same time. There are certain VW and Porsche products where you actually have to replace the whole valve cover, because that actual ... All the components are inside the valve cover. I mean, really brilliant idea. I mean, great from a manufacturing point of view. I'm being a little cynical. But when it comes to repair and replace, it becomes much more complicated. So on the Tiguan, it's pretty good. It's a decent job, not too crazily expensive.

Mark: So you mentioned oil leaking into the spark plugs. What did you do about .... spark plug tubes. What did you do about that?

Bernie: Well, at this point in time, we determined the leak wasn't severe enough to actually repair the leak. Normally, we would say, "Hey, let's just do a valve cover gasket and put new spark plug tube seals." But, that's not possible on this one, here. The good news is, the crankcase vent valve is easy to replace. The bad news is, doing a valve cover gasket on this particular engine is extremely complicated. You actually have to remove the entire cylinder head, and then disassemble it and the valve cover's all part of that. So we determined with the amount of cost and the amount of leakage that it would be best for the owner just to leave it and monitor it for the time being. It would have been a very expensive job. So, from an engineering perspective, that wasn't such a win for Volkswagen. But I'll give my thumbs up for the crankcase vent valve, or the engine oil separator, I should say.

Mark: How are Tiguans for overall reliability?

Bernie: They're not too bad. The key with any of these modern vehicles is maintenance. Change your oil regularly, and change it more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. A lot of them have very long oil change intervals with synthetic oil. Just do it, run it 75% of the time or less than they recommend. Then you're in the safe margin. You're in the safe zone. Combustion chamber cleaning, really important on these things, because they're a direct fuel injection, the valves can gum up. Or not gum up, sorry, get pretty serious deposits. So it's best to deal with those sooner than later. I'm losing my voice here. Sorry.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your VW or European vehicle or you've got a ... any vehicle that has a check engine light blinking, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're really busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and videos on there, as well as on the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, over 320 videos on all makes and models of vehicles and more every week. And of course, thank you, so much, for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. We really appreciate it.

2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years servicing in maintaining cars in Vancouver and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. And of course, we're here with Bernie Pawlik talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning.

Mark: So, this week's victim is a 2012 VW Tiguan. I always choke a little bit on VW. Water pump replacement. What's going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. It's okay, Mark. It's a gas motor one. They haven't faked us out on these ones. Yeah. So this vehicle came to our shop. It had a coolant leak coming from under the hood, obviously, so we proceeded to do some diagnosis and testing to figure out what was going on.

Mark: What'd your testing and diagnosis find?

Bernie: Well, what we found was a coolant leak coming from the front of the engine kind of buried under the intake manifold. We'll look at some pictures in a little bit and you can see how typically complex this thing is under the hood. But there was a leak coming from around the area of the water pump, and that's where we proceeded next.

Mark: So, what was your next step?

Bernie: Yeah. So next step was we verified the area of the leak. Couldn't see it exactly, but it was around the area of the water pump, so we got in and removed the water pump, and that's where we found the issue.

Mark: What did you find?

2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement
2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement
2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement
2012 VW Tiguan-Water Pump Replacement

Bernie: What we did we find? Here's a picture. This is the surface where the water pump bolts up to the engine block. The red arrow points to the area of failure here. If you look here, you can see there's a plastic channel. There's the channel there. Part of this plastic here is just basically broken away, allowing this O-ring to just flop out of place. Of course, it causes coolant under pressure to just blow out this way right down the side of the engine.

So, I know I say jokingly, we love plastic. I don't like to own plastic car parts because they wear out, but they do create a lot of work for us because they do I think tend to fail earlier than they should in many cases. This is sort of the backside of the water pump housing. This is the drive gear over here, but this is basically the area of failure. So the whole water pump assembly needs to be replaced. So that's what we found.

This is a view of the engine with the covers and everything on. The water pump is located down in this area here below the intake manifold. Again, there's a lot of work to access it and get at it. This is a view underneath the vehicle of the new water pump installed. You can see the drive gear, the hose outlets. There's a lot of complexity to put this pump in. There's a number of different connecting pieces. You can see a piece of the thermostat in there and the actual water pump impeller is in this area here. So the actual water pump itself is made of aluminum, but the housing is all plastic.

I think we have a final photograph to look at here. Again, this is a view down the engine with the plastic cover off the top. You can see the ignition coils and a little more of the area of the intake, but again, the water pump's buried under here.

I'm actually gonna go back to this picture of the water pump because this thing has a unique drive system. You see this cogged pulley here. It's actually driven by a tiny little drive belt. Looks like a little mini timing belt. I should've taken a picture of it, but it's about, I don't know, maybe four inches long and it goes to a drive pulley located under this area here. It actually involves removing that pulley to put the belt on. So that's another item that gets replaced at the same time as the water pump, because of course if that belt breaks, the pump won't turn and things will need to be done. The belt was starting to crack at the age of the vehicle so it was a good time to do it. But yeah, really complicated little job.

Mark: So why would they use such a complicated system? Just to fit it in the vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, just to fit it in the vehicle. The plastic, again ... I'm just gonna go back to sharing that picture of all the plastic here. You can see there's a lot of plastic in this area. There's plastic down here. The top of the engine, the valve cover's all plastic. The intake manifold's plastic. You got covers here, ducting. I'm kind of drifting off here 'cause why they fit it in, but there's a lot put into the engine compartment, so they tend to put things wherever they can. I mean, that's kind of a quirky drive system, but I guess the engineers go, "Well, that's a good spot to put it. Let's put it over there." Kind of like our Volvo we talked about a few weeks back where again, they put the alternator underneath the intake manifold and drive the water pump with kind of a crazy pulley system on the backside of the engine. But wherever they can fit stuff in the engine compartment, gets the car out the door, they can sell it and you as a consumer have to deal with it later.

Mark: Yeah. This is kind of a smaller size SVU.

Bernie: It is, yeah. It's a nice compact sized SVU. I mean, it's a really nice vehicle. Drives great. Good performance, decent fuel economy. I can't really see anything wrong with it other than that but along with the compactness comes complication. I don't know if there's any escaping it. Some brands are just more reliable than others.

Mark: And how are Tiguans for reliability?

Bernie: I'm gonna put them in the fair category. I mean, you get things like this plastic failure is common. Over the years, we've done a lot of ... You can probably look at a video we've done a few years ago or a blog post. I talk about plastic in VWs. It's an item that does fail a lot and causes the consumer extra money to fix, but overall it's a pretty decent car. I think my comparison was always you'll spend a little more money fixing this than a Toyota and there will be a few more things that will go wrong, but other than that, it's a pretty decent vehicle.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your VW in Vancouver BC, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. If you're in Vancouver, call to book ahead. If you're elsewhere, check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos there or of course, thank you for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it, and thank you, Bernie.

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

2012 VW Jetta TDI, Dash Warning Lights Explained

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive videos and podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver for quite a few decades. And also 19 time winners, only 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. How you're doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, we're talking about dash warning lights. We're going through a little series on this, just revealing maybe some of the things that you could find out for yourself if you looked in your owner's manual, which most of us don't do. This is for a 2012 VW Jetta TDI, which is a diesel version. What's going on with the warning lights on this VW? What do they mean?

Bernie: Yeah, well. Before we look at pictures, let's just talk about their ... I mean, there's essentially two basic colours of warning lights. There's amber, and there's red. And so red are the like stop light kinda thing. You gotta ... it's serious, you gotta deal with this right now in some way, shape, or form. And amber is something that's ... it's a caution. There's something you need to attend to at some point, but not immediate. Those are basically most of them. I mean, other than, there are dash lamps sometimes that are green or blue, like the blue one will usually mean for the high beam light. But these are not so much warning, they're just information lights. Yeah, so that's basically the key. Again, red is like stop. Amber is like caution.

Mark: And amber is just a fancy name for yellow.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah, but it's actually am- ... I was going to say amber or yellow, but it's like, you know.

Mark: So let's get up a picture of the dash and see what's going on.

Bernie: Sounds good. Okay, so you can see the dash here?


2012 VW Jetta TDI, Dash Warning Lights Explained

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: Okay. Alright, so this is basically a view of the dash, when you turn the key on and for a couple seconds all the lights will come on. And that basically, they're on to tell you that the actual light bulb is working, and the indicator itself, the system's actually working. So, we'll just start over in the right hand side here. We've got a few ... so this is, again, an amber light. This for the airbag system, that there's a malfunction in the airbag. Some vehicles, this will actually be a red light, but on the VW it's an amber light. 

ABS brake system at fault. This is for the traction control system. So those are our amber lights, again these are like sort of indicators that something isn't quite right, but not necessarily wrong. And sometimes these things will blink. The traction lamps sometimes will come on. The traction control system basically keeps your, essentially your wheels from spinning when you're accelerating hard. That will be one of the things. And so you happen to sometimes, say, on a snowy road, you accelerate hard, this light might blink, indicating that the traction system wasn't able to give you traction. But it doesn't indicate really a problem, that's just normal.

This is the ... I'm just looking around here. Yeah, so this is brake warning light, and this can often be multi-function. This can also be ... this can indicate the parking brake is on. It can also indicate that your brake fluid level is low. So, that's if your parking brake is not on and the light's still on, have your brake fluid level checked or check it yourself.

This red light hiding behind here, this is a seatbelt warning light, that your seatbelt is not on. So again it's red, it's like urgent, they want you to have your seatbelt on. And this green light that's hidden back here, it actually has a ... I think it has a view of a foot. This is to indicate to push the brake pedal down to shift out of park, so that light I believe usually goes off when you push the brake pedal down. And once you shift out of park the light's off.

So we move over to the left side of the dash, now we have ... again, we'll go over the ambers first. The check engine light. Again, if this light comes on, it indicates you need to have something looked at on the vehicle related to the emission system or engine performance. If it's blinking, however, that can indicate a catalyst damaging misfire. Now this is a diesel, so I'm not certain in terms of blinking on diesels when or how that occurs. But on a gas lean engine vehicle, if it's blinking you need to get it fixed very quickly before you cost yourself more money.

Of course, that looks like a gas can, that's your low fuel warning light. On your left, the glow plug light. So, when you turn your key on normally this will illuminate for anywhere from a second to maybe a few seconds if you're in a cold climate. And as soon as that light goes out, then you start the engine, so that indicates the glow plugs are on. That's to warm up the engine to start.

And this indicates that the catalyst, or the exhaust particulate filter on this vehicle is got too much soot in it. And again there's caution and service that needs to be done around that. We won't go into that here.

On the red light side of things, that's your temperature warning light, so that could be your engine's overheating. This is a critical thing. If that light comes on, shut the engine off and figure out what's going on with it, or take it in. Same with this one here, this oil can light. If the engine is running and that light is on, that's a bad thing. So make sure you shut the engine off immediately and have it serviced, diagnosed.

This light here, the battery, looks like a battery. It indicates that the charging system voltage is low, it's not that the battery's bad. So what will likely happen, if that light comes on while you're driving, you'll probably have a dead battery soon. So again, that's something that needs to be tended to pretty quickly.

And this light here that looks like a steering wheel indicates a fault with the steering system. These vehicles use electric power steering, so this would indicate a fault with the electric power steering.

Now, that's basically all the lights on the dash that are on right now, but I did actually take a couple of photographs of the manual. 

2012 VW Jetta TDI, Dash Warning Lights Explained
2012 VW Jetta TDI, Dash Warning Lights Explained

If you own this vehicle, I mean go through the manual and have a look at it, because it explains what all these lights are, and actually ... so there's a few things I missed, I'm not going to go into all the details here. If you have the car, get a manual. You can usually find these kinda things online, but it has a list of the red lights. And then if you have a look over here it has a list of the amber lights I think come on for different issues. There's also a few green ones as well, but these are usually just related to other driving issues and not anything of any concern with the engine or operating system of the vehicle. And that hereby ends our picture show.

Mark: So how different will the warning lights be on a gas engined VW compared to this TDI?

Bernie: That's a good question. Not a lot different. The only major difference, of course, you won't have a glow plug warning light on the gasoline engine because they don't have glow plugs, and also that soot filter light will not be there. I'd say that there may be on a gas ... yeah, that's pretty much, those lights won't be there. I'm not sure on a gas engine if there'll any extra ones. Probably not. So there'll just be an absence of two lights there. But again, look through your manual. The key is look through your manual and just kinda get used to it. But again, if there's any red lights on, the key is to shut the vehicle off right away. Look and see what the information is. Call a mechanic you trust, or a service facility you trust and figure out what's going on with it.

Mark: Great, so this is in your range of VW's cheating software system that allowed them to fake good emissions when they actually had really poor emissions, and recalled lots of vehicles. Thank you, they paid me a lot of money for mine. Do you work on many of these?

Bernie: Oh yeah, we still see lots of them. I mean, there's still lots on the road. I mean, they've either fixed them up or people ... I'm not even sure what everyone's chosen to do. It's kind of a story that's sort of filtered away in the back burner. I mean Volkswagen doesn't sell these diesels anymore. But yeah, we still work on lots of them. I mean, they are a very good vehicle, and obviously from an environmental standpoint I'd say they're a lot better than diesels have been in the past, but they're obviously not ... they weren't what they were supposed to be, and that's why they got into trouble, and ... but yeah, other than that, I mean, it's a great vehicle. It's very good.

Mark: So there you go. If you have a VW dash warning lights, you need some more information, have a look in your ... or whatever vehicle ... have a look in your manual and you'll find out what's going on up there. Important for maintaining and driving safely in your vehicle.  And of course if you want any kind of service or maintenance, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, hundreds of videos on there over the last six or seven years as well.  Thank you for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.

2002 VW Jetta TDI No Start Condition

Mark: Hey, it's Mark Bossert here. Producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing well.

Mark: So, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and 37 years of repairing vehicles and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. We're going to talk about a 2002 VW Jetta TDI that wouldn't start. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah. So, this vehicle was towed to our shop with a no start condition. The engine would crank over fine, but it just wouldn't catch, wouldn't start. So, we did some diagnostics on it, as we usually do, and found a few interesting things.

Mark: What did you find during your diagnosis?

Bernie: Well, the first thing is, is the gas gauge was reading fully empty and that kinda had us concerned. So we talked to the owner and he said, "Well, the gas gauge is kind of intermittent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't." There was definitely an issue going on with the gas gauge sending unit.  We did verify, in fact, that we couldn't pull any fuel out of the fuel tank. So, our first step was to find out is it actually in fact out of fuel. We did verify that it was out of fuel, but there was another interesting thing that we found known addition to that too.

Mark: So, what was the extra problem that you found that was more than just fuel?

Bernie: So, we found, actually, that even after we'd added fuel the fuel tank strainer was blocked. That sits, fortunately for the client who had a malfunctioning gas gauge the strainer and the gas gauge sending unit are all one piece. We pulled ... You can access this through the rear of the vehicle. You don't have to drop the fuel tank as you do in a lot of vehicles. We were able to access the fuel pick up unit with the sending assembly, gauge sender assembly through the back seat of the vehicle, under the back seat and remove it. We found the strainer was plugged full of debris, which is not an uncommon issue on these vehicles. It does happen from ... not a lot, but from time to time. So, we'll just go into some pictures right now. So, there's a nice specimen of a 2002 VW Jetta TDI. And onto pictures ... So, this is the fuel sending unit. This is the old one in the vehicle. And this is a sort of bowl where the fuel sits, and fuel is stored in here and it's picked up and sucked through here. You can see all of this black debris. That has basically blocked off the fuel system from sucking any fuel into the fuel pump, the fuel injection pump.  So, the new unit ... We'll get to right here. That is basically the new fuel sending assembly. So, this is the whole unit together. This is the gas gauge sender. So there's a float here, and this floats up and down in your gas tank. You can see its got a little arm, and this'll float, move up and down depending on how much fuel's in the vehicle. This little electrical rio stat here will send a signal to the gas gauge and then you'll know how much fuel you have. So this item wasn't working. Also, the strainer which is inside here, that was the picture you were looking at, sort of the view looking down here. That's been replaced so kind of killed two birds with one stone in this case.

2002 VW Jetta TDI No Start Condition
2002 VW Jetta TDI No Start Condition
2002 VW Jetta TDI No Start Condition

Mark: So, I've had a couple of newer versions like this vehicle. They were a little bit less forgiving, perhaps, because they were high pressure fuel systems. But I definitely had issues with running bio diesel in cold weather. Was there any kind of issue in that regard? Like, why was there so much dirt in there, or debris?

Bernie: I mean ... I think it's just that it accumulated over time. I'm not really certain how that dirt got in. But, I mean normally fuel is filtered when you buy it but it's never 100%. That's why vehicles have fuel filters. Although, interestingly enough most gasoline engines, actually for the last 20 years or more, have actually had ... The fuel filters been largely eliminated as an extra piece. The actual filtration happens right in the gas tank. Rarely with a gas engine do we ever see any problems. Because I think the fuel processing system and delivery is just so clean that it actually works that way. In the past, you know, it wouldn't have been so. But, with diesel I guess, you know obviously there's some debris and things have accumulated over time. These vehicles usually last a long time too. So, you know, it's a 2002 that makes it, what, 16 years old. You know, there's quite a few kilometres and years of pumping fuel through the vehicle. So, the debris just builds up. 

Mark: And as you mentioned, this is a 2002 Jetta. How is it for reliability?

Bernie: These are still really good vehicles. The fuel system is ... it's more mechanical in this version than it is on the newer ones. More mechanical, less electronic. It works really well. It's kind of a nice, sort of, era where the blend between the fully mechanical and the more electronic diesel's ... It's kind of half way in between that. It actually works pretty well. I mean, these cars are getting ... you know, they don't have as much value as they used to. So, repairs can get expensive. But over all they're still pretty good cars. The actual base engine itself is really solid. It just, often the fuel system starts to cost money when you get to this age of the vehicle. But, this was a fairly simple repair and not to costly.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your Jetta, TDI or otherwise, in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Our You Tube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. We've got hundreds of videos on there, or of course hopefully you're listening on our lovely new iTunes podcast here. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2007 VW Toureg 3.6L Valve Cover Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, servicing and repairing, maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 2007 VW Toureg 3.6L, this is one of the VR6 engines and you had to do a valve cover replacement. What was going on that you needed to change the valve cover?

Bernie: What was going on, was this vehicle came to our shop, engine wasn’t running quite right. We did a scan and diagnostic on the vehicle and found there was a trouble code for a lean fuel condition and traced that to being a leak in the crankcase ventilation system and the crankcase ventilation valve happens to be built inside the valve cover. So that’s why the valve cover needed to be replaced. It’s not a separate unit. It’s all a modular piece.

Mark: Ok, that sounds a bit strange because a PCV valve is fairly regular maintenance item. So it required, why would they change it to make that simple part be part of the integral to the whole valve cover?

Bernie: Well I’d say why was probably from a manufacturing point of view. A lot of things on vehicles are done on a I call it a modular fashion, in other words, they kind of look at things and ok the crankcase ventilation valve, kind of part of the valve cover sits there, why not just put it all into one unit and when we build the engine we can just stick it all together and it makes it easy. So from I think a manufacturing perspective, it makes it a whole lot easier than having a separate component, like a simple PCV valve. Where you could actually unscrew the thing and replace it which would be like really simple and which used to be and it was the kind of part that a lot of times you go, even if you go to a quick lube shop and they’d go, oh there’s the PCV valve on top of the valve cover. Let’s just put one of those  in because it costs $5 bucks and we can make an extra couple of bucks while we’re doing an oil change and it actually services that part. Nowadays it just gets stuck inside. Now granted, these are a little more just, a little more complex to the simple PCV valve and they flow a little more air, but really yeah why not put in on the outside and make it a whole lot easier to fix.

Mark: So you have some pictures?

Bernie: Yeah I do. Let’s have a look at some. Nice little 07 Toureg and we can go into the engine. So there’s the engine. Again, as you’re saying Mark, it’s a VR6 design engine which has been around for a while. Unique Volkswagen concept which works quite well, very compact for space and you only have one cylinder head which is kind of neat which instead of having a V which has two. Anyways, the valve cover is located here underneath the intake manifold and there’s a lot to get off to do this job. Manifold is not just a simple replacement. It has a direct fuel injection system and two fuel rails hidden, one under here, one further down, if you can see my mouse pointer, these both need to be removed in the process. And then the intake has to come off and then of course, all the ignition coils, the spark plugs, sorry just the ignition coils and then you have the valve cover located right in the middle. So it’s a few hours worth of work. It’s a lot to be done. Then we look at the valve cover. There’s the valve cover. This is the old one, it’s off and of course they don’t sell parts. The piece is located inside here. This is the breather hose, it goes off to the intake, and this is the inside view of the valve cover. So this is, that breather pipe is over here, there’s a valve in here and an air intake section here. So what will happen is the valve, it’s a rubber diaphragm valve sitting in a very hostile environment with noxious crankcase fumes and oil vapours and just really, just stuff that’s really hard on rubber and eventually the rubber diaphragm deteriorates. It rips a hole and it’ll end up sucking a lot of air through the engine.  So that’s what causes the lean fuel condition. The engine’s actually, the system sucking air that it’s not supposed to and also cause a lot of pressure and suction in the crankcase as well. so anyways, that’s what we, that’s a little view of everything in there.

Mark: Ok, so let’s do a little comparison. The old PCV valves, maybe even from the 70’s, how often would those be, how often would you change those?

Bernie: Well, probably, they used to get changed probably once a year when you do a tune up on an old car like that. But how often do you really need to change them? Probably every 2 to 3 years. They would basically, the most thing would go wrong with those type of PCV valves, is that they’d end up getting plugged up with sludge and carbon deposits, you know as the crankcase gases are flowing through it eventually it leaves vapour on it and they’d end up plugging up. So that’s what would cause that. 

Mark: And what about these new style ones, where that PCV valve is incorporated right into the valve cover?

Bernie: Well this vehicle’s 10 years old and it’s failed, so that’s kind of a , I would say, probably the average life span of these, but VW isn’t the only manufacturer of these. I mean there’s a lot, we did a Chevy Cruze a while ago that had a similar issue. Not that old of a vehicle, probably 100,000 kilometres, I don’t know 3 to 5 years old vehicle and the same kind of issue. And again, on that one, you have to change the whole valve cover. So that’s kind of the way a lot of auto manufactures are going. It’s all modular and some of them don’t last as long. Fortunately the Cruze was a substantially cheaper job than it is to do a valve cover on a Toureg.

Mark: And as we’re enjoying the lovely sounds of the emergency services speeding past…

Bernie: Yes, yeah the advantage of having your business on a main road.

Mark: How are these 3.6 litre VR6 engines for reliability and servicing?

Bernie: Well as far as reliability, they’re pretty good. You know, we don’t do a lot of, you don’t find a lot of things go wrong with them, I mean this is sort of one of there major things but they are potentially and extremely, I should say as far as servicing, I mean the oil changes are a bit of a pain to because the oil filter is located under the engine in a tricky to access spot. This particular engine actually is used on the Porsche Cayenne and An Audi Q7, so you’ll find a few different platforms of vehicles. But they’re all a little bit of a pain to access the oil filter. So the oil changes are a bit more work than they could be and there’s a lot to go wrong. I mean, there’s a lot potentially expensive repairs. The timing chain is on the back side of the engine so if it ever fails, it used to a lot in older VR6’s, not on these, but the old VR6’s, the timing chain failure was common. You have to pull the engine out to get at it or take the transmission out to access the timing chain. So it’s a lot of work. I don’t know why they built these things backwards but I guess the expectation is you’re never going to need the service it which is my thinking or if you do well too bad you’re going to have to pay for it. But other than that you know, they are actually quite a reliable engine. 

Mark: So basically the VR6, just to digress for a second, is a V6 squished together in to still alit bit out of a line, but the cylinders are sort of, I don’t know how you describe it without showing a picture of it, they’re just sort of squished together but offset from each other?

Bernie: Yeah a typical V engine might be you know, I’ll just use my hands for example like a lot of V engines would have the cylinder banks would be like you that sort of 45 degrees and there’s a variety, some are wider, some that are narrower. But a VR6, what they’ve done is they’ve actually, I think it ’s a 15 degree bank. It’s very close. They kind of offset the cylinders so that one sits sort of unaligned. So they just kind of used the open space, it’s actually brilliant engineering and so they’ve incorporated the V engine into one cylinder head, with one cylinder head, one engine. Well you know they all have one engine block but just one cylinder head to do the whole job. So it’s a pretty neat feat of engineering and really it generally, they’re pretty reliable over all. As I said, the older VR6 the timing chain failure was a common thing but they seem to have eliminated that as an issue. So yeah it’s good, it’s compact which is a neat thing about it. It doesn’t take up a lot of space which is kind of a brilliant part of it.

Mark:  So you get the power within a smaller space basically?

Bernie: Exactly, exactly and that’s important in modern cars. When you look, you know, they build a car smaller, there’s less hood length, there’s a lot more accessories and things stuffed inside. So it makes sense in a modern car whereas in olden days, you’d have hoods that are like you know, a 4 by 8 sweet of plywood would fit under there, you could fit that under there. I had a friend that had a Plymouth Fury, a 1968 Fury had a straight 6, one of those famous Dodge slant 6 engines, you pop the hood and there was enough room to stick a second engine beside it. So much space, you know it was crazy. But not like that anymore.

Mark: Yeah. Alright, so if you’re looking for service for your Toureg, Audi or Porsche in Vancouver that has a VR6 3.6 litre, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our Youtube channel Pawlik Automotive Repair or our new PodCast. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

1997 VW Golf; Rear Strut Replacement

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 38 years of repairing cars in Vancouver and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Fantastic

Mark: Fantastic, because I know you were a little bit sick earlier this week, so we’re talking about an old VW, a 21 year old VW Golf that you had some work on, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle had a really bad clunking noise coming from the rear and the rear struts were worn out so, and in all fairness has been a client of ours for quite a long time and we knew the struts were wearing but I want to talk about this today because I mean just the amount of wear on these struts before the replacement was horrific. It’s just very interesting to kind of look at and just talk about the struts and old VW’s.

Mark: So there’s lots of noise, what else was going on when the vehicle was being driven?

Bernie: Well mostly there was just noise, I mean when you drive the vehicle and I mean any of the little minutest amount of a bump, I mean even a microscopic bump there’d be a creak and a bang in the back of the car. As I mentioned it had been going on for quite some time but this person has been a regular client for quite a while and being an older car, it needed a lot of work. So we fixed up what needed to be done, the priority items and the struts were not on the priority list initially by they certainly became high on the priority list. Especially when the vehicle was in for the last service about a month ago, it had a bad wheel bearing problem which is pretty severe in the rear. So we serviced that, fixed all that up and we noted that the rear struts of course had deteriorated so badly in fact you could take the back wheel and rock it back and forth like quite a lot. And you could see the strut, there was play in the strut, just a massive amount of movement. So I said, hey you know, you’ve got to fix this as soon as possible, so recently as soon as possible happened and we fixed it. I’m going to share a couple of pictures because when we took it a part, it’s just interesting to see just how badly worn a part like this can be. I’m going to actually start with a picture of the repaired strut. So this is what a good strut looks like, this is the actual strut part that got replaced. You can see this rusty piece that’s the coil spring. In this case, we did not replace it but this accordion bellow piece here was replaced and there’s a piece up here called the snubber which is a little like a foam cushion when you, if you hit a bump to hard it’ll actually prevent the top of the strut from hitting the strut plate and then what’s not in the picture is the strut place which is just out of the picture, and that’s what mounts the strut to the vehicle. This forms a sort of top part of suspension, it keeps the wheel from you know flopping in and out. Plus it also provides the shock absorbing spring motion. So that’s why I like a MacPherson strut. It’s a pretty unique component. It actually eliminates a lot of parts that you find in other suspensions. Now here’s the broken part. So I put a couple of nice arrows here, now this is actually at the bottom, we removed the bottom mounting and basically the strut just fell apart. You can see the spring has slipped down and normally this wouldn’t happen. The strut would actually stay in place but because it’s so badly work at the bottom of the strut tube has actually broken off inside. So this is the outside tube and this is the piece that moves up and down when you hit bumps. The red arrow basically sort of points to the separation of the two components and then the yellow, I’m just pointing at the tube and you can see this ugly brownish colour, there’s oil inside struts and as they wear, they leak and of course water gets inside. That’s just an emulsified oil with a boiled water mixture, it’s just kind of ugly. So a good indication if your struts are actually wearing is if you know, you see actually fluid, like an oil seeping out of the strut. That’s a good sign the struts are on their way out and need to be replaced. So there’s a couple photos of what we saw. I don’t have a video of the actual, of the initial movement of what was there but trust me, it was pretty scary.

Mark: And is this a difficult replacement?

Bernie: Not really too difficult on this vehicle. It does involve some removal of the interior to access the upper strut bolts but the job itself is not too difficult. This strut came, it’s not available in bits and pieces. We had to actually order whatever parts we needed which is why the spring is still old. But what we do in a lot of newer cars and it’s available for many models, a part they call a Quick Strut or I think other manufacturers have different names for it but that’s Munro’s name a Quick Strut. What it is is a complete assembly. It’s the strut, it’s the upper mounting plate, it’s the coil spring, everything is brand new. So you just unbolt the assembly, bolt in a new one and you get all the new parts, so it actually makes for a really good job. Probably a little more expensive than replacing bits and pieces but then you’re not going to forget something and find later, of it’s making a little clunk or thump, the springs are a little soft. You get the complete job. It’s like restoring the suspension back to new. So it’s a really good option and we use it wherever we can. But in this older VW, you can only buy the strut and the mounting plate, bits and pieces.

Mark: And how did it ride?

Bernie:  Oh much better, yeah no noise, smooth and of course safe. You know I mean what would happen is eventually if it broke apart, you know the spring would fly out, I’ve never seen it happen because nobody I’ve ever seen anyone leave that far but you know it could take maybe a little bit longer for that to happen like you know that the spring could fling out, that the wheel could flop out to the side or something like that. It could be pretty scary. But anyways, much safer, nice quiet ride.

Mark: 21 year old Golf, is that, would that still be a worthwhile used car purchase?

Bernie: Well it could be if I mean, first thing I would never buy one with an automatic. Like ’96 to about ’06 VW somewhere in that year range, with automatics were really problematic but if it’s with a standard transmission, well maintained, you know it’s obviously not going to be a very expensive car, but you now if you’re looking for something inexpensive it could be a decent used car. Again with a mechanics inspection.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for an old VW that you need replacement or service on or you’re looking to buy one and you want to have it inspected before purchase, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book ahead, they’re busy, you have to book ahead or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or search for Pawlik Automotive on Youtube, hundreds of videos on there from all kinds or repairs and cars and makes for many years now. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

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