Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert here from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. These are online polls that customers, some of the magazines and newspapers in Vancouver create every year and Pawlik has won 21 times Best Auto Repair. They're not involved in it. They're just getting voted for by their customers. How're you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well, doing very well.
Mark: So a 2007 Dodge Sprinter 3 litre diesel. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, the owner had a couple of concerns. There was a suspension clunk but her primary concern was the vehicle is hard to start sometimes. The weather's been getting a little colder in Vancouver and there's been a couple of times where she had to crank the engine over, it wouldn't start and then back a little later and it started up. So that was the primary concern of the vehicle.
Mark: So what, where do you start to test for that? What did you find?
Bernie: Yeah, well for starting of course, is just to actually try the vehicle. So we left the vehicle overnight and tried it the next morning and I actually looked at it myself just briefly and cranking it over I could hear that the engine was a little laboured and I noticed a glow plug light on the dash stayed on for a very excessively long time which is kind of unusual in these vehicles. It's usually a few seconds and then it shuts off. So ok there's something going on there. You could just tell by the way it was cranking over that the battery may have been a bit weak or the glow plugs were bad or something of that nature. So I mean that's the first step is just to verify the clients concern. It did actually start for us. Ran a little rough for a bit and then picked up and smoothed out. So the next step is to hook up a diagnostic scan tool. We have a really good one for European vehicles, and just do a full vehicle system scan and from that we've got a nice report and a lot of really good information which I will actually share right now.
So this is just the engine module. There's a screen capture of what our scan tool prints out for the engine module. These are a list of stored codes. You can see, a lot of this stuff will look like gibberish, but I'll go through it step by step. So again, some codes stored, current and stored MIL means the check engine light is on. Interestingly enough and I have to verify that because we're still in process of looking at this vehicle. I didn't notice the check engine being on which is interesting. Either the bulbs burned out, someone removed it because this vehicle was purchased about a year ago. It's possible someone actually removed them, removed the bulb or it just burnt out or there's some other malfunction of some sort. But anyways these are you know, this is an interesting issue. Its something definitely to be looked at. But there's codes, glow plug cylinder three, cylinder 5, cylinder 2. Open circuit, basically means a glow plug isn't, the circuit's open. It doesn't necessarily mean the glow plug itself is bad. It probably is the glow plug. There's also another code here, Mercedes uses all these interesting codes and you've got, there's a lot of studying we have to do to get knowledgeable in these vehicles but glow plug output stages excessive temperature and the output stage is basically the module. Again here output stage supply voltage is low. So I mean, this could indicate that the battery is weak but a very common problem with these vehicles is the glow plug modules go bad. As well as the glow plugs. You know, this vehicle is a 2007, that's 12 years old. Perfectly legit that you'd have a few glow plugs worn our at this point in time and they usually do wear out sooner. Couple other interesting codes here. Not likely going to affect the starting of the vehicle but definitely the running condition, right EKAS end position sensor and the left, and these are on the intake manifold runner indicating that the actual intake manifold runner valves are not opening properly. And then this last code down here, diesel particulate filters, soot content of the particulate filter is too high for regeneration. So that again is an issue that might be a plug particulate, sorry, a particulate filter but it could also be that the vehicle has just not been run hot enough for a long period of time.
Mark: Wow, looks like there's a lot to repair there. Where would you start?
Bernie: Yeah, of course with the clients concern, where we start is with the glow plug issues. I mean that would be the place to start. The battery test is something we haven't done yet but if the battery is weak, absolutely replace that, replace the glow plug module and the glow plugs and then these other codes of course are issues to be dealt with. But in a separate manner. I'll just share some more pictures here.
Here's a picture of some glow plugs. This is actually not for this particular engine but it's a kind of similar. It's a you know, the power wire connects up here, the glow plug is grounded through the threaded body of the glow plug through the engine and then this is a heating element and if you actually test this on a bench, it gets very red. Almost instantaneously. So this thing heats up and in like you know a second. You have like red hot heat to warm the cylinder. The glow plug control unit is, basically this is a view of what a new one looks like. There's a main power wire and then there's wires that go off to each glow plug. And this unit monitors, not only powers the glow plugs, but it monitors the resistance in the circuit. And so it can tell whether these glow plugs are actually doing what they're supposed to be doing and set a code back to the computer if it's not functioning properly.
And finally, there's those codes at that EKAS sensor and this is actually a view from a different engine but the same design of engine with the intake manifold off. And this is the intake manifold runner valves. This is a very common problem on these engines. There are plastic intake runners and there's a little motor here called a swirl valve motor. It basically actuates this rod here. There's two of them. One on each manifold. It changes the intake manifold porting, depending on what speed the engine is going at. And there's a sensor right here and this sensor will actually tell whether this rod is being moved to the proper position because of that code, to me it would indicate that this rod is probably worn out. Happens all the time. Carbon buildup is a common problem. There's a few ways to cure this one. It's often to replace a complete manifold. It may also mean that the sensor is bad. We'e had them where the rods work but the sensors are bad. So that's another issue. So those are a few things. But this is a very expensive repair. It's common on these engines. That kind of soot and carbon deposit is common and it's just something that kind of happens with engines. And seeing as there was a code for soot particles, a particulate filter to soot it up, chances are that these are probably pretty sooted too on this vehicle. It's not driven a lot.
Mark: So this vehicle, you've mentioned that this is a Mercedes engine, a couple time which might puzzle some folks. This is from the generation when Dodge Chrysler was owned by Mercedes and they were sharing some of their technology back and forth. So that doesn't occur anymore, I don't think because it's Fiat that owns Chrysler at this point.
Bernie: They now use Fiat diesels. I don't know if that's better or worse.
Mark: So why would there be so much carbon and issues on this engine? Just a bad engine design or is there something else?
Bernie: It's just typical of any modern diesel with and EGR system and carbon buildup just happens. It's a part of how these things work. There are specific cleaning tools that are available. We don't own any. They're difficult to use and actually in Canada they're not so commonly sold anyways. But there are actually ways you can actually remove carbon deposits without taking the engine apart. But it's just a function of how these modern diesels work with the EGR system. I mean this is why we have clean diesels, "Clean Diesels" but cleaner that they used to be. You don't have a lot of particles and soot and stench coming out of the tailpipe. This is what makes that technology possible. But on the downside, we end up getting a lot of plugged passageways and things that would not have happened a couple of decades earlier on a diesel engine.
Mark: And is there a way to mitigate against that buildup?
Bernie: Well usage, you know, proper usage of a diesel is really the most important thing. And what I found out and talked with the owner of this vehicle, is that this vehicle is not driven a lot. It's only like a sort of three kilometre trips on a daily basis is how it's being used for the owners business. So this is really not a good use of a diesel engine. A diesel needs to be started up, driven long distances, nice and hot. Ideally, if you started up in the morning and you just left it idling all day long. Well not idling, but drove it around for a lot of the day and good hot drive then shut it go. That would be the best use for this kind of engine. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't do that. They just drive it around like a regular car. Maybe you know drive 5 or 10 kilometres to work, shut it off, come home and that's really not a great use of an engine like this.
Mark: So with all this list of repairs, what kind of price range? What's this going to cost to get it all fixed up?
Bernie:Well I'm just going to shoot out some random numbers. So please don't call and quote me and say, "Hey you said on your video this is what it is", but just some random numbers, you know like glow plugs could be in and around a thousand ish dollar type of repair. With he control unit, maybe a bit more. I mean the other risk with the glow plugs is that they do seize in place and these are very small items and they're very small threaded passageways. Carbon deposits build up and they can seize up from time to time. Most of the time we get lucky, but sometimes they seize up, then you have to drill them out. That can add a huge amount of extra cost to repairing it. So that's another risk and that's not factored into that cost I made there which you know can add an extra several hundred to a thousand dollars depending on what happens. This intake manifold issue, again I mean it's a few thousand dollar type of repair depending on how we do it.
There are alternatives that someone kindly actually called me, had seen one of our videos and said, "Hey have you actually seen this repair kit?" You can actually buy metal repair rods for these things. It's actually a fantastic repair. So we can actually, instead of replacing the whole manifold, actually clean all the carbon out. We have really good ways of cleaning that out when it's out of the vehicle and put these metal repair rods in which saves a lot of money over buying the complete manifold.
And you know, I hate throwing away stuff that's good. So I mean, the rest of the manifold is aluminum. It can tend to last a long time. So that is an alternative some of the times that we can do. But again either, no matter how you slice it, it's a you know a few thousand dollars to repair. And then of course, the particulate filter that one again can be in the thousands of dollars of range. So you know, we've had people, bills are way over ten thousand dollars for plugged particulate filters, turbochargers and the list can go on and on. So when I meet someone who's going, "Oh I don't have quite enough money to spend on this diagnostic." I'm going you probably want to get a different vehicle because you could be in for a very pricey journey.
Mark: So other than engine issues, how are Sprinter vans?
Bernie: They're really good and I know why people buy them. I mean it's a fantastic vehicle in terms of you'e got the nice excessive height inside. There's a variety of options in Sprinters. You can get a half ton Sprinter or you can get a dually one ton, so you can haul a lot of weight. They all have pretty much the same engine give or take the year. I've seen camper vans with Sprinters. So they're a good size vehicle. I mean the brakes tend to wear out like any other vehicle. Nothing excessive and they're not outrageously expensive to repair. The steering suspension systems are generally pretty good. So you know, there are things that go wrong but they're not, nothing worse than any other type of van. But they're a really practical van and there are some gasoline engine models available. Although I can't think of ever having repaired one, had one come in our shop. But that might be a better alternative for a lot of people. The great thing about the diesel is it is very economical fuel wise. It's just that when things go wrong and they do, you're going to be spending a lot of money to repair it.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs for your diesel vehicle in Vancouver, the experts in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos on there and blog posts about all makes and models and types of repairs including a lot on diesels. Of course, there's our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair and of course, thanks so much for listening and watching, we really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So we have a 2008 Grand Caravan that had a wheel bearing issue. What was going on with this minivan?
Bernie: Yeah. So the owner of the vehicle brought in to our shop with a complaint of a rattle noise. Technician Nigel took it out for a little drive. It wasn't more than a few feet into the parking lot where he heard a hideous grinding noise coming from the vehicle. The owner actually hadn't described but that was the first thing that he noted.
Mark: And so what did you find was wrong with the van?
Bernie: Well it was pretty apparent. Wheel bearing noises are pretty distinct and it was pretty apparent that this was more than likely a wheel bearing noise so we took it for a further road test and then hoisted the vehicle and found probably the noisiest wheel bearing we've ever encountered in our career.
Bernie: It's on the right side by the way.
Mark: Right front.
Bernie: Just one bearing.
Mark: And do you have some pictures?
Bernie: I have a video. Unfortunately for some weird reason the sound didn't transfer over so I'm going to show the video then I'm just going to play the soundtrack on my phone because that's really where the juice is of this video. So here it goes.
So, there's the video, spinning the bearing. But let me just play this sound track too because this is where you'll- this is the most interesting part. World's loudest wheel bearing. You heard that okay?
Mark: Did, yup.
Bernie: So yeah that was basically instead of seeing the bearing spin of course the noise was kind of the key part and I don't know why the technologies odd sometimes. But, anyways that was basically the noise. Just an absolute solid metal on metal rotational noise. I mean I've never heard anything quite so loud.
Mark: It's a meditation bell.
Bernie: Yeah absolutely. It kind of had that tone to it.
Mark: So, where's the actual bearing. I only see rusty metal.
Bernie: Yeah, so the bearings actually inside this area here, the part that was being spun, and I'll just actually play this one more time. So, the part that's spinning, that's the hub. And the part that's being held solid, that's the mounting plate. The bearing sits inside this area here. So this hub here, this is where the wheel bolts on, and the axle shaft goes to the drive axle shaft goes through the hub, the centre of the hub and that's driven of course by the engine and transmission. And then the bearing sits inside here.
Mark: So is this a pretty common design, a wheel bearing?
Bernie: Yeah, very common. This is what's called a unitized wheel bearing and very common. I would guess that maybe 50% or more of vehicles on the road use this type of design. It's very common.
Mark: So you can't actually take that apart and pull the wheel bearing out? You replace that whole piece, is that how that works?
Bernie: You replace the whole piece. It's a bolt in, bolt out. Generally pretty straightforward but one factor you get of course is rust. And as you can see on that part. The parts over time rust in place and it can sometimes be quite an effort and get it out. They even use these wheel bearings on Ford 350 pick-ups, Dodge trucks, Chevy's, they'll use that type of design too and getting those bearings out of course they're humongous, getting those out we actually have special tools that can help pop them out of place. They often require a fair bit of effort once they get old and rusty.
Mark: Are these bearings a common replacement part.
Bernie: They are but it's, there's nothing really where we can say this specific vehicle all the bearings go or you know it's going to go at this particular mileage. They really fail at different rates. It's entirely possible you may have a vehicle and go 400,000 kilometres without replacing a wheel bearing. Or you might have one wear out before 100. Sometimes just one side will wear, sometimes the other one will wear. There's no rhyme or reason but the good thing about it is you'll hear a noise coming, once you get it diagnosed and verified you can just replace that part. And it's not, I mean this bearing is so loud this person would had to have been driving for quite a long time with quite a loud noise getting worse and worse before they chose to fix it.
Mark: There's lots of parts that I can think of on cars that need to be replaced in pairs, like shocks, brakes, tires, are wheel bearings like this?
Bernie: They're not. These are basically a one side, there's no reason to change more than one. Things like shocks, brakes, and tires, especially on the front of the vehicle, they have different, say for shock absorbers those are different rebound rates so if we don't change both shocks at the same time you might have one corner of the vehicle will bounce differently than the other. Or brakes, if the friction materials aren't exactly matching in terms of the rotors, pads and calipers you can get brake pulls, tires same thing, you'll get handling issues. With the wheel bearing it's just a very precision machined part and if one isn't worn the other one doesn't need to be replaced. You just replace the worn out one and do the other one at a later time.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for replacements of your wheel bearings on any make or model of vehicle in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call them, book ahead because they're busy. Or, check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of, literally hundreds of videos and articles on there about car repairs as well as there's are YouTube channel, with again hundreds of videos over eight, almost eight years of doing this as well, thank you for watching the podcast and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thank you for watching we really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi! It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series, and we're here Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: We're talking about dash lights. We're going through our little series on explaining what all these funny little lights on dashboards are. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and the dash lights. Tell us what all these instrument panel lights mean.
Bernie: Sure. Let's just get right into the picture. Though saying it feels like a ... I feel like a broken record sometimes because so many of these icons look the same and they are from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you're watching this series, of course, what's most important is what relates to your own vehicle. This is a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. It's a 3.3L gasoline-powered engine, which is pretty much, it's a couple different engine options, but there's no diesel so you're pretty much, I would say the lights in this are probably pretty much the same across the board.
We'll start with the red lights. As I mentioned in the past, the reds are the lights you want to take really seriously. They're meant to indicate urgent action is needed. However, I do find there's a couple here that are, at least one that's a little ... could be a yellow in my opinion, and on some cars they are. This light here that I'm circling, this is the airbag warning light. If something is wrong with the airbag system this red light will come on. Obviously, they don't want you driving without an airbag working but it won't affect your performance or drive in any way. It's just that if you get a collision there's a chance that your airbag won't be working if this is on. That's up to you as to what you want to decide to do.
These other red lights are certainly to be taken more seriously, many of them. This light here with the body with the seatbelt here, it just indicates your seatbelt's not buckled up. That action can be taken pretty quickly. If you have all your seatbelts buckled up and that light is still on, there's got to be a malfunction in the system. Usually, that's a very reliable light.
To the left, we have the battery, this light looks like a battery. This indicates low voltage in the vehicle system. It doesn't actually indicate there's anything wrong with the battery but usually it comes on when the alternator is not charging the battery. When the light comes on, chances are your car's going to be dead pretty soon. I would make my way to the ... as quickly as you can somewhere that you can have the vehicle serviced and repaired because you'll probably need alternator or maybe a drive belt. Sometimes when this light comes on, other lights will come on at the same time. Just be wary that that's something you probably going to need to service soon.
If we move to the right here, the oil can light. This is a very important light. This is a red light you would need to take very seriously. This indicates that there is no oil pressure in the engine. Also, of course, the electrical system can malfunction but don't take a chance on that. If this light comes on, check your oil first. If it's full have your vehicle towed in for service, it's very critical.
Same with this red light here, this is the temperature warning light. This is another one you really need to take seriously, indicating that the coolant temperature is too high in the engine. On this vehicle, it does actually have a coolant temperature gauge either to the left or right of the speedometer, I can’t remember. You can often verify it by looking at the gauge. If the gauge is, of course if it's high then you need to stop the vehicle immediately and have it repaired, towed in, get it repaired.
Up here, this is a brake warning light. Usually, it comes on with the parking brake on. When you release the parking brake, the light should go off. If it remains on, it can often indicate that your brake fluid level is low in the master cylinder, in which case you should have the vehicle inspected. You can look yourself and if you see fluid in there you're probably okay to drive it because it'll come on often when as brakes wear, the fluid will move from the master cylinder reservoir down into the brake calipers. It's not abnormal for the light to come but you should ... your brakes feel fine, have it inspected quickly within a day or two to see why that light is on, because if you're doing a fluid leak, of course, then your brakes will actually, pedal will fail. So it's important to verify what's going on with that.
This round light in the bottom, this is a security system warning light. If there's a malfunction in the security system this light will stay on. To the right, this is basically a power loss warning light indicating an issue with the electronic throttle or something that will cause the vehicle to run at reduced power mode. Again, that's a problem that needs to be fixed. There's our red lights.
Let's move on to the amber. This is the tire, low tire pressure warning light. If this comes on, first thing to do is inspect your tire pressures. Of course, if you're driving and something feels bumpy or not right, go out and have a look at your tires because you probably have some that's flat. This, again, if all your tire pressures are good and the light remains on then there's a malfunction in the tire pressure warning system. Handy light to have though, because at least you know you're not running on a low tire and you can get it fixed.
Low fuel warning light goes without saying, put some gas in the vehicle.
This one here, unfortunately, the picture is not to clear but it says ESPBAS. This is a brake assist system, electronic stability programming. Again that's like an issue with the traction control stability programming system. This is also a traction control warning light. If there's an issue with either these systems, this light will come on and needs some service. Same with the ABS brakes. Again, these are all add-on, safety add-ons to your brakes. The stability programming just keeps the vehicle theoretically stable when you're going around corners or making some kind of maneuvers where the vehicle might slip. It just adds a little bit of safety to the vehicle but it's not absolutely critical to the function, so that's why they have amber lights to warn you that something needs to be repaired in that system. Without the ABS brakes working, by the way, the vehicle will still ... should still brake normally, it's just that when you put it on the vehicle could skid.
Finally, our last light on the far right is the check engine lamp. This is a very misunderstood light, but it's actually more of an emission system warning light. When this light comes on, there's a malfunction in the engine or computer system that could cause your exhaust emissions to be excessive. It's not a warning that your engine level is, oil level is low, although sometimes low oil level can cause this because it's a variety of things the oil level can cause. If the light's on solid, take it in for a service soon. Soon meaning anywhere from same day or a week or two if it's running fine. If this light is blinking, however, that indicates immediate need for service because the engine has a misfire that could damage the catalytic converter and cost you more money. Blinking light, get it fixed right away. If it's just on solid, get it fixed soon. That goes through our entire 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan instrument warning light.
Mark: The check engine light, I'm sure that's caused you more concern than it really should've because there are so, so many ways that that can be triggered. Everything from not having the gas cap on to, you name it, there's many things. It becomes really difficult to diagnose at times, is that correct?
Bernie: There are times it's difficult to diagnose. There are literally hundreds of things that will cause that light to come on. As you said, the gas cap is often the simplest thing. If it does come on, check it, just loosen your gas cap off, tighten it, if it's really loose then that could be why the light was on. That's usually the simplest thing, but there are just a variety of different things. Sometimes, interesting enough, an engine could actually be running rough where clearly the exhaust emissions are out of whack or they would be out of whack and the light doesn't come on. I'm scratching my head go, "Why would that be?" Anyways, there are a lot of reasons for that light to be on, but, most importantly, when that light comes on, if the engine's performing well like it's running seems seemingly normally, it's not urgent to fix it. You should have it looked at but it's not ... you don't need to panic and freak out. If it's blinking, as I said, you got to fix it right away.
Mark: There you go. That's our little walk-through of the warning lights on a Dodge, the dash lights and the warning lights therein on a Dodge Caravan 2008 vintage. These lights will apply across most years of Dodge Caravans, is that right?
Bernie Pawlik: Yeah, they will, at least around this vintage of van. This is that square boxy style caravan. I can't remember what year they started doing that, but I think '08 is early in that vintage. Again, with your own vehicle as I always say, get get your owners manual out, have a look, but if you're looking at this video or podcast, have a look at the ... have a look at how this compares to your dash. If it's the same then take all our advice we're giving you here because it's all there.
Mark: There you go. If you need some service on your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are the Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to book ahead to have an appointment because they're busy. Two service advisors to help you out at all times as well. You can check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our videos on Pawlik Auto Repair on YouTube, hundreds of videos on there, all makes and models of cars as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thank you for watching. We really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan this morning, that had a coolant leak. What was going on with this vehicle, Bernie? Good morning.
Bernie: Hey, good morning. This Dodge Caravan actually had a very large coolant leak coming from the back of the engine. Well, in between the engine and the transmission. Pour some coolant in, and it would be dripping out almost as fast as you could pour it in. Not quite, but, almost as fast as. So, yeah, there was a very major leak coming from this engine.
Mark: So after you dried your shoes off, what was causing such a large leak?
Bernie: What we found, what I suspected, and it actually involves removing the engine from the vehicle to verify it, was that there was probably a frost plug that had failed. It didn't take long ... soon as I removed the radiator cap, note right away there was a lot of rust on the radiator cap, and sitting in the top of the radiator. The owner of the vehicle had told me that they'd recently replaced the radiator, and so something that ... it wasn't even an old radiator, had rust in the coolant. To me, suspicious immediately of ... it's probably a rusted out frost plug.
Mark: What is a frost plug?
Bernie: What a frost plug is, it's also known as an expansion plug. They put them in the engine block, the purpose, one of the purposes, supposedly, is to prevent ... if you had water in the cooling system, so this goes way back to when before antifreeze was invented, or used. If you had water in the cooling system, of course, when it gets cold out, water freezes and it expands, and as it expands, of course it'll crack the metal of the engine block. If you put these plugs in, these frost plugs or expansion plugs, these plugs are supposed to be pushed out by the expanding water, and prevent the block from cracking. In reality, that usually doesn't work. I've had many vehicles in the past where people have had water in the cooling system, it freezes and cracks the engine block. They don't actually work like they're supposed to, but they also do, apparently, hold the casting ... when they cast an engine block they actually hold some of the molds in place as well, so that's another reason, apparently, for having them, although I've never actually been in a foundry and seen a block cast, but that's another purpose for it. Nonetheless, they need to be intact. They're made of ... they're generally a metal plug made of a thin, maybe 16th inch think, millimetre thick piece of metal that's hammered, it's hammered and friction fit into the engine block. They are susceptible to rusting out.
Mark: Why had this frost plug failed?
Bernie: Bad maintenance. Clear and simple. Bad maintenance. And by the way, this part, a frost plug is worth about a dollar, just to put things in perspective. The labor involved in replacing it is huge. Let's just go into some pictures right now. Basically bad maintenance is what caused it. The owner had probably, it's a 10 year-old van, probably should have the cooling system flushed at least once, maybe twice in this age of vehicle, and I would suspect never had it done. Maybe there's a coolant leak at some point, they let it run with some water in it for a while, and it's a cast iron engine block, so it will rust up. We're getting some pictures.
So there's the 2008 iconic Dodge Caravan, or popular as you would say. There's our first sign, before I even did any repairs on the vehicle, you can see the rust in the cooling system. That's a sign, right away, that there's a fair amount of rust throughout the cooling ... it never just stays in one spot, once it develops it tends to circulate around. There is a first telltale sign.
What's involved in this repair, is actually removing the engine and transmission from the vehicle, because it was leaking ... this is the bell housing area where the transmission bolts to the engine, and this is the rear frost plug. There's two of them, one here, one there. This is a cam shaft plug. This actually seals off an oil passageway. But there, where red arrow points, is a little hole that basically developed from the frost plug leaking out the coolant. When we look a little further, this is what the frost plugs removed ... and this is the kind of guck that was inside the back of the engine, the rust and corrosion. See, this is the back of the cylinder walls, these two areas, and this is just rust that had ... I stuck my fingers in here and dug a bit of it out, but that's basically the mess that was inside there.
In doing the service and repair I have a special flushing tool, and flushed all of it out. Still, once you develop this kind of rust, it's impossible to get rid of it all, but I probably removed about 95% of it in the process of doing this work. Just to look at things in perspective, after flushing out some of the heater hoses, this is what the coolant looked like. That's not yellow antifreeze, there are some antifreezes ... there are some antifreezes that have this colour, but this is definitely rusty water. So there's our picture show.
Mark: Basically, just from not flushing the coolant system, that would cause this much rust and damage in the interior of the engine?
Bernie: Yeah, as I said, my suspicion is that it may be that they ... well, first of all, it definitely didn't get flushed and serviced as much as it should've; and there was probably a time where it may have been low in coolant and the people had just put water in it for whatever temporary reasons. Maybe the temporary reasons were six months or a year, but between the two of those things, that's how the rust developed.
I actually purchased this vehicle from the owner. They didn't want to spend the money repairing it. So, essentially, they've taken a very good Dodge Caravan, with pretty low mileage, 150,000 km, and basically that vehicle is, to them, just junk. It's a shame, because one or two coolant flushes and some good maintenance, would be $200, $300. Not a lot of money. Yet, now they're out buying another vehicle. It really does pay to do your maintenance, especially ... if they'd paid for this repair, could be $3000 to $4000. Still worthwhile with the age of the van. It was otherwise in pretty good shape. Again, $300 or $3000, you know. As the Fram guy used to say, "You can pay me now, or pay me later." It's a classic example.
Mark: How often, other than too often, how often do you see these expensive repairs from lack of maintenance?
Bernie: From time to time we get vehicles in, and most of the times it's from people who haven't changed their oil enough, and the engine's just ... something's just blown up inside the engine. In all fairness, sometimes things blow up even for people who maintain their car well, but it's more often the lack of maintenance that causes these problems, or things that sludge up inside the engine, timing chain problems, rattles, cam gears. It's so important to change your oil and fluids regularly on modern cars. You don't need to do them as often as you did in the old days, I'm thinking 20, 30, 40 years ago, but with modern cars it's even more critical to do them when they're due or even sooner, just to ... it saves you a lot of money.
Mark: And Dodge Caravans have had a mixed, let's be kind, a mixed reliability record. Some years are pretty problematic with transmissions, and engines, depends on the motor. How is this generation of vans?
Bernie: These are pretty good. We don't see a ton of problems with them. It's been interesting ... with this engine I not only replaced the frost plugs, but I took the engine ... it had a couple of oil leaks, and I figured while the engine's out I may as well just re-gasket the whole engine, including the head gaskets, because you never know how hot this person got the engine, and I don't want to sell it to someone and find the head gasket's blown a month, or even a year.
Bernie: It's actually an incredibly simple engine, so there's not really a lot to go wrong with it. For reliability, the transmissions are definitely better than they used to be. Overall, they're actually a lot better than they used to be.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for maintenance and/or repairs on your Dodge Caravan, 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. Hundreds of videos and articles on there about all makes and models. Of course, on our YouTube Channel Pawlik Auto Repair, same idea, hundreds of videos on all makes and models and types of repairs. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thank you for watching and listening.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and broadcast. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Bernie, we're talking about a 2010 Grand Caravan. It had a rear AC evaporator issue this morning. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: The vehicle's air conditioning system had stopped working, and it actually had ... We serviced the vehicle a couple of times. We'd recharged it and done a diagnostic previously. Never found actually the cause of the leak, and it seemed to hold pressure fairly well, so we recharged it, and after several months it stopped working again. At this point, we put some UV dye in the system. We were able to find the leak, and it was coming from the rear evaporator.
Mark: Where's the rear evaporator located?
Bernie: Well, it is in the rear. Why don't we just get into some pictures, and we can have a closer look at it? 2010 Dodge Caravan. Classic Caravan in its more boxy format that it now looks like. As far as the evaporator, there is the ... This is the location of the rear evaporator. Now, this is taken through the back with the tailgate up, and this is the tailgate seal. This is the right hand side, so if you've ever looked at those big plastic covers that sit on the side and wondered what's underneath that cover, this is what you'll find if you pull the right hand side cover off. You can see the back area here where the seats are stowed away. So, what's in this piece here is this is a fan. It's got ... These pipes here are a heater pipes. So, there's a heater core in the rear, which is located here, so this is hot water that comes from the engine's cooling system that goes in the back here, and then inside this box, the evaporator core sits. It's hidden away inside here. So again, the question is how do we find it? UV dye is a good method and we'll talk some more about how we find some of these things in a minute, but this is where it's located. This box, this whole unit has to be dismantled and removed to get the evaporator out.
Mark: So, that sounds like a pretty difficult leak to find. Are some AC leaks like this? Are they generally pretty hard to find?
Bernie: They are. AC leaks can be extremely difficult to find and kind of frustrating. When we get a car in the shop and someone's got a problem, we want to find it as fast as we can and fix it, and air conditioning is one of those really tricky things where it can often take quite a few tries to fix it. I mean, if you just want to say, "Hey, I want you to fix it," and we can find a leak, I mean, we can take everything apart, but for thousands of dollars. Most people don't want to spend that. We don't really want to do that anyways because it's really a waste of your money. So, sometimes it takes a little time to find out where the leaks coming from it, but I'll just show you what we found when we looked at this evaporator core. UV dye is one of the items that we use to find the leak. So, this piece here, this is the expansion valve. It's bolted on the bottom of the evaporator core, and it actually pokes out from the bottom of the rear AC heater box, and so around here, we could see a sort of festering of greenish colour. Sorry, I'm going to get the picture back again. Sort of a greenish colour all around here, and that is the UV dye that's been seeping out around this unit here. So, right away we knew, okay, that's a definite problem because it shouldn't be here. This part is exposed to the environment, and it gets treated harshly. So, the evaporator is actually attached here. These are the pipes of the evaporator that bolts to the expansion valve, and then on this end of it, the pipes that go to the rear AC system that run right from the front of the vehicle from the engine compartment are attached here. So they run the length of the vehicle. And this is a rather cool picture. No, you haven't taken any strange psychedelic drugs. This is an interesting picture. This is what we see when we look for the leak. So we have a ... UV dye is sensitive to ultraviolet light, which is a kind of purple coloured light, and it works best if we put on yellow coloured glasses. So, I actually took this photograph through the yellow coloured glasses, and this is like absolute evidence of a leak here. This is the oil that's leaked out and stained green, so the purple is just from the light, the yellow is just from the glasses, and that's a leak, so very evident.
Mark: And that's the rear evaporator that you're showing there?
Bernie: That's the rear evaporator, yeah. It's like a heater core. It basically radiates out cold air is essentially what it does, so.
Mark: Sounds like a real pain. You used UV dye to find this one. Is that the typical method? Are there other things you use to find these leaks?
Bernie: We do, and there's several methods to finding leaks. I mean, first, of course, is a visual inspection to see whether you can actually see leaks because a lot of times a leak can be so bad it's visible. Now, like air conditioning and refrigerant in and of itself is sometimes liquid, sometimes gas, but it's the oil that's in the system that kind of gives it away. That'll leave a trace of something. So, when we put the UV dye in, that's in the oil and that's what leaves the trace of leakage, but there are a lot of components on AC that you can't see, like this rear evaporator core, for instance. It's buried. It's hidden. There's a front evaporator, as well. That's under the dash. Again, that can be $1,000 worth of labor or more to remove that to actually look at it. So, we want evidence before we take that apart that that's what you need, but there's a lot of pipes and fittings and hoses and even the compressor. These parts are all buried in different parts on the vehicle, so finding AC leaks can be difficult. So, dye is one way, and the second most common method we use is with an electronic refrigerant detector. So, this is an item, it has a little probe, and we can move it around to various parts, and when it detects refrigerant, it'll start making a beeping noise. The only thing about this piece that's annoying is that they often give a lot of false alarms. So, when you find a leak for certain it works, but sometimes it'll give little false alarms, so if it's a tiny, little, minute leak, we can never be 100% sure, so the dye is usually the best method, but between all of these things, we usually find a way, and sometimes it just takes time and patience, maybe sometimes one or two refills of the system in order for things to kind of push their way through and find the leak.
Mark: And how big of a job was the evaporator replacement on this 2010 Caravan?
Bernie: It's a fair bit of work but certainly not as bad as a front one. Just basically the side panel had to be removed, which is a fair bit of work. Side panel removed, the box out, and of course the AC system has to be evacuated and then recharged again after service. It's a few hours work to do this, but minute in comparison compared to the front evaporator. Much less complex.
Mark: And Caravans have been around for a long time now. How are they these days for reliability?
Bernie: I'd say a lot better than they used to be. I've been servicing Caravans since they first came out. They're almost an iconic minivan, but they're certainly a lot less popular than they used to be. There's just a lot more competition out there. I'd say, as I always say, Toyotas and Hondas are probably definitely more reliable, but Caravans are much better price, so overall you'd probably have a few more problems with them given a 10 year span or a little longer, but the price you pay is a lot lower, so it probably works out dollar wise, less money to have a Caravan, and things like transmissions don't seem to go as often as they used to, which was really a common problem on them, so definitely better than they used to be.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Dodge Caravan, any year, 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. We have our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there, as well as hopefully you're listing on our new podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark.
Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Eighteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Dodge Grand Caravan. This is a long running series of vehicles and this one had some kind of problem with the rear brakes, what was going on with it?
Bernie: Well basically, the rear brakes were worn out which is not an unusual issue, but I want to do this hangout just because the way these brakes are worn out is kind of interesting to look at. There’s a log of rust on the rear brake rotors and pads which you know happens around these sort of climates with a bit of road salt, and yeah, I just I’d share that. And we’ll get straight into some pictures right now because that’s probably the most interesting part of the show. So here’s, so this is a close up of the rear brake rotor. Now I don’t have a new one to show but this is basically all the shiny surface material that the pads contacting, but normally the pad should actually contact from about here out to there, and on a new rotor that’s all nice shiny solid metal, but here when the brake pad applies it’s basically applying only to one small section of the brake. I mean it does rub against the rusty area but really doesn’t dissipate the heat in the way brakes are supposed to do so. The other thing that it does as well, is that it wears the pad in a kind of funny way and you can see these deep grooves in the pads, I mean the rotors are absolutely unusable you know, even at this point, but you can see that this is sort of the area where the shiny, the shiny spot was, this is sort of the flat, this is the contact area, you can see basically half the brake pad is not really properly contacting the rotor and dissipating the heat that it’s supposed to. Will you notice any difference slowing the vehicle down? Kind of hard to say but in a really big panic stop, it will make a difference for sure. The other thing with this pad too, is and again this is probably from the excess heat that’s built up because it hasn’t dissipated the heat properly, there’s a big crack, I should say little subtle crack running right down the middle of the brake pad. So the arrow is kind of pointing to the end. So that’s another issue with this brake. So that’s kind of what was going on with the brakes in this Caravan, needed new rotors and pads.
Mark: Alright, so was anything else damaged beyond the pads and rotors?
Bernie: No actually everything else is fine. The callipers which we always inspect very thoroughly were actually in good shape, surprisingly, you know what causes damage is usually road salt or a lot of exposure to salt. We also see it on trucks where people pull their boats in and out of the water, out os salty water. That’ll accurate rear brake rotor and pad wear. But yeah surprisingly the callipers were in pretty good shape. So we don’t change it unless there’s a problem with them. Now you know, there’s a lot of areas around Canada and northern US, all this is normal, we see these kind of brakes all the time but in Vancouver this is a little, we do see it from time to time, it’s a little rarer. Where there’s a lot of road salt, it will cause this kind of brake wear.
Mark: Is there any correlation between the vehicle that just run once in a while, like in sitting more where the rust could actually have more time to build up on the rotors?
Bernie: Absolutely, a very good question. It does for sure. Now if you’re in a really dry climate, it’s not going to make a lot of difference but it you’re anywhere that’s wet, the rotor, brake rotors are completely bare piece of metal and unprotected. So the moment it sits for a while, rust builds up and that’s normal. But yeah, if you were to you know, not drive the vehicle a lot between drives, the rust buildup can be excessive. But really, like salt is really what gets in there and kill it faster so especially being in a salty climate and you leave it for a while, it’s even worse.
Mark: And how about these Dodge Caravans, are they still as poplar as they once were?
Bernie: Well, I kind of wondered that before I did this hangout because, you know, we see a few here and there. We work on a wide variety of cars, but so the answer is yes. They are still the most popular selling mini van in Canada and the US. But interestingly in Canada, last year they actually out sold their competition, the next competing model was the Toyota Sienna, they sold three times as many Caravans as they did Sienna. So in Canada it’s quite a big change whereas in the US, I notice the Caravan, their nearest competition is Sienna and also the Chrysler Pacifica, which is a little different by still made by Dodge Chrysler Fiat, their numbers are almost as high as a Grand Caravan. So that’s kind of interesting in the US, it’s almost there, but their still number one.
Mark: So in spite of there popularity, Caravans are famous for certain model years at least, that they were, had a lot of problems, transmission problems, engine problems. Are they a better vehicle these days?
Bernie: I would say they are. We don’t see as many transmission issues with them as we used to so I think that they’ve got that issue fixed. I think overall, are definitely better like most cars seem to get to be getting better and better over time and they’re certainly a better vehicle than they used to be. But I think that one of the reasons they sell a lot of them is because price wise, they’re pretty reasonably priced. If you look at a Toyota Sienna van, beautiful van and probably more reliable, but a lot more money. So price wise, I think the price point of the Caravan is pretty good but usually with a cheaper price comes quality. But I think they’re definitely better than they used to be.
Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service for your Grand Caravan or Dodge Caravan or Chrysler van product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you must book ahead, they’re busy. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, lots and lots of information on there, or our YouTube channel where we’ve go hundreds of videos over the last five years of all makes and models of cars and all kinds of problems and issues that we’ve repaired. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark, Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the famous Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 16 times winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, how’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a 2012, so fairly recent Dodge Caravan Maintenance Service, what was due for the service on this van?
Bernie: It was, it’s fairly low mileage van, 40,000 kilometers so it was due for an oil change service and a comprehensive inspection, we like to call it a M2 Service and so what that entails is obviously changing the oil filter, this vehicle uses synthetic oil so it’s got a longer oil change interval than, than previous generations and, and comprehensive inspection so we, during our comprehensive inspection we basically look the vehicle over from front to back, we’ll take the tires if needed, we inspect the brakes thoroughly, we inspect the steering suspension, we test the battery and charging system, pressure test the cooling system, we lubricate the door locks, hinges and latches and look at a whole bunch of other items on the car at the same time; provide a full report; it’s 150 point inspection so it’s very thorough. Got a lot of clients compliment me you know when I go through the inspection, they go wow, I’ve never, I’ve never had such a thorough inspection on my vehicle so it provides a lot of value.
Mark: So did you find any additional items from your inspection?
Bernie: Really uhh, only two items, one the air filter was dirty which is kind of par for the course and we replaced that and the only other item we found that needed service was the brake fluid had about 4% water. We have a tester where we can test water content to brake fluid and 4% water is very high which, but it happens over time when brake fluid’s not flushed. I’ve mentioned before about brake fluid, I mean it should be flushed every two to three years and the water basically comes out of the air, it just gets absorbed into the brake fluid. Brake fluid’s called a hygroscopic fluid, it’s a type of fluid that absorbs water so it, it loves water and it’s good to get it flushed out every couple of years.
Mark: So how are these newer Caravan’s, I know they’re incredibly popular, they had a bit of a bad reputation in the past, how are the new ones?
Bernie: They seem to be pretty good, we haven’t worked on a ton of them but I think they’re definitely a better product than they used to be. I don’t know how the transmissions are, I mean Caravan’s over the years have had a reputation for bad transmissions and I haven’t known these to be bad yet, um, but I mean overall they’re nice vans and I think, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I think they’re pretty good.
Mark: So any further thoughts on Dodge vehicles?
Bernie: Um, overall they’re pretty good. I, you know, just sticking with the Caravans I mean they’ve had a lot of competition; at one time they almost owned the minivan market, they were so, they were so popular, but there’s a lot of competition for Japanese, you know, the Japanese Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and there’s the Kia and Hyundai make minivans but I’m not sure if they’re American, I’m just trying to think what other American competition but there’s other, there’s other Ford and GM competition but I think the Caravans are, they’re well priced. Sienna, a Sienna Van is an amazing van, very reliable but you pay a lot more money, like substantially more money for Sienna, so you know, if you don’t want to fork out the capital cost, Caravan is actually a good value.
Mark: So if you’re looking for service on your Dodge vehicle, Pawlik Automotive 604-327-7112, get ahold of Bernie, book an appointment or go to their website at pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.
Our latest featured service is a lot of repairs done to many components on a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan.
This vehicle came to our shop by tow truck. The van had died and wouldn’t restart; and that was a good thing. A good thing? Yes, in this case it was, because this vehicle had a few major problems. The worst of which was a rear wheel bearing worn so badly that the wheel could have broken off at anytime.
A vehicle breakdown is rarely a good thing: it creates stress and inconvenience along with unplanned expenses. For this vehicle and the owner though I’d say it was a very good thing. The engine dying was caused by a dead fuel pump and this forced the vehicle into the shop to address a few long overdue, serious concerns.
While most people can’t stand the sound of a loud noise in their vehicle, some folks tolerate it. Perhaps they are too busy or don’t have the funds to do the repairs. Perhaps they don’t really like the vehicle or don’t ‘feel good’ about spending money on it. Whatever the reason sometimes things get left too long.
The list of urgent repairs on this 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan was big: right rear wheel bearing, right front wheel bearing, fuel pump (this is why the vehicle died), engine oil change, sway bar end links, rear wheel cylinders and brake hardware. All of these repairs brought the vehicle back to safe operating condition. The bonus was that the vehicle was quiet to drive. Two badly worn wheel bearings makes an incredible racket while driving.
The ‘Grand’ part of the Dodge Grand Caravan’s name refers to the size of the vehicle: it is a longer and more spacious model than the regular Caravan. They come in a variety of trim from basic to fully luxurious with leather seats, full power accessories and climate control A/C. In spite of their poor reputation,especially in the transmission department they are fairly reliable vehicles. This one has over 270,000 kilometers.
For more about the immensely popular Dodge Caravan click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_caravan
For more about wheel bearings click here http://goo.gl/OuS9Bs