Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. We're talking this morning about a truck, a 2001 Chevy Suburban, that had an intermittent no-start problem. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: What was going on with this rather large, rotund, boat anchor? SUV?
Bernie: Well, I add in, actually, this happened to be my own personal vehicle. What was happening is about a month and a half, two months ago, it developed this interesting no-start issue. I pulled into a store, got something, walked out, cranked the engine over. Cranked over fine, but it wouldn’t start.
I go, oh, that's weird. It's never done that before. I was a little flustered, and after trying it for a couple of minutes it started up, ran great, and I drove home going, oh, that's kind of weird, and it never gave me a problem for another couple of weeks.
I Mentioned it to my wife. She goes, “Yeah, it's done that once before, too.”
So, never gave it much of a problem, and because I'm busy, it's like the classic thing of the shoemaker's kids having their bad shoes. Sometimes, unfortunately, my cars get treated like that. In the case of this vehicle, it kind of went like that. It took about a month and a half, or so before we finally got to the final diagnosis and repair, which we're sharing on this podcast.
What happened in between is it just got slowly worse, but it seemed to always be consistent. If the engine was hot and you leave it for a few minutes, it would be hard to start. But, if you left it for a little longer, it would start just fine.
That was basically the issue, and it boiled down to being a bad fuel pump, at the end of the day, which was surprising because I'd replaced the fuel pump about three or four years ago with a high-quality pump that wasn't dead.
But, I figured, hey, let's get on top of this thing because the vehicle's got pretty high mileage. Let's make sure the pump's good, because they're one of the things that quit on these vehicles, and you don't want to be stranded somewhere. So, finally, eventually, this replacement unit quit, probably a lot sooner than I expected it would.
Mark: How did you diagnose that it was the fuel pump, and then how did you verify that the pump was the problem?
Bernie: Right. Well, initially, I didn't really ... I figured it was a fuel issue because ... Just by the way that the vehicle was operating. But, it didn't seem, initially, like a fuel pump, because, normally, when a pump dies, it'll do what we just did there. Maybe you might bang the gas tank, or something, to get it going. It doesn't usually restart after a couple of clicks of the key, so I figured maybe there's some kind of weird electronic or electrical glitch with the vehicle. A sensor, perhaps.
First step was of course to hook a scan tool up. Scanned it for codes. There was nothing relevant in any sort of way to a no-start issue. Tested some of the sensors like the crank sensor, which is a pretty important input, in terms of starting the engine. It was fine. Figured, possibly, again, because it was an intermittent issue and not happening consistently, I figured maybe there was an issue with the Passlock key.
There's a security system on these GM vehicles, and they have to send a signal. When you insert the key and turn it, it sends a signal to the computer to start it or not. It'll do exactly this. It'll crank over, but it won't start. It'll disable the fuel. So, tested out that system pretty thoroughly. It was all good.
Again, just kind of in life, it got busy and then, eventually, the vehicle got worse and finally died. Finally, the final straw was banging ... I had an emergency, I had to bang the gas tank with a hammer. It started up. So, okay, that's pretty much a guaranteed diagnosis right there.
Mark: Bringing back, flashing back to memories of crawling under this old Volvo I had, that I had to pound on the fuel pump to get it to go.
Bernie: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The reason that works, by the way, if anyone's wondering, is that the pump, it has motor with a ... It's called a commutator. It's got little brushes and eight spots on the motor. When one of them wears, the pump can't turn, but if you bang it ... And it doesn't always work. Sometimes the pump's so dead it won't work. But, sometimes, if you bang it, it just jolts the pump enough to move that little millimetre, or quarter of a millimetre enough, to just get the electricity to flow, and then the pump starts running.
Mark: Did you do something else to check that?
Bernie: Yeah. The other interesting bit of diagnosis, because I was ... The other one that I use is a lab scope, to look at the actual current ... It's called a current ramp test of the fuel pump. Just to see what was happening with it, because, as I said, I was surprised because the pump wasn't that ... I mean it was like three, four years old. It really shouldn't have died at this early of an age. So, I wanted to see exactly what this looks like, because this is a test we can do sometimes to test people's fuel pumps. And, you know, if someone's got an intermittent issue like this, it's a good way to see, hey, is the fuel pump actually the problem?
So, I'll just share some pictures here. We did this with a lab scope.
Mark: What is a lab scope?
Bernie: So, what is a lab scope? This is basically ... I'll just share the picture here, we can see it. Basically, a lab scope, it's an oscilloscope that attaches either to ... It either takes a voltage or an amperage signal. In this case, we use a current probe, and we actually take a sweep of the actual current that's being drawn through the fuel pump.
So, this is with the new fuel. This is the engine running, and this is the current flowing through the fuel pump. So, on one side, we have the voltage being used, and on other side we time-frame. So, you can see, this is 100 milliseconds across here. This is a hundred one-thousandths of a second. So, this is ten one-thousands of a second.
So, you can actually calculate the speed that the pump's turning. I'm not going to get into that. It requires a little bit of math, but not a lot.
You can see little pumps here. One, two, three, four, five, six ... This is basically a healthy fuel pump. It's got a little bit of a dip. The reason it has these different little pulses is this is where the commutator, which is where the brushes run inside the motor ... This is where they contact. So, there's a change in current flow every time it goes past.
Now, this is a good pump. Let's have a look at what a bad pump looks like, the old one. Very hashy. There's some distinct rises here, but there's also very distinct drops. Now, this is a bit unusual for a fuel pump, too, because a lot of current problems with fuel pumps ... You'll often find, if you have a bad fuel pump, the pattern'll actually look like this, except it'll have one or two missing peaks here.
That often indicates, oh, there's a commutator that's actually worn off. Whatever was going on in this fuel pump caused a pretty radical spike in voltage. Interestingly enough, when the engine was running, it ran perfectly. But, I think, because these big spikes here required a lot of power to get the pump turning, that's why it wouldn't start. When you're cranking the engine over, the voltage is lower. So, it just didn't quite have enough juice to turn. But, once it was moving, it worked fine.
So, that's what we can see with a lab scope. There's many things we test with lab scopes. It can take a little extra time to hook it up, but often it'll verify things. I had someone some in with this concern, and said, hey, I got this intermittent problem, but it only happens once in a blue moon. This is the test we could of done that didn't take a lot of time, that could of verified, you know what, your fuel pump pattern's bad, we should change it.
Mark: So, after you replaced the fuel pump, everything ran well?
Bernie: Yeah, it started fine, ran well. Perfect. Yeah, really nice.
Mark: This is quite an old-
Bernie: We're giving life to the vehicle again.
Mark: This is an 18 year-old vehicle now, and it's yours. How does it run overall, and is it worth still keeping it going on the road?
Bernie: Yeah, it's really good. I've taken really good care of it, and the engine actually wore out at about 300,000 kilometres, so I replaced it. I put a 6.0L, so it's a slightly larger engine than the 5.3L that came in it. I put a nice, used 6.0L engine in it. It runs great. As I said, I've kept up all the maintenance and repairs on it. When you drive it, it just drives like a brand new truck still.
Even the shock absorbers, which surprisingly, they're still original, and I've towed a trailer with it. It's built well. The ride is perfect. It's smooth. The only thing I can complain about, the fuel economy is not great because it's a big beast, but other than that, it's a good vehicle.
I'll keep it for a few more years. It's worth doing, but again, the key is to fix things as they wear out, as opposed to leaving a big pile of things, and all of a sudden, it's like a multi-thousand dollar bill, and you go, no, that's not worth it, I'll just junk it. But, a replacement for a Suburban is a lot of money, even a good used one.
Mark: Yeah, instead of ... It's a heck of a lot cheaper to spend a few thousand a year than $80,000 or more on a brand new one.
Bernie: Well, actually, a hundred. The equivalent of this model, I've seen them in dealerships, it's over $100,000. That's a lot of money for a truck.
Bernie: But, if you keep it 20 years and you amortize it out, then that's only $5,000 a year, but you still need the $100,000. It's a lot of monthly payments, or a lot of cash upfront. Whichever way you go. So, a good used one works well.
Mark: So, I take back it's a boat anchor. It's just a good used vehicle that's fulfilling its purpose.
Bernie: Yeah, yeah. It's not a boat anchor yet. It still works and runs, and it's a good boat hauler.
Mark: So, there you go. If you have a boat hauler or trailer hauler, or a people mover, that's huge and needs some 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 their website, PawlikAutomotive.com. There's tons of information on there as well. There's the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds, literally ... Over 400 videos on there of all makes, models and years of cars and types of repairs and maintenance as well. Thank you so much for listening to our podcast. We appreciate it, thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching and listening. We love having you as an audience member. Thanks.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’d doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Duramax diesel, a 2002 ChevyK 2500, what was going on with this truck?
Bernie: Well this vehicle came to us, it was running rough and there was some issues that we eventually determined with the fuel injectors but basically the engine was shaky, was making noises and a bit of acessive smoke.
Mark: so what are some symptoms of bad fuel injectors?
Bernie: Well bad fuel injectors will do a number of things. They’ll cause an all out misfire which, so you know, the engine will be very shaky and very rough, on a more subtle level, it can just cause some subtle knocking noises and the engine is loud to subtle knocking noises in the engine, can also cause smoking ,so either start up or while it’ running,or under different throttle loads it will be a variety of a, there can be different sort of smoking conditions either white or black depending on what’s happening with the injectors. Also starting problems to the engine just takes a long time to start. So those are some of the symptoms of bad fuel injectors.
Mark: So what can cause injectors to go bad and what caused these ones to go bad?
Bernie: Well, so this is an interesting story and I’m going to add a little backstory for this truck. So this vehicle, our client purchased it about, I believe, about 6 months ago, he found this huge truck, we did an inspection, looked great from what I remember it seemed to run pretty well so he bought it. He’s a handy person, he took on repairing a number of the things that we found wrong with it but he also decided, “l’m going to change my fuel injectors because you know, it’s not quite running perfectly or there’s a bit of smoke”, so he did it himself which is an incredibly bold thing to do because even in our shop and all our tools and equipment, it’s a couple days worth or work to change them, it’s a lot of work, it’s a big job, a lot to be dismantled to do it and a lot to be put back together. But he did it, did a great job, put it back together, started it up and it ran fine for a bit and then he said after a while it started running like really rough and there was a pretty bad knocking noise in the engine. Yeah, so what caused these injectors to go bad? I mean the end story that I’m going to tell you is that the injectors themselves were not good quality but that’s basically what happened. The job he did was good. We had to do some diagnosis to figure out what exactly was happening. So there’s, this job came in two rounds, and the first round we basically determined number eight injector was bad and we had another one sent over from the place he bought it and put it in and it ran much better, but still not perfect. So after great amount of, a little more work we determined that the injectors we all likely bad, had them sent out for testing and sure enough, all eight injectors had a similar problem in the certain range of fuel delivery, that all of them were defective.
Mark: Wow. So is this a common issue with fuel injectors for diesels?
Bernie: Well you know, my whole point of doing this hangout is that you’ve got to watch where you buy your injectors from. I think this is really the lesson that just because someone sells a rebuilt fuel injector doesn’t mean it’s rebuilt to the right standards, and clearly in the case of this engine, this person he’d ordered them off the internet and from a somewhat reputable company but obviously they weren’t good. We have a supplier that we deal with, everything we buy from them is always good because, the injectors they sell are mostly rebuilt, at least these ones are rebuilt by Bosch, big company, they’re the people who manufacture in them in the first place, their rebuilding standards are as high as you can go. But they tell me, and this makes a lot of sense, a lot of companies they buy them and clean the injectors, they make sure they function, at least seemingly function, you know, there’re cleaned and sold off. But they’re not really rebuilt in a proper way.
Mark: So ok, a bit of fun there, two sets of injectors later, how does the truck run?
Bernie: Really good, really well, I mean smooth, starts up instantaneously, runs smooth right from the moment it starts, no smoke, it’s perfect. So the thing with diesels, as long as you have good compression in the engine, usually the injectors just make all the difference. They’re just so critical to, I mean, they control everything from the like in a gasoline engine you have a spark timing but you know in fuel delivery whereas with a diesel it’s all done with the injector. So you know having that working properly, it’s critical. I’ll just share a photo here of the truck, or I should say of a truck because I couldn’t quite get all my photos together this morning. This is a 2002 Silverado, you know similar to the truck we worked on, great vehicle, super reliable, there is nothing bad I can say about these trucks, really good overall.
Mark: So what’s the difference between injectors that he purchased and what you supplied?
Bernie: As I was mentioning, the injectors we supplied were, they’re Bosch remanufactured and you know the highest, say the highest standards of quality so that the difference again, the key, I know we do these videos mostly for people who are just interested in having their car repaired, but you know, there’s a lot of do-it-yourselfers who watch this so my word to you is buy injectors from a reputable supplier, buy as close, maybe not right from the dealer they’re way more money but someone who’s a very reputable diesel rebuilder or supplier of diesel parts.
Mark: Any finally I guess, how are Duramax diesels?
Bernie: Duramax, yeah they’re awesome. I mean of all the big three manufacturers, these are definitely our favourites in our shop because a lot less goes wrong with them than the others. I mean, even though Cummins are really reliable, there’s still a few problems with them. The Ford’s of course are legendary, I mean the 7.3 is pretty good but I mean these Duramaxes, they’re amazing, like they really don’t have that many problems, I mean the odd injector goes bad but there’s very few problems with these engines, they’re really good. Again, this would be my choice for a diesel to buy.
Mark: So there you go, if you are looking for service for your Duramax diesel 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 or our web channel on YouTube search for Pawlik Auto repair or our new Car Truth Show web channel, YouTube channel, lots of good stuff on there. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thank you Mark
Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 17 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 gong to talk about 96 Chevy 1500 Series pickup truck, what was going on with this truck?
Bernie: Well the vehicle was towed to our shop with a no start condition, the engine was cranking over fine but it wouldn’t start. So that’s what was going on with the vehicle. Basically when we have a vehicle like that, obviously diagnosis is the first thing to do to find out what’s going on with it. There’s really three things that will cause the vehicle not to start if it’s cranking over, either the engine compression is bad, the ignition system isn’t working or the fuel system’s not working. In this case, what we found is the fuel pressure was very low, not sufficient to have the engine start.
Mark: So what type of fuel injection do these trucks use?
Bernie: Well these GM’s of this vintage, they used it throughout most of the ’90’s, it’s called a vortec fuel injection system. GM used it on the V8 and V6 engines in their trucks and to be honest, it wasn’t GM’s best system. So anyways, the fuel pumps generate quite a lot of pressure to actually get the fuel system to operate and yeah, so that’s part of it. The way the fuel injection system works, just to give a few details, the actual fuel injectors are actually located inside the intake manifold, so when you look at the engine, it’s got this big fat intake manifold that actually comes apart in two pieces and inside are, this is a V8 engine, so all the eight fuel injectors are inside. There’s a central electronic control unit that operates the fuel injectors, there’s a fuel pressure regulator, all inside the intake manifold and the fuel lines basically just go in and out through the top. So it’s a big wiring connector and the fuel lines, all hidden away, real nice, easy to manufacture but there’s a lot of problems that happen with this system.
So I’ll just share a couple of photos here, here’s our truck here, real nice old nice truck, lowrider, really good condition. So again, you know 1996 it’s getting to be a 20 year old truck, is it worth it? Of course. It’s a beautiful truck, it’s well taken care of and a nice vehicle. I’ll just get our other photo up here, so here’s our fuel pump. This is basically a complete fuel assembly unit, you remove it, this is the part that sits into the fuel tank, right here it mounts from the fuel tank and yeah, so the pump is in the fuel tank. Here’s the pump right here, that’s the section right here, I mean really you could just get away with changing that piece and the strainer here, which sort of pre filters the fuel, but they sell it as an assembly and the good news is you get a new gas tank sending unit, that’s this thing here, this yellowish object, this is actually a float, kind of like a float in your toilet bowl, it moves up and down with the amount of fuel. There’s a little rheostat here that sends a voltage signal to the fuel gauge and that’s how you know how much fuel you have in your tank. So again when you do this kind of replacement you’re actually getting all these parts which is kind of nice because these pieces fail too and then you have fuel lines here, you can see some gas has leaked out, the fuel inlet, fuel return line and then there’s some pipes here for the evap system which basically captures the gas fumes from getting out.
Mark: So is this a fairly reliable fuel injection system?
Bernie: No it’s not, as I was mentioning there are problems with it. There’s been a lot of issues with them, the injectors will fail, the other big problem that happens too because the fuel pressure regulator is located inside the intake manifold, it can actually start leaking fuel when it fails and it’ll start causing excessively rich mixture especially into the rear cylinders where it’s located because the fuel will actually start pouring out, extra fuel is leaking out, will actually start pouring into the cylinders. So it fails and just the injectors were just not very reliable in the way they work. The problem putting it inside the intake manifold is that you’ve got all the blow by gases, the PVC system sucks the crankcase gases in and they can create this horrible sludge and it’s a really toxic harsh environment. So it wasn’t the best idea.
There’s a replacement system available that actually makes each injector electronically controlled and so instead of having the central unit that controls the injectors, it’s still inside the manifold but it has each injector is electronically controlled. Kind of like the more modern systems are, and that definitely works better. Though I have to say, the first time we ever replaced one of those, we bought one, we put it in and it actually the unit failed right away, so hmm not sure about this, but the second one worked and the car’s been running forever, but every once in a while you get a bad part. It’s not a great time to get a bad part in the very first replacement.
Mark: So 21 years old vehicle, what does GM use now?
Bernie: So beginning in the early 2000’s, GM they redesigned their engines, they got away from this vortec fuel injection system and they basically put individual port fuel injection, individual injector, externally mounted like almost everyone else and very reliable. I’ve had at 2001 Suburban since 2006, like nothings gone wrong with it, bullet proof reliable, amazing truck. So that system works really well. We get a lot of Chevy trucks, nothing ever goes wrong with that fuel system, so that was a really good upgrade doing that. Now speaking of Chevy trucks, you know I speak pretty highly of them but really when they hit about the 2000 model year, that’s when they started building them really well. Prior to that, a lot of the Chevy trucks were definitely on the weaker side with this vortec fuel system was problematic. A lot of the brakes were way under sized on them and you might, some trucks you know, 20 or 30 thousand kilometres would be all you’d get on a set of brakes. Sometimes even less if you’re hauling heavy loads but on the newer ones, the brakes will last a 100 thousand kilometres even with heavy loads. So they really upped the size of the truck and really built it well starting around the 2000’s.
Mark: And how about these 96 vintage, how are they for reliability?
Bernie: Well again, they’re kind of in that category, they’ve got this vortec fuel system which is problematic and the brakes are smaller, so they’re not as reliable, they’re definitely, the 90’s were not really the best years for GM trucks. I mean you saw the picture of the truck, beautiful truck and I can’t fault someone for owning it and taking care of it and it just needs more work than the newer model, which I guess is good for us.
Mark: So there you go, if you have a Chevy or GM vehicle that needs some repair or maintenance in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book ahead, they’re busy so you’ve got to book ahead or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our Youtube channel. We’ve got hundreds of videos, just search for Pawlik Automotive on Youtube. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark
Mark: Good morning, it’s Mark at Top Local we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 16 time winners of Best in Vancouver, Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’m doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about Chevy and GM trucks, how reliable are they?
Bernie: In a nutshell, they are very reliable.
Mark: So, ok, straight and to the point, thank you so much for showing up everybody! Let’s dig in a little bit more, how about, let’s just start with pick up trucks, there’s a lot of different brands of or line of vehicles. Let’s start with pickups, how are they?
Bernie: I’d say they’re very good, I mean so I’d say in a nutshell they’re very reliable, nothing is foolproof or bullet proof and in our industry that’s always a good thing, you don’t want a car built that needs no repairs. But anyways besides that, trucks are awesome, engine-wise, I like Chevy trucks a lot so let’s talk like between say the years of 2000 and newer. Excellent engines in all their trucks, we’re talking about full size pick up trucks here, good V8 engines, very reliable, durable and simpler than say Ford and some Dodges use pushrod engines, but a lot of them use overhead cam engines. GM stuck with the pushrod engines which are not so sophisticated but they are very reliable and they generate good horsepower. So I really like the engines, they last an awful long time, front ends like steering, suspension, ball joints, steering linkages, they’re all good, I mean they do eventually wear over time but you usually got to put a few good years before any of that wears. Transmissions are reliable, some of them even come, like the higher end, the heavier duty models come with Allison Transmissions which are a bullet proof unit. Interior, fit and finish, everything else is good. Not too many electronic, quirky things, there’s nothing unusual about them in terms of how they wear out they are quite durable.
Mark: So how about the vans?
Bernie: Vans, again same thing. Here you get two categories, you get the full size vans and you’ve got the Astro van which they discontinued a few years ago which is too bad because it was a very popular van, a lot of people in the building trades and even people had them for family vans because you could put a few seats in them. So it was a nice size mini van but my inly thing with vans is that you’ve got the engine mounted inside, buried inside the vehicle so to speak, and the access is difficult. So when repairs come, they’re a little more costly and time consuming but overall they’re very reliable. One thing about the Astro vans, the idler arms wear on these things all the time. They’re kind of expensive but it’s not the end of the earth but that’s sort of the one thing that sticks out in my mind as being a common issue. Other than that, just general repair and maintenance, brakes and they’re good. Again very reliable, they run for a long time. The larger vans use the V8, for the most part use V8 engines, same as the pick up trucks. Same level of reliability.
Mark: And what about the SUV’s?
Bernie: Well the SUV, so you’ve got, I’m thinking of the larger ones like the Suburban and Tahoe which are essentially a Chevy pickup truck. The Suburban is like a four door pickup truck with a short box and it’s just built in. So same level of reliability and durability, so yeah, excellent that way. Tahoe is a bit of a smaller version and yeah overall excellent.
Mark: So there’s a lot of diesel engine choices in Chevy and GM trucks, how are they?
Bernie: Again, really good. They’re one of the best, I like them best among the options. We don’t fix too many of them which says a lot. The odd fuel injector job here and there but again it’s not that common, they are much more reliable than the Fords of a lot of vintages, maybe not the 6.7 litre but certainly much more reliable. Now when you go back, so I’m talking about the Duramax diesel, they were introduced in early 2000, the earlier models used the GM made 6.2 and 6.5 litre engines. Not so good. A lot more problems and once we get into the older ones, the diagnostics are a lot more difficult as well but I would not buy a truck with a 6.2 diesel. These are getting very old at this point and time but we still see them though so they’re still around but they were not the best, durable, reliable diesel. The Duramax by the way, is made by Isuzu, so it’s a Japanese made engine which says something to about the quality of American made engines.
Mark: Ooh, so anything to add in closing, any other parting shots?
Bernie: Um, you know overall I like GM trucks and so I’m a little biased, I drive a Suburban myself and the reason I drive it is because I like the vehicle, it’s reliable and durable but as far as the diesel trucks, again I would buy a Chevy over everything else. I like the way they drive, they’re durable and my parting shot you can’t really go wrong with a Chevy or GM truck these days.
Mark: So if you’re looking for a reliable maintenance on your Chevy vehicle in Vancouver Pawlik Automotive are the folks to call. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark
Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’m doing very well Mark.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a GMC Sierra Duramax diesel that you did a fuel filter replacement on, what’s the story with this vehicle?
Bernie: Well this vehicle was brought to us for maintenance service, excuse me, there’s a bit of feedback here, this vehicle was brought to us for maintenance service, it needed a full check over, service and just general maintenance and was also due for a fuel filter. The reason that I’m talking about it today, a fuel filter seems like a pretty basic service but there were some interesting things we found when we did the fuel filter.
Mark: So what was interesting with this fuel filter replacement?
Bernie: Well, fuel filters are important, especially on a diesel, a lot of gasoline cars no longer have the replaceable fuel filters built in to the gas tank. But on the diesel, it’s still a replacement item, it’s very critical, if you get any water in the diesel injectors or any dirt, they’re done for, so it’s critical to keep a very clean fuel supply and water free. All fuel filters have a water separator built in to them. Quite frequently we do these services, we take the filter out, drain the water separator, there’s no water the filter’s clean and you sort of think, “well geez, that could of lasted a lot longer”, but there’s a reason why we change the filters and what we do, and I’ll just show a couple of photos. With this vehicle we found some pretty ugly stuff in the fuel filter, I don’t know if it was just the age of it but it was probably within it’s regular service intervals. So let’s share some photos, you see that ok Mark? So this is the bottom of the fuel filter, there’s a sensor in the bottom, a water and fuel sensor, and this is what we poured out of the fuel filter. You can see that reddish, rusty coloured water, that’s basically what came out of the bottom of this fuel filter. I mean, the fuel filter is doing it’s job, perfect, then it’s certainly, absolutely time to get rid of it. This is the water separator, it’s been sitting in the bottom and you can see there’s a lot of guck just floating around in the bottom of this filter for a pretty long time. So very worth, am I back Mark? Ok good. Yeah so that’s basically the reason you want to change your fuel filter on a diesel. I mean these kind of things get into the fuel system, hard to know whether there is rust in the fuel tank or whether the owner went in and filled up with fuel at some point with some contamination but this is why you want to change your fuel filter on a regular basis.
Mark: So how often do you change fuel filters on these trucks?
Bernie: Well, I don’t have the interval off the top of my head, we have maintenance schedules we look at, but one thing about these 2009 era GMC’s, they have a maintenance reminder that comes on the dash. It’ll tell you when you oil is due for service, it’ll tell you when your fuel filter is due for replacement, I can’t remember the time frame, it’s probably 30 to 40,000 kilometres, but I would recommend don’t go any longer than 30,000 kilometres. Change it at least every couple of years if you don’t drive a lot because you never know what’s in there and what kind of damage will happen. A fuel filter replacement is cheap, fuel injectors are not. So you really want to make sure you don’t ever let that material build up to a point where it can actually escape the filter and cause damage.
Mark: And how are these trucks over all?
Bernie: Awesome, you know, the big three American trucks, definitely the GMC/Chevrolet are definitely my favourites. I think that they combine well, they’ve got really well built engines, very reliable, not a lot goes wrong with them. It’s got the good engine plus it’s got the body and the whole chassis of the vehicle is very good. The Dodge’s, the engines are fabulous but the front ends always requires repairs and replacement head ball joints and tire rods don’t last long but the Chevy is very durable and I think the best value for sure and less engine problems than Ford. Although the 6.7 Litre Ford’s don’t seem to have any problems yet but the earlier generation Ford’s were definitely issues, as we’ve talked about. So yeah, if you’re looking for a diesel American truck, I’d just go straight to GMC or Chevy right away.
Mark: So there you go, the expert opinion of Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They are Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 16 time winners of Best Auto Repair and Service in Vancouver as voted by their customers. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they’re very busy so you have to book ahead or check out their website, tons of videos on there, years worth now, pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark at Top Local Lead Generation; we’re with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver; talking about Chevy diesels. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’m doing well Mark.
Mark: So something we really haven’t covered before I don’t think even ever, is a any kind of Chevy diesel stuff, so we’re talking about a 2003 Chevy Silverado and the fuel injector replacement, what was going on with this one?
Bernie: So this vehicle was suffering from an interesting issue, uh running pretty well but what was happening is that there is over a period of time the crankcase was filling up with diesel fuel, there’s an internal fuel leak inside the engine and so over you know, a period of say an oil change, I would add two or three extra liters of diesel fuel to the crankcase which is not a good thing you really want to be lubricating your engine with motor oil not diesel fuel.
Mark: Yeah, even tho they run on oil that’s not the right oil to lubricate it.
Bernie: No, I mean it’s better than running gasoline but at least it’s not exactly proper.
Mark: So is an internal fuel leak common on diesels?
Bernie: Well it is on some, it’s this 6.6 liter GM diesel which is actually made by Isuzu, awesome engine, very reliable, all the fuel injection plumbing is pretty much inside the engine. I’ll show you a few pictures in a minute but the injectors are inside the valve cover, all the fuel lines, I mean there are external fuel lines but all the return lines are inside the valve cover, the fuel pump, the high pressure pump bolts into the front of the engine, it can leak into the engine as well, um you know it’s common on a lot of engines, the 6 point, we’ve seen a lot of 6.4 liter Ford diesels have that issue but most, many diesels have the injection plumbing inside the engine so it can happen on any, even Ford we’ve seen quite a few where the, there’s actually a high warning light will come on or the check engine light will come on if the oil level actually gets too high so it’s a sensor to actually deal with that on the Ford.
Mark: So how’s the injector replacement on these trucks?
Bernie: It’s a huge job, it’s an enormous jobs with about 12 hours’ worth of work, can be even more sometimes but it’s a lot of work and I’ll just share a couple of photos here just to kind of give you an idea of what, what we have here, um so this is the, I’ll just expand the picture a bit, we still there?
Bernie: O.K. so this is what, this is the top of the engine looking at the valve cover, there’s a lot of wiring and accessories and pieces that we remove. This is looking at the right cylinder bank and I’ve just gotten sort of front three cylinders you can see the back one is out of the picture because there’s piping in the way and not making such a good photo but the, this is basically what you’re looking at before you take the valve cover off so those three pipes that are bent into interesting shapes are all the high pressure fuel pipes that come to the fuel rail and go into the fuel injector. Now in our next photo we’ll have a look with the valve cover removed and this is the valve cover off and also there’s a, there’s a metal plate, spacer plate that goes between the valve cover and the and the cylinder head and that, that’s been removed as well so you can see a little more. We’ve also removed the wiring harness from the fuel injectors so this gives us a clean view of the injectors and the return lines and where some of the possible leaks can occur. All the red arrows point to the fuel injectors, the blue arrow points to the return pipe so this is sort of excess fuel that the fuel injectors don’t need and that returns the fuel back into the fuel tank through of course a lot of plumbing and the green arrow points to a couple of possible leaks. Now there’s I didn’t put green arrows everywhere where it could possible leak but there are seals, banjo bolts and seals in all, in these particular areas plus it goes to each injector so there’s, there’s more points but there’s you know, there could be any sort, if there’s any fuel leak in any of these pipes just goes directly to the crankcase and fills the oil and the injectors themselves can leak also so these are some of the places fuel can leak. This is what’s on the inside again, it takes many, many, many hours of removing pieces just to get to this particular view so it’s a large job.
Mark: So once it’s all done, what’s our final outcome here?
Bernie: Aw, the engine runs great now, I should, I didn’t talk about the diagnostic process we went through to this because it’s, it’s a little tricky to find you know, a fuel leak inside an engine when you can’t actually run the engine uh, by the time you remove everything you can’t run the engine to find the leak so we have to look at you know, mileage on the vehicle, what are the possibilities and so prior to doing any removal we get some diagnostic tests with a scan tool and you can look at the fuel rate and what the you know, how much fuel the injectors are actually injecting and see you know, what sort of compensation is being made either worn or leaking injectors and we found that several of the injectors of the fuel delivery rate is much higher than expected but this vehicle had 330,000 kilometers, talked to the owner, he’s owned it since 80,000 k’s and said never replaced the injectors so he’s got very good life out of these injectors and, and really the most common cause of the problems is bad injectors so or injector so we replaced the injectors, it’s not a 100 percent guarantee that this is going to solve all the problems but I would say first of all the engine’s going to start firing and running properly using an even amount of fuel. The only other real possibility because we’ve changed all the seals on the return pipes is the high pressure injection pump which is located on the front of the engine and with this kind of mileage it’s possible that that pump could be leaking as well but short of doing this repair first it’s really impossible to tell which you know, where it’s leaking, it’s always, it’s one thing about diesels is it’s really complicated often to diagnose things and you’ve got to by experience and knowledge, common problems first and then go from there.
Mark: So you said a word that I don’t think we’ve talked about a lot, like these are under a lot of high pressure, like how high is the pressure inside?
Bernie: You know some of these like 25,000 psi, this is just an insane amount of pressure in the system so there’s a, there’s an amazing amount of pressure and fuel injectors in these modern vehicles and that goes for modern gasoline engines too, they’re extremely high-tech you’re dealing with enormous pressures, you know, extremely precise fuel delivery I mean, I don’t have the measurement terms to say in this you know, found out but these, the amount of fuel delivery is so minute and a lot of these injectors on diesels, now this is an old 3, it’s kind of old but like a lot of newer diesels you can barely hear the engine running because it’s because the injection, some will do actually up to 7 injection pulses per combustion strokes so they’ll fire a couple little shots of fuel as the pistons coming up, they’ll fire the main shot then they’ll fire a couple more and that’s what keeps the engine from actually making the loud knocking noise that you hear on diesels typically, it’s just pretty, pretty incredible but things do go wrong, this is why you need to change your fuel filter. Now this is another interesting point, I talked to the owner, he goes you know don’t worry about changing my fuel filters, I just changed it last week because I change it religiously every six months so this is an owner that’s really conscientious about taking care of their vehicle, you know every six months is probably too much but you know what, he’s got three hundred thirty thousand kilometers on a set of fuel injectors, there’s most diesels never go that far so you know, good maintenance does pay off.
Mark: Absolutely, that’s the message of all these really isn’t it?
Bernie: It is.
Mark: Maintain your vehicle and it’ll treat you a lot better than not maintained.
Bernie: Yeah, you know we’ve had a couple Mercedes that you and I have talked about over the last six months, 3 litre Mercedes diesels where people have not changed their oil, one of them cost you know $22,000 for a new engine, another one a couple weeks ago, the turbocharger basically broke in half and these are under 50,000 kilometers and like Mercedes 3 liter diesel taken care of it, it will last you three, four, five, should last 500,000 kilometers, you know just change the oil regularly, yeah there’s a few things that will go wrong, you’ll spend some money but overall you know it will last a long, long time .
Mark: So back to this Chevy and how are Chevy GM diesels comparing to the other American diesel trucks?
Bernie: I think they’re really good, you know personally, you know to me it’s between this engine or Cummins if you’re looking at these older generation diesel and actually into the newer years and I guess the Ford 6.7 we haven’t run into any problems with that yet and I haven’t heard of any problems, Ford may have finally figured things out but I mean they had two generations of really bad engines, just very, very costly and a lot of dissatisfied owners so I would not, they’re nice trucks I just wouldn’t touch a Ford diesel, you know it’s either and I think the Chevy’s are more reliable in terms of the actual truck, less front end parts as I was alluding to in an earlier hangout, we talked about Jeeps and you know, GM or sorry Dodge front ends wearing out I mean, by the time you hit 100,000 kilometers on a Dodge you’re doing all the ball joints and tie rod ends, they’re just, they all wear out so Chevy seems to be a lot more reliable, I mean overall I think that’s the truck I’d go for.
Mark: So, any final thoughts on this whole repair service.
Bernie: You know what, it’s only you know, due good maintenance, if you’re buying a diesel do your homework and I mean the other thing about diesel I’ve mentioned quite a few times is if you’re thinking about buying a diesel ever ask yourself do you really need one because they do cost a lot of money to fix, I mean this is not going to be a cheap repair bill for the customer but if you need a diesel to haul a lot of weight well then it’s worth it but if you’re just buying it just for show, I don’t know maybe a sports car might be a bit cheaper and more fun or get a truck with a gas motor, you know an F150 or you know, a half ton truck is, it’ll be more reliable and cheaper.
Mark: So, if you want some real honest truth about your vehicles and how to maintain them properly or you have a Chevy diesel and it’s getting up there and you need to get the injectors changed, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver 604-327-7112, they’ve done a lot of this kind of work, they’re experts there someone you can trust, check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Talk to you again soon.
Our latest featured service is a Preventative Maintenance Fuel Pump Replacement performed on a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban, brought to us by a client from Burkeville, Richmond.
Fuel pump replacement is not something that you will find in any manufacturer’s maintenance schedule but it makes a lot of sense to add it, and some other common failure components to your maintenance schedule. The reason being is that these items will die and you will be left stranded on the side of the road. If that’s a scenario that you don’t mind then you can stop reading right here, however, if you want to avoid such occurrences then read on.
This fuel pump replacement on a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban just happens to have been performed on my own vehicle. There was nothing wrong with the fuel pump however the vehicle has 264,000 kilometers and this is nearing the end of this pump’s lifespan. I had two major out of town trips planned, and because fuel pumps normally fail without warning the last thing that I wanted was to be standing roadside with a group of friends or my family and a large camping trailer. If I was just driving around town for the foreseeable future perhaps a dead fuel pump would not have been such an issue. When it failed it could be simply towed to the shop for repairs, though this would still be an inconvenience.
On every make of vehicle there are common failure parts that cause a no start or the vehicle to die while driving. On the Suburban the fuel pump is such a part. On many Mercedes-Benz vehicle it’s the crankshaft sensor. On many Nissan vehicles it’s the camshaft sensors. None of these parts are included in maintenance schedules but you can bet that a part with a failure history would be routinely replaced on an airplane before it falls out of the sky.
The whole purpose of preventative maintenance is to save you money and reduce stress. Replacing a common failure part on your vehicle could make your driving that much more enjoyable as there are few things more annoying than your car being broken down at the side of the road.
For more about the Chevrolet Suburban click this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Suburban
For more about fuel pumps click this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_pump
Today’s featured service is Head Gasket Replacement on a 2001 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Pickup truck with Duramax Diesel.
The Duramax might well be the most reliable of the “Big Three” automaker’s diesel engines. The Duramax diesel is a combined Isuzu/GM venture.
Even the most reliable engines can have problems and this one needed head gasket replacement due to coolant leaking into the cylinders.
As with all modern diesel engines head gasket replacement is a very time consuming job, taking almost a week to dismantle and reassemble.
There are several hundred parts and pieces that need to be removed and reinstalled on this engine to complete the job. While cab removal is not necessary like on a Ford 6 liter diesel head gasket job the Chevy diesel repair actually takes longer to perform.
For more on the GM Duramax Diesel check this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duramax_V8_engine
For more on the Chevy Silverado Pick up check this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Silverado