Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re talking with award winning, 12 times voted Best in Vancouver by their customers from different publications in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik from Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Excellent, and you?
Mark: I’m good. So we’re doing an early morning one today and we’re going to talk about Land Rovers and Range Rovers, pretty fancy vehicles, seems to be a lot more of them around these days – So do you see a lot of them in your shop?
Bernie: Yeah, we do. We work on plenty of Land Rover vehicles. They’re really nice vehicles, generally very tough and luxurious for sure, but they are somewhat problematic, which is kinda good for us.
Mark: So, problematic, doesn’t spending a lot of money on a high end vehicle ensure a trouble free ride?
Bernie: Definitely not. I think it’s kind of interesting, at least with European cars, there seems to be a correlation between how much you spend on a car and how much service you have to do. You’d think to yourself, if you buy a good quality car you’d have less problems but it seems to the exact opposite. In all fairness, in a complex vehicle, a luxury car, there’s a lot more things that can go wrong. But it seems like they don’t make them quite as well in some ways, especially when compared to the Japanese luxury cars like Lexus and Infiniti, they seem to be a little more trouble free.
Mark: So what sort of issues do you see with Land Rover and Range Rover?
Bernie: Well, there’s lots of stuff and I’ll say they’re getting better with each passing year. Going back to the mid to late ’90’s, there were quite a few of engine problems with their V8 engines, they have cylinder liners that would sometimes fail, not a lot, but when they do you have to replace the whole engine, they’re not something that can be readily machined like a lot of standard V8 engines could be. Oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets and a number of different spots are common. In the early 2000’s some of the Range Rovers had a BMW V8 engine which you think would be great but they’re actually not the best V8 engine. There’s a lot of problems with them, I mean they’re good when they’re younger but as they get older, they start to get oil leaks and coolant leaks and they’re pretty expensive to fix. So they got away from all that, it seems like the engines these days are pretty good in the Land Rover and Range Rover car, or trucks, I should say.
Mark: What other kind of issues do they have?
Bernie: Well, most Land Rovers, and all Range Rovers certainly, use air suspension which is great because you can change the height of the vehicle for different road conditions, or if you’re going down the highway, the vehicle can drop down for more stability, it’s a great feature, but a lot of things go wrong with air suspension. There are sensors on each corner of the car, there’s an air bag which is basically a giant air spring on each corner and eventually those bags will leak. It can take quite a few years, but they do leak. Probably the biggest problem the compressors that uses an air compressor to fill the air bags and over time, the compressors will fail for various reasons. But one model of Land Rover, or sorry Range Rover, they actually put the air compressor in the trunk underneath the spare tire, which is a great spot for it. Other models, they put the air compressor outside the vehicle, underneath the vehicle, inside a somewhat weatherproof box, but of course it’s not fully weatherproof, water gets in eventually and wears it out. And it’s just a stupid place to put it because this is an off road type of vehicle which is designed to go off road and that’s the last place you want to put an electronic device. Anyways, that’s what they’ve done and you have to deal with it.
Mark: So are these good off road vehicles?
Bernie: They certainly are, they’re built very tough, they’ve got solid frames, large drive train components. One exception is the Freelander or the LR2, which is a replacement of the Freelander. These are more car like models, but the main LR3, LR4 Land Rovers and the Range Rovers, they are definitely big truck type vehicles. Land Rover has that reputation for being an off road vehicle, you see them driving through the Serengeti, they have a well deserved reputation. You can pretty well take a lot of the older ones pretty much anywhere, they’re simpler vehicles, but with a lot of these more modern ones, most people, they never get off road, they’re just a nice little luxury ride around town or up to Whistler for the weekend. But the great thing about it is if you get tired of the night life up at Whistler, or sitting around in your hotel room, you can always go off on some rough logging road and go exploring and you’ll get there and back most likely. the only thing I’d worry about is scratching the paint and maybe wrecking the nice low profile tires and wheels. We have one client who has an LR3, he goes out hunting with his buddies, it has the air suspension and everything so you can adjust the height ride. He goes out quite frequently and uses it for what it’s meant for, drives around daily and it’s a tough truck, it works really well.
Mark: So you mentioned something about the Land Rover Freelander
Bernie: I did, and this is the only vehicle we’ve worked on in our shop in years that I can say, is a piece of junk. It’s a horribly built vehicle and is really actually the only vehicle I can think about other than maybe like an older Hyundai or a Lada – that I can say is a piece of junk. The engines in the Freelander, at least the ones sold in North America uses a strangely designed V8 engine and what happens with this engine is it uses cylinder liners that are held in place with some sort of strange adhesive or glue. And eventually after not too long, maybe five years the liner fails, or the glue fails, and the cylinder liner starts flopping around and that causes the head gasket to leak. The only way you can fix it, is to replace the engine with an engine from Land Rover. There is nobody who can rebuild it, nobody can fix it, and these engines rebuilt by Land Rover may well be new engines. The problem is so bad apparently, that Land Rover was actually buying the vehicles back from customers and actually just sending the vehicle off to get crushed. I find that just appalling when I think about it, I mean, any vehicle built should last for at least twenty years, if you take good care of it – if you choose to keep it that long. But the fact that some of these vehicles you wouldn’t even get a 100,000 km out them, before sending them to the scrapper is horrible.
Apparently in Europe they sell the Freelander with a diesel engine which is really reliable, so it’s just the engine offering that they put in it makes it a crappy vehicle around here. Now they replaced the Freelander with the LR2 which is a much nicer vehicle and it uses a Ford/Volvo drive train, but interestingly enough, we had one a little while ago where we did a service where both the front and rear differential pinion bearings were worn out, it made a horrible noise when you were driving down the road. It didn’t even have 80,000 km on it, and apparently the rear pinion bearing failure is very common on these. So I don’t know, they’re not built all that well either. That’s all I can say on those, they’re not great vehicles.
Mark: So that’s a pretty scathing review, you normally don’t say that kind of stuff about bad things about vehicles.
Bernie: Really I don’t. I think almost any vehicle you can buy nowadays and even within the last ten years is a good vehicle. But the Freelander really is a piece of crap and I find it frustrating being in a business where we’re trying to fix vehicles and get them going and save people money and yet it feels like with the Freelander no matter what you do it’s a waste of time because it’s just a ticking time bomb. So it’s not really worth our efforts to even work on one.
Mark: So here we go to the dealer, kind of viewpoint perhaps, the Land Rover and Range Rover especially are really fancy, high end vehicles, very expensive, aren’t they best serviced especially at the dealer?
Bernie: Well, the definitely are fancy and sophisticated vehicles, however any shop with proper equipment and skilled technicians can work on them. We’ve invested a lot in equipment to work on Land Rovers and Range Rovers. We’ve got the right diagnostic equipment and the service equipment to do it. Dealers generally do a good job, but we were recently shocked, we had a client who had a two year old Range Rover, 2012, 20,000 km, was quoted $1,200 for service from the dealer. We did the same service for $450 taxes included everything, out the door. And I really can’t figure out what they could have possibly done for $1,200 on a two year old, 20,000 km vehicle. So you know with dealers of the European cars, we often see people with huge quotes for service and I’m not sure what they’re getting. It’s not the case with all of them, but some of them, it’s crazy, I don’t quite understand. So I think there’s the opportunity for us to save, especially people with high end luxury cars a lot of money on their service
Mark: So it sounds like you can save people a lot of money on service
Bernie: Yeah, absolutely in many cases we seem to find that.
Mark: Any final thoughts on Land Rover and Range Rover?
Bernie: Overall they’re great vehicles but they cost a fair bit of money to buy in the first place, but because it’s a luxury vehicle, you can expect to pay more maintenance and repairs. They’re more complex built, there’s more parts to break so that’s going to cost more money. A lot of times they’re a bit exclusive, so you’re stuck with a dealer for parts. And the other area with Land Rovers, that can make them kind of expensive is that somewhere in their servicing and I’ll just leave you with a final example; a transmission service on an LR3 for instance, normally we take the pan off, clean it and put a gasket and filter in and flush it with a machine. The Land Rover uses a synthetic fluid which is not uncommon, it’s more expensive, quite a bit more expensive but lots of cars use synthetic fluid. But with the LR3, the transmission pan is complete assembly of a pan, a gasket and a filter, it’s several hundred dollars for the part, and then labour wise to get it off – it was never really designed to be removed easily, so it’s another couple hundred dollars labour in addition. So it makes for a very expensive transmission service, still worth doing every 100,000 km to keep the transmission alive but that’s just an example of what you do end up paying sometimes to service these vehicles. But overall, great vehicles, a few more problems than some but we can service them and we love working on them.
Mark: Awesome, thanks. So we’ve been talking Land Rovers and Range Rovers with award winning, best in Vancouver for auto service, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at pawlikautomotive.com a fantastic website with tons of information or give them a call 604-327-7112. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon