Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking about cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, we're going to talk about a 2008 Ford Escape that had a transfer case problem. What was happening with this fine Ford vehicle?
Bernie: So the owner brought the vehicle to us. His complaint was there was a very loud noise while driving and some vibration under the vehicle. So that was the issue. And very noticeable when he drove it. Yeah, the kind of thing you don't want to drive very far.
Mark: And so what did you find and how did you diagnose it?
Bernie: Yeah, so for diagnosis, of course, we start with a road test to verify the client's concerns, which was very easy in this vehicle. And then we did a hoist inspection underneath and found that basically, I guess the best diagnostic tool we had in this case was a stethoscope and our ears. And there was a very loud noise coming from the transfer case. This unit's bolted to the side of the transaxle, the transmission, and basically transfers the ... It's an all-wheel drive, so it transfers the movement of the axles to the rear, as well as the front.
And a stethoscope certainly verified a lot of noise coming from inside the transfer case. We listened to other areas of the vehicle, and didn't really, nothing was too apparent. But the noise in the transfer case was so severe that, once we found it, it was pretty easy to confirm.
Mark: And so, doctor, why was the unit so noisy?
Bernie: Yeah, so basically when we took it apart, took it out, took it apart, there was some extremely badly-worn bearings, which is we suspected it would be. So badly worn, in fact, it was causing the gears to run on a strange angle. And that exacerbated the noise even further.
Actually, we can get into some pictures right now.
So there's our 2008 Ford Escape. And here is a view of the, this is the transfer case unit removed from the transaxle of the vehicle. And a number of bolts removed here, as you can see. The unit's about to be taken apart for inspecting inside. And what we found, this is the sort of major issue. There's three shafts inside this unit. They all have bearings on either end of the shaft, and then this one here, you can see the cage, and you can see some of the rollers here.
But some of them are completely missing, so this bearing was worn so badly, it was just causing this shaft to just wobble back and forth. And, of course, with that level of wear, it was causing ... Of the bearing causing a horrendous noise, in and of itself. You can see here that a couple of gears where two of the gears mesh, and of course, with a bearing worn like that, these gears are not going to be running true to each other. And that causes noise, too. There's a lot of engineering that goes into building anything with gear, transfer cases, transmissions, to eliminate noise.
And if you drive a really old vehicle, like we're talking like 70 years old, back when they had straight cut gears, there was a lot of gear noise present in a vehicle. But nowadays, since then they've evolved, and there's no noise. But with a worn bearing like that, of course, that brings all the noise back. Another view of the inside. This is the other end of the ... This is the shaft actually put back in, and this is the other end of the shaft. You can see this bearing, the red arrow points, this bearing was disintegrating, as well.
The yellow arrow here just indicates a bearing that still looks at least together, probably badly-worn though. The gear oil inside this unit was just, it was absolutely hideous. It smelt awful, it was burnt. And the level was also low, too. Just a final shot here before we depart the pictures. This is the unit installed under the vehicle. You can see the exhaust system, the rear drive shaft is attached here, and then the axle shaft comes out to the right side of the vehicle here. So that's the unit bolted up to the transaxle under the car.
Mark: So what would cause these bearings to wear out in this kind of catastrophic fashion?
Bernie: Well, there's a few things. So first off, this is the first time we'd serviced this vehicle. It's 10 years old, we don't know anything about the repair and maintenance history. So it's entirely possible that the fluid had never been changed in the transfer case. That could cause it.
Second of all, we found the fluid level was low, so a leak could have been present. It wasn't, like there was some oil on the case, but it wasn't covered in fresh leaks of oil, but the oil level was down so it's possible, it may have been running for a few years on a low oil level, which could cause the wear.
Third, it could be that just the bearing just started to wear out. I mean, these things happen. And of course, once the wear, it'll cause excessive heat, causes the fluid to burn. So even with good maintenance, things will still sometimes wear out. So one of three things, but obviously, if you keep your fluids changed on a regular basis, it's going to maximize the life of any component.
Mark: So how did you repair this transfer case?
Bernie: We actually got a good used unit and put that in. Parts are not readily available, the gears and things are not available. Bearings are certainly available and seals, so we could have possibly cleaned everything up, put new bearings in, and seals. But chances are, with this level of wear, there would be gear damage, and we never even cleaned it up to that point. We just decided, let's get a good used unit.
There was a lot of, we deal with reputable auto wreckers. One of the companies we deal with, they specialize in Fords. They had several of these on the shelf, so it tells me that it's not a really common problem, and this is the first one we've actually replaced. So they're fairly reliable, which makes for a good candidate for a used part.
Mark: And how are Ford Escapes for reliability?
Bernie: I'd put them in the fair category. I mean, there are a number of things that we do service on these vehicles. So certainly not as a reliable as say a CRV or a Toyota RAV4, which is in a similar category of SUV.
They're pretty good overall, but you'll expect to spend more money on repairs and maintenance, but less money to buy the vehicle. And by the way, it's the same as a Mazda Tribute. So either way, it's the same general vehicle.
Mark: So with these, basically with any of the perhaps ... Well, I guess with any vehicle, it's really important maintenance, but these ones might be even a little bit less tolerant of running with low fluids, or not having their fluids changed, is that fair?
Bernie: I think it's fair to say. But even a Toyota is actually one of the vehicles that's like least tolerant to lack of oil changes. For some reason, some vehicles and some engines seem to be able to handle more abuse than others. Now we're not talking about an engine here, but just overall general reliability. But the thing is, it's kind of a risk thing.
And as we've said on these podcasts, you can live off of French fries for a while, and you might live to be old. But chances are, if you avoid eating that kind of food all the time, you're going to be better. And it's the same with car maintenance. If you do the right things, it won't prevent everything from happening. But at least it'll minimize the chances.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for maintenance on your Ford Escape or other Ford products, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Please only call if you're in Vancouver. We can't diagnose products over the phone. We have to see it and there could be many things wrong, so if you're from out of town, call your local provider. If you're in Vancouver, give us a call to book your appointment. And thanks, Bernie. Thanks a lot.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark, I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well. We’re talking trucks today.
Mark: A truck, yes. Well, a van, if we want to be very specific. It's a 2009 Ford E350, pretty heavy duty van. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie Pawlik: So, this is a 6-litre diesel van, so yeah, very heavy duty. The owner had a couple of complaints. Sometimes, so an intermittent condition, the engine would idle kind of surging, up-and-down, and occasionally, on very rare occasions, he'd go to accelerate. The vehicle just wouldn't accelerate. There was no power. Those were his two concerns.
Mark: All right. That sounds a little difficult to diagnose. What tests did you do and what did you find?
Bernie: So, we started our testing with a road test and went out for a very extensive road test and, of course, things that often happen, nothing occurred. It actually ran like a dream. So, the check engine light was on.
We connected our scan tool, found only one trouble code stored. P0299, which is a turbo boost, turbo under boost code. That's not the exact definition, but that's the flavour of what that code's all about. Basically, the vehicle's detecting that there's enough boost pressure in the system under the conditions that it's supposed to occur.
So, from that, we were able to do some tests on the vehicle. We were able to do some, they're called bidirectional tests. We can actually run the turbo actuator.
This is a variable geometry turbo. There's an actuator. Sometimes, these actuator blades will stick in these turbos. They get gummed up over time with carbon deposits. They'll stick or they'll just wear out, so we're actually able to do tests. We can change the actuation of the turbo to see if it actually works.
What we found is that there were certain conditions where the actuator would stick. So, the solution was to replace the turbo charger on this vehicle.
Mark: So, you talked about the turbo and mentioned the variable geometry, which is very complicated. What does all that mean?
Bernie: Why don't get just get into some pictures? What I will say, before we just look at the pictures, is the way turbo chargers work is basically it's a turbine. It's driven by the exhaust of the vehicle. The exhaust is basically, it's wasted energy. It just goes out the tailpipe, but if you put a turbine in the exhaust because there's a lot of flow-and-pressure. The turbo charger actually pressurizes the air going into the cylinders, and that gives a lot of extra horsepower. So, it's actually an amazing increase in efficiency and power, so that's why turbo chargers are used. Now, in the olden days, the turbo charger was a basic item. It was basically the blades spin and the compressor, it basically compresses the air, but it would sort of be optimized for one engine speed and usually that was for higher pressure. If you've ever driven an older car, I'll give you an example. I had a client with a 1980 Saab turbo. It's a real neat car. You push your foot down on the gas. The vehicle would kind of accelerate a bit, and then, all of a sudden, about one or two seconds later, it'd be like someone lit a rocket and the car would just take off. That would be basically how turbos used to work a long time ago and that's called turbo lag, because it basically took some time for the turbo to spool up to the speed. What engineers have done and they've found ways around that because really, when you press the gas pedal, you want instant response. So, a variable geometry turbo takes care of that. It changes the shape of the chamber on the exhaust side, so when the engine's idling at low exhaust flow, you'll get a lot of turbo boost. When it's up at high speed, you'll also get a lot of turbo boost. So, overall, you don't really feel the turbo lag. It's still there subtlety. If you ever drive a super charge engine versus a turbo, you'll notice the difference, but normally nowadays, you almost never feel turbo lag in a car. It's pretty much gone, car or truck.
So, that's a little bit about how turbos work, so let's get in some pictures of a variable geometry. I have some pictures of this turbo and then I've also got some pictures of a slightly larger truck turbo where it's actually cut away and you kind of see the inside of it, which is pretty cool.
This is our 6-litre Ford turbo taken apart. This is what creates the variable geometry turbo. This is the turbine blade on the exhaust side, so this is driven by the exhaust and this is the variable geometry portion. These fingers here basically form a different size chamber depending on which way this ring here rotates.
This is kind of the turbo taken apart in two halves. The actual actuator, I think, I believe, is in here somewhere. It's actually controlled on this engine by oil flow. So that's basically what this looks like. You can see there's a lot of soot, carbon deposits, and wear inside this. This is our old turbo.
So, here again is another close-up of the actuator. I'll call them actuator pieces. I know there's a much more technical term for it, but it's early in the morning, so.
This is just a view of the front blades of the turbo charger. You can see there's a little bit of wear here. This is where the air comes in. There's obviously sometimes a little dirt or soot or whatever comes in, so there's a little bit of wear on these turbine blades.
This is the new turbo. You can see there's none whatsoever. It's all clean except for a greasy fingerprint. Then, let's have a look at the cutaway of the actual VGT turbo system. This is actually a cutaway. This is a larger ... This is off of a ...
We have a 14-litre truck. It's a full-sized truck motor. So, this turbo is a bit bigger than what you'd find in a 6-litre Ford, and it works a little differently, but really gives you kind of a good view.
This is the exhaust side of the turbo and this is the intake side, so the air comes in here. It's compressed by this blade as it spins really fast and actually comes in this way and gets blown out this direction.
This is an air intake temperature sensor. There's also, on this vehicle, a sensor. I believe that's a turbine shaft speed sensor, so it'll actually measure the speed of how fast the turbo's going, so the vehicle computer can make adjustments.
This is where the variable geometry control is on this. This is the actual actuator for the variable geometry turbo, one of the parts of it anyways. This would be where the exhaust flows in and out.
Mark: How fast does this turbine spin?
Bernie: Some of these are like 30 or 40,000, maybe even 50,000 RPMs. I mean, they're really, really fast. Yeah, maybe even a bit faster. I mean, it's going like insane speeds. I'm going to look at a couple of other cutaway views here.
So, this is again, this is on the intake side of the turbo. Again, the air is sucked in here and pushed out in that direction. You can see the air intake sensor and then the exhaust end of the turbo there. Then, as our final photo, this is a close kind of view of, again, you can see these variable geometry pieces. There are a little different then what was on the 6-litre. This one works slightly differently, but the effect is the same, so they'll change the size of this chamber, so depending on how much exhaust pressure there is, it'll make the turbo more effective boosting the intake side and that is our picture show.
Mark: So, you replaced the turbo because the variable geometry wasn't working properly?
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. The actuator blades would stick. So, interestingly enough, I think the next question we have is, how did it work? The answer is, it worked great. We re-tested it. The actuator was all operating exactly like it was supposed to. Road tested, it was great, but a few days' later, the owner came back and the issue was, there was still a similar issue going on with the surging idle and lack of power and we spent the better part of a week and a bit, really looking over it, testing fuel pressures. Sometimes, these codes, like, unless the issue is happening while we're looking at the car, it's hard to exactly say what's going on and we need to fix the obvious things first. In this case, the turbo was bad, but there were a few other issues.The EGR valve had a lot of soot. The intake was plugged. We cleaned that. The issues still continued after that and we road tested it for quite a long time, and I think it was probably some carbon deposits in the engine that were causing it to misbehave, from time-to-time. Anyways, to make a long story short, at this point in time, it's working fine. So, the turbo's good. The intake's clean. We tested the low pressure side fuel system because that's another cause of this issue and it was good all the way through. Interesting thing with this truck, it's very low mileage, about 85,000 kilometres on a ... It's an '09. That makes it a nine-year-old vehicle. It's not a lot of mileage. It's a tradesman's vehicle. He'll drive his office to a job site, work all day and come back, so it doesn't really get the heat that it could use. As I mentioned before, for diesels, it's really important to get out and get these things hot and cooking hot, otherwise, it ends up creating things like plugged EGRs, turbo, actuator failure, things like that.
Mark: From carbon deposits from …
Bernie: Yeah, carbon.
Mark: Not the heat, not being hot enough, basically.
Bernie: Yeah. Yeah, heat and long ... Driving cycles and driving it hard is actually really good for a diesel. It's what they're meant for. They're meant for ... That's why they're in train locomotives. You can run it at full power for an hour and then the engine ... Or, an hour or two, hauling cars up a mountain, tons-and-tons of train, loads up mountainsides or trucks. It's meant to be worked hard, so a diesel that isn't worked hard, tends to have problems.
Mark: So, didn't Ford stop making the 6-litre a few years ago?
Bernie: Yeah. Like 2007 was the last year they put them in the pickup trucks, but they still used them in vans up to the 2010 model year. So, yeah, they used them a little longer in the vans.
Mark: And, do these engines in vans still have all the problems that they had in pickup trucks?
Bernie: Well, they pretty much do have the same issues, but I have noticed that the vans seem to be a little less problematic. That's just my own experience. I think it's because they don't get used quite as hard as they do ... Here I'm saying, get a diesel and work it hard, but also with these 6-litres, the interesting thing is a lot of head gasket failures and things. A lot of those have happened too because I think they can't quite handle the hard work that they're supposed to. Again, I'm kind of speculating, but I think, we've never done a head gasket job on a van yet. Now, I know they still go, but I think they just don't get quite worked as hard. People don't quite haul the heavy loads that they do in pickup trucks. That's just my own interpretation. There's probably someone out there, who'd say otherwise, but they seem to be just a little more reliable, which is a good thing because it's a lot more work to do and a lot of the operations on a van are a lot worse than they are on a pickup truck, especially head gaskets.
Mark: It's not as easy to take the body off.
Bernie: No, lifting the body off is a little more work than a pickup cab, but not a huge amount. It's just a bigger beast.
Mark: So, there you go. If you have a diesel vehicle in Vancouver that you need maintenance or repair for, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. They're diesel experts or you can check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos including many about diesel repairs as well as thank you so much for listening to our podcast and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thank you for watching and listening. We appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, doing the Pawlik Automotive Podcast talking about cars. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Mark: You're doing well, that's excellent. So we're talking about a 2004 Ford F-450 that had a manual transmission repair. What was going wrong with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle was towed to our shop with actually a different issue, the engine wouldn't run, it wouldn't start. So we diagnosed that, repaired the issues, got the vehicle running quite nicely and were out on a road test and during the road test, it's a six speed manual transmission, the transmission shifter just jammed up between third and fourth gear. Took a lot of coercing to finally get it to move out of that jammed position, we were able to limp the vehicle back to our shop, and of course the transmission at that point needed repairing. You could hear some pretty horrific noises going on. It's something that while we were driving, it had just broken inside the transmission. So that's basically what was happening.
Mark: What did you find?
Bernie: Well it's interesting, we can have a look at some pictures. To start with, we had to remove the transmission to take it apart, but we started by just draining the oil out and having a look at it. I'll just share some photos right here.
So this a close-up view of our transmission oil pan, sorry our drain pan, and we drain the oil and this vehicle uses a DEXRON ATF fluid for the transmission. If you look in here, all these little things these are all particles of metal. This should just be ... This is the black, sort of, ribs of the pan, this is the red fluid and all these little blocks, or all these little speckles, are all pieces of brass and metal in the bottom of the transmission. You don't want to see that. That indicates something's broken and let go. This is a picture, there's a magnet. When we took the transmission apart, there's a magnet in the bottom of the transmission to catch metal filings. Now this is a picture of the magnet cleaned up, this is what it should look like if there's no metal. But this is what it looked like when we took the pan out, when we took the transmission apart. You can see there's a lot of metal here, but also a very distinct piece here. This is actually a part of a circlip that actually snapped, and this was part of the problem with the transmission. The piece of circlip actually ended up stuck onto this magnet. Now there's a picture of the transmission assembly. It's an F-450, so this is a medium sized truck, dual rear wheels, it's pretty big. It's pretty tough, and incredibly heavy transmission, incredibly large. Built for what it was meant to, built for hauling heavy things. This is the transmission assembly sitting on the ground. This would be the first gear over here, and the main gear set is inside the transmission. With it being a six speed, it's got gears outside and sort of on either side of the centre of the case. This is one of the Synchro, the shift collars. We'll just go to one last picture to the inside of the transmission. So this is the actual main gear cluster being removed. We actually use a crane to remove it, because it's that heavy. But the problem was actually, and unfortunately for some reason I didn't take any pictures of the actual damage, but that circlip actually sat inside this area here. We didn't see that until we actually took the shifter rods off, and dismantled the transmission. But inside here, these are called the Synchro's and they basically, this is what allows a manual transmission to actually shift without having to double clutch, like you would've had to do in the 50's, way back when shifting a manual transmission was a lot of work, required a fair bit of skill and timing. Recently transmissions with synchromesh, you just push the clutch down and you can shift gears. This mechanism allows that to happen. As I say, the problem was in here. There's a shaft, and a piece, and the gear that's basically held together by the clip, and the clip broke apart, and that's what caused this whole mechanism to jam up. So that was right here. This is by the way fourth gear, third gear, second gear, first gear, and then you have your overdrive gears up here. So that's our pictures.
Mark: What did you have to replace to get the unit running and reliable again?
Bernie: We basically replaced the input shaft. You know what, I can actually just go back to this picture again. You see the transmission again?
Bernie: So this whole shaft here with this gear, we replaced that piece. We replaced this Synchro mechanism, which is located behind this ring here. That ring, this round piece here, and everything inside there was replaced because it was damaged. Other than that bearings, which is a normal thing to do whenever you do a transmission overhaul, very surprisingly were in pretty good shape on this transmission. But it would be silly not to replace them when you have to take everything apart, if a bearing fails down the road then you have to do the whole job over again. So the bearings, replaced the bearings. We replaced all the Synchro rings, which are these small rings located here. They tend to wear over time. And all the gaskets and seals, and that's what we replaced.
Mark: So is this kind of transmission failure a common issue with this vehicle?
Bernie: Well apparently it is. I mean we don't see a lot of these. Most of our clients with these larger trucks have automatics, but apparently it isn't an uncommon problem for that particular gear, and that actual issue that occurred on this transmission. We haven't seen a lot of it in our shop, only because we don't work on a lot of them like a lot of other people might do. Yeah, it's pretty common.
Mark: We haven't really discussed transmission repairs before. Do you do many of them?
Bernie: We do. We do manual transmissions. We do anything with gears, but we don't get into automatic transmissions. It's just too specialized. It's not like we couldn't, but it doesn't make any sense when people they're doing them all day long, they have the tools, equipment. So automatics we send out. On manual transmissions, we normally do in house.
Mark: So is a Ford F-450 2004, again this is a fairly old vehicle, worth repairing?
Bernie: Oh yeah, it's a good truck. It's a diesel. This had a dump box bed on the back, so once you start investing in equipment like that it kind of makes sense to repair the vehicle. For a few thousand dollars worth of work, the transmission's overhauled now it should be good for quite a long time, and with the engine repairs we did it should all last and be reliable for quite a long time. It's a good truck and tough. You can see by the size of this gear set on this transmission, it's meant to haul some heavy stuff around. Good truck, I mean it is a six litre diesel. We know what that means, there will be a constant stream of issues going on, but in between it's a good truck, if that's a good thing to say.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs for your Ford Diesel medium duty trucks, the guys to see, or your any kind of manual transmission repairs, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com, there's lots of information on there, hundreds of postings on there in the blog and in our videos, as well as our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you for listening on iTunes, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Yeah thanks Mark, and thank you for watching.
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here talking cars with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So today's victim, today's vehicle is a 2013 Ford E250 van that had a problem with its rear brakes. What was going on with this van?
Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle came in with the brakes making a pretty bad grinding sound. We did a brake inspection, found that the one brake pad on the rear was extremely badly worn, grinding on the rotor right down to the backing plate.
Mark: Okay, that seems a little bit different. What would cause only one pad to wear so fast?
Bernie: It's basically a seized brake caliper on the right rear, and it's not uncommon. When a caliper seizes, usually one, often one pad will wear worse. Sometimes both pads on one side will wear, but often it'll just be one pad that wears because of the way the caliper seizes. We'll look at some pictures a little later, and I'll explain it further.
Mark: Okay, 2013, five years old, that's not that old. Did this van have really high mileage?
Bernie: No actually not. I mean, in terms of kilometres it didn't even have 50,000 kilometres. So yeah a five year old van could have a lot, but this vehicle was actually very low mileage up to this point.
Mark: And what would cause the caliper to seize this soon in it's lifecycle?
Bernie: Yeah, it's kind of a Ford issue. The calipers on these vehicles on Ford vans and trucks, I find that we replace these more than any other vehicle and they seem to often seize up at a very early age. I think just due to the design of the calipers, they're just not very durable for some reason. I mean, they're built tough, they're big. We'll look at pictures in a second. They're tough, they're big, heavy duty but just something about the design of them. They tend to fail very frequently and I'd say about 50% of the brake jobs we do on Ford trucks and vans involve replacing calipers. So let's just get into some photos right now. Isn't that lovely? All my pictures seemed to have disappeared so I'll talk for a few more seconds and see if I can get my pictures back. I love it when this happens because this is a good picture show. Ask me a few more questions and I'll stop the screen share, I'll get some pictures back.
Mark: Sure. You say this is a fairly common thing to have and is it just an issue with Ford's or does this kind of caliper freezing or sticking happen on other vehicles?
Bernie: Actually it happens on all vehicles but not quite so often. As I say, Ford tends to be ... Sorry if I'm not looking at the camera here, I'm just trying to download my photos. But Ford for some reason in the Ford design, they use what's called a phenolic piston. It's not made of metal and I think that a lot of the problems is due to that piston design. Let's get these photos up here. But yeah, a lot of it has to do with the piston design. The other thing is that the dust seals on the Ford's tend to go bad quite frequently too and once the dust seal cracks then water can get in it and cause calipers to cease. So I think I'm ready to do a screen share here.
Okay, there's the full picture. So you can see, this is the rear brakes completely taken apart. This it the left brake rotor, the left brake pads, the left caliper and on the right hand side, you can see this is the inside of the rotor. You can see very shiny, very gouged and this is the inboard brake pad completely worn down to the metal backing plate, the outboard pad. You can't see on the angle here but there's quite a bit more material, we'll look at the pad pictures in a sec and you can see just a generally rusty condition here, which happens, 'cause you get a lot of metal flakes flying through the air. So the next picture we'll look at is, there's a comparison of the brake pads. So this is what the outboard pad looked like. There's about five millimetres in that pad and probably at least a few months to a year's life left in that brake pad based on the driving of the vehicle. And there's the inboard pad completely worn. The pad material's completely worn away. Just the metal backing plate wearing against that rough rotor. For our next shot, we've got the ... There we go, it sharpened up. This is one of the slider pins and there's a rubber cover over here, and you can see a lot of rust here so this could've been one of the contributions to the caliper seizing up in early age. As I say, it is five years old, I mean, all it takes is a little bit of road salt to get in here and cause this to seize. Now being in Vancouver, we don't use a lot of road salt, but we have had a couple winters where there's been a bit of salt on the roads. So maybe this seal isn't very effective at the factory, a bit of road salt and water got in there and caused this pin to seize. The caliper wasn't completely seized like this. There was movement in this area but all it takes is a bit less movement, and it'll cause the pads to wear quicker. So that combined with piston problems could've caused this issue. There is a picture of the caliper, the right brake caliper. The pistons are sticking a fair amount out. I mentioned the dust seals are a problem. These are the dust seals here. They weren't ripped on this vehicle but frequently we find that after 50 to 70 thousand kilometres, which is kind of an average life for these brake pads, depending on the weight you haul on your vehicle. Of course, these dust seals will often be blown open, and I'm seeing this for years and years on Ford's. They don't seem to have made ... changed a lot over the years. I'd say that's kind of a common problem.
I apologize, this photo's not of sharpest quality that I've done, but this is the old right rear rotor versus the new rotor. I'd say, it's a bit of a fuzzy shot, but you can see this surface here, how little material there is there compared to how much metal there is here. So quite a lot is worn off. I don't know how long this has been noisy. The owner had said he'd had the vehicle in for an oil service about a week previously, and they said there's five millimetres on his brakes. So they obviously did a quick brake inspection, but that's how much metal has all of a sudden started making noise. So that's how much metal is worn off the rotor in one or two weeks. So, you can't go very long like that before it'll completely wear out. Again, another photo of the rotor. You can see how little metal there is here versus how much is on the other side. We have over the years, I've actually seen people wear this completely off, so you have just the fins of the rotor rubbing against the pad, and you can imagine how fast that wears.
Mark: That must sound really good.
Bernie: It's horrific, it's horrific. This is the right rear side with a brand new rotor, new pads and a new ... this is a Napa Eclipse caliper. These are really good quality calipers. I don't know who else makes a caliper of this quality but not only are they painted nicely, but they have better hardware. They take a little more time to rebuild them than the average rebuild and they're probably about 20% more money than the regular rebuild. But I find they're worth it in terms of quality if a person wants to go for that kind of thing. It's important on a truck. The owner of this vehicle, they haul a lot of weight in it. So we put the heavy duty fleet pads, ultra premium rotors and these calipers on. You need to do whatever you can to make it last long. If you use cheap pads, it'll wear out fast and it'll just end up costing you more money in the long run. Save you now, but you'll be back having a brake job done sooner. That's the end of our picture show.
Mark: So that was a pretty extensive repair then, basically.
Bernie: Yeah, yeah. There's a lot that needed to be done for sure.
Mark: And was it really necessary to replace all the components or could you have just done the rotors, and the pads?
Bernie: No there's no way because the caliper was what caused the pads to seize up in the first place. When you have a wear difference that much, all the other pads were about five millimetres and this other one was zero. It's clearly a seized caliper issue. You can have a bad brake hose that'll cause pads to wear to but in a vehicle of this age, a bad brake hose will be highly unlikely and as I said, Ford caliper problems are just super common. So yeah, that's the kind of the extent. Pads, rotors, calipers and we also flushed the brake fluid which had never been done before and it was old and discoloured and dirty.
Mark: So maybe talk about that for a second. Why that's a rare kind of thing in my experience in having cars for the last 40 years. Flushing the brake fluid. What's that all about?
Bernie: That's actually one of the more common services we do here. Now it's one thing that never used to be ever talked about over the years. You know, you and I are kind of the same age. When we were younger and we had cars, nobody ever flushed brake fluid. But brake fluid is a hygroscopic fluid. It absorbs water and it's actually meant to do that because if the water actually got stuck in a certain area, say if it wouldn't absorb water, water would get trapped in certain areas of the brakes, like it would maybe get out the calipers or up in the master cylinder and would cause rust and corrosion. So because it actually absorbs water, it actually takes the water with the fluid but it weakens the fluid quality over time and what happens is the boiling point of the fluid goes way down and the brakes given enough heat which happens in braking. Usually you'd only ever experience it on long hills. You could actually lose your brakes, because the brake fluid would boil. So flushing brake fluid has been recommended by European manufacturers for many years. They usually recommend every two years. Now you can look in the manual of a lot of American vehicles, and they won't even recommend it. I don't know why because it's the same fluid, you're driving in the same conditions. The only place you might be safe from that is if the car never left the Arizona desert. But anywhere else around North America, there's a fair bit of moisture and that gets absorbed into brake fluid. So the recommendation for a lot of manufacturer's is every two years, two to three is good. I mean, we can test the water content, but normally we just look at visually, and we look for our regular customers, we just look at their maintenance schedule, and we can tell if it's been two or three years, we flush it. So it is actually a fairly common service, but a lot of people have not heard of it and a lot of manufacturers, it's left out, and I don't know why.
Mark: All right. Econoline vans have been around forever basically, almost as long as me. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Yeah, you know, I'd say they're fair. I won't comment on the really old ones because they're ... I realize with cars, every decade has its reliability compared to whatever other cars were around in that time. But I'd say, I'd call them fair. I mean, over the years, they've had their issues. I'd say, and we talked about bad brake calipers. Those are issues that they've had. I mean generally, they're pretty tough, well built vans, but there's been a few issues with spark plugs blowing out over the years or seizing up. I think Ford's got beyond that in these newer ones. They have the regular type of spark plugs that don't have any issues. Things like intake manifolds have had coolant leaks and things. So I'd say I'd call them fair, but they've had probably more than their share of problems. But just on a general day to day basis, they usually start up fine and run and they can haul pretty heavy loads. They're usually built quite toughly, if that's the right word to use.
Bernie: Beefy, yeah that's a good word for it. They're built "Ford Tough". Interestingly about the Econoline is that actually 2013 is one of the last years, 2014 was actually the last year they made Econoline's. They switched to the Transit vans, which are those more boxy, cubey type of vans that kind of mimic Sprinters. It's interesting, I've traveled to Europe a couple of times over the last two, three years. I noticed most of the vans they have they're all of that Sprinter type design. All the manufacturers have that kind of taller, narrower style van. So it seems like the American manufacturers have all gone that way too, because the Dodge's are like that and the Ford's and it's funny, I don't know what's Chevy's been doing, but I should, but. Ford's definitely gone with the Transit van which are those more tall, cubey, rectangular type of vans.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Ford van or truck 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. We have hundreds of videos on our YouTube channel at Pawlik Auto Repair. We really want to thank you for listening to the podcast. If you're calling from somewhere else in North America, we cannot diagnose your vehicle over the phone. It's not in integrity for us to do that. They're just too many options. So if you're in Vancouver, call us to book an appointment, otherwise, just enjoy our shows. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automatic podcast. We're here in not very sunny Vancouver, actually. We're enjoying some rain for the first time this summer, and I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the big bopper himself. We're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim is a '93 Ford F-250, the infamous 7.3 diesel that had a transmission problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So, this vehicle, well, in addition to a transmission problem, it also had an engine running problem where it would stall. But one of the main concerns with the client was the transmission would shift rough. As you drive, the first shift would be very delayed and would bang into the next gear, and it really ... an uncomfortable driving experience and not great for the vehicle. Also, there's an overdrive off, that it's a little lamp on the gear shifter stock, and it was blinking. As soon as it would make that missed shift, it'd start blinking, indicating a malfunction in the system.
Mark: So, a '93? This is getting on in age. Was it even worth, in your opinion, is it worth even fixing an old truck like this?
Bernie: Well, there's still a lot of value in an old diesel truck, one that runs well. But I guess my purpose around doing this podcast is really to illustrate just how complex diagnosing older vehicles can be as compared to newer generation technology. This is a '93. It's pre-OBD2. OBD2 had a much more sophisticated ... It was a government-mandated diagnostic system to track vehicle emissions. But along with it came very easy, I wouldn't say very easy, most of the time, you can plug a scan tool in, you can get a lot of information and diagnostic, trouble codes, data, all that sort of thing. As vehicles have got newer and newer, that data has got better and better and helps us diagnose things better. This much older than that. Also, the computer on this vehicle only does the transmission. The engine is actually all fully mechanical, so there's no engine electronics. They call it a powertrain computer, but it's really just a transmission computer. So, in answer, is it worth it? It really largely depends on the vehicle, what you're doing with it, your attachment to it. You know, the other areas, of course, around getting parts for older vehicles can be difficult, and we can talk about that a little later on. This truck was in pretty good shape other than the repairs needed, and I'm happy to say that once we completed all the repairs, which were pretty extensive, in addition to the transmission, there were some fuel injection issues, the truck runs really nicely. So, it should be good for quite some time.
Mark: So, why was the diagnosis difficult?
Bernie: Why the diagnosis was difficult, I was alluding to the diagnostic connector. This uses an old system that Ford had called EEC-IV. Now, some of the cars were pretty good, like, some of their cars and gasoline engines, you could get some data out of it, in addition to trouble codes. But in this truck, all there is available is trouble codes when there's fault, so that really leaves you very limited. It just gives you an area where things are going. I'm just going to share a couple of pictures, and then we'll talk a little more. Great, ok.
Yeah, so there's our truck. A little dusty and dirty, but really in pretty good shape body-wise. There's no rust. It's old but pretty good. You'll actually happen to notice, there's a '94 Ford truck sitting the background here, which actually happened to come in simultaneously for the same problem, which is really bizarre. Very rare to have two vehicles of this vintage in our shop at all, let alone with the same issues. So, it was kind of a two-for-one diagnostic. They were both having the trouble codes. Anyways, pictures. There's our truck. This is the Ford EEC-IV diagnostic connector. Was very common on Ford for a long time. There's again, the test port and the connector. So, you're asking why ... Again, we're talking about why it's difficult to diagnose, so basically what we're able to do is extract two trouble codes. There was code 23 and a code 29. One of those codes is for a throttle position sensor, otherwise known as a Fipple, on this engine. A vehicle speed sensor circuit out of ... I can't remember the exact code, but it's basically a vehicle speed sensor circuit problem. So, those are the two pieces of information we had to work with, and of course, there's no data on a computer to drive it and see, "Hey, is it getting the right signals?" Everything had to be tested manually, and this is where the diagnosis gets complicated. So, what we do to test the throttle position sensor is we hook a lab scope up, and we can take a reading of it. What we found is that basically, the sensor was dead. That piece was confirmed. The vehicle speed sensor was a much more complicated diagnosis because it gets a signal from the rear differential of the vehicle, sends that to the speedometer, the speedometer has a little computerized module which converts that signal into a square wave pattern. It sends a signal to the powertrain control computer, and inside there, that operates the transmission. So, you can see there's a few different things at play, and again, no data of any sort. Now, one thing we did have going for us is when we were driving it, the speedometer actually worked. It pretty much verified that the signal from the vehicle speed sensor was good, at least good enough to operate the speedometer.
I'll share a couple of pictures here of some of the waveforms. What we use is a lap scope to test these items, and we have to test right at the computer for one of them, and right at the back of the speedometer for the other. So, again, we'll just go back in the screen share here, and-
Mark: Okay, wait a minute now. I've seen videos on YouTube that people hook scopes up and it tells them exactly what's wrong and what part there is that needs to be replaced, or else, that's what they claim. Isn't that how it works?
Bernie: No. It doesn't. And as I said, with the code, for instance, for the vehicle speed sensors, the code is sensor circuit out of range. Well, it doesn't tell you that piece, the vehicle's speed sensor's out of range, it just tells you the computers not getting the right signal. So, that could be coming from the speed sensor in the rear of the vehicle, it could be coming from the module, it could be coming from broken wire. It could actually be coming from inside the computer. The signal could be fine right to the computer and not getting it. So, the answer is, sometimes we can plug something in. We can get a trouble code. On certain vehicles, we know that 99% of the time that that particular sensor's a problem. So at that point, yeah, it's a good gamble to change it. But with this vehicle, it's nothing like that. It's all straight manual testing and very time-consuming. Did I answer the question?
Bernie: Good. Awesome. And then really, for me doing this podcast is not defending ourselves and the time we take, but really just to show just what it does take to do a proper diagnosis on some vehicles. I say the older ones are often worse. We've got a couple of older Jaguars with fuel injection. Again, there's saying there's no trouble codes whatsoever, everything has to be tested manually, so you have to use your skills and intuition and start there and then start testing various sensors. It can take hours to get things figured out. Anyways, so what we're looking at here ... You can see this picture, correct?
Bernie: So, this is a photograph ... This is the waveform coming from the vehicle's speed sensor while we're driving down the road. What happens with this wave, it's called an AC signal alternating current. It's generated by the sensor, and as you speed up, the height of the wave gets higher and it gets tighter. So the frequency of the wave changes, and this is the signal that comes from the rear differential of the vehicle. It goes to the speedometer, so we were actually able to verify that this signal was good. No problem with this one. Next, I have a couple of videos here, and hopefully, they'll ... So, we have one here ... You know what? I'm actually not even going to play the video because you can just see that it's the waveform. Now, this is the waveform that was coming right to the vehicle computer, and you can see it's now a square wave, not a AC sign wave, is what the other wave is called.
Bernie: So, the other thing that's tricky is, we have this wave, and it actually varied when we were driving it. It would change height and it would actually change spacing. So we were verifying that it wasn't actually getting information, but the tricky thing about this is we actually didn't really know for sure if this was the right signal. There was no information whatsoever from Ford and any of our repair information. We have a lot of online data we can access. I couldn't find anywhere that said, "Is this a good signal or not." What was a little confusing is that even though it's a square wave, it starts at just over four volts and goes a bit under four volts, crossing zero. I'm thinking, "Is that right, or should it be zero volts up to eight or 10 volts?" We weren't really 100% sure. It looks like the right kind of wave, but I couldn't verify it. I even called the tech support line, and they couldn't even really give me 100% verification. But, based on what we saw, we figured that this is probably pretty close to accurate. It's getting a signal, and we decided the powertrain computer was at fault in this case 'cause the signal was going right to the powertrain computer. So, at that point, we ... I'll just a talk a little further since we're at the screen sharing mode, we don't want to change back. We actually pulled the powertrain computer out and found a lot of little nasty, a lot of nasty stuff inside here. It was not necessarily water, but a lot of powdery moisture. There's aluminum around the body of this. Clearly, some moisture had affected it and started flaking the aluminum off, which was a good enough sign that the inside of this computer was in bad shape.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. So yeah. So, that's what we found, through again, some good rigorous testing and verification. But unfortunately, as I said, there wasn't really any data. We have a source of ... One of our bits of repair information that we can access actually has a waveform library where technicians have uploaded waveforms of various sensors, and I'm going to do that with this particular thing, so someone else can actually see what a good one looks like. Because it's good to verify this is what's good and this is what's not 'cause sometimes we're looking at something for the first time. Manufacturers never do this kind of stuff. They write crappy repair information most of the time and hope you can figure it out.
Mark: So, was the computer fairly hard to find or get access to?
Bernie: Well, yeah. The computer was hard to find. I actually managed to find one good used one in Vancouver-
Mark: I meant on the truck itself.
Bernie: Oh, on the truck? No. Well, it's a bit of work to take out, but it's not that hard. Fortunately, being an old truck with a lot of space, there is room to test a lot of these things reasonably easily and remove them. This computer was kind of stuck, jammed in place. It took a lot of work to get it out. I think the moisture had stuck it in place, but yeah, it wasn't too difficult to get it out. And then getting onto the other question, where did we get one from? There are, of course, Ford doesn't sell them anymore. All our normal auto sources like NAPA, Lordco, our parts places we deal with, nobody like that sells it either. It's basically a special ... It's easier if you're in the U.S. to get these computers 'cause there are companies that remanufacture them. We get them from there too, it's just more of a process to get it to Canada. But I managed to find a good used one that worked really well.
Mark: And once that was repaired, you got a new computer in, changed the throttle position, the throttle, Fipple, whatever you call it.
Mark: Then the vehicle was running good?
Bernie: Yeah, it was great. The transmission immediately shifted right away perfectly. No more blinking overdrive light, and you know, hopefully, the used computer will last a long time. The thing with computers and electronics, you never know. Sometimes they'll last for a hundred years, and other times, they'll last for 10. You just never know.
Mark: Ten minutes.
Bernie: Or minutes. Yeah. Yeah, you never really know. The thing with automotive electronics is often, in the case of this one, often it gets damaged by moisture. That'll probably kill the next one too at some point down the road.
Mark: Yeah, it's a harsh environment. So, there are some definitely older vehicles still on the road. How old is too old to be practical to work on? I mean, assuming it's not a classic that's been restored or remodelled or hot-rodded?
Bernie: Yeah, like, you're talking everyday driver kind of vehicle?
Bernie: Regular usage. You know, it depends on the car, but I'd say once you get in the 15-year-old range, things start to get a little dodgy for getting parts. It really depends from car to car though. There's certain cars where you can ... If it's 30 years old, you can still buy parts for them. And other cars, and Ford is really bad for this, not even 10 years old, I've had Tauruses ... I mean, there's literally millions of them on the road, and you know, a rear ball joint, I remember trying order one, "Oh, that's obsolete." What? It's a Ford Taurus. There's like millions of them, but for some reason, the part was obsolete. So, you never know, but I think a lot of times with the European cars, parts tend to be available for a lot longer of a timeframe. American cars are often shorter. How long? I think it really depends from vehicle to vehicle, but sometimes too, it's what sort of generation of diagnostics. I mean, anything with OBD2 is much better to diagnose than this older generation. If I had a choice between, say a '96, is when it was mandated by ... Between buying a 1995 car or a 1996, I'd take the '96 any day of the week because it's got the OBD2 system and makes it a lot easier to diagnose. So, those are some things to consider. I mean, I guess it's on a one by one basis, but generally, once you get to 20 years old, it gets pretty hard to get parts for, for some cars.
Mark: Yeah, and how are these old diesels for reliability?
Bernie: These are really good. These are really solid. They're all mechanical. It's called an IDI. It's an indirect injection system as opposed to like ... Well, the newer Ford's the Power Stroke, which they're super reliable, but they do stink. I mean, they're awful. If we run this thing for one minute our shop, you can't breathe anymore, so you know, that's not a good thing. It's not good for the environment obviously, and that's why we haven't made these diesels for a very long time. But they are extremely reliable, and they're pretty simple. The key is keep your fuel clean, change your fuel filters, change your oil regularly, and these things do last a long time. I don't know the history of this engine. It's the first time we've worked on it, but it has 300,000 kilometres. We did put a new injection pump in it and a fuel lift pump and cleaned all the fuel tanks 'cause there was some contamination, but it runs really really well. These are the kind of engines that can last a million kilometres or miles. They're good.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your diesel in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead 'cause they're busy, real busy right now. Or, if you're looking for more information, check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. Thank you very much for listening on the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, and we're here with Mr. Bernard "Auto" Pawlik, the big bopper himself of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a 2011 Ford 350 super-duty 6.7 litre diesel that had a problem with its electric fan. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle was driving on a long trip up to the interior of British Columbia, which involves some pretty serious mountain drives. He had a long trailer on the back, drove fine to Hope. If you're familiar with the geography here, it's about 100 miles from Vancouver, drove fine, it's pretty flat road once you hit the mountain. Start hitting the mountains, the vehicle all of a sudden went into reduced power mode, there was warning lights on the dash and he really couldn't pull the trailer up the hills. And also, the temperature gauge was reading pretty high on the vehicle. So he came back down to Hope and made arrangements to have his trailer moved on, and came back to Vancouver where we had a look at the vehicle.
Mark: So what did you find? Why was it going into reduced power mode?
Bernie: Well, basically it was going to reduced power mode because the engine was overheating or running too hot. So it's a protective measure, which is a smart thing because a lot of people, as he mentioned, he goes, "I didn't even look at my temperature gauge until it started happening," and most of us don't tend to look at those kind of things although you should. You should glance at it every once in a while, but especially if you're going up a steep mountain hill and you're towing something, that's a smart thing though, is to be looking at that. And few of us who drive do, and a lot of cars have temperature gauges, but nonetheless, Ford just built that into the vehicle, so it prevents the engine from being damaged if it runs too hot.
Mark: And we've seen that before with some other diesels, what happens, it melts pistons and stuff. So again, why was it going into reduced power mode?
Bernie: Yeah. Okay. So it was going to reduced power mode, the engine was overheating. We did some diagnostic and testing. The coolant was full, there's no leaks in this truck, it only has 116,000 kilometres, still not the high mileage or there was some trouble code stored for the radiator fan, the electric radiator fan clutch. And we did some testing and found some broken wiring to the radiator fan.
Mark: So an electric fan clutch, what does that actually do and how does it work?
Bernie: So basically, the radiator, there's a gigantic fan that sucks air through the radiator, and in the olden days, the fan just be running all the time, but that draws a lot of power from the engine. So what they do is they put an electric, it's not needed all the time, they put an electric fan clutch in, so it engages and disengages the fan and that's set by the engine computer. So when it reaches a certain temperature, the solenoid engages the fan, and the fan will run and draw more air through the radiator. So essentially that fan was not working, and that's what was causing the engine to overheat. And of course, these vehicles have an extremely large cooling system, they're meant to handle a lot of heat. And especially when you're towing something up a hill, and that's when the problem showed up. The fan isn't really used all that much until you're really, it's a hot day and you're going up a steep hill and there's a heavy load.
Mark: And what caused the fan clutch to not operate?
Bernie: Well, I would say I chalk it up to a kind of a not a very well manufactured part. And let's just get into some pictures right now. We can have a look at the truck.
There's our F-350 2011. This is a, this is not just a super duty, this is like a super, super duty in my opinion. It's eight foot box full crew cab. It's a super long, big truck. You can haul just about anything and everything with this vehicle. Anyways, there's the truck. This is a sample of the two fan clutches. You see this okay, Mark?
Bernie: Okay. So this is a brand new fan clutch assembly. You can see it's got a wiring connector, a little bolt bolt on bracket, and this is the old piece. And this is what we found was broken. I'll show a little more, another closeup. We disassembled this connector off the fan clutch, but right here, there's a plastic bracket that holds this wiring harness, and somehow the plastic had deteriorated and broken, caused this to start rubbing on the serpentine belt and broke the wires apart. So the actual fan clutch itself is great. It's really just the wiring connector, and of course the stubby piece that held it in place, it broke. So let's just look at a couple more closeup shots here. There's a little broken off nub here. Well, you can't actually see it, it's gone. And there's the new assembly, you can see this piece here with a little insulator that allows this to rotate and float freely from the fan clutch, and we have one final shot, there's our wiring connector. So you can see this. As the thing broke apart, this popped out, it was rubbing against the serpentine belt and caused the wire to stretch and break out of the fan clutch connector.
Mark: So it kind of looks like the wiring connector is a separate part where you, can't you just replace that part?
Bernie: Well, you certainly think they would sell that part because it is separate. But the answer is no. You have to buy as a complete assembly, and actually, come to think of it, because of the way it broke, the mounting tab on the fan clutch itself broke off. So as I was thinking about it in hindsight, why don't they just sell the wiring connector? Actually, it would only partially have helped because the actual mounting stub on the fan clutch was gone anyway. So I guess they anticipated that somehow it's going to break and be defective.
Mark: And again, is this more of a plastic part in maybe a high temperature change environment that's not really lasting as long as it could?
Bernie: Absolutely. It's interesting, it's exactly what it is. Again, another piece of plastic that failed.
Mark: So this truck has a 6.7 litre diesel, and that Ford's been using for a while, but I hope, I assume this is better and more reliable than some of the previous ones that we've done videos about.
Bernie: Yeah, these are much better. There's a few issues with them, but really, comparative to the a 6.4 litre and then the 6 litre before it, far superior engine. I was just thinking about when I was doing this, writing up this podcast thinking I've been doing this engine for seven, eight years now, and there's really very little trouble with it, you know, the 6 litre, within a year they were making revisions, and changing things, and they knew right off the bat that was a bad engine and they did use it 'til about 2010 and in the vans. But really, these are great. We've serviced this since it's almost new. It's got about 116,000 kilometres. This is the first thing that's gone wrong, and it's nothing really in the engine itself. So really good. Definitely. If I was going to buy a Ford truck, this will be the engine, the diesel to buy.
Mark: So going back to that fan clutch, is there anything like 116,000 kilometres, that's pretty early failure for this vehicle that could easily do 500,000 or more kilometres. Is there anything that an owner might do to not have this fail?
Bernie: I really can't see what you could do because this part is sort of buried down. It's hard to get. It's reasonably hard to access, so it's not like you could even reach down and break it. There's nothing really you can do. It's just manufactured that way. And maybe this is a one off, it's a fluke, but I'd say that the answer to your question is there's really nothing you can do. It's just going to fail when it fails.
Mark: So maybe if you have one of these and you' re towing stuff, keep one eye on the temperature gauge or it'll be obvious because it'll go into low power mode?
Bernie: Exactly. And that's kind of the key. But it's interesting, on average city driving and on flat roads, it really isn't sometimes a lot of indication that your fan clutch isn't working. Sometimes the check engine light will come on to indicate there's a problem. And in the case of this vehicle, there wasn't. There was a stored code, but nothing to actually turn the check engine light on. But yeah, keep an eye on the temperature gauge is really the takeaway too, always have a look at that and keep an eye on it, especially if whatever age your vehicle is, especially if you're going up a steep mountain grade. Any car, truck, whether you're hauling a load or whether you're driving, because that's really where engines get cooked.
Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Ford diesel, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of, literally hundreds of videos and articles about all makes and models on vehicles, repairs or our YouTube channel - Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos over the last five years, or of course, hopefully you're enjoying our new podcast, and thank you for listening.
Bernie: Thank you for watching. Thanks, Mark.
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast, and we're talking cars with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we're talking about a 2008 Ford Explorer, the kind of infamous Ford Explorer. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop with an exhaust noise coming from the right hand cylinder bank and the exhaust manifold, gasket was basically blown on the right hand side.
Mark: Is this a common issue with this SUV?
Bernie: Extremely common with this SUV and also extremely common with F150's, we replace a lot of manifolds and gaskets. They leak and cause noise all the time.
Mark: Is this a particular engine that's doing this?
Bernie: Well, this is a 4.6 litre V8, which is basically similar to the 5.4, 4.6 similar, they're all kind of the same family of engine. And for some reason the manifolds warp, they leak, the studs break, there's a variety of things. And you can pretty much count on having to do them on pretty much any model.
Mark: What is involved with doing this job?
Bernie: Well for this particular job it was just the right side that was leaking, we'd actually done the left a year or so ago for this customer. So what's involved is removing the exhaust manifold, generally replacing all the studs, there's studs coming out of the cylinder head so there's eight in total. We replaced the studs, nuts, gaskets, manifold. It's wedged in there, it's a very tight fit to get them out, it's a lot of work, but that's sort of what's involved.
Mark: So if this is such a common issue wouldn't Ford make an engineering change to fix it?
Bernie: I don't know what they've done on the newer ones, we never know what things are like until a few years elapse. Things like recalls they wouldn't put anything like that out unless it's a safety issue, or any sort of extended warranty, they'll only do that when they think they have to save face for an issue. Like on Nissan they had a lot of problems with the transmissions, the CVT transmission they had a lot of issues with those. So, they extended the warranty for a number of years on those kind of things, sometimes they'll do that. For exhaust manifolds it's really not that high ticket of an item enough to get people to not buy Fords anymore. As far as re engineering hopefully they have done something because there's many years where this issue occurred. Any of these '08, 2010's a little older a little newer they all seem to have leakage problems. So, hopefully they've redesigned it.
Mark: And what's the reason for these manifolds and gaskets to leak so often?
Bernie: Well, I see a couple of things. The issue in and of itself is that there's a lot of heat and temperature differentials, it's aluminum cylinder head, cast iron exhaust manifold. Sometimes the studs will break and that's an issue that's been happening a lot, it's happened on a lot of different variety of vehicles with this particular type of design and it's very common. There's no reason why because it's an aluminum head and a cast iron manifold that it should have a problem, but there's a lot of the way it heats and cools. Often the studs will break, that's usually the first thing that happens. The studs nap and then of course the manifolds not held down tight, it eventually starts to leak and warp the manifold.
Also sometimes the replacement kits that you buy, the aftermarket ones they don't have the best quality gaskets in them. I believe the owner had said this one had been done a few years ago, and it had the cheaper quality gaskets in it, which we never use. So that's another reason they can go even after they've been replaced.
So I'll show you a couple of pictures here. I'll start here with the manifold. We'll talk a little bit about the gaskets in a minute. So here's the new replacement manifold. You can see this is the part that bolts the cylinder head, this bolts the exhaust pipe over here. So there's eight studs that stick out of the engine, and they go in this particular area, and there's one gasket here, one gasket in this area here.
So for our next picture we've got the ... This is the old manifold we took off. So we measured it with a straight edge bar, so the straight edge bar and that's this black thing here, it's basically just a bar of metal but it's extremely precise. There's absolutely no deviation in this metal surface it's completely flat. So we use this to measure things like cylinder head warpage, exhaust manifolds. And you can see that at this point it's touching and on this area here there's a humongous gap. So what's happened is this manifold is warped quite badly, and it could be resurfaced but it would take an awful lot of material and metal, and for the cost of the manifold it's just better to replace it. I'm not showing the rest of the manifold as we saw in this previous photo here. This straight edge bar's being placed cross one of these services here.
Gaskets, we mentioned gaskets. So this is a good quality gasket. I'm just losing my thinking this morning. It's basically two pieces of metal composite together. The cheaper quality gaskets they're like a metal clad fibre material and unfortunately I don't have sample to show in this picture, but this is the right gasket to have for this job. This is like the OEM Ford style gasket. And as an example of what you see here, this is sort of a side vie of the gasket. You can see there's two ... It's a multi-layer steel, that's what it is. So there's two layers of steel here so they can actually change with temperature and it does a much better sealing job than the other designs of gaskets. So, there's a bit of a gap here but once it's all bolted together it squishes. But again, this is the best type of gasket to have.
Mark: Alright. Is that generally what ends up happening when you have these leaky manifolds, you replace the exhaust manifold?
Bernie: Most of the time. It depends from vehicle to vehicle. This is such a common issue that the manifolds are readily available. There's a number of good quality after market manifolds available and the price is not that high. Some of these from Ford are actually pretty expensive. And as I said, you can take them to a machine shop and they can flatten it out, like they can resurface it so it's completely flat. Again, it's sort of a cost type of thing. When we're doing the work it takes a day to send it off to a machine shop, a day or longer so the vehicle's kind of tied up. To do the job in a time efficient manner it's often better to replace it then the cost is not a lot more than getting a new manifold. Also of course every time you resurface it you're removing some material, and the less material you have the easier it is to warp in the future. So better to replace it really for the most part, provided the price is not too outrageous for the replacement part.
Mark: And overall, how are Ford Explorers for liability?
Bernie: Well, we talked about Jeep Liberty on a recent podcast. To me they're kind of in that vain of American vehicle reliability. There's a number of things that happen with these. You've got these manifold issues that probably shouldn't happen. I mean a lot of other vehicles similar type and design you never get leaky manifolds. They're pretty reasonably priced and they're a good vehicle overall, but there are a lot of little things that go wrong and can cost a bit of money here and there.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Ford Explorer, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they have a lot of experience with your vehicle. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube search for Pawlik Auto Repair, or hopefully you're enjoying our podcast and again thank you very much for listening. Thanks Bernie.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here. Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast this morning, and we're talking trucks. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: We're going to talk about a 2001 Ford E350, 7.3 litre powerstroke diesel that an IDM replacement. What was going on with this diesel vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle, the IDM to start with, stands for Ignition Driver Module, and what was going on with the vehicle is that it would stall out or it would be driving fine, and all of a sudden start running poorly, lack power, really wouldn't go anywhere, barely limp along or as I said stall out. It definitely had some serious driving issues.
Mark: What is an Ignition Driver Module? What does it do?
Bernie: What it does is it actually fires the fuel injector. With the powerstroke, they use high pressure oil to boost the injection of the fuel, but that's triggered with an electronic signal. The IDM fires the fuel injectors, and it's a fairly high voltage signal compared to what's in the car, so it will boost up the voltage, and then fire the injectors whenever the computer commands.
Mark: What symptoms was happening with the van?
Bernie: As I said, it would stall out. When the engine was running, it would run fine for a while, and then all of a sudden it would just start running poorly, misfiring, stalling, lack of power. As far as diagnostics, some of the tests we did on it, we had a little bit of history with this vehicle previously. We've been servicing it for quite a while back. About six months ago, we replaced all the fuel injectors because there was issues with the injectors. We also replaced the wiring harnesses, which run under the valve cover, and these are a common problem/issue they'll develop. We knew that those items were good and based on the symptoms when the vehicle did start running poorly, we could see it was a complete engine failure, if you know what I mean, as opposed to individual cylinder. That would be just sort of a rough shake. But because of just the severe lack of power, I figured it's a more overall issue. Next of course, scan the vehicle computer. We found a code stored for an IDM circuit fault, which clearly put everything, being the IDM unit at fault.
Mark: Did you find anything else that was going on once you've replaced the IDM?
Bernie: No. That was it. I'll actually show you some pictures. It's interesting to show what we actually found. We did replace the IDM. That is the IDM. The old one here. Pretty ugly, crusty looking part. This is on the floor of my shop, so it's a speckled concrete floor. It's a weird background, but the electrical connectors go in here, and this is the body of the module. You can see this little button piece that's slipped out, and there's a lot of corrosion around here. A surefire indicator that there is water inside the module, and water in the module is a very common issue. As a matter of fact, you can see a little bit of moisture here. This is after we drained a lot of water out of it. This piece had popped out of place. Water had seeped into the module, and that was why it was behaving the way it was. Sometimes it would be fine, other times water would slosh around, and of course start short circuiting, and it wouldn't fire the injectors properly. Now, why would water get in the module? This module is not particularly located in a fantastic spot. There's the under hood view. The coolant overflow bottle’s here. There's the new IDM right there, and you can see that this is on the edge of the hood rail, it's on the edge of the cowl here where water can run right down here right on top of the module. Not an exactly brilliant spot to have an electronic component. And there is another closer view of again the IDM. The yellow arrows are just indicating that's where water will run down on the unit or from this area here.
Mark: We would assume these modules are well sealed to deal with water. Is there preventative measures that would have helped prevent the damage?
Bernie: First off, yeah. They are really well sealed. This truck is 2001. I would say that module is definitely the original, and it's 2018 now, so that's 17 years of use. 17, 18 years of use. That's a long time. But yes, could it be better? Yeah. They could put some shielding, and covering over top of it. One could fashion a tin plate or maybe a plastic shield over top to allow the water to run off. We haven't done that, but it's certainly something that you could do for extra preventative measure. One thing, if you ever did something like that, make sure you give some breathing room because this module will generate heat, and it needs to dissipate the heat. That's something important. But yeah. Definitely something that could be done. Had water not run on this module? Yeah. This vehicle would still be running. Clearly, it did kill it at a premature age.
Mark: We've talked a lot about different versions of Ford powerstroke diesels. It's a V8 diesel. How are these 7.3 litre engines when compared to their newer counterparts?
Bernie: 7.3 is actually extremely reliable. There's not a lot of problems that happen with them. The injectors generally last a long time. There are a few concerns with them, but generally compared to their newer versions, especially the six litre, it's very reliable engine. Of course, it is noisy. It's kind of stinky. It doesn't have the lower emission qualities that the newer versions have, and it's a lot noisier, but it is a good powerful diesel, and its reliability is quite amazing. Definitely a better version, but a little older. You're going to have to be putting up with the rattling noise. Some people actually like that because it does gives you a feel of you're actually running diesel. And they still work well. This vehicle is 18 years old, and you still got lots of life left in it. An 18 year old van with a gas motor at this point is probably not worth a whole lot of money, but a diesel is still worthwhile to keep going.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your 7.3 litre powerstroke in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website. PawlikAutomitive.com. Lots of articles, and videos on there as well as on our YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair or on our Podcast. Hope you're enjoying it. Thanks a lot Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for listening, and watching.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark here with Top Local. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive. We're doing the Pawlik Automotive podcast and we're talking trucks. Hey, Bernie. How are you doing this morning?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: This is a 2007 Ford F150, one of your favourites. You guys see a lot of Fords.
Bernie: We do.
Mark: This is a brake repair. What was going on with this Ford vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop, towed in actually. The owner was driving it. His description, there was a clunking sound. The vehicle didn't move properly afterwards, so had it towed in. We managed to drive it into the shop. It was difficult. We managed to drive it into the shop, put it up on hoist, and inspected it. What we found was a grotesquely, seriously worn front left brake. It basically had been worn so badly metal on metal the pad had jumped out of place, jammed up between the caliper bracket and the rotor, and the vehicle would barely move.
Mark: Okay. The obvious question is would there have been some noise before it was that bad to actually freeze the wheel, and wouldn't they have heard the noise?
Bernie: They would have definitely heard the noise. There would have been a lot of noise and for probably quite a long time. I don't know how long, and I never had a chance to ask the owner how long did you hear a noise for. Some people aren't quite so tuned to noises sometimes or maybe there's multiple people driving the vehicle and didn't really think too much to look further at it. Let's go straight into some photos right now. We can have a look at the details of what we saw here. This is what we found when we took the brakes apart. This is inside of the brake rotor, the really badly worn edge. This is inner brake pad. This is what's left of the outer brake pad. There's still some friction material left on this pad. You can see some of it's flaked right off. This is the pad. It's worn metal on metal. These little springy clips which normally pop out. They've almost welded into place. You can just see, it's been worn for a long time like this and making a lot of noise. It would have made a lot of noise along with this. Here's a closeup of the pad. It's interesting looking at this metal. It's just transferred from the brake rotor onto the pad. It's almost comical in terms of what was going on there. Then here's, again, a closer view of the rotor itself. I know we showed pictures on other podcasts and videos. You can see a nice smooth clean rotor. This surface is normally a very nice smooth shiny metal. It doesn't look ground up like that. There's our picture show for the day.
Mark: One of the things that I wonder if people realize is that brakes get extremely hot even just in regular driving. Is that right?
Bernie: Oh yeah. The more you use them the hotter they get. If you're going down a steep hill, for instance, that's why they say when you learn to drive, you should pump your brakes. You don't want to hold them on continuously because the heat builds up and builds up and builds up. Whereas, if you pump the brakes and you're going down a steep hill, you put the brake on. You slow the vehicle down. Let your foot off the brake. A vehicle will speed up, but it will allow the brakes to cool a little bit, and then will heat up again. That's what you want to do.
Mark: That heat buildup is what's causing that almost like soldering or welding that the two metals together onto the caliper like that. Is that right?
Bernie: Exactly. The way brakes are meant to work is you have your brake disc, your rotor, and that's the hard metal piece. Then the brake pad is a softer friction material which is a sacrificial item. It's meant to wear at a certain rate and between the two they dissipate heat. The faster you can dissipate the heat, the faster the car stops which is why if you have a high-performance vehicle you might have a brake rotor that's that big on a car that really doesn't need it. It's like a foot and a half in diameter with holes drilled through it and slots. That dissipates the heat really quickly. That's why a Lamborghini or something would have a huge brake rotor like that. The heat dissipation is key for brakes. The faster you can get rid of the heat, the quicker you can stop.
Mark: Here's the hard question I guess. Is this a vehicle that you regularly service?
Bernie: Yeah, we service this vehicle regularly. Usually about one a year. We inspect it, and look it over, and advise on anything. If the owner of this car is really good he'll fix and repair whatever is needed.
Mark: I guess the obvious question is how is it that the brakes wore so badly in just the time between your last inspection and it being towed in?
Bernie: Well, I'd say the thing about an inspection is that basically it's a snapshot of what's there now. We visually inspect a lot of things. We move things, wiggle things, move them, turn them. Things like brakes we measure so we can say, "Hey, you've got 5 millimetres on these brake pads. You should get about a year's life left out of these. What happens between the time of the inspection and the next service, which is now, is there are certain like weather. We've just gone through a winter, and then as a car gets older things that are fine now, say like a brake caliper, we can look at it. It's fine now. Something will happen. It will start sticking and seize up. That's probably what happened in the case of these brakes. We've gone through a winter. There's harsher road conditions. Salt on the road. The vehicle's getting on in age, and the caliper seizes up. These are the kinds of things that happen. Even though you have your vehicle inspected, and there's a certain timeframe where we expect to do things, you have to keep your ear open on this vehicle and go, "Hey. It that noise is happening we need to do something about it." I've had vehicles of my own where I look at them regularly, and all of sudden I'm driving, "Well, that's not right." A brake caliper seized up." It just sometimes happens without warning. You just got to deal with it. It's good to have it inspected, of course, regularly, and all things going properly, then we can time everything. Sometimes things do happen in between that we can't predict.
Mark: How long do brakes typically last on these 150’s?
Bernie: They're good for usually 50,000 kilometres for sure. Sometimes maybe upwards closer to 100. Certainly 50,000 for certain, assuming nothing's going to happen like a caliper seizing. This is under normal wear conditions. It also depends on what you're using the vehicle for. If you're hauling heavy weights like trailers and things, or you're loading it full of weight, that will cause your brakes to wear much quicker than it will. If you're driving down steep hills, again, a big difference. If you live in the prairies and you're in the flat all the time, the brakes will last a lot longer than they will if you live in San Francisco and you're going down those hills.
Mark: Maintenance is pretty critical on any vehicle basically.
Bernie: Absolutely. Regular inspections. Yeah.
Mark: Another thought that occurred to me. When you're talking about a caliper seized, basically that means that it's running, the brake is on all the time.
Bernie: Exactly. The caliper as I just explained is basically the piece that clamps the brake pad to the brake rotor. When you push the brake pedal down, there's fluid. It puts pressure on the fluid, and that causes the caliper, there's pistons and sliding pieces, and they will push, clamp the brake pads on. If the caliper seizes, then what happens is it doesn't release. It's like you said, it's like the brake is on all the time. That wears. You talk about heat, that wears the brakes out really fast. Usually you'll notice when a caliper starts seizing, another you'll notice is sometimes the vehicle will feel like it lacks power because you're actually trying to force a sticking wheel to move. Another thing you'll notice sometimes as well is the vehicle will pull. You brake on and instead of it just going straight, it will pull to the right or the left. That can often get a seized caliper at least on the front.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for maintenance on your vehicle, any type of vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see our Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. Check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles on there. YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models, and problems, and maintenance issues for all makes of cars, and our iTunes 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, repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for 38 years and 18 time winners so far, of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Ford Ranger, 2007, that had a clutch problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop for a regular, annual maintenance but when it arrived at our door, the clutch pedal just went to the floor and we couldn’t put it in gear. It was just all floppy. So we proceeded to do a diagnosis on that, because obviously that’s the most critical thing to fix on the vehicle. What we found was a clutch slave cylinder was, it had basically failed and caused the lack of pressure to release the clutch.
Mark: So what, how did you determine that the slave cylinder had failed?
Bernie: Well a lot of it is a process of elimination. The tricky thing with clutches is you can’t see a lot of it, the actual clutch itself is in-between the engine and the transmission and the bell housing area. On this particular vehicle, there are actually some access holes where you can look inside and on this one we could actually see the clutch slave cylinders internal. It’s located inside, not inside the transmission, but inside the bell housing and we could actually see fluid leaking out of it. So the issue is either the slave cylinder which was most likely, because once you have a fluid leak, that’s a problem, but it could have also been a failure of the master cylinder. But we figured the best strategy for repair would be to replace the slave cylinder and the clutch itself, because we have to take it apart, and then determine whether the master cylinder was bad after that.
Mark: So what’s involved in that kind of repair?
Bernie: Well, so what’s involved. The transmission had to be removed and from there we can examine the rest of the clutch which we did and ended up replacing because it was nearly worn out anyways. We replaced the slave cylinder, replaced the clutch, had the flywheel ground and put it all back together, bleed the system, flush the fluid and tested it out and it worked fine. So the slave cylinder was good in this case. I’ll just share a couple photos. Nice little black Ford Ranger here. This is a pretty basic truck, it’s actually a four cylinder engine truck which is kind of rare, very minimal options, really not very common to find a truck like this. It’s all plain, plain-jane truck with very few options but is’s a good little work truck. Simple, standard transmission. Seems like nowadays everything you buy is fully loaded with the biggest engine and all the power windows, but some people like these simple things and they’re actually pretty good, they’re kind of fun to work on too. Clutch slave cylinder. So this is a unique design of this, not just unique to a Ranger but to a number of American, mostly in North American vehicles and a lot of trucks. It’s a built in slave cylinder and a clutch release bearing and it sits on the collar of the transmission where the release bearing normally slides. So it’s rather brilliant because it’s eliminated the clutch release fork, the pivot point, it’s eliminated a number of parts by amalgamating them together. There’s a big bellows piece here where the arrow points to and that’s actually where you can see some fluid leaking onto. The slave cylinder is sort of inside this piece here, that bellows is just a dust shield and once fluid leaks out of course, that indicates it’s actually got a pretty bad leak. If we were to cut this open, it’d probably be just loaded full of fluid. This is the release bearing here. So this spins the with the clutch and when you press the pedal down, this gets forced forward against the clutch and releases it. Right now it actually sits naturally in a forward position. There’s a spring inside that actually keeps it under a little bit of pressure. And so these other items here, this is the bleeder screw where you bleed the air out of this hydraulic system. And this is where the actual clutch line, the clutch hose is from the vehicle attaches.
Mark: So are all clutches hydraulic?
Bernie: Nowadays they are, I mean there used to be a day when a hydraulic was kind of a novelty actually, well it goes back a long way, but you know what clutches used to be one of three ways. You have a cable to release the clutch which was very common or they actually it even had linkage rods, a lot of vehicles had linkage rods and bellcranks that would connect up from the clutch pedal down to the transmission. Actually I remember having an old Fargo van, which is like a Dodge van, if nobody knows what a Fargo van is, but I remember being in an intersection and I pushed the clutch pedal down and the linkage broke. I guess the rods had worn so much from moving it just busted apart and left a couple parts lying on the ground in the intersection. But long gone are the days of those type of clutches. They’re hydraulic, I mean they just work so much better, a nice smooth engagement and the pedals are just, the feel is so much better, less moving parts. Yeah just overall way better.
Mark: And what’s the advantage of using a hydraulic system?
Bernie: Well the advantage is I think really smooth engagement and pedal feel. It’s also, there’s a lot more power in hydraulics than there is in linkages. So it’s, you can operate a clutch more powerfully and easily and I think pedal feel is a real big thing. You know, you get in a lot of modern vehicles and the clutch, it’s really nice to engage and disengage. You know, whereas in the olden days, a lot of clutches were really hard to push, cables tend to you know, they tend to bind up over time. Whereas hydraulics, there’s very few actual moving contact points. It’s just the fluid pieces are moving and they’re already lubricated.
Mark: Yeah, I remember driving a Porsche 914 that was, I knew I was going to add like 3 or 4 inches on my left leg just to make the clutch work.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly that’s the case, and the failure rate on those cable clutches and those linkage rods is a lot higher than it is on hydraulics. I mean hydraulic clutches still go bad as in the case of this vehicle but you know, the linkage, cables, I mean I used to work on a lot of Volkswagens like way back, air cooled Volkswagens. The clutch cable breaking, it was a very common problem.
Mark: So hydraulics are a little more reliable in that regard, I guess?
Bernie: Hydraulics? Yeah. Yeah we still do a lot of repairs on them but you know they’re not like cables, not like the cable days and the nice thing is when they work and you set it up, they just work. There’s no problem, either they work or they don’t. With cables they start stretching and you know they’re hard to push, just yeah, there’s no good old days with cable clutches.
Mark: Well even hydraulic clutches probably are on the sunset path at this point.
Bernie: Well yeah and you don’t see too many, you know vehicles, there’s less and less vehicles that offer the standard transmissions but interestingly enough a lot of, I mean, hydraulics are still used but they’re automatic. There are a lot of transmissions that use automatic engaged clutches. They have hydraulic systems but they’re all kind of built in. So you know, which actually makes it even more expensive to repair when they break. Like semi-automatic transmissions where you just take your foot off the brake and you press the gas and the clutch, it actually has a clutch and it engages automatically. So it just doesn’t have a master cylinder and all the plumbing that get associated.
Mark: And how are these Ford Rangers for reliability?
Bernie: They’re pretty good. You know, it’s a nice little truck, as I said it’s pretty simple. So you know, there’s really not too much that goes wrong with it, out of the ordinary that you’d expect on a pick up truck and it’s small, and a small engine, so pretty good for gas. But you know, really not a lot goes wrong with it. This vehicle has around 100,000 kilometres, and this clutch is worn out for the first time. So it’s just a little over 10 years, that’s a pretty good lifespan. If it had been driven more on the highway, the clutch probably would have got more mileage, but it’s a pretty good life for that. You know brakes, wear’s sort of normal. The one thing about the Ranger, it’s a small truck so you don’t really want to overload it. You know if you’re going to be sticking a ton of gravel in the back all the time, you’re going to wreck the truck pretty fast. But if you just put in light moderate loads in the truck, it’ll last a long time without a lot of problems.
Mark: So there you go. If you have a Ranger in Vancouver and you need repairs, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark