July 16

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

Car Maintenance, Podcast


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

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: In our business, a lot of times when people want a new website, I will tell them, because I know the numbers, "You know what? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Your website is doing really good, and we're risking everything if we go into the unknown with something that, just because it makes you feel a little better, it doesn't really work better." So why wouldn't I just fix my car as things break?

Bernie: It's a good question. There's that saying that's been out there for a long time, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," which is true in a large part. But the one thing with a car is, we want to count on it and it is a machine that has a lot of moving parts, a lot of functional pieces that do wear out and do break. The idea behind doing maintenance the way we like to do it at a Pawlik Automotive, is to look at your whole car, and just determine what condition components are in, so we can fix them before they break.

I mean, the thing about, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," chances are you wouldn't want to fly on an airplane with an aircraft company that had that maintenance procedure, because if an engine quits halfway through a flight, that's not a good thing. That's why they have scheduled maintenance, and that's why cars do as well.

Mark: So, you're not just treating symptoms, you're looking for causes? Is that a fair way of describing it?

Bernie: Absolutely. I mean, I guess we can break this into two things. Maybe we can talk about just routine inspections first, versus diagnosing actual problems.

With a routine inspection, we have a number of points, items, that we look at and we inspect, from your brakes to your wheels, tires, steering and suspension, exhaust system, cooling system. There's a lot to look at on a car, engine conditions, spark plugs, if it's gasoline powered engine. I mean, electric cars are going to be a whole lot simpler, because there's a lot of things that don't need to be done, but there's still things that are going to wear out.

So, there's things to inspect and look at and just verify that they're in good working order. If they're not, for instance, if, say, there's a control arm bushing that's cracked and worn, it might not be need to be replaced today, but maybe six months down the road, or a year, it'll need to be replaced, before it starts wearing your tires in a funny way. From our inspections and checklists, we can determine, "Do you need to actually fix something now? What are the consequences of not fixing it? What items will it prevent damage to, down the road?"

Mark: So, you're sort of positioning this as, you're the experts as far as knowing what to replace when, and what's really safe. Because there could be a time where that control arm bushing or ... causes tire wear. And, when you really need your tires to stop, because they've worn funny, they don't. That could be very dangerous.

Bernie: Absolutely. The other thing, too, is to be sensitive to people's budgets. I mean, the thing, using the analogy of an airplane, I mean, there's a certain point where, on the life of an airplane, an airline might go, "You know what, there's too much maintenance costs in this plane. We're going to ... It's time to get rid of it" Sell it, whatever they do with old airplanes and, buy a new one. We can determine the same thing, depending on the owner. But also with cars, the nice thing is, they don't fall from the sky, that if you have a certain component ...I'm thinking of a customer we had a while ago with a Honda CRV, and it's been a really reliable car. We did an inspection. There's probably $5,000 worth of items on the vehicle that would bring it back up to perfection. One of them was a power steering rack, is about, I think, about $1,200 repair. She's going, "Wow, well I don't want to spend money on that." It's like, "There's no problem." It's like, "It's got a leak. Here's where you can top the fluid up. Just keep an eye on it." It might take a year before it leaks down enough to even need more fluid. So, while it would make the vehicle perfect to fix it, it's not necessarily needed right away. So, we can work with that.

Mark: In your view, as a shop owner with 38 years of experience doing this, 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by your customers, you position yourself as a trusted advisor, of letting people know exactly what's going on with their vehicles, so they don't really have to be an expert in the car, and you can tell them what's next that needs to be replaced now, or in the future, or to keep an eye on.

Bernie: Exactly. I think people are really counting on us for that. What I see in a lot of other shops, maybe, where service advisers are not that well-educated, or maybe they're, maybe it's a more flat rate pay bay shop, where if something's wrong, the technician gets paid to fix something. There might be some incentives to do things and just not really looking in the customer's best interests of going, "Hey, you know, you could leave this."

By the same token, I mean, if there's something really dangerous we'll say, "Hey, you shouldn't drive this car." The odd person will choose to drive it anyways. But it's, "You have a ball joint that's really loose, and about to pop apart." It's a little disconcerting letting people go.

But that's, yeah, that's exactly what we do, is give advice on that kind of thing and prioritize things. I mean, of course, safety issues are the highest priority. Then, maintenance items would be a little lower, if you have a couple of thousand dollars worth of safety items that really need to be done. We get a lot of car ... people who come to our shop who haven't, they've kind of neglected their cars for a while, or haven't had it serviced and we look at it and go, "There's a lot of things that could be done on this car."

Depending on their budget, sometimes people want to do everything, sometimes people want to do nothing, or maybe there's a hybrid solution. The safety concerns, of course is the first thing, and then followed by things like, the transmission fluid needs to be serviced and flushed. That can be left as a lower priority, because it's not going to cause your car to, something to break and a safety issue.

Mark: So, maintenance is not necessarily going to prevent all catastrophic repair or all catastrophic failures. Is that fair?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, good, even good maintenance, things will happen. I like the analogy of thinking, there are people around who smoke, drink, eat nothing but french fries, and they live to a hundred years old. But generally speaking, that's a very rare thing. There's also people who live very healthy. They're physically fit. They eat right. They do all the right things, and they drop dead at, like, 40 years old from a heart attack. You never know sometimes.

The thing with a car, it's kind of like that. You can do really good maintenance, and all of a sudden there's some congenital defect in the engine, and something just breaks. But that's not very common, and the key ... It's like the human body thing, too. It's like, generally speaking, if you take care of yourself, take care of your car, it'll last way longer, and have less problems.

Mark: So there you go. If you want a more reliable vehicle and you want regular maintenance done on your vehicle, from a provider who you can trust, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112, to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy. Or, check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Our YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there and all makes and models and types of repairs and maintenance. And of course, thank you for listening to the podcast. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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