Mark: Hi, It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series. And of course we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And 38 years repairing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing really well. It's a beautiful day in Vancouver.
Mark: This week's victim is a 2007 Mazda Miata. Had an air conditioning problem. What was going on with this little sports car?
Bernie: So, basically an air conditioning problem. The AC system wouldn't blow cold air, just warm, which of course needed to be repaired.
Mark: And what tests and diagnosis did you have to perform to find out what the problem was?
Bernie: So, with air conditioning, when air conditioning's not working, there's a number of reasons it could not be working. So, we have some set test procedures we do in our shop to properly diagnose and repair the right issue. And that procedure often starts just with a basic test of the controls. And then from there, we test to see if there's actually a refrigerant in the system. The largest problem with air conditioning is generally a refrigerant leak. So, that's the next procedure we go to.
And by the way, the other thing we do is part of testing with this refrigerant to actually identify the refrigerant firsthand. There's ... Almost all cars have a refrigerant called R134A. But along the line, people can either put contaminated refrigerant in if it's been previously serviced, or people put in some ... You can go to auto parts places and buy these fill kits, and so that can contaminate your refrigerant and mucks up our equipment.
So, we test the refrigerant first. Make sure it's proper 134A, of course. Well, we tested this vehicle. We found there was no refrigerant in the vehicle whatsoever. So, we knew that was the start of where we needed to deal with.
So, from there we have a few methods of finding where it's leaking. Often, vehicles will have a UV dye installed at the factory. If it's not installed, we'll have to install it at some point in the process. But in this case, we actually used nitrogen gas. It's an inert gas. You can put ... You can crank up the pressure to three or 400 PSI, which is the maximum pressure of the system. And that's often a good way to find leaks. Thing with air conditioning that's frustrating is we can't always find every leak. Some of them can be hidden, they can be very minute, but we were fortunate in the case of this vehicle, we could actually hear a little hissing sound, and we traced it to a leak in the AC condenser. That's the unit that's located in front of the radiator. And there was definitely ... We could definitely hear hissing coming out of there. So, we were onto it. It was perfect.
Mark: So, what does the AC condenser do?
Bernie: Well, the AC ... Why don't I actually, before we talk about ... Let's just share a couple of photos here.
So, there's our Mazda Miata. And the condenser. There's our view of the condenser. So, what the condenser does is essentially without getting too scientific, it basically takes the heat that was inside of your vehicle cabin and through a process of changing the pressure and the state of the refrigerant. The refrigerant goes from ... It changes state four different times. I'll talk about that in a second. But changing the state of the refrigerant and the pressure, it'll actually disperse the heat that was inside the cabin of your vehicle out into the atmosphere, which is what the condenser does.
So, this sits in front of the radiator of the vehicle, and it'll basically radiate the heat out into the atmosphere. So, same way a refrigerator works. It's exactly the same system. There's four state changes in the refrigeration. There's high pressured gas, high pressure liquid. Low pressured gas, low pressure liquid. It's kind of a neat system, but anyways. It works very well. So, this is a condenser. You can see a sort of little stained area here. It's a little discoloured where I've got the arrow. That's where the leak was coming from. There is also oil in the system. There's ... The compressor, of course, it's a pump. It has pistons or moving parts and requires lubrication.
So, there's oil in the system, and that's a usually a sure fire way to find a leak. However, this condensers buried between the radiator. It's often not visible. So, air conditioning repairs can be definitely some of the trickier work we do in our shop, or any shop for that matter. So, if your air conditioning systems not working, you can expect that it could be easy or it could be very complicated. And sometimes it can be frustrating because it takes a long time to find a leak.
See, just based on personal experience, I have a 2001 Suburban, and the refrigerant leaks in that vehicle after a few months. I've looked high and low. This has a rare air conditioning system to find the leak with all the best equipment I have, and I still haven't found it yet. But of course I haven't start stripping. Sometimes you have to rip things apart to find it, which is very time consuming and costly. So, there's another view of our leak here as well.
Mark: What's the blue arrow showing?
Bernie: The blue arrow shows the receiver dryer, and I know I posed a question for you to ask me, so I'm going to jump ahead on it. And that was was there anything else that needed to be replaced at this time? So, the answer's whenever you do a major repair on air conditioning, it's usually recommended to replace the receiver dryer or cumulator, which is a similar component, but slightly different. This unit actually acts as a filter in the system. It also has a desiccant, which absorbs moisture. Any moisture inside the refrigerant system can be damaging. So, removing that is important.
So, once you develop a leak like this, of course atmospheric ... The air can get in, moisture from the air, it can get into the desiccant and ruin it. So, replacing the receiver dryer is a good thing to do. Often, that's a separate component, but on this Miata, it's actually incorporated with the condenser. And that's something we see on some models of cars. It's ... So, a bonus. The component was wrong in this vehicle, required the receiver dryer to be ... It all actually packaged in nicely for the consumer.
Mark: So, I'm sure this is a question you get a lot. Couldn't you just re-fill the AC system and put something in it to plug the holes?
Bernie: Well, this is a good ... This is a really good example, because we get people calling all the time. My air conditioning's not working. Can you recharge it for me? And the answer we always say to people is, no we have to do a diagnosis first. And people get frustrated because people are not informed properly how an air conditioning system works. It should never leak refrigerant. There is always a problem. If your refrigerant level is low, there's a leak somewhere. Now, there's probably a normal amount that your car will go through, and sometimes if it takes three years or fur years, the refrigerant levels dropped a bit, it's okay to recharge the vehicle. But until we've actually seen the vehicle and assessed it, we can't tell what you're going to need.
Now, you can imagine, we've just shown the example of a hole in the system. How long's the refrigerant going to last if we put it in? I mean, this person wouldn't get a days use out of it, especially when we put the nitrogen pressure and it's hissing. There's a clear leak there. So, the answer's most of the time you can not refill a system. You always need to figure out what's wrong with it. And it's not ... I'm still trying to figure out whether it's illegal to actually refill a system in British Columbia. It's probably not, but it's close to ... It's unethical at the very least.
Mark: And why's that? AC ...
Bernie: Well, a refrigerant ... The refrigerant is a ... It has very high global warming potential. R12, which used to be Freon, the very common refrigerant. It was responsible for putting a hole in the ozone layer. And fortunately, we ... I say 'we' as a species, discovered that, and actually took action and changed it. And that layer is fixing itself, which is fantastic. So, Freon, it was illegal to vent that into the atmosphere. It has to be captured and destroyed. So, R134 was developed as a substituent for that. R134 does not damage the ozone layer, but it does contribute to the greenhouse effect. It's much worse than say the pollution that comes out of ... The exhaust that comes out of your car. Very high amount.
They've actually come out with a new refrigerant now called R1234Y. I should know this. For some reason, I'm having a little ... Haven't got the number right. But anyways, there's a refrigerant. It's been out used on cars, newer cars. It's also ... It's very expensive, but it has no ... It doesn't damage the ... It doesn't contribute to global warming. So, it's a better refrigerant. But I've heard through the grapevine that they might be changing that to something else too. So, I don't know. Every once in a while they change it. But R134A is the common one. It's still widely in use.
Mark: And how are Mazda Miata's for reliability?
Bernie: Oh, they're awesome. They're awesome cars. I've often thought of a Miata as a reliable English sports car, because they're kind of like a classic English sports car convertible with ... But just with that Japanese reliability. They're fantastic cars. We even service some that are really ... They're 20 years plus old, and they're still working well.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik ... Or your air conditioning system. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 6043277112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website. pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there about all makes and models of cars, repairs, maintenance, and of course, we really appreciate you listening to the podcast. And thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thanks for watching and listening. We totally appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. Of course, we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers in 38 years of servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mazda 3. I actually had one of these. This has a wiper problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah. So, the wiper problem, basically when the owner turned the wiper switch on they wouldn't work, which is absolutely a problem.
Mark: What test did you do to diagnose this issue?
Bernie: So, with any wiper issue, of course, everything's electric. Actually, that makes me think way back a long, long time ago there actually used to be vacuum operated wipers. They used to use engine vacuum, which was really not a good way to do it but they did. It's kind of like free energy. But, anyways. Wipers, the whole system is electric with a few mechanical parts. Obviously, you can see, the wiper arms and blades. But, when you turn the wipers on nothing would make any noise, there was no movement. So, we test the electrical circuits, test the switches, the motor. Everything checked out good, which left only one thing and that was the wiper relay as being the fault in the issue. Kind of process of elimination. So, yeah.
Mark: So, with that being just the relay, I've replaced relays in my pickup trucks a long time ago. But, so that was a pretty simple fix. Was this a simple fix?
Bernie: Well, of course it wasn't a simple fix other wise we probably wouldn't be talking about it today. No, Mazda in their wisdom decided to actually incorporate the relay into the passenger side fuse box unit. It's a very complicated... It's not just a fuse box, but it's actually a complicated unit full of relays for a variety of different items. The relay is not just a pull out unit, which it could be. It's actually incorporated right into the circuitry of the relay. So, that actually involves... That actually makes the repair much more complicated. You actually have to replace the whole relay unit. So let's just have a look at some pictures.
All right. So, there's our '04 Mazda 3. Here's a wiring diagram, just kind of gives you an idea just of what we work with when we do a diagnostic on something like this. This, you know, it's hard to see it because I know the screen's small. But, this is the switch. So there's basically five wires going in and out of the switch. The motor is over on this end of the circuit here. So there's a ground, which is one side of the circuit. Then the other power items are here. Everything else comes out of this fuse box. So there's power in the fuse box, there are... If you can read it this says front wiper low relay, and the front wiper high relay. So there's two relays, they get the information... You get the signal from the switch, and there's also, if you note, there's a little micro computer here as well. So there's quite a lot that goes into this.
So, this is what we're faced with when we do a diagnostic on a vehicle. Especially on the electrical circuit. It's a matter of verifying all those items. So, our fuse box is... There's a view of the fuse box removed from the vehicle. The fuses, we actually took the fuses out before we dispose of the unit. It's always handy to have some spare fuses to use for test purposes. But the fuses sit in here. There's a number of... These are where relays normally sit. But, there were actually no relays in this fuse box. There's the option to put them in, but I guess various cars they use for... Depending on options. But, once... Anyways, there was and actual external replaceable relays. Everything is located inside the fuse box. So, we'll look at a couple other views here.
Here we have one of the circuit... This is one of the circuit boards here. One view of the circuit board. So, we took the relay box apart. So this gives you an idea of the complexity that's inside. I mean, there's a micro processor here. Actually, several of them. These are the back side... There's a couple of relays here. Some capacitors.
Again, I'm just showing you... There's a lot of electrical pieces. This is the other side of the circuit board. Again, several relay's here. Undoubtedly a couple of this are for the wiper. But you can see, again, the complexity. It's not like we can just pull something out, or solder something in. It's a much more complex... Oh, yeah. I was going to say about soldering in, of course. Then there's one other view here. I just got to find my picture. Maybe the picture never made it on the list. Okay, we don't have it here. But that's okay. You get the gist of it. This is actually two circuit boards soldered together. I wanted to show a view of that, and you can see when you look on this one here. You can actually see all these soldered joints here are actually connections all the way around to another circuit board on the other side. So, they put a lot into this box,
Mark: So, what part options were available then?
Bernie: Well, there's new or used. There's plenty of these cars around. A used part was pretty attractively priced, and the car is pretty old. A new one is quite expensive. I believe it was somewhere around the $900-1,000 range, Canadian. The owner opted to go with the used part, which was substantially less expensive.
Mark: How often do you recommend used parts?
Bernie: Well, we look into it for certain things. Again, when you look at a price differential with something like this, between used and new, it's often an attractive idea. Things like brake parts, for instance, you never get those used. Because they're just a wear out item and there's no cost savings. But, certain items it's worth looking at. We do a lot of used engines. The thing with used parts is the warranty is much lower. So there's more risk to the consumer, the customer, our client, if the repair doesn't go well given time that it's going to cost more money to do again. But, we do recommend them a fair amount. At least give the option and someone can choose. There are times where we would never recommend a used part based on we know that something is such a common failure item that it's not worth spending the money on a used part because the risk is too high.
Mark: So, once you replaced this old fuse box, and the relay was working properly... Did this vehicle have the rain sensing wipers? I know mine did.
Bernie: No, this one doesn't have that. Yeah.
Mark: So that might have been one of those other relays.
Bernie: Yeah. The rain censure usually, I mean... Well, that micro computer that we saw in the wiring diagram, which is in that... Of course, you saw in the pictures as well. I mean, it's not hard to just send a... This is the great thing about modular computers is it's easy to just add for the manufacturer. Like, let's just add this sensor, reprogram something and away it goes. It just works with the rain sensor. But, I think the rain sensor is something that comes on newer models. It's a nice feature.
Mark: So, and everything worked, obviously, after you got this together?
Bernie: Yeah, it worked fantastic. Yep. The next thing I was going to say about electrical parts like this used is we can plug them in and right away we know that they work. Now, actually I know a couple podcasts ago we talked about a Mercedes air bag module where you couldn't use a used part because it had to be programmed for the car, and it's... So, it really varies from car to car. Some of them are harder. That's why this auto repair business, it's kind of a custom business. You need to know what works in what car, and what doesn't on the other. What repair works for a Mazda doesn't necessarily work for a Mercedes. Not because a Mercedes is so much better, it's just the way it's made, so.
Mark: So that's from a Mercedes owner as well.
Mark: Mazda 3 is getting on in years. These cars are... They've been around for awhile. They've gone through many iterations. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: They're really good. You know, I've been servicing for them years, and years, and years. Through all the different generations. They keep getting better, and better. But, there are good used, I mean it's a good used car to buy. Even these older ones are still good. As time has gone by for certain problems that didn't exist come out... What do I want to say?
They come out of the woodwork so to speak. Like, the 2.3 litre engine seemed so reliable for many years. Then all of a sudden they all started failing. So, if you wanted a better buy a 2 litre engine is... In these older models a 2 litre engine's safer, they don't seem to fail. But, I mean, any old car, and this is 15 years old now, so it's a little long in the tooth so to speak. But, I mean, a really good reliable car. I would highly recommend them.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, 320 plus videos on there about all makes and models, on repairs of all sorts of vehicles. Cars and trucks. Thank you, so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate, and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark. Thank you for watching and listening as Mark said, we really appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I’m doing very well this morning
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Mazda CX9 that you had to do a power window replacement in, what was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Well, it was a driver’s window, I guess it’s no surprise as that’s usually the window that fails most commonly, it’s used the most. The window would go down, then when you went to put it up, sometimes it will only go up part way, the motor would make this weird kind of sound and it just wouldn’t move up. You could grab the window and kind of assist it up but these was a failure in the window motor and the regulator as well.
Mark: so I guess that necessitated taking the door apart. What did you find that was wrong?
Bernie: Exactly, yeah so, basically took the door panel off and then accessed the window motor and regulator, both of them are actually serviced somewhat separately, well sort of together sort of separately. It’s a pretty neat design. I was actually extremely impressed. I did this job myself which is kind of unusual because these days I don’t touch cars all that much but I did this one myself. I was just so impressed with the way Mazda designed this, the motor really easy to remove and then the window regulator, there’s access points and holes where you can access the bolts to unbolt the regulator from the glass, the gear and mechanism and everything on the regulator just comes out really easily. It’s just so well thought out, it’s a nice treat. Some window regulators are just a complete pain, we had a Porsche Panamera with a bad window, it was just a nightmare to change, hours of work and not really necessary and the Mazda works great. Yeah, so that was a nice refreshing thing to see. I’m going to share a couple photos while we’re here. So our 09 Mazda CX9. Nice looking, probably call it a sport utility, a large station wagon sport utility the of vehicle. Power window motor. What impressed me about this window motor as well, it’s just how small it is. Now I don’t have an older window motor to show you but this is the actual motor itself and this is only about two inches from here to here and in the past, a power window motor would of been four times that size for the actual motor part itself. It’s amazing how on modern cars they can make things powerful and effective and so small and compact that they use very little electrical energy. Now of course, this vehicle is eight years old and the window motor is worn out but you know, that’s still a fair good kick at the can for a lot of cars, it’s, some of them last longer but just because it has a bigger motor doesn’t mean it’s going to last longer. But anyways, I just wanted to share a couple of those things there with you.
Mark: So I guess the replacement was pretty easy then, straightforward easy to get to?
Bernie: Yeah, not very labour intensive and as I mentioned, very nice the way everything came apart, really nice, even taking the glass out of the window, once it’s unbolted, a lot of times you can’t get the glass out, there’s a lot to remove, the glass just lifts out through the hole, the opening where it slides up and down. So everything is engineered really well to do this job.
Mark: And how are Mazda CX9’s?
Bernie: Overall pretty good. We’ve actually serviced this particular vehicle since it was brand new and it’s had very few problems. I think the owner had an issue with the transfer case, it was replaced under warranty but really very few problems. Pretty good vehicle, probably not quite as good as say an equivalent Toyota, but generally a lot better priced, and really nice interior features, drives really well. It’s a good vehicle.
Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service on your Mazda products in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book an appointment, they’re busy you’ve got to book ahead or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. We’ve got five years plus worth of videos on there, tons of information. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark
Today’s featured service is an engine replacement on a 2007 Mazda 3, brought to us by a client from West End, Vancouver.
We service many Mazda 3s at our shop and have found them to be extremely reliable vehicles. The problems with these cars are few and those that do occur are very predictable. They happen with such clockwork that a budget of repairs and maintenance could be accurately drafted.
It was quite unusual when this vehicle was towed to our shop dead with a blown engine. There was no compression in all cylinders and coolant was present inside #1 and #2 cylinders. Clearly something had gone badly wrong though the owner’s only experience was that the car lost power on a highway drive and wouldn’t run any more: no strange noises, smoke or high reading temperature gauges were present.
Exploratory surgery was called for. We removed the cylinder head from the engine, an arduous task due to the chain driven dual overhead cams. With the head off we found something amazing: the engine block had melted between cylinders 1 and 2, and 3 and 4. The cylinder head gasket was also burned between these two cylinders and the cylinder head was damaged beyond repair. Only a severe overheating could have caused this damage but it seemed strange based on our client’s experience of driving the car and the fact that it had been serviced within the past few weeks.
Replacement of the engine was our only option at this point and the client opted for a good used engine. While rebuilt engines are usually the better option due to their use of new parts and one to three year warranty, they are expensive and there are many good used engines available these days. The disadvantage of used engines is that you are never certain of what you are getting until it is running. The warranty is also much less , so while the bill is cheaper you are taking a risk. Generally it’s a good risk, as 99% of used engines we have installed have been good.
Firing up a replacement engine and doing final road tests is both a nerve-wracking and exciting time. This 2.3 liter engine roared to life after some extended cranking and immediately ran well, though there was one hitch: the exhaust system was filled with antifreeze and engine oil from the previous engine’s melt down. From the moment the engine started there were billowing clouds of white smoke coming from the tailpipe. These continued for several embarrassing kilometers into the road test. Eventually they stopped but it was certainly a testament to the fate that had befallen the original engine.
This weeks featured service is a Rear Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement on a 2007 Mazda CX9, brought to us by a client from Dunbar, Vancouver.
While a rear brake replacement is hardly an unusual service at our shop, or many other shops for that matter, this particular repair shows a great example of the care and detail that we put into this service.
The very first step before brakes are repaired is a detailed inspection. At our shop we start with visually inspect all components. We measure the thickness of the brake pads and rotors, or drums and shoes. We test the callipers and wheel cylinders for leaks and proper movement. We test the brake fluid. From there we can determine what needs to be replaced.
There is much more to a brake job than simply replacing brake pads. Let’s look at the individual items that require attention. These are all components that we addressed during this rear brake job.
1. The brake rotor. Otherwise known as the brake disc. This component is attached to the wheel hub and usually held in place by the wheel. Rotors are made of iron and vary in quality from car to car and from parts brand to brand. There are cheap rotors, mid priced ones, premium quality and high performance options available for most vehicles. Generally speaking cheap rotors warp easily and wear quicker.
Usually by the time brake pads wear out rotors are also worn out. Rotors are prone to rusting as they are composed of bare metal and exposed to the elements. While they can be machined on a brake lathe this practice has largely disappeared as many shops no longer have a lathe. Fortunately rotors are reasonably priced and a better brake job is done by using new rotors as they are of optimum thickness which helps disperse heat quickly.
2. Wheel hub. This is where the brake rotor sits and is found sandwiched between hub and wheel. By the time the brakes wear out the hub usual gets rusty. Cleaning the rust corrosion from the hub is critical for a proper rotor fit and to prevent premature warpage and brake shudder.
3. Brake caliper. The caliper is the part that squeezes the brake pads against the rotor. It has one or more fluid filled pistons that operate when you press your brake pedal. There are often other sliding components with the caliper and keeping these parts free of corrosion and well lubricated is critical to long brake pad life and efficient brake operation.
The brake pads sit inside the caliper bracket and move slightly back and forth with every brake application. Over time rust corrosion sets in and causes pads to stick. Often pads will wear out prematurely when this happens. An important part of doing a quality brake job involves cleaning, removing corrosion and lubricating these critical moving parts.
Brake caliper pistons can also seize up and so can the slider pins. When this occurs the calipers need replacement.
4. Brake pads. The brake pads are generally made of a composite material softer than the brake rotors. Once upon a time they were primarily made of that fabulous mineral asbestos. As with rotors, there is a wide variety of product offerings from cheap quality to premium to high performance. Generally we like to use as close to the original manufacturers type of pad as possible. This ensures good braking with minimal squeaks and squeals and good durability. On the subject of durability, many good quality aftermarket pads will outlast the OEM installed pads, sometimes by a substantial margin.
So there are the brakes and a list of components and steps to doing a proper long lasting brake job. Following all of these procedures ensures that the job is done correctly. It is what we do every time at Pawlik Automotive.
For more information on the Mazda CX9 click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_CX-9
For more about disc brakes click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_brake
Talking Mazda with Bernie Pawlik, owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 14 time winner of best auto repair in Vancouver.
Mark: Good morning, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation, we’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re a fourteen time winner of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Doing awesome. How are you Mark?
Mark: So we’re going to talk about Mazda’s and these are pretty popular cars, especially with the new Madza 3 over the last decade or so. What can you tell us about them?
Bernie: Well, first off, I’ve worked on Mazda’s for years and years and I’ve seen many changes in Mazda cars, they have advanced technology. They’ve always been fairly reliable but I’ve always thought of them as a little bit under Toyota and Nissan, in terms of quality and reliablity, and maybe that’s not true, and Honda to boot, but they’re excellent cars – overall I think they’re great.
Mark: So over the years, I’ve seen a number of similar Mazda and Ford vehicles. What’s going on there?
Bernie: Well at one time Ford owned, until recently, they owned 7% of Mazda so they build some vehicles together which is probably a good idea to create a partnership there. Ford had divested a lot of their stock in Mazda. They still own a tiny bit but they don’t seem to build anything together anymore.
But some of the vehicles that have been outstanding over the years, the Ford small pickup trucks and the Mazda truck are essentially the same truck. The Mazda B series and the Ford Ranger – they’re similar trucks. They have made a reliable, again Japanese vehicles tend to be, I’ve always thought, more reliable than American cars, maybe not recently, but over a couple decades past. So it offered Ford a good, reliable Japanese vehicle and the Ford Probe and Mazda MX6, were a nice sporty car that was a combined effort. The main thing about these combined vehicles, is that you could often buy the Ford product on the used market, for substantially cheaper than the Mazda vehicle – just because it’s an American vehicle it appreciates faster. So if you could buy one of these Mazda Fords, you have a very reliable vehicle for a lot less money than the Mazda vehicle.
One thing that we’ve found over the years is that the parts for these cars, especially if you buy them from the Mazda dealer were often cheaper than buying them from the Ford dealer. Seems like Ford bought the parts from Mazda and just marked them up.
I think that’s one advantage with dealing with an independent auto repair shop is that you get the, we source parts and we offer the best price to our customers, whereas if you went to the Ford dealer, you’d be paying a lot more money for the parts.
Mark: So we’re experiencing a little bit of busy-ness even this early in the morning, which is great.
Bernie: I don’t know if you hear me with all that phone ringing?
Mark: Yeah we did. So what about Mazda’s current vehicles? How are they?
Bernie: Awesome. You know, I think the Mazda 3 is an awesome vehicle, very popular. We work on a lot of those vehicles. They’ve been out for over a decade now and they’re just super, reliable cars. We’ve yet to see one with a bad engine or transmission. I haven’t seen one burning oil which is really a good sign. There are a few issues with them – check engine light comes on for a few different components of fail, but nothing that’s really overly expensive to fix. They’re one of those cars, almost like a Toyota Corolla where you could actually predict how much money you’re going to spend every year on maintenance and repairs which is really nice to have a car like that.
Mazda makes a variety of other vehicles, they have their sport utility CX5, CX9 – totally reliable, very little goes wrong with those to, so they’re great vehicles.
Mark: So Mazda, we touched on the pickup trucks, so how are they?
Bernie: Food, it’s funny we talked about pickups in past tense because I just realized that when I was doing a little research for this hangout that Mazda hasn’t made pickup trucks or sold them for a few years now, but overall they were awesome pickup trucks. For compact pickup trucks they were great, they were very durable. We even have customers today, that have small Mazda B22 pickup trucks that were build in the early ’90’s. It’s a four cylinder truck, really simple, most have wind up windows and a lot of them don’t even have power steering, people just seem to hang on to them, they just keep going and going. We’ve had quite a few brought in for ring and valve jobs on the engines and then they tend to burn oil but they just keep on going and going. So excellent trucks. As I mentioned, the Ford Ranger used to be a Mazda truck as well. So great trucks. If you want to buy a brand new one, you won’t be buying it from Mazda anymore.
Mark: So I guess the conversation about Mazda is never complete without talking about the infamous bongo rotary engine.
Bernie: Yup, so the rotary engine was’t Mazda’s invention, but in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, seized upon the technology and ran with it as a good way to differentiate their brand from the other Japanese manufacturers and they stuck with it for quite a while. In the early ’70’s, they had a huge variety of cars and even a pickup truck with a rotary engine, but that soon died out. The rotary is not the most efficient engine, they tend to burn oil and they fail kind of quickly. Now they’ve certainly improved that but they’re still not a great engine. We work on a fair number of Mazda RX8, although there isn’t a lot of them on the road, we seem to see a fair number of them at our shop. They’re pretty good cars, but I mean the engines do tend to fail at an earlier age and I really wouldn’t want to keep one with much more than a hundred thousand kilometres. Repairing the engine on them is a highly specialized item, Mazda is probably the only people actually sell the engine. So you don’t want to get caught with one of those with an engine failure.
The RX8 seems to be fairly reliable up until the point when the engine wears out. Speaking of rotaries, they no longer make them around 2012 was the last year they made the rotary so that’s moved into the annals of automotive history now and I can’t imagine what the success of the engine that it’s going to come back anytime soon.
Mark: So Mazda, their advertising talks a lot about SKYACTIV technology which is something about fuel efficient cars. So what’s that all about?
Bernie: Yeah, so that’s where Mazda has focused a lot of their energy, their so called SKYACTIV technology and what it is, is redesigned engines and specifically fuel injection systems where they use direct gasoline injection which is quite popular in a lot of other cars. It’s basically the same kind of injection system that has been used on diesels for a long time. It just give gasoline engines an incredible extra amount of efficiency. We haven’t actually worked on a SKYACTIV Mazda because they are still fairly new but I think over the years they’re going to be as reliable as the other Mazdas. The fuel efficiency numbers that they claim are pretty much up there with hybrids, and the great thing about that is you don’t have the complexity that you have with a hybrid – all the extra electrical and electronic devices that potentially can go wrong. Fortunately hybrids have proved to be pretty reliable but you know when things go wrong they can be insanely expensive to fix.
It’s funny, when I was driving into work this morning I passed to Mazdas and they both were SKYACTIV vehicles so they’re really popular.
Mark: So any last thoughts on Mazda?
Bernie: Overall they’re great cars. They seem to have focused their market away from the obscure vehicles like the rotary and the pickup truck – they just focus now on cars and compact sport utility vehicles. Overall very reliable. I would not hesitate to recommend any of them except a RX8, unless you absolutely loved having a rotary vehicle.
One thing we didn’t talk about is the MX5 or the Miata which is I think an awesome car. If you like little sports cars, it’s a great car. I’ve often thought of it as an English sports car that has been built properly and reliable because those cars certainly weren’t at one time. So those are my thoughts on Mazda.
Great cars, very reliable, especially the Mazda 3 is all you can ask out of a car – it starts up every day and takes you where you want to go at minimal cost.
Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik at Pawlik Automotive – again they’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. If you’re looking for a great place to maintain your vehicle, these are the guys to call. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or go to their website – www.pawlikautomotive.com – it’s a world authority on auto repair. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.
Our featured repair today is Oxygen Sensor Replacement on a 2005 Mazda 3.
Oxygen sensors are a frequently replaced item on many vehicles.
The function of the oxygen sensor is to inform the engine computer of the oxygen content in the exhaust. Depending on the oxygen content the computer knows whether the fuel mixture is rich or lean and will make appropriate adjustments to the fuel injection system.
Today’s Mazda 3 came in because the check engine lamp was on. After scanning and diagnosis we found the front oxygen sensor dead. This vehicle has two oxygen sensors, one before the catalytic converter and one behind. The front sensor monitors the engine out emissions while the rear sensor monitors the catalytic converter’s efficiency.
Overall Mazda 3s are a very reliable vehicle and oxygen sensors are one of the few parts that fail on these vehicles.
To read more about the Mazda 3 click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_3
To learn more about oxygen sensors click this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_sensor