Diesel Service - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

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When Does It Make Sense To Own A Diesel?

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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So one question that we've encountered quite a bit is basically people buying diesels when it's the wrong vehicle for the use case. So when does it make sense to have a diesel?

Bernie: Well, I think there's a couple of criteria that it makes sense to have a diesel. I'm thinking about some of those wrong things. I've had a number of people in the past who've bought like a... I'm just going to say Ford, I'm not picking on Ford, but they bought some Ford diesels that had been less than reliable. After spending thousands of dollars month after month to fix one thing after another, the thrill and the concept and the idea of having a... I'm going to say a, macho diesel, just wears off really fast and I see them coming back with a Ford F-150 gas powered, something a lot more sensible and what they need. We've also had a number of clients who own European vehicles, Mercedes in particular, where the the engines get carboned up or stuff happens, very expensive repairs and really, a diesel wasn't the right vehicle for them.

So when does it make sense? It makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. If you're going to buy a truck, it makes sense to buy diesel if you're hauling heavy loads frequently that's either in the truck or trailering them. If you're buying a car, it makes sense of you're driving long distances, but not short little start and stop distances. So those are really the main criteria to me of when it makes sense.

Mark: So why is that?

Bernie: Well, diesels need to warm up. They need to run hot and they take a while to warm up even with modern technology and they try to warm it up faster, a diesel takes a long time to warm up. Generally, the mass of a diesel engine, the actual engine block, is much more robust than it is on a gasoline engine because compression in a diesel is very high. The engine has to, it's a combustion, sorry... A compression ignition engine. So it has to compress the fuel, which will then explode at a certain pressure and temperature, but that requires a much more robust built engine. They're heavier, they're bigger and so they require a lot more energy to warm up.

When they're not warmed up, with modern emission controls on vehicles, which are required and they make a big difference in terms of the air that we breathe and the quality of the diesel engine, you can hear it from 10 blocks away and it's much more pleasant to drive because you actually really can't hear the engine rattling away. With all those items in place, it sends a lot of soot and particles back through the engine, they recirculate and things tend to plug up unless the engine's really hot. Then it tends to work really well. Also, a lot of modern emission equipment, like particulate filters require the engine to reach a certain temperature and highway driving is good for them because that tends to burn off the particles.

Mark: So the filters actually heat up and disperse the particles, burn them, and then re-burn them again so that they're coming out of the tailpipe more clean.

Bernie: Exactly. Exactly. They call it a filter. It's not really a filter. It's more like a storage. It's like a storage trap and then things are burned off at a later time.

Mark: One of the things that people do, I know for a fact, is take off all the emission equipment. Does that solve the problem?

Bernie: Well, it certainly solves a problem, a lot of problems in terms of carbon buildup and things plugging. It solves it for you personally, but it doesn't really solve it for the general public. Diesel soot is a known carcinogen. It's very bad. They're very tiny little particles that get in the lungs. A lot of people die from it. They don't drop dead. It's not like having been shot by a gun, you're not going to die instantly. It's a slow process, but it's a big thing. As annoying as a lot of these things are, and I can see why people remove them because the solution of not having it makes a big difference.

There's a lot of diesel trucks that used to get fantastic fuel economy. They put the emission equipment on, the fuel economy drops by 30% or 40%, you remove it, you're back way up to having an economical vehicle. But really, what makes our air in our cities good to breathe is all these emission equipment, even on gasoline engines. I always think that whenever I see an old car drive by and I can smell the stench of the exhaust, I go, "Man, I can't believe when I grew up that all cars were like that." We've done a fantastic job in terms of making gasoline powered cars really, really clean, still lots of CO2, but that doesn't smell and stink and cause at least the ground level pollution that we're used to.

It does make a big difference. Things can be removed, but it's better not to. My whole idea with this podcast is consider before you buy a diesel. Do you really need one? Because they do cost an awful lot more money to fix too. I often think all the money you save on fuel, you're just going to end up spending in ours or someone else's repair shop fixing things. So it's an important thing to look at. Consider is this the right vehicle for you because for some people, a diesel absolutely makes a lot of sense.

Mark: I guess there's a couple of other issues there. Diesel particulate in terms of it's detriment to human health is measured in parts per billion, which is incredibly small. Something over 20 parts per billion. Anything over that is detrimental to human health and there's tons of research on this now. There's literally diesel engine's soot is accounting for millions of deaths worldwide every year. This is not speculation. This is a fact. They can show it when cities like London, for instance, banned diesels from the downtown area, their air quality goes up pretty drastically, but it's also illegal isn't it? If you take that stuff off it is.

Bernie: It is. Yeah. It is illegal to do it, whether you're going to have a cop knocking on your door, probably not. Lots of people do it and I don't. We live in Vancouver, Canada, so they're not so many stringent standards. I don't know. I know California, you actually have to have your vehicle emission tested. Around here, you don't. We used to have it. We got rid of it. The air still seems pretty clean, but you can be a lot looser with your standards around here now. Honestly, does it really matter if you live out in some small town or in the middle of nowhere and your diesel puts out some particular? Not really, but every tight thing where you get more concentrated and lots more trucks and people around, it makes a huge difference really fast.

Mark: So there you go. If you're going to buy a diesel, what's your use case? Are you hauling a lot of heavy loads? Are you traveling long distances? A hundred kilometres, 150 kilometres kind of round trip every day, then maybe a diesel makes sense. Other than that, driving around town in your big 4x4 and not ever using it to haul stuff, probably not the best use case. It's costing you a lot of money. Is that a fair assessment?

Bernie: Absolutely. One thing, we actually didn't delve into too much there was car. We did just touch on it briefly, but I think a lot of salespeople do a disservice to their customers by selling them a diesel vehicle when they're really, again, they should be asking, "How much driving you do at this vehicle." This is something you've got to ask yourself if you're going to buy a diesel car or a SUV, I'm thinking like a Mercedes type of thing. There's a lot of ML320s and 350 diesels around. There's just a lot of them in our area. So many people don't buy them for what they need them for. They really should be buying the gasoline version. I think the salespeople really do a disservice by not asking, "What's your usage?" They're just, "Oh yeah, we've got this diesel. It's got great fuel economy," and people just buy it. Then a few years later, the engine's toast or things are plugged up and they're spending thousands of dollars to fix things they wouldn't have had to do. So just something to look at.

Mark: It's not an around town vehicle unless you're hauling stuff basically.

Bernie: Exactly, exactly.

Mark: Go electric. Anyways-

Bernie: Yeah, that's becoming an option if you just need short commutes, electric might be a-

Mark: Far better option.

Bernie: Yeah.

Mark: So there you go. Pawlik Automotive. If you want honest truth about your vehicle and what kind of vehicle to buy, maybe give Bernie a call: (604) 327-7112. He's looking dismayed. I've just offered free advice, but he will. They're friendly. They'll help you out. Quick conversation will ease your mind about buying the right car. Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them, again at: (604) 327-7112. Again, that's for booking appointments. They're busy. You got to call and book ahead. They're 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and PawlikAutomotive.com is the website. Check out lots of articles and videos on there about all makes and models of vehicles and repairs of them all. And of course, thanks so much for watching and listening. We appreciate it. Click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app. We appreciate it and thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for watching. We really appreciate it.

VW and the TDI Emission Trickery

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

Bernie: I’m good

Mark: I have a forced smile on my face - we’re going to talk about VW TDI’s - I’m an owner of one of these cars, when we last talked about these we both had high praise for these vehicles and it turns out it was an illusion. They are very fuel efficient but they’re also polluting like crazy because of what Volkswagen has done so maybe you can tell us a little bit about what happened, what’s gone on.

Bernie: Yes, essentially the TDI was sold as a green diesel car. It had everything that people wanted; power, performance, excellent fuel economy and low emissions. High emissions are a common thing in diesel engine along with excellent fuel economy. Power and performance weren't there in the past; but now VW (along with most other manufacturers) combined all three but VW had a few tricks up their sleeve and the emissions weren’t what we excepted them to be.

Mark: So how was VW able to make the emissions low on an emission test and yet have cars that are emitting up to 40 times the regulated amount of nitrous oxide?

Bernie: Well they did some interesting, kind of crafty software programming:  - they were able to write code so that when a vehicle was on a dynamometer being tested for emissions it would perform differently. The vehicle used a combination of the GPS system, the steering angle sensor input & wheel speed sensors to tell the computer that “hey this vehicle is not going anywhere, it’s being emission tested.” It would perform what was best for emissions, but as soon as the car started moving up the road, it would go back to its other programming for better fuel economy and performance.

Mark: So there are lots and lots of diesel cars and trucks on the road, how does everybody else deal with nitrous oxide, fuel economy and engine performance - those ultimate 3 things that we all want out of our vehicles?

Bernie: Well what everyone else does and actually Volkswagen does on certain models but not the two litre engines that they sell to North America is use a urea system. It’s basically a tank with an extra chemical that is injected into the exhaust system, into a special catalytic converter and that eliminates the oxides of nitrogen. Volkswagen was originally planning on using the Mercedes BlueTEC system back around 2005, at least some people at VW wanted to use that but others decided, hey let’s develop our own system. They worked on developing their own system and it obviously didn’t turn out as good as they thought. The urea system is an add on, and there is an added cost, however it is very minimal but there is the added hassle of having to add extra fluid to your vehicle every once in a while. It's what everyone else does, even heavy trucks use an urea system for emission reduction.

Mark: So going forward, what kind of options does VW have? I guess it’s VW and Audi and Seat - there’s a bunch of companies that use these same motors.

Bernie: Yes, exactly. Well as far as I see it, they’ve got one of two options. They reprogram the vehicle so it runs all the time for the reduced emission standards; of course the cost of this will be lower fuel economy and reduced performance. This will disappoint the owners who bought the cars for the performance and the economy. Secondly; they can add a urea system which will be extremely expensive for Volkswagen. It will probably take up a bit of trunk space in your vehicle and then you’ll have to add the urea to the vehicle as well. As I said the cost for urea is really minimal unless you buy it at the Mercedes dealer.

Mark: So do we just give up on the idea of clean diesel?

Bernie: I don’t think so, I mean it seems like it works well with the urea system but it’s obviously not quite as what the VW TDI was advertised as being. So yeah, I think the clean diesel works and you and I have talked about the biodiesel option as well as it’s much cleaner than petroleum diesel.

Mark: Well it’s far less polluting. So I guess the big question is how does Volkswagen - why’d they think they could get away with it, why’d they have the nerve to pull off such a stunt - I guess we can’t really know for sure but what is your expert opinion not that, why do you think they did it?

Bernie: Well I think they, as I was saying earlier, were going to use the Mercedes BlueTEC system and then decided, no let’s do our own system. So they obviously did their research and they did their development and found that their system didn’t quite match up to what they expected and they made the choice - let’s just fudge it on the emission test because you know, there’s probably a cost factor involved. You and I were talking earlier: the Jetta’s and a lot of these cars, maybe not the Audi, but the Jetta is a lower end car, they’re a cheaper car so they don’t have the profit margins so, they screwed up and decided to fudge things instead of spending an extra $5000 on the car and putting a urea system in. They probably started with a few cars and they just got so deep into it they keep on going with the “fudging” as I like to say.

Mark: So you mentioned that other vehicles have this, that are using the urea type systems - I know that my dad’s old diesel truck used to get really good mileage and I know that from talking to you that some newer ones for a time there didn’t get as good mileage. So what was going on there?

Bernie: So in the late 2000’s, I think it was a hard time for the diesel industry, the US put some very stringent emission regulations that the manufacturers had to meet. A lot of American trucks, if we can move away from Volkswagens for a minute, went from having minimal emission equipment to now having to add catalytic converters and items for NOx reduction and it just threw the gas mileage in the toilet. They went from twenty miles a gallon on a lot of trucks to eight miles a gallon which is extremely annoying for a lot of owners; and there were lots of problems associated - the diesels just weren’t as reliable.

I might add, we blame Volkswagen the corporation, for doing these kinds of things but there are a lot of diesel truck owners who have removed their own emissions equipment. It’s completely illegal, but we think "well you know, it’s my own truck, I’ll just do what I want" and who cares about the emissions. There are many companies that sell exhaust systems to bypass the catalytic converters and there is software made to bypass the whole system. So there are a lot of polluting diesel vehicles out there, not just Volkswagens, but people do it individually and after-market companies do it.

Mark: And then when, what was the change? That’s kind of resolved itself with the newer vehicles, is that right?

Bernie: Yeah so going forward there are basically the newer generation of diesels, at least the American trucks and pretty much all the diesel vehicles out on the road except for the Volkswagens that use the urea system. That gives you the best combination. You can make an engine that has good power, good fuel economy and then just deal with the excess NOx emissions in the exhaust system with the urea and catalytic converter. It seems to work out well.

Mark: So any final thoughts?

Bernie: You know sometimes it seems innocuous, "oh well, it’s just a little more pollution, whatever." But there are statistics, there are people actually out there dying because of this. It’s not like being shot with a bullet or being run over by a car where the results are immediate. It’s slow, it’s hidden - I mean I don’t know anyone who's died from car pollution, and most of us don’t, but it’s out there. I was just reading that apparently in London, they’re saying 3000 people a year die from pollution of diesel exhaust. I know London is kind of a dirty city and it’s big - but you know, the results are real.

It’s going to be interesting to see what Volkswagen does going ahead: they’ve got a big hill to climb to fix this problem and restore their credibility with their customers and it is probably going to take a long time. The V6 Volkswagen diesels are all fine. There are no issues with those, it’s just the 2 litres in North America that you need to be concerned about. We’ll do another hangout where we’ll talk about what specific things you can expect if you have a TDI Jetta and what you might need to do going forward.

Mark: Awesome. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They are an award winning shop, 15 times voted Best Auto Repair in Vancouver . Bernie is a worldwide expert on auto repair and auto maintenance and you can reach them www.pawlikautomotive.com or give them a call and book your next appointment today at 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.

Properly Functioning Glow Plugs Are Vital To Starting A Cold Diesel

Just what exactly is a glow plug and what does it do? A glow plug is a heater and is so named because it glows red hot when activated. Diesel engines are compression ignition engines and rely on hot air (under extreme pressure) to combust the fuel. A cold engine with cold air temperatures creates difficult combustion conditions resulting in either no engine start or a very difficult start with smoky exhaust. The addition of glow plugs to heat the cold combustion chamber allows the diesel engine to start quickly and smokelessly. Glow plugs are connected to a glow plug controller which is either switched on by a temperature switch or the engine computer at the time that the extra heat is required. Glow plugs usually cycle on and off after the engine has started for up to two minutes to ensure good combustion.

How do you know if your glow plugs are not functioning properly? There are a few ways based on the vintage of your diesel. On older diesels, around 2000 and earlier models, you will notice long crank over or no start when cold. You might also notice that the engine runs rough on start-up and smokes excessively for a short period of time. On newer computer controlled diesels you’ll rarely ever experience these poor engine start and running issues. This is because, after the slightest glow plug defect is detected, your check engine lamp will come on. With it a stored trouble code indicating which glow plug may be faulty will be logged in the computer.

Almost every automotive diesel (car or light truck) uses glow plugs however there are some exceptions. The Cummins diesel as found in Dodge trucks has no glow plugs but instead uses a grid heater in the air intake. This warms the air as it is sucked into the engine. It only switches on during very cold weather.

GMC diesel glow plugs: several of these glow plugs were dead and can be noted by the excessive carbon deposits on several plugs

GMC diesel glow plugs: several of these glow plugs were dead as evidenced by the excessive (black) carbon deposits on the tips

How often should you change your glow plugs? Unlike spark plugs, there is no recommended maintenance replacement interval for glow plugs. They are normally changed when either cold start issues present themselves or your check engine lamp comes on with a glow plug code (and after diagnosis it is determined that the glow plug is faulty).

Cranking over a diesel engine takes a lot of energy and your starter motor works very hard. All diesel vehicles have either two batteries or one humongous battery to provide the power for the starter. Starters, due to their size are very expensive, so a quick easy starting engine is much easier on your starter. With the quick start that glow plugs provide your starter lasts much longer, saving you money.

How We Permanently Fix The Ford 6 Liter Diesel

The Ford 6 liter diesel engine is fraught with numerous problems however all of these can be overcome. In this video we will show you what we feel is the ultimate repair solution for the 6 Liter: repairs that will keep the engine performing reliably for years and years.

Many of the 6 liters problems stem from the design of the engine and oil cooling systems. This engine uses a unique system in which the engine oil cooler is mounted inside the V of the engine. Here coolant flows through narrow passageways which eventually plug up causing coolant flow restrictions and excessive oil temperatures. From here coolant flows to the EGR cooler which, due to its narrow passageways also tends to clog. Excessive coolant temperatures eventually lead to head gasket failures and even a destroyed engine if left long enough.

For the truck shown in this video, the owner wisely chose to do the ultimate repair job; a repair which eliminates all the weaknesses of the 6 liter engine. This includes cylinder head studs to prevent future head gasket failures, a Bulletproof EGR cooler plus the bulletproof remote engine oil cooler system. A number of minor but nonetheless important upgrades were done during the procedure including new oil stand pipes and STC fitting on the high pressure oil pump.

Let’s get started:

First step is to remove the bumpers and accessories from the front of the truck then disconnect all items necessary to remove the cab from the vehicle. This includes evacuating the A/C system, draining the coolant, disconnecting the steering column, brake lines, coolant and  heater hoses, wiring and much more.

Once the cab is raised the engine is readily accessible and a pleasure to work on.

Stripping the engine down is our next step and the next few photos reveal just that, with the heads, oil cooler assembly and high-pressure oil pump removed.

The many dismantled parts can be seen in this enormous layout.

Next steps include cleaning components such as the block deck and cylinder head surfaces along with the oil pump cover and all of the many bolts and miscellaneous parts.

We are now ready to put things back together:

The high-pressure oil pump is reinstalled along with a new and improved STC fitting. On occasion the old STC fitting would break and when this occurred would crack the back of the engine block.

Following pump installation, the cover is installed and tightened down.

We next move onto installation of the Bulletproof remote oil cooler adapter: this is a complete assembly that bolts in place of the engine oil cooler and cover.

Cylinder head studs are installed, then head gaskets, then cylinder heads. Heads are torqued to spec. During head installation, fuel injectors are reinstalled with new seals, along with rocker arms and bridges.

Covering the valve gear sits the high-pressure oil manifold and installed along with this are the upgraded high-pressure oil standpipes. The original designed pipes and seals would fail resulting in a loss of oil pressure and an engine no start.

To ensure an easy start up the oil system is primed until oil flows from the manifold test port.

We’re now onto installing valve covers and the turbo stand

Next is the Intake manifold along with a Bulletproof EGR cooler, this component has been rebuilt to eliminate the causes of failure in the original cooler. Check out the differences between the Bulletproof’s large tubes and the original’s thin tubes: the durability looks very evident.

Some next installations include the oil and fuel filter adapters and plumbing. Because we are using the Bulletproof oil cooler system the original oil filter is no longer used.

Next comes the turbocharger, the FICM or fuel injection control module and the remaining wiring, hoses and sensors.

Here’s how it all looks from front and back, fully assembled and awaiting the cab to be remounted.

With the cab back down we can now work on installing the rest of the Bulletproof oil cooler system which includes first relocating the power steering cooler near the bottom of the radiator. We next install the cooler, pipes and hoses.

The remote oil filter is mounted behind the left front bumper bracket.

Final assembly requires reinstalling and reconnecting all other under hood components, then filling the cooling system, recharging the A/C and we are ready for start up.

After a successful start up, warm up and inspection for leaks our 6 liter Ford truck is ready to go for many miles of trouble free operation having had all major original design flaws corrected.

Keeping Your TDI Reliable For The Long Haul

VW TDI diesel engines have been around for two decades in several evolutions: distributor type and common rail injection. They are fabulous engines and have always been state of the art, featuring quiet operation, lots of power and acceleration, and best of all their fuel economy allows a trip from Vancouver to Calgary on a single tank.

Maintenance is relatively simple requiring routine oil and filter changes, fuel and air filter changes and rarely, timing belt replacements. Reliability of the engines is excellent however there are a few concerns that occur from time to time. Glow plugs and glow plug system failures occur from time to time.

One other concern is clogging of the intake manifold which happens commonly on late 1990 to early 2000 Jettas and Passats. Over time the EGR valve, located in the intake stream allows fine soot particles to build up, eventually building up so severely that air flow is restricted. It can become so bad that the engine has too little power to pull the car up a hill.

Partially blocked intake manifold. Surprisingly, in spite of being 50% restricted this engine still had plenty of power. Soon it will suffer from severe power loss.

 

When it becomes this sooted, the intake manifold must be removed to do a thorough cleanout. In exceptional cases the cylinder head must also be removed and the head dismantled to clean the valves. Obviously it makes sense to service the intake before blockage becomes severe.

At 100,000 kilometers it makes sense to remove the EGR valve and inspect for deposits and at this point clean them if present. From that point on, reinspecting and cleaning if needed every 50,000 kilometers will ensure a reliable and trouble free TDI experience; just be sure to replace the timing belt every 150,000 kilometers.

 

Valuable Maintenance For Your Ford 6.0 Liter Diesel

EGR valves cause many concerns on Ford 6L diesel engines: the most common one being that the valves stick due to excessive soot deposits. While there are few simple services that can be done on these complex engines, cleaning your EGR valve just happens to be one of those rare simple ones.

The EGR valve service involves removing the valve and cleaning it with combustion chamber or carburetor cleaner. With the valve removed the intake ports where the valve is installed are also cleaned. Doing this service will prevent many an EGR related driveability concern due to a sticking or plugged valve.

Perform this service every time you replace fuel filters and it will only add to the reliability of your truck.

The soot covered EGR valve as removed from the engine

 

The same EGR valve after cleaning

How to Prolong the Life of Your Diesel Fuel Injectors

Diesel engines and diesel fuel injectors have changed remarkably in the past decade: gone are the rattly, smoky, stinky, low performance engines from the past.

Modern Diesel Fuel Injectors and Engines

Today we have the modern diesel: powerful and quick to accelerate, smoke free and quiet, with the added benefit of low exhaust emissions, and often times amazing fuel efficiency. 60+ mpg in a VW Jetta TDI is common!

There have been many changes that have allowed this remarkable transformation and one of the major contributors is the fuel injector which has undergone an enormous revolution.

Dodge Cummins Diesel Injectors, old & new: The old mechanical injector is on the top and the new style, common rail injector on bottom

Diesel Fuel Injectors Deliver a Fine Spray of Fuel Under Very High Pressure.

On older engines all components within the injector were mechanical. The injection pump, again a purely mechanical device, precisely controlled the quantity of fuel to be injected.

Fast forward to today: the fuel injector’s controls are now electronic and the mechanical injection pump is gone. In its place is the common rail system. What common rail means is that all fuel injectors get their fuel from the same fuel rail under the same pressure. There a two types of common rail system: one with very high fuel pressure and another with low pressure fuel that uses high pressure engine oil to boost fuel to a very high pressure inside the injector.

While solenoids have been used inside the injectors the pinnacle of modern fuel injector technology is the piezoelectric crystal which, when electrically energized minutely changes the shape of the crystal and switches a small fuel chamber on and off. The on/off flow in the small fuel chamber triggers the top of the fuel injector to open and close and in turn spray fuel into the engine. The miracle of this injector is that it allows precise injection control to the millisecond.

Old diesels received only one shot of fuel during their combustion stroke while modern diesels receive several injections at precisely timed intervals and this has created the amazing engines that we have today. Through these timed injections more power is produced and the knocking sound, so common to diesel engines is virtually eliminated.

How do modern injectors fair for reliability?

Well they have their concerns and quite honestly many are problematic. However much of this may be due to recent changes in diesel fuel refining.

In the late 2000s, ultra low sulfur diesel fuels were introduced in North America. Minimal sulfur emission is great for the environment but unfortunately for the diesel fuel injector, the refining process removes some lubricants that are crucial to long injector life. All diesel engines built 2008 and newer have upgraded injectors but those prior will likely suffer early failures.

Injector failures show up in a number of ways such as long crank times or no starts, smoky exhaust (usually black) and rough running.

Poor maintenance can also affect injector life

With the expensive components in a diesel engine, performing oil and filter changes and fuel filter changes at or before the prescribed interval is essential.

Replacing modern injectors is very expensive, typically costing several hundred dollars per unit along with a very labour intensive operation. So you may wonder, what can I do to prolong the life of my injectors and avoid expensive repairs? There are several things:

First is to keep up your maintenance:

Change engine oil and filter regularly and replace fuel filters regularly.

Second is to add a lubricity additive to your fuel:

These additives will restore the lubricants missing from modern ultra low sulfur diesel and prolong the life of your injectors. While there is addition cost, some of these additives will boost the cetane rating of your fuel and pay for themselves with improved fuel mileage and performance.

Using the right fuel additive and performing proper maintenance will maximize your diesel fuel injector’s life: it’s a no-brainer that will save you thousands of dollars.

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

The best way to save money on car repairs is simple:

It’s with routine maintenance.

Routine maintenance means that at specific time intervals, based on how much you drive, you have your car serviced following a maintenance schedule.

The very minimum schedule that should be followed is the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Following this schedule will make certain that you fulfill all of your requirements should you have a warranty claim. Some manufacturer’s schedules are more thorough than others and a good maintenance shop will review the schedule and make additional suggestions to help further maintain your vehicle.

It is almost always cheaper to do Car Repairs before they break. Here are a few examples:

One oil change every 6,000 kilometers for 60,000 Km equals 10 oil changes and a total cost of around $600.00. A lack of oil changes causing a blown engine is $4,000.00 and could easily cost double that based on the type car that you drive.

An average, thorough timing belt replacement (with water pump, pulleys and oil seals) can range from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00. Neglecting it and letting the belt break puts you back in the $4,000.00 and probably far more expensive price range.

Replacing brakes before they start grinding could be as low in cost as $300.00 but if left until grinding could easily run you $700.00 or far more.

Other Tangible costs:
• Towing
• Lost work hours
• Arranging transportation to and from the Repair Shop

Intangible costs:
• The stress of readjusting your schedule
• Being without your car when you need it

Through routine maintenance you will know the condition and lifespan of many of your vehicle’s parts. At specific intervals critical services like oil changes and fluid flushes will be done extending the life of your vehicle.

Will routine maintenance eliminate all surprises? Unfortunately it will not, but it substantially increases your odds of trouble free driving.

save money on car repairs

1 Page of a maintenance schedule for 2005 Ford F350 6.0L Diesel

So there is your key to save money on car repairs: Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!

What We Do – A BNI Presentation

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

Good Morning, I’m Bernie from Pawlik Automotive.

BNI Big Tsunami, Vancouver, BC

Pawlik Automotive is an auto service shop located in the Marpole area of Vancouver, BC. We’ve been in business since 1991 which makes us 20 years old this year. We service most makes of cars and light trucks and we do pretty much all the maintenance and repairs that your car will need. What we don’t do is bodywork, windshields and detailing.

I want to speak today on a few aspects of our business that are unique.

Let’s face it there are a lot of auto repair shops out there but there are several things that make Pawlik Automotive an excellent choice for servicing your vehicle.

Wholistic Approach

We take what I call a wholistic approach to vehicle service. Auto Inspection reportWe look at the whole car, evaluate it and let you know what service is required now and what is required in the future. The basis of that service comes via this very colorful and detailed inspection form. Having us as your partner in vehicle service undoubtedly saves you money in the long run.

An Honest Mechanic

We don’t use a heavy handed or fear based tactics as a way of selling service.

    I can give an example from this week: we had a client who complained that her brakes were making a noise. I drove the car and noted a grinding noise at some times: it was intermittent and coming from her front brakes. Upon inspection we found 4 mm remaining on the brake pads and the rotors were in good condition. 4 mm on this car could last another 20 to 30,000 kilometers and there was no safety issue involved. We let her know that we could replace her pads & rotors now and eliminate her noise or she could safely leave them and live with the noise. She opted to leave them, a $500 sale walked out the door while our integrity remained intact!

Fleet Maintenance

Another area of specialty for us is fleet maintenance: essentially these are vehicles used for business and most often these would be trades companies: plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, rubbish removal companies and garden maintenance companies just to name a few.

What makes our service so valuable to fleets is our thorough inspections along with accurately recording the work needed and booking future appointments along with reminding them of when service is needed.

    I can give an example of how we’ve helped one of our fleet clients: Action Integrated SecurityWe service a company called Action Integrated Security who have about 15 vehicles, mostly heavily loaded vans. When they started bring their vehicles to us they were in pretty bad shape but we got them maintained to our high standards.
    One area of concern remained and that was that some of their vans were eating brakes at an alarming rate and this was in spite of our use of the best quality brake parts available. After a few of their trucks ran into horrifically expensive brake jobs which could have been prevented by inspections, the company’s owner, upon my suggestion now brings all of their vehicles to us for every service.
    They had been going to quick lubes for oil services as this was convenient for them as their technician did not have to be without a vehicle. Unfortunately quick lubes don’t look at the whole vehicle and much was being missed. We now inspect their brakes at every service and note any quick wearing brakes so they can be dealt with before they wear out. This is saving them a lot of money.

Diesel Vehicles

Diesel cars and diesel trucks are another area of specialty for us. Many auto repair shops don’t do diesels but we love them and have invested in the equipment and education to diagnose and repair them properly.

    An example of some of our diesel service is on 6 liter Ford diesels:Ford Diesel Head Gasket Repairs these are very common in pick up trucks from 2003 to 2006 model years. Unfortunately this engine is not reliable stock but with proper repairs it can be made bulletproof and we have done this to a number of these engines.

Proper Diagnosis

Doing proper diagnosis is very important to fixing a modern vehicle and it is a big part of our business and it’s something that we do very well. There are many expensive parts to go wrong so it is essential to take the time to find out what the exact cause is so that our client’s money is not wasted.

    Here’s an example of the value of diagnosis: A couple of days ago we had a Dodge truck with a check engine lamp on and it’s engine running with a slight misfire. His previous shop had not done diagnosis but had installed many parts in hopes of fixing the concern: new spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap & rotor and a fuel injector in 1 cylinder.
    They had charged him a fair amount of money and while some of these parts may have been needed they had not solved his concern. We diagnosed his concern and found a bad intake valve in #8 cylinder which required some engine work. Chances are most of the other parts were unnecessary and were a waste of his money: had this vehicle owner done diagnosis first he would have undoubtedly saved hundreds of dollars.

Pawlik Website

Over the past few years I’ve invested heavily into our website and created educational materials. I write blog articles frequently about all sorts of auto repair topics and have created several videos on how we do our work and what makes us unique.

I encourage you to take the time to look around as it explains a lot about how we do things here at Pawlik Automotive.

If you have someone that you’d like to refer to us please ask them to look at our videos as it will give them an idea about how we do things and what makes us unique. Pawlik Auto Repairs YouTube ChannelWhile I have fun making these I do it so that people will learn about what makes their vehicle tick and what goes into the work that we do so they can get a better understanding of the value that we offer.

Please take a couple of minutes to view one of my videos this week. Just go on You Tube – Pawlik Automotive. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Diesels are not Indestructable

Dodge Cummins Diesel melted piston

While Diesel engines are remarkably tough they are not indestructible and can be expensively damaged when abused. Take a look at these pistons from a Dodge Cummins Diesel. The vehicle owner had installed a performance chip in the computer and taking advantage of the extra horsepower hauled a trailer at high speed up the Coquihalla Highway.

It was undoubtably an impressive site, watching a truck and trailer maintaining the speed limit uphill through the steep mountain grades. However a severe price was paid when a knocking noise developed in the engine. After tearing down the engine the damage was found: a partially melted piston caused by the relentless uphill quest for speed. This is an expensive diesel repair.

If you own such a vehicle take care when driving, especially after making performance upgrades or modifications: all engines are built to take a set amount of strain and overdoing it could cost you big money.

Melted piston on left, Normally worn piston on right

Damaged piston skirt on left, normally worn piston on right

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