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Car Code Readers

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. Eighteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and fixing and repairing, maintaining vehicles in Vancouver for 38 years. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, we’ve been seeing a lot of ads about, or I certainly have, about car computer code readers and I just wanted to ask you are they, any good?

Bernie: Well the answer is yes they are and I would want to ask you why you’d want to buy one. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of these ads too. There are anything from a simple plug in and you read a code to a device that plugs in, connects with your Smart phone and it’s supposed to liberate you from coming to see your auto mechanic because you can figure everything out yourself. Those are kind of the spectrum of what’s promised and what you can do. And I guess my first question to you is why would you want o have one of those things?

Mark: Well, let’s just make something up, so my check engine lamp is on and so this thing is supposed to let me, like you said, check the computer and tell me what’s going on. So…

Bernie: Yeah, exactly, well ok, so absolutely. So you can get a device and it’ll plug in and it’ll tell you there’s a code P0135, and great, so you’ve got some information and I mean, does that liberate you from having to go see an auto mechanic? Well at least it gives you some information and you can walk in with some level of intelligence saying, hey I’ve had a look at this. You know, what worries me when I see products like this sold with the idea that you’re not going to have to see a mechanic or you’re going to save all this money because you can diagnose it yourself or you’re going to avoid getting ripped off, I just you know, I just don’t see a lot of that. I mean we fix cars all day long. We don’t rip people off. I mean, there are places that do, but I’d say that’s probably quite rare. There’s a number of, I mean, I see work orders all the time from other shops, you know dealerships, independent shops, they usually have a description of the code so when there’s a code there, people don’t generally make stuff up. It’s what’s there. Now of course, I’m all for the idea of empowering yourself as a consumer or a car owner and if at least you get a little bit of information that kind of helps you in at least knowing that what people are telling you is correct, but just knowing a code in and of itself doesn’t really give you a lot more information than there is troubled code there.

Mark: Ok, playing the skeptical card, aren’t you saying this, kind of denigrating these devices perhaps a little bit just to protect your business?

Bernie: No not at all. I mean, I think it’s actually good as a consumer to have one, and the odd time, I mean as a shop, sometimes we get someone comes in, my check engine light is on. The car runs perfectly well, we scan it and there’s a trouble code there for something and it’s pretty clear that it would cost a lot of money to diagnose something that might be a very marginal problem and I can explain in a few minutes just a little more how these diagnostic systems work. But sometimes, it’s kind of a marginal problem and probably take a lot of time to diagnose, it’d almost be better to shut the light off and see if the issue comes back because sometimes a little minor fault will occur, it’ll cause the light to come on, it an stay on for a long time and we can spend, I’ll just use dollars, we could spend a few hundred dollars of your money trying to figure out something and never really get to the source of it. So if you’re able to switch the light off yourself and see it it comes back on again, it’s probably a pretty good thing. So yeah, so I mean, I’m not opposed to it, it’s a good idea. You know if you walk in with the information, that’s great. The same if you walk into a doctor’s office, well I’ve got a pain in my abdomen and I think it might be my appendix, that’s great, but the doctor’s going to do his own tests and for us that’s the step we need to do next. Yeah, I just use this P0135, by the way that code means a Bank 1 oxygen sensor heater circuit. Now does that mean that the oxygen sensor’s bad? I mean, do you even know what an oxygen sensor is? So the question is, you know, how much do you want to learn about cars? If you like doing that kind of stuff, hey great, this is a definite thing you need to have. If you don’t want to learn about cars, you may not want to have it.

Mark: And people, I think, there’s sort of in the advertising, the feeling I was left with was that if I have this information, I’ll be able to fix it myself. Do you think that’s actually the case?

Bernie: Well no but what I can tell you is that sometimes, so I’ll just talk about a little bit of diagnostic code. So when the check engine light comes on in your car, it comes on because the vehicle computer has detected a fault and they’re mostly emission related things. They’re not necessarily, people worry oh, my check engine light is on, it must be low on oil. Well sometimes that can be the case, but 99% of times it’s not. It’s usually a fault of the vehicles emission system. It’s actually an emissions self diagnostic system. So the light comes on, there’s something, the vehicle is theoretically putting out more pollutants to the atmosphere than it’s supposed to and you need to fix it. There’s a variety of things that’ll happen. So there’ll be a trouble code stored, and there are hundreds of them, from anywhere from an engine misfire, so if your engine’s running rough to fuel leakage, that can be as simple as a loose gas cap and everything in between, transmission malfunction. So a trouble code will set now as I mentioned this P0135 oxygen sensor heater circuit, I mentioned this code, it’s an oxygen sensor that monitors your exhaust system and fine tunes your fuel injection system to deliver the optimum amount of fuel. Now the heater allows the oxygen sensor to warm up quicker but just because it has a code, it’s a heater circuit fault that means there would be anything from anywhere from the computer to the oxygen sensor, any wire in between. So you know, we’ve seen these particular things where the fault is the oxygen sensor. Most of the time it is but, a lot of the time it’s a broken wire, could be a blown fuse, it could be a bad computer. So in and of itself knowing a code doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem. You could go buy a sensor or you could try putting it in, not an easy job mind you, but it depends on what level of a person you are, but at least you know if you have that code, you can go in with some information. Did I answer the question there? I sometimes feel like I drift off.

Mark: Well it’s complicated. Basically what I get of that is guess what, cars are more and more computerized and the days of being able to climb into the engine bay of your Ford F150 and work on the six cylinder motor with plenty of space around you are long gone and it’s pretty complicated now.

Bernie: Yeah, they really are and they’re getting more and more complicated. But as I said, I mean you know, if having one of these could theoretically save you some money if you’re a little bit handy, guess you know, get some information you could look into it. It could certainly help if not, at the very least be educated. But I think you know, it brings to a larger question, you know the thing of being ripped off by a mechanic, why are going to someone you feel ripped off by. You need to have some conversations, you know go around and find someone you can trust. And I mean, I have issues in my life finding people I can trust to manage my money. You know it’s like my trust and so sometimes you work through these things but if you find a mechanic in a shop you can trust, so much the better. If you have one of these devices, you know and the shop doesn’t want to work with you or listen to you, well maybe that’s not a person you want to trust.  

Mark: So there you go. Should I buy one of these?

Bernie: Should you buy one of these, well you know it’s, for some of these devices, they’re like $50. Yeah sure, why not I mean 50 bucks is not a lot of money. You could at least have some information, you know if your check engine light is on, with most of these devices you can clear the code. See if it comes back on. If it comes back on right away, sometimes it takes a couple of drive cycles for it to come back on, comes back on, well you know, hey I got a problem it needs to be looked at. And you can also, sorry I’m getting a little long winded here, I guess the other things to know, the severity of the code. Some things, you know it’s pretty important to fix it right away, especially if the check engine light is blinking. That’s, you’ve got to fix it right away but most other things are little subtle problems that you may not need to fix right away. So if you knew what the code was, you might at least know, do I have to rush into get it fixed or can I wait a week or two.

Mark: There you go. If you’re looking for repairs for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to get maintenance and repairs done on your vehicle or to get your code reader information explained to you. You can check them out at their website pawlikautomotive.com or on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

Pawlik Automotive Level 1 Maintenance Service

Hi, I’m Bernie Pawlik, I’m the owner of Pawlik Automotive, I’m talking about our level one maintenance service. This is our basic maintenance service. It’s an engine oil and filter change, along with a thorough maintenance inspection.

So what we include with this service is of course, changing your engine oil and filter, we use high quality motor oil applicable to your vehicle, regular oil or synthetic depending on what the vehicle requires or what you would like to have done, we also change the oil filter with a very high quality filter. We will inspect the air filter on most vehicles as long as it’s straight forward and simple. Some vehicles involves a lot of dismantling and we won’t include that but we do for any other vehicle that’s straight forward, so that’s most vehicles. We also include an inspection which I’ll go ver in a couple of minutes but basically we look under your hood, we look under your vehicle with a visual inspection, we also do all our oil changes on two post hoists so the advantage of that is that the wheels all come up off the ground and they’re free and we can spin the wheels and we can wiggle the wheels just to see if there are any immediate safety concerns. That’s something that a lot of shops, if you’re having your oil change done in a pit type of lube shop or if you’re having it done on a four post hoist, you won’t get that advantage. So that’s one of the things that we do. So I’ll just go over the inspection with you. We look at a variety of items - windshield, windshield wipers, horn, all your exterior lights, any dash warning lights that might be on, of course, we inspect the engine oil level and condition if we’re doing an oil change. The oil is going to be new, we look for oil leaks at the top of the engine as well as underneath, we look for coolant leaks, transmission fluid level and conditions inspected, battery and terminals are visually inspected, we also fill up your washer fluid and look for any driveline area fluid leaks. Additionally we also set your oil service reminder. We inspect tire pressures and adjust their pressures to factory specifications, we measure tire treads, we inspect the drive shaft axle seals and joints, brake fluid is looked at, power steering fluid if it’s applicable, the belt condition is inspected and the tension of the belt is inspected. We also inspect your air filter in most cases unless they’re a very difficult to remove air filter which is an additional service, PCV valve and breather system is looked at, clutch fluid if applicable. We visually inspect your hoses and all your differential and drivetrain fluids are also looked at.

So you can see this is a very thorough service. We’d be happy to book you in for an appointment, our phone number is 604-327-7112. Thank you.

8 Tips For Getting Your Car Safely Through This Winter.

Winter has arrived: are you prepared for what’s ahead? Do you know what needs to be done to make sure that you and your vehicle make it through to spring?

Here’s a helpful list:

1st Be sure that maintenance services are up to date (oil changes, inspections and previously recommended services that are due)

2nd Be sure that your wiper blades are in great condition.

3rd Be sure that your engine’s antifreeze protection is good for colder temperatures than you will be driving in.

4th Be sure that your washer fluid has antifreeze protection

5th If you use snow tires have them installed in November (or sooner if you live in early snowfall country). If you don’t use snow tires this is a good time of year to replace marginal all season tires.

6th Be sure that your battery is in good condition.

7th Be sure that your air conditioning is functioning well (it helps to very quickly defog your windshield and increases your visibility)

8th Be certain to have an emergency kit if you are planning a trip. This kit includes warm blankets and/or sleeping bag; a candle and matches; water and couple days worth of snacks.

Following these suggestions will help you and your car survive whatever type of winter that might be thrown at us.

Winter driving at its finest. Are you prepared?

Is Premium Gas Worth The Extra Cost?

In mid October the CBC ran a story about premium gasoline and how, for most cars it was a waste of money (http://goo.gl/G5qR4). They went so far as claiming that its use caused higher levels of pollution from the tailpipe than regular fuel. While I agree almost entirely with the statement that it is a waste of money if your car does not require premium I found the claims of excessive pollution to be dubious. I admit that I did not watch the TV program, however while looking at the website article the picture of the technical expert with his gas analyzer set off alarm bells for me.

I had some discussions with those in the know about auto emission testing and they confirmed my thoughts: that it is very unlikely that using premium fuel when the manufacturer does not recommend it is going to cause any noticeable increase in tailpipe emissions. The gas analyzer shown in the picture is a piece of equipment similar to one that we own at our shop and while it is highly precise it is not capable of reading the very low emission levels that modern vehicles put out with enough detail to make such a conclusion. Modern vehicles have very sophisticated electronics, sensors, computers and catalytic converters which control emission levels and the simple use of premium fuel verses regular fuel cannot be detected by this type of gas analyzer. My recommendations are: 1) Don’t worry about the pollution increases as they are negligible to none-existent. 2) If your manufacturer doesn’t recommend premium, save your money and use regular. 3) If you own a premium fuel recommended vehicle as I do you can run it on regular if the engine performs well and doesn’t knock and ping: mine works great.

Premium fuel (91 octane) at 14 cents more per liter is usually not worth the extra cost over regular fuel (87 octane).


Why Brake Fluid Leaks Are Dangerous

Your car’s brakes rely on brake fluid to transmit the force that your foot applies to the brake pedal to each wheel’s brake. Occasionally a brake system will develop a leak and if left unchecked for long enough this can cause some serious safety concerns. Fortunately modern cars have a warning light which illuminates on your dash when the fluid level drops too low.

Recently we serviced a vehicle with the dash warning lamp on. We inspected the fluid and found the level very low. Upon performing a brake inspection we found the left brake caliper leaking, and further inspection revealed something more interesting and potentially very dangerous: the inner brake pad soaked in fluid was disintegrating. This could have crumbled apart upon hard braking and caused a serious inability to stop. Fortunately we caught this in time, repaired it and made the car safe. While it is normal for your brake fluid level to drop over a long period of time you should have your brakes inspected at least yearly to be sure that the system is safe.

Brake pad damaged by excessive brake fluid soaking: arrows point to the disintegrating pad material

Car Maintenance Tips for Young Drivers

Studies have found that drivers over 45 years old are far more proactive with car maintenance than the younger generation is. Why would this be?

I would say that a couple of factors are at play.

1st: the older generation has grown up with cars that required more routine maintenance than today’s generation of cars. Cars of 30 years ago required annual tune-ups just to keep the engine running properly.

2nd: as people gain more life experience with age, they experience the consequences and costs of neglect and many know that maintenance does in fact save money and reduces stress.

A typical car owner’s manual maintenance schedule

 

For younger drivers it is essential to know what your car or truck needs for maintenance. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, which is part of your owner’s manual, has this list.

There are also additional services that are not shown in the manual that can greatly enhance your car’s life and save on overall vehicle operating costs. To be properly informed, read your owner’s manual and find a shop that you trust to advise you on the proper maintenance to keep your vehicle running trouble free. A good maintenance routine will save you money and the stress of an unwanted breakdown!

Keeping Your TDI Reliable For The Long Haul

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

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

It’s with routine maintenance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

save money on car repairs

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

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

Poor Maintenance Can Void Your Warranty

Poor Maintenance Can Void Your Warranty

It seems innocent enough… your car’s working great, you live an incredibly busy life, you drive a lot and the car’s new. Why bother following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule?

We encounter this scenario at our shop from time to time. It shows up as a vehicle that has not been maintained to factory specs; in fact the factory schedule has been completely ignored. The consequence of this is two fold: first, damage is taking place to your vehicle even if you can’t feel it right now; and second, your warranty will be void should you need to make a claim.

Recently we had a client who came in for his first oil change on a Japanese vehicle with 50,000 kilometers on the odometer. It was quite frankly a miracle that his engine was still running but it was and in fact running fine.

However tell tail signs of abuse were present as grungy deposits were visible inside the engine. Hopefully this is one of those rare engines that can take excessive abuse and still survive: we do see that… not very often, but sometimes.

What is perhaps worrying is that, should our client have an engine problem, he will have no warranty coverage as he has not followed the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This could be very costly as a replacement engine job could be $5000.00 or more. Five oil changes costs around $300.00 and more should have been done, but 5 would have satisfied the manufacturer’s schedule.

That’s a huge cost difference.

Be certain to follow your maintenance schedule: it definitely saves you lots of money and gives you peace of mind. Remember – poor maintenance can void your warranty.

Poor Maintenance Can Void Your Warranty

Oil dipstick after 50,000 km with no oil change. Note the baked on deposit and sludge to the right of the bump in the stick (center of photo): this will be present inside the engine and likely lead to an early engine failure

Tire Pressure Monitoring System – TPMS

Tire Pressure Monitoring System | Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver BC

A tire pressure monitoring system offers convenience, are a smart safety addition and they are proven to increase the life of your tires!

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Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems TPMS

TPMS show inflation pressure which governs the performance of a pneumatic tire. Safety performance like braking distance and lateral stability require the inflation pressures to be maintained as specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

Extreme under-inflation can lead to thermal and mechanical overload caused by overheating and subsequent, sudden destruction of the tire. Plus, under-inflation adversely affects fuel efficiency and tire wear. Tires leak air naturally and over a year, even a typical new, properly mounted tire can lose from 20 to 60 kPa (3 to 9 psi), roughly 10% or even more of its serviced proper pressure.
tire pressure monitoring system tpms
The significant advantages of TPMS are illustrated by the costs of tire under inflation:

• Consequences of low tire pressure: Punctures (approx. 80% of punctures are caused by inadequate tire pressure), Increased tire wear due to added flexing work, Increased fuel consumption due to higher rolling resistance

• Fuel usage: for every 10% of under-inflation on each tire on a vehicle, a 1% reduction in fuel economy will occur (According to the GITI). In just the US, the DOT estimates that under inflated tires waste 2 billion US gal. (7,600,000,000 litres) of fuel each year.

• Poor tire life: Tire disintegration, heat buildup, separation and sidewall/casing breakdowns are mostly caused by under inflated tires. Running a tire even briefly with low pressure breaks down the casing and stops the option to retread the tire.

• Increased downtime, higher maintenance and repair: Under-inflated tires cause expensive downtime, maintenance and premature tire replacement.

• Poor safety: Under-inflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in 40,000 accidents, 33,000 injuries and over 650 deaths per year. On the other hand, tires properly inflated provide greater stability, handling and braking efficiencies and more safety for the driver, the vehicle, the loads and others on the road.

• Environmentally Bad: Under-inflated tires, as estimated by the Department of Transportation, release over 57.5 billion pounds of unnecessary carbon-monoxide pollutants into the atmosphere each year in the United States alone.

Tire pressure monitoring systems are mandated in many countries now and offer real advantages; call us to find out about equipping your vehicle.

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