Dodge Trucks - Pawlik Automotive Repair, Vancouver BC

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2008 Sprinter 2500-Gear Shifter Replacement

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here in beautiful Vancouver, where it's getting cold and rainy finally, had a fantastic October. I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 18-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking vans today. How are you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're talking about a 2008 Sprinter van. Now, I don't know if this is a Dodge or Mercedes because I think this might have even been when they were both as one.

Bernie: Yeah, this one was actually a Dodge, but they're essentially the same vehicle.

Mark: This had a gear shifter replacement. What was going on with the Sprinter van?

Bernie: Actually, the vehicle came to our shop for actually a different issue. Came in for a noise in the engine. We looked at it, diagnosed it, found the alternator was worn out, causing a noise. So we replaced the alternator, successful repair, road tested the vehicle, drove it around a few times, started, stopped, shifted it, and parked the vehicle out back of our shop. When the customer came to pick the vehicle up, started the car, went move it out of park, it's an automatic into drive and the gear shifter was just locked in park. So, that was kind of a surprise because there's nothing that happened before and just suddenly, all of a sudden, this issue occurred.

Mark: Okay. How did you, guys, break it?

Bernie: How did we break it? Well, that's the first question. Of course, for the customer to go, "Hey, what did you do to my van? My van was shifting fine beforehand." For me, I'm always going, "Well, what do we do? I actually do something wrong here." So, I mean, that's the first place I always stand in when something happens because over the years, I've had many cars where someone comes in, they need something to do awesome their battery just dies, like it just won't start the car. It's like, "Well, it's working fine when it came in." These are kind of things that just happened for us and more often than not, to me, I have to explain to the client, "Hey, by the way, this is nothing to do with what we did. But I'm always curious to go, "Hey, could it have been?" So, we looked at it and found, "No, clearly, there wasn't anything related." This van has about 300,000 kilometres. So it's got a lot of mileage on it, so it's old. At that point, anything could go wrong. It just so happened to have died when it was here, which is possibly fortunate because then the owner doesn't take it home an hour later or a day later. "Oh, it won't shift and has to come back." So, whether that's of any comfort or not, it's not usually, but to me, it helps at least saying, "Hey, at least it was here when it happened." So, yeah. 

Mark: And so, what did you find? What was going on?

Bernie: So yeah, from there, of course, we did some tests with a diagnostic scan to see if there's any codes and systems, sure enough, there was related to the gearshift module. And then from there, we did a little research, and testing, and found basically the gearshift module itself packed. It packed it in. So, we'll just go and do a couple of quick photos right now.

There's our 'O8 Sprinter van in good shape considering the amount of mileage. This is the gear shifter unit itself. So when we say shifter module, it's an electronic piece that was defective, which is this piece here but of course, it's not sold separately. There's a number of you can see there's a plug with about, I don't know, eight or 10 pins here. There's another wire that comes off here. There's a lot that goes on in these things surprisingly. Then the gearshift handle, of course, so the whole mechanism is replaced, the cables attached here, and this thing is if you have a Sprinter van, it's going to mounted on the dash. So, takes a bit of work to remove it, reinstall it. What is inside the shifter, of course, is as you move the gear shifter into different speed, you also have the ability to move the shifter. It just goes into drive at the bottom, but you can also manually shift gears at that point, so you move the shifter sideways and, yeah, you manually shift the gears up and down. So that's what adds some of the complexity to the shifter. There's also the interlocking mechanism, of course, that prevents it from unlocking from park.

Mark: So, were there any other items you had to look for or look at while you were diagnosing what exactly the problem was?

Bernie: Well, we work on a lot of Sprinters. This is the first time we run into a shifter issue like this. So, of course, we want to make sure we get the diagnosis right because that part is pretty expensive. We don't want to say, "Hey, replace this piece," and it being the wrong item. With a lot of Mercedes or any more modern vehicles, a lot of these modules, they talk to each other, they need to be programmed to speak to each other. So we did some research on what possible cause shifter problems. And so, came up with a variety of things through various forums and some of the search data, some of the repair information data we have, where you could simply do a flash reprogramming and it would make the module work again. I look at forums just for bits of information, but I find most of the stuff there is, quite frankly, useless. There's so many people, "Oh, your brake light bulb could be burnt out," and this and that happens. These are all things we look at to make sure and those are good things to test, but of course, in this case, what it really came down to there wasn't, let's say, a Technical Service Bulletin from Dodge. But that bulletin was issued almost right after the vehicle is manufactured and I'm thinking, "You know, this vehicle, it's 10 years old, over 10 years old now, 300,000 kilometres, that gear shifter has been moving around a lot." Clearly, the part is just worn out from age. So, some of the tests we did, we verified. It was communicating in some areas but not in others. There's something wrong and broken inside the gearshift module. So that's how we determined it. But just a word of caution, if you're looking on forums, just be careful that you're getting the right advice because there's so much opinion out there that's really not of any value. It's like just falling down a rabbit hole of useless conversation.

Mark: So, how complex is this repair job?

Bernie: Well, I mean, it involves removing some of the dash to take the shifter out and then installing the unit. Fortunately, there's no reprogramming to do. Although, we did have to clear codes and there were some relearn procedures that take place in the vehicle with the communication system. So that's something that takes a bit of time, but there's no reprogramming or reflashing of this module. So that was actually a surprisingly nice thing to find because so often on Mercedes' products, you change any one thing and you have to reprogram that module so it speaks to the other modules. So, that made for a bit of an easier repair.

Mark: You mentioned you worked on lots of Sprinters. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: They're pretty good. Although, of course, a lot of these have the three-litre diesel in them and we talk about the reliability of that particular engine. There's the other with the smaller diesel before the three-litre. I mean, those are pretty good. We don't run into a lot of problems with them and …

Mark: As long as the oil has changed?

Bernie: As long as the oil has changed, of course. I mean, regular maintenance is key, but really, they are pretty good vans, but the three-litre diesel, of course, you can look at our other podcast or you can look around, you'll see all the things that tend to go wrong with them over time. But generally, if you service the vehicle regularly and you use it hard, they're actually pretty good, and they're very practical design. One thing I do like about them is the size and the shape. You can stand up inside and it's a great tradesman's van and for many other things, for a motorhome, too, because a great vehicle overall.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for a service for your Mercedes, Dodge Sprinter van 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. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there including many on three-litre Mercedes, Dodge diesels as well. Thank you so much for watching and listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.

2005 Dodge Ram 3500, Cummins Diesel Engine Rebuilt

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners, just won another award as voted by their customers; winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Dodge Ram 3500, 2005; you had to rebuild the Cummins Turbo Diesel on this vehicle, why was that?

Bernie: Well the engine, a couple issues, the engine was leaking some oil on the ground. It was coming out of the breather tube, this thing believe it or not actually has a breather tube that the crankcase, the blow by gas is actually going onto the road which is surprising because for a modern diesel they abandoned those in cars about in the mid-sixties because they’re so toxic but I guess diesels are theoretically not so bad but anyways this had a road draft tube. There was some oil dripping out of there, there’s a lot of, a bit of smoke coming out of there and the exhaust was just extremely smoky. Now we had replaced the fuel injectors a while ago in this vehicle because they were old and worn out, some 220,000 kilometers, kind of the age of, age to replace them but the smoke persisted in fact according to the owner was even a little worse. I would have attributed it that to the fact the injectors we’re not actually delivering enough fuel to the engine and now with the proper amount of fuel being delivered the engine was actually smoking worse which was unfortunate.

Mark: So what tests did you do to get the bottom of this?

Bernie: So we figured there must have been a cylinder problem because the other issue was that engine was running a bit rough, when it was hot the smoke pretty much went away and the engine ran quite smoothly but when it was cold to cool there was a distinct roughness like a misfiring of the engine so there’s some interesting tests we can do and I’ll share a photo here, one of our pretty cool tests. What you’re looking at here, this is actually on a lab skill that we have, it’s a wave form of the starter draw of the engine, so the starter motor turns the engine over and there’s six cylinders in the engine and every time it comes to a compression stroke there’s a, there’s an extra draw of power because it takes extra energy to push the, for the starter motor to push the engine through that cycle so if you look here you can see one hump, two humps, three humps, four humps, five and then where number six is supposed to be its flat. Now that basically indicates that one cylinder is really doing nothing. Now if everything was perfect they should all be six nice even humps but again there’s one missing here so that is the, that’s what was going on with that particular, so that was the first test we did. So we determined one cylinder was bad in compression, from there we did a compression test in the engine; now this is a really involved job, most diesels it takes a lot of work to do a compression test. In the case of the one we had to remove all the fuel injectors to install a compression tester and what we found this one cylinder had about 50 pounds of compression which is extremely low and all the others had 450 which is really healthy which explains again why the engine ran like a 5 cylinder, so from there we, from there we did a leak down test. Now a leak down test we blow air into the cylinder, number one cylinder that had the bad compression and with the cylinder top dead centre we can determine is it a valve problem, is it a piston ring or a piston problem and they’re only by the amount of air escaping, if there’s a lot of air escaping it was all going down through the piston rings, through the pistons so we knew we had to remove the head and investigate further; so the problems basically a piston ring problem not a valve problem.

Mark: So that sounds pretty severe, what else was damaged, was anything else damaged?

Bernie: Really when we took the engine out, we took it apart, uh basically what we found is that we when we took number one cylinder piston out there’s two compression rings on the engine, on the piston and they were both broken, they were actually broken into pieces, they all came out in eight different pieces and the other cylinders we took out, two of them had broken top compression rings so even though the compression was good they were definitely on their way out; also the cylinder wall had some pretty bad damage especially number one cylinder because the broken rings it causes a strange wear pattern in the cylinder so it required reboring the cylinder, makes for the engine block fitting with new pistons. I can share some photos, we’ve got lots of interesting things to look at here, so let’s have a look at some pictures. So here’s our, you can see this o.k. Mark?

Mark: Yep

Bernie: So we’re looking at this is the piston from number one cylinder, that, where the right here that’s where the number one, the top compression ring sits and this is where the lower compression ring sits. This bottom ring is the oil control ring which just basically prevents too much oil from, wipes the oil off the cylinder so you don’t get a lot of oil burning but basically these rings are both broken, you can see a lot of black carbon deposits along here, I mean this shouldn’t look like this. One of the cylinders that wasn’t, had good rings it had very little carbon deposits certainly none, it’s o.k. to have it above here because that’s normal but anything below that it’s you know, abnormal so that’s our, this is our bad piston, few other pictures of the engine just to go over some stuff. These are the timing gears so this is the crankshaft gear, the camshaft gear, the gear that drives the high pressure fuel pump and then the oil engine pump gears, really heavy duty stuff, I mean these are straight cuts just really solid big gears, you know it’s a Cummins diesel, this is kind of what you expect in this engine. This stuff is kind of bullet proof, not much can go wrong with it. A couple other interesting things, here’s, here’s our new piston with the, with the rings in place, you can see how clean and shiny it is, there’s the upper ring, the lower ring and the oil control ring, the uh and what else have we got to look at here that’s interesting. The other thing interesting on these engines is the connecting rods, usually it’s a fractured connecting rod instead of cutting these nice and smooth when they make the connecting rod it’s a big round circle basically, instead that bolts together, instead of cutting it and machining it they actually have a cool way of actually stress fracturing and cracking it and makes for a very precise fit and very solid structure so its commonly used in a lot of engines nowadays especially if its diesel, so if you look at it you can see the ripply lines there, it can only ever be fitted one way you can never mix them up, so uh yeah, so that’s basically a few photos from the engine, just going to get out of here so I can see myself again. I’m back.

Mark: So did you do any other engine repairs?

Bernie: Basically all the bearing were in pretty good shape and the connecting rod and the main bearings were in good shape, we replaced them anyways while you’re in there, you got to take them all out anyways, it’s not a lot of extra, you know it’s an extra couple hundred dollars to make sure that nothing’s going to wear in the future but everything was in good shape so basically the block was bored, a new piston, the only thing we did was we had the cylinder head redone. What can happen on these engines is the valve seats can suddenly drop out of the valves which causes the valve to jam open and the piston can hit the valve and can cause catastrophic engine damage so we’ve never seen that happen but apparently, it’s, it’s somewhat common so, so we had the head done at the same time even though technically we could have bolted the head back on and the engine would run fine but you just never know when, when that failure might occur so it makes sense to do it now.

Mark: Sure, renew the whole motor.

Bernie: Sorry?

Mark: Renew the whole engine.

Bernie: Yeah, basically it’s a complete engine rebuild; the cam shaft was in great shape, the tappits, those are other things that can wear, the rocker arm, those are all in fantastic shape so with the new injectors this will be basically a brand new, a brand new engine.

Mark: So we haven’t talked about engine repairs in these truck very much; people have the impression they’re bullet proof.

Bernie: Yeah, you know we rarely get any engine work on these engines, there’s really not a lot that goes wrong with them, they are really well built and I’m not really sure what, what happened with this engine, why, why it occurred like this. The owner’s you know, very big on maintenance, you know it’s not like its chipped or any high performance modifications, I mean those kinds of things will really can shorten the life of the diesel pretty quickly when you over boost the turbo or you know, hauling super heavy loads up a hill, you can see some of the burnt pistons from you know trying to fly up the hill with a heavy trailer on the back and an over boost to the turbo so you’ve got to be careful with it but with good maintenance it’s kind of surprising and they’re generally bullet proof but like anything they do have their problems.

Mark: Any guesses why it failed?

Bernie: Not really, you know I, yeah, really not certain, you know and it could be that the owner wasn’t the original owner so it could be that the previous owner you know, in its early days may not have maintained the truck as well as they should have, they may not have changed the oil often enough that caused enough wear in the engine early on that you know, contributed to damage. It’s hard to say and sometimes you know it’s like human health, I mean you can, you can do all the right things, you can eat good food, you can exercise properly, you can still drop dead of a heart attack at 40 and other people live a crappy life and live to a hundred and same with cars, I mean you get somewhere people maintain them badly they last forever and others where you know, you just miss a couple oil changes and it takes a good engine out or even its maintained well, something happens anyway, so.

Mark: If you’re looking for service for your diesel in Vancouver, diesel car or truck these are the guys to go see Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, they’re 17 times voted best auto repair in Vancouver, give them a call 604-327-7112, you have to book ahead, they’re always busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

Dodge Ram Truck Brakes

Dodge Truck Brakes

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing well.

Mark: So you guys have just won again - Best Auto Repair in Vancouver for the sixteenth time, that must feel pretty good.

Bernie: It is awesome, it’s a great honour.

Mark: And that’s from your customers voting?

Bernie: It is

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about Dodge Ram truck brakes. So what’s unique about Dodge Ram brakes?

Bernie: Dodge Ram truck brakes are pretty much the same as any brake system you’ll find in any vehicle, other than being in a truck, they’re large. Typically these days Dodge Ram trucks have four wheel disc brakes. In the past, they’d use a drum brake on the rear and a disc brake on the front. There is a variety of different brake sizes that you’ll find on a Dodge Ram truck whether it’s a 1500 1/2 ton, those will have smaller brakes whereas a 2500 3/4 ton or a 3500 1-ton will have larger brakes.

Mark: What goes wrong with Dodge Ram brakes?

Bernie: That’s typical like most vehicles, the pads wear out and the rotors wear as well as the pads. If it’s a drum brake, of course there are brake shoes that will wear out, wheel cylinders will leak and the drums wear. There are further things that happen, as the vehicle gets older: the calipers will wear out, the calipers will stick or seize up and brake hoses wear out.

Mark: So what’s the typical life span of these typical big truck brakes?

Bernie: That really varies. That’s an excellent question because it depends on how you’re using your vehicle and what you’re using is for. So for example, if you have a 1500 Series truck and you’re really loading it down fully, maxed out and maybe a little bit overloaded, your brakes won’t last very long. Whereas, if you have a one ton and you and never put anything in it or haul anything, the brakes could last a long time, a 100,000 km or more. It really depends on the load and what you’re carrying in the vehicle. It also depends on where you are driving, if you’re just driving around in the city that’s one thing, but if you’re driving in very hilly terrain the brakes will wear faster. If you’re driving off-road you’ve got dust and dirt and mud that will get into the brakes and wear them faster as well.

Mark: So any suggestions for maximizing the life of your brakes and keeping the cost down?

Bernie: Well first of all, with a truck it’s important to have the right load capacity for the work you’re doing, so if it’s a work truck, you don’t buy a half ton truck and haul around 2000 pounds of material day in and day out. Other than that the key to maximizing brake life is to pump the brakes and this is true in all cars. Have the brakes inspected every year. It's the most important thing, to see how they’re wearing. If there’s anything wearing abnormally get it fixed right away, that’ll keep your costs down.

Dodge Truck Brakes

2008 Dodge Ram 3500 front brake

Mark: So basically maintenance will help you repair the little things before the big things get impacted, is that right?

Bernie: Exactly. It’s much cheaper to fix brakes before they start making horrible grinding noises and they’re worn metal on metal. If you drive it for awhile, it’ll definitely cost you more money to do that. So better to fix them before that happens. It's also safer too.

Mark: So if you want safe brakes, reliable brakes, less expensive brakes, give Pawlik Automotive a call 604-327-7112. You have to book an appointment folks, they’re busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com in Vancouver. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

1998 Dodge Ram 2500 – A/C Evaporator

Dodge Ram

Our latest featured service is A/C Evaporator replacement on a 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup truck; brought to us by a client from Yaletown, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram

1998 Dodge Ram 2500. This almost 18 year old truck has 350,000 kilometers and runs and drives like new.

A/C system failures usually fall into one of three camps: electrical, mechanical or leaks. The latter is by far the most common. On a vehicle air conditioning system there are many places to leak: numerous seals where hoses connect components; the hoses themselves; the condenser which is located in front of the radiator; the compressor, a belt driven unit mounted on the engine; the accumulator or dryer; and finally the evaporator.

The evaporator is the unit in the A/C system that delivers the cold air inside your cabin. It is among the most expensive parts to replace during an air conditioning repair due to its location: buried under the dash and inside the A/C /heater box. It is also difficult to leak test due to its hidden location.

Diagnosing an automotive air conditioning concern is a systematic procedure. First tests are to determine whether the electrical side is functioning correctly and second is to determine whether there is refrigerant in the system.

If there is little or no refrigerant there is a leak. Several methods of leak detection can be used and we usually employ them all. First is a visual inspection. Second is to add nitrogen gas under high pressure. Third is to add UV dye, partially charge the system and run it until a leak is found. A leak may be apparent after 5 minutes or may take several months (which of course requires an inspection after the car has been driven for a while). Fourth is to utilize an electronic leak detector, a sort of ‘refrigerant sniffer.’

Our featured Dodge truck required several methods. UV dye was already installed and we found very small leaks at the condenser and the hose seals to the compressor. We filled the system with nitrogen gas and that’s where we discovered a big leak: there was a large hiss coming from the evaporator core and pressure was dropping rapidly.

Most evaporator leaks are not this easy to find. They usually seep a tiny amount of refrigerant in their hidden chamber, out of sight and detection. The large, obvious leak on this 1998 Dodge Ram was most fortunate from a diagnostic perspective.

Repairs involved replacing the evaporator, condenser and hose seals at the compressor. We also replaced the accumulator as it functions as a filter for the A/C system and should be done anytime a leak of this magnitude is present.

Interesting, this truck had 350,000 kilometers on the clock and was in exceptionally good condition. It stands as a testament to the longevity of a well maintained vehicle.

For more about A/C system operation click this link http://auto.howstuffworks.com/automotive-air-conditioning1.htm

For more about the Dodge Ram pickup click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram

Dodge Ram

Evaporator core from our Dodge Truck. The green stain in the left lower corner is oil with UV dye from the large leak. The debris on the right side is deposited inside the heater/A/C box over time.

Call Pawlik Automotive For Your Next Service - (604) 327-7112

Pawlik Automotive is a 14 time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, BC - as voted by our customers!

Dodge Trucks – How Are They?

Dodge Diesel Pickup

Dodge Trucks with the owner of 12 time winner of “Best in Vancouver for auto repair” Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Good Morning, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, 12 times winning Best Auto Repair in Vancouver – voted by their clients – Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Excellent.

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about Dodge trucks and I know your shop is becoming a bit famous for the work you do on Dodge diesels. They have a big range of trucks and vans etc – how are Dodge’s?

Bernie: They’re good. But like every make and model of car and light truck, they’ve got their strengths and weaknesses. For this hangout, any comparisons I make are going to be between the American trucks – the Ford’s, the Chevy’s, GM’s and Dodge’s and we’re going to start the discussion around the full size pickup trucks.

Mark: What are the strengths of the full size Dodge pickups?

Bernie: Well, in the strength department, I have to say, their engines have always been good and for as long as I can remember, and as long as I’ve been working on trucks they’ve had great engines. The gas engines have been good, the 225 Slant 6 was kind of a gutless engine but was very hard to kill, a very legendary engine. The 318 V8 was used for a long time, was almost as reliable – the larger V8’s were equally as good. The newer trucks are good, however some of the engines are good, but some are a bit problematic – like the 3.7 later and 4.7 litre V engines – they have an overhead cam engine – they do have a few problems than some of the others – valve seats fall out and if you don’t maintain them properly, there’s timing chain problems to be had – so there are issues with those and they’re very expensive to fix.

Diesels. This is where I think Dodge really has the edge. The Cummins diesel is a legendary engine, superbly reliable. There are a few factors that I think make Cummins a great engine. The Cummins diesel engine is found in industrial engines and trucks and it’s interesting when you look at a Cummins engine in a Kenworth or a huge mining truck or a Dodge pickup truck – the engines all look exactly the same except for their size – they just scale them up or down. To me, it’s a winning combination. It’s a well thought out design. It’s meant to be fixed and repaired, when it needs to be done which is not very often. They’re a lot simpler than the V8 offerings of the GM and the Ford, by the virtue that they have 2 less cylinders and yet they are the same size engine, so there’s a couple less things to go wrong. When fuel injectors cost $400 each – having to replace 2 less injectors can save an awful lot of money. If you’re looking for a reliable diesel, I would absolutely recommend Dodge, I think they’re definitely the way to go. Much less problems that the others.

Mark: OK, that’s a pretty winning endorsement, but you also mentioned some weaknesses.

Bernie: Yeah, there are definitely a few. One thing we noticed with a lot of modern Dodge trucks, steering linkages and ball joints wear out, tie rod ends. We’ve had many Dodge Ram 2500/3500 pickup trucks where all the front end parts are loose and worn out and a lot of time before 400,000 km. I think that’s too soon and it really should last longer than that – and the 1500 series also suffers some issues – the half ton trucks. One thing I have to say about the drive trains and suspensions in Dodge trucks built in the last 15 years seem a lot tougher. But in the past, I always got the impression that Dodge trucks weren’t built quite as heavy as Ford’s or GM’s – they just seemed a little wimpier – if I can use that word.

Mark: So is that some of the other areas of weakness?

Bernie: The other area, a lot of people say, is the automatic transmissions in Dodge trucks are weak, and I say it like apparently people say this, because we’ve actually not run into any, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, maybe no one has brought one by our shop. But we do see a lot of Cummins Dodge diesel trucks with standard transmissions a lot more than Chevy or Ford and I’m not sure why. They have a bad reputation for automatics to people go with standards. But if you’re looking for standard equipped Dodge truck, they seem to be much more available.

Mark: So speaking of transmissions, then we’ll switch into Caravans, that’s another sort of Dodge truck. The Dodge Caravan is legendary for bad transmissions.

Bernie: They certainly are and we’ve seen an awful lot of them and by the same token, I’ve seen people with Dodge Caravans that have had 200,000/3000,000 km and never had a transmission problem. It does happen much more frequently in most of those vans, but they’re not all guaranteed to have a transmission problem. But today I’m talking more about work truck, pickup trucks, you know the trucks that people use to haul their RV trailers. t’s interesting, a lot of manufacturers, they call their vehicles trucks and I don’t know if I’d call a Caravan a truck – it’s like a Honda Odyssey mini van is part of Honda’s truck lineup. But really to me, it’s more like a big car than a truck. But definitely Caravans have their transmission problems for sure.

Mark: So what about Jeeps?

Bernie: I haven’t really touched on Jeeps. Jeeps are owned by Chrysler and they do share a lot of the similar drivetrain components to Dodge trucks. But there are a lot of issues and we can do a separate hangout on Jeeps because there’s lots of material to discuss with Jeeps. We do a lot of them and have a lot of good and bad things to say about them.

Mark: And Dodge Vans?

Bernie: Dodge vans are awesome. They’ve had for years, between the ’70’s to the ’90’s, they had their Tradesman line of vans that were very popular and especially the Dodge Maxi van. It was the only big van offered, it was like 2-3 feet longer than a Ford or Chevy van, so they were quite popular. Good vans but I rarely ever see one on the road any more, they all seem to have moved on to the scrap yard. When Mercedes bought Chrysler, these vans were discontinued and they offered the Sprinter and I think they are, in my eyes, a brilliant van. They’re offered in various configurations from smaller to large, quite large and extended height; they’ve got some with dual wheels, some with half tons some are 3/4, one ton – so they come in a large variety for whatever uses you want to make of them. Most of them are equipped with a Mercedes diesel engine and it’s a good reliable drivetrain. On the downside, because it’s a Mercedes drivetrain engine the diagnostic and repair work is much more exclusive so not every shop can do them. We can, by the way, we’ve got all the equipment to do them but there’s a lot of shops that can’t, we’ve got a lot of extra equipment to be able to do so.

Since the divorce, if we can say, between Mercedes and Chrysler, the Sprinters are no longer sold through Chrysler so if you’re really set on a Sprinter you have to buy a Mercedes Sprinter. But Dodge now has a line of vans; the Pro Master and again, they come in a variety of sizes, there’s gas and diesel options, and I can’t really say much about them because I’ve never seen one in our shop because they’re fairly new but I know one day we will.

Mark: So any last thoughts about Dodge trucks?

Bernie: I think overall they’re great trucks. The Cummins diesel, in my opinion, is the best offering from the big three American manufacturers for diesel trucks which are an incredibly popular market. The gas engine trucks are good. I haven’t really talked much about Dakota’s – Durango’s as a medium sized trucks – these are reasonable trucks. We’ve seen some and once they get older they do tend to have a lot of problems. Things wear out – like they do in other cars but this seems like worse than others perhaps. The other thought about Dodge is they are typically cheaper than their Japanese counterparts especially if you think about the Caravan, for instance, you can often buy a Caravan for $20,000. They have a some what bad reputation for things wearing out but if you take the equivalent Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, they can often be $10,000-$15,000 more. So if you sit down and do the math and figure out hey, if I buy this Caravan for $20,000 am I going to spend an extra $10,000 on repairs over the next 10 years and you might find that it’s more worthwhile to just buy the Caravan instead of spending the extra money on the Toyota unless you really set on it. Those are the kind of things that it’s important to put down on paper and look at. I know I’m steering away from the Dodge truck but for any vehicle if you have any questions about them or whether is this the right vehicle to buy, please call us because I love talking to people about these sorts of things and helping make a proper decision. And thats my thoughts on Dodge’s

Mark: Awesome. So thank you Bernie – and again folks, these are the guys to call if you’re looking for maintenance for your vehicle – they specialize in getting your vehicle right and keeping it right for the long haul saving you a ton of money. Give them a call at 604-327-7112 or go to their amazing website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark – talk again soon

Mark: Bye

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel – Clutch Replacement

Dodge Ram 3500

Our latest post is clutch replacement on a 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel pickup, brought to us by a client from Kensington/Cedar Cottage, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram 3500

2005 Dodge Ram 3500 – A rough and ready work truck

 

The 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 is a tough truck featuring a Cummins Diesel, 4 wheel drive, a tough 1 Ton drivetrain and a 6 Speed manual transmission. Dodge must have sold a lot of these trucks with standard transmissions because we service many of them at our shop. The ratio of Dodge trucks with standards to automatics is much higher than Ford and Chevy’s diesel trucks.

A tough truck needs a tough drivetrain and this vehicle fits the bill. The transmission in this vehicle is a Mercedes unit. The clutch uses a dual mass flywheel which can make this repair job very expensive. Clutch repairs on a dual mass flywheeled vehicle require the flywheel to be replaced and this often adds a thousand dollars or more to the repair costs. The dual mass flywheel has damper springs and moving parts that wear out in sync with the clutch disc and pressure plate.

Dodge Ram 3500

The massive transmission and Transmission and transfer case assembly removed from the truck to access the clutch

Fortunately there are alternatives: for most vehicles, clutch kits that include a solid flywheel and redesigned clutch assembly are readily available. These are substantially cheaper than replacing the dual mass flywheel.

Now you might wonder why dual mass flywheels are used in the first place. The biggest reason is that they reduce vibrations when engaging and disengaging the clutch. It makes the whole operation smoother. That is certainly most welcome on a diesel which is rough and shaky. They are also found in many high end sports cars and surprisingly also in economy cars such as the Nissan Versa.

For most clutch replacements with dual mass flywheels we opt for the solid flywheel replacement as most of our clients appreciate the reduced repair costs. Is there a disadvantage? None that we’ve noticed and we’ve done them on everything from big tough diesel Dodges to fast and sporty supercharged Mini Coopers.

While this Dodge needed the complete clutch the main component failure was the release bearing which broke apart. The truck was towed in but fortunately we were able to drive it into the service bay for replacement. One thing about big tough trucks is that they are no fun to push!

For more about Dodge Ram 3500 Trucks click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Trucks

For a video that explains dual mass flywheels click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnaXB8q3uzQ

Dodge Ram 3500

The arrow points to what’s left of the clutch release bearing. This is only the inner section that slides on the collar. All the ball bearings have disintegrated and the outer section has come off.

 

Dodge Ram 3500

New release bearing installed

2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel – Parking Brake Replacement

Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel

Our latest featured service is parking brake replacement on a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel Pickup, brought to us by a client from Whistler, BC.

Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel

2005 Dodge Ram 2500 with Cummins Diesel

 

The 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel uses 4 wheel disc brakes with a separate parking brake system. It consists of brake shoes incorporated into a drum which is part of the rear brake rotor. This is a popular system found on many cars and light trucks.

Our featured Dodge Ram came to us with many concerns: one was that the parking brake pedal went to the floor and would not hold the vehicle. A functional parking brake is critical on this vehicle as it is equipped with a manual transmission. Upon dismantling the brakes we found a number of broken and worn out parts along with severely rusted brake drums. Being a resident of Whistler and using this truck to haul around equipment for winter sports the road salt had ferociously attacked the parking brake components.

Repairs involved replacing a seized left brake cable, replacing the shoes which had delaminated, replacing springs and hardware along with the drums. Further service including cleaning the backing plates and lubricating all necessary components. After assembly and proper adjustment the parking brake worked like new.

We repair many vehicles with this style of parking brake system. Most times it is just the shoes that delaminate; this truck, due to its harsh winter road driving required a more extreme service.

For more about parking brake systems click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_brake

For more about the Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram

Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel

Old parking brake components. At bottom is rotor/drum assembly. The blue arrow points to the severely rusted parking brake drum surface. This should be shiny smooth steel. The green arrows point to one delaminated brake shoe.

2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel – Water Pump Replacement

Dodge Ram 3500

Wednesday’s featured repair is water pump replacement on a 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel, brought to us by a client from Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Dodge Ram 3500

2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Heavy Duty with Cummins 6.7 L Diesel

As I’ve written previously I am a big fan of the Dodge Cummins diesel pickup trucks. Replacing the water pump on this truck is another reason to love these trucks because it is such a simple service.

So much on the Cummins Diesel is great: they are very reliable, and best of all, simple to service (most of the time). If you look at this Cummins 6.7 Liter engine and compare it to a Cummins engine for a Kenworth truck they look the same, the main difference is size. Bigger Cummins industrial engines also look similar but are still larger. The company has put a lot of thought into the simplicity and serviceability of their engines. This pays off big time for the Dodge Truck owner who will experience far lower repair bills than Ford or GM diesel owners.

Our client brought this 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel truck to us with intermittent no heat in the cab and the temperature gauge going high. He had also needed to add coolant to the engine. A cooling system pressure test found the water pump leaking. Replacement was quite straight forward, and a cooling system flush was done to ensure a good concentration of clean, fresh antifreeze.

If you are looking to buy a diesel pickup truck I would strongly recommend the Dodge Cummins diesel models based on their excellent design and reliability.

For more about Dodge Ram Trucks click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram

For more about Cummins Diesels click here http://www.cumminsdieselspecs.com/

Dodge Ram 3500

Old water pump from our featured Cummins Diesel Dodge Truck. You’ve got to love the simplicity: only 2 bolts mount the pump and it’s easy to access on the engine.

2004 Dodge Ram 2500 – U-Joint Replacement

Dodge Ram

Our latest featured repair is U-Joint replacement on a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup, brought to us by a client from Richmond, BC.

Dodge Ram

2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 2 wheel drive with Cummins diesel

U-Joint, which is short for Universal Joint is a flexible component on a driveshaft. Driveshafts are usually found in rear wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles. They connect the transmission or transfer case to the differential. As there is typically up and down movement between the differential and transmission a flexible coupling must be installed, and that is the universal joint.

Going back to the 1970s and earlier almost every American made car was rear wheel drive and all had driveshafts with u-joints. Nowadays this part is mostly found on trucks.

Our featured Dodge Ram 2500 was suffering from squeaking sounds and vibrations when accelerating and decelerating. Upon inspection and diagnosis we found the rear u-joint seized. On this driveshaft there are two more u-joints along with a center support bearing. These parts were still in good working order and were not replaced.

Had the owner neglected this problem the rear u-joint would have deteriorated further. The next step of wear would be loud clunks and thunks when changing gears. If left long enough the joint could break apart and this normally destroys the driveshaft adding extra costs and inconvenience.

For more about the Dodge Ram 2500 pickup click this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram

For more about universal joints view this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_joint

Dodge Ram

Worn out u joint from Dodge Ram truck. Note the rusty bearing cup on the right and the rusty pin (trunion) on the top right. When assembled this part was seized and would not allow movement. This also caused squeaking and vibration

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