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2004 Mercedes SLK32 AMG Pre-Inspection and Service

Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. And of course we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mercedes SLK32 AMG. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this really rare vehicle came to our shop for a pre-purchase inspection, which we did. The purchaser ended up buying the car, so we did some service work on the car as well.

Mark: So, this is an AMG model. What differentiates it from the regular model?

Bernie: Well, so for this particular, for the SLK, the major differences is the supercharged 3.2 litre V6 engine, which is a pretty awesome feature. I mean, that's definitely the biggest feature of the AMG. Also, it has nicer trim pieces, like fancier tail pipes. It looks like half of an SL tailpipe assembly, just with on one side. It's got the nicer AMG wheels, wider tires and wheels. And I'm not certain on this car exactly what the other features are. It's a little more basic than say an SL55 is compared to an SL500, but definitely has some beefed up suspension and performance enhances. But the engine is really the big thing.

Mark: What is unique about SLK series compared to SL's or other Mercedes?

Bernie: So, the SLK is basically a smaller version of the SL series. And I don't have the actual German translation front of me, but the S's roughly translate to sport, the L is light, and then the K is short. And it's interesting, because if you look at the other Mercedes line, you have your GLK, which is basically like a shorter, smaller version of a GL series. So, there's a German term for it. I'm not going to try to butcher it or anything. Porsche is about the best we'll go on the show, until I learn some more German. So what I find unique about this SLK car is that right up until ... They made the car from 1996 to 2004, and even up to 2004 it's got some features that you wouldn't really see in that era of Mercedes. Most Mercedes, they have electronic keys, the infrared keys, rack and pinion steering, things like that. This car is still has a mechanical key.

It's a much simpler version of a car. It's got a lot of the earlier 90s technology that's kind of just kept on going. So, some people may say that's a bad thing. I think it's kind of neat. It makes the car a little simpler. And this reminds me more of like a kind of a fancy Mazda Miata, just in terms of how the car is. So, let's just look at some pictures. So there's our SLK. Nice looking little car. As you can see, it's got the AMG wheels. It's a hard top convertible as well, which is awesome. So it gives you the ride, and when you're driving on a rainy cold day, it's just like having a hard top car, but you can take the roof off and then you have the benefits of the convertible. There's our 3.2 litre supercharge. If you're looking down at it really quickly, it really looks a lot like an SL55 engine, except it's of course two cylinders shorter. And it's about 350 horsepower, which is an awful lot to pack in this little car. It's, I think, about 32 or 3,400 pounds.

It's about 1,000 pounds lighter than an SL55, less power, but certainly enough to move this car really, really fast. The key I mentioned. So this is like a ... This is a 2004 car, but this key is really a very 1990s Mercedes type of key. It's a regular switch blade style key, and a regular toothed basic ignition. Steering is interesting. This is a ... I mean, it's hard to see a lot with the details of this picture, but this basically the view of the bottom of the steering box. This vehicle actually has a steering box, not rack and pinion, which of course is not quite as good in a way as rack and pinion steering. But it's interesting that it has this type of technology. And of course the car steers fine. And it's a lot simpler in construction than an SL series in terms of the way the geometry.

The lower control arms, which were actually one of the items we replaced due to worn bushings, it's just a simple wishbone style control arm as opposed to a lot of the newer ones where they have two control arms in the bottom and two at the top. I mean, there's advantages to that, but this has less parts and pieces. As I say, it's a simpler ... It's a nice car and it's simpler. And then here's our interior layout of the car. I know there's something else I want to point out about the interior layout of the car, that again is kind of a simpler throwback, but for some reason I can't think of it at the moment. So anyways, there's the basic interior layout of the car, and there we have it.

Mark: What services did you do on this car?

Bernie: Yeah, so some of the ... We did a number of catch up maintenance items, like a fuel injection cleaning and some fluid changes, drive train fluids. The control arm bushings and some of the steering linkages had wear, and also the tires were worn out.

So, their pre-purchase inspection helped them negotiate the best price, and then from there we repaired the vehicle and got it back in really nice shape. I mean it was ... I actually drove the car myself before he bought it, and the car drove really nice, but you could certainly feel the front end was wobbly, and didn't quite handle well. And then afterwards of course it's just the control was amazing. And of course, tires just make such a difference.

Mark: And how reliable are SLK cars?

Bernie: I find them fairly reliable. I mean, they do need the odd thing here and there. I'm saying it's a little simpler than a lot of Mercedes, with the technology a little older. But of course it's still got a lot of electronics. Some of the repairs we've done besides basic maintenance in the more basic SLK, we've done supercharger replacements on those. We've had convertible top issues, some simple wiring repairs. I think we've done podcasts or videos on these. But overall it's a pretty reliable car. And I think it's a nice ... I think this makes a nice ... If you're looking for a nice little semi luxurious little sports car, this is an excellent car. Especially the AMG model because it's got some really good performance.

Mark: So there you go. If you've got an SLK or Mercedes 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, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thank you so much for listening on the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching and listening. We really appreciate it.

2013 Mercedes Benz ML550 Rear Shock Absorber Repair

Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best automotive service experience, and of course, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So, 2013 Mercedes ML550 that had some rear shock absorbing problems. What was going on with this fine German SUV?

Bernie: It's a fine German SUV, it's a really nice vehicle. It's a 550. It's kind of a notch below an AMG ML63, and just a super awesome vehicle, twin turbo V8, lots of power, nice features. It's a super nice vehicle.

Anyways, so the owner brought it in for a B-Service a few months back and one thing we'd noticed was the left rear shock absorbers leaking fluid. So that was definitely something that needed to be replaced, so this was the day and we did the service on the shock absorbers.

Mark: So, why was it leaking?

Bernie: Shock absorbers will just leak when they get old. They have seals and to be honest, it's a six-year-old vehicle. I think it's got about a 140K, so I guess it's getting up there in mileage, but things just wear out.

Shock absorbers are filled with fluid. These ones are not a hydraulic shock like you do find on some Mercedes products where they actually have pumped oil into them, this is just the fluid is just contained within the shock absorber, but it's a critical part of any shock absorber action is fluid, pistons, valving and things like that, that reduce the shock when you hit bumps.

Mark: So, did you notice anything while driving the vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, you can really notice. Probably initially when she brought the vehicle in for service, the first service there wasn't really much noticeable in terms of ride but, it's been a few months now and more and more fluid's leaked out and you notice when you hit bumps you can hear a banging noise in the back of the vehicle and there's also the ride of the vehicle is not great. It tends to bounce around a fair bit because the shock absorption, of course, is pretty much gone on that left, rear corner.

Mark: Just for shock, explain maybe again pedantic-ness, alert, we're talking about a shock absorber basically stops the bouncing of a vehicle that the springs would normally do when you go over a bump.

Bernie: Exactly, so if you had no shock absorber, if you have just a spring, as soon as you hit a bump, the vehicle bounces up, and then it bounces down, and goes up and down, and up and down, until eventually the oscillations all come out of whatever the energy that was put into the spring dissipates, well that can often take a long time.

If you've ever driven in a vehicle where the shock absorbers are completely blown, it's a really uncomfortable feeling, the car bounces around. Not only is it uncomfortable, it's actually dangerous because the weight of the vehicle is not really in contact with the road as much as it could be. And worn shock absorbers, sometimes you think, "Ah, they're not that important." But they really are pretty critical. Brakes will wear out faster, vehicles don't handle as well, they don't stick on the road as well. So they're a critical safety feature in a vehicle, not to mention comfort. I think that answered your question in a long-winded way.

Mark: Sure. Is there anything about the shock absorbers that's unique on this Mercedes?

Bernie: Yeah, they are actually. These are like, I wanna call it electro-hydraulic, but I think that's actually the wrong term for it. GM has a term, magneto-hydraulic, it uses special fluid in the shock absorber, and it actually has little metal particles in it and when it's electrically charged or magnetically charged it changes the direction of the particles so it can change, let's say the bounce rate of the shock absorber, the absorption. So, it'll change the handling of the vehicle so they're pretty high tech shocks.

Let's just get into some pictures right here. So, there's our ML550, unfortunately not washed, it's a cold day in Vancouver and the vehicle would've frozen up had we washed it. It's a rare, very cold moment in Vancouver.

So here's our shock absorber on the vehicle and this is kind of showing the bottom end of the shock and you can actually see some oil and fluid dripping on the ground. So this has been going on for a couple of months. I'd say there's probably not a lot of fluid left to have been leaked out of this particular unit.

There's another view, a better sort of view of the shock, you can oil just seeping out. This is a dust boot. You can see the oil just seeping out, down the side of the shock. Whenever you see oil leaking in a shock absorber it's a sure sign that if it isn't bad right now it's gonna be bad pretty soon cuz the fluid is a critical component of the shock.

And there's the new unit installed. Again, there's this actuator unit here. Electrical connector. And that's what's really makes the magic of these electronic shocks, that's part of the process. That and the special fluid.

Mark: So are there still springs in this vehicle?

Bernie: There are, yeah. So they use an air spring. I'll just go back to the picture.

Mark: Yeah I saw it there in the background.

Bernie: Yeah, there's the air spring, right there. So these use air suspension. I can't remember what they have in the front, but on the rear there's air suspension. It's a good idea in an SUV vehicle where you're gonna be putting weight and needing to adjust the height of the vehicle, so definitely the rear has them. They probably do in the front too. But yeah that's the spring. It can have a coil spring too on some models, but this one, it's a Mercedes, you gotta go full out. Put all the good stuff in.

Mark: As you already alluded to, this type of shock isn't unique to Mercedes? GM also has it?

Bernie: No, it's not. Lots of different manufacturers use 'em. But you won't find them on a lower end car, they'll only be on the higher end. On Lexus, or Infinity, Lexus, Cadillacs, a lot of different German vehicles.

Mark: Corvettes.

Bernie: Yeah, there's a variety of them, but they're all high end stuff.

Mark: And so once you've got the shocks changed, of course everything was running great again with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, rides good.

Mark: And how are the Mercedes MLs for reliability?

Bernie: Pretty good, but again we're in the luxury SUV category. It was a lot of things that can go wrong and expensive things, like these shock absorbers, for example, are quadruple the price of what an average shock absorber would be. So you pay a lot for that kind of thing.

These vehicles, I've often said they're kind of fair for reliability. We've talked a lot about the diesels and they have issues. The gas motors are really good, rarely run into any issues with them. I'm always personally a fan of the gas motor, I just think they're better, although the diesel's certainly more economical. You can just expect that you'll spend more money on this vehicle because of what kind of vehicle it is.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service and repairs on your Mercedes-Benz MLs or any Mercedes-Benz product 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 you can check out their website: pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, perhaps even maybe a thousand on there now. Videos, articles on different makes and models of vehicles, as well as the YouTube channel: Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds and hundreds of videos on there of all makes and models of cars, repairs, all sorts of details, us two making fools of ourselves for many years. Or of course thank you so much for listening to the podcast, we really appreciate it. And thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you Mark, and thanks for watching. Great to have fans.

2013 Mercedes R350, Air Suspension Compressor

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Mark: Good morning. It's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here this morning with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: Welcome back to beautiful Vancouver. You've been in Europe. How was it over there?

Bernie: It was amazing. It was hot and in the world of cars there's a lot, quite a variety, but obviously, being in Europe, lots of European cars, lots of fancy ones, too. Northern Europe, they have nicer cars than around Italy and Greece area. Been there once before so. Anyways, just in terms of cars, it's always interesting to look and see what's around and I actually got to St. Petersburg and I was looking around for a lot of old Russian trashy cars and there are actually surprisingly weren't very many of them. I saw a few old Ladas and a couple of rusty things here and there but for the most part their fleet of cars is actually in pretty good shape all around Europe, they're pretty nice cars. 

Mark: So today we're going to be talking about a 2013 Mercedes R350. Obviously a European sourced vehicle. They had an air suspension compressor. What was going on with the suspension in this vehicle? 

Bernie: So this vehicle was brought to our shop actually not for a suspension problem. Well, not an air suspension problem. We'd done a service a few months ago and we identified some control arm bushings were worn out so the owner brought the vehicle in. We replaced the control arm bushings. Did the job, every thing was great, the next morning he comes to pick the car up and car is sitting very low. Figured maybe we'd done something wrong doing the service. Looked it over and then basically what had happened is the air suspension compressor just packed it in at some point when we had the vehicle in our shop so they tend to die from time to time like that.

Mark: Okay, tell us about the suspension system in this vehicle. 

Bernie: It's air suspension so it relies of course on compressed air to keep the vehicle up. The great thing about the system is you can adjust it so you can raise the height of the raise and lower the height of the vehicle. Obviously when you're driving down the highway and you're just regular driving you want it low for stability but if you need some off road clearance, it's snowing or you go on a rougher type of road with pot holes and things, you can raise the height of the vehicle. There's also a couple of different modes for the suspension on this vehicle. You can adjust it for sport driving, you can have a more comfort drive or an automatic drive, which will kind of just take in between the two modes depending on what you want. 

Mark: So why would the compressor just die? This vehicle isn't that old.

Bernie: Well, compressors seem to be one of the items that tend to die on a lot of air suspension vehicle. Probably the most common failure component. We do a lot of them on Range Rovers. They tend to die. Interestingly enough, in having this vehicle, diagnosing it, we found, we came across a technical service bulletin from Mercedes recommending replacement of these compressors if they have a certain model year. So I'm thinking this campaign probably started when these vehicles were under warranty. Of course, this vehicle is out of the warranty period and it costs to replace but I think why the compressor died in this vehicle, you know, I think they just didn't make it good enough for the vehicle and there's a revised and upgraded version. 

Mark: Do you have some pictures? 

Bernie: I do. Let's have a look.

R350 Station Wagon style vehicle. All wheel drive. This is a gasoline powered vehicle. They do come in diesel as well but this the gas model not that it looks any different from the outside and then we can get to the compressor. So there's the compressor, the old failed unit. Not a lot to see, I mean, there's a motor in this unit and then there's also a storage tank and from the storage tank it distributes the air to a valve unit and that'll allow the vehicle to go up and down. So besides being a compressor, this also has some valving in it that will allow the vehicle to raise and lower depending on what the computers command. Not much to see with this thing. It's basically just the outside of the unit. So that's our pictures. 

Mark: So this is more complex than conventional suspension. Is that the main common failure part, the compressor? 

Bernie: We seem to do more compressors, like I mentioned earlier, than any other components but certainly the other major components that will fail on an inner suspension system are the actual shocks and struts themselves, or the air springs. And given time, probably ten years plus on any vehicle, your air springs or struts are gonna wear out and start leaking and it really depends on the mileage, the usage, where the cars been. I mean, sometimes you might get twenty years out of them but at some point you will need replace them and that's the other major expense item on the vehicle. Of course, the old lines and pipes and hoses and valves and a computer so potentially everything can go wrong but a lot of vehicles, things don't. There are some cars that the struts will wear out, and the compressor will never wear out. Other vehicles, the struts last almost forever and the compressors wear out but you can always be prepared with this kind of thing that anything and everything can and will go wrong.

Mark: So can air suspension be eliminated if the owner doesn't really wanna incur the high repair costs? 

Bernie: Yes they can on most cars. Most vehicles are made with air suspension as an option. I can't think, I'm not certain on this vehicle whether it's an option or not. It probably is. I know certainly for a lot of Range Rovers and Land Rovers there are kits available where you can just eliminate the air suspension. A lot of other vehicles, American like Lincolns, there's kits available. I used to own a Subaru that had air suspension. It was fantastic but of course when you get an old Subaru it's not worth a lot of money. A lot of customers we had would eliminate it with a kit where you just put in the conventional suspension. 

Mark: I had a Lincoln that the compressor failed too. 

Bernie: Yeah. You know, it's expensive to fix but I love air suspension for a couple of reasons. First, no matter what kind of load you put in the vehicle, you put five people and 400 pounds of suitcases in the back and the car doesn't sit like this. It just sits nice and level. Most air suspension systems offer ride height adjustments, which is again an advantage. You get a nice smooth low riding vehicle and then you can raise it up for off road or snowy conditions. So that again is an advantage but it comes at a price and often when a car gets old you don't necessarily spend five or ten thousand dollars on compressors and struts and things like that so there are options available. 

Mark: So back to the R350, it's a pretty unique vehicle, how is it for reliability? 

Bernie: I'd say it's fair. I mean, I'd say it's a unique shaped vehicle for Mercedes. It's kind of like, to me, it's more like a conventional large Station Wagon as opposed to an SUV or a Sedan but a lot of the components in this vehicle are shared among different models. The engines are shared between different models. You've got the BlueTec Diesel, which we've spoken a lot about. If you want an engine that's really reliable, I'd probably recommend that for long-term but it's good on fuel. Yeah, overall it's a pretty good vehicle. I mean, same as any other Mercedes. They're more complicated so things go wrong like this air suspension compressor but it's a nice vehicle and you just expect to pay a little more to repair it than a Japanese car.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to call ahead to book 'cause they're busy, even with Bernie having been on holidays, they were still busy the whole time. Or you can check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com or hopefully you're enjoying us on YouTube or our new podcast. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching. 

2007 Mercedes CSL550 Control Arm Bushing and Ball Joint Replacement

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Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Bernie Pawlik and we're talking cars. How're you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: Today, we're talking about a 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550. Pretty nice car. There was a front end problem. What was going on with this Mercedes?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. Very nice car. What was happening, is the owner was complaining there was some clunking sounds when he hit bumps in the car, so that was what we were looking at and that's what we did an inspection on the front end and found a few interesting things.

Mark: What did you find?

Bernie: We found that the control arm bushings, so, there's two lower control arms on this vehicle and all the bushings had excessive play. We also found that one of the ball joints was extremely, badly worn, as well on the right, lower ball joint was extremely, badly worn also.

Mark: With all that kind of play, what needed to be replaced to fix the issue.

Bernie: There's different options, and it depends on the car. Sometimes you can buy just the control arm bushing, sometimes you have to buy the whole arm. In the case of this vehicle, we replaced complete arms, because that's what was available. Some of the arms, they call it an upper and lower control arm, only because of the way the ball joint mounts. But the upper control arms come with ball joints, but the lower ones do not. The ball joint is actually pressed into the steering knuckle. I might be saying this backwards, lower, upper. But, anyways, either way, one of the control arms comes with a ball joint, one does not. So, on the right hand side, the ball joint is pressed into the steering knuckle and then that one, we just replaced the ball joint only on that side. So, why don't I just go into sharing some pictures here, so you get an idea what's going on with this car. We'll start with a video, and you can see this worn area. Are you seeing this, Mark?

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Bernie: Okay. This is the worn ball joint. It spins very easily and then there's a lot of up and down movement in that ball joint that shouldn't be there. With someone with their hand, they should never be able to move that at all. It's normally very tight. So, the ball joint on the left-hand side was tight. It's brand new, but this one was completely worn. Now, there's our car, first of all. Beautiful, sleek looking ... got to love technology. I've got to roll with it sometimes.

Anyways, to make a long story short, that ball joint that you saw, that play, we cut the dust boot open. It was full of rusty crap and normally that's full of grease inside that boot. It keeps the grease in. So, somehow, moisture had seeped in, worn the joint out and caused all that excessive play.

Mark: Since you were replacing one, wouldn't it make sense to just replace the other ball joint at the same time?

Bernie: There are some parts when you do something on the right side of the car, you want to do the same on the left. It's like brakes, for instance. If you do a brake calliper on the right, you want to do the left as well, especially on the front, because it'll affect your braking. Something like a ball joint, it's a precisely made part, you know, machine to a exact tolerances, they're all the same. And there's really no ... if the ball joint on the left side is good, there's no reason to change it because likely, it's not going to be wearing, it could still last for 10 more years before it wears out. This one, unfortunately, got some water incursion, which wore the ball joint up prematurely.

Mark: How are these parts for longevity? Do they wear out frequently?

Bernie: They do. I think they do faster than they should. I mean, there's some cars where control arm bushings never wear out and others where they wear out kind of frequently. A lot of European cars have control arm bushing issues. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. There's a lot expected of them in terms of movement and plus, they make them in such a way, you get a nice, smooth, controlled ride, so it's a precise component and they do tend to wear out. Probably a little more on these cars than on some others.

Mark: Bushing, in this regard, is basically a rubber end piece that's built to be super stiff, but has some flexibility, so it's more flexible than if you just bolted the control arm to the frame.

Bernie: That is exactly what it is. I mean, if you actually just bolted the control arm to the frame solidly, there would be no movement. A bushing allows flexibility, but in a controlled manner. And I guess, the only other option you would have besides a rubber bushing would be an actual bearing that would move, but that would be a very hard metal to metal type of movement and so it would actually probably give an uncomfortable ride in the car. It would allow the movement and probably be very durable if you kept it lubricated, but it wouldn't allow for a very smooth ride. These bushings are very thick. A lot of them, you know, the rubber can be an inch thick surrounding a metal core, like ... if I'm explaining it right, I mean, the bushing can be three inches in diameter and then the centre core can be an inch, so there's a lot of rubber in between and there's a lot of movement there over time, but when it's new, it's pretty tight. If that explains it, I think?

Mark: Sure. And how are these CLS-Class Mercedes for reliability? Do you work on quite a few of these?

Bernie: We do. Yeah, they're pretty good cars. I mean, this particular one, we've serviced for quite a while. It's had its share of issues, you know, some fluid leaks and alternator and things like that that are worn out, but possibly it's not a very high-mileage car. My expectation would be it probably should have lasted longer, but that's what it is. They're not as reliable as Japanese cars as I often say, but it's a beautiful ride and I'd say worth the price of admission.

Mark: And a bit more of a high-performance vehicle really, for that size of car and sedan, really.

Bernie: It really is and actually this car drives. It's got a lot of power, surprisingly, you think, oh, you'd want the AMG if you wanted to go all out, yes that's true, but actually, this 550 is, it's very adequate in terms of power and performance. It's a pretty awesome car, not disappointing in any way. And yeah, nice step up from a, like a S-Class, which is more of a ... I want to say like a nice, conservative, luxury sedan. This has got some sportiness to it.

Mark: At the risk of insulting Mercedes-Benz fans in the world, S-Class is almost like an upgraded, slight upgrade, from a Jetta.

Bernie: Yeah, it is. Yeah, slight upgrade, yeah. I'd call it a large one, but, you know. We can talk about S-Classes later. I mean, great cars too, just different.

Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service and maintenance or any kind of repairs on your Mercedes-Benz 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 ahead and book. They're busy. Check out their website, pawlikautomative.com. Check out their YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair and I hope you're enjoying the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2008 Merceds ML320 Intake Manifold Repair

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

Bernie: Doing very well, Mark.

Mark: So we're going to talk about a diesel an ML320 Mercedes Benz. There was a problem with the intake manifold. What is going on with this fine German automobile? 

Bernie: Well, what was going on with this ... I won't try the German but what was going on with this vehicle, it came to our shop with a massive oil leak which we diagnosed to be coming from a couple of spots, the rear crankshaft seal and also the engine oil cooler seals. Now the engine oil cooler seals are located in the valley right at the V6 engine so the valley is the section between the two cylinder banks. The oil cooler is located is right in the very bottom. And there's a lot of items that need to be removed to get at the oil cooler such as the intake manifold being among them. 

Mark: So if it came in with an oil leak, again I guess, why are we talking about intake manifolds? 

Bernie: Well we're talking about intake manifolds because there's an actuator in the intake manifolds that causes problems. They have two ... it's an actuator that moves a flap back and forth inside of each intake runner and it can vary the size of the intake or the intake port size. And it's tuned for basically different running conditions so at certain speeds you want different kind of flows through the intake manifold for performance. And this intake runner, these things plug up. They wear out. And I'm going to put a video on which we can look at right now which will explain it almost better than my discussion here. So let's start with the video of the bad runner. Now you can see this, correct?

Mark: Yep.

Bernie: Okay, so we'll start the video. So this is the very close up view of the intake manifold port. There's one port that flows continuously and one that gets blocked off with this actuator flap. And you'll notice in this area here, there's a lot of play in these plastic moving arms. So we'll just fire it up right now and you can see. You notice there's an incredible amount of movement. 

Mark: Wobbling around pretty good.

Bernie: Yeah. Wobbles around and if you look at these two different ports, you'll see that one of them's moving and the other one isn't even moving. So there's a lot slop in this piece here. You'll also notice there's a lot of gunk inside that ... all the passage ways and that's stuff that really needs to be clean out. I'll just play the video one more time, so you can have a good look at it. So this is why we're talking about the intake manifold. We're talking about these intake manifolds runners. They sometimes call them swirl valves, variable intake actuators. I can't think of all the names. Different manufacturers use different names but there's a motor that actually operates that the computer sends a signal, the motor moves the valves and that's what makes it go. 

Mark: And so that would affect the performance and economy of the vehicle? 

Bernie: Absolutely. It does make a difference. And with those blocked ports as well, it makes a difference. I'll just show you ... this is the new manifold. You can see the arms moving. You can see how clean this is too. You can imagine how much more air is actually flowing through the engine with it set up like this. I'll run it again. Again, there's no play in any of these rods. They're all moving exactly at the same speed, same time.

Mark: Very nice. Back to you.

Bernie:Makes a big difference with it all clean. 

Mark: So then do you end up obviously changing the manifolds just for an oil leak? 

Bernie: We did. Well, we did it while we were in there because the manifolds have to be removed to get at the oil leak, to access the oil cooler. So it kind of made sense to change to them while it's all out because there's no extra labor charge. I mean, the parts are expensive, no doubt. And it's kind of a shame to toss away what's a perfectly good manifold but that's the way they manufacture them, it doesn't leave any option to replace those rods or linkage pieces. You have to change the whole manifold. And one of them comes with the actuator motor and this is an item that also had some oil had soaked the motor and that's a failure item on these engines as well. So this has been a preventive maintenance for future issues. 

Mark: And was it just a gasket issue or what was actually leaking on the oil cooler?

Bernie: The oil cooler is seals leaks so it's where the oil cooler meets the engine block. There's two rubber seals and they harden up and leak after a while and they can just ... it was leaking horrific amount of oil after. And we diagnosed it, cleaned it. There was a lot of oil coming out after ten minutes of driving, this little small puddle forming on the ground. So there's a lot of oil that can leak out.

Mark: So does it need to be this complex?

Bernie: It does and just actually before we talk about the complexity, I was going to say on the manifolds, it's interesting 'cause 2008 is the last year that Mercedes made these where there isn't a switch on the end of those actuator rods. 2009 and newer they put a little micro-switch on the end of each rod so when the motor moves the linkage, it if doesn't move far enough it will actually cause your check engine light to come on instead of trouble code. So you're really at that point force to change the intake manifolds. On these older ones, you don't actually have to change them if it's broken as long as the motor moves, the computer thinks it's working. So they made it a little more complex in newer models so you can actually get away with not changing them but in the case, they're still an effect of the performance so it's best to do it. The question about the complexity, does it need to be this complex, I'd say, yes it does in this modern era. I mean at one time diesels were simple, reliable, mostly reliable. Some weren't as good as others. But you don't find like a lot of older German diesels, Volkswagens, Mercedes they're very reliable diesel engines. And lot of the older American trucks they just you know turn the key, they start. You didn't have to do a whole lot to them. But they stunk. And they put out some horrific pollutants into the air, a lot of smoke and the nice thing about these diesels is you don't see a lot smoke, they don't smell so bad even though they don't ... they're not as clean as advertised as well know but they do make you know, it does make a difference. So I'd say yes, unfortunately it does need to be this complicated if we want to have clean air, cleaner air, fuel economy and performance. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service on your ML320 or any Mercedes Benz diesel product in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. Lots and lots of information on there, hundreds of articles on all different types and models of problems and cars and trucks, or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair or our lovely new podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2000 Mercedes SLK230 Convertible Roof Repair

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Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, for the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're talking cars. A 2000 Mercedes this morning. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: This is an SLK230 convertible. It had a convertible roof problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: The owner of the vehicle went to put his roof down, or moved it up. I'm not certain which of the two. But the roof stopped working part way through the process. That was the issue. It had basically jammed up and wouldn't open or close.

Mark: What do you do when the roof gets stuck part way open?

Bernie: This is a good time to have your owner's manual of your vehicle in the car, because it's a kind of thing where you probably never pre-study it. It's one of those things where you need to go, "Oh, what do I do now?". There is in the owner's manual a procedure, and almost all convertible vehicles have a procedure to close the roof when it jams up. It's a little complex, but once, I actually had to do it a few times myself while in the process of repairing it. It's actually fairly simple once you get the procedure figured out. They think of all the things you need to do to make sure you can close the roof, even if the trunk's fully closed. There are levers you can pull and things that'll actuate things to allow you to actually manually just lift the roof closed and latch it in place. Key, you have a convertible, make sure you have the owner's manual in the glove box or somewhere accessible so you can actually do this. What I'll do is actually, I've got a nice video here of the actual roof in operation so you can just kind of have a look at that really quickly. Alright, let's start. There's the roof on. The windows go down. The trunk opens. The roof folds in, all pretty quick. This little piece comes up, goes back down. The trunk closes and hides the roof, and the windows go back up. That's all. You just hold a switch and then it does its whole operation. Pretty amazing. Now when the roof, in our diagnostic procedure what I found was, the roof, I'm just going to backtrack the video here. When I was opening the roof, it would actually get to about this point here and then jammed up, and it would stop working. 

Mark: You suddenly have a big air dam on the back of your car.

Bernie: Yeah, and it's un-drivable. At that point you really have to figure out what's going wrong, and fix it. 

Mark: How did you go about diagnosing what looks like a pretty complex mechanism and set of actions? 

Bernie: Critical to diagnose in these vehicles is a good quality scan tool that will read all the data and information in the vehicle computer. Plugged it in. Found a trouble code stored for a latch switch, so I figured that's a good place to start. The latch of course is at the front of the convertible top where there's to actuators that lock the top. There was a fault with the switch. With these tops, there's a number of switches for different things. Obviously they want to know when the trunk's open, because everything has to follow a certain sequence. What was happening is, as the top was opening, all of a sudden it would get a signal that the latch switch was closed and it would shut the whole system down. From that at least we knew an area where the issue was occurring. It was a latch switch failure. Then the next issue was to figure out, "Okay, what? The switch is bad? Is there a wire?", what was causing the next phase of the issue?

Mark: Once you found that, where the fault probably was laying, then what did you do next?

Bernie: The next step was to remove the liner of the top, which, fortunately this car it's actually not too difficult to access things. Removed the top liner. Found and tested the switches. They were both working fine. Pulled the side covers off, and then I started manually operating the top. But I noticed that when it got to that point, what I showed on the video just a few minutes ago, when it got to that point all of a sudden you could see on the computer, because it'll tell you when the switches are actuated, it would tell you that the latch switch was closed. If I moved it up a bit, it would say it was open. Right away I knew, "Okay. There's got to be a wire that's broken or shorted or something there that's telling the computer that the latch switches are closed". They're pretty simple. They're a switch that grounds a wire. I figured, with all that movement over the years, a wire is probably pinched or something's happened. Next step was to remove the wire. There's a nice plastic cover over the wire, so we removed the cover off the wire, and then I found the issue. We'll go back to screen sharing, because it's always nice to look at some pictures here of things. There by the way is the car, which we've already seen. 

Mark: Pretty nice for an 18 year old vehicle.

Bernie: Oh, it's beautiful. In really nice shape. It's a gorgeous little fun small little convertible. With the hard top roof too. If you drive it in the rain, it's just the same as having a hard roof car. You don't have that compromise of a convertible with a noisy top.  There's the problem we found. About halfway down the wiring harness, and these wires run, I should just show the picture. Go back to the car again. These wires run sort of along here, down the back, on the passenger side, and then into the trunk where the computer and all the mechanisms are. Halfway down there this is what I found. Two wires. They sit side by side. The insulation is cracked, as you can see. What would happen is, as the roof went down it would pinch the wires together and cause these two wires to short circuit. That's what the whole problem was.

Mark: How did you repair the wires?

Bernie: The wires themselves were actually in really good shape. I just put heat shrink tubing over top of the wiring insulation to cover them, and then extended the wires a little bit at the top end. I had to actually cut the wires out up at the top near where the latches were. Extended the wires about three or four inches, so the wires would now bend in a different spot, and also positioned the wires such that they weren't side by side in the same positions that they used to be. It kind of created different bending. But I carefully inspected the wire. The actual wire itself is really, it's a really high end wire. It's an extremely fine stranded wire. You can bend it and twist it all day long and the wire copper won't break. It's interesting, because a lot of the wire we buy in the automotive industry, at least at our normal automotive suppliers, is much thicker strand wire. If we'd replaced it with that wire, you'd be lucky to get six months out of it before it just snapped, because the strands are about, for every one strand of this wire there's probably 30 strands of this other wire. It's very good quality wire, but the insulation wasn't quite up to snuff for the long run.

Mark: Everything worked like new once you were all done?

Bernie: Yeah. It was awesome. These are, our podcasts are like Hollywood movies. They're all happy endings. It worked really well in the end. I was happy to find it too. There's a lot on these tops that can be really really expensive to repair. It's not just Mercedes. A lot of other vehicles use hard top convertibles. The parts are, they're all dealer parts. They're all really expensive. Just finding wiring, it's very time consuming, but at least there's nothing in the way of expensive parts.

Mark: Is that a common problem with the more complex hard top convertible tops? 

Bernie: For the most part they're really reliable. But some of the things we've seen, and this is not just Mercedes. Here there's a wiring issue. We've had Mercedes before where they have an actuator switch that's broken. That'll cause a problem. We've had other vehicles where, there's linkage rods and arms that connect things, and they'll stretch or break. That'll cause problems too.  For the most part they're reliable, but there are a lot of moving parts and pieces that can go wrong. I will say on this particular vehicle too, that there were a couple of mechanical things we found that were broken as well. There's a little flap that goes in the back behind the seat. There was, it's a cast piece of aluminum. Actually part of it was broken, and another arm that holds a flap, that piece was broken too. We're still trying to locate some parts. But it doesn't actually affect the movement of the top, but at some point it will break off and jam something up.  But other than that, these things are quite reliable and very reparable. We're happy to do them. 

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for proactive and in depth repairs on your Mercedes convertible tops, or any convertible top actually, in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. There's hundreds of videos on there over the last five years. As well, our podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

2011 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Brake Repair

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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto-service experience. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, we're going to talk about a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle was in for a routine service, and we found that the brakes front and rear were worn out, pads and rotors, so we proceeded to do the brake repairs. And also a brake fluid flush.

Mark: So this is a pretty high performance vehicle. I imagine that the brakes were more robust than normal, like what you'd see on a normal vehicle. Is that right?

Bernie: Oh, yeah. Definitely. It's using very large rotors and pads. Well, let's get straight into some pictures right away. There's our 2011 C63, a C class, so it's a smaller sedan with a very large motor and high performance parts. Here's a view of the front brake rotor, the pads, new pads installed, the AMG six piston calipers on the front. It's a very large brake rotor. I don't have anything really here to compare it against. Again, this is the rotor sitting on the ground. It's over a foot in diameter. There's the old worn out pad. This is typical of what you find of an old, worn out rotor. You can kind of see the edges where the original metal thickness. They tend to wear down quite a lot in the middle, so by the time they're worn out, you basically have to replace them. They're not machinable as they wear. They wear pretty heavily. Again, there's the pad — about 3 mm left, so it's basically worn out. It has a pad wear sensor as well, which is common on all European cars. The pad wear sensor, while the light wasn't on, it was just starting to get worn so it would have been only a matter of time before the light came on.  For our final photo, we have the rear brakes. Again, a four piston caliper, slotted and cross-drilled rotor. Again, maximum performance.

Mark: So just leave that up for a second, Bernie. So the front brakes typically are quite a bit larger than the back brakes?

Bernie: Oh, yeah. Substantially larger.

Mark: Is this the largest brake that they would put into this that you can get on this kind of vehicle?

Bernie: They don't, actually. While it says AMG, and this is a sort of AMG brake, this is not the largest brake package you can get on this car. Most AMGs come with a ... well, it's an upgraded brake package, and they certainly stop the car incredibly fast, but you can spend extra money and you can get the AMG brake package, which has even larger rotors. They're usually a composite type rotor and larger pads. It actually takes the cost of your brake job from say maybe ... I'm just going to say off the top of my head. I can't remember the cost on this one, but maybe $800 or $1,000 to maybe over $3,000 because the rotors jump in price. On a lot of these cars, the rotors will be $1,200 apiece for the front, and the rears are actually not so much more money, but they put a lot more on the front. Usually, the rotors are around $1,200 apiece with the AMG package rotors versus about, I think these are about $300, so that's a huge price jump.

Mark: So you can get more AMG in your AMG. 

Bernie: Exactly. I have driven quite a few of these cars. These things will stop really fast, but I guess if you're out racing on the track, which few people do, you'll probably appreciate having the bigger brakes, but for the average person, you'd really never notice the difference.

Mark: So what was involved with this particular brake job? Anything different than a normal brake job for you?

Bernie: No, it's very straightforward. It's replace the pads, replace the rotors. We lubricate, clean and lubricate any sliding parts and those brake pad wear sensors that I mentioned — there's only two in this car, one in the front axle, one in the rear. And then a brake fluid flush. The brake fluid usually needs to be flushed about every two to three years on these cars, so that's a standard service item. Other than that, there's nothing complex about it.

Mark: So AMG is obviously Mercedes' performance division. Is this a quick and reliable car?

Bernie: I'd say yeah, it's both. That's the nice thing about the AMG. You get a lot of performance, and it's reliable, as reliable as any other Mercedes would be, assuming you don't run it to the red line every time you put the gas pedal down. You're running it on the track all the time. You'll probably wear the car out faster. But for an average driver, yeah, this car will last you for years and be very reliable. It's not like you know ... It's not a Lambo, but it gives you performance close to that without the hassles and problems. So yeah, good, reliable car.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mercedes AMG or otherwise in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Book ahead. They're busy. Remember, they're 19-time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. We've got many articles and videos on there. Or YouTube, Pawlik Auto Repair. Check out hundreds of videos on there over the last five years, or hopefully you're listening on our wonderful new podcast. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks, Mark.

Mercedes SL500 Auto Dimming Mirrors

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Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver for the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re talking about a Mercedes, kind of the classic SL500, but this is a 2005 version, what was going on with this car?

Bernie: Well the auto dimming side view mirror was not dimming properly and needed to be replaced.

Mark: Auto dimming mirrors, how’d you know that that wasn’t working properly?

Bernie: Well when you look in the, and I’m going to show a picture in a few minutes, but basically when you look in the side view mirror, it’s not a clear mirror like mirrors are supposed to be. This mirror would, first of all, when it works normally it’s clear in the day time but at night, when it gets dark, it actually dims down like an interior mirror. So you don’t get glare shining in your side view mirror. On this particular car it has an auto dimming mirror on the side view and rear view mirror, but not on the passenger side. I guess because the images are kind of small on the passenger side, so with that convex mirror, they don’t really affect, bright lights don’t have that same level of effect. But what you could see in this mirror was a couple of things, the mirror had weird colour like sort of went gold in colour and there was this bluish hue inside the mirror and it was a double image that was there. So I mean, it was a kind of distracting thing to look at. So a pretty much a clear indication that the mirror was not operating properly. 

Mark: So you alluded to it, how does an auto dimming mirror work?

Bernie: Well it’s kind of a, it uses an electric, it’s called an electrochromatic mirror and what happens, there are two layers of glass, the rear piece is like a regular mirror glass, there’s a front piece of glass which is clear and in between it is sandwiched a chemical gel and when electric current is applied it actually, the gel changes colour and it goes dark. So that’s how the auto dimming mirror works. There are sensors on the vehicle, depending on what kind of car it is. A lot of them, most cars the auto dimming mirror will just be the rear view mirror, so it will have a sensor at the front to detect the ambient light, you know is it day time, night time for instance, that’s what that sensor is for. Or how dark is it and it’ll have a sensor that faces backwards that will get whether there’s any light shining in the back and the mirror and that will dim the mirror automatically.

Mark: So this SL500 is kind a fancy car, it’s the kind of car we can expect this on, but is this something that is getting more common on a lot of cars?

Bernie: Yeah, you’ll find this on a lot of vehicles. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of times it’ll only be the rear view mirror but many luxury cars have auto dimming mirrors on the side view mirrors as well as the rear view. But you’ll find it even on l what I would call lower end, like lower end cars, you’ll find auto dimming mirrors because it’s kind of a neat feature. You don’t have to flip the mirror back and forth and so on.

Anyways let’s have a look at a few pictures here. There’s an ’05 SL500 with the roof off. As I mentioned, one auto dimming mirror here and of course, the rear view mirror which we can’t see. Let’s get into the mirror, so here’s the problem with this mirror. This is photograph taken before the mirror was changed. If you look closely at this image there’s a, this is the shop behind me and the signage, you see white, can you see this blue, double image there. This is what was really wrong with this mirror, you could see the double image there, so that clearly is an issue and makes it distracting when you’re driving. You can even see that it’s kind of fuzzy when you look at these grids here, you can see a sort of secondary grid. So something,  I don’t know exactly how to explain it, chemically what’s broken down inside but there’s clearly something wrong with it. What you can’t really see so much, is there’s actually a very golden colour to this mirror as well, kind of hard to tell that in this kind of light. There’s an image of the old mirror and the new mirror, so you can clearly see without any electricity applied or anything, this new mirror is just clear, looks like a regular piece of glass, the old one is all golden colour, so the chemicals have all broken down internally. And here’s the image with the new mirror in place. You can see it’s clear, there’s no double image it’s all you know all nice, clear, easy to see. And that’s auto dim so again, there’s that darker tint that happens when it gets darker and again another close up, you can see there’s no double image here. So there’s out photo share for the podcast.

Mark: So is this an expensive repair?

Bernie: Yep it is on this particular vehicle. We actually went and we got a new mirror from Mercedes which is really the only source for the mirror. I should say there are other options but you know, really if you want to, it’s expensive to buy this piece of glass. I’m not going to say how much it is but it’s an awful lot of money. But yeah, it’s an expensive repair. Now there are other options. There is a company in the US that can rebuild these. I’ve never used them and I probably will in the future, they’re pretty inexpensive compared to buying a brand new mirror. So that seems to me, I guess used is another option but I would think you know, by the time you get to a 2005, if you’ll even find an auto wrecker that will sell just the mirror glass. They probably won’t, they’ll just sell a complete mirror and if it’s already 12-13 years old, how long is a used one going to last, if it actually works. So it’s better to either you bite the bullet and you get a new one or you leave it.

Mark: so has that been your experience with these, that they have a limited lifespan?

Bernie: They do and you know, you’ll know when yours are bad because you’ll see, if you saw that sort of golden colour of this one and the double imaging, that’s one thing that happens. The other thing we see a lot of is, the mirror it will either discolour badly or there’ll be this, it looks to me like a sagging sort of, you can see something that’s like a liquid that’s like sinking inside the mirror. It’ll develop an air bubble or something, it’s clearly something’s wrong inside, so you’ll know it’s bad when that kind of thing happens.

Mark: So is there anything else you can tell us about auto dimming mirrors?

Bernie: Yeah, ok, so one last thing to leave with of course, when it’s like that, you know a lot of people choose not to fix them because they’re expensive but one thing you really have to watch for is that chemical can leak out of the mirror and it’s extremely toxic and apparently acidic. So I would definitely, if you see anything dripping out, you got to deal with it at that point. It’s probably better to deal with it sooner than later but you know, if it drops out it’ll attack your paint, if it drips out on the interior it’ll attack your dash and cause a lot of other problems. So it’s a pretty serious issue from that point of view but as I say, there are options. You don’t necessarily have to go for brand new. There are repairs available which could be less money.

Mark: Do the interior ones last a little bit better than the exterior ones?

Bernie: No, they all seem to screw up. They wear out. I mean, I’ve seen it on all sorts of vehicles and you know, I can think of some of the customers, they get in the car and go, yeah you can see that mirrors kind of bad and you know it’s very noticeable.

Mark: So there you go. If you’ve got a saggy mirror in Vancouver, are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book an appointment or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair or of course our lovely new Podcasts on iTunes. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500, Rear Sway Bar Bushings

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thirty eight years repairing and servicing vehicles in Vancouver and 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, we’re talking about a 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500, that had some issues with the rear sway bar bushings. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Well we did an inspection on this vehicle and found that the rear sway bar bushings were worn. Nothing was noted while driving the vehicle but we could see with looking at the bar and the bushings which holds the sway bar to the rear axel that there was a fair bit of wear in the bushings.

Mark: So is that a common issue on this vehicle?

Bernie: It is actually. Mercedes built these bushings a little too small and I’ll share a photo in a second which shows the replacement. They’ve actually made an upgraded bushing which is substantially different in size. It’s kind of interesting. So let’s get to the photo right now, so here we go. So this is the old sway bar bushing right here and this is the new sway bar bushing. Now it looks a little weird it doesn’t have that, sway bars have, there’s a round bar and for some reason the replacement bushings were not round but they conform to that shape once you put it all together. So the sway bar bushing basically, the bar was loose inside the bushing. If you look at these brackets, they’ve made an upgraded bracket mount as well. So you can see it’s substantially different in size. In order to put this thing together we had to use some clamps and things just to hold it all together because it fits much tighter. But they definitely when they built this vehicle made this bushing much too small for the type of vehicle. So this is basically the upgrade and so now once this is upgraded of course, if the bushings were ever to wear again, we could just could replace the bushing and not the whole bracket.

Mark: Ok, so silly question, what does a sway bar bushing and sway bar do for a vehicle?

Bernie: So basically the sway bar keeps the vehicle, it keeps it stable when you go around corners, the vehicle doesn’t roll quite as much, it keeps the body from pitching and rolling when you go around the corner. So it kind of uses the energy from one side and transfers it to the other side of the vehicle and keeps it more stable.

Mark: And the bushings, what do they do?

Bernie: Well he bushings just hold the bar. What happens is the bar is either mounted to the frame of the vehicle on one side, the axel or the control arm, depending whether it’s front or rear, on the other end. So normally the sway bar bushings are mounted to the frame of the vehicle and then the sway bar links, which are the links to the control arm say on the front, and so any of those parts can wear to the links on the bushing. But the bushing basically holds the bar to the frame, but it’s made of rubber, if it was made of metal, of course you’d have a banging, it would be horrifically noisy.

Mark: And how are the front sway bar bushings?

Bernie: They were fine, they were actually designed well in this vehicle and there was no wear whatsoever. So clearly the rears they for some reason they made them a little too small and they wear much quicker.

Mark: Would someone, how would you know if you’re driving the vehicle that the, would you even know that the bushings were worn out?

Bernie: Well on a truck like this, this a large truck. It’s actually a cab with a box on the back, it would be really hard to know that the sway bar bushings were worn until they were actually worn much worse that what we found. If they wore much worse the rubber would deteriorate and you’d actually have a banging sound or creaking sound when the metal of the bar was rubbing against the mount, the sway bar mount. But in this case it wasn’t worn that badly. You wouldn’t really know but on a lot of cars you hear, like you go over bumps and you hear like a thumping sound you can literally hear it in a car than in a large truck. So that’s the kind of thing you’d notice. It’s a thumping sound or creaking. These are things you should get looked at on your car to see what’s actually wrong with it.

Mark: And how often do you estimate you’ve seen redesigned, beefed up parts like this?

Bernie: You know, that happens from time to time. Most manufactures get it right the first time but every once in a while we come across something like this bushing, where wow ok, they clearly recognized something wasn’t built right and they’ve obviously, you know, if every Sprinter that’s been made they’ve had to replace them with this upgraded part until they finally started selling the upgraded piece on new models. We see a more of the electronic parts, I’m thinking on these vehicles, the three litre diesel engine, the glow plug modules, they redesigned those because they tend to fail a lot. So more of the electronic parts than mechanical items but from time to time we still get them.

Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for some service on your Sprinter van in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or the YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

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